Guts, the mercenary, has long since found and left his home in the Band of the Hawk raiding clan. The third act is the final movie (so far) about the Berserk story and is an adaptation of the manga by the same name, as created by Kentaro Miura. The film is set in a medieval fantasy setting and the story is best known for its copious amounts of action, sex and awesomesauce. The three films together cover the Golden Age arc of the Berserk story, and serves as a set up for the entire story of the Berserk universe.
At the end of the last movie, Guts’ had left the Band of the Hawk to find his own path as a mercenary. The Band of the Hawks’ leader, Griffith, had broken into the castle that he had just had the Hawks’ appointed as knights to and molested the Princess, resulting in his capture and subsequent torture. The story of this final movie takes place at about a year of the events of the previous film and Guts has found his way back to the Band of the Hawk, only to find that Griffith has been captured and the Hawks are under attack by pursuing forces. Much like in the previous films, the story is mostly medieval in setting, with minor elements of the supernatural. That is, at least until about a third of the way through where the supernatural elements that Berserk fans know the story for really kicks into the forefront.
What’s cool about this episode of the Berserk movies is that it covers what is probably the most darkest part of the Berserk story. The end of the second movie saw that things were about to get a little grizzly, but right off the bat, we have Griffith being seduced by some kind of metaphysical entity that viewers may or may not already be familiar with. From there, things just keep on getting darker and darker with the Band of the Hawk just seeming to not catch a break. This theme consists throughout the entire film, with even the movie itself ending on a pretty dark tone. We don’t mean that it is coloured in darker colours, but moreso that things like the molestation of a significant character by a demon bird may have happened in the film.
However, Berserk Arc III isn’t all dark tones and rape, it’s also got an air of metaphysics that anyone that’s seen 2001: A Space Odyssey would be familiar with. There’s a theme of transcendence that play throughout the film with the main character Griffith. This theme comes complete in the last third of the film where his frail body (since the beginning of the film) has regenerated, giving him more power than he had before. Fundamentally, this whole experience is about Griffiths relationship with his fellows, and how he views them personally. When he has to make an important decision involving their very lives, his true feelings become very clear.
The Berserk movies are known for their use of CGI elements throughout the movie. Early on, especially in the first two, it was more CGI than not, which felt really, really strange, but at least it was consistent. This third movie instead opts for a lot more hand-drawn computer or cell work, which gives a great deal of clarity and personality to each of the characters. Although, this has its own problems too. Each of the CGI models are comparatively much lower in quality than the drawn elements, and when the movie switches between these particular elements, it is a little jarring and inconsistent. This is particularly evident in the action sequences, which feel less brutal than they should. It’s as though the CGI just loses that creative touch, which is disappointing given the creative and interesting main story.
If you’re a viewer that can’t take certain elements, Berserk Arc III may not be a movie that can be advised for consumption. It has a fair bit of nudity, violence, gore, religious, rape, demonic and dark elements that may put some viewers off. While this is par for the course in this story, based on the last three films, viewers jumping on at this point may need to be a little wary. However, it is not handled in a gratuitous way, these elements segue well into the story and are not played up for boners or for the fanservice crowd.
Fans of the 90s Berserk Anime series covering similar ground will definitely enjoy the fact that the original voice cast from back then has returned to reprise their roles as the same characters in this movie. This is the same in the movies previous to it, but it’s still something pretty cool. What’s more here is that the English Dub is clearly the superior option for watching Berserk. There’s something about Anime movies and the English Dubs being well done, and Berserk is proof of that. That’s not to say that the Japanese dub is bad or anything, but it’s a lot more easy to get into medieval fantasy when the characters are speaking a language that resembles the scenario that they’re in.
Even the soundtrack in Berserk was absolutely amazing. Like really, it sets the mood for each scene and battle so well. The opening theme is so badass. Berserk would not be the same without the badass soundtrack moving alongside the badass story.
We absolutely loved the entire Berserk Trilogy as a whole package, but as a standalone movie, Berserk Arc III was a pretty epic conclusion to the saga. It brought us more of what the Berserk franchise is known for, while also setting up events for future content. The movie comes with a great story, interesting characters, developments that you would not expect and just a whole lot of awesome. This is definitely a must see movie and, if possible, with the other two before it.
Berserk Act III: The Advent is released by Madman Entertainment here in Australia. This review is based on the DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the film. You can purchase the film from Madmans Online Store here for ~$35 on BD and ~$25 on DVD.