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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had been anticipating this movie since I saw the original ad
campaign--a young boy encompassed by the shadow of an old-school robot.
I was even more excited when I saw pictures of the actual robots.
Throwback designs to a simpler time, when big, clumsy top-heavy
machines ruled the earth. I guess in the back of my mind what I was
hoping for was a modern-day version of Johnny Socko and his Giant
Robot, a series I adored growing up.
Boy, was I let down.
What I got in Testujin instead was a spotty, marginal film with far too much emotion expressed with not enough attachment to the story. If there's one thing I hate in a movie it's the emotional young boy, screaming, banzai-ing, crying when he doesn't need to be--especially when there's not enough on the screen for you to share that with him. It can work, as it did in Miike Takashi's "Yôkai Daisensô," but unfortunately we don't have a winning formula here. Even Johnny Socko had a King Kong-ish connection with the Giant Robot as he flew through the sky in his hand, which unfortunately is missing from this movie. Giant Robot hinted at something human. You never get the feeling that Tetsujin is anything more than a big dumb empty metal shell that, save for a lucky punch, pretty much sucks at fighting.
Perhaps I'd have to really know the original manga to appreciate this, but far too many characters were crammed into this thing. On top of that, the robot battles were weak displays of slow-mo Rocky-like all-punch, no-defense boxing matches. Difference being, in Rocky the slow-motion was used for dramatic effect and here the robots are just oafish and lethargic. There's a scene where the enemy has apparently destroyed the good-guy Tetsujin and what does he do? Put the final nail in the coffin and completely destroy his adversary? Fly off to carry on his mission to destroy the world? No... he just stands there frozen in the same position waiting a good five, ten minutes for his opponent to regain his strength and continue the battle.
It all begs the question, for a robot (or robot mastermind) that has his sights set on world domination, why create a weapon with so many defensive liabilities? How do you expect to be master of the universe when you can't even get past Tokyo?
The movie starts out promising enough, as the evil Black Ox robot twists Tokyo tower into a Twizzler, but it's soon all downhill from there. Too much shoehorned back story, too many story lines with not enough story to cover them, too many illogical plot holes and highly lacking in characters with actual character.
Watch the first 15 minutes, then shut it off. You'll save yourself some wasted time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(www.plasticpals.com) Tetsujin 28, known as Gigantor in the West, is
quite possibly the most iconic giant robot story ever told. It was a
comic created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama in 1956 which made the jump to
television screens in 1963. Since then there have been a few animated
TV shows, statues, and even some real robots, but this movie is a rare
I won't bother going into plot details because all you need to know is on the DVD cover. That's a problem, because the film spends the majority of its two hours telling a story so ingrained in popular culture that it goes beyond being predictable to feeling interminably drawn out. The scene introducing the villain's robot, which subsequently tears Tokyo a new one, is easily the highlight of the film. Effects-wise the robots have perfectly smooth exoskeletons with an uncanny sheen, giving them a hyper-real look which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, the film doesn't let the mystery of who is controlling Black Ox simmer for very long, and his primary motivation for attacking the city leaves much to be desired. And that's not all.
Like the first Short Circuit, the film has an identity crisis. The film makers can't seem to decide if this is a movie for little kids or something darker for the adult fans. Despite the ridiculous plot and hammy acting it takes itself too seriously, with few attempts at comic relief. The result is a joyless film with none of the quaint charm of the black and white cartoon. It never strikes the right balance of drama, action, and comedy. The animated mini-series based on Giant Robo (another of Yokoyama's creations) does a much better job of developing the boy's relationship with his father in a single fever dream sequence.
What's worse is that the fights between the robots which ought to be spectacular are rather boring. In the past 50 years, audiences have grown accustomed to increasingly frenetic, even acrobatic battle scenes as the genre has evolved. Having two robots stand nose to nose, slowly wind up their punches, and occasionally knock each other into the surrounding buildings just isn't all that exciting.
Although I'm glad this film stuck to the original robot designs, I have to admit that it is actually less entertaining than the live-action version of Transformers. My advice: if you want to get your Tetsujin 28 fix, check out the original black and white cartoon series.
Quite a few adults will remember the exciting Japanese Cartoon,
Gigantor. This black and white show with simplistic animation and wacky
voice acting was one of the first of the now popular Japanese Anime
shows to be produced and also one of the first to make it to the United
Although dead here, Gigantor lives on in Japan as a cultural icon similar to how we view classic heroes like Superman, though across the Pacific Gigantor is known as Tetsujin 28 (Iron Man 28).
If you have any fond memories of Gigantor, this film will really bring them out. The characters and robots are designed specifically to look like their cartoon counterparts and though the tone is a little more serious than the cartoon had ever gotten the movie will still have you recalling the old show with the silly looking robots punching each other back and forth and chucking one another into buildings.
The story is slow at parts and the robot fighting becomes less exciting as the movie wears on once the initial shock has worn off. That's not to say it isn't' impressive. The evil robot "Black Ox" will definitely have you drooling during his first attack on Tokyo.
Although the robot computer generated graphics is odd at first, the sense of scale is incredible and far superior than most live action Japanese movies of this type (Name just about any Japanese giant monster movie). The acting is dry occasionally, and at times there is a lot of over-acting but keep in mind that this is a kids movie.
Even so, if you're a fan of Gigantor you owe it to yourself to import a copy of this movie since it's doubtful we'll see it in the States. If you don't have many fond memories for the flying-metal-Homer-Simpson of a robot then you might want to stay away from this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, I was a fan of the original GIGANTOR series; and the more recent anime reincarnation(s), as well; but I was genuinely surprised to discover this all-but-unknown live-action gem. That it's so superbly crafted is likewise surprising. For the first time ever, the sight (and sounds) of giant robots slugging it out in the middle of a major metropolitan city street is truly believable. (The cgi work so well here, in part, precisely because these are giant robots going toe-to-toe.) Their movements are ponderous but plausible. A little less exposition and a little more action might've helped, but, all things considered, this is a balanced presentation that is, frankly, an amazing achievement. (One need only go back and sit through disappointments like DRAGONHEAD and GUNHED- among others- to realize just how bad this one could've been.) Now, if I can only get my hands on a copy of ROBOMAN HAKAIDER...
Oh well, this is hard for me to say this is a good robot movie because it is not that good nor bad but a "just okay" movie. There are some cheesy fight which you realise that some part of the robots' fighting are using toys. The story is Tokyo is under devastating attack by the ominous Black Ox. Nobody can stop this madness but there only one robot that can stop it. Tetsujin 28! A "chosen boy", Shotaro Kaneda must outcome his fears to control Tetsujin 28. I am not a fan of the Tetsujin 28 anime series but I thought the live-action was good as I almost like all the anime to be brought alive. I realised that they talked as much as they want but the fighting of the robots looked like it was rush into it. Anyway, I quite like this, the CG effects of the robots. I will watch it to kill two hours when I am bored. This is only on VCD in Singapore.
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