Infomercial Voiceover: Are you sick of "The Fast and the Furious" series? Did you think the first one was merely mediocre? Did you think that "2 Fast 2 Furious" was already pointless? Did you want to cry yourself to sleep upon seeing the trailer for "Fast and Furious 6" during the Superbowl? Are you sick of Hollywood's pathetic pandering to the same old thing year after year after year? Well, no longer do you have to jump off the Empire State Building to escape the cycle of monotony! Thanks to new "Redline"! Yes, "Redline", a 2009 anime movie that proves that car movies do not need to be endlessly generic and forgettable, or star Paul Walker. Thanks to "Redline", your cinematic automobile experience will be vibrant, colorful, and exciting, keeping you on the edge of your seat for hours of fun. "Redline"! From the people who brought you "Dead Leaves"*, "Afro Samurai", and OxiClean.
List of these real-life people we ambushed at a county fair to shill our product for us!
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Little Kid: You're stupid. Why can't we have a normal review instead of this gimmicky weird stuff? And why do you keep doing those old stupid monster movie posts?
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Voiceover: And now we go to our studio host, Mr. Blue Highwind with the review! (Canned Applause)
"Redline" is what happens when you mix "Heavy Metal", "Dead Race 2000", and "Wacky Racers" into a blender and then marry the soupy colorful mess, have three kids with it, raise those kids through college, put them in a blender, and turn that resulting bloody semi-human soup into a movie. Its made with the singular plan to create the wildest, most insane, most dazzling race movie ever put on cinema, and succeeds. The idea is that its the future, or something, and the entire universe is united behind the greatest sport of all time: Redline racing. This is where seven or so drivers are given free reigns to build the most ridiculous overpowered modified vehicles ever, then are launched through the most extreme racing conditions ever. And whoever happens to survive to the finish line fastest wins.
Technically "Redline" came out in 2009, and I haven't reviewed it until today because well... I had no idea this movie existed until just today. From what I've read, shockingly the entire movie was hand drawn, even though this is the first (and so far only) movie that Takeshi Koike has directed. The English dubbing came out, I think, only last year. I actually watched parts of both dubbed and subbed versions of "Redline", and both are great vocalizations of the material. I gotta prefer the English dubbing though, if only because the subtitles get in the way of the beautiful artwork.
Our hero is JP, the universe's coolest dude with a giant greaser pompadour with really no other goal in life but to race. Like everything in "Redline", he's a cliche, but a cliche so overdone and exaggerated that it goes right around the circle of irony from trite to totally awesome. And honestly, I don't think there's a hint of irony in this movie, or shame, its just a movie about fast cars rushing across the galaxy at light speed with Fifties greaser dudes, hot babes, robot armies, and talking-zoo people. JP has a growing romance with "Cherry Boy Hunter", Sonoshee, a gorgeous green-haired fellow racer who is actually pretty shy despite her nickname (but not shy enough to lounge around her house with no top for the interests of fanservice). After an explosive opening race, JP and Sosonshee and the other racers, which include an android, a crazy cop, two lesbian magical princesses, a lobster guy, and other assorted nonsense, are all signed-up for the championship race, the Redline. Where is the Redline taking place? On Roboworld, the galactic superpower that has officially banned all racing. So not only are they in the most explosive race ever, they're basically invading an enemy country, fighting off an armada of androids, giant energy creatures, and a Death Star.
Despite the characters being more or less stereotypes and tropes, they still remain sympathetic right up until the end. JP would be obnoxious in a live-action movie, but in "Redline", he's exactly in the right element. He would be out of place anywhere else in any other tone or any other plotline. The romance between Sonoshee and JP isn't overbearing, but more or less inevitable since they appear to be the only attractive humans in the galaxy. Its believable though, since they both share the burning desire to win and see the finish line, despite whatever obstacle comes their way. Maybe they're both living out adolescent fantasies, but "Redline" is an adolescent fantasy, that's why its great!
The visual style of "Redline" is very reminiscent of "Dead Leaves", a previous deranged anime film that more people need to see. The colors usage is very Western, with sharp lines and solid colors filled with detail, rather than the subtle minimalism of most anime. This fits the movie well, because "Redline" feels like it belongs in some hypothetical sequel to "Heavy Metal"**, with how wonderfully over-the-top the entire movie is. You got animal people, robot planets, people firing at each other across race tracks, its all fantastic, but there's no attempt to explain any of it or fit it into our reality. Its all pure genre, with no thought given to anything other than how excellent the final product will come out. Does the emergence of a huge destructive yellow energy being make any sense? Probably not. But does its inclusion make the movie considerably more awesome? Oh yeah. And that's what matters. That's the only that matters. Pure visceral entertainment at its most mindless and awesome.
Not to mention that its also a gorgeous movie, perhaps one of the most original and pretty-looking anime films of the last few years. The animation is fluid and rapid, giving the perfect sense of speed and wild abandon that drives both the racers and the real-world animators. We get to see racing cars explode massive bursts of energy as they push themselves beyond all technical limits. Dazzling colors, brilliant effects, and that feeling of speedy insanity, its everything you could want out of a movie. Possibly the most exciting movie race of all time.
"Redline" is what George Lucas was trying to do with Pod Racing in "Episode I", but failed. "Redline" is what the Wachoski siblings were trying to do with their live action "Speed Racer" movie, but failed spectacularly. Something this pure cannot be done in live action. It had to be animated, and in exactly this way. Its a rare thing, but I can find no fault of any kind in "Redline", its perfection. They went out with a very specific (though very silly) idea for a movie, and made that movie, without any shame for its silliness or single-mindedness. And what they created was wonderful. Its a movie where you sit back, watch, and are wowed. This is what movies were created for, and "Redline" is one of the best blockbusters you'll ever find.
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* If you have no idea what "Dead Leaves" is... its basically the spiritual sequel to "Fooly Cooly", only with an artistic inspiration from American comic books, and it makes even less sense.
** "Heavy Metal 2000" obviously does not count due to it being horrendously awful. The people who made that probably had a vague idea of what made the original 1981 "Heavy Metal" great, but simply had no idea how to recreate that masterpiece. And they didn't even include enough fanservice, for shame.