Sunday, February 9, 2014

FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 19

There Can Be Only One

   Ah, Highlander. With an expansive legacy encompassing multiple live action films, and multiple series, an animated series, novels, comics, video games, and this anime feature film; no one would question the success of the Highlander franchise. The film is directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (1950- ), known best for: Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust, and more. This 2007 film was produced with the help of Madhouse Studios, which means heck yeah, it's going to be shiny. The score is composed and edited by Jussi Tegelman and Nathan Wang. So with the gathering of a talented group, this film sets out to bring audiences a fresh take on a beloved story. With no intent of replacing its legendary predecessors, this film still succeeds in bringing us a fascinating story, great visuals, entertaining action and characters, wrapped up with a touch of sci-fi / fantasy. So let's begin. 

   While this film definitely stands on its own merits, it does still give nods to its source; the main character is still a MacCloud, a man both blessed and cursed with immortality. Also the outlining quest to be the last man standing remains. That aside, this story is all new. While some may want a retelling, what we get here is a reimagining of the basic story, with a few new twists and turns. As always, I prefer not to spoil any main plot points because my goal is to get people to seek out great anime films, such as this. No surprise, the visuals here are stunning. Crisp stylization, a vivid color palette, and fluid motion in the animation; while expected from Madhouse, is still consistently a pleasure to behold. Oh right, before I get lost in all the shiny goodness, let me say that yes, there be lots of violence and some partial nudity. I personally enjoy the modernization of this beloved tale. With a range from a post-apocalyptic world to ancient times, the possibilities are endless. Not only are the visuals epic, the soundtrack accompanying will rock your socks off! A combination of rocktastic and medieval; you never know what you're going to get, but odds are it will be awesome. A tale and journey of the ages, our hero wanders on his search for vengeance. Back to the visuals for a minute. The architecture, character design, weapon design, fashion, and overall design of large to small items is spectacular. The way the film is shot creates a tone of dark despair with only a sliver of hope, adding to the atmosphere. While yes there are also a handful of classic action movie troops, with a tad of corny dialogue, the result is still a fun action packed package. Once again, odds are if you liked the original Highlander, you'll get a kick out of this film. The English cast is quite fun, while the Japanese is the only version to have the director's cut. I enjoy the English cast: it's fun, and the translation gives way to some funny Americanized dialogue tropes. Overall, the main take away is a bunch of fun. An enjoyable action flick, but as for Highlander himself, there can only be one! Enjoy.

From The Ashes, V.~

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