Thursday, August 28, 2008

Casshern review

In a future world, a costly but victorious war for the Greater Asian empire (against Europe) leads to pollution, terrorist threats, and totalitarianism. Dr. Azuma (Akira Terao) plays a scientist in the pursuit of curing his ill wife, pushing the advancement of his Neocell research, which allows any parts of the body to be rejuvenated or reconstructed. Lightning unexpectedly strikes creating a group of mutants who are threatened by the uncompassionate government and are forced to retreat to a base where they construct thousands of advanced robots. Dr. Azuma’s son Tetsuya, reconstructed with a strong robotic body is forced to battle the mutants and return peace to the world.

The Good?
The film’s addictive trailer making the rounds online highlights the main selling points. Casshern’s technical achievement with a 5-6 million dollar budget is astounding. The viewer can really feel this dark, engaging futuristic atmosphere thanks to the rock and classical music infused soundtrack and the gorgeously bleak, polished cinematography.

The film updates and deepens its goofy 70’s anime source material with a larger agenda for contemporary audiences. Kazuaki Kiriya squeezes in as many themes and messages as he can, providing commentary on global issues and philosophy, including but not limited to, war, terrorism, existence, humanity, pollution, government, and of course love.

What little action the film has, is definitely worth the wait. Kiriya uses standard anime conventions and techniques in the live-action film medium to great success. This film is visual bliss and has a fresh, striking take on anime adaptations.

The Bad?
You can’t help but feel disappointed as the film winds down and characters continue to ramble on. The film’s newfound depth results in unnecessary, strained explanations when the director’s imagery would have been suitable enough.

The film drags because it is not balanced well and viewers will be annoyed when it gets preachy with repetitive anti-war footage and repetitive monologues deciphering humanity, instead of rewarding with action and a satisfying climax. Perhaps this is the marketing division’s fault, perhaps the source material called for more action, but in either case, viewers will not get exactly what they expect.


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