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G-Saviour : Live Action Gundam
A RevolutionSF Two-in-One Review
Reviewed by Kevin Pezzano, Joe Crowe, © 2002

Format: Movie
Review Date:   June 03, 2002
RevSF Rating:   7/10 (What Is This?)

Not Your Daddy's Gundam—Or Yours, For That Matter (Kevin Pezzano's Review)

I approached G-Saviour with much trepidation and not a little terror. It was a live-action version of Gundam, one of the most famous and successful science fiction anime series. A Canadian television company produced live action version. Can you really blame me for expecting it to be a ninety minute excursion into bad special effects, worse acting, and general lameness all around?

Luckily for me (and for the Gundam franchise), I was quite wrong about G-Saviour.

Although the basic backstory in this movie places it firmly in the established, "official" Gundam timeline—it features such classic Gundam concepts as rebellious cylindrical space colonies called Sides and big battlin' robots called Mobile Suits—G-Saviour has actually surprisingly little to do with the original anime. In fact, G-Saviour reminded me of nothing so much as a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie, or one of those packaged-for-syndication-broadcast failed series pilots I've watched on many a lazy Saturday afternoon. This in itself is not a bad thing, whatever your opinion about the relative quality of productions like that. It just means that someone who has never seen a single cel of the original anime can sit and watch G-Saviour, and probably enjoy it on its own merits. At the very least it's a heck of a lot better than 90% of the Babylon 5 made-for-TV movies.

Because, despite what the more hardcore anime fans might tell you about this movie, it does indeed have merits. The special effects, for one, are quite well done. The giant robot clashes are still obviously CGI, but they're tightly choreographed, entertainingly kinetic, and even reasonably close to the Mobile Suit battles found in the Gundam anime. The story, while nothing spectacular or even especially original, is logical, has few plot holes, and manages to keep from being boring without having to throw in a giant robot battle every fifteen minutes. The hero characters are mostly appealing, and surprisingly also well acted.

These merits even manage to outweigh the movie's flaws, for the most part. But there ARE flaws in G-Saviour. The McGuffin, in this case a new source of bio-luminescent energy that is supposed to help solve Earth's starvation problem, is pretty cliched and never really seems to make much of an impact on the story itself. The plot is rushed, leaving many things unexplained and undeveloped (like who the heck the Illuminati are, why the Earth government appears to dominate everything and yet can only spare one space destroyer to chase after the supersecret new energy source, and why the hero is so quick to dump his girlfriend for the terrorist chick). The rushed pace also precludes much in the way of clever and interesting plot twists, with only a single minorly interesting character flip-flop at the end changing the by-the-numbers directness of the plot The characters themselves are also often poorly developed; the heroic lead is more smarmy than heroic at times, and the two villains are so cardboard that I expected a stiff breeze to knock them over at any time.

Still, I found myself liking G-Saviour more than I expected. It's not really a Gundam story, though, and that's its greatest flaw. Gundam fans like myself will be disappointed in the changes made to the franchise in order to be able to make a live-action version, while non-fans will stay away from it thinking it's just like the anime. G-Saviour is a fun way to spend an afternoon, and it's entertaining (if not groundbreaking) sci-fi, but I think everyone would have been much better off had it not been related to Gundam at all.

­Kevin Pezzano

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