isually startling, with a haunting soundtrack that hits
you right in the soul, "Wonderful Days" nevertheless falters badly
when it comes to story. Narratively speaking, the South Korean animation moves
well, and there are few, if any, dead spots. Running at just 85 minutes,
"Days" could have been longer -- and probably should have been.
Perhaps as a result of the short running time, the film sells its premise short,
and by the time the final battle is won and the world is given fresh berth, mass
confusion lingers and one feels a bit cheated by the movie's many missing
"Wonderful Days" is wonderful to look at, and if
that's all that matters, then the film is a winner. The film uses the
now-standard mixture of computer models for its vehicles and worlds, but
traditional cel animation for the characters. And while the technique is not
new, director Moon-saeng Kim has freshen his movie with a striking soundtrack
that includes some incredible choice songs as well as instrumentals. I've simply
not heard a better soundtrack in a long time.
The movie is centered on a futuristic city called ECOBAN
that was built as a "2nd Noah's Ark" (according to the
movie) to save mankind before a great, unexplained natural catastrophe destroyed
much of the planet. ECOBAN is a futuristic "self-growing city" that
"feeds on pollution". And no, don't ask what those two things mean,
because I have no idea and the movie could really care less to explain. As I
understand it, the city is powered by pollution, which means in this
post-apocalyptic world ECOBAN and its citizens don't just like pollution, they
purposely create it.
Which leaves the Marrians out in the cold. Essentially
slave labor to the elitist Ecobans, the Marrians live a miserable existence
outside the city walls. Because the planet is awash in pollution, no one has
ever seen a clear, blue sky in their life. And if the Ecobans have their way,
that's how things will remain. Among the Marrians is a former Ecoban name Shua,
who is working with another ex-Ecoban named Dr. Noah to disrupt the city's plans
to create even more pollution by wiping out the Marrians completely. Since the
Marrians are showing signs of rebellion, the Ecobans' high command have no
qualms about eradicating their manual labor population.
Once again I have to warn my readers not to ask too many
questions. I cannot answer them because "Wonderful Days" did not give
me any answers to impart onto you. Is Dr. Noah responsible for building
the "Noah's Ark" that saved the Ecobans in the first place? Your guess
is as good as mine. And for a city the size of Ecoban, why is it we almost never
see any citizens, but instead just well armed security personnel and soldiers?
Also, if one-half of the movie is devoted to a hackneyed love triangle between
Shua, a female Ecoban soldier name Jay, and Jay's superior, why is it we don't
even learn the superior's name until a soldier sort of just tosses out his name
well past the hour mark? (For the record, the superior's name is Cade. I
"Wonderful Days" simply has no interest in
explaining itself. If there were answers, they were cut from the version I saw.
And if the answers were never present, it means the filmmakers were so overjoyed
with their magnificent rendering of their post-apocalyptic world that they
didn't think their viewers would be bothered by something as, oh, a rash of
unexplained plot threads and the meandering existence of uninteresting
characters. For example, there is a character called the Adjutant that should
have "The World's Most Evil Villain" stamped on his forehead; only he
doesn't show up enough times to actually make any impact (until the end, that
is). Also, the Jay character has as much personality as the usual female leads
in the few big-budget futuristic South Korean films I've seen of late. You
couldn't get anymore bland if you tried.
Putting aside its lackluster story and mundane characters,
"Wonderful Days" is nevertheless a richly detailed alien world. The
animation is simply superb, with ravaged countryside blending effortlessly with
the complex construction of the ECOBAN city. Of note are the model designs for
the movie's vehicles; in particular the speed cycles that the Ecobans ride
outside the city. The design is a combination of the "Tron" bikes and
Kaneda's super bike in "Akira". Who knew watching these speed bikes
crisscrossing over bridges and barren wastelands would be the most stimulating
thing about "Wonderful Days"?