Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion (Cert 18)
1 Disc (Distributor: Manga Entertainment/Kaze) Running time: 62 minutes approx
Resuming the action from where we left it at the end of the first film, which as you recall, ended with a bottom clenching cliffhanger, reborn and rebuilt 15-year-old prostitute Rune Balot is involved in a shoot out with Dimsdale Boiled, an ice cold assassin working for Rune’s tormentor, casino king Shell Septinous. With shapeshifting artificial intelligence named Oeufcoque Penteano – now in the form of a gun – severely damaged, Rune has her back to the wall but is saved at the last minute once again by Dr. Easter who arrives in a giant egg shaped craft called Humpty Dumpty, who whisks Rune and Oeufcoque away to a hidden safe haven called Paradise.
As we learned in the first film Tow Ubukata has a bit of an obsession with eggs and is not content with using them metaphorically as symbol for birth and rebirth but now has taken his naming of everyone and everything after them to new extremes. An egg shaped craft called Humpty Dumpty? Really? This may be cute for some but within the context of an intelligent, hard hitting and occasionally explicit sci-fi saga, it unfortunately feels hokey and a risible attempt to be too clever.
And if that isn’t enough how does a homosexual dolphin whose love partner is a human male grab you? Nope, no Mary Jane here I’m afraid. While recuperating in Paradise, where the Scramble 09 technology was developed, Rune meets a young boy named Twee who introduces her to his lover, you guessed it, the dolphin, another subject of Scramble 09 technology. Apparently Twee doesn’t recognise species let alone gender when it comes to romance. Then again Rune is hardly one to talk since she has fallen for a mouse!
And while Paradise does seem to live up to its name with its visual splendour it has a darker side in the form of its Guardians, which just happen to be flying sharks. It sounds crazy and while it actually works in its own esoteric way, there is no doubt it just may produce some giggles from some viewers.
Things sort of get back on track as Rune is forced to confronts her motives and decide whether to hang it up and stay in Paradise or fight on against Shell in the name of justice. She chooses the latter so the next stage in the plan is to infiltrate one of Shell’s many casinos in which his secrets are kept. Much like the mind bending material mentioned above, this part of the film is also likely to polarise opinion. Some my find it a taut gambling drama watching Rune and Oeufcoque (disguised as Rune’s elbow length gloves!) attempt to see how the croupier at the roulette table throws the ball on the wheel; others will seek the fast forward button.
The Second Combustion has that “second act” feel about it and suffers from the same problems many do when coming off an exciting first episode. It either gives you more of the same or it slows things down with the view of building to an explosive climax. Despite some nods to the former this is closer to the latter but that is not to say it is worthless.
A lot of back story is revealed here, this time the focus is on the psychotic Boiled, adding some intrigue to his place within the story and his relationship with the protagonists. And it is through a drug addled associate of his with razor blades for fingers that we get some action in this episode, otherwise this is a largely dialogue heavy instalment.
One area where once again there are no complaints is with the visuals. The animation is smooth and the artwork remains sumptuous and detailed. Paradise really is a sight to behold with its bold colours and psychedelic veneer and the scenes where Rune and Twee are swimming with the dolphin are pretty magical, capturing some of the spirit of Disney’s more whimsical works and the three figures glide gracefully through a literal sea of vibrant colours and glorious underwater landscapes. Meanwhile the gardens of Paradise are warm and inviting under similarly kaleidoscopic skies. Elsewhere the casino is intricately detailed to create world of glitz, glamour and wealth with small touches of the futuristic cyberpunk world the story is set in.
As before there is “Director’s Cut” of this film although this time it is the main feature and not an extra (this is where the edited Theatrical Version is). And unlike the first film, there is no sexually explicit or inappropriate material here to cut so the only it is some of the quick bursts of violence that goes).
The Second Combustion does what it has to for the second part of a trilogy and that is to keep the story moving and set us up for the final chapter. It’s a solid instalment but like its predecessor it suffers from too short a running time, ending on a note that seems to come far too soon. Fans of the gory cyber punk action of the first film may not be pleased with the slower pace of this chapter and the bias towards to a more verbiage lead affair. However enough seeds have been sewn to make the final part a heavily anticipated release.
Theatrical Version (59 minutes approx)
On the Way to The Movie Theatres
Film 3 Preview
Rating – ***
Man In Black