Movies

Space Pirate Captain Harlock

STARRING: Shun Oguri, Miyuki Sawashiro, Yu Aoi, Haruma Miura, Toshiyuki Morikawa

DIRECTOR: Shinji Aramaki

THE SKINNY: Following a devastating inter-stellar war, Captain Harlock (Oguri) sets off in his dark-matter pirate ship on a mission to reset the timeline of the universe. His crew mates include a sexy green alien babe (Aoi) and a sexy blonde babe (Sawashiro). There’s also the idealistic young Yama (Miura), a spy who infiltrates Harlock’s crew to sabotage the mission.

RATING: PG13

THE CONSENSUS: While you should not expect too much sense from the plot, the visuals make this a spectacle worthy of the biggest blockbusters.


MARS

Being a space pirate is about the coolest thing that is humanly possible to be.

An undersea cowboy? Inter-dimensional gladiator? Time-travelling ninja?

All cool. Just not as cool as a space pirate.

This is but the latest iteration of a Japanese franchise that's been going strong for nearly four decades, and the thing that's made it so enduring is the intrinsic kick-butt-ness of the main character.

The hair. The scar. The eye patch. The high collar. The cape. The gun sword. The scull-and-crossbones emblazoned across his chest.

What guy does the 12-year-old me want to be? This guy.

His appearance hasn't changed much since the 1970s because the design is perfect, like a Porsche 911.

Only a fool would mess with it.

This movie is completely incomprehensible upon first viewing, but so what?

There are so many stunning sights to see - Harlock's ship, his babes, his battles - that you can spend the film's duration just staring, drinking it all in.

It's easy to take visual beauty for granted, but it's an achievement in itself.

The Japanese are better at this than anyone else - they're masters of pretty.

This is a grand, romantic adventure that errs on the side of epic portentousness.

You want to see a flick where the fate of the universe hinges on the blooming of a single flower?

This is the one to see.

Rating: ****


VENUS

I experienced an epiphany of sorts midway through this movie.

With the wondrous capabilities of modern technology, perhaps, there will come a day in the distant future when we don't need human actors anymore!

The sumptuous, breathtaking visuals of this full-CGI sci-fi-dystopian epic show clearly that nothing is impossible in the world of Japanese animation.

Incorporating photorealism and motion-capture elements so convincing that the film's characters - be it rebellious, tempestuous Logan, his sinister, vengeful elder brother Ezra, or the battle-scarred tortured soul Harlock - have no problems summoning the same empathy you'd pour onto the performances of real-life actors.

For someone who is admittedly more familiar with cutesy 90s hand-drawn anime series like Oh My Goddess! and You're Under Arrest, I have to say that watching Space Pirate Captain Harlock is a truly jaw-dropping experience.

Whoever knew there could be so much facial expressiveness in computer-generated figures? I could never imagine myself ogling a virtual hunk in the past (I never got into that whole Final Fantasy craze). But after this movie, I'm happily eating my words.

With his perfect physique, sharp nose and intense gaze, Harlock is the epitome of suaveness. Who needs Takuya Kimura and Joe Odagiri now?

Rating: ****