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!

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.

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This game is beautiful. I feel the need to emphasise that after the old console vs. pc war rages on. It’s an exclusive for the PS4, and that makes it an easy suggestion for any owner of that console. It’s a good game.

However I, in some ways, felt disappointed by it. Not because it isn’t great, but because I was expecting a fantasy, or fantasy-like game, to be more specific. When this game came out, many outlets sang it’s praises. It was compared very favourably to Witcher 3. To me, that’s misleading. It’s a Sci-Fi game, and a great one at that. The story has twists and turns. It has some sequel bait, which is fine by me, I’d like to play one.

The villain feels generic, taking a sort-of ‘skynet’ approach. However the main character, Aloy, despite a funny name, is a great character. It’s refreshing to me to have a great female character in a leading role in a AAA game.

I’m not sure if that’s controversial or not to say. But after playing The Last of Us and Witcher 3; both games where a playable female character get only a brief appearance, it’s nice to have it consistent throughout a game. A game that doesn’t have a ‘pick your adventure’ vibe like Mass Effect or Skyrim.

I should make it clear that I am aware of Tomb Raider, I’ve yet to play it, but that is another good example of a female-lead franchise.

I liked the overall story. I like the mystery that surrounded everything, it drew you in. I even found myself reading notes left behind by the dead civilisation, listening to audio logs. I was also surprised by the inclusion of a lesbian couple earlier in the game; when listening to the last words of a dead woman. It was sad, and poignant. I felt for that couple, just based on one audio log. That’s difficult to do, but I found the inclusions of that, by interacting with the world and coming with your own conclusions, to be one of the strongest aspects of this games storytelling.

I also find it interesting that Aloy had no interest in romance, something that’s normally a staple of games like this. When you can make choices in a game, normally it also leads to ‘love’.

The choices that are in this game are limited, but when they’re there, they feel important. It should also be noted that all your actions, for the most part, feel significant. Especially for the main plot. I felt like I was making a difference, that I was saving the world as we knew it. That I had something to prove and everything to lose.

The story does however have some faults, some key characters introduced at the beginning were wasted potential, they died too early. They could’ve made a larger impact later on, like Rost for example.

I also found the side missions to have a repetitive structure ‘track something down, kill a robot dinosaur, return thing back to person’. This felt weaker overall and like ‘busy work’. However the main plot lines, as stated before, are strong and avoided these issues.

Another problem I had, was that there were impressive cities, yet unlike games like Skyrim, I couldn’t just randomly walk into people’s houses. That felt immersion breaking to me.

The game play is fun, but I found the ‘stealth’ parts to be the weakest part. Especially with the over emphasis on the red bushes, this is something Shadow of Mordor did far better. The attacks via bow and arrow are, however, fun and satisfying. The spear feels closer to a last ditch effort weapon, but is competent enough to be a main weapon for those that prefer it.

The health system, I thought, was unique and easy to use, far better than Shadow of Mordor in that regard. It actually allows you to keep your herbs on hand.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a fine game, that I think, is mainstream enough for mass appeal. It’s good, with a strong story, I’d recommend it to almost anyone.