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A great show in its original format!
Knowing I had an appreciation for anime, my mom bought me the first 25 episodes of the popular ninja cartoon Naruto. That was a couple of Christmases ago, before an English dub was created and it really exploded into America. I knew that an English dub was inevitable, as I enjoyed every episode greatly, and my two brothers, who could care less about anime, also actually enjoyed it themselves.
When I found out that Cartoon Network had picked up the show, I was a little worried that they would screw it up somehow. The day finally came when it debuted on CN, and my brothers and I tuned in to check it out, only to change the channel in the first 10 minutes.
We were initially turned off by the obnoxious dubbing, which we felt made the characters much harder to take seriously. Actually, it was that, and the fact that we thought the original voice actors did a much more bad ass job. For those of you who've seen the show in both its Japanese glory and lackluster English presentation, you may or may not know what I am talking about. Kakashi, for example, had been transformed from the cool and mysterious teacher into the weird and unknown guy who gives you your mission and criticizes your every progress.
I could go on for centuries about how they sound, but what they say is even more appalling than how they say it. Now, the spunky three that make up the protagonists have been imbued with a list of annoying catchphrases like the title character's infamous line "Believe it." which was changed from the phrase (and I'm not joking) "You're goddamn right!" or something around there, it's been a while since I abandoned the disgraceful dub.
Cartoon Network has also insisted on editing down on the content of the show (i.e. removing the gore, foul language, and occasional sexual themes) in an effort to make it more 'suitable' for television. I however, firmly believe that they have tampered with the artistic merit of the show in order to market it to children, and let's just say the bastards did a fantastic job at selling it (out). "But hey, if the main characters in the show are preteen ninjas-in-training, why not aim the show towards a preteen audience?" That must really be their philosophy, but it's a despicable one to me. I believe the show should be in its uncut glory, and possibly undubbed on the Adult Swim block, "Because hey, Fullmetal Alchemist was about a couple of kids, and it was unedited and rated TV-14!" but you can't expect much from cash-motivated networks. Go ahead and call me a socialist.
I have only written one complaint to Cartoon Network about its makeover of Naruto, mostly consisting of the statements in the above paragraph, and was promised by an automatic message that I would get a response within two weeks. Guess what, it's been two years.
I don't want you to think of this as a review of the actual Naruto anime, rather as an exclusive review of the English televised version. Glorious animation can't save it from an overabundance of kid-targeted tweaks and cuts. The Original version gets a 9/10 from me, but this disappointment only garners a 6/10.
A Character You can Love to Hate!
Sacha Baron Cohen's well-developed character Borat Sagdiyev is definitely the type of character that would make you laugh, regardless of how evil you felt for doing so. A faithful and justified movie incarnation of the character most famously from Da Ali G Show, Borat's biased statements (reflecting the fictional portrayal of Kazakh culture), perverse behavior, and total bastardization of the English language make for a sense of humor that is palpable, yet still hard to digest.
The film will probably shock and disgust you in several areas, yet it will most likely have you looking back at the horrible scenes with amusement, even as I write this, I can't help but giggle at the oafish behavior of Cohen's character as he goes about the United States skewering culture and beliefs, all the while testing the limits of others.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for public nudity, maybe I'm just amused at Borat's ridiculousness, outrageous public displays, and overall awkward and gaudy appearance. Regardless of those things, I can;t help but want to see ore of this character, and I highly recommend the mockumentary to anybody with an open mind and an appreciation for improvisation.
Like a Roller Coaster Ride!
When I first saw Grindhouse, it was for my 18th birthday party. They seemed to have no trouble at the local Edwards with letting me and my under-18 friends into the film, but that could have a lot to do with the fact that my friend Ian is quite big, causing him to appear older. We all went to see this film at first with the question on our minds of whether or not it would be good, I myself had mixed feelings before we went. However, within the first five minutes, the film captured us. First off, it introduces itself and appears in such a manner as a low budget shock film, the very difference however is intentional. The film was actually modified in order to appear low budget, with missing film reels, film skips, color filter issues, and a point where the film actually melts. The sheer cleverness of the film is enveloped and carefully portrayed through the quirks throughout. Grindhouse would be like a pie with a piece for everyone, 33% comedy, 33% horror, and 33% action/car chase. The TV adverts definitely did no justice for the film, as they didn't seem well enough to attract people to this 3 hour sitting. Couple that with the fact that the film contains graphic violence, strong language, and disturbing content to turn your stomach, and you've got a recipe for what turns out to be a marathon of badassery. Every sentence in the film is spoken with fulfilling character, and there are hundreds of witty comments and visual gags. The film feels both spoof and homage to the exploitation flicks of the 70's, and at the same time, it continues to push the boundaries of what's safe to show in theaters. I strongly encourage anybody with an appreciation for superb acting, a mindset for witty one-liners, and a stomach for gore to go and see this movie. You may even want to see it a second time to piece the two films in it together, and you'll definitely want to snatch it when it comes to DVD!