Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Feb 2nd 2004
The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (DVD)
The galaxy's most popular band is kidnapped by a vicious record company executive with one objective in mind: intergalactic domination! It's up to die-hard fan Shep to save the day and bring the band back home.
Truly a groundbreaking project, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is the result of a union between mega-popular French house band Daft Punk and legendary anime auteur Leiji Matsumoto. It's the world's first house musical, a story set to the entirety of Daft Punk's ‘Discovery’ album, with no dialogue or interruption. For fans of Daft Punk or Leiji Matsumoto, this is the Holy Grail; it is, quite simply, one of the coolest things ever produced. The music, the action, the story and the characters all come together to create a totally unique visual and aural experience unlike anything else out there.
Naturally, you can't expect a deep storyline or rich characterization from a movie that has no spoken dialogue. Despite being based entirely on the strengths of ‘Discovery’, Interstella 5555 has a serviceable (if slightly goofy) storyline with sympathetic characters. It's no deeper than a kiddy pool, but in terms of simple pleasures, it's best to just sit back and enjoy it. Basically, it goes like this: an alien band, unnamed in the opening scenes, is kidnapped by an evil radio executive who transforms them into humans and turns them in to ‘The Crescendolls’, the Earth's newest pop sensation. They've had their memories erased, their skin color changed, and their fabulous alien wardrobes replaced. Shep, a pilot with a space cruiser shaped like a gigantic guitar (who also happens to be a die-hard fan of the band), gets the distress call from the band's home planet and takes off for Earth. What follows is a frantic chase, a heroic rescue, an untimely death, a vicious battle and a hero's welcome. It isn't Shakespeare, but it's hard not to get caught up in the story.
In fact, the amazingly effective characterization in Interstella 5555 is a big part of the film's success. The hero, Shep, is a brilliantly simple audience identification character. He goes to the rescue because he's a huge fan of the band and dreams of falling in love with the band's female guitarist (check out track #3, Digital Love, for a beautifully realized dream sequence featuring the two together). Basically, everyone on the planet can identify with this; we're rooting for Shep because we can easily see ourselves in his shoes. Considering this is essentially an hour-long music video, that's quite an accomplishment. I can't remember the last time ever having cared about a character in one of Blink 182's videos.
The visuals are absolutely top-notch. Created with what was obviously a large budget, Leiji Matsumoto's unique and classic character designs are brought to lush, fluid life. Aesthetically, this film is a masterpiece. There's nary a spot of poor animation, and the colors are rich and vibrant. Aurally, if you're a Daft Punk fan, you'll be in heaven. What happens on screen so perfectly fits the ‘Discovery’ album, you'll swear they tore the images straight out of your head. Daft Punk is widely considered to be the best House band on the planet, and rightfully so. What they've created here is a unique, fun, enjoyable album that is impeccably married with another art form. It's genius.
Basically, if you're a fan of either the band or the designer, you don't need to be told to run out and buy this. Interstella 5555 is beautifully animated, fun to watch, easy to get in to, and surprisingly hip. Anime, while it is swiftly becoming ‘cool’, has never really entered the realm of ‘hip’, which is something completely different. Interstella 5555 brings anime into the world of designer clothes, limousines, and celebrity, and it seems a perfect fit. This film seems to belong somewhere right outside the definition of ‘anime’; like Miyazaki's film, it transcends the media clichés, but owes a great deal of its success to what came before it. Don't miss it.
Overall : A
Story : A
Animation : A+
Art : A+
Music : A+
+ One of the coolest things ever created.
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