Redline Blu-ray Review
In a futuristic universe where aliens, robots and fairies populate the galaxy cars have evolved into hover-crafts. However, there are still daredevils who drive “old fashioned” cars in death-defying races. These races are very popular and culminate every five years in a championship race called the Redline race. JP is one such speed daredevil, and has been qualified to participate in the Redline race. But his goal is not just to win the race, but to also win the heart of another racer – the beautiful and talented Sonoshee. Unfortunately for JP and the other racers, this year’s Redline will take place in Roboworld – a closed militant world that intends to do everything it can to assure all the Redline participants will die before the race even begins. Staying alive, winning the race and getting the woman he loves to notice him all at the same time might be a daunting task for most, but JP is confident his driving skills and superior car will tip the race in his favor.
Redline is like a carnival. It is a festive gathering full of excitement where participants, viewers and gamblers alike rejoice in a colorful, activity packed event. This holds true for us, the real viewers, as well. Redline is an exciting movie, full of extravagant visuals and packed with action and comedy that you will appreciate. But this extravaganza comes at the price of the plot, which is simple to a fault. The paragraph above isn’t just a summary of the movie, it actually tells the entire story. Redline is very linear. Characters appear and disappear very quickly, and the characters that do stick around don’t get much attention either. The movie uses a short TV show to introduce each racer. These introductions are about two minutes in length, and provide you with the only information you’ll ever get about these characters. JP and Sonoshee aren’t any different. Although they are arguably the main characters, they don’t receive preferential treatment. They do appear more on screen, but don’t show a lot of personality in their short individual segments. Two short flashbacks from JP’s past provide the only real background story you’ll ever get in this movie.
Saying that the movie is devoid of plot can be misleading. For starters, the premise itself is good enough to carry the movie. Moreover, the working forces behind the Redline race were evidently well thought of. For example, the race takes place in Roboworld, a peace keeping world that seems to object to the race being held because it was forced to host it and doesn’t indorse it. But in truth there are other reasons why the robots object to the race: they have hidden projects which they developed secretly on their planet, there is a faction in Roboworld which intends to use the race to revolt, and the Redline race is sponsored by the robots’ enemy – the Supergrass world. These all seem like great plot devices to be explored, but after being mentioned they are all but left untouched. They simply loom in the background of the race, none of them satisfyingly portrayed. To this end the movie does have substantial plot material worth expending upon. Sadly these potentially interesting ideas are left neglected in the dust of this race-focused movie.
The lack of plot and character development is in fact the only thing unaccounted for in Redline. The movie uses every trick in the book in order to entertain. If there is anything that can appear remotely interesting in a movie Redline will use it: robots, fairies, spaceships, huge guns, girls with huge “luggage”, weapons of mass destruction, gambling, excessive smoking and drinking, flashbacks to the childhood, political references, etc. If it’s remotely related to science fiction it probably was stuffed inside of Redline; And for the most part, that’s not a bad thing. Redline is way over the top in everything it does. It uses beautiful artwork and sleek animation to shove an incredible amount of detail at use. The races are short of being an animation marvel, and the insane over-the-top use of all the listed items above contributes to the overall lush action the film has to offer. Do not be mistaken – Redline does leave a positive impact in the end. However, too much of a good thing isn’t always good. Just like a delicious soup can become bland if too many ingredients are added, so does Redline suffer from having too many unrelated elements mixed into it. It doesn’t matter if every element in itself is interesting in its own right; if the movie mashes them all together they can sweeten as much as sour the experience. That is why I found this action packed movie to be very thrilling and yet disappointing at the same time.
Redline is well-paced. The races at the beginning and the end of the movie are filled with adrenaline and speed, while the intermission in the middle is slow but interesting. The comical elements in the film are evenly spread and can appear in unexpected situations. It is important to stress the Redline is in essence a parody of itself, down to the highly cliché ending. Nothing is too sacred and no one is too elevated to be ridiculed. The range of comical elements in Redline is very wide and the overall tone of the Redline universe is light. You might find some jokes to be horribly stale while others will give you a good laugh for your money. Just like the action packed parts of the movie, the comical elements are streamlined and unrelenting. Those who are used to quirky animation and funny references will enjoy the overall impression the action and comedy provide. But Redline can be very foreign and disturbing for less open minded people who don’t watch a lot of animated cartoons in general. I happened to watch Redline with my father and brother, both of which have seen several anime series in the past, but don’t watch anime regularly. My father found the movie too eccentric and the funny parts obtrusive. My brother liked the funny parts, but though the movie desperately tried to hide its thin plot under a veil of nonstop action. I had a different problem with the movie altogether. I accepted the action and the funny parts as a whole and enjoyed both. That said, due to its linear course and lack of plot development the movie is so straightforward you will not spot any hidden layers if you watch it a second time. This is a severe problem for most “visuals over content” movies, but not so much in Redlines’ case. The movie makes up for its linearity with the sheer amount of detailed visuals that were poured into it. Since the movie is entirely hand-drawn and the creator wanted to add a lot of “distractions” in the background you can potentially watch it two or three times and still feel that you have yet to grasp its full scope. Yet with all the crazy stuff going on between and during the races I don’t think it would have been that hard to include some added intellectual rewatching value. Studio Madhouse seems to have gone to the extremes to make sure some aspects of the movie will look amazing while disregarding other aspects altogether.
The Blu-ray release is definitely the way to see this movie. Redline looks amazing running at 1080p. I would advise you to watch it in the dark on a LED HDTV if you can, because the LED makes all the colorfulness stand out even more against the black backgrounds that are so often used during the film. The audio is also excellent and the Blu-ray allows you to enjoy Redline in either Dolby surround 2.0 or Dolby True HD 5.1 for both the English and Japanese soundtracks. The Japanese dub is top-notch. Several celebrities were among the dubbing cast, and JP and Sonoshee in particular have very alluring voices. Most of the racers’ lines are in fact limited to groans, laughs and murmurs, but the Japanese cast’s prodigy comes from managing to give the characters a nuanced personality through these seemingly irrelevant sounds. This becomes even more prominent when trying to watch the less satisfying English dub. While the dub is fine, the racers don’t sound as authentic as in the Japanese dub. For instance, JP’s voice gets a punkish edge which he doesn’t have in the Japanese dub, and Sonoshee sounds too generic. I’ve also noticed that the soundtrack volume is lowered somewhat in the English audio track.
In addition to the movie itself the Blu-ray also features extras in the form of the Redline 2006 trailer, the quick guide to Redline and the perfect guide to redline. The 2006 trailer is actually a pre-production race scene. It not only shows how much the movie progressed in the visual department throughout the years, it also gives you a bonus race not present in the final version of the movie. The quick guide to Redline is a post-production TV special summary of the movie, and probably aired on Japanese television. It’s nice, but if you’ve seen the movie you won’t get much out of it. The perfect guide to Redline is an entirely different story. Spanning a whopping 107 minutes (more time than the movie itself!) it contains clips from the dubbing, background drawing, animation and character creation processes. These are all spread evenly across a long interview with the movie’s director and creator. And at the end of it all you get to see how to crowd reacted to the movie’s international premier in Swiss and its local Japanese premier. You will have to be a very devoted viewer to watch the entire movie and the extras in one sitting. This amount of dedicated documentation in anime is rare and deserves to be praised.
There is no doubt that Redline is different from any other anime series or movie which came out in the last few years. It is a visual and audio spectacle. Its animation will engulfed you with a high sense of excitement while its devotion to details will leave you speechless. These feats are shadowed by the constant lack of sufficient plot and character development. It will be ludicrous to proclaim that an anime movie can be a complete creation without the need for a profound plot or evolving characters. These flaws can be forgiven in a shallow Hollywood flick or an artsy festival movie; not so in the creative field of anime. Redline is a very flawed and very beautiful movie. It is a unique creation that should be watched at least once. It won’t appeal to everyone, as some will find its flaws too great for it to earn a place on their shelves. Nevertheless you should definitely rent it, if only for that rush of adrenaline its races can provide.
- Beautifully hand-drawn visuals and smooth animation.
- Fantastic action-packed races.
- Great extras.
- Very linear progression.
- Slim plot and minimal character development.
- Not recommended to first time anime viewers.
Final Score: 7.5/10
Product Information: Redline Blu-ray. Published by Manga Entertainment. Release date: January 17, 2012.
Review Equipment: Sharp 40-Inch LCD LED HDTV (LC-40LE810E) connected to a PlayStation 3 using an official Sony HDMI cable.