Place Promised in Our Early Days / B0009PLMAS
The problem with philosophical movies is that one person's "Oh my, wasn't that deep and mysterious" moment is another person's "Good grief, this is boring, tedious, and inane", and sometimes there's just no rhyme or reason to it besides differences in character, history, and experiences between the two people. And then the person who didn't like the film goes on Amazon and explains why they didn't like it in order to aid people in their purchasing decisions, and inevitably comes off looking like a jerk for 'hating' on someone's favorite movie.
And yet, here we are. I wanted to like "Place Promised", I really did. Firstly, and while this shouldn't *matter*, it's still very impressive, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. Seriously, this is some of the prettiest anime I've ever seen - there's a scene where a ladybug alights on a girl's hand, and it's so lovely I just want to cry. And, really, I *love* the plot premise - the horror of being totally alone in an alternate reality that you can't wake from is exactly the kind of plot premise that messes deeply with your mind for weeks on end. As well as the dual persona of the two boys - do they save their friend and risk the world, or do they sacrifice an innocent for mankind?
So why two stars? Honestly, despite all this I just didn't enjoy the movie. The characters are so bland and badly characterized that I couldn't get into it and just ended up being frustrated. The boys in particular stand out for me - their characters are so poorly fleshed out, and so superficially similar, that I actually thought a Big Reveal was going to be that they were both two personalities for the same person, a la Fight Club, but no - it just turned out that they were poorly characterized and I wasn't supposed to notice.
The horror angle, also, which seemed so promising, was badly botched for me by the handling and execution. I don't demand complete realism in movies, but it would be nice to have SOME kind of Applied Phlebotinum to explain why all this is happening, outside of a bland, "Well, her grandfather worked on the tower...", explanation that explains nothing. Not to mention that the horror fell kind of flat when the researchers discovered so quickly and blandly what was going on - it's hard to feel that she's isolated and alone when everyone in the outside world knows her situation (even if that distinction doesn't make a difference to her).
Indeed, so MUCH of this movie just seems to be a "Simon says" of narrative acceptance. The populace at large regard the tower to be little more than an uncomfortable reminder of war or a lovely piece of scenery, which is so inhumanly bovine as to hurl you out of the movie on a catapult. I mean, imagine if we had a brutal war with Mexico or Cuba and then afterward they built a tower that stretched as far as the eye could see and could, oh I-don't-know, be used to stage long-range attacks against us at any point in time. I'm pretty sure the population's overall feeling towards it wouldn't be 'oooh, it's so shiny today!'. That's not even getting into the whole parallel universe thing - why would you want to overlap our world with a parallel universe? What's the goal? The point? Why is the government funding this operation? How did the tower sync up with our poor, beleaguered girl? We don't get answers to these things and while some people are going to find the lack of answers to be "deep" and "meaningful", it just rubbed me wrong in this particular case.
And, really, my intention is not to troll. If you loved this movie, good on you. But if you haven't seen this movie yet and are considering buying it at full price, take this review as a recommendation to rent first. That's all.
~ Ana Mardoll