Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Assault Girls/Asaruto gâruzu (2009)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I’ve come to realize that the first-review promotions on Epinions probably wasn’t done with movies in mind.  Many of the mainstream, big-budget titles were typically reviewed regardless.  This left many of the independent and low-budget movies, some of which are good.  However, the vast majority of movies without reviews were going to be movies that are pretty crappy.  Most of them were without reviews for a reason.

Take Assault Girls.  I’ll admit that I gave into my more basic instincts when I saw that it was about three Asian women in a VR setting.  What I didn’t realize is that at 70 minutes, there was no way it was going to be that good.  Ever notice how a three-hour movie can be long, but a one-hour movie will seem even longer?  This is the case here.  The movie starts with an 8-minute narration about shared reality and the decline of man or something.  (I couldn’t really tell because the audio was kind of muffled.)

We then cut to three women and a guy in some sort of fight with giant worm things.  One woman is a Goth that can turn into a raven and shoot energy balls.  Another is dressed in red and rides a horse.  The third is dressed in black and grey and has an airplane.  They guy has some sort of RPG launcher or something.  They’re all doing this to get points or something, all the while insulting each other’s motivations for being there.

Each of them runs out of some critical item, like grenades or transport time, and has to wait until they can get more.  They go back to their respective bases and then proceed to wander aimlessly in the vast desert that is their VR world.  Along the way, they meet a snail and a statue.  (What do they do?  Put the snail on the statue, of course.)  There’s also some sort of voice that tells them stuff, like how beating the big boss worm is impossible to do alone, so they’ll have to form a party.

Actually, I’m not sure if the voice was telling the pilot woman or all of them.  Either way, this takes up about a half an hour.  Yes.  We’re talking about a good 20-30 minutes of walking around in the desert.  Not a figurative 30 minutes, but a real 30 minutes, much like how I’m using a great many words to describe this.  I actually sat through the entire thing.

After everyone’s gotten some good VR exercise, pilot woman gathers everyone so that she can propose teaming up and defeating the boss worm, Madara, together and splitting the points four ways.  The guy doesn’t like this, so he proposes taking half and leaving the rest for the women to split.  She challenges him to a four-round duel.  He accepts and subsequently loses all four rounds.  So, they team up and beat the boss worm.  They guy then realizes that he’s been betrayed, so he shoots down the women and decides that he’s going to be a player hater from here on out.  That’s how the movie ends.

I’m going to say it right here: Do not buy this movie.  There is going to be little to no replay value.  Remember how I said that a one-hour movie could be longer than a three-hour movie?  Whoever edited this movie should have gotten rid of all the walking scenes.  I don’t think this would have taken anything away from the movie.  From there, we probably could have cut the movie in half again and not lost much.

When I finished the movie, I felt like I was missing some sort of perspective, like it was one big in-joke and I didn’t get the punch line.  I did some research and apparently, it borrows elements from a movie called Avalon.  (IMDb doesn’t list this as a sequel or anything.   It just says, “Evolves around the same virtual reality:  Avalon”.)  If I had watched Avalon, I’m wondering if Assault Girls would have made sense.  It also probably doesn’t help that I’m not a gamer.  It’s possible that the four characters are supposed to make fun of those that play a lot.

Instead of all of this walking, we could have had a little character development.  Why is everyone there?  We get that everyone’s being paid to be there, but how are they being paid?  Is it by the week?  Is it by the kill?  Is it by the point?  At least one person is doing this to support a family.  Is the family being paid directly?  How long do they stay there?  Is it for a set period of time or until they beat the game?  It’s also never stated why someone would pay them.  Is it to test the system?  Is it to study combat with an alien race?  At least some of this could have been explained during all of those walking scenes.

The movie is kind of  like The Matrix meets Dune.  (This isn’t entirely fair.  At least The Matrix had a coherent plot.)  This is the worst case of What the F*** was Everyone Thinking that I’ve ever seen.  There was this rule that everyone had to speak English while in the system, even though an exception is made in one scene.  This isn’t to say that subtitles aren’t necessary.  As I said, the introductory monologue was hard to understand and Netflix didn’t seem to have subtitles while streaming.  There were subtitles when the producers thought necessary, but I had trouble in  spots.  There are also five chapters, each of which has lines about gods being hidden and men that can’t be forgotten.  The text was not in English, but the subtitles were there to help.

It’s kind of like someone tried to take a short story and make it into a full-length movie.  As you might expect with a 70-minute film, they fell way short of this.  Instead of adding material, they had people walk around.  I’d recommend avoiding this one, even if you can get it streaming.

No comments :