School-Live!, anime tv series (2015)

It’s been quite a while since I have been in school. And saying it like that, really does make me feel old lol. Would I ever want to go back to school though? No, I don’t think I do. There were certainly some things that I liked, but the negative aspects of school for me at least outweigh the positive ones. Let’s just leave it at that. Why am I rambling about this? Well, the anime show I am about to review deals with school a lot, but in a different way than we are used to. First off though, I want to thank the wonderful D, over at D Talks Anime. They featured this incredible anime over on their blog, with terrific posts covering every episode. So, if you are not yet following this truly amazing blog, go over there and do that first. I promise you this review won’t be caught up in a zombie apocalypse or something. Wait, where did that come from? Zombie apocalypse? We were talking about school right? Well…..

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Well, I guess that is one way to head down an escalator.

School-live opens up with the young girl Yuki getting woken up at school by a cute looking dog. Yes, Yuki sleeps at school because she is part of the “School living club”. This group consists of four other members including the young teacher Megumi Sakura, whom everyone adores. Yuki loves school. Every day she happily skips down the hallways of the school, always looking forward to the classes she attends. The other members of the group all look out for Yuki, and try to protect her in any way they can. But it’s just a school right? Besides maybe some bullies, there is nothing life threatening at school right? Wrong…..it soon becomes clear that something absolutely horrible has happened to the world. Through the windows of the school we see a courtyard full of shambling corpses. The happy world Yuki seems to be living in is apparently in her mind. It is up to the rest of the girls to make sure Yuki, and they themselves will remain alive in the middle of the ever increasing threat of the walking dead…..

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Demonstrations for gardening tools seem to become more lifelike by the minute.

So this series was an amazing surprise. I can honestly say that I would have skipped over this anime numerous times if I had not know the plot for this one. When the series starts, it seems like this will be a very goofy comedy, with some lighthearted and very happy young girls. Even the opening song, although very catchy, seems to support this. But then the series presents it’s twist, and it becomes a very different but also very unique show. Yes, this is another anime that deals with zombies, but I promise you that it really does so in one of the most unusual ways that I have seen. Although this series can definitely be classified as horror, it never becomes too gruesome or gory. Amidst all the darkness, there is always the happy go lucky spirit of Yuki, who lives in her own world, and who seems to be unaware of the horror around her.

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I am not lying….there really is a zombie apocalypse in this anime….honest.

The characters for this series are a bit of a mixed bunch. Yuki, who is pretty much the centre of the show, is a girl that everyone seems to like. She is sweet, kind, and always happy. She got on my nerves fairly quickly though, especially because of her grating voice. The three other girls, besides the teacher, are all pretty strong but in their own ways also have their flaws. The girl Miki for instance is trying to come to terms with the loss of one of her closest friends, and also has trouble with trying to maintain the delusions of Yuki. For me, I never felt any real attachment to any of them, except for the teacher Megumi, who certainly became my favorite. Strangely enough even though I never felt much for any of them, you still got scared when they got in danger. It is really something I can’t describe, nor have I ever had any kind of similar experience.

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Let me tell you a bedtime story” Once upon a time there was this beautiful zombie…”

The story of this anime is certainly it’s strongest selling point. It contains a lot of interesting and quite frankly jaw dropping twists, that I am ofcourse not going to spoil for you. Suffice it to say, that this is not your usual zombie apocalypse storyline, but I would almost call it a feel good horrorseries. That’s not to say that everything is good in this show. One of the later episodes in this anime I really could have done without, and was one of the show’s lowpoints. Some of the comedy in this series does at times feel forced, and even cringeworthy. But that could also just be me, since I am not a huge fan of comedy in the first place. That said though, I highly recommend this 12 episode anime. It is a really unusual series, that combines two totally different genres in a refreshing mix that really is worth your time. People who have always wanted to try out a zombieshow but always thought they were too gory, might want to have a go at this one.

I give School-live a 8 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: Kenji Kawai, the God of Anime and Asian cinema soundtracks

This is going to be a bit of a different kind of post than you are used to reading on my blog. Because this is a post about music, or to be more precise soundtracks. A great movie soundtrack stays in your mind, and actually helps to increase the enjoyment of a particular movie. In the Western world we ofcourse have legends like Hans Zimmer or John Williams, that have produced a great many memorable soundtracks.  Who can forget the dark sounds of the Dark Knight trilogy, or the impressive Imperial March from the Star Wars franchise.

As much as I love the sounds of these, I have come across one composer throughout my many years of watching movies and anime, that has impressed me the most. And  that is Kenji Kawai from Japan. His soundtracks are simply speaking completely out of this world, and have given me goosebumps all over, every time I hear the sounds of them. Today I thought I would share a few of his impressive music compositions, from various anime and Asian films. I hope you will enjoy listening to them. Here they are in no particular order.

Ghost in the Shell: Opening Theme

This one is probably his best known composition. The opening theme to the brilliant anime movie Ghost in the Shell, is hauntingly beautiful. The video below is a live performance that is absolutely amazing.

 

The Battle of Wits

Taken from the soundtrack of the Chinese historical martial arts epic, A Battle of Wits, this is one of my favorite songs from Kenji Kawai. It starts off slow, but then at 2:10 it becomes this incredibly epic orchestral piece, that literally produces goosebumps whenever I hear it. If there is only one video you have time for, this is the one you should listen to. Absolutely breathtaking.

 

The Sky Crawlers: Opening Theme

Another song from an anime movie, this one is called Sky Crawlers. I have not yet seen this movie, but I bought it just for the soundtrack. Yes, I kid you not, I bought a film solely for the soundtrack, not even caring if it’s any good. Another hauntingly beautiful song, this is almost dreamlike.

 

Avalon: Log in

This song is taken from the highly underrated 2001 live action movie Avalon. It was a brilliant movie with a truly epic scope, made even more impressive by the score. This song is another epic masterpiece, that comes to life at the 0:30 mark, when a choir and orchestra explode and produce a song that is not of this Earth. Another live performance, that only increases the awesomeness of this song.

 

Ghost in the Shell: Nightstalker

To close things off, I give you another song from the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack. It is the shortest song on the list, lasting only 1 minute and 34 seconds, but it is truly amazing. My only regret is that it’s so very short, but luckily you can always push the repeat button. A completely unique, very bleak but also very atmospheric song.

 

Final thoughts

For me Kenji Kawai is the absolute master of movie soundtracks. His compositions are simply amazing, and I can never get enough of them. He has a very recognisable sound, and usually whenever I see a new movie or Animeseries that Kenji Kawai has made the music for, I manage to identify it immediately. If you are interested in hearing more of his work, I suggest heading over to YouTube where you can find more of his amazing sounds. As mentioned in the beginning, this is the first time I have made a post like this, so I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Did you enjoy this post? Have you heard of Kenji Kawai? What do you think of his music, do you love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

 

Dunkirk, American/Uk/French/Dutch movie (2017)

When a new year is about to start, I always enjoy looking at the things that will be coming out in that year for television and the big screen. And every year there are a few movies that you are looking forward to even more than others. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing a five minute preview for the movie Dunkirk in the cinema. It was shown right before Star Wars Rogue One, and I dare say that it got my blood pumping more than Rogue One ever did. Made by my favorite director Christopher Nolan, it would be a departure from his usual films. Known for movies such as the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, this would be his first outing in the war movie genre. Ever since that first taste of the film, Dunkirk became the movie that I really got excited for the most this year. I saw the film last night and it is with a heavy heart that I have to say I was definitely disappointed by it.

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Don’t worry, I am covering my face for the rest of the movie.

Dunkirk is based on a true story that took place at the beginning of World War II. A large group of allied soldiers become trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Cut off from their allies, and surrounded by German forces, the situation looks very grim for these troops. But then a call goes out and a fleet is assembled with the mission to try and evacuate as much of the trapped forces as they can. But it is not a fleet of navy vessels that is sent out, but instead a group of non combatants with fishing boats, pleasure crafts, and more vessels like those. But with German bombers flying overhead, it is an intensely dangerous job to attempt any kind of rescue. Much less by people who are not trained in war at all. Will the mission succeed, or is the insane plan doomed from the start?

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Yeah, no need to look up in the sky, it’s definitely going to rain today.

Dunkirk is a brilliant movie from a technical point of view. The story that unfolds is covered by three different major threads that are interwoven together. One deals with the battle on the ground, another with the fight at the sea, and the last one tells the story of the dogfights high up in the air. What this movie manages to do is create an intense atmosphere of true desperation. The audience is thrust right into the middle of the action, and right from the start you feel the horror and fear these people must have felt throughout these terrible events. The camerawork and sounds created for the film are amazing and at times totally breathtaking. Never before has the sound of bullets sounded more terrifying than what you hear in this movie. All the effects and action you see in this movie are real and it really shows. Not once during the film did I have a moment where I thought that things looked fake. It all looked very realistic and that was another thing this movie did right.

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I believe I can fly….

But for all it’s technical brilliance, there was one very important thing that this movie lacked, and that was the human element. All of the characters this movie focussed on might as well have been extras in this film. There was no background on them, no kind of emotional depth, absolutely nothing at all that could make you relate to them. And that for me made the movie a disappointment. When you look back in history to movies such as Saving Private Ryan or the more recent Hacksaw Ridge, you felt for the characters that you watched. They were real people, and because of that you cared what happened to them. In this film, not once did I feel like that. All of them are just pretty much faceless people that are needed to move the story forward, but that’s about it.

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Come on in, the water is great.

That’s why it is also very hard to talk about the performances in this movie. Tom Hardy, one of my favorite current actors plays a fighter pilot, that spents most of the film covered by a flightmask. It reminded me of his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. But Bane was a very interesting character and even though the character he plays in this movie is truly a hero, it was just simply not an impressive role. The one person that at least managed to put a bit of depth in his character was actor Mark Rylance. Rylance plays the role of one of the men that heeds the call for the rescue attempt, and together with his son Peter and a teenage boy called George heads out to sea. Mark certainly played the most interesting character from the film, and he is also the one that at least gets a chance to act. The rest of the cast are simply forgettable, not because of their acting, but because they have almost no dialogue to speak off.

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Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane no it’s erm….never mind…

Dunkirk could have been an absolute masterpiece. If Nolan had spent more time focussing on creating characters that you could actually relate to, this film would really have been a classic. Instead we now have a warmovie that is cold but still incredibly tense and with a gripping atmosphere. It certainly wasn’t a waste of my movieticket, and I still enjoyed it enough to recommend the movie to you. It deserves to be seen in the cinema, as this movie was truly made for a big screen showing. Just don’t expect to be moved by this movie in the way the true classics of the past were able to do.

I give Dunkirk a 7 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: Stranger Things season 2 trailer.

Last year, Netflix released a television series that was so incredibly briljant, that I finished it twice in one weekend. Yes, I am not kidding. The series was an homage to everything 80’s and managed to create an atmosphere that I had not felt since movies like E.T. or Stand by me. That series was called Stranger Things and it was everything that an 80’s junkie like me could have dreamed of. Stranger Things was simply perfect, and it had only one negative point to it as far as I was concerned: it only had 8 episodes. Being such a huge succes, it would have been erm strange, if a second season would not have been announced. Ofcourse it was, and since then I have been eagerly awaiting news or the first images of the second series. Besides a very short 15 second  teaser, it all was deceptively quiet. Until now….

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When there is something strange, in your neighbourhood, who are you going to call? Erm..not them….

This morning I woke up, browsed through the YouTube video’s and then my eyes fell upon the Stranger Things season 2 thriller trailer. With a pounding heart, I clicked on the play button……and had a stupid grin on my face until it finished. I just had to share this with you guys. Unless I am mistaking this second season is going to be even more epic than the first. All of our favorite characters return, and oh man that wonderful 80’s vibe, you just can’t beat that! We still have to wait a few months for it’s final release, but until that time we can watch this trailer again….and again….and again! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. And if you haven’t yet seen the first season, go and watch it now. It is utterly amazing, and certainly the best tv series that Netflix has made so far.

Spider-Man Homecoming, American movie (2017)

Spiderman, Spiderman..Does whatever a spider can. Spins a web any size…erm, sorry about that. This song has been stuck in my head for quite a while now. Can’t imagine why, but it might have something to do with the newest Spiderman movie. Yes our friendly neighbourhood spider is back in action. When I first heard of this project my reaction was one of complete and utter shock. I really thought Marvel (or Sony in this case), had lost their minds for doing yet another reboot of this beloved character. But luckily Spiderman Homecoming doesn’t waste it’s time with yet another retelling of Spiderman’s origin. No it pretty much picks up straight after the events of the third Captain America movie, and it has resulted in one of Spidey’s best movie adventures to date.

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Because of budget constraints Iron Man only has his helmet on for this movie. 

Peter Parker is very excited. After helping out Tony Stark with the fight against Captain America, he is expecting a call anytime now to join the Avengers. Yes…any time now….but the weeks pass by and the phone doesn’t ring. Peter meanwhile goes back to school and slips into his every day boring and, quite frankly, pretty geeky life. In his after school hours, he fights local crime in the guise of his alter ego Spiderman. But then one night he comes across a bunch of thieves that are robbing an ATM with some pretty hightech weaponry. While he succeeds in foiling the robbery, the thieves do manage to escape. Peter decides to find out where the weapons are coming from. Spiderman soon becomes the target of the nefarious arms dealer named Vulture, who is none to happy with Peter interfering with his business. With nobody to help him out, young Parker might have bitten off a little bit more than he can chew. But it might also be his best chance to prove what it really means to be a hero….

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This is not a good movie if you have a fear of heights. 

If I could use just one word to describe this movie it would be the word fun. This movie breathes out a very happy atmosphere right from the start, and doesn’t let up once during it’s two hour plus runtime. For starters there is a lot of humor in this film. While I am not a really big fan of comedies, it just works very well for this movie. There is always room for a great oneliner during a fight, or just some comedic banter in other situations. While the Marvel films were never as dark as their DC counterparts, there were certainly a few that did adress a few darker moments in the Marvel Universe. Here though, that never happens, and while I certainly would not label this one as a comedy, it is truly one of the most lighthearted Marvel films to date.

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This is the part where we find out Spidey is Iron Man’s son….erm, no not really. 

The cast is another reason to go and see this film. Tom Holland’s brief appearance in Captain America Civil War already made an impression, but here he really gets to shine. I can say without a doubt that he is certainly the best actor to have put on the Spiderman costume to date. He has a natural charm and wit about him, and that works very well for this character. Michael Keaton who plays the Vulture, manages to portray a villain that is very human. Yes, he is the bad guy, but it’s not a bad guy that you can’t relate to, or is necessarily very evil. He’s just a man that will do anything to provide protection for his family, and Keaton’s performance is simply outstanding in the way he manages to get that across to the moviegoing audience. And then ofcourse there is Robert Downey jr. as Tony Stark, a role he has played to perfection for the past decade. Even though he appears in only a few brief scenes, they are very important in the development of Peter Parker’s character.

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I’m Batman….whoops wrong movie. 

The story for the film, while it won’t win any Oscars, is good enough to entertain, and provides a decent enough platform for the film’s action sequences. As with every Marvel film, the special effects are fantastic. Without giving away any spoilers, the ferry scene is especially cool, and showcases how much Hollywood has grown in providing very believable CGI. I can honestly say that this was a highly entertaining entry into the Marvel cinematic universe. I keep being amazed at the level of quality that Marvel keeps providing for their movies. I have yet to see a truly horrible Marvel film and with so many movies that will still be coming out in the years to come, I can only hope they manage to maintain this. If you love superhero movies, than this is definitely one you don’t want to miss. It is a fun, lighthearted film, that will let you leave the cinema with a big smile on your face. And that really is all you need, right?

I give Spider-Man Homecoming a 9 out of 10 score.

Transformers:the Last Knight, American movie (2017)

Well, if we are to believe mister Michael Bay, supposedly this is the last time he takes the plunge into the world of Transformers. I do say supposedly on purpose, because he has made this statement quite a few times already in the past. And we all know what happened with those words: they were covered up in a pretty large sum of money. Michael Bay has always been a director that has been receiving large amounts of very negative press, especially where the Transformers are considered. It has also divided the fan community as well, with some people absolutely hating the direction he has taken the beloved robots in disguise into. This fifth part of the franchise has certainly been pounded into the ground the most. Pretty much every single review, with maybe one or two exceptions, has completely destroyed this movie. As such, despite being a fan of the previous films, my expectations for this one were at their lowest. Let us see if this movie really deserves the amount of punishment it has been receiving. Roll out!

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Really fighting a giant robot with a wooden stick is the best idea you came up with?

This movie continues the story almost right from where part 4 ended. Optimus Prime has left Earth in search of his creators and hasn’t been heard from in quite a while. On Earth almost every single government has declared the Transformers as outcasts, and a special task force called the Transformer Reaction Force (TRF) has been established to destroy and kill them all. Cade Yeager together with Bumblebee try to save as many Transformers as they can, but it is an almost impossible task. During one of their rescue attempts, he comes into possession of a mysterious metallic talisman, that might hold the key to saving the Earth from an ancient threat. Together with an English lord who seems to know more about the object, and a beautiful female Oxford professor, Cade tries to stay alive while on the run from Decepticons who are also after the talisman. But amidst all the chaos there are indications that the homeworld of the Transformers is on it’s way to Earth, bringing doom for every single living being on the planet. But the greatest threat comes in a very unexpected way: namely in the form of a robot called Optimus Prime…..

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Yes Megatron, we know you are evil, you don’t have to look at us like that.

This is a typical Bay movie, and that means you know what you can expect from it. Mindless action, slowmotion shots, explosions and an almost non-existent story. Yep, this movie certainly has all of these elements in it. I’ve heard it said that because of this fans will use it as an argument to say that this is the reason for watching it any way. Well, I am a fan of Transformers, both the old cartoons and these new movies, but from an objective point of view I have to say this movie was one of the weakest installments from the franchise. That’s not to say that this film is as bad as everyone says it is, there is still enough in it to enjoy, but the engine certainly has run out of steam. For a movie that is supposed to feature robots kicking the crap out of each other, there is actually quite a lack of scenes like that in this film. Except for a gigantic battlescene near the end, we hardly see robots fighting each other, but instead it focusses on the human elements engaging the Transformers.

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This is a new form of American Football that will be introduced next year.

The special effects are still every bit as impressive, and you can certainly tell that is where most of the budget for the movie went. The Transformers themselves look awesome, especially a new robotic dragon form that makes it’s first appearance here. The humor for this movie was the thing that was ridiculed the most by everyone in reviews. Comedy is a very selective thing, and admittedly there were certainly quite a number of cringeworthy scenes in it. But, during those scenes, there were also a lot of people in the audience with me that did laugh out loud. Which means that it’s all a matter of perspective. What works for some people, might not work for others. I did have a few laughs as well, but the humor certainly wasn’t it’s strongest point. That honour still goes to the numerous special effects and action sequences.

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I am Optimus Prime….yes…we heard you the first 300 times. 

Lastly we ofcourse have the human factor, this time represented by Mark Wahlberg who reprises his role from part four, and none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins plays the role of the English Lord Edmund Burton, a role which suited him, and he seemed to be having a lot of fun while playing it. The female element this time comes in the form of the beautiful actress Laura Haddock, who plays the love interest for Mark Wahlberg’s character. Ofcourse as you know Bay always objectifies his women and this movie is no exception, although when compared to the previous films it wasn’t too bad I guess. Lastly we have the young actress Isabela Moner who plays the role of the kid Izabella who gets caught up in the war by accident. Her part, though small, was pretty interesting, and I wish she would have had a larger role in the film.

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Let’s shed a little light on the subject shall we? 

So, in the end we are left with a film that just feels like a washed up version of what has come before. There were certainly enough things in it that I did enjoy, like for instance a King Arthur angle that was pretty interesting, and the large scale battle at the end. But most of the scenes in between felt more like filler, and it almost seems like they just ran out of ideas of what to do. Combined with a pretty weak story, and action scenes that also weren’t as impressive as what came before, this was definitely the least interesting part of the franchise. Still, the heavy flack this movie has been receiving has blown things way out of proportion. This is still mindless fun, and certainly has enough entertainment value to make it worth a trip to the cinema. Just don’t expect to enjoy it as much as the previous ones. It will be interesting to see in what direction this franchise will go with a new director at the helm. Only time will tell I guess.

I give Transformers the Last Knight a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

Party of Five season 1, American tv series (1994/1995)

Teenage highschool dramaseries have been gracing television screens for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up I loved watching shows like Beverly Hills 90210, and yes I know how sappy those series at times can be. But I don’t know, they were just easy to watch, and had subjects in them that pretty much everyone who went to school can relate to in one way or another. Now that I am older it’s sometimes nice to revisit those old series. Call it a trip down memorylane or, god forbid, a midlife crisis, but some of those shows are still a lot of fun. There was a series that has always stood out amongst all of them though. And to simply call it yet another teenage drama is really selling it short. Because Party of Five, the show that I am talking about, is really so much more than that.

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Yeah, now you can still laugh, it won’t be long before someone will chase you with a knife.

Party of Five deals with five siblings living together in a house, after the tragic death of their parents in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Charlie Salinger is the older brother, and pretty much in charge of everything, but that certainly isn’t an easy task. Charlie is not one of the most responsible people of the world, but he tries to do his best in a very difficult situation. Than there is Bailey, the younger brother who always tries to do the right thing, even at the cost of himself sometimes. Julia Salinger is the older sister, who can be a bit rebellious at times, but also has a heart of gold. And then there is Claudia, the youngest sister, who is trying to become one of the best violin players of the world. And to complete the party of five we have baby brother Owen, who everyone adores, but ofcourse is a handful. The first season deals with all of them coming to grips with the hard life after the death of their parents, and getting along with each other.

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Is it really that hard to believe that I was in Lost and she was in Scream? 

Now, I can already see the frowns starting to pop up all over on your heads. Yes, I know this sounds like a very sad story, and how this is probably one of those seriously tearjerking series. But you could not be more wrong. Party of Five was once described as “The best show you are not watching”. Throughout it’s runtime the series always struggled to stay on the air because of failing ratings. And that was mainly because this was not your typical teenage show. For one thing the acting was absolutely amazing. Matthew Fox, who most of you might know from the succesful television series Lost, plays the role of Charlie. And he does that in an incredible way. Charlie is a character that has really got some serious flaws. You may even hate him at times, but it makes him all the more human, and you really can feel for him at so many points throughout the show.

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You don’t have to argue about it: I really WAS in Scream. 

But the rest of the cast is amazing as well. Bailey, played by Scott Wolf is a character that has a natural charisma, and one that I myself could understand and relate to the most. He always tries to see the best in people, and goes out of his way to help them, but usually ends up being disappointed because of that. Scott has a very natural and believable way of acting, which helps you like the character even more. Julia is played by a young Neve Campbell, and she was always an incredible actress right from the start. It’s honestly pretty sad that her career never took off as much, as was believed at the time. Finally Claudia, played by Lacey Chabert, is just one of those characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. She has an innocence to her, and not a bad bone in her body, even though she can sometimes really be a brat. But you pretty much forgive her for acting up like that at times.

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That boat behind us really looks out of place. 

Throughout it’s first season run, the Salingers have to deal with a lot of issues and emotions. There are laughs, tears, and scary moments as well, all blended together in a fantastic mix. The stories in pretty much all of the episodes are written very well, and deal with many more things than only teenage romances. And that was one of the show’s greatest strengths. There are some very mature themes in the show, that were there right from the start of this series. Yes, there are some very heavy moments in Party of Five as well, not going to lie to you there, but it never becomes to oppressive. Certainly not in this first season, which also had some very good humor in it too. I can’t recommend Party of Five enough. If you have never seen this show, try it out, and I dare you not to bingewatch it after seeing five minutes of it. And for those of you that have seen it, it’s great to revisit it for a bit of nostalgia, or a midlife crisis. Whatever takes your fancy.

I give Party of Five season 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

Alita Last Order Omnibus vol.1, A Japanese manga book (2011)

The Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita, or Gunnm as it is known in Japan, has been praised by none other than director James Cameron. He is a huge fan of this manga, and has been wanting to direct a live action movie based on it for quite some time now. I doubt it will ever get to see the light of day though, as it has been announced so many times that is almost becoming laughable. For those of you unfamiliair with the original manga let me tell you quickly what the story is about.

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Battle Angel Alita is set in a post apocalyptic future and is centered around the character of Alita, a female cyborg. She was originally found in a junkyard, robbed of all her memories. The cybernetics doctor who finds Alita, decides to rebuild her, and when she awakens she discovers that there is actually one thing she does remember. It is the ancient legendary martial art of Panzer Kunst. With this deadly skill she eventually takes on the profession of  bounty hunter. The world she lives in is an interesting and very unique one. The floating city of Tiphares is the cause of a massive scrapheap on the surface which surrounds the aptly named city of Scrapyard. As the city of Tiphares is off limits to surface dwellers, they are forced to make a living amongst the junk, a very hard life indeed.

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Alita Last Order continues the storyline of the original manga, but does pretty much ignore the original ending, or so I have heard. While I did read a few chapters of the first Battle Angel Alita series, I have never completed it. But so far I have been able to follow the storyline along just fine without all the knowledge of the original manga. Alita Last Order starts off with the resurrection of Alita by her enemy/ally Desty Nova. Their relationship has always been a complex one, and it continues to be so in the new series. The story this time takes place on Tiphares, on which quite a number of things have changed. The city has turned into complete chaos, and numerous rebellions are underway. Amidst the chaos Alita tries to find out what happened to her old friend Lou, but at the same she also searches for more answers to her own forgotten past. Both things are incredibly hard to do, as Alita is about to find out…

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While I still prefer anime to manga, this series was just to good to resist. I fell in love with the character of Alita quite a few years ago, when I first laid eyes on her in the original manga. While visiting Animecon 2017 last month, I was amazed to find out that the series had continued in this new form, and as such I bought all five omnibus editions. The first installment certainly did not disappoint. The art for this is absolutely breathtaking, and at times I just kept staring at certain panels to admire them. Alita contains enough action to keep your attention throughout the entire 650 page count, but the story itself also is worth every minute of your time. The theme that keeps returning the most is the question of what it is like to be human. But even though that has been featured so many times in other media, Alita turns it upside down, and still manages to be original too. I simply have nothing negative to say about this series. If you love dystopian post apocalyptic science fiction stories, featuring great art, and enough action to leave you gasping at air, I highly recommend you check this manga out.

I give Alita Last Order Omnibus Volume 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Blade Runner, American movie (1982)

Harrison Ford almost seems to be on a farewell tour, in which he reprises all of his most famous roles one more time. Two years ago he played Han Solo in the seventh installment of the famous Star Wars franchise, and three years from now he will be playing the role of Indiana Jones one final time. But all eyes are on him this year, as he will be making an appearance in the sequel to the classic science fiction movie Blade Runner. One has to wonder if making a sequel to what was obviously a landmark in science fiction history really is the best idea. Still having seen the first few trailers of the new movie, and the director of the film being Denis Villeneuve, I am cautiously optimistic for it. It is ofcourse a good thing that Harrison himself is also featured in this new one. We will still have to wait a bit for the results though, as the new movie is currently scheduled for an October 2017 release. Which gives everyone a chance to rewatch the original movie, something that I did today.

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Traffic can really be a problem sometimes. 

Blade Runner is set in a dystopian and honestly very dark future. The powerful Tyrell Corporation has made a new type of advanced robot that go by the name replicants. They are almost indistinquishable from humans, and are made to work on off world colonies because of their unique abilities. Replicants are banned from ever returning to Earth punishable by death, although the more humane word they have given for it is retirement. The men and women tasked with hunting them down and retiring them are called Blade Runners. When a group of four recently escaped replicants led by the dangerous Roy Batty are loose in Los Angeles, the expert but kind of washed out Blade Runner Rick Deckard, is given the assignment to find and kill them. But when he meets a very advanced female replicant called Rachael, he is beginning to question what it really means to be human…..

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Hi, we are your new neigbours. Really, you can trust us. 

Director Ridley Scott’s vision of the future depicted in this movie is very bleak indeed. Right from the start of the film you get a sense of depression and dark foreboding that doesn’t leave you until the endcredits roll. The scenery created in this movie is absolutely breathtaking, and even though the effects look a bit dated after all these years, they still hold up pretty well. These also help create the atmosphere I just mentioned but an even larger part in that plays the New Age soundtrack created by Vangelis. The haunting synthesizer sounds and melodies that you hear throughout the film, at times make you feel as if the end of the world has finally arrived.

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Shoot first, ask questions later. That usually seems to work. 

Harrison Ford plays a very different role than the ones that you are used to seeing him play. He depicts a man that is kind of an anti-hero, and he is beginning to ask himself if what he is doing is the right course of action. He also isn’t very likeable, as he is very gruff man without a real sense of humor. But Harrison really manages to pull it off, and I think it is one of the best roles of his career. The role of the replicant leader is played by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer. And his role is the one that impresses the most in this film. His cold demeanor devoid of any humanity, makes it an all the more ironic role, as that is what his character is striving to become: human. Rutger really plays an iconic bad guy, and it is quite a shame that most of the films he played in afterwards were mostly forgettable.

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Hmm, they should really do something about the view in the future. 

Obviously the theme of this movie is centered heavily on what it really means to be human. It is an age old question, and one we have seen appearing in many science fiction classics. The replicants aren’t necessarily evil, and that’s one of the things that makes this film all the more interesting. What right do humans have to create beings, that are only kept as slave labor, and are taken out when they just want to live? And that is also what we see Deckard struggling with throughout the movie. Strangely enough this is probably only the second time that I have seen this film. Which is why I was surprised a lot by the pacing of the movie. This isn’t an all out action fest, but rather a very slow, but obviously thought provoking movie. Blade Runner certainly won’t be a movie that is going to please everyone. But if you like dark science fiction stories, mixed with good acting and amazing setpieces, it is well worth it to check this movie out. Even after all these years Blade Runner is a science fiction epic, that changed the way we looked at science fiction altogether. Let’s hope the sequel will do it justice.

I give Blade Runner a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Chaos; Child, Anime tv series (2017)

Throughout history there have been many serial killers that spread a wave of fear amongst the general population. A lot of them were luckily caught, but there were also some cases that have never been solved. Imagine being a detective that has been given the job to catch such a killer. Where would you start with? And also think of the pressure you would be under if the bodycount keeps going up. Serial killer stories have been the subject for many movies and tv series. For some twisted reason, people just keep enjoying that subject, and admittedly they have provided a couple of great and classic movies. Anime has also had it’s share of serial killer stories, like for instance the terrific series Erased. And now we have Chaos;Child, but to call this a show just about a serial killer, is selling it short and doesn’t even begin to cover it. It is a blend of a lot of different genres, that is both it’s greatest strength, but also at the same time it’s greatest weakness. But lets first start with the story itself.

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Yep, sometimes it can be quite tough to be a murder investigator. 

The city of Shibuya has been struck by a massive earthquake, an event that happened six years in the past. It is now the year 2015, and the survivors of that terrible day are trying to get on with their lives, after the city itself has been completely rebuild. One of those survivors is a young man called Takuru Miyashiro, who is a member of his school’s newspaper club. He is currently investigating a string of grissly murders, that leads him to believe that a serial killer is currently active. But soon he begins to realise that the murders bear an uncanny resemblance to a case that was known as The New Generation Murder Madness, which happened right before the earthquake struck. Even more frightening is the fact that the people that are getting killed now, are dying on the exact same dates as the killings that took place six years ago. Soon Takuru gets sucked into a mystery that will have dire consequences for himself, but also for the people that are close to him….

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The new commercial for tomato ketchup had gotten quite out of hand. 

Chaos; Child is a series that is a cocktail of so many different genres, that it’s pretty hard to describe in which category this one falls. So I am not going to even attempt to try and do that. But I for one quite liked this series, despite it having quite a few flaws as well. But let’s first start with the positive notes. One thing this anime does very well is create a very creepy and intense atmosphere. That’s where the horror elements come in. The murders that are taking place in this series, are honestly quite brutal and disturbing. Which means this anime is certainly not for the faint at heart. Another thing that I loved in Chaos;Child, is the mystery elements and numerous twists. Your mind pretty much went into overdrive with each episode in trying to figure out what was going on along with Takuru. Certain revelations and events sometimes really came as quite a shock, and left you breathless.

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I would cry too if my presents got trashed like this. 

 

However the series also had quite a few flaws. The amount of information that was sometimes thrown at viewers during an episode was staggering, and at times made it hard to follow along. This anime was a sequel to Chaos;Head, which I haven’t seen, and the first episode did a recap for that series. That in itself is a good thing, but it showed a lot of the information in the form of an internet forum, with numerous texts appearing at the same time. I actually had to pause the series at certain times during that episode just to read everything. The characters in Chaos;Child are also introduced very rapidly, and in that way it was hard to form an attachment to them. Most of them, with a few exceptions, just are not that interesting, and when some of them eventually end up getting killed, you don’t really care enough about them to be bothered by it.

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I did mention this series was quite disturbing at times right? 

As mentioned earlier this series mixes together a lot of different elements. Horror, mystery, supernatural, psychic powers and even science fiction elements are all in this series at some point. It made it a very interesting show for me, but I can also see how people might not like that fact. Chaos;Child is not an easy watch. The first episode alone is a hard one to get through, but it does eventually pay off to continue with this series. The storyline, despite it’s many elements, is quite clever and has been put together very well. When you reach the final episode, your brain might already have exploded in trying to figure out what it is you just watched. I for one found it a series that kept on going in my mind, which is usually a good thing. I am definitely going to track down Chaos;Head, if only for the fact if by seeing that one, certain things in this series might start to make more sense. If you like horror and supernatural series, and are not one to quit on a series after just one episode, this series will provide enough entertainment for you.

I give Chaos;Child a 8 out of 10 score.

Michels Book/Boardgame/Movie review Blog

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