Andromedia is a goofy Japanese romance mixed where a young man clings to the memory of his girlfriend. The problem is that it is not supposed to be a comedy. This film has quite a few holes in its plot, and takes itself much too seriously, making it a target for lots of unintentional laughter. There are many unexplored themes that would actually make the film much deeper and emotionally resonant, but the filmmakers fail to go down these paths, opting instead for some cheesy action. And, for a Japanese film, it sure feels, at least plotwise, like a Hong Kong one. In other words, there isn't really a plot, and what little there is takes a backseat to the action.

There is a combination of CGI and live action. Mai (Hiroko Shimabukuro) died, leaving her father (Tsunehiko Watase, Crest of Betrayal, The Little Girl Who Conquered Time) distraught. He is some sort of computer programmer, and spent years 'downloading' Mai's memory into his computer. From this, he is able to create Ai, a program that has the 'memories' of Mai. In this way, Mai can live on through Ai. Now, screenwriters Kurio Kisaragi - actually two people, Itaru Era, Visitor Q, The Guys from Paradise, and Masa Nakamura, The Bird People in China) never explain any of the technology. How can Ai 'see' or 'hear' the people she communicates with? When she appears before Yu (Kenji Harada), Mai's semi-boyfriend, it is a real shock to him. He spends the rest of the film trying to figure out if she is 'real' or not. At the time of their death, they were finally ready to move forwards with there chaste relationship.

Well, reality interferes with all this. An American businessman (Christopher Doyle, Comrades: A Love Story) wants her program, but the script never explains why. Sadly, this is the same Doyle who is one of the best cinematographers today, doing things like Hero and In the Mood for Love (psst - Chris - keep your day job). He sends Mai's half-brother and legendary hacker Satoshi (Ryo Karato) after Ai. And, Satoshi has cancer, and will die soon. Here is where the biggest hole in the story is. When Ai appears to Yu and Mai's old friends, she playfully jumps from laptop to cell phone to pc to whatever terminal is around them. However, the bulk of the film is Yu running away from Satoshi and various sundry goons, preventing them from taking his laptop. Near the climax of the film, Ai jumps from the laptop to a huge screen and back, but for some reason those guys REALLY need that specific laptop. Ai should be able to elude them forever by jumping around to whatever computer terminal is nearby.

Director Takashi Miike (The Man in White, Violent Fire) really misses the boat on the sci-fi end. Andromedia could really look into whether or not Ai is 'human.' She has memories, possibly feelings, and can make decisions. Is she 'alive?' Yu cannot decide, but then after some initial trepidation, doesn't seem to care. Mai's friends don't seem overly concerned. They just like staring at the computerized image of Shimabukuro, speaking in monotone and doing weird things like waving to kids. Most of her acting consists of tilting her head in a certain direction. The strangest part of Andromedia is a full music video performed by Da Pump (yes, that is really their name), which consists of some of the actors in the film. Shimabukuro and the actors that play Mai's friends are in a group called Speed, which composed the music, but thankfully did not perform. Four guys dance in a warehouse while fire spits out of industrial machinery (think Backstreet Boys and the like). It's not even an interlude or part of a transition; it is actually part of the movie. How does it fit in? That is never explained. But then again, neither is anything else in Andromedia.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 49 minutes, Japanese and English with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some violence, most likely a PG-13.

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