This two-part live-action adaptation of the sci-fi horror manga/anime sacrifices development, emotional engagement and action, but not the sex scene
(Warning: This review may contain spoilers.)
Due to the lack of character development and hasty narratives in Parasyte Part 1 (2014), anything that follows in this second and final instalment was bound to be utterly unengaging. It could've been way better if this live-action adaptation was a trilogy or at least give the films more time by making each part to around three hours long, but I guess it was way cheaper and easier to simply skip the scenes in between key events in the manga/anime, and cram them all up into two films with a total of only 226 minutes.
Based on Hitoshi Iwaaki's 1988 - 1995 manga series Parasyte and the 2014 anime adaptation Parasyte -the maxim-, the premise basically borrows the concept of the late Jack Finney's 1955 classic sci-fi novel titled The Body Snatchers which the book itself was adapted to live-action films four times (1956, 1978, 1993, 2007). In Parasyte, a number of humans have been taken control by the titular alien organisms as hosts and they survive by devouring human flesh. When one of Parasites fails to enter the brain of a high school boy named Shinichi Izumi (Shota Sometani), it settles by only taking over his right hand and names itself Migi. With two minds and practically two bodies in one, the duo becomes quite a formidable force against the other Parasites.
Parasyte: Part 2 continues right where it left off in Part 1, both directed and co-written by Takashi Yamazaki (Stand By Me Doraemon, Always: Sunset on Third Street films). A group of Parasites are growing strategically stronger under the mayor of the city, Tsuyoshi Hirokawa (Kazuki Kitamura). Ryoko Tamiya (Eri Fukatsu), the powerful and scientifically-driven Parasite, finds herself in a dilemma after developing human emotions through the birth of her baby. The protagonist, Shinichi, has lost the ability to cry but due to how rushed the film has to be, it seems as though he's only lost it for a day or two. While still trying to protect humanity and eliminate all other hostile Parasites, he and Migi are being hunted down by a much more advanced Parasite.
The actors seem committed to their respective roles but frustratingly, not all of their performances are good. Shota Sometani (Kabukicho Love Hotel, Himizu) did very well despite requiring his character's personality and behaviour to change in quick progression. Along with the decent CGI and special effects, Migi's presence is highly believable. Voiced by Sadao Abe (Maiko Haaaan!!!, Iryu TV series), this version of Migi is designed to be much more adorable and less emotionless which may make him instantaneously likable to those who hasn't read/seen the source material, but this approach sacrifices a lot of comic relief and irony.
It's cool and exciting to see a right hand of a boy shape-shifting into weapons to battle against aliens, but again, due to the lack of time to spare, the film neglects the means to truly thrill the audiences while also reducing and shortening the action. The fight against Miki (Pierre Taki) is one of the most disappointing scenes. Shinichi-Migi's struggles and strategic advantage discoveries are done too casually as well.
The portrayal as Shinichi's love interest Satomi Murano by Ai Hashimoto (Wonderful World End, The Kirishima Thing) is wooden to say the least. But some times the fault lies in the writing and execution of the production. The lack of character development and hasty narratives certainly don't help at all. When all the key events happen in quick succession with little to no process in between, none of them would feel as important, intriguing or climatic. Some scenes are just so forcefully emotional that they only turn out cheesy and unintentionally hilarious. There are plenty of drama and tear-jerking music (scored by Naoki Sato), but zero emotional engagement, so what's the point? The human behaviour and reaction to certain moments are unrealistic as well, making the film quite unrelatable. It's like as though the director forgot that he's filming a live-action movie. The film sacrifices a lot, but somehow, not the love scene, which is oddly placed into the final act. Is sex meant to be the shortcut depiction of romance between two high school students, or is this just fan-servicing?
I've no idea why many Japanese live-action adaptations of manga/animes are two-part films but some are actually decent, like Death Note (2006), which skips almost the entire second half of the manga series and is given its own ending that works well for the adaptation. As for this Parasyte adaptation, they didn't even attempt to be creative. They could've changed the story up a bit to make it work better instead of just plucking the key moments and squeeze them into two films. Yes, it's mostly faithful to the manga/anime, but at what cost? Even I was a hardcore fan of the manga or anime, I would've appreciated it more if there were some surprises. And although the film keeps the source material's thought-provoking philosophical depths and social messages, they aren't convincingly conveyed either. Development is absolutely essential for titles such as this.
Malaysia censorship: The sex scene is completely cut off. Most non-nude sex scenes of films rated 18 aren't usually censored these days but I guess this was required due to the very young age of the characters portrayed, and they're in school uniform.
Second opinion: My girlfriend, who actually read the manga, felt that it's too rushed, the story's changed and should've been effectively emotional.
Verdict: A product of laziness to profit from fans of the manga/anime and those who're curious.
Rating: 2 / 5
Japanese Title: 寄生獣 完結編 (Kiseijū Kanketsu-hen)
Based On: Hitoshi Iwaaki's 1988 - 1995 manga series "Parasyte"
Country / Language: Japan / Japanese
Genre: Science fiction action horror
Running Time: 118 minutes
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Cast: Shota Sometani, Eri Fukatsu, Sadao Abe, Ai Hashimoto, Masahiro Higashide
Malaysia Release Date: 18 June 2015 (GSC cinemas only)
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Production: Robot, Toho Pictures, Office Abe Shuji
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