A live action adaptation of the 1973 Japanese anime with a plot that is Godzilla in essence, except this time man’s interference with nature has produced a race of Neo-Sapiens – a deadly spawn out to kill the human race. Which can be saved by only one man – Casshern – a mortal reincarnated with an invincible iron body. It’s the debut feature by “acclaimed fashion photographer and music video director” Kazuaki Kiriya and, like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, it’s all CGI, apart from the humans. Unlike Sky Captain it’s decided to make things slightly less real, slightly more anime. Wise decision – we can now enjoy the backgrounds for what they are, rather than reading them for mistakes, as is often the case with CGI. And the backgrounds are undoubtedly worth looking at, as Kiriya lays out his hugely camp stall for the first 30 minutes or so. It’s a visually breathtaking half hour that’s part Transformers, part 1984, part Mamoru Oshii’s Avalon (he of Ghost in the Shell). Music is used interestingly too – Moonlight Sonata and Erik Satie rubbing shoulders with nu-metal and house/rave/trance derivatives. But after he’s got all his pieces in place Kiriya hasn’t the faintest idea what to do with them. Kiriya may know everything about getting the catwalk rigged, then sending boys with chiselled cheekbones along it to flounce, pout and turn, but the lack of plot and the repetitive “What the…” dialogue do nothing to keep an audience awake. The looks of Casshern are great, but looks just aren’t enough.
© Steve Morrissey 2004