Baby Driver Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film has a great sound track. I don’t normally talk about the music to a film because normally to me it’s just in the background adding to the ‘emotion’. This film actively makes you notice the tracks being played, from making Baby (the main character) lip-synced to the lyrics to the films action hitting (literally) all the same beats.

It’s excellently done and really sets this film apart from most.

The music is also implemented in a unique way with how it plays throughout the film. It’s either on a radio, or on Baby’s iPod. The music is used as a plot device, by Baby using it to block out the ringing he constantly has in his ears. It’s even great when he loses most of his hearing toward the end of the film, the audience experiences it too, by the soundtrack becoming more muted.

I liked that, it made for an almost interactive experience rarely given by most films.

The plot is fun, but it mainly stands as an action film with cars; and lots of driving. If you’re into The Fast and the Furious, Speed Racer or Redline (the anime), you’ll most likely find something enjoyable here. Keep in mind though, it’s also a Mafia, criminal type film. It’s about a young man getting caught in that sort of life and just wants a way out.

It’s also a romance film and it’s pretty well done. It won’t win any awards for the love story, but it’s nice.

No, this film really shines in it’s action. It seems to have an 80s aesthetic with it’s use of cassettes. Baby Driver lives on it’s great sound track. I’d recommend this film easily to anyone that likes fun.

Advertisements

Whatever happened to the chick flick?

[This article contains spoilers]

Baby Driver reminds me of two other ones: American Ultra (which is not as good) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which is a better movie). It’s is the attitude of these films, the quick editing and the surprising focus on a rather nice romance. Another, better known film, that did this ‘action romance’ better is Deadpool.

I’m not saying that if you liked Deadpool you’ll all of a sudden like all these other films (especially given that American Ultra being the weakest example). But it seems to be a recent trend, come for the bloody fights, stay for the touching story.

I find it strange that the best romance films nowadays aren’t even trying to be romantic films, but action ones. I think it’s a little sad that the romance genre is so sparse and unoriginal in modern times. I’ve brought it up before, but The Apartment has be one of my favourite romance films I’ve ever seen, and funnily enough, that one also has a male protagonist.

Whatever happened to the iconic romantic film? Where are they? There have been some decent ones, like About Time (another male lead…I wonder why?)

What about those really dumb and sappy films that stared Meg Ryan? The movies where it was obvious where it was going? Aiming squarely at that middle age woman demographic? I miss those films. I miss the predictable clichés that you’d see from a mile away. The fact that they love each other so damned much that it hurts to be apart. That soul crushing romance. I love that stuff, yet I can’t think of any true great examples of a pure romance film experience in the last few decades.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Deadpool, I think it’s a wonderful romance and a great action film, but I want more. I want to watch a woman crying like Bridget Jones’s Diary, or see a sweet quirky family dramedy like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But those were over a decade ago.

Some notable mentions should be Silver Linings Playbook. A decent film, but I wouldn’t call it remarkable. It’s more about mental health than romance, and even then, I think it plays down those more serious aspects for comedy (like the father basically gambling everything away. ‘It’s okay because they won the bet’, seems to be the films logic behind it. Real life doesn’t work that way).

Love & Other Drugs is a good film, but it’s narrative is fractured. It moves from a love story to living with a partner with Parkinson’s disease rather fast, but it does ‘go there’ which I appreciate. The Proposal is also pretty funny and silly, but not for everyone. I enjoyed it, but it’s hardly a classic.

I haven’t seen The Fault in our Stars or The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I understand that they’re meant to be good ‘young adult’ romance flicks.

The only great film aiming for this audience that I saw was Your Name, a wonderful film. Yes it’s animated, an action film filled with a time travel adventure. However it’s a love story at it’s core, which is nice.

I guess I wrote this to say, I’m still waiting for a film that’ll knock my socks off. That’ll come out and be sappy, silly and funny. That will be a return of a real romantic film, for an adult. I love Deadpool, but it’s just not that same.

Romance films of the 21st Century, where are you? It’s been too long and you’re sorely missed.

Hot Fuzz Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film starts as a fast paced journey, with our main hero Nicholas Angel. He’s an over achiever in life and the police force. He’s an enthusiastic cop in a boring job. Then the film gradually turns into a murder mystery. Why are there all these accidents? Who’s responsible?

Well, a cult. A cult to make the town ‘perfect’.

That’s when the film takes a hard right toward the strange. It becomes a full on action flick. Guns, they’re everywhere! And the elderly love them, apparently.

It’s an unusual film to say the least, but having seen The World’s End, it almost seems normal in comparison. Edgar Wright’s really loves to start his films fairly mundane before they spin off into insanity.

Now this film is fun, the action is good, but it felt like a smaller budgeted version of The World’s End (probably because it is, and that really shows).

The pacing also feels a bit slow at points, making the film feel longer than it is.

The action is a little bloody and fast paced, but also out of left field (in a good way). And Danny, he’s the best character, a sidekick for Nicholas. He really felt like a great counter to Mr. Angel’s ‘perfect record’.

He added a humanity to him. Danny was sloppy when Angel was immaculate to a fault. He taught him to cut loose, take a drink, and relax. It really shows in the characterisation, when they both learn from each other and develop as people. Danny learned to be a cop, Angel learned how to be a civilian. It was nice to see them play off each other. It was probably the strongest aspect of the narrative.

The surreal nature of this film was fun. It was wacky, and a good time. But with it’s poor pacing and odd nature, this movie isn’t for everyone. It jumps genre a little too much to have a broad audience. I couldn’t see this film working for everyone. But if you like your dumb action, with witty dialogue, and a man finding his way. This will probably be for you.

Yet unfortunately, due to all those elements being in the film, I could see it leaving someone unfulfilled.

Again, I liked it, but I don’t think it’s for everyone, and I think Edgar Wright has made better films (like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).

Batman vs. Two-Face Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film included a tribute to Adam West, who unfortunately died this year. It’s sad to say then, that thought this film is fun, it isn’t as good as Bataman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. It feels like a ‘filler episode’, like the type of content that you enjoy, not because this is the best you’re seen of a TV series, but because you like the characters.

If you didn’t like Bataman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, then there is nothing for you here. If you want a tribute to the sixties Batman TV show, watch that other film first.

Now, that’s not to say this movie isn’t fun, it is. It’s wacky and silly, but it’s not nearly as clever as the first film. There isn’t half the amount of word play in this one, and the film suffers as a result.

The plot is also a mess and doesn’t make much sense. That worked in the first film, because it was self aware, unfortunately that element didn’t transfer to this film. It also had a resolution that didn’t make any sense. Two-Face just ‘battles himself’ through talking. Even as a ‘good guy’ Harvey Dent seems like a rotten lawyer. Just sending people to prison instead of rehabilitation.

Though the evil extractor was a fun idea, and watching an evil ‘two-faced’ robin was rather amusing.

I think the ending was the best, when Catwoman bid on Batman for a date. That was funny. That felt like the previous film before the magic was gone.

The animation was consistent, more so than the first film. Though it was never good, or outstanding, remaining fairly average throughout the film. The art was nice, but unremarkable and the voice acting was great. Though the end credit did have some bad animation that just looped, that was odd.

I did like this film, yet I can’t recommend it. Again, if you liked the first film, give this one a shot. Even then though, it’s hard to say if you’ll enjoy it or not.

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.

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 sparingly 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.