If there is one thing that life (and many a movie) has taught me up until this point, it is the undeniable fact that humanity will eventually screw up this whole ‘living comfortably on earth thing’. Such is the case for Seiji Mizushima’s Expelled From Paradise where the denizens of our little blue marble in the sky have pulled an Elysium and gotten the hell out of dodge. In lieu of living on the surface the majority of the populace subside within the space station DEVA where all of their many wants and desires are fulfilled.
This fulfilment is done through virtual spaces such beaches and malls. Unfortunately, an entity known as Frontier Setter is hacking into DEVA (possible via the ‘mainframe’, don’t ask me I am not a doctor) and sending odd messages through these virtual spaces. These messages vaguely make reference to another space station GENISIS. The message itself seems inherently innocuous but is a clear sign of a lack in cyber security aboard DEVA. Obviously, this leaves the upper echelon of DEVA command, Central System Security, quite perturbed. So they enlist 3rd Security Officer Angela Balzac (said with a hard ‘Z’, grow up) to meet up with Agent Dingo on the Earth’s surface (much to Angela’s dismay) and track down the hacker in the ‘real world’.
The one overarching theme in Expelled From Paradise is that there isn’t one. Instead the movie goes through the motions of several different themes underlying the films narrative and the rate at which they do so can be a little jarring to those not paying attention (or too much attention).
Themes within the story start as a fish out of water story, with Angela being unfamiliar with not only earth but also the concept of having a physical body. This is because the residents of DEVA are uploaded into the station shortly after birth. Why the super computer aboard DEVA wouldn’t have cursory information on life upon the surface is beyond me, as it is to the wardrobe department. Despite the rest of earth walking around in normal clothes, Angela wears a high tech leotard that makes her stick out like a sore thumb which would normally work against her search for Frontier Setter but proves to be inconsequential. However, Angela’s unfamiliarity proves to be endearing throughout the movie and leads to some genuinely charming moments, such as losing a fight due to exhaustion, stemming from her not sleeping because she has had no reason to do so in the past.
The movies theme then jumps between street smarts vs book smarts, class warfare and the bourgeoisie, humans are monsters, A.I. are people too, and you are what you eat. That last one was added for comedic effect but you get the point. These multiple facets of the story can, at times, leave little to no meaning behind certain scenes which downplays some very genuine moments and revelations between the characters. The plot itself of Expelled From Paradise is somewhat linear and underdeveloped which will stand out to those looking for inconsistencies. However, despite the story being plain the movie is brought to life by the personalities on display within the character interactions.
To be specific, the interactions between Angela and Dingo. Their personalities juxtapose one another in a way that mirrors their current situation, allowing them and the viewer to draw parallels between the two at their own pace. Angela is cool and collected at all times, stemming from her logical, passionless upbringing amongst the chips and micro-bytes and motherboards and such. Dingo on the other hand has a warmer, laid back demeanour which helps combat Angela’s way of thinking and, ultimately, warm her up to his own lifestyle and methodologies. The dialogue between the two at first seems cold and distant which soon warms up toward the middle of the film when Dingo nurses an ill Angela back to health in a kind moment that has a father and daughter feel to it. However, much to my dismay, this too shifts toward the latter parts of the film and develops into a more romantic feel which borders upon creepy as despite being in her late 20’s mentally, she is 16 physically.
The visual style of Expelled From Paradise is a 3d, CGI style blend with some (extremely well drawn) 2D backgrounds. It is refreshing to see the visuals staying consistent throughout the film. Most movies cut from the same cloth tend to keep non-action scenes in the traditional 2d then swap to 3d for the action scenes or when in vehicles. This can be jarring to the audience when swaping back and forth and breaks immersion. Expelled From Paradise circumvents this problem by staying 3d 98% of the time, yet still falls into the same pratfalls. Being a Mecha anime at heart, the action scenes are over the top, high octane explosions of energy which, thanks to the 3d, stays fluid throughout the film and at no point has the viewer lost on what he or she should be looking at. The combat is also quite varied transitioning from robots squishing bugs, humans fighting, and robots squishing robots.
The visual style changes slightly and in a satisfying way when Angela enters the Matrix-like cyberspace of DEVA with a black backdrop the various nodes and actions have bright, vibrant colours which brings the scenes to life. However, outside of the action scenes is where the movie suffers. The look of the character models in screen shots are detailed well enough but when in motion they seem clunky and awkward when walking around and interacting with their scenery and at times no-clip through their surroundings which takes you out of the moment. Despite this, Expelled From Paradise is one of the better cases of CGI in film.
Ultimately Expelled From Paradise is an ok film to sit down and experience, assuming you don’t go too in depth with the viewing. The story is somewhat simple yet brought to life with bright and vivid colours as well as fluid and (mostly) seamless animation. The characters are brought to life through their interactions and some stellar voice acting which picks up any slack left behind by other parts of the movie. Expelled From Paradise is a fun, high-octane movie perfect for a Sunday night popcorn fest with friends but does not go further than that mark. A great ride while it lasts but not one that is particularly memorable.
Expelled From Paradise is now available to purchase through Madman Entertainment.