Tree of Palme - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: A+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 4 - Australia / South America
  • Released By: Madman Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 137
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tree of Palme

Tree of Palme

By John Eriani     February 01, 2007
Release Date: December 06, 2006


Tree of Palme
© Madman Entertainment


What They Say
From Takashi Nakamura, chief animation director on Akira, comes this visually compelling, existential retelling of the classic story of Pinocchio.

In a remote corner of the planet Arcana, Palme, a sentient android crafted from a mystical wood that is said to absorb the memories of the civilizations it roots in, is awakened by Koram, a wounded warrior from the Sol tribe. Entrusting him with the mystical 'Egg of the Roof', she implores Palme to take it to the legendary realm of Tamas.

Galvanized with purpose for his existence, he accepts Koram's quest to deliver the relic to its source: the center of the planet, which is threatened by a malevolent and destructive force.

The Review!
Welcome to A Tree of Palme, Pinocchio's a robot tree and for the most part I have no idea what is going on.

Audio:
I watched the film in its original language of Japanese 5.1 and spot checked the dub, both sounded great with good directionality throughout. There are lots of different aural pieces in the film with some scenes being very calm and peaceful while others being very action heavy dialogue wise and musically. The soundtrack represents all of these different types very well and the English 5.1 dub itself is very much the same. I didn't notice any problems with either soundtrack.

Video:
The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 while being enhanced for anamorphic widescreen. This seems to be another NTSC to PAL conversion but it is one of the best I have seen, there is only slight interlacing throughout but otherwise its pretty well done, there is shimmering here and there on panning landscapes but you'd be hard pressed to find much wrong with this transfer.

Packaging:
The front cover artwork for this release consists of poster on a building like the ones we see in the city portion of the film. In it Palme is holding The Egg of Touto glowing while branches appear to be coming out of his shoulders, behind him is an image of the being Soma. Separating this image and the one below is the films logo and below there is an image Popo looking upward with Shatta, Baron and the two young rabbit creatures next to her with a background of the vast plains behind them. There is lots of blues and gold's in this artwork and thankfully the OFLC logo is easily removed once again by Madman's inclusion of a reversible cover; it's the same artwork but this time not inside a poster and with only the original Japanese logo. The back cover consists of some shots from the film as well as a white silhouette of Palme without his cloak. The synopsis and special features are listed clearly and Madman's technical grid is located at the bottom.

Menu:
The main menu on A Tree of Palme opens up with an animated Palme close up saying something in Japanese and it then zooms into his abdomen where the Egg of Touto sits and the theme song "Sora no Aosa" plays while strange designs circle around the Egg. All the menu options sit here and the background image also shifts to Palme sitting on some roots looking out over a desert landscape. The sub menus are all static images without any music. Everything was quick and easy to access.

Extras:
The extras on the disc consist of various galleries such as line art, production and shots from the film. There is also Madman trailers as well as the original Japanese promos and trailers for the film. The biggest extra is a Making of featurette, it runs about 20 minutes and is pretty much a fluff piece that's not very in depth but it does include interviews with the director Takashi Nakamura and the man behind the music Takashi Harada. There are also snippets from a meeting with Mike Richardson from Dark Horse comics about the distribution of the film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

A Tree of Palme has been called an existential retelling of Pinocchio. While it does share a few similarities with the little Italian puppet such as a puppet wanting to become human, a quest to achieve that end and with some not so good children for friends it's really its own story that while amazing to watch is nowhere near as enjoyable.

It's the story of a young robot/puppet named Palme who was created from a Koolop tree, a metallic like plant that feeds on memories of ancient civilisations. Palme was created a man named Fou to look after his sick wife Xian; he brought her flowers and made her meals until one day she died. When Xian died Palme also stopped functioning, he seems to reactivate from time to time from the sounds of things but it's never clearly established. His current re activation coincides with events elsewhere of a blue skinned woman named Kouram being pursued by people unknown on crab like mecha; she kills a few of them why fleeing and then disappears.

She later reappears in the house of Fou and asks that Palme (still not working) to take the Egg of Touto to the land of Tamas, she also gives Fou a special sap that seems to bring Palme back to life. She then disappears and her pursuers arrive, they wound Fou leaving him to die while looking for Kouram and then move on. Fou, now dying starts to fix Palme up and works the Egg of Touto into his abdomen. He then tells Palme to go out and deliver it. For a while after Palme seems to be in a trance like state just going along until he is picked up by a strange old man and arrives in the city. He meets some new friends, one of whom appears to be from the same tribe as Kouram. Palme also comes across a girl that resembles Xian and at first mistakes her for Xian, this freaks the little girl out and we find out that her name is Popo. Eventually Palme snaps out of his infant like state and apologies to Popo for scaring her and asks her to come with him on his journey. After some altercations with his new friends Palme attracts the attention of Kouram's pursuers and from then on he is chased all the way to Tamas. Then out of nowhere Palme believes he can become human and then his journey has two missions.

The film then takes a few odd turns, at times it's beautiful to watch the characters interact and at other times they just do things that are so left field that it just makes them annoying. Beautifully animated action scenes and quiet peaceful landscapes are the main draws for me but plot problems just strain to make the film accessible. The film is very reminiscent of NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind (due to the fact that the background artist that worked on this also did NausicaƤ) and other such post apocalyptic fantasy with a world that is so very foreign to our own, with large open landscapes and creatures that are strange to say the least, the bolas; a worm like creature that sticks out of the ground and looks like (well you can make your own conclusions on that) and attacks people on occasion being a perfect example.

Performances were good throughout and sometimes I felt great warmth from the characters interactions but of course this changes in the blink of an eye and I found it hard to connect or care about any of them. Palme is just hard to like because when we first see him he is in a trance and very child like and near the end of the film he becomes a completely cold and selfish character.

The climax of the film is very reminiscent of Akira at times and nothing is really explained so you don't know what the point of it all is. The main problem with the film is that it's very slow and seems to draw things out so much more then needed. At times the plot is so obscure that when you finally do get your head around what is going on, you realise you still don't have a clue. Plot points and characters are introduced and discarded with break neck speed and it feels like a lot of set pieces that have very little connection to each other except that the characters take part in the events.

The Animation is a visual feast with everything just looking gorgeous, the production values are the best thing about the film. Musically the film syncs with the visuals quiet well with my favourite piece being the main theme "Sora no Aosa" by Akino Arai. It very reminiscent of my favourite tune from Macross Plus "Voices" also sung by Akino Arai but other then that it isn't that memorable. I can love this film from an animation and musical stand point but with it being just shy of two hours that starts to wear thin as well.

In Summary:
Like most other recent big budget anime A Tree of Palme is style over substance, if one of the creative forces behind these films could just find a balance between their amazing looking worlds and plot then there would be less films like this; a wonderful piece of artwork that lacks cohesion. A Tree of Palme is an interesting and imaginative film that deserves to be seen at least once for its visual delights but it is definitely not for everyone. It tries to tell an epic story but then it loses its own way. It's a rental at best.

Features
English 5.1 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Reversible Cover ,Making of A Tree of Palme Featurette,Japanese Promo's and Trailers,Line Art Gallery,Production Art Gallery,Stills Gallery

Review Equipment
LG 32LX2D 32" HD LCD TV, Sony DVP-NS50P Progressive scan region free DVD player, Monster component cable, Yamaha TSS-15 Home Theatre Sound System

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