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A slap to the face of greater Martial Arts Anime.
When I first heard of Kenichi, I was surprised to find out that it came out in '07, yet I never even seen one episode or a poster. After watching several episodes (26) I see why. This isn't a good Anime on any level. The audience has to understand that this was an Anime that release in the 2000's, not the 90's or 80's. Yet its animation is horrible, its VA's don't perform as stellar as they do in other series, and the story is so one dimensional, that it tags its "life lesson" in nearly every sentence every Master expels.
It seems that the only time the animation steps up is to lighten up the mood with comedy (Apachai/Shigure), but even then it reminds me of a early 90's cartoon. This isn't Dragonball, this isn't Bleach, nor is it Naruto. All of which I have mentioned, have better story, animation and characters. Even if you dislike the story and or art form of past animes, by comparison, Kenichi falls very short.
I saw a reviewer say that a similar show like DBZ had no reason to why its characters had to fight. But we need to understand a few things here. Anime's like this, are fight fluff, they aren't much else. Sure they have some character development, but you aren't going to find the meaning of life or, a tale about trans-humanism in a show about animated martial arts with big breasted ninja's who can cut anything with a spoon. It's silly, overbearing, and badly animated.
Keep in mind that this show was produced after, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and DBZ.
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
The Red hood just doesn't hold up.
Let me start off that so far from what I've seen (animated movie wise) from DC, every film has found a way to deliver on several angles, even if they miss a few. Unfortunately Under the red hood, feels too sophomoric. Based on a title that took itself very seriously, it just feels way too slapstick to be taken seriously. While I'm a supporter of the Batman series, this movie just leaves me in awe and not in the good way.
Let's start first with the Joker, a keystone if you will, in certain movies is how good the voice actors are, rather if the voice matches the character. Unfortunately here it falls short. John Dimaggio while a great VA in most projects he's in, just makes me think of Bender from Futurama attempting a Mark Hamill cackle which falls very short. Then there's Wade Williams (Black Mask), who tries his best to sound like a cool mob boss but falters when he has a fit of rage that seems almost too satirical to even be seen as good acting.
Jensen Ackles(Red Hood) and Neil Patrick Harris(Nightwing) do wonderful jobs at breathing life to said characters and actually seem comfortable and calm in their roles (excluding the out of character Nightwing one liners). Jensen makes the Red Hood bearable, and at times makes you want to see and hear more of him, if not for the action scenes alone.
With that said, the movie is very dark for a PG-13 film or at least tries to be. While they incorporate death and murder, the film almost beckons for the audience to suspend belief with certain aspects. The action scenes start off well, but lead into some unbelievable agility exhibited by both villains and heroes. I couldn't seem to stop shaking me head and uttering the words "silly" and "ridiculous".
The story is solid as it stays true the comics, but everything else just falls apart or isn't really touched heavily. We get flashbacks of Bruce's and Jason's past, but it isn't enough to keep the viewer intrigued, eventually you just sit back waiting for the next fight scene.
In the end, TRH just doesn't hold up compared to giants such as JL: Crisis on on two earths, story wise or acting wise. It's sad that such a great comic was done so poorly.
So Dark, its average.
Let me start by saying, that many people will usually consider this "great" anime, simply due to the many years of hype and the studio backing it. Sporting some decent songs produced by the famous Yoko Kanno helps as well. With that knowledge alone, people will usually be expecting something the likes of Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo. Unfortunately the biggest expectations usually tend to let us down quite frequently.
As far as anime goes, Darker than Black is one that takes few risks and offers very little rewards. While you might hear or see that the series is "gritty" and "gory", it only really shares those two in very specific scenes and easily gets beat by other animes such as Elfen Lied, and while Datker than Black isn't here to give us a gore fest, it still provides with some decent scenes. The bad side?, they really only come sparingly.
Many categorize the series as Noir or the abruptly formed, "neo-noir", and as a fan of such classics as Casablanca, The Big Sleep, and Gilda. I can't say I see it. Wearing a mask and a black trench coat, does not a noir make. There are zero silhouette shots, no femme fatales and the only person that smokes happens to be an uninteresting geezer with a bad case of the Mondays.
The first few episodes are pieced together quite well, but eventually, the plot hits a fork in the road and becomes more about mysteries wrapped in enigmas, rinsed and repeated till they become cliché. At around this time two episodes usually contain the same plot as the director decided he needed two episodes to conclude a very short story.
Ultimately, the characters aren't appealing and the lead (Hei) becomes as stiff as the rest of the cast. The character development is sluggish if at all any. Even the slapstick characters seem to just fall short. The fight scenes are worth the wait, but suffer from quick panels and don't really bring us in on the ride.
Darker then Black feels average, I can't say I will recommend this anime to anyone who enjoys either Noir or animes altogether. Frankly, its too sub par to be considered "good", and in an age where the "next big thing" is still being wished for, DBT isn't even a tease.
The Spirit (2008)
Why we don't let artists write screenplays.
Every time I look at a Spirit billboard I'm very easily reminded of Sin City, Max Payne (the video game) even. Unfortunately nothing from either movies leaked into this movie. Sometimes the Director is to blame for letting a movie become as bad as say; Big trouble in little China. But even then, that was merely a movie poking fun of itself. We are given no notice on whether the spirit was indeed a tongue in cheek cinema. Instead we are dished out some nice cool music, and some very dark atmosphere.
One expects this movie to walk the same tight rope that Sin City did. Very dark, and very melancholy. This is an expectation that was given when the trailers where first shown. So to expect some graphic violence and decent dialog was indeed the idea given to the audience. Unfortunately when the first ten minutes pass and I feel like leaving, due to hideous dialog and comedic slapstick action I'm only disappointed at the director.
The movie starts with cheesy one liners and over the top acting from Samuel Jackson. It prepares the audience for a very boring, almost Dick Tracy like scenario, except its completely dull and unrewarding. Most will comment on how they only enjoyed the actress's in this film, as most would, but the corny dialog and almost circus like action, grabs your attention more than any lead female.
The movie in of itself has no redeeming qualities, it is what Sin City is not , nor tried to be. This is where we look at who allowed this to happen?. Well in Sin City's case, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarentino, had some direction of what scenes should look like. Also the dialog was dark and brooding and even the jokes where dark. The Spirit suffers from what happens when an artist has FULL control.
Its been said a long time ago, there's usually two people helping direct and write a comic book, i.e. Stan Lee and Jack kirby. The Artist and the idea man if you will. This movie comes of as a piece of work that was deemed finish and needed no help by anyone else but the director. And at times, thats just fine. But you have to call it as you see it, some things are fact, and others are opinions. this movie is just to cheesy to ignore that fact.
the action is too slapstick as stated before. The comedy is found in three characters in the beginning only to be phased away by some very bad acting. The lines in general are too corny to ignore and seem to make the mood of the entire movie. I expected more, especially from Frank Miller, but I suppose every director has to make some bombs, consider this, Miller's first strike.
Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
Gotham Neve felt so Mundane (Spoilers)
As we are introduced to this movie, which by the way,has no introduction and or narrative. We are left to assume that this series of movies will guide us through or at least help explain certain aspects of the recent Batman movies featuring Christian Bale.
And while the "episodes" explain a certain aspect of Batman,they end up leaving the audience with even more questions.As this was an all animated feature, I expected a huge ensemble of animated action and quotable one liners that provide us with more reason to follow this particular series.Unfortunately from the very beginning,we are treated to sub par animation and even less dialog.
It's easy to say that the first two "episodes" are an introduction to how the city view's Batman,which I enjoyed for a brief moment.Not because I didn't decide to,but rather that the episodes are so short,that I wasn't given enough time to thoroughly enjoy them.I have a fondness for animated action,and although action was in each episode,not enough was shown and or animated well.
Now I'm sure this will be compared to the Animatrix as each episode in Gotham Knight, begins with a black screen labeled with a one liner or phrase.But for me thats where the comparison's end.I felt more animators and or companies could have been reached for certain episodes.
In conclusion Batman Gotham Knight is a lackluster journey into the world of Batman.Now it isn't all bad,when the movie starts winding down we are introduced to a more darker and more complex Gotham, but by then the movie is asking for a clinging lining of faith,even for a fan.
Transformers: Animated (2007)
Autobots rolled too far out.
When I first heard or rather saw that Transformers the TV series was going to be remade, I like many other fans ran to our TV guides and marked the date of release.Unfortunately to many and my own dismay, this was nothing like the old shows.In fact I felt that this was a whole other show on its on, because it didn't feel like a remake or a continuation.
My problems with the series begins with the voice actors.It feels as if they brought a heavily underpaid group of VA's to fill in some very huge shoes.I didn't expect A+ voice acting, but what was given isn't even worth of a C grade.They fail mostly on Optimus Prime's voice.While he is very articulate he sounds more like an angst teenager than a grown autobot.One could blame the poor writing but the voice itself just doesn't match the drawn character.
Another problem I noticed was the transforming itself.I'm a huge fan of the transformers, mainly due to the unique transformations of every Autobot and decepticon.Now I know the old shows didn't lay out every part switching panel to panel, but some sort of transformation was shown.In this series it's only masked by a flash of light and some well sped action line.Ultimately leaving anyone wanting more out of a simple transformation that took Michael Bay all of five minutes to show.
In conclusion this series needs a major overhaul and even some new artists.The show feels like it was rushed just to match the date of the movie.The action is very lackluster and most episodes consist of slapstick humor the easily becomes very old and very boring.If your a fan, you'll hate it, and if your into Animated Series you'll watch a few episodes here and there but will ultimately find something better to watch.
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man, - Not this summer, not any summer.
When I first heard of Robert Downey Jr. playing the role of billionaire Tony Stark, I was easily going to ignore this movie was ever made and take my money elsewhere. But since I saw the worst movies possible created by man, I thought; "hey why not give it a try". To my surprise the movie followed Iron Man's Origins story pretty close. In fact most of the film is very accurate to the comic books. But alas thats not where my problems begin. My first gripe was with the lines in general. While i enjoy witty banter like any other New Yorker, I felt that Favreau focused more on trying to make Tony Stark look witty, than using any ability in the directing of action.
I don't mind a few one liners here and there, but the entire film felt as if Robert Downey Jr, was delivering a punchline. I didn't seem to notice this till around the one hour mark, when I was still observing Downey trying to be funny in every scene, and still no Mark3 armor(red and gold suite). Finally after the hour mark we get a show case of what the armor can do. Unfortunately THIS is where the movie seems to dull down. We don't get to see how much the suit can take but rather how much it can run away. While the action started very good it ended very poorly. This is a movie that has to tangle with the force that Transformers was. It loses very quickly when every action scene turns out to be very uneventful.
Mainly my biggest peeve was seeing everyone run circles around Downey's acting. Frankly Jeff Bridges steals the show as expected, but even then not enough of Bridges is given to help many appreciate his acting. Lastly we have the last action scene. this bothered me the most and helped me realize that Jon Favreau is really better at writing and or directing comedy. there's just not enough action to begin with and not enough "epic" moments to keep me satisfied.