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When filler murders the canon
Here's the movie that murdered the hype for the series, because the studio allocated most of its resources, including the main director, towards making this one, and abandoned the fourth season. As a result, it turned into a badly animated pile of mediocrity that disappointed everybody and made many to lose interest and jump onto the next bandwagon that was Demon Slayer. Because for some reason disposable filler movies with no impact on the show, deserve far better treatment than the canon material, which is what people actually care about. Oh well...
So the plot is very basic crap. The students are sent to a remote island... again. It's a rehash of the premise of the first movie. And this time, with no supervision by teachers, since that is how high schools work in this dumb universe. You leave dozens of immature, hormone crazy superhumans, completely unchecked for weeks and assume nothing will go wrong.
Then bad guys conveniently appear when the students are still on the island. Can you imagine what would happen if they had waited for the heroes to leave before doing their thing? And can you imagine their plan being to politely ask for where the boy they were looking for is and then politely ask the boy to heal their leader? They would have achieved their mission without having to throw a single punch.
But that way we wouldn't have a dumb actionfest, so yeah, let's make everything stupid and shallow. Bad guys attack, good guys counterattack, stuff blow up, and nothing matters because everybody besides Deku and Bakugo are background decorations and the fights have no impact on the plot. Then we get to the meat of the movie, which is the two main characters going up against the big boss of the movie. They can't beat him with the powers they have, so the writer decides to do some convoluted nonsense and gives Bakugo a power up, which he conveniently forgets about after the battle, so there won't be any permanent repercussions in the main storyline. Gotta love filler movies.
Anyways, just like the first film you are supposed to watch it just for the dumb battles, which unlike in the main series they don't end with a couple of punches. Unfortunately, if you follow the series and know that they threw the series under the bus for animating a pretty looking filler, then you won't even like it as much as the first one.
Took out the violence and replaced it with a dull social commentary
Paul Verhoeven is one of the most misjudged movie directors I know of. I remember loving the hell out of his movies, while at the same time reading everywhere how the majority of critics hate them for being ultraviolent and with shallow theme exploration. Nobody seemed to understand the guy was making grim satires full of rule of cool. Said critics needed 3 decades before they realized their mistake, once other directors made remakes of his movies and they were awful.
Complain all you like about the overexcessive violence and the over the top performances, but at the end of the day that's what was making them so great. The moment they try to take themselves seriously, is the moment they fail horribly. But that's the result of everyone trying to imitate the success of the Dark Knight without never getting what exactly was making that Batman movie so successful. Let me remind you in case you didn't get it either. It wasn't batman being serious and moody. It wasn't the movie taking itself seriously. It was the Joker trolling the crap out of everyone. His morbid sense of humor is what made the social commentary and the action scenes, so fun.
But nope, everybody just assumed all you have to do is have joyless characters and a mundane setting that looks like ours, which deals with current social issues. We can't have fun while watching movies anymore. We need to be constantly bombarded with current sociopolitical messages even if the movies take place in the future, or in a galaxy far, far away. You hear that, you neo-liberal Star Wars?
And the worst part is how this movie does its best to make that clear. When they are making the body of Robocop, initially it's white just like in the previous version. But then a guys says "No, make it black, so people can take Robocop seriously". Gah, Robocop is by inception not meant to be a serious story. It's about a guy becoming a robot and avenging his death. The social critique is just there to excuse why he went on a killing spree. It's there just to justify his motives. Murphy is the focal point, not the setting. They flipped that around in this version, because it worked in Batman, and it became boring.
It could still be a fun action flick if at least the setting was fun to watch, like the over the top dystopia that was Detroit in the older version, but no, there is nothing memorable about it. All the bad guys behave in such a normal way, to the point you have nothing to remember them for. Being over the top cartoonishly evil is what was making them memorable. They even took out the violence which is what was making the action scenes so memorable. Now they look like videogame cut scenes where the option to show the blood has been turned off.
There were a few things liked in it, such as Murphy being aware of turning into a cyborg right away and even willingly taking away his emotions, so he can perform better in his job. The psychological pressure he was going through shows ten times more. Another one is making it clear the robotic body he is using is just one of countless mass-produced bodies out there. This is taking away his uniqueness and lets you feel how unimportant he is next to all the sociopolitical schemes going on out there. Giving him a faceguard and beacons that clarify what counts as a target he cannot attack were also fixing small issues of the older version.
But these are not making up for the overall dullness of the film. There is nothing of interest going on half of the time, the characters have no charisma, and the action scenes have no impact because of how safe they made them for a mainstream audience. Well that's what you get for making Robocop mainstream. Nobody liked it as much as when it was niche.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
GITS is yet another failed western adaptation of an anime classic
It's not a complete and utter mess like Dragonball Evolution, but it still didn't get what was making the original so good. First and foremost, it never stood a chance in being praised for its visual presentation. The 90s version was a marvel of animation that didn't resemble any other movie of its time, while also looking far more detailed than any other animated sci-fi movie in general. The new version on the other hand, just looks okay. Not so much because they didn't work much on the visuals, but rather because you can find a hundred other movies just like it. It doesn't stand out as much, because nowadays we get lots of CGI-heavy movies.
Something I do not blame it for, is having a different storyline. A good remake does not try to have the exact same plot and themes as the previous version. The 90s movie was not a faithful adaptation of the 80s manga. It was a beacon of the time it came out and was dealing with the issues of that decade in that part of the world. The 00s Stand Alone Complex tv-series is also its own version and has its own themes, relevant to the time it came out. Now imagine how less interesting it would be for the new movie to try copying any of that after a thousand other films were already inspired to do exactly that over the years. It would feel completely derivative and passable. Thus, having its own storyline is not a bad thing.
The problem is, despite being different from any other in the franchise, the new storyline is still not special because it's also something that has been done a lot over the years. It took a far more mundane Hollywood action flick approach, where the heroine has a dark past that needs to be revealed, the corporations have evil representatives you can just shoot, and problems can be solved by just blowing them up. There is nothing deep or subtle in any of this. It can work for a movie such as the original Robocop, which has the exact same plot if you think about it, but even there it had to be presented as an ultraviolent satire of capitalism. The new Ghost in the Shell just wants you to take it seriously with nothing worthy of being called serious or special.
The biggest disappointment is how it's not inspiring. It's not trying to expand to themes of philosophy and religion like the previous versions did. Motoko does not have an identity crisis based on who she wants to be, she simply has amnesia and wants to remember who she was all along. That is not the core motif of the story. The whitewashing of the protagonist is not the actual issue here, despite everyone making a big fuss about it at first. That could have served the narrative for a setting where race and gender are fluid. They can switch bodies and replace parts of them with cybernetic implants. What's the problem with having a Japanese person inside a Caucasian-looking body?
The actual issue is the movie not exploring that concept, so it can have and in-story excuse for the whitewashing. The core theme behind the whole concept of Ghost in the Shell, was always an identity crisis. How much of you, is still you when you can change bodies or you can replace organs with machines. -The 80s manga gave emphasis on how the body can change with cybernatics to the point it becomes a sexual fetish, since the mangaka was that sort of guy. -The 90s movie switched the emphasis to transhumanism, and how mankind can move to a different state of being or how programs can gain conscience. -The 00s series switched the focus to sociology, and how technology changes the way people can live in a world where technology keeps them in touch all the time.
Now tell me what the recent movie explores regarding that. It's not like we don't have material for identity crisis in this decade, where everyone can be someone else by playing videogames, are liberals are constantly pushing gender fluidity in mass media and entertainment. This movie does no theme exploration regarding the identity crisis of our times, so it really comes off as a lazy excuse for having a white actress playing a Japanese character. It doesn't connect with people like the previous versions did, because over there Motoko was just another cyborg, while in this one she is one of a kind. If there are millions more like her, she is not special, the body switching and the race hopping feel like an everyday thing in that world. This doesn't show when you have a prototype, more advanced than any other, able to do stuff no other cyborg can do.
And to put it bluntly, people didn't like the previous versions for the pew-pew and the bam-bam. It was never a type of story aimed for mainstream audiences that seeks thrill-rides. It's mesmerizing for its themes and atmosphere. It's not meant to be entertaining like a mindless action flick, or relatable for having fleshed out characters you can identify with. The 90s movie is very dry in this regard. But so was 2001 Space Odyssey, and Solaris, and the very first Star Trek movie. You don't watch those films to have fun while eating popcorn and laughing with your drunken buddies. You watch them as an existential journey, where you are supposed to ponder about stuff. The only thing you ponder while watching the 2017 version of Ghost in the Shell is "how did they not get this?"
Hollow spectacle you will watch and forget very fast
Like all filler movies of this kind, you shouldn't expect much in terms of plot or any meaningful character development. The premise is about the heroes going on a trip to an island where you can freely use your superpowers (something which is there just for convenience and doesn't have in-series logic). It's supposed to be a secret trip where only the main character and his mentor will take part in, but because of plot, his entire class is there as well all by accident. And also because of plot, a villain attacks when all are conveniently there to stop him.
The best way to enjoy the movie is to see it as a family friendly version of the first Die Hard movie, with a final showdown that doesn't end with a couple of punches (something the series is notorious for). But even then, you will have to wait a lot for the good part to begin, as almost half of it is wasted on flashbacks we have already seen and got sick of after a dozen times, as well an opening chase scene regarding a young Almight that served no purpose other than showing off the talent of the animation team.
The new characters introduced in the movie are an old friend of Almight (used for building some lazy dramatic revelation towards the end), the daughter of said friend (used only for rehashing the same cheap drama as Deku's backdrop, as well as being waifubait), and the leader of the baddies, a completely uninteresting one-dimensional villain you will forget as soon as the movie is over. I didn't like any of them.
The old characters are basically the whole class who just happen to be there and just happen to take part in taking out the baddies. They are just fan service, since they could be absent from the movie and nothing would be any different. In fact, the movie would be about half an hour shorter, since it wouldn't waste time on showing them repeating their one-character trait for the hundredth time, or fighting villains and robots that serve nothing as far as the plot is concerned. In fact, if they were absent, whatever plot there is in this stupid film would make more sense. The baddies wouldn't mysteriously need hours to get the mcguffin when they know where it is and how to open its safe, and Almight wouldn't magically recover his stamina in an instant for the final showdown, when he was struggling to maintain his bulky form for so long.
So if you break this movie into what it's about, you basically get a needless opening chase scene, a filler slice of life part where everyone repeats his one-character trait, a part where everyone fights minions and robots that serve no narrative purpose, and the final fight with a forgettable villain. At least said final fight is very rewarding if you want to see a dozen Detroit Smashes or whatever. But even then, don't go asking why the heroes never seem to get severe injuries despite the constant battering, or why a trinket can make a second class villain more powerful than All For One. It's just hollow spectacle you will watch and forget very fast.
Altered Carbon (2018)
Amazing presentation, faulty theme exploration
-Faithful adaptation of the source, with changes and additions working to its favor.
-The presentation is superb as Netflix didn't hold back on the visual effects and the elaborate futuristic world building.
-The writing is competent in its descriptions of terminology.
-The battles are exciting and savage.
-The inner thoughts were pretty good at showing us the mentality of the characters.
-The dialogues were compelling when they were about a war of ideologies on the ups and downs of this technology.
-Gratuitous sex scenes and full frontal nudity.
Altered Carbon is a very hit or miss series. It has an interesting theme of memory transference inside a film noir story that combines with futuristic gun action. At the same time, it fell victim of a typical grave sin when it comes to science fiction: not creating a plausible setting based on its own in-series laws.
The story is about a man hired to solve a murder mystery in a society where you can change bodies if you are rich enough. The effects such a technology can have on the minds of people are looked into from multiple perspectives, such as driving them insane or becoming cynical, and superficially it seems to be doing a good job at fleshing out the world and its denizens.
If you do not think too much about it, it can be very intriguing. You have this super soldier working as a detective for a rich guy who died a few hours ago, without being actually dead. If you store your memories in a bank, you can create a copy of yourself even after you are dead, without of course remembering what happened since the last time you saved the file that is your brain. It's well-excused amnesia to hide the truth.
The biggest problems are present in the plot. Although we are made to understand how the whole memory transfer fuss works and how it affects people on a personal level, there is little to no effort in showing how people behave on an interpersonal level. For example, it's impossible to tell when someone is really dead if he can copy his brain at any moment without telling anyone about it. So every time someone was saying a person is dead for good, there is no way he can be sure about it.
Also, if this is a setting where you can switch bodies, it's impossible to be sure the person you are talking to is the same as it was yesterday, and yet everyone in the book takes for granted that they are always talking to the same person as before.
Also, if this is a setting where you can copy yourself, there is nothing to stop any military organization from creating an army of clones out of the same one soldier. Yet everybody acts as if there can only be one copy of anyone at any given time. And yes, they do mention it's both illegal and hard to have doubles or more of someone throughout the first half of the story, only to conveniently make it easy and commonplace in the second half.
Basically, the notions of death and identity should have been a lot hazier. The author treated them the same way we do in present time, which makes it anachronistic and immersion breaking. It was the selling point of the whole book, and the adaptation didn't bother to fix it enough.
In a nutshell, I applaud the work they did with the visuals and see the extra characters they included as a great addition to what was initially a mostly one-man story. The violence and sex were a bit over the top at times and can come off as edgy and schlocky for many. My biggest gripe remains the way everyone assumes they know to whom they are talking to in a setting where anyone can look however he likes.
Resident Evil: Vendetta (2017)
Vendetta stops giving a damn about trying to have a message and goes purely for spectacle, with the plot being an afterthought.
-The CGI quality has improved even more than the second movie, making it pretty close to photo-realistic. -The setting is a collection of different areas from the games, almost like fan service. Nothing sticks out or has much variety, making it hollow in comparison to the theme-central war zone of Damnation. - Voice acting was professional and fairly close to natural. The context of the dialogues is still corny but at least it's not made up of silly one-liners.
-The story is, just like the back grounds, fan service. It takes ideas from all the games and throws them without much thought on the screen, with the ultimate goal being mindless action. -The zombies in this film are treated as sick people who kill anything not-sick. For the very first time they can be cured back to normality, although they do not bother to show the psychological scars they would have after killing so many innocents, and then being covered in their blood. Also, they have very inconsistent powers, as they can spring like crazy in one scene and stumble slowly in another. -The plot is about the straightforward revenge of a merchant, whose wedding was ruined by an assassination attempt. It doesn't have any political intrigue, or messages around terrorism and wars for natural resources. It's a huge downgrade from Damnation, but still bearable compared to the complete train wreck that was Degeneration. -The monsters were defeated too easily by the heroes, so there was never a case where you would think the heroes might not win.
Every known character from the games became a complete bad-ass who can perform improbable acrobatics and defeat a hundred opponents all alone. Everyone who is not in the games, is a complete fodder who dies after a single hit. Rebecca is treated like a damsel in distress at the hands of a sociopath, even when she is supposed to be dynamic and competent. None has depth to his personality and comes off as a one-dimensional archetype.
Despite the breath-taking visuals, I place it between Degeneration and Damnation. It is serviceable as a mindless action flick that panders the fans of the games, but has nothing interesting outside of the action.
Boku dake ga inai machi (2016)
1) TIME RESETS MAKE NO SENSE. Just look how there is absolutely no consistency amongst them.
2) THE PROTAGONIST HAS NO STEADY MOTIVATIONS. They change in every episode with no rhyme or reason, something the fan boys didn't notice because he is a bland self-insert who can be anything and anyone at any given moment. I mean did you even see how generic his face is? Take all faces A1 Pictures animated from light novels and compare them. They are the exact same one, featureless face!
3) PLOT CONVENIENCES. Many events happen seemingly by chance and end up affecting the plot considerably. No proper mystery or thriller should be so reliant on chance because it cheapens what it's trying to accomplish.
4) THE PROTAGONIST'S REASONING MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE.
He runs away from the police, thus incriminating himself for no reason. The fan boys excuse it as him panicking because of the murder of his mother, thus he wasn't thinking reasonably. If that is the case, why is he STILL running away from the police after he returns to the present? He is calm now, and thinks reasonably. Hell, he spends half the episode playing with children out in the open for everybody to see, and then goes to chat in a public cafeteria full of people. Seems like he is not afraid of being seen, right? But when police officers arrive, he is running away again. What is this bull?
He assumes that he can save his mother by saving a little girl, the two of which have absolutely nothing to do with each other, just because he is at the time when the murders began. Well, thank goodness nothing else happened in the world that year, or he might have arbitrarily assumed he would have to do something completely different.
5) THE MYSTERY ASPECT OF THE SHOW IS COMPLETE GARBAGE.
6) FAKE TENSION WITH CLIFFHANGERS. Every episode ends with a cliffhanger that makes the average viewer wanting to find out what will happen next. The problem here is that what follows the cliffhangers is a dud. It is always something anti-climactic or completely stupid. The show systematically tries to undo consequences or hide its plot conveniences with cliffhangers that are too obvious to spot when you marathon the show.
7) VICTIMIZING GALORE. A one dimensional evil parent hits while laughing her own child for forced drama. - No fan boys, saying this happens all the time in real life does not make it any less forced. - Let's have the girl being bullied at school as well. No reason to assume the more victimizing they throw at you, the more absurd it becomes.
8) PLOT INDUCED STUPIDITY.
9) PEDOPHILIA, AS THE PROTAGONIST IS SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO A LITTLE GIRL. No fan boys, just because his body is 10 years old, does not make his brain not 30 years old. And nobody knowing he is not really a child does makes him not pedo. Pleading ignorance does not pass in court. Oh, sorry officer, I thought I could have sex with 10 year old because I'm a time traveler.
10) ONE DIMENSIONAL EVIL CHARACTERS.
11) AWFUL TIME SKIP. Any hints of logic the show had, are completely gone when a time skip takes place in the last episodes.
12) UNDEFINED FOCUS. This show has no idea of what it's trying to be about, leading to a complete lack of identity. This is evident in how the fanboys were gradually changing their opinion of the show, every time something was disappointing them.
SO WHY THE DEVIL WAS THIS SHOW SO HYPED AND ADORED BY EVERYBODY? Erased fails in everything besides emotional manipulation. It had a premise where a good heart ed man tries to save his mother and a cute girl the viewers feel sorry for. As soon as both these issues were solved in episode 9, the interest in the show immediately evaporated and what followed was a bullshit killer revelation and a retarded time skip nobody could take seriously.
Basically, while the show was using forced drama and a sickening romance between a man and a little girl, everybody was blinded to its problems. The second those were dealt with, they instantly woke up and realized it was crap all along. The whole thing is yet another example of why crap like Sword Art Online become super hyped and loved by everybody while they air, and then are hated as soon as they are over. The anime community is a cesspool of immature people who can't think straight and let emotions cloud their perception. And then some wonder why Donald Trump is so adored for all the ridiculous things he does. Faith in humanity, lost.
Kiseijû: Sei no kakuritsu (2014)
Don't let the CGI or music get to you
Nobody can deny that the premise of the story sounds very intriguing. Man eating monsters appearing and killing people from the shadows has a very cool vibe to it. And sure, there are hundreds of anime that have a similar get-up, but what makes Parasyte better than almost all of them is one simple thing: The monsters just appeared and the setting is just like our world. There is nothing supernatural in this world, no teenagers with superpowers, no secret organizations that protect mankind with giant robots, no magicians from other dimensions, and no 12 year old pink-haired busty girls with eyes half their head. Sounds mundane but it is also the thing that makes the threat of the monsters far more plausible and intriguing, since there is no pre-existing defense for such things.
The premise of course means nothing if the presentation is not good, and this is where the series has a lot of issues that hurt the overall. Let's start with how despite the production values being quite good to the most part, there are still lots of scenes that use really bad CGI crowds, which are an instant break of immersion. The main music theme is also dub-step, which is off putting for most people. These are issues alright but they are very superficial. They make it harder to enjoy the show, but don't change the writing of it. I have tolerated lots of badly animated shows in my life, and the ones I didn't like amongst them weren't because the CGI was bad but because the plot and the characters were bad.
And this brings us to an issue many had concerning the characters. WHY DO THEY ACT SO STUPID? WHY IS MURANO REPEATING THE SAME ANNOYING THINGS ALL THE TIME? I am not going to defend this, because it's true. What I can do, is point out a mishap in the way the animators present the story. You see, the anime is based on an 80s manga, and yet the studio decided to make it seem like the anime takes place in our times, by having people using cell phones and the internet. You can't believe how off tune it is to present a story that is supposed to take place in the 80s, instead taking place in 2014 with no actual modernization past cell phones and the internet.
I grew up in the 80s. I remember very well what it was to be a kid in a world with no cell phones to warn others if something bad just happened, or search the internet for footage of things that happened ten minutes ago on the other side of the planet. We were far more isolated and uninformed back then. We were also far more naive and high spirited, full of patriotic ideals and xenophobia. It is very far away from how things are now. We became more cynical, we scroll the internet while taking a walk, we know things the moment they happen, and we are in overall not as gullible. So, a story like Parasyte is not working if it's supposed to be taking place today. The monsters wouldn't be able to remain hidden for more than a few days with all the surveillance cameras, and the random people with cell phones making calls and taking pictures. The monsters would also not be able to fool today's people as easily, eat them, and get away with it, without some forensic team doing some weird investigations that involve DNA analysis, satellite examinations, and tracing calls. It just doesn't work.
Something else which many didn't like is how the show was becoming less interesting as it went on. The various arcs didn't seem to connect with each other too well, and many of the best characters were killed off midway, leaving only dull ones to carry the story with far less charisma. These are legit problems as well; the anime was more focused on theme exploration and not on character appeal or plot continuity.
What I will strongly defend the show for though, is how it was never a battle shonen. Many didn't like the battle scenes because they were short and simple, with the final one in particular being anti-climactic and lame. I disagree; I found it to be a great subversion of typical shonen nonsense (if some want to see the show as a shonen so much). The hero didn't get another power up after training with a powerful martial artist, and didn't obliterate the big bad with an energy beam after they trash a whole valley with their punches. The hero was left weakened after he lost his Parasyte, afraid and helpless. He was found by a simple old lady that reminded him of what it means to be human. That is all it needed for him to face a monster which was a hundred times more powerful than him.
So as you see, it all comes down to a simple issue. Parasyte is far better written than it is presented. I am the kind of viewer who appreciates writing more than anything else, so I liked the show as a whole. I also understand why those who want cool fights and a fairy tale ending, will not like it because it is not a fighting shonen but an anachronistic seinen that focuses on the values of humanity.
Itoh is a terrible storyteller
So I watched the second of the Itoh trilogy of movies regarding existentialism. The Empire of Corpses was bad, but could still keep my attention a bit through mindless action scenes and old book references. Harmony fails even at that, since it lacks action and is not even animated as well. You can spot the cgi much easier, while the artwork is blander.
The premise is about a world where pain and suffering have been eradicated thanks to the use of nanotechnology. Anyone taking a medicine stays healthy and happy while also not aging as fast. Unfortunately, teenagers cannot be pleased even with a perfect world, and feel the need to rebel against it, for the sake of rebelling. Our main characters are a bunch of psychotic lesbians who want to see the world burn by committing suicide. And if that sounds completely dumb to you, it can easily be explained with the typical excuse of "they are teenagers, it makes sense not to make sense" that anime are constantly using to cover up for bad characterization.
So the years go by, and only one of them commits suicide, while the other two get a job. There is one the plot considers the protagonist, although the only thing she is doing is being an excuse for providing info-dumps every five minutes. There is absolutely no personality to her other than hating the utopia she is living in. And by the way, she is living in an actual utopia, since there is nothing wrong with it.
The only people who are discontent with it are suicidal angst teenagers. Everybody else has a perfectly happy life. So, why do these psychotic lesbians hate this fine society? Because everyone is equally happy and thus everything is the same. It's basically "nobody understands me, I'm so different, adults are stupid." By the way, that's completely hypocritical when they all have eye scouters which show numerical statistics for every individual, and they are clearly never the same. Your complaints are bull.
Even your job is bull. How did you become an investigator when you are so mentally unstable and everybody has access to your statistics? Why don't they fire you for constantly getting drunk and not following orders?
Anyways, the conflict of the movie is about some angst ass brainwashing people into committing suicide. Not because they want to, not because they hate their society, but because he takes control of their minds. No actual reason, and get ready for a lot of edgy scenes, full of gore for the sake of gore. This ass goes as far as demanding every person on earth to kill someone within a week, or be forced into suicide. Which causes worldwide chaos, as everyone gets crazy and kills everything on sight. Woah, this is so mature
Turns out the one causing all that is the lesbian who was supposed to be dead, because reasons. She has the supernatural ability to control peoples' minds, because reasons. And she did everything for the sake of a surprise attack on the eternal. Whatever, you ass, you killed half the population of earth. She even tries to further justify this genocide by saying she was raped as a child, and everyone must feel her pain. Something which did not happen in the utopia, but in a barbaric place outside of it. So basically, she destroyed a perfectly fine society, for something that happened to her not because of that society. She is even goes as far as saying she did it all out of love. She killed half the planet and her best friend because she loved them.
And then the movie ends by the plot device that is the protagonist simply shooting the psychotic lesbian. There was no battle, no chase, no resistance at all. She just sat there, waiting to be shot after info-dumping her bull for half an hour. What an amazing showdown.
There is not even any epilogue. We don't see the after effects of this disaster, aka what the survivors did after it was over, or how the society changed because of it. We only get scenes of nature with sad music. The author didn't give a damn about people, he only cared to say his bull philosophy and wrapping everything up.
This is the cardinal sin of most sci-fi. They treat characters as mouthpieces, and kill them off as soon as they served their purpose. There is nobody to care for in the whole movie. Half the population of earth gets slaughtered in a completely hollow way, and the only thing the author focuses on is spewing existential dribble and showing us trees and lakes.
There isn't even a sense of plot. The protagonist is constantly moving around the world, not because she follows clues but because she is told to go somewhere for the sake of info-dumps. She could have spent the whole movie talking over her phone and it wouldn't make a difference. Traveling doesn't mean anything, it's just pretty colors in the background. The setting doesn't matter, nor its people, because they are just excuses for existential dribble, which will bore the hell out of everyone within a few minutes. Final verdict, Itoh is a terrible storyteller.
The pay-off is not worth the build-up
So I watched Moana and boy, what a lazy movie it was. So full of good ideas, squandered on a passable family movie. And yes, I know it's Disney making a family movie, but it had all these ideas that would make a great story if they were taken more seriously. The premise of the movie is basically the whole world dying because of what someone did and they treat this catastrophic event as an annoyance instead of something actually serious.
The protagonist is Moana, an absolutely average Disney princess type of character that wants to say no to being stuck in a life of safety and luxury. We've seen it a thousand times by now, it's nothing that stands out or even something logical in the long run since these types of sheltered characters do not know anything about the outside world and are in effect useless on their own.
And I have to point this out about her which is one of the many things they didn't bother to clarify. Why is everybody fine with a girl being their leader? Do they have gender equality on this otherwise primitive island? If they do, they never showed it because any other leader we see in their history was a guy. Combined with how she doesn't drown 1 minute after going into the sea with zero experience further proves this movie is empowerment fantasy for little girls instead of a movie where talent and intelligence matter.
But it's OK because the scriptwriter did his worst to plot armor her from any possible danger. Because you see, the gods chose her to be the one who restores the world, thus every time she falls in water, a magical wave takes her on the boat. When she doubts her abilities, the ghosts of her ancestors appear to motivate her. She is essentially a plot device fully controlled by the plot instead of doing what she wants and facing the repercussions of her mistakes.
And if you think calling her the chosen one properly excuses all the nonsense, it doesn't because the gods make no sense. Why did they wait a thousand years to do something about a disaster that has killed most of the islands, and of all people why did they choose a little girl with no skills or experience of the outside world? They never explain it.
Do you know what else they didn't explain? Why her pet pig doesn't grow up. She begins as a little girl and grows up to a teenager, but the damn thing remains a piglet throughout the whole movie. Nobody in the production team gave a damn.
The problems don't even stop there. The first thing she has to do is find Maui, a demigod who has been stuck on a barren island for a thousand years and is the only person who can save the world. He is also the one who doomed it, so that makes sense. Also, for a guy who spent a millennium all alone without something to eat or do on a tiny island, he sure looked fine when she appeared. Disney went so safe and lazy on him that he is nothing but a cool guy who does cool things and has absolutely no sex drive, or psychological trauma for being left alone all this time.
Accompanying them on their journey is a retarded chicken. It's the most annoying comic relief animal I have seen in my life. It's not funny, it causes more trouble than aid, and they never eat it although they never seem to have enough food. How the hell did it get on the boat in the first place? Moana didn't take it with her, it just appeared out of nowhere in the secret cave nobody had been in for centuries. Nobody in the production team gave a damn.
You probably think I am being too harsh on what is supposed to be a dumb movie for kids, when I'm not since they clearly put effort in fleshing out the characters in a way that demands from the story to be better. Moana's father has a good reason for not letting her out in the sea. Maui has a good reason for why he keeps going on adventures and tries to impress the mortals. Even the villain of the movie has a reason for why she is evil. These are really good stuff, and they are ruined by the lazy script.
If the movie was like that in all its aspects, I wouldn't be bothered by it. But when you set it up in a way that obviously raises the bar like that, the disappointment multiplies when you treat your good ideas like a joke. I can easily sum up all these problems as cheap resolutions. Everything is fixed way too fast despite the problems building up for countless years. The father changed his mind way too fast and lets his daughter sail in the sea, Maui changed his mind and returned to help her without even showing us how, and the goddess forgives Maui instantly, despite causing her pain and suffering for a thousand years, as well as wiping out the life of countless islands and filling the sea with monsters. Hell, even the disease that was slowly killing the islands went away in a few seconds despite spreading slowly for centuries.
This movie is so freaking lazy. The pay-off is not worth the build-up, its ideas are not used properly, and all you end up getting is a generic Disney princess and a retarded chicken.
Swiss Army Man (2016)
gross but has its charm
Swiss Army Man is a hard to appreciate movie if you are not in the proper mood for it. It is full of gross humor as it is full of mindfuck moments. It seems simple at first and gets multilayered later on. It starts as a comedy and changes into a drama.
If you go in completely blind, and you are not in a mood to watch something completely retarded, chances are you will walk out after 15 minutes. The premise is essentially the dumb version of "Cast Away", which is hardly enough to excuse its existence as a parody of it. The only actual hook the film has is watching the actor who played Harry Potter being ridiculed in a hundred different and disgusting ways. Seriously, unless you seek some sadistic pleasure out of watching that stupid wizard and his overrated books getting some weird G-mod treatment by getting tossed around like a rug doll, you won't be laughing. You will be cringing.
And boy, are there lots of cringe moments in this movie. It goes for all the low blows by having fart jokes, puke joke, erection jokes, poop jokes, and so much more. Half the time it's like a bottom tier slapstick comedy you watch once and forget the following day.
The other half of the movie though tries to excuse it as part of the deranged mentality of the protagonist. He is a loser with nothing good going on in his life, thus all the ridiculous things that happen to him are part of his characterization. If they were not that extreme and lame, you wouldn't understand his mental suffering. So basically, you should be viewing all the mindfuck moments as the delusions of a mentally unstable person. You know, like a Japanese chuuni, who constantly makes up stories so he can cope with his social anxiety.
And here is where the movie suffers from a major tonal whiplash. On one hand the gross aspect is excused as a mental projection of how he feels. On the other hand, many of the things Manny Potter is doing cannot be excused as delusions. They actually happen in real life and makes it very hard to appreciate the psychosis of the protagonist. It's something like "Weekend at Berie's" where the corpse part is actually happening and the audience knows it can't be taken seriously regardless of the characters not seeing it in-story.
But then the movie wants you to take it seriously towards the end without taking out the ridiculousness. You are just standing there, confused, wondering how you are supposed to react to something like this. It ends in a much more satisfactory way than it begins but not by changing into a completely different genre. It's more like a second genre mixing in and there is not much transition between the two styles, so you don't know how you are supposed to react.
It could have been so much better if it wasn't as gross at first, or if it was stripping away all supernatural aspects in the last act. Yet even with those issues, it is way better than a mindless goofball comedy, and you at least get to see a cork plugging Harry Potter's ass from farting so hard, he turns into a freaking jet-ski.
Sausage Party (2016)
vulgar, and still makes a point
Western animation is divided into three types. Most of it is the kid friendly variant with a moral message, some of it is super dark and violent without a message, and there is also this tiny part which finds a way to be dark and have a message. Sausage Party belongs in the third category.
It's easy to say it stands out because they swear a lot and everything is about sex and cartoons are not supposed to be that shocking because they are for kids. That is a superficial quality to attract the casuals, but it doesn't stop there. It's also a social commentary of sorts, expanding to religion and the state of the world today. It sugarcoats it to make seem it's innocent while at the same time not shying away from being vicious about it.
So essentially it's an adult movie, pretending to be childish, pretending to be about adult themes. It's meta squared, shows the middle finger to anything that is politically correct, or afraid of irritating certain groups of people, while at the same time making a point.
There is so much subversion going on in it when it comes to classic story templates, that if you are a pretentious overthinker it's easy to write long essays about it. Starting with the premise which is essentially a parody of utopias turning dystopias, with talking food. Said food is all about food jokes based on where they are produced. And they swear, talk about sex, and wish to find salvation by worshiping the gods that are their creators. Us humans. Who of course do nothing but eating them. And we do not see them talking unless we take a lot of drugs, meaning drugs expand your horizons instead of frying your brain. And then it becomes about homosexuality, and saying no to all social norms. And just about you think it's done, it goes even more meta by openly saying they know they are cartoons, created for entertainment.
Holy hell, that was brilliant. Every time you think the movie ran out of things to show you, it proves you wrong. You are constantly kept engaged without getting the same thing all the time or jumping to something completely different. There is uniformity amongst the various themes, the characters are funny, the food puns are creative, it gives you food for thought without turning the cast into lifeless mouthpieces, the stakes are high, there is no stupid reset in the end to undo the whole conflict with zero repercussions, and for a CGI movie it's well animated. How can I not love it? There is not a single thing I didn't like about it.
This is one of the best animated movies I have seen in my life, it's highly recommended, and it goes instantly into my top cartoons list.
unfocused and unrelatable
The things people do these days to milk a franchise is baffling. They actually made a prequel about the guy who wrote a book we hardly noticed in the Harry Potter mythos. You can nag all you want about Rogue One being a needless prequel, but those plans were vital for blowing up the Death Star. The book this whole movie revolves around on the other hand means nothing.
Also, for a so-called Harry Potter prequel, there is nothing that reminds you of Harry Potter. None of the familiar characters or locations are shown. I mean, yeah, there is a secret society of wizards and they are using magic wands, but that's as far as similarities go. You can change a few names and nobody would see the connection.
It doesn't even work as a standalone movie, because it doesn't have a specific focus. I couldn't even understand what the story is supposed to be about. It constantly jumps from one theme to another without having any sort of uniformity. Is it about ecology because it deals with endangered species? Is it about discrimination because of the way the elves are treated? Is it about "with great power comes great responsibility" type of scenario because the wizards need to keep their powers hidden and deal with anyone who steps out of line? I don't know; it's everything and nothing at the same time.
Not even the way each theme gets treated individually is done properly. You never feel the protagonist is taking care of a zoo full of endangered magical creatures, as much as he is playing Pokemon Go, running all over the city trying to capture huge animals inside a small suitcase. And since most of these creatures had escaped the very same suitcase he had them in, half of the movie is essentially procrastinating by having him gaining back what was already in his possession. There is no progress; he is just trying to get back to where he began.
As for the other half of the movie, it's basically the wizards trying to find something which is endangering the secrecy of the magic society. Which turns out to be not a magical animal but some weird cloud a human is using. You would think the protagonist uses some trick to overcome the situation but no, the magic police arrives and simply blows the cloud away. The only thing the protagonist did was to tie the hands of the main villain with a simple gesture, while ordering one of his animals to basically stupefy the whole city, so they will forget everything that happened in the whole movie.
Which brings us to the grave sin I hate so much. Magic can do anything and is abused to the point a whole city is miraculously restored after a catastrophic event and nobody remembers a thing about it. Isn't it funny that despite all this mess not a single person died or nobody outside the city saw anything that was going on? The ending is essentially a reset, so there won't be any consequences, and thus no plot progression whatsoever.
Not even the characters were interesting. The protagonist is a forgettable Doctor Who knock-off who gets overshadowed by his own Pokemon. The main villain barely has any presence and is defeated without much of a fight. The obligatory female doesn't even have a role outside of a mediator between the government and the protagonist. She could have easily been replaced by a random bureaucrat and it wouldn't make a single difference. The best character was easily the fat guy with the mustache, and he was only there as comic relief. Also, no explanation was given for why he wasn't brainwashed right away and was instead allowed to learn so much about the magic society.
The Harry Potter books were never good but at least they were following a certain pattern and were pandering a certain audience. This movie does none of that, it has no actual ties with the source material, no plot consistency, and no interesting characters. It's terrible.
It's entertaining but it's neither as smart nor as deep as it wants you to think it is
Zootopia is a movie that knows how to keep you engaged from start to finish. Something happens all the time, the characters are funny, the setting is creative, something is always moving to attract your attention, nothing overstay its welcome until something else happens to replace it. I wasn't bored for a single second while watching it. And that's all the good things I have to say about it, for everything else is one big mess.
Starting with the fabled racism topic where herbivores are afraid of carnivores and discriminate them. That's not racism you guys, racism is something that applies to races of the same species, not throughout different ones. When a man considers himself superior to a fruit fly, that is not racism.
Even if we are to assume all animals in the move are supposed to be the same species and just happens to look completely different, and eat completely different things, it's still not working out because we are never given an explanation to why the ecosystem hasn't been messed up beyond repair.
For example there is the joke about bunnies multiplying extremely fast. If carnivores are no longer a threat why isn't overpopulation an issue? And yes, it's a joke, it's not supposed to be taken seriously. The same can be said about the whole theme. It's not really explored, it's just tongue in check and a lazy excuse for a conflict.
Then it's plot which, holy smokes, is it riddled with plot convenience or what? Every single event the heroine takes part in just happens to be part of the same conspiracy and working to her benefit. When things get really grim she just happens to have an epiphany. Also that carrot recorder is panacea. There is nothing you can't fix by secretly recording someone against his knowledge. Which by the way it's illegal to use without a warrant and can't be used in court. Also, they can easily sue you for invasion of privacy. But what do I know, this movie is supposed to be smart.
And then there is also the issue of the furries, which is there to attract people with very peculiar preferences. Calling this a movie for kids, so I should not be very critical, is lying to yourselves. Just because it has cute talking animals does not mean it's childish, for it's full of pop references and sexual fetishes.
As a whole, I had a blast watching it. If I were to score it on enjoyment alone, I would have given it a perfect score. But I am not a pleb, so I won't. The script is lazy, the themes are not really explored, and since I am not a furry, I was a bit creeped out by the bestiality innuendoes. It's entertaining but it's neither as smart nor as deep as it wants you to think it is.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Interesting but empty
So I watched Kubo, which has absolutely nothing to do with Bleach and thus has no Bankais. I didn't find it bad as I found it empty. Nothing much happens to keep you engaged, and this comes from someone who is not part of the smartphone generation. My attention span is much higher than 5 seconds and I still had the urge to skip forward or multitask for half of the movie.
Every scene plays out in a very basic way, which seems fine when you describe it, but is otherwise not excusing the duration or the scope of the story. On paper you have deities invading from the moon and want to stop a boy and its animal companions from gathering the pieces of an armor that can rival their king. And they travel through stormy seas and caves full of undead, while fighting flying kung-fu witches. Sounds amazing but when you actually see it, it's like ah, is that all? I otherwise like the themes in the story. The conflict is mostly internal, characters are fleshed out on a basic level, and the stop-motion they used looks amazing. None of that excuse a movie's worth of duration. You almost never see more than 3 characters on screen, and whatever they are doing is not keeping you engaged. The world felt like it was just one village and random monster encounters. It never felt like it was bursting with life.
I didn't even like the battles. They look spectacular for a few seconds but they otherwise don't have any actual flow or strategy in them. And I have to point this out; last moment saves are abundant. You can count a dozen times when Kubo is in danger and someone jumps out of nowhere to save him. It's full of fake tension which makes you not believe the characters are in any actual danger.
I don't even think most of the battles and the adventure were significant in the longrun. Kubo went through all this mess just to do something he already knew about all along. He didn't learn it, he hadn't forgotten it, he didn't even have to realize it. It was always there. Getting the armor meant nothing in the end because it still came down to the power of friendship. Which he used in the village the story begins in. Which means he didn't need to go on a journey, he could have simply stayed there and used the damn power since the very beginning. What was the point of the adventure? And I am not done with the complaints, I didn't even like how fast Kubo trusted those animals. He didn't grow up with them, they were not his friends, they were strangers who appeared out of nowhere and insisted they have to help him. Which they do. Over a dozen times. With cheap last moment saves. My point is, there is not much chemistry amongst the major characters. They are unfamiliar to each other, thus they feel more like plot devises so Kubo can have someone to talk with, or to save his ass from every monster he encounters. And yes, by the end of the film you learn those animals are not really strangers to him, but it's only because the bad guys were infodumping in the middle of the battle and not because the animals revealed it themselves.
Furthermore, we have zero characterization for the bad guys. We know nothing about them besides being evil and supposed living on the moon. We don't even see the moon. We never seem them outside the scenes they are attacking Kubo, which makes you not care about them. Two of them go as far as wearing masks so they can look even more inhuman, and the third which has a face eventually mutates into an ugly monster which you would want to see dead. So lazy! So basically, the creators focused only on the moral message and the stop motion, while doing very little for excusing a whole movie about them. And although I understand this is basically aimed at kids, the ending was anti-climactic. It made a dull adventure no kid will be paying attention to (because they will be playing with their smartphones) feeling pointless because it came down to the souls of the dead coming to save the protagonist with the power of friendship because he was really passionate while playing the lute. Boring!
Doctor Strange (2016)
Again with the time reset abuse
So, I watched Doctor Strange and boy what a forgettable movie it was. Nothing about it felt like it was its own thing. It was just stealing ideas from left and right without ever managing to grow an identity of it own.
The selling point for example is the trippy visuals which are constantly warping reality into a psychedelic kaleidoscope. They do not have an in-story meaning for looking like this; it's just for the cool factor. Inception did the same thing a few years back and although it was a lazy representation of a person's psyche, it was meant to be a representation of their minds.
Not only Doctor Strange does not excuse why things warp the way they do, it goes as far as using the stupid mirror world cop-out, where all the battles are taking place in a copy of reality and thus nothing gets actually damaged in the real world. Hell, nobody even notices it. Despite the flamboyant presentation, nothing actually happens. It's a bunch of chuunis having make belief battles in their minds.
Pretty colors aside, there is still nothing much going on in the movie. Since it's an origin film, means that most of it is spent on the protagonist beginning as normal, then finding a power, and then training how to use said power. By the time he is capable enough to count as a superhero, the movie is close to over. It's a boring build up and unlike heroes like Spiderman or Batman there is very little to care about Strange. It's just some guy who wants to heal his hands and uses mystical powers to do so. He never comes off as someone who does it for the world. This is not compelling drama, he is not an interesting character.
Take the script aside as well. The very way the battles work is not good at all. They are random magic stuff appearing and disappearing all the time. There is no strategy, there are no tactics, it's random bull where everything is possible therefore nothing feels significant. When magic can be abused to the point they can teleport instantly anywhere they want and even travel to other dimensions by flying into them, you stop giving a damn.
Furthermore, the plot convenience is too obvious for Strange. He starts as an average guy and within a few days he tops elite sorcerers. There is this magic cloak that has a will of its own and helps him out all the time. Villains somehow constantly fail to kill him when they have no problem with anyone else. He unexplainably manages to control an infinity stone and constantly messes with time. Which means he abuses a trope I hate: Time loops and time resets. That's how he wins, he repeats events until he does them right, and rewinds time so it's like nothing happened in the end. What is wrong with modern entrainment? Stop doing that! To hell with this movie.
Rogue One (2016)
The darker, more realistic version of A New Hope
So, I watched Rogue One, and it was a rehash for A New Hope
again! Isn't it ironic how Disney threw to the bin whatever ideas George Lukas had for the new trilogy, only to reuse the old ideas again and again? The Force Awakens was more of a remake that a sequel, and the same applies for Rogue One as a prequel. Only difference, it's bloody amazing.
For me, the worst thing in the Star Wars universe was always the plot convenience of the force. It doesn't play a role in this movie. They talk about it, Darth Vader uses it a few times but it otherwise doesn't conveniently control the plot in any way the author likes. Major positive.
A silly thing about the classic Star Wars movies is how black and white they were presenting the characters. In this movie there are imperial agents who don't act like 1 dimensional villains and help out the rebellion, as there are rebels who are doing some really nasty things for the sake of defeating the empire. Without the mystical bull of the force separating everything into good or bad, the characters are acting more realistically by default. And I love it.
Another positive is the risk/reward ratio. The reason many consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the best of the old trilogy is because the good guys suffer great loses without scoring a big victory at the end. I personally don't like as much because it was riddled with force nonsense, which is absent in this movie, yet still feels like it's the same situation of great losses / small victories that helps the tragedy of war to feel far more significant than it ever was before.
They even made the destruction caused by the Death Star to feel more impactful despite causing a fraction of the damage it does in A New Hope. It doesn't just fire a laser at something, makes it blow up, and that's it. It causes such a shock wave that is forcing the character to run away from it before it envelops them. And you even see the cloud of debris it causes for an extended period of time, which was brilliant.
They even fix one of the nonsense of old movies. Remember how silly it felt for Death Star to have a little hole as its weak spot? This movie explains it as a booby trapped position that the creator of the whole contraption placed there which then recorded it in the specific schematics the rebels are supposed to use. A very positive retcon.
There are also a ton of references, cameos, and Easter eggs from the old trilogy, which in this case they are not that much fan service, as they are foreshadowing things to come. It's not like they were out of context, the events in the time line are taking place a few months before A New Hope, so every familiar face and catchphrase was supposed to be there.
In the negatives of the film, I would say the characters were very forgettable, which is to be expected since they are all essentially small fry members of both factions. The second a cameo appears, they are instantly overshadowed. It also has to do with the fact that none of them survives in the end so we can see them for 2 more movies and get to like them more.
Another negative is the slow having a mostly empty first half. The buildup is not engaging but when the climax arrives, it is totally worth it. In the long run, it's even a positive, since it keeps your expectation low, only to surprise you with how much more entertaining and tragic it becomes later on.
By the way, I kept hearing complains about some characters being CGI instead of using look-alikes. I didn't have an issue with that, they looked OK, mouth motions were meh but whatever.
So as a whole, The Force Awakens is the boring kid friendly version of A New Hope, whereas Rogue One is the darker more realistic version, and I loved it.
Another fine title for pretentious pseudo-intellectuals to touch themselves while analyzing its ludicrous plot.
So, I watched Arrival, a movie many pseudo-intellectuals out there are calling a masterpiece. The hook is, aliens arrive on Earth and they do not seem to want to destroy it. Most of the movie is about humans trying to communicate with them by deciphering their weird language.
Up until the big revelation, I was fine with it. It was slow and mostly uneventful but was taking itself seriously and had a very captivating atmosphere. There was even tension and high stakes in the form of some countries across the world not trusting the aliens and be constantly one step away from bombing the hell out of the spaceships. If this escalates amongst those who see the aliens as allies and those who consider them invaders, it would mean the beginning of a new world war.
But then the revelation happens and the movie loses all its appeal. Turns out deciphering the language makes you see your future, turning the whole movie to be about fatalism. There never was any tension or high stakes because everything was supposed to happen as such. The resolution was predetermined because once the main heroine saw her future, she knew what she was supposed to do, as well as she knew everything will turn out fine while the crisis was still at large. Thanks for nothing.
And it doesn't stop there, no sir, it even insults your intelligence by resolving the military conflict through circular reasoning. The general who was about to attack the aliens was convinced they are harmless when the heroine spoke with him over the phone. His phone number was top secret and the reason she knew about it was because the general showed her the number in the future, so she would know it in the present. Freaking hilarious! Oh, and if you are wondering how the general was convinced she was telling the truth, it's because she told him things only he knew about. And how did our heroine know about those things? Because the same general told her in the future what to say to his present self, so he can be convicted! Damn son, that's like a free ticket out of any situation imaginable! I facepalmed so hard at this.
Wait, there is more. Throughout the movie, the heroine has these flashbacks where she is interacting with her daughter. It was a cheap way to make her more sympathetic to the audience, since she doesn't really have a personality other than looking worried with her mouth constantly open. Turns out those were not memories because they hadn't happened yet. They were not flashbacks, they were flash forwards to the daughter she will have, therefore she never had a life to make us care about her for who she is, compared to what she accomplishes as a plot device. And she accomplishes everything simply by finding the answer into the future, so it's all lazy and contrived.
Arrival boasts about making you think a lot, and I agree that it does. I was constantly wondering what kind of people would like this retarded revelation and give the movie anything higher than an average score. And here is a question the movie never bothered to explore. What is the beauty of life, if everything is predetermined and you know about them from the moment you are born? You are just a robot acting out a predetermined set of actions.
The movie never addresses that, because it's too busy trying to look mysterious and be in a constant state of danger when in retrospect there is none. It also explains nothing about the aliens as a species. Where do they come from, what is the threat they speak of, how do they appear and disappear in an instant? Why did they even send a dozen ships when one was enough to make the heroine decipher the language? Because it was predetermined that they needed to send 12? How about the alien that was killed in an explosion? He knew it would happen but did nothing to save himself! There is no free will! What a pile of nonsense! Another fine title for pretentious pseudo-intellectuals to touch themselves while analyzing its ludicrous plot.
Shin Gojira (2016)
Wins in everything besides mass appeal
So, I watched Shin Godzilla just because I wanted to see why Hideaki Anno was delaying the final Neon Genesis movie for all these years. I got something close to Neon Genesis, not in terms of psychologically troubled teenagers or religious symbolism, but rather the familiar scene of a giant monster attacking a Japanese city while the military is trying to stop it. I kept seeing the whole thing as a live action version of Angels attacking Tokyo 3.
Not that it was, outside of its superficial similarities, since it was actually closer to an allegorical version of the nuclear plant crisis that struck Japan in 2011. This instantly makes the movie interesting as a product of its time, as well as staying close to the feeling of the original. The initial Godzilla was about the nuclear disaster of Hiroshima, the new Godzilla is about the nuclear disaster of Fukushima. At the same time, it feels like a Hideaki movie since it seems to be superficially about giant monsters attacking a city, when in reality it talks about the problems his country is facing at the moment.
What makes it even better is that for a military-heavy movie, it is not pandering the growing patriotism in the land of the rising sun. There is no super giant robot, which only the superior Japanese scientists can build, to defeat Godzilla. There is no super army, which only the superior Japanese military can put together, to defeat Godzilla. Even the initial xenophobia coming from the evil America, which constantly intervenes and plans to nuke poor innocent Japan, so it can harvest the cells of the monster as a new form of power source, is eventually replaced with a cooperation among all nations against a common threat. You are not going to please your inner fascist with military propaganda by watching this film. It's promoting teamwork instead of overpowered Japanese teenagers wasting armies of evil foreign nations.
This is why it will never have a global appeal in the likes of something like Kimi No Na Wa. It is anti-escapism, very focused on Japanese politics, and on top of it, it's not even that action heavy to be seen as a brainless Michael Bay film. Also, no high schools, no time resents, no steamy romance, cute girls doing cute things, or giant robots blowing up giant monsters. Who the hell is going to like that, am I right? As far as the plot is concerned, the pacing is slow to the most part, which is done deliberately for portraying the problems of inactivity. The politicians spend a lot of time in talking instead of doing something about the crisis, showing the problem of bureaucracy. The military spends a lot of time in confirming an order before executing it, showing the multiple safety protocols it needs to go through. Even Godzilla moves slowly through the cities, making him a looming terror you can outrun but also not something that will depart from your city after an hour. The slow build-up keeps the tension permanently high without ever lowering the stakes, which is something I love and is a trademark of retro movies and series. Something which was sadly lost in our age, because smartphones lowered the attention span of the newer generation to less than that of a goldfish. Retro wins, modern sucks.
And it's not like the movie is boring or something. It takes awhile for something to hit the fan, but when it does, boy oh boy, it's an amazing spectacle of helicopters, tanks, airplanes, and even battleships, bombarding the hell out of a skyscraper-tall lizard that is smashing its way through multi-stored buildings. Amazing visual effects, very realistic depiction of military operations.
And guess what, Godzilla is not a sitting duck either. He looks really stupid when he first appears, which made me face-palm with how dorky and non-threatening he acts. But that wasn't even his final form, as he mutates into a far more terrifying beast later on, and uses special attacks that level entire city squares if you make him angry. There is still entertainment as a movie about mass destruction, while not forgetting to show the horror of people running away from this monstrosity, losing their houses, and many of their loved ones. There are casualties and there are repercussions for mistakes. I love it! And if you want me to be a bit negative about it, here are two things I didn't like. The protagonist is a secretary in the Japanese government and he is acting a lot like a naive hero in some manga for kids. He is too idealistic and emotional for his position as a politician, which was a bit immersion breaking. And the final operation to take down Godzilla worked out too perfectly, when in reality the debris would have made it impossible for the trains or the trucks to get that close to the monster. I also highly doubt Godzilla would just leave his mouth open for so long while being stuffed with tons of coolant.
Other than these two rather minor issues, it's a great movie, highly recommended.
Biohazard: Damnation (2012)
Better than Degeneration, still not very good
-The CGI quality has improved slightly in motions and lip-sync. It also feels far darker, bloodier, and grittier.
-The setting is more interesting as it takes place in a war zone located in a city. No more silly fluffy areas and annoying civilians running around.
- Voice acting is laughable, especially for Leon. I mean, come on, it's like he didn't even care to perform.
-The story moves away from the style of the first three movies, which was basically a zombie epidemic in a civilized area with some secret laboratories. It moves to the later trilogy, where there are no innocents. The civilians are all hostile and in this case, armed and dangerous, plus the whole place is in the middle of a civil war.
-There are technically no zombies in this film but rather possessed people. The result is pretty much the same but surely, it looks closer to tentacle monsters using human hosts.
-This time it is not so much about evil multi-national organizations trying to take over the world with bioorganic weapons. It is a lot more about localized political intrigue, and messages around terrorism and wars for natural resources. I must say it made the set up to feel far more realistic and interesting.
-Of course they hardly do anything smart with the whole thing. It's still gust a slugfest to the most part with the resolution being weak and almost anti-climactic. But at least it gives you the impression that the villains got away and almost won. It made it feel catchier this way.
-There are Tyrants as bosses. We can't do without them. Only this time they are mass produced and felt like they were beaten easily by mooks. Lame! -Leon grows a goatee and looks even more badass now. Other than that, he acts extremely uncaring and spouts lots of lame one-liners.
-No more of that bimbo Claire, thank God. Now we get Ada Wong being badass, manipulative, and even taking part in a cat fight. Now that's more like it! -Some rebels are in this movie and try to offer drama by mentioning how the stronger countries are manipulating them for resources and now that they resist decided to wipe them out. They could have made something interesting out of this but in just half an hour you stop caring about them, since the plot is basically Leon walking around and killing mutants. Very weak presence and importance.
-There is a politician present again, only this time it's not a weak fat cliché asshole. This one was smart, cunning, strong, and willing to do all it takes to have it her way. Yes, she is a woman to boot.
-And then we have undead sort of. Closer to mutated bio-weapons in the form of Crimson Heads and Lickers. And apparently this time they are controlled telepathetically by a human who acts as a bee queen or something. It was an interesting twist to the mindless hordes of monsters up to now but still complete mooks to the plot.
-Overall, the second film had a smaller and more interesting cast, though clearly in terms of coolness and not depth.
-It is surely better than the first, less of a Romero rip-off, and more of an attempt at delving into politics and conspiracies. It still remains nothing but a one-timer, as it doesn't escape the tired Hollywood brain-dead action formula it is based upon, while the short duration makes it impossible to feel anything for the war drama. Which is kind of a shame considering how it began in a very interesting way.
Biohazard Regeneration (2008)
Stay away from this zombie
-Character figures moved in a fake matter most of the time because of the lack in proper physics. They walked like robots and interacted with other objects in a not-believable way.
-The movie did include several cinematic, widely used in zombie movies in order to invoke fear or excitement. It also had plenty of gunfights and explosions to please a typical viewer who expects a lot of brainless violence. Yet, all these felt very familiar to most Hollywood movies and personally I felt like I was watching a rerun rather a new movie.
If I could describe the story in a flash that would be "A rehash of what we already saw in the games." It felt like I was watching the same events happening all over again; this time in a far less important way. What I mean:
-Umbrella corp is dismantled. Oh, look, another corporation appears with the exact same goals. And when it fails, oh, look, another one pops up to take its place. You never run out of generic, evil, multi-national organizations in the world of Resident Evil.
-Zombies appear again (duh, it's Resident Evil after all). And look, another identical Tyrant boss for our heroes to fight. Only this one has sentimental issues over a photo and doesn't feel threatening like his predecessors.
-We get another super-secret-secure facility of virus experimentation. Which of course loses control and goes haywire in 0,2 seconds, despite its so-called perfect security.
-Wesker betrayed everyone and escaped. Oh, look, another ally-going-freelance is present. Only he is neither cool nor macho like super-Wesker.
Did the story add anything new to the franchise? Well, it did give off the feeling that it would be far more multi-layered in the beginning, as nasty politicians and ecology fanatics appeared. Yet, it all went to waste by having the first to be just red herring and the later to be an out-of-screen and unimportant fraction. By the end of the movie, an airport and a secret facility were blown to bits and hundreds of nameless people were turned to zombies; but none of these affected the overall story, nothing new was revealed, nothing solid was resolved and the characters did not improve or mature in any way. It was by all accords, just like a filler mission with repeated footage from the games.
-Claire was the typical bimbo that gets chased by bad zombies while wearing tight cloths. She couldn't even fight back until Leon gave her a gun. Duh, didn't her experience in Racoon City made her tough? She then gets all fuzzy with a rich guy, just to be manipulated like the typical American bimbo she was based upon. Yuck!
-Leon turned Terminator and started killing dozens of zombies without even sweating. He is essentially a heavy-dude, out to beat everything in his way and save the chicks with his awesome hairdo and tough look. Yeah, he is cool but also dry as a character. He doesn't evolve or mature (that happened outside of the movie) so he is just a walking killing machine.
-The Hindu girl was there just as an excuse for Claire to find the courage to save innocent people. Meanwhile, dozens of people were being killed as she was going for the girl and not caring about all the rest.
-The politician was the cliché asshole. All American movies have a guy you are supposed to dislike and over here, this is the guy. How did he got elected anyway? He doesn't even try to hide what an asshole he is.
-The rich guy was a eunuch and a bad Machiavellian character. He did play his cards well but in the end he was caught out of the blue and took him, like, two seconds to lose all his coolness and turn to a spineless asshole as well.
-Angela the female cop and her brother were terrible attempts at providing drama. How can anyone find it dramatic if the random cop Claire meets is conveniently the sister to a bad guy who turns Tyrant just to kill some random soldiers and goes emotionally unstable? Terrible I say.
-The zombies were stunts. Nobody cares about them. They are not scary and they don't even accomplish anything.
-The name alone will make it worthwhile for the fans of the games but I doubt even they will watch it more than once, as it adds nothing new as a RE movie or as a zombie movie or even as a CGI movie.
-The story really sucked as it was not just simple, but also full of convenient events that forced the plot to unfold in ways the heroes had no way of knowing or preventing. I mean, the bad guy was installing bombs and spreading zombie-virus in high security places all the time, full of elite soldiers and guards on the lookout. Yet, nobody seemed to be able to take notice of a known criminal walking around in top-secret places like he owned the place or discovering any of the bombs.
-Not to mention how cliché all the characters acted, from the little Hindu girl being the only one to recognize the politician to the politician being generically acting like an asshole, down to the Tyrant spotting a tiny photograph in an area full of rubble and explosions.
-As for the feeling, it was similar to Romero's zombie movies, which to be honest is a tired formula everyone keeps copying for the last 30 years and has long ceased to be interesting or scary. The horror genre has moved to other fields, where terror lies in the unknown, and left behind the image of grotesque monsters chasing teenage bimbos.
Samâ uôzu (2009)
A fine movie to spend n a joyful evening, without making you think or gasp too much.
THE STAFF Recipe: Take one half standard slice of life comedy, and one half Digimon formula. Stir them in a bawl for ninety minutes and add a rather high budget for flavor. The result is Summer Wars. - Animated by Madhouse, the king of animated series. OK, it's not a series but they still did a great job with the material they had. - Directed by Hosoda Mamoru, who also did the first Digimon movies; so no wonder they feel so similar.
SCRIPT We have a stereotypical spineless geek boy (blushes even by touching a girl), with a bad future career yet with a good heart. Duh, now what does that remind me of? Could this be some sort of wish-fulfillment romantic comedy? He is sort of forced to pretend being the lover and future husband of the prettiest girl of his school. Yup; it is. The reason she wants that is because she promised her one step before the grave grandmother to let her see the next heir of their proud, old fashioned house. And if that is not forced drama, I don't know what it. Some misunderstandings, some erotic teasing and lots of secondary characters in the form of relatives doing their eccentric stuff. And then the story switches to the internet, where the dork's virtual avatar is hijacked by an A.I. which plans to absorb cyberspace and bring a nuclear apocalypse. WOAH where did that come from? But worry not, since there seems to be a way to defeat it by playing video games. You can start face palming now. OK, it's a very far-fetched scenario full of plot conveniences and a cop-out solutions to everything but it's not like the movie pretends to be serious. It's silly fun and does it well. Doesn't excel at script for the same reason of course.
CAST The characters are all very lively but because of their large number and the short duration of the film, they don't escape their stereotypes. There is a bit of character development for the major ones but if you happen to have seen a couple of school comedies, you know how it will turn out right away. And don't do the mistake of thinking about their goals and motivation because they will only appear to be retards this way. Hell, what does nuking the whole world has to do with with an A.I. learning? Or how can you call legit a victory that is based on pure luck? Hm, whatever, the cast is colorful but nothing special or memorable.
PRODUCTION VALUES The animation is of rather high budget as the characters have a wonderful lively body language and the 3D visuals used to represent the virtual world are indeed geeky detailed and very reminiscent of video games. Each block of arena or message board is represented in an interesting way and Love Machine's Hindu God appearance and battle style are plain awesome. Even the real world is presented fine in all its typical glory, with characters being drawn in plain outfits fitting their persona and a house mixing the traditional with the modern in decoration inside a land-bound ship, in the green outskirts. You still can't consider the whole thing to be Ghibli-level, as the animation is not that smooth in motion or rich in textures but the aesthetics are in the right place and can easily win the average viewer. Voice acting felt rather dry as although the actors tried to breathe life into their characters, they still don't sound very professional. Maybe this applies just to the Japanese dub since it is basically a Korean production. Anyway, besides this minor glitch, the characters feel alive and interesting and the background music is somewhat epic in style with all that happens while the sound effects during the battles are pretty damn good.
LEGACY A fine movie to spend n a joyful evening, without making you think or gasp too much. It is not a masterpiece in any way as the plot is far fetched and flows too convenient, while the characters are just colorful stereotypes without much room for development. Fun but eventually forgettable.
Hoshi o ou kodomo (2011)
So this girl sees these monsters and is saved by a boy from the underworld. And she goes there, and she is chased around by some freaks and
What is the point of all this? Disappointed! This is how I felt after I finished this film. Wanna know why?
1) The director Makoto Shinkai is quite famous for his tragic romantic tales. Voices of a Distant Star and 5cm per Second are among st the few romances even an uncaring bastard like myself enjoyed. So it was reasonable to expect yet another film regarding a tragic romance. Because, duh, Shinkai never made anything else. And to my amazement he now did. And it wasn't good.
2) The studio Studio Comics Wave is new but has made an impressive work so far. The thing is, with this film it feels like it is trying to rip-off Ghibli Studio instead of trying to find an identity or style of its own. I had to check three times to make sure this WASN'T a Ghibli production. I mean, IT IS SO ALIKE! In my mind there can be only one Ghibli and now I see someone trying to become its copycat? This is an outrage! Yes, pretty damn good visuals and soundtrack, but they all look and sound like a damn robbery from one of the most famous studios around. I couldn't enjoy the overall film because of it.
3) The story You think the similarities to Ghibli stop only at the visuals? Heck no, the story itself was a mix of various Ghibli works. At the same time it is hardly as captivating as those films, with far less context, complexity, interesting situations, and plot. So not only it is an imitation, it is also a bad one. If you just sit back and think of the plot of the film you will immediately realize how linear, simple, and eventually forgettable it was.
4) The characters Not even one of the characters in the film is memorable or interesting. They all play their generic roles to the fullest yet none of them manage to stand out from their counterparts in a myriad other children fantasy stories. To the most part all you see is the heroine being chased around by monsters and being saved by a handsome fighter from a magical land. It couldn't get any cornier. I saw fifty times more in the far similar premise of Escaflowne, where everyone there was far more complicating than he appeared to be at first. And in case you try to excuse it by saying this is a movie and not a series to demand drastic character development, then I will reply that in this case a movie should not be full of useless characters. Yet look at this, there is a whole school filled with children, a whole village filled with people, a whole magical land filled with creatures and you get nothing out of them. They are just standing there, irrelevant to the main plot, and boring since they are not doing anything.
5) The motivation There is no clear goal for most of the movie. The characters are running around almost apathetically, without really caring or making us care about whatever they want to accomplish. And even when they accomplish it, it feels hollow and pointless, without nothing interesting for you to remember about. There is absolutely no emotional engagement with whatever is going on in it.
6) Plausibility Furthermore, the movie hardly tries to convince you of whatever happens. Monsters attack our world, the army attacks them with helicopters, and nobody in the surrounding areas besides the heroine takes notice of them. And then the movie ends and she returns and her mother has apparently popped in the story, and she keeps living her life like nothing matters. So what was the point of all that?
Although most viewers will probably just stare at the cool visuals and vote this a 9 or 10, I am a far harder to please man. I expect emotional engagement, development of the initial concept, some plot twist to be taken back for a few seconds, some characters who manage to escape their stereotype, something that doesn't feel like a lesser rehash of older productions. Well I got none of the above in this one. It was hollow, boring, and made Makoto Shinkai to look like a failed Miyazaki wannabe when he always had his own style and identity. His specialty always was tragic romances, he was so good at it, he had no reason to stray off to something far more childish and stupid like this. Although he tried to pull of something similar here with the myth of Izanami and Izanagi, he failed completely to make it plausible and engaging. His previous works were all quite realistic to the most part, without silly magical powers to offer panacea to any problem encountered. But this? This is a stupid romantic fairy tale for little girls (yes, girls, not even boys) and one so generic that you will forget as soon as you watch the next generic fairy tale that comes along. Heck, watching a low-budget stupid Barbie 3D movie is more than enough to get over it!
Completely disappointed! Go back to realistic romances Shinkai! Leave behind there stupid magical lands! And above all don't try to grow a beard and act like Miyazaki. Be yourself.
Kimi no na wa. (2016)
trash entertainment for people who want to escape reality
Seeing how this movie quickly jumped to the top of MAL ratings, I just had to check it out. Last time that happened, it was with Erased and we all saw how overrated that one was. So, here I am watching the movie, wondering what could possibly be the reason it was rated so high, and why everybody calls it the best anime of all times, only to realize it's because it is exactly like Erased.
The first half is a typical school comedy in the likes of Kokoro Connect. A boy and a girl occasionally switch bodies and try to adjust to their new lifestyle. What caused this weird phenomenon? We are never told; it's the power of plot convenience. How did they accept this sudden change that would normally drive them insane, and instead managed to adjust to each other's timetable and occupations in a single day? Stop thinking about it, just enjoy the occasional naughty touches, such as the boy groping the breasts while in the female body, or the girl making a woman to fall in love with her while in the male body. It made no sense in how easily they went along with it, but it was fun seeing them affecting the lives of each other. Up until the midpoint, it was a nicely animated and safe pass timer I would easily score a bit above average.
And then the second half begins and everything stops making sense. They are not simply switching bodies, they are also traveling in time. Something they didn't realize for many weeks because they never attempted to communicate with each other via phones or the internet. Also, apparently nobody ever mentions the year or talks about recent events in this setting.
Although they exist in different time lines, they still manage to meet with each other. First physically by complete accident inside a train, where the boy completely forgets about her, although he was constantly in her body for weeks. And then they meet again in spirit form, thanks to the power of plot convenience. Both meetings had zero purpose to the plot, other than hinting the two of them are in love, although they never exchanged a single word face to face without forgetting it a few seconds later. Because we apparently didn't have enough bull yet, we need to add amnesia to the mix.
As it happens in all stories about time travel, the characters are eventually trying to change history. More specifically, to prevent the deaths of hundreds of people by a passing comet, an event that devastated the country and became the most tragic comet disaster in recorded history. But apparently that wasn't important enough for the boy to remember, since he somehow never heard about it.
And none of that matter since the girl manages to convince her own father to evacuate the people in time, all of which happens out of screen since there is no way they could show it in a way that makes sense. Thus the tragedy is prevented and it somehow doesn't cause a time paradox for the boy, because plot convenience. Some years later, the two of them accidentally meet each other once again, and magically remember everything thanks to the power of bullshit. Then the movie ends and you are free to kill yourself.
That was terrible. The movie is abusing every lazy plot convenience there is without ever trying to explain or excuse anything. Everything is beautifully animated in order to maximize the feels without having a speck of logic in whatever is going on. You are supposed to shut your brain because of the pretty colors, laugh while they are groping breasts, cry when the girl is running in the woods, and don't give a fart about the plot.
Yet another example of why modern anime are nothing more than pretty boxes with nothing inside. Time resets, amnesia, and zero explanations, because who the hell is watching anime for quality? It's all trash entertainment for people who want to escape reality.
A shadow of what it could have been
So I watched the Warcraft movie and I found it underwhelming. Not in terms of visuals, of which I found amazing despite being mostly CG, but rather in terms of buildup and relate-ability. The pacing was slow, the characters were walking stereotypes, and the whole conflict could be resolved in a few minutes if people were listening to common sense instead of ignoring the obvious. Hey guys, that green magic thing is not good. Why are you all pretending you don't see it? Then it's the world building that despite feeling like there is a lot to it, they never go beyond surface level. You see Dwarfs and Elves, flying magic islands, lots of kingdoms, and none of them have any personality or lore to distinguish them from any other fantasy setting. Yes, there is definitely a lot of that if you play the game but the movie does not attempt it because it assumes you are already familiar with all that. This does not excuse how bland it feels for anyone who hasn't played the game, and even I who play Hearthstone daily, I found it to be very dull.
Then it's the scene transitions which felt very sloppy at many points. They were showing a few seconds of something, before jumping to something else, resulting to not giving you enough time to comprehend or care about its importance. I understand that there are time restraints in moves, you can only do this much in two hours, which begs the question of why did they stuff so many characters when they knew there isn't enough time to flesh them out? They should have a smaller cast or the movie should instead be a series. With everything being bare-bones and shown in a hurry, you are just not engaged.
Terrible pacing aside, the story is not special either. It's a pretty straightforward scenario of two civilizations clashing for survival. The concept is OK for making a mediocre war drama out of, but when the solution is so obvious and yet everybody is blind to it, then you cannot take anything seriously. Not to mention how vague everybody's motivations are. Why did the warlock resurrect the baby? Why did the female orc reveal everything about her people right away? Why didn't the wizards sense fel magic when it's everywhere? Why did the orc chieftain challenge the warlock to a duel before he brought all the orcs on Azeroth? There is no clear answer to any of that.
Also, they were abusing magic to make anything possible way too often. I lost count of how many times the guardian teleported or opened portals to wherever the hell he wanted. There is never a sense of distance because they can fly or teleport anywhere they want, and the sudden scene transitions are making you assume the whole world of Azeroth has the size of a small country.
It is not a complete travesty of a movie, since the colors are pretty, the battle scenes look amazing when magic is not involved, and it doesn't have a typical fairy tale ending. It was actually pretty grim and almost depressing. If you just want to have mindless fun based on a video game you play for years, it's going to be a blast. Other than that, it's only a shadow of what it could have been if it was a series.