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The Sarah Silverman Program. (2007)
Either a creative triumph, or a stupid, stupid waste of time, you pick : D!
Let me preface this by saying I can easily see why someone can hate this show.
The Sarah Silverman Program is about Sarah Silverman, playing a fictional version of herself. Her parents are both dead, and she lives with her younger sister, who pays the rent, while she generally acts like a self-centered and impulsive child. Her only real friends are her sister, who is very close to her, their two gay neighbors (two fat nerdy guys), and a Chihuahua Sarah found in the garbage (don't worry, it's still alive, and she seems to treat it rather well). The show chronicles her day to day adventures which tend to be bizarre and rather pointless. As of this review, she's been arrested for DUI after driving while drinking Cough Syrup and nearly killed by a crazed homeless man whom she allowed to come live with her in her apartment.
Sarah Silverman has a weird, obnoxious sense of humor that doesn't really stretch across the typical demographic. Honestly, I don't find Sarah Silverman the comedienne that funny, but the show ranges mildly amusing to actually laugh out loud funny. There are some moments that just grind on the ears (any time she sings), but there are moments that are genuinely amusing. Give the show a try. If you don't like it, you've only wasted half an hour of your life, so don't be too upset =]
Very funny and strange anime
Hale is a normal boy living in a small jungle community with his mother, Weda, and their friends. He does chores, cooks, goes to school, and cares for his mom, who's somewhat of a lush. One night, she comes home with a cute little pink haired girl named Guu, claiming that she's adopted Guu. Hale and her get along fine initially, but the next day, Guu becomes mellow, bitingly cynical, and manipulative (in the most hilarious way possible), constantly putting Hale in situations he'd rather not be in. Did I also mention that she'll eat anything and everything in sight? Like many shows before it, Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu, translated to something along the lines of "The Jungle Was Always Nice, then Came Guu," is based around a single character, Guu, and her antics. More accurately, it's about Hale's attempts to control her and keep her weird habits (remember the eating thing?) from being exposed. Guu herself is pretty much a mystery, with no explanation of who she is or where she comes from, she simply becomes a catalyst for everything strange and usually downright hilarious that happens to poor Hale.
However, the other "main" characters of the show are rather well fleshed out, making the show be less of a "Guu-vehicle" and more of a "well-rounded sitcom." Hale himself, being a kid somewhere around the age or 8 or 9, is prone to episodes of melodrama over Guu's actions, but is a goodhearted kid, it's too bad he got stuck with such a psycho. His mom, Weda, is also pretty good-natured, it's too bad she's such a lazy alcoholic. The other characters are fairly two dimensional, one of which is constantly prone to fits of hysterical laughter, or the teacher who is always sleeping, the little girl who has a huge crush on Hale and has a weird melodramatic issue with love, etc etc. However, some of them are just so out there (a nurse of Weda's who has almost a sexual love for her, which includes many, many nosebleeds, as well as severe beatings of her assistant) that one really can't turn their head away.
A lot of the humor is physical slapstick material, usually overanimated to the point of becoming psychotically violent (though in a VERY cartoonish form) and various oddball emotes. It also has a lot of more spoken comedy that ranges from plain silly to subtle to drier than this review. The storyline itself isn't bad, but entirely unnecessary. It's primarily in episodic format, so you can jump in at any time. Honestly, the only reason this review is so dull is that I haven't slept in three days and I haven't seen the show in months, but I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting comedy.
A much stronger film than I expected
I'm not the hugest Square fan, in fact, I stopped paying attention to them after Final Fantasy VIII. When I heard a Final Fantasy movie was being made back in 1999 or so, I jumped for joy, expecting to see a movie-version of FFVII, which I had been addicted to. Instead I discovered it was a sci-fi flick, and lost all interest. Then I heard that it tanked at the box office and saw even less reason to watch it. About a year ago I heard about Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and immediately thought "Crap, they're gonna disgrace the actual series this time?" To my complete and utter surprise, they didn't. Then I saw some of the screens, and heard a lot about the action, and was expecting a shallow fanboy piece of garbage that was all flash and no substance. Then I actually saw the movie, and I was floored.
The synopsis is already up on the site, so I'm not going to bother. The CGI for the movie is of course jaw-droppingly impressive, making you almost forget that it's all computer-generated. In fact, in a specific scene, the only reason I remembered it WAS CGI was that no human could move as gracefully as the characters were.
The storyline itself is what shocked me the most. Instead of being so arrogant Square-driven ego-trip about how little effort they had to put into plot because Square fans would ogle at the pretty visuals, the storyline is a rather well-written short story that they manage to gracefully and effectively draw out for an hour and a half without boring the viewer. In context of the game (it's pretty much imperative you play the game first, otherwise some of what they talk about won't make sense. Though I do have to commend Square for making an effort to explain the 40+ hour RPG to any newbies in an incredibly concise and well done manner), the storyline is quite solid and really shouldn't make you go ". . . Hey, wait a minute! That's not right!" This is also quite possibly the ONLY movie I've ever seen where the fight scenes don't detract from the plot or the rest of the movie, and are seamlessly inserted with valid reasoning behind them (the only other movie I can think of off the top of my head that accomplishes this is the underrated Unleashed). Not only that, the fight scenes are done WELL. The camera is manipulated to create a rather good blend of distance (used in most Hong Kong flicks to give the audience a full understanding and appreciation of the acrobatics done by the martial artist) and flashy close up (used by Hollywood to give the audience the illusion that the actors are actually trained fighters) shots that give the movie a stylish feel while allowing for some really jaw-dropping visuals.
Even the acting is well-executed. I've always had a problem with CGI in that every now and then (Pixar-excluded) the actor's delivery or tone won't match the character's face actually mouthing the line or will look over-exaggerated, leading to an awkward moment that could kill the mood. Advent Children manages to keep the facial expressions in sync with the acting, not overdoing nor under-doing the range of motion. The voice actors themselves are well-cast, not being over the top (with the exception of Reno, but his character demands it) nor overly subtle. A nice touch that I personally enjoyed was the studio's choice to not make the characters look exactly like their in-game counterparts, with huge anime-style eyes and heads, choosing to go for a more realistic (and with most of the characters, Asian) appearance. While the eyes are still rather large for their heads, they manage to not look freakish and simply give the artists more room to express emotion through them.
A well done and very solid movie. I can't really think of a criticism for it right now, but as I watch the movie again and again, I'll probably notice things about it to critique. I don't believe I can give it a 9 or a 10, because to me, both of those represent the movies that have a powerful effect on society or movie-making in general (see: The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, the original Star Wars, Princess Mononoke, The Seven Samurai, etc), while Advent Children is probably the most rock solid movie I've seen in a long time, I'm not sure if it belongs among those movies in terms of greatness.
Easily one of the funniest things out there
Red vs Blue is a fanfiction (I refuse to call it mechanimation or whatever) detailing the goofy exploits between a red and blue base of soldiers from the game "Halo." Made by a bunch of geeks (who happen to have an awesome sense of humor), it definitely shines where other fanmade projects fail.
The show has 9 defineable characters. On the blue side, there's Church, possibly the only sane character on the planet with an attitude problem; Tucker, his "friend" (tentatively speaking) who tends to be bullied a lot by Church; Caboose, the new guy who's blissfully unaware of everything that's happening; and Tex, the mercenary who is hired to assist the Blues.
On the red side, there's Sarge, the gung-ho, Texas-accented stereotypical drill sargaent character who also happens to be severely messed up; Grif, a talkative, somewhat absent-minded guy who's picked on by Sarge a lot; Simmons, possibly the only other sane guy on the planet who also has his nose shoved up Sarge's rear; Donut, the somewhat stupid, but well-meaning new guy; and Lopez, the silent but efficient robot built by Sarge.
Each character is brought to life very aptly by their actors, who manage to make it more believable by adding an effect to the voices that make it sound like they really are communicating through radio headsets. For the most part, the acting is very believable and real, all of the characters are well portrayed, adding to the enjoyment of the show.
Each episode is hilarious for at least a dozen reasons, the story is well thought out, using twists and turns and referring to things that could have easily been discarded as a throwaway joke. The show also has a wit to it that could appeal to a broad range of audiences, though most tends to rely on gay humor that may be offensive, but anyone who's watching a parody of a videogame should be pretty loose when it comes to humor, anyways.
There's not much else to say about the show, it has a solid storyline, highly above average acting, manipulates the graphics of Halo very well, and is generally light hearted and fun. With that, I leave you with these parting words:
Sarge - See these tire hooves? They look kinda like tusks, what kind of animal has tusks? Grif - . . . A walrus. Sarge - What did I just tell you about making up animals?!
Sitting Ducks (2001)
A surprisingly great show
Despite the fact that almost everything about the show is incredibly mundane (solving a case of hick ups, trying to get a generally feared member of society to a picnic, etc etc).
Basically, the show centers around a well-liked member of Ducktown named Bill and his friend Aldo, an alligator (a species normally feared in town, but because of his passive attitude, makes him an exception). Usually the episodes are fairly simple, but are relevant to some adult problems (i.e. a gregarious and often preoccupied relative visiting and her timid cousin trying to spend some quality time with her). The show doesn't rely on crude humor or violence, using simple slapstick and goofiness to keep viewers entertained. The voice actors are generally very good and keep everyone sounding very natural. The music relies heavily on honking (you know, duck theme? . . .ahh nevermind) and bongo drums, as well as other percussion instruments and is very well done. The animation is entirely CG and is absolutely beautiful for a television series. The characters move incredibly fluidly and everything looks natural.
Some may find the show incredibly boring, because everything is very relaxed and laid back, in comparison to the normally faced media, but I find it to be a great change of pace, and I enjoy the show greatly. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys comedy or cartoons.
Pretty good, actually. . .
I saw this show when I was about 10. The basic plot was of a pair of kids who would go away to this wonderland where animals talked and each episode would be a folktale of different racial origins, be it Chinese, Japanese, Native American, Greek, whatever, in a condensed and easy to comprehend form.
Each episode has a moral and is animated rather well. For the most part, most of the episodes are rather entertaining, though I haven't seen it in like 5 years. Watch if you see it on ^-^
The One (2001)
Jet Li's steady descent into mediocrity
To the lovers/likers of this film: I'm extremely sorry to put this, but I feel I need to.
For the past 3 or 4 years, Jet Li seems to have left the plane of greatness to become a petty mediocrity. The One proves this.
The storyline and ideas are both great. The storyline being Jet Li playing a character named Yulaw/Lawless/Gabe Law, spanning different dimensions, and one of whom believes that by killing the versions of himself in the other dimensions, he will become more powerful and the ultimate fighter. It was basically a fantasy of the greatest MA actor of modern days (Jet Li) to fight the greatest MA actor of modern days (Jet Li ^^;).
The execution is what kills the movie. There is literally ONE fight scene with I believe two or three mini-scuffles, which were the biggest draws of the movie, and consisted of watching Jet Li dispatch people in Martix-esque slowdown/speed up. The one fight scene has Jet Li vs Jet Li using the good old computer to put them in the same screen, giving the impression that there are two Jets. Because of the fact that Jet had no one to fight off of, the fights end up looking clunky, awkward, and silly. I even had my girlfriend (a certifiable Jet Li nut) tell me to turn the movie off. She says it was easily the worst of his movies and I have to agree.
The rest of the movie tries to sound philosophical with it's ramblings about time and space, which for the most part fall on deaf ears. Another movie of Jet's, the Contract Killers, was similar in that there was only one climactic fight at the end, but that scene was so great that it completely annulled the boredom from the rest of the movie.
I do NOT suggest seeing this movie for any reason, the only saving grace of it is the fact that they play Disturbed's "Down With the Sickness" in one scene and Papa Roach's "Blood Brothers" in the fight scene between Gabe and Yulaw, but that's my personal preference, not everyone is a nu-metal fan.
The fight scene is dull (what the hell? Fight "SCENE"? In a Kung Fu movie?!), the acting isn't all that great, and the "modern" feel for a martial arts movie doesn't work.
End comment: Only see this movie if you want a better appreciation of Jet's other works.
Jing wu men (1995)
Surprisingly good. . . if you're a Bruce Lee fan.
As most should know, this is a remake of an old Bruce Lee movie, Fists of Fury, also known as Chinese Connection. I personally have mixed feelings about it.
Seeing only two Bruce Lee films (Fists of Fury "The Big Boss" and the second half of Enter the Dragon), and being unimpressed by both (I'm spoiled by the likes of Jet Li and Donnie Yen :-P), I'd have to say this movie is pretty good.
Donnie Yen does his best to recreate the EMOTION, not physical appearance, of Bruce Lee. So while he's not a dead ringer in appearance, his displays of rage are rather convincing. Also, considering the quality of his materials (this was a tv series, not intially a movie) he managed to pull off a rather good production.
The story is that Chen Jun's (Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen) master, Fok (his surname, his full name escapes me at the moment) is trying to gather all the martial artists and create a universal style based on the strengths of each martial art. He does this to give China some fighting power against the foreign invaders of Imperialism: Japan, Russia, Italy, Britain, France, and others. Japan, being the key antagonist of the movie, has an official poison Fok. Hellbent on revenge, Chen goes on a campaign of kick ass to drive out the Japanese.
For the most part, because of the legendary limited budget of TV shows, Donnie had about 4 or 5 actual martial artists: himself, Eddy Ko, a guy playing a japanese Karate master (limited experience), and maybe a few others. The rest were all either unexperienced in both acting or martial arts. Considering this, he pulled off the fight scenes masterfully (Donnie was the fight choreographer) by mainly using editing and quick shots to make use of stunt doubles and extras. Therefore most of the fight scenes look very awkward and close-up, but it's bearable.
The storyline in itself is basic, but effective. It really doesn't show many huge plot holes and presents itself well.
The main part of the movie that most will like is the last 30 minutes, Donnie does nothing but kick the crap out of Japanese martial arts students, martial arts masters, and even a Russian wrestler (taken from the original movie). Three of the fight scenes (two with nunchakues (I know I spelled it wrong) and one with escrima sticks) had absolutely no choreography and look amazing, even by today's high standards.
Personally, I had mixed feelings about the movie. Parts of it will make you groan while other parts you will geniuinely enjoy. Only get this movie if you have about $15 to blow.
(There are two major props that inspire silliness and laughter though, one scene Donnie uses a net that looks about 80 years ahead of its time (bright green nets in 1911?) and a Japanese flag that's 40 years ahead of its time)
Overall, I'd give the movie somewhere along the lines between a 4 and a 6. To some, it will be slightly above average, to others, it will be slightly below average. Anyone who rates it higher or lower either has a high tolerance for cheesiness or is a martial arts elitist and are asking more than me.
Probably one of the greatest martial arts movies ever.
I will NEVER understand while so many people hold this movie in disdain.
Once Upon a Time in China II is the sequal (yup, who would have guessed) to Tsui Hark and Jet Li's classic Once Upon a Time in China. Wong Fei Hung is travelling to Canton to give a speech about the technique of acupuncture to foreign doctors. Unfortunately, an anti-Western cult is in the throws of rebellion, destroying and burning anything foreign. Wong Fei Hung makes an uneasy alliance with a military commander (played by the AMAZING Donnie Yen) as well as revolutionary Sun Yatsen, who is at odds with the commander.
Jet Li shows his brilliance once again as Wong Fei Hung, using many moves that will make you wide-eyed in surprise. His acting itself is nothing short of brilliant. Unfortunately, the character Wong Fei Hung is rather one-dimensional, not really changing his demeanor or attitudes throughout either this movie or the first one.
Max Mok replaces Yuen Biao as Foon, which in my opinion is a travesty, as Yuen Biao is just as good, if not better, than Jet Li. Max Mok, though, plays his role very well.
Donnie Yen, whom I'm a huge fanboy of, is best as a villain, which he is in this movie. Donnie Yen's first scene in the movie is a stunning one, with him training in a field of bamboo poles and lanterns, where he displays an eye-popping visual of literally turning a piece of cloth into a staff-whip of deadly power.
Rosamund Kwan, who's name I probably misspelled, reprises her role as Cousin Yee (english version), or Aunt 13 (chinese version). Her character is of course attracted to Wong Fei Hung ("cousins by marriage, not by blood," according to her in the last movie) and manages to add some romance to the movie.
Xin Xin Xiong makes an impressive debut to the series, playing Kung, the possibly insane leader of the White Lotus clan. He is supposedly impervious to sword, axe, and firearm. (Xiong goes on to play the Capoeria-using Clubfoot in the rest of the series)
I do not have any real qualms about the movie, as everything is told with well-organized scenes and is not boring for a minute.
I also do not understand what people have against this movie, saying that it is "blatant propaganda for the Chinese." I say to them:
Think about it, the Chinese were taken advantage of an forced to change, as well as forced to give up most of their land and natural resources, they were heavily taxed and given little autonomy. It sounds like a certain country if you ask me. A country that won independence from Great Britain in the 1700s. Add to the fact that even now, that certain country holds an "effortless superiority" complex towards every other nation because they've been told about how great they are and how inefficient, corrupt, or "evil" other countries are.
Original vs Dubbed version: The Original Cantonese version has some great acting, especially for a Chinese flick. The Dubbed version uses the same actors from the first movie, which aren't terribly bad, and for the most part, the lip-synching is not that bad.
I think I'd give the movie a 7/10, as so far, the only other martial arts movie I've seen better is Iron Monkey (which is far from perfect as well).
Greg the Bunny (2002)
Great great show
This show is great. The actors they chose for this show are dead-on and interact perfectly with each other. Most of the actors look like they've been acting for a while and are convincing at being veterans of the show. The writing is usually very creative and some of the quotes will stick out in my memory forever ("Ahh iggit-blah!"). I hope the shows stays for a good amount of time and am happy that Fox is airing a show with a comprehendable storyline (The Simpsons are getting pretty stale). The only other good show on the network happens to be the other new release that happens to be Andy Richter Controls the Universe. An unbeatable tag-team ^_^!