Sci-Fi London 6

Apollo Cinema, London Wednesday 02 May to Sunday 06 May 2007

The film list below represents the films Arthur went to see at this festival. For a full listing please visit the Sci Fi London 2007 website.

Films Shown

  • Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth
  • Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society
  • Paprika
  • Highlander: Search for Vengence
  • Le Chevalier D`Eon
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa

Arthur's Review of Sci-Fi London 6

Yay! Sci-fi film festival time again!

This year Arthur thought the main lineup didn`t look as godd as usual - there really wasn`t anything that stood out as a must see or anyhting that sounded interesting just from reading the sysnopsis on the website. However, the anime lin-up looked good although it was lacking any really big titles like Final fantasy or Ghost in the Shell 2 like the previous year.

After a bit of debate about whether to go for the all night animation of the all night Mystrey Science Fiction Theatre 3000 (the later being rubbish old films that would have provided many hours of hilarious so bad-they`re good entertainment) it was decided to stick with the animation as there were a number of titles that Arthur and sveral ohters really wanted to see. The group also decided to go and see Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth, a low budget british sci-fi comedy made in a deliberatley cheesy bad way (think SKy Captain with crap cardboard sets). Arthur would have preferred to see Plane Dead, a horror comedy type film (basically Snakes on a Plane with zombies instead of snakes) but this would have left no time for the all important and traditional pizza gorging which had always preceded the all night marathon each year for the previous 3 years.

After a quick spot of shopping in which Arthur stocked up on Pocky and various other oriental nibbles (including Arthur`s favourite Karamucho crisps which were very spicy but very expensive) they headed off to the cinema.

Once again at the Apollo cinema, Arthur picked up the tickets whilst avoiding the badly made-up green alien

who was harassing various people in the foyer, then it was stright off to grab seats for Captain Eager. Once settled in, the film was introduced by the director and the aforementioned green alien who did some bad dancing to an equally bad song played on a guitar. Unfortunately the film didn`t get much better than the alien dancing. What was a nice idea turned out to be very hit and miss affair (and mostly a miss at that). Some jokes worked OK but in general it just wasn`t that funny. The low production values let it down too (even though it was suppoosed to look cheap, it felt even cheaper!), in particular the sound, which made it very hard to hear what was going on at times. The main people who seemed to enjoy it were some of the cast and crew who were all clearly delighted to see themselves on a big screen. The plot of the film involves Captain Eager, a has-been space captain hero who is bought out of retirement for one last job. But it turns out it is all a ruse by his arch nemesis who is out for revenge. The film has some nice ideas about people chnaging to fit into a new world but they never really work. The best comedy comes from the villain and his rubber jacket with an unfeasibly large collar and Captain Eager`s former sidekick Scrutty who is played by the same chap as Brian from the TV series spaced (Arthur forgets his name but he makes Arthur laugh with his staring, confused expressions and slightly mumbling way of talking). All in all not the best start. After a quick gorging on vast quantities of Pizza it was onto the main event.

The all-nighter had changed format slightly in that seating was now allocated rather than the mad free for all rush that usually ensued. Being an efficient organiser of cinema trips, Arthur had got some decent seats right in the middle, near the back, pretty much where they were the previous year. Another change was a lack of freebies thrown into the audience (although there was still the bag of stuff including a free DVD,

lots of leaflets and a nice little Hellboy figure). But this was made up by including an extra film instead (five instead of the usual four) which seemed like a good deal to Arthur.

The first film of the night was Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society. This was actually more like an extended epsiode of the GitS:Stand Alone Complex series and didn`t have the same high quality production values as the previous Gits:Innocence film. But it was still an enjoyable watch. As with all Ghost in the Shell (GitS) it required a bit of thought to follow the plot which was all about a villain called the Puppeteer

kidnapping children and hacking into their cyber brains for his/her own evil purposes. Unlike the original films, this tended to be a bit more action packed and less deep/mind bending.Argur had not seen any of the GitS:Stand Alone Complex series although a friend who had seen it said that it used a lot of the same characters and continued their stories well. It was a good start to the night.

After a quick break for some free Purbeck ice cream, it was onto Paprika, the main film Arthur wanted to see that evening. The film was shown via 35mm film, unlike all the others that evening that were shown via a video projector and high definiton video tape. And the film certainly benefitted frrom this added level of presentation.

The film was made by the same team as Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers and was about a new technology that allowed people to view and interact with each others dreams. Initially all goes well but soon side effects start to appear and people that have used the dream device soon start to find themsleves having waking dreams controlled by an unkown enemy. Slowly the real and dream worlds start to merge and the characters have to find out who is behind all this and stop them before they all go mad. The animation quality was very high (as it should be for a feature film) and the visuals were excellent with lots of bright, colourful and surreal imagery. The film just flew by and grabbed everyone`s attention right fromt he start until the very end, when it recieved a well deserved round of applause.

Arthur had been feeling a bit odd during the frst 2 films (tiredness, lots of gas, a very runny nose and generally twitchy) so he decided to try some Pro-plus at this stage to perk himself up. Half a tablet seemed to do the trick and he was pretty much back on course for the other 3 films. The air conditioning, whilst better than the previous year when the cinema was pretty much a sauna, still wasn`t as cool as Arthur would have liked but he managed to survive.

At this point there was supposed to be some free Red Bull (not that Arthur drinks the stuff but he was going to grab a can for someone else) but for some reason they had already run out. Arthur suspects poor allocation control from the other all night events and very few peiople in the animation screens got any. A poor effort from the organisers. On the plus side there was still ice cream left over, so Arthur was happy to indulge in another tub.

Next up was the Highlander animation. It was loosely based on the film and TV series and featured Colin McCloud who had lost his wife some 2000 years at the hands of a roman general who also happened to be another immortal. The bulk of the film was set in apporximately 2130 AD but also featured flashbacks to various points throughout history of Colin trying to gain revenge on the roman geneal who continued to plague him throughout history in various guises. This film was the first of the evening to feature an English dub which gave the film a slightly comedic appeal as the accents were generally awful and the voice acting of a low standard as it usually is for dubbed animation (other than the really big feature films that can afford good quality star names to do the voice-overs). True to the earlier Highlander filsm, the animation also featured a cheesy 80`s rock soundtrack with lots of screeching guitars. The animation style was also rather 80`s, reminding Arthuir of classics like Fist of the North Star; all the characters were unusually well muscled and had very large sideburns. Although it was probably the worst film in the lineup, it was still enjoyable and Arthur never found it dull or boring. In the foyer afterwards there were the usual loud mouthed anime geeks who professed at very loud volume (to attract as much attention as possible) that this was "the worst animation they had ever seen". Clearly they hadn`t been present a few years earlier when Lady Deathstrike was shown. These people are probably the same ones who vote on the IMDB and give everything either a 1 or a 10.

A cup of iced water and half a pro-plus later and it was time for Le Chevalier D`Eon. Before the film started Arthur knew nothing about it other than it was a French period piece. It turned out to be a TV or straight to video series consisting of a number of 25 to 30 minutes episodes, of which the first 4 were shown. Unlike most TV/video serties the production values and quality were very high; certainly better than the GitS series. The story followed the young Charles Beaumont D`Eon (the Knight of the title)

whose sister had mysterioiusly turned up dead in a coffin floating down the river Seine, with some strange religous inscription on the casket lid. His investigations lead him to the Duke of Orelans and at the end of epsiode one things take a turn for the strange as he is attacked by some sort of vampire. Over the course of the next few episodes things get even weirder when corpses filled with mercury start to attack him and, worst of all, he is possesed by the spirit of his dead sister. For Arthur this was the highlight of the evening - he really likes historical stories with a supernatural twist

, and it immediately went onto his "must buy" shopping list for the next day. After the festival Arthur looked into the series and discovered the charcaters were all real and the story in the animation took its cues from real events, in particular the Chevalier D`Eon was a cross dresser and there was much specualtion at the time as to whetehr the/she was actually a man or a woman, something the animation capitalized upon with the concept of the charcater being possessed by bis dead sister!

What a great interpretaion of the facts!

After even more ice cream, the final, extra film of the night was Full Metal Alchemist, which, disappointingly, was also dubbed rather than subbed (although it was a much better job than Highlander)

. Again Arthur knew little about the film, other than it was vaguely steam-punk

and was a follow up to a popular TV series of the same name.

In the pre-credits sequence, the film introduced the charcater Ed who was from a world where Alchemy (basically magic) was the main techonology rather than normal physics or science.

For some unexplained reason (clearly soemthing that had happened in the TV series) he had left his world behind and had ended up in the 1920s in our universe where magic was unheard of and science was the order of the day. And just to add even more flavour to the whole thing, Ed had lost several limbs which had been replaced by mechanical versions (hence the "Full metal" part of the title). The main stroy invloved some evil woman trying to open a portal between the 2 worlds with the help of a dragon, so she could gain power in both and become ruler of the world (the usual megalomanic plot line). Ed tried to stop her in our world whilst, somewhat confusuingly, his brother tried to stop things from the ohter side back in the world of magic. Whilst Arthuir didn`t follow things exactly (he thinks seeing the TV series would have helped) it was certainly entertaining and very nicely done.

It wasn`t as much of an adult animation as the others of the evening (some of the character design felt like something from Pokemon or Naruto) and Arthur thinks it was aimed at the teenage animation market in Japan. However, for western audiences it could still be enjoyed by everyone with it`s pre-war setting (Hilter was seen on several occasions) and good quality action set pieces. Arthur also gave it additional marks for featuring an air ship. Arthur missed 5 minutes towrads the end as he had a desperate need to go for a pee that had been building since about 10 minutes after the film had started. In the end he just couldn`t hold on any longer and Arthur had what can only be described as the most enjoyable piss he had taken for many years; the relief he felt was beyond description.

And that was it for another year. A quick trip on the tube and a 1/2 hour drive home on clear roads (best of all it wasn`t Arthur`s turn to drive so he could doze quitely on the way home!)

and he was back in bed at around 11am

for a well desreved afternoon of sleep.