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
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.
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