In an alternate version of 19th century London, the world has been revolutionized by “corpse reanimation technology” creating armies of undead who serve the living as laborers across the globe. In an attempt to revive his dearly departed friend, young medical student John Watson becomes obsessed with replicating the work of Dr. Victor Frankenstein—the legendary corpse engineer whose research produced the only re-animated corpse to possess a soul. But when his illegal experiments put him at odds with the British government, Watson is drafted into a worldwide race to find the lost research notes of Victor Frankenstein before the secrets of the human soul fall into the wrong hands.
So I watched the Empire of Corpses, which belongs to the trilogy of works by the late Itoh Keikaku, dealing with all sorts of existentialism issues. The premise is about a world where humanity can reanimate corpses and use them as cheap labors and soldiers, effectively building a strong economy around what used to be worthless. It’s trying to retain a degree of seriousness but mostly fails because of the constant morbid imagery and the mindless explosions which is something you would expect to see in a B grade action flick. The animation is done by studio WIT, and it looks amazing, yet overused at this point since they keep reusing the same setting in their works: An 19th century steampunk Europe, with zombies. The music is ok, although forgettable, while the dialogue is mostly infodumps, making the exposition very amateurish. The characters are nothing to remember for and the only thing that stands out is their names. They are all based on famous people from history and literature, making everything feel like a hunt for references and derivates. There is practically nothing fresh about this concept; even the premise is essentially Frankenstein taken to a global level.The plot feels to the most part like watching the second Ghost in the Shell movie. Gorgeous to look, pretentious to listen to, and absolutely no commitment to give a crap about anything that is going on in it. The characters say stuff as if reading an essay written by a high schooler attempting to sound wise, then something blows up, they go to a different place, sit down, and continue their boring couch philosophies.It may not sound like a big issue but trust me, it’s impossible to give a shit when there is a war going on, the main characters as standing in the back, reading books, and talk about the meaning of life while zombies are chewing each other to a second death. They are talking about people who are not even alive, nor take part in the battle. As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, the last third loses all sense of logic and becomes about magic crystals and spells that make you switch bodies. Everything becomes possible, you can’t take anything seriously, the resolution is a ridiculous cop out, and you are essentially watching Guilty Crown all over again. Final verdict, it’s awful, don’t you dare give it a good score.
At first, I was suprised with scenario mix in this movie, but i wouldn't say that it was bad thing. The main idea with corpses empire was good enough even when it comes from Frankenshtein story, precisely, developed from the idea of dead resurrection. Sure, i had to get used to movie type, mood and animation to watch it till the end, to be honest, I splitted watching into two parts (i don't use to it), but I knew that creators wanted to say something to audience in other side of monitor, so I forced myself watch further and you know, i wasn't disappointed with it. I get so much good thought from this one to have in mind. Unfortunate, I didn't understand the movie ending fully, like it will be continued or something, or creators wanted to leave it on comma, not a dot, like leaving a question or something like that. Also, I expected something more, maybe something brighter, but it noway can't make movie worse, I mean, it still being good enough and worth watching. If talk about beloved and hated characters, so it's almost simple. Like it usually is protagonists are loved and antagonists - hated. So doc. John Watson and Friday and that Miss Doll, who always had saving them, were the most atractive personas, and the most disgusting were M and The First. (someone add characters to this movie!!!)
Far from perfect but still decent.That was my first thought when I finished 'The Empire of Corpses' and after giving myself a little time to digest it, I stand by that thought. I'll preface this reiview by stating that I'll try to have as few spoliers as possible, but that I'm also writing it with the assumption that the reader has a basic understanding of the plot before reading this. With that said, lets go.Story-It seems to be the next in a long line of anime films that would have been better suited to be a 12-13 episode series as opposed to a movie. The story deals with a very alternative look at history and as such, must spend a lot of time building the foundation of the world its set in. That makes the movie drag at times and we're given those awkward moments here and there when the characters explain things to each other that they should already know. A necessary tactic when you only have two hours.Beyond that, the story manages to be both basic and convoluted. Basic in that the main character Watson's desire is easy to understand, but convoluted in the lengths he must go to get there. Now a journey without some kind of parel is borning but at times this one edges on ridiculous. Philosophy and morality are center pieces of the story, which is something I'm fond of, but its not executed as well as it should be. At times it comes off as pretentious and overy complicated. The narration parts of the serious subjects are alright but shouting dueling philosophies back and forth at each other over gunfire doesn't really work when you're trying to be serious.The climax is kind of over the top and the ending is a tad confusing as well. Overall, the story has some good elements but its a mixed bag of sorts.Animation-Now for one of the advanatges of it being a film instead of a series. The animation is for the most part beautiful and detailed. My only complaint would be at times it tries a little to hard at saying "that Victorian architecture looks good huh? HUH?!" Other then that it looked very nice.Sound-As the sound design was much like the animation and on point, I'll focus on the voicework here. Funimation dubbed it and that was the version I saw. Jason Liebrecht and J Michael Tatum are predictable but not unwelcomed choices for Watson and Burnaby. Its been proven that R. Bruce Elliot can play any old man with an accent. And I must give cudos to Todd Haberkorn for finding every screeching noise possible for his role as Friday. The only questionable decision I found was giving the character Hadaly an English accent, as it shown that she's from America and presumably has lived there all her life. Not to mention the literary character shes later reviled to be inspired by is American. Guess they just thought it fit the theme? No extraordinary performances but everyone that matters was solid.Characters-Now we're back to why only having two hours hurts this film. Many of the characters are based off of characters from literature or actual historical figures, as a result, the viewer isn't given much time to learn about them and their motivations beyond their basic goals. It feels like you're expected to already know them. This may be a result of the orginal Empire of Corpses being a novel and undoubtably having more time to flesh them out. As it stands, the viewer doesn't have to much time get to know them. So by the end of the film it doesn't feel like we've gotten very far on the journey with them. At least I didn't feel like I did.In the end, if you're a fan of steampunk or the victorian era you'll probably want to check it out. If you're not, you should check it out someday and at least give it a shot.
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