Capcom's "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" video game franchise has a… MoreCapcom's "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" video game franchise has a small, but devoted fan base. The game themselves are known for being strong adventure games, having great presentation, music, and dialog, while at the same time criticized for being too linear, lacking replayability, and little in the way of innovation with each installments. What makes this adaptation questionable is this being director Takashi Miike second video game film adaption. His first was "Yakuza: Like A Dragon" which as a fan of the Sega franchise nailed the look, but failed in the story department. For Ace Attorney, Miike learns from some of his past mistakes to craft a decent film that can appeal to both fans of the video game franchise and the uninitiated.
Ace Attorney plot follows rookie Defendant Phoenix Wright, as he tackles a series of cases that slowly unfurl to reveal a twisted plot that stretches back several years ago. One thing that translates to the big screen successfully are it court cases and mysteries. As the further it moves along the more plot thickens while keeping you guessing. Throwing you off with twists and short usage of light supernatural elements. In the opening, we see a women being possessed and get introduced to a character be possessed by ghosts for a job profession whose only in used whenever it plot needs a push. Court trials are always high in creativity. Without being set into the real world trials are depicted like large sport events with a highly reactive crowd, CRT monitors that show evidence with holograms, and the varied personality of the witnesses. These trails session bring to center all the evidence gathered for a battle of wits between attorneys that goes back and forth in whose favor the case is in. Having five court cases these kind of scenes supply the film finest moments of writing even if some odd elements are in play. The weakest area is characterization being slim. Some backstory is given on why Phoenix Wright became an attorney and the relation between some of his friends. However, such moments become buried as the film thickens the mystery and court cases it forgets about its characters. They are likable characters, but not won't leave as much of an impression as the court cases and mysteries do.
Takashi Miike is very faithful to the visuals of the game while making necessary changes. This is the very reason for one of the film's most obvious additions, the holographic evidence windows. Ostensibly made to emulate the game's court record, they do far more by creating a way to make even the most mundane piece of evidence exciting and engaging. They also serve to set the time period, with comically large CRT monitors being used in flashbacks. Everything from the game is captured from the clothing, the locations, down to the varied hairstyles. The distinguishing hairdos get embellished right out of the realm of the possible, and are even used for some of the best jokes. But despite the spoofy approach the drama surrounding these characters still gets treated with a lot of respect, and the film retains a lot of heart because of that. Hiroki Narimiya gives a terrific comedic performance underneath the awesomely aerodynamic haircut. He creates a great contrast between a look that's supposed to evoke the slick, confident attorney and the knowledge that he is in way over his head. Akiyoshi Naako is a good foil as Wright's junk-dealer friend Larry Butz, while Takumi Saito plays Phoenix's opposite number as an ideal combination of smugness and dedication. There are a lot of other great little supporting turns, too, from Mirei Kiritani's charming Maya to Mitsuki Tanimura's brash Lotta Hart and Ryo Ishibashi's intimidating Von Karma. Music wasn't one of traits that translated into the adaptation. Granted they adds a lot in making courts trails far more exciting than most films do, but aren't as memorable for most tracks go for being loud over having a building rhythm.
Ace Attorney translates the video game series onto the big screen emulating the appeal of the series. Not only does it closely resemble the game series visuals, but also written in a way that will satisfy fans of the game and is accessible for newcomers. It's a step forward for video adaptations that shows respect to both the material and its fan base without alienating its audience.
"Enemy" is the kind of film that many detractors would labeled as… More"Enemy" is the kind of film that many detractors would labeled as pretentious. This is the kind of film that relies heavily on subtlety for its character study. Demanding you pay close attention too every clue or else the meaning is loss. By all means it's a film whose values is what you make of it. With that being said "Enemy" is a very in depth character study made more sophisticated the more you think about it.
Enemy is about a man seeking out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie. One thing everyone will take away from the film is the abstract ending. It's unexpected and fades to black before giving an answer. The film narrative is on the same level. Rather than progressing in a linear, plot-driven manner, the story slowly fades into the distance to make way for an aimless type of suspense. At first it appears that when the twins meet each other it would make a series of ambiguous ideas become clear. It does the exact opposite woven to be abstract as possible only hinting at the various ideas that this is could be a story about split personality, a story about falling back into bad habits, or could all be a bad dream triggered by arachnophobia. Doing so by reaffirming repetition in dialogue and certain phrases utter by the characters. A line of dialogue tells us bits of the character in one scene to later challenge its meaning. This also results in the same effect working against the film just as much. Repeating itself to hold meaning in falling back into a pattern much like the character and narrative choices taken. As a whole there's not much of a cohesive story jumping between the past and present without a indication on when anything occurred and in what order. Without it metaphors "Enemy" is just a simple story with a lack of conflict and resolution to the events that play out. While it does weave a complicated narrative with many interpretations it won't have the same impact as sometimes it confuses being vague for being mysterious losing some meaning along the way.
Denis Villenueve direction is detail focused. Villeneuve's own stylistic flourishes alternately underline and undercut his efforts. The jagged editing adds to the audience's feeling of unease with a kind of controlled confusion, making us wonder how much we really know about what's going on. Visually oppressive with its pale filtered tones and aerial shots showing the geometrical arrangement of the buildings creates a dreamlike quality to the film visuals. At times it hypnotic and other times makes us become loss between reality and a dream. Occasionally it will beat you over the head the imagery of Spiders and web many times. While it serves a greater purpose of a tricky metaphors it's the most obvious clue that gives to its audience. A minor setback considering how carefully how other clues and details are given without making them the centered of attention. Jake Gyllenhaal inhabits his two characters very well, slipping into Adam's despondent skin as easily as he finds Anthony's brash confidence. Though he plays two characters who were physically identical, even when they were dressed the same, Gyllenhaal put on a great performance, creating two separate people who you could tell apart, but without it looking obvious. Co-stars MÚlanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon are appropriately icy; almost Hitchcockian in their blond coldness. The great Isabella Rossellini makes a brief but welcome appearance, yet the film really does rest on Gyllenhaal's shoulders. Carrying the entire film on his shoulder without confusing the viewer by two very similar looking characters.
Enemy is a tricky character study that messes with your head. Held together by a distinct and careful performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. It's not as accessible for those who enjoyed Denis Villenueve's "Prisoners" that similarly dealt with the dark side its protagonists, but is just as well crafted even if a absolute meaning won't be found.
The Legend of Hercules is an insult to not just Greek Mythology, but… MoreThe Legend of Hercules is an insult to not just Greek Mythology, but common sense. A rush plot that overuses cliches and overlooks the basics of storytelling like context, characterization, and anything resembling human emotion. The action scenes that don't include Scott Adkins are uninspired, insipid, and sucking any shred of entertainment away. These Greek set action scenes are the most over the top ever depicted in the era yet provide nothing to dissect. Avoid this film! Done and finished like that. If you're expecting anything informative you better stop reading now. Now clearly I have allot more to say about the film seeing the length of my rant. What better way to best get across my hatred than express my same exact thoughts while viewing the film. I'll leave no stone unturned because there are some bad movies worth viewing.
Upon seeing the opening of the film which is an unimpressive one track wide shot of Greek civilizations going to war with each other into the ancient land of Argos. This one track shot highlights the plastic looking CG environments, blurred explosions, and humans that look smudgy regardless how far the CG is from the camera. However, despite a poor first impression the film is gracious enough to give us SCOTT ADKINS! He's so awesome that in fact, the extras in the opening scene just started cheering upon seeing Adkins appear despite being told not too. Coming into the film with a action scene that overuses slow motion and cheap props (like all the action scenes), but nonetheless Adkins presence makes it awesome. Full of energy he's able to sell an opening action scene that had no context (no seriously, it's glances over just about every detail you can think off regarding a war) and makes it exciting. At the end there's no question that Scott Adkins wins the fight, his opponent kingdom, and thus has the opposing army and his own army bow down to his greatness. Truly this man is a legend among legend and....what eleven minutes that's it. Adkins is just a supporting actor despite clearly selling a action scene that should not have had worked on any level. BOOOOOOOOOO! Put Scott Adkin back on screen. If you seriously think I'm going to buy "I got pregnant with a God child to put end to your reign because you are just too demanding" plotline without developing character, context, or the conflict you are wrong. I still have a functioning brain cell intact after viewing this. At some point you might expect me to flip the switch and go back to my formula with an attempt to be fair, but then Kellan Lutz appears around the twelve minute mark.
Fast forward the plot twenty years later and Kellan Lutz appears on screen for the first time in the film riding horses with plastic doll Gaia Weiss. I didn't think it was possible, but these two actors manage to make the simple task of horseback riding difficult to buy. Once they reached their destination at some pond they have a "romantic" moment. The scene gets across Hercules love Hebe despite this being the first time we see them together. For those wondering nope the film never develops the romance nor any of the characters to sell the romance. The only thing that happens at the pond is Hercules gets a necklace from the women he loves which on itself could metaphor Hercules commitment by wearing, but he's does not hold it to any importance rendering it meaningless. After Hercules brother, Iphicles, comes into the scene he tells his men to take Hebe back to the kingdom of "Just Make Things Up As We Go Along-dom".
Riding back to their proud kingdom at day time, yet for some reason wait until night time to actually start moving the brothers hear a noise. Getting off their horses the brothers arm themselves to fight a foul beast. A lion appears making his presence known to Hercules with his loud and furious roar that shakes the land. The fact that his opponent is Kellan Lutz further boosts the beast ego so much in fact that when HERCULES THROWS A STEEL SPEAR AT A LION IT DEFLECTS IT WITHOUT A SCRATCH! How is the lion killed you asked? By being choked to death by Hercules. Nope, I'm pretty sure the CG Lion couldn't handle putting this on his resume thus ending his career on screen. CG Lion number 06-27-1997 will truly be missed. Before I move on the lion Hercules fought wasn't ordinary. It was in fact the legendary Nemean Lion who has golden fur that's impervious to attacks. I'm telling you this because the film does not explain this meaning unless you know what the Nemean Lion is this scene is various degrees of silliness.
Upon returning to their kingdom together. Iphicles takes credit for killing the Nemean Lion and tells in front of a crowd that Hercules ran away from the first sign of danger. Remember this is Kellan Lutz's Hercules not Arnold Schwarzenegger so it's not hard for anyone to buy that Hercules ran away from danger. Heck I believed it even though I clearly saw what actually happened. Thus the almighty KING ADKINS (I know his character has a name, but I like the sound of KING ADKINS better) announces to the crowd that his son, Iphicles, will in fact marry Hebe in three moons. Three moons? I could help with that just give a minute to unzip...what you meant days not the other kind? You modernized 90% of the dialogue so why of all things "wed in three moons" is kept as is. By no surprise Hebe is dissatisfied with the announcement of whom she'll be force to wed. I totally could get behind Hebe in this situation because she's not marrying King Adkins. I mean when the only man throwing himself at you is Kellan Lutz could you really blame Hebe for running away. Hercules goes after Hebe and promises her they'll run away together. Out of kindness Hebe says yes in the hopes this will make King Adkins jealous (my made up plot sucks I know, but much better than what the film provides). Thus the two ride off into the night, but wait until daytime to actually start their journey. Are you kidding me Daniel Giat, Giulio Steve, Renny Harlin, and Sean Hood? Four freakin writers? Not one of them thought to themselve "Wouldn't it make sense for Hercules and Hebe to run away right after Hercules makes that proposal. It's night time making it difficult to spot them, none of Adkins guards are chasing after them, and they have a head start".
After a bad chase scene void of any excitement and zero technical prowesses King Adkins sends Hercules to war in Egypt. It was at this point that I realize Hercules character is so poorly written that I was actually cheering for the "villain" of the film. For Adkins character we at least saw he led an army to gain an entire kingdom even if it was just for gold as oppose to Hercules who in the film has only killed a lion thinks he entitled to anything he wants. Out of those two I would cheer on the bloodthirsty tyrant who has a right to constantly be pissed off at Hercules because he worked hard and violently killed to get the things he got. Hercules on the other hand thought process is "You just don't know how difficult it is to be the son of a king with no responsibility having the power of a God. I hate you". You could labeled Kellan Lutz as a hero all you want in the film, but he just comes off as a drama queen who got a sex change into a man. It's also upon this force return Hercules learns from his mother he's the son of Zeus. This shocks Hercules upon hearing the news since Kellan Lutz's Hercules is that slow in head. Really movie? You know just force me to compliment Disney Studio writing which by my standard guarantees you just failed in the written word of storytelling. In Disney's Hercules he knew he has super strength and was conflicted about his true origin. This Hercules does not face emotional conflict, has no desire to learn about himself, nor does he ever goes to speak to Zeus unless he wants something without earning it.
Would you believe me if I told you the previous paragraphs vaguely summed up the first thirty minutes of the movie. I got that much material to complain and rant on in thirty minutes. This is just a fraction of my feelings as you could only imagine how poorly I view this film in its entirety. Pass the thirty minute mark the four writers gave up on writing dialogue. ARRRGGGGGHHHHHHH, EEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRR, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO, is what makes up the rest of the film dialogue. Just a constant barrage of men shouting from the top of their lungs. Moving on, in the next twenty minutes little happens. Hercules goes to Egypt to fight with his father army and with one other soldier are the only survivor of the battle. Captured, Hercules and General Goodlooking (who's too young to play a veteran war general) are force to fight other prisoners. This plot point is a poor ploy to just have the following eighteen minutes consist of action scenes. All of which rely on wire work that Pinocchio would call dated. The action scenes are unexciting because Kellan Lutz barely gets hurt. Fun fact, in the action scene where Kellan Lutz enters an arena the crowd boos when the announcers introduces Hercules was not scripted. According to the extras on set they said they were lied into believing they would see Dwayne Johnson in the movie. To be fair though the extras are justified for their boos. Hercules strikes a deal with his master to let General Goodlooking go scot-free if he could wins his freedom against six undefeated Greek warriors. Why that actually sounds cool. The film took many liberties with the legend already so maybe in this one scene Hercules will face Achilles, Jason, Perseus, Odysseus, among other worthy opponents. Oh man the possibilities are endless. One over the top, dead of excitement, and predictable fight scene later. Damn you writers I actually expected something decent from that scene!
Meanwhile in Argos news spread across the land that Hercules died in battle. Lets take moment and mourn the loss of Kevin Sorbo's Hercules who will be missed. Or damn it, thinking of the wrong Hercules again. Actually what I meant to say was bring on the champagne because Kellan Lutz's Hercules is pronounced dead. YEAH! Afterwards King Adkins speaks to his angry wife whose hatred for him is far from subtle. Adkins wife tells him that she gave birth to Hercules to end his tyranny. Of course given Kellan Lutz is the person she gave birth to King Adkin takes it as an insult (like anyone would) and kills her on the spot. There is also a scene of Hebe stating continually (it's the only thing she talks about in the movie) how much she loves Hercules (just pretend it's Dwayne Johnson she's talking about to buy it) when speaking with Iphicles. Once Iphicles gets across Hebe has no say in the matter will forever be locked in a loveless marriage she attempts to commit suicide. In the context of the film Hebe feels sad that Hercules got killed, but in my version I actually believe Hebe came to the realization that her failed planned to make King Adkins jealous thinks a world without Adkins is not worth living. Of course Old Man (he's is not that important of a character) stops her and tells her Hercules is still alive and planning to overthrow King Adkins.
Skipping towards Hercules overthrow you'll be hard press to read that nothing else happened in between. Reaching the fifty minute mark you think seeing a God attempting to rally supporters to overthrow King Adkins would on some level be interesting. All that happens is General Goodlooking finds his wife murdered, Iphiles captures General Goodlooking, Hercules is captured, Hercules gets chained up, and whipped for being a very, very bad actor. Despite these events there's no buildup on any kind and the bad attempt to sell the romance with sex. Although, I do thank the director who despite showing his stars (any male actors) togaless for more than half of the movie does not show Kellan Lutz likely bad interpretation of a sex scene. So Hercules, just because he asks, obtains his full strength from Zeus without earning it. Kellan Lutz goes "God of War" (Kratos, the protagonist, fights with weapons connected by chains) on his opponent and is just as lame as everything else in the movie. Witnessing this King Adkins retrieves to his castle because Hercules showing off his strength bored him.
If you read this far we're finally at Hercules overthrow. Music in this film in general is unnoticable because it's only purpose is to be loud. There's no composition nor instrumental arrangements in anything that is heard. So while people were getting killed on screen I was to listening to Aya Hirano "Bouken Desho Desho" to lift up my spirits and worked to put me in a good mood. Who knew listening to cheery and upbeat music for a an action scene would worked so much better than a random arrangements loud noises. Hercules army march towards King Adkin front gate and by sheer luck some of King Adkins arrows men turn to Hercules side. Man is that lazy writing and pure convenience that even though the arrow men could easily kill Hercules just turn to his side. Motivation is simply because he's a great hero, even though throughout the movie everything is a cakewalk for him. So when Hercules enters King Adkins temple he walks straight into King Adkins trap. King Adkins, despite the rain pouring down, is able to create a wall of fire because he's just awesome. So picture this, Hercules and his men surrounded, outnumbered, and ensuring that there is a high possibility Hercules men lives will be lost. Now picture Zeus just giving Hercules a lightning whip to easily killing a dozen or so men by himself. I've been avoiding discussing the idea of Hercules saying in a previous scene he's no God, but a mortal. Why don't you remember the last time you raised your hands up at the sky, physically grabbed lightning, and used it as a whip? I do it all the time because according to this film I am a mortal.
Then finally it comes down to climax which is made exciting because of SCOTT ADKINS! So who'll win this fight; on one corner you have SCOTT ADKINS who in the film is a conqueror of kingdoms, commands respects looking pissed off in every single scene he's in, and most importantly age holds no meaning to him. Despite the main story taking place twenty years after the opening scene the only thing he has to show for his age is a clearly fake beard! And on the other corner you have Kellan Lutz who plays Hercules accomplishing...um no wait let me think. He went to war in Egypt despite only having eighty troops and survives...although it's technically his fault they died since he suggested to rest in a area that guaranteed their enemies to ambushed them and left themself no way to escape. Oh man that's bad. No wait, Hercules has the strength of a God and can wield lighting which he never uses in a majority of the film. Ummm....he has muscles, but no personality of any kind. Ahhh...this guy sucks. I honestly tried to make Kellan Lutz sound good.
The climax is actually decent because of the fight choreography actually allows Kellan Lutz opponent to be on equal ground. You might question Hercules strength as he gets tossed around during the final action scene like a rag doll, but remember his opponent is SCOTT ADKINS! Before Kellan Lutz has a chance to choke King Adkins to death Iphicles comes into the fight threatening to kill Hebe if Hercules kills King Adkins. Knowing the small possibility that Hercules could save her Hebe takes stabs herself in the chest because a life without Scott Adkins is just not worth living and a life with Kellan Lutz is worth ending your misery. This scene, like everything else, leaves as little of an impact as possible. The fight resume and if the film wasn't unrealstic enough Kellan Lutz kills King Adkins. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Unbelievable the filmmakers had the nerve to kill off the only decent thing to be found in the movie. Yes Scott Adkins only screams in the movie, but he has energy, charisma, acting talent, a martial art background, but most importantly is not Kellan Lutz. I kid you not when I say Kellan Lutz starring in this film is the equivalent of a sleeping pill; the longer you are expose to it the more you'll want to go sleep.
Hebe wakes up and lives happily ever after with Hercules. Of course with my hatred towards the film I pretend Hebe became blind thinking Hercules was Scott Adkins. Finally this is the end of the review. Without question if it wasn't for the over top performance and glorious presence of Scott Adkins this film would have earned a zero. Whenever Adkins is on screen he's brings excitement to the film working against some incredibly poor production values. Adkins was in the film long enough to earn a ten percent rating. He's the film biggest appeal even in a traditional sense his performance is bad. Unfortunately the spotlight is given to Kellan Lutz whose performance has the same effect of a sleeping pill, charisma of a corpse, non existent acting talent, and finally just sucks at his job. He doesn't look convincing in the part, he can't act, has no charm, and personality of any sort. So like I said in first paragraph there are some bad movies worth seeing and this film, under no circumstances even if you're held at gunpoint should not be seen.
"You can't judge a book by it cover" phrase more often than not… More"You can't judge a book by it cover" phrase more often than not doesn't equally apply to films. A film with a ridiculous premise or title tends to fall into the pitfall of just being bad without much of a creative thought process behind it. Sometimes dying before even reaching the credits. As proven with "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" you just never know what to expect to be entertaining.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space is about extraterrestrial klowns terrorizing a small town. Going more towards comedy, horror is far away from it focus as possible. It sets up a scene from a horror perspective playing the scene out as a comedy. One example being the heroes entering the circus tent spaceship where one would expect seeing what horrific things the extraterrestrial are doing to the humans. Instead of revealing anything resembling horror it's reveal the klowns are turning the townspeople to cotton candy. Why that is the film never explains along with the so called "happy" ending it attempts to sell despite what it presents to us. Despite the goofy premise it has a number of creative ideas that work because of how straightforward the film plays up the concept. The characters in the film are genuinely terrified by the killer klowns that can make balloon dogs that can track their scent to having heat seeking popcorn in their weaponry. This level of goofiness also applies to the death scenes all of which are zany in their creation. Unfortunately the film doesn't focus solely on the klowns occasionally dealing with bland characters. Where as the klowns provide campy antics the humans mostly take in the ensuring invasions one sidedly. While it's nice the script attempts to give its central characters development that's quickly forgotten by the halfway mark. Their dialogue most of the times is typical of a current boyfriend teaming up an his girlfriend ex to save a girl they both have feeling for, but have some terrible lines that even in context sound bad ("Is this place great or what? It looks like it was decorated by Klowns R Us."). As a whole the script is vapid; aliens arrive on Earth, terrorize a small town, the small town lacks police force, no one believes the heroes sighting of extraterrestrial life, and the heroes face against the queen or king alien in the climax. While the creatures are replace with a something goofy the plot bears many similarity to a setup for an alien invasion film for better and worse.
The only standout performance has to be John Vernon as Officer Mooney with a delightfully over the top performance as a paranoid cop. Vernon screen time is small compared to the rest of the cast, but easily the one that best gets into his role. Leads Grant Cramer, John Allen Nelson, an Suzanne Snyder are adequate in their roles. They can carry the movie, but don't have much as Cramer always appears whimsical about the extraterrestrial klowns, Nelson constantly looking pissed off at Cramer character, and Snyder going through the motions. Supporting cast are one note delivering some over the top reaction. With the exception of John Vernon none of the supporting cast stand out. Special effects are decent with some glaring mistakes on screen. Klowns costumes reveal several times a visible zipper whenever the camera faces their back. However, the facial animatronics that move their faces fare much better with the silly dark comedy tone. Spaceships are designed to look like a bizarre fun house which technical wise stand out. Varied in color and atmosphere it presents a spaceship unlike any other in the sci-fi genre. Soundtrack is relatively good with the opening "Killer Klowns" by "The Dickies" makes a solid rock ballad out of stock circus music.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space premise loses momentum as it goes on, but not long enough to wear out its welcome. It plays out around with the typical alien invasion film with a sense humor that hits when the klown are on screen, but fails whenever they're not. It's a goofy film that uses a traditional alien invasion story and does something that's not generally done for better and worse.
In the world of video game movie adaptations the existence of an… MoreIn the world of video game movie adaptations the existence of an 'Animal Crossing' movie escaped my knowledge. I never played the video games therefore never followed the franchise, but to those who haven't either here some condense background. 'Animal Crossing' is a video game franchise developed and published by (the almighty) Nintendo. It's a popular series made famous by it's opened ended gameplay in which players have no defined objectives, but are instead encouraged to spend their time in the village performing any number of activities, which include collecting items, planting plants or other items, and socializing with the village's residents. A life simulator that isn't known exactly for its plot, yet work s as a fun and relaxing film even if it doesn't have a cohesive story.
Animal Crossing: The Movie is about Ai, a self-reliant girl that moves to Animal Village. Simplicity is the route taken with a slice of life format to its narrative. It's not so much telling a story as it is stringing together a series of random scenes. This is made evident in the first twenty minutes of the film as Ai unwillingly accepts a job to make delivery in Animal Village literally minutes after arriving. Throughout her delivery run we're introduced to a colorful cast of characters without tying this plot point to anything in the grand scheme of things. All the inhabitants in Animal Village have a kind heart even if at times the hard shells says otherwise. Giving off a sort of utopia vibe as the community provides a sense of welcome and warmth presence to anyone who visits. Inviting the viewer to just lose themselves in Animal Village. Something that's easy to do with likable characters each with a charming quirk to them from the major whose lousy in publicizing himself for an election to a human boy who likes dressing up in different costumes. It's easy to get lost in a film that is so welcoming with humor and drama added into the mixture. Flaws are apparent without requiring much thought to point them out. Like Ai (our protagonist) background is left vague and her motivation to move to Animal Village is not fleshed out. Conflict is non-existent in the film until the climax, but even then to resolve the conflict is voluntary with no consequences for the central characters nor any supporting characters involved. The same applies to introducing several subplots and leaving them hanging for long durations even going as far as forgetting to resolve a couple of them. Misdirecting lessons it was trying get across possibly being interpreted negatively.
The film has a chibi art style to which basically means all characters have over sized heads. Animals are anthropomorphic with human traits. Although it's never made clear in regard to clothing as some animals wear clothes and other don't for reasons left unexplained. Sure the animals don't have genitalia, but they are still walking around naked. Color palette is lush and colorful. There's hardly any usage of dark colors in the environment. Always looking pleasant even if the event in the plot says otherwise. Movement is minimalistic looking chopping at times. Backgrounds offer variety changing along with the according season in the film subtly showing the progression of time. Kazumi Totaka score normally gives the feel of a summer environment, with its use of mellow acoustic guitars, accordions, and bongo drums among others. Voice acting is nothing noteworthy. Yui Horie who voices Ai gets across the character innocence and eager personality. Sounding exactly like a ten year old would. Other voice actors are in the same line of playfulness in their performances. There's a couple of voice actors (one of them oddly being director Takashi Miike) that speak regularly without exaggeration to their voices that work in the film more dramatic scenes. Compare to the other actors the less exaggerated voices don't leave much of impression, but do appropriately add range in a energized cast.
Animal Crossing: The Movie doesn't offer a cohesive story, but is a pleasant slice of life film. It has a cast of likable characters and the atmosphere is calming right down to the pleasant music. A cohesive story won't be found in Animal Crossing: The Movie, but does serves as a nice distraction for anyone looking to lose themself in another world.
Mildred Pierce follows the titled character proving to her cheating… MoreMildred Pierce follows the titled character proving to her cheating husband she can become independent and successful. The story biggest strength lies heavily in the title heroine. She's a complicated individual that's easy to sympathize with, relate to, and made compelling for all the right reasons. She's receives substantial amount of development that does more than help her become three dimensional. Demonstrated numerous times Mildred Pierce is a strong dedicated individual and an intelligent one at that too. Being able to accomplished great things when she puts her mind on something, but when it comes to her home she's not as confident. There's a clear distinction made between business Pierce and at home Pierce. In both environment Pierce demonstrate a skills to understand an issue and quickly make her mind on how to resolve even if it's not the most rational in hindsight. Yet, it's when we see Mildred Pierce troubled home life where it made more evident of her weakness. Making way for a depiction that analyzes ambition and class struggles. Where the intentions is exactly part of the problem and what prevents it problem from being fixed. A depiction between Pierce and her daughter Veda clashing their personality with one inherited wealth vs. earned wealth. Both characters are flawed with opposing feelings with their vastly different lifestyle. It's difficult to the blame either individual for the way the story pans out as both as much in the right as they are in the wrong.
Aside from the title protagonist the film isn't short on great characters. Just about every major player in the plot are fleshed out. Each presenting a sentiment of the period it was made in. Bert Pierce represents men insecurity in a era where it was for a man to support his family with his own two hands. Veta Pierce represents the ever-changing youth and their opposition to previous generations customs. Monte Beragon represents the death of the upper class with his decay in power and money becoming accessible by the common man to gain. Ida Corwin is altogether unconventional with her husband-and-wife relationship with Mildred. These characters and others are supported by strong characterization that fleshes them out as three dimensional characters than just being a sentiment of an era. Never do what the characters represents comes off as an artifact of its era.
Michael Curtiz's direction is truly superb in the way he presents the story as well as delving into the mind of its titular character. Curtiz also plays up to the noir style of the film by creating an opening sequence while never revealing who kills Monte. This would create a tone where it becomes very dark during Mildred's interrogation scenes. By the time the third act arrives, the mixture of melodrama and noir finally blend as the tone of the film darkens. Cinematographer Ernest Haller does a phenomenal job with the film's black-and-white photography from the wondrous, sunny look of the suburbs that Mildred lived in early in the film to the dark, eerie world that comes in later in the film. Max Steiner score is excellent from its sweeping theme that plays to the melodrama of the film to more uplifting pieces that plays to Mildred's rise. Steiner's score is definitely another of the film's highlights as it's truly spectacular.
The cast is definitely wonderful for its array of some very memorable performances from the big actors to some small roles by other actors. Mainly Joan Crawford in one of her finest performances as the title character brings realism to a woman in the 1940s trying to do what is right for her children. Bringing a sense of frustration over her spoiled child, but never once coming off as a mean spirited mother. It's an overall iconic performance from the legendary Crawford. Ann Blyth is superb as Veda, the ungrateful daughter who wants to become rich and ambitious as she is also a selfish, spoiled, and uncaring. With a stylized yet dramatic performance, Blyth succeeds in creating an unsympathetic character that everyone loves to hate. Jack Carson hints of a man with self-esteem issue, and even though he tries to cover it with playful banter, it comes through in his facial expressions. Zachary Scott is another strong additive to this mixture. As Monte, he carried himself very cool and laid back. His words were spoken softly, yet confidently. He very seldom needed to raise his voice, because his choice of words were so dead-on that the point was made with little effort.
Mildred Pierce is a masterpiece having one of the finest and most compelling leading character to have been written. The 1940's sentiment are very true to its era depicting accurately the changes in society without becoming a relic of its own time. Instead it uses these sentiments to giving more meaning to multilayered characters, but also serves as strong story characters adding to what's already a compelling and multilayered film.
Banned films generate an interest in me unlike any other kind of… MoreBanned films generate an interest in me unlike any other kind of films. By nature it is easy to assume that these banned films have content that goes past the boundary good taste, but what about how it's made and what it has to say. Not every story can be toned down to get its message across applying the same to what it shows. If done correctly such a film can be consider art regardless of the content, but "Nekromantik" says otherwise. Why have substance to tied together a series of ugly scenes to leave a impression with the message it wants to get across.
Nekromantik follows a street sweeper who cleans up grisly accidents bringing home a full corpse for him and his wife to enjoy sexually, but is dismayed to see that his wife prefers the corpse over him. That synopsis gives away a majority of what occurs in the film. No characterization, no motifs, no metaphors, banal dialogue, no subplots, and no plot bring any meaning. Fundamentally with these story techniques broken it's inapprehensible to obtain a reason to care for it has to say. It doesn't matter what absent is a cohesive narrative and characters, but how it chooses to get across it point that should be criticize. How it says it message is stringed together by scenes that have little to no correlation to the preceding events. Literally opening with a women pissing in the field after providing a warning label to not show the film to minors. She gets back into a car with her husband to only to crash on the road because they weren't paying attention. Showing the death of these characters play no importance to the film neither in their living moments or their corpses is redundant without establishing its own key ingredients. Repeating this pattern in its short duration with seemingly random stock footage of a rabbit getting his throat slit, and then see the blood drain out onto the ground as it twitches and breathing his last breath. Later the protagonist flashback again to his rabbit being hung upside down, skinned, eyes are torn out of the remains of his head, and has the rabbit inside pulled out. At first this flashback has no semblance with what occurring in the scene. It isn't until the ending that it's vaguely (in the thinnest possible way) explained it triggered the protagonist desire of the dead. When it chooses to provide background on the protagonist whatever the plot point may be is meaningless when introduce. Since the protagonist is a walking, singular purpose plot device there's no significance to be immediately found on his journey.
It has scenes where there is some meaning to be found. For example, the protagonist goes to a movie theater and he is disgusted by the violence on screen while the rest of the viewers are empathetic. The point this scene makes is clear that exposure to fictional violence desensitizes real violence. I don't have to agree with the film message, but if it claims responsibility to attempt to convince it should at least try to do so. Something it fails since the basic storytelling techniques are broken. Despite clocking around seventy-five minutes the film manages to make a scene where a couple has sex with a corpse boring. That's right a film that makes corpse sex boring. Without substance to support itself it damages its own message delivery. Throughout the film it gives the viewer little to go on and even less in context. All you could do is guess which leaves you filling in the holes of lazy writing. Like the film warning said it shouldn't be shown to minor and I agree because if it can't execute what it's trying to convey then why should anyone see it including minors with morbid curiosity.
Director Jorg Buttergereit spares all expenses when it came to filming. Looking very poorly shot on a bad super 8 camera with the grainy video quality. Acting is poor with actors given very little dialogue to be said. Under poor direction the conversations despite there being very little sound robotic and unnatural. Without dialogue the actors to an extent have body movement convey little. Since the characters receive non substantial development the actors aren't sure are how to react in a given situation. Despite Bernd Daktari Lorenz portraying a character who collects human bodies parts (gore is substituted by animal organs) and a necrophiliac he shows expression of disgust when bathing in the blood of a dead cat (which he killed in a earlier scene). Editing is terrible drowning out the instances the actors do speak. Sound drop and rises in quality at seemingly random or have long stretches where music of notable production problems. The music is minimal and the track it uses is the best thing about the film. John Boy Walton's "Menage A Trios" juxtapose the happy, upbeat music with Rob's violent perversions. This score is the closest the film comes to disgust that is earned by effort and not imagery. Either that or the score expresses director Jorg Buttergereit excitement in seeing a man stabbing himself.
Nekromantik for all it intentions to shock has a point to get across, but getting to it will have you fight a battle against boredom. Non existent characters, no cohesive story, and poor production values leaves very little to gain. Where it fails the most how it executes its story to a get a point across without substance to what it does. Its protagonist might prefer the dead to the living, but filmgoers will prefer better films that touch on the taboo subject matter without sacrificing competent filmmaking.
The financial status of the American class system is an grey area to… MoreThe financial status of the American class system is an grey area to discuss. Like all major political subjects I tend not have a firm stance steering away from the lesser of two evils kind of thinking. Sometimes its better to be direct with your points making the message clearer. As is the case with "The Wolf of Wall Street" which makes no effort to downplay the excessive lifestyle and amorality of the characters with no shades of grey to justified themselves for who they are.
The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. Cleverly disguised as a black comedy it also sneakily culminates satire. Structurally unmatched it begins with the so call "low point" of Jordan Belfort life before eventually making it big manipulating the stock market. His obsession is far subtle living in a bubble; committing itself to following the special logic on which this world is drawn into a vortex of success and admiring the brilliant strategy Belfort follows. Belfort lives and breathe to make money no matter the legality of his techniques. It's shown as an easy endeavor rewarding with a fantastic and luxurious lifestyle through Jordan Belfort eyes who lives with no limit to his wealth. Never truly focusing on the consequences that Jordan Belfort scams had on his clients rather focusing on the bigger picture on Belfort personification of American culture legal acceptance and materialism clouding the ideals of the American Dream. Witnessing Belfort strong desires to cling to his excess nature giving a true exposure to how deeply superficial riches has taken over. Not once does it ask nor pops up to Jordan head the question of how much foreclosed houses, starving children, financially corrupt clients, and scams did it take for Belfort to obtain just one object he owns because Belfort has no fun living in the closeness of the real world he was once a part of. Scenes of excess and of criminality are not equally appealing and repulsive - they are almost totally appealing. Hiding nothing with a leading character who has no interest in redeeming himself for his actions. Depicted in a manner that's true the essence of its character that will serve as a wake up call to reality for some where justice isn't always served for every wrong.
Martin Scorsese's forceful, flowing camerawork and electrifying use of music assures the film is never dull. Scorsese plays it bold in this film does not showcase any means of redemption for its lead character. His camera, which by cognitive extension functions less like a camera and more as an external window, reframes, cranes and tracks over Belfort's equally out-of-it staff and his key executives with so much zest that it appears almost as materialistic as the people it is capturing on negative. Perhaps to counterbalance the mischievously ambivalent attitude towards a fanatically amoral protagonist, Rodrigo Prieto's matter-of-fact cinematography eschews glossiness and flourishes and is bright without being blinding. The movie doesn't have a single totemic image that captures the obscene wealth and privilege on display. Rather, the parade of outrageousness continues from the beginning to the end.
Leonardo DiCaprio injects manic intensity and ferociousness to Belfort that at times is simply magnetic, mesmerizing as he thunders like a lion across the screen. As a man whose wild arrogance, immorality and desperate zest for life literally charge him like a battery. In his finest physical performance to date; whether doped to his gourd on Quaaludes, or restraining his body from sexual desire, DiCaprio manipulates his body to silent comedy era levels. Meanwhile his Liotta-like narration has him spitting snake oil with each sentence. Every word is precise, every smile looking to be hiding something. Twice while detailing the intricacies of his schemes, he stops, smiles and distracts us. Jonah Hill's performance as Donnie Azoff is another great allowing Hill to explore some of his comedic ticks and beats. In Wolf, he relies on his own instincts, and his chemistry with DiCaprio colorful chemistry is so natural that every scene they're in together bring the best out of the two.
Margot Robbie a ravishing Australian with a Brooklyn accent, delivers a rich and nuanced special performance. Seductive and sexual yet authoritative Robbie is not just the eye candy in Wolf; and it is quite easy for such a sexually based character to be objectified in films, whereas Robbie triggers real emotion of sympathy from the audience towards the end of the movie in various Jordan related scenes. Kyle Chandler, in subtle and resonant acting as the pursuing cop, has a read-between-the-lines philosophical banter with his nemesis. In cinema-noir fashion, they have a well written, battle of wits confrontation on Jordan's yacht. Rob Reiner as Jordan's accountant dad, delights us with warmth and humor in some very good scenes. Matthew McConnaughey has a rambunctious, hilarious as Jordan's cynical, first Wall Street mentor.
The Wolf of Wall Street delivers powerful commentary on American culture in a such a profound and unconventional format. Realism isn't Scorsese's goal, what he tries to achieve is to convey how it must feel to live inside this bubble making it feel desirable: a trap Scorsese skillfully plays with and avoids. The more the spiral spins, the more grotesque this world becomes, the more that initial fascination is replaced with unease and ultimately disgust.
Scooby-Doo! despite sticking to its own formula has managed to remain… MoreScooby-Doo! despite sticking to its own formula has managed to remain culturally relevant since 1969. That's impressive to be honest, though that should be credited to the appeal of the franchise mixing horror and comedy while also being easily accessible to any kind of audience of any age. Of course if proven by James Bond and Godzilla it's not always going to be smooth sailing for a long running franchise. This is one of the causality with over a dozen or so incarnation of the cartoon it pretty difficult find any film more baffling in the franchise than this one.
Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery! is about Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred working with WWE Superstars to solve a mystery in WWE City. In short this is simply a promotional tool for the WWE. A coherent plot is about as far fetched as the events that play out in the movie. So, apparently in this film the creature that haunts WWE City is officially called "Ghost Bear". The mystery tied to "Ghost Bear" goes into some absurd territory even by WWE standards. Apparently in the film there was a Bear named Vicious (don't know why the writers didn't go for Grizzly, Polar, Berenstain, or Pooh even) that was an unbeatable Wrestler who went on a rampage when he lost to wrestler Sin Cara (Faceless in English) grandfather in a match. Buying the idea of "Ghost Bear" is fathomable since by the end the film it's a given it's going to be one of the undeveloped characters presented. However, the idea that former Bear wrestler "Vicious" potentially had a son that wants to enact revenge against the WWE is really pushing it. There's only a certain amount of absurdity one can buy before losing the audience. Another negative mark about "Ghost Bear" is that it's a rushed mystery. It isn't until the halfway mark does the mystery gang do any actual investigation. By that point it had completely removed one character who despite causing a rock slide to get rid off of the mystery gang is never mentioned again. Every clue needed to solve the mystery is conveniently found in one location. Rushing out explanations that in the grand scheme of things makes you question the film own logic.
The mystery severely misses it mark in providing any resemblance of an intrigue. Everything not related to the mystery offer little to sink your teeth into. For starter its intentional jokes will make crickets laugh. Anyone who has an understanding of video games even if you just played them once will have issue with how hypnotism is tied with it. So assuming that Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are playing a WWE video game on the Kinect (though that's bit of a stretch seeing the accuracy of the device in the film) require the player to perform a bit of break dancing and acrobatics to get a high score. Considering the explanation the culprit gives it puts into perspective how slim the possibility were for his plan to work. This among introducing some even goofier characters none more highlighted than with John Cena. His appearance in the film is a literal ego boost being able to lift a van, stop giant boulder, and hold his own against a Bear. To be fair the wrestlers do retain their quirks (evens the stupid ones like the you can't, but clearly can see me line), although only Sin Cara and John Cena get any substantial amount of screen time. Sin Cara only speaks in luchadore (physical acrobatics basically) requiring John Cena (ego) to translate it. The rest of the wrestlers only make cameos appearances with their presence leaving something to desired. Aside from serving as references for wrestling fans they don't do anything.
Animation is a mixed bag. Character and landscape have simple designs to them, but no degree of detail is added often looking jagged with disproportional body parts. There's no degree of shading, lighting, or added line detail in movement. Everything looks basic with characters wearing single color clothing. No variation in color either being bright or dark and nothing else in between. It does move smoothly for the most part. It hardly does anything complicated with it scenes, but there's a noticeable dip in quality whenever multiple characters move at the same time resulting in a lag. Requiring at times for characters to remain static while another is talking. Wrestling matches are few in number and short on duration. These wrestling matches are over the top entertainment with no kind of rules being applied to them. I'm sure the wrestling match between Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Kane, Sin Cara, and a Bear went down in Wrestlemania history as one of the great matches in WWE history. Voice acting is another of mixed quality. The voice talent of Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, and Mindy Cohn are dependable as the mystery gang. They don't bring anything new to the established personalities, but understand the their characters bringing each of their own characteristic in their line reading. WWE wrestlers on the other hand just sound bored. John Cena at least try to sound enthusiastic when you're fighting a Bear. Come on man you were in....um actually was film credit does John Cena have on his resume; Fred: The Movie, Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred, Camp Fred, The Marine, and 12 Rounds okay so long Cena doesn't require his mouth to move he sell himself as a credible silent action hero. Kane voice acting sounds like it was recorded when he was falling asleep. For someone who is meant to sound intimidating he sound very cranky to have been woken up. Music is forgettable with easily the most generic guitar pumping overload rock rendition of the Scooby-Doo theme song.
Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery! is product glorification. Constantly praising the WWE brand and stroking the ego of some its wrestlers take center stage as the film main events. With story and entertainment value in the sideline hardly getting a chance in the spotlight.
Korean cinema is the go to for the thriller genre. As saturated as it… MoreKorean cinema is the go to for the thriller genre. As saturated as it might be no other film industry has quite nail the genre quite perfectly as Korea bringing in new twists on familiar setups and avoiding any unneeded melodrama among other reasons. Hwayi is another one of those stellar action/thriller that succeeds giving high focus on the human side of its story giving the old revenge set up a revitalizing fresh take.
Hwayi is about a boy who is kidnapped as a toddler and subsequently raised by a group of five criminals. Hwayi's relationships with his dads should form the backbone of the story. That isn't the case as their personalities are so hazily drawn even when reaching the hour mark. Rather the backbone is Hwayi discovering a dark truth and his transformation into a world he tries so hard to separate himself despite having been raised in it. There's more to it than just pure revenge often considering the ramifications of such actions on both side. The kidnappers all desire a different life for Hwayi from desiring Hwayi to follow in the criminal lifestyle or making an honest living. Each of the five kidnappers each differ in how they see Hwayi, but underneath the rough shell all share love for the child they raised. As determined as Hwayi is on his goal he's emotionally distress at the situation at hand. Morally correct he feels justifies towards his vengeance, but emotionally pulling the trigger on those who raised him is not a simple concept to convert into. It cares about the characters and their complicated relationship for one another allowing time to make it core character relationship have value to its action scenes.
Where the film loses itself is length saturation. It isn't made evident until the overextended third act that the film could have been tighten better. A subplot that involves a detective searching for the criminals doesn't impact the film in a meaningful way. All the subplot does is reinforce how intelligent the criminals are as a team and reiterate information characters already figured out on their own. After a series of twists and a couple dead bodies later it reaches a climax that overstays its welcome. Clumsily written I wouldn't say as the pivotal point is effectively written bringing to nature the layers of the final confrontation. It's subtext is underlying a nature vs. nurture view as the protagonist feelings are complex and to a degree no better than from those he wishes to avoid. However, due to its climax dragging out and understanding the protagonist the expected inevitable outcome drags. Mid way through the climax it points are clear unsure of itself when to end the scene. Pacing is not an issue and while there are few set pieces moment there's a well written story with plenty to seek into.
Director Jang Jun-Hwan style of the film correlates with the bleakness of his material. Sporting a very gloomy and gray color palette it rarely has any vibrant color to be seen. The same applies to his filming of an action scene most of which in confined location often with occurring at night keeping minimal distances from a fist fight or gunfight. Utilizing frantic editing to intensified the action scenes and clearance when a fatal hit strikes person. This isn't applied to the film chase scenes as it often follow the exterior of the cars from a far never showing the danger up head it drivers. Despite what occurs on screen the car chases don't duplicate the same level of urgency. Cho Jin-Woong, Kim Seong-gyoon, Jang Hyeon-seong, and Park Hae-joon quickly establish their respective characters right from their first appearance; Cho Jin-wong is one of few sympathetic characters in the film, and Kim Seong-gyoon is always on the edge with his possibly psychopathic character. Missing is genuine chemistry between him and Yeo, even when feelings of extreme love and loathing roil in their final confrontation. As an innocent who's sheltered, duped and pushed over the edge, Yeo sometimes overstates his character's pain and bafflement. Lim Ji-eun is pitiful as a woman confined in her hopeless position by her men and then by herself, Nam Ji-hyeon is a plucky high school girl who happens to begin a tentative relationship with Hwayi, and her scenes with Yeo jin-goo are a few precious warm spots in the movie.
Hwayi is a very unique action/thriller with an original and exciting take on the father and son dynamic. It's more than a film about revenge more so than it is the delicacy of parenthood and how damaging it can for both sides. Cold and gloomy as it might be it's also a great action/thriller that offers a unique story and good set pieces.