Lupin III: The Columbus Files
Our brave protagonist, Arsene Lupin III is determined to unlock the one true treasure he desires above all - the heart of the femme fatale Mine Fujiko. But maybe not tonight ... despite his best efforts, Fujiko is really much more interested in the latest mystery to come their way: The Columbus Files. And she's taken the precaution of memorizing its contents just in case the file should get in the wrong hands. But things don't quite fall in the right place for Lupin and Company - as Fujiko loses her memory in a mishap, and Lupin must contend with their erstwhile ally, the wily treasure hunter Rosalia, and the annoying cretin Nazarov, in a race for the elusive Columbus Egg, whose powers are far beyond anyone imagined from such an obscure artifact.
When one views Lupin III movies, it's not generally a good idea to use Castle of Cagliostro as a yardstick, because that 1979 film is NOT a normal Lupin III movie.
The normal Lupin III movie has all the elements that make it the "anti-Bond", so to speak. The hero has to be a bit of a lecher, but not quite so suave as to actually get away with it. The characters must have a certain level of camaraderie, and generally have fun throughout the movie. And the plot has to be mildly cheeseball, but not so much that it either hurts, or, ahem, becomes a Bond film.
That having been said, The Columbus Files comes perilously close to the Bond-film level of cheese. And not the good Bond films. No, think Roger Moore Bond films.
(Hey, look, it's Scaramanga!)
Not to say there's a problem with the animation. There isn't, though the quality isn't quite up to par with most late '90s theatrical feature - it's more OAV quality, and not very detailed, at that. No problems with Lupin himself, either, as he's just as goofy as he usually is (same with Zenigata, too, though he doesn't show up much).
But Fujiko fans should be prepared for a massive disappointment. If the plot requires that she go amnesiac, this means she will be out-of-character the whole dangnabbed movie. No femme fetale hijinks here - Fujiko has to be rescued (usually in the exact same dangnabbed situation) about a half-dozen times. Also, there's an extremely unlikely situation midway through the movie between Jigen and Goemon that just seems wrong. (Obviously the animators never actually took lifeguarding classes, but bwaaah!!!) The camaraderie is just thrown off massively by the not-quite-right characterizations, and it never really gels right.
It doesn't help that the plot isn't even remotely realistic. Yeah, yeah, the government scientific facility as front for more nefarious deeds is nothing new, but then they throw in this whole spiel about how Christopher Columbus found this artifact ("The Columbus Egg") that amplifies this mystic "Olgon Energy" mumbo-jumbo that cure cancer, controls weather, blah blah blah. If Columbus found it, how come it's hidden in some untouched thousand-year-old Minoan temple? And how could the storms he ostensibly caused destroy some island in 1834?!? Aargh!!! This sort of sloppy revisionist history ticks me off, because they obviously did just enough research to "sound" authentic, but bungle it so badly that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history could write it off as total nonsense!
Sure, if the villains had been clever or anything, I could at least be more forgiving, but Nazarov is merely an annoying hyena of a henchmen (and he won't die!) and the real villain doesn't seem to have much of an agenda beyond using the mystic "Olgon Energy" to (what else?) take over the world. How boring. The whole thing with the Bond girl, er, I mean, Rosalia, was no surprise either.
Maybe the mistake the directors of The Columbus Files made was that they tried too hard to make this movie a Bond film instead of a Lupin III film and succeeded. Mind you, I like James Bond, but unfortunately, this wasn't exactly the kind of kitsch I was looking for when I watched this. The liberal usage of Goemon's sword almost redeems this (especially the truly ridiculous, but classic scene at the very end), but this whole movie seemed anticlimactic and incredibly contrived, even more so than one of these movies should be. Too many masks, too many gadgets, too many secret plots, and not enough fun.
I guess Fujiko wasn't the only one having an unlucky day.
Maybe I'm being a bit generous, but it's just funny enough in fits to stay average. Not the best Lupin film by far, and that's not even counting Castle of Cagliostro. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Casual fans of Lupin might get a kick out of the numerous fan service shots of Fujiko in various compromising positions. (Various comments of "can that skirt/dress/pair of shorts get any shorter" were heard all throughout the film from the peanut gallery.) Also, Rosalia makes a few remarks in Fujiko's direction that can easily be taken out of context. (Oh, yeah, and Lupin tries much harder than usual to get lucky, and, predictably, fails miserably.) The only nudity in this, though, is statuary. The violence level in this isn't too graphic, though there are some mostly bloodless onscreen deaths, and some injury to Lupin himself. Teens and over.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Lupin III: The Columbus Files © 1999 Monkey Punch / NTV / TMS
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