Review: Paprika (* 1/2)

A film review by Steve Rhodes

Copyright 2007 Steve Rhodes

RATING (0 TO ****): * 1/2

PAPRIKA, by director Satoshi Kon (PERFECT BLUE), is one of those infuriating
movies that will have you scratching your head throughout, while thinking to
yourself, "What is this all about and why in the world should I care?"

With the right writer and director, anime can be involving and imaginative,
with PRINCESS MONONOKE being one of the best examples. But, absent a decent
script, the Japanese style of animated movies, in which little more than the
mouth moves, can easily become tedious and artificial.

So it is with PAPRIKA, a story about the "DC Mini," a device which lets
scientists delve into the dream world. Later, the dream world begins to
take over the real world, or is this all a dream?

For the Japanese release of the movie, Megumi Hayashibara voices the central
character of Chiba Atsuko, also known as Paprika. Unlike some recent
animated imports, the makers of Paprika have gone with the original dubbing
and did not bother to redub it in English. Since the mouths move very
awkwardly anyway, one is hard pressed to argue that these animated images
have to speak a foreign language, which then forces one to read the
subtitles. In general, I like subtitled foreign films, but not for anime
since the movies, after all, are dubbed even in the country of origin.

Another problem with anime in films like PAPRIKA is that the makers go to
such little trouble to make the figures realistic. In PAPRIKA, the
characters frequently have sweat beads on them, but the sweat never moves,
it just stays frozen. How hard would it be to let a few sweat beads roll
down a face?

The characters in PAPRIKA say preposterous things such as, "Science is
nothing but a piece of trash before a profound dream." And, other
conversations include such profound questions as, "Is this really the real
world?" which is answered with, "I think so."

As one character snored loudly, I thought to myself, "My sentiments
exactly." And, when "The End," came on the screen after about an hour, I
was ready to applaud my upcoming freedom, but it was not to be. That was
just the end of a dream within a dream. The real movie was going to drag on
for another half hour.

PAPRIKA is for dyed-in-the-wool anime fans only. Others will likely see it
for what it is -- a pretentious piece of animated nonsense.

PAPRIKA runs 1:30. The film is dubbed in Japanese with English subtitles.
It is rated R for "violent and sexual images" and would be acceptable for

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, June 8, 2007. In
the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the Camera Cinemas.


Email: Steve.Rhodes@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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