The FilmDororo could be better. It could be gorier or sexier to satisfy adults, and it could be sweeter and less violent in order to engage younger or more sensitive viewers. The female companion could have been less of a slapstick magnet and more mature. There definitely could have been better CGI effects or another solution all together for the fantasy sequences. Yep, there's a lot that could have been improved with Dororo.
This allowance gives projects like Dororo the ability to get away with some dodgy pieces of animation as the really terrific films in this genre are the ones that make hay with the artificiality of the fantasy. The falsehood and the unreal quality can become an invitation for imagination, and as long as the result is creative, witty or charming, the viewer will go along with it.
Yet, I can forgive the slow exposition and uneven tempo as the basis of the story involves almost 50 battles within the running time. Incidentally, even with the aid of montage it only gets about halfway, a clear opening for a sequel there, but still that is a lot of demon decimation for a single film. The action is adventurous and the storyline lies somewhere between Pinocchio and an abbreviated Zatoichi - there is murderous mayhem and a semi artificial man who wishes to become fully human.
Fans of the original manga series will probably find this version a little too friendly, but to my unfamiliar and western eye this is almost as much fun as Takashi Miike's The Great Yokai War of a couple of years back. A bigger budget may have helped to tidy up some of the monsters and allowed the viewer to be more immersed in the action, although the film does well in the drama department and even the annoying sidekick becomes sympathetic by the conclusion.
Technical SpecsThe presentation of the feature is within a small windowbox throughout that looks awfully like 1.78:1 rather than the 1.85:1 original aspect ratio claimed on the box. The film has been properly converted and with PAL speedup the running time of 133 minutes seems to suggest that this is uncut. This looks very like video which given the plethora of CGI effects within the film is pretty appropriate. Colours are muted and kept within an autumnal palate, contrast is a little murky and detail is good but not perfect.
Special FeaturesThe Road to Dororo is a making of featurette with an intense narration and endless positivity. So Dororo possesses a superb script and has the "star of our time"! The piece moves on to introduce the characters, talk about filming in New Zealand and move on to marketing and post-production. The final half is all footage of premieres and press conferences.
There are 8 minutes of deleted scenes with more on the creation of false limbs and extended versions of scenes with the storyteller, more on Hyakkimaru's childhood. These scenes are presented as extensions to existing footage within the movie with a little ticker counting in the excised moments of much poorer quality stock.
Three trailers and a TV spot, a navigable 15 image still gallery and a trailer for Cutie Honey complete the package on this dual layer region 2 encoded disc.
SummaryDororo is an entertaining romp that might have been improved technically but has got it's heart in exactly the right place. This release from MVM has a good transfer and fine sound options, for those new to the film it's definitely worth seeking out.
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