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This is not Arcadia of My Youth
For some reason, every other comment on this page (as of 02/21/09) referred to the theatrical feature Arcadia of My Youth, AKA My Youth in Arcadia, and the English dub Vengeance of the Space Pirate (these comments have finally been removed or reposted to the correct film). Please read the title at the top of the page; this is The Mystery of the Arcadia, a completely separate film featuring the same main character. This feature is a 35 minute theatrical short that was produced during the run of the 1978 Space Pirate Captain Harlock television series, which drew the bulk of its narrative from that series' thirteenth episode (Witch Castle in the Sea of Death) and added around fifteen minutes of new animation. The feature focuses on the relationships between Captain Harlock, his young ward Mayu Oyama, and the ship's mysterious central computer, climaxing with an undersea battle with the witch Aman in a story paralleling that of the famous Japanese folk tale "Urashima Taro." It's a non-essential but fun film aimed at fans of the original series, though it breaks with that series' internal continuity via its re-writing of the source episode.
Robotech: The Movie (1986)
There 's going to be spoilers, so just realize that up front.
I liked the TV show. I really did. I was sixteen, and somehow G.I. Joe and the Thundercats weren't cutting it for me in the entertainment department. For what it was, Robotech was way ahead of its peers.
Robotech the Movie might've been okay in concept, but the actual execution was awful. "A" Robotech movie, maybe, but not THIS Robotech movie. With the original show, the three series that comprised it were seen in succession. Here, we have two unrelated anime intercut, and it shows. One of the components, Megazone 23, was shot on 35 millimeter; the other, the Southern Cross series, was on 16 millimeter. The design sense was radically different between the two anime, as well, and of course characters from the two shows never interacted, even though Harmony Gold had about ten minutes of new animation made for the ending-since Megazone had originally ended on a cliffhanger, and its sequel had completely different character designs, they needed to wrap things up somehow, after all. You'd think-or wish-that they'd had the sense to make some new footage bridging this gap. (Note: the english dub of Megazone part 2 that was dubbed by Harmony Gold for the japanese market and has been floating around for ages contains this extra footage at the beginning, even though it cannot possibly fit into the continuity of the original story.)
It could be expected that the resultant film would bear little or no similarity to the original Megazone 23, but it also utterly fails to fit into the continuity of Robotech. Supposedly taking place between the Macross and Southern Cross series, we have the Robotech Masters showing up five years before they "finally reach earth" AGAIN at the start of Southern Cross. The fact that one of their ships is brought down on earth and the Masters themselves speak to the head of the earth military makes one wonder how our heroes manage to completely forget that they've met, fought, and defeated these same enemies when they show up again. We also see Southern Cross fighters that aren't invented until halfway through the SC series showing up in this alleged prequel, and the same stock footage used for the "cloning of Zor" bits dropped into the later Macross episodes gets used again for the "cloning of B.D." part of this film.
Yes, that's right, the fascist militant antagonist B.D. from Megazone is now a good guy who is captured, cloned, and sent back as a saboteur, using the Zor Prime/Marlene plotline from the show YET AGAIN. What's hilarious, however, is that we never see any of this take place onscreen. The "good" B.D.'s voice is heard coming out of a mech early in the film, though we never see his face, and we never see anyone getting kidnapped at all. We hear one of the other pilots yelling, "Look over there! They're kidnapping the commander!" without seeing any of it happen, since there was no actual animation depicting this wholly made-up plot point. And while all the events onboard the space-travelling city in Megazone are now transposed to earth, they managed to leave in the part wherein the hero punctures the hull of the ship and drifts out into space without explaining what the hell just happened.
This film is best viewed the way one would view Plan 9 From Outer Space; no other way is likely to be enjoyable. I'll point out in closing that while Robotech's creator Carl Macek has in interviews denounced the preposterous way in which the voice actors in the film constantly go "huh?" and "wha?" and "eh?" throughout the whole film, the anime he's dubbing in present times (up through 2003) still contains this obnoxious approach to voice-over. Some folks never learn.
Soul Survivors (2001)
It's a bad omen when the title is a pun.
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** Does anyone else notice that the first scene in this film is never explained, and makes no sense? Just curious.
Much that it might want to be, this is not a David Lynch film. It doesn't have the imagination. Near-death trauma causes hallucinations (or ARE they?) and the most exciting thing they can come up with is some weird-looking guys chasing you up various halls and alleys?
The box copy is rather deceptive, too, claiming this is the version that "couldn't be seen in theaters." It's simply the version that WASN'T seen in theaters; there's nothing extreme in this film at all, especially compared to the slasher films of the 70s and 80s. While the filmmakers seemed to be trying to get all artsy rather than gory, it doesn't really pay off in either way. Plus Eliza Dushku doesn't get the least bit naked in this film, so be forewarned (though she does dance nicely, if the camera would just slow down and let us watch her doing so.)
SPOILER COMING: What kind of a twist ending is it to have the character simply mistaken about which of her friends actually died? So you get two deaths instead of one...I guess that's worse in real life, but hardly what I'd call dramatic. And can you count the times a "horror" film has ended with the sudden reappearance of the villian, which suddenly turns out to be "Whew! Just a dream!" No, I expect you probably can't.
Who could believe this was real?
Who? Apparently, over half the viewing public, which led to the second airing of this absurd hoax. As an amateur filmmaker myself, I spotted the tricks immediately, especially the intensely fake "light ball," (an Adobe Premiere PRESET, no less,) which cast no shadows. The sudden intrusion of overlaid static just before every special effect just screamed "the effect didn't work the first time and we had to cut to take 2 without obviously stopping the camera." The scene where it becomes abruptly foggy so the laser pointer the aliens are using (to cut up an invisible cow) has a visible beam was rather amusing. The points where the camera cuts to a new shot (complete with sound bridge) but the time counter still clocks a full minute across the cut waves a flag saying "the time counter was added later" (it's also a Premiere preset.)
I expect the creators of this flick were trying to make a work of fiction-what gets me is the fact that UPN aired this thing without any disclaimer whatsoever. The whole time, they implied it was a real occurrence, the only hint of honesty being the credits at the end, which apparently a lot of people missed. Curiously, the only real people involved were Stanton Friedman (big-time UFO nut) and Michael Shermer (big-time UFO debunker,) who didn't appear in the credits at all. In fact, I don't think either of them actually comment on the content of the tape itself-their interviews might well have been culled from elsewhere. Is this not fraud of some sort to deliberately lie to the viewing public?
This pre-Blair Witch Blair Witch flick is even less scary than BW, but if you liked that film, maybe this is for you. Just don't believe it's the real thing.
The Abyss (1989)
Could've been Cameron's best. But isn't.
Much of this constitutes a spoiler. READ NO FURTHER IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW CRUCIAL PLOT DETAILS!
Am I the only one who thinks that the inclusion of friendly ETs in this film was utterly superfluous?
Perhaps so. Nevertheless, this film could've been a nice Cold War drama without the danged aliens making so much as a cameo, which, for the first ninety minutes or so, is about all they do. Snip the rest and simply allow the human conflict to play out; there's plenty of it, and it's by far Cameron's most tension-inducing work. The much-praised drowning sequence is truly grueling to watch, and the claustrophobic atmosphere exceeds that of Aliens, probably his best movie. But the horribly awkward dog-leg turn at the end threw my suspension of disbelief right out the window, and the director's cut is even more egregious in this respect, with an entirely new plot line that had not really even been hinted at previously suddenly appearing and then being abruptly resolved within minutes. Another "Architects of Fear" we don't need.
Some directors do a good job at incorporating a moral within their narrative, but Cameron isn't one of them. His comments on human aggression and non-cooperation reduce to "people being mean bad! People saying 'I love you' to family good!" Frankly, most of us have figured that out independently. "Show, don't tell," is a technique Cameron has never seemed comfortable with, as if he doesn't trust his own ability as a director to convey the idea he wishes to promote without writing it on a baseball bat and clubbing you about the face with it. Good performances, photography, and effects aren't enough to save a potentially great movie about interpersonal conflict from the preachier aspects that, as the director's cut makes clear, were Cameron's most favorite parts of the story. Too bad.
And I hate when violation of physical law is explained away with dialogue like, "they must've done something to us." Thank you; that explains everything. JC really needs to hire a dialogue writer to take the burden off of his own skills; they just don't rise to the occasion.