Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Anime & Manga, Animation
Studio: Infinity Resources Inc Release Date: 02/24/2009
It is now official: Bandai is evil. And very, very cheap
NwappMX7 | VA, US | 08/09/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Why, Bandai, why? Why do you continue to lie to me?
I get this "Anime Movie Classic" edition of Gundam F91 and think, "Cool. I've never seen this before. I like anime, I like Gundam. I've heard that this movie isn't the best Gundam movie but what the hell. I'll give it a shot." So I read the back of the DVD case and note the features of the disc then open the case to find... a disc marked "Gundam F91 - The Motion Picture - Special Edition - Disc 1." Wait, what? As it turns out, Bandai just took the first disc of its previous two disc "Special Edition" version of this movie and repackaged it under their "Anime Movie Classic" line. Which is actually not the problem, really, because I can understand that. They do the same thing with their "Anime Legends" line, taking previously released discs and repackaging them into smaller, shelf-saving packages and sell them for a cheaper price. And that's cool. The problem is twofold. One, couldn't you guys at least change the label for the disc? Seeing a DVD in a standard single disc release labeled "Disc 1" makes me wonder "Where's Disc 2?" Singular items should not be numbered! Second, seeing as how this is just the previous release repackaged, the claim on the back of the case that the video aspect ratio is "1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen" is blatantly false. This DVD is non-anamorphic. This falsehood is particularly insidious because it might make someone who owns the previous edition think that this is a totally new edition, one with an upgraded anamorphic transfer. They then might spend their money to buy what is basically half of what they already own. This is not the first time that Bandai has lied about repackaging former editions and listed features that don't exist - they did it with their re-release of the first Gundam trilogy a year ago (an edition that was on the market for a total of about five minutes). It truly boggles the mind - why would Bandai treat Gundam on DVD this way? It is their flagship sci-fi franchise. It would be like if Paramount did this constant meaningless double dipping with Star Trek - wait a minute....
Well, enough ranting about Bandai and their insidious lies, how's the actual movie? Well, it's a mixed bag. Gundam F91 was originally supposed to be a 50 episode TV series but creator Yoshiyuki Tomino decided to make it into a two hour movie for reasons that are still not entirely known (Staff disputes? Executive meddling? Tomino was high on dope?). As a result - and I am not the first person to say this by a long shot - this movie is rushed. Very, very rushed. It starts out alright at a good pace but then like an out-of-control bullet train accelerates faster and faster until by the time the film has reached its destination the passenger audience will have departed disoriented and very confused.
The story in a nutshell (I'll try not to spoil too much): This is basically the original "Mobile Suit Gundam" combined with "Round Vernian Vifam." Thirty years after Char Aznable failed in his Ultimate Urban Renewal Program a new menace to Peace in Space emerges in the form of the Crossbone Vanguard, a military force belonging to the Ronah family (who make the Zabis look like the Cleavers). The Vanguard attacks and occupies colony Frontier IV, home of civilian student Seabook Arno and his semi-girlfriend Cecily Fairchild. Cecily is taken by the Ronahs and proclaimed their long-lost heir while Seabook and his friends just try to survive and escape and maybe get Cecily back. Oh, and Seabook gets to pilot the titular Gundam. Of course.
For all of the standard Gundam Tropes being used for the umpteenth time (civilian teenager pilots a military prototype weapon, screwed up aristocratic space families, masked arch-rivals, etc, etc.) this is an enjoyable experience, just not necessarily a good one. The pacing is, as already mentioned, frantic - this movie needed at least another hour of material (and it already runs at two hours... F91 could have been a truly epic movie). Most characters get hardly any development (and how could they with the pacing?) but the leads are likable and their relationship is genuinely touching. The music is okay (although the composer obviously inserts cues from "The Empire Strikes Back" into the score at a few points). However the main draw for this motion picture is the animation and the battle sequences. The animation for Gundam F91 is superb (at least 90 - or is it 91? - percent of the time; there are a few slip ups here and there), being fluid and detailed. This combined with excellent sound effects created the ultimate suspension of disbelief and made me believe that the titanic mobile suit war machines were actual, real *machines*. The battle scenes were both exciting and tragic - the movie pulls no punches showing the consequences and collateral damage caused by these tools of war and destruction.
The video on this previous-edition-passed-off-as-new DVD is ...decent? It is non-anamorphic (grrr....). The colors are good and the definition is okay (but it definitely won't be mistaken for hi-def). There are a number of scratches and holes that appear during the course of the movie and the title frame jitters (What, Bandai couldn't remaster this?). The audio is okay; both the English and original Japanese dubs are in Dolby Digital 2.0. I would stick to the original Japanese language track but the English dub isn't that bad. The acting is adequate if a little flat. The only extras are a "Mobile Suit Encyclopedia" which is pretty cool, and previews for other Bandai shows. No original theatrical trailer for the movie itself though. Boo. I guess if you want more extras you'll have to track down the previous "Special" Edition and watch the second disc.
Pluses - The animation, the battle scenes, likable characters, touching ending.
Minuses - The pacing, tries to cram an entire TV show into one two hour movie, non-original story.
Conclusion - This movie is a decent bit of entertainment for Gundam fans or giant robot fans in general. I rate the movie itself 3 out of 5 stars. However this DVD release is a rip-off and an exercise in deceit. You have been warned. My advice is to try to find the previous edition with the second disc. At least then you will have more special features... and you won't feel cheated. Shame on you, Bandai. Shame on you.
Not bad but could have been better
Henry R. Siemer | 04/14/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well first off I'd like to say that one of the main things from this movie that I liked was the combat coordination the animators used for the mobile suit action, which is one of the main reasons I watch Gundam. I also found the English dubbing to be reasonably decent. And the story itself wasn't pretty good
However this storyline probably would have been better if it was done in the 50 episode TV format as originally intended. That would have given the writer more time to flesh out the personalities of the characters, because as it is now it leaves the impression that just about everyone is a little immature (with the exception of one engineer that works on the protagonists' ship. Also if it was longer it would give the viewer a better look at the politics of the world and the characters opinion of it, because as it is it can be confusing. For instance halfway through the movie after Seabook discovers that Cecily is a member of the Crossbone Vanguard, his friends seriously consider defecting to the Crossbone Vanguard and present them with the Gundam as a bargaining token. Yet in the next scene they are seen preparing to evacuate to the moon which is Federation territory.
Another thing I at least found annoying was how it was hard to root for either the Federation or the Crossbone Vanguard. Usually with the early Gundam series the faction the series protagonist sides with is usually designed so that the viewer will wish to root for them, while the enemy is clearly seen as evil because of how they are usually willing to initiate WMD attacks that kill thousands to millions of people. In this movie the only truly evil character is Iron Mask with his plan to use the Bug weapon to kill any human not part of the Crossbone Vanguard. Other than that its quite easy to root for the Crossbone Vanguard to win because during the battles they specifically tried to avoid civilian deaths while the Federation's soldiers were only to willing to overlook civilians caught in the crossfire, use kids as shields, or try to for teenagers to fight simply because they had a damaged mobile suit they were using to escape.
Well I suppose that ultimately if your looking for good mobile suit action than you may want to check this out. However if you want something with a complex and deep story than this probably isn't for you."
I'm an avid anime and Gundam fan and this movie is terrible!
S. Villines | Side 7 | 02/28/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'll keep it simple as I'm watching the movie while I type.... I am a huge fan of the Gundam series, I thought this would be a rare treasure but it isn't. I opened the case and the disc was marked as disc one but where in the hell is disc two? I then put it into my blu-ray player and began the movie, and right off from the start the plot just moves way too quickly to stay interested as you usually do in most of the Gundam series. I just didn't get the same feeling as I did with every other Gundam DVD I have seen. I would describe it as more of a feeling of disgust. This puts the franchise to shame. I do not recommend this to any Gundam fan."