'Fafner: Heaven and Earth' is a stand alone film based on the hit anime series 'Fafner.' This feature film picks up a couple of years after the series had that giant epic battle against the aliens known as the Festum. They were battling for their lives and the world. The main hero is Kazuki, who is still trying to fight off the alien attacks and using other methods of battle plans and new weapons to be rid of the aliens once and for all.
In the meantime, while Kazuki is off doing his work, one of the aliens takes on human form and wants the people to turn over the island's power core and fight with him against others to hopefully achieve a peace. This is actually an ultimatum as if they don't do what this alien says, he guarantees their death. It's a sticky situation indeed.
There is a lot of down time and dialogue in this particular film and too few action sequences. This might appeal to a bunch of you and I think it is one of the film's strongest points. That being said, I had hoped for a more thrilling sci-fi animated picture. Fafner's strongest detail it has is its character driven story between Kazuki and his friend Soshi, and how he has to save him. It is actually pretty emotional and makes us relate to him on the most humane level in a film that is far from any reality.
The special FX are top notch as Fafner uses a mix of CG and hand-drawn animation, and when the action sequences do happen, they are good, but newcomers to the Fafner world will be lost. I think you will get the gist of the story, but with all of the character references to the series and all of their backstories, it could get a little overwhelming. If they decide to make a new Fafner film, I hope it's a bit better and more cohesive than this one.
'Fafner: Heaven and Earth' comes with a bizarre 1080p transfer and has a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image goes back and forth from being very detailed and radiant, then it switches to a softer image, which most of the elements disappear. Now I know there was mix of CG and hand drawn animation here, but throughout the whole film, things tend to soften. I'm not sure why this is, but for it to happen throughout the entire film, was rather annoying.
When the image is good, the blacks are deep and the colors pop. The detail and motion look spot on and smooth, but when the image goes soft, everything becomes flattened, where you can't establish certain details in the animation. Again, I'm not sure if this was on purpose or not, but it is certainly distracting.
'Fafner: Heaven and Earth' has two different Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mixes. One is the original Japanese version, and the other one is the dubbed version. Both audio choices are far superior to the video quality. The dialogue is crystal clear and is presented nicely on the center channel. There was no evidence of hissing or distortion.
The sound effects boast on all of the speakers and sound fantastic. The surround speakers boast the numerous sound effects from the heavier action sequences nicely and never seem over done. The bass also rumbles nicely as well. The score is cheesy of course, but sounds good with the film and is never too loud. A much better audio presentation than the video presentation on this disc.
Hardcore Fafner fans will definitely want to check this out. I have not seen the series, but I can't imagine it being better than the film. The movie was terribly slow in parts, and I imagine the series is even slower. But the film does have its moments. There is definitely something wrong going on with the video, but the audio is solid. There aren't much extras either other than the decent commentary. For fans of the series, I recommend this, as you will definitely enjoy, but for newcomers, this might not be your cup of anime tea.