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ETCmodel02

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48 reviews in total 
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Returner (2002)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Proves the Transformers need a live action movie. SPOILERS, 28 April 2003
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! Since previous comments already sum up my feelings well on the story and actors, let me flesh out the special effects and action bits a bit more instead. Or just string a lot of random observations together, as who has time for structured discourse anymore? First, the derivatives: like the alien mother ship, for example. ID4 on steroids replete with low angle dolly reveal, which means it also looks like the classic establishing shot from Alien revealing the refinery in all it's industrial splendor. The cute little aliens look like the ID4 aliens as well, except for the day-glo neon aspects, and are generally well composited. The bullet time stuff is groovy, but also by now internationally known territory, well done but nothing new. Now the Clockstoppers wrist watch device had some fun effects, like the fact that firing a pistol while in hyper speed means the bullets punch through mercenary armor like tiny freight trains while an orbiting camera circles the action to ensure every resulting fountain of red mist erupts past the camera POV. And the alien death ray seems a nice nod to the laser gag in Real Genius. And the girl from the future's costume seems a nod to the genre famous red shawl from Zeiram (sadly, no edible alien shrink wrapped cockroaches in this flick). And the frequent shift of the cinematography to nearly monochromatic amber tones feels a lot like Avalon, a cinematic masterpiece from the director of Ghost in the Shell, which further derives inspiration from the Matrix. On other fronts, the film's multicultural aspects leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. For example, Italians may delight over the recurrent discourse about al dente pasta preparation. Free Tibet supporters will rejoice over discovering that Nepal is man's last refuge from alien invasion. Told you Battlefield Earth had it all wrong (that among many other things, like being made in the first place). The Chinese will be thrilled to learn that the Triad is apparently currently more feared than the Yakuza in Japan, and further, have access to the inside scoop in top secret military & aeronautical research facilities. The Chinese may be less heartened to learn that the super Triad is apparently financed by the dissection of orphans to sell their pint size organs on the black market. Harvesting organs from Vancouver panhandlers and heroin addicts might have been more politically correct. The Chinese can then stake solace in the lead male's boss, an elderly woman who seems to be a chip of Sandra Ng's block while smoking a cigar and blowing baddies up on the interstate. She's incredible, especially her ability to multitask, surfing the web for signs of aliens, Triad misdeeds and likely Morpheus as well (it's the question that drives her) while simultaneously refitting cell phones for the ever demanding fickle needs of the jet set Bounce-Ko Gal baggy sock school girl set. Most impressive. Now the aspects that make this film worth seeing: TRANSFORMERS. Ever wanted to see what Starscream might actually look like in a CGI / real life setting? Look no further, at least until someone makes a worthwhile live action Transformers movie. The Harrier jet and Boeing 747 jet transformations are breathtaking. I only wish the film had had more of this. Also, the nail bomb and alien armor suits are exemplary CGI work, including the compositing. Excellent stuff. And for the gore hounds: the future soldiers explode in tasty chunks. Although the film could have stood to have had more of this to counter-balance the periodic slip into massive exposition, the visceral aspects like the exploding bodies, head shots, slow motion chest fountains and excellent sky rocketing while exploding car are delightful.

Junk (2000)
SPOILERS!!! classic zombie without the painful lulls, 17 February 2003
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!!

Re-Animator meets Return of the Living Dead and just about any action Yakuza movie. Teaches the lesson of considering rejuvenating relationships with the "Ex" when "Ex" means "dead" rather than "divorced." Nice story of amateur jewel thieves meeting up with their Yakuza buyers at a factory that happens to be a secret US research hot spot in Japan where the all too familiar neon green caught syrup has a tendency to cause carnivorous appetites in the reanimated dead which of course there are a stockpile of pending use as test subjects. Well shot, excellent industrial environment and a less than painful story to boot. A few Tom Savini tricks stand out, like little obvious bits like rubber meat and replacement heads, but frankly no harm no foul there considering how juicy and tight the rest generally delivers. Though not as over the top as Versus this ends considerably better and leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy afterwards. Liked the added twist of an intelligent zombie, no complaints about her lack of costume for much of the film either. Small grumble that she isn't developed further, relegating her to a mid-level ladder style video game boss or second string average Buffy the Vampire Slayer villain. And while the film explains where she picks up the jacket, the boots had no explanation unless thigh high female boots are standard regulation emergency gear for factories should one of two women on the premises suddenly find themselves in dire need of fetish footwear. Her sudden hair color change could have been left out as this is distracting at best. Yes, I'm nit picking. I can't help wish that she were a stronger element when structurally she is the catalyst for the zombie outbreak and an evolution above the rest of the flesh eaters. She even speaks coherently with her hubby. This was a cool idea, could have been more instead of relegating her into the typical schlock gore ghost ghoul shtick.

Afrika (2002)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Reckless, sloppy & sometimes incidentally hilarious. Cool., 5 February 2003
6/10

When you empower four Korean women with firearms and unleash them into a male dominated society, chauvinists beware. Laden with amusing gags and lots of pretty people, this film is a fun romp that amounts to finishing a bag of Doritos in one sitting, you feel bad for the mass junk consumption, but damned if you don't still feel inclined to wish you had some more left to consume. I wouldn't judge this against anything from serious Asian action genre, it's more like slapstick meets teen coming of age. Reckless, sloppy, unpredictable and sometimes incidentally hilarious. Cool.

76 out of 90 people found the following review useful:
Crafted well enough to carve through the soul., 17 January 2003
10/10

There aren't to many times when credits roll on a film and I want to immediately start watching it through again. This is one of the rare exceptions.

Visually stunning with artistic merit to almost every shot. Deliberate frame composition with the eye of a classical painter married to lighting that underscores the narrative with sublime control. The shots alternate between tight intimate shots with strong angles that elude to POV and deep staged shots in full focus throughout that nearly ride the axis like looking down the barrel of a rifle into the deepest darkest corners of our characters' lives.

The light and textures on screen are lush and rich and the focus generally deep like Seven or Silence of the Lambs. Solid DOP, solid Cinematographer, solid Production Designer, Solid Art Director, across the board this film stands up as tight, smart, unexpected, sometimes abusive and always engaging like a car wreck in all the charmed ways.

Dialogue, though minimal, is always apt and loaded. Sign language feels like Tai Chi, delicate here, fierce there, somehow clear I believe even without subtitles.

This gem is deliciously horrific, a complete study of tragedy and of theater grotesque. Like Scarface the film is laden with stomach clenching non-gratuitous gore which is somehow infinitely more disturbing.

The driving narrative is about vengeance, layer upon layer, constantly underscored by social commentary both direct and sub-textual addressing inequities, rights, justice and the cruelty / fairness of commerce, fate and basic karma.

Well crafted, well delivered, well done. Excellent. And absolutely NOT for people with weak gullets, true that.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
See, the cyberpunk genre can be fun without being tripe., 23 December 2002
8/10

Grand to see a much simplified version of the basic principles of William Gibson's version of the Cyberpunk genre brought to life. Would have enjoyed more discourse between the two AI, but none the less I'm very happy to see this run it's course without ever targeting the lowest common denominator the way so many would be Cyberpunk contender films might. Also enjoyed the dialogue, the pacing, the use of the limited budget, and in all, the fact that this demonstrates that a film can be light and still be about character(s). A fun romp. Certainly not Matrix, but cool anyway. If nothing else, it proves that it's high time Neuromancer and Headcrash should be brought to the big screen. So I'd consider this a successful beta test.

At least SEPTEMBER is a good month. SPOILERS!!, 26 October 2002
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!

Tighter than the first one, true, but not nearly half as entertaining. Timing is stiff and slow, gags thin and spare, and over all disjointed and dull. Did like the voyeur character and his crib, a detail really poorly developed, let alone the potentially really creepy red bikini femme Abbott & Costello team next door and the creepy old leering woman on the bench outside. The 1920's design for the key cover girl ghost was a neat touch, but again woefully under developed and thus goes out with a whimper. This ends with the one character I like tossed away like a Kleenex while the two characters I found progressively annoying stroll away into the cemetery sunset. Does it sound like I'm going to recommend it?

Ringu 0 (2000)
The backstory beautifully depicted. SPOILERS!!, 25 October 2002
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!

Best one yet of the Japanese series on the technical craftsmanship side of things. Well shot, well art directed, wonderfully told with generally minimal exposition and delightful visual storytelling. Great sound edit as well except for a couple of the over the top screams in the forest. Solid ending and really a great way to get everyone on the same page at last about who the hell Sadako really is and how she actually died. Sweet. Really enjoyed the Dutch roll camera tilt during the conversation between Sadako and her "dad". And who can forget the excellent reveal of the two dead ladies and their home made instant wall flowers? Sadako is an inspiration to disco floors world wide with her crazy possessed resurrected girl two-step approach. Really something special in that girl, wonderfully portrayed by the stunning Yukie Nakama. Bonus features on the DVD are loads of fun as well, really enjoyed the bonus Sadako material.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Third chunk is the charm in Three SPOILERS!!, 25 October 2002
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!

Three short films from three places, South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong, each progressively better than the last, and certainly worth the viewing. Memories is a sometimes heavy handed jumper with some very cool gross out moments at the end that begin with a heavy nod to the Ring then carry a few steps further deliciously. Downside, the Tales from the Crypt punchline left me feeling pretty empty, really. Told through two simultaneous inter-cut narratives, one follows the hubby trying to remember what he did, while the other follows the wife waking up with amnesia in a street. The hubby material is generally boring and laden with noise blast jumper moments that are OK, but nothing new, except the visitation from the apparent ghost of the missing wife whole feels a brain is a good thing to waste after all. Nice one. The wife's narrative as she goes through a mini-Memento tracking through the clues and flashes of memory trying to figure out who and where she is kicks ass. This is well shot, well edited, tense and absolutely wonderful. Apparently also too good to be true, because the climax of the short film is apparently a simultaneous realization by both people as to what had happened between them. Neat. Now we've managed to resolve the mystery, true, in the lamest way possible, well, not completely lame, it's definitely disturbing on a visceral level which has appeal on a base level, BUT now we also feel empty, because the wife, who by now we dig, well her whole struggle and journey past the scary construction sites and insane cab driver, now all of that is rendered useless and unjustified, while the hubby rides off into the sunset the tail end of a Viagra commercial. Damn, almost a genius piece of jumper genre fare. The Wheel is a very captivating and almost completely alien yarn that works well and moreover is generally fun to watch. Starts a bit slow, and the appearance of dead loved ones could have been held off until the end, and didn't get the crying blood thing but it looked cool so who cares? Ends extremely well, who can frown on a machete welding preschooler? Moving on. Going Home is what I bought this anthology for without even knowing it. Oh my. Beautifully rendered in every department, the location is an astoundingly effective nearly abandoned pair of adjacent dense apartment towers in the seedier side of HK, where we follow a Dad and son moving in while everyone else is moving out (the building is going to be demolished in a month explains the manager). We meet another couple and a little girl, and we learn through brilliant art direction all kinds of things, like how ghosts do graffiti, how Eastern medicine cures liver cancer, how to best groom and maintain a beloved wife who has taken a three year hiatus from living to get well again, and most importantly, how big a urine bottle needs to be to adequately provide for your well saturated hostage. I'm making light only because I'm giddy with joy over how fresh, beautiful, terrifying, disturbing and ultimately heart touching (did I say "touching", more like "pounding with a meat cleaver and pair of well matched tuna"). Been a long time since I've burst into tears during a movie, not counting tears of frustration. I love this film, and frankly, of the three, this one most deserves to be remade as a full length feature with more characters and intertwined stories, because frankly, the location alone is simply a freak magnet. And here I also have to retract earlier snide remarks about Leon Lai. Although I expect he was massively directed, still, in this he was simply perfect, and trust me, his role would not be an easy one to pull off for most actors, not convincingly anyway. Perhaps he has found his true niche in cinema? And as for the rest of the cast? Although familiar already with the power of Eric Tsang, the rest of the cast was new to me, and further, blew me away as well, astounding as two of the actors I'm referring to are tiny children, not something I'm generally impressed by. And how does the beautiful Eugenia Yuan manage to hold so still playing a stiff and still manage to convey her character? (something I've ironically accused Leon Lai of doing in the past, ha ha. Ok, I did like his album "Sound". So sue me...)

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Crawled through my eyes, bore into my soul. SPOILERS!!, 24 October 2002
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!

Raised the bar for noir scare thrillers in my eyes. In the vein of Silence of the Lambs and Nude Fear with a very up to date sense of style and technique. The lighting is amazing, the set decoration is despotic delight, to the point of getting the chills just from dolly reveals the way a few hours immersed in the game Silent Hill 2 could, including an abandoned hotel that had me screaming at the television for someone to please for the love of God and Buddha call the freaking cops, the army, the mattress police, anyone to keep the fear at bay in this and other creepy joints. Who can forget the simply luscious shoreline clinic with its spacious tattered rooms, picturesque debris and thousands of victims photos nailed to the ballroom ceiling? And the industrial hallway opener had me wanting to remake Palace of Broken Glass immediately. Nice nod to Pi in the drug scramble, gobble, chug bathroom scene, and really a cool touch looking at what Mom does at the office. Gore / forensic examination hounds won't be disappointed, remember the autopsy scene in Silence of the Lambs? Much more disturbing with a 6 year old cadaver, trust me, and if I never see a box knife and a nipple together in the same shot again I'll won't complain a bit. And the editing, oh my goodness. The flash frame inserts and mini-montages were the stuff of The Ring VHS tapes (any version) mixed with 8mm psuedo-snuff and Dave McKeen directed music videos. Had me single frame progressing until I got to spooked out, especially after I shot a few stills of the screen with the digital camera. Not cool. With all that wonderful video noise lives a matching sound design that seriously squirmed under my skin like food poisoning. Sure, cops should have been called and sure, Dad showing up was the least surprising moment of the entire film, but all that is forgotten (pretty much) when the meaty weight of the ending begins to really settle into the bones. To sum up, excellent craftsmanship in the making, and fully unsettling, if not outright chilling over all.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Slick, innovative, surrealist whit and soul., 24 October 2002
10/10

Brilliant in every respect, slick sense of humor ALA RoboCop meets Delicatessen and LEXX with a dash of Accion Mutante and a couple of nice nods to the sets of Blade Runner. I loved this. Laughed, cried, laughed again. Excellent! On the technical tip, great Production Design throughout, and very snappy editing and sound design. A total winner!


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