"G-Savior" It's Gundam, But It's Not
Back in 1999, Gundam was in an interesting position. Turn A, then the last Gundam made, had just wrapped up and Gundam Wing had just started being prepped to air on Cartoon Network’s Toonami. To help give Gundam an extra push, and to celebrate the series’ 20th Anniversary, somebody had the bright idea to make a live-action Gundam. With a good budget, excellent writers, talented CG animators, and some well-done acting, this could’ve been great.
Instead, we got G-Savior.
The year is Universal Century 0223 and mankind has expanded so much that they’re finally limiting their resources, thus people are now starving to death. At one particular HydroGen Sea Lab (sorry, no Dolphin Boys here), a group of scientists are trying to find the answer to this problem so humanity can continue to grow and fight and extend their evil hands to the rest of the universe. One scientist, Mark Curran (Brennan Elliot), runs across a scientist named Cynthia Graves (Enuka Okuma), who may have discovered a way to help with the food shortage via a glowing orange substance. How it’s supposed to help is never really fully explained, but it will. And CONSENT (the new Earth Federation) wants this new Bio-Luminescense in any way possible. Now marked as a fugitive, Mark has to pilot the awesome Mobile Suit known as the G-Savior in order to save all free people from being oppressed and other stuff like that.
Despite what you may have heard, G-Savior isn’t all that bad. The plot is decent, for what it is, the acting is servicable most of the time, and the action, specifically the Mobile Suit combat, is actually really fun to watch. Granted, the combat is not quite as fast-moving or as intense as, say, Gundam SEED Destiny or Zeta Gundam, but it’s a bit more realistic and looks rather nice, especially near the end when Mark is fighting on the colony’s mirror against Jack, his former boss and main bad guy of the film. And though it’s rather brief, Mark’s fight inside the colony looks really cool, but since he only faces two Mobile Suits, the battle itself doesn’t last long. But those are the main good points, and they’ve been done better elsewhere. Like The Matrix. Or Terminator. Or Star Wars. But at least we get some nice sweeping shots of the colonies so we see just how large these things are. That’s something that’s not usually covered too well in other Gundam shows.
No, the main problem with this film is that it doesn’t feel like a Gundam title. There’s the actual title of the film (where’s the “Mobile Suit” part?), the lack of an Earth Federation, the lack of any kind of Newtypes, and even the lack of the name Gundam. CONSENT (the Congress of Settlement Nations) is supposed to be a replacement for the Earth Federation from the other U.C. Gundam titles, but it’s not the same, despite the similar uniforms. We only see two important CONSENT officers, and both are evil, with nobody in the government trying to bring about peace. Then there’s the Gaea colony, where we see the head honcho, Cynthia’s buddies, and…a lot of nameless extras. There’s nothing like the Zabi family from the original MSG, Jerid from Zeta, Treize from Wing, or any of the big name leaders in this movie, and it just takes away from the Gundam experience. The only parts in here that even resemble the U.C. we all know and love are the Mobile Suits and the colonies, and they amount to very little in this day and age.
Unfortunately, not only do we have to suffer from a bad Gundam movie, but we have to suffer it with horrible video as well. The transfer is grainy all around, is in fullscreen, and the colors are very muddy, especially near the beginning, possibly to cover up how crappy the transfer really is (Try adjusting these screen grabs in Photoshop or something to see what I mean). It’s only exemplified by most of the first half taking place at night, so you can barely see some of the characters. The CG looks downright ugly in this day and age, but for the time it was pretty decent. The metal looked too simple, compared to the Gundam Evolve shorts and the various video games, but when a Mobile Suit gets sliced in half, you can see red areas and layers all around the slash marks, which is a nice little touch and looks really cool. It’s too bad the Mobile Suit designs are so plain, as they could’ve added some spice to the proceedings.
Bandai did decide to grace us with a 5.1 Surround Sound track, which is altogether unneccessary, but a welcome addition nonetheless. As for the actors, only two will be immediately familiar to animation fans, as Okuma was Lady Une in Gundam Wing and Blu Mankuma (Chairman Graves) was Tigertron in Beast Wars: Transformers. Catharina Conti and David Lovgren also star in the film, and Peter Williams (Apophis in Stargate SG-1) also has a short scene in the beginning. Most of the people in this film don’t have many starring roles, but most of them played extras in various episodes of The X-Files and Dark Angel, which is something, I guess. Oh, and there’s a Japanese version on this disc, but no actual subtitles, so most people won’t have a clue what they’re saying.
I know this release didn’t really warrant any real extras, but I would’ve expected better than this. All we get is a tiny art gallery and four trailers to other, better Gundam titles. C’mon, at least give us the alternate Mobile Suit design specs! Those were really nice-looking…
Overall, G-Savior is a decent B-movie action flick that’s at least better than 90% of the stuff airing on Sci Fi Saturdays. If you wanted an actual Gundam movie though, you’re better off with Char’s Counterattack, F91, or Endless Waltz.