I've watched three of these theatrical features so far, but I won't be suffering through any more of them...
Despite the involvement of much of the original Headgear staff (not to mention director Oshii Mamoru, who defined the Mobile Police Patlabor series with his stellar work on the original OAVs and two animated features), this so-called "sequel" is nothing more than a live-action retread with different names for the same old characters. In and of itself, that wouldn't have been a problem, had this series of films stuck with the sophisticated tone of the original Patlabor. Unfortunately, this new remake is all broad, slapstick humor, absurdly overacted and embarrassingly unfunny. While humor was an important element of the classic anime series, it was never this ridiculously overdone; I don't recall the maintenance staff performing any musical dance sequences, for instance, nor do I remember the Ingram handguns obliterating the SVII base with a single shot...
The acting remains cheesy and silly even when it's supposed to be serious (a typical problem with Japanese sci-fi films), and the CGI robot action is almost nonexistent. In fact, apart from the relatively high production values, there's absolutely nothing redeeming about this series. As a huge Patlabor fan, I couldn't be more disappointed.
I wasn't particularly impressed with the last Patlabor animated film, "WXIII," but at least it stayed true to the style of the movies that preceded it, and didn't damage the brand. The "MiniPato" parody shorts were both charming and innocuous, proving that Patlabor can be self-referential and funny. "The Next Generation," however, is such a dismal embarrassment that it casts a pall on the Patlabor name, and fans can only hope that this disastrous series of movies -- that fail to be either dramatic or funny -- are quickly forgotten and don't affect the brand as a whole. We'll just have to sweep this mess under the rug, and hope it stays there.
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