Archive Page 2

07
Jun
15

Chuunibyo, Fate/Zero

Chuunibyo
Is this yet another annoying, slice-of-life, moe bullshit anime, or a brilliantly subversive look at otaku subculture? To be honest, Chuunibyo falls somewhere in the middle. This series is about people who make the transition from middle school to high school and try to change their personal style. You know you’ve done something similar: go off to college, reinvent yourself, try to become someone new while forgetting those embarrassing things from the past. Chuunibyo takes it to the extreme. It’s about a few highly delusional kids who literally believe they have magical powers. The main kid tries to leave that shit behind because he knows it’s as dumb as fuck. Unfortunately, he keeps getting dragged back into this world by the main girl on whom he has a crush. One thing the show does that is interesting is showcasing magical battles. You see power-ups, gigantic weapons, and crazy finishing moves which are beautifully animated. Mid-way through the battles, however, we pull away from the delusions and see the characters battling it out with soup ladles or broomsticks or whatever. All that shit is in their heads. At first, it’s pretty funny. Sadly, though, it’s a one-note joke, and it continues throughout the series, wearing out its welcome.
As the show goes on, the main girl begins to realize that her delusions are holding her back from personal growth, and from dealing with the death of her father. She puts away her childish things, tries to grow up, and tries to have a mature relationship with the main guy. She struggles, and eventually the main guy tells her it’s OK to be weird and delusional. She goes back to her old ways. Then, the guy also goes back to his previously delusional ways. They end up together, happy and completely delusional. This is one of the most fucked up “morals” I have ever seen in any form of entertainment. Chuunibyo says that it’s better to live in a fantasy world and ignore your problems rather than face them head-on and attempt to grow. What a bullshit ending. Anyway, the show isn’t that great. While it does have a few worthwhile moments, it’s mostly a standard moe slice-of-life affair. There’s not much else here. If you like that kind of thing, go for it, if not, skip it.
Verdict: Bad
 
Fate/Zero
I claim a lot of anime is boring. I make that statement so often, that perhaps it has lost its meaning. Well, let me assure you, I absolutely, 100% mean it when I say that Fate/Zero is one of the most boring anime I have ever seen. I try not to review anything I haven’t completed. If I drop a show, I almost never post my comments about it, I just move on with my life. Fate/Zero, however, is a different beast. It was so fucking horrendously boring, I feel like it’s my duty to warn you about it. The show is actually a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. It was tolerable enough I felt like giving the prequel a shot. That, my friends, was a HUGE mistake.
Fate/Zero starts out with a 45-minute long episode of exposition. The old adage “show, don’t tell” got raped in the ass with this series. The ENTIRE EPISODE comprises a billion different characters talking and setting up everything that is to come in the series. They explain everything down to the smallest detail. The first episode is nothing more than a bunch of people standing around talking at one another. There is virtually nothing else. It was the most painfully boring thing I’ve ever seen in anime. The dialogue isn’t even witty or profound or satirical or playful. It’s just people talking and explaining the rules of the universe. ZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZ. I somehow managed to bring myself to watch episode 2. It was more of the same. More nothing. Nothing fucking happened in the first 70 minutes of the series. That was enough for me to put all the nails in Fate/Zero’s coffin. I dropped this series as hard as fucking possible. Maybe I’ll miss out on some brilliant plotting, but I don’t care. If a series is too lazy to even attempt to plot its events through actions rather than dialogue, it’s not worth my time. Fuck this show.
Verdict: Shitty
24
May
15

Guardians of the Galaxy Took a Shit on the Universe

The latest mega-blockbuster from unstoppable Marvel Studios was Guardians of the Galaxy. People hailed it as the greatest cinematic achievement since the introduction of the talkie. It was heralded as the best movie of the year. It had everything: action, adventure, comedy, and wonder. It also had a giant sentient tree and a talking raccoon. Let’s face facts here, people. Guardians of the Galaxy was passable summer fare. It wasn’t revolutionary, it didn’t do anything that hasn’t already been done before. It was an average, braindead, popcorn movie that doesn’t have a lot of rewatch value.

I say Guardians is braindead because it requires no active thought on the part of the viewer. All the audience is required to do is sit back, relax, and DURR WATCH DEM EXPLOSIONS BLOW STUFF UP REAL GOOD DURR! As you start to curl your hands into angry fists, take a second to think about that last statement. Try hard to think of a single scene in Guardians that challenges your brain, has a plot twist, leaves something ambiguous, or posits a viewpoint that might challenge your deeply set beliefs about morality or cultures or relationships. Guardians doesn’t do anything close to any of that. All it does is blow shit up.

Continue reading ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Took a Shit on the Universe’

17
May
15

I’m a Cyborg but That’s OK, Chef

I’m a Cyborg but That’s OK

This is a really weird movie from South Korea, from the same director as Oldboy. Now, I really loved Oldboy for how dark and twisted and funny and interesting it was. Cyborg, on the other hand, is completely different in style and tone. You wouldn’t even know it was filmed by the same director. Cyborg tells the story of a young girl who goes crazy and gets put in a mental institution. She is fully deluded into thinking she’s a cyborg. So much so, that instead of eating, she licks batteries for nourishment. She navigates the eclectic group of patients, all while having visions of herself doing wild things like sprouting machine guns and mowing down everyone in the asylum. The movie is really light, and mostly a fun romp not meant to be much more than that. While it was fun, it was kind of forgettable. I wouldn’t disparage anyone for liking it, but there is little substance here. Once the shock value and its weirdness wears off, there is little else going for it.

Verdict: Average

Chef

Writer, director, and star Jon Favreau plays a disaffected chef trying to make his way in the culinary world. He is head chef of a fancy restaurant, and likes to try new things. He unfortunately butts heads with the restaurant’s owner who only wants to stick to the hits. This leads to him serving an uninspired meal to a nasty food critic, which ultimately leads Favreau to quit his job. What follows is essentially a roadtrip movie. Favreau buys a food truck, and drives it from Florida to California with his son and best friend in tow. Along the way they make Cubano sandwiches, and Favreau reignites his passion for cooking. On top of that, Favreau also, more importantly, energizes the flagging relationship between himself and his son. He was on-track to win Neglectful Father of the Year before the cross-country journey. Maybe it’s kind of a cliche that they can fix all their relationship issues in a van serving food, but it worked in the film. The movie was very well written, well acting, well directed, surprisingly funny, and tackled a very interesting and unusual subject matter. Favreau himself is no dummy, and sets himself opposite some beautiful women. It’s a little hard to believe they’d swoon over him, but you can’t blame the guy.

Verdict: Good

03
May
15

Madoka Magica Mega Review

The Series
Madoka Magica is a magical girl series in the loosest sense of the term. Rather, it’s a deconstruction of the magical girl genre. It is a dark, adult-themed drama with despair, loss, and consequences. While most magical girl series are about goodness and purity which allow the girl to save the world, Madoka Magica eschews all of the usual trappings. It still has girls with powers and cute costumes, but nearly everything else is different.
Madoka Magica is Faustian in a sense. The girls must make a deal with Kyubey, essentially selling their souls, in order to gain their powers and make their wish come true. Unfortunately, Kyubey doesn’t give them all the necessary information: like their bodies are now robotic husks with their souls trapped inside gems, or the fact that they will all inevitably turn into witches at some point. Kyubey, despite being an emotionless, almost neutral third party, turns into a great villain for the series. The deeper the show goes, the more you realize he is holding back. And it’s not that he’s holding back for secondary gain, no, he just doesn’t give out the information if it isn’t asked directly. It’s kind of like dealing with an Autistic person or something.
Plenty of girls jump aboard the magical girl train like Sayaka, Mami, and Kyoko. They fight witches in thoroughly exciting action sequences. Fortunately, there is plenty of action in the series. Almost every single episode has something going on. And as the series progresses, the stakes of the action increases. A sense of doom, which was subtle in the beginning, grows ever larger as the series progresses. They manage to raise the stakes time and time again, and do it in a way that feels completely natural given the ground-rules the series has set.

Continue reading ‘Madoka Magica Mega Review’

26
Apr
15

Boardwalk Empire is Over

Boardwalk Empire quietly aired on HBO for the last five years, and the final season recently wrapped up. This was an interesting series because it had the pedigree of an all-out hit. It had Steve Buscemi in the lead with lavish productions values, a fantastic period setting, and a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese. Strangely, it never reached commercial mass appeal. It seemed to always be overshadowed by other series like Game of Thrones or whatever else HBO happened to be airing. Boardwalk Empire was always the bridesmaid on the progamming block. That was too bad, because it deserved better. It was a great series.

The story was about prohibition-era gangsters, their battle for control of the bootleg liquor industry, and the rise of organized crime in the United States. While it is ostensibly fiction, there are a lot of historical characters populating the series like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and many others. Buscemi’s character, Nucky Thompson, was based on real-life gangster Enoch Johnson. They chose to fictionalize him so they could do whatever they wanted with his storyline, and not have to stick too rigidly to historical fact.

The numerous characters wove a fantastic tapestry of stories stretching over the course of the roaring 20s. The characters all effected one another, not always directly, but each player had a part that could influence events in everyone’s lives. It doesn’t quite get to The Wire’s level of interconnectedness, but it certainly does a good job, anyway. The characters are absolutely fascinating, from the lead played by Buscemi, to Michael Shannon’s rage-proned prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden, to Kelly MacDonald as Nucky’s wife, to Michael William’s Chalky White, to disfigured Richard Harrow, played by John Huston. There are many more characters than this, and they all electrify the screen.

Continue reading ‘Boardwalk Empire is Over’

19
Apr
15

And So It Goes, Begin Again

And So It Goes

I was stuck on a 12-hour flight and my choices were to sleep (impossible), stare at the back of the headrest in front of me, or watch this nauseating piece of shit. Reading was off the table because I had stupidly packed my book, and didn’t have it in my carry-on. Anyway, I chose the movie. This 2014 movie stars Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton playing characters meant to be thirty-year-olds. They sleep around, act goofy, obsess about their careers, and stumble through life. Of course, it’s allowed to never have your life completely figured out, but the glaringly bad writing, the fact that they couldn’t adjust things for their ages, dragged this film down quickly. Douglas’ character is suddenly forced to take care of his 9-year-old granddaughter. Keaton lives next door (in a duplex apartment) and helps pick up the slack. They meander about their pointless lives doing nothing of interest. The little girl does some school project about butterflies or some shit. Eventually, the movie farts to an ending and it stops. The acting is woefully bad, with everyone phoning in their performances. Avoid this one.

Verdict: Shitty

Begin Again

On the same flight, right after And So It Goes ended, Begin Again started. This isn’t a movie I would ever have chosen to watch, but it turned out better than I expected. Mark Ruffalo stars as a music producer who used to be big, but lately has been churning out nothing but shit. His company eventually gives him the boot. Keira Knightley stars as the girlfriend of a douchey pop-star played by Adam Levine. Occasionally, she writes songs for him. They live a comfortable, yuppy lifestyle until one day he cheats on her and she leaves him. She decides to strike out on her own, playing her own music. Ruffalo sees her at an open mic night, and realizes she could be the next big thing. They pool their limited resources, and record an album (written and performed by her) in various New York City locations. Naturally, the album becomes a big hit. I liked this movie for several reasons. The characters are fairly well written, they feel organic, and interact in largely believable ways. Ruffalo and Knightley worked well together on screen. I wouldn’t say they necessarily have chemistry, because Ruffalo doesn’t have chemistry with anyone. The story moves in interesting directions, and it never once verges into cliche territory. And the highlight was the segment of them recording the album, which was lots of fun to watch. It’s a decent movie, and one worth checking out.

Verdict: Good

12
Apr
15

Man of Tai Chi

The struggle is real.

Keanu Reeves directed this 2013 martial arts film starring himself and stuntman Tiger Chen. When reviewing martial arts films, you often cannot judge them on the same merits as dramas, comedies, or other kinds of movies. First and foremost is the action, and everything else is secondary. I can forgive a lot of missteps in martial arts movies as long as the action holds up. Of course, it’s not all about the action, but I try not to let those other things color my review too much. With that being said, Man of Tai Chi is a really bad movie.
Man of Tai Chi is the first movie directed by Reeves. He also stars as the villain. He doesn’t really have a lot of screentime, but when he does show up, every second he is on screen is cringe worthy. He lowers his voice an octave and growls all his lines. Most of his lines consist of very short phrases such as “Finish him” or “You owe me a life” and yet with such limited dialogue, he still can’t deliver the lines believably. He also bizarrely cackles directly into the camera in one jarring scene.

Continue reading ‘Man of Tai Chi’




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