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Daft Punk's Interstella 5555(2003)
An unscrupulous music executive and his flunky kidnap an alien, blue-skinned techno band, rob them of their identities, pass them off as human, and foist them on an unsuspecting public on Earth. After their arrival and their impact on the human population, the members of the band try to piece back their identities, escape from the clutches of the evil music executive, and return to their own world.
For more about Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 and the Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 Blu-ray release, see Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on October 14, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Leiji Matsumoto
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Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 Blu-ray Review
Daft, yes, but a lot of fun.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, October 14, 2011
It's more than a little funny that Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, better known as the synthpop duo Daft Punk, seem to think that combining science fiction, aliens and rock stars was a new idea, something they talk about in the liner notes for this new Blu-ray release of Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, their quasi- music video treatment of their bestselling album Discovery. Anyone who's ever been either a parent or a teenager know that for countless millennia, or at least for as long as there's been rock 'n' roll, older generations have been insisting that rock stars are obviously aliens. Daft Punk have played with that idea, perhaps not quite as overtly as, say, David Bowie, by donning robot costumes for many of their live performances, to the point where only their most ardent fans actually know what the human forms of the duo actually look like. Daft Punk has a relatively short discography thus far in their professional careers, with a scant three albums to their credit, but they've managed to rack up some impressive chart action over the years, helping to redefine the French house movement and also creating one of the most iconic Continental hits of the early 2000s with "One More Time." (Daft Punk's stateside chart action has been considerably less successful than overseas, though they have cracked the Billboard Top 100 and their music remains a staple of house and DJ movements nationwide). Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem reimagines the pair's best known album in an anime setting, with a science fiction plotline involving marauding aliens who kidnap a pop band and remake them, if not in their own image, in a way that might help them to sell scads and scads of product.
Blue Man Group has nothing on the alien band first depicted in Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, for the quartet is blue as the sky, as is their alien audience. Soon some red-eyed humanoids appear which gas the concertizers and the concertgoers, making off with the players. The musicians are transported aboard a vessel, though they're able to send off a distress signal, which reaches another interstellar traveler, Shep, who just happens to be fantasizing about the band's bassist, Stella. Shep sets off to rescue the quartet, but both he and the kidnappers are sucked into a wormhole which drops them onto Earth. While the band is secreted to an underground lair, where they're remade as a quasi-human consortium known as The Crescendolls, replete with mind control devices implanted in their brains (something no doubt real life record company executives wished existed for their errant artists), Shep ends up in a heavily wooded area, evidently far away from Stella and her bandmates.
As might be guessed by anyone who's witnessed the meteoric rise of prepackaged music industry phenomena, The Crescendolls become a worldwide sensation based on their first song "One More Time." The Crescendolls, with the assistance of Shep, slowly begin to realize they're pawns in a nefarious game played by the evil Earl de Darkwood, the very model of a modern record executive, one who has evidently made a pact with some satanic entity for universal domination, if only he can get enough gold records to make that happen. The rest of Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem's rather brief running time plays out as an epic battle between The Crescendolls, who fight to break free of their mind control (a metaphor for a stifling record contract?) while also attempting to return in their native forms to their home planet.
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem was a collaboration between Daft Punk and Leiji Matsumoto, perhaps best known to Western audiences for his Space Battleship Yamato. What's so impressive about this piece is how effortlessly the music duo and the anime creator-producer have managed to work out a fairly cohesive, even coherent storyline that has no dialogue and which by its very nature is wedded to the songs off of the Discovery album to give it whatever narrative through line it manages to attain. The trio utilized the production facilities of the iconic Toie Animation Studios, and Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem has an undeniably old school feel about it, with patently painterly backgrounds and relatively old fashioned looking character designs, despite the story's futuristic setting.
Daft Punk makes appealing, often very tuneful, music which typically creates tropes of four or so chord changes and then loops a variety of other tracks on top of these. The band is also known for its heavily auto-tuned and compressed vocals, which are highly redolent of the Vocoder from recordings like Stevie Wonder's (and many, many others) in the 1970s. The music provides a lot of sonic energy throughout Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, becoming a rather intriguing aural analog to the fantastic imagery that Matsumoto and his creative team cooked up for the film. It may not make perfect sense in the long run, but Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is a very interesting marriage of sight and sound and one which is often quite literally out of this world.
Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem rocks onto Blu-ray courtesy of EMI with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.33:1. This is very rich looking animation, certainly far more deep and complex than typical television anime fare, for example, and one whose painterly aesthetic helps to give this piece real texture and nuance. Colors are beautifully variegated and gorgeously saturated throughout the film's hour or so running time. Line detail is generally strong, and while there are some very minor banding issues, they ultimately don't detract from what is overall a very, very strong presentation. On the other hand, this is an often curiously soft outing, one which seems (perhaps intentionally?) to hearken back to the days of 1980s and 1990s television animes, but which never achieves the clarity and sharpness one would hope for from a circa 2003 production like this is. Character design is appealing if not especially innovative (as mentioned above, most of this piece is intentionally "old school" looking). But several of the effects included in Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem are quasi- hallucinatory and they look great on this Blu-ray.
Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is presented on Blu-ray with two lossless audio options, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix and a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 fold down. Aside from a great opening sequence which includes some fulsome LFE and wonderful panning effects, there are very few sound effects in the entire film, and instead we simply segue from one Daft Punk track to the next, As such, while there isn't a lot of discrete channelization per se, the surrounds do in fact get a consistent workout from the immersive instrumentation. The low end on both of these tracks is very impressive, and fidelity is exceptionally strong throughout all frequency ranges. Both DTS tracks handle the different timbres of the many synths effortlessly, and the more percussive tunes really pop with some exciting sonic fury.
Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Daft Punk's Interstella 5555 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is frankly kind of goofy, rather like Daft Punk itself, but like the group, it's also immensely likeable. While this Blu-ray comes with a couple of challenges (insanely small icons for various options and no clear titles on several choices, notably the Bonus material), overall it's a really interesting combination of some tuneful and enjoyable music to a, yes, silly but equally enjoyable science fiction premise. The animation style is intentionally old fashioned, which may turn off some of Daft Punk's younger (or anti- ironic) fans, but the music sounds absolutely fantastic courtesy of both lossless audio options on this Blu-ray. Highly recommended.
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• Exclusive Giveaway: Daft Punk's 'Interstella 5555' - October 14, 2011
Blu-ray.com and EMI are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of Daft Punk's Interstella 5555, a science ficton anime reimagining of the French synthpop duo's chart topping Discovery album. The Blu- ray edition streeted on October ...
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