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Case Closed Movie 5: Countdown to Heaven

1 rating: 3.0
Animation movie directed by Zach Bolton

The fifthCase Closedtheatrical film,Countdown to Heaven(2001) reintroduces Conan's ultimate nemesis: Gin, the leader of the gang who turned teenage sleuth Jimmy Kudo into an 8-year-old boy. A series of murders derails the opening festivities for a high-rise … see full wiki

Director: Zach Bolton
Genre: Animation
1 review about Case Closed Movie 5: Countdown to Heaven

Another Solid Feature Film in a Great Franchise

  • Jan 3, 2010
Countdown to Heaven represents my third Case Closed feature film in as many nights. What's this mean besides I really need to get out more? It means that the Case Closed is one of few franchises that can truly be counted on to deliver solid entertainment. This is pretty high praise from a guy who doesn't read mystery books, knows nothing about CSI, and cares little for Sherlock Holmes.

The show, for those who have yet to experience it, follows a pretty formulaic structure whereby the title character happens upon criminal activity that requires a good deal of intelligence to successfully point the finger of blame. Sounds like standard mystery-genre fare so far but what's unique about Case Closed is that the lead is played by a 17-year-old (Jimmy Kudo) investigator who has been transformed, via an experimental drug, into a child. The kid goes by the made-up name Conan Edogawa after two popular mystery writers and goes to live with his friend Rachel Moore and her private detective father, Richard. If you're looking for back story, I strongly recommend considering Funimation's Case Closed DVD Starter Set as except for a narrated opening sequence, the films waste very little time retelling past events.

Coming in at a total runtime of 100 minutes, Countdown to Heaven spans a single DVD housed within a standard-sized clamshell case. The show wears an appropriate if not slightly conservative TV PG rating (due to a steady dose of animated violence rather than inappropriate language or nudity).

Language options are standard sub & dub, which means the viewer has the choice of the original Japanese dialog track (stereo) or an English dub (Dolby Digital 5.1) and the option of running English subtitles with either.

The story of Countdown to Heaven goes something like this: Conan and the Junior Detective Agency accompany Dr. Agasa on a camping trip then visit the grand opening of a "twin towers" style mega skyscraper in Tokyo on their way back home.
Richard Moore is also in attendance thanks to an invitation from his classmate Tokiwa Mio, who is the owner of the Tokiwa Corporation (which was heavily involved in the buildings' construction).

Once there a string of murders begin and the crew suspects a serial killer due to a broken sake' cup left at the scene of the crimes. Worse still is that clues hinting toward the return of the Black Organization abound.
Once Ms. Tokiwa Mio herself is killed in plain sight at the opening ceremony, the crew put the investigation into overdrive in effort to solve the bizarre string of events.

Aside from the longer runtime there are some notable differences between the film and the series. Among them is a reliance upon revealing pieces of pre-Conan life for Jimmy Kudo as threads with which to solve the mystery as well as mysteries that are themselves more complex (involving half a dozen key clues to solve rather than the one or two common of the series). Also Richard Moore is portrayed as being far-less dopey and actually contributes to the case's conclusion on multiple occasions; so dramatic is this change that the gimmick of Conan knocking Richard out via a tranquilizer dart then using his voice-changing bow-tie to reveal the solved case in the end is omitted entirely!

There also tends to be a greater focus on Conan's pal and fellow-age-reduced Anita Hailey (Vi in the English dub), Dr. Hershel Agasa and the gadgets he invented to aid Conan on his mission.

As is always the case (no pun intended) with this show, the artwork and visual style aren't extremely rich or polished. Instead the animation is fairly simplistic but gets the job done. Focusing on the show's beauty (or lack thereof) is truly missing the whole point of what makes Case Closed so special. This is suspense-driven story telling that goes the extra mile to make sure each motion picture provides sufficient resolve. I consider myself a competent wannabe detective, but failed to solve this one prior to Conan's unraveling of clues at the end!

The English dub is pure first-class Funimation all the way, which means it just nails the little language details that make the original mystery fun. I can only imagine the work, planning, and translating this must require to get right. The effort pays dividends though when you view the finished product and literally forget that this wasn't originally written in English. That said, this is an example of a film that offers great acting value in either language choice.

In all, quite an entertaining addition to a solid franchise but I wouldn't go as far as to call it the best of the films. In very un-Case Closed like fashion, the ending is quite "big budget Hollywood" for lack of a better term. Case Closed typically prides itself on intelligent writing to earn fans but and I suppose because of, this being a feature film, the staff can be forgiven for relying on an unrealistic but visually loaded ending. Good fun entertainment though, overall.

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