Redline – Review

As I’m sure most people know, the Blu-ray version of Redline was released here in America about a week ago, and giving into the insane amount of hype behind this movie, I decided to order it.  I had actually wanted to watch it a while ago, but after hearing how amazing it looked from everybody and their mother, I decided to wait until I could get the 1080p 5.1 full experience on Blu-ray.  And holy fuck, am I glad that I waited.

How does one even begin to describe Redline?  If Panty and Stocking was the adult and Japanified version of The Powerpuff Girls, then Redline is the adult, Japanified version of Hanna-Barbara’s Wacky Races.  I’m sure you’ve heard by now all of the technical stuff about this movie by now, like how it’s one hundred percent hand-drawn, how it spent seven years in production, and how absolutely incredible the animation is, but I think it’s worth restating in this case.  The tagline for this movie was “Witness the future of animation”. Now, that may seem like an incredibly arrogant thing to say, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind wouldn’t want that to actually be true.  The animation is absolutely phenomenal, not just in terms of it’s art style but in terms of actual animation which can’t really be said for too many anime these days.  There’s a fluidity in this anime that doesn’t exist in anything in recent anime; people don’t just sit there and flap their mouths when they talk, they actually move and look like they’re really having a conversation.  Races aren’t just flashes of cars going by and quick cuts in the cockpits, they’re all out wars.  Things like this are what set this movie apart from everything else, it’s the reason that it spent so long in production, it’s the reason it’s so amazing.

The actual story line, though, isn’t really anything too amazing.  While that would normally be a complaint, I can’t imagine why anyone would have a problem with this movie due to it’s story.  This movie makes little to no attempt to try to tell a complex, emotional tale, and in the case of this movie, that’s perfectly fine by me.  Redline tells the story of JP, a young racer who watched a lot of Johnny Bravo and uses a lot of hair gel.  It takes place in the far future, amidst the dying trend of wheeled vehicles, where an illegal racing event called Redline takes place every five years.  Like I said before, it’s a Hanna-Barbara Wacky Races episode on crack.  All of the racers have crazy, tricked out cars, and do whatever it takes to win.  The movie follows JP and his mobster mechanic friend, Frisbee.  After JP gets qualified to race in Redline, due to another pair of racers dropping out, he and Frisbee travel to Roboworld to attempt to win.  The story is incredibly simple, with the main conflict being that the leaders of Roboworld aren’t to happy with an illegal race taking place in their world, and want to stop it at all costs.  Everything else is just racing and preparing to race.  Now, I won’t criticize the story, because it couldn’t be more obvious that it wasn’t the main focus of the movie, but I do have some problems with the way it’s presented.  First, there are only two races in the movie, which is kind of a letdown, but they’re both incredible, so that kind of balances out.  After all, the last half hour of this movie is all a race, so I don’t hold that complaint against it too much.  The other problem I had with the movie was what took place in between the races.  Really, it’s just a bunch of random events like introducing the racers and building JP’s new trans-am to bide the time until Redline and to show off the animation.  Though the later is fine, I found how little these segments had to do with each other was a little distracting.  But still, that’s a minor complaint in an amazing movie, because those scenes are fun to watch nonetheless.  

The characters aren’t too much to write home about either, but with a story like this, that’s kind of to be expected.  None of the racers, other than JP and his love interest Sonoshee, have to much time in the spotlight, but they are all different and unique.  Also, none of the other racers are a generic Dick Dastardly asshole who’s trying to fuck everybody over.  Sure, they use weapons and attack each other, but in Redline, you’re allowed to do whatever you want to your car, so that’s to be expected.  What I mean is, they aren’t trying to sabotage each other, because in the end, they’re all in it against the armies of Roboworld, and they’re all there to race.  There is an attempt to paint a relationship between JP and Sonoshee.  It isn’t anything groundbreaking or amazingly romantic, but it doesn’t really feel crowbared in either.

The Sound is fairly decent, and compliments the mood of the movie, but it isn’t really anything too amazing.  There’s a lot of techno and electronic music, which goes pretty well with the races, but there really aren’t any standout tracks to be heard here.  I’ve heard some complaints about the English dub, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty good.  A lot of people say that some of the characters voices don’t match their personalities established in the Japanese version, but it really didn’t seem like that big a deal to me.  The only real complaint I have about the English voices is that sometimes the audio doesn’t match the mouth flaps very well, which is common in dubbed anime, but it just seems to stick out a lot more here.  I honestly prefer the dub version, because it does feel a lot more American compared to most other anime movies and there’s so much stuff happening on the screen that you won’t want to have to look away to read the subtitles.

And now we’ve come full circle back to the animation.  There really is no way to describe it, and though it sounds cliche, you have to see it to believe it.  This movie should not be viewed in anything less than 1080p; all online streams should be taken down, and all 720p downloads should be wiped from the face of the earth.  Redline is truly something special for anime fans or animation fans in general.  Watching this movie really makes you think back to the early days of anime movies, such as Akira and Miyazaki’s early work, where you can really tell how much genuine effort was put into every scene in this movie.  The people who worked on this are people who know and love animation, and how much character and uniqueness it can bring to a movie.  There’s just something about animated movies that seems to make the impossible possible.  Sure, nowadays we have special effects that can do ridiculously spectacular things in live action, but it just isn’t the same as animation.  With animation, you can create any world, any species, any character you want, because you’re only limited by your imagination and how much effort you put into it.  There is so much craziness and plain creativity in this movie, it’s sometimes overwhelming.  Watching this movie is the equivalent of taking and adrenaline shot to the chest, sitting in a room filled with pure oxygen, and having an IV pumping Red Bull into you throughout the rest of it.  Sure this film doesn’t have an incredibly deep and complex story, and the characters are nothing special, but that doesn’t make this movie any less amazing.  Redline is a love letter to animation, and how much creativity and amazement that it can create.


Posted on January 24, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This definitely looks… different. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll be sure to try watching it. Good review, Notaku.

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