Udine 2015 Review: PARASYTE - COMPLETION, A Conclusion In Need Of A Pay-Off
Much like how Parasyte Part 1 suffered from being all set-up, so its sequel, Parasite - Completion, is similarly hobbled by being mostly a series of climactic stand-offs and philosophical summations, with precious little build-up or satisfactory pay-off.
An unspecified yet brief amount of time has passed since the violent events of the first film. Teenager Shinichi (Sometani Shota) is still reeling from the death of his mother, and the fact he has an alien, nicknamed Migi, embedded in his right hand. Malevolent ex-school teacher Ms. Tamiya (Fukatsu Eri) has now given birth to her human baby and is exploring a variety of scenarios in which humans and aliens can seek to co-exist; some peaceful, but some violent.
Tamiya recruits journalist Kuramori (R100's Ohmori Nao) to spy on Shinichi. Unaware that she is in fact an alien, Kuramori believes her motives are romantic, but in fact she is merely manipulating the widowed single dad to track down her adversaries. Shinichi is also being pursued by Miki, a body hosting five separate parasites, who is operating under the command of Goto (Asano Tadanobu). Shinichi also has traumatised girlfriend Satomi (Hashimoto Ai) to worry about, who recently witnessed all her classmates being brutally murdered (in the first film's standout sequence).
Director Yamazaki Takashi is enjoying a pretty incredible career, hopscotching from genre to genre, delivering box office gold at every turn. In the last year alone he has delivered World War II aerial thrills in The Eternal Zero and tear-jerking family-friendly animation with Stand By Me: Doraemon, as well as bringing this bloody, darkly humorous and potently polemical sci-fi drama to the screen. Unfortunately his two-part adaptation of Iwaaki Hitoshi's popular 80s manga is frustratingly unbalanced.
Parasyte Part 1 includes plenty of narrative set-up, character introductions and bloody conflict to raise the stakes, before ending on a genuine cliffhanger. Where Completion picks things up feels as though the meat of the story's middle third has already been devoured, and heads directly for a series of dramatically and thematically pivotal showdowns.
The aliens want to live on Earth in peace, but see humanity - much as Ultron does in the new Avengers sequel - as the root of the world's problems. However, what humanity may lack in respect for its natural resources, it makes up in compassion for its fellow man. Herein lies the dilemma facing these extraterrestrial invaders. They are trying to colonise, subdue - and sometimes eat - a species that kind of fascinates them. The humans, on the other hand, put forward little in the way of a counter-argument, and are never as interesting as the alien characters. Shinichi and Satomi are brought together in something resembling a nuclear family, but our interest in them feels solely perfunctory. Tamiya is far and away the film's most interesting character, but her abrupt volte-face from scheming villainous to benevolent martyr never rings true.
Completion features far too many extended sequences of melodramatic monologuing, whether from antagonists chastising humanity for its misdeeds, or compassionate colonists embracing the fact that Earth just ain't big enough to share. It's all filmed rather gorgeously, and performed by some of Japanese Cinema's finest working thesps, but soon enough it all starts to wear a little thin. All despite Sato Naoki's epic score resonating throughout, doing its damnedest to infuse them with an air of weighty importance.
There is also a surprising lack of action in Completion compared to the first instalment, save for a police assault on City Hall and a climactic showdown between Shota and Goto. The creature designs remain as imaginative as before, falling somewhere between John Carpenter's Thing and James Cameron's T-1000. Apparently Iwaaki's manga was a direct influence on Cameron's liquid metal Terminator design, and Yamazaki seems to return the compliment, staging the climactic showdown inside a nuclear waste incinerator. However, it must be conceded that the CG-heavy effects work is rarely up to the high standards Yamazaki has delivered in the past.
Ultimately, the film is being used as an ecological soap box from which to chastise the human race for its careless treatment of the planet - an understandable message in light of Japan's recent history, but one that is repeated ad nauseum. All this is to say that despite its funny and exhilarating moments, Parasyte - Completion becomes something of a drag. The sci-fi, horror and adventure elements of the story are all sidelined here, and the result is a fairly underwhelming experience, albeit one retaining glimpses of scattered promise and invention left largely unrealised.
Parasyte: Part 2
- Takashi Yamazaki
- Hitoshi Iwaaki (manga)
- Ryôta Kosawa (screenplay)
- Takashi Yamazaki (screenplay)
- Shôta Sometani
- Eri Fukatsu
- Ai Hashimoto
- Sadao Abe