On the whole, compared to the drama and even the special, I'd have to say that this movie was disappointing.
When writers are making movies or specials from a TV series, I feel like, logically, they should start by making a list of all the unanswered questions remaining after the series (and special) run and choose which ones to address and which ones to leave open. Here, it's like the writers were trying to put in as much content as possible, without thinking about the big picture, and the result was...a very messy movie.
Aesthetically, it's interesting in that SPEC way, with lots of awesome shots and special effects. There's nothing really new about the soundtrack either, but the SPEC music is functionable and matches the eclectic feel of the movie so no complaints about them keeping it.
Warning: SUPER LONG, IMAGE HEAVY AND FULL OF SPOILERS. Also, some pictures are a bit freaky (monsters/creepy eyes) ...don't show small children.
I've always appreciated SPEC's whimsiness - it was funny, unique and refreshing in the face of all the SERIOUS BUSINESS drama series elsewhere. It encouraged you not to take the characters too seriously and even serious characters had moments of hilarity. Done right, it was brilliant - like much of the series.
The movie tipped that balance over the edge. To put it simply, it didn't know when to stop being weird and 'funny'. It sacrificed serious moments of either emotion or ideology for bizarre, unnecessary gags that added nothing to the plot and felt out of place. In SPEC. That is actually a feat.
- Sebumi. Basically reduced to comic relief in all but a handful of scenes, to be honest. Which was frustrating! The first few times were charming (the miniature battlefield diorama otaku!! His face when he found out about his 'kid') and I am still amazed Kase Ryo's face can contort in new and strange ways.
As the drama went on, you began to realise 90% of Sebumi scenes involved some sort of gag and basically incoherency during action scenes because his dialogue was pretty much 'ARRRRRGHHNNNGHHHHH'. Like. Even if you needed that drama, at least some variation would have been welcome??
I know we shouldn't expect much logic from SPEC, but at least some logic would have been nice? If two blasts from Madame Yin and Yang were enough to kill a boatload of people, how did he survive...30+ blasts?????
By far my favourite scene was the rooftop scene. Serious, mature Sebumi who grounded Toma and was willing to do anything to help her
- Speaking of the Sebumi/Toma relationship...I was bothered by how it was represented in the movie. It was such a subtle and understated thing throughout the whole drama. I don't think Toma ever said anything other than 'I think of Sebumi-san as a nakama' (which is not the same as romance).
In the movie, suddenly Toma was getting 'jealous' (ie. denying she was jealous) and being all, "I won't let my feelings interfere with rescuing Jun-chan"?????? That's such an un-Toma-like thing to say. It wasn't a huge deal and they did recover some of their original dynamic at the end, but the middle parts with Aoike were weird.
- The above where Sebumi stopped Toma from summoning a creepy monster with her SPEC was one of the few times the tone of their interactions changed, which was a welcome one.
- I just kept thinking this scene would have been much more dramatic if Sebumi had normal legs.
- At the end, where they were battling fake!Ninomae, there was one more glimpse of their true dynamic and what makes it so special:
"Sebumi-san. Sorry, I'm dragging you into this."
That's their relationship. The partnership. The absolute trust and conviction. It was missing for 60% of the movie.
- As much as I love Chiaki Kuriyama's face (SO PERFECT), she really didn't add much to the movie.
Loved the meta of her Americanisms and the Kill Bill references, but it was really just fanservice. The Toma/Sebumi relationship wasn't established enough for her to wreck 'havoc' and there was no time to explore her relationship with Sebumi (they. had. a. kid. Sebumi. Was I the only one who was like HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN??). There was no point making her Jun's mother because she barely interacted with Jun
- On the whole, the movie introduced way too many new characters. It made it very hard to care about any of them, or, frankly, to keep track of who was who. There were new villains, new police officers, new assassins... The recurring characters were sort of reduced to background roles and characters introduced in the special (the SPEC holders at Dead End) didn't appear at all.
- Why was "Tsuda Sukehiro" from SHO just running around being a police officer? CONFUSED. Where did Nozomi go at the end of the special?? Where did all the SPEC holders from Sho go?
- Mirei-chan. I have such a soft spot for the poor girl. Her story about going with Ninomae was such a Mystique going with Magneto in X-Men First Class thing. She didn't really get an ending to the whole art-class fiasco, she was treated so badly by Ninomae and I don't think we ever got an explanation for why she was being targeted or what she saw in the DVD (or something...) that she opened...?
- Admittedly, the Mexican standoff was pretty awesome. So was Aoike's TWIN GUNS (bamf).
PLOT (aka. what plot?)
I liked the Fatima prophecy when it was introduced at the beginning. I thought that would lead to an explanation about the shadowy 'Imperial Council' and explain the special qualities of Toma's SPEC. If they had progressed along those lines, that would have been great and would have addressed a lot of loose ends.
Instead they reintroduced Ninomae who, after the brief periods of sass, had returned like he had had a complete lobotomy and was acting really out-of-character.
His reappearance made for some really cool computer effects though.
Ninomae's whole vendetta against humans was very X-Men - the marginalised minority up against 'human' society trying to destroy them, except it was really sudden.
It was also completely lazy to just be like 'oh, I disappeared with my vuvuzela men and nursed myself back to health miraculously'. I think he did disappear with his vuvuzela men in the series, but the movie totally glossed over what happened.
So Ninomae tried to join the Imperial Council of powerful people in Japan but was denied.
And Atsushi Ito appeared and murdered people with KNIFE FINGERS.
And then Jun could potentially be Jesus Christ so Ninomae kidnapped her, as well as the chief of police and killed a kitten.
They went to try and get Jun back and Toma continued to not give a shit about protocol like the BAMF she is. I took issue with the fact the only two women in the police force were forbidden from going and then they went anyway and saved the day and it was a lot better.
And then Madame Yin and Madame Yang died and Sebumi pulled his legs out of his skin (???)
This was where the movie just took a left turn at bizarre and didn't look back.
And then this happened.
And this (OH MY GODDDDD WHYYYY. You should see screencaps of my liveblogging at this point).
The discussion they had before she was possessed was the first interesting ideological conflict raised in the movie. Sebumi believing SPEC holders are merely people with inflated egos whose powers arose out of personal desire. Toma believing SPEC holders are simply people who have evolved beyond normal humans and want to be left alone.
Well, when I asked for more serious consequences for Toma's SPEC, I guess I got what I wanted? The whole idea that Toma's SPEC is part of a greater power/prophecy was fascinating but was only really alluded to in the second half of the movie and left dangling.
I feel like that should have been the focus of the movie - the damning consequences of her SPEC being this dark power that she had put to sleep and a more extensive discussion about the humans vs SPEC holders idea, along with what it means to be a policeman and fighting on the side of justice.
A pity NONE OF THIS seemed to tie in with the wider movie and came completely out of the left field.
And then (are you tired yet?), there was a raid on a random Dutch mansion in the middle of a field that Ninomae and company had inexplicably acquired (maybe it was Madame Yin/Yang but...what is a Dutch mansion doing in the middle of a field in Japan...?)
Random SPEC holders were running around...?
Toma and Sebumi somehow survived a gigantic explosion when they were literally right outside the cottage which was blown to the ground (run with me here).
Then it was revealed that Ninomae was not Ninomae but a clone of Youta. What I still don't know is...was the Ninomae in the drama the clone? Was the Ninomae in the special the clone? How did Toma know he was made out of Youta's DNA?? When you leave your viewers going 'WHAT???' out of complete confusion with 15min of the film to go, something is wrong.
And then Toma defeated him without having planned anything out or having even hinted to planning things out (or using her calligraphy ritual!)
And creepy moon guy was unexplained, Ninomae became the super villain of villainness and Simple Plan went unexplained, 'Goetia' went unexplained, Solomon's Key was raised at the last minute, multiple Ninomaes appeared and were erased, Miyabi reading the letter was not explained and nothing was resolved about Toma's SPEC.
|my face is basically Toma and Sebumi's|
Hell yeah, I'm making a point. This was like the writers just shoved a dozen different plotlines into one movie, turning it into an incoherent, all-over-the-place mess like your earphones after you fish it from your bag after a long day. There were so many loose ends that were left untied, so many unnecessarily gratuitous elements and the storylines intersected with very little of the grace I expect from SPEC.
Yes, I might be able to find answers by rewatching the movie again (several times...), but I'm emphasising that I didn't finish the movie with a few unanswered questions - I finished the movie completely confused with a few questions answered. Maybe I was distracted the first time watching the movie or just not concentrating hard enough? I would like to hear people's thoughts about their first watch experience.
This was the end of my live-blog of the movie:
And that says a lot, in one way or another.
I really think the series could have ended with Sho. The open-ending of Sho was a lot more palatable than the open ending of Ten and there wasn't the feeling of 'WTF'ness at the level I was getting after Ten.
Overall, the movie would have been better if it had actually been planned out and focused on concluding a series, instead of dragging in all these new characters and plotlines.