With no foreknowledge of its contents, I was expecting this film to be a condensed re-telling of the anime, as was the case with Macross Froniter. However, with 50 episodes to cover, this would have probably been more of a mess than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Thankfully, it (a.) doesn’t re-tell the story I already I know and (b.) doesn’t tell a new story about the various earth factions warring over each other to end war, or whatever. Instead, it’s a good old-fashioned alien invasion.
The aliens, Extraterrestrial Livingmetal Shapeshifters or ELS, are quite terrifying. Their swarming ships immediately reminded me of the cylons, but their liquid metal nature is very T2, while their evolution-thru-assimilation was very Borg-like. It’s good to see a Gundam where, for once, the humans put aside their differences and all fight on the same side; for survival, in this case.
Like the Macross film, Gundam was jam-packed with eye candy, in a slightly different style. While at times the repetitive chaotic battles filled with particle beams and explosions resembled screensavers, overall there’s a lot of excellent space battle action going on here. The way the ELS go about dispatching their foes is pretty bone-chilling, and a handful of characters who survived the anime went on kamakaze missions here (although Tieria downloaded back to Veda).
Character-wise, there’s no ground broken; Feldt kinda likes Setsuna but nothing really comes of it; Allelliuja and Marie are the usual married couple, Lockon has his Haros, and Setsuna still has that connection to his homeland in the person of Princess Marina, who is her usual selfless self. Patrick Corlasour and Kati Manequin also continue their courtship dance/chain of command. Setsuna meanwhile is essentially Neo, in that he has to wake up and fulfill the prophecy that Aeolia Schenburg, founder of Celestial Being, made hundreds of years ago.
He wanted to end war on Earth and advance Innovator technology so that mankind would be ready for future threats like the ELS. If Setsuna hadn’t become an innovator and initiated contact with the ELS mothership (ball of yarn outside, gooey and psychadelic inside), humanity would’ve been toast. Instead, he stops the ELS onslaught in the nick of time, saving his friends and his world.
That would have been a fine ending…and then the mothership turns into a friggin’ gargantuan flower. I know, that desert flower was a common motif in Setsuna’s musings – life/beauty enduring in a hostile universe and all that – but a moon-sized flower? You know what, fine…whatever you want, Gundam.