'Interstella 5555' Review: Synth Star Sensation
Let me preface this review with a few things: one, I am not generally a big fan of “concept albums,” and two, I never really liked Daft Punk all that much. Sure, they’ve had some good numbers, but nothing that really wowed me, and I prefer my electronic music more in the styles coming out of the UK and the Germanic regions of Europe, such as Goteki and Basshunter. So when I sat down to watch what was essentially a glorified music video for the band, there wasn’t a whole lot going for me.
But, damn, if Interstella didn’t win me over.
Interstella 5555 tells the story of four alien popstars who are abducted from their home world and disguised as humans to be exploited as cash cows by a villainous producer who removes their memories and emotions. A distress signal is sent to a star-faring fan, who flies through the galaxy and sneaks through the Earth populace to free the musicians he idolizes.
While the plot remains relatively simple, it works to highlight the true artistry on display in the film. The whole adventure is beautifully animated by the Toei company, with the work oflegendary anime artist, Leiji Matsumodo, who gives the film its vibrant color and rhythmic movement. Add to this the enchanting music of the French techno duo and the auteur's decision to refrain from having any dialogue across the nearly hour and a half run time, and you can see the amount of thought and care that went into the movie’s creation.
This being said, not all is perfect in the world of the Cresendolls. While I do applaud the decision to attempt to make a movie with no speaking roles, it certainly could have used more than just the Discovery album soundtrack and the few sparse (mostly mechanical) sound effects scattered throughout. Too often the action on screen is growing to a crescendo, only to be completely lacking the din of combat, or the villain cackles in raucous glee… with only the same wavering electronic notes meeting the ear that have been spilling from the speakers for minutes. Is a few blaster shots and a booming laugh or panicked gasp here and there really too much to ask?
In the same way, the actual choreography of the film leave something to be desired. Some of Daft Punk’s numbers were obviously written with the scenes in mind, but others create a strange disconnect between the narrative and emotion of the tune being played. The final showdown, in fact, is a rather peppy number, despite heroes being beaten, tortured, and threatened. Some songs run a little too long, crossing over between scenes and creating further emotional dissonance.
All that aside, Interstella 5555 is an amazing accomplishment. Its story is romantic stock, but it makes up for it with characters so memorable that they don’t even need voices, and a wonderful blend of action and narrative. The artwork is superb, truly bringing Daft Punk’s musical style to new heights. This wacky adventure won over a hardened critic of the style and band, so it comes with a hearty recommendation – This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience!
Final Verdict: Watch It