Monday, November 30, 2009


site | trailer | New Japanese Cinema @MFA
Thumbs sidewise for several great ideas that, unfortunately, weren't properly mixed and stitched together, resulting in a clunky and meandering narrative that's not satisfying in any of the genres it attempts to straddle.

This is a goofy scifi/fanboy fantasy romantic comedy from Japan, an answer to that question that's been nagging you for decades: what if the Terminator in JUDGEMENT DAY was a hot chick who became John Connor's girlfriend? AN answer, not necessarily a good or correct answer. SHE's about the relationship a 20-something university student develops with a cyborg girl that his future self builds and sends back in time to protect him. It seems to subscribe to a BACK TO THE FUTURE treatment of time travel, which allows time jumpers to change the history that created them. Unfortunately, the film doesn't do anything particularly cool with this. It DOES play with more time than you'd expect, showing you how the cyborg uses her abilities to become a force for good in the past, and apparently survives to become repaired or rebuilt as herself six decades later, and even remains intact another few decades to inspire another time traveler.

Overall, the movie delivers some consistent calculated romantic comedy smarminess and laughs, but not enough to make up for the lagging and poorly connecting story. There are maybe two "magic" time traveler moments, but they would benefit seriously from stronger writing and better editing. The story unfolds as if it was written as the movie was being put together, from start to finish, with each new scene or chapter added on to the previous one with not quite enough thought put into how it ought to set up for the next. In the end, whether it tries to or not, it ends up being a little MY SUPER EX GIRLFRIEND and a little AI with a pinch of WEIRD SCIENCE.

The visual effects are very good (there's a massive disaster scene that totally surprised me), altho the cyborg v. humans fight/smack scenes should have been way better choreographed.

*SPOILER* The "magic" trick ending should have been much better and cleverer. It reminded me of the really magickal pro/epilogue of PARASITE EVE, at least it reminds me of how I remember it. In EVE, the evil intelligence claims to know all about the life of its host, and attempts to prove it by sharing intimate information that only she and her boyfriend would know. However, the boyfriend actually turns out to know more about his relationship with the possessed girl than the evil does, which tips the scale of things. In CYBORG, the cyborg visits her creator in his youth on two different occasions, once on his birthday in 2007, and then on his birthday in 2008. What I believed/wanted the explanation to be was that the earlier visit was made by a later/older cyborg, and the second visit was made by the newborn cyborg. The cyborg's claim regarding her year of origin is a clue to this. However, the film actually has the first visitor be a future human, not a cyborg at all, while the second visitor is the actual cyborg. Granted, this is basically a completely unpredictable ending, which might count for some points on some moviegoers' scorecards, but in my opinion it's a very unsatisfying, just for the helluvit, ending. This is the part that most feels like a rip-off of A.I., even though it sort of turns the Pinnochio story into a time traveling bit of sleight-of-hand.

*SPOILER* The other "magic" bit is when cyborg takes her young creator to revisit his home town one last time. He explains that the town that he knew as a child was destroyed in a flood and that the present day town is completely different. She urges them to go anyway. When they arrive, she transports them back in time to his childhood. He finds himself and spies on him depositing some little boy treasures in a secret hiding place. This sequence is sweet, but it doesn't contribute to any other part of the story. There's a LOT of potential in this visit, but it's another lost opportunity.

Keep on keepin on~

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