Friday, March 12, 2010

Jmovie review: 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter

Kenji-kun, asobimashou!

I forgot to write about the second movie but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be though Taira Airi was a bad choice for Kanna. Luckily she didn't have to carry the second movie and it was more about setting up things for the third movie. Before the third movie was released, it was announced that the ending would be changed. I was intrigued. The main thing to change would be Tomodachi's identity.

If only they killed her before casting her in this movie.

Sadly, they have changed more than the ending for the third movie. The writer took the final volumes of the manga, stripped it of most of the intrigue and suspense build up and restructured it into a B grade action film. I can understand changing things when adapting for movies. Similar to LOTR, events were merged/simplified, dialogue was given to other characters and different events were created in order to fit certain characters into a more streamlined movie.

Problem is, 20thCB isn't a straightforward action story. Its a mystery/thriller story. Lots of flashbacks and teasing of clues. Basically a jumbled and slow build up. There can only be two reasons for this. First is time. The Last Chapter runs for 2 1/2 hours and I don't think they want it any longer than that though 3 hours would have done the story justice. Except they waste time with crap like suspecting Yoshitsune to be Tomodachi bit and the Yukiji judo bit. If there's too many characters and not enough time, the script should concentrate and two characters and put everyone else in the background, not try to give every single character their moment in the sun.

Why are we standing in front of a super fake looking robot?

The second problem is of course, budget. The CG in this one is bad. Actually it was already bad in the first one but it wasn't integral to the story. The writer combined the two separate sequences involving the robot into one and made it the climax of the movie. The thing is, its not very exciting in the movie and it worked very differently in the manga. It just looked very bad and they could have made it better but making the attack and night doing very limited full shots of the robot like in the first movie.

The Last Hope looks way too B-movish for something that is supposed to be a serious story. There were times when I felt like I was watching a spin off of Yatterman. I mean look at the above picture of the plastic rocket launcher from the set of a sentai series. Way to ruin what is suppose to an exciting moment. Whoever made this movie needs to learn how to hide a movie's weakness and accentuate its positives.

Chick fight!

The vest way to describe The Last Hope is that its sort of like watching The Departed and realising Scorcese had no idea what actually made Infernal Affairs such a good movie. It resembles the manga but misses what made it so fun to read. If you've not read the manga, watch the first two movies and then read the manga. One good thing at least is the Kenji concert at the end. Besides that, just ignore the third movie even exists.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, not a big fan of the manga and I thought the ending was an anti-climax/copout by the author (although I didn't read the 2 volume 21st Century Boys which is supposed to wrap up some loose ends). The constant use of non-linear narratives and the huge number of characters don't help, that means I always have to go back to previous volumes to figure out who is who and what the hell had happened. The 3rd part of the movie doesn't seem to be any better w/ the changes, although I only skimmed thru it. The CG is very bad, I guess w/ the huge A-list cast they probably don't have much left to spend on for the final act. I agreed that Kanna is a miscast, and Tabe Mikako would have been IMO a better fit (when the movie was announced and they were still casting for Kanna, she's the first actress that popped up in my head).
The Kanna arc was actually my favourite part of the manga, but they cut out a lot of it which's fine as the less the actress appears the better.

IMO the trilogy is probably more for fans of the manga than for general audience. The manga claims to be a traditional sci-fi/thriller but there's really very little sci-fi, esp. w/ the crappy CG in the movies.

maiku said...

I came into the films with zero knowledge of the manga. I enjoyed the first one up until the ending (which felt rushed and anticlimactic). Part 2 was ok. More things happened, but I wasn't as concerned about the characters this time around. Part 3 was a mess. Too much story, not enough time. Too much telling, not enough showing. I'm still not sure what to make of the concert at the end. It felt very random.

Overall the series reminded me of the Matrix trilogy. The beginning grabs you, but towards the end the story grows so big and complex that they're fumbling to convey it all.

Akiramike said...

Tabe Makiko would have improved the film heaps. The non-linear narrative is what made the manga exciting because you're constantly looking for clues.

They tried to streamline the story for non-fans but in the end it turned out to be a mess.

Maiku, read the manga. That's what I did after watching the movie to help me forget the movie.