Friday, May 16, 2014

Trigun: Badlands Rumble Movie Review

I've mentioned before that there isn't a lot of anime I can honestly say I enjoy. It's mostly the anime movies I've seen that shine, rather than the TV series. An exception would be the Trigun series. I loved it! Naturally, I was anxious to see Vash the Stampede back in action for Trigun: Badlands Rumble (2010). Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown.
In a town surrounded by quicksand, an outlaw from Vash the Stampede's (Johnny Yong Bosch) past has resurfaced after twenty years. His name is Gasback Gallon Getaway (John Swasey) - and he's looking to cause a little trouble. It seems Gasback has a serious beef with the town's mayor, who is paying dozens of bounty hunters to protect his turf from Gasback. One of those hired guns is a beautiful woman named Amelia Ann McFly (Colleen Clinkenbeard) with a vendetta against Gasback. Will she get a shot at revenge? Maybe if she can get through Gasback's Bodyguard, Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Brad Hawkins). Meryl Stryfe (Luci Christian) and Milly Thompson (Trina Nishimura) are also in town representing the Bernardelli Insurance Society who is concerned about the safety of the mayor's investments through their company. But what does Vash have to do with this mess? Nothing much - except for the fact that he personally set off the entire chain of events two decades ago.
Badlands Rumble relies heavily on the assumption that you've seen the TV series. Apart from Vash himself and the characters unique to the movie, no one is granted much character development at all. Also, this doesn't act as a sequel to the series. I had to look it up, but this storyline is considered canon and occurs sometime between episodes nine and eleven; it's after Vash has met Wolfwood in the series but before the villain Legato closes in, if that makes any difference to you. Having said that, this isn't a movie you would feel satisfied with had you not watched at least the first third of the series.
What makes the Trigun series so fun is Vash. He's a jovial pacifist gunman. He foils outlaw's robberies and holdups by acting like a complete buffoon who is innocently getting in the way, but is very sneakily disarming and distracting the bad guys and helping to stop them with no one getting hurt. Vash does that several times in Badlands Rumble. In the prologue, Vash acts distraught that Gasback stepped on his donut during a bank robbery and gets in between Gasback and the hostages and begging for a replacement donut, thus helping to keep the hostages from being shot. There are plenty of other references and running gags from the series; Meryl and Milly offer donuts as a gift to their clients, that black cat shows up in the background a couple of times, and no one believes that Vash is actually the man with the sixty billion double dollar bounty on his head even when he admits it. Interestingly, Johnny Yong Bosch is the only English voice actor to reprise his role from the original series.
Generally when an animated movie is made based on an animated TV show, the quality of animation is improved for the movie. There were several scenes in Badlands Rumble that boasted some really great animation with a high frame rate. There were other scenes that looked more like the animation quality on the half-hour anime show; decent, but lacking in some detail and shading. The animation averaged out to be just okay on the whole.
While there are several simple story lines converging on one another, the overall plot is pretty simple. There aren't really any plot twists or surprises you don't see coming. Trigun is meant to be an action/adventure of sorts, but this particular story has a whole lot of exposition and less action than one would expect. Normally the stakes are higher in a movie, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. It has an interesting theme; our good intentions can lead to bad outcomes, but good things can still come from tragic circumstances. That's a great lesson to learn, but we only arrive at that conclusion after long exchanges of dialogue at gunpoint.
It truly was fun to see Vash the Stampede in action again as well as the interesting sci-fi/western/steampunk-ish setting he inhabits. Overall Trigun: Badlands Rumble was drawn out and rather slow, and does not really expand on the Trigun universe or its characters. The animation is a bit spotty; occasionally good, but usually average. The rock music score is outstanding and the occasional twangy acoustic guitar fits into the western motif beautifully.  Since the movie relies on the assumption that you've seen the series, you'll probably be pretty lost if this is your first exposure to Trigun. It seems that Badlands Rumble was made specifically for the hardcore fanboys out there, the likes of which I am not. I can't recommend seeing this movie unless you're a fan of Trigun, and even then I don't recommend getting your hopes up too high over it.

What is your favorite movie based on a TV show? Comment below and tell me about it!

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