So I watched Casshern tonight. Casshern is a Japanese movie based on a 1973 anime of the same name, and is one of the first “digital backlot” movies. Like the relatively dreadful Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the movie was filmed almost entirely in front of a bluescreen, with the final film being composited during post production. Unlike Sky Captain, however, Casshern has a real story. The trailer makes Casshern look like an action movie, but that’s far from the case. Casshern is a serious drama – much of the movie is spent in dialogue. Not that this was a bad thing – I love “talky” movies, only that I wasn’t expecting the movie I got. On the upside, Casshern is a visually stunning movie. Though not seamless, the digital backlot was far more convincing than that of Sky Captain, and the art style and design aesthetic was far more appealing. On the downside, parts of the movie were painfully slow, and the story often leaped about spastically making the movie somewhat hard to follow. Doubtless some confusion stemmed from the translation. Still despite all, Casshern is a great movie. It’s a desperately depressing anti-war movie that reserves a tiny spark of hope at the end. Magnificent visuals, a good (if sometimes jumpy) story, and a thoroughly engaging cast (Toshiaki Karasawa, in particular, was entrancing) made for one of the best films I’ve seen all year.