The truth, perhaps unsurprisingly to those who know of the link, is that the only reason I am watching this is because in the art book for Avatar: The Last Airbender, it is mentioned by the creators as the reason they went to Korea to ask the team behind the film to work on their new animation project. And while there’s a degree of confusion regarding what was provided by Tin House and what by other related studios, one only needs to watch to know the same team worked on this.
A day late because I wanted to track down the original, uncut version with Korean soundtrack, I watched this film tonight and am glad I did so, but likely will not do so again for a very long time. The eye candy here is beautiful – clearly much more was spent on this than on an episode of Avatar, and the ambitious CG backgrounds and fluid animation is frequently stunning. The setting works and the characters are well-designed – regardless of perceived similarity to Avatar characters. But the story lets everything down through sheer lack of momentum.
In 2142, mankind seems all but destroyed. Their renewable energy relies on controlling the weather, and finding solar power inefficient, the citizens of Ecoban instead find a way to harvest energy from polluted air – setting up an opposition between nature and industry that makes Nausicaa look subtle. This of course makes a misery of the lives of those in the nearby colony of Marr, and they plot insurrection. Against this backdrop, law enforcement officer – or similar – called Jay runs into a man she thought was dead when he breaks into Ecoban to steal valuable data. Her superior and childhood friend Cade knows him too – and personal reasons are added to his determination to crack down on the outside colony.
The problem is that there is no actual impetus driving the plot. The bad guys raid the colony in the middle arc, so the threat of them doing it again seems repetitive. The good guys do not have a real goal or an aim, even one as simple as ‘destroy the Death Star’ – they are mostly on the defensive, and have some vague ideas that you know will come as a side-effect of other actions but don’t seem like a goal or an aspiration. As a result, things drag and the main characters seem to meander, and their concerns for cute kids seem to be rather tacked on. The ending brings many clichés with it, but works well and there’s a great moment of redemption, but really it is too little, too late.
Beautiful to look at, interesting for the Avatar connection and hopefully a sign we’ll see more, better films yet from this studio, Wonderful Days nonetheless falls short as a story and just needed something to drive it onwards.