king-of-thorn-box-artThe movie King of Thorn is a modern day adaptation (albeit a somewhat loose one) of Sleeping Beauty. And like the original fairy tale, the characters earn the happy ending only after some horrifying trials.

In the year 2012, the world is gripped with fear as a new pandemic, the medusa virus, circles the globe. If you catch it, you have sixty days before your body turns to stone and you die. Luckily the Venus Eye Corporation has perfected cryostasis, allowing it to freeze victims until medical science develops a way to cure them of the disease. But they only have room for 160 people. They select their chosen few to enter “Noah’s Ark” and put them to sleep. When they wake up, the chamber is covered in thorny vines and there are horrifying monsters roaming about. Within minutes, said monsters have reduced the group of 160 to a mere seven survivors. Now they have to figure out what happened to the world and how long they’ve been asleep before they turn to stone and crumble to dust. And that’s just the first fifteen minutes or so of the movie. But to say much more would spoil a lot of the plot. Suffice to say, the allusion to Sleeping Beauty is entirely accurate and the movie knows it.

The art in this movie varies. While the traditional animation is excellent, the transitions to CGI are noticeable and distracting. While this doesn’t happen often, it’s frequent enough to be annoying. Other than that, the movie looks fine. It’s not Studio Ghibli-quality animation, but it’s not jarring. The people are drawn so they look like people (proportion wise) and the monsters are genuinely creepy looking.

The soundtrack for this movie is top notch. While it’s not obtrusive, it easily conveys the melancholy and despair the characters feel, both when they’re going into stasis and leaving the world they knew behind, and later when they have to traverse a hellish new landscape without knowing how long they have to live. It’s subtle and sad, making it easy to empathize with the plight of the characters.

Both the subtitled version of the movie and the dubbed version were well done. I personally preferred the dubbed version this time, as the characters are intended to be from all over the world. That’s much easier to pick up on in English, because they all have different (if stereotypical) accents. It’s also worth noting that this movie is based on a manga of the same name, although apparently it takes some liberties with plot and characterization. So if you like one, you might try seeking out the other.

The movie is very firmly in the adult column. With lots of swearing, nudity, graphic death and explicit violence, this isn’t for anyone under 17. Despite a few animation issues and the fact that it’s only suitable for a limited audience, this is a movie worth watching. It’s clever and subtle and builds its plot at just the right pace so that the mystery stays alive throughout the entire movie, but you don’t feel frustrated by it. This movie is well worth watching.

King of Thorn: the movie
Funimation, 2012
directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama
110 minutes, Number of Discs: 2, Single disc/DVD
Company Age Rating: M/17+
Related to: by Yuji Iwahara

  • Michael Kahan

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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