Devilman (2004)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 2, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 100 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Hiroyuki Nasu
Starring: Hisato Izaki, Yûsuke Izaki, Ayana Sakai, Asuka Shibuya, Ryudo Uzaki
Writer: Machiko Nasu
Country: Japan
AKA: Debiruman
Going from a quite voluminous manga, to an anime series, to two OVAs (original video animations, or direct to video animated productions), Devilman, aka Debiroman, is the brainchild of legendary anime and manga creator Go Nagai, the man responsible for Mazinger Z and Cutie Honey. This live action film, or tokusatsu (which literally means 'special effects', but is also the word for 'genre' movies and TV that rely on effects work, be it the rubber monsters of kaiju like Godzilla, or CGI, like in this film) was slammed in it's native Japan, receiving a Bunshun Kiichigo Award, which is the Japanese equivalent of the western Razzie awards which are handed out to the the worst films.

Deservedly so.

Devilman tells of two friends, Akiraand Ryo (twins Hisato andYuzuke Izaki, both members of J-pop band Flame) who have stood side by side since they were children - Ryo always being Akira's defender, even cutting off a bully's fingers for a beating he dealt to Akira.

After an accident at a research station, gigantic CGI sperms (!)are released and randomly infect members of the human population, turning them into demons, Akira being one of them. His demon is called Akon, but he manages to keep it under control, and turns into the heroic Devilman.
The demons start attacking the population, and very soon mankind is turning against itself, seeing any little personality anomaly as signs of demon-hood. Akira tries to hide his alter-ego, and eventually discovers that Ryo is also infected, but he relishes his abilities, and cause chaos where-ever possible.

Nations start to attack each other, and destruction descends upon the Earth, leaving demon-kind to pick up the pieces, but Devilman won't have it, and will stop at nothing to give mankind a chance...

Translating comics into film can be difficult, especially when you need to provide some kind of origin story for the main character, but far too much time of this film is set in the schoolyard, and not enough on the apocalypse to come. This filmcould have been an interesting look at paranoia and fear, but instead is simplified and treats the viewer like an idiot.

Another of this films problems is that it didn't take the source material seriously enough. Employing popstars and sports people as main cast members was a big mistake, especially Bob Sapps'stilted and mishandleddialogue as the newscaster.

The CGI would have looked fine, if it was in a Final Fantasy film, but here it is out of place. In my honest opinion, they would have been much better off going for kaiju rubber suits than this mishmash of CGI and live action that are like oil and water.

Aswith some subtitled movies, the translations aren't quiteright. A particular favorite of mine in this film was:' Father, Mother....I am sorry... I didn't manage to survive.' Wha?
Video
Devilman has been given a decent 1.85:1 transfer with 16:9 enhancement, although the definicies in the digital source material are evident at times.
Audio
An impressive Dolby 5.1 that makes good use of the surround sound format... mind youthe sub wooer gets it's best workout whenever UFC champion Bob Sapp speaks!!
Extra Features
The Making ofDevilman is a fairly basic 'making of' doco that has interviews with cast and crew.

The Visual FX of Devilman is a series of un-monologuedvignettes of visual effects showing CGI build-ups of some of the VFX, starting from initial sketches and Go Nagai artwork to finishedfully-rendered scenes. If you have an interest in CGI, this is apretty cool extra.

Theatrical Traileris the trailer forDevilman.

Madman Trailers are trailers of other Madman/EasternEye titles including Azumi 2, Death Trance, Cutie Honey and Shinobi.
The Verdict
Not completely crap, but pretty close. Pop singers aren't actors, and the CGI sticks out like a big hairy pair of dog's things. It get's 2 little Australia's though for the amount of violence and the' cute Japanese girls in school uniforms' factor. Watch Constantine or Man-Thing instead.
Movie Score
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