Monday, April 6, 2015

Film Review: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 - The Egg of the King (2012)

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 - The Egg of the King (Review)
Japan/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...plenty of action and gore, and the story was enough to keep me interested..."

After his recent victory, the talented mercenary Guts crosses paths with Griffith, the charismatic leader of the Band of the Hawk mercenary group...

Before I jump deep into this review, I'd like to state: I am not familiar with any of the source material. (Please be kind if I unintentionally misrepresent anything.) Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 - The Egg of the King follows Guts after he joins the Band of the Hawk group. Guts essentially becomes Griffith's right hand man during epic battles. While Guts battles through hordes of enemies and even a mystical creature, like The Hulk Nosferatu Zodd, Griffith climbs up the ranks as he pursues his dreams of becoming king. The film leads to a decent ending -- it's not a large set-piece or epic climax, but it left me wanting more.

Although I'm not familiar with the source material, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 - The Egg of the King does feel like it glosses over quite a bit of character and even some events. It feels like there's more story in here, but it had to be compressed. For example, the film drops you in the middle of an epic battle, then quickly leads to Guts and Griffith's first encounters. Afterward, the film skips three years. Griffith and Guts are buddy-buddy, and Griffith continues his uprising. Unfortunately, we don't really get to see their relationship develop, which would've been helpful. Even more unfortunate, we don't really get a lot of character for Guts or anyone for that matter.

Still, I did find myself enjoying the experience. It starts off a little slow, but really picks up the pace after the first act. The encounter with Nosferatu Zodd is epic -- I was really hooked on the story from there on. I won't spoil any more scenes, but some events during the latter half were very effective and dark. If you're looking for gory swordplay, this film has plenty; in fact, Guts wields a heavy, large sword just for chopping his foes down. People are cut in half, vertically and horizontally, eyes explode from their sockets, and much more. With all of that said, I am still disappointed in the lack of character. I think the puny 75 minute runtime shoulders most of the blame -- it's simply not enough time to fit all of the desired character and action.

As usual, I watched the original Japanese voiceover. And, as usual, it's great -- it conveys effective emotion. I was stuck in the middle for the visuals. I loved the settings, they were lush and vibrant. The characters looked good, too. The action, however, was a little sluggish at times. I've watched recent animations like Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Knights of Sidonia, and Attack on Titan, but this is the only time I really noticed a choppy framerate. It doesn't completely hinder the experience, but it's worth noting. (Also, although I've never experience a problem before, it might also be my source: Netflix.) I liked Toshiyuki Kubooka direction, but I think he'd benefit from a larger runtime -- the compression is this film's biggest flaw.

Overall, I liked Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 1 - The Egg of the King. It would have benefitted from more character, but it ultimately works. It has plenty of action and gore, and the story was enough to keep me interested -- it was even enough to make me anticipate the next film. It may not be perfect, but I enjoyed this short 75 minute feature -- it shows great promise.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some nudity.

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