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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.77%
Worth A Look: 15.38%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad34.62%
Total Crap: 19.23%

1 review, 20 user ratings

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by Kevin Thomas

"Visually amazing, just without the plot to hold it together."
2 stars

Watching a film like this makes you wonder why itís apparently so damn difficult to make a decent movie from a video game. This visually astounding story of aboutÖwellÖfifteen different things plays like a pretty good computer game. Unfortunately, playing like a between-level cut-scene for two and half hours is a tricky road to take. Sadly, Casshern does not take it well.

For a start, the first 40 minutes or so (and then large sections beyond) seem to play like a weird recap. As though youíre a first time viewer to the second part of a series, and the producers have been kind enough to include a ĎLast Week onÖí sequence to get you up to speed. Plot details about a scientist working on Neo-cells (which are exactly the same as stem cells but have a cooler name) and how to grow organs from them to repair soldiers in the field ( of some never-ending war with Europe) get put in place in one of the last parts of the film that makes any real sense. Unfortunately a weird, metallic bolt of lightning comes through the roof of the lab and the organs start coming together and forming humans. These genetic super-humans (who are covered in blue mud which is especially odd given that they came out of red water) escape the best efforts of the armyís containment forces and find their way to some castle in the mountains. A castle that just happens to have a fully functional robot factory downstairs. Your guess is as good as mine.

Being fairly annoyed at mere normal humans for disregarding their right to life, they decide to build a massive robot army and destroy all human life. At this point, a henchman walks up to the leader and shouts ĎThatís slightly ironic donít you think?í before being obliterated. Hereís where the movie starts making more mistakes; as it creates about 7 different storyline threads across itís world. This would be fine normally but, even with a two and half hour running time, not enough time gets given to actually developing any of them. The only character you really want to stay alive is the titular Casshern who, bound in state of the art armour, is the only hope for mankind. Even then, you only root for him because if he died there would be no one even vaguely interesting to cross your fingers for. You know there is a serious problem with your cast when they start getting gunned down left right and centre without you even registering that were on screen to get shot at.

The quartet of Shinzo Ningen (the super humans) put in performances so shallow and camp that itís often difficult to believe that this isnít based on a computer game. They scream ĎEnd of Section Bossí so loud that you spend half the time expecting their face-offs with Casshern to have energy bars at the top.

The plot itself is a barely coherent mix of soldiers, corrupt politicians, backstabbing, science gone wrong, moral philosophy and a load of other stuff stolen from movies like Star Wars, The Matrix, The Untouchables, Kill Bill and even Lord of the Rings. What little that makes sense is rarely interesting enough to hold your attention.

However, one thing that it does have going for it are the visuals. One the few movies to ever get a blend of CGI and reality spot on, a fantastic world of propellers and intricate architecture creates a much more interesting set than the story unfolding upon it. It is often truly amazing how great this film looks on the screen. Itís often a shame, in fact, to have to draw your eyes away in order to read the subtitles.
Sadly, in the same way that The Fifth Element fell down, fancy visuals will never, ever save a boring movie. The story is completely unengaging due in part to the vast range of underdeveloped characters that play it out and due also to the fact that it barely makes sense. Even more galling still is that it dares spend the closing minutes dealing out some fairly heavy moral preaching about peace, war and existence. Weíll take what we want from the movie OK? Thatís our job as the audience. Your job is to make the thing make some fucking sense, so get yours done before you tell us how to do ours.

Itís not in the least bit surprising to discover that this is based on a series from the 70ís simply for the fact that the sense that this is an attempt to fairly represent about ten different stories in two hours is inescapable. Itís an ambitious task and it sadly fails. A more sensible road would have been to expand on one branch of the saga and give that the detail and emphasis it deserved. This awkward summary of everything simply means that, to the average newcomer, large portions of the story are completely incomprehensible. The portions that make sense simply feel like the absolute barest of details that are needed to make the other bits glue together. Imagine if Peter Jackson had tried to condense all three Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit into one two and a half hour film. Simply would not work.

Itís a massive shame that it falls victim to itís own ambition. If youíve seen the original series youíll appreciate it more by far, but to newcomers itís simply too much.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 11/17/04 00:04:27
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/23/20 STUPIDCLOUD Probably the worst CG movie in the history of Japanese cinema. 2 stars
7/15/08 Pascal The Wall and Dune meets Manga 5 stars
6/26/07 ben visually stunning, utterly incoherant, emotionally unengaging. poor 2 stars
10/31/06 Cypher Great movie,visually unique.proud to have it in my collection 5 stars
9/21/06 kitten what? 1 stars
8/03/05 xmxiix TOTAL crap. The KING OF CRAP. I will throw away mt TV set after i've seen this. 1 stars
6/14/05 jameth burketh Visually stunning. The story is high concept but jumpy at times. 4 stars
6/07/05 scoop it seems that most people don't understand the plot of the movie, but for me, it's a unique 5 stars
2/23/05 Mike Misunderstood Masterpiece. 5 stars
2/05/05 kev t i thought it was a great film,guess you don't understand it coz u dunno what art is! 5 stars
1/23/05 SmarterThanYou Maybe it doesn't make sense because you're too stupid to understand it. :) 4 stars
1/14/05 Mark Stunning and shows how much Holywood sucks these days. 5 stars
12/15/04 Doust Great to fast forward to the action scenes. Definately worth seeing for the visuals alone. 4 stars
12/13/04 Jack Wishing it was as good as the trailer 2 stars
12/13/04 Destarius The movie makes no sense, and tries to do too much. Worst show I've seen for a long time. 1 stars
12/13/04 Destarius The movie makes no sense, and tries to do too much. Worst show I've seen for a long time. 1 stars
12/13/04 Destarius The movie makes no sense, and tries to do too much. Worst show I've seen for a long time. 1 stars
12/10/04 Karen Teoh Visuals make the story incredibly powerful 5 stars
12/03/04 fred Outstanding. visually and intellectually 5 stars
11/19/04 Call me...Darth Bauls, Bong! What are you babbling about boy... 4 stars
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  N/A (NR)
  DVD: 16-Oct-2007



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