An American in Paris Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

When an old fashioned American musical comes to mind, this is essentially the type of movie you get. Not La La Land.

Now La La Land had great acting and cinematography; but the musical numbers floundered. Due mainly to the main actors singing and dancing. They’re no Gene Kelly, and damn it if that man can’t dance!

He does an excellent job in this film. He’s likeable, charming, with the right amount of wit. Just like the rest of this film. This isn’t one for everyone, if you don’t like musicals, dancing or good clean fun, this isn’t for you. It’s really old fashioned, but honestly, I found it refreshing.

It’s about a man that falls in love with a girl, they can’t be together for one reason or another, then they end the film in an embrace. All is right with the world! It’s cheesy and silly, but nice.

It’s a very typical film that way. What isn’t are these strange moments when the film can become quite surreal. The best example is near the end of the film where it feels like your watching a theatre ballet of sorts. They’re are heaps of dancers, the chorography is just great. It feels dramatic and grand. The shots are carefully taken, your not really sure what’s happening, but I loved it regardless.

Did it make much sense to the film as a whole? Maybe not, but it felt important and symbolic. It could’ve been it’s own separate short film, like someone inserted their experimental art piece in the middle of a standard musical flick.

Whatever the case, I’m glad it was there, because it was just that well done.

The film overall has great music, good dancing.

I felt like Leslie Caron, though a great dancer, was rather weak in her role as the main love interest. I also found the romance to not be believable. Yes, they like each other. But Gene Kelly’s character, Mulligan, almost had a stalker-ish vibe to him in the beginning. It was odd.

There are other characters that just get their hearts broken. It’s a little sad really, but then again that’s life, and somewhat realistic. Love never was fair.

I just want to quote one of my favourite parts of the film:

“That’s… quite a dress you almost have on.”

“Thanks.”

“What holds it up?”

Modesty.”

That’s the type of good dialogue that keeps the story interesting, even though the film does have it’s slow points. Ironically those lines above weren’t even said by Ms. Caron, but by Nina Foch. I feel like Ms. Foch was wasted and under utilised in this film, because she stole every scene she was in. She holds her own against Mr. Kelly, and I look forward to watching her more in the future.

This isn’t a film for everyone. It’s a classic. It’s a 1950s American film. You’ll know whether you want to see it or not. I, however, fully recommend it.

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Macross: Do You Remember Love? Review

[This review contains spoilers]

It has been awhile since I last saw this film, and it’s honestly better than I remember. I once heard, that the more you watch this film, the better it gets. I can’t really disagree with that statement.

This film has a love triangle, it might be the best one I’ve ever seen. This is a war film, but it’s one with ‘love’ in the title, so don’t be too surprised with the adorableness of it all. Hikaru is interested in the star of the galaxy, Lynn Minmay and officer Misa Hayase. When he’s with Minmay, it’s a sweet puppy love, but he remains boy; with Misa, it’s different. She’s a woman that shows him how to be a man.

This film is an improvement on the TV show in every way. I haven’t seen it in awhile, but the show felt dragged out, the animation inconsistent to downright poor in places. Hikaru comes off as a confused teenager, and the best romance wasn’t even the main couple. Though I will say, the songs are catchy, and the animation does have some bright spots, despite that, I can’t recommend the show.

None of this is present in the film. The animation is stunning, the songs are fun and poppy. It’s got a tight plot that’s always moving, and even when it takes a breather, there are revelations to be had.

Earth isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Everyone died, it’s desolate, and that’s not even the major twist. Humans fight against giants. We defend ourselves, when we aren’t even the real enemy. The giants have no culture, only war. The Zentradi fight against the Meltrandi, and have been doing so for thousands of years. They’re manufactured, so when they come across culture. Our culture. It shocks their system, as if it awakens something long forgotten.

This is an anime about love, mechs, and pop music. 1980’s pop music! It shouldn’t fit, but it does. Believe it or not, it’s an ancient love song that saves everything. It sounds stupid, and cheesy, but it’s weirdly charming.

The action is great. There isn’t one wasted frame. This whole film has fluid animation, and fantastic art. It incorporates parts of the TV show, in brief, but great ways; like Max and Milia relationship.

If you saw the show do you get more out of it? Yes, it has subtle call backs, but it really isn’t necessary. With the show being so flawed, and this being such a step up. I’d say, just watch the film. It’s the best version of this story.

So forget Star Wars, Macross: Do You Remember Love? That’s where it’s at!

When An Ending Ruins Everything!

[This is a dumb article filled to the brim with fan word-vomit…you’ve been warned!]

[All the spoilers! Everywhere! Run!]

Final Fantasy X’s ending made me angry, why? Well before the credits, I was satisfied. Tidus is a dream, he basically dies and returns to his father. Ambiguous, makes no sense, but it’s a Japanese game, I expect weird (if you don’t believe me, watch the Space Adventure Cobra movie opening, it’s worth it, promise). Then he just swims to the surface of the water for no reason. So what? Is he dead? Alive? Does him high-fiving his dad mean nothing?

Then there is Nier: Automata, it’s a cool game. I didn’t play it myself, but I watched a friend through most of their playthrough. The story had me enthralled…until the epilogue. It made no sense! Also why did A2 climb the stairs near (ha ha) the end…just like Video Girls Ai’s ending? At least in the one I saw. Then A2 dies, everything falls apart, and we had everything ‘explained’ away. In a monologue, which is weirdly weak given the games top form beforehand.

I mean, when we got the reason for why that Boss wanted to be ‘more beautiful’. It was tragic, unexpected, and moving. It made sense, given everyone’s affection for that man, it drove her mad. That had set up, this speech came out of the blue.

Then I watched a variation of that ending where they live…is this supposed to be Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow…Madoka Magica? It makes no sense! Video Girl Ai makes way more sense…and is more enjoyable, and has closure…for the most part.

Also did Spike Spiegel die or not? The director likes to tease that fact…ambiguity!!!

Here’s the thing, I don’t even mind if an ending is unclear, but it has to earned. Final Fantasy X seems to be baiting the audience, undoing a perfectly good conclusion. Nier: Automata pulled the dumb philosophy card that Pycho-Pass wears proudly. Quoting random philosophy to an audience doesn’t make you smart, it just makes you look like a bit of a try hard. Kind of like Evangelion, a series that’s been milked for decades because of it’s ‘deep’ ending (people to this day seek depth from it’s puddle).

But Rent, surely you jest? Name something with ‘true depth’? What’s something you don’t consider pretentious? (Yes, I used that word!)

Angel’s Egg. It’s thought provoking, deliberate, absorbing. It possibly has no meaning, yet it’s Christian imagery can’t be denied. It’s an experience of a film, and is just beautiful. If you like Final Fantasy’s art, research it, you’ll find a very interesting connection to the two. In some ways it’s the best representative of that art style you’ll ever find in motion. It’s a work of art.

Now everything mentioned here is art (expect Phyco-Pass…); but Nier: Automata, Final Fantasy X, they seem to falter at the finishing line.

Nier: Automata has some of the most beautiful writing I’ve seen in a video game. It’s translation and voice acting is wonderful. It’s not afraid to diverge from a more literal translation, an issue that plagues some anime, and I think it’s better for it. Lupin’s The Mystery of Mamo, the Frontier Enterprises’ dub, is another good example of how to make something feel natural in English.

The Apartment is another film that’s just filled with meaning.

The mirror…it’s broken.”

Yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel”

That scene just captures every poignant thing in that film. It says so much, without slamming it in your face, and I love it for that.

Nier: Automata kind of just goes off the deep end, like Evangelion. It makes no sense, it doesn’t feel earned. It just felt like it fell apart, adding ‘revelations’ out of nowhere.

Then again, maybe that’s the point? Or, there may have not been no point.

Kind of like this article. At the end of the day, this is all subjective, but to me, this ending wasn’t worth three playthroughs. My friend was left unsatisfied, so was I. It was Final Fantasy X all over again for me, a good game just fumbling at the last moment.

It almost did it…almost.

Colossal Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This film has the most imaginative metaphor for abusive relations I think I’ve ever seen. Gloria is in a relationship with a man that has codependency issues and always puts her down…but she goes from that to Oscar. He hates himself, is a hoarder, and is a possessive vengeful git.

The hoarding is an interesting aspect that’s never really explored, his life is both figuratively and literally a mess. He lost his family, stalks Gloria (at least online) seeking fulfilment through her life and has a half-finished bar that he runs.

That’s the thing about this film, a lot of it feels unfinished, in a throw away line, he talks about almost being married, but it fell apart. He starts out a nice guy, then becomes weirdly controlling for no reason. It gives you whiplash. Is he nice, or an abusive arse? If he’s the latter, why spring it up without warning? It doesn’t make much sense.

Gloria, on the other hand, is an alcoholic that doesn’t have direction in her life. She’s unemployed, and after being kicked out by her boyfriend, she moves into her old family home. Yet, despite the move, she’s still a mess, waking in the evening, drinking too late.

She works at Oscars bar, but the late social drinking only exacerbates her problems. Things take a shocking turn, when a Kaiju rips through Seoul, and it turns out that monster is her. Innocent people die. Upon discovering this, she gets her life back together. She will not kill again, even apologising to the people of the city.

Oscar comes to the realisation that he can become a giant robot, on the other side of the world, in the same city. He uses this to abuse Gloria, with a ‘you either do what I say, or more people die’ mentality. At first she seems to comply after a beating, until, in a strange turn of evens, she kills him. Saving the city.

The way this occurs however makes no sense. How does her going to Seoul make her a Kaiju in the town? This film has ambition, but it’s flawed.

What I do like about it, is that having a chaotic life, being with abusive people. It can’t literally take down a city, but it can ruin in your life. I think that’s a fair comparison. I like that this film goes there, even if it was with a messy execution.

Cyber City Oedo 808 Review

[This review contains spoilers]

If you love cyberpunk then this OVA is a must watch. I should preface by stating, this is an adult experience. It isn’t for young people, especially with it’s horror-like elements. But, it really isn’t that gory, and has fantastic action. It’s also better than Blade Runner Blackout 2022 in almost every way.

It’s format is close to a TV mini series, with each of it’s episodes following a different character: Sengoku, Gogul and Benten. Sengoku is brash and very gung-ho. Gogul is a hacker that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Benten is incredibly feminine, graceful and badass as hell. These three men are very different in their style, and story, but are all incredibly entertaining.

The main characters of this OVA are criminals forced into doing suicide missions for the police. Juzu, their boss, threatens to blow their heads sky high with the collars around their neck. To say they have an incentive to do what he says is an understatement.

Sengoku’s narrative feels the most standard, with a hostage situation and killing what at first seems to be an ingenious hacker. Gogul’s has more of a noir feel, when an old friend comes by on the run. He ends up becoming an experiment for a military operation against some sort of horrific science made monster. Benten’s has vampires and romance. That sounds out of place, but it isn’t, it was also the strongest and saddest out of the three.

Now for clarities sake, yes, I watched the English dub. It’s a very loose translation, with every second word being one of profanity. ‘Cocksucker’ being a personal favourite of mine. If that’s a bit far for you, maybe stick to the sub version (though from what I saw, it seemed a little awkward in places).

Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the director, is known for doing hardcore anime. Stuff like Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. This is the first film I’ve seen from him, and if it’s any indication of his other work, he’s a great director. I need to check out his other stuff!

The animation was butter smooth, with no complaints from me. The art was even more beautiful, with a strong dystopian and cyberpunk aesthetic. There were towers that just dwarfed everything in sight, so tall, they needed an engine to keep them stable.

The action was fluid, kinetic, with not one shot wasted.

If you’ve thought about checking this out, it’s worth it. Do it. If you’re on the fence, I hope I convinced you. It really is a fun OVA.

Blade Runner Blackout 2022 Review

[This review contains spoilers]

I honestly expected more from director Shinichiro Watanabe. He is a great director, and he’ll always be known as the guy that made Cowboy Bebop, but the issue is, he’s not as good as a writer. Well, at least he’s an inconsistent writer. Baby Blue (another short) was good, but this one was messy to me.

It also had weird similarities to another show he worked on, Terror in Resonance, with mentions of EMP and a nuke blowing up in the sky.

This short was a retread. Now, with it taking less than fifteen minutes of your time, is it worth it? Yes.

It has great background art, though the animation can be a little hit and miss (but when it’s good, it’s really damn good) and the CGI is just an eyesore (though sparling used).

I also loved how the replicants moved, they were too precise, too perfect in their motions. It was as if they didn’t have to see with their eyes, which made them intimidating, and alien in the best way possible.

If you love the cyberpunk aesthetic, check it out. It’s got some nice art that really calls back to the original Blade Runner film, it just doesn’t look as good. The plot is a little all over the place, but for a short, it works. The action is good, so no complaints there.

As a proof of concept, I think that this could be a great anime, but I think it’d need a better writer.

Tales of Phantasia

[This article contains spoliers]

This game may be my favourite game of all time, and I even love the bad version. The dreaded Gameboy Advance copy. I’ve heard it being described as a bad port of a good game.

The SNES version has better sounding music. The GBA version slows when fighting enemies, which unintentionally adds a little bit more challenge to the combat.

This game, this version of the game, has problems. And you know what? I really don’t care. I adore this game. I have’t played it in a little while, but every time I play that song ‘Be Absentminded’ (do yourself a favour and listen to the SNES version) I fall in love with it all over again. I still really like the GBA version of the music, though the SNES version grew on me over time (with good reason).

You play Cress, a young man that loses his family and village. It sounds cliche, and it is, but I think it’s a hell of a way to start a story. Your friend, Chester, mourns his sister.

Cress is your good guy. Chester rushes into things. Mint is calm, warm and gentle. Claus is a man who strives for more, in a world where humans have no magic, he learn to summon spirits, so that he is able to do things that he shouldn’t be able to. I honestly love that little bit of lore; and I think it truly speaks to his character that he overcomes the very nature of his world. Archie is bubbly, and just fun, with the ability of magic due to her half-eleven nature. Suzu wasn’t originally playable, but I think she’s a great addition to the cast.

It’s important to note that everyone of these characters experience tragedy one way or the other. This isn’t a perfect story, and when it ends, there is a ‘more to do’ feeling for the characters. They’ve got to pick up the pieces from their broken lives. And that’s nice. Life never ends, and that’s realistic. That doesn’t mean the story isn’t resolved, it is, but the ending makes the characters feel alive. They’ve got a life they have to recover and that’s what’s important.

This game has time travel, it has futuristic technology, it has a unicorn. It even has a villain, Dhaos, though he is suitably intimidating, he isn’t the best villain you’ll ever meet. It’s a story with twists and turns, high and low moments. I think it’s a blast.

This game also has voice acting. It’s laughable, hard to understand, and doesn’t really play all that much oustide battles. But it’s there.

You’ll also be hard pressed to find a better looking game on the SNES or GBA. It looks that good.

It also has one of my favourite quotes from gaming by Edward D. Morrison: ‘If there is evil in this world, it lurks in the hearts of men.’ I love Edward D.Morrison, and that you meet his descendants throughout the game. It’s that sort of attention to detail that really sets this game apart for me.

I honestly don’t understand why Final Fantasy IV and VI are so well remember and this game isn’t. Chrono Trigger is known as being a great game, but this one is forgotten.

Now I have played Final Fantasy IV, and not the other two mentioned (well I have played them, but I only finished FFIV). I think that FFIV is a great game, but so is Phantasia, yet it’s basically unknown.

It’s probably because the game never came to America until the GBA version in 2006. Fate has been unfair to this game, because it’s just as beautiful as the other games mentioned. And the story is just as compelling. At least to me it is. I think it’s worth another look, if you enjoy that classic experience and adore beautiful pixel art. This game shouldn’t disappoint you.

 

Wonder Woman Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This film is a cartoon and video game combined into one. It has slow motion ‘finishing moves’. A villain referred to as ‘Doctor Poison’. And a final boss. It’s silly, despite always trying to be taken seriously.

I also find it difficult to when Diana wears high heels and make-up into battle. I also thought it was uneven in it’s presentation in a good vs bad side. It tries to be a little even handed with the addition of The Chief and his people’s history with the British, but overall it felt very one sided, like a popcorn flick. A big, loud, Hollywood movie.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t expect much substance to this film.

Here’s the thing though, I feel like this film is similar to Captain America. I feel like that movie did this plot better and didn’t take itself as seriously.

Where this film shines is when it leans on it’s Greek Mythology, when we see Diana and her innocence. Her questioning of this strange world. That angle is unique. When she’s an outsider looking within, it strikes you as something special.

When you’re on the island, with the Amazons, that feels different. But the war, it has simplistic portrayal. It just not a real war film.

Captain America, I think, succeeded more in this respect, because it was focused on being a superhero film. It was Steve Rodgers ‘zero to hero’ moment.

Wonder Woman tries to focus on the tragedies of war, more than Captain America did. It wants to show how Diana lost her innocence, yet it hides the audience from this same brutality. That rings hollow to me. I don’t feel like I truly saw what she did. I didn’t see heartbreak and sorrow. It was hinted at, but that’s it.

I felt more when Diana left the island. When her mother despaired at her loss. That scene meant more because of the time the film invested into their relationship. Her mother always feared losing her, and Diana wasn’t prepared for the hurt she caused her.

In contrast Aries, the films main ‘bad’, is a joke. His motivations make no sense. I don’t buy the whole ‘lets make a perfect planet’ spiel. He’s a God! He has millions of planets to make perfect. I mean seriously, that’s his motivation?

Also Steve Trevor didn’t have to die. He had all the ‘secret war weapons’ with him in a plane. Alone. He could’ve landed anywhere and lived happily ever after with Diana. Instead he killed himself for no reason.

It’s things like that which makes the whole film feel flimsy. Did they think this whole plot through? It really doesn’t feel like they did.

Now, it’s really not a bad film, Diana is a good character, Gal Gadot was fine in the role. The action is good. It’s a turn off your brain type film. I’m not going to recommend it to everyone, but it certainly has an audience. Check it out if you’re into superhero films, especially if you want to watch a female one.

If you’re not in love with the action blockbuster. Give it a miss, you’ve seen this one before.

You’re not a ‘Hardcore’ Gamer!

Now to be fair, I’m not sure that I’d call myself one, but I have been playing them for a very long time now. Probably too long.

What I don’t understand is the obsession in gaming fandom to be super ‘HARDCORE!’ It feels almost hyperbolic. You need to be the best, you need the best gear, and beat the game on the hardest difficulty. Otherwise, you can’t possibly be on ‘their level’.

Now I’m not talking about skill, which is different altogether. Competitive play is a natural thing in games, I’m talking about the people that are elitist. When they troll you because of how you play and what you play on. The PC vs Console debate is a good example of how some gamers can be on this subject.

That’s what I see when scrolling through Reddit and other such forums. Hell. Youtube comments seem to be the most guilty of this.

I saw a great video once on this subject about ‘easy’ difficulties being fun, because they’re about empowerment. I agree with this sentiment. I like feeling I’m ‘the boss’. That I’m the hero. I’m saving the day.

It’s both gratifying and silly. I like playing that way, because to me; that’s what video games are about, having fun.

Yet some people think you must be a ‘casual’ for doing that. It’s either Dark Souls, or nothing.

I tried Bloodborne, I also tried Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I found them both to be too hard, frustrating and pointless. I don’t like to feel like I’m working when I’m meant to be playing. It also doesn’t help, in the case of Metal Gear, that I’m not the biggest stealth fan.

Normally the difficulty I play is either Easy or Normal. I personally found the easiest difficulty of The Last Of Us hard. I still like that game, and I finished it. It still wasn’t easy for me.

And that’s okay. That’s really all I’m getting at. You don’t have to be the best to still be a gamer.

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This film is based on the 1960s Batman TV show, you know the one, it’s incredibly entertaining and very easy to make fun of. Adam West, who recently passed on, returned as Batman. He does a great job of playing it straight, despite the goofiness of the story.

Batman becomes a villain, fires Alfred, and all that was just a distraction for the real ‘plot’. This film is a wacky Loony Tunes cartoon. If you want something serious, don’t watch this film,

The villains can be at times benign, committing a prank spree on Gotham, to robbery. Always leaving a path of destruction behind them. The police are so incompetent, they can’t even handle shoplifting. They’re a joke, which is the point.

And of course Batman has a spaceship.

You didn’t have to know that, but it’s something that I think I should emphasis. This is a cartoon, not just an animated film. It’s incredibly silly.

Catwoman flip flops loyalty at the drop of a hat, though her flirtations with Batman are rather humorous. It’s like they don’t even try to ‘beat’ each other.

Batman is a boyscout. There is no brooding here, only puns, lots of them…and alliteration. Wordplay is what really makes this film work, the script writers did a great job.

The animation is fine, though not always fluid. It could’ve been better, Batman Beyond is far more smooth, and I think that should’ve been achieved in this film. The art is nice, similar to the pages of a comic book, which I think is a compliment. Though again, it doesn’t look as good as Batman Beyond.

The CGI is fine, mainly used for vehicles. I’ve seen worse examples of it, but it could’ve been implemented better, I’m thinking of Gundam Unicorn or Pycho-Pass.

It isn’t the prettiest film, but the script and voice acting makes up for everything else. It’s that good and fun. I’d recommend this to any fan of superhero comics or films that want a different take on the genre. If you like the 1960s TV show, this is a no-brainer for you.

BAM! WACK! THRACK!

Give it ago, it might surprise you!