Saturday, October 17, 2020

Movie with Abe: Lupin III: The First

Lupin III: The First
Directed by Takashi Yamazaki
Released October 18, 2020 (Fathom Events and Theaters)

The notion of a “gentleman thief” is an interesting contradiction, one that implies that breaking the law is acceptable and maybe even charming if done with the proper degree of politeness and style. The image of a criminal is typically less refined and sophisticated, and those who make a name for themselves by choosing to steal can be seen as almost intellectual in their pursuits. That’s certainly the case for Lupin III, a character created in 1967 by the Japanese artist Monkey Punch, who returns for his latest adventure, presented for the first time in CGI.

In the 1960s, Lupin shows up at an auction to extract the Bresson Diary, a book sought by many parties, including his casual nemesis Fujiko and a young woman named Laetitia, who is working to make her grandfather happy. On the run from Inspector Zenigata, who is always eager to arrest him, Lupin finds himself teaming up with those he never expected to so that he can stop the efforts of Nazis seeking to establish permanent dominance over the rest of the world.

This character originally appeared in a manga series and has been adapted many times, including by the Japanese legend Hayao Miyazaki. He’s best described as a cocky, enthusiastic troublemaker who is only slightly less concerned with getting the credit than he is having a good time pulling each of his daring escapades off. This film is described as a standalone installment, and this reviewer, who hadn’t encountered Lupin in any form before, didn’t feel especially lost, meeting the protagonist as if this had been his first appearance on screen.

This film’s particular focus makes it feel like Indiana Jones mixed with “Up,” featuring villains who wouldn’t even pretend that their intentions are anything but evil and heroes that rarely follow even law and rule in their pursuit of whatever looks like justice. This film certainly isn’t made for children, even if its content is presented in a format that makes the nefarious aims of its bad guys feel less serious and world-ending than they actually are. The animation is visually striking and the action sequences are vivid and engaging. This film, which comes to the United States from distributor GKIDS and begins its theatrical run with a two-night Fathom Events premiere, is an enthralling immersion in a world that’s often predictable and expected but still serves as superb entertainment.


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