Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Wind Named Amnesia

At the first menu of A Wind Named Amnesia I was concerned. Here was a movie which actually had written on the DVD menu screen a note to use the menu buttons in order to select options. How obvious is that? Do they really not trust the audience enough to believe they can figure out how to work a DVD player? The answer soon became apparent, and that answer is no.

The premise here actually could be pretty decent. In the post apocalyptic future of...11 years ago, everyone in the world has forgotten everything they know. How to speak, how to find food, how to not explode, all of these things have been wiped clean by a magical wind. As a result, people have become more primitive, and their sentient robots have been allowed to run riot. However, one guy actually does know language and how to operate a Jeep, and he is supposed to help people learn again, with the help of a lady with silver hair. Together they travel the world, encountering people as they inch towards civilization in the crumbling debris of their former society. That could be a good premise on its own, plus there's a sequence very early on about the origins of a religion, which worships a piece of heavy construction equipment a man has figured out how to manipulate.

So, on paper, we have a compelling movie. Many things work on paper, however, and if it's not obvious from the tone already, this doesn't actually work. The annoying thing is there is a very, very simple explanation for this. In short, everything is explained too much. Every action, every reaction, everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in the future is accompanied by a wall of dialog. The musings about the scenes often ramble on for much longer than necessary, make awkward attempts at being deep - sometimes even reaching the level of a high school student's journal - and sometime even appear to misinterpret the scene that just happened. A moment where a woman runs back to her father because she cares for him is explained as her not being comfortable leaving the security of the city where they are the only survivors and are provided for, when from the editing of the previous sequence would normally indicate that she just loves the man that the 'heroes' haven't bothered taking with them.

So it really doesn't trust the audience at all, is that the only problem? No, there's also the story overall. As mentioned before, there's a potentially great bit about the origins of a religion, but it only takes up a small portion of the running time, before it goes off in search of more life lessons to explain in an overly messy fashion. The problem is, in that search, we lose any sense of narrative, instead things just happening because the running time needs padding. A sentient robot is introduced early on that just doesn't go away, existing solely to have something happen in the last act. Well, something other than gratuitous animated breasts, anyway.

That brings me to my other problem, which is how it tries to be mature. It is anime, and it seems to need to show off its adult themes a bit, seemingly to prove that grownups can watch cartoons too. I have no problem with mature animated films naturally, and I feel the medium has never been used to its full potential. When I say that, however, I don't mean to say we need to see more pointless shots of animated - and suspiciously young - breasts swinging in the breeze. There are only three female characters in the film, but two of them get topless, one solely for the sale of frolicking. The second woman was part of a sex scene that was part of some heavy handed symbolism, so it's somewhat less objectionable than the teenager frolicking moment, but I still felt that I was being pandered to.

That's the problem really, I got the impression throughout that this film just didn't think very highly of me. Everything is explained, lengthy speeches were inserted about the nature of man in order to impart a lesson, and it gives out gratuitous boobs in order to captivate its sweaty, mouth breathing, doesn't get out enough audience. A good film needs to trust you to understand its content and what is going on. A poor film doesn't trust you with anything. This is a truly poor film.

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