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Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005)
One of the most fantastic shows ever created
When I first heard of this show, I was initially sceptical about it. But after following each episode, I have become progressively more interested in it and its universe. Without a doubt, this is one of the freshest shows that have ever been invented. The characters were wonderfully and fantastically fleshed out, right from its flawed and brave heroes and heroines to its sadistic and sympathetic villains.
Not only that, the universe created is astounding, and even comparable to the universe of The Lord of the Rings. Even more, with the different bending techniques shown: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. The fighting techniques were almost perfect, simple and yet extremely detailed. The storyline was intricate and delicately intertwined with each character, full of revealing information that helps you understand, all the while developing into a final climax which bursts out and leaves you breathless.
The animation left me at a loss for words. It was crisp, clear, and full of detail, every line drawn out beautifully, from the first season to the third, the animation gets better progressively. The backgrounds and landscapes were awesome: Book One opens with the icy blue atmosphere and muted greys of a winter season, then bursting into a green and flowering, as well as shaded brown spring in Book Two, and finally opening into a golden-red summer wreathed with sun in Book Three.
The script, on the other hand, was put together marvellously, incorporating witty quotes and perfect conversation. The voice acting was excellent, each voice actor blending emotions into their respective character and making us truly feel for them when they get hurt, when they experience sadness or happiness and so forth, and make us really come to care for them in time. My personal favourite is Katara - gutsy, independent, and fiercely stubborn, but there's a lot to be said for Aang, who learns to grow up and face his responsibilities, and also for the trustworthy and steadfast Sokka as well as the sarcastic but emotional and reliable Toph, and Zuko, who is angsty and troubled at first, but later becomes more courageous and willing to face his fears.
All in all, this is not a show to be missed. This is one of those cartoons which are for both adults and children to enjoy. This show, as prejudiced it may seem, actually makes your imagination explode (I admit I'd have loved to be a Waterbender) and burst to life as battles and confrontations are fought. Truly, it really will be remembered in years to come.
Hagane no renkinjutsushi (2003)
An excellently well-crafted series
Like all others, I've never been fans of anime, unless it has a wonderfully crafted storyline and believable characters. Fullmetal Alchemist does NOT disappoint. I first caught an ep in the TV (BM dubbed) and was initially curious about it. Thankfully, I think I took a right step in chasing after the episodes, and boy, I was hooked right from the start. I've always been a fan of steampunk fantasy, and this is no exception. The whole anime is highly reminiscent of Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy, with magic and science combined into one as alchemy, a less socially adept surrounding than ours but with highly advanced technology, and the concept of several parallel universes. Yet, it is somewhat like the Harry Potter books too, in terms of magic, children with unfulfilled destinies, and such.
All characters are totally believable, especially the two Elric brothers, who both share a special bond with each other, one that I found to be deeply touching, as I watched the last episode. Edward was highly amusing but knows how to be serious at times. I also loved Al as he never failed to stay calm and quiet, even when he was in a raging fury. Another thing I liked about Al was that he never complained, even though he was stuck in a huge suit of armour.
The plot is also covered out beautifully. Each episode left me on cliffhangers, wondering what would happen next. The episodes were never short of humour either, and the quotes were sometimes hilarious and not too goofy.
Some might say that this anime is a little too dark for children, but I think that's it's perfect for adolescents. All in all, I say that this is truly one of the gems of anime, and should not be missed at all costs possible.
The Golden Compass (2007)
The good, the bad, and the ugly
**This comment may contain spoilers** Like any other fan of His Dark Materials or a book-lover, I went to the film cynical and preparing myself for the worst. However, I was rather shocked to find myself immersed in the movie after about the first twenty minutes.
THE GOOD: Firstly, this film had astounding characters that really embodied the characters in the books. As with other fans of His Dark Materials, I was outraged when Nicole Kidman was announced to play Mrs Coulter in the film (the colour of her hair, people), but from the moment she appeared on the screen, I was mesmerized by her charming and rosy exterior yet venomous and cold-hearted personality, especially when she forces Lyra to obey her. With the exception of the hair, Nicole is everything Mrs Coulter is: tall, blanch, and suitably icy. Although she was not as cruel as she was in the books, Nicole Kidman certainly fills in the character. Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel was certainly very satisfying. I found myself wondering why they didn't improvise on him as I'd love to see more on how his character is fleshed out. But the one character that left my mouth hanging open was - you guessed it - Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra. Cheeky, tough, and optimistic, Dakota carries Lyra in such an astounding way that she makes the Potter kids and the children of Narnia look like crud. The whole movie essentially about her, so if she flunked it, the whole movie would flunk. Ian McKellen was wonderful as Iorek. Eva Green is wonderful as Serafina. I just hope they'll give her more screen time in the sequels. Also the effects themselves are superb: The Magisterium, the college, Bolvangar (that left shivers down my spine), a view of the city, and many more. Some scenes were perfect too: the bear fight (although I knew the outcome of the battle, I was in suspense), the intercision (I was rather terrified to see how it was actually carried out), the battle of Bolvangar (my eyes were wide open when I saw it), when Lyra reads the aleithiometer (I wasn't prepared for that), and dozens more, particularly the ending. There are many more to list, but I think that I should stop.
These are the good.
THE BAD: I was terribly, terribly, terribly disappointed by the storyline and plot. I wasn't too annoyed by the opening narration (which seemed to me like a blatant rip-off of LOTR) but the storyline was just too weak and had not enough detailing of the Magisterium in it, nor of other things. Like any other HDM fan, I moaned invariably when they announced watering down the religious scenes. Some scenes weren't powerful enough: Lyra not being shocked as terrified as she rushed for the wardrobe door, Lord Asriel's coldness, and many more. The beginning was fine but as the movie went on, the plot rushed about so madly that I was half-satisfied, half-unsatisfied when the movie ended. The satisfying part came from the fact that the movie thrilled me, the unsatisfied part came from the reason they had to rush it so much that if there were any who weren't fans of the books, they'd be rather confused. Even Narnia's storyline was more sturdy than it, as with LOTR and HP. The knowledge that the movie was about 2 hours did nothing to appease my annoyance at that. New Line weren't shocked at giving LOTR three hrs, why leave TGC only 2 hours? The most antagonizing thing, though, was the character development: there was none at all, and neither was there an understanding between a person and their daemon. I cannot bear to list any more bad things this movie was.
Now for the ugly.
THE UGLY: One of the ugliest things I found about that film was the fact that it was made in the wake of LOTR. What New Line forgot about LOTR was that it was directed by a movie-making genius, whose films already proved that he could handle dark material in LOTR and who actually cared about the source material and on making a good film. I hope nothing like this ever happens again, and only one thing can be learnt from this: an attempt to make films in the success of other films never works.
Conclusion: This movie, overall, is fine for you to take your children to watch to, but be forewarned: do not take a toilet break. You will miss some things if you are not a fan of HDM. Also, it's good for entertainment, but there I go. As with the movie, it certainly gave me a longing to see the next film, and I hope it'll be better than this one!
One fantastic cartoon that should be brought back
When I was small, I watched a single episode of this on a video and fell in love with it. Years later, when videos had been replaced by CDs, I forgot about it until recently. However, it has gone away quietly and no one even talks about it anymore. Why waste such a perfectly good cartoon? It had wonderful (though sometimes not logical) plots and good voice acting. The character of a teddy bear could appeal to all age groups. I personally feel that they should bring him back to the land of the living and not let him be forgotten. Some cartoons are forgotten, others are brought back again by those who created them. This is one cartoon that should be aired on TV again.
Superb and excellent movie!
It was the movie that really got me hooked on Transformers, and at first, I thought it was another one of those old TV shows that are adopted into movies. Boy was I wrong! The action sequences were thrilling enough to get adrenaline pumping, the acting was nearly flawless, and the CGI images of the Transformers - there are no words to describe the latter. The humour was laughable and it was interesting to see the whole storyline unfold slowly. Ah, yes, I musn't forget the real star of the show: Optimus Prime, voiced by the ever-young Peter Cullen. I thank goodness that they are making two more sequels, and I know I won't be disappointed.
Transformers: Animated (2007)
Seriously fun and enjoyable
When it was announced that a new Transformers series had come out, I was initially a bit sceptical, but as time passed, I grew to love those character designs and the robots personalities from the clips. I had hoped that this series wouldn't let me down, and boy, was I right. The first three episodes so far have given this franchise a kick-start, and from the very first minute, I was hooked to the screen. The art doesn't really distract you, and you'll find yourself becoming used to it later. The storyline was great and the voice-actors sounded like they were the characters - not just merely reading their lines or so. In conclusion, this series might seem a little too kiddy for those who grew up with the original Transformers, but it's really worth watching. Try it and see for yourself if you don't believe me.