Like Akira, this film opens with the end of the world, although there is only one brief image of a mushroom cloud in between the snarling tree dragon attack from the moon (what a great idea!) Living in Japan at the moment, with suspicions of nuclear power at an all-time high, it's very easy to read the same fears into this film, even tho it was made 6 years ago. There's almost something masochistic in the way the forest bites back. We must do penance. We must be humbled. It's a weird attitude to find in a science fiction film, tho maybe not a post-apocalyptic one.
Agito is the protagonist. A bit of a Mary Sue, and so rather annoying. Toola is more interesting, seeing as she actually has a dilemma to work through, although this is mostly resolved by Agito's general awesomeness. Which is rather annoying. I did like the circularity of Toola's birth and Agito's rebirth, one rising out of a glowing refrigerator, the other dropping from a seed, though could have done without Toola's wailing in the latter scene. Yes I know Agito is awesome, but come on girl, get a grip!
Putting my gender-sensitive glasses on, the film gets even more dispiriting, particularly the UGH DUMB GIRLS character Minka. Toola is little better though, coming across as a dozy weakling easily swayed by impressive-looking super-powered boys. Miyazaki this ain't, tho he is not entirely guilt-free in this department either.
The film is beautiful – in its own way, the animation impresses as much as the latest 3D from Pixar. Worth it for the particular – quite unsettling – revulsion to scientific hubris it expresses (the forest must punish us!) Real shame about the characters, however.