I stumbled across this movie quite by accident, someone was talking about it and it sounded interesting. But what I got wasn’t what I was expecting, which is both good and bad. Museum is based on a manga series by Ryosuke Tomoe about a frog-masked serial killer and the race against time to save innocent lives.
So is it a good movie? Well, I guess the only way you’ll know is to look below the fold. See you there.When a series of gruesome murders take place during the rainy season, Detective Hisashi Sawamura fights to find the serial killer, who is going after the jury of an executed murderer. But it turns out Sawamura’s estranged wife was on that jury and now she and his young son have gone missing…
Now this is a good movie in a lot of ways, and I know that you’re expecting a “but” following that, but there isn’t one. It’s a solid film with a solid plot, there were just some things that I had a few issues with, the first being Sawamura’s character. Now he’s a flawed hero to be sure, he hasn’t been attentive to his wife and son, he’s let his work take over his life, but for a cop that lives for his work, I’m sorry, but he’s really not very good at it, at least in my opinion. Because as a detective, he sure walks into a lot of traps, he sure misses a lot of obvious clues and his combat skills leave a lot to be desired. He also has a lot of emotional problems that become evident as the movie goes on. Flaws, certainly, but I think it takes a lot away from his professional credibility.
Sawamura also becomes a complete abuse magnet by the end. He’s been stabbed in the back, shot, has been hit by two cars, has been in an automobile accident and is a complete mess. The villain also has some characterization issues. He starts off by being an evil genius, plotting the perfect crimes. By the end, he’s an emotional wreck that is easily caught because all he makes are mistakes. And the idea that Sawamura leaps to the absurd conclusion that because the bad guy commits his crimes in the rain, he must be the victim of a ridiculously rare skin condition as a means of cutting down the number of suspects is also silly. And the idea that the one doctor he speaks to, who just so happens to be an expert on that particular skin condition also happens to be the killer’s sister, adopted in childhood… yeah, you can see where this is going. It’s all way too convenient. It’s a lazy shortcut to make up for bad writing.
And that’s a shame because none of it is necessary. There are so many shortcuts, and I have no idea if these are in the manga or not, that could be made up for with better plotting. But then again, they had to force the story into a just over 2 hour run time and that might have limited their options to some degree. This might have done better as a mini-series, which supposedly they did a 4 episode prequel series that I want to try to find.
Regardless, the film that we got was good, if you can overlook all of the problems that I figure were caused by the format. The acting was generally good, the characters were enjoyable, the mystery was the strong point and the creative ways the bad guy killed his victims were excellent. It just deserved to be bigger than the film format allowed it to be. It needed more time to grow, which unfortunately it didn’t have. And I find that to be a shame because I’d love to see how these characters and this situation could have been in a proper format. Still, I have to rate what we got, not what I can see the potential for, so the movie gets a grudging medium grade, but there is so much more here to explore which unfortunately, we’ll never get. Maybe the manga had the time to unpack it all, but on screen… not so much. And that’s a bit sad.