By Calum Marsh
By Michelle Orange
By Michael Atkinson
By Simon Abrams
By Zachary Wigon
By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
The Mystical Laws is an (un)holy mess, a religious tract masquerading as a paint-by-numbers hero's journey. It's the anime equivalent of one of those Christ-ploitation movies starring Kirk Cameron, except in this case, the hero is a surrogate for executive producer Ryuho Okawa, leader of the newish religion Happy Science and described on the HS website as "a living Buddha and a savior." Just like the protagonist of The Mystical Laws! The Happy Science logo is displayed at the beginning, but nobody involved seems to be a fan of science—in one of many interminable speeches, Darwin's On the Origin of Species is cited as an example of how demons control humans by luring them away from faith or something—and the movie will not make you happy. The shame of it is, the potential for campy fun is there (the villain actually does a Vader-style Force choke!), but the onslaught of banal religious chatter is wearying, and worse, the film is cheap and unpleasant to look at. The use of half-baked rotoscoping is reminiscent of Ralph Bakshi's 1978 eyesore The Lord of the Rings, and the state-of-the-1997-art CGI creatures should at least be good for a laugh, but like everything else, they're dragged down by the film's own self-importance. And the less said about the vegans from outer space, the better.
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