Rating: 3½ Rampages

Synopsis:The poster for Spriggan.
On our planet, powerful artifacts are scattered around the world, left by an ancient civilization that destroyed itself. Before dissappearing, they left a message asking that their legacy be protected against the hand of evil, lest it use these artifacts and destroy yet another civilization. In our time, the organization Arkham made of an elite fighting force (the Spriggans) and a team of scientists, has taken on the burden of guarding and sealing these secrets. With the discovery of Noah's Ark however, the Pentagon wants to unseal it and use it. The Americans quickly move in an attempt to take out the key elements of Arkham's fighting force. When their attempt to assassinate Spriggan team member, Ominae Yu through the use of a classmate fails, Yu refuses to be left out of the action and flies to Turkey to help protect the Ark. While Yu hurries to the Ark, Arkham's forces at mount Ararat are overwhelmed by Colonel MacDougal, a seemingly young child with immense intelligence and telekinetic powers created by the Pentagon. However the Pentagon's plan to control MacDougal fails and he intends to use the Ark for his own ends. And to make things worse, he has the key to unseal the Ark.

Well, here we go again. Another overhyped big budget film that doesn't deliver. Since this one had its ups and downs, I'll start with what I liked about Spriggan, which is quite a lot actually. First off, the animation is really impressive, lots of rotoscoping here as all of the fight scenes look very natural and everyone moves with a realistic feel. The art and character designs are also very good; as is typical with the "serious" artists like Otomo and Oshii, the people look like real people, and there are quite a few scenes where you forget that it's animated. What caught me was not the visual elements, but the sound. I have yet to hear ANY anime with sound editing this stunning. Right from the opening scene on Mt. Ararat I could hear everything with amazing clarity and realism. This itself doesn't surprise me though, as the sound editing on Akira was top notch, and Otomo had no small hand in the film. Finally, the music is perfect for the film. From hauntingly beautiful to tense action music, every track suits its scene and really adds something to the experience. The problems with Spriggan don't really manifest themselves until about mid-way into the story, and therein lies its fatal flaw: the story. Like so many anime films out there, Spriggan assumes you know the back story, and the characters from the manga, so there is no introduction for the characters, and little or no explanation of their motives. The plot, when it's really revealed, is quite weak: incredibly powerful boy wants to destroy mankind, main character with shady past must stop him. *sigh* Though technically Spriggan is a really good film, the paper-thin (not to mention cliched) plot and lack of character background and introduction really weighs heavily against it. I did enjoy Spriggan, but not nearly as much as I was hoping. Though I can't put it up there with such landmark films as Patlabor 2, Spriggan is essentially a fun action movie...you're watching it for the big booms. And truth be told, it IS a fun waste of a couple of hours. Recommended.

Soon (read as, some time in the next decade) to be available subbed or dubbed through ADV Films. Theatrical release set for summer 2000.

A rather upset Jean.