dir. Miike
Opens Fri Nov 26
Clinton St. Theater
I'll say it succinctly:
This movie sucks.

Before you rabid Takashi Miike fans get all death threat-y, just give me a minute. I like Miike, too. I think he's one of the few filmmakers out there who's genuinely talented, shocking, clever, and fearless. But this isn't the Miike you know or love. This, in fact, is a Miike you might very well hate. This is 1998's Andromedia, a teen romance/adventure/sci-fi movie that's best summed up as a tedious combination of The Goonies and Max Headroom.

Don't believe me? Try this on: Andromedia has a cute teenage girl, Mai (Hiroko Shimabukuro) getting killed early on, much to the dismay of her scientist father (Tsunehiko Watase) and her boyfriend, Yu (Kenji Harada). Conveniently, Mai's father had the inexplicable inclination/foresight to create a computer program that serves as a virtual Mai; named Ai (get it?), it's updated with a CD-ROM of Mai's memories (?), and everyone's happy. But then some laughably un-threatening bad guys find out about Ai, and Yu--along with Mai's teenybopper friends, played by the Japanese pop group Speed--is left to protect/fall back in love with the laptop that Ai now lives in. (Oh, and there's a cameo/music video by the hilarious Japanese boy band Da Pump.) Sadly, none of this is even perversely entertaining; if you can make it to the film's end credits, you'll feel like you just saw N*Sync reenact a piss-poor episode of Star Trek.

In his other films, Miike's proven himself to be a versatile, talented filmmaker unafraid of boundaries. But in the mess that is Andromedia, Miike somehow makes himself look like an uninteresting hack... and that's no small feat. But perhaps the worst part of Andromedia is what it tantalizingly promises, yet never delivers. In a handful of visuals, Andromedia shows what a real Miike sci-fi film could be like, and it's awesome: a mix of serpentine, sexual, and shadowy high-tech imagery that could turn the entire genre on its head. Yet instead, Miike has inexplicably chosen to kowtow to the pop-loving Japanese teen crowd... which, for all of his talent and style, proves to be a group in which Miike is utterly powerless.