Monday, July 31, 2017

200 Items Or Less: The Haunted Palace (1963)

A few thoughts: As could (and should) be expected of any Roger Corman Poe adaptation, this is a movie with loads of atmosphere, awesome set design, and an entertaining lead performance by Vincent Price. While I wouldn't put this on the same level as the best of these adaptations, it is a significant step above Tales Of Terror and Tomb Of Ligeia. There's not much to be said of this movie that wouldn't also apply to House Of Usher or Pit And The Pendulum, which is ultimately it's greatest weakness. By the time the movie came out, it was already superfluous; the same product as several others only with slight difference in plot. I still enjoy it, and Price is (as I already implied) his usual wonderful self, but choosing to approach this without humor (see: The Raven) or a striking color palette (see: The Masque Of The Red Death), Corman ultimately doomed his own movie to obscurity. I love the ending, though, and even if it doesn't feel entirely original, it's still a good movie.

Adventure Time - Season 3 (episodes #1-13)

I'm not in the mood to preface this post. To quote Homestar Runner, "I'm not very good at speeches..."

Here is the rating system I'm using for this show:

★✯✯✯✯ - pretty bad
★★✯✯✯ - not so good
★★★✯✯ - pretty average
★★★★✯ - good
★★★★★ - pretty great

Episode 1:
'Conquest Of Cuteness'

Sunday, July 30, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Zardoz (1974)

A few thoughts: From the giant floating stone head that drops guns and ammunition on barbaric religious zealots, to the bizarre and terrifying society created by Immortals who punish wrongdoings with old age and an eternity of senility, this movie paints a complex picture that - at times cold in its exposition - is as comprehensive as any movie of its time. Though it definitely takes a while to get your head wrapped around all the concepts and world-building, the result is a unique and immersive sci/fi experience. Sean Connery, with his ridiculous red banana hammock and 2-foot braid, doesn't offer much to the movie as far as a performance goes, but his entire character is really nothing more than a plot device and means to pass knowledge onto the audience without mind-numbing narration. He also represents the clash between chaos and control, in a movie that offers a utopia with more flaws than visible benefits. Sadly, the ideas significantly outshine the execution. Cheesy at times, but always interesting, surprisingly deep, and intellectually stimulating.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors (1965)

A few thoughts: Picture Dead Of Night (1945) if it were produced by Hammer. That's basically what you get here with this first horror anthology from Amicus. Starring Peter Cushing and directed by Freddie Francis (who is also known for his work with Hammer), this movie handles its multiple stories and disjointed nature better than most anthologies due to the consistency of its visuals and direction. With only one writer and one director, this movie is able to weave through its stories in a concise way, always returning to its jumping-off point before branching out again. There's a solid variety of horror stories here, ranging from werewolves to vampires, killer plantlife, voodoo gods, severed hands, and even Death himself. Much like most horror movies of its time, this is not a terrifying experience as much as it is an atmospheric and creative one. Even if the individual stories aren't groundbreaking, the presentation and style allows them to function both independently and as part of a greater whole. I had a lot of fun with it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Top 5 Worst Episodes of Adventure Time (Season 2)

I already did my top 5, so here are my bottom 5. Here are some links, they might be helpful to you if you don't see your own favorites or least favorites on this list.

Part 1 (episodes #1-13)
Part 2 (episodes #14-26)

Top 5 Best Episodes of Adventure Time (Season 2)

Ready for my picks for the 5 worst episodes of season 2? I hope so.

5. The Silent King

200 Items Or Less: Silent Running (1972)

A few thoughts: The 1970s were pretty big on slow, contemplative sci/fi (you can thank Stanley Kubrick for that), and Silent Running is very much in line with that. Set in a future without plant life on Earth, this movie takes place entirely on a space station, largely with only one human character. It's quiet, and the minialist score only adds to that isolation. The only real problem with the music comes from the distractingly hippie-esque recurring songs, but I suppose they make sense within the context of the movie, considering this is a very environmental movie -- I just found them pretty lousy and felt they broke the mood. Bruce Dern is terrific, as always, the cinematography and pacing is excellent, really highlighting the bleak loneliness of the story. It's not a very fun thing to watch, as from beginning to end it's pretty slow and depressing, but it's still a highlight of the genre for the era. Also, it has adorable waddling robots in it, so there's always that to look forward to.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Top 5 Best Episodes of Adventure Time (Season 2)

Alright, I outlined every episode of season 2 and wrote a teeny tiny review for them all (meaning like a sentence or two), but now it's time I make a list for the season. Since there are 26 episodes, I suppose I could do a top 10 and bottom 5, but instead I'll just make a top 5 and bottom 5. Obviously this post is for my favorites. There's a lot of solid midground in this season, though, so it will be hard to choose just 5 favorites.

If you want to see my opinion of each episode of the season, I'll throw some links below. And then to the countdown!

Part 1 (episodes #1-13)
Part 2 (episodes #14-26)

5. The Eyes

200 Items Or Less: Night Creatures (1962)

A few thoughts: Incorrectly billed as a horror movie, Night Creatures (or Captain Clegg) is a pirate/smuggler adventure thriller with some strange inconsistencies and unclear motivation. Who is the hero/villain of this movie? Virtually every character in this is some kind of anti-hero, and that makes it hard to choose what side to be on. The investigator trying to uncover the smuggling ring is unlikable and the pirates/smugglers themselves aren't obviously the nicest people around. As a story, I was drawn into what was happening, but wasn't able to find myself emotionally engaged at all. The "horror" scenes are fun, but inconsequential. This is very much a Hammer production, and you can tell from the silly hair, awesome sets, and just the look and style of the way it was filmed. But sadly, as much as I love Hammer movies, this isn't one of the better ones. I enjoyed it enough, and I always love seeing Peter Cushing (and Oliver Reed), but as a whole I feel they could've done better with the characters.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

200 Items Or Less: The Time Machine (1960)

A few thoughts: As an overall production, this just might be the most impressive sci/fi adventure movie of its time. While the acting and some plot elements are a bit underwhelming at times, the music, visual effects, makeup/prosthetics, and set designs are all so tremendous (though at times occasionally silly, particularly one painted background in a cave) they more than make up for the lack of strong performances and other thematic elements. The time travel sequences are a particular standout, utilizing fast-paced stop motion (which I always love), but probably my favorite aspect to this movie is how great the Morlocks looked. With their glowing eyes, blue skin, and white hair, they stand out as pretty cool and creepy, and make for great villains. While this movie could have definitely improved on the narrative and tackled emotional isolation as a subject, I can't say I expected any of that; and the visuals were so great, none of that even mattered.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Soylent Green (1973)

A few thoughts: It's pretty uncommon for the twist ending of a movie to become far more popular than the movie itself, but I would argue 'Soylent Green' is the first instance of just that. This is a murder mystery set in a dystopian version of the future where the greenhouse effect has ravaged the food supply, and the government has engineered a new superfood to combat the wide-spread starvation called - wait for it - soylent green. Sadly, almost 45 years after the film's release, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who has heard of this movie who hasn't also been made aware of the final twist. I won't spoil it for anyone who might be reading this, just know that your experience will be made far more fulfilling if you go into this not knowing how it ends. It's not a bad movie, the acting is solid and the setting is appropriately dark, but the ending really is the main reason to give this one a look. It's not an ingeniusly crafted mystery, but it is an iconic resolution and shouldn't be dismissed as anything less than important in its own way.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Adventure Time - Season 2 (episodes #14-26)

To see my overview of the first 13 episodes of season 2, click on this magical link. And I'll repost my rating system again for the episodes. It's imprecise, but I like it:

★✯✯✯✯ - pretty bad
★★✯✯✯ - not so good
★★★✯✯ - pretty average
★★★★✯ - good
★★★★★ - pretty great

Episode 14:
'The Silent King'

200 Items Or Less: THX 1138 (1971)

A few thoughts: Not many people know this movie, but George Lucas fans should give it a look, as it reveals the eerie potential he had as a filmmaker of more high brow science fiction. Is it anywhere close to as good as Star Wars? No, but it occupies a completely different space. A stark dystopian set entirely within the massive construct that seems to house all of humanity, THX 1138 paints a pretty bleak picture of a society where emotions are outlawed, and people are forced into sedation as a means of being more compliant. This is a visually fantastic movie, utilizing stark whites and sterile environments where other movies might take on a more dark look. But somehow this stripped down approach is more fitting. It's a solid script, but it definitely relies more on visuals and atmosphere than it does on story or characters. Sadly, Lucas did what he does and felt the need to pump it full of distracting CG for its re-release, but what else could you expect from him? It's still a solid movie either way.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Adventure Time - Season 2 (episodes #1-13)

Let me start off by saying there really aren't many "bad" episodes in this show, so when I give low ratings, it's more just in comparison to other, better episodes. Also, my ordering is based on the wikipedia article, maybe not the "official" order of the episodes and when they were released or where they were meant to be released. I'm not making a big deal out of it. Also, I would normally use a letter grade system for things, but I don't want to get that specific here. Instead, I'll be using 5 total ratings, which are as follows:

★✯✯✯✯ - pretty bad
★★✯✯✯ - not so good
★★★✯✯ - pretty average
★★★★✯ - good
★★★★★ - pretty great

It's a rough system, but I like it rough *winky face* I won't be writing big reviews here, I'll save larger write-ups for when I make my top 50 (or however many) favorite episodes countdown. Okay, let's do this.

Episode 1:
'It Came From The Nightosphere'

Saturday, July 22, 2017

200 Items Or Less: One Million Years B.C. (1966)

A few thoughts: Raquel Welch in a cave bikini and dinosaur stop motion by Ray Harryhausen? I'm not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best combinations of two things I could possibly imagine for a mid-'60s caveman movie. Choosing to have its characters not speak in recognizable language and instead get their points across through visuals was a pretty bold move. Yes, it's been done in other movies, but that doesn't make it any less admirable. The plot is loose and incredibly thin, and you can tell it's basically just designed as a method to give us Raquel Welch in a bikini and show off some awesome dinosaurs, but I'm kind of alright with that. It's fun in an exploitative kind of way. Director Don Chaffey had done better before (Jason And The Argonauts is an all-time favorite of mine), but I still can't see anyone else handling this material any better. It's very simple in a lot of ways, however the execution of the ideas and set pieces definitely should not be so easily dismissed. But in the end, it is definitely more iconic than it is great.

Friday, July 21, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Targets (1968)

A few thoughts: What do you get when you glue together a story about an old horror star on the brink of retirement with the story of a seemingly happy and regular looking guy who decides to go on a killing spree? You get Targets, a movie that would have worked far better as two individual movies, but somehow still manages to make for an interesting and weirdly insightful film regardless of the clunkiness. Drawing parallels between the classic horror monsters of movies from the Karloff era to the "modern" monster (by '60s standards), who is simply a man who one day finally snapped. Being a big fan of Karloff (WHO I SOMEHOW LEFT OFF MY TOP 100 ACTORS LIST?!?), I naturally found myself more drawn into his half of the story, which has an added weight when you consider he passed away only 6 months after this film's release. I wish the ending hadn't been so abrupt, but it was still a great note to end his career on -- as long as you choose to ignore the other crap he appeared in that was released after this.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Anime Corner: Elfen Lied (2004)

Usually when I call a horror movie or show "creepy", it's meant as a compliment. Well, Elfen Lied makes me feel weird and is pretty creepy, but that is not a compliment here. I'm not one to usually complain about infantilization (I don't find it arousing or anything, it just doesn't usually stand out to me as a problem), but this show has a serious infantilization problem with a teenage girl who can only say one word (like a Pokemon), can't dress herself, behaves like a small child, and - back to that whole "can't dress herself" thing - spends a good deal of time in the show naked. I don't know what they were attempting, but I felt sleazy just watching it, and I can't help but to feel it's shows like this that give anime the reputation it has for being somewhat pornographic.

Storywise, there's nothing here that really stands out to me as particularly unique, and with just 13 episodes, it never has a chance to become fully fleshed out, so it's pretty hard to get too absorbed. The show started off with a bang, full of extreme violence and intensity, but by the end of the first episode it almost feels like a high school drama. Some shows are able to handle juggling genres, but this one just feels clunky as it alternates between them.

200 Items Or Less: Seconds (1966)

A few thoughts: One of the more stripped down sci/fi movies of the 1960s, Seconds is a John Frankenheimer thriller with some fascinating (albeit occasionally sloppy) cinematography, strong performances, and a cool concept that could have easily been made a lot sillier. Instead, they let it be pretty dark, and with the tight camera angles and paranoid tone, they manage to make it all pretty suspenseful and unnerving. I've never been a fan of Rock Hudson, but he did a solid job here, and I felt like I was watching the character, not just the face -- which could have easily been the opposite here. There are a lot of twists and turns to the plot, so much so that I don't even want to talk about what happens in the movie, but suffice it to say it's not standard '60s sci/fi by any means. In fact, I'd barely even call it sci/fi at all, as the way it handles the more fantastical elements is calculated and believable. Very dark, very suspenseful, with an ending that will stick with you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Wizards (1977)

A few thoughts: I've seen this several times now over the course of a few years, and I still have no idea what I think of it. Ralph Bakshi was one of the most bold and original filmmakers of his time, but that isn't always a good thing. Using a bizarre blend of animation techniques ranging from traditional hand drawn to rotoscope and silhouettes, there's never a dull frame, but the weirdness can be a bit difficult. There's an odd balance of adult themes, childish humor, and slapstick (complete with BOING sound effects) that makes this a pretty uneven and difficult movie to fully grasp. Who or what is the target audience exactly? This sort of feels like 'The Black Cauldron' on acid. The ideas and designs are pretty awesome, blending fantasy and sci/fi wonderfully, and I don't think I can overstate how much I love the final battle between the good and evil brothers -- who are the main focus of the film. It's incredibly bizarre, but worth watching as a sort of '70s animated relic.

Anime Corner: Hellsing (2001-2002)

I write this after starting and stopping 'Hellsing Ultimate', so any comparisons I make between the two shows are based only on what I saw from the first couple episodes. With that being said, the quality of animation in Ultimate is obviously more polished and impressive, but I still found myself much more invested in this show right off the bat, and that's possibly due to the 20 minute episodes. Or maybe it's just my love for early 2000s anime? I can't say this was a great show, but it scatched an itch I had for some mindless gore and badass action.

The obvious highlight of this show is in Alucard, the kickass vampire working for the titular Hellsing family. Unstoppable killing machines are a dime a dozen in action anime shows, and sticking one in a red coat isn't exactly enough to set him apart either (see: Vash the Stampede), but Alucard works on his own level as an antihero. Instead of just being a vicious killer vampire, he is given the role of a good guy, summoning his demonic powers to fight against evil forces. That alone makes him sort of special, but the sadistic joy he takes in obliterating his enemies makes you never forget just how bad this good guy really is.

Sadly, Alucard is the only character in the show that ever really works for me, with too much time being given to a young cop-turned-vamp whose entire arc falls flat. There are a few supporting players who have their moments, but the show is too short to give them much to do,and before you know it the show is finished and you're left thinking, "oh, that's it?" Also, if you hope to escape some of the mediocre English dub voice acting by watching Ultimate instead, it's still the same main cast, so better luck next time. Since it's only 13 episodes, reading it really isn't much of and chore, so don't be lazy about it: just read the damn thing.

As I said before, Ultimate definitely has this show beat on animation quality, and - from what I could tell - it seemed to flesh the story out better, but there is one undeniable aspect that the original is superior in: the music. From the opening theme (that kicks total ass and gets stuck in your head for hours) to the background music that ranges from orchestral to upbeat and in your face, this show has some awesome music and Ultimate just doesn't hold a candle to it. Though the closing credits music was pretty skippable. Oh well.

This is a super gory and action-heavy show that feels very episodic and doesn't place much emphasis on overarching story. By the time the show is coming to a close, you can tell they didn't have everything wrapped up as well as they wanted, but that doesn't change the fact that it is entertaining while it lasts. It didn't overstay its welcome, in the very least. The gore may be a bit much for some people, but I found it pretty fun and cool. I wouldn't expect many people to get emotionally invested in this show, but that's not what this one is all about. It's got action, gore, and a really cool vampire at the center of it all.

Episode count: 13

My grade: B

Sunday, July 16, 2017

200 Items Or Less - Sanctuary; Quite A Conundrum (2012)

A few thoughts: Boy oh boy does this movie take its time before it stops sucking. Don't get me wrong, it never reaches the point where I'd go so far as to call it "good", but the first 20 minutes or so are virtually unbearable. Beyond that, the arrival of an overly-Christian stereotype and a suicide marks the jumping off point for a solidly entertaining bit of sleaze. Even though I've seen this movie twice now, I'm still not sure if it's even supposed to be funny or not. Up until the last 20-30 minutes, I assumed this was meant to be a comedy, but near the end it gets "dark" and the over-acting becomes hilarious in its own right. In some scenes it feels like a frat comedy, others like a slasher, but most of the time it's just unintentionally funny. It's a weird kind of mess that fails so much as a comedy it almost works as one, and fails so much as a horror movie it becomes... well, a bad horror movie. Some key dramatic moments work surprisingly well, but as a whole its identity crisis keeps it down.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Anime Corner: Monster (2004-2005)

I'm usually a fan of animes that only last 26 episodes (or thereabouts) and find longer shows a little less sharp and focused. Well, this isn't the case at all with Monster, a show that digs its nails in you and drags you to some pretty disturbing depths without ever wasting your time. It's brilliant in how it weaves through stories, all of which returning to the main focus on the value of individual lives, how one can become a monster, and whether or not all lives are truly created equal. A majority of the show seems determined to question these moral truths we often take for granted.

This is a show of almost endless twists and turns. Every time you start to get comfortable with a plot thread or characters, something comes along and mixes it all up on you by killing people off unexpectedly or shifting focus to seemingly unconnected threads for several episodes of time. In the end, the only real consistencies are in Dr. Tenma and Johan Liebert; the yin and yang whose parallels and distinct differences make up a great deal of the drive of the story, also serving as catalysts for the God/Devil and apocalypse themes found in the show.

200 Items Or Less: Fantastic Planet (1973)

A few thoughts: This is not the kind of movie I could recommend to almost anyone, but to those out there who might find a French animated sci-fi film about giant blue aliens that keep humans as pets who attempt to escape and cause an uprising on the planet interesting...well this will be the one and only movie I could sit you down in front of that will satisfy that particular itch. There are so many ideas and images flying by at a rapid rate in this movie, it's hard to fully absorb them all in one go, but at only 70~ minutes, finding time to rewatch it should be no big hassle. The music feels like something from a porno, but that only adds to the peculiar and specific charms of this experimental and unique little movie. Is it good? Absolutely. Is it great? Probably. It belongs in a category of very few peers, occupied by things like 'Wizards' by Ralph Bakshi and 'Allegro Non Troppo', so judging it against more conventional films feels almost wrong. But that's part of why it's so special.

Friday, July 14, 2017

200 Items Or Less: This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967)

A few thoughts: Coffin Joe is one of the greatest horror characters no one seems to be familiar with. As the second part of a loose trilogy surrounding this character, TNIPYC picks up right where 'At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul' leaves off, practically hitting the reset button and allowing the aforementioned maniac to go right back to his depraved ways; torturing women as a means to determine who might be worthy enough to bear his child. It's part torture porn, part psychological thriller, and part natural horror, and a strong sequel to one of my favorite horror movies of the '60s. Jose Mojica Marins - who wrote, directed, and starred as Coffin Joe - clearly understood how this character needed to function, and with every aspect of the movie built around him, he makes the most of it. But even with how great this character is, the real highlight here is the vibrant and chaotic Hell sequence. This is definitely not an easy movie to describe and isn't quite on the same level as it's predecessor, but it's certainly worth experiencing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anime Corner: Level E (2011)

It's rare to come across a show that's only 13 episodes and still wears itself out by the end, but they do exist, and this is one of them. Very light, inconsequential, and occasionally hilarious, Level E isn't something you can find yourself too invested in (for multiple reasons I'll go into later), but should nonetheless provide adequate entertainment for a few hours until you decide to move on to something a little more interesting. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy it, as I found it pretty damn fun to start, but it somewhat flies off the rails and its lack of focus takes a toll on the overall experience.

I thought for sure this would be a show that would focus a little more on a central character, and within one episode I had already found myself intrigued by the direction and the two leads. Sadly, after just 3 episodes they toss this out the window, and focused on a different story with a handful of other leads. I was all on-board for those until they tossed them out after 4 episodes... and this isn't even counting an episode in between these serials that had its own cast. While the "main" character is most often the Prince, he doesn't show up in several episodes, and even in the ones he's around for, he isn't often the focal point of the story.

Speaking of the Prince, he's very much one of those characters I can see being far more popular than he probably deserves, due to his comedic nature and larger-than-life personality. For a few episodes he's really entertaining, but much like the rest of the show he definitely starts to wear on you. As an eccentric and irresponsible alien with far too much power and free time, the show chooses to aimlessly wander with him, and with this free reign he is rarely giving an opportunity to play up the potential odd couple dynamics of his character beyond his interactions in the first 3 episodes. A shame, considering how much better he works in those situations.

The animation, while largely pretty standard, takes occasional departures into the realm of the nightmarish, blending in bizarre monstrosities of a CG nature that ought not e'er be seen by human eyes. Some of these scenes really threw me off, because they didn't match the tone of the rest of the show, but that doesn't ultimately matter. This isn't a show that uses its brain, so why should the audience? The music is forgettable, so I suppose they felt it necessary to set itself apart by doing random crap and adding to my list of bizarre images I kind of wish I hadn't seen.

In the end, for all its misgivings, I still did mostly enjoy this show. Unlike something equally as bizarre and cornball as Space Dandy, I never felt challenged or impressed by this show, and instead just let it happen to me -- a watching method that resulted in a handful of big laughs and many more chuckles. It's pretty easy to slip into, and watching aliens basically just be irritating to humans provides some reasonable entertainment.

Episode count: 13

My grade: C-

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Anime Corner: Black Lagoon (2006)

Over-the-top mercenary gunfights galore, Black Lagoon mostly abandons the piracy angle pretty quickly and with it goes a lot of its charm. A show that started out feeling very original dropped into more exaggerated anime cliches and ridiculous caricatures when it decided to make the antagonists spend more and more time on land than on their boat. Which is a shame, because I was really enjoying it before that -- even if some of the better individual episodes were in the second half of the show.

The obvious highlight of this show is one of the leads, a cold-blooded killer with a filthy mouth and a tendency to fly off the handle with little to no provocation. She's definitely something, and while the attempts to make her seem badass do tend to come off as very forced, in the end she is still very entertaining and one of the more (surprisingly) reserved characters once you get into the latter half, which as I said before is pretty packed with "flavorful" killers; gun-toting nuns, Romanian vampire children, and a girl with a chainsaw and an emotional attachment to her electrolarynx, just to give a few examples. It's all more than a little ridiculous, and it's a shame they let the leads fall into the back of the story by the end.

Monday, July 10, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Under the Shadow (2016)

A few thoughts: At this point in time, it's surprisingly difficult to come across horror movies that aren't hell bent on having monsters fly at the screen and make you jump. It's just how horror is made nowadays. But sometimes you get movies like this that show enough restraint to put more emphasis on atmosphere and set-up, making the subsequent "boo!" much more effective. This movie doesn't feel cheap, even if it does rely on several half-assed jump-scares (some of which are pretty weak). Much like Jennifer Kent's "The Babadook", this is a movie that actually bothers to give us actual characters, establish their motives, giving their clich├ęd actions a lot more weight and making them much more believable -- also, this movie, too, suffers from an intolerable child character who I found myself wanting to slap upside the head. With a political backdrop touching on some disturbing and relevant Iranian social issues, this movie may be a standard horror movie on the surface, but has much more to offer beyond that.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Anime Corner: Space Dandy (2014)

Shinichiro Watanabe is sort of legendary among anime fans, and while he wasn't as central to the production of this show as he was with Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo, you can still definitely tell his influence on it -- and believe me when I say that's a good thing. While it may not be as classic as those two, I will say I enjoyed this more in a frivolous sort of way than I did with them. It's an absolute blast.

Dandy, while not being the most well-developed of characters, is somewhat unique in the realm of anime leads, a goofy Johnny Bravo-esque bounty hunter who spends every available minute at his favorite restaurant, "BooBies". The other two main characters are a somewhat snarky childlike robot and a talking alien ferret. It's definitely what one might call a motley crew, and seeing these lovable misfits struggle to find rare aliens and save up money to go to BooBies makes up a large part of the downtime in the show. Much like other Watanabe shows, there is a heavy focus on finding and eating food.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Akira (1988)

A few thoughts: It's always difficult for me to write about movies that have had such a strong impact on film, especially when it's a movie I don't completely love. But in this case, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives, as this is one of the most visually impressive animes of the 20th century. I was almost instantly blown away by how fluid and smooth (compared to other anime, at least) the animation was, but in spite of this it has a sort of unpolished charm to it that I couldn't help but to admire. The character design is the only aspect to the visuals that I didn't care for. Storywise, I would call this a mess, but there's a method to the madness. Sometimes it's a little difficult to follow, but it rewards your patience with some unique and unexpected twists. I can't say I loved it and I doubt I would consider it one of the very best anime films of all-time, but I enjoyed it, found it very engaging, and would definitely watch it again.

200 Items Or Less: The Descent (2005)

A few thoughts: I watched this movie years back when I had really bad claustrophobia and it was pretty creepy up until the creepers showed up. But watching it now, it's hard for me to even focus on it due to how poorly executed the tension is. It once felt very atmospheric and intense, but after coming back to it, I'm surprised at how cheap most of the scares are here, and how unremarkable the claustrophobic scenes now feel. Neil Marshall is a director who knows how to inject thrills into his projects, and this is one example of a movie that feels very much "injected", as the many attempts to startle the audience feel pretty forced and half-assed. The way this movie is shot and edited doesn't allow for the monsters to do much other than ham it up and scurry towards the screen in a very visibly, rapidly sped-up and corny fashion. It's all a bit silly, though I do appreciate the practical effects and lighting.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Anime Corner: Death Note (2006-2007)

For a show that came out during the height of the emo craze and was filled with all the imagery and themes of something that would not age too well, it came as a pretty huge surprise to me that this series holds up as well as it does. It seems like the kind of mid-2000s pseudo-punk/goth time capsule that would be looked back on with a sort of nostalgic passive animosity, but as an overall story and character study, Death Note has a lot going for it and some undeniable staying power.

You can't really talk about Death Note without first going into the characters, as it features two of the more well-established leads of any anime from the 21st century. Light Yagami is one of those villains that you can't help but to root for, as his goals seem essentially pure at first, but as the old adage dictates, power corrupts. And watching the developing darkness of Light (ha!) is an amazing bit of storytelling. L, his nemesis, takes on the more heroic role but is introduced in an almost antagonistic way, which really flips the script on the standards of how a show presents good and evil. Their rivalry/friendship dynamic makes for a hugely entertaining and unpredictable aspect of the story.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Anime Corner: Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996)

To deny the massive influence Neon Genesis Evangelion has had on anime as a whole would be almost admirably stupid and ignorant. That being said, if I were forced to sit down and watch anime for a year solid, it would probably take over 6 months before I'd willingly put this on again. It's not that it's bad or that I hate it, I would probably just forget it even existed for that long, and rewatching it would simply be wishful thinking that my thoughts on it might improve. This is the first anime show I have watched in its entirety and really didn't care for.

'90s anime has a mostly different look to it. I can't quite explain it, as I am by no means some sort of anime expert, but characters look clunky and the complete lack of smoothness is definitely a distraction. Watching this show I became more aware that I was watching an animated flip book than I would ever like during a show -- but then again, anime has always had an issue with frame-by-frame clunkiness, so this is by no means a complaint that only applies to NGE. But while most anime shows have a tendency of offering up some beautiful images, this one was severely lacking in that department.