post-apocalyptic fable suggests what might happen if Moby-Dick and Captain Ahab
were to crash Kevin Costner’s Waterworld.
The world is mess, but a mysterious pirate captain still wants a piece of the
legendarily ferocious lava whale. Since it happens to guard a vast horde of priceless
minerals, she has no trouble recruiting a crew. However, the whale-calling street
orphan Ha-jin never signed on for this mission. Nevertheless, she finds herself
part of the team in Park Hye-mi’s Crimson
screens today during the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.
has a gift for establishing mental links with whales (it also seems to work
with porpoises). Unfortunately, her mother exploited her talents, forcing her
to lure in whales to be butchered for food and fuel. It was not merely
distasteful for Ha-jin, she shared their emotional pain. When Ha-jin refused to
facilitate any further slaughter, she was subsequently abandoned. Forced to
fend for herself on Busan’s earthquake-devastated streets, Ha-jin survives as a
thief and smalltime dealer. Just when the law (such as it is) catches up with
her, the mysterious Captain saves her from a nasty fate. In this case “saving” means
she shanghaies Ha-jin into service for her assault on the great Crimson Whale.
Crimson is set during a tectonic Armageddon,
Park’s screenplay is admirably restrained in its environmental soap-boxing. For
all we know, the beginning of the end started naturally. However, it presents
viewers two strong female action figures. Ha-jin is sensitive, but also
resourceful and resilient. All things considered, she is much less prone to
self-pity than many anime protagonists facing far less dire circumstances.
There is also something appealingly Harlockian about the grudge-holding
Crimson’s animation is pretty conventional, but Park still creates an intriguing world, mixing and matching genre
elements and archetypes in rewarding ways. Within this milieu, it is hard to
say with certainty where Doomsday ends and the post-apocalyptic times begin.
Everyone seems to be carrying on like they used to, at least as much as
possible, even though they are surrounded by anarchy.
Briskly paced, Crimson Whale has series potential (at least for a handful of
character). It really is one of the better dystopian-killer whale-piracy-coming-of-age
films in recent years. Recommended for older animation fans (teens and above), Crimson Whale screens today (7/18), as
part of this year’s Fantasia.
Labels: Animated films, Fantasia '15, Korean Cinema, Post-Apocalpse movies