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Chikyû shôjo Arjuna (2001)
Powerful but heavy-handed
First off: I liked this series. Secondly: I am not the least surprised that it has not gained a wide fan-base.
I would have liked to give it a rating of 8 or 9, but quite frankly the sometimes very preachy style and long-winded exposition earns it. "Arjuna" has an important message for us, and tries very hard to convey it using a huge amount of information, while at the same time entertaining us with superhero-style action scenes. As such it does the job fairly well, but the vast majority of viewers are likely to be either bored with the message or offended by the very direct and sometimes accusatory way it is conveyed. This means that a lot of viewers are going to miss or resent the final message of the series: personal responsibility.
On a purely technical note, I find that the CG-elements are at times too obvious and uncharming, while at other times they are quite pretty. I for one do not enjoy the CG-look, and found the more obvious sequences distracting.
[Possible spoiler:] I found that the conclusion would be somewhat too obvious if one has even the slightest grasp of Biology.
Dark Angel (1990)
One reason to see this film
Brainless action flick with a fantastic story-idea. There is only one reason to see this film (apart from the "I come in peace / you are leaving in pieces" exchange) and that is the alien's Submachinegun with (very) high-explosive bullets. Cool idea - excellently carried out special effect.
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
One of those films that could (and should) have been better.
All things considered, this film probably does exactly what it sets out to do. Unfortunately the people behind it set their sights too low. There is so much movie-making potential in Gibsons writing, that this film could very easily have been both entertaining AND carried the depth of his literature. I was left with the feeling that Gibson thought: -"Well, this is going to be my one chance at getting my work on the big screen. So I'd better stick a little bit of everything I've made in it." Too many of the characters taken from his fiction get mistreated by the script: Ralfi, Molly Millions, the-guy-with-the-monowire-thumb, Johnny. Whereas the new ones, like Spider and the Street Preacher are much more entertaining. For example: One of the central ideas in the short story was that Johnny is "a very technical boy" - totally reliant on technology - and therefore actually needs Molly's muscle-power to protect him. Aside from one initial rescue, Johnny actually saves his own bodyguard more times than she helps him (with anything!) Maybe Keanu has a "Heroism Clause" of his own, like Kevin Kostner... :) A pleasant surprise though, was the appearance of Takeshi Kitano (even if it was a small part.)
My favourite scene is Johnnys rant on the rubbish heap. I know it is contrary to the intent of the scene, but I sympathise completely with his feelings. He had sacrificed something that most people hold sacred, in order to live a certain lifestyle, and it gets taken away from him completely undeservedly - no wonder he feels cheated.
If you really want Gibsonesque cyberpunk, go for _New Rose Hotel (1998) _ instead.
A sadly wasted opportunity
The basic premise of this film is strong and full of potential. What starts out essentially a spy movie for the 21st century, replacing governments with corporations and idealism with greed, takes 'forever' to conclude. And the conclusion is so predictable as to be uninteresting. Essentially the last half of the film could have been compressed to half an hour, without any significant loss of impact or insight. It didn't need to be 2 hours long! What could have been exciting and fascinating, becomes simply dull and pointless.
The inclusion of the subject of pornographic Anime, looks more like an attempt to cash in on a fad than anything else. An as such the misrepresentation of this cultural phenomena becomes pathetic, whereas it would have been forgivable if used for dramatic purposes.
Ôkami to buta to ningen (1964)
Fine gangster movie
A finely crafted gangster film about three brothers, each with his own relationship to a powerful crime syndicate, and a heist the middle brother plans on that syndicate. The story and plot easily bears comparison with any in modern movies with a similar theme. Even the two song-and-dance numbers make sense, in that they serve to characterise the younger brother's gang as youthful and naive. Well worth seeing - even if you don't speak Japanese.
Hakkenden shin sho (1993)
An acquired taste
Its beautiful design aside, The Hakkenden takes a bit of getting used to. The traditional-samurai-tragedy mood of this series, makes it mostly for "those who like that sort of thing" - but if you ARE one of those, samurai-tragedies don't come much better than this.
The bizarrely supernatural is made to seem absolutely reasonable, in a way normally only known in "magical realism".
Hotaru no haka (1988)
First time I cried this year
I hate watching movies like this one - because they force you to feel. To experience, diluted immensely, what the characters in it experience, and still be moved so much you think something has to break.
What makes this movie bearable at all, is that we see the story through the eyes of the ghosts - which in a heartbreakingly sad way gives it a sort of happy ending.
I don't think I'll ever want to watch it again, not because it is bad - but because it is so Good it hurts (literally).
Should have been a book instead
Like everybody has already said - the idea is great, but the treatment falls apart. The plot is completely predictable following the standard 'recipe' for unknown-superhuman-threat-movies. It also seems like a lot of the ideas behind this movie comes from _Spriggan (1998)_, not that the two are that alike. Thompson, Brian (I) delivers the most convincing acting in the whole film as a stouthearted army ranger. I would say that the special effects are forgivably bad because they actually work on a television screen, and they wouldn't on a big screen. The music is actually pretty good - if you like gloom and doom stuff (it has a Poledouris, Basil sort of ring to it) All in all : not terribly bad, but the kind of movie you won't be sorry to have missed.
Ghost World (2001)
I really wanted to like this film!
I really wanted to like this film! I had really high expectations for it.. And it was good - very good : excellent acting, great story, and technique that left nothing to be desired. But when I sit down to see a movie I do so to be entertained - serious thoughts I have aplenty in my daily life, and movies, wether in the theatre on TV or video, I like to have fun - Ghost World is quite frankly not funny enough. I say 'funny' in the sense of sarcastically humourous. It does have its moments though. Ghost World really cannot be compared with teen movies - it's way too intelligent and insightful.
Overall a very good movie - but should have been lightened up a bit.
Tip: Keep watching past the end credits!
Dad Savage (1998)
Typical of its time, but with an interesting Twist.
Very much in the style of contemporary films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects, Dad Savage is a more realistic and significantly less humourous film.
Patrick Stewart definitely carries the film as the patriarchal head of a family of criminals - not to belittle the performance of the films other actors it's just that none of them are as memorable. Although far removed from the Star Trek universe, Patrick Stewarts portrayal of Dad Savage is reminiscent of Capt. Picard: namely that of a man with a hard outside and a soft - even vulnerable - inside. Dad Savage is a cantankerous old man as easily capable of sticking a shotgun in the face of someone who betrayed him, as he is of dressing in country and western clothes and going line-dancing with the other local senior citizens.
I've tried - unsuccessfully - to convince my friends to see this, I hope many more people will though...
Ghosts of Mars (2001)
I rented this movie expecting a horror movie (isn't that what you watch Carpenter movies for..?), but I found that the horror was alternately 'toned down' and 'tacked on' a rather poorly paced action film. The flashback that explains what brought the horror on seems too much like an afterthought, and it Really ruins the horror feel that we're pretty much told during the opening that noone knows what happened (and that the 'bad thing' was not stopped by the heroes...)
For this film to have worked more effort should have been put into building tension and mood - as it stands too much time is wasted on badly acted and unbelievable fight-scenes. One excellently thought-out if somewhat predictable idea is the effect of taking drugs on someone who has been 'touched by the ghosts'.