Thursday, November 6, 2014

WTF Japan?!?: Gatchaman (2013)

Thanks to Joss Whedon, we have Japan getting in on the action.  In case you've been living under a rock/trapped in a mine for the last few years, The Avengers was a massive worldwide Hit.  Since then, other similar things have followed suit.  That's why Marvel/Disney and DC/WB are booked up with Films for the next 6 years!  This also carried over to Japan and got them to make a big-budget Gatchaman Film!  Confused?  Well, in the United States, the Series was called Battle of the Planets or G-Force (not the one with the Gerbils).  We got the crappy, re-Edited Version with less Action and a Character made to fill time.  We got it due to Star Wars being big the year prior, hence the re-title with similar words (Battle and Planets).  Leave it to Japan to complete the ironic circle by Producing a Live-Action Version due to The Avengers then.  Those wacky folks!  If you don't know, the Show was/the Film is about five Teens/Adults with a Special Gene that gives them power to fight off the evil Alien Invaders known as The Galactors!  With so much at stake, it is only natural that the Japanese trust anyone but their actual Military.  In this big and flashy update of that tale, who will win?  Well, you can probably guess, but just go with it anyhow.  To find out (with limited SPOILERS), read on...
To recap, the World is under attack by the Galactors and things aren't looking good.  They are *kind of* similar to the Helghast from Killzone in design, admittedly.
After some exposition, the Film opens strong with an attack on a major City!  Not the Death Wheel!
This long and pretty bad-ass fight introduces us to all of G-Force and gives us a bit of back-story on them.  It mainly shows their key Character Traits though.

It also gives us the first Avengers bit to point to.  They just put the 'Battle for New York' bit at the beginning, that's all.
We get some moody back-story as our two Male Leads are life-long friends and had a third, lady friend who died in the past.

It is a bit silly, but I kind of expect melodrama like this from Japan by now.
In another Avengers nod, they have to break in to a Party, which looks similar to the one that Loki broke up in Germany.  If that's not direct enough for you, here's one...
The main villain is captured at said party and locked up in a see-through (energy) cell at the G-Force base.  He uses this time to mess with the group's morale and eventually escapes.

I hope nobody thinks I'm picking on the Film for no good reason now.  I did, after all, like The Avengers.
Without SPOILing too much, the Villain reveals its true form and motivation.  It tries to turn one of the G-Force team, but does it work?
By the way, they have a 'Quinjet.'  I just wanted to mention that.
I won't SPOIL the Ending too much, but I will tell you that they fight the Galactors on their flying base.  It looks eerily-similar to the interior of Nero's ship in Star Trek BTW.

Will they save the day?  Will they lose?  Watch the Film (if you can find it) to find out.  The End.
I'll give them an 'E' for Effort.  The core of the Story- super-powered Teens fight evil Aliens- is simple and effective.  They try to add some depth to it by explaining that certain people have 'receptive Genes' that allow them to get powers from the Alien's elements.  It silly, yes, but it is Sci-Fi silly.  It gives us an excuse to explain why this group is important and must be the ones to save the day.  This is the Film's strongest part, by far, as the Action is fun, flashy and frantic.  It is when the Story gets away from that when it starts to get a bit silly and melodramatic.  It just is- deal with it.  Having said that, it is still a fun movie that looks like you are getting the money put into it.  Sometimes you hear how much a Film costs and go 'What?!?  How?!?'  In this case, its CG is good to great & always bright.  I like the Suit and Set Designs here.  It is hard to get past all of the comparisons to Films like The Avengers (and I didn't) here though.  I say that, but other good films (like Skyfall or Star Trek Into Darkness) were clearly-inspired by others (like The Dark Knight and...The Dark Knight again) too.  It doesn't make the Film meritless by any stretch of the imagination.  If you like big, vibrant Action from Japan, this is an easy recommendation.  If you don't, you can still have fun, but might be a bit lost.  I don't know the status of an official Release for the Film, so keep an eye out.  Hopefully, it will be able to avoid confusingly-muddled Subtitles like this...
Next up, a Russian Fantasy Film that took years to get made.  With a pair of Brits in the Film, does it have international appeal?  Stay tuned...

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