The Laws Of The Universe-Part I


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Laws Of The Universe-Part I
"The Christian rock music of animé."

There would seem to be nothing inherent about religious belief that makes it incompatible with producing good art. Indeed, many of the greatest works of the last millennium have been inspired by deities. In the last few decades, however, the results haven't been so great, perhaps because of the willingness of certain religious communities to get behind anything as long as it sends the approved message. The Laws Of The Universe has developed a loyal fan following in its native Japan, but it's not clear that it has much potential for travel. It's the Christian rock music of animé.

They lure you in with dinosaurs and before you know it you're being Saved. Really, though, the lure isn't very impressive - these dinosaurs (or Reptilians, as they're called, wearing uniforms and using laser guns) are the kind of thing that turned up on TV in the West in the mid-Eighties when Japanese series were just beginning to break through. The animation is on a par with that in G Force: Battle Of The Planets and early episodes of Transformers - serviceable but not likely to make much impression on a modern audience. Some will find that it has a nostalgic appeal - the more so because the plot seems to be aimed at a young audience. Whilst science fiction and space opera certainly can be delivered in an adult way, the peremptory way in which a group of university students find themselves caught up in an intergalactic war after a visit from a giant bee (probably one of those that Team America warned us about), and in which one of them decides to go back 330 million years into the past in order to help his best friend, is unlikely to make much sense to anyone over eight.

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So is the film as a whole likely to work for kids? Perhaps. It's too long and would likely need to be watched in segments - never mind that it's only part one of a longer work. The ending, which gets very sanctimonious, might need to be talked through, though there's a strong possibility that kids will simply abandon it because it's so dull. There is adventure along the way. Our bold hero Ray (Josh Keaton) discovers a primitive tribe in the past and becomes determined to solve all their problems, but there's something of HG Wells' eloi about them - their problems are pretty severe. What's more, there's the presence of stranded Reptilian leader Queen Zamza (Zehra Fazal) to contend with, sparking a rivalry complicated by obvious sexual tension (though there's nothing remotely explicit here). This has a Sixties style melting the heart of a cruel woman effect on Zamza and serves to sure viewers that despite appearances to the contrary, Ray isn't really in love with his male friend (there's a lot here about men and women being designed to complement one another in carefully prescribed partnerships).

Episodic by nature, the film veers from one unlikely set of events to another, taking time out for the occasional gun battle or chase. Religious sentiment aside, there's little attempt at depth and the whole thing comes across as rather flat. Strictly one for those of a mystical persuasion or the most ardent of dinosaur completists.

Reviewed on: 06 Dec 2018
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The Laws Of The Universe-Part I packshot
One day, university student Ray travels back in time to 330 million years ago on Earth to try to save his best friend and thwart the schemes of Reptilians from planet Zeta.

Director: Isamu Imakake

Starring: Josh Keaton, Kari Wahlgren, Yuri Lowenthal, Hynden Walch. Roger Craig Smith

Year: 2018

Runtime: 120 minutes

Country: Japan


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