Paprika – Review

Paprika, a film by the renounced director Satoshi Kon who gave us films such as Tokyo Godfathers and Perfect Blue, is said to be one of the top 25 anime films of all time. It’s with that which I felt the need to review Paprika given that I had never even heard of the film.

I kind of feel bad for not having seen it before

Release back in 2006 the film has become a huge success and until a sale on caught my eye, I was in the unknown about it. Now, having given the time to review it I have to say, I can’t think of any funny opening lines. Normally a film of this level would have caught my eye before now but somehow, Paprika got passed me. It’s at this point I would start the review with a word to sum up the film but I would be lying if I said I could do that for Paprika. That’s not to say the film is bad however, in fact it’s much the other way being one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

It’s just that, it’s a bit of a brain melting film. Let me break things down for you, I’ll start with the story.

Paprika takes us on a journey of fantasy and imagination, where dreams become real and where a small device can let us see people’s dreams. It’s a fast moving story with different plots mixing and linking together and at one point all of them coming together for a big final scene. It’s hard at times to follow the fast past action but they are all explained as the film goes on. The core story is that a device which lets you see people’s dreams, known only as the ‘DC mini’, is being developed to help cure mental illnesses. We soon fine that there are some last checks which need to be preformed but before that can happen, the device is stolen to what we come to know as ‘Dream Terrorist’. These people are then able to use the device to jump into anyone’s mind be it when they are awake or asleep and make them live out there wildest dreams. Sound good doesn’t it? Well it is other then the fact that they fall into a state where they see reality as a dream and surely, end up in some big trouble. The rest of the film is then just us learning more about the device, dreams, people and much more as we follow a brilliant therapist and a fearless detective as they work to find the device and put everything right.

As I said, the story is fast past and a lot can happen in a story time. The main problem here, which is also my main problem with the film, is that it’s all a dream. Within a dream, within a dream…no I’m not joking. For most people, like myself, this isn’t an issue at all however for others it is a big reason not to watch the film. I’ve seen films such as ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Ghost in the shell’ and been able to understand them from the get go. Paprika on the other hands is a lot more of a mess. Don’t get me wrong, the story is stunning and very well written and once everything is made clear, you really start to enjoy the madness. From images of building tall dolls, dancing microwaves and even hundred foot tall demon god, no again I’m not joking, you can understand why I’m a bit lost.

All this madness however allows for a great use of visuals, art style and even audio where all of which, are near prefect. It’s in this element that the film really starts to stand out. The realistic manga style and smooth animations allow for a great viewing experience which is easy on the eye and helps to show the emotions of the characters. The colours are bright, clear and alive which I just can’t help but smile at, call me odd but it creates this warm feeling. More so when the dreams get out of control and we see the screen filled with madness right from the depth of our imagination. To add to that the audio is just joy to the ears thanks to the great work of Susumu Hirasawa and with the help of some Vocaloid in there. To sum it up, the creative vision of the film, being all about our dreams, is really shown in the visuals and audio. I think it’s these that really made me enjoy the film on top of the mad yet enjoyable plot.

One thing I have to touch one is the fact that this film was what gave way to the idea for the 2010 film ‘Inception’. Now you may be thinking that’s just odd but it’s indeed true. Given that I have seen that film I can’t give a total view on this topic but what I can say is that if Inception is able to live up to Paprika in any way, I am totally impressed. Why do I say that? Well simple, this film is just simply amazing. From breath taking sense of a old man lose his mind and run out of a window yelling ‘I am the king of my people’ to the part with dreams and real life mix given way to some very creative and beautiful moments which dare I say it, can only be seen in dreams. Now that I think about it, the film is just prefect for viewing however that element of dreams and the fact that I’m still not 100% sure with what happened in the end, are the only let downs this film has.

Some people say that the film isn’t meant to make sense as it’s all about exploring the creative part of the human brain and dreams. Maybe they are right or maybe the idea is that the whole film is just one big dream. It’s hard to say and thinking about it hurts my head but that is why this film is so good. At no point do you know what really is real, and what really is a dream. It’s just stunning. But now I’m just going off track.

To really review this film would be a hard task for anyone and others have agreed, Paprika is more then likely one of the best films ever but one of the worst to review. Simply put the film is just enjoyable. That’s all you really need to know. At 90 minutes of running time with a stunning story, beautiful visuals and a soundtrack which just makes me happy I can’t really knock this film. Of course, the fast pace story, insane amount of ‘waking up’ sense and never really knowing what’s going on does let it down just a bit. I’ve seen it twice now and each time, loved it. Of course Paprika won’t be for everyone and that’s what you want a review to tell you, correct? So let’s sum this up, should you watch Paprika.

I can’t lie about this, Paprika is not for everyone. To me, a fan of Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix it’s almost like reliving those films. It’s creative, visually stunning, enjoyable and just crazy. However for many it will be the other end of the scale. If fast pace storys with a lot going on are not your thing then take a step back. The main factor will be if you like the idea of everything being a dream. If you don’t, then your not going to miss anything but if your fine with it and have 90 minutes to kill you should watch Paprika. At the end of the day, it’s just a great film but for those who are not into the story, you won’t miss much.

I think the main thing I learned from watching this film was that dolls are scary. More so ones which are the hight of buildings. In fact, that’s one more reason you may or may not want to watch Paprika. It has dolls…dolls with freaky faces. I didn’t like those parts….

In all, Paprika is a film not for everyone, but for those who it is, it’s one of the best films going!

A must watch!

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Words: NikholaiChan


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