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Hal MacDermot [Celluloid 07.26.10] Serbia movie review cyberpunk scifi animation



Year: 2009
Directors: Aleksa Gajic & Nebojsa Andric & Stevan Djordjevic
Writers: Aleksa Gajic
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Hal MacDermot
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Serbia’s first full feature animation is a cyberpunk adventure starring a scantily clad hot chick who’s turning into a human robot hybrid. No wonder this movie is generating so much heat. I was reminded of Ghost in the Shell, sort of, but really more of Milo Manara, an Italian comic book genius known for erotic works such as Click.


Technotise is based on the director Gajic's comic strip of the same name. The movie has great visuals, classic 3D animation, vector and collage animation, with a look inspired by Japanese anime, and I reckon the Francophone/Italian comic world. It’s an especially impressive look on a budget of less than a million bucks. That said, I was not blown away. The film promises a cool exploration of the cyberpunk themes of soul/machine/God, but in the end delivers “Oh hello again my Subconscious, I wonder why you look like an old man, and I wonder why I just let you touch by breasts.” In other words, it all felt a bit shallow and that would be cool if there was great drama/gripping story, but the pacing is slow and the drama is often torpedoed by inane goofy chatter. I get that Edit’s male friends like cyber porn, whatever, I can only take the joke so many times. Having said that, any film that can reference Otomo (created Akira), Moebius (co-creator Métal Hurlant) and Ron Jeremy (look him up) has my attention.

The story takes place in Belgrade, Serbia in 2074. Full lipped psychology student Edit has failed her exams 6 times, and desperate, she tries to get more smarts by having a military microchip illegally implanted into her arm. Meanwhile, she gets a job looking after an autistic math genius who has invented a formula that reveals God. Edit sees the formula and it blows her mind. The chip begins to grow inside her and takes on a life of its own, and that’s when she starts munching on iron pills. I think this premise is well cool and I can see why production house Legendary has already picked it up for the US remake. BTW, Kalogridis, a writer on Avatar and currently on cyberpunk Ghost in the Shell, is a part of that project.

Serbia is producing a deal of thought provoking cinema these days. Life and Death of a Porno Gang and A Serbian Film created both controversy and fans. Edit and I has a great look, check out the mash-up of Belgrade old architecture and robot street sweepers, goofy robot rabbit pets and chic ultra modern cafés, but thought provoking? Nah. The heart of the story is something to do with the nature of God and Edit’s sub conscious. I have no idea what really, because despite talking with her sub conscious way too much, nothing of any substance is ever said. Wordwise, the subtitles are in a kind of Serbian accent English, which at first I thought was just useless transcription, but then it grew on me, and I reckon it makes the dialogue more authentic.

This is a movie full of great small touches. Edit’s harridan mother who’s addicted to South American soaps, the autistic math dude who is always counting something that’s never revealed, and the pageant of Belgrade street dwellers, peasants, mothers, robots and dogs. Music wise you get an interesting tour of Serbian pop, techno and rock. On the subject of pop, apparently writer/director Aleksa Gajic designed Edit to resemble Jessica Alba and Natasa Bekvalac, a Serbian pop star. I looked her up on YouTube, and she’s a bit like a Serbian Brittany…

Director Gajic is a talented chap and Edit and I just screened at the Fantasia film festival, North America’s largest genre film fest. Gajic’s huge in Serbia and has worked for years with French comic book publishers Soleil. He was an artist on Scourge of the Gods, a tale set in 4000 and something with a future Attila the Hun pitted against the Roman Empire, Marvel published a translated version in 2009. Gajic is talented animation/comic artist, but I think that if he wants to reach a wider animation audience as a director, he needs to get a bit more into story development and somewhat cut back on the gratuitous nudity.

I mentioned the Hollywood buzz. Check out this 2 minute fake promo which Jaron Pitts (Green Lantern) made to help hype the remake project:



See if you can name all the movie clips he has in there. Okay, Minority Report, that one.

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jarod (7 years ago) Reply

i make the start:

the island
surrogate
i robot
resident evil 2

rest is up for the others to find out :)

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John (7 years ago) Reply

'read Neuromancer Hal?
no sex, right...
rofl, 6.5 out of 10, and so much talk about the country of origin, but less about the substance, o yeah, you found none...lol
Missed out on subtitles, well lean Serbian, it will be a much more enjoyable movie, or visit Belgrade, because you obviously do not know what you are writing about ( even though the plot is in the future ).

As for other movies that are cult and coming from Serbia, you should be better informed posting on a cinema site, for instance about the origins of cinematography itself, try 1912 for starters, or 1896, June the 6th (http://www.rastko.rs/isk/dkosanovic-cinematography.html).

Ghost in the shell is not any better, but up par, and it all goes to narrative there too, but it still happenes in Kusanagi's head.

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Dani (7 years ago) Reply

Three more movie clips I've seen in the trailer:

-Ultraviolet
-Back to the Future Part II
-Dark Angel

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Hal (7 years ago) Reply

there's more in there too!

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toro (7 years ago) Reply

I was thrilled until the half of the movie, then everything went bat shit crazy.
However 6.5 out of 10 is still harsh but not far from the truth, maybe 7.5 would be more indulgent, but either way, the movie is not a top dog. The animation is good, but the pacing of the story and the story itself are not very good. The problem is similar to the one of Cargo, instead of going for a simpler but more consistent story, they try to do something epic as the meaning of life and they fail, as usual. Basically it means that whoever wrote the script tried to explain something inexplicable, usually involving garbage pseudo-psycho-science. Anyway, it's a great start for the Serbian studio and they have potential.

On the other hand, comparing this movie with GITS is quite wrong. GITS was ground breaking within the entire SF genre and Shirow Masamune managed to depict science in a realistic way. Is not perfect, but Technotise is far from that quality both in story and visuals. And they are 15 years apart.

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Mayte (5 years ago) Reply

Thanks for your write-up. I also think that laptop cmotupers are becoming more and more popular currently, and now tend to be the only form of computer used in a household. This is due to the fact that at the same time they are becoming more and more cost-effective, their processing power is growing to the point where they're as strong as personal cmotupers coming from just a few years ago.


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