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Kimball Kinnison, a young man from the agricultural planet Mquie and his Valerian companinon, Buscirk find a dying man with a legendary crystal lens embedded in his hand. As the man was dying, he mysteriously passed on the Lens to Kim. With more companions to come by, Kim must find out the purpose of the Lens before the Boskone dynasty does. Written by
Jenova Synthesis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I rented the dubbed-English version of Lensman, hoping that since it came from well-known novels it would have some substance. While there were hints of substance in the movie, it mostly didn't rise above the level of kiddie cartoon. Maybe the movie was a bad adaptation of the book, or it lost a lot in the dubbed version. Or maybe even the source novels were lightweight. But for whatever reason, there wasn't much there.
I noticed lots of details that were derivative, sloppy, poorly dramatized, or otherwise deficient. Some examples: The opening scenes looked borrowed from the 2001 "star gate" scene and the Star Wars image of hyperspace. The robot on the harvester looked like an anthropomorphized "R2-D2".
It starts out trying to borrow its comic relief style of Star Wars, but mercifully (since the humor doesn't work) gives up on comedy and plays it serious. In that sense, it's superior to the Star Wars franchise, which started with a clever sense of humor, and eventually deteriorated to Jar-Jar's annoying silliness.
The agricultural details were apparently drawn by someone who had never seen a farm. The harvester was driving through the unharvested middle of a field, dumping silage onto unharvested crops, rather than working from one side to the other and dumping the silage onto already-harvested rows or into a truck. Corn (maize) was pouring out the grain chute, but the farm lands were drawn like a wheat field.
When it was time for Kim's father had to face his fate, there wasn't any dramatic weight to the scene. That could have been partly the fault of the English-language voice actor, but the drawings didn't show much weight either. Kim's reactions in that scene were similarly unconvincing.
Similarly, when a character named Henderson was killed, Chris showed very little reaction, even though they were apparently supposed to have been close. (Henderson's death is no spoiler; his name isn't revealed until his death scene.) She seems to promptly forget him. Someone's expression of sympathy shows more feeling than she does. I think the voice actor deserves most of the blame in that case; there's at least a hint of feeling in the drawings of Chris.
On several occasions, villains fail to accomplish their orders. A villain leader often punishes those failures with miserable deaths. I can't say whether that's lifted from Star Wars, or if that comes from an earlier source -- possibly the Lensman books.
There's a scene where a space ship crash-lands. As it plunges toward the ground, parts are break off the ship. But so many pieces are fall off that there should be nothing left of it by the time it lands.
While in most cases Chris seems like a competent, tough space hero, there's a scene where she shrieks like an incompetent damsel in distress. Someone tough enough to get over Henderson's death so quickly should at least be able to shout, "help, it's got me and I can't reach my gun!" instead of just shrieking.
The character with the most personality (almost too much at times) is D.J. Bill. He sounded like Wolfman Jack, the D.J. in American Graffiti. I wonder if he's as well-voiced in the original language.
Two planets in the movie exploded. The explosions were unimpressive, and appeared to owe a lot of inspiration to Star Wars. To its credit, however, the cause of the explosion was completely unlike the Death Star's primary weapon. The dialog had a good, interesting explanation for the cause. Many other explosions in the movie did look good, just not the planetary explosions.
Some of the sound effects are very cheesy, as if borrowed from a late 1970s video game. Some of the images look like primitive video games, and some influence from Tron is visible too. On the other hand, the sound effects are often pretty decent, although that emphasizes the cheesy-sounding parts. The art is good too, particularly when it stays away from the often cheesy-looking computer graphics.
Finally, there's the story. If a movie tells a good story, it can get away with a lot of production shortcomings. But the plot here was pretty lightweight. A naïve boy tries to help someone on a crippled space ship, and acquires a great power he doesn't understand. He and his band of very virtuous companions struggle against a powerful, unredeemably evil enemy. He makes friends, learns about his special power, and grows into a young man. If he is persistent and virtuous enough, he might even defeat the evil enemy. Details along the way can make such a story rise above the simple outline, but there's very little more than that in this movie.
In the end, it's just a kiddie cartoon. But then, since it looks like the primary intended audience is older children, maybe it doesn't need to be anything more than that.
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