Sunday, June 28, 2015

Returner (2002)

This derivative science fiction 'time travel to fix the apocalypse' movie is chock full of every tired genre idea there is but for some reason it all works here because of the 'everything and the kitchen sink' style of filmmaking.

The story is simple (or not)

Stylish action meets sci-fi drama in this exciting Japanese adventure written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki. A young female soldier (Anne Suzuki) time-travels from 2084 back to 2002 to stop an alien force from destroying humankind. She encounters a hardened, modern-day mercenary (Takeshi Kaneshiro), and they team up to thwart the extraterrestrial invasion. Goro Kishitani, Kirin Kiki.

The fighting and other action mimics the style of the Matrix which your forget was totally fresh and new at the time. For awhile this became the standard to which all action fight sequences had to achieve. Kinda boring after you see the slow motion  flips and shots ten times.

The story also wants to be all things to all people - a science fiction story about time travel and alien invasion, a revenge fantasy, a first date romantic comedy, and an action film. It's gets everything about 75 % right.

The hero is charming and skilled and his opponent is self serving and psychotic. No shades of grey here. With all the bullets flying around you with think that at least one of the principles would be hit by some shrapnel at some kind. However, that is reserved for the myriad of stunt people who had to fall down in the cause of filmmaking.

If Luc Besson made E.T., the likely result would be Returner, a sci-fi special effects extravaganza that's the very model of manufactured thrills. Directed in an attractively shallow manner by Takashi Yamazaki (Juvenile), Returner possesses a plot that's been lifted from about fifty other films. Aside from E.T., you can also throw in plot points and concepts from Terminator, Independence Day, Mission: Impossible 2, The Matrix and, if you search hard enough, probably even Kate and Leopold. The abundance of unaffecting acting, thin plotting and obvious superficial thrills will likely put off some. Everyone else, however, could be reasonably entertained by the film's commercial excess. Those who think movies are all about stuff blowing up: Returner is for you!

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