Rebooting classic series always comes as a double edged sword. It can be a good way to introduce a classic tale to new audiences or it can prove to be something archaic best left in the past. Somehow 009 RE:Cyborg winds up in the middle of that spectrum. It feels torn between its retro roots and a desire to reinvent the wheel for new viewers, never deciding to commit to one direction.
Unlike the original manga, 009 RE:Cyborg takes place in the year 2013 rather than the original’s 1964. The world is rocked by countless terrorist bombing attacks and the 00 Cyborgs are entangled in the fray of explosives and conspiracies. The film is thrilling to say the very least but the story is rather half cocked and never fully comes together seemingly there to set up the next big action set piece.
The cast are all well realized but the plot never really kicks into gear all the way and leaves the characters with little else to do other than take part in the action. I would have liked to see the characters been given more to do but unfortunately most of the 00 Cyborgs are sidelined in terms of the major plot.
What really sets this film apart however is its unique animation style. It utilizes cell-shaded 3D model animation which at times is jaw-dropping and at other times clunky. The grand scale key animation sequences are stunning with cyborgs soaring through the neon-lit night sky and the hand to hand combat scenes being reminiscent of a martial arts film star like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. However when it comes to watching characters sitting in a bar room talking it out, the models move stiffly and clunk along each frame. There is a severe distinction between both extremes and it comes off as genuinely jarring.
Madman’s release of 009 RE:Cyborg is an interesting one. If you have a 3D TV you can access the 3D version of the film which if you are into 3D is a great little addition. For this review we didn’t view the film in 3D but the film does still look great in standard Blu-Ray format.
Ultimately 009 RE:Cyborg feels like a half measure. Production I.G. can never quite make up their mind whether they want this film to be a blast to the past or to create a unique reinterpretation of this classic story. Despite that 009 RE:Cyborg is a fun sci-fi romp, albeit one with a bit of an identity crisis. What’s old isn’t always new and 009 RE:Cyborg is cinematic proof of that.
You can pick up a copy of 009 RE:Cyborg on Madman’s Online Store.