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Grew up in: Los Angeles
A Puff Piece for John Kerry?
Sure, it is. But it's also a frank and insightful look into the Vietnam experience through the life of John Kerry in that period. The first part of the film focuses on Kerry's time in Vietnam, including the actions that earned him the Silver and Bronze Stars. Kerry himself was not interviewed for the film; the story is told by his fellow soldiers.
The second part (which is longer) looks at Kerry's post-service activities in the anti-war movement. This section makes excellent use of archival footage, letting a young John Kerry and his fellow activists tell their own story. The response of Nixon and his attempts to smear Kerry are also portrayed, and very eye-opening. This movie provides an excellent view of a time in which the country was split in half, a split that continues to divide American society to this day.
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
'This is the Voice of World Control'
Colossus is the new defense supercomputer that is trying to take over the world, and Dr. Forbin is the man who created it, and now must stop it. The excitement in watching Forbin and Colossus go through move and counter-move is what carries this film, and the two are worthy adversaries to each other. It's thin on action for a science-fiction film; the action is more cerebral in nature as Forbin and Colossus grapple for control. Even while attempting to become the dictator of Earth, Colossus sometimes displays a sense of humor that is almost human, and a ruthlessness that is all too human. In the end, Colossus isn't your traditional bad guy. It was programmed to serve humanity, and it seeks to do that by saving humanity from itself. It sees the lives lost in the process as a necessary evil. The ending is not your traditional Hollywood ending either; I strongly suspect they were planning a sequel (The book this is based on was the first of a trilogy). The sets may seem a little dated, but the story is every bit as exciting as it was then, and given the developments in computer technology and artificial intelligence, even more relevant.
A good continuation
The movie is set a year after the end of the first season of the TV series, and Miyuki and Natsumi have just returned to Bokuto station from their temporary assignments, just in time to confront a terrorist group threatening Tokyo. This is a nice continuation of the adventures of our favorite Japanese traffic cops, although it is darker in tone than the series. People expecting a light-hearted romp will be disappointed, although there are some funny moments (the most notable of which is little Yuriko trying to wield an M-60 heavy machine gun when the terrorists attack the station.) The emphasis is more on action and mystery than humor. If you're unfamiliar with You're Under Arrest, this is NOT a good place to start. The movie was written for people who had seen at least some of the show and know the back story and relationships, so if you're a YUA newbie, start with the series and come back to this later. Bottom line: If you're a fan of the series, you'll want to see this.
Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 (1998)
Better than the original
This is a remake of the anime classic from the 80's, and this one is even better. Sylia, Nene, Linna, and Priss are all back as the Knight Sabers in their hard-suits battling the robotic boomers. The animation is crisp, the characters are well-developed, and the action rocks. Priss is a singer in her regular job, so the series features some wonderful songs as well. There is a fair amount of violence, but most of it is against robots, and there is some fan service, but nothing too racy. The DVDs also have many extras, including commentaries, which really enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the show. A must-have for any anime fan.
Also recommended: Burst Angel, Armitage III
Ekusu doraibâ (2000)
In the future, all cars are automated. Occasionally, a car goes out of control, and that's when the eX-drivers are called in. This enjoyable anime is reminiscent of You're Under Arrest, with the same light-heartedness and chemistry between the two leads, plus the obvious love of automobiles. The eX-Driver theme is very catchy as well. The leads are a little hard to take seriously, as the two girl drivers are still in high school, and the newest driver is only 13 or 14 years old. Then again, you don't have to take it seriously to enjoy it. I only wish they had released more episodes. There were only six, plus a movie and a special.
Also recommended: You're Under Arrest, Miami Guns
Turn and Burn!
A must-see for any aviation buff. This series uses the latest computer technology to recreate history's greatest air battles, including Guadalcanal (WWII), Mig Alley (Korea), Operation Bolo (Vietnam), the Six-Day War, and the exploits of the Flying Tigers. The series also makes good use of archival footage from the period to help illustrate the tactics and machines. The recreations are expertly done and very exciting (the "camera" even shakes when a plane flies by). Personally, I've been interested in this sort of thing since I was a kid, and this is probably the best show I've ever seen. If you like military aviation, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
Bakuretsu tenshi (2004)
Pretty cool, though not for everyone.
This anime was a lot of fun. The overall plot is sort of rambling, but it's a great ride. It's one of the sci-fi-western genre, similar to Trigun, although the characters (four females who fight crime in Tokyo) reminded me of the main characters from Bubblegum Crisis. It's heavy on the gun and mecha action, and there's a mystery about one of the characters and her origins that is nicely resolved at the end. And if you like commentaries, there were commentary tracks for six episodes in the DVD set.
The music is excellent. The opening theme ("Loosey") is one of the most memorable I've ever heard.
That said, there was a lot of fan service, several allusions to gay love, and a good amount of violence, so it's definitely not for the kids.
Looking forward to the OVA.
The X Files (1993)
I did watch the X-Files on TV at first, but stopped after a couple of seasons because it was too depressing. Currently, I'm working my way through the Mythology episodes on DVD. I'm in the middle of season four (Black Oil Mythology), and I'm bored out of my skull! OK, the acting is good, and the writing is pretty good, but the overall mystery has been going since episode one, and it's still going. We've gotten a few clues, but we're not much closer to the final answer, and it looks like we won't be there until the end of the series. Veronica Mars at least solves the mystery by the end of every season, and Babylon 5 told you what the Shadows were by Season 3. And they had the Narn-Centauri War to keep the fans interested. Eight years is a long time to string people along.
In addition, the show doesn't have much of a sense of humor. Any humor it has is too subtle for my taste. So subtle, I don't realize it's there.
Finally, people on the show don't act like they should. They do stupid things that get them killed, they never learn from their mistakes, and they run into things and events that make no scientific sense. I'm all for suspending disbelief for a good program, but it has just gotten to be too much.
Really, I wanted to like this show more, because I've heard so much about it, but in the end, I just couldn't. I'll stick with Star Trek.
Good parts, but unsatisfying overall
I gave this a vote of 6, which is the lowest of the votes so far, so I guess I'd better justify it. This is a hybrid of the combat mecha action anime and the high school romantic drama anime. Similar hybrids have done well in the past, but this one doesn't quite work. It has some good episodes, likable characters, exciting action scenes in the first half, and a righteous theme song, but overall, I just can't give this a high vote.
The setting is interesting, with Japan being the last part of Earth not overrun by alien(?) invaders, and the government having to draft high school students to fight. The anime focuses on one high school class, which mixes school work and classes with being on alert and having to fight off Genju attacks. The first half balances the two genres pretty well, but the second is firmly set in romantic drama. The boy and the girl eventually get together, but the larger conflict against the Genju is never resolved. We never find out where they came from, why they started attacking, or much of anything else about them. For example, we see an interesting tactic in the first episode that the Genju invaders use to defeat a human counter-attack. They apparently take control of one of the Japanese helicopters and then use it to destroy the main force. It's never explained how the Genju could do this, and then it's never seen again in any other battles. In addition, there are tantalizing hints about halfway through the series that the appearance of the invaders is connected to the conflict of WWII. This is never followed up on either. The whole romantic angle is fine, but it just isn't satisfying by itself when the fight for humanity's existence is left by the wayside.
To be fair, while I'm a fan of both genres, I prefer mecha action to romantic comedy drama, so I do have a little bias. But overall I found this somewhat disappointing. If you're an anime fan, I recommend renting the first two discs, and if you really want to see the boy and girl get together, then go ahead and see the third, just don't expect much beyond that.
After Twilight (2005)
Excellent for its genres
Its genres being short films and message films. After Twilight is only 34 minutes long, and has a strong (and relevant) statement to make, so there's not much time for character or plot development. Within that restriction, however, the film does a great job of setting a suspenseful story and developing Jen's character from scared girl to dedicated resistance fighter. Shooting it in black and white added a lot too, giving it a film noir feel.
As a long-time anime fan, it's also pretty cool to see Christine Auten in a live-action flick. She's just as good here as in Bubblegum Crisis 2040 and Azumanga Daioh. The acting in this movie is good all around.
Since you'll probably see this film on DVD, I'll mention that the extras are really good, too. There are three shorts on the making of the movie, and those are the kind of extras I personally just love.
Finally, this film is NOT anti-religious in its message. Several of the "good guys" in the film are Christians. It's anti religious government, it's pro separation of church and state, but it's not anti-religious.