Devilman

Devilman

Devilman is a classic of Japanese animation, so it was only a matter of time before it was made into a live action film. However upon its release way back in late 2004 the reviews were rather poor. 2 years later it has finally made it onto Hong Kong DVD, so Arthur has

decided to check it out. Surely a film featuring battles between demons and gratuitous blood, guts and gore couldn`t be that bad? Could it?

DVD Details >>

The Film

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Unfortunately the short answer is yes, it really is that bad.

Quite how someone managed to make such a mess of such a great piece of animation is quite beyond Arthur. The plot (what little of it makes logical sense) involves 2 friends from school who, during some random mining accident conducted by one of their parents, are infected by demons that have been living under the earth for god knows how long but now are free. Other, minor demons are also released and go on to infect people around the world. Demon infection quickly becomes a a crime punishable by death as demon eradiaction military units are created to control this epedemic. In fact it is this that the majority of the film seems to concentrate on, shwoing mob rule in action and the world slowly crumbling into decay as hysterical humans randomly point fingers and end up slaugherting each other.

So far this all sound like it could be quite good in an "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers" style. Unfortunately it is scripted with all the emotional depth of a low rate Australian day time soap opera. Arthur isn`t talking about Neighbours here (Neighbours is far to high quality). Think more along the lines of "A Country Practice" with a cast of coma patients and you`ll be getting closer. As the supposedly deep and poigant scenes took place, the stirring music began and the cast gave it everything they had (which really wasn`t much) and Arthur ended up crying tears of laughter rather than sorrow.

Arthur also liked the child actors who appeared briefly as the 2 friends when they were younger. Their acting ability was probably the best in the film (again this is not saying much) but one of them was supposed to have grey hair to match the older version of his charcater. However this must have been an afterthought as the best the costume department could come up with as an old string mop perched upon this childs head that made him look like a really bad 6 year old Japanese Andy Warhol.

The script and editing were incoherent as well. Characters were captured by the demon squad only to appear free 20 minutes later with no explanation. Some demons were evil, others good. Some changed you into monsters, other were able to change into human form at will.

Now Arthur can sit through pretty much anything, regardless of how bad the story, acting and script are if the action and effects hold his interest but even these were sub par. The main CGI charcaters all looked like they had been rendered using the Doom 3 computer game engine (they all had a dark, slightly shiny look with lots of deep textures applied to them). The makeups of half transformed demons all looked rather rubbery. Even the action was straight out of a cheap B movie. One scene in particular where one of the 2 friends was blowing away members of the demon executuion squad was hilarious, with everyone standing still so they could all be shot together.

Arthur would also like to dedicate an entire paragraph of this review to the news anchorman who appeared at regular intervals during the film on a giant video screen in the centre of the town where the story was set, to fill in plot elements the film makers couldn`t be bothered to show and to tell everyone about the spread of the demon epedemic across the world (having spent all their money on great effects and top actors, they obviously couldn`t afford stock footage). Despite being a Japanese film the producers chose an American actor (and Arthur uses the term "actor" very, very losely here) who was clearly a former wrestler or some other sporting celebrity due to the fact this guys neck was larger than Arthurs waist and who was in desperate need of some money, probably to buy some more steroid injections to keep his massive, muscular frame at near bursting point. You could pick the worst performance ever from Hulk Hogan and it would be worthy of an Oscar compared to this guy. You could see his eyes glancing off camera to read his lines all of which were delivered with the acting ability of a brain damaged squirrel.

So, were there any positive things about his film? Well it ended, which could only be a good thing (although Arthur regularly glanced at the DVD clock praying for it to end as soon as possible). Plus, during a couple of the fight scenes, there was a little bit of line drawing added to the effects to enhance the comic book feel (this actually looked quite nice for the few fractions of a second it was on screen). And, to be fair, were this film showing at an all night film feastival (such as Sci-Fi London), it would actually be hugely entertaining as it would so easily be ripped apart by a sleep deprived audience desperate to lay into something to keep themselves awake.

In summary, if you want something good to watch, go and find something else (pretty much anything else will do). If you want something to laugh at and take the piss out of beacsue it is so bad, probably because you are drunk, then this will likely fit the bill perfectly.

The DVD

Well, the DVD comes in a nice slipcase (Hooray! Something positive!). The sound is basic Japanese 5.1 with Chinese and English subtitles. Picture seems good enough too. There are no extras at all, probably because everyone involved with this film has been put down for the good of future film production in Japan.