Monday, February 09, 2015

Boyhood/Captain Harlock

 Over the weekend I watch Boyhood, the Richard Linklater film, and enjoyed it.  It was about how I thought it might be, so I wasn't surprised too much by the film,  and it wasn't boring either, nor did it feel like a forced watch.  Most of the films I've seen from him have been very character driven, and contain quite a lot of dialogue to carry the story along, and Boyhood was no exception there.  The male lead, Ellar Coltrane, was quite a natural actor thru all of it and did a good job.  I also thought the editing, the combining of all the separate ages  throughout time, was edited pretty seamlessly, and I enjoyed the soundtrack.

You have probably heard or read how Linklater shot the film over twelve years using the same actors, which gives the film an authentic feel.  I don't know if there's any one scene that stands out from the rest, but it's sort of one of those films that washes over you and you just let it play out.  It still has a fairly indie vibe to it, which is where Linklater got his start more or less, so I guess that's to be expected.  For my particular taste in films, it was okay, and enjoyable.  I really don't have any negatives to say about it.  I thought one or two of the family get-together scenes might have been too forcefully joyous, but didn't bother me.  I still think my favorite film by him might be Slacker, but I'd like to rewatch parts of Boyhood before I send it back to Netflix.  As a disclaimer I tend to get excited about other types of films more like SF, action, etc.  That said, I'd still recommend the film.

The first time I had heard of Captain Harlock by its creator, Leiji Matsumoto, was in the above Eternity comic of the same name.  I was not very well versed in anime or manga (and I still feel that way), but the comic was in a discounted box of comics, and the price was right so I picked it up. I thought the comic was okay, but I could tell it was just the tip of an iceberg of a long storyline, and didn't keep up with it.  Plus it ended up getting cancelled anyway by the fourth or so issue, due to some foul up concerning Eternity getting the copyrights from an unscrupulous source, who didn't have the rights to be licensing the franchise from the get-go.

I'd more or less forgotten about Captain Harlock, although other things related to it had come out like the anime feature Galaxy Express 999.  From what I can tell there was also a TV series of anime as well.  Also from what I can tell they refer to all of this as the Leiji-universe, which implies, that there's a storyline and offshoots of storylines there, I just don't know enough about it, nor was I a fan of it in all its incarnations.  So I'm more or less a novice about the franchise really.  That may have helped my liking of the feature film, Space Pirate Captain Harlock.

I basically just ran across the feature film on Youtube last week, and saved it to watch at a future date.  I don't think it was ever released here in the states, or if it was, flew under my radar.  When I first watched the opening of the film, I thought it was going to be a live action translation of the film, using real actors, but was surprised that it was all done with computer graphics--which was done very well too.

I remember seeing Final Fantasy many years ago at the cinema, and enjoyed the CG of the film, really moreso than the actual storyline.  I vaguely remember the film dealt with spirits, which is a bit hard to relate to coming from a western culture.  But with the Harlock film, it's more defined as space opera, or space fantasy in a Star Wars-like mold, so I could relate to that more.  Now granted there were parts of this movie that alluded me.  Either I missed plot points or they were not brought out well enough in the film, but that aside I still enjoyed the film.
What made it interesting to me was that the characters were ambiguous, and it was hard to tell who was the good guys or bad.  Was one of the characters going to turn on the next and do their duty and stab the other one in the back to fulfill their assignment?  To boil the storyline down into a tidy synopsis, might be a bit tricky, but I'll try.

The resources of earth are being depleted so mankind has gone out into the galaxy to explore new worlds.  Many years in the future a sustainable homeworld was not found, so colonist returned back to earth, however, now many years later, they are not allowed.  A war breaks out called the Homecoming War, and a governing body is established, the Gaia Coalition.  So the Gaia Coalition is like the Federation or Galactic Empire in Star Wars, and the others are the rebels of the alliance.

There are two brothers, Ezra (wheel chair-bound) and Logan, the younger brother, who is set up to seek out Captain Harlock and assassinate him.  (One of the things I didn't quite get was that Logan was, I think, somehow accidentally responsible for Ezra's confinement to the wheel chair.)   Anyway, Logan goes into space and finds Harlock, what's odd is they look vaguely similar, perhaps they have the same barber.

So Harlock and his pirates fly around the galaxy creating mayhem and looting supplies from the Coalition in his super-cool phallic crossbones spaceship.  Captain Harlock has a plan to reset everything, resetting earth so that it has plenty of resources again, and everyone can return and be happy.  We learn, however, the Coalition has shady secrets (don't they always?).  There are conflicts between the two brothers, there are conflicts between Logan and Captain Harlock, and there are twist and turns aplenty matey (sorry couldn't help myself).

Either way if you don't like anime, space opera, or whatever, the graphics in this thing were pretty eye-popping.  I might also mention that I suspect there's plenty of flawed science in the film, after all it's not supposed to be Cosmos, but instead a fantasy like Star Wars.  You should at least give the video below a few minutes just to see how great this thing looks, the CG is pretty impressive.  At around two hours it's a pretty long film, but I didn't mind at all, and it would have been hard to edit it down, and still make any coherent sense. 

Here's a link to Space Pirate Captain Harlock on Youtube.




At 6:55 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Somehow I've been resisting seeing Boyhood even though on another level I'd like to see it -- or like to have seen it, which is not the same thing. Maybe it seems like a 12 year commitment on a gut level. I see it is really a 165 minute commitment, which is fairly long as movies go but not overwhelming. At some point I'll light my screen with it.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yes, I'd recommend going ahead and checking it out. I rewatched it again last night as I'm sending it back to NF today. It really doesn't seem like a 2+ hour movie in some ways as it flows well. I had the same reservation, and I was going to watch around an hour, stop the film, and then watch the remainder the next night, but just got caught up in the story to some degree.

It's not a "profound" thought-provoking story that makes you ponder life or the universe, well, I didn't have that conclusion. But there's some neat nostalgia which reminded me of growing up and the growing pains that accompany that, and the diverse ways that life provides different routes, and you can take several routes in the road of life--sometimes it just works out that way organically.

Also I thought one of the underlying themes of the film was that you have to enjoy life as best you can even though one's life may not be picture-perfect ie. there's always obstacles in our lives. But yeah, good film.


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