Because the Future is Fun

Best of the Bottom Shelf – Technotise: Edit & I (U.K. DVD)(Out Now)

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Guest writer Andrew Watton-Davies checks out the U.K. DVD release of this 2009 Serbian cyberpunk digital animation.

81PAJ5-Sm7L._SL1500_Pitching itself as a “Serbian cyberpunk anime hybrid”, and claiming (in the U.K. PR at least) to be “filled with sex, drugs, fast cars and hover boards”, Technotise: Edit & I is the first animated offering (released originally in 2009) to come from label Simply Media and is an off-shot of the graphic novel Technotise. Directed and Written by Aleksa Gajic, it’s focuses on the story of Edit, a psychology student at a university in Belgrade in the year 2074 who is failing her course. Being 60 years in the future, and a world where every vehicle is hoverbased and VR is a recreational activity, she takes the obvious decision of getting a black-market military grade memory enhancement chip implanted into her arm, rather than studying a bit harder. All is good with the plan – and her mimetic memory – until she sees a maths formula that can predict the future. This turns a portion of her body into a sentient AI (called “I) which a bunch of government spook-types want, thus leading to flipping out like a ninja with extra hover-board chase scenes.

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If you thought this setup would result in something overridden with heart-pounding mayhem, then you will be rather disappointed. Whilst the hype tries to make out that the movie is the new Blade Runner, it’s a lot more like a sci-fi Persepolis. The bulk of the film is an exploration of a likable but softly spoken group of characters bimbling their way through a highly imaginative (and relatively pleasant for a major city), futuristic Belgrade, whilst facing relatable inconveniences of life and meeting a range of realistic characters. This is not a bad thing, as characters are depicted with a style and a charm that makes it immensely watchable. Their world also has a distinct air to it as the chances are that unless you are up to speed with Serbian cultural reference you’ll miss half the nods in the script and background, but that also gave it a newness that made it all the more intriguing and interesting to watch; said references are, in that sense, far from being a detraction.

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The problems happen when the action starts, as things don’t really shift up a gear into anything all that exciting. There is a future-sports sequence, with suitably incomprehensible goals and flashy camera work, which feels a bit tacked on and underdeveloped; a brief nightclub scene, featuring some good, thumping music, which doesn’t appear to achieve much; and a couple of fights and chase sequences that are over before they begin.

The scenes between Edit and I are slow, talking moments – more in line with earlier discussions with her friends that don’t really hit on any ‘big topics’ that the scenario could bring up for discussion. They also lead to the most unsexy of sex scenes, Edit literally doing power-parkour as a means to escape the voice in her head, and that overall bit of the story ends with a squib rather than either a kinetic or emotive thud. If a decision had been made to either beef up the chip plot or present nothing but vignettes of the coterie of characters, getting through a quirky future world littered with ideas and potential, then it could have been magical. Instead it sits awkwardly between both, with each holding the other back.

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Throw in inconsistent animation, a problematic handling of profound autism (pro tip: it’s not a magic power), and an art style that can’t make up its mind what it’s trying to do, and you have something that doesn’t deliver half as much as it promises or shows the potential of having had. However, despite all this, it’s still worth a watch as there as some lovely, warm human moments in it. If another film in the setting was made, then we would jump at the chance to watch it.

The DVD comes with a menu page, featuring footage and sound from the movie, and a scene selection option. The U.K. Region 2 DVD supplied came with DTS 5.1 audio in Serbian; the audio is crisp and well mixed, with the music heavy sequences sounding particularly good. Subtitles are in English only, and whilst they were clear and easy to read the grammar was inconsistent with various words appearing to be missing completely. A German Blu-Ray version is available, with DTS-HD 5.1 Serbian and 2.0 German audio plus German subtitles. The original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is 16:9-compatible in either version, and on the U.K. DVD the visuals were high quality and clear all the way through the running time of 86 minutes.

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