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Blu-Ray Review: MVD Entertainment’s Junk Head 

Junk Head

The handcrafted world of Junk Head must be seen and heard to be believed.  The Takehide Hori-directed film rivals other visually astute director’s debuts in its accomplished world-building genius.  New to Blu-ray from MVD Entertainment

The Film 

Staggering.  Work.  Of.  Genius.  

If there isn’t anything else you take away from this review it’s that Junk Head, the feature film debut of Writer/Director/Producer/Lead animator Takehide Hori is Staggering Work of Uncompromised Genius.  Many are quick to throw out comparisons to David Lynch willy-nilly but Hori’s work here is the kind of dreamscape nightmare fuel vision that invokes the director’s debut feature Eraser Head beyond the similar occurrence of title (which no doubt was not a coincidence).

Set in a distant dystopian future where humans have unlocked the secret of eternal life but at the cost of reproduction.  In order to find the secrets of reproduction society sends brave souls down into the depths of the earth, now a giant industrial superstructure inhabited by lesser beings and other creatures.  We follow one such adventurous soul as he attempts to unlock the secrets of reproduction.  What he and we find is more than we could ever have imagined.  

The film began life as a short that garnered much acclaim and was placed into production as a feature.  Many features start in a similar manner but often lose what initially made them so powerful.  Their voice.  Junk Head is one of those rare occurrences where the feature-length version far eclipses the original short. Everything that made the short film so unique is not only retained but expanded on in the most thoughtful of ways. 

Junk Head isn’t a mere exercise in style.  There meaning behind every action, story beat, and camera move.  Director Hori retained much of the control over the film as it transitioned from completed short to feature-length production with a budget.  Thus the Science Fiction Dystopian tale feels not just unique but guided by a single hand that already understands the complexities of visual storytelling.  A feat that feels like a miracle not just in this era of bland reboots and reimaginations but by a filmmaker who never touched a camera until he was 40.  

Much of the delight in Junk Head isn’t the visuals but the constantly evolving story that Hori has decided to tell.  There is a whip-smart intelligence to everything that transpires that never feels boisterous or self-congratulatory.  Rather like Hayao Miyazaki, there’s a subdued almost languid way the story plays out that doesn’t feel like plot points or a road map to the end of the film/journey.  There is genuine surprise and twists embedded into this adroit tale of adventure and discovery.  Similar to Miyazaki’s work, there is always a reason or meaning behind even the cutest or twee of beings or creatures that inhabit the film. 

By its truly epic ending Junk Head has proven on a micro and macro level to be a thrilling piece of science fiction pop entertainment.  One with more on its mind than even the weightiest of its contemporaries.  Unlike those ventures, Junk Head manages to do it with surprising humor, empathy, and badassery that never feels forced.  

It’s safe to say that Junk Head is one of the best releases of 2023.  

The Transfer

The transfer provided it near flawless.  One will think there are defects, specifically in the flashback moments, but it’s a stylistic choice and the transfer is so good it makes these visual ticks look like issues with your monitor.  The digitally shot feature looks beautiful on Blu-ray. The image is consistently sharp with beautiful contrast and black levels, without any digital artifacting.  Again, a flawless picture.  

The Extras

They include the following; 

  • Making of

Making of (42:15) – this fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at the production combines b-roll footage, production stills, behind-the-scenes videos, VFX progression reels, storyboard split-screens, animatics, and time-lapsed photography in as artful a way as the film builds its story of this production.  This making-of covers all aspects of the stop-motion process from the pre-production, building of models and sets, the previz process, the production, the VFX work, foley / sound design, editing, voice work, and all with a visual eye on how this was accomplished, painstakingly in most instances. This is all done without interviews.  One would think this could become repetitive or boring, but it doesn’t.  One will want another 42 minutes of this footage as there’s a way that it’s constructed the lack of subtitles in moments where people do talk or there’s a title in Japanese it’s very self-explanatory.  In fact, that is the only complaint about this making of, the lack of subtitles.  Minor quibble aside this is one of the best behind-the-scenes docs of recent memory.  

The Final Thought 

Junk Head is one of the best releases of the year and the announcement of a major talent.  Highest possible recommendations!!!  

MVD Entertainment’s Blu-Ray edition of Junk Head is out now. 

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