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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Science & Religion, Anti-God and a hint of Lovecraft!, 26 July 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. It wasn't the action that scared me so much as the creepy atmosphere, and above all else, the hopelessness and dread of the story. There is also something very Lovecraftian to this movie, in that the horror lies in the whole situtation, and there is no hope of escaping the madness of it all. But then again, Carpenter has done other very much Lovecraftian movies, with "The Thing" and "In the Mouth of Madness" very much Lovecraft-inspired... which is also a goooood thing, because that's a damn good influence!

************Possible Spoilers**************

This movie is totally hopeless (in a positively scary sense!!)... Indeed, everything in the universe has its opposite, mirror image, and that includes absolutely every type of matter. People believing in the idea of God, of a supreme mind willing the destiny of everything that exists, will probably freak out at the idea of that same God being, instead of a positive being, an Anti-God. But if a God truly was, would He really be as we'd like Him to be? That, alone is scary, and reminds me of the deities of the Mythos, like Azatoth or Nyarlathotep... Oh, and add to that the possibility of sending communications back in time, by emitting them faster than light, which could very well be done sometime in the future (read about Gunter Nimtz's experiments, for exemple).

This is not gory or "watch for that axe murderer" (although there are hints of both here and there), but it does have its charms : a great score, a creepy philosophical concept, Lovecraftian psychological terror, and a great ride into the bleak, hopeless, and apocalyptic.

Subtle, and disturbing, for those who can think and immerse themselves in an horror movie WITHOUT the need for excessive gore and makeup.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Just as "Akira" did with the gargantuan manga..., 12 February 2002

..."Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaia" does the same with an equally long predecessor.

Before I begin, let me say I was a fan of the anime series and the mangas, but this movie has totally won me over - I was in awe when I saw it at the Fantasia Fest in Montreal.

To those who complain it is too different from the series - get real, how can you possibly hope to compress ten hours of a series in a hundred minutes of a movie??? And also, have you ever read the Escaflowne mangas? There were two series that I remember, and both were actually very different from each other, and I mean HUGELY different. So stop complaining, Escaflowne is not a single story, it is the essence, the spirit behind many stories, like different sides to a cube.

Now, on the way the movie is darker than the series, it is very true, but also, very justified. In the series, Fanelia was obliterated, but Van seemed hardly traumatized by it, he did not become the revengeful prince that he should have been portrayed as. Now, in the movie, he is - do you seriously think, if you were the ruler of a kingdom, if it was to be reduced to ashes before your very eyes, you wouldn't become filled with so much hate and be deeply depressed - as he feels like he is the last of his kind, much like a "Last of the Mohicans".

Technically, it is beautiful, this movie just screams ambiance. Where the series were very brilliantly colored, and therefore not visually symbolistic of the underlying apocalyptic theme (at least, until the last few episodes), in the movie, the overall feel in most visuals is one of sadness, pain, despair, darkness. Many barren and desolate landscapes go on to show just how much the world is suffering and in need of a savior. And the way Escaflowne merges with Van, even to the point of sharing blood, it makes it all very visceral, and has a much more 'samurai' kind of spirit behind it - because of its inherent link to blood and mortality - than the high-fantasy theme of the series.

The characters may seem scarred, but let's face it, the destruction of your homeland, the death of your loved ones, the fear of witnessing the annihilation of your world... short, war; well, it is not a very happy subject and quite frankly, it scars people, it affects them. Under that light, I guess I can safely say that as depressing as it may be, the movie is much more realistic in its approach to the psychology of its characters than the happier-feeling series.

Musically, it couldn't have been better. The soundtrack is a Wagnerian opus of a score, really; the music alone makes it worthwhile to sit through the movie.

Bottom line is: If you're looking for the series, better watch the series; if you're looking for a different Escaflowne, darker, more mature, more realistic, and just great Anime, you owe it yourself to check this one out.

520 out of 618 people found the following review useful:
Never before in my life were my cheeks more aching..., 30 January 2002

...but oh was I thankful for it!!! All through the movie I kept on having this big large smile sculpted into my face. For the record, I'm 25 years old, and I've read "The Lord of the Rings" in three times for the first time when I was six or seven years old. Ever since then, I read it at least once or twice a year - therefore you can count me as a fan, for I follow the same cult fan procedure with "The Hobbit" and "The Silmarillion" as well. Now onto the movie... Gosh, I saw it more than one time, and I keep wanting more of it. It just never gets boring! I really enjoyed the little stuff that is found throughout the movie for fans of the books (the map on Bilbo's table in his house comes to mind, it is exactly as the one in "The Hobbit" book that I own), and I also incredibly enjoyed the intro sequence with the re-telling of the battle against Sauron from the Silmarillion, never has an ultimate evil being been so well depicted on the screen. It truly is Sauron.

Those who argue the movie cuts too many parts or that it changes the story too much are totally wrong. This movie could not have shown the whole first time in its entirety - keep in mind that the audiobook version of 'Fellowship of the Ring' lasts well over ten hours, making a movie this long would, well, make it way too long and besides, how would you financially sustain such a project? I've read a reviewer saying he'd make all three books with the time allowed for the first movie alone. I think it would be a very fast-forwarding experience of a movie with 'Alvin and the Chimpmunks' kind of voices, incredibly stupid to say the least.

Ok, so there are changes in the movie - well, this is Jackson's vision of it. All of us have our own visions of the books, which may or may not be compatible with that of Jackson's, but I can safely assume that nobody can say they have a hundred percent the same vision of the story as Tolkien; that's the thing with books: each reader has a different vision of it. As for me, I was blown away. Never before have I felt so much at home in a movie, it is as if I had taken a walk in the town where I grew up, the Shire, Rivendell, Moria, Lorien, everything felt so much like home, I was moved. I cannot tell of another movie that had me shed tears just by seeing a landscape on screen.

As for the changes, well, I found good reasons behind all of them, and let me tell you right away, I was happy that Arwen saved Frodo, yes, maybe coming from a fan it will look like absolute heresy, but I enjoyed the scene a lot. I did not enjoy it because it was supposedly politically-correct to do so, or that I find Liv Tyler to be absolutely attractive; it was just because I felt like even though it was a big change from the book, it was a very good one indeed, it makes you discover the power, determination, and courage of elves and the fact that even elven women, although great in their beauty and seemingly fragile in appearance do not have anything to envy to their male counterparts. And beside, as Arwen is to become a Queen later on, it was pretty good to see her have a great first appearance.

The actors were great, they were a lot into their characters, and for the first time, I saw elves as they were, quick, agile, terrifyingly effective in battle - just look at how Legolas dealed with the hordes of enemies without a single hint of fear in his eyes - these are elves as they should be. Gimli was great too, I know people seem to think many characters were not developed enough, but by the actions you can learn a lot. With Gimli a lot can be learned about the dwarves, their pride, deep sense of honor and family, their mistrust of elves, their love for strong beer and a good fight against anything bigger, and their sheer hatred for orcs and the likes. Aragorn was totally the ranger character, the ending scene as he walked toward the horde of Uruk-Hai warriors was great, his attitude, his clothes, everything about him just cried "ranger". Boromir was very well depicted, desperate to save the people of Gondor, by any mean necessary, robbed of all hope, yet in the end he redeems himself by showing his true valour, deep down, he's willing to die to defeat evil, and when he recognizes his king in Aragorn, on his last breath, I felt like watching a hero die, it was moving. The hobbits were all great, Frodo is deeply sad and fatalist, and Sam is just the 'best friend' everyone would like to have, just as it should be. Finally, we have Gandalf, quite frankly, he looks mighty, Ian IS Gandalf. The faceoff against the Balrog in the Moria is a memorable sequence, and just shows how strong he really is, to be able to vanquish such a foe. I can't wait for his return.

Quite frankly, I can't wait for the two other movies... In the meantime, I'll watch this one over and over again. This movie has everything that a good movie needs to have, and more. Plus, it just might bring more people to actually read books that have more pages than the average little 25¢ novel that has no value in it, which is great. Parents, maybe some scenes will frighten your kids, but this movie has almost NO blood (even though it has a good share of battle) and the foes are undeniably evil, plus it has good values in it - friendship, courage, responsiblity, sacrifice for a good cause, and the belief that anyone can help to change things. This is worthy of Tolkien, this is a movie that will go down in history as being one of the best ever, for sure.