After taking a day off, our journalist David Harris continues his exploration of the both strange and wonderful cinematic realm that is the Fantasia International Film Festival. Here’s his latest batch of reviews. Today: Violence Voyager, Anna and the Apocalypse, and Heavy Trip.
Violence Voyager is a hard movie to describe or recommend. Bobby, an American boy, goes on an adventure with his odd friend named Akkun. They discover a secret derelict amusement park called Violence Voyager managed by two employees. Despite the park’s lack of most anything entertaining, they are having the time of their lives, until they find out not everything is what it seems. Violence Voyager, with its Cronenberg quality body horror, but artistic animation, is a film only suitable for late nights at Fantasia
The biggest problem with Violence Voyager is that it exists only to shock. The quality of animation is akin to the numerous motion comics. It’s charming at first, but it’s difficult to watch for a feature film. This would have worked a lot better as a short film. Though intriguing at first, the magic fades quickly. The violence inflicted on the kids is excessive, and the child nudity is unnecessary and terribly uncomfortable. I will admit that I laughed and cheered at some hilariously cheesy scenes, but in the end I didn’t leave too thrilled. I wouldn’t watch this movie or even recommend it for a “weird movie night”.
Anna and the Apocalypse
This is a British-zombie-apocalypse-Christmas-musical. There we go. Next review!
I have to say more about this movie, don’t I? Here we go. Anna and the Apocalypse is a fun movie. Plain and simple. Though incredible funny, it’s not as comedic as Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead and it’s less horror than Walking Dead, or any of the Dead movies out there. It fits somewhere nicely in the middle with enough laughs to make you smile, but enough drama to keep you grounded. The one detail that makes it stand out more than other zombie films is obviously the Christmas setting. I kid, it’s the musical portion.
The young actors had great voices, and the songs were well composed. Despite how fun the songs were, I can’t recall the tune or the lyrics to any them at this moment. I didn’t find myself humming one of the tunes on the way home. Some might call this a bonus since ear worms are the worse. Just look at Galavant’s opening theme.
Anna and the Apocalypse is a perfect date movie. It’s about love, freedom, zombies, and fighting for those near and dear to your heart. Best of all, there are no singing or dancing zombies.
Heavy Trip is a difficult movie to categorize. It’s a comedy about Finnish metal heads trying to be the next big thing, but there’s a lot more drama and tragedy than I expected. These four members of a cover band with no name and one recorded song, try and fight their way to a spot at Norway’s big metal festival.
The four characters, basically perfect representations of the four temperament personalities, are adorkable beyond belief, making their passion for the craft real, and refreshing. I expected to watch a light-hearted comedy about outcast metal heads to be mostly silly. The film has issues in keeping with a constant theme. Heavy Trip took a hard turn, went to a dark place, then made another random turn and elevated that sadness into a new level of classic road trip shenanigans. This constant change of pace is a little off-putting. The other problem, and the one that bothered me more, is the lack of strong female roles. The two most prominent women are the girl-next-door who’s simply a “goal” for the lead singer, and the lead singer’s apathetic but supportive boss. In the end, Heavy Trip is a fun movie about a bunch of dorky metalheads. It has it faults, but it is full of laughs and charm.
I knew nothing about the manga or anime Aijn: Demi-Human. I only discovered the franchise exited once I read the Fantasia catalogue. The story is about the plight of demi-humans. They are creatures that look human but have the distinct characteristic of being immortal, and have ability to summon corporal beings called ghosts.
Right off the bat, we are given a quick paragraph explaining the history of demi-humans to read. Satō, a demi-human and antagonist of the story, saves the resident protagonist Nagai, also a demi-human, from inhuman experiments. Satō wants to start a revolution, while Nagai simply wants to be left alone and goes into hiding. He only returns to the public eye when Satō’s fanaticism reaches terrorist levels of violence.
This movie is wonderful. The story is clear and precise. There are not many side plots, and they keep the cast to a manageable level. This allows the director to have as many slick action scenes that never get boring, and are incredibly easy to follow. Every fight scene brings a different aesthetic flair and avoids simply having the two rivals punch each other into bloody submission. Aijn: Demi Human is part John Wick action, X-Men storyline, with an interesting homage to a video game hero.