Region: 2 - UK
Length: 121 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
From Mamoru Oshii, the world-acclaimed director of Ghost in the Shell comes an award-winning story of an exciting but endless war with heroes too young to understand the meaning of their battles. A group of eternally young fighter pilots known as Kildren experience the sudden loss of innocence as they battle the enemy in astonishing dogfights above the clouds. With his only childhood memory consisting of intense flight training, the fearless teenage pilot Yuichi's dogfights coexist with his struggle to find his missing past. When his beautiful, young female commander Suito is reluctant to discuss the fate of the pilot that Yuichi is replacing - or the strangely perfect condition of that pilot's former aircraft - Yuichi's curiosity becomes heightened.
The Sky Crawlers is acclaimed director Mamoru Oshii's latest offering. The movie is set in an alternative Europe, with World War II technology. The world is at peace but war is still needed to help the citizens of the world appreciate the value of peace. Humans don't fight, kildren (or Kill dolls) do battle instead. Kildren are genetically engineered, eternally youthful fighter pilots who are employed to fight in teams for corporations. The film follows the career of ace fighter Yuichi Kannami and the mysteries of the kildren.
Visually the movie is stunning, it's worth watching on Blu-ray to catch all the details, or perhaps on a cinema screen. If the distributors wanted a quote to put on the disc covers, I'd happily submit "visually stunning".
Sky Crawlers cleverly keeps you asking questions and slowly reveals the answers as the story progresses. Here's where the trouble lies, the story doesn't progress fast enough. The pacing is slow. Really slow. It drags on for almost 2 hours. Slowly. In one part of the movie they go bowling for what seems like twenty minutes and nothing happens.
I do like Mamoru Oshii's work. I want to like this, but I just don't. The two major things most of Oshii's work lacks is emotion and humour. Watching the characters interact, it just seems like they're missing something. It's a bit depressing because they're not quite fully formed characters and spend most of the movie being cold and emotionally stunted. It's almost like an emotional uncanny valley. Itís hard to get attached to the characters. Combined with the slow story you get to a point where you just don't care if the characters live or die.
Another thing I've noticed watching several of Oshii's films is how they're devoid of humour. The Ghost in the Shell movie is a good example of this because it lacks the humour of the original manga.The Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex series was more faithful to the spirit of the manga because it had action but also a few moments of comic relief thrown in for good measure. Sky Crawlers really needs something like this. I haven't read the original novel The Sky Crawlers is based on, so I can't say how it compares.
Fan's of Oshii will notice his trademark basset hound running around with the support crew of the fighter pilots.
Should you watch it? If you're a not a huge fan of Oshii, you might want to consider renting it. If you watch the movie and think, it drags on, all I'll say is that I told you so. If you do watch it to the end, keep watching after the credits, there's another short scene that adds to the story.