AKA Goodbye Galaxy Railway 999: Andromeda Terminal (more of a literal translation, really)
Starring Masako Ikeda, Masako Nozawa, Kaneta Kimotsuki, Makio Inoue, Reiko Tajima, Kei Tomiyama, Youko Asagami, Toru Emori, Ryoko Kinomiya, Hidekatsu Shibata
Directed by Rintaro
As the title implies, this is the conclusion of the Galaxy Express series. But wait, didn’t I tell you all in last week’s review that this was the second film in a trilogy? Well, yes, but it’s a rather impromptu trilogy since the third film, Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy, didn’t come out until the late ’90s, so Adieu was intended to be the conclusion. Actually, the original Galaxy Express 999 wasn’t intended to have a sequel either, so all three films in the trilogy were the end of the series. And none of them actually stayed that way. (Ok, ok, so Eternal Fantasy was followed by a TV series spin-off rather than a true sequel. So sue me.)
Of course, making a sequel to a film that doesn’t need one is always tricky business. Not only do you have to unravel the ending that had already been neatly tied up, but you have to then face the twin complaints that the sequel is either too much or not enough like the original. While I enjoyed Adieu quite a bit, hecklers will complain about it from both sides of the field. Probably simultaneously.
I think this is a flawed way to look at the film, though. It has changed into a completely different genre, action adventure rather than philosophical drama. Judging it by the standards of the first film will only leave you unimpressed. Judge it as an action film, however, and it is filled with fun adventures that dwarf the first film at every turn. You can legitimately complain that as a sequel it doesn’t do its job, but if you can divorce yourself from those expectations, you’ll have a great ol’ time.
Adieu doesn’t have quite the same inexplicable objects that the first film did, like that rocket-bicycle, but it does have some goofy looking robot security guards that wear kilts. It also has a lot of great action scenes that are just plain exhilarating. My favorite is the glorious destruction of a planet that reminded me an awful lot of Unicron in Transformers: the Movie.
This isn’t a perfect film, though. It can be fairly predictable, especially with the Darth Vader looking villain, Faust. His similarities with Vader are especially suspicious when considered with the release date of Empire Strikes Back just one year earlier. Beyond Faust, the film also has some clumsy deus ex machina towards the end, and the entirely random appearance of some kind of black vortex looking thing named Siren left me scratching my head.
But can a sequel made by a different director more than fifteen years later live up to its predecessors? Hey, there’s a first time for everything, right? Next week I’ll know for sure when I review the last film of the trilogy, Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy.