Archive for August 4th, 2012

Tetsujin 28 The Movie (2005)

Shotaro is a 12 year old boy and the son of a famed scientist who died tragically. He’s finding it hard to settle down at his new school in Tokyo and his relationship with his mother is a little bit awkward. Suddenly a massive robot named Black Ox appears over the city and starts tearing the place up. Dr Reiji Takumi who is controlling Black Ox wants to vent his anger against the world after the death of his son and seeing his computer empire fail. Shotaro’s mother is injured in the attack by Black Ox. Shotaro is approached by a man who used to work with his father and takes him to a laboratory where he is given the chance to lead the fightback against Black Ox by taking the controls of a secret government robot codenamed Tetsujin 28. The project was meant to be a last ditch effort to protect Japan during the final days of World War II. After 27 failures they managed to get it right with no.28 but by that time Japan had already lost the war. Shotaro is the only person deemed capable of taking the controls of the mighty robot to defeat Black Ox but his first battle results in a resounding defeat with Tetsujin nearly destroyed and Shotaro runs away after everybody says he’s a loser. Dr Reiji Takumi who is controlling Black Ox wants to vent his anger against the world after the death of his son and seeing his computer empire fail. Eventually Shotaro returns back the government laboratory and begs the people for a chance to take control of Tetsujin 28 which is being rebuilt. The scientists there train him up in how to use the robot more effectively and it is all set up for round 2 of a robot slugfest but who will come out on top in this encounter?

This family movie is based on a very famous 60’s anime series that was shown in the US as Gigantor. It was never shown over here in the UK and I had no prior exposure to Tetsujin 28. I’m usually quite a fan of mecha movies (anime or live action apart from the awful Transformers trilogy) but this one didn’t capture my imagination at all although I did like the sleek design of the two robots especially Black Ox. It all started brilliantly though and seeing Black Ox bending the antenna of Tokyo Tower like a turkey twizzler and throwing Tetsujin 28 into the Diet Building was great. The head to head fight between the two robots was a big disappointment. Imagine playing an old boxing video game where it takes an eternity to connect with your opponent’s face……well that’s how the fight with the two robots looked. It was just so slow and the punches thrown by both of them looked very weak and there’s no movement between them. After this encounter the movie just went downhill and even a return bout between the robots didn’t improve anything. You would have thought the fights would have been kinda spectacular but instead it comes across as boring. It’s like seeing two pieces of metal banging against each other, you have no indication who’s winning in the fight. Even having two men in rubber suits (a staple use in kaiju movies) would have been better than this. The movie just sort of peaked too early with the initial Black Ox attack and could never top it afterwards. The CG effects aren’t that great either and it makes the movie looks like a cheap video game. Another problem I found is the movie had a bit of an identity crisis in that it never knows if it wants to be targeted towards kids or something a little bit darker for the adult fans that grew up watching Tetsujin 28 in their youth. I’m not really sure if this movie would actually hold a child’s attention for too long as it just drags on and on. It didn’t know when to end.

The performances from the cast is decent. I did enjoy seeing ex-idol and former Morning Musume leader Yuko Nakazawa playing a young police detective and it was great seeing her in action. She looked different with short black hair. The last time I saw her in a movie was probably in the Morning Musume feature Morning Cop and that was a long time ago. The other cast member that kinda stands out is Yu Aoi who plays a robotics expert. She looks fantastic in her uniform and beret. Unfortunately the young man who plays Shotaro doesn’t fare too good through no fault of his own. It’s just his character is too weak a hero and uninteresting to really root for him. Abe Hiroshi is wasted in a bit role as Shotaro’s scientist father.

Overall I thought this movie was a complete waste of time barring the first 20 mins. I would imagine that it will appeal to long-time fans of Tetsujin 28 but otherwise avoid it.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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