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E.C. McMullen Jr.
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E.C. McMullen Jr.
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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
You know, I love comic books. I love a good comic with good stories and what's more, I really enjoy a good comic when it has a unique artist's interpretation.
I first saw GALERIANS: RION, as a DVD at a local retail outfit. It looked good, the teaser on the back seemed appealing, and yet something made me think, "No, don't buy this one; rent first."
GALERIANS: RION is based on the Playstation game, GALERIANS from 2000 and GALERIANS: ASH from 2002. It was produced for the U.S. by Jonathan Blatt (actually, he only redid the music for US release - so we aren't getting the original music here. Why is that a producer credit?), whose only previous producer credit was as an associate producer on a porn film in 1995 and and assistant to the producers on a soft core Thriller movie, KILLER LOOKS, in 1994. That about wraps up Jon's film career. On the other hand he is also he CEO of Treadstone Records (and like its namesake from THE BOURNE IDENTITY, I think it involves a lot of bands that no one will ever hear of?), which assisted the production company, Image, in procuring songs for this DVD. The songs by bands like SEVENDUST and FEAR FACTORY were added only for the US release version and they ain't bad, but they ain't the original soundtrack either.
Anyone else? I'm afraid I can't tell you. The only other person speaking for it in Image's press release is Chip Carter. Who the hell is he? Why he's the guy Image retained to "brand manage the program". And as that stench-of-marketing-hell title might suggest, Ol' Chip has marvelous things to say about the movie. In fact, he actually uses words from the list they give you at Marketing 101. Unfortunately, they are words from the "Overused Since 1980 - Do Not Use" list. Chip describes GALERIANS: RION as a "landmark leap forward"; "state-of-the-art"; and "an anime experience".
It's directed by Masahiko Maesawa, who was the art director for GALERIANS, the video game back in 2000. It was also written by Chinfa Kang, who wrote the video game, GALERIANS: ASH. The original soundtrack is by Masahiko Hagio, who also did the music for the video game - but that's just a DVD cover credit. The original music is never heard because the soundtrack was completely redone for the U.S. with a bunch of marketing production bands that could move product - thank you Treadstone. In fact, this movie could damn well be the video game without the game! I have a few Japanese friends here in the US, so I'll see what they can tell me for a possible update, but I ain't promising nothing because I'd rather not rent this movie again.
The plusses boil down to the following: Excellent style of 3D computer graphics. The box shows stylized characters in a CGI setting and I wasn't disappointed in the least. I don't expect 3D to go the way of Real and Realer! (after all, I'm a realist): and I look forward to seeing more 3D anime characters and less FINAL FANTASY: SPIRITS WITHIN zombie-skin actors. I also appreciated the fact that the Japanese characters look like Japanese people and not the usual overly conformed style of hyperthyroid-eyed denizens whose chins disappear when they yell. So Galerian truly delivers on scene and character creation.
Another plus about this film is that you could make the entire thing yourself using programs you can buy at most software retail stores. State-of-the-art it ain't. That's bullshit!
Still, the movie starts out impressively. With no more exposition than a year and a location, the movie begins with a boy trapped and asleep inside a metal cocoon. He wakes up to find himself attached to a bunch of tubes inside the machine (THE MATRIX anyone?). A girl's voice is asking for help from somewhere, possibly inside his head, so he utterly destroys his confines. He doesn't know who he is or where he is or even how he just did what he did. The destruction killed some people and a shadowy survivor tells him to get back into whatever the hell it was that he blew up into a million pieces. I don't know how this order was supposed to be followed, but the stranger addresses our hero (?) by name, calling him Rion.
Rion goes through a large number of folks trying to stop him or kill him and they all nearly succeed until Rion sets them all on fire with cheese. At least, it sure looked like a cheesy fire effect. Eventually that stops working and Rion has to resort to screaming. Eventually that stops working and Rion has to resort to drugs.
Hey, sooner or later, when things stop working, we all have to resort to drugs. Remind me to tell you about my Viagra dependency someday.
With incredible luck, he comes across a floating computer that refuses to tell him anything without a security code, but gives in when he starts screaming at it. Rion learns where his home is and who his parents are. He also encounters the first level End Boss. Rion busts out of the hospital and makes his way back home, at least he thinks it was his home. But he doesn't go alone. Strange guys in black clothes have tailed him and there is also a guy called Birdman, who giggles inanely and multiplies insanely. There is also an evil fat kid in a hair net and a inflatable swimming vest.
Why? Who knows.
Rion goes screaming through a few guys in black then comes across a message. The message is an exposition device along the lines of "If you are reading/hearing/watching this, then I'm dead." Now this can be an effective plot device, serving as both exposition and the slingshot that really propels the movie forward. These kinds of things usually run along the lines of,
We made a computer and called it Dorothy. Dorothy is made not of chips and wires but of an artificial cellular construct that can replicate, replace, and improve itself. She has her own kinda DNA code that is similar, but not quite, like our own.
Dot took over the city and wanted to kill us humans because we're killing each other anyway (?). We convinced it/her not to kill us because we are created by God and part of his plan (??). And since we created Dorothy, we are Dot's God and she is part of our plan (???). Therefore she must obey us (?!?!).
Dottie mulled this over for however long that takes and then decided the idea was bullshit, but inspirational. It/she then created her own form of humans (called Galerians) so she could be THEIR God and have those artifice humans, the Galerians, destroy the humans that created her. By introducing a middleman, she takes herself out of the direct line of attack and so, nobody's feelings are hurt. But the girl, whose name is Lillia, has a computer virus in her head that will destroy Dorothy.
Why didn't Dorothy make herself impervious to a computer virus? I mean, she creates her own coding (in seconds. Creating fully functional self aware humanoid Galerians was a walk in the park for Dot). It's not like she has to accept all executables, and she's had five years mke herself immune. Rion, by the way, has the executable in his head that will allow Lillia's virus program to work. Now how can it be a virus program if it can't launch itself? Make sense? Yeah, I didn't think so. Anyway.
So Birdman and the evil fat kid, named Rainheart, go after Rion. Each one is basically the End boss of their particular level and this really follows rote. The entire movie plays out like one long video game except you don't get to play it. And when Rion destroys an End Boss, he gets more exposition. The End Bosses, which are the Galerians, are victims themselves, and at the moment of death they freely offer advice and info to Rion that will help him succeed in the next level.
Rion also gets some health packs and energy boosts from a black guy who talks jive, leers evilly, sells drugs and dresses in Snoop Dogg pimp clothes. He happily cackles that he sells every drug in existence. He is also happy to give the worst, most deadly drugs to Rion. He doesn't think Rion will survive them, but he also doesn't care. It's a creepy part of the movie, and not in a good way.
Rion still has more End bosses to go through and you have to ask yourself, "Why so convoluted?" Again, who knows. This movie doesn't make sense and if you expect it to wrap up in a nice tight package-ah, you'll be disappointed. The end kinda works like a shotgun time machine, blowing massive plot-holes in everything that came before.
The final End Boss looks pretty cool, but her English dubbed voice is unlaughably bad.
I'm not sorry I rented this movie, I personally like the style of design and the animation - for what it is. But I'm damn glad I didn't buy it. It almost feels like an insidious warning from film land. "If video piracy gets too far out of control, then the only movies left to watch will be crap like GALERIANS: RION."
Had this film been released when it was finished, in 1999, or even in 2000, it would get one extra Shriek Girl just because it was on the leading edge of Animation - but those times are 5 years long past. Since then we've had Toy Story 2, FINAL FANTASY, Shrek, MONSTERS, INC., THE LORD OF THE RINGS (Gollum), Finding Nemo, and Shrek 2. Had this movie a decent story to go with it, I could have overlooked the mediocre motion of the CGI. As it is, only the visuals of GALERIANS: RION get this film two Shriek Girls.