Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My "Casshern" review - in a word, "ugh"

I just quickly skimmed the synopsis before I queued this, especially because I do not want to know everything about a movie before I watch it. Nice buzz, supposed to have great action, interesting story. I have watched plenty of anime, but I did not expect to see a steampunk-esque live-action anime film when I rented this.

The first fight scene gives you a horrible view of what happens: you cannot see the kicks and punches, which really sucks since they use the wire tricks and everything else. What's the point of employing all those fake effects if I can't see the first fight in the movie?

There are some beautiful shots and scenes. The plot, however, makes abysmally little sense. I know a tiny bit of japanese, and clearly there were moments where the translation was inaccurate or incomplete. Even more, there are a few moments in the film (a radio announcer speaking, especially) where there is no translation offered at all. Nor are there any subtitle options on the dvd.

The bad guys stand around for a second, impenetrable expressions on their faces. This convention may be a hallmark of Japanese culture, or a blind for bad acting. Then a little camera pull and slight dissolve - and now they now magically have clothes out of a role-playing video game (or anime). Also, somehow, in a castle in the middle of nowhere, a quality hairstylist ran through the room and gave everyone nifty haircuts and dye-jobs. At super-speed, so maybe it was the Flash.

Further still, the bad guys find a secret lair left by the side that lost a major war long ago. That's implausible, but even worse, they take over an apparently-hidden robot army that was never used by the losers.

Why never used? How did they operate the 'bots? Or get those silly outfits? How many robots could there have been - they just whup the side that actually won the war? Is sector 7, aka Europa, 3,000 miles away, or close by? Did the winners disband their army? What the hell is going on? What's the stylist's number? None of those questions are answered.

This is extremely mediocre live-action anime; better to watch the cutscenes from the Final Fantasy games. There are some valid points about war, the savagery and inhumanity involved in it, the dangers of blind obedience, and perpetuating cycles of violence. But it's giving the movie a lot of credit to say that it thoughtfully espouses these messages in a well-told and entertaining story.

There is apparently an old and cool manga behind this movie, but I can't give that credit any more than say that Star Wars I-III are good because of the first trilogy. Best watched under the influence of strong intoxicants, to make fun of, or if you really like the thought of live-action anime.

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