by Ed Sizemore — read about Friday here.
My Saturday was spent attending movie screenings. I won’t give full reviews of each movie; instead, I’ll just give my general impressions.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, directed by Makoto Shinkai
Ryuji is a man haunted by the death of his wife. Asuna is a schoolgirl who feels out of place in this world. Through a twist of circumstances they both journey to, and through, Agartha, believed to be the legendary land of the dead.
Shinkai was inspired to make a film that had international appeal after spending 18 months in London. During his time there, he visited the Natural History Museum and decided to borrow from world mythologies in crafting his story.
A second obvious influence were the works of Hayao Miyazaki. In fact, more than one person commented on how this seemed like a Ghibli film. The character designs are reminiscent of Miyazaki’s art, and there are obvious references to individual films. The cat-fox companion from Nausicaa, the blue crystal that is the key to another world from Castle in the Sky, and the lone male warrior who cuts off his hair before leaving his village from Princess Mononoke.
The movie is gorgeous, and if you get the chance to see it on a movie screen, you must. It’s a radical departure from Shinkai’s earlier, slower-paced, mood-driven films. This film has lots of adventure and action. There is an underlying tone of melancholy in this film, but in general, it’s a much more upbeat movie.
I tremendously enjoyed the film, but I would need a second viewing to be able to process my thoughts about it. The mythology gets very thick, and the final third of the film crams in a lot of exposition and action. That is perhaps my one complaint about the film — it’s not well-paced. The movie starts out too slow and ends up rushing at the end. Even with that flaw, I highly recommend this film and will be getting the DVD when it becomes available. I’m really hoping for a Blu-ray release.
After the film, Shinkai came out and there was a Q&A session. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to hear either the questions or the response. So I can’t tell you what was asked.
Tekken: Blood Vengeance, directed by Yoichi Mori
This film was simply awful. The plot was moronic and the fight scenes were boring. That’s all I’ve got to say.
Trigun: Badlands Rumble, directed by Satoshi Nishimura
20 years ago, Vash saved the life of bank robber Gasback. Now Gasback is seeking revenge on the men who betrayed him. Of course, Vash and the cast of regulars find themselves mixed up in the chaos.
Fans of the TV series will love this movie. It has all four members of the central cast in their typical roles and relationships. The movie is quick-paced and filled with the perfect blend of slapstick humor and action that made the series so popular. There is also that underlying philosophical exploration about Vash’s refusal to kill a person and the consequences of that decision.
Trigun: Badlands Rumble was a blast. It felt like an extended episode of the TV show. I was impressed with how tightly written the script was. You were never bored, and the ending didn’t feel rushed. For fans of the show, this movie is a must-see. If you’re interested in Trigun, this would be a great place to start. This film would also serve as a great introduction to anime. I just hope it doesn’t take another 10 years to make another film.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, directed by Kazuya Murata
A convict escapes from prison using alchemic symbols that Ed and Al Elric have never seen before. They decide to pursue the criminal, hoping this form of alchemy might hold the key to them being able to recover Al’s body and free his soul from being bonded to a suit of armor.
Sacred Star of Milos is a side-story meant to be viewable by people unfamiliar with Fullmetal Alchemist. However, it doesn’t live up to its intentions. Lots of the alchemy discussion is going to be lost on people unfamiliar with or new to the series. They throw out terms like Door of Truth and Philosopher’s Stone without any explanation. Also, there are random appearances of fan-favorite characters who distract from the film’s plot.
I’m a fan of the original Fullmetal Alchemist manga, as well as the two TV anime adaptations. I still found Sacred Star of Milos disappointing. The story is a mess. Too much time is devoted to making sure all the favorite characters get some screen time, and it hurts the plot. As much as I love Winry, Lt Haweye, Major Armstrong, and Col Mustang, they had no business being in this film.
The final third is extremely rushed. There are stacked revelations, characters show up just in time to offer special skills to help out the Elric brothers, and too many magical coincidences. The final battle scene, in particular, requires the audience to fill in gaps as to why one form of attack was more effective than another. I talked to a couple of people who were not familiar with the series, and they were confused by how the heroes ending up winning.
There was a lot of potential in the Sacred Star of Milos script. However, it feels like a good foundational story was sacrificed in order to pander to fans of the series. Only the most die-hard fans of Fullmetal Alchemist will enjoy this film; those unfamiliar with the series should avoid the film completely. Sacred Star of Milos is a real shame. The Elric brothers and their fans deserve better than this.
Afterward there was a Q&A session with Murata. However, I was so disappointed in the film, I didn’t stay. After the Fullmetal Alchemist movie, I got some dinner and called it an early night.