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 Post Posted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:14 pm 
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The thing about the Zeta movies is, they make almost every mistake a compilation movie can make...and thanks to its age, a couple of new ones.

First off, as was discussed, we have the awkward transition between new and old animation. There's no getting around this problem. It's the same thing that makes it so hard for many to watch the new CGI additions to the special editions of the Star Wars trilogy. The new scenes stand out and, in many cases, aren't really needed (sure, the new MS action looks nice, but what point was there to inter-cutting new animation into the sequence where Emma delivers Bask's demands? The new footage adds nothing to the scene and, cut among the original footage, stands out like a sore thumb.) Now, with regards to what DG posted about that...it's all well and good for the staff to acknowledge that...but then why not do something about it?
Gundam is a big-name property, and they were promoting the Hell out of these movies. Are we seriously expected to believe Bandai couldn't have ponied up the cash to properly reanimate this entire film to fit today's standards.
Yes, they only had a few years between MSG and that movie trilogy, but when you're doing it with a twenty year difference, you should know you're gonna need to put more effort into it. For reasons largely only known to Bandai, however, they didn't, resulting in a product that, depending who you are, either feels like its budget got chopped, or the filmmakers got lazy.

Now for the writing. You know, I will say this, I actually don't think Heirs to the Stars was TOO bad in this regard. It DOES have some clumsiness to it (starting the movie with Kamille already arrested and not going into that until a flashback HALFWAY INTO THE MOVIE is a big one.) But for something they've not worked on in twenty years, it feels like a decent effort was made to reconcile the storyline into the shorter block of time.
Then along came Lovers and Love is the Pulse of the Stars. With these movies, I felt the narrative string starting to come undone. Had I not watched the series before this, I'd find myself perplexed at some of the changes made - like why the Titans go from having the support of the EF council to suddenly being on the ropes between the AEUG and Axis (care of the movie conveniently, and many would argue damningly omitting the Dakar storyline.) Likewise, story arcs in the original series that suffered from lack of focus, like Reccoa's defection and Scirocco's coup, actually get hit harder in these movies, as they're even more tightly condensed. In their attempt to wrap up loose ends, the movies invariably amplify many plot holes, and make it harder to ignore them. Even the new ending brings us to something a plot hole. Sure, it's nice to get a happy ending, but the idea that Haman would roll out her entire forces, declare intentions of installing a Zabi government, and threaten the Earth with nuclear annihilation just so she can drop Mineva off on Earth and let her lead a good life in the private sector goes past silly into full on madcap.

Finally, I think one of the big problems with these movies comes from the implication that they're an acceptable substitute for the series. To be frank, they're not. If you're not already familiar with the events of the story, these films are going to feel like a disjointed mess, in the Gundam pantheon, these fall less in with the MSG trilogy, or even Miller's Report and more in line with Last Blitz of Zeon or the infamous Turn A movies (if there's one thing I will give ANT, it's that it's actually still got more going for than the Turn A movies did.) They don't so much play out as a tightened up narrative of the series that can be enjoyed on its own narrative merits as they do a sequence of clips that fans of the TV show will recognize the significance of. In the first film, they made this at least somewhat work, since they limited how many 'signature' moments they were trying to fit in and still keep up something of a narrative in the process, often overlapping events in order to make things fit (such as moving Lila's fate to the atmospheric drop.) Movies 2 and 3, however, seemed to go into full on 'The Best of Zeta Gundam' mode.

Which, of course, is a common problem with compilation movies anyway. In many cases, what starts as an attempt to remove filler and tighten up narrative largely turns into the cinematic equivalent of a 'Greatest Hits' album. It gives you a nice taste of things, but doesn't really give you a proper picture of the work in question, just some of the most popular elements of it. This kind of thing is great if you're a fan already...and let's be honest, with a small list of exceptions, most compilation films are made for the fans already and not as entry points for newcomers (seriously, try getting someone who's never seen EVA before into it by showing them Death and you'll see what I mean) and in many cases, just act as a refresher for new material.

To this end, A New Translation isn't one of those exceptions where it functions a substitute for getting into the series for newcomers. From the looks of the promotions and the movie itself, it doesn't even seem like it was intended to be. The movies carry themselves more as something geared toward the fans. If you haven't already become familiar with Zeta's storyline, the movies will likely feel like a disjointed mess and the happier ending only really means something if you're familiar with how the original ended. On top of that, much of the new footage is largely to provide visual fanservice by sneaking in many MSV and other sidestory units for seasoned fans to enjoy spotting.

Yeah, a less grimdark Zeta's a nice idea and all. I just wish the movies had been better made to actually suit the idea.

On an additional note on the comparisons with the MSG trilogy
There is one other glaring difference between ANT and MSG, and I think it's a pretty big dealbreaker here. That's length.
The original Mobile Suit Gundam movies took a 43 episode series, of which 18 episodes (many of which are one-off fillers) could either be largely sheared out or removed entirely with the narrative still maintaining a decent flow (though some would argue at the cost of a lot of character development.)
Time taken by each of these movies - a little over two hours each, clocking the initial trilogy in at about 6 hours total.

A New Translation, meanwhile, takes a 50 episode series with arguably fewer 'one-off' episodes peppered throughout (many extraneous fights, but the series does attempt to maintain more of a continuous narrative as things proceed...how well it does it is a matter of debate for another time) and tries to boil it down into three 90 minute features.
Total run-time, 4 and a half hours.
MSG, with less to work from, gets an extra 90 minute lead on them, and tells an effective movie that some still criticize condenses events too much. Zeta tries to fit even more story into a much smaller window, resulting in collapsing plot lines, cutting entire story arcs and some very abrupt jumps in both narrative and character development...and with a show like Zeta, character development is not an area where it does good to ax things at random. The show gets enough flak for its awkward characterization without the movies making it worse.

Whew...that went longer than I planned it to.


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 Post Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:31 pm 
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Wow I just started watching the zeta gundam trilogys and just finished movie 2. They are way better than I was expecting. The new animation is gorgeous and the flow of the movies is way better than the original trilogy and the best compilation I have seen yet. I might actually prefer this over the series as Peter was saying earlier. I love the series but these movies are really great too. Ema is actually pretty in them as well as the other characters in the show. Which in the tv series not so much. Man some of the best mobile suit battle cinematography.

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:47 pm 
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Elitist Earth Politician

Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 5:47 pm
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YazanGable wrote:
First off, as was discussed, we have the awkward transition between new and old animation. There's no getting around this problem. It's the same thing that makes it so hard for many to watch the new CGI additions to the special editions of the Star Wars trilogy. The new scenes stand out and, in many cases, aren't really needed....Now, with regards to what DG posted about that...it's all well and good for the staff to acknowledge that...but then why not do something about it?

I suppose one might question the need to reshoot the entire film, frame for frame, just for the sake of making everything mesh together. The original film, digitally cleaned up, still looks good for its age, so re-creating the oriignal portions would have used more money, without necessarily pleasing the fans. Remember, nostalgia played a big part in this film trilogy's creation. So too many "new footage" might have resulted in a backlash. Better to do less than more, from the view of Sunrise & original creator Tomino, I suppose.

The scenes that were expanded or changed from the original without making real story changes, such as the battle with Braun Brutak, were mean to be tributes to the original story, old wine in new bottles. The story-changing scenes could be presented in the newer format since they were in themselves new, and didn't have to match the original story footage.

Quote:
Then along came Lovers and Love is the Pulse of the Stars. With these movies, I felt the narrative string starting to come undone. Had I not watched the series before this, I'd find myself perplexed at some of the changes made - like why the Titans go from having the support of the EF council to suddenly being on the ropes between the AEUG and Axis (care of the movie conveniently, and many would argue damningly omitting the Dakar storyline.)

This is a valid criticism, in so far as the seeming arbitrary time constraint forced some decisions on to the production team. As you and the others have noted here, Zeta Gundam has a more continuous story than MSG, so deleting several episodes risks omitting more in terms of something that happened. I myself wanted a bit more of the Titans' attempts to seize control of the Moon, and more of Reccoa's mental seduction by Scirocco. The omission of the Dakar speech was noteworthy by its absence, which was strange since it was a pivotal point for AEUG. It could have been omitted if only because the entire set-up with the infiltration of Dakar and the ongoing MS battle outside would have added more time than allotted.

Quote:
Sure, it's nice to get a happy ending, but the idea that Haman would roll out her entire forces, declare intentions of installing a Zabi government, and threaten the Earth with nuclear annihilation just so she can drop Mineva off on Earth and let her lead a good life in the private sector goes past silly into full on madcap.

I am not so sure that part is being happy-ending mode for its own sake. Tomino seems to have tried to acknowledge that Haman-sama could halt at smashing the Titans and putting Char-who-abandoned-us/me-Aznable in his place, and then establishing the Axis Zeon force as a part of the solution, not the problem. It's not like the Federation or AEUG could evict them, right? If Haman could decide that uncontested control of Side 3 was reward enough, then a truce period might have come into play, with a negotiated peace in the offing instead of the Neo Zeon wars. The implications for the Universal Century are interesting, to say the least!

Quote:
Finally, I think one of the big problems with these movies comes from the implication that they're an acceptable substitute for the series. To be frank, they're not.

I am not at all convinced that these movies were intended to be a substitution for the TV series. Any perceptions that a "new telling" should equal "replacement" on the part of fans would be a mistake. Even Tomino has stated that they were meant to be at most an alternate telling of the story, with some consideration of story elements that he had not been willing to pursue back in '85. They ought to be considered as a supplement to Zeta Gundam, not as a replacement.

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 Post Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:04 pm 
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Elitist Earth Politician
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some of the shortened plot elements seem to connected with the new animation they cut from the first film Camile hijacking the one armed gundam mk2 battles and his father ends up on the ship with emma ferrying him over on the mk2 instead of him "defecting" with an mk2 later removing the section where the titans get back all 3 mk2 units then lose all of them. moveing straight to him stealing chars rick dias and emma defecting after seeing both bidan parents getting killed off. also they omit the trip to 30 bunch and just show emma and camile and "UC tube" video of the colony interior where Camile sees Camile encounter the grizzly remains of an mother and child.

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 Post Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:56 pm 
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I actually like how they handled the gassed colony trip. Especially the sly comment from Reccoa about how the head falling off in the repurposed footage wasn't staged and the camera 'got lucky'. Nice bit of dark humour at the expense of how melodramatic the TV show could be.

That's pretty much the element I appreciate most about the movies, that they removed some of the pointless angst and melodrama which the show often seemed to have because it could. In particular, I prefer how in the movies Kamille's frustration over his family is taken seriously whilst in the show the AEUG adults just kinda told him 'Suck it up!'.

I wouldn't really reccomend them though. The MSG movies do an excellent job at being a shorter stand in that keeps the meat of the story. The Zeta ones...both 1 and 3 feel like extended battles where everyone takes 5 minute tea breaks to tell us how evil the other side is whilst doing little to show us why. It's a trilogy that hinges on you having seen the TV show to fill in the blanks.

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 Post Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:13 pm 
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well you could not just cut the trip completely it was what defined the type of evil the titans were and galvanized emma and Camile over to the AEUG cause. and most of the older fans would have known that it was Camile walking in to that grizzly moment but it was edited so that if you did not see the zeta tv series you would never notice who was in the normal suit and standing there watching the footage. that comment by Reccoa fit her established character from the tv series while pokeing on how gundam tends to show just how scarring war is especially walking in to an gassed colony and seeing that who wouldn't rebel ageist the titans after that trip

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