Impulse Buy Theater - Bravestorm (2017)
“And I hate givin’ bad news to good people.”
Leading off with that quote, well, kinda colors the whole review, doesn’t it?
I fought off having to write this one, hence why it’s appearing late. You see, the trailer for Bravestorm looked sooooo good. Giant mechs, a guy in powered body armor…I mean, sure, of course you could tell it’s all bluescreen…well, greenscreen…but still…it’s a Japanese film containing giant mechs, of course it’s gonna all be digital effects. But it all just exuded a level of cool that had me very interested to dive into the movie. Plot? Don’t care. So long as it doesn’t get in the way of the story, like The Man says.
Still, before I gush all over the good and rail against the bad, let’s have a look at what we’re in for, shall we?
It’s the post-apocalyptic future of 2050. Earth has been decimated by an alien invasion by the Killgis. Oh, we’ll get to them. Definitely. Their invading army of genetically mutated assassins combined with the giant terraforming robot Black Baron have pushed humans to the brink of extinction. Three siblings, using time-travel technology developed by their parents, are sent back to 2013 to find their younger grandfather before he’s kidnapped by the Killgis to create the Black Baron. But in order to pilot humanity’s last hope, the Red Baron (oh, we’re gonna get to that too, don’t you worry), the three time-displaced descendants will have to track down their great-uncle as well, a hot-headed boxer who may not be all that interested in saving the world.
Look, nothing that I’ve written above is really all that new. There’s plenty of sci-fi films like this, granted, maybe not so much on the giant robot aspect though. So really, what we’re looking for is whether or not the storytellers here can give this slightly trope-ish tale enough of a cool spin for it to stand out. And as a reviewer, I’m not really sure if I can answer that…at least, not fairly.
But instead of using that as a cop-out, I’ll review the film in the state it was presented to me…and I want to start with the positive first. Sure, the special effects are a bit behind our Hollywood blockbusters, but all things considered, they’re not half bad here. I mean, yeah, if you wanna be mean, you can say they look like PS4 graphics or something, but you know what? PS4 graphics are pretty decent…so I’ll take it. Moving from there to the practical effects and visuals, you can tell the production is really trying here and for the most part, it shows.
Okay, I can’t avoid it anymore. What follows aren’t exactly negatives, because I love the movie for these things, but I’m pretty sure the hilarity these next bits caused in my head are not what the creators had in mind. Let’s start with the Killgis aliens. I’m gonna be blunt, if you ever wanted to know what aliens with testicles for eyes would look like, Bravestorm definitely answers that for you. Secondly, the techie of the three siblings wears a t-shirt throughout the film that reads “North Sore”. Ah…engrish. And the only way that shirt works is if you’re okay advertising your cold sore. [Just don’t ask about the South Sore. – Ed.] And lastly, there’s the hero mech itself…the Red Baron. Sure, while this might conjure images of the World War I flying ace, Baron von Richthofen, unfortunately, my brain kept going back and forth between “When’s Snoopy going to show up and save the day?” and “Mmmm…man, I could go for some cheap ass pizza right now.” Ultimately, these things make this such a great “good-bad film” and I gotta admit that some alcohol or other controlled substance of choice would probably make this film even better.
Especially every time Testicle-head shows up.
But…all good things, right? And this is where I feel bad utterly trashing this film…because the writing? Fuck me…this is terrible. However, I need to get this disclaimer out right now: THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE FAULT OF THE WRITERS. The original Japanese script might be fine. Hell, it might be Oscar-worthy. But I’ll never know, because sadly the DVD I watched had either an English-only track or the original Japanese track…but with no subtitles. And let me tell you, this English dub is absolutely fucking atrocious. Again, I admitted right off the bat that the story here is simple…and in cases like this, characters can save it…or damn it. And as it sits right now, oh my god, the English dub does its level best to try and burn this film to the ground, practically making it unwatchable.
Lastly, I do want to comment on the film’s soundtrack. While I appreciate that the composer sounds like he’s doing his best to produce a serious score…well, it all sounds like pieces I’ve heard before from better movies. When that starts to happen, as a viewer I start to find myself humming along, but not in the good way. No, when I do this, I’m trying to remember what score did I hear this from originally. I did this A LOT with James Horner’s work. [Ah, screw him, he’s dead. – Ed.] Ultimately, it brings kind of an empty, hollow vibe to the film that only exacerbates the problems presented by the English dub.
For completeness' sake, I do have to mention that this is a revamp/crossover of two old tokusatsu franchises: Silver Mask (being the guy in the white powered body armor) and Red Baron (the giant mech...duh). I don't have any history with either franchise, hence why no mention in the main body of the review, but if there are any fans out there, well, you might want to check this film out simply for that reason.
All in all, I really want to like Bravestorm…and I REALLY want to give it a fair shot…especially since the movie ends on a pretty cool piece of sequel-bait. And I think that if I were to turn off the sound and make up my own dialog, possibly while drunk, this film might just end up being AMAZING. But as it’s presented here, ugh…it just hurts.
But yeah, I’ll be here from Bravestorm 2. I mean, come on, I still have Transmophers in my collection for Christ’s sake.