Wonderful Days

Dir: Moon-Saeng Kim
Star: Ji-Tae Yu, Joon-Ho Chung, Hee-Jin Wu

Stunning, luscious Korean eye-candy, it's the most expensive animated feature ever to come from that country, and it shows in the blend of CGI with cel animation, accompanied by the best sound mix of any film this year. Unfortunately, neither plot nor characters live up to the technical aspects; both Chris and I struggled to stay awake, even at 6pm. The story sees two classes in a futuristic world: the ECOBAN are inside a city powered by pollution, while the Marrians must endure life outside. Jay is among the former, but her childhood friend Shua is a Marrian, intent on bringing ECOBAN down and returning blue skies to the planet.

It's obvious from the beginning where this is going, and also how it'll get there, leaving the characters merely a means to an end (it was significantly hard to discover any voice actors' names). While these ends are rarely less than gorgeous, and occasionally phenomenal - the opening credits, the final assault - it is just a reminder that, no matter how technically advanced, animation still needs heart. It's sorely lacking here: you watch the inhabitants of this world living, fighting and dying, with about as much emotional engagement as if they were worker ants. Battle Angel covered similar themes with much less flashy animation, yet the overall impact was a great deal more effective. Still, Days shows Korea might become a force to be reckoned with for its own work, rather than merely a sweat-shop for America and Japan.

Jan 2004

The Eyes have it...
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