“Space Pirate Captain Harlock” (2013) – Review

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Director:  Shinji Aramaki

Writers:  Leiji Matsumoto (Manga), Harutoshi Fukui & Kiyoto Takeuchi (Screenplay)

IMDb Logline:  Space Pirate Captain Harlock and his fearless crew face off against the space invaders who seek to conquer the planet Earth.

Pros:

  1. Excellent CGI work
  2. Steampunk look of the Arcadia and its crew and technology
  3. Fairly well-developed characters

Cons:

  1. The train comes off the track in the third act with some head scratching developments
  2. The protagonist is Logan and not Captain Harlock

Review:  A very surprising update of another late 70s anime cartoon based off the manga of Leiji Matsumoto; fun for the whole family even though the finale doesn’t live-up to the build-up.  The characters are well-defined with both the protagonist and antagonist having complete story arcs.  The look of the film is incredible as well as well detailed.

Grade = B

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.


“Space Battleship Yamato 2199″ (2010) – Review

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Director:  Takashi Yamazaki

Writers:  Leiji Matsumoto (Manga), Yoshinobu Nishizaki (Story), Shimako Sato (Screenplay)

Stars:  Takuya Kimura (Susumu Kodai), Meisa Kuroki (Yuki Mori), Toshiro Yanagiba (Shiro Sanada)

IMDb Logline:  The crew of the space battleship Yamato set out on a journey to the planet Iscandar to acquire a device that can heal the ravaged Earth.

Pros:  

  1. Battlestar Galactica set design and space battles
  2. The realization of the actual battleship
  3. The activation of the Wave Motion Cannon
  4. Fairly decent update of the first season story arc into a feature-length story

Cons:

  1. At 2 hrs and 20 mins in length, way too long
  2. Acting is weak with some characters over acted and others constantly looking straight ahead blankly
  3. Enemy characterization is weak

Review:  Nostalgia for the late 70s anime cartoon Starblazers is not enough to overcome bad acting, weak enemy, and some serious plot holes is this live-action modern re-telling.  Also, the screenwriters make the mistake of assuming the audience is familiar with the cartoon series and its characters.  If you have never watched the series, then you will be scratching your head wondering why the ship’s doctor is always running around with a sake bottle in hand.

(NOTE:  Clicking on the movie poster will allow you to watch the entire film w/ English Subtitles.  You will also have to click on the second link beneath the poster to watch the final twenty minutes.)

Grade = C (B for fans of the original late 70s cartoon)

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Click on image to watch MOVIE

Click here to watch the final twenty minutes w/ English subtitles.

PS:  I am a big fan of the original Starblazers series, and in fact would wake-up at 5:30 AM to watch the series on the local UHF station every week day.

SERIES FACT:  The show is only known as Starblazers in the United States, and the ships name is Argo and not Yamato.  The real battleship Yamato was sunk by the US Navy during WWII.


“Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) – Review

Print

Director:  James Gunn

Writers:  James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

Stars:  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel

IMDb Logline:  Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

Pros:

  1. Great character development for all the protagonists
  2. Impressive voice work from both Bradley Cooper (Rocket) and Vin Diesel (Groot).  Cooper for his lightning fast and surprisingly emotional performance, and Diesel for delivering expressive and emotive readings of his one phrase of dialogue throughout the entire film.
  3. James Gunn’s, the director, world building is a balance of the original series Star Trek with humanoid painted aliens & story telling, and the adventure & fun of the original trilogy Star Wars films.
  4. Action packed third act the audience can follow sprinkled with moments of comedy and sacrifice
  5. General Eddie Murphy action comedy vibe similar to Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs but with much less cursing

Con:

  1. Generic principal villain

Review:  Much like Raiders of the Lost ArkGuardians of the Galaxy knows how to make an audience enjoy itself.  Released from the sometimes heavy burden of established comic mythology, Guardians lets loose with a band of misfits that learn to love & care for each other.  In turn, this allows the audience to love & care for them.  From its impressive special effects, camaraderie & chemistry among characters, easter-eggs for comics and 80s fans, and genuine emotion at the end of the film, Guardians of the Galaxy does no wrong.

Grade = A-

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

 

Other great Guardians‘ images:

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When (not if) will Captain America die in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

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After watching The Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend, a completely random thought unrelated to the movie popped into my head, “someone better die fighting Thanos in the 3rd Avengers movie.”

The innate flaw of the superhero genre is that you know going in the superhero(s) are going to survive.  As franchises go on, this conceit is what basically causes them to creak, then crack, and ultimately crumble–the original Superman franchise comes to mind, as well as the Bond films before the Daniel Craig reboot.  But how much more would we enjoy a film if the survival of all the protagonists was not assured?

Steve Rogers’ death is assured.  Chris Evans has stated in interviews he would like to take a break from acting.  Sebastian Stan has a nine feature film contract with Marvel as Bucky Barnes.  It has already been established in the comics that Bucky takes on the mantle of Captain America after Steve is killed.  So the question is when and not if.  I believe it will happen during the 3rd Avengers movie against Thanos.  Why

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The destruction of Captain America’s shield is a very symbolic and powerful symbol.  And though the shield has been destroyed in the history of the comics a few times, only one of those times also involved Steve Rogers’ death:

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And unlike the comic death, this one will stick.  Quite frankly it has to.  Marvel has been upping-the-ante with each subsequent film.  With Guardians they have basically identified Thanos as the ultimate evil in the galaxy and the collection of the infinity stones the creation of the ultimate weapon.  How can there be no consequences to fighting him?  How can someone not die in the confrontation?  If no one does, then anything that follows cheapens everything.  I would be surprised if only Steve Rogers dies.  My guess would be Rogers, the Hulk, and Loki in an act of redemption saving Thor.

And what about Avengers 2 Age of Ultron?  Will anyone die then?  Who knows outside of the filmmakers and the studio.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if there is at least one major casualty:

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Like Captain America, Iron Man is also a mantle.

Ultron in the movie is created by Tony Stark.  will Avengers 2 be a modern retelling of the Frankenstein story?

 


“Boyhood” (2014) – Review

Boyhood

Writer/Director:  Richard Linklater

Stars:  Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelei Linklater

IMDb Logline:  The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.

Pros:  

  1. Interesting idea excellently executed
  2. Outstanding performances from Ellar Coltrane (Mason), Patricia Arquette (Mom), and Ethan Hawke (Dad)
  3. Refreshing to see a role played by someone who is actually the age of the character they are playing
  4. True to life

Cons:

  1. Weak performance from Marco Perella (Mom’s second husband) nearly derails the middle-school years
  2. Some years feel flatter than others–as life sometimes is
  3. Lorelei Linklater’s ambivalence to the project in the middle years of shooting also comes across in her performance

Review:  Boyhood is a well crafted, acted, and scripted film.  And though the story is immediately relatable, I personally felt a disconnect with the film.  But something about the film stays with you–little details you remember or conversations between characters.  The rawness of some scenes is very affecting; the tenderness between characters genuine.  Though I do not agree with all the high praise the film is currently garnering, I have a feeling that upon a re-watching in a year or two I may change my tune.

Grade = B-

Click on image to view trailer

Click on image to view trailer


(Not So) Weekly Wednesday Funny

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“Maleficent” (2014) – Review

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Director:  Robert Stromberg

Writer:  Linda Woolverton

Stars:  Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, and Sam Riley

IMDb Logline:  A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.

Pros:

  1. Angelina Jolie
  2. Special Effects
  3. Three Fairy God Mothers

Cons:

  1. Turned one of Disney’s most evil villains into a sympathetic character

Review:  Though a feast for the eyes with a great performance by Jolie as Maleficent, in the end the film is mostly forgettable.  The idea of providing Maleficent a reason why she becomes evil is a good one, but giving her a “Disney” ending just feels wrong.

Grade = C

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Click on image to view trailer


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