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Your Review of the Last Movie You Watched

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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 2:46:40 PM PST
C McGhee says:
Hikari- I rarely get to the movies anymore

Yet the garbage available makes tons of money. I have this horrifying image in my mind of the people forty years from now having nothing to watch either from 2052 or 50 years back. No wait, that's just my father talking & they can always go back to the silents for good movies. It would be like a whole 'nother world. :)

Hmmm, Black Swan, good idea, my wife & I were just talking about getting the Jekyll series out again. Black Swan should go with that just fine. Thanks for the idea.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 2:52:32 PM PST
C McGhee says:
Pastor of Muppets- Titanic animated musical?

Ooh, ooh, is there one? On DVD? Can I buy it? Does it have a fake & sappy love story? I'd so love.... nah, forget it. I'll just get Team America in the unrated version. At least I know it's good.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 2:53:43 PM PST
Gordo: I didn't include the Warner shorts because they're not feature length animated films.

No. As I said before, there is some subtle writing in Aladdin that justify the existence of pop culture references. I saw no such writing in Shrek. The pop culture gags exist solely because Katzenberg saw the 1992 film as a springboard for success.

You do not need to repeat because it is only in the form of their story lines.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 2:56:25 PM PST
Titanic - The Animated Movie

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 2:41:00 AM PST
C McGhee says:
Pastor of Muppets- Animated Titanic

Cheap, at twice the price!

Posted on Dec 19, 2012, 8:34:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2012, 11:37:49 AM PST
PoM: So-called pop culture, or contemporary, references in fantasy are nothing new. Gilbert was doing the same thing in the Savoy operas over a hundred years ago.

And, as always, I would challenge the use of the term subtle. Snarky, more accurately.

As to Williams: perhaps it is best to say that one of the ways in which the world divides is between those who find him funny (particularly in standup mode) and those who find him incredibly annoying. Put me in the second category, and hand Mr. Williams an extra-large Valium.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 8:49:17 AM PST
WAS: I meant in the terms of feature-length animation (that means the Warner shorts are disqualified).

Well, let us agree to disagree. I would save the term "snarky" for DreamWorks, as I found Williams to be quite charming in Aladdin, if in nothing else for his brand of comedy. (I repeatedly rave on his role in Good Will Hunting.)

Who finds you incredibly annoying?

Posted on Dec 19, 2012, 9:06:50 AM PST
Zolar Waka says:
Saw "Lincoln" a couple of weeks ago because my son really wanted to see it. He also sees Spielberg as a sign of a quality film. I'm not necessarily a Spielberg fan, but this movie was enjoyable. Daniel Day-Lewis deserves a 3rd Oscar, without question. The only person I'd say "ok, that makes sense" should he get the Oscar over DDL is Joaquin Phoenix.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 10:58:04 AM PST
C McGhee says:
Pastor of Muppets- Who finds you incredibly annoying?

Well silly I do. Of course I've always been very fond of noys. Very educational as a matter of fact, which could be thought of as surprising given that they have 5 legs & orange fur.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 11:12:49 AM PST
...No comment.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 11:41:06 AM PST
PoM: That was a typo.

Well, sometimes I suspect that everyone finds me incredibly annoying, but the more you know me, the more you love me (chuckle)

I have seen Williams in a range of different roles, and I would never, ever, call him charming. Frankly, he's most effective when he harnesses that manic energy as a psychopath. Count me among those who do not find his routines at all funny--merely annoying and exhausting.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012, 2:09:04 PM PST
WAS: I know.

And you're not alone.

I've only found him truly funny in Aladdin, but that's mostly because it's animation, and Eric Goldberg is a genius animator. When viewing films like Flubber or Jack, his celebrity stuff and improvisations get annoying.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012, 2:29:56 PM PST
For the second film of Christmas, I'll be reviewing...

Akira

Considering the fact that there are only two days left before the world supposedly ends, I think it's about high time I review a film in which the world ended 24 years ago.

Now, I've said this once, and I'll say it again; I am not an anime fan. Having suffered through morally corrupt and ugly works such as Evangelion, Wolf's Rain, and just about everything Tomino-related (pro-tip for anime fans: There are no good mecha shows--The Vision of Escaflowne is a borderline exception). And on the other side of the aisle are some of the most crass and vulgar comedies and the completely witless, sensless and boring programs and films, like the vast majority of Shonen Jump's library.

But I have also repeatedly stated that, in spite of it's flaws, was one of the best animated works ever to comeo ut of Japan. That, in turn, is due mainly for the fact that Akira's competition is, in large part, dreadful in almost every way.

Just to get it out of the way, the animation and the music are both completely stunning. Everyone knows that this was a technical marvel when it first came out and thus helped fasttrack anime's popularity going into the 1990's (the popularity of anime would be cemented with works like Dragonball, Sailor Moon, and Pokemon, the latter the only one of those shows with any redeeming characterisitcs). If that was all that it took to justify a movie, however, this would easily be a 10.

But alas, we have to deal with perhaps the biggest flaw that plagues almost all anime: The characters. Characterization, I have realized, is the greatest fault ever to come out of Japanese animation on a universal level. And here, it shows; almost the entire cast of characters are so unpleasant that it's hard to picture why anyone would want to spend a single second with them; those who aren't contemptable are so boring and uninteresting that they disappear completely from the film, such as Kei, the love interest to Kaneda and a member of the Revolution. Tetsuo is a perpetually whiny sack of crap without a shred of sympathy. The Colonel is an angry, hateful tyrant and thug in which the writing expects us to take his side over everybody else's. And most the rest of the cast, when they aren't complete wastes of animation, are just 1-dimensional airheads of which we're supposed to despise on the grounds that it is in their character (the anti-capitalist comment going into the third act was completely unnecessary as the film has nothing to do with capitalism). Only Kaneda--the protagonist--has any redeeming characteristics that makes him memorable, and even then, he's a rebellious leader of a biker gang--turned generic action hero. In large part, his character arc feels contrived and rushed.

Of course, much of the faults with Akira could be resolved with great writing. And there is where it goes into hit-and-miss. Plenty of good ideas to be sure, and for once, we have a film that could qualify as post-apocalyptic that isn't nihilistic in tone. Cynical, yes. But not nihilist. But here, as we delve deeper into the third act and the end of the film, things get really weird and not really making any sense. Comparable to Princess Mononoke, only with the last 5 to 10 minutes before the credits role having given us something somewhat transcendal: Tetsuo develops psychic powers. Tetsuo goes on a killing spree. Tetsuo gets zapped by a satelite cannon and loses right arm. Tetsuo flies into space and destroys the satelite. Tetsuo creates a new robotic arm with the remains of the satelite. Tetsuo turns into giant blob monster, and his flesh begins devouring everything in sight. The three psychic kids destroy vases carrying Akira's remains, and Akira is resurrected. He sucks Tetsuo into another dimension with a blast that destroys most of Neo Tokyo. Kaneda is sucked in, and explores the subconscious of Akira and Tetsuo before returning to the real world. And Tetsuo becomes a god, creating a new universe.

Much of this doesn't make much sense, but unlike Mononoke and the Forest Spirit crap at the end, we are at least given context. For example, the prison cell scene foreshadows to Tetsuo's blob form by briefly talking about Amoebas. We are warned repeatedly of Tetsuo's eventual meltdown due to his psychic powers, with the opening scene giving us a taste of where the film might be heading. And the scientist explains to us that Akira's explosion--both of them--could very well be te beginning of the universe.

Scientifically, this makes no sense and is closer to Fantasy than Science Fiction. But the themes are Science Fiction (even if there's not much going for it). These themes are rather compelling where others in which the film presents fail.

Now, the comparison between the film and the 6-volume Manga. When the film was completed, only the first three volumes were completed and published. And in both cases, the director/writer (of both the film and manga) Katsuhiro Otomo had no idea how to properly end his epic. And in both cases, it really shows. Apparently, the idea on how to end his story came from a conversation he had with a famous composer, but neither one remembered what they discussed. Frankly, I'm curious as to what they talked about, but I digress.

A bit of filler, and in both the film and the manga, the story desperately needed an editor, and someone who truly knew how to end the story. Even at 124 minutes, it feels a little long.

Overall, a good movie, but barely. An anime fanatic would rate this movie a 9 or 10. For me, this is a 7. The characters really do kill it, and the story doesn't really make much of a point with why the cast is so contemptable. Only the themes and the technique prevent this film from being completely dreadful, and even then, the former gets a little wonky at times.

As far as feature-length anime goes, Perfect Blue and Paprika remain the best of the litter.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012, 6:41:20 AM PST
PoM: Genius is a bit hyperbolic, don't you think?

Posted on Dec 20, 2012, 9:37:45 AM PST
Last of the Dogmen is a magnificent portrayal of how a "Time machine" type movie would play out. Tom Berenger star's in this one with Barbara Hershey and their chemistry is super. Set in the Kootenai above Whitefish, Montana (actually Canmore Canada) It is a love story on two levels. Don't want to spoil it, see the movie!!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012, 10:00:41 AM PST
stevign says:
I wouldn't push the movie too hard, not that people shouldn't give it look-see. I personally enjoyed it and found the concept intriguing, despite it obviously being far fetched; but to be honest, it only deserves 3 out of 5 stars. I also like Tom Berenger, he's not a "great" actor but a good one nonetheless. He's also a very down-to-earth guy who lunches with the crew more often than he does with the other actors. On one movie he even had an expensive lunch catered for the crew members outside on the lot. He of course joined them.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012, 11:35:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 20, 2012, 11:38:05 AM PST
Hikari says:
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Starring Chris Evans, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones & Hugo Weaving
3.5 stars
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coming rather late to the Marvel party, I was first introduced to Captain America (Chris Evans) in THE AVENGERS. In this film, we are treated to the origin story of how Steve Rogers becomes a super soldier and The First Avenger.

It's 1943, and Steve, a young man from Brooklyn has a heart 10 times larger than his physical body, and he wants nothing more than to serve his country in war. He has gone to the recruitment center 5 times and all 5 times he's been classified 4F. He may have a gigantic heart, but all the draft doctor sees is a 98-pound asthmatic with a host of other physical ailments. On a disastrous double-date with his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), touring the World of Tomorrow exhibition in New York, Steve impulsively goes to a drop-in enlistment center for yet another try. He expects another rejection, but the doctor this time is Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) a German refugee from the Nazis who has developed a serum to create a 'super soldier'. He immediately recognizes Rogers' moral character and selects him to be the test case. After the grueling procedure, Rogers emerges a new man. Well, on the outside at any rate. The serum has given him bulk and size and extra-human speed and strength. He's anxious to go off and fight Nazis, but finds himself stuck in propaganda limbo, doing 'good-will ambassador' tours and films to whip up support at home for the war effort. This part is rather droll, putting one on mind of the Bing Crosby USO tours of the '40s, complete with Busby Berkeley style musical numbers, and incorporating the classic Captain America outfit from the comics that looks dorky on an actual person even when he's built like Chris Evans. Assisting Erskine with the technology is a familiar name: Howard Stark (Cooper), the future father of Tony, aka Ironman. The kid is just a chip off the old block.

On one of these tours, after Captain America has just been booed off the stage by the audience of disillusioned enlisted men, he has an opportunity to finally see some action. In a redesigned uniform that manages to combine functionality with nostalgia, he heads up a daring rescue mission to go behind enemy lines and liberate 400 prisoners of war. Meanwhile chief nemesis Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) and his minion, Dr. Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) are plotting to take over the world as HYDRA with the help of the Tesseract, the glowing blue cube that keeps turning up in these Marvel movies like a bad penny. Schmidt messed around with the Tesseract and now, underneath a life-like rubber mask that resembles Hugo Weaving's face, he is actually the horrific Red Skull, since the Tesseract melted off all his skin and his nose. Weaving has even more gleeful fun as a noseless villain than did Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort.

The film has a great period look, and the sci-fi stuff is wisely kept to a minimum. Anchored by a winning performance by Chris Evans this is a stylish romp that harkens back to a more earnest and innocent time, with definite echoes of "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" both in theme and production design. It's a good solid kick-off to the Avengers franchise, and the final frame is droll: the Captain, newly-pried out of an iceberg and thawed out after a 70-year sleep encounters modern-day Times Square and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, sitting the stage for "The Avengers". Classic last line: "I had a date!"

Two things are left unexplained: how did they achieve the `Before' effect of making Chris Evans look half the size of everyone else in the frame? And two: how does a British girl like Hayley Atwell wind up as a high-ranking officer in the United States Army? No matter; she looks great in the uniform.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012, 11:51:48 AM PST
Nice review, Hikari. I have watched this movie more than a few times already now and your review is making me want to watch it again. It's a really fun movie that does have an Indiana Jones feel to it. A lot of the Marvel movies have been really good lately over the last few years now. I am looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us with the sequel coming in 2014, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012, 1:09:01 PM PST
H: I enjoyed Captain America as well, possibly a bit more than you did. The Marvel universe is doing well on film--even the best characters in the DC universe are coming up short. The more I think about the Nolan Batmans, the less I like them; the Nolan / Snyder Superman looks absolutely deadly; even Green Lantern (a particular favorite of mine) couldn't turn in a first-rate film. Television has done better there, with a good version of The Flash, and the current version of Green Arrow, although a bit too dark, isn't bad.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012, 1:10:44 PM PST
WAS: Not at all. The Disney character animators are at the top of their craft, my favorite probably being Andreas Deja.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012, 1:48:57 PM PST
Hikari says:
@Wm
I think 3.5 is as high as I am able to go for a comic book movie. It's a solid B-plus. I lack the 'I was a pubescent boy who read comics' gene and so it bemuses me a bit when the fanboys REALLY get started analyzing their various canons.

I am a fan of all things WW2 era--history, music, pop culture and style. That was well handled; I thought there was a good balance between 'real-world' and 'sci-fi' stuff. Actually I might have expected more 'super-human heroics' from Captain America, but most of the time he acted pretty much like a regular guy except for being extra buff and fast. And the shield, of course. Chris Evans' shield action is all the more impressive when we realize he wasn't holding anything in those scenes--the shield was totally digital. I kind of appreciated that the Captain is a lower-key superhero--he could just be an extremely well-trained lethal machine ala James Bond, with extra help from the technology. His biggest weapon is one he already had before he got the injection: his courage. His abilities seem ramped up considerably for his 2012 incarnation in "The Avengers".

I think I'd probably raise my initial rating of Thor by a half-star and give that a 3.5 as well. The Body is worth a 5. Chris Evans is no slouch either, but he did look slightly more human in buff mode.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012, 4:12:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 20, 2012, 4:18:26 PM PST
PoM: As I have said many times: craft is not art.

Cappdimonte pottery is craft--Disney animation. Not art. Pablum for restless infants.

I know that you are branching in other directions--but you really need to stop watching animation for, say, six to nine months and watch nothing but more serious films. Am I a bit of a snob on this matter? Probably. One of the relatively few areas, I will say in my defense.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012, 4:16:39 PM PST
H: You reserve your fan-gal enthusiasms for Lewis, Hathaway, Holmes, and Watson, no doubt.

The Captain is a bit like another favorite super-hero--The Flash. One well-articulated power. Have you ever seen any of the TV series? Flash: Complete Series It's good fun.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012, 4:19:47 PM PST
My goodness, my zero of one is quick. No sooner had I posted than he, or she, reacted.

Thoughtlessly.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012, 4:22:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 20, 2012, 4:25:43 PM PST
Lingerie Party Massacre removed due to bad taste by the OP.
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