When we talk about sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure, the first name in mind is always Star Wars, yet there are movies no less spectacular and entertaining like this little gem from 2014, Garm Wars.
Once again, it all begins on a desolate planet in a galaxy far, far away, Annwn.
In this dystopian future, the planet was once populated by eight tribes of cloned creatures, the Garm, of which only three survived: the Columba, the Briga, and the Kumtak.
The Columba is a community of warrior clerics living in a flying fortress city and training in mind, body, and spirit balance.
Far less philosophical is the culture of the Briga, soldiers and warriors who are extraordinarily fierce and ruthless in combat.
Beneath them, now enslaved and almost on their way to extinction, are the Kumtak, computer, and engineering experts responsible for creating and maintaining the advanced military technologies used by the Briga.
Just one of the surviving Kumtak, the wise and elderly Wydd, kicks off the disastrous chain of events by escaping from captivity pursued by soldiers to the Columba’s colossal spaceship.
Saving him is the skilled flying warrior Khara 22, who dies in the battle and is immediately cloned into a new set, Khara 23.
Wydd offers the Columba the services of his ship’s other host, a Druid, which legends tell of being creatures in direct contact with the supreme goddess of all Garm, Danaan.
However, the offer is actually a trap destroying the Columba’s defenses and unleashing the ultimate vengeance of the Kumtak, who, nevertheless, fail to capture Wydd and the Druid, falling into the desert during their escape.
Before them, they find Khara 23 and a Kumtak warrior named Skellig, who must put aside their hostility to reach the mythical Land of the Druids together.
A genius of sci-fi pop culture
For those unfamiliar with Mamoru Oshii, we are talking about a visionary Japanese director widely celebrated for his extraordinary career in the animation and film industries.
His ability to mix deep and philosophical themes with an impressive sci-fi aesthetic is well known, as he gave the world such iconic plays as Ghost in the Shell.
An absolute masterpiece of Japanese animation that irresistibly blends the interplay between artificial intelligence, cyborgs, and humanity repressed by a totalitarian regime.
Recently had come to theaters the live-action directed by Rupert Sanders and starring Scarlett Johansson, much despised by audiences even though I enjoyed it, while acknowledging it had nowhere near the narrative power of Oshii’s work.
This artist’s influence extends beyond animation, leaving an indelible imprint on the sci-fi genre and pop culture.
In the case of 2014’s Garm Wars, the movie brings every ounce of his masterful touch in creating visually exciting imaginary worlds with a complex narrative background.
Once again, science fiction is just the trigger to talk about many topics, such as personal identity in a society of cloned people, conflicts between different races, and the cyclical nature of the history of warfare.
Annwn’s extraordinary setting and the characters’ exciting odyssey bring peace and cooperation between previous enemies, coming to appreciate and sacrifice for each other.
It is impossible not to love this unique visual style, unlike anything you have ever seen, a wonderful blend of live-action and CGI, imbued with the ethereal melodies and enveloping musical themes accompanying us nonstop through the adventure.
If I had to offer a criticism, I would have appreciated discovering the planet’s and tribes’ backgrounds over the movie instead of having an early summary. However, in the end, I understand that many might lose their way with so many characters and events.
We are only three in this lonely world
Although there are many different situations, characters, and understories, focusing on the three characters that remain isolated in the second half of the movie in the Annwn lands is essential.
Above all, I certainly put the outstanding performance of Lance Henriksen, an actor I had loved since way back in 1984 when Arnold Schwarzenegger stole the famous Terminator role from him at the last minute.
With all due respect to old Schwarzy, who will always be one of my favorite action stars, I would have paid gold to see Henriksen as the deadly T-800 from the future.
Here we can appreciate on his cunning old face all the lights and shadows of Wydd’s character, ostracized and hunted by the Kumtak for his insane intentions of revenge against the other tribes.
Much simpler is the character of Kevin Durand, the Skellig soldier whom we initially see only as a soulless hunting and destruction machine.
However, he will also have a chance to gain our attention when he meets the equally agile rival played by Melanie St-Pierre.
Khara and Skellig are the most exciting relationship in this story, with nothing romantic about them, but as two enemies who have always lived on opposite sides of a long, endless war.
At first, you can easily mistake her amid the many absolutely identical clones in Columba’s spaceship. However, by following Wydd’s strange dog, she will differentiate herself from the others and begin to have her own personality.
These three characters are enough for the epic journey to the Forest of the Druids, making their way among the giant robots defending the truth.
Sadly, I have seen much scorn and deride this 2014 movie, calling Garm Wars garbage just because it does not have the same sci-fi aesthetic they are used to.