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Terror Nullius

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Okay, so this 55-minute mash-up film might just be the greatest bloody thing to come out of Australia since Chris Hemsworth and the cheesymite scroll.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (better known as the ACMI) and The Ian Potter Cultural Trust recently commissioned internationally acclaimed Australian sample art collective Soda_Jerk as the third recipient of the Ian Potter Moving Image Commission (IPMIC), a ten-year, biennial program providing $100,000 for the creation of new works by mid-career Australian artists – and the most significant moving image commission in the country. [The Ian Potter Cultural Trust withdrew their support this week – ed]

The result – Terror Nullius by Soda_Jerk – is made up of countless spliced together samples of iconic Australian films, political speeches and modern Aussie pop-cultural references to create a part-political satire, eco-horror, and road movie.

Terror Nullius is one hell of a ride into the dark heart of Australia; a blistering, badly behaved sample-based film that “confronts the horror of our contemporary moment,” says Soda_Jerk themselves. This is a rogue remapping of national mythology, where a misogynistic remark is met with the sharp beak of a native bird, feminist bike gangs rampaging, a woke Skippy and bicentenary celebrations ravaged by flesh-eating sheep. Ultimately, Terror Nullius intricately remixes fragments of Australia’s pop culture and film legacy “to interrogate the unstable entanglement of fiction that underpins this country’s vexed sense of self.”

For those that don’t know all that much (if anything) about Soda_Jerk, this two-person art collective formed in 2002 approaches sampling as a form of “rogue historiography”. Working at the intersection of documentary and speculative fiction, their archival practice takes the form of films, video installations, cut-up texts and lecture performances. And Terror Nullius may just be the perfect embodiment of that philosophy.

The film features a veritable cavalcade of Australian cinema royalty including: Romper Stomper, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mad Max (original and Fury Road), Muriel’s Wedding, Crocodile Dundee, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Red Dog, even some snippets from Crocodile Hunter episodes.

Soda_Jerk takes these samples, and pastes them into a three-act narrative, swapping out some dialogue for famous Australian political speeches from John Howard, Pauline Hanson and Tony Abbott, and cleverly blending them with local pop-cultural references such as The Babadook, stand-up comedy moments from Josh Thomas and a doof-averting, woke-feminist Skippy the Bush Kangaroo – there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.

While definitely hilarious, the film raises and comments on a number of hot-button Australian political issues such as black history, LGBTQI marriage and so on in a way that relates to the kids. For example, you won’t see a Mad Max fortresses with a Woomera Detention Centre sign shopped on it and asylum seeking characters from Romper Stomper going up against the feral gangs (here made up of Pauline Hanson and Angry Anderson) while the head-feral monologue is dubbed with John Howard’s infamous 2001 “We will decide who comes to this country” speech, anywhere else. That’s bloody good content any way you slice it.

The editing is clever and at times, deliberately shoddy; superimposing modern Aussie celebs such as Shazza from TV show Housos and comedians Hannah Gadsby and Meshel Laurie into national films that are more than 40 years old for example, gives the film a kitschy, meme-afied charm.

The sheer volume of content alone would have been a daunting enough challenge for Soda_Jerk to work with and edit through, much less creating some kind of followable narrative from it. But somehow, the pair manage to pull together an ocean of very different cinematic and political variables into one cohesive piece – an exceptional achievement in itself – in a wonderfully witty and satirical way.

Terror Nullius is layered – so much so that you can actually hear Year 12 English Teachers champing at the bit to use the film as their HSC text on symbolism and mis-en-scene. And to be fair, it probably would make an amazing essay on the subject. Here, Soda_Jerk uses a very intelligent (and completely bonkers) mixture of reality and fiction to comment on some of Australia’s most divisive national issues, with a highly intelligent, decidedly leftist skew – and it’s bloody brilliant.

Ultimately, the film is a total corker. It’s like the visual equivalent of a Girl Talk album and a Vaporwave Facebook page combined – which brings me to my next point. Sure, if you’re over the age of 40, you will get something from this film. It references Australian cinema and political happenings that are decades old, so you’ll totally make the intended connections and editorialised comments. However, Terror Nullius is very much a Millennials’ film  communicating almost entirely in post-ironic language, where the entire 55-mins is basically one big string of obscure memes. So, if you don’t know who the ‘salty italian man’ is, or you have never considered eating a detergent pod, then you might not ‘get’ the film entirely. Though the way it’s communicated might go over some heads of the older generations, the iconography of the content itself means you’ll still have a whale of a time watching it.

 Terror Nullius is hilariously insightful, politically valuable, culturally brutal and is more hyper-Aussie than Paul Hogan riding a crocodile in a river of VB, rubbing vegemite on his nipples. A must-see for any Aussie and Australian film aficionados.

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Tomb Raider

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In 2013 the Tomb Raider video game franchise released its tenth major iteration. This was a make or break moment for developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix as the series had reached something of a creative nadir. Happily the game – simply titled Tomb Raider – was both financially successful and critically lauded, with the back-to-basics reboot representing a gritty but exciting new direction for the series, one that continues to this day.

The filmmakers behind Tomb Raider have clearly followed a similar design philosophy, using the now familiar ‘Lara covered in mud, looking pensive, standing atop stuff’ aesthetic, rather than the ‘enormous fake boobs, shooting the camera snarly come-hither glances’ that were popularised by the ghastly Angelina Jolie-starring prior attempts, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003).

The good news is that Tomb Raider (2018) is a huge leap in quality above those lost relics from the early noughties. The bad news is it’s still all a bit forgettable.

Tomb Raider takes us back to the early days of Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), who works as a bike courier in London to make ends meet, and is haunted by the memory of her father, Richard (Dominic West) who is missing, believed dead. This early section is well shot and acted but paced strangely and it feels like a minor ice age before Lara’s off overseas, searching for Richard and getting into all sorts of strife along the way. The main bulk of the action takes place on the mysterious island of Yamatai, where obsessed expedition leader Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) is trying to find and dig up the dusty carcass of (possibly) mythical Japanese Queen, Himiko. What follows is a sort of gender flipped, millennial Indiana Jones, except less fun and less stylishly executed, and while it never becomes eye-rollingly awful, it rarely attains a level much higher than mildly interesting.

Alicia Vikander is a likeable, spunky Lara Croft and seems physically adept in the role even if she deserved a bit more to work with. Sadly Walton Goggins and Dominic West, fine actors both, are given very little to do which feels like an egregious missed opportunity. Director Roar Uthaug stages action scenes competently but there’s rarely any edge-of-your-seat excitement at play. Diehard fans of the video game will probably appreciate the callbacks (hey, Lara’s climbing on a rusty old plane at the top of a waterfall, you guys!) and younger audiences will likely not notice the well-worn tropes, but for the rest of us Tomb Raider is relentlessly adequate.

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The Divine Order

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It wasn’t until 1971 that Switzerland’s female citizens were afforded the right to vote and The Divine Order tells the story of one Swiss housewife’s fight for equality in a remote mountain village. Nora’s (Marie Leuenberger) desire for self-determinism shines through despite the fetters of an oppressive patriarchal social culture and a dreary, housework-laden marriage to husband Hans (Maximilian Simonischek). It’s not long before Nora’s inner activist is triggered by two incidents: Hans forbids her to seek employment (a right he’s afforded by the state) and her rebellious niece Hanna (Ella Rumpf) is sent by her oafish father to a juvenile prison, for having an older boyfriend. So, while Max is away doing National Service military training, Nora seizes the two weeks of freedom to sign up to a women’s rights activist group.

The group decide to ‘strike’, ceasing all wifely duties until the day of the vote. The town husbands are vocal in their opposition, but the women’s group finds solace in solidarity. Awakening to Feminist ideology and the new-found empowerment of ‘the Vagina’, Nora befriends the free-spirited Graziella (Marta Zoffoli) and the elderly Vroni (Sibylle Brunner), a woman who had invested her lifeblood into the running of a restaurant, until it was shuttered by her financially inept husband because money, apparently, is solely a man’s concern.

So, although the film’s conclusion is inevitable, the issues at stake are relevant enough for it to have some resonance with audiences. There’s a strong dramatic core to the film (though it’s less comedic than socio-political comedies such as Brassed Off, Made in Dagenham or Pride) and there are moments of quirky humour and euro-oddity.

Writer/Director Petra Volpe is a capable hand behind the camera and the awakening to strident feminism amidst a befuddled patriarchy makes for fertile filmic territory. Though the film falters at times with undeveloped plotlines and characters, overall its shortcomings are ably papered over by the zeitgeist button-pushing; so while it’s a little mawkish and paint-by-numbers, its heartfelt honesty cannot be ignored.

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Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story

Australian, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

Kangaroos are a national icon. They’re a symbolic part of airlines, sports teams, assurances of quality and, sadly, that Kangaroo Jack film. They hold such a place in the nation’s heart, it can be surprising to some, particularly to those overseas, as to how hated they are as well.

 Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story is ostensibly about why Skippy stirs up such a dichotomy of emotions. Fighting for the rights of ‘roos are the likes of Mike Pearson, NSW counsellor for the Animal Justice Party, and environmentalist, Tim Flannery. Believing kangaroos to be nothing but pest are farmers and National Party members. Rather than simply being a knockabout talking heads doco allowing both sides to air their praise or grievances, Kangaroo takes a darker route and quickly evolves into something much more political.

Filmmakers Michael McIntyre and Kate McIntyre Clere (Yogawoman) set their sights on the culling of Kangaroos and how, despite a strict federal code, corners are being cut to meet the demand of food and clothes companies here and overseas. The evidence they provide can be alarming and if Wake in Fright’s culling scene stirred something in you, footage of joeys being torn from mothers and dismembered carcasses spread across fields is really going to fire you up. Kangaroo takes an eyes-on-the-ground approach by talking to the likes of a Blue Mountains landowner who has kangaroos being hunted on her grounds without her permission, due to a law that states licensed shooters can access neighbouring property to do so. It’s completely understandable the filmmakers are yearning for a change. And yet, they aren’t without their faults.

The film has already screened in the US and the UK where the response is ruffling feathers with various stakeholders back home. Kangaroo’s intent to stir up conversation is certainly warranted and returning to the testimonies and videos from others, it’s hard to justify a lot of practices being used to meet quotas. However, despite a supposed two-sided debate, Kangaroo can sometimes feel frustratingly one-sided. Those who work in the food industry or have other stakes in kangaroo culling don’t seem to be given that much time to talk when stacked against that given to Pearson and Flannery. Whilst Kangaroo is quick to address these people’s concerns about kangaroos, it doesn’t feel like there’s a place for them to address some of the accusations hurled at them.

This is not to say the overall message of Kangaroo suddenly becomes null and void. It is still a well-made and emotive film. Like the SeaWorld-crucifying documentary, Blackfish, there’s a sobering feeling that comes from watching it. Kangaroo may not change government legislation overnight, but it does throw events that happen at night into broad daylight for all to see. That has to amount to something.

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Death Wish

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The satirical intent of Eli Roth’s gleefully schlocky remake of Death Wish, the notorious 1974 Charles Bronson crime thriller, seems unmistakable – except that the vast majority of commentators seemed to have missed it entirely. However, while Roth’s redux, which sees ageing tough guy Bruce Willis sleepwalking through the role of Paul Kersey, trauma surgeon turned gun-wielding vigilante in the wake of a violent home invasion that leaves his wife (Elisabeth Shue) dead and daughter (Camilla Morrone) comatose, is certainly in bad taste – that’s kind of the point – it’s by no stretch badly timed.

In the wake of the recent and horrific mass shooting in Florida, “too soon” is the most common criticism being leveled at the film, which might have sailed under the radar as a mid-range, middling quality action flick even 18 months ago. But given the sheer scale of gun crime in the United States, waiting for a more opportune release window would be akin to waiting for Godot. There’s an argument that perhaps the film, packed as it is with gory violence and fetishistic weapons imagery, should never have been made which is, frankly, weak sauce: it is here, it exists, and it behooves us to grapple with it as it stands, and in the social context in which it exists. And while Death Wish follows the familiar narrative map of countless revenge thrillers before it, and yes, it features numerous scenes of dour-visaged Bruce Willis grimly blazing away at various malefactors, and again, yes, it is leeringly unsubtle in its presentation of on-screen violence, it is clear that Roth is not here to praise American gun culture, but to bury it. And if there’s a time to do that, it’s now.

If nothing else, Willis’ Kersey is a spectacularly inept vigilante. He injures himself when first firing a gun in anger. He comes within inches of shooting a woman he’s trying to rescue from a carjacking, He is repeatedly outmaneuvered by Knox (Beau Knapp), the arch-villain he’s bent on tracking down (in the original, Charles Bronson never clapped eyes on the men who attacked his family – a telling point of difference). He emerges victorious not through skill or grit, but through dumb luck, the laziness of the system as personified by two harried cops played by Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise, and the bull-headed “a man’s gotta do” arrogant confidence of the white male baby boomer. He’s a paragon of toxic masculinity, not because he’s a bully or a beefcake – an early scene pointedly shows him backing down from a loudmouth on the sidelines of a soccer game – but because he buys into the “good guy with a gun” myth once his buttons have been pushed. And he wins because the invisible narrative structures of the film, like the invisible social structures of the real world, are set up to enable him to do so.

Make no mistake, Kersey is the butt of the joke here (Death Wish is frequently, and deliberately, laugh out loud funny), but Roth builds a whole off-kilter universe around him, one in which suburban home life is just a ’50s sitcom with 21st century home appliances (Shue plays the swiftly dispatched Mrs Kersey like a modern day June Cleaver), but the big, bad city is filled with deranged criminals who will prey upon the unsuspecting when granted the slightest ingress. As an emergency surgeon in a Chicago hospital, Kersey straddles both realms, paying for his pastel-coloured dream home by patching up (or failing to patch up – a lot of people die on his watch) the denizens of the lurid, neon-drenched, smoke-wreathed netherworld, before it reaches past him and snatches away his family. From then we follow him on his journey – he’s Orpheus descending into the underworld (and his basement – apparently gun-happy avengers like to crash in the rumpus room), looking for a reckoning.

His immediate port of call is, of course, a gun shop,wherein a buxom sales assistant (Kirby Bliss Blanton) apprises him of her personal preferences in lethal hardware and winkingly tells him that paperwork and gun safety courses are no obstacle to gun ownership for a man of his, ahem, calibre. It’s an utterly savage bit of business, a bleakly hilarious indictment of the gun business, and not a million miles away from the kind of schlocky satire that Paul Verhoeven used to traffic in.

Of course, back when Verhoeven was grinding out genre masterpieces like Robocop the distance between the exaggerated scenario on screen and the world outside the window was both vast and clearly discernible. What chills the blood of a non-American observer is the possibility that, for American commentators, the gap has narrowed to such a degree that the cinematic equivalent of Poe’s Law comes into effect, and what to Australian eyes is an obvious parody of the American Right’s views on guns becomes, to a native critic, an endorsement thereof.

Further complicating the matter is the film’s difficulty in marrying its satirical nature with the plot and tonal demands of the revenge thriller subgenre, which becomes increasingly pronounced as events progress and Willis – whose utterly bored and disengaged performance, it must be said, is a weird delight here – is called upon to go into action hero mode, fending off another home invasion with a gun in each hand and a deep well of merciless rage. Is the film saying that Kersey could have prevented the initial crime if he’d been present (and armed to the teeth)? Or is the sight of the elderly Willis blazing away with a machine gun so inherently ludicrous that it deliberately undermines the very notion?

The latter, surely, although well armed white men have done enough awful damage of late that it’s understandable if the joke is lost. Still, at some point you have to trust the faculties of the audience, and a few too many reviews have severely underestimated the capacity of the hypothetical viewer to pick up what Death Wish is putting down. Roth’s film is wilfully offensive, yes, but in the manner that has always been the province of “low brow” entertainment – there’s a long and storied history of cheap genre flicks smuggling loaded cultural commentary in among the blood bags and gratuitous nudity, and this is just the latest example, albeit a more controversial one than we’ve had in a while.  Attempts to address these issues in a loftier manner are often doomed from the get-go; even Netflix’s The Punisher, a series that draws from a none-more-pulpy source, stumbled badly when it tried to take a mealy-mouthed centrist stance on gun control. By contrast, Death Wish embraces the gleefully grotesque, cartoonish excesses of its genre, and comes out well ahead on points.

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12 Strong

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In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, an American Special Forces team is inserted into the mountains of Northern Afghanistan to help the Northern Alliance fight the Taliban. Embedded with Afghani tribal warriors who have been fighting all and sundry for generations, can Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) and his team (including Michaels Shannon and Pena) earn the respect of warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) and his hardened guerrilla fighters?

Based on the non-fiction book Horse Soldiers by noted journalist and war historian Doug Stanton, 12 Strong is nominally a true story. But, as the much-missed Lionel Hutz once wisely intoned, there’s “the truth” and “the truth”, and what has arrived on the screen is a vastly simplified account, dumbed down narratively, thematically, and politically.

It’s staunchly patriotic to such degree that charges of propaganda are not unwarranted, with the first 20 minutes packed with “man’s gotta do” “once more unto the breach” platitudes. On the one hand, this might very well be accurate; we are, after all, dealing with an elite American military unit, true believers to a man, going into the field in the wake of the most notorious terrorist attack in history. On the other, if screenwriters Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs) and Peter Craig (Blood Father, The Town) were going to alter events for dramatic purpose in any case, they perhaps could have done something about the dialogue – we don’t need our onscreen protagonists to communicate solely in macho clichés even if their real life counterparts (possibly) do.

Things pick up once our boys get on the ground and are haring around on horseback with Dostum’s army, lighting up Taliban hotspots for aerial bombardment and indulging in the occasional cavalry charge. All other considerations aside, Chris Hemsworth on horseback charging machine guns with nothing but an M4 and a can-do attitude is one of those images that the film medium is made for. Debut director Nicolai Fuglsig frames the action competently if somewhat generically, all suspended atmospheric particles, quick cuts, and carefully deployed moments of slow motion, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement as mounted soldiers gallop through gunfire while explosions fill the air with smoke and scattered earth, bringing bloody retribution to the evil Taliban.

And boy, are they evil in this film (and in real life, let us not forget). Never mind starting the proceedings on September 11, 2001 – 12 Strong feels the need to underline the vileness of its villains by staging a scene wherein a Taliban commander (Numan Accar) executes a village woman for daring to educate her daughters. It’s a horrific and troubling scene, effective in its way, but tonally it’s at odds with the rest of the film which is, despite being couched in recent history, pretty much a straight up military adventure.

It feels patronising, and it’s not the only element of the film to do so – we frequently cut back to a couple of officers (William Fichtner and Rob Riggle) back at the American command centre, who provide a kind of military-flavoured Greek Chorus for any audience members who are struggling to get their head around the action of the plot. The Byzantine tribal politics are vastly simplified to an almost offensive degree, with the driven but prideful Dostum – who in real life went on to become Afghanistan’s Vice-President – having to be taught by his new American allies how to cooperate with his political rivals for the greater good. All complexity is stripped away, leaving a narrative where a group of men go from one place to another to blow things up, occasionally troubled by armed resistance that they swiftly obliterate to general acclaim.

Still, taken at face value, 12 Strong is entertaining enough, as long as you don’t ever expect it to step outside its exceedingly specific remit. Any given viewer’s reaction is going to depend very much on whether we’re at a far enough remove from the actual events depicted for them to serve as action movie fodder. If the answer is yes, a meat and potatoes good time is on the cards. If no, then 12 Strong is a singularly frustrating experience that takes a complicated historical milieu and reduces it to a series of jingoistic money shots.

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The Endless

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Like other notable ‘low-budget, big concept’ filmmakers such as Shane Carruth (Primer) and Darren Aronofsky (with his maiden feature Pi), Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s latest feature fleshes out the concepts behind their previous short film Resolution as a jumping off point for this latest feature.

It’s no mean feat to tackle science fiction elements as well as Lovecraftian cosmic horror and familial dramatic tension. So, wearing as many hats as possible, (Aaron Moorhead also serves as Director of Photography) the two co-directors also star as brothers, bonded by the experience of growing up in a cult.

They now make new lives for themselves out in the world yet younger sibling Justin (Justin Benson) longs for the simplicity and structure that the commune had offered, while his older brother Aaron (Aaron Moorhead) is motivated to move on with his life and put the cult behind them. Aaron constantly reminds his younger brother of the weird rituals and bizarre beliefs of what he calls the ‘UFO suicide cult’. Eventually though, after much discussion, Aaron decides to accompany his brother for a one-day visit, with the hope that it’ll provide some closure, maybe for both of them.

At first, the camp compound set in the Southern Californian hills, appears placid and easy-going. Group leader Hal (Tate Ellington) re-introduces the brothers to the group; he shows them the craft beer the group manufactures for sale to the outside world and reintroduces Justin to his teen crush, Anna (Callie Hernandez). While the complicated relationship dynamics unwind, the cryptic utterances of the group spark Aaron’s paranoia: allusions to an entity that watches them from above, that controls the environment and its image-based communication with them, in the form of photos and the references to an ultimate ‘ascension’ that awaits them all in a few days time.

The growing sense of anxiety intensifies as Aaron attempts to discover the cause of apparent ‘time loops’ and mirrored pockets of reality scattered around the region that obscure areas in the hills, areas where other people seem to be similarly trapped.

Brimming with science fiction concepts, cosmic horror and brooding dread, The Endless excels at creating something akin to a ‘blockbuster of the mind’. The budgetary restraint ensures that there’s little reliance on digital effects but what effects there are, sell this gripping tale and show that Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead could do serious damage with a decent budget.

This is the kind of film that inspires young filmmakers, showing how a smart script and a camera lens’s gaze relying more on suggestion and misdirection, can create horror and science fiction as impactful and engaging as anything out there.

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: Chapter 1

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Teenager Koichi Hirose (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is the new kid in town, starting at a new high school and eager to make friends. He finds Josuke Higashikata (Kento Yamazaki), a surly teen rebel with the world’s biggest pompadour haircut and the ability use a supernatural power known as a “Stand”. Before long Josuke, nicknamed “JoJo”, is up to his neck investigating a local serial killer as well as a mysterious young man who seems to be shooting people with a magical bow and arrow to give them Stands of their own.

There is nothing so overly confident as a film with “Chapter 1” in its title. To get everybody up to speed: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a long-running manga series by writer/artist Hirohiko Araki that has published 121 volumes and counting. It has been adapted extensively into animation and videogames. This is its first live-action film adaptation. It is directed by Takashi Miike, one of Japan’s busiest and most prolific directors, whose back catalogue is a one-of-a-kind jumble of lavish samurai dramas, anime and manga adaptations, cult horror flicks and children’s films. Like JoJo, Miike is remarkably prolific. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is his 101st film as director.

I have never read the original manga nor seen any of its anime adaptations. I came to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure completely cold, with no foreknowledge of its setting, characters or tone. It is important to make that clear from the outset, as I strongly suspect pre-existing fans of the manga will have a very different experience to the general viewer. To an extent the film pre-supposes that its audience knows who JoJo is, and what a Stand is, and why everybody has such ridiculous hair (honest to God it’s a highlight). While the film only adapts one key arc from the original work, that is still several volumes of comic book that must be squeezed into a two-hour feature. It is a little confusing from the outset and adopts a slightly woolly narrative as it goes: the film begins focused very directly on Koichi, but as soon as he meets JoJo he is rather bluntly sidelined for much of the remaining film. That is possibly for the best, since JoJo is a more interesting character.

Even once the story gets going the narrative fails to become clear. A lot of time is spent on feels like a subplot – tracking down a serial killer – before the climax stretches out interminably, throwing in more and more unexplained and somewhat silly elements as it goes. It does not even end properly, with the inevitable shadow of a Chapter 2 hanging over the last 20 minutes or so.

There are a lot of nice moments. The film is regularly funny, and wonderfully over-the-top, but it also regularly drags to a crawl. The production design is split down the middle between elements that work and those than really challenge the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. At almost exactly two hours in length it also feels a solid 10-20 minutes too long, despite the amount of busywork thrown into the story.

Takashi Miike works at an incredible rate, and while that does offer his fans plenty of films to watch it also has a tendency for half of his films to feel undercooked and weak. Sadly JoJo is one of those weaker films. It is not as bad as his earlier manga adaptation Terra Formars, but compared to other recent films like The Mole Song and its sequel, and the masterful Blade of the Immortal, it is definitely a second-string outing. JoJo-philes will likely be in Stand heaven. The broader audience has better things to see.