Archive for Goemon

Goemon Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on January 21, 2010 by Adam Broome

Having survived the bitterly cold christmas holidays, I returned back to Coventry University. One week in, and the CUEAFS are already back on form, kicking off Term 2 with a follow-up of sorts to Casshern. If you’ve seen even small pieces of Casshern, you’ll know that it’s like watching a Japanese version of 300 or Sin City – a lot of CGI mixed in with the real occurs on screen. This isn’t Avatar either – the special effects are easily distinguishable. But that’s sort of the point.

Taking a few steps back, as far as the story goes, this plays out like a Japanese version of Robin Hood. Goemon is the name of the main character – a ninja-type thief who robs corrupt governmental officials to feed the poor (etc…). The film opens up with a particularly elaborate heist, where Goemon breaks into a vault and steals several valuable items – among which is a blue box. Goemon doesn’t think anything of it and throws it away, where a child subsequently picks it up. However, the box is actually a device that protects a very powerful secret about the current ruler of the region. And as you can probably figure, it’s not long before the ninja discs start flying as various villain-types start emerging in an attempt to recover the box.

One thing leads to another, and at over 2 hours in length, there is (luckily) a lot more that happens in the story than just running around with boxes and getting into occasional fights. I say ‘fights’… ‘massacres’ would probably be better. Unfortunately, as with Casshern, the lead character seems invincible throughout the whole duration. It’s very cool watching a ninja fly like Superman, yes. But there’s no tension. Not one bit. Even towards the end when Goemon decides to attack an entire fortress single-handedly (with the quintessential 5000+ army guarding the entrance), you know who’s going to win. However, the fights are done so well, it doesn’t detract from being entertaining. The CGI-bloated action narrowly avoids becoming a digital mess at times, but for the most part it is very fun and entertaining – one scene where Goemon ascends a tower with chain-guns firing down at him particularly stays in the mind.

Normally the acting is quite well-handled in world cinema. However, I felt rather cut off from most characters in this film. The ending intended to make a point about human greed, but for some reason I felt little emotion – despite the fact that the fun action scenes abruptly stop for an hour in the middle of the movie to build up character profiles. One scene – taken straight out of Gladiator – was full of sorrow and emotion on screen. Yet all I felt was anticipation for more CGI confrontations.

Ultimately, this is a comic-strip film, engineered for action and adventure scenes. Despite one whole hour focusing on characters, it just didn’t work. Goemon is introduced to us as a superhuman thief, and by the end is supposed to have made the transition to becoming a human. In some scenes, the character seemed to act oddly, and against his profile, which again showed that something was going wrong somewhere.

On a more positive note, the sound was superb. Right from the start, the battle music and bass made the floor rumble, which is just the sort of thing you need in a film like this. This is a fun film once you get into it, with some good lines, fast editing and visually stunning set pieces, with very imaginative mise-en-scene on top. It takes a long time to deliver a rather simple message, and when the action stops, the film seems to lose it’s way somewhat. Perhaps it takes itself too seriously for it’s comic-style antics as well. However, I would definitely consider this to be one of the better films screened at Ellen Terry. It’s a good, solid piece of film making. Without the sag in the middle, it could have been spectacular.