Lupin III: The First
2020 promised to be a great year for going to the movies, but then a global pandemic messed everything up. Looking back it seems like the only film I reviewed that entire year was Bad Boys For life back in late January. 2021 isn’t looking a whole lot better, whilst we’re lucky enough to have a competent government in New Zeland and are living relatively normal lives, most of the big films that we were looking forward to in 2020, are still being pushed back as America and Britain struggle to regain any illusion of control.
But it’s not all bad news on the cinematic front, with the lack of obvious crowd-pleasers, we have more time to find the hidden gems, and one such gem is Lupin, which opened in New Zeland Cinemas last Thursday. Now there wasn’t time for a media screening but I was sent a screener link to watch it online.
Now don’t worry about the title of Lupin III: The First, if you try and figure out what it means you’ll probably get a brain aneurysm. The obvious thing about the title is that it’s part of a series of films that you haven’t seen any of. DON’T LET THIS PUT YOU OFF. The latest installment of the long-running series that follows the escapades of an international thief with a heart of gold, Arsène Lupin III is much like your average Bond film, in that you don’t need to know what happened before as each film is a stand-alone experience, and you get to know the characters real quick.
So a quick bit of history on Lupin III. He first appeared in a manga series from creator Monkey Punch in 1967. He’s the grandson of Arsène Lupin, the pulp antihero from French novelist Maurice Leblanc, first appearing in 1905. Lupin III performs daring heists across the world, always with the hapless Interpol detective Zenigata on his heels. Lupin’s cohorts in this are the gunman Jigen and samurai Goemon.
Now being sent a screening link is new for me, I much prefer to experience films on the big screen, but the trailer seemed fun and I had just finished watching Netflix’s french TV dram Lupin. The only way to watch the link was by casting it from my phone to my TV, and being used to watching most things in stunning 4K, the visual quality was like watching Netflix with a bad internet connection. I honestly considered not bothering with the film, but decided to stick with it. DISCLAIMER – the quality issues were from casting from my phone to TV and obviously if you go see Lupin III at the cinema you’ll see it in all its visual glory, you lucky bastards. So it’s a testament to the film’s adrenaline paced, Nazi punching story that it got sucked into the film with ease.
The story begins in Nazi-occupied France as Professor Bresson hides the details of the fabled Eclipse treasure in a cleverly booby-trapped diary. An amulet is its only key, which he entrusts to his family. The Nazis come to steal it, and he and most of the family die in the ensuing chase, and the diary mysteriously goes missing.
In the 1960s, the diary resurfaces, and a number of people including Lupin, and steal it during its unveiling in a museum showcase. Lupin III only wants to steal it because it’s the one item his grandfather could never get. But the other two thieves are trying to steal it for personal gain of one kind or another, both willing to hand it over to the shadowy Nazis.
Lupin III is basically James Bond meets Indiana Jones in an impressive Manga styled 3D animation. And the animation is first class, one could say breathtaking. I would even go as far as to say that it’s on par or better than Pixar.
Now Lupin is a great family film, in fact, I watched it with my 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son and they both loved it. But the New Zealand Film and Video Labelling Body have felt it requires an M Rating – indicating that it is recommended for a Mature audience 16 years and over. I would probably have suggested a PG rating seeing as the film does tackle some mature themes. Everything in the film is easily discussible if your children have and questions, but will fly over the head of most younger children.
Lupin III is a fantastic way to escape for an hour and a half these holidays and is perfect for families and adults alike.
Rating: M Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over. Violence.
GEEKERY rating: 4.5/5