0 Items | £0.00

VIEW BASKET

Garm Wars: The Last Druid

Saturday 25th October 2014


Andrew Osmond reviews Mamoru Oshii’s latest film

Garm Wars: The Last DruidIn his live introduction to the premiere of Garm Wars The Last Druid at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Mamoru Oshii called his film a “a precise recreation of the delusions in my mind.” While the truth of that statement is only known to Oshii, Garm Wars is certainly embedded in Oshii-land, ticking off the staple themes and existential worries in his work, while finding a new kind of gorgeousness. The flesh-and-blood ‘live’ actors inhabit a painterly fantasy full of giant shapes in sombre skies. Garm Wars is comparable to a dozen other dream creations (the opening suggests a Moebius comic, the last act recalls Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth), but its individuality and detail would be worthy of Terry Gilliam. The only element which is hard not to take for granted is the beautiful but very familiar-feeling score by Kenji Kawai, Oshii’s regular composer.

The film, which often feels more fantasy than SF, was co-produced with Canada, and has an English-speaking cast, hence the weird spectacle of a Japanese film premiere which had to be subbed in Japanese. It’s set on a world of warring tribes, stuck in a limbo where the past is shadowed and warriors fight because… well, just because. The heroine is Kara23, one of a hive of clone warriors who fly mechanical birds (shades of Moebius’s Arzach), and who regularly die and resurrect through the download of collective memories.

Garm Wars: The Last DruidKara’s immediate predecessor saved a trio of refugees, who prove pivotal to the story. One is the gnarled and white-locked heretic Wydd, who’s played by the most recognisable of the cast, Lance Henriksen (Bishop in Aliens). The second is a silver-masked figure whom Wydd claims is a Druid, a supposedly extinct people with access to wisdom from the world’s gods, who left their creation long ago. The third is a Gulas, a fabled four-legged creature who can supposedly bless chosen mortals. The Gulas happens to resemble an animal from our own Earth – a basset hound.

The digital visuals are of the kind which can seem beautiful and boring at once, both because of our modern jadedness with CG and because of Oshii’s characteristic aesthetic distancing. There’s a lot of dust and dimness, especially in the exterior air battles, making the literalist in the viewer long for some sharp photo-realism to compensate. The images in Garm Wars also raise memories of dozens of past ‘virtual’ film fantasies, which were often undistinguished (remember Sky Captain? Or Mirrormask?). Yet if you can give yourself over to Garm, it becomes a far more immersive, satisfying visual experience than its shonky predecessors, thanks to some very skilful blendings of real and computer elements. You can often tell them apart at a glance, but they’re combined very pleasingly, feeling more like matters of degree than different things.

Any Oshii fan will already see from the summary above that the plot is a practically parodic mishmash of the director’s past films. Kara 23 recalls the Kusanagi of the first Ghost in the Shell film, right down to the wires plugging into her back. A cyberwoman title sequence is a respray (albeit a lovely one) of those in GITS and GITS Innocence. The plot shares a great deal with Oshii’s Sky Crawlers (a conflict waged in a limbo ‘present,’ without a real past or future), though the story progresses more like Avalon, becoming a surreal quest. As for the basset hound, bless it, it’s been in Oshii’s movies for the last twenty years; for example, it popped up in Ghost in the Shell’s canal scene. In Garm, it has apparently magical powers, which adds weight to the suspicion that all basset hounds in Oshii’s filmography are literally the same canine, wandering space, time and uncertain reality.

Garm Wars: The Last DruidAs a quest-adventure, Garm Wars is more accessible than Oshii's more abstract works. The film’s opening scenes may alienate the viewer, with the sense of an incomprehensible world where people intone incomprehensible dialogue. But the emerging story runs on familiar lines. Kara is forced out of her hive-like society, joining with the Druid, Wydd, the doglike Gulas and a male soldier from a rival tribe. The pacing has the usual Oshii leisureliness, but the story is kicked along by fights – from sky-ship heists to a one-on-one knock-out on a beach – rather than by philosophy speeches. Yet Garm Wars also has the sincere strangeness of an otherworldly SF novel, of the kind that could have been published anytime in the last seventy years, but which mainstream Hollywood would never dare emulate.

The story involves an underplayed relationship between Kara and one of the male characters. This subplot has a subdued but real charm as the humanoids become visibly more ‘human’ in their interactions. Perhaps not coincidentally, there’s more reality in the backdrops to the later scenes, even if they’re cut and pasted. By the last act, Kara’s journey has become truly exciting – only to be derailed by an ending that’s very Oshii-esque, but seems to say nothing that Oshii has not said already, decades before. Still, the familiar conclusion is given some fresh meaning by the vivid journey to get there. It’s also given a different perspective by a brief, poignant moment that comes after the end credits.

Garm: The Last Druid had its Tokyo premiere this evening.

MANGA UK GOSSIP

The Transformers - The Movie Limited Edition, 30th Anniversary Steelbook (2-blu-ray Set + Digital Copy)

£22.49
sale_tag
was £29.99
The TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE 30th Anniversary Edition featuring the newly remastered movie from a new 4K transfer of original film elements.

The AUTOBOTS, led by the heroic OPTIMUS PRIME, prepare to make a daring attempt to retake their planet from the evil forces of MEGATRON and the DECEPTICONS. Unknown to both sides, a menacing force is heading their way – UNICRON. The only hope of stopping UNICRON lies within the Matrix of Leadership and the AUTOBOT who can rise up and use its power to light their darkest hour. Will the AUTOBOTS be able to save their native planet from destruction or will the DECEPTICONS reign supreme?

Bonus Content:
• ‘Til All Are One – A brand-new, comprehensive documentary looking back at TRANSFORMERS: The Movie with members of the cast and crew, including story consultant Flint Dille, cast members Gregg Berger, Neil Ross, Dan Gilvezan, singer/songwriter Stan Bush, composer Vince Dicola and others!
•Audio Commentary with Director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dille and star Susan Blu
• Featurettes
• Animated Storyboards
• Trailers and TV Spots

For the ultimate fans and collectors, The TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE Limited Edition, 30th Anniversary Steelbook comes with highly collectible Steelbook packaging, 2 Blu-ray set of the newly remastered movie (Both aspect ratios), immersive bonus content including brand-new featurettes, plus many more. This is a must-own collection to every fan's library!        

FEATURED RELEASE

RECENT FEATURED POSTS

Hentai Kamen: the Movie

With great pants comes great responsibility...
Bruce Wayne has a kick-arse suit, perfectly apt for thwarting Gotham criminals; Peter Parker has arachnid-esque abilities that turn him into a neighbourhood icon following an incident with a radioactive spider; and when a certain Kyousuke Shikijou places ladies’ panties across his visage, it unleashes his inner potential as Japan’s most forbidden superhero – no one’s safe!

Mysterious Cities of Gold: The Game

Some day we will find...
The game Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths is rolling out as a digital download across multiple platforms. This month it becomes available on the Nintendo 3DS and Amazon, following launches on the Wii U, iPad, iPhone and Steam.

Mamoru Oshii Interview

The director of Ghost in the Shell on being digital
"For the first time in my career I was dealing with something that existed only as data within a machine. In a way, I felt shocked, but at the same time I understood that it was the prelude of what my job as a filmmaker was going to be."

Cosplay Winners

Paul Jacques' pictures from the best of London's Comicon...
It's taken a while to shift through the paperwork and read all your indecipherable handwriting, but we've finally managed to sift through the London Comicon cosplay pictures and pick out our winners from a fantastic bunch. And with no further ado...

NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN – DEMON CAPITAL PART 2

Tears, cheers and liver-ripping fun with Japanese ghosts
The battle to destroy the eight seals dominating Kyoto steps up in this second half of the second series adapting the manga of the same name. Nura, our young hero, here finds his desire to use the supernatural to protect humans means he has put his clan in the way of much greater harm than ever before – and before series’ end, yokai, onymyoji and humans will have all spilled blood....

FIVE THINGS TO PREPARE YOU FOR LIFE IN JAPAN : PART 1

Jack Neighbour prepares you for life in Japan
With the UK economy in the horrendous state it’s in, there’s no surprise that increasing numbers of young people are fleeing the baron jobless wasteland that our Great Britain has become in search of greener pastures, where they can drink and sleep in peace without being labelled as wasters. Japan is becoming a popular haven for the fallen to run to after they realise that a degree in the Arts will get you about as far as you can throw it.
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Garm Wars: The Last Druid from the UK's best Anime Blog.