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Casshern

Japan 2004
produced by
Shochiku, Tatsunoko Productions, Casshern Film Partners
directed by Kazuaki Kiriya
starring Yusuke Iseya, Kumiko Aso, Akira Terao, Kanako Higuchi, Fumiyo Kohinata, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Jun Kaname, Hidetoshi Nichijima, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Susumu Terajima, Hideji Otaki, Tatsuya Mihashi, Toshiaki Karasawa, Mayumi Sada
based on characters by Tatsuo Yoshida

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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After having won the big war over world domination, Japan is suffering greatly from the outcomes, the land being riddled by disease, be it from pollution, radiation or gen-experiments gone horribly wrong. Only one man seems to have an answer, professor Azuma (Akira Terao), who has developed the new cell treatment, which can pretty much bring back severed limbs by an advanced process of cloning.

But his treatment is only a theory and the only backer Azuma can find is the military, and he gives in to their demands only because his own wife Midori (Kanako Higuchi) is terminally ill and can be cured only by the new cell treatment.

But then, on the same day not only Azuma's son Tetsuya (Yusuke Iseya) dies on the battlefield but also the new cell experiment takes a turn to a rather unexpected diretions, as humanoids start to emerge from the giant vessels of experimental fluid. The military, not really prepared for anything beyond their expectations, start gunning down these humanoids (from hereon called Neo Sapiens) in no time ... but as it always happens a few escape, and make their getaway through the mountains to an old castle where they find refuge, and with them Azuma's wife Midori, the only human who showed them compassion ...

Back at his lab, the professor decides to take the body of his dead son, to revive him as well - which even works, but his body is very unstable and has to be kept in some experimental armour developed by Tetsuya's stepfather (Fumiyo Kohinata) at all times ... and the armour (quite naturally) gives him super powers.

Meanwhile the Neo Sapiens haven't been idle and have built an army of robots to defeat humanking, and a big war starts, soon laying ruins to the country. But the humans now have superpowered Tetsuya (who now calls himself Casshern after an earth spirit), and he fights fiercer and fiercer battles against the Neo Sapiens (who are, strictly speaking, his own people).

Eventually though, Casshern grows more and more repelled about the methods the human soldiers use against the Neo Sapiens (and sometimes unwanted humans as well), and serious doubts about the righteousness of his fight grown in him, sulminating in him losing a fight against one of the Neo Sapiens, Barashin (Jun Kaname) on purpose after he has seen his own wife Luna (Kumiko Aso) being imprisoned.

The war becomes more and more dehumanized, having nothing to do with either the humans or the Neo Sapiens but being a sort of bloody game between the human and the Neo Sapiens' leader, who in their fascist views resemble each other more and more, making it impossible for Casshern to choose sides.

Eventually the Neo Sapiens' leadeer treleases a super robot/bomb against the land, and dewspite his best efforts Casshern is unable to stop it, and its explosion blows away humans and Neo Sapiens alike ... except for some odd reason Casshern himself, his wife Luna, and his father professor Azuma ... who decides to use his New Cell treatment once more to revive his wife Midori, whose corpse he has found only recently ... but when Casshern won't let him, he cold-bloodedly shoots Luna, just to show him how much loss can hurt. But Casshern resists the lure of reviving her, instead he blows himself up to be with her in the next world ...

 

This film does feature quite impressive retro-sci-fi pictures, which use CGI-effects in great and inventive ways, and the story, while not nearly as original as it pretends to be, is intelligent and does have its points of inspiration.

The outcome of this however results in considerably less than the sum of its parts, since the pretty pictures do little to support the story they are telling, instead shifting attention from it, many well staged action sequences intercut the storytelling process rather than helping it along, while some horribly cheesy dialogues do cheapen the story to tearjerker-level.

It's not an all-bad film, and Casshern does have its great moments, it just falls several feet short of its lofty oals.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD