I never really cared much for the Berserk franchise. The TV series was pretty poorly realized and the manga didn't do much for me either. But when it was announced that Studio 4°C would make a series of three films spanning one of the existing story arcs, I didn't hesitate for a second. Studio 4°C has an impeccable track record and whatever they put out, I watch.
The first two films in the trilogy were fine. Not up to the usual 4°C standard, but still a whole lot better than what I expected from a Berserk movie series. Beruseruku: Ougon Jidai-hen III - Kourin (Berserk Golden Age Arc III: Descent) is the third and final installment and a slight upgrade over the two previous films. Studio 4°C's signature is definitely there, it's just that the Berserk saga itself gets in the way sometimes.
Especially the first part of the film can get a little tedious. There's a lot of shallow drama and endless gushes of unnecessary sentiment. They probably intended it as meaningful character development, or a way to make the story more involving, but it simply isn't working. Luckily there are some action scenes interspersed throughout the first hour, so that at least kept me engaged. The second part came as a pretty big surprise. I knew Berserk was kind of violent, but all hell breaks loose when the stage is finally set. Big monsters, ample gore, rape, tentacles, people travelling through the universe. In no time the film blows up to Akira-like proportions. Might not be for everyone (quite an understatement), but I liked it a lot.
Especially when the quality of the animation is this high. It's pretty much impossible to distinguish between 3D and traditional animation these days (style-wise that is, some shots are just too complex and fluid to pull off with traditional animation), but Studio 4°C didn't simply stop there. Several sequences are drawn in a different, rawer and more edgy style. It's at these times that the film really comes to life. The dub is great too and as far as I know there isn't an English dub available, so that's at least one pitfall you don't need to avoid.
Beruseruku: Ougon Jidai-hen III - Kourin can be tough to chew, especially during the first part of the film, but once it gets going it's pretty much unstoppable. The drama is worthless, the plot very much in your face, but the action kicks ass and the animation is top notch. It's probably a bit too violent for some, but if you like older animes like Wicked City or Demon City you shouldn't need to worry. It's not 4°C at its best, but it's better than most of the current anime (film) series out there. If you plan to watch it though, make sure you see the first two instalments before this one as this is really the ending of a complete arc, so it doesn't stand all that well on its own.