Story = C
Video = B-
Audio = C
Akira Fudo is a kind-hearted, shy teenager until one night his best friend Ryo Asuka reveals to him a terrible truth: demons are awakening in our world and mankind is in peril. Assuming the mantle of Devilman, a demon with the heart of a human, Akira fights demons as well as the rising chaos of a panicked human populace. (Source: ANN)I've been discussing anime and Asian action flicks with someone at work recently and we got to talking about Go Nagai — the legendary creator of such fine offerings as Cutie Honey, MazinKaizer, Violence Jack, and Getter Robo. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that the live action Devilman was pretty good and he offered to let me borrow it; and since I've been wanting to check out stuff by Go Nagai for a while, I eagerly accepted. But after watching it I can only say that this movie is "okay". There were a few elements about it that I liked and that surprised me, but in general the story was awkward and uneven.
The main issue that I had was that the transitions between plot points was so abrupt. For instance, in the beginning we have the two main characters — the teenage Akira and Ryo, two friends who are both kind of sullen but who are driven to protect each other. There's some good character development in those first few scenes; but then out of nowhere Ryo brings up the fact that his father is in Antarctica with a group of scientists who were digging for a new source of energy when they unintentionally unleashing demons into the world. And with that revelation, we abruptly go from being a somewhat realistic story about a couple kids brooding, to having all of these grotesque demons, two of whom possess Ryo and Akira, transforming them into devils who start fighting each other. Then just as abruptly they go back to being human kids who talking about their fate, wherein Akira decides to use his new demon powers to protect humanity. The fact that there is little to no build up or foreshadowing or any real logical explanation prior to these plot twists makes it seem that the story is being made up as it goes along, despite being based on a pre-existing material.
I think a major reason for these jumps in the story is because it is trying to sum up the event in the manga/anime. I have never seen the Devilman anime or read the manga, but it seemed like there was a lot more to the story than what was being presented in this movie. For instance, I could tell that there was probably more about to the relationship between the devil who possessed Akira — Amon — and the devil who possessed his friend Ryo. And then there's the angelic devil lady who only shows up briefly and hints that she may have been romantically involved with Amon at some point. Unfortunately we don't get that background info or see those relationships develop much more than one or two slight hints, and we never see that devil lady at all after her introductory scene. So I can imagine this movie as being an excellent supplement if you've seen the other versions because you could see the characters, setting, and fights in live action while filling in any plot holes with your knowledge of the anime or manga. But for someone like me, it can be frustrating or downright annoying.
What I actually did like about the movie, which I didn't expect, was its epic scope. It eventually develops into a story involving the entire world, with nation fighting nation and people on the streets killing each other because no one knows who is really a demon and who isn't. It's that decent into chaos and the exploration the darker side of human nature and the breakdown of the social order that I really liked and which I thought really gave the movie substance. The story just keeps on getting bigger and bigger and more insane until the very end when there is an epic fight between the two main characters.
And those action scenes, where devils fight one another, were very cool indeed. I especially liked the parts where you would see one devil strike another and the visual would suddenly shift to a sketchy drawing of the fight and just as abruptly shift back to the real fight. It was a really cool effect and a nice homage to the original manga.
So overall, it was an entertaining story but probably better suited for someone who is already a Devilman fan. I do really want to check out other Go Nagai stuff, but this movie doesn't make me want to start with Devilman.
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