Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A few years back it was recommended to me that I investigate the movie ‘Avalon’, a live action movie directed by Mamoru Oshii, the acclaimed director of the classic anime ‘Ghost in the Shell’. I did not enjoy that film. Beautiful to look at but confusing, pretentious, erratic… however there are still those that swear by that film, I’m just letting you know I’m not one of these people. Now years later Oshii-san is continuing his ‘Avalon’ universe with his second live action film ‘Assault Girls’. I pulled this plot synopsis off of Nippon Cinema.

"In the aftermath of global thermonuclear war, the Earth’s surface has been turned into a desert battlefield. Three beautiful female hunters: Gray (Meisa Kuroki), Lucifer (Rinko Kikuchi), and Colonel (Hinako Saeki) traverse the barren landscape armed with powerful assault rifles to fight a group of deadly sand-dwelling monsters called "sunakujira" (sand whales). When the epic battle eventually seems to be coming to an end, the sparkle of muzzle flash dies down and assault ship flies overhead. Suddenly, a gigantic super mutation called "Madara Sunakujira" attacks."

That description for this movie isn’t so much as misleading as it is just plain incorrect, on top of being damn near incomprehensible but incomprehensible does fit the theme of the movie. Also above that description on the Nippon Cinema website is a combustible trailer for this film featuring explosions and monsters and shootouts and space ships and hot Japanese chicks. Somebody buy that dude that cut this trailer a can of Asahi Super Dry because while this trailer isn’t incorrect, it is mighty misleading. So while there might be a legion of people out there who swear by Oshii’s ‘Avalon’, I can’t wait to read someone’s hyper intelligent explanation about the hidden meanings that are behind this slow moving mess.

The first five or so minutes of this really short feature film features some dude droning on and on about what has happened in the past, the theories behind theology and technology, and where we are now. It was dull but this is a Mamoru Oshii movie so it’s in your best interest to try to pay attention to this stuff because you will be tested on it later.

Avalon is an immersive MMORPG video game which has upgraded itself, since the last time we saw this game played, to Avalon (f). If you were paying attention to the narration dude at the beginning of this movie I think this would be making sense. I did not follow my own advice. Moving into the ‘meat’ of the movie, before we meet the three hot chicks that are described in that synopsis above, which is about the only thing correct in that synopsis, we meet Jager (Yoshikazu Fujiki) who is hunting giant sand snakes. After his little scene now we can focus on our three hot chicks who the game forces to speak English even though their English is only a little better than my Japanese. They are hunting big sand snakes as well and they are all very good looking, especially Meisa Kuroki who had everything fall together just about perfectly at the point of conception. Anyway, the three chicks and the guy need to unite as one if they hope to level up in the game. And that’s really it.

Unless you happen to be a Mamoru Oshii completist I would probably just advise you to watch the trailer to this one and then move on to some fast moving Japanese nonsensical entertainment say like ‘Machine Girl’ or ‘RoboGeisha’ or ‘Girls Swim Team vs. The Undead’. Those movies weren’t crafted by a recognized genius and as such have nothing to live up to. This high concept movie, and I’m only assuming here that it was designed to be a high concept movie, consist largely of people sitting or walking in the desert looking off into the distance. That has to mean something, right? Again, if we were paying attention to the dull guy droning on and on at the beginning of the movie or if we had the intellect to interpret the verbiage below the chapters introducing the scenes of people doing nothing, then perhaps we would’ve understood all of that. Clearly I am incapable of deciphering the dronings of dull dudes and cryptic verbiage.

But the movie does look nice. The CGI effects are impressively implemented, not quite photorealistic but giving us the look and feel of an environment that could conceivable take place within a videogame. Obviously the Assault Girls are attractive but that goes without saying and them being good looking doesn’t help this movie move any faster or help it make any more sense.

You may get more out of ‘Assault Girls’ than I got out of it, and I’ve seen enough of the work of Mamoru Oshii to know that sometimes his concepts outdistances the capacity of his audience. So instead of proclaiming this movie as slow moving tripe I will instead claim that I’ve been intellectually belittled at the hands of a master coneceptualizer. Just giving the man his due respect.

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