Saturday, 7 August 2010

[367] Goemon (2009) Review

I've been away in Finland, so apologies for the break in service. Also, I came back to find my laptop riddled with a trojan which eventually killed it. So I'm behind, but let's clear out the backlog of recent Den of Geek articles, shall we?

First up, Goemon. A film which, in the end, wasn't released in the cinemas at all. It should be out on DVD soon.

Since when did epic storytelling get so bloody boring? I blame Gladiator, which took heroic set pieces and a grand, historical context, only to force the viewer to wade through overwrought melodrama at the climax. Then take Troy, which sapped the Iliad's godliness in favour of dull humanity, or Robin Hood, Ridley Scott's attempt to retell folklore without a shred of humour or charm.

But it's with a particular sadness that we welcome Goemon, a Japanese film that is nothing but a dull fantasy-historical misfire.

Taking cues from the life of the country's own Robin Hood-like legend, Ishikawa Goemon, writer-director Kiriya Kazuaki paints broad strokes with CG imagery, building up a lavish representation of 16th century Japan.

Against a backdrop of civil war, where various clans tussle for power, Goemon plays the thief, stealing from the rich for the benefit of the poor, both as folk hero entertainment and as a wealth-sharing trickster. In a cheeky opening sequence, Goemon fumbles a job, only to dash across city rooftops during a magnificent fireworks display, with the acrobatic chase eliciting cheers from an enthralled audience.

However, before long, the film's narrative grinds into gear, bringing with it multiple layers of overcomplicated intrigue, conflict and anguish, as Goemon matches pace with grand historical events. Such a shift is to be expected, but it is at the expense of the opening's innocent charm and humour.

Read the full article here.

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