Sundance Channel, what would I do without you to fill up my DVR? Most recently you've gifted me with Dororo, adapted from an Osamu Tezuka manga I haven't read, though I'm familiar with the basic premise thanks to Sega. For those fortunate enough to have skipped that game, Dororo is the story of wandering magic cyborg swordsman Hyakkimaru, hunting down the 48 demons his father sold his organs to for power, accompanied by the titular scrappy kid sidekick (much older and less androgynous than usual, but being played by the scythe girl from Battle Royale will do that). As I understand it the manga never actually finished, so the game and the movie both come up with their own narratives. It certainly starts well, with an arrow-pierced warlord fleeing the battlefield and cursing the world, but then the cheesy-looking talking rat offering to buy his soul rather recalibrated my expectations.
This is kind of a recurring theme; the movie has a nice sense of place (even if that place is actually New Zealand, but hell, it looks gorgeous anyway) and some evocative visuals, but every time I really start digging the gritty samurai feel, they throw in something totally jarring, like sequined dancing girls. Then again, I have the same exact problem with what little Tezuka I've read, so maybe this is just a faithful adaptation. I decided to just give in and enjoy it around when our grumpy hero slashed the mask off an exotic crab-demon dancer.
It basically never stops being weird and goofy, but it does manage to achieve a fairy-tale logic that makes it work. I wouldn't call this a great movie, but it is an enjoyable one, in a lazy Saturday-afternoon matinee-when-you're-11 way. If you wanna see some crazy CGI wire-fu yokai fights (inexplicably scored to Spanish guitar), it don't come no better.