Knights of the Zodiac brings the popular manga and animated series to live action for the first time. With so much source material to use, this film is truly setting up for a long-lasting franchise. But is that something that we want after this one? Maybe not.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some entertaining elements of the film, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark as the start of something epic. Still, the way it leaves off is very clear, the filmmakers have plans for several more movies. Perhaps they will get a bigger budget next time around so they can take what they see in their heads and bring it to the screen in a way that looks as good as it should.
A Decent Story
For those who know nothing about the Knights of the Zodiac lore, don’t worry, you don’t have to. The film does a good job explaining it to newcomers, especially in the opening sequence.
The story follows a young man named Seiya (Mackenyu) who has powers, but isn’t exactly sure where they come from. He quickly learns that his destiny is to protect the reincarnation of the Goddess of War, Athena (Madison Iseman). To do so, he must train to become one of the knights of the zodiac.
Of course, things are not that simple. This young girl has someone dangerous coming after her. As the story develops, we learn more about the enemy Guraad (Famke Janssen) and her connection to Sienna, the young girl that is keeping Athena buried inside of her, and Alman Kido (Sean Bean) the man who has adopted her as his own daughter.
Throw in some unhinged foot soldiers of Guraad’s and it should be clear that viewers are in store for more than a few action-packed fight sequences.
The story itself is pretty decent, and easy to follow along with for the most part. Knights of the Zodiac clocks in at just under two hours long, which does cause it to feel like it goes on for longer than necessary.
The CGI Is… Off
The biggest fumble with Knights of the Zodiac is the visual effects. This movie has not proven itself as a viable franchise yet, and even with a budget of sixty million dollars, there is a lot going on here. The budget includes things like salaries, so it is apparent why some scenes just play out as well as they could have with more money.
The cosmic energy that surrounds people when they use it looks cheap and more like a strange glow. While this should clearly be the focus in a positive way, instead it is something that viewers might even chuckle at. That being said, there is one moment, in the epic final fight, where red and blue energy goes against one another and that actually looks great. It makes sense to put more budget into this part of the film, so that should be applauded as a good choice.
Even though the energy doesn’t often look great on screen, it is the helicopter flying and landing that takes the cake for poor visual effects. Again, this is likely a budget issue but it does distract from the story. When moments are meant to be serious and you can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous things look, that isn’t a good thing.
Great Action Sequences
Say what you will about Knights of the Zodiac, at least it is entertaining. There are many action sequences, and each one is a lot of fun to watch. The training montages with Seiya go on for far too long, but I guess they just really wanted us to know that he earned his place by Athena’s side.
The final fight, which features Seiya versus Nero (Diero Tinoco) is probably the best part of the entire movie. Every time it seems like it is wrapping up, it keeps going. The visuals budget very clearly was saved up for this scene, as it mostly looks really great too.
In general, the choreography throughout the film is on point. It is obvious that the skills of the main cast were very much considered during the casting process. Sure, some of the things were probably done by a stunt team, but it comes off as though the main cast is the one doing it all. Which wouldn’t be surprising considering their background.
Knights of the Zodiac has a long way to go if it wants to be a continuing live-action franchise that has fans lining up at their theaters waiting for the next one, but there is some potential here. As the movie goes on, it seems as if the actors get more comfortable in their roles, and there is most definitely a cliffhanger that sets up for more.
Will it do well enough that the next one will come to the big screen? I can’t say for sure, but if it does, a larger budget would do wonders. The visual effects need to match the ambition of the film, which is something that it just doesn’t do in this first film. Still, the stunts and action sequences are entertaining and the story isn’t all that bad.
This movie certainly sets up for lots more to come. The question is… will audiences want that? Right now, I just don’t know.
Knights of the Zodiac releases in theaters on May 12th.
Rating: 4/10 SPECS
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Tessa Smith owns MamasGeeky.com and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics associations including the Critics Choice Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.