Paprika | Teen Ink


December 13, 2007
By Anonymous

Movie Review: Paprika

In the near future, psychology and the process of psychotherapy have been revolutionized with the invention of a “dream catching” device named the DC-MINI. The DC-MINI allows a therapist to view and record the dreams of a patient, thus allowing the therapist to more accurately originate where the patient’s psychological difficulties are originating. The DC-MINI, however, is not yet completed; the security portion of the device, which would help prevent criminal activities, hasn’t been coded. To make matters worse, three prototypes have been stolen and instances of “dream terrorism” are beginning to surface. Any person that has had extensive contact with the DC-MINI is running a severe risk of having their body and mind “hijacked.” This is how Paprika, an anime—or more formally known as Japanese animation—film, opens.

Like many of the most bizarre dreams, however, Paprika quickly spirals out of control. The story is a total mess, with as many as six different sub-plots, which are all condensed into an hour-and-a-half’s worth of animation mind you. The fight against dream terrorism is the main plot, but you also have a complicated love “star,” called so because there are far more than just three characters interwoven into the mess, a detective’s battle against anxiety, political turmoil over the DC-MINI within the psychotherapists office, and the inventor of the DC-MINI’s friend’s betrayal, which is completely forgotten by the end of the film. It is also never truly clear what the character Paprika is. Depicted as an alias of one of the psychotherapists, she acts as a super-hero of the dream world, which is about all you learn of one of the most fascinating characters. And most importantly of all, you never truly get a grasp of what the villain’s motives are; many possibilities are hinted at, but never stated directly.

Poor story telling aside, Paprika is definitely one of the best animated films I’ve seen in a long while. Even though the multitude of sub-plots is overbearing, it is still fascinating to watch them unfold simultaneously and converge together by the end of the film. The detective is one of the best characters to come out of this year’s pile of movies, perhaps because the battle against his anxiety is so inspiring to watch. A handful of scenes depict a brilliant combination of scientific discussion, comic relief, and grim prognostication. It also doesn’t hurt that the animation and soundtrack are both stunningly beautiful.

However, none of this is an excuse for the poor direction of the film. As stated previously the storyline is a complete mess, and because of this poor focus you never truly get a grasp of what is happening to the characters that, aside from the detective, you will ultimately realize you know hardly anything about. The ending conflict, while one of the more visually entertaining set pieces, comes so far out of left field that it will just befuddle the mind, while just barely closing many of the intertwining arcs. Ultimately Paprika is neither here nor there, not excellent but also not horrible. I would definitely recommend seeing the movie at least once to anybody, but at the same time I would warn the viewers that once the credits begin to roll they would think that they could have had a better dream.

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