Jan 042011

I’ve talked about it before, but let’s go over it again real quick: Trigun was a series that I desperately wanted to like, but its main character all but ruined the series. Despite all of the steampunkish weird west sci-fi shit and gun fights and Wolfwood and all this awesome stuff, Vash’s preachy, obnoxious, out-of-place pacifism grated on me to no end. And to make matters worse, the series sided with his attitude and played things out to where you were supposed to buy into his ideals 100%. Despite everything I liked about the series, it felt more like a chore to sit through all of the Vashism, and I the series as a whole didn’t do it for me.

So I was a little weary when it came to the new Trigun movie. Was it gonna pull the same old routine and try to convert me to the Church of Vash? Was I gonna be grating my teeth every time Vash spouted his trademark “Love and Peace?”

Nope. The Trigun movie fucking rocks.

Vash’s attitude is still there. He still uses his superhuman abilities to avoid death at all costs and he still tries to covert all of those around him to his point of view– he’s still the obnoxious dork that he was in the TV series. The catch is that the movie forces Vash to deal with the consequences of his beliefs.

The TV series did this to a certain extent, with the whole Legato Bluesummers bit, but that climax’s impact was erased with the way Vash dealt with his brother Knives– you can’t have things build up to such a crescendo and force Vash to rethink his position only to have the next major event be solved with the same blind devotion that nearly got him and his friends killed three episodes ago. With the movie, Vash is forced to deal with the consequences of letting Gasback, the main villain of the movie, escape 20 years before the present. Gasback and his gang were robbing a bank and Vash did his usual playing-the-fool-while-disarming-the-situation bit, but in the process of trying to save the lives of everyone involved in the situation Vash allows all of the criminals to escape. He may have gotten his wish– to see no one harmed– but he also allowed a dangerous killer to get away and continue doing what he does.

And Vash is very aware of this. He knows that people died at the hands of Gasback during the 20 years that transpired between their two meetings. and he’s carrying that weight in a way that you never really saw in the TV series. At the same time, he’s still devoted to his ways, but it’s that realization that his ideals aren’t perfect that makes his beliefs far more tolerable and interesting. In the TV series, Vash comes off as some sort of idealized, untouchable, God-like being. He seems so above the ways of humans, blindly following his own path because his immortality allows him to ignore the pitfalls and weaknesses of the humans around him, and because of that he’s not all that sympathetic. In the movie, Vash comes off decidedly more human. He still has his blind devotion, but he’s aware of the suffering that has come about from his decisions. In that, rather than being G0dlike, Vash finally takes on the whole Jesus thing that always seemed to suit him but which he never quite attained in the TV series. He’s shouldering all of the bad shit that he’s done and trying to make amends so that the world can be a better place.

It doesn’t hurt that the movie has Vash seemingly die and come back from the grave to make that comparison complete.

So yeah, the movie distills everything that I thought the TV series was trying to accomplish and finally gets it right. Vash has become that Christ-like figure that he was always meant to be rather than a distant, unsympathetic deity.

But all of that doesn’t really matter much in the end. That’s just a matter of the movie finally getting right what the TV series got wrong. What makes the movie genuinely awesome is the action scenes and world-building.

There are two action scenes in particular that make the movie worth watching. The first is the opening heist sequence. Gasback and his gang break into a bank vault that’s guarded by a series of death traps and devices that plays out like a combination of the entrance to the Holy Grail from the third Indy Jones movie and the hall guarding the super computer in the first Resident Evil movie. The camera follows the gang as they methodically dismantle the thing one trap at a time, blocking bear traps and gunning down devices and all that. It goes a long way to show that Gasback is a villain that can give Vash and his insane gunplay trucks a run for their money.

The second is an awesome bar fight that erupts because of Vash’s ineptitude. It’s awesome less for the fight itself, which is your standard faire western bar fight, and more for the fact that it gives you a good feel for the world’s style. While we’ve seen plenty of views of massive steam-powered land carriers and all sorts of other establishing shots, it’s the bar fight that gives us the best glimpse of what the Trigun world is supposed to look like. The bounty hunters come in all manners of styles. Many of them have steel plating grafted onto their bodies like some form of steampunk cybernetics. Their style of dress ranges from traditional cowboy threads to the sort of punk fetish shit from The Road Warrior. Seeing all of this clash in a traditional bar fight is a fucking beautiful sight.

If there’s anything wrong with the movie, outside of the fact that I’m not sure peeps who haven’t seen the TV series will care for it, it’s the new heroine: Amelia. While her motivations end up being far less lame than is initially hinted at, she has one really stupid character quirk: she breaks out in a rash if a man touches her.

Really? She’s literally allergic to men? I could go further into why I think that’s fucking stupid, but I’ll just leave it with that. It’s fucking stupid.

But yeah, I’m not sure what people will think if they haven’t seen the original TV series. The relationships between Vash and his buddies (Meryl, Millie, and Wolfwood) are already established. When they meet up, they talk like they’re old friends, and there isn’t much explicitly stated about why they know each other or how we’re supposed to react to their character dynamics. I’m sure peeps’ll be able to figure it out on their own, but it might be off-putting since the movie assumes you know what’s up and doesn’t really give you much in the way of refershers. And the movie doesn’t go into any of Vash’s backstory. It isn’t critical to what happens in the movie, but it does go a good ways in explaining why, exactly, he’s so fucking fast and resilient. Despite all of that, I don’t think it should be too much of a barrier. The action and other cool shit should be enough to get everyone’s attention.

Yep. The Trigun movie rocks. Watch it.

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