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Monday, 17 August 2015

Persona 3: A Midsummer Knight's Dream.

So, I'm in a pretty bad mood today. It shows in this review. I do apologise for that.

Although, to be honest, it provides a little spice to what would otherwise be a very drab review of a very drab film.

Persona 3: A Midsummer Knight's Dream.

You know, I wasn't especially impressed with the first film. It was meandering yet somehow abrupt at the same time, like an animated Krull, and attempts to twist games, which have their own sets of rules and mechanics, into films, which are a substantially different medium with different demands, never really work out. 

A Midsummer Knight's Dream is the second film in a set of four, and while it's an improvement on the first, it's still not exactly a sterling film experience. Set in, obviously, the summer, the film sees the Persona-wielding gang pick up four new members: Battle robot Aegis, delinquent Shinjiro, child Ken, and dog Koromaru. As tensions are ramped up by the appearance of Strega, a group of Persona-using criminals, it becomes apparent that Shinjiro and Ken have a dark history with each other.

You know what the horrible Catch-22 of these films? If they gave their plots the amount of time they deserve they would all be aimless, terribly paced messes, with this film in particular having absolutely no conclusion to its plot. But if they actually have a plot arc with a distinct beginning, middle, and end, then they do so at the cost of actually developing the characters and plots enough to make me care. 

Insert your own caption, I can't be bothered.

The Shinjiro and Ken plot is a great example of this - thrown in between about a dozen different plotlines, it serves as the main plot of the film (sort of), with its resolution serving as the end of the film. Despite its prominence in the film, though, I am left utterly cold by it: I'm given very little time to get to know Shinjiro or Ken (who appears about a quarter of the way through an already short film) and thus I actually don't care even a little bit about their struggle, their history, and their deep and abiding anguish. I couldn't give a damn if you paid me to. 

What, then, did you care about in this film, Murphy, if not the main plot arc, especially when it's a plot arc involving children and dogs and delinquents with hearts of gold? Well, I'm glad you asked, Sarcastic Imitation of the Reader, because the answer is nothing. There is not a single thing in this film that managed to rouse a hint of emotion in me - not the character arc of main protagonist Yuki, not the quickly forgotten about anguish of team archer Yukari, not the adorable dog, n-o-t-h-i-n-g. I went through this film in a state of total apathy. 

At one point, I found myself watching youtube videos at the same time, with no idea of how I had ended up doing so, having apparently blacked out from boredom and sleep-browsed my way to more interesting fare.

Blah blah don't wear your hat indoors blah.

And I don't want to say that that's because the characters of Persona 3 are uninteresting - I want to say that that's because RPGs don't make good films. You know what's the death of pacing in a film? A gigantic cast of main characters. You know what RPGs have? Gigantic casts of main characters. You know what else RPGs have? Protracted periods of time where very little of plot relevance is happening, but which are woven into the plot in such a way that you can't easily remove those periods without making the plot seem rushed? You know what films shouldn't have? Protracted periods of time where very little of plot relevance is happening!

These are not mediums that mesh well with each other, and that's even more pronounced when the property you're adapting is a Persona game, which are marked out from their peers by having large amounts of subplots and by interweaving Normal High School Shenanigans with Actiony Monster Stuff, because you can't put most of that into a film without that film becoming intensely boring.

If Aegis wasn't here I would not be able to convincingly tell you that this wasn't from the first film.

There were some good things about the film: The voice-acting is generally superb, the animation is beautiful, the music is all excellent. On a technical level, a lot of work went into this, and it really shows. That said, absolutely none of that work has paid off, because while it's all very evident, it does not in any way make up for how dull this film is. You could die watching this. You might actually die from watching this. Do not watch this film.

Usually I try to review successive films about a week apart from each other - obviously, Spring of Birth was reviewed way back in early May, and now I remember why it took me so long to review this one. While I will no doubt get around to Falling Down at some point, it's going to take me a while. After losing an hour and a half of my life to this film, an hour and a half that I can never get back and that I hold Atlus and A-1 Pictures personally responsible for the wastage of, I'm in no hurry to repeat the experience. Again. 

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