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Western Animation / Ark

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She is civilization's only hope.

Ark is a 2003 US-Korean science-fiction action film directed by Kenny Hwang, starring James Woods as Jallek (with some additional lines supplied by Lex Lang), Kirby Morrow as Rogan, Chiarra Zanni as Amarinth, and Trevor Devall as the film's Big Bad Baramandanote .

Described as an attempt to address the failures of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and redeem the use of photorealistic CGI in animated films, Ark strives for reaching a broader, much more westernized target audience, while keeping the film's plot close to its Eastern RPG influences. Not striving for originality, the common elements - the protagonist being The Chosen One, a spunky Anti-Hero, the film being a Space Opera from a distant galaxy, a treacherous advisor who is the film's Hidden Villain, etc. are all here, but somehow this movie managed to entertain far more than it should.

Set in 2204 in a distant galaxy, the aftermath of a great war over the ownership of Planet Alcyeon between its inhabitants, the Storrians and Ceveans, results in Alcyeon's once-lush surface being reduced to a wasteland. The Storrians, winners of the war, terraforms the planet's surface with technology and high-tech machinery, while the Ceveans are forced to flee into the wilderness. But in the thick of the war, a conspiracy is discovered, a powerful dictator intends to use an ancient superweapon for his own selfish reasons, and Alcyeon is facing impending destruction...

Much of the film is centered around Amarinth, the daughter of Commander Jallak of the Storrian army. When Amarinth befriends Rogan, a Cevean refugee who escaped Storrian authorities, an unlikely friendship happens between the both of them. Somehow, Amarinth herself is involved in a planet-destroying prophecy - specifically, she will be fated to stop it, and unbeknownst to Amarinth she is destined to be savior of both the Storrians and Ceveans.

Ark contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Robots:
    • The film doesn't attempt to explain if Amarinth's pet, Juju, is a living thing or a machine. It resembles a canary with organic features, it is clearly sentient and capable of obeying it's master, but it has a battery power source on it's back.
    • Baramanda's Elite Mooks are humanoid, but their skin is clearly mechanical (evidenced by the clanging sounds when being shot at by Rogan and Jallak), their joints and movements emits mechanical noises, and they are incapable of speech, only bleeping.
  • Animesque: The film's animation bears close resemblance to the Final Fantasy games and typical JRPG, given the inspiration source that's quite intentional.
  • Armored Coffins: The very premise of the movie: whomever pilots the Ark to evacuate the citizens to leave Alcyeon will die, having spent their life-force controlling the machine. This is the fate of Amiel in the backstory, and Amarinth's at the ending of the film.
  • Asshole Victims:
    • In the prologue, Jallak is forced to kill two of his fellow officers in order to prevent them from destroying a Cevean birthing lab, which could potentially result in hundreds of Cevean children being killed. Nobody will feel sad over those two's demise.
    • A Storrian sergeant who force-feeds Rogan an entire tank of petrol, for no reason other than being a dick, and intends to have Rogan shot afterwards, ends up having Rogan puke the petrol back into his face before taking his gun and shooting him, setting him on fire. Again, nobody mourns.
    • Baramanda, intending to hijack the Ark for himself and condemn the citizens of Alcyeon to die in the planet's implosion, ends up falling into the planet's core and will be the first to die from being vaporized together with the entirety of Alcyeon. Good riddance.
  • Behemoth Battle: The film's climax have the two Arks, piloted by Baramanda and Amarinth, duking it out, the latter trying to save the Storrian city-plate and evacuate the remnants of Alcyeon before the planet's explosion.
  • Big Bad: Baramanda seeks to covet the Ark's powers for himself and condemn the inhabitants of planet Alcyeon to their deaths while he becomes immortal.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The film ends with Commander Jallak and Piriel blowing themselves up to destroy Baramanda and the first Ark, while Amarinth, piloting the Golden Ark, carries the remnants of Alcyeon to a nearby green planet, sacrificing herself so that the Ceveans and Storrians can be spared. At the end of the film, Rogan, the only surviving main character, states that the Ceveans and Storrians had put their differences aside and will strive to restart their civilization in a new world. The End.
  • Blood Magic: Amarinth discovers her blood has electrical properties and can power machines, when a cut results in a drop of her blood reviving Juju. It turns out it's because she is the long-lost daughter of Priestess Amiel, destined to pilot the Ark and save Alcyeon's people.
  • Body Horror:
    • Baramanda have a swarm of worm-like "pets", capable of draining victims of their life-force turning them into skeltal husks, which he gleefully demonstrates on an unfortunate Cevean prisoner. The film implies he's been doing this on a regular basis.
    • Towards the end of the film, the effects of Baramanda having Amarinth's DNA injected into his body to power the Ark took it's toll, with Baramanda's flesh bulging out through his skin, his veins glowing and pulsating, and much of his muscular structure overflowing through his face, chest, and torso. And somehow, he indulges in it.
  • The Chosen One: Amarinth, destined to pilot the Ark to save the people of Alcyeon, much like her mother Amiel centuries ago.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Baramanda's personal guards. Well, provided if they really are entirely robots, and not cyborgs or mechanically enhanced humans. Naturally, their lone glowing red eye is their main weakness, and shooting them in the eye quickly puts them out of commission.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Baramanda (the guy In the Hood on the poster above), what with his long flowing hair.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The fate of Alcyeon at the end of the film, with Amarinth piloting the Golden Ark and evacuating the remaining population to a nearby green planet.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: How Baramanda reveals himself to be the monster he eventually became.
  • Fantastic Racism: Occasionally, some members of the Storrian millitary will display this type of attitude towards captured Cevean prisoners, particularly the Storrian Sergeant having fun interrogating Rogan.
    Storrian Sergeant: Cevean scum! [said while beating up an unarmed Rogan and clearly enjoying himself]
  • Force Feeding: Part of the Cold-Blooded Torture Rogan is subjected to after being captured by Storrian soldiers, with a particular Jerkass Storrian Sergeant deciding to force-feed the contents of a gasoline tank to Rogan for no reason other than being a dick.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: It's implied that the reason why Alcyeon's core becomes unstable is due to the war from centuries ago turning much of Alcyeon's surface into a wasteland, followed by the ruling Storrian class dominating with their technology and mechas, resulting in the planet's core retaliating by exploding, wiping out all life on it's surface, as retaliation.
  • Go for the Eye: Shooting the glowing red eye of Baramanda's personal guards is the best way of taking them down. Resulting in more than one non-organic Moe Greene Special throughout the film.
  • Great Offscreen War: The war between the ancient Ceveans and Storreans centuries ago is never shown onscreen, only narrated in the film's opening by Amarinth.The Infodump does fill in audiences enough details about the backstory, about Alcyeon being owned by two warring tribes, the Storreans becoming the ruling class dominating the planet, the Ceveans seeking the ancient Ark to reclaim the world, and the impending doom Alcyeon will suffer because of the war speeding up it's core's inevitable implosion.
  • Green Aesop: The destruction wrought from the war between the Storrians and Ceveans, followed by the Storrians' technological advancements, turned the once-beautiful Planet Alcyeon into a polluted wasteland, subsequently contributing to it's destruction. By the end of the film, the survivors of Alcyeon's destruction is shown restarting life on a lush, beautiful green planet full of vegetation.
  • Happily Adopted: Amarinth is well aware that she is an orphan adopted by Commander Jallak, but she is more than happy to be his daughter and never questions her true lineage. Of course, that is until she finds out she's The Chosen One after her mother, Priestess Amiel, to save the planet.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Commander Jallak and Piriel sacrifices themselves to detonate the Ark's reactor, causing Baramanda to be overwhelmed and vapourized in the ensuing power surge, where they essentially killed themselves to destroy the main villain.
    • Amarinth giving up her own life to pilot the Golden Ark as a vessel to carry the remnants of Alcyeon off it's surface, as the planet implodes. The film's ending states that she died, like her mother did centuries ago, to save her entire race.
  • Human Aliens: The Storrians and Ceveans all look like humans, with some minor differences being having slightly pointier ears and sharper facial features.
  • I Lied: Baramanda's promise to release Commander Jallak and allow him to go free, should Amarinth turn herself in. She complies and surrenders, but after Jallak is released and allowed to leave with Rogan, Baramanda instead orders a strike team to gun down Jallak, Rogan, and all the protesters, to Amarinth's horror.
  • Immortality Seeker: Baramanda, who covets the titular Ark's powers for himself, knowing that by taking over the machine he will become an immortal.
  • It's All About Me: Baramanda's quest for immortality have him seeking the Ark, meant to save the citizens for Alcyeon, for his own selfish reasons. He will live forever, while the entire population of Alcyeon, both Ceveans and Storrians, will be condemned to extinction. He doesn't care.
  • Karmic Death: Baramanda, who seeks to control the Ark for immortality, ends up having the Ark's power overloading on him, painfully disintegrating himself. And as Amarinth pilots the second, Golden Ark successfully evacuating the planet, when Alcyeon goes ka-boom Baramanda will be the first to be wiped out.
  • Kid Amid the Chaos: During the end of the film when Baramanda pilots the Ark and goes on a citywide rampage, there is a brief shot of a crying little girl in the middle of several collapsing city buildings. Whether she made it out of the city or not is never made clear.
  • La RĂ©sistance: Rogan and the Cevean resistance fighters opposing the Storrians. But given their inferior technology and the Storrians having superior firepower, numbers, and equipment, they don't last long in battles.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: The movie focuses on Human Aliens in a distant galaxy.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: The Ark is a giant humanoid mecha, large enough to carry the population of an entire civilization for evacuation. Note that words like "robot" and "mecha" are never mentioned at any point in this film.
  • Motion-Capture Mecha: The Ark (both of them) functions like this, with it's pilot floating in a state of suspended-animation in the cockpit, and the Ark's movements corresponding to the pilot's.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: To be precise, it's more like Only the Chosen One of Royal Cevean Heritage may pilot the Ark to save Alcyeon and her citizens. This is the fate of Priestess Amiel in the backstory, and also that of Amarinth when realizing she is Amiel's long-lost daughter, prophesized to save Alcyeon.
  • Papa Wolf: Commander Jallak will do anything to protect his adopted daughter. She may not be his biological child, but he clearly loves her more than anything else.
  • Praetorian Guard: Baramanda have several black-clad Elite Mooks that serves only him, who can absorb plenty of bullets, hits like a tank, and provide a far greater challenge to Jallak and Rogan than regular soldiers.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Empress Cathebel's fate, by a random rebel supporting commander Jallak.
  • Public Execution: Commander Jallak is subjected to being executed in the middle of the city square, in a mechanical Iron Maiden-like cage, with Baramanda's demands being that Amarinth surrenders herself in exchange for her father's life. It works, but not for long.
  • Puppet King: Empress Cathebel, the ruler of the Storrians, who is absolutely incompetent at her job. It's clear from the get-go that Baramanda is the one in charge of most decisions, and her reliance on him - owing to her Horrible Judge of Character, allows Baramanda to hijack the Ark for his own selfish purposes, dooming the entire planet to destruction.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Amarinth's pet, Juju. It looks and sounds like an earth canary, but with the facial features and expressions of a chipmunk, and can inflate itself to bounce all over the place before settling in it's owner's palm.
  • Shout-Out: The orange scorpion-like mecha hijacked by Rogan and Amarinth during the street chase looks an awful lot like the Guard Scorpion.
  • Sole Survivor: Rogan is the only named character who survives the movie, and provides the narration at the end explaining the aftermath of Alcyeon's destruction.
  • There Is Another: The Ark piloted by Priestess Amiel to save the Ceveans centuries ago and later hijacked by Baramanda isn't the only one. There is a second Golden Ark in the wastelands, and Amarinth's fate is to pilot that Ark to save Alcyeon's people.
  • Uterine Replicator: Early in the film, Commander Jallak - then a sergeant - and his team comes across a Cevean laboratory housing numerous birthing pods. It was one of Jallak's officers deciding to simply machine-gun through all the pods, never mind if any of them are occupied by infant Ceveans, simply For the Evulz, resulting in Jallak being forced to kill both his colleagues in order to make them stop; and along the way, find the pod containing the infant Amarinth which he then decides to adopt as a daughter.
  • Walking Tank: The Storrian military's armored units have walking tanks as their default transport. Their impracticality is however proven during the city chase, when one of them trips and knocks into another, resulting in both collapsing and blowing up.

"Alcyeon was once like this before the war... it's hard to imagine anything other than wastelands, but it doesn't matter. I know this will be a good home for us all. The Ceveans, the Storrians, we're learning to live together but it hasn't been easy so far. I just wish Amarinth were here to help us bridge the gap... we could learn so much from her, but we already have."Rogan