leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh
The action never stops in this anime story of secret warriors charged with keeping the occult arts of lost civilizations out of the hands of modern-day evildoers. The warriors are called the "Spriggan," and they answer to a shadowy organization called ARCAM (sounds like H.P. Lovecraft's "Arkham" coincidence or homage?). Seventeen-year-old Japanese schoolboy Yu Ominae (voice of Christopher Patton) is one such Spriggan, a hotheaded youngster with remarkable strength and fighting skills. The film opens as an ARCAM team discovers a remarkable relic buried in Turkey's Mt. Ararat. The relic is Noah's Ark, but it's no mere wooden boat. The ark is a device of alien origin and uncertain purpose, and elderly Dr. Meisel (Ted Pfister) and his assistant, Miss Margaret (Kelly Manison) are heading up a research team dedicated to discovering what it does and how it's operated. Yu learns about the ark after a bizarre and bloody incident at his school: A classmate, recently returned after an unexplained absence, blows himself up on the school's roof as Yu watches in horror. The words "Noah will be your grave" are scrawled on the suicide bomber's chest, and Yu is determined to find out what's behind the bloody incident. ARCAM sends him to Turkey, just in time for him to protect the research facility from the U.S. Machine Corps, an army of cyborgs created by a covert cabal of rogue American military men and headed by a psychotic, psychic child, General MacDougall (Kevin Corn) while the image of American military might as an all-powerful youngster with minimal impulse control isn't flattering, it's a fair approximation of the way we're seen in many quarters. In case anyone might have missed the analogy, MacDougall's chief assassins are Fattman (Mike Kleinhenz) and Little Boy (Spike Spencer), like the atomic bombs. The hulking Fattman has an old score to settle with Yu, while Little Boy is a giggling, malevolent sprite who kills with tensile wire loops that spring from his fingertips, leaving behind bloody piles of body parts when they retract. The legacy of AKIRA (1988) is apparent in this bloody, sci-fi action thriller, which also contains echoes of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), the awful AVENGERS (1998) and the "Tomb Raider" video games. But the film deploys its disparate elements smartly, and director Hirotsugu Kawasaki can stage an action sequence with the best of them.