Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Review - Alien vs. Ninja (2010 - Dir. Seiji Chiba)

You may be intensely sceptical when I tell you that this is quite a good film despite being very low of budget and mainly set in a forest. I would be too, especially since it suffers from the same syndrome as the recently reviewed Almost Human. As soon as the first few seconds were over I knew that it could only get 7/10 tops due to its low quality camerawork and acting. Whereas Almost Human took itself far too seriously and was far too dull, Alien vs. Ninja is creative and fun.

Yamata, Jinnai and Nezumi are a merry band of ninjas. When a strange meteor crashes into the ground they decide to investigate. They team up with some more ninjas led by the lovely Rin (who possesses - at least according to her ninja armour - extremely well separated lady lumps). The meteor contains an alien that causes havok and scatters body parts left, right and centre. It's a tad more brutal than the aliens that we know and love. And a tad more stupid.

Aliens had the Queen alien. Alien 3 had the dog alien. And Alien vs. Ninjas has the demented dolphin alien. If you need any proof that this film is having a laugh, have a look at the creature design below:

I almost immediately warmed to this film. It took me a few minutes to put my finger on what it was about it that I liked. Then it came to me: it feels like anime. If you imagine all the characters being hand drawn then everything falls into place. It's like Naruto with a Flipper inspired alien ripping everyone to shreds. The humour is very similar to Naruto but again with a darker edge. 

In some films I moan about low quality effects (both practical and CGI) but here they are a positive. The alien bounces around like it's had a cocktail of smarties, speed and moonshine. Whereas Ridley Scott tried to disguise the 'bloke in a suit' aspect of his alien, here the rubber suit is often seen in all its glory and they couldn't care less. Power Rangers has better costumes. But it all adds to the charm. At one point a character has their eye pecked out by a crow. The crow is brought to life by the complicated method of someone holding an inanimate model crow and repeatedly pecking around the actor's eye area. It made me laugh rather a lot.

There are a few scenes of exposition where things slow slightly, but in general, it rattles along at a fair pace. For a 15 rated film it is surprisingly graphic. Probably because of the stupid tone it gets away with it easily. The gore flies around readily and the sword fights are surprisingly good too. With a running time of 80 minutes it doesn't outstay its welcome. Plus it finishes with a suitable action film climax, involving a battle, a TJ Hooker moment where the lead characters walk away arm in arm laughing, and the obligatory final twist that sets up a sequel.

This only cost me £1.33. Given the title, I didn't have high hopes. I really enjoyed it though - apart from the back stories in the middle - and would recommend it to anyone who can bear to watch a film with that stupid a title. 

If you like this you could also try:
Naruto, Split Second, Ninja Scroll.

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