Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 2 -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 147
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mobile Suit Gundam

Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 2

By Paul Grisham     May 11, 2002
Release Date: May 07, 2002

Mobile Suit Gundam Movie 2
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
The Second Volume in the Acclaimed Mobile Suit Gundam Movie Trilogy!

The war rages on, and the Federation ship White Base continues to do battle with the Zeon forces as they undertake the long journey to federation headquarters in Jaburo. But turmoil from within also threatens to tear the White Base apart. One crew member must confront her past. One will desert just when the others need him most. And one will find true love, but at an alarming cost. Will the White Base be able to make its way to the Federation headquarters at Jaburo before it's too late?

The Review!
Picking up where the first movie left off, the crew of the White Base is still searching for a way to get to the Federation base at Jaburo. But the constant fighting is taking a toll on the equipment and the personnel. As they say, it is always darkest before the dawn, and for the crew of the White Base it will get very dark indeed.

The Mobile Suit Gundam movie discs include both the original Japanese stereo and a new Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1. The stereo version sounds good, with excellent use of left/right separation. However, the 5.1 version is really something special. Everything sounds crisper, cleaner. The overall audio is a little louder, the bass is deeper and more intense, and the ambient sounds envelop the listener. Given that this is a more realistic take on military combat than many mecha shows, the attention to details in the ambient sounds, such as claxons, mechanical noises, wind, etc., really draws the viewer in. Purists may wish to hear the original stereo mix, but the 5.1 mix is much more satisfying, even on 2-speaker and ProLogic setups.

The original animation for Mobile Suit Gundam dates back to 1979, so you simply have to expect some print damage, but by no means should you lower your expectations. The video has been completely remastered, and this is a great-looking progressive transfer. This may very well be the best that Mobile Suit Gundam has ever looked. The video does suffer from quite a bit of wobble, especially the first movie. To combat this, the video engineers did something that may leave a few viewers a bit disappointed. All three movies are framed by a black overscan area. In some scenes, when the wobble becomes very bad, the frame moves around within the overscan area to keep the image centered on the screen. For those with a standard television that does not display overscan, there will be no problem, but for those with a monitor that does display overscan, the sensation can be quite dizzying. Fortunately, this only happens a handful of times.

The covers for each disc are iridescent, similar to the covers that Pioneer has been using for SoulTaker and Vandread. The spines are blue to match the optional box. Each of the three movies' front covers takes on one of the three colors in the Mobile Suit Gundam logo – disc 1 is predominantly red, disc 2 is yellow, and disc 3 blue. The images themselves are striking and dramatic. Excellent job, Bandai.

The menus are quite simple, but very effective. The main background image is the cover image, and an extended musical piece (approximately 2 minutes) runs behind each menu page. The music is good enough and the selections long enough that I frequently found myself listening to these audio clips in the background while writing this review. When a menu item is selected, the images and menu items are pulled away in an animated transition, to the sounds of heavy machinery, exposing the next level of menu options. It's not quite up to the high concept standards of NightJar, but it's a nice touch. The Japanese cast and crew credits are included as an option on the root menu. I'm really glad they included them, because the credits are completely untranslated in the movie itself.


(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)

Ask any writer, and he will tell you that the second act of a story is always the most difficult to tell. Done right, it can be the best and most compelling part of the story, as in the case of Empire Strikes Back, but more often it succumbs to the temptation to become expository build-up, setting up the climax for the third act. The second movie in the Mobile Suit Gundam trilogy avoids this trap by increasing the level of personal tragedy for each character, and by focusing on a set of independent stories and subplots that help the viewer understand the war and the situation on White Base. Though the movie isn't quite up to the high standards of storytelling set by the first movie, it is still a very exciting (and often quite moving) experience.

The White Base is now on Earth, and receiving regular supply shipments, but the psychological effects the constant fighting is having on the crew are becoming obvious. The ship's crew has matured in both skill and experience since they were forced to fight their way from the flaming wreckage of Side 7. Amuro's development as a pilot is quite noticeable, and he has nearly mastered mobile suit combat in a short amount of time. Noah Bright has risen to the challenge of command admirably. His early attempts at leadership were quite poor, but he has become a good manager of men, as well as a capable, if not especially creative, tactician. But now, the crew is making simple mistakes and losing focus. Part of this is the lack of recuperation time between fights to unwind and repair damaged equipment, and part of it is the close quarters that everyone has had to keep with each other. If there is a theme to the second movie, it is in how the various members of the crew get away from each other for a while to deal with their own internal conflicts.

The first main story of the movie deals with Sayla, still tormented by the vision of her brother in the employ of the Zeon army. Though she does not wish to betray her comrades aboard the White Base, she also does not wish to fight against her brother. During a minor skirmish with the Zeons, she commandeers the Gundam in an attempt to capture a Zeon soldier and inquire about her brother's fate. Though the battle is won, the danger that Sayla put the ship in lands her in the brig. She is able to gain some information about Char, but the encounter forces her to reassess her priorities. Her renewed dedication to the ship and her piloting abilities get her a position as a combat pilot in one of the ship's fighter planes. For a woman who chose a life of peace on Side 7, she comes full circle as a skilled warrior, dedicated wholly to the Federation.

Amuro's own quest takes a few detours as well. Though his position as a pilot is now secure, Federation high command has become concerned that Amuro's superior piloting abilities may indicate that he is a Newtype, a person with almost psychic powers. The Zeon high command has placed a high premium in uncovering the secrets of Newtypes, people who may or may not be the next evolutionary step for mankind. This has led to the Federation being highly suspicious of people with Newtype characteristics. In particular, Lieutenant Bright has little idea how to handle Amuro and his potentially dangerous status. When Bright suggests rotating Amuro off the pilot roster for a while, Amuro steals the Gundam and leaves the ship. During the brief time away from the White Base Amuro meets Ramba Ral and his wife Hamon, who are commanding the forces currently pursuing the White Base. Face to face with a Zeon commander for the first time, Amuro learns that they are actually decent people, just employed by the enemy army.

When he realizes that he has placed the White Base in danger, Amuro returns, but it is too late, Ramba Ral has discovered the hidden location of the ship, and he has launched a daring invasion of the ship. Though the Gundam series is mainly concerned with mobile suit combat, the invasion of the White Star with its close-quarters hand-to-hand fighting is perhaps the most intense and thrilling battle in the entire series. Unlike typical gunfights, where soldiers with the accuracy of untrained monkeys shoot blindly at each other, this battle is gritty and realistic, and at every moment, the viewer is keenly aware of how serious the danger is.

As the second half of the movie opens, the White Base has finally made it to a Federation base for necessary repairs and resupply. Kai, one of the civilian pilots from Side 7 decides that the time is right for him to leave the crew and return to civilian life. He winds up meeting a beautiful girl he learns is working as a Zeon spy. Realizing that the White Base and her crew are in danger, he returns, only to find the girl lurking about the ship. Even though he can't exactly trust her, he refuses to turn her in, feeling some degree of attraction to her. Kai's abandonment of post is an excellent counterpoint to Amuro's frequent flights. Whereas Amuro feels unneeded and unwelcome, taking his position too personally, Kai simply leaves because he never wanted to be a soldier. He filled the role well, when it was necessary, but when the opportunity came to leave, he simply took it, calmly and confidently. Protecting the female spy was not so much a betrayal of the Federation, but a refusal to abandon his own human compassion. Kai is a very rich character, more balanced than Amuro, and his transition from selfish coward to sensible hero is satisfying.

Char also returns in the second half of the movie. He has been demoted for his questionable actions (viewed more as incompetence than betrayal by Zeon high command) and is working reconnaissance, when he reacquires contact with White Base. He follows the ship to Jaburo, the secret military base where the Federation has begun mass-producing Gundams. He begins an infiltration of the base, meeting with Sayla, and revealing more of his ulterior plans. Once discovered, he crosses with Amuro once more, leading to another exciting battle, in which he discovers that he may no longer be match for Amuro and his emerging Newtype abilities.

With the White Base docked at Jaburo and safe, for the time being, the desperate chase that began long ago on Side 7 finally reaches its close. However, the cost of that success might have been too great. Many of those who left Side 7 for Earth never reached Jaburo, and their passings are dealt with honestly and respectfully. Too often military dramas forget to account for the human lives that must be given to achieve victory. If the characters struggled in the first movie with the loss of their innocence, the losses they suffer here are much greater. There are some genuinely moving moments as the surviving soldiers cope with their grief.

The second movie is generally quite entertaining, as the action and drama are intensified, but overall, it seems less fluid than the previous film. There are lots of sudden jumps in location and time without transition, leaving the viewer struggling to keep up. This time around, there is a lot of story to tell, and the viewer is left with the feeling that movie two is a collection of disconnected set pieces. Billed as a movie, this installment of Mobile Suit Gundam might best be enjoyed as four distinct episodes watched separately.

Another real problem with the structure of the second movie is that there simply isn't enough space to adequately introduce the politics at work in the Zeon royal family. There is actually a high degree of court intrigue at work, with brothers and sisters competing for control of the Zeon throne. However, without familiarity with the original TV series, the names and faces rush by in a blur, often leaving it unclear which generals are allied with which princes. The political structure becomes much simpler by the third movie, but by then, the viewer has little idea how the Zeon high command got itself into that state.

Though it isn't quite as strong an outing as the first, there is a lot to like about this movie. The personal drama is intensified and so is the action. Though it completes the story of White Base's journey from Side 7 to Jaburo, the story is far from over. The war is about to enter a new, and more dangerous, phase, and the White Base and her crew have a role to play. Plus, Char's ultimate plans and Amuro's uncertain destiny are yet to be revealed. For a second act, this movie holds up very well, and should have you salivating for the third and final act.

Highly Recommended!

Newly Remastered Transfer,New 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese Audio,Japanese Stereo Audio,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)


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