Casshern (North American edit)

Synopsis: Set in the late 21st century, Earth is in crisis and the future of mankind is at risk. Hope lies in a geneticist’s discovery of a “Neo-Cell” which can rejuvenate the human body, but it is used by an evil corporation to create a race of mutants bent on the annihilation of humanity.

A powerful warrior, Casshern, emerges in the battle against this new menace. Only he can save the human race as it fights an ultimate war against its own extinction.

Casshern (North American edit) 7.5

Ai. I first saw ‘Casshern’ in its unedited form many years ago. I then gave it a high 8.0. It was a bit chaotic, but what it didn’t have in coherence it made up in sheer ambition.

The problem with the North American version is that it trims 30-40 mins to the film. So what was already a bit jumbled up turned into a total ADD-fest. I mean, you really have to stay alert to watch this version of the film, ’cause there aren’t many pauses for effect.

In fact, the film flies by the seat of its pants so much that you can’t allow yourself to take your eyes off the screen, for fear of missing a key detail that will throw the rest of the experience for you – ’cause they’re certainly not going to re-explain thigns to you later. Who has the time?

And yet the film was enjoyable. I can’t explain it. It’s a real mess of cheap CGI, poorly-edited action, unfettered exuberance and manic script-writing, but it has a certain “je ne sais quoi” that’s kind of enjoyable. Perhaps I just enjoy this kind of story, or maybe it’s the style that got me, I don’t know…

But I do prefer the original version by a fair bit; it just makes more sense and it feels more complete.

Still, it was a pleasant trip through time, revisiting something I hadn’t seen in ages. And it makes me want to see the original animated show, to compare it with its bloated live-action doppelganger. Is it because there’s so much material to cull from that this rendition feels so full, so overwhelming (if not overwhelmed)?

I plan on finding out someday. Til then, I will happily stick with this relatively (by Hollywood standards) low budget film that tries SO hard to be something so much more than it has the capacity to be with the tools it was given.

There is much potential here, and it’s a shame that it wasn’t given a real chance to succeed – first by the original producers and, worst of all, by the American butchers that hacked the film down to this particular form.

It deserved a little bit more of a fighting chance, a little bit more respect, I think.

What do you think?

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