A couple of new reviews…

•April 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

OK,

First of all, my New Year’s Resolutions are coming along swimmingly… My home theater system is small, but wonderful, and having it is the only way I felt comfortable giving you my forthcoming review… Also, not a single date or interest… ¼ of the year down, ¾ to go…

I’ve seen a lot of movies in the last couple of months, but few that I hadn’t already seen…

Blu-Ray Cover...

My first review is of a movie I have seen before, but haven’t reviewed… Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance was released on Blu-Ray and DVD in North America on March 29th, and I received my Blu-Ray copy on April 1st. If you’re looking for a synopsis, look elsewhere. There are far better writers than I who love to give general, detailed, and occasionally too detailed synopses of all things Evangelion, so I’m not going to go there. I’ll try to stay away from hyperbole as well, but that might be more difficult…

Asuka arrives!

The three pilots...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This movie is beautiful. It continues on in a completely different direction from the events set out in the series. There are definitely still some similarities, but all of the angels are either updated significantly, or completely redesigned. There is much less mystery, which in this case is a good thing. Even in the first movie, you had Misato showing Shinji things that even she didn’t know in the series until near the conclusion. There are significant differences in the character’s personalities as well. In the series, even after Rei smiles for Shinji after Operation Yashima, she kind of goes right back to being a cold loner. Not so here. She opens up as Shinji continues to show her kindness and moves her heart. It’s nice to see. Asuka is still brash and arrogant, but not cruel; again, a refreshing and welcome change. Some things in this film are huge surprises, and the finale in this movie is absolutely breathtaking. The continued use of CG for the Evangelions makes the scale and action quite a spectacle.

Mari Illustrious' fortuitous landing in Japan...

Misato Katsuragi...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I love more than anything about these new rebuild movies are that they keep the amazing characters, visuals, action, and drama, but leave behind the depressing feeling of despair… I can’t recommend this movie highly enough…

Shinji in Unit-01 fighting Zeruel

Shinji gettin' serious...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously, this is the best anime movie I’ve ever seen. It is simply amazing in every respect with ZERO negative qualities other than the uninitiated will have to see the first movie first, (surprise, surprise)…

The awakened Unit-01...

I should also add the disclaimer that I’ve only seen it in the original Japanese language. I’m a Japanese language enthusiast and a purist when it comes to anime anyway, so I usually don’t bother watching the English language version at all. If that diminishes the experience for anybody who inexplicably likes watching anime in English, then I apologize…

(Many thanks to Otaku Revolution for the fantastic images, you guys are awesome)!

 

 

On to my next review:

 

Case 39… OK, this really isn’t a review, so much as an editorial thought or two. This “horror” movie didn’t scare me at all. In some parts it made me giggle. Seriously.

Country music! Nooooo!!!

It never ceases to amaze me how institutionally stupid Hollywood can be. It’s not that the writing is bad, and it’s not that the acting is bad. Renee Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Ian Mcshane, and especially Jodelle Ferland execute their duties admirably.

The incomparable Renee Zellweger...

An interesting moment some might consider creepy...

What I object to is Hollywood’s inimical adherence to materialism even in matters relating to the spiritual…  I’m not even advocating understanding demonic activity purely in the context of Judeo-Christian interpretation. Fundamentally, in almost every understanding of a hypothetical spiritual reality, if the body a spirit inhabits dies, the spirit moves on. What could possibly be gained by the death of the little girl? What? The demon just “goes away”, “dies”? I don’t think so. It’s just so stupid. Much more likely is that the demon moves on to another host, perhaps one more apt to its purposes… Has anyone heard of exorcisms? Or would that simply be seen as trying to jump on the bandwagon of the recent spate of exorcism films? At any rate, this was a well-made movie, but really stupid for anyone who doesn’t necessarily believe that demonic activity is pure fantasy… The only decent concept is that the spirit finds out what your fears are and uses that against you. It’s one of the few concepts in the movie that made sense to me. The Hansel-and-Gretel imagery near the beginning of the movie was interesting too…

Jodelle Ferland, who always gets the "creepy little girl" parts... (See Silent Hill and The Messengers)

All-in-all, it was a decently fun romp, but more because it was pretty funny as well as entertaining in general.

New Year…

•January 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Wow, it’s been six months since my last post…

I wish I could say that it’s because I’ve been so busy, but really I’ve just been gaming a lot.

Let’s see, in the Major Life News Department:

1) My newest divorce was final in the beginning of August…

2) Found and lost a new girlfriend in a mere six week’s time. (I wish I could say that was a record)… :-p

3) I got hired on permanently at my job, and got the accompanying medical benefits and 401K etc…

4) I’ve seen How To Train Your Dragon approximately 20 times since it came out on DVD…  That’s in this important department primarily because it’s the first non-Pixar movie to achieve a Pixar-level emotional response from me. One of the biggest surprises of the year and my #1 of the year. Yep, better than Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim

On the figure front, not much to report. I’m getting three Japanese Halo: Reach figures which I WILL be reviewing when I get them. Sneak Preview:

Finally: New Year’s resolutions…

I’ve thought long and hard about these, and some of them may sound odd, but they are very important to my health and overall well-being.

1) Finish acquiring my home theater system. The fact that I’m so far behind the curve though I’m such a movie/anime/gaming geek continues to mystify me.

2) Stay the hell away from women other than as friends. After four divorces and countless girlfriends, I’ve decided to officially retire from the “game of love” as Queen called it… For the first time in my life, I am not swimming in excruciating pain. I know who I am and can accept myself as I am. I have great female friends that are fairly positive influences on my life AS friends. I think I’m going to stick with that…

And that’s it! I think I can accomplish these pretty handily. Well, one of ’em for sure… :-/

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  =D

So Disappointed… (SPOILERS)

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Being the geek that I am, occasionally I do the unthinkably insane in order to retain the title. This past week, I attended a midnight showing on Tuesday night, then attended a midnight showing the following night. I also work a 40-hour-a-week job, (four ten-hour days Monday through Thursday and an occasional Friday for some overtime), starting at 6am… I got a total of seven hours of sleep in a 48-hour period and didn’t miss a minute of work. Thank God for friends at work that keep things lively!

At any rate, the first movie I saw was The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Interestingly enough, these movies keep getting better in violation of the law of diminishing quality when it comes to sequels… The first movie was on the shady side of mediocre, The Twilight Saga: New Moon was much better, actually being what I could call a good movie. The newest movie was very well done. Finally. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I definitely cared more this time in relation to the characters. In relation to the action, I kind of already had a lot of confidence in David Slade after seeing 30 Days of Night. As far as the adaptation issue, I thought Slade made some very wise choices. It seemed that all of the major plot points and some of the lesser ones were well accounted for, with reasonable compression choices as well.

Riley (Xavier Samuel) was well cast, and Victoria (the goddess Bryce Dallas Howard) was as drop-dead gorgeous as I imagined in the book. I think Howard is worlds better-looking and better cast than the original Victoria, Rachelle Lefevre. The Cullens were fleshed out much better this time, with a great back-story scene straight out of the books with one of my favorite Cullens, Jasper (allowing Jackson Rathbone to finally flex his acting muscles a bit and have a sweet little scene with Alice). Bella has her little moment with Rosalie as well. I was surprised to see Jodelle Ferland and Kristen Stewart get a little bit of a The Messengers reunion when Jodelle shows up as Bree Tanner, the subject of a new novella release from Stephenie Meyer.

The triangle...

As far I could tell, Slade stayed remarkably faithful to the novel. The parts that were shifted or compressed served the flow of the story well. In fact, it was so faithful that as soon as the wolves stepped out of the forest for the “training session”, I could tell which one was Sam, which one was Jacob, and so on, simply from the descriptions of the wolves from the book. Another little effect that I thought was perfect was the sound of the newborns getting ripped apart. Meyer described it as the sound of thick metal ripping, which Slade followed perfectly.

The Cullens

The more I think back on the movie, the more fond of it I’m getting. They even included the tent conversation between Edward and Jacob, almost verbatim. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was one of my favorite character moments in the book.

The fireside history lesson (straight from the book)...

You should obviously take this review with a grain of salt as it should be obvious by now that I’m a die-hard fan of the books. Flame away, haters… :-p

So why is the title of this post “So Disappointed”?

Another property I’m a die-hard fan of is Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender

Yes, the second midnight showing was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender.

The deceptively cool movie poster...

Now, I’m a huge fan of the show. It’s character depth, realistic themes exploring war, genocide, love, loss, guilt, and grief; all in a believable way. Yeah, it’s got some goofy humor for the kids, but nothing that’s intolerable. Most of the humor is actually a bit witty… Aint It Cool News‘s Massawyrm said it best when he said that Avatar is “a series written with adults in mind, but marketed to kids”.

But…

OH… MY… GOD…

Wow. Just wow…

The humorless bore of an Avatar...

I consider myself a pretty positive person. I am usually able to lock on to almost any positive quality in a movie and magnify it to a degree that makes the film worthwhile. I walked out of Star Wars: Episode 1 reasonably happy despite it’s problems. I even found a few things to like about the American Godzilla movie…

But this…

Okay, let’s get the few positive points out of the way first, which should be a fairly short paragraph.

The scenery is mostly beautiful. The bending effects are great,  ILM did an adequate job. Overall, I would say that the visuals of the film were spot-on. Shaun Toub was fairly good at communicating the spirit of Uncle Iroh. I recognized him instantly as Yinsen from Iron Man, and he’s a pretty good actor. The soundtrack was a reasonable attempt at “epic”…

Yue and Sokka...

Okay, on to the the stuff that made this an ultimately unwatchable fetid pile of crap…

The script was awful. The unknown child actors were either underacting or overacting with little in between. Aang had NO HUMOR AT ALL… What? I knew Shyamalan was going to excise a lot of the goofy kiddy humor, that was fine with me. But no humor in the film at all? If there was, I don’t remember it… Moving on… Appa and Momo looked fine, but were relegated to window dressing and a mode of transportation instead of the rich characters they are in the show. (Momo had an entire story to himself in the series revealing an important plot point, and Appa got an entire episode). The pacing was awful. I recognized a lot of the plot points as they raced by in almost incomprehensible fashion. I understand that it would be impossible to stuff a twenty-something episode season into two hours, but seriously, there is no reason an epic story can’t be told in two to three hours that has a decent flow, (just ask Peter Jackson)…

Avatar-state Aang...

Above and beyond the above-mentioned grievous problems, there were very important plot points that were not included that easily could have been. Aang never consults Roku, no Bumi, many others. I just really can’t run the movie through my mind anymore to list this stuff… The cardinal sin that finally destroyed the movie utterly is the changed ending in which Aang chases away the Fire Nation Army with a giant wall of water instead of fusing with the Ocean Spirit in his Avatar state to wipe out a third of the Army by capsizing their ships with a few waves of his arms… Ridiculous… What a missed opportunity…

You won’t hear me complaining about the different pronunciations of the character names like many others are, since I’m assuming that this is Shyamalan’s attempt at authentic Asian name pronunciation. “A” is always pronounced “ah” as in ball, and “O” is always pronounced “oh”  as in note, and “I” is always pronounced “ee” as in sink. If the fans are so attached to the incorrect pronunciations, then start spelling the names “Eing”, “Sakka”, and “Uncle Airo”, because that would be the transliteration of the Asian sounds in English letters… OR, they can start learning Asian languages, OR stop falling in love with television series’ that are based in an exclusively Asian world…

Some of my criticisms are evident to anyone who loves good film-making, and some are the exclusive realm of a fan’s grieved heart. I have seriously been looking forward to this film for the last two years. To have it fail this stupendously is a serious blow to me. This is the first time I have ever felt personally angry at a director. If ANYONE in Hollywood is stupid enough to give Shyamalan money to make another movie (any movie), I WILL NOT BE SEEING IT… M. Night Shyamalan is the first director to make my boycott blacklist, and I’m standing by it. Michael Bay has never screwed me this bad. Hell, even Ewe Boll hasn’t screwed me this bad…

Anyway, there it is… Eclipse is EASILY the better movie of the two, (I don’t care how much you hate Twilight), and it deserves the box office windfall it will undoubtedly receive…

A big move, new job, and most importantly, a healing heart…

•June 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’ve just moved from Lakewood, WA to Coeur d’Alene, ID and amusingly enough, found a great job within a week of the move, (after 6 months of NOTHING in Lakewood… Think the Universe was telling me something)?

In other news, another failed marriage. This was a long time coming, and I’m not really surprised by it, but it’s still grievous to me. I guess I can best sum up my recent feelings in the words of Chris Daughtry:

Now that it’s all said and done,
I can’t believe you were the one
To build me up and tear me down,
Like an old abandoned house.
What you said when you left
Just left me cold and out of breath.
I fell too far, was in way too deep.
Guess I let you get the best of me.

Well, I never saw it coming.
I should’ve started running
A long, long time ago.
And I never thought I’d doubt you,
I’m better off without you
More than you, more than you know.
I’m slowly getting closure.
I guess it’s really over.
I’m finally getting better.
And now I’m picking up the pieces.
I’m spending all of these years
Putting my heart back together.
‘Cause the day I thought I’d never get through,
I got over you.

You took a hammer to these walls,
Dragged the memories down the hall,
Packed your bags and walked away.
There was nothing I could say.
And when you slammed the front door shut,
A lot of others opened up,
So did my eyes so I could see
That you never were the best for me.

Well, I never saw it coming.
I should’ve started running
A long, long time ago.
And I never thought I’d doubt you,
I’m better off without you
More than you, more than you know.
I’m slowly getting closure.
I guess it’s really over.
I’m finally getting better.
And now I’m picking up the pieces.
I’m spending all of these years
Putting my heart back together.
‘Cause the day I thought I’d never get through,
I got over you.

‘Nuff said…

Sakura-Con…

•April 7, 2010 • 5 Comments

Wow…

I’m a little late here, (the con wrapped up last Sunday), but I needed to collect my thoughts…

I don’t know if I’m going to do this again. One of my best friends, an acquaintance from our anime club and I got there on Saturday around 9:30am. I figured this was early enough to give us the full day of viewing rooms, panels, and the BIG attraction for me: the dealer’s room. I was wrong. THE REGISTRATION LINE TOOK TWO AND A HALF HOURS TO GET THROUGH!!! We didn’t actually get to go enjoy the con until a little after noon… Wow…

Where's Aang?

The dealer’s room was everything I expected and more. I got a couple small items and one big one (I only had about $150 to blow that day) after going through the entire room twice. My friend and I took pics of the various cosplayers milling through as well. Around 4-4:30 we decided to go check out the other areas like the panels and viewing rooms. Every viewing room except one we checked at around 5:00pm was showing English-dubbed anime. The one exception was supposed to be showing the Lucky Star OAVs subtitled, but when we went in, they were still showing the English-dubbed tail end of Gasaraki. Ew…

Lots o' people... And is that Waldo?!?

Now is as good a time as any to make my feelings about dub vs. sub clear. The only reason English dubbing for anime should exist AT ALL is for the developmentally disabled or the dyslexic. The fact that most Americans (even the ones claiming to be anime fans) are too lazy and/or stupid to enjoy a film in it’s original language is beyond my comprehension. This goes beyond the realm of anime as well, by the way. The Orphanage was one of the best, most original and most atmospherically creepy movies to come along in the last decade or so and hardly anyone has seen it… Why? BECAUSE IT’S IN SPANISH!!! It almost makes me embarrassed to be an American… Is it really so hard to READ?!? I know the literacy rates here in the states are down, but jeez… I have even seen some anime that contextually SHOULD be in English (Riding Bean), so I’d watch both and guess what? The English dubbing is so bad it’s like they got Bob from Accounting to come up and read a few lines… I have to watch that show in the original Japanese simply because the voice-acting is so much better!

I didn't know Predator sizes came in "stocky". Cool costume, though!

OK, so the viewing rooms were a wash. I don’t even remember what panels were going on except for a fairly weird and a little lame AMV game show thing. We actually sat in on this one, but I found that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. My friend had to keep nudging me awake. It was so boring and stupid… Ultimately, we waited that one out and then strolled around taking more pictures of cosplayers, then left. Apparently, the cosplayers and dealer’s room was the highlight of the day Saturday, (for us anyway). I had another friend from the anime club texting me about the cosplay contest we missed because we were standing in the registration line, and I’m aware that we missed one of the  premier showings of the new Trigun movie THAT STARTED AT 9:00AM?!? Who the hell scheduled that?!?

Gotta love it when the Spartans show up...

Finally we come to the real attraction: the cosplayers… I remember attending AX ’95 and cosplayers accounted for about 30-40% of the con attendees. Here it was like 80-90%. Now I’m not going to do the typical nerd-bashing that is so prevalent, I’ll leave that to George Trombley over at YesJapan.com. I’ll just say that everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun posing for pictures and most put a lot of effort/expense into their costumes…

Best of the con right here. She made me want to throw her on my back and go kill splicers... (God, I love Bioshock).

Kerrigan! This is tied with the Little Sister for Best of Show in my book...

OK, I will make one quick note: heavy-set people should not be cosplaying as 17-year-old Japanese school girls… That goes for both sexes, by the way.

This is a heavy-set costume done right:

I don't know what this character is from, but it's just fantastic...

This is a heavy-set costume done wrong:

Yoko's put on a few pounds... Success'll do that to ya.

We REALLY don’t want to see that. I am a little heavy, but you know what? I wouldn’t be caught dead doing this. Why? Because it’s seriously not right to subject others to unsightly things… It’s not about high or low self-esteem, it’s about proper self-esteem. Someone should have the propriety and good sense to know that if you have rolls of belly flab, people DO NOT want to see it, and as a member of considerate and functioning society, you shouldn’t want to subject them to that… When I see a cosplayer, I don’t want to be wowed by the wrong things, you know?

Lelouch from Code Geass, (that I still haven't seen yet)...

All-in-all, I had a really good time– because I was hanging out with a good friend of mine that I probably won’t be able to hang out with again before I move at the end of the month… I did enjoy the dealer’s room and the side-show attraction of all the cosplayers, but still. If I had to rate the con on it’s own merits (for the six hours I was able to attend), it would come up severely lacking. Maybe with some alcohol…

Wait... Is Scooby Japanese? Hmm...

At any rate, I have little impetus to pre-register for the whole three days next year, you know? We’ll see…

Review: Kimagure Orange Road

•March 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Why review an anime in 2010 that came out in 1987? Well, because it’s that good. It’s worth the look back…

The story revolves around three main characters: Kasuga Kyosuke, the male protagonist, Ayukawa Madoka, the girl he’s in love with, and Hiyama Hikaru, the junior best friend of Madoka who latches on to Kyosuke and won’t let go… This is a long, drawn-out love triangle with a lot of humor and fantasy thrown in to the mix. The fantasy elements come from Kyosuke’s family having paranormal abilities such as teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy, and hypnotism. Kyosuke continually finds himself caught between the two girls; quiet, profoundly touching moments with Madoka, and goofy, energetic Hikaru physically hanging on him and shouting “Darling!” all the time…

Madoka, Hikaru and Kyosuke at tennis camp...

Compromising situations abound...

It’s interesting to watch the dynamic between Madoka and Kyosuke, to see how from the beginning his “goody-two-shoes” nature starts to mellow her out, (in the beginning she’s portrayed as sort of a bad-girl former gang-member type). Then Hikaru always comes in and douses the sparks with her cheerful “Darling!” and Madoka turns her head with a hmph…

The always cheerful Hikaru...

Unlike a lot of other anime in the 80’s and even now, this one has an actual resolution. It doesn’t end all that well for everyone, in the TV series or the first movie, but it does get resolved. What amazes me is how realistic the series depicts the human heart. The reactions, the self-deception, the indecision, it all feels very real. The fact that putting off a decision to avoid hurting someone could in fact hurt them much worse down the line is reality.

I suppose the real reason I love this series so much is that it reminds me of young love and innocence that will never come again for any of us. This anime has more of a soft spot in my heart than many other newer and more popular series, and I may even love it more than some of the series that got me into anime in the first place like Macross and Gundam…

At any rate, I highly recommend this series to anyone who purports to love anime. (I’m finding there are a lot of fakers out there)… It shows its age, but if you care about character, story, and emotional involvement, then that shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

Empty-headed arrogance…

•March 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It never ceases to amaze me.

I’m always a little bit amazed when the masses just believe everything they read in their college textbook, believe every “scientific” report they hear on the news, etc…

What REALLY amazes me is when certain members of the scientific community openly admit that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about…

The newest example is finding varied and complex life at the bottom of the Antarctic shelf, 12 miles from the ocean. In an AP article I read from my e-mail provider, (NASA finds shrimp dinner on ice beneath Antarctica), a couple of scientists admit to EXPECTING to find nothing at all living under the ice due to the harsh environment (presumption), and actually being amazed that we don’t know everything there is to know on planet Earth. I’ve always known that scientists, (and atheists in particular), consider themselves omniscient, but to actually have one ADMIT it in so many words is amazing, surprising, and really damned funny. Let me quote for you:

“We were operating on the presumption that nothing’s there,” said NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler.

…and…

“It’s pretty amazing when you find a huge puzzle like that on a planet where we thought we know everything,” Kim said.

WOW. Just… WOW.

I love it!!! A “scientist” admits to thinking we know everything! It’s too priceless! I put the word scientist in quotes because no TRUE scientist would ever say something so arrogant, foolish, or downright silly… The entire mission of science is to learn new things, to discover new truths we didn’t know before. You may argue that that’s exactly what they’re doing with that experiment, except for the statements they made about expectations and knowledge!

I know scientists aren’t supposed to be philosophers, but seriously, how ridiculous is this? To have this underlying assumption of knowledge? To think that we inherently know everything there is to know without experiencing it for ourselves? That is NOT a scientific attitude!

To apply this to philosophy: do you know why Socrates died? There are a lot of reasons, but the crux of the entire affair was that through questioning people’s assumptions, he brought people face-to-face with their own ignorance… He said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Well people didn’t like that, especially those who made their living making sure people thought they were really wise (the sophists)…

I see a parallel here. Scientists literally make their money on the basis of people thinking that they know what they’re talking about. I would be more impressed if they admitted when they DON’T know…

You may think from my ranting that I despise science, but the opposite is true. I LOVE science. It’s scientists I don’t have a lot of respect for. It seems that there are far too many like these two whose entire understanding of science comes from assumptions and arrogance. Science is the work of discovering what we can know through evidence and irrefutable fact. It’s not about what we THINK we know because this or that theory makes sense… I respect scientists who hunger for new knowledge, who are open to redefining existing paradigms, and who blaze the trail for real discovery. These imbeciles who think we “know everything” make me sick and are everything wrong with the scientific community at large. It’s also the kind of scientists that people listen to most, and media outlets run to first…

Unfortunately, I think this kind of arrogance is par-for-the-course, and REAL scientists tend to get marginalized…