Though it consists of all-new footage, Escaflowne is still a 93-minute condensation of a 26-episode TV series, with all the pitfalls of such you'd expect: too many characters, no reason to care about them, forced dramatic beats and excessive exposition. Matters aren't helped by a flat, generic English dub. The story, such as it is, plays like an anime stereotype, featuring a schoolgirl drawn into a fantasy world where possession of a giant bio-organic cyborg could mean the rejuvenation of the planet or the end of it. It's all probably more meaningful to those familiar with the show, but as Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me proved, a cult series audience can make for a mighty small crowd. The big-screen surround-sound effects are nice; too bad they're the only aspect of the film that's ready to rumble. And parents, be warned: There's an astonishing amount of bloodletting for a PG-13 film.


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