In a world with an alternate history, a great war finally comes to an end leaving the earth diseased and polluted. The geneticist Dr. Azuma vies for support from the government for his neo-cell treatment that he claims can rejuvenate the body and regenerate humankind. The government leaders, guarding their own deeply entrenched powers, turn down the professor. Driven to complete his work, Dr. Azuma accepts a secret offer from a sinister faction of the powerful military. After an incident occurs in Dr. Azuma's lab, a race of mutant humans known as the Shinzo Ningen are unleashed upon the world. Now only the warrior known as Casshern, reincarnated with an invincible body, stands between the Shinzo Ningen and a world on the brink of annihilation.Written by
Frank Tinsley V
If I hadn't already seen Zhang Yimou's Hero the previous week, I would have had to say that Casshern is one of the most beautiful-looking films I've seen in years (or ever). However, it'll have to suffice with second place. The CGI is highly stylised, with some green-screen shots looking purposefully false, but the real joy is in the production design - very evocative of Metropolis. Visual references are also made to the Nuremburg rallies of the 1930s, the Holocaust, Orwell's 1984 and those retro wind-up robots. A massive twenty-storey building is suspended in the air by hundreds of propellers like some overgrown zeppelin, and there's shots of a train so wide it requires five strips of rail side-by-side to accommodate it. The battle scenes are particularly awesome, and the combat scenes between Casshern and the Neo-Sapiens equally sharp.
However, the story primarily revolves around the drama of two families and there's very little affinity made with the main characters. Perhaps it was because the action scenes were so bombastic, but I found it very difficult to spur my interest in the character-driven moments, and this consequently made the two-and-a-half-hour running time feel a tad too long.
The final closing message, which runs contrary to the adrenalized mid-section of the film, is presented rather clumsily. But in true Japan-fashion, you can't help but be charmed by the sincerity of the whole thing.
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