Reviews written by registered user
|16 reviews in total|
Most remakes are like big contradictions; they're made for fans of the
original series looking for more, but as a fan you'll probably be
expecting what's going to happen more often than not, and you'll
inadvertently end up bummed out about it. A complete newcomer to the
series on the other hand, unaware of the important events that shape
the plot, may derive much greater pleasure from watching, but they are
also much less likely to be drawn to the series since they haven't seen
the original to begin with.
On comes Supernatural: The Animation, created by Madhouse Inc. animation studio, responsible for such fantastic animes as Death Note and Monster, with the likely intent to open the orient up to a great series that has garnered quite the cult following. By the time I'm reviewing this I have watched the entire first season of this anime, dubbed in English for the impending North American release and I have to say that I'm actually really impressed.
It should be understood that anime (and animation in general) is rather different from live action TV. Most western TV shows like Supernatural employ a 1-hour time slot, including commercial breaks, but a time slot for Japanese anime as well as most serialized western animation is 30 minutes. As a result, some of the episodes do seem rushed and incomplete. Certain plot points are glossed over to reach the conclusion more quickly. If you only watch the first few episodes you may feel that the series has been 'dumbed down', or a lot of detail and vibrancy has gone lost, and you'd be right. Part of what made the original Supernatural so effective and haunting is its firm foundation within reality. Special effects had always been subtle and elegantly simple, like the faint, static-like flicker of ghosts, the black smoke of demons against the darkness of night, or the way things always seem to appear or vanish just an inch off-screen, to the point that any phenomenon you see could be legitimately shrugged off as a play of light or an optical illusion. A lot of animation however goes in a different direction, where the artistic freedom bestowed by the animation genre allows for much more bombastic and impossible sights. Let it be clear that this is not the Supernatural you may know, but fortunately, the core of the original series - the relationship between the Winchester brothers - is also at the heart of the anime.
Contentwise, the first season of the anime (I'm not sure if further seasons are being planned or not) spans the main plot from the first two seasons of Supernatural. While some monster-of-the-week style Episodes that made up original Supernatural's first two seasons had been remade for the anime, there are also new and very entertaining ones that should drive even the most jaded fan to the edge of their seat, but where this anime really shines is the parts where it further expands the storyline of the main series, fleshing out events of the past and further exploring the history of the Winchesters. Some of it is a bit different, and some of it is new entirely, but if Kripke would declare it all canon I wouldn't have a single problem with it. Like the original series, it took me about a third of a season to really get hooked, but once you're hooked, you won't get unhooked.
Visually and aurally, this anime is artful and well-animated, but then again studio Madhouse has always had a thing for 'realistic' anime. The characters are drawn in authentic proportion, move well, and objects and people are animated with a proper sense of weight and mass. Character design is great for the most part, but Dean stands out in special. From the first time I saw him to the last time the credits rolled, I never once questioned that this was Dean, even though Jensen Ackles only got to voice him in the last two episodes, bummer. The shortcomings of the animation medium are visible still, but rarely detract from the overall experience. Most of the faults are the result of a lack of budget, as it is with most anime; eventually I got a little tired of hearing the two or three main tunes from the aggressively small soundtrack, and hearing that Kansas song at the conclusion of every episode felt rather indulgent, since in the original it was used to signal the penultimate episode of the season. There's also something surreal about still shots where only a character's lips are moving but well, that's animation for you. The fact that this anime is based on a live-action series probably highlights such shortcomings even further, especially in areas where the original excelled, and one of the most outstanding visual features from the original series were the fantastic locations. There simply weren't any utter scenery wow-moments as there were in the original, like the many gorgeous motel rooms or that incredibly creepy house full of redneck cannibals, or the ruined mental ward, or Bobby Singer's place...
If you're a fan, check it out! If you're not, but like animation or horror genre anyway, definitely check it out. 3 stars
The Incredible Hulk is pretty much a walking plot device. You plonk him
down in some place you want totaled and sit back and watch the
destruction ensue from the safety of your underground lair. The Hulk
has no character in the same way that a nuclear explosion has no
character. It exists only as a spectacle, and to make the lives of
everyone and everything in a five mile radius considerably less
pleasant. The reason why this movie is as good as it is is simply
because it seems to understand this, and you can just feel Loki's
gratification at watching his handiwork unfold through his scrying
glass. 'Hulk Vs.' exists purely to show you something awesome and
things that have a single purpose are remarkably strong and flexible.
Consequently, there is little plot save for 'the Hulk goes to Asgard/the Weapon-X compound and breaks things; mostly living things'. While in a regular film I would welcome the addition of Dr. Bruce Banner as the human element to balance out the sheer rage and destruction of the Hulk, here he wasn't really needed beyond setting the scene or getting the Hulk pulled out of him and let loose, and any later scenes involving him could have just as easily made way for a bit more Hulk Smash, even if they broke up the continuous action somewhat. The premise of these movies is so paper thin that it doesn't need a Bruce Banner introspective and should just focus on the battle at hand, which is one of the several reasons why Hulk vs. Wolverine is better (and arguably, shorter) than Hulk vs. Thor. However, I will say that both parts were needed to create something that was roughly feature-length. Both 'films' are short, which means they don't outstay their welcome. It keeps the action entertaining without being overwhelming. I would advise against watching them back to back though.
The sheer lack of anything approaching an engaging story or plot means that previous knowledge of the Marvel-verse (which in my case is almost nonexistent) is not required, allowing you to jump right into it and enjoying the sprays of viscera splattering off Wolverine's claws, or the blunt saucepan-like din of Thor's hammer careening off of the Hulk's flattened cheekbone, although being a fan would certainly help the enjoyment.
Another reason why I prefer Wolverine's part to that of Thor is because Wolverine is like the Hulk in many ways. He's also a stony faced brute wearing a perpetual scowl and a five-o'clock shade, but at least his one-liners are a joy to behold, mostly. Wolverine and, by extension, the X-Men, is one of the few Marvel characters I know reasonably well, probably because there are so many books he appears in (or on), and despite being a tiresome marketing gimmick to many fans he's never quite bored me. Maybe that's because pretty much everything he does is awesome. His part was better paced, better animated, and better written as well with much better side characters, for what little writing was involved in the creation of this hammy spectacle. As far as hammy spectacle goes, though, it won't get much better than this. 3 stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So, here's how the anecdote goes; the land of the Amazons has enjoyed
boundless prosperity since time immemorial until the sudden ingress of
a strange creature that no one had ever seen before. Flummoxed by his
paradisaical environment, this 'man' finds himself quickly captured by
ornery women who proceed to drill him for information whereupon he
turns out to be a major chauvinist horn dog. How better to drive home
the schism between the sexes, eh? Trouble quickly starts brewing in
some shape or another and for some reason the man escapes the noose and
finds himself stranded in the US of A together with one of the native
ladies, who inevitably encounters the most egregious of female
oppression and the worst the male species has to offer and comes to
realize men are exactly the type of virulent pigs she was warned about.
Trouble follows them to the mainland and they get into a battle where
he displays his chivalry by saving her life or whatever, following
which they have a big falling out and the amazon woman grudgingly
accepts that the man isn't so bad after all. They kiss and make up and
band together to save the day...
Now, you may call out 'Shock and outrage! You just spoiled the entire plot of Wonder Woman!' You'd only be half right since I wrote pretty much the entire above paragraph before I actually started watching this movie (I put up the spoiler tag just to play it safe). As with most of Marvel and DC Comics, I know virtually nothing about the Wonder Woman comic book series, but if this movie is any indication they're sure doing a good job keeping to the formula, for Zeus's sake. Why must every work of fiction focusing on female empowerment go out of its way depicting men like warlike savages or sex-crazed buffoons? I have several male friends and some of them are alright. Sometimes, I wish movies like these would surprise me just once by doing the exact opposite of what I'd expect of them, like paint the male main character to be a cultured and sensitive person, wide-eyed idealist, pacifist or hopeless romantic or, dare I say it, gay, or make the women out to be rambunctious, down and dirty booze sponges who like the sins of the flesh just as much as the penis-owning crowd. I won't buy for a second that these women never experiment with their own. It's things like these that remind me why I like Futurama's 'Death By Snusnu' episode so much. Then again this is a DC production and after many decades of comic book writing DC is nothing if not formulaic, and I expect that the PG-13 rating may have held them back from going into too much detail on the more interesting and unexplored themes, the abundance of sexual jokes notwithstanding.
It's nice though that despite the treatment the men have been getting there's not much of a double standard; the amazons themselves are depicted as murderous militants with a penchant for beheading and that hold competitions involving getting shot at with arrows. At first, Wonder Woman/Diana's mother, Hippolyta, the amazon queen from myth, came over as no more sympathetic than Ares himself, having killed her own son not because he was her enemy in a war (it's not really made all that clear whether he actually was or not) but simply to spite her former lover, while Ares is what Ares does as a supernatural embodiment of war and strife. Under the rule of a woman like that, I would have expected male intruders to be shot on sight or at least publicly executed, which made the subsequent events in the movie a tad unbelievable. Maybe she just mellowed out over the many centuries; none of the amazons seems to freaking age considering they all look the same as they did in the flashback presumably from ancient times. So either they're all immortal or the last battle against Ares was waged roughly when disco went out of style. Or are they gods as well? Some of them were named after Olympian goddesses... Clearly, these recent Marvel and DC animated features require a certain measure of foreknowledge that I don't have, but I can't blame a movie for not really being part of its target audience.
Having gotten all the negative stuff out of the way though, I have to say this movie was still freaking awesome. The art style was crisp and clean and I swear by the lasso of truth around my neck that the many visceral fight scenes are some of the very best I've ever seen in any western made animated film. Clearly, a lot of work went into this film and I'm sure any Wonder Woman fan will enjoy it greatly for what it is. It's not the smartest or the wittiest movie but it's far from being dumb or unfunny. That scene in the run down bar would've been a lot more interesting though without the amazons' high tolerance for alcohol. Ares' affability made him an interesting bad guy, not so much evil as acting on his instinct as, well, the God of War, and the portrayal of Hades as a decadent fat body was intriguing and excellent. Its superficial flaws don't detract from the experience in the slightest, and Wonder Woman radiates with character and detail. Despite my occasional confusion I definitely had a lot of fun watching it. Two and a half stars.
I've recently begun watching Marvel Comics' line of straight-to-DVD
animation films partly because I was bored and had only just discovered
them and needed some variation in my uneventful life and partly because
I really love animation films. Animation is one of those mediums I
treasure because it grants escape from the trappings of reality,
gravity and the laws of physics, enabling it to show you sights that
couldn't possibly exist in real life, like the Hulk latching onto the
throat of a 60 foot man and choking the life out of him. That said, I
was put off by the previous 'installments', if you can call these
Marvel animations a series. The Ultimate Avengers movies of 2006 had a
plot thinner than Christian Bale during the shooting of The Machinist,
and was for all intents and purposes like a dead Christmas tree;
covered in glittering action sequences but barren inside. Not that I
expect much depth from a dozen vaguely related comic book franchises
blended together into the big pile of paperbacks and money that is
Ultimate avengers. I'm sure every one of these superheroes had their
own story, with their own issues to work out, but there simply isn't
time for all that if at least half of the movie has to consist of
rampant action sequences. This is all fine, you know. These are movies
for comic book fans who would like to see their favorite superhero jump
out of the comic book panels and kick ass in animation, but some
characterization would be nice. This movie is very much made for
religious comic book readers and seems to assume awareness of the
characters' back stories which in that case you are because you
accompanied them through every page of their comic book series, and as
such this movie doesn't really need to characterize them and therefore
does so only vaguely. The only character I ended up empathizing with
was Bruce Banner who, depressed and troubled by the Hulk, is desperate
to find a way to control it. Maybe it was because I can unconsciously
relate to an unattractive, bespectacled nerd who just likes to throw
down and go Hulk Smash on all the bullies that took his lunch money in
high school, or maybe because he was the only character whose flaws
were more than informed and whose portrayal left me wanting to see
more. Anyway I was supposed to be talking about another movie.
Doctor Strange was an interesting premise for me from the get-go because I knew absolutely nothing about Doctor Strange, and I was looking forward to have this movie inform me about who he was and what drove him to become who he is today. I was surprised by the depth of this movie, which immediately immersed me its darker, more realistic tone. The doctor is a complex character, once kindhearted, driven and confident, now disillusioned, angry and full of unresolved grief. When first we see the good doctor - voiced in smooth baritones by Bryce Johnson - in the hospital he is refusing a patient who in a masterful dig at US medical policy was neither rich nor sick enough to warrant his interest, satire. It made it immediately clear that this guy had issues. Here is a hero who is also a flawed human being who isn't built like a vending machine with legs and to its credit the movie never glosses over things. This is truly not a movie for kids anymore, and Doctor Strange never divorces itself from reality too far; no super serums or gamma rays granting super powers here, but a spiritual journey that forces the good doctor to reconcile with his past. Even the magic shown seems to have its roots in eastern philosophies and martial arts, both of which are plausibly and satisfyingly portrayed. The movie is well-paced, interrupting the plot with occasional flashes of action exactly when needed, and giving time to let the story reach its logical conclusion. When the movie was over, I was left in its wake, wanting more, and not just because it was so good. It was too short.
At just over 70 minutes, this movie, like the Marvel animes that preceded it, is short. But Doctor Strange is the only one of those movies that actually feels short. The reason why this movie feels too short is because I feel that there are two stories here, woven together less than seamlessly, leaving insufficient time to make the most of either of them, although only people that have read the comics will be able to determine whether I'm right about that or not. There is the origin story of Doctor Strange in which he finds his true calling as the sorcerer supreme that people know from the books, and then there's the other story about an evil entity of pure magical energy that wants to take over the world. Which of these you find the more interesting probably depends on your prior understanding of the Doctor Strange mythos (for a Marvel-novice like me, the origin story definitely won that one), but there was the potential for true excellence here that went sadly untapped. 20 to 30 minutes of additional runtime would have probably been enough to bring out the true heart in both stories, but as it stands the movie left me slightly unfulfilled. I was left wanting to know more of Doctor Strange's rise to Sorcerer Supreme; it went by too fast, like important tidbits that would have greatly enriched the setting had been omitted for the sake of brevity, and that's a shame I think. Kind of like if Batman Begins was only 73 minutes long. 3 stars.
This show is taking a lot of heat from die-hard fans of the popular
manga and anime Dragon Ball Z, because it is a revisitation to and - in
some fashion - a retelling of the original dragon ball series, on a
much grander scale and in increasingly obfuscated terms. The basic plot
and premise of the beginning of this series is simple; a trio of child
heroes disembark from earth in a rocketship to find powerful magical
artifacts called 'black star dragon balls', that have been scattered
across the galaxy. The result, known under the name Dragon Ball GT, is
an anime series that is fair in its own right, but succumbs to its
ambition. Not only does the fact that GT has been written by a large
number of different storyboard writers cause the whole to be diffuse
and incoherent, but the series had been canceled before its due date as
well, making watching GT a laborious effort for some.
Despite this, it's hard to blame GT for how it might or might not have turned out, because the series is at its very core a large marketing exercise, a service to fans worldwide who were not ready for their favorite anime series to be decommissioned just yet. The moral of the story behind GT, then, is that trying to please everybody at the same time is a fool's errand.
GT incorporates the playfulness and adventure-element of the early Dragon Ball series, as well as the high-octane fighting from Dragon Ball Z. Fans of the former may just end up complain about the latter, and vice versa. At the same time, the resulting series is neither as original nor as exciting as either Dragonball or Dragon Ball Z. The first half of GT utilizes the same archetypical main characters as in Dragonball - Goku, Trunks and Pan in GT, compared to Goku, Yamcha and Bulma from Dragonball. The 'new' character of Pan, although often fun and rebellious, is not always interesting and may at times test the limits of your patience with her pre-pubescent levels of self-reliance. GT is a mixed bag, a mutt amongst anime that you either learn to like or love to hate.
What vexes many Dragon Ball afficionados the most is that GT introduces a lot of plot holes to the formerly reasonably tight storyline of its predecessors. Many of these storytelling oversights can be attributed to alterations of the original plot. Resultingly, GT can be considered somewhat of a retcon because of it, if not a downright non-chronicle addition to the Dragonball universe. BUT...
... let's be fair now and consider that Dragon Ball Z itself isn't exactly famous for its storyline depth to begin with. One might even argue that if it weren't for the Saiya-Jin and Freezer sagas, and the thoroughly interesting and well-developed character of Cell, Dragon Ball Z wouldn't have enough story to wrap around on itself and make a hole in the first place. What GT doesn't fail to bring, then, is an engaging little plot, even if it diverges from the canon. Said plot is interspersed with a myriad of interesting locales, characters and villains, and allows for a variation not seen since the early stages of Dragonball (I am of course referring to the recurring theme of high-octane battles over barren mesas). Also, perhaps by virtue of their absurdity, GT boasts less emphasis on the by then truly cyclopean power levels of the characters it features, whether that is for the better or worse.
In conclusion, GT is definitely worth a once-over. Find out for yourself if you love or hate it, but don't think it isn't worth watching, because it is. 6/10
I am a resounding fan of Guillermo del Toro's work and style, and was
quite intrigued when I found out that he produced several Hellboy
Animated features. It was not without a due sense of skepticism that I
decided to pick up Blood and Iron as well as its 2006 predecessor,
Sword of Storms. When I learned that these features aired on Cartoon
Network, I even feared that the core of what made the Hellboy universe
so interesting to me, the many invariant monstrosities that lurk within
the caverns, ruins and precipices of a seemingly mundane world, would
be diluted by censorship. Fortunately, I was wrong in these regards,
and Blood and Iron may be considered a very worthwhile addition to the
Hellboy universe as first put to film by Guillermo del Toro.
In Blood and Iron, Hellboy and the other key members of the BPRD set out under the personal lead of Professor Trevor Broom - as he was first introduced in the live-action movie - in order to investigate a haunted house. At the same time, you are let known how in the past, the Professor had tasked himself with hunting an old and powerful vampiress, Erzsebet (very well voiced by Kath Soucie). At first, the film sprouts a rather nonspecific battle scene that does not tell you much about the characters or the plot that is yet to come, but after this you will be exposed to the touch of surprisingly intelligent cartoon direction. As you are coasting through the story in a linear, chronological fashion, the plot and the true nature of the mission is explained in a backdrop of flashbacks that start at a pivotal event in the past, and then proceed anti-chronologically. In this method, the viewer is gradually let known the intentions and motives of the people and creatures both at current time and in times past. It is a clever method of character development, and serves to give a sense of wholeness to the entire feature; Blood and Iron has both a beginning and an end at both its start and its finish, and it works brilliantly.
The praise that I give is somewhat tempered however, by several characters that seemed entirely unnecessary, or simply did not fit into the well rounded equation that tops the experience. The presence of the Goddess Hecate serves as little more than a plot device to facilitate the antagonist's return and her presence in the film may serve to deter you from the wholeness of the experience. The only reason for her presence then is to give Hellboy something to do, while the professor continues with the real important stuff. She is the reason for a long, and enormously drawn out fight sequence that does not fit well with the movie and destroys its pace. Make no mistake, the real villain of this movie is Erzsebet, and that is how it should have remained. They could have gone much deeper with the story, and in light of what we are treated to in return and excess, I really wish they had.
Character design and voice acting is generally of high quality; we are treated to the same cast that played in the original Hellboy movie; Ron Perlman's Hellboy, Selma Blair's Liz Sherman, Doug Jones' Abe and John Hurt's Professor are easily recognizable, the first three often the center of sardonic and sarcastic wit that is worth quite a few laughs. Kate Corrigan, which you may know from the somewhat inferior Sword of Storms is back also, and we are given a new character in the form of human metal detector Sydney Leach, whose innocence and naiveté is a welcome addition to most of the rest of the BPRD, which seems to consist of people mentally hardened by frequent encounters with crazy things. Over all, his presence is solely meant to give the movie a lighter note at certain times.
The reason why the flaws of this movie persist can be found in the title; the real story does not revolve around Hellboy at all, as he takes a side seat to an experience in which Professor Trevor Bruttenholm is center point. Now, I really like the professor. He's sharp, he's kicking bottom, even when he's old. If just they could have found something for Hellboy to do without tarnishing the plot with, dare I say it, a Greek Goddess. Despite this little problem, though, Blood and Iron is still a very enjoyable movie. Cinematography grade; *** out of 5, but personally, I'd give it 8 out of 10
Bear with me on this first, okay? I think Yugiô, or Yu-Gi-Oh, is great.
It's fun to watch. The story can be engaging at times, and even the
voices of the dub can be enjoyable from time to time as well...
...but then in comes snake in the grass 4Kids. It thwarts the nature and goals of the series' baddies and censures countless scenes out of the original version. It is true that you can expect nothing less from a broadcast for kids, but these guys have taken the renewal of this series to unpleasant heights. Where in Japan you saw once-up antagonists get drunk in a bar, enticing clothing, semi-revealed body parts, several cases of nudity, wicked tongue action from... you know who if you are a fan, and some mild harsh language, 4Kids removes scenes, dresses the 'Black Magician Girl' up in a dumb pair of pink trunks, digitally embellishes the 'horrors of combat', dumbs down some dialogue, digitally removes some female characters' cleavages and simply makes the entire experience of watching this a lot more bland.
I dare any of you to watch the very first dubbed episode, and then watch a dubbed episode from season two and three and you see how 4Kids struggled with this show. Where they started out using phrases like 'super awesome rare' and with a character representation about as shallow as those in Toddler oriented Nick Toons, they 'got their game on' in order to show a slightly more grown up struggle along the way. It is commendable that 4Kids have kept it from becoming a total farce, but that brings one to the real problem.
It is sometimes hard to confide in a series like Yu-gi-oh, because almost every single conflict from beginning to end plays out in a children's card game. Subliminal messages throughout the series, or at least the dub, entitle the gamer's philosophy, that is to say the 'Heart of the Cards'. Of course, if they were just playing a friendly game all the time, this premise and the continuous and sometimes absolutely nauseating friendship skits would all be meaningless. But then, after having wagered one's soul over a dozen time in perilous 'shadow games', these guys do need a philosophy to survive the onslaught of all these card games.
Many people already start to get me wrong here. I like this show, even the dub, but where it really sets off is in the last two seasons, where characters really start developing, and the world really starts turning. Where the still ever-present pep talks and friendship speeches blot out the ever-mounting stakes in the dub, the original version can be very touching at times, and some duels in this late stage of the show do seem very meaningful (My favorites: Both duels between Mou hitori no (Yami) Yugi vs. Raferu (Raphael)). And that is why I think it has the potential to be this good; because while being fully aware that good guy and bad guy are resolving their disputes by playing a children's card game, one can forget that they are actually playing a children's card game at times.
Of course, the card games are just the means to every end and the story does not necessarily revolve around the duels per se. The storyline of the ancient Pharaoh sealing himself and his memory away in order to stop (at first rather generic) evil, as well as some of the Egyptian themes within the series are quite engaging and interesting, although it must be admitted that after all the time that this mystery remains sealed (the first four seasons, in fact), its resolution can be really underwhelming. Also undeniable; the fourth season, where the cast takes on an ancient free mason like organization called Damu (Doom in the dub, I think) is one of the, if not the best and most introspective story arcs. It is a shame that it destroys the pace, and is the main reason why the conclusion is slightly underwhelming and detached.
Do yourself a favor. If you go and watch this series, watch the Japanese version. The dub is okay (I give it a 5 thumbs up out of 10), but the Japanese version is great (9 kawaiis out of 10). Plus, the Japanese soundtrack is much more better.
This Tom & Jerry movie details the struggle of three pirate brothers to
find the 'Treasure of the Spanish 'Mane'' and the subsequent conning
and struggling of a cat, a mouse, and sometimes a dog.
Those of you who are used to and love the Old School Tom & Jerry skits might be taken off guard by the animation which, although excellent and seamless in quality, is undoubtedly modern to the point where it is clear that some scenes use advanced 2D rendition programs. One might say that the movie looks far too smooth and some of the skits are too predictable and are found to lack humor while they are most likely trying to signify a revisitation to the old 60's series, but this is offset by quite a few comical moments; the continuous skit of Tom and Jerry trying to con each-other out of a treasure map in a resoundingly PC and courteous way while dodging monkeys, a dog, marine life forms, the pirates and the terrain itself allows for quite a few laughs, while the pirate brothers, their parrots and the skull of the treasure provide non-slapstick, verbal comedy throughout the movie, which I presume will appeal to the somewhat older. One thing is sure; though a bit modernized at times, the music is clearly reminiscent of it's original '60 predecessor; it still has the old WB stuff and doesn't mind showing it.
T&J Shiver Me Whiskers incorporates elements which I suspect are meant to offset the modern vibe of the movie somewhat; static objects have a generally acrylic and solid feel, adding to the atmosphere of the picture, whereas many backgrounds and statics also bolster a purposefully slightly granular consistency. Also fun was the nods this flick made to recent movies; it clearly inherits a little from 'Pirates of the Caribbean', proved by the fact that one or two melodies seem to be alterations of Klaus Badelt's compositions. But most importantly, I feel as though this movie has retained - or regained - some of the heart of the old Tom & Jerry many know and love. This movie has helped me see that some of the old and gold does have the ability to evolve without losing the essence of what makes it fun.
For being a clever and fun adaptation of a great series, for trying to ignore the newer - inferior - series, and for holding my attention for the full 75 minutes of its running time, 3.5 of 5, ***
This episode starts out with Claire Littleton's baby having a fever, an
event which leads the young mother's subconscious to unlock more of the
repressed memories she has been harboring concerning the particulars of
her earlier abduction. Fearing that something might have happened to
her baby, which back then was still unborn, she, Kate and Danielle
Rousseau set out in order to backtrack her memories in order to find
out more about what happened those faithful weeks.
It is a very interesting episode, although it is helped along the way by the fact that it reveals quite a few things. I'm not much of a fan of Emilie de Ravin and between a cast of great actors, she quite often falls short in my honest opinion, but Mira Furlan beautifully acted Danielle's weak and strong balanced personality. It is always quite fulfilling to see Rousseau and this Episode will allow you to regain respect for her, which I am happy for. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Mister Eko is a pleasure to behold, for he brings a powerful serenity to the scenes he is in, making even moments of weakness a tour de force.
In this series, which is rather male oriented, it is a nice breather to see an all girl act take a hold of the plot, although instantly femdom-symbolisms are sputtered across, most notably Sawyer's new nickname for Kate ("Thelma"). The dream-like sequences that are allegedly shooting through Claire's head are both visually and audibly powerful and do the Series proud as a magnificent depicter of dreams, visions and in some cases throughout the now one and a half seasons old series, slight rubber reality references. Welcome was seeing the cradle with the Oceanic Flight airplanes that had appeared as early as in halfway Season 1.
In the course of this Episode, you will learn some very implicit, but surprising information about the Others, some of what they are, some of what they do. However with the why, the series has been very modest. The new settings reek of abandonment and an angst inspiring solitude, providing for an excellent all through atmosphere. Especially when we can compare the visions with what we see of the place 'ourselves', later, this episode shines and makes us wonder so.
If you want to endure some minor spoilers, please desist from reading further down.
As with many other Lost Episodes, this one has quite some symbolic references, one of the most clear being the medical caduceus on the Dharma Logo of the newly discovered compound. These lovely touches allow you to be pulled in to further enjoy the mystery of the Island.
On a final note, I'd like to add that Michael Emerson's Henry Gale, the prisoner acquired in the former episode, innocent at first sight, but oh so nasty and creepy in some undefinable way, is sublimely acted.
Great episode, although not as great as my top five, consisting of 'Walkabout', 'White Rabbit', 'Numbers', 'Deus Ex Machina' and 'The 23rd Psalm' (not in that order).
4 out of 5
First off, I'd like to say that Keanu Reeves is terribly miscast. Not
because he's a monotone-voiced ham actor a lot of times, but because he
looks nowhere near the guy he's supposed to depict. John Constantine's
a blond, often poorly shaved, trench coat wearing mage. Yes, mage. He
does perform exorcisms on a regular basis, but it's nowhere near his
main line of work as this movie would illustrate.
I love the graphic novel, like I do with other things coming from DC, Alan Moore's work in general, like the 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', 'From Hell' and John Constantine of course. Especially with Constantine here, we have a case of Comic Book Genocide on our hands.
In this movie, John Constantine is a compulsive smoker destined to end up in hell, who lives a life replete with good deeds in the name of the Lord in order to try and secure himself a place in heaven.
I think the movie nails things right on; it succeeds pretty well in showing that the man in question is trying his best to come over altruistic, although at heart he is self-centered. Needless to say, Keanu Reeves seems to fall slightly short (despite an.... okay performance) as the cast supporting him consists of actors with greater talent. The first name springing to mind would be that of Rachel Weisz, who had showed her great aptitude for acting in films like 'the Constant Gardener', which is actually slightly newer than this one. Hers is the power to show a multitude of emotions with her eyes alone. Then there is Peter Stormare, who has an aptitude for playing Russian bad guys. His Lucifer was carried almost with divine evanesce. No joke. Gavin Rossdale, the pompous half-demon Balthazar, did a great job. Rossdale, a composer at heart, has great heart for rhythm, his was the power to implement slithery, almost flamboyantly 'homosexual' flair to his character. He had little screen time, but he was a love to behold.
My favorites however were Tilda Swanton's Gabriel and Shia LaBoeuf's Chas, the first scene with both granting the movie a bit of comic relief. Tilda really makes a suit look good, and she knows what she is doing. You might know her from hits like 'Vanilla Sky' or 'The Beach' and you'll be able to see her again in the new adaptation of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' too. Shia is a wonderful young actor that uses his boyish charm to the max in order to play the role of slightly gullible sidekick. One might recognize him from I-Robot, where he wants to borrow Will Smith's car to seduce his 'fine ass yummy ass hot spankable'.
Constantine has a complement of fine actors, it manages to spurt a good amount of character development; the actors have something to play with and they are not afraid to do so. Yes, there are some 'cringe-moments' when Keanu is forced to speak his character's past, but those can be forgiven. Unfortunately, the heart of the film relies a lot on visual effects. Fortunately however, the CGI and the FX guys seem to actually have an idea what the heck they are doing, because these effects are mostly pretty good. Especially the scenes that involve 'hell' are very beautiful and one of my favorite new movie moments. Also, and this is mostly a very bad thing, this movie is full with conflicting stylistic elements, but somehow in Constantine it works pretty fine, although some locations look forced and much too sudden.
There are also references, maybe, probably even, to other movies. The Spear of Destiny that was lost after World War II also had a mention in the 2004 hit Hellboy, where Adolf Hitler allegedly obtained the 'Spear of Longinus' (a different name for the same thing) after which his strength increased tenfold. In Constantine, this spear plays a crucial role in the plot. Stylistic elements include, but are not limited to, biblical references in the shape of set pieces (a painting showing the skewering of Jesus with the Spear of Longinus for example). All in all, this movie delivers a complete, intricate and captivating universe. Some of it is nonsense, but that doesn't really take any of the fun away.
My only problem, the movie's only problem, its obstinate negligence of the Alan Moore's source material, can only be solved if you are willing to brave it yourself. For example, if Constantine is your favorite Graphic Novel character and you cannot bear seeing him transformed in - pretty much - some other character with similar name, you need to give this movie a very wide birth. If you're not too bent on seeing a truthful adaptation, you might want to try this out. *** out of ****
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