ADV Films // 1989 // 85 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // September 23rd, 2004
Eden City is the only remaining human habitat on the once desolate planet Earth. The supreme authority in Eden City is Bishop Won Dai, the quasi-religious leader of the E=X corporation; E=X has established a vast computer network, commonly known as the System, to monitor the activities of Eden's citizens. Net-jackers employed by the gaming company Orange Entertainment are attempting to hack into the System and supplant it with their own network. Eiji, a young hacker and a master of the virtual reality game Hard ON, is offered a job by Miura, a member of the E=X management team; Miura's boss, Yacob, assigns Eiji to the Garland squadron, a combat unit formed to stop the subversive Orange employees. Yacob and Won Dai must stop these hackers in order to ensure fulfillment of the HEAVEN program, which will give the System complete control of Eden City. In the midst of battle Shion, leader of the Orange net-jackers, corners Eiji and informs him that Eve, the computer-generated pop idol, is actually a living, breathing person whose body lies in stasis within the depths of Eden City. Eiji awakens her and is soon aiding her in her efforts to stop the machinations of Yacob and Won Dai.
This is the final installment in the Megazone 23 series, and I couldn't be happier. To paraphrase Sigourney Weaver in Alien3, I've been living with this series so long I can't remember when it wasn't a part of my life. The first two episodes were enjoyable time killers, but this chapter quickly wears out its welcome. Whereas the plot of the original volumes involved ideas that would later be employed by a certain American science fiction trilogy (the notion of screwing up the concluding chapter seems to be the only idea the Wachowskis lifted from this outing), the plot here is comprised of ideas lifted from other sources, most notably The Last Starfighter and William Gibson's novel Neuromancer. There's even a shot stolen from Akira; what's worse, thirty seconds before beforehand, I knew the shot was coming. This story has little connection to the earlier volumes; this isn't a continuation, it's a contrivance. I wouldn't be surprised if the producers had an original (and I use that term loosely) idea and then attempted to shoehorn it into the Megazone 23 mold simply to employ an already established name.
The plotting here is rather silly at times, with characters changing allegiances at the drop of a hat, and a vision of the future (at least a millennium from now) that was antiquated within a year of the release of this installment. Nothing ages faster than someone's vision of tomorrow, and that's certainly the case here; if anyone in the year 3004 is riding a Vespa scooter, I'll eat my hat. Centering Eiji's fate around his abilities at a video game named Hard ON doesn't help matters either; yes, I laughed whenever the name was mentioned, which I guess says quite a bit about me, but so be it. For those interested, there are two (count 'em) gratuitous shower scenes. Enough said.
ADV has once again performed a nice job on the audio and video end. As is expected, this episode hasn't aged as badly as the previous volumes. The picture is clean; colors are bright when they need to be and muted when appropriate. The original Japanese mix actual appears to be the purported stereo at points, with some spread in the score and during action sequences. The English 5.1 mix provides better channel separation, but once again you won't find any surround or much subwoofer activity. Extras consist of previews for other ADV releases, character sketches, and an insert poster.
I was able to give marginal recommendations for the first two chapters of this series, but I advise you to stay away from Megazone: Part Three -- far away. The charges brought against ADV Films are dropped. The producers, however, are guilty of exploiting a good name in the quest for a few more bucks from the faithful. They are hereby sentenced to repeated viewings of Jaws the Revenge and Exorcist II: The Heretic. Court is adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Production Sketches and Information
* ADV Previews