Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Kazuki Nakashima
Starring Rinko Kikuchi, Rila Fukushima, Kane Kosugi
1h 48min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi | 29 April 2016 (Japan)
This year, Fantasia presented two Takashi Miike films at the annual film festival in Montreal. In addition to the spectacular early screenings, Miike was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, in person, for his unprecedented effort on directing over 95 productions in cinema, television, and even on the stage, since his debut in 1991 with Eyecatch Junction and Lady Hunter: Prelude to Murder.
For those of you wondering if Miike plans to stop making films after Blade of Immortal, his 100th film, you will be thrilled to hear that thepromised in his speech to continue making film in the following 20 years. So expect to see tons more work from this one-of-a-kind director who simply loves pleasing his fans, and foremost, enjoys making some of the most unusual films in the history of cinema.
Fantasia was the first North American festival to showcase the rebellious oeuvres of Miike, and has since shown 30 of his films, including Terra Formars this year. A live-actionsci-fi based on the Japanese manga series of the same name written by Yū Sasuga and illustrated by Kenichi Tachibana. Terra Formars takes place 500 years after scientists sent a bunch of cockroaches to Mars in an attempt to make the planet breathable and livable for humans. However, Mars didn’t turn out to be as safe as scientists planned. Two years earlier, six members of the BUGS 1 mission went missing on the red planet and it’s up to the next expendable crew of BUGS 2 to investigate what went terribly wrong.
Without trying to spoil anything, Terra Formers quickly turns into an outrageous film with a bunch influences from some of the top titles in sci-fi cinema such as Starship Troopers, Blade Runner, and Pacific Rim. So expect to see lots of carnage, non-stop action, and a healthy quotient of humor just to break up some of the tense moments as the crew goes up against these gigantic cockroaches who have absolutely no intention of cooperating with them. At first, the alien bugs seem unstoppable, but the crew can inject themselves with a liquid, which modifies their abilities and strength with bug-like characteristics. Finally, the cockroaches are challenged, but they also evolve throughout the film for a final attempt to hold onto the planet.
If you’re already a fan of the manga series, then I’m sure you will have a blast watching the film since it’s packed with beautiful special effects and plenty of similarities to the graphical novel. But those of you just wanting to be entertained by Miike may not find this to be one his best works. In fact, it becomes very repetitive with the exact same formula in the last 100 minutes of film, which will most likely turn off many viewers. Overall, it’s a beautiful piece of work from Miike, but it just gets too tiresome really fast to truly enjoy the entire bloody escapade on Mars.