Jellyfish Eyes (2015)

Jellyfish EyesStarring Takuto Sueoka, Himeka Asami, Masakata Kubota

Directed by Takashi Murakami

So this is what an acid flashback looks like? All humor aside, when I was presented with the opportunity to review Takashi Murakami’s first feature length film, Jellyfish Eyes, I was as nervous as a kid on my first day at a new school – I’d simply never laid eyes on anything like this before and was literally stumbling over my descriptive type trying to best paint the picture for all you readers on this one, so here it goes… keep those fingers crossed and bear with me.

Murakami’s forte is visual art, and he certainly goes the extra mile with this production about a young boy named Masashi, who has endured a traumatic experience with the recent death of his father and is now coping with the fact that an unspecified disastrous occurrence has forced him and his mother to reside in an evacuation center (Fukushima disaster, possibly?) – even Masashi’s uncle is feeling the pressure from an evil group that is conducting experiments at the bio-lab where he works. The “Black-Cloaked Four,” as they’re called, has tapped into a newly found energy source that feeds directly off of young children’s negative emotions. (Trippin’ yet?)

Upon the overload of sadness and anger from the children, small airborne creatures are released into the atmosphere with the ability of capturing all of these negative feelings and creating a friendship with each child… wow, I need a drink already. Masashi names his creature Kurage-Bo (Jellyfish Boy), and the two strike up an allegiance that simply borders on damn frightening. As the other children are using their new friends to battle each other via a smartphone app, they are completely unknowing of the supreme amounts of negative energy that is back-building from these little creepy critters, and there soon will be some serious trouble abound – seems that these black-cloaked baddies are concocting a plot for a supersized monster to overpower the globe.

If you can pry yourself away from the completely insane storyline, the visuals are decent, but not what someone would necessarily expect from Murakami – aside from some eye-widening cinematography, you feel cheated by the practical work, as one creature is portrayed by a man wearing a Party City wooly mammoth-like costume. I sat in disbelief for close to 100 minutes, totally lost in what I was watching, and we’re not talking about the “good” kind of lost – I was like that guy who starts to back up on the highway after missing his exit – never mind about driving to the next exit, just back up and hit this one NOW!

The simplicity of the premise also had a Jekyll and Hyde effect – it is very easy to stop dead in the middle of this film and wonder what happened to your time. I’ll give up a couple of stars for the visuals, but the storyline was absolutely mauled to death by confusion, and if you’re willing to invest the time on this one, first off, I’d like to wish you the best of luck in your journey, but more importantly: When you get there, can you please explain how the hell you ended up there?

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Matt Boiselle

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