Saturday, May 14, 2005

Film Review Casshern

I could have reviewed The I Inside yesterday, but it was so bad I didn't think it deserved the dignity of a bad review.

Casshern on the other hand is a visual feast of splendour, but falls into the same pitfalls as almost all ambitious Japanese productions do.

The story takes place in the aftermath of a vicious war between the European Union and the Eastern Federation. This was has left the land scared with radiation, pollution and biological contaminants. From this backdrop the story explores the motivations of leaders who will do anything to survive longer and asks the question of wither being human is purely physical.

The visual styling is rich all the way through and even has some Anime styled fight sequences that wouldn't be out of place in a music video. The main downfall with the plot is the same as most ambitious Japanese films in that their storytelling tradition always come from large scale backdrop that is too huge to contain within the span of a two hour film. And indeed this is why long running Animes and Mangas are so good, because they have the length necessary to cover the scope of the stories. And so because of the length of the film Casshern has huge gaping plotholes and characters that don't feel fleshed out.

The Subtitles on the DVD sometimes miss-out some dialogue that is relevant to the plot. There is one point where the central villain of the story says "I vou..." and then there is a pause, but the subtitles don't translate his response so it is impossible to know what his intentions where, unless you speak Japanese that is.

I liked the film and only a pacifist nation like Japan would produce something of this subject matter, but it is a very flawed work of art. And that is unfortunate considering how good the material is.

EDIT: The director usually does music videos and the film is based on a 35 episode anime series from 1973 titled Casshan Robot Hunter, so that explains a lot.