Prior to last night’s screening of Terraformars, the very director, the amazing Takashi Miike, was on hand to receive Fantasia’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Takashi Miike took the chance to point out that he has released thirty films while Fantasia has been around for twenty years. He plans to be around another twenty, so he suggests we keep it up so he can be back by then. You can read my past reviews in 2013’s Fantasia coverage where I blogged about his films Shield of Straw and Lesson of the Evil. You can even see 2012’s review of For Love’s Sake. Congratulations Takashi Miike!
The premise of Terraformars couldn’t be more clear. Earth has become a shithole. Err… not now, in the year 2599. To make ourselves a new home we’ve tried sending life to Mars to make it green. Mainly moss and cockroaches. Cockroaches. Yeap. The short version, they mutated into this super-muscular sentient humanoids. So we gotta go there and defeat them. To do that, we’re arming people to the teeth- oops, nope. We’re taking people from the lower echelons of society and giving them mutations so they become hybrid bug-human. There’s a lesson there on not playing god on all that but gets obliterated to heck when we reveal cool bug-like powers for each character.
The cockroaches can also evolve so when- ok, let’s stop here. If so far what I’ve said has wet your appetite for this film, I really need not go any further. I enjoyed the obvious homage to Blade Runner on the Earth sequences. If you don’t think it’s obvious, wait for the vehicle that brings the villain into the film to appear. It has a certain recognizable likeness. However, once we switch to Mars, the outside scenery is pure CGI. Not to say that the movie doesn’t use practical effects. As a matter of fact, every single bug human fighter has a quite elaborate appearance. Too bad I can’t say the same for the enemy cockroaches, who appear by the thousands. With everyone using an anime-inspired armor and suffering a super-bug transformation, you’re either going to get into this movie or you don’t.
And the crowd was receptive. Specially as the characters soon prove the cockroach mutants are anything but an easy foe. Heavy losses are incurred, the cast gets smaller and smaller and killing roaches suddenly becomes no small challenge. However, even as the plot reveals some obvious twists and betrayals, I started to wonder. Who’s this film for? Fantasia, 100%. It’s loud, it’s bright, it’s colorful and it oozes stuff. For the casual observer, it almost looks like Starship Troopers meet Power Rangers with arms, legs and heads being ripped off all over the place. Definitely not for kids, definitely not taken seriously by adults either.
Break down time:
Highs: Unapologetically violent, loud and colorful depiction of a battle scenario waiting to happen as each bug power is revealed. Loved the futuristic 2599 look of Tokyo.
Lows: The fights eventually get repetitive. The cockroach enemies’ look is a bit silly. Over the top exposition starts to wear thin past the mid point. Actually, the whole thing started to get thin for me past this point.
I can only recommend it only for really hardcore fans of the genre or Takashi Miike. That means for the most part, all casual viewers should skip it.
Now, on that switching thing… Yes, I had to skip out on Demon. Now that I’m thinking it over, I may skip out on tonight’s As the Gods Will. Yes, it’s another of Takashi Miike’s offerings and I’m sure it will be colorful and disturbing – not to mention with a lot more gore than Terraformars. It will also have over the top performances and deaths galore. The thing is, I might want something different from the menu. So this is time for the switcharoo. What have we got?
Well, I’d like to keep Beware the Slenderman despite – or because – of its obvious mainstream viral status. That being said, the other candidate film for tonight is Psycho Raman (India). It’s something new. And when things start looking the same, that’s what’s best to try.
- Sunday, July 17: Beware the Slenderman (USA) / ?
- Monday, July 18: Three (Hong Kong) / The Wailing (South Korea).
- Tuesday, July 19: The Lure (Poland).
- Wednesday, July 20: Lights Out (USA).
That will do for now.