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AKA: いばらの王 (Ibara no Ou)
Genre: Supernatural / psychological thriller
Length: Movie, 120 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by FUNimation.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Violence, deaths)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Any group of humans trying to outrun [put in name-of-mutated-creatures] movies
Notes: Based on the manga by Yuji Iwahara, which ran in the seinen magazine Monthly Comic Beam from Enterbrain. It's licensed in North America through Tokyopop.
Rating:
 

King of Thorn

Synopsis

In the year 2012, the human race is facing a grave and severe form of osteoporosis disease caused by the Medusa virus. The disease is fatal and eventually petrifies its victims. With no cure in sight, a multi-billion dollar biotechnology firm called Venus Gate has offered an unlikely solution to humankind - freeze sleeping. In short, to put them into hibernation mode so that they can wake up to a cure a century later. Fast forward to 2015, a highly sophisticated and secure facility has been built and a ballot of 160 people from various walks of life will be put into hibernation mode within the facility. Looked after by an artificial intelligence A.L.I.C.E., their environment and even dreams will be carefully controlled and monitored. The only problem, a technical glitch occurred and they are ejected from their sleeping capsules to a totally alien world which they left but 48 hours ago. Has it really been 48 hours?

Review

I love stories based on a half-truths. I could launch into a huge counter-argument of why human hibernation is biological impossible, even in the next 50 years. But that is for another time. The synopsis basically described the first 15 minutes of this movie. After the waking up sequence, 160 people are effectively trimmed to 7 in a graphic display of blood and gore by alien bats, 4-legged beings and a (for want of a better word) giant Marlboro monster straight out of Final Fantasy 7. Remember? The green, tentacled monster with a single giant mouth full of fangs.

Hence, we are thrust into the frantic escape of the Nurse, the Cop, the Kid, the Soldier, the Scientist, the (repulsive) Senator and of course, the requisite, High-School Girl. Senator and Scientist meet their demise soon after, so thankfully, the animators need only concentrate on 5 characters. There is a sudden sense of deja vu at this point, have we not seen countless such movies before that feature a group of humans trying to escape from [put in name-of-mutated-creatures]. Granted, the core of the movie is NOT about a group of humans trying to escape monsters but the movie sure spend two-thirds of its time showing them 5 characters running around. In between the running and shooting, did I mention shooting? Yes, the facility very conveniently left behind ammo in a locker room, no less, for our party to pick up (Aliens VS Predator, anyone?), we are given flashbacks which tries to explain what's happening.

Only problem is: the story is convoluted - else I'm too shallow to understand it even after 2 sittings. As far as I'm able to get it, there are 3 stake-holders. The High-School Girl (that's a given), A.L.I.C.E. and Venus Gate. Venus Gate apparently found something or someone that has the capability of making dreams become reality (don't I wish!!!), created A.L.I.C.E and somehow got High-School Girl involved. Long before [b]Inception[/b], we have a dream-within-a-you-share-my-dream-within-I-see-your-dream-within-a-dream.

I can't go too much into details because I may spoil the show suffice to say that in the end, I did get the main plot twist for the High-School Girl, at least, and it's a pretty good one in my opinion since I didn't see it coming. But the sub-plots are just beyond my grasp. And all the while there is the narration of the story of Sleeping Beauty - now if there were any connection to the plot, I clearly missed it.

The consolation: as far as animation goes, it's truly an eye-candy. The breath-taking but desolate landscape that the facility was built on. The majestic castle which house the facility and you can almost feel the kings and knights that once resided there. I love the futuristic military vehicles and the mechanical shine and "feel" of the guns. The sterile-white and claustrophobic underground chamber of the sleeping capsules are truly commendable.

Probably supernatural but less of a thriller. The animation is very pretty and the running around was rather enjoyable while they were at it, show will definitely give a person psychosis. — Diane Tiu

Recommended Audience: Usually such run-and-shoot movies involve lots of blood and gore, and this is no exception. Deaths are very graphic and violent.



Version(s) Viewed: Pre-licensed fansub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
King of Thorn © 2009 Yuji Iwahara / Published by Enterbrain, Inc. / Team Ibara