Garm Wars: The Last Druid is pretty difficult to explain. The movie is about the Garm, a people that once had gods and was separated into eight different tribes. But that's ancient history for this planet, which went through a major war that left only three of the tribes standing: the ruthless Briga, their servants the Columba, and the technologically inclined Kumtak. The film follows Columba clone soldier Khara (Melanie St. Pierre), who captures Kumtak mystic Wydd (Lance Henriksen). Wydd claims that with him the last of the druids, a special class of Garm long thought wiped out. Khara, eager to find some meaning in her existence, accompanies Kumtak and the druid as they search for the truth about life on their planet.
It might help to know that Garm Wars: The Last Druid is the work of anime superstar Mamoru Oshii. The man behind Ghost in the Shell puts together a mythology worthy of an entire season of television. Fitting all that into a ninety-minute movie is folly, however. The film has so much to explain that very little actually happens. And when the credits roll, one is left scratching his or her head, wondering what it is exactly that the movie was trying to accomplish.
At best, the movie plays like a prequel to another work that doesn't exist. Or a recap of another work that also doesn't exist. The movie functions in this weird theoretical middle, explaining a vast history that we didn't get to see, and setting up major events that it will never get to. It is frustrating to say the least. The story is incomprehensible, with references to events and ideas that simply aren't there on screen. The world of the film is actually very interesting, but the movie is only covering the parts that aren't compelling.
Even in this impenetrable haze, the movie does manage to occasionally impress. It isn't always easy to tell what's going on, but the movie does provide plenty of strange, curious things to look at. The art style recalls the work of H.R. Giger, a mix of the organic and the technological bringing the film's alien vision to life. To its credit, this movie looks like nothing else, and its ideas, though not completely fleshed out, feel thoroughly original.
The blending of live action footage and CGI more or less works. It helps that the movie isn't trying to look realistic. It uses CGI specifically to create something otherworldly, adding a layer of alien sheen to everything and everyone. This doesn't really excuse the acting, however. To be completely fair, it might just be that the actors are just as baffled with the script as everyone else. Melanie St. Pierre can't sell half the nonsense coming out of her mouth. Lance Henriksen looks really tried delivering the film's clumsy exposition, but he does offer moments of delicious B-Movie goodness.
Maybe Garm Wars: The Last Druid was meant to be something much larger. There is so much backstory to it, so much that it needs to be explained. It just doesn't seem like the kind of story that could ever be told in the limited confines of a ninety-minute feature. What we end up getting is a movie without substance, a bridge to two narrative ends that do not actually exist. This movie should have been bonus material to a home video box set of a twenty-two episode series set in the same world. But instead it is a clunky, impenetrable feature film that frustrates much more than it entertains.