Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $19.98 US
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
Bruce Willis would be proud.
Like so many Case Closed fans out there, the Case Closed movies seemed more like extended versions of a Case Closed episode and that’s really not such a bad thing considering the fact that many of the movies were actually good enough to capture the essence of the series. Countdown to Heaven is the fifth movie for the Case Closed series and while the mystery isn’t very convincing this is one of the more action-packed and thrilling cases that Conan has been involved with since his first introduction.
On his way to a fun weekend getaway with his young friends from the Junior Detective League as well as the brilliant and kindly Doctor Agasa, Conan Edogawa thinks this is just going to be a restful day of camping and even a chance to see Japan’s tallest twin skyscrapers up close. Like always, it’s never just a quiet day for Conan as his friend George finds their friend Vi Graythorn sneaking out late at night to make a phone call. At the same time, the two men responsible for killing Vi’s sister and for turning Jimmy Kudo into Conan Edogawa by way of an experimental drug are receiving the message. Are Gin and Vodka in league with Vi?
The threat of Gin and Vodka aside, Conan and his friends meet up with Richard Moore, his daughter Rachel and Rachel’s friend Serena outside the twin towers. It seems that Richard was invited to the gala opening of the skyscrapers that house business offices as well as a luxurious hotel by the building’s owner, a heiress named Madison who was Richard’s High school classmate.
Richard and the others aren’t Madison’s only guests seeing that there’s an elderly artist who became famous for his painting of Mount Fuji and then there’s the somewhat vulgar West Tama City councilman as well as a video game programmer. All seems to be going well until the city councilman is found stabbed to death inside his hotel room. The only clue is a sake cup left at the scene of the crime. This seems like yet another case for Conan and his young friends. Strangely enough, Richard and Rachel Moore sits the investigation out as Conan drags his friends to talk to all the usual suspects. Watching Mitch and George interrogate the artist about his whereabouts during the crime is amusing and so unlike any Case Closed episode.
When the video game programmer is found dead and another sake cup is found it is clear that this has become a serial killer case with the killer trying to send a message. Meanwhile, Gin and Vodka think that Vi is still walking around as her older self (both don’t know she took the same drug that shrunk Jimmy to a kid-size) and will be at the gala opening of the twin buildings.
During the festivities, though, the killer strikes again this time taking care of Madison herself. On top of that, Gin and Vodka set off explosions that set the twin towers ablaze. Suddenly, the movie becomes less of a murder/mystery and more of a nod to ‘70s disaster movie “Towering Inferno.” With explosions going off in different areas of the building and so many guests that include women and children, Inspector Meguire makes it top priority to get everyone out of there.
Unfortunately, the kids of the Junior Detective League stick around in hopes to solve the murders before Conan does and Rachel runs out to find Conan thinking the boy is in danger when Gin mistakes Rachel’s friend Serena for Sherry/Vi. Seeing as the bridge that links both skyscrapers together is blown away, Rachel – holding on to Conan – channels Bruce Willis’ character in “Die Hard” and performs the same stunt to save them both. This scene is definitely one of the coolest and surprisingly tender moments in the movie that it practically steals the show.
Oh, and Conan manages to solve the mystery and reveal the killer’s identity but by this time you really don’t care because A, cooler things are happening at the same time and B, the mystery was never that absorbing in the first place. How can you care about the identity of the killer when Conan and his friends decide to make their escape in a most spectacular and exciting way?
Weak mystery plot aside, there are some really fun moments in this series that centers on the Junior Detective League … particularly Amy and Mitch who make endearing confessions to none other than Rachel. It’s moments like that that should have been a bigger part of the TV series.
In the end, Countdown to Heaven is one of the most exciting Case Closed movie’s to come along since Captured in Her Eyes. Mind you, the mystery and the reasons why the killer did what he did are not handled in true Case Closed fashion and that might not sit well with fans but when there’s action this good we can almost forgive the movie its faults. Trust me, Case Closed followers, Countdown to Heaven is a real blast.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
A camping trip and a visit to Japan’s tallest twin skyscrapers turns into a battle for survival as two old foes of Jimmy/Conan and Vi Graythorn set the buildings ablaze during its gala opening. Meanwhile, there’s are a number of murderers linked to a heiress who happens to own the skyscrapers and Conan and the Junior Detective League is on the case.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The movie looks just as good as the series’ episodes so don’t expect anything visually new in the movie … although the explosions do stand out perfectly.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The voice acting in the series has always been good throughout and that goes especially for the English dub voices that do improve on the dialogue. The Japanese voices are excellent as well and you just have to love the original score as well as the ending theme song “Always.”
The only extras here are trailers so don’t expect audio commentary or a spotlight on Conan’s gadgets or character profiles like those that the series provides on the box sets.
While lacking a real mystery worthy of Conan’s skills, Countdown to Heaven isn’t without its exciting and surprisingly action-packed moments that make this an interesting departure for Case Closed fans. With nods to two classic movies and no real resolution at the end, it isn’t the best Case Closed movie but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun watching this one.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment