Macross Zero, Anime tv series (2002)

Prequels. It is a concept that the past few years has been introduced in novels, movies, and tv series. The question I have always asked myself is what is precisely the point of a prequel ? Sure it is nice to find out some backstory about certain characters, or some kind of clarification about events that were not fully explained in whatever the prequel is based on. But because a prequel can ofcourse not change the events of the established story, I always find that it lacks excitement. You know the story of what comes after, and ofcourse which characters will be in the original so they can’t be killed off in the prequel. If done well however, it can occasionally be fun to find out what led up to certain events happening in the original story. Honestly though, I am not a big fan of prequels. I do watch them,especially for franchises that I really enjoy like for instance the anime series Macross. Just like Gundam Wing it has now had so many different shows, that it is hard to keep track of it all. I might do a post for the entire Macross saga in the future. For now, all you need to know for this one, is that Macross Zero is a prequel to the series that started it all.

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I believe I can fly….

It is the year 1999 and a gigantic alien spacecraft crashlands on Earth. At the time the world is engulfed in a global war, but with the realisation that mankind is not alone, an uneasy peace is established. Nine years later, a lot of new technology has been realised with the help of what is found within the bowels of the alien ship. Most notably the transformable Valkyrie fighters. Even though the war has pretty much died down, there are still a lot of skirmishes between the new U.N.Spacy and Anti-Un forces. During one of these fights, we meet up with the young pilot Shin Kudo, who gets shot down by a strange alien craft. Crashlanding on a Mayan island he manages to survive. When he meets up with the inhabitants of the island, he soon realises that they have a secret that ties them to the alien ship. Deep under the ocean there resides an alien weapon that has been buried for over 10.000 years. A weapon that may result in the end of mankind when released……

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Nothing can keep us apart, except maybe a pink bubbly thing.

One thing that Macross has always been good at, is showcasing transformable fighter planes that beat the crap out of each other. And in that regard Macross Zero certainly does not disappoint. This 5 part series showcases some of the coolest Mecha fight sequences in this franchise to date. This being a prequel it was nice to see a lot of the old craft from the original series returning, most notably the Skull One. But there were also some new Mecha that we did not yet see in any of the other series. These fights were definitely the highlight of the show.

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Kind of gives a new dimension to the word overkill.

Another thing that has always been a trademark for this series is the love triangle arc. This time it is between the hero of the story Shin, and two sisters from the island on which he crashlands, Sara and Mao Nome. The characters in this franchise are usually one of the strong points, but in this prequel I found them to be rather dull. I did not establish any kind of attachment to them whatsoever, and that usually is a bad thing. What I did like was the return of the tragic hero from the original series Roy Focker. Even though he played he a small part in the events for this series, it was an important one. As Roy has always been a fan favorite character, many will enjoy seeing his return.

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Yep, that really is Roy Focker.

The story for this prequel was rather confusing. It contained a lot of mythical mumbo jumbo, that I at times could not make heads nor tails of. This being a prequel it does ofcourse contain some interesting ties to the original series, and I guess that makes it somewhat worth it. Has it changed my view on prequels though? Nope, I can honestly say that it did not. Macross Zero is worth the watch for the incredible Mecha fights that are contained within these five episodes, but ultimately I found it to be a rather disappointing entry into the Macross mythology. If you like Macross though, this is one you at least want to watch once, if only to see a few classic things make a reappearance. If you have yet to discover Macross, I would recommend starting with the original tv series from 1982, which is still every bit as groundbreaking as when it was first shown on television.

I give Macross Zero a 6 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: My favorite creature feature movies (part 1)

It has been quite a while since I did a special features post. A couple of weeks ago I was trading thoughts with Karandi from 100wordanime (and yes this is also a shameless plug to get you to follow her blog if you have not done so already), after she reviewed the movie Deep Blue Sea. I thought it might be interesting to write a post about my favorite movies that feature some kind of creature scaring the crap out of people. After having recently seen the movie Anaconda, I recalled this conversation, and now finally I have gotten around to writing this post. Sorry it has taken me a while to do so, but I still hope you will enjoy reading it. Why part 1? Well, in this post I will focus on movies that are at least somewhat realistic, and part 2 will focus on science fiction movies that feature terrible creatures from beyond. Well, enough small talk, let’s get on with it!

1. Jaws (1975)

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Hmmmmm….tasty……

To not include this classic Steven Spielberg movie, would simply be impossible. For maybe the only soul on this planet who has yet to see this film, I will give a short description of what it is about. The summer town of Amityville is all of a sudden being terrified by a great white shark, with a taste for human flesh. After a number of people have been attacked, it is up to the local sheriff, a marine biologist and a shark hunter to take care of the beast. A titanic struggle between man and shark soon begins. Yes, this movie is now 42 years old, but wow it is still one of the best monster movies ever. Even though the sharkeffects may, at times, feel a bit dated, the movie is still very effective in bringing up the scares and the tension. A classic film in every sense of the word, this is an absolute must see movie.

2. Alligator (1980)

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Did someone call the police?

After Jaws there were a lot of attempts to cash in on the success of that film. Most of these were very bad, but there were also a few movies that were quite entertaining. Alligator definitely fell into that last category. The premise for this film was pretty simple: a baby alligator was flushed down the toilet, but managed to survive and grow into a gigantic monstrosity. The beast eventually left the sewers and began attacking the local residents. This movie is a bit of a cult classic, but highly enjoyable. It does not take itself very seriously, but there are enough tense moments in this film, that will have you hang on to the edge of your seat. In no way will this one beat Jaws, but it is definitely not a bad movie.

3. Rogue (2007)

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Here’s Johny!!

Staying with reptiles, the 2007 Australian movie Rogue features a giant crocodile. An American journalist encounters a giant man eating crocodile while on assignment in the Australian outback. He is trapped on a small island that is beginning to flood. And with a hungry crocodile nearby, that is really not a good place to be. This movie starts of somewhat slow, but makes up for it in the second half of the film. The creature effects for this one are truly astonishing, and especially near the end of the film you start to wonder how on Earth they managed to accomplish that. This is a relatively small, but very tense and exciting movie.

4. Arachnophobia (1990)

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Itsy bitsy spider….

Now, I am not afraid of spiders, but after seeing this film, I could definitely develop a fear for them. A doctor discovers a new species of spider in the South American jungle. Travelling back to the States, the spider eventually manages to breed with a domestic species, and this is the beginning of a nightmare for the residents of a small town. Now, if you like movies with jumpscares, this one will give you more than you might have bargained for. I remember when I saw this film in the theatres for the first time. I had never seen an audience jump out of their seats so many times, myself included. It is a great and fun film, with a lot of tense moments, and some very decent special effects.

5. Cujo (1983)

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No worries, he doesn’t bite……

Cujo is a movie that is based on the novel by Stephen King. A friendly St.Bernard gets bitten by a bat and contracts rabies. A mother and her son are trapped in a car, while the dog stalks them. It is the middle of summer, so the heat is scorching and time is running out for the both of them. This is a truly tense movie, and one of the better Stephen King films out there. What is interesting to note, is that they used a real dog for this movie. You really wonder how they have managed to train an animal to do all the things you see in this film. It is all very convincing and very scary.

6. The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

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Are you looking at us?

This movie is a very underrated gem. A bridge engineer while on assignment in Africa, has to enlist the help of an old hunter as his crew gets attacked by a pair of lions. It is not long though that the two of them discover that these are no ordinary lions. What is really interesting about this movie, is that this film is based on a true story. With veteran actors Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas cast for the two lead roles, this film really is a joy to watch from beginning to end. Filmed mostly in Africa, the scenery alone is one of the reasons to watch this movie.

7. Bait (2012)

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The things you can find in a supermarket these days..

After the release of Jaws there have been so many sharkmovies that I have really lost count. Amongst all these it is very hard to find something original, but Bait really tries to be different. A tsunami strikes at an Australian town, and a number of people become trapped inside a supermarket. To add to their problems a couple of great white sharks have become trapped with them….This was really a very unique sharkmovie, simply because of the truly original setting. It was simply a blast to see people taking the fight to the sharks with only supermarket appliances. The result was a fun and exciting film, that was a really enjoyable watch.

8. Burning Bright (2010)

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Here kitty, kitty, kitty…..

This small, and relatively unknown film was truly a surprise. A woman together with her autistic younger brother becomes trapped inside a house during a storm. This would not be so bad, except for the fact that a tiger has been let loose inside the house as well,  in order to kill them. This tense thriller really had some seriously scary scenes. Again filmed with a live animal, it served up some very realistic and horrifying moments. It is always nice when you don’t expect much from a film, and it turns into something totally awesome. Burning Bright is such a film, and I highly recommend seeking this one out.

Final Thoughts

Well, that just about does it for part 1 of this special features post. Ofcourse this list is by no means complete, as there are definitely a lot of other animal movies out there, that are every bit as enjoyable as the ones on this list. However for me, these movies were definitely my favorites. Coming up somewhere next week, will be part 2 of this post where I am going to focus on my favorite science fiction monsterfilms.

But now, it is over to you, my readers. What is your favorite animal monster movie? Are any of those movies perhaps included on my list? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you very much for reading, and see you at the next post!

 

 

 

Deadpool Omnibus volume 1, a Marvel Comics Book (2012)

Last year’s Deadpool movie was seriously one of the funniest superhero movies that has ever graced the cinemas. The real kicker is that even though I really like superheroes a lot, I had never even heard of the character before the movie (and if Deadpool were here, he would probably dismember me for saying so). Even though he is now one of the most popular Marvel characters I really had to play catch up with a lot of comics in order to find out more about him. Last year I had received a very cool collection of the 2012 version of this briljant comic for my birthday. (And thank you again for giving me this wonderful gift, you know who you are). Collecting issues 1-12 from the 2012 Deadpool series, this one has been a blast from start to finish.

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Never accuse Deadpool of taking half measures. 

In the first half of this book Deadpool has to deal with the dead Presidents of the United States of America. Yes, you read that correctly, that really is the plot of this insane story. Some of America’s greatest Presidents have been brought back to life, and are hellbent on bringing death and destruction throughout the world. All that stands in their way is Deadpool who has been enlisted by S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop them. After this crazy story, the second half of the book deals with the aftermath of this, and has Deadpool trying to stop the demon Vetis from trying to take over hell. At the same time he is also trying to save a friend who has been accidentally trapped inside his head. Yup, this really is every bit as nuts as it sounds.

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Yep, Thor also makes a brief appearance.

This book was seriously enjoyable. Everyone who has seen last year’s movie, knows that Deadpool is completely insane. And in the comic book he is even worse. Talking to readers, talking to himself, and pretty much never shutting up will at times bring tears to your eyes from laughing. Most of the art for this book comes from the hands of artists Tony Moore and Mike Hawthorne. Both of them do a great job of bringing this book to life. The art looks great, although this one is definitely not for the faint at heart. Some of the panels contain some very bloody and gory scenes with Deadpool slicing up his enemies (or getting sliced up himself).

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Hmm, that hole in his head definitely looks painful. 

Needless to say I loved this book. Both the art and storylines were great, and my only regret is that the last issue ends with the dreaded sentence: “to be continued….”. Besides that, there is simply nothing here that I disliked. Everyone who enjoyed the Deadpool film, and wants to find out more about “The Merc with a mouth”, should consider buying this book. It is a highly enjoyable read, and will have you thirsting for more by the time you have finished it.

I give Deadpool Omnibus 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

Anaconda, American movie (1997)

I have always enjoyed watching horrormovies featuring some kind of animal that terrorises people. It all started ofcourse with the Steven Spielberg movie Jaws. A classic in every way, this film was responsible for spawning a whole range of movies that featured some type of animal vs man. Over the years, I think nearly every animal on Earth must have been in some kind of horror film. Ofcourse some of these were seriously bad and incredibly cringeworthy. However occasionally a movie comes along that seems to be a B-movie, but is so enjoyable that you take that for granted. The 1997 movie Anaconda definitely falls into that last category.

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I am wondering who is more scared here.

In Anaconda a documentary crew heads off down a tropical river in the Amazon, in search of a mystical tribe. While travelling down the river they come across a shady character who is trapped on a boat during a storm. The man introduces himself as Paul Serone and tells them he hunts snakes for a living. When the journey continues, the head of their team, dr. Cale, becomes seriously injured. Serone tells them he knows he a shortcut across the river, which will take them faster to a hospital in order to save their friend. While skeptical, the remaining members of the crew including filmmaker Terri Flores, agree to follow his advice. But soon it becomes apparent that Paul has ulterior motives. Not only does Terri have to face the increasingly more psychotic Paul, but she will also discover just what it is he is after. Soon they will have to face a monstrous snake, and the fight of their lives will begin in earnest. Will they all survive, or will they become snakefood….?

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Now, that is one scary looking dude.

 

Anaconda does little to to hide the fact that this is obviously a B-movie. Although the impressive cast that is involved in this movie would have you guessing otherwise. One of the reasons to watch this movie is veteran actor John Voight. He plays the role of snakehunter Paul Serrone, and it is obvious that he is having a blast playing him. The character he portrays is a seriously evil one, but he plays the role so well, that you can’t help but root for him at times. Also included amongst the cast is Jennifer Lopez, who plays the feisty Terri Flores who is more than a match for Serrone. Finally we have Eric Stolz who plays dr Cale in a small but important role, and Ice Cube who provides some comic relief.

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Seriously man, no joke, look behind you. 

The special effects in this film are a mix of animatronics and CGI and they are both a hit and miss in this movie. Some of the effects are pretty impressive, but there are also scenes that are seriously bad. But then again that is also part of the charm of this film. Anaconda serves up just enough thrills to make this movie exciting enough. It is a bit slow to get going, but in the second half of the film the tension begins to increase and we get a couple of fun scenes with the killer snake. There is no real gore or blood to speak of, so if you like your horrorfilms more in the style of a thriller this one is for you. Anaconda is a fun B-type horrormovie, that serves up an hour and a half of mindless creature filled fun. While this film certainly won’t win the award for Best Picture, it is entertaining enough all the same. And sometimes that is just all you need.

I give Anaconda a 8 out of 10 score.

Fast and Furious 8, American movie (2017)

In the year 2013 the world was shocked by the tragic death of actor Paul Walker, myself included. I remember it vividly, like it was yesterday. It is strange that with events like those, you still remember what you were doing at the time. I had just finished eating breakfast and put on the television to check the news, and then I read it: Paul Walker killed in car accident. I literally screamed out loud at the television screen. I was shocked and devastated that such a young and promising actor was killed in such a way. The filming of part 7 of the franchise he was so well known for, the Fast and the Furious, was already well under way. The way they eventually dealt with his death was done in a very respectful way. And now, this year we have the release of part 8, where we get to see how the franchise will continue without Paul.

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So….you think you are tough huh?

The Fast & Furious 8 starts off in Cuba where Dom is enjoying his honeymoon together with his girl Letty. All seems well for a change, but as usual this is very shortlived. Dom gets a call from his old buddy Hobbs to help steal a device, that in the wrong hands could end up hurting a lot of people. It is not long before the team gets put back together and the heist begins. However, just when they make their escape, a very unexpected thing happens: Dom betrays everyone, and ends up with the device firmly in his possession. Later Dom is seen together with a mysterious woman who has very sinister plans. This is the beginning of a test to see just how strong the bonds of family really are….

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Is it cold in here or what?

While I am writing this, there are already reports that this movie has made a record world wide opening of $532.5 million dollars. If that isn’t crazy, I don’t know what is. I don’t think anyone would have predicted this when part 1 was released way back in 2001. But is part 8 a worthy addition to the franchise? Well…yes and no. Let us start with the good stuff first. One thing this franchise has always been good at, is action, and on that front the movie does not disappoint. There are some absolutely crazy action scenes in this one, and as usual they are completely over the top and unrealistic. But it really is hard not to smile when a bunch of cars on an icefield get followed by a huge submarine, just to describe a scene.

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Yup…..that really is a sub.

The story, which ofcourse is always put in second place in movies such as these, was this time around given some more layers. It seems that this year we get a new trend that good characters seem to turn to the dark side. Even though the movie had plenty of action, there were still a few scenes that were only dialogue driven. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but with this being the longest Fast and the Furious to date I felt it would have been better that a few of those scenes were cut. The movie did feel too long in the end.

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What are you looking at?

One of the best things in this movie was definitely actress Charlize Theron in her role as the villain Cypher. I would even go so far as to say that she was the most interesting villain from the entire franchise. Other high marks must go to Jason Statham, who has some of the coolest scenes in the movie. The rest of the cast were fine, but occasionally it deed feel as if they were all acting on autopilot. And that was a recurring theme in this movie. Yes it was a lot of fun, and I really did enjoy it enough to warrant the price for the ticket. But I did feel that this time around there was just something missing. Maybe it’s just that it doesn’t feel as fresh anymore as all the previous installments. With a part 9 and 10 already confirmed, one has to wonder where they are going next and if too much of a good thing is….well…too much.

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I think after this I need to make a pitstop.

However this was still a, if you pardon the pun, fun ride all around. Even though Paul Walker’s presence is definitely missed, Fast 8 delivers enough thrills and fun to make a trip to the cinema worth your time. With a lot of great and spectacular action sequences, comedic banter and a great villain, The Fast and the Furious has not yet run out of fuel. One has to wonder though how long it will be until they are going to run on empty….

I give the Fast and the Furious 8 a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Eliminators, American/UK movie (2016)

Straight to dvd movies are a category of films that don’t make it into cinemas for all kinds of different reasons. It could be due to a lack of budget, a limited interest, negative reviews, well….you get the idea. Especially in the horror and action moviegenres, these films are brought out on quite a regular basis. Being a fan of both genres, I buy a lot of these mostly B-movies as some of them are enjoyable enough. Scott Adkins is an action star that really has been making a lot of these movies, and pretty much never disappoints. One of his latest films is the one I am about to review.

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In Eliminators, Adkins plays the role of Thomas, a former federal agent who has been living in protective custody together with his young daughter. One night his house mistakenly gets invaded by a group of thugs. Thomas manages to fight them off, but in so doing gets seriously injured. When he wakes up in the hospital, he finds himself handcuffed and his daughter taken from him. The police accuse him of murder, and the local news media have extensive coverage of him on television. This eventually catches the attention of the man he has been hiding from. Soon, one of the most dangerous assassins in the world is sent to kill Thomas. But Thomas will stop at nothing to survive and find his daughter. The hunt is now on, and a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins in the streets of London….

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Anyone who has seen movies with Scott Adkins pretty much know what to expect. Some decent fight scenes, a few gunbattles, and a pretty entertaining ride along the way. In that regard Eliminators is basically the same. The story for this movie is ofcourse not an Oscar winning script, but has a nice twists that I at least did not expect. But ofcourse one watches these movies for the action, and Eliminators does not disappoint on that front. Adkins always manages to give a nice performance with his martial arts, and as an actor he certainly isn’t bad either.

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The rest of the cast does a pretty decent job as well. Former wrestler Stu Bennet plays the part of the menacing assassin and does so convincingly enough. This results in some highly entertaining fight sequences between him and Adkins. All in all this is a film that you will enjoy if you like movies in the style of the early Jean Claude van Damme flicks. If you keep your expectations low enough, and like B-grade action films, you will get enough of a kick out of this one, to satisfy your action fix.

I give Eliminators a 7 out of 10 score.

Akira, Japanese (Animated) movie (1988)

It has been called one of the most influential films of all time. A movie that many feel is responsible for causing Anime to become popular in the Western world. Based on the Manga of the same name that consisted of more than 2000 pages, a lot of people still find this one of the finest anime movies ever created. I am ofcourse talking about the masterpiece called Akira, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, the man that also created and wrote the manga. So why is this movie so incredible, and still after all these years a classic that has withstood the test of time very, very well? I will get to that question shortly, but let me first start with describing what this movie is about, for those that are not yet familiar with it.

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In the year 1988 a strange psychic event occurs that completely obliterates the city of Tokyo. Soon after, World War Three starts, and Tokyo is rebuild into a new city called Neo Tokyo. The movie itself picks up the story right after these events. It is now the year 2019, and Neo-Tokyo has become a city with wide scale riots and motorcycle gangs that rule the streets. One of these gangs led by the young Kaneda, one night gets into a fight with another gang called the Clowns. During the fight one of Kaneda’s best friends, Tetsuo Shima, nearly runs over a strange boy who is right in the midde of the street. Crashing his motorcycle, Tetsuo is seriously injured and is taken to the hospital. Once there it soon becomes clear that the boy he nearly ran over, was no ordinary boy but someone who possessed strange psychic powers. And it appears that Tetsuo has now somehow also received these powers. Meanwhile Kaneda desperately searches for his friend, while being pursued by secret government forces. However Tetsuo’s powers soon begin to grow out of control, and the event that destroyed Tokyo so many years ago might repeat itself…..

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It had been a very long time since I had last seen this movie, but seeing it appear on Netflix was enough to make me rewatch this film. And it is still every bit as powerful as when I first saw it. The animation for this movie is simply amazing. In every scene there are so many things that are going on in the backgrounds, that you will probably see new ones every time you watch this movie. With so many details presented in each frame, the city of Neo-Tokyo truly feels like it is a character itself.

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And speaking of characters, that is one of the other highlights of this film. The young and somewhat cocky Kaneda, the hero of the movie, is someone that is incredibly hard not to like. He provides most of the comic relief in this film, something that is very much needed as this movie can at times be seriously depressing because of it’s dark themes. Kaneda’s quest to find his friend is at times heartbreaking, especially during the final parts of the movie where he is forced to make some really tough decisions. Tetsuo is a character a lot of people might relate to. A person who has always stood in the shadow of someone else, and now comes into possession of something truly incredible. The powers change him entirely and it comes down to that age old saying: “power corrupts”.

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The story of Akira is very dark, and it certainly is not a movie for everyone. There are some very brutal and graphic scenes throughout the film, and it definitely established at the time that animation certainly was not only for kids anymore. It is amazing that a film that was made almost thirty years ago now is still such an incredibly powerful movie. It’s fantastic animation, thought provoking storyline and dark and tense atmosphere make this an absolute must see for every anime fan out there. Akira is a timeless classic and will still be worth seeing even after another thirty years from now.

I give Akira a 10 out of 10 score.

 

Don’t Knock Twice, Uk movie (2016)

I think pretty much everyone as a child must have done some kind of prank. One of the most common ones of these are to either ring the doorbell or knock on someone’s door and run away. One has to wonder now what was so fun about something like that, but children seem to really have a barrel full of laughs while doing this. Why am I bringing something like this up? Is it some kind of misplaced sense of atonement for the pranks that I used to do as a kid that I am doing here? No, really no worries about that. The reason I am bringing this up, is that someone took this childhood prank and turned it into a horrormovie. Well…kind of a horrormovie anyway.

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Don’t knock twice focusses on mother Jess, who nine years ago had to give up her daughter Chloe to an orphanage. Now, she wants her back, but Chloe wants nothing to do with her anymore. One night Chloe and her boyfriend visit an old house, where according to legend a witch resides. They knock twice on her door, and then quickly leave. This seemingly innocent event, soon begins to have very dire consequences. Chloe begins to see strange things, and weird events force her to leave her own house. In desperation she flees to her mother, who at first though very happy to see her, does not believe her story. However it isn’t long before Jess has to face the fact that a demonic spirit is targeting her daughter. Will she be able to save her, or will Chloe end up as yet another victim of this ancient evil…..

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I have to say that the premise for this film was very original. Based in part on the legend of Baba Yaga (from Slavic folklore), it was the storyline that grabbed my attention for it. While there certainly are some horrorelements in this movie, I would classify this film more as a thriller. Unfortunately, it is not a very suspenseful one. The movie has a few interesting scenes, but it was not enough to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. The acting in the movie was pretty decent, especially by Katee “Starbuck” Sackhoff, who played the role of Jess. She really plays a very convincing role as the desperate mother, who will stop at nothing to win back the love of her daughter.

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This movie isn’t terrible, but it is not great either. The film is at times pretty slow, and some of the twists you can definitely see coming from miles away. The movie obviously had a low budget, but still it managed to hide that fact pretty decently. All in all there are worse movies out there, and together with the original story and the acting, just manages to keep it’s score on the positive side.

I give Don’t knock twice a 6 out of 10 score.

Boiling Point, Japanese movie (1990)

Those of you that have been following my blog for a while now, know that my taste in movies and tv series is pretty diverse. As long as the film entertains I am willing to tackle any genre. Recently I received a movie on dvd for my birthday that I had heard much about, but have never actually seen. Directed by the infamous Takeshi Kitano,that was pretty much enough to get me excited for it. Recently he had a minor role in the new Ghost in the Shell movie (you can find my review for it Here ), but he is well known by all lovers of Asian cinema. He has starred in and also directed a lot of (at times pretty controversial) movies. Most of his movies contain acts of violence, but also some dark humor, and Boiling Point is definitely no exception to this rule.

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In the beginning of the movie we get to meet the rather simple man Masaki. He plays baseball for a local team, but is not very good at it. In fact the guy really comes across as someone who has definitely not got all of his marbles straight in his head. When his coach is threatened by a local Yakuza member, he travels to Okinawa together with a friend, to buy a gun. Once there they are befriended by a psychotic gangster called Uehara. Now this guy has his own score to settle with the Yakuza. Masaki soon realises that he is in way over his head. With Uehara going off on a rampage, the simple Masaki has to find a way to stay alive, while at the same trying to find a way to protect his coach. But the crazed Uehara is definitely not making this job easy….

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Now if I would get only one word to describe this movie, it would be the word weird. The movie starts off fairly normal, and at that point is pretty much a comedy. Masaki comes across as a complete idiot, and this supplies a couple of really funny scenes on the baseball field. As soon as the Yakuza enter the movie though, the tone of the movie shifts, and is beginning to descend into complete madness. Uehara, played by director Takeshi Kitano himself, is an absolute psycho, and a very chilling figure. His natural charm makes him only more terrifying. And that comes across in the movie itself. Some seriously disturbing scenes make this at times an uncomfortable watch, as you often wonder who comes up with stuff like this in his head.

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This movie has the word cultfilm written all over it. Even though the film has a pretty straightforward storyline, there are often strange jumps in time, and this really makes you question your own sanity at times. But ofcourse this is probably what Takeshi’s goal was in the first place. I did really enjoy Masaki’s journey however. It is always a really fun thing to see a local idiot turn into a hero, allthough even that fact is questionable by the end of the film. It is hard to recommend a movie such as this. The acting in the film is fantastic, but the sometimes weird imagery certainly won’t make this a movie that everyone will enjoy. I for one was definitely entertained by it, even though this certainly isn’t a perfect movie. If you like to watch the occasional cultmovie however, this one is certainly worth checking out.

I give Boiling Point a 7 out of 10 score.

Kishin Corps, Anime tv series (1993)

Ah, classic anime. Sometimes it can just be nice to rewatch something that you vaguely remember that you enjoyed at the time, but most of the details for it have become a distant memory. Kishin Corps was a series that I owned on videotape (you know, those black boxes that contained tape and that you put into a machine called a VCR to show videos). A couple of weeks ago I visited the Dutch Comic Con, where my eyes fell on the dvd boxed set for this 24 year old animeseries. I could not believe my eyes to be honest, and I decided to buy it. I just simply could not resist. But is this series still as great as when I first saw it, or has age caught up with this one?

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Kishin Corps takes place during the Second World War, albeit a very different one from the one we read about in the history books. We first meet up with a young boy called Taishi who is entrusted with a mysterious black box by his father. The train on which they are travelling together suddenly gets attacked by the Kanto army. While fleeing for his life, a second party appears, but this one of extraterrestrial origin. A furious battle ensues, in which Taishi only just manages to escape, but then gets cornered. Just when things become extremely desperate, the heroes of the series appear: the Kishin Corps. Taishi then gets caught up in the middle of an adventure the likes of which he has never experienced before in his life. The black box that he has in his possession, contains alien technology, that becomes the focal point for a power struggle. With both the Aliens and the Nazis trying to achieve world domination, the only hope lies with the members of the Kishin Corps and their powerful robots. Will they be able to stop the tides of war?

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Kishin Corps is a very unique series. While this anime is set during the WWII era, we get a very different take on it. This is a Mecha series, but we don’t get the fast robots that you might be used to. No, instead we get towering robots that move slowly, and let the ground shake with every step they take. The robots are seriously cool and gorgeously designed, and those alone make this anime well worth watching. Most of the characters are very colourful, and one of the highlights of this series. It is really fun to see how Taishi grows from a very innocent young boy, into a more mature man by the end of the show. The members of the Kishin Corps themselves also each have their own unique traits. I do have to say, that I would have liked to have seen some more background for them. There are real life figures that also make an appearance, like Albert Einstein and even Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress. Although most of them are completely different in the way that history remembers them.

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This being a 24 year old series, the animation style is pretty dated. This is old school anime and it shows. It did not detract me in any way from the series itself though. The soundtrack for this anime is very cool, and often reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones if I were to make a comparison. As far as the storyline goes, it starts off pretty well, but towards the end, things were rushed a bit. As such I felt the ending was poor, and honestly was not as good as I remembered it. It is funny how your mind can play tricks on you, with things such as this. Still, if you like classic anime, and also enjoy alternative history storylines, this series most certainly is a treat. With a cast of cool characters, high speed action, and big robots that smash the life out of each other this classic is still worth the watch. If you prepare yourself for an ending that could have been handled better, you might get a kick out of this 7 episode series.

I give Kishin Corps a 8 out of 10 score.

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