A Life of Film + [2004]

Casshern (2004)

An epic, festering mess of a movie that barely manages to meander through its own convoluted plot. It is so very bad, that it is in fact quite good. Kind of. Deserves to be seen, whatever the case.

Say what you will about Hollywood's regimented three act script structure, but without it we'd be lost in an abyss of self indulgence and personal whimsy. And if there are two terms to sum up Casshern, then those would be it.
But there is something that I really really really must get off my chest right now: this is not sci-fi. It has nothing to do with sci-fi and the people who are calling it sci-fi are unequivocally wrong. Casshern is fantasy, albeit instead of wizards and dragons there are robots and robots. Still fantasy though. Not sci-fi.So yeah, that script. Dear lord. Not only does it shit on the most common and widely accepted of writing conventions, but it positively lifts its middle finger and laughs in their face, even when judged by the considerably looser rules of Asian cinema. Problem is, I'm convinced that this is entirely unintentional. This is further exacerbated by the editing. The editing itself has a lot of issues, but in this particular instance I'm referring to the narrative progression. I was 40 minutes into the movie before I finally picked up the main plot thread, and things started falling into place. Sometimes that is OK. Here it is not. There isn't any character development, we're just introduced to someone if we're lucky; usually people just show up out of nowhere, and then they remain completely unchanged, and then they'll likely die at some point. There is zero sense of distance, or journey - the characters sort of miraculously appear at wherever the plot demands them to be. Time is also completely at the mercy of the film's non-logic. The villains basically mobilize a massive robot army and attempt to take over the world after what was probably less than 3 minutes of screen time from making a desperate and last resort run to what eventually turns out to be their homeland.I can imagine the movie as a little kid, and the filmmakers as terrible parents. Need to create a massive robot army to take over the world? Sure buddy, let's just make a few quick cuts and we're done. Hey, hey, can we keep the hero's girlfriend alive throughout a gigantic nuclear blast? No problem. Ooh, ooh, and then can we shoot her in the head, and then bring her back to life?? Why, that's a fantastic idea! Ok, ok, how about this: a giant lightning bolt structure appears out of nowhere, remains unexplained, but like, but like, like, it'll be the source of life and Frankensteinize a bunch of random body parts floating around in a research lab? Can we do that? Sure, I don't see why not!!!11 Visually, the film is just as all over the place, if not more so. High contrast, grainy black and white one second, two-tone animation the next. Even stop motion a couple of times. From hyper stylized faux-film all the way to super digital amateur handheld in the blink of an eye. The only consistency is the weak CGI, which to be fair didn't bother me in the slightest, as it kinda fits. Some of the art direction is lovely and it just works. Funny that. What I absolutely was not cool with is all the millions upon billions of bells and shiny whistles flying at your face nonstop. Yes, the art direction is great, if only I could stop for a second to really appreciate it. The film seems quite determined to never let that happen, as it just keeps going and going and going and throwing everything it has at your eyeballs. I actually enjoyed this, at first. It was refreshing and wonderful. However, by the time the film ended somewhere at the 2 hour 20 minute mark, I was fucking tired of it. Hmm.... However. However, however, however... There's something about it. There are obviously a gazillion and one things wrong with Casshern, I could have quite easily made this twice as long as it is now and still not be finished ripping it apart. But. Irregardless of how very misformed it might be, the people behind this clearly had a strong vision. Call me a sap, but I don't like hating on that. Most movies are shitty because the people that make them didn't have the talent or the resources or the passion, but the people that made this clearly did have those things. That much is easy to see. This movie didn't suck because it didn't have a big enough budget, I'm quite certain that it would have sucked about the same amount had it three times the funding. This movie sucked in a very unique way; it sucked in a way that still deserves to be seen, and might even be appreciated. So go ahead and give it a whirl anyway; as far as shitty movies go, you could still do a lot shitter than this.