Derek Winnert

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This article was written on 05 Jun 2013, and is filled under Reviews.

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009 Re: Cyborg **** (2012, voices of Gregory Abbey, Saeko Akiho, JB Blanc) – Movie Review

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Get your 3D glasses on for writer-director Kenji Kamiyama’s exquisitely designed, stunning-looking and often truly exciting and provocative anime adventure. It may not please all the regular crowd, and its crazy storyline might be baffling, but hopefully 009 Re: Cyborg should one day go down to be judged as a classic Japanese manga.

The gob-smacking conspiracy plot has the famous (in Japan) nine super-powered cyborgs from across the world (yes Cyborg 007 is British) reassemble to find out what in heaven or hell’s name’s going on when high-rise buildings are destroyed by suicide bombers throughout the globe’s capital cities from New York to Tokyo. With all humanity surely now at risk, can they find and stop the terrorists?

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Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex (2002) director Kamiyama has adapted his screenplay, with all its full-blown pretensions and high-flying ideas, from the manga by renowned author Shotaro Ishinomori. Incredibly clever though the script is, even so plot explanation can often seem obscure, while the cyborgs tend to remain rather mysterious and one-dimensional. So character development and story clarity are sacrificed in favour of its onrush of its global plot and cosmic conspiracy ideas, but that just shows how ambitious the movie is.

Above all, this is an amazing, no-expense-spared visual experience that is so imaginative it often takes your breath away. With the artists’ computers going into super-inventive, red-hot overdrive, the detail in the CGI designs is marvellous, with special attention being lavished on the minutiae of the hardware, the city-scapes and the Cyborgs themselves.

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I’m guessing that the religious, philosophical and mythical elements in the super-charged plot won’t particularly appeal to some of the fans, but they add a fascinating extra layer and dimension that you can take or leave. Just look at the visuals while characters are chatting significantly away, if you want. Don’t bother to try to understand everything, just relax and enjoy the ride, feel the experience.

There’s a slight worry about using the 9/11 Twin Towers attack as the basis of a sci-fi story. Does it honour the catastrophe or is it a trivialisation of what happened? I think the film takes its themes seriously enough to justify using 9/11 as a plot springboard. And serious enough to deal with its religious ideas too, even if that leads to the extremely troubling thought of ‘his voice’ encouraging acts of terrorism.

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After all, it’s an intelligent, thoughtful film, about something. The action proceeds out of ideas, and that’s fine. The action-packed bursts of fighting stir the blood while the film’s ideas catch the imagination.

Sorry to finish on a downer, but I should add that there is a problem that they haven’t overcome with subtitles and the 3D, which slightly mars the film as a visual experience.

© Derek Winnert 2013 Movie Review

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