on how it is used, the internet can either liberate or enslave. Ask the Chinese
how that works. Circumstances will be even more extreme in the year 2100. In
this animated future, all nations are connected through the digital universe of
Farandjun, where most day-to-day life is conducted, rather than in the toxic real
world. Unfortunately, when the rogue AI virus Isfet assumes control over
Farandjun, she demands the connected nations conduct a Battle Royale, with the
losers submitting to the victors, in both the virtual and physical realms.
Princess Syanna Meridian was the first to fall, but she will have a chance at
redemption in Alain Bidard’s Battledream
which screened during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.
was once the Crown Princess of the first formerly sovereign state pitted
against the fierce Mortemonde. As a result, she was the first to learn
Mortemondian dictator Isaac Ravengorn has special armor that renders him invulnerable
and therefore invincible within Isfet’s Battledream arena. As they will do with
successive losers, the Mortemonde victors will wipe the memories of Meridian
and her people, integrating them into the lower rungs of their society.
Meridan and her partner Alytha Mercuri plug away as workaday gladiators in the
Battledream, Ravengorn cuts through his competition. The tiny city of Sablereve
is the final holdout. A recent defector from Mortemonde has brought news of a
relic within the game that can pierce Ravengorn’s armor. However, Meridian
chances across the Easter Egg weapon during one of her matches, but is wholly
unaware of its significance.
not mince words. Battledream’s underwhelming
CG animation is barely a cut above straight to DVD B-movies like Gene-Fusion. However, its speculative
world-building and heady themes are more ambitious than its flat style
suggests. Frankly, is looks just adequate enough for viewers to get pulled into
the cyberpunky story of oppression and revolt. Bidard has created some
surprisingly engaging supporting characters, including Nyssa, the escaped Mortemonde
slave, Oramame Alwami, a sadist Mortmonde inquisitor who was once Nyssa’s
gladiatorial partner, and Klaus Balrog, the high-ranking Templar and defender
is definitely a film about good versus evil. In fact, the internal laws and
traditions of Mortemonde are unusually nefarious and cruel. Bidard certainly
primes us for some payback. Yet, he avoids most of the clichés you would expect
in the final showdown.
it was produced for about twelve cents, Battledream
is definitely worth checking out. Animation fans will might find its
visuals appealingly retro—or perhaps not. Still, there just aren’t that many
animated features coming from Martinique, so this also holds a claim to novelty
and national pride. As a bonus, it also features the Sonny Troupé Quartet’s
tune “Voyages & Rêves” (see video here) over the closing credits, earning
extra points for good taste. Recommended more for fans of dystopian science
fiction than animation connoisseurs, Battledream
Chronicle screened during this year’s Fantasia.
Labels: Animated films, Caribbean cinema, Dystopian Cinema, Fantasia '16