“Diamond is Unbreakable” is a live-action film adaptation of part four of the legendary manga series “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” by Hirohiko Araki. With over 115 volumes released, the manga has won over the hearts of fans around the globe.
The movie follows the protagonist Josuke Higashikata and his friends who possess supernatural powers as they face off against evildoers in the fictional town of Morioh.
I had the opportunity to watch the film’s world premiere at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2017.
The following review may contain mild spoilers. I am not revealing critical plot details though. I have seen the anime adaptation of the same source material, so this review stands in direct comparison to that.
“Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable” was either going to be hot garbage or utter trash. It turned out to be the latter.
Before I delve into the bad stuff, I have to point out one good thing. Kento Yamazaki and Kamiki Ryunosuke’s performance was surprisingly stellar! It was more akin to voice acting than regular acting which definitely fit the nature of the movie. Sadly, their acting did not distract from the many flaws of “Diamond is Unbreakable”.
Any details related to the previous three installations were erased from the script in an effort to make the film less complicated. That is not something bad in itself, but it left the film with major plot holes and lots of unexplained scenes.
These plot holes weren’t replaced by original content, though. They were replaced by literal silence. This made most of the dialogue unbearable and took away the suspense of the few fast-paced scenes the film had to offer. The opposing parties staring into each other’s eyes menacingly for minutes may work in an anime, but it does not in a real movie. At times, it felt almost as if everything substantial got cut out by mistake and the filler takes were the only thing that what was left to release.
What was really bizarre was the film’s artistic approach. At times, “Diamond is Unbreakable” felt like an anime reenacted by real people. At other times, it tried to be realistic. I could not pinpoint which of them Takashi Miike was going for. This also applied to the visuals: Some scenes were heavily stylized and color-graded while others remained perfectly natural. This disturbs the atmosphere and visual theme greatly.
The JJBA series is known for not taking itself too seriously, but this movie was the polar opposite of that. While there were some fun moments at the beginning, there are way too many cheap attempts to get an emotional response out of the viewer in “Diamond is Unbreakable”. I was unable to establish any sort of connection to the characters.
Although the CGI was not as bad as it was in “Attack on Titan”, that is not to say that it was on par with Hollywood. The 3D models would have worked perfectly if they were used subtly. Unfortunately, the entire climax is one long 3D animation that was occasionally interrupted by corny dialogue followed by long periods of silence.
The so-called “Stands”, spiritual beings that follow the orders of their users in the JJBA universe, looked more like translucent plastic figures than supernatural spirits.
Not only is the film’s musical score plagued by the same classical pieces that haunt many other live-action films, its odd timing clashes with the emotional tone of many scenes and destroys the atmosphere. While the anime series is known for its catchy music and fitting placement of retro tunes, none of the score was as memorable or iconic.
In the end, nothing that happened in the film really got me emotionally involved. The death of one of the most likable characters was forgotten quickly by the main characters. It didn’t affect their motivations at all. “Diamond is Unbreakable” hinted at a sequel with its ending and already set up the game board for the events that follow but I’m about as excited for the next movie as I am for my next dental appointment.