Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Lily C.A.T.

7 of 9 viewers "Liked" "Lily C.A.T." (2017, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Book Wyrm - "I thought the animation was very smooth and the story was interesting (kind of reminds me of Mass Effect Andromeda) but I didn't need to see a cat get eaten by a wall." - 3 Stars

Trash - "It was my second anime feature of the week. The prior night we'd been at the Alamo Drafthouse watching Perfect Blue and my attention was waning hard and fast, so I'd ducked out to the bar to order another Campari & soda and gotten wrapped up in conversation. The only reason I even returned to the movie theater was my unshakable sense of obligation, but I could barely focus. And I let myself admit why: I don't fucking care about anime. Most animation can't hold my attention, the aspects of cinema that really fascinate me are so production-based, and when you remove those dimensions and flatten it out to drawings, no matter how intricate and controlled, something is lost. So when I arrived at the Overlook last Thursday, I was greeted by Lord Battle declaring: "Damn, I was hoping you'd be late. We're going to watch another anime." "Where's the nearest bar?" I asked, and Huntress slapped a beer in my hand and sat me down and we started watching Lily C.A.T. And I tried. I really fucking tried! The story is clearly a mash-up of Alien, The Thing, and 2001, visions and plot points emulating some of the more memorable bits of sci-fi classics and I'm drooling and my eyes are rolling back into my head cos I don't give a shit. For some reason, if they had been people I could read the emotions of, sets that someone designed and constructed, special FX make-up bringing the aliens into the world, I would have loved this dumb unoriginal movie. But it didn't have any of that. I can't even gauge if it was good or bad. I guess it was bad." - 1.5 Stars

Lord Battle - *Spoilers* - "Lily C.A.T. starts us off on the Nostromo whose current crew seems more suited for either a bargain bin slasher film or Stallone helmed action movie. The alien from The Thing sneaks on the ship while everyone is in their sleeping chambers and when the crew awakens 2 of the employees are lying about their identity. Also HAL 9000 has secretly been controlling the ship this whole time and everything happening may be his fault... I don't normally put spoilers in my reviews but I think most horror fans will pass by this one simply because it's an anime feature, when it's actually a film taking all our favorite elements from these sci-fi horror films and working them into a 90 minute 80's animated feature. My only complaint is that if you're going to pull from all of these different sources, you need to create a story that will transcend or at least evolve into new ideas for the genre you're currently exploring. Lily C.A.T. doesn't do this in script but the fact that it's animated is does change everything." - 4 Stars

The Great Hornito - "Lily C.A.T. really is a solid 80's sci-fi alien movie. The soundtrack is awesome. The story is a mix of Alien and The Thing that blends them very well. The pacing and build up made the realism really high. Overall very entertaining and I recommend it." - 3.5 Stars

Huntress - "Lily C.A.T. made me wish I watched anime in the 90's. After watching I realized how much I like​ who-done-it mysteries set in close quarters. I wasn't​ expecting an animated movie to get so brutal, so when people started dying I was shocked, both by how gory it got but also how inventive the kills were. A name like Lily C.A.T. is so unassuming but this is a movie that creeps up on you." - 4.5 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer (R) - "A solid, heavily Alien (1979)-inspired sci-fi anime movie that was a surprisingly timely watch after recent offerings like Life and Passengers, which share themes and specific scenarios with Lily C.A.T.. Fortunately, Lily is a bit more interesting than both of those movies, and what primarily makes Lily work is its strong characterization. We have a crew of virtual strangers who have woken up after a long cryosleep journey from earth to a frontier planet, led by the ship staff and their wise, anti-Ahab captain. An alien life form enters the ship while internal dramas unfold amongst the vessel's inhabitants. Each character feels so particular and uniquely motivated that one feels Lily could have been based on fighting game or RPG, except that for a sci-fi anime, Lily's tone is surprisingly restrained. The film's other design work is superb; monsters and ship interiors and exteriors are believable and aesthetically interesting, partly due to the Alien influence and partly due to having talented designers like Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D) on board. If there's a complaint I have about this version of Lily C.A.T. it's that it feels a little too short, which makes sense as, if I'm not mistaken, this was a movie adaptation of a television series. All in all this is worth your time. The 80's anime look may put some potential viewers off but I'm fairly certain such philistines are rare amongst our readership." - 3.5 Stars

Drumachine - "Lily C.A.T. is entertaining but forgettable. The writing is a bit bloated yet engaging with its sci-fi horror influences, which it's not afraid to show. I think this would have been better suited spread across a tv series to give the plot some breathing room." - 2 Stars

Dabbles - "I am honestly at a loss for words. I was entertained by the theme and the music especially after a serious moment. I'm curious about the dubbed version." - 4 Stars

Math Mage - *Spoilers* -  "[35% The Thing, 30% Alien, 20% 2001: A Space Odyssey, 15% Murder on the Orient Express] * [High budget late 80's anime (tropes)] - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

It's amazing how World War II created a long romantic cultural dance between America and Japan, where each country looks to the other as a land ripe with exotic ideas and rich culture. This is reflected in many films; in Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai we see Japanese culture applied to the tropes of a Western and in turn remade for American audiences as The Magnificent 7 (a western), Saturday morning cartoons on all TV networks have visually been infused with varying degrees of anime influence which was originally crafted by Osamu Tezuka's (considered the Walt Disney of Anime) Astro Boy which was influenced by Betty Boop! Lily C.A.T. might not be anywhere near as influential as these other films but Hisayuki Toriumi tapped into something very special and it's ready to be rediscovered.

  This carefully crafted love letter to the Japanese people solidified Betty’s already growing popularity in Japan

With Alien Day last week, Perfect Blue playing the Alamo the night before, and the Yerba Buena's Feline-fest starting this week, it seemed like the stars had aligned for the Overlook to finally review Lily C.A.T.. Math Mage brought a copy of Lily C.A.T. on DVD over after a discussion we had on how Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue could have easily been live-action but was enhanced by being animated. When he told me the film was a mix of Alien and The Thing, but stayed as restrained as Perfect Blue, I was skeptical to say the least but after watching the film I was blown away by how celebratory this film was in 1987, way before popular culture ever caught on. And I mean the little details are what really shine while watching this film in 2017. The idea of mixing HAL 9000 with Ripley's cat seems very modern. Then you add the theme of robots replacing humans in their starship navigator jobs and it's hard to not draw a connection to self driving trucks and truckers.

My hope in covering this is that a couple of horror fans will just give it a shot based on the source material and maybe walk away with an open mind or even a new interest.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a screening on 4/27/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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