Reviews written by registered user
erebus53

Page 1 of 2:[1] [2] [Next]
13 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Spriggan (1998)
9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Great production values... pity about the plot., 20 July 2002
6/10

Spriggan is an animé action film of extreme proportion. With production supervised by Katsuhiro Ôtomo (director of Akira), this is not surprising. Our main character is Yu Ominae, a 17 year old special operative, code named Spriggan. The story is one of warring covert government factions as they race to take possession of "Noah's Ark", an ancient artifact with immense power.

All this seems simple enough. Yu is the stereotypical action hero; he catches swords with his bare hands, dispatches "bad guys" without flinching, sustains near mortal injuries and still manages to hurl abuse at his oppressors, and yet, still swerves to avoid hitting innocent pedestrians. Our bad guys include a big guy with body armour and replacement cybernetics with a very, very large gun, a small guy who is fast and also cybernetically enhanced, and a mysterious, small boy.

Spriggan is based on a comic that ran in Shonen Magazine in Japan between 1989 and 1996. As such it has a following in Japan, but in the west (where it was known by the title "Striker") it has very few fans, as distribution of Japanese manga and animé is only now beginning to pick up.

As far as production values are concerned, Spriggan is a showcase of modern cinematic animé. Huge rotoscoped panoramas form gorgeous backdrops for scenes such as a car chase through the streets of Turkey and you feel a true sense of immersion in flurries of mountaintop snow. What little CG there is, is integrated fluidly and adds to the film, unlike in many other productions where it may distract the viewer. The score is brilliant and the 5.1 surround mix caught me off guard. A couple of times I caught myself turning to see if there was someone behind me.

I am generally a fan of subtitled animé, so I watched it in this form first. It is interesting to note that in most animé the character animation is done before the voices are added. However, in this production (as it was a cinema release), the voices for the Japanese tracks were recorded first and then the animation was made around those tracks, much in the same way Disney movies are made. Now this may bode poorly for the English dub, as the mouths instead of flapping open and closed are actually forming the shapes of words, yet great care and attention has been put into the English dub. In places the English track is a lot more plausible than the Japanese... it makes more sense that folks at the Pentagon sound like Americans. Had I my way I would change languages tracks part way through so that the English stuff is in English and the scenes set in Japan were in Japanese (more like in Blood: The Last Vampire) but that is just me being finicky. (If you get a chance to see the DVD you may want to check out the ADR team's commentary.)

I feel that Spriggan is a film that has used mythology from other cultures and Christianity (in much the same way as Neon Genesis: Evangelion) to make the plot seem more interesting and arcane to a Japanese audience. The word Spriggan describes a faerie from Cornish mythology, with an ugly visage, large head and small body, and a penchant for stealing babies and replacing them. This draws some symbolic similarities to the main character as he is a character of power in a small body who was "adopted" by his organisation at a young age. I don't know how readily Americans will receive this film, as it portrays the American government in a bad light and says blatantly that the Christian Bible is wrong.

Spriggan has a running time of 90 minutes. The first 60 of those play pretty much as a stereotypical action/adventure flick, but at about 60 minutes it starts getting weird. All of a sudden the plot moves from high action to metaphysical stuff and that may leave the viewer behind or feeling a little disjointed. During this section are some pretty cool visuals but to my mind the plot falls flat on its face. It seems that the film has fallen into the old animé trap of freaky villains and blood-spattered heroes yelling at each other for a bit, having their final confrontation, barely tying up the loose ends of the plot and then the bad guy threatens that there will be a sequel.

In overview, I'd say that this is a technical film enthusiast's dream, not for kids, a good film for action buffs and a poor one for people who like good drama. So, to quote Douglas Adams: "Ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking".

Metropolis (2001)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A plot seriously let down by graphic design blunders., 4 July 2002
6/10

The art in this production is becoming all too familiar to those of us who have seen the works of "the Godfather of Animé" Osamu Tezuka. The tell-tale wierd hair and art style that is reminiscent of Tin-Tin and Archie really shows that the art that this animé was based on was drawn a long time ago... in this case 1947-49.

Now, when I watch a cell-shaded animation I prefer it to look like it has been painted. In this day and age it has, of course, fallen to computers to make the production of animated shows a profitable venture. However, just because we have computers as the tools I don't necessarily think that we should be making our backgrounds shiny and 3D rendered.

This is all I saw here. The combination of pretty 3D rendered backgrounds with cell-shaded characters grates against my sensibilities. This detracts from the overall production and distracts me from the plot. I feel that it looks hotchpotched and amateurish. I feel that some directors are relying too heavily on computers and not enough on good animation.

Some people seem to think that computer graphics are "the way of the future" in animé. I feel that productions such as Shrek and other CG masterpieces are as far from the "animé" form as other regular films, and animé doesn't need to go there.

Metropolis had a really nice plot, though it is amusing to note that it is very different from its original form in the manga. It is as different in film as any movie adaptation from a novel... possibly more so.

I may watch it again... but it might be a while before I bother.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Walls of blood do not an animé make..., 4 July 2002
5/10

Shadowskill is a series of two parts; an OAV and the epilogue. It tells the story of a Gau, an orphaned boy who is adopted as younger brother of a beautiful young martial arts master. Yet again, this isn't a cartoon for the kiddies, as it is a martial-arts drama containing graphic violence.

The opening of the story comes across as a hotchpotch of parts as it explains the formation of the group of main characters. This probably comes across as disjointed because of the story's origins as a Bumper Comic, originally published in short installments. Confusingly, the main characters fight a series of monsters with loosely explained premises. This is all well and good if you just want to see some action, but not easy to take seriously.

The second half of the OAV is the only part of the OAV plot that I find really interesting. It deals with a fight between two dear friends who have been turned against each other. I feel that this addresses the issue of obligation and honour more clearly than the earlier part of the story, but yet again I feel like the background is somewhat glossed over. Perhaps it was felt that a superficial storyline would less interfere with the pace of the action. I don't know if it pays off, but a bunch off blustering people throwing around glowy fireballs isn't my idea of action any way.

Some of the art is appealing but for the most part the plot lets it down. I think that Shadowskill suffers from tenuous character development and melodramatic nonsense, though I am not really a big fan of martial-arts drama stories. The animation of the fight scenes is not too bad, though it seems to be needlessly bloody. I don't feel that waves of blood add much to the plot line, or the realism of the fighting.

Westerners may find some of the devices of the story confusing. In a way that is becoming increasingly familiar to animé fans (primarily due to the advent of Shoujo animé like Card Captor Sakura) magic is cast from cards, or more technically "Ofuda". This is a Shinto concept. Unfortunately this will probably seem weird to most people especially as the cards have to be subtitled because their names are in Japanese kanji. In the Madman release of this production this subtitling is done with glowing green subtitles, which looks kind of cheesy.

It is amusing to note that though the OAV and the epilogue share the same name, they are produced completely differently. From one to the other new characters have been introduced, and the personality of already established characters has changed. One of the main supporting characters is recognisable only by her attire and the mole that she has on her cheek; in the first production having short blue hair and in the second having long brown hair.

The epilogue has more comedy and more attractive art. The production quality comes across as higher, from the story telling to the pacing and the soundtrack. The animation is well done, though, as is fairly common with this sort of animé, the action comes across as far-fetched and fantastic. It is not uncommon to see parts of the scenery exploding with the ferocious blows of our protagonists, and a training battle in the middle of a rockslide has to be seen to be believed.

I can see this being popular primarily with guys aged 15 to 20, or younger, if they can get it past their parents. The plot isn't very deep and there is some "fan service" (though not much). Personally I'd give it about a 5/10; I could watch it again, but I will probably have better things to do.

Sin: The Movie (2000) (V)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Quite a disappointment, 23 June 2002
5/10

I watched this on DVD and it looked really promising until the end of the opening credits. The prologue before the open credits was really interesting but it seemed to be the only part of the plot in which character was explored. The credits themselves looked vibrantly rendered (CG of course) and very swish indeed... I only wish that the film had come across so well.

From the odd pacing to the strange mix-and-match direction it was a bit of a let down. Though I like storylines that require one to engage brain, I believe this plot was poorly explained. Very little character history was explained and in some places the directorial disregard for chronological order fell short of artful and ended up at annoyingly ambiguous.

The backgrounds are really beautifully painted but in places there are computer graphic effects that fail to be integrated nicely into the cell shading. I cringed physically as I watched the Adobe lens flares fly across the screen and computer effects used where good simple animation would have done just fine.

If you want to enjoy this production I really suggest you check your brain at the door. Contains violence, explosions, mutants and a scantily clad evil bad girl... not really enough to save it, in my opinion. I won't rewatch it in a hurry.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I've never seen the German version..., 6 June 2002
6/10

I didn't expect to see this as a German title, as I just saw the English version on DVD here in New Zealand. It hadn't occurred to me that the Germans would have it dubbed before the Americans but I guess you learn something new every day.

I think it's a great OAV. It however has an unexplained background that betrays its origins in the manga series. Well worth having a look so long as you are not put off by blood or surgery.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Another piece from the Godfather of Animé, 6 June 2002
6/10

Black Jack is a medical-drama science-fiction piece. Our protagonist, known as "Black Jack", is a mercenary surgeon who lives a reclusive lifestyle with a little girl named Pinoko. He commands huge prices for his work and is exceedingly skilled at what he does.

The primary plot covers our protagonist's experiences as he is commissioned to discover the cause of a new phenomenon that causes people to exhibit super-human talents. This delves into some medical whys and wherefores that someone with no knowledge of biology will just let wash over them. To some people this may sound like the scientific jargon that is thrown around in Star Trek, but most of it seems like moderately sane science. There are a couple of things that seem a little far fetched but it's not that difficult to suspend disbelief if you have been watching animé with giant robots saving the world or magical sailor scouts.

I personally liked the film as medical things interest me. There are depictions of surgery that are for the most part not particularly gory; there is however graphic violence and blood in the film. If the idea of people dying of disease and bullet holes turns your stomach then don't watch this. Having said that, I don't believe that any of the violent content is gratuitous.

Created by Osamu Tezuka, arguably the Godfather of Animé, it is not surprising that the animation and art style in the movie are really well done. Computer effects are integrated well, the only really obvious computer work in it, being some of the water textures and pixilated images that are being looked at through a view screen. Those people paying attention will recognise a reference to premiere animé, "Astro Boy" which is created by the same artist. A sly parody is also made of Star Wars.

Copyright 1996, this seems to be set in an alternate reality. It covers events that happen from 1996 to 1998. To viewers now it may seem like a piece designed to be futuristic. It comes across as being a little dated, but this far less ridiculous than Space1999.

Some critics will find the plot of this movie under explained. Why has the protagonist got scars all over his face? How did he get his extraordinary skill? Why does he have a little girl living with him? The reason for this is because these are characters from a series of comics. A movie cannot capture all of this back-story and present it in a way that wouldn't come across as cheesy. In my analysis the film works well as a stand-alone piece, and those elements of back-story are unnecessary to the plot.

Cheese value, I believe, is something that this story is lacking. The characters are believable and sincere and for the most part, the plot follows logical progressions. The themes get a little strained as we get a barrage of rants, toward the end of the movie, about environmental responsibility, but I didn't allow that to destroy my viewing experience.

Black Jack is a thinker's animé that will probably be favoured by those of us who prefer our cartoons on the darker side. It's not as flashy as Ghost in the Shell is, or as psychological as Perfect Blue, but all in all it's worth watching.

Black Jack (2000) (TV)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Adapted from the manga by "Godfather of Animé", Osamu Tezuka, 6 June 2002
6/10

Black Jack is a medical-drama science-fiction piece. Our protagonist, known as "Black Jack", is a mercenary surgeon who lives a reclusive lifestyle with a little girl named Pinoko. He commands huge prices for his work and is exceedingly skilled at what he does.

The primary plot covers our protagonist's experiences as he is commissioned to discover the cause of a new phenomenon that causes people to exhibit super-human talents. This delves into some medical whys and wherefores that someone with no knowledge of biology will just let wash over them. To some people this may sound like the scientific jargon that is thrown around in Star Trek, but most of it seems like moderately sane science. There are a couple of things that seem a little far fetched but it's not that difficult to suspend disbelief if you have been watching animé with giant robots saving the world or magical sailor scouts.

I personally liked the film as medical things interest me. There are depictions of surgery that are for the most part not particularly gory; there is however graphic violence and blood in the film. If the idea of people dying of disease and bullet holes turns your stomach then don't watch this. Having said that, I don't believe that any of the violent content is gratuitous.

Created by Osamu Tezuka, arguably the Godfather of Animé, it is not surprising that the animation and art style in the movie are really well done. Computer effects are integrated well, the only really obvious computer work in it, being some of the water textures and pixilated images that are being looked at through a view screen. Those people paying attention will recognise a reference to premiere animé, "Astro Boy" which is created by the same artist. A sly parody is also made of Star Wars.

Copyright 1996, this seems to be set in an alternate reality. It covers events that happen from 1996 to 1998. To viewers now it may seem like a piece designed to be futuristic. It comes across as being a little dated, but this far less ridiculous than Space1999.

Some critics will find the plot of this movie under explained. Why has the protagonist got scars all over his face? How did he get his extraordinary skill? Why does he have a little girl living with him? The reason for this is because these are characters from a series of comics. A movie cannot capture all of this back-story and present it in a way that wouldn't come across as cheesy. In my analysis the film works well as a stand-alone piece, and those elements of back-story are unnecessary to the plot.

Cheese value, I believe, is something that this story is lacking. The characters are believable and sincere and for the most part, the plot follows logical progressions. The themes get a little strained as we get a barrage of rants, toward the end of the movie, about environmental responsibility, but I didn't allow that to destroy my viewing experience.

Black Jack is a thinker's animé that will probably be favoured by those of us who prefer our cartoons on the darker side. It's not as flashy as Ghost in the Shell is, or as psychological as Perfect Blue, but all in all it's worth watching.

I am thankful that I was one of the first in the world to see this., 15 May 2002
7/10

Star Wars Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones has reawakened the joy of Star Wars in me. I live in New Zealand and we were favoured by the time zones, to see the world premiere of this before the rest of the world.

I can only image what it was like to see the advances in technology in the original Star Wars film (afterwards renamed Episode IV - A New Hope), but I feel that this was a similar leap in audio visual entertainment. Industrial Light and Magic have outdone themselves yet again, though I am beginning to feel that Skywalker Sound is giving the sound effects a bit too much of a sameness... when will R2 say something other than the soundbites from the original movies?

The backgrounds are stunning and the plot I found was a little easier to follow than the previous episode. I don't know whether this is because the film is structured better or because characters that we are being introduced to are ones that have already been involved in later episodes. I certainly get the feeling that chunks of the Star Wars "jigsaw puzzle" are coming into place.

Fans will notice that a lot of dialog is delivered in similar fashion as the other films we have already seen; some of Amidala's lines are reminiscent of things that Leia says in Return of the Jedi, and we hear the usual verbal jousting... "join me and together we will..." etc. This seems to follow Lucas's intent that everything "rhyme". Themes and constructs are mirrored throughout the Star Wars story to give a semblance of wholeness. I don't think it's cheesy, but some may disagree.

Speaking of cheese, many critics will be happy to know that the role of Jar-Jar Binks is peripheral at most, and when we do see him he is being less of a twit.

It's about time we saw Master Yoda in action. We've heard people rant and rave about how he's so powerful, and you'll be happy to know that we finally see a slice of what he is capable of.

My only problem and I don't know if it is a world wide one was that the film looked grainy (I guess I'll have to see it a few more times to see whether or not it was just the theatre that I was at ^_^).

Throw in some gorgeous critters, more highspeed chase scenes that you can shake a stick at and light sabers everywhere and you have a high paced romp that is leaving me (at least) primed for the next installment.

0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Surreal Experiments: Lain???, 13 January 2002

OK. I just finished watching the whole lot of this and I have reached a few conclusions... I will present them in a somewhat circuitous fashion for clarity (snigger).

A story is a method of giving information to an audience. This is done by linking ideas to one another. Thus a story that is easy to understand is one that provides information which connects to ideas you already know, through either experience, or information that the story provides. This means that you can learn how to get information from movies/TV better, by having seen more or similar stuff that will increase your understanding of (say) a genre or type of plot.

This is a cyber story. It is a story of the real world and its relationship to cyberspace. If you have an interest in cyberpunk or Japanese anime it may be easier to understand. If you have no interest in these things, I suggest you steer well clear of this.

This is a fairly straight forward cyber-plot that seems designed to come across as more surreal by telling the story in bits and pieces that don't seem to link together. I don't know whether or not this is supposed to make it mysterious but it lends little to the pace of the story and not a lot to its cohesion. An ironic fate for a story all about networking ideas.

Subtle(ish) relation of "the Wired" to Wonderland is made, in the form of a character called Chisha Neko (Cheshire Cat); a disembodied smile. For some reason the english version has failed to grasp the transliterated names such as Rain(Lain)'s best friend Arisu(Alice).

I'm guessing that the translation is difficult to do at times. I don't know how accurate it is in places. To my ears the Japanese language track sounds better but this is personal preference. The typeset of the subtitles in the Pioneer DVD version is easy to read.

Personally I think the colouring is innovative but for a piece with so much focus on eyes, the eyes could have been drawn in a more attractive way... this is personal preference.

19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Easy to see why this one is a classic!, 11 January 2002
6/10

I was lucky enough to get this one out of my local video store on DVD! It would be the best format to own it in, the scene selection is good (and has a cute guitar break over it :) ). It's easy to see why this one is a classic. The plot is ... my goodness!!! a plot! The subtle irony of the plot will be lost on a lot of people.

Debbie's Mom won't support her being a cheerleader because she thinks it is "outdoor burlesque". Debbie gets offered a position in the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleading Team (a team that is renowned for its good-girl image) and so to raise money she pimps out her friends to people around town.... and at the end she finds out that all the loyal sacrificing that her friends have been making aren't worth anything as they now have a sole sponsor!!! I thought it was a cool film with a good pace... and the now ever so used carwash scene was fun. Keep it up Debbie!


Page 1 of 2:[1] [2] [Next]