Assault Girls (Asaruto gāruzu) (2009)
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Assault Girls has no real story. Also, since it is set in a computer game world, there is no real threat. Then why was I so engrossed by it all? It was simply a bizarre mix of many things that I love, served up in a very short movie. It all begins with a lumbering voice over that really doesn't fit with the film. I was worried by the pomposity of it. Next up came long takes sweeping the vast desolate landscapes. There was also a shot of a snail slowly crawling along. It was like something from a Terence Malick movie, where nature triumphs over story, only here it was in a funny Japanese OTT action movie. Soon we see a man walking and he certainly walks for a while. It was reminiscent of Omar Shariff in Lawrence of Arabia. As the film finally unfolds its basic story, we see this is all set in a computer game, where 4 characters are finding it hard to defeat the final boss. They must band together if they wish to destroy it. Quite why this story is that of a film is beyond me. Perhaps it is showing how people have become wrapped up in computer games and they are an extension of our lives and characters. But probably not. I really enjoyed its serene and quiet nature, but wish there had been more story. The effects were fantastic, and I loved each and every CGI creation. Kikuchi was once again the standout star in once again a mute role. Her screen presence is undeniably exotic and unique. Her quirky dancers, and the way she can captivate by looking at a hat. You wont get much from this movie, but it was a wonderful 70 minutes.
A sequel of sorts to Avalon, Assault Girls gets high points for its visuals from gorgeous cinematography to its cooler than cool costumes but its lack of a plot makes it hard to sit through even at 66 minutes. Rumor has it that this was just a taste of whats to come with several more Assault Girl films on the way which is fine by me but I hope the next one will have more in the way of a story rather than this ones paper thin tale of four gamers teaming up to take out a level boss.
Sometimes it feels like Oshii keeps making the same films over and over again. And yet I keep watching. As usual, those sucked in by the glossy cover and premise are quickly met with philosophical deliberations that drag out the running time of a 90 minute film to unreasonable lengths. But if you're an Oshii fan you won't mind.
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