Since I’m around a year behind in my movie reviews, I’ll post a quick summary of my thoughts on what I’ve seen of this season’s anime and try to keep up to date there!
- Kuromukuro (2 eps) – a sci-fi mecha show that seems just slightly more realistic in its depictions of characters lives than normal. Just slightly though, and now that I’ve said that, there will probably be a talking alien penguin in the next ep.
- Macross Delta (1 ep) – I can’t resist Macross! Mecha plus singing and dancing, this time featuring an idol group (whose music quells some kind of berserker syndrome) and the pilots who protect them.
- Gyakuten Saiban (4 eps) – I’ve played the first game and watched the live action movie, so this series is probably just a retread. The animation isn’t very good, and the translation I’m watching idiotically uses the localized names. However, this series has been fun so far.
- Hundred (1 ep) – This looks like some kind of standard action-sci-fi harem show, with a very girly boy best friend.
- Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (2 eps) – Set in a steampunk zombie apocalypse, the production values are high and there’s some interesting ideas here – though the main character is a bit annoying and the walled cities are reminiscent of Shingeki no Kyojin. The heroine (?) seems cool though.
- Kiznaiver (3 eps) – I’m watching this one because it’s by Trigger, and after 3 episodes I still don’t know what’s going on.
- Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko Janai to Omotta (3 eps) – This MMO-related comedy is probably my guilty pleasure of the season, with the MMO-addicted heroine ranting about how リア充 (normal, non-otaku people with girl/boyfriends) should all just die. There’s enough cringe-humour to keep me coming back so far.
- Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (3 eps) – The production quality on this light novel adaptation is high (I particularly like how the lighting changes over time, and how Nouto Mamiko’s character moves), and the setup is strange but intriguing; though the Japanese preference for low fantasy here makes you wonder about the significance of the beginning. The light-novel talkiness of the characters does get a bit annoying, especially when they talk themselves into trouble, but that’s what you get from the genre I suppose.
- Sailor Moon Crystal third season (3 eps) – The animation has improved massively from the last two seasons, and transformations are no longer CGI. Maybe the studio realised the demand for Sailor Moon and decided to pony up cash? The storyline is a little bit more complex this time too.
- Terraformars Revenge (4 eps) – This was my brainless action series in the last season, but it seems the plot stepped up a little now, so it’s taking more of my attention.
My favourites so far are Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, and (almost certainly) Macross Delta.
Liam Neeson has managed to create an identity for himself as an action hero, following the hugely successful Taken, which was written and produced by Luc Besson.
The first movie was the best by far, a solid rescue/revenge thriller in which Neeson tracks his abducted daughter and wipes out a lot of bad guys. Keying off fears of being a powerless parent whose child goes missing in a foreign country, it was pretty effective.
The second movie was weaker, though the whole family get to participate in running around Istanbul, chased by Albanian gangsters.
The third movie is almost a different show, and by far the weakest, with Neeson tangling with US law enforcement. While his friends join in, it bears very little resemblance to the other movies and seems quite pointless.
Run All Night is like the grimer, alcoholic version of the Taken series, in a universe where no one respects Neeson. It’s a solid action movie, though I had whiplash from Neeson-the-respected-spy to Neeson-the-despised-hitman.
While I really enjoyed Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Kingsman was a miss (though a close miss) for me. The trailers looked like a low-rent James Bond, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a satirical subversion of the secret agent genre, featuring a working class yob making good. There were many great elements in the movie, but the “hacking solves all the plot problems” and the shallowness in most of the characters were too much for me. I couldn’t get my head around Samuel L Jackson’s Valentine – he seemed too much like a cartoon character, and not a scary one – though it was interesting to hear how the stutter was Jackson’s own idea, from when he actually had one. Gazelle was very cool though.
I used to be a huge Ninja Turtles fan as a kid, but the Michael Bay movie didn’t do it for me.
Occulus was a horror flick with an interesting premise – it starred Karen Gillan, but too much is allowed by the power to cause delusions.
The original Dumb and Dumber was a long time ago, and I didn’t expect to be as entertained by the extremely late sequel to the gross-out comedy as I was. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely dumb and your brain cells will receive a punishing, but I laughed.
Big Eyes is an unusual Tim Burton movie, obviously born from his love of the artist. Waltz’s performance carries the movie, and while some elements were a bit on-the-nose, the movie’s gentle mockery of the art world was pretty funny. It was interesting how Margaret agreed but later changed her mind. The self-cross-examination was the highlight of the movie.
More from the backlog…
Expendables 3 suffered from the tedium and extinct 80s macho-action aesthetic of the previous installments. Cramming a flick with action stars doesn’t mean a lot when there’s no drama, tension, or art to the action.
Unfriended was interesting as a movie-making exercise, but took the easy way out where nothing needed to be explained, and frankly that episode of Modern Family did it better in terms of variety and creativity.
Big Hero 6 was pretty good, with drama, an interesting villain, visual inventiveness, and a unique setting that mashed up San Francisco with Tokyo – not sure if it was for the aesthetic or to combine cities known for technology and robotics. Some of the side characters were a bit thin, but there’s only so much you can fit into a movie.
Book of Life was a solid movie, definitely very interesting due to its cultural influences, though I’m divided on the aesthetic and I generally dislike movies about the afterlife.
So I don’t actually like war films per se, but somehow I’ve really enjoyed Zero Dark Thirty and now American Sniper.
Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper playing a fictionalised version of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who goes on multiple tours in Iraq. Despite the things changed for the movie (Kyle is more patriotic, and has an Olympic sniper nemesis), it’s eyeopening to see the kind of things that soldiers (and civilians) go through.
The Divine Move is a Korean action film with numerous references and allusion to the ancient (and excellent) boardgame Go, or in Korean “Baduk”. Like most Korean action films I’ve seen, it’s pretty violent, but worth watching.
Miss Granny is another Korean film, a comedy about an old woman made young again; I didn’t find it that funny, but there were a couple of interesting cultural/gerontological points.
Kiasu is a film from Singapore about an adult son shaking of his mother complex. Lol. Enough said.
Kikaider was some kind of movie version of a tokusatsu franchise; unfortunately it didn’t make a lot of sense, and wasn’t particularly interesting.
Snow White Murder Incident is another Japanese movie, about a murder that turns out to be more complicated than it looks (don’t they all though). I enjoyed how the point of view turned around, but the ending seemed arbitrarily forced.
Appleseed Alpha is a 2014 CGI film that seems to reboot Masamune Shirow’s (author of Ghost in the Shell and others) franchise. While there were some weak points (I didn’t like Two-Horns), I enjoyed the setting and the animation. Apparently it’s written by the writer of the God of War series, Marianne Krawczyk.
I really enjoyed the Ruroni Kenshin live action movie, and had waited to be able to see the second and third films, which cover the Kyoto arc. In the old anime, this arc was the best of the series, which afterward dissolved into unending filler. The storyline is modified a bit, cleaning it up, and situating the final showdown more appropriately on the battleship. While the final fight is a bit silly, I enjoyed how the movies portray the different styles of martial arts used by the different characters.
Posted in Reviews
Tagged action, adaptation, animation, cgi, comedy, go, historical, japanese, korean, manga, mystery, sci-fi, singaporean, tokusatsu
This sequel came out hot on the heels of the first movie, which was remarkably successful, taking $90m on a $3m budget. Anarchy was very successful too ($110m on a $9m budget), and as a movie I liked it much more.
With the setting explained by the first movie, this one is more about the situation the characters find themselves in – though an intriguing alternative explanation for the “Purge reduces social violence” phenomenon is introduced, where everything is not what it seems.
Posted in Reviews
Tagged action, movies