A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 260 – Casshern (2004)

Casshern – November 15th, 2010

Going into this movie all I knew was that it was subtitled. Andy bought it on the strength of a preview he saw and claims to have watched “like, twenty times.” I had not seen said preview until after watching the movie, and while looking at it now I can see that it is indeed a pretty preview, full of action and CG and things that look like anime except in live action, I don’t know that I’d have bought this on the strength of the preview alone. It’s not that great a preview and it’s a lot more lucid than the actual movie is.

Let’s talk about unambiguous good things first, shall we? The visuals are amazing. This is one of the short list of movies made with almost completely CG sets and backgrounds. The end effect is sort of a melding of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (which was also almost all CG with live actors) and Mirrormask, as the backdrop of the world itself had a distinctly Dave McKean aesthetic to it in places. Sort of a distorted collage effect, with plenty of steampunkish machines thrown in for good measure. I am utterly sold on the visuals. I do have a bit of an issue with the sort of closed in studio feel I get from the actors sometimes, where it’s obvious they’re not in the space they’re shown in, but hopefully with time and more movies done this way, that won’t show so much.

The world of the movie is fairly decently shown. I was able to gather from the opening narrative and some of the later dialogue that there’s been this huge war going on for ages and ages (fifty years, if the name of the war is any indication) with both sides experiencing heavy losses. The Federation has ostensibly won, but at the cost of the health of their citizens, who now live in sickness under a fascist regime. The native people of an area between the two lands that were warring have been declared terrorists and inhuman, leading to continuous attacks on them. Our main characters are a family torn by the war. A doctor whose wife is ailing and who is desperate for a cure. His son, determined to do his duty and enlist in the army. His son’s fiance, left behind with her father, an armor designer. And then the son, Tetsuya, dies, and the movie takes an abrupt turn towards zombie town.

Yep. Zombies! Except not really, because no brains get eaten. It’s more an epic battle for vengeance and the resurrection of Tetsuya to be the hero of the people getting slaughtered and a whole lot of talk about love and fighting and war and the nature of humanity. Things happen. And then more things happen. And I’m absolutely certain that the things that happen all mean something, but often within the timeline of the movie they just. Happen. And then they stop happening and other things happen. It’s slightly more lucid than the end of Neon Genesis and significantly less whiny, but yeah. Things happen and then there’s a big explosion and I think it ends with everyone in paradise, which looks a lot like old home movies, but I’m not entirely certain.

See, Tetsuya’s father has been using “neo-cells” to try and regenerate organs and limbs and whatnot in vats and when Tetsuya’s body is brought home a giant stone lightning bolt falls from the sky into the vats and all the parts coalesce into resurrected zombie people, who kidnap Tetsuya’s ailing mother. Tetsuya comes back to life and gets a spiffy super suit and his fiance tells him she doesn’t like fighting. Or something. And then there’s lots of fighting. Because that’s part of the point of the movie. I think. Four of the zombie people escape and find the fortress of the old army that was attacking the Federation and they go to war again. And part of the problem I have here is scale. The movie takes forever to get going and then suddenly war! And I’m not clear where the area the supposed terrorists who aren’t really terrorists live in is in relation to everywhere else. It’s very messy.

Stylistically, this is a gorgeous movie, and it clearly has this big grand sweeping plot about humanity and violence begetting violence and so on and so forth. There’s stuff about selfishness and the things people do for love and the things people do for hate and the dangers of dehumanising others. And that’s great and all. And I do appreciate the anime-inspired visuals and I am curious about the source material this movie was based on. But when I think back on it, really what comes to mind is that there were zombies. And things happened.

November 15, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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