Tetsujin 28 The Movie

Starring: Shosuke Ikematsu, Yu Aoi, Yuko Nakazawa and Akiro Emoto
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 16.99
Certificate: PG
Available 02 October 2006

Towards the end of 1945 with Japan staring defeat squarely in the face, a last ditch attempt is made at constructing a super weapon which would turn the tide of war. But defeat came too soon and the giant robot, Tetsujin -28, remained a closely guarded secret. Until today, when another giant robot under the control of a deranged scientist is unleashed on the unsuspecting city of Tokyo. Black Ox is wreaking havoc in the streets, so the old colleagues of Shotaro's father decide to revive the last remaining Tetsujin robot and with Shotaro's help hopefully rid the world of Black Ox...

Tetsujin 28 is the live adaptation of both the original manga and the subsequent anime series, which was better known as Gigantor in the States. Directed by Shin Togashi, this is predominantly a kids film which should appeal to lovers of Spy Kids.

This is an action film for big kids and people who remain kids at heart - especially lovers of giant robots. That said the overall feeling is that the film is the epitome of style over content. It lacks the heart of the very similar The Iron Giant and the pace of the more action orientated anime series. The robots, rather than engaging in battle, zooming around on their cool back jets, spend most of the time ponderously slugging it out almost in slow motion. It could be argued that any construction this big would inherently move fairly slowly, but it doesn't make for riveting watching. There is nothing wrong with the special effects, and the destruction of Tokyo is wonderfully realised, but the whole thing could have been so much better if the pace had been cranked up a few notches.

The characters remain two dimensional, though to be fair this criticism can be levelled at most kids films. The bad guys stay just this side of panto-villians and the adults, which aid the twelve year old Shotaro, are either good natured but bumbling, or super smart with just a little hint of softness in their hearts. I did like the female MIT expert that is drafted in to help the police, dressed as she was in a cross between a Girl Scout and a military uniform. Who knew engineering could be so funky?

One of the really good things about the film is the seamless integration of the CGI with the live action shots. Although the way they are shot gives them real presence, they lack a certain degree of interactivity with both their environment and each other. Considering they are fighting in the rubble strewn streets they pick up few if any scratches or dirt - even getting the two giant robots to punch each other doesn't noticeably scratch the paint work or dent any fenders.

The film suffers from being a little over long. Endless shots of Shotaro crying over his lost father, his fears, his inability to face up to his responsibilities tends to get a little wearing.

The film has a good range of audio options with Japanese stereo, 5.1 and DTS. The 5.1 and DTS especially do a lot to enhance what is otherwise a fairly average film. Don't speak Japanese? Well time to turn the English subtitles on. Apart from three trailers there is nothing in the way of extras to add any extra value to the DVD.

So a film that will entertain younger children as well as lovers of giant robots, but I have the feeling that most adults will be reaching for the fast forward button.

Charles Packer

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