The Expanse season 1, American/Canadian tv series (2015)

There was a time when science fiction on television was very popular, and there were a lot of tv series to choose from. Babylon 5, Stargate Sg-1, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Andromeda, are just a few examples of these shows that offered truly amazing future visions. But it seems that television these days had it’s focus on different things, and it is somewhat harder for sci-fi fans to get their fix. A few years ago I came across a novel called Leviathan Wakes written by James S.A. Correy. It was the start of a fantastic new science fiction saga called the Expanse, and has since then been followed up by 4 other books and a couple of novellas. (You can find a review for the second part in the series right here). To my absolute delight I learned that the novels now have been turned into a television series, but at the same time it filled me with dread. Turning books into movies or tv shows is always a risky business. So the question is: is the Expanse tv series any good? Well I can answer with a resounding: Hell yeah it is!

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Dude, seriously you need a haircut.

The Expanse takes place roughly 200 years into the future. The solar system is fully colonised and there are three major factions, Earth,Mars and the Belt, that have an uneasy peace between them. On a space station in the Asteroid Belt, police detective Miller is assigned a case to find a missing daughter of a wealthy businessman. Elsewhere, James Holden, the executive officer of the icehauler Canterbury is involved in a tragic incident. It soon becomes apparent that this incident is one of the first steps to destabilize the three factions and bring them to an all out war. But how exactly does the missing daughter fit into all this? Eventually the paths of Miller and Holden come together and they are about to uncover a very sinister conspiracy. A conspiracy that threatens the entire human race…..

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Man, lighten up. You are in a truly terrific show. At least put on a smile.

I’m going to make a pretty bold statement here by saying that the Expanse is one of the best science fiction series that I have seen in years. I was already a huge fan of the novels, and I can only say that this series really respects it’s source material. This first season of 10 episodes follows the story of the first part of Leviathan Wakes. One of the strongest points of this show is the story and the many different layers it contains. It has elements of politics, conspiracies, spacebattles and even horror all blended together in a truly amazing and wonderful script. It certainly isn’t a tale that was put together overnight, but really is very well written and has many surprises in store that will both delight and shock you. The visuals are also outstanding, both in terms of special effects, but also in costumes and setsdesigns. Everything looks really convincing, and this all adds to creating a very believable science fiction setting.

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Well, I did say that this series also contained some horror elements right?

But what is a world without memorable characters, and the Expanse also succeeds in creating those. Detective Miller played by veteran actor Thomas Jane, can almost be described as a kind of film noir character you would come across in old black and white movies. I love the fact that Miller also definitely has his flaws, and this creates a person that is very human and who you can relate to. The other main character, James Holden, who is portrayed by actor Steven Strait, is someone who tries to do the right thing, but eventually gets in way over his head because of this. It creates some great scenes between him and his crew, who don’t always agree with his decisions. There are also a lot of other supporting characters, and it would go too far to describe them all in this review. Suffice it to say though, that the cast for this show is truly wonderful and another very good reason to start watching this.

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Yep, what would the human race be without some big guns. 

Are there also negative things to mention? Well, honestly I have been wracking my brain for an answer to that question, but I would be hardpressed to find them. If I were to name one, it might be that the story is pretty complex and certainly not always the easiest to follow. This is not one of those shows you can watch while also texting with your best friend. But I never do that anyway, so I don’t really see this as a weak point. It is very nice to finally have a great science fiction series back on the small screen. The third season for this show was just announced, so there is luckily plenty more to come. For everyone that loves intelligent science fiction storytelling, I can’t recommend this series enough. And while you are at it, you might also want to try the novels that this show is based on. I’m almost certain that you will not be disappointed by this, but hey I could be wrong of course.

I give The Expanse season 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

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Terminator 2 Judgment Day 3D, American movie (2017)

Okay, today I’m going to let you in on a little known secret about me. It will probably come as a shock to most of you. Are you ready? Okay here it comes: I love movies. Yes, I know this is a revelation about me that probably surprises most people that have been reading my blog for a while now. Seriously though, because I love films so much, I don’t think there is a better place to experience them than in a movie theatre. Sure, home entertainment has definitely come a long way, but watching a movie in theatres on a big screen with thundering sound is still the best way to enjoy a film. Well, at least for me it is. Having said that, there are certainly quite a number of movies that I would love to see in the theatres one day. Either I was too young to see them when they came out, or I just did not have the time to go there. Terminator 2 is a movie that I almost know by heart, but I had never seen it before on the big screen. And now director James Cameron is giving everyone that chance. Because yes people, Terminator 2 is back, and now in 3D.

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Look mom, I can hold this gun with one hand! 

Terminator 2 Judgment Day picks up the story almost 11 years after the end of the first movie. Things have not gone very well for the mother of the future, Sarah Connor. After having tried to blow up a computer factory in order to prevent the war with Skynet, she got arrested and was placed in a mental institute. Her son, John Connor, who is now a teenager, is living with foster parents, and is in the belief that his mother is a complete psycho. Ever since he was born she had been preparing him for the coming war against the machines, but John is now in complete disbelief of everything he has been told. Things are about to change though. Skynet has sent an advanced prototype Terminator called a T-1000 back through time with the mission to kill John. This deadly killing machine will stop at nothing to carry out it’s program. John is about to have his whole world turned upside down. Luckily he is not without help though, as a protector for John has also been sent from the future. A protector in a very unlikely form……a Terminator. The battle for the future is about to begin….

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What?! You haven’t seen this movie before? That’s a no no…..

A few months ago I reviewed the first Terminator  movie, and I stated in that review that I still think that first part is the best. Having now seen this second movie in the theatres, I haven’t changed my mind on that opinion. However I still absolutely love this film. As this movie has originally been made in 1991, the thing that truly amazed me the most was the fact how well it has withstood the test of time. If someone would have told me that this movie had been released for the first time this year, I would have believed that person. The special effects still look every bit as impressive and not even for a single second does the film look dated. The 3D effects did not add much to the experience though, but honestly that didn’t really bother me. James Cameron is not George Lucas, so except for a few minor technical details the movie appears in the same form as it’s 1991 version.

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If you say “I’ll be back” one more time, I am going to shoot you. 

Terminator 2 is not only a special effects marvel, but it’s also the characters that are featured in this movie, that are truly terrific. Schwarzenegger steals the show as the good Terminator, and the chemistry he has with young John Connor, played by Edward Furlong, is the heart of this movie. Even though he plays a machine, Arnold manages to add a layer of humanity to his role, that really makes you care about what is basically a robot. Erm, excuse me, cybernetic organism. Linda Hamilton returns in her role as Sarah Connor, but it’s almost as if she plays a completely different character. In the first film she was the one who needed protection, but here it’s people who need protection from her. This Sarah Connor is a tough chick that kicks ass and is at times truly frightening. Speaking of frightening, let’s not forget the chilling role of Robert Patrick as the T-1000. His cold portrayal of a machine that is totally without mercy, is really amazing, and he manages to create one of the best villains in movie history.

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Hey…I said it was a no no if you had not seen this movie. Don’t say I did not warn you.

I had an absolute blast seeing this film in the theatres for the first time. James Cameron has stated that if this release manages to perform well at the box office, he is going to focus on bringing his other masterpiece, Aliens, back to the big screen in the 3D format. If that were to happen, I would go absolutely nuts, as Aliens is my alltime favorite science fiction movie. We will just have to wait and see though. In the meantime everyone can enjoy this terrific classic in the way it was intended to be seen: in theatres. I cannot recommend this movie more than I have already let shine through in this review. If you have yet to see this amazing film I can only say that you are in for a treat. This is science fiction movie making at it’s best and a true classic that everyone who loves movies like this, should see at least once in his or her life.

I give Terminator 2 Judgment Day 3D a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Special Features Presents: Embracing the End of life as we know it.

A few weeks ago Karandi from 100wordanime held a contest to celebrate the fact that she had started her Facebook page for her blog. The price for this would be a post written by her on any topic the winner would like. To my big surprise I recieved a message from her telling me that I had won the price! 😀 Now I think most of you already know her as she is I think without a doubt one of the most active bloggers of us all. Pretty much everywhere that I look she manages to give a reaction to posts by other blogs, and also writes a ton of stuff every day for her own blog. She also is one of the kindest persons amongst us, always giving a nice response and needless to say I have the utmost respect for her. It was a great honor to have won this contest, and I asked her to write a post about one of my favorite topics, the post apocalyptic genre. She has made a terrific post for it, the result of which you can find below. All words below are written by her, so if you have yet to discover her wonderful blog, please head over there and subscribe now. I certainly have enjoyed this post, and because it can’t be said enough: thank you very much Karandi for this great price.

Embracing the End of Life as we know it.

This post is for Raistlin who won the 100 Word Anime on Facebook launch competition. Thanks as always Raistlin for your support and for the great topic.
What is the appeal of post-apocalyptic stories? Really, they are set after the end of civilisation as we know it so you could almost assume that any story worth telling was already done and finished. Why not go back and talk about that mutating virus, that war, those final days before the asteroid hit or before the aliens conquered humanity and wiped out everything else?
Well, because that’s hardly the end of the story.
As Ian Malcolm put it in Jurassic Park (or at least the script writers did): life finds a way.
The end of the world is fun and all and watching people try to survive the cataclysm can certainly be good for a few laughs, tears and gasps of surprise, but the more meaningful story, or at least I’ve always found, is in what happens next. What are the next steps for those who don’t disappear in a blaze of glory or have their candle snuffed out?

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As usual, anime has a plethora of examples to draw upon when thinking about any particular genre. And while I was very tempted to make this an Evangelion post when Raistlin first gave me the topic, I resisted temptation because I still haven’t actually gotten around to writing my review of that anime, and ultimately Evangelion is about an absolute refusal to embrace an unpleasant reality and about the many ways people escape or fight against a grim reality.
So where did I look instead?
I actually had to start with Trigun. While not set on Earth, the story takes place after humans for whatever reason have left Earth to colonise another planet, but due to a particular individual they end up crashing onto a desert planet where survival is quite the feat even before you throw in a certain lawless lifestyle. Despite this, and despite some clearly villainous characters, the main cast of Trigun are decidedly optimistic in their outlook on life. Sure, survival is hard, but while the overall situation can’t change, small steps can be taken each day to secure survival and to help others.
It’s really impossible to watch Trigun and not be infected by Vash’s positive outlook. He isn’t some young and naive child clinging to a dream or an illusion to escape the daily grind. He knows how bad things are and he even knows he is actually responsible for some of the issues, and yet he’ll still flash most people that cheeky smile of his and hit them with “Love and Peace”.

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No. 6 is another anime where a main character lives in a world that has been essentially destroyed and the only survivors are in the numbered cities. Privileges are quite restricted and as a child, owing to his intelligence, Shion was on track for a very good life. However, one act of compassion, helping a run-away child, had both Shion and his mother face hardships.
Now, in some stories this would be where the main character became bitter and twisted and would vow revenge against the regime, but Shion is mostly accepting of the situation. He continues to act in a way that doesn’t damage his personal integrity, while finding ways to compromise within the frame of the law. Ultimately his hand is forced and he does go into hiding and finds himself at odds with the city, but even then most of his actions are to save the city rather than to see it brought low.
Both of these characters demonstrate strength and perseverance in the face of inequality and injustice. They put the lives of others before themselves and they seek, in small ways, to make their worlds just a little bit brighter for those around them.

And for me, this is what I love about post apocalyptic stories. They give the best and worst characteristics that humanity carries with them a chance to shine.
Thanks,
Karandi
100wordanime.wordpress.com

Black Bullet, Anime tv series (2013)

You have to wonder what kind of fascination the Japanese seem to have with destroying Tokyo in increasingly inventive ways. We have seen earthquakes, tidal waves, supernatural disasters and even huge monsters laying waste to the city in countless anime and live action movies throughout the years. It provides great entertainment, I have to be honest in that, but it does make me want to know if there is just some kind of hate against this city. Whatever the reason is, in the animeseries I am about to review there is yet another threat against it. Although it is called the Tokyo area in this anime to be more specific.

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This guy certainly isn’t a likeable character in this series. 

It is the year 2021, and the human race has almost been destroyed by the parasitic virus known as Gastrea that turns it’s host into horrifying monsters. What’s left of mankind now lives in cities protected by huge stone Monolith walls that are made from a special material called Varanium, which is able to subdue them. Not long after, children were born that carried the virus within them, but did not turn into monsters. Instead they gained superhuman abilities which were incredibly useful in fighting the Gastrea. Known as the Cursed Children, they were only females. A special fighting force is formed, the Civil Securities, that pairs these children with a handler called a Promoter. The highschool student Rentaro Satomi is one of these Promoters who operates in the Tokyo Area. Rentaro is paired with the loveable Enju Aihara, who has a complete crush on him. But soon things become grim as the Gastrea are beginning to gain ground. Will the remainder of mankind finally fall into oblivion?

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What?! We are not getting a second season?!

Black Bullet is a 13 episode animeseries that for lack of a better term to describe it was just, well, fun. It isn’t the best thing that I have ever seen mind you, but quite honestly it’s one of those series that just doesn’t seem to do much wrong. From a story point of view I can’t say it will win the price for originality. A virus is ofcourse nothing new, although the way it is handled in this series is different from what you might be used to. Another thing that I found that was very cool was the use of the Cursed Children. Here we have young girls ranging from 10-13 years old that have all kinds of superpowers and act as though they are adults. Which ofcourse they are not. It provides both comedic but also at times very grim moments. The story unfolds  rather nicely, and has a few tricks up it’s sleeves along the way, although there were not a lot of surprises.

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If you have a fear of spiders I would definitely watch this….

The characters in the series are not it’s strongest point. The bond between Rentaro and Enju is pretty fun to watch at times. Although some people might also find some of the situations between them a little bit unsettling to watch, as Enju is of course still a child. I don’t think the series crosses any serious lines though, and for the most part it certainly gave a few laughs. During the later episodes a lot of new Cursed Children, also called Initiators are introduced together with their Promoters. And they just don’t get enough screentime to grow any real attachment to them. I felt the series could have used a bit more time to focus on it’s characters instead of throwing them at us without giving us time to get used to them.

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Do you really have to move so close to me? 

What the series may lack in character development it more than makes up for in the action department. If you like action featuring superpowered beings fighting huge and horrifying monsters, this is a show that will certainly give you that. Some of the bigger Gastrea monsters had very cool designs, and it was incredibly satisfying to watch them get taken down in some of the more spectacular fights the series has on offer. But it’s not all monster fighting though, as Rentaro and Enju get to deal with a lot of different situations including assassination attempts and prejudice against the Cursed Children. The animation of the show is pretty good as well, and together with the music serves up a nice and pleasurable viewing experience. All in all I really enjoyed this one. The story for a change gets wrapped up for the most part in the end, although there was certainly room for a second season. Seeing it’s been almost 4 years since the release of this one, I doubt that will happen though. Black Bullet may not be for everyone, but if you like a bit of action coupled with cool monsters and interesting fight scenes, you might give this one a shot.

I give Black Bullet a 8 out of 10 score.

Bad Guys, Korean Drama Series (2014)

I love watching Korean dramaseries, but for some reason I am always running behind with reviews for these. It usually takes me a bit of time to finish them too, and that is not because I don’t enjoy them. On the contrary I absolutely love them, but as always there are only so many hours in a day, and you can only watch one thing at a time. For people who might be unfamiliair with Korean dramas let me give a small introduction for you. (I have done this before so feel free to skip this part and continue to read the next paragraph). Still here? Okay then. Korean dramaseries are tv series that usually contain around 20 episodes and cover a wide range of topics. Romance, historical period pieces, crime, even science fiction is entering the range of titles on offer. The great thing is that these are selfcontained stories, so there is never the risk of a series getting cancelled and leaving unfinished threads. Although there are a few exceptions of dramas getting a second season if it is succesful. One of these is the 2014 crimedrama Bad Guys.

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Well, I did warn you that this series could get bloody right?

In Bad Guys we meet up with detective Oh Gu-tak who has a nickname: Mad Dog. He certainly seems to live up to his reputation as he doesn’t shy away from using pretty excessive measures to catch criminals. But you can’t really blame him as years back his only daughter was murdered by a brutal serial killer. Since then he has been living with guilt and certainly isn’t the same man that he used to be. When a series of new murders take place in his district, Oh Gu-tak comes up with an unorthodox plan to capture the killer. He enlists the help of three dangerous criminals that are currently residing in prison. One is a psychopath and serial killer himself, the other a former mob boss, and the final member of Oh Gu-tak’s new crimefighting squad is a hired hit-man that never made a mistake, but eventually turned himself in. The person who eventually ends up catching the criminal, will get his sentence reduced. Things are not as easy as it seems though. Everyone has a very hard time getting along, but there also seems to be a tie that connects these four people together. A tie rooted in a very dark past and that might have very dire consequences…..

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He did not get the nickname Mad Dog for nothing.

This crimedrama is a very dark and bloody show, and honestly that is how I like them. Where the series at first starts off as a show that seems to focus itself on catching a different criminal in each episode, we soon get a storyline that branches out and carries on throughout the course of the series. The plot is very clever and it’s nice to continually try to find new pieces of the story and figure out what is going on.  It also contains quite a bit of action, featuring carchases and impressive fight scenes that have a blockbuster movie quality to them. This being a crime story it contains some very dark material at times, and there are a few brutal scenes, but it never goes too far or becomes to explicit to watch.

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I am not kidding, this guy wears this expression the entire series. Even his hair seems to agree with him.

The real highlight of this show however are the actors. The level of performances that are given in this show are really off the charts, and truly worth the watch. Detective Oh Gu-tak is played by Kim Sang-joong and he is very impressive to say the least. This is the first time I have seem him in a show or movie, but the way he portrays this quite frankly frightening character is astonishing. His grief and trauma over the death of his daughter really come to the fore in his performance and makes him so fascinating to watch. Ma Dong-seok who people might recognise from Train to Busan, plays the former mobster Pak Un-seol. His character provides some of the much needed comic relief in what is otherwise a very dark series. He gives another solid performance and certainly became one of my favorite characters of the show.

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You would almost think that this guy is a vampire…..

The most human character and the one with the highest level of charisma is the hired hit-man Jung Tae-soo. He is pretty much the only one that really struggles with the deeds that he has done, and his background story is the one that got to me the most. Ofcourse I am not going to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that it’s pretty touching. The last member of the band of misfits is psychopath Lee Jung-moon, played by Park Hae-jin. Quite frankly this guy gave me the creeps. His continually stoic expression throughout the series seriously was unnerving, but it was a terrific and very chilling role. We also have a female police detective called Yoo Mi-young played by Kang Ye-won. Quite frankly she is the only one that I did not really like in this series. I found her character to be pretty boring and not really fitting the rest of the high caliber acting that was done in this series.

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This is the Korean version of Spanish bullfighting.

This 11 episode series was a delight to watch. With the exception of a few moments in later episodes, this was a well paced series that had a really interesting plot, solid performances and a great atmosphere. Bad Guys is getting a second season, but sadly with an entirely different cast of characters. Which I think is a real shame as the cast for this show was simply put amazing. If you like crime dramas or serial killer stories and have yet to experience your first Korean dramaseries, this might be your perfect way to start. If you are looking for a way to watch this drama legally and for free you can check out the website Viki. This series together with scores of others can be found there in high quality, and there is a drama on that site for everyone.

I give Bad Guys a 8 out of 10 score.

Rambo: First Blood, American movie (1982)

Yes people, my 80’s bingewatch is continuing. I don’t know what it is these days, but I seem to be living more in the past than in the present. Maybe I am actually experiencing a severe case of midlife crisis. Either that, or I am just getting old. For all you animelovers out there, and yes I am still one of them, rest assured there will be some animecontent coming out later this week. But for now, it’s time to revisit one of the greatest action heroes of all time: John Rambo. Portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, who I still consider to be one of best action stars to walk the face of this planet, Rambo is an icon and became a part of our culture. Just think of all the times his name has been mentioned in other movies or tv series. Together with Rocky, Rambo is just a terrific character that has captured the hearts and minds of action movielovers everywhere.

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The things you find in Christmas trees these days.

First Blood tells the story of the former Vietnam veteran John Rambo. At the beginning of the movie he is trying to get in touch with a former army buddy of his, with which he served in ‘Nam. He is shocked to find out his friend has died from cancer. Stricken with grief, Rambo sets out on foot not really caring where he ends up. Soon he arrives in a small town called Hope and comes across the local sheriff a man called Will Teasle. Now he really doesn’t take kindly to a stranger entering his quiet town, and firmly tells him to hit the road again. When John refuses, he is taken into custody even though he hasn’t done anything. But Will is about to find out that a war is going to take place in his small town. A war caused by a man named John Rambo. And when he is done, you can certainly count on one thing that will definitely be needed: a good supply of body bags….

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Such a stupid move to take him in. You can see he is wearing green right? Ever hear of the Hulk?

Now if you have actually never heard of this movie, seriously where have you been? Just kidding here of course. Rambo is one of the 80’s best action films and I honestly can’t count the number of times that I have seen this movie. We could all argue about the amount of macho type characters and testosterone this movie contains (and it certainly does contain that, no argument there), but at the heart is a story about prejudice. Here we have a man that has been a credit to his country, awarded with countless awards, and he gets accosted by the local sheriff just because of the way he looks. Also it teaches us what war can really do to a man or a woman. I have never been in a war, nor do I hope to ever be in one, but only if you experienced those horrors can you really imagine what it must be like. There is a gutwrenching scene at the end of the movie where John cries his eyes out telling his former commanding officer about what happened to him in Vietnam. And it really is hard to watch this iron warrior break up like that. War, seriously what is it good for?

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Easy Rider: the Next Generation.

 

The performances in this film are excellent. Stallone was born to play this part, a role he would reprise three times after this movie. Even though he does some horrible things in this film, you get where his anger is coming from, and you certainly feel sympathy for his character. And that is all because of the humanity that Stallone brings with him through his acting. Sheriff Will Teasle is played by the highly underrated actor Brian Dennehy. Will is a dispacable man, but in the end you do feel for him, as through his ignorance he gets way more than he ever imagined would happen to his town. It’s a terrific role and one that Brian pulls off incredibly well. And last but not least we have Colonel Trautman, Rambo’s commanding officer in Vietnam, played by the sadly departed actor Richard Crenna. Trautman acts as Rambo’s father figure, and pretty much the only man that Rambo has respect for. Crenna does a terrific job in portraying this commanding role, and you would almost believe that he was a real soldier.

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Man, seriously who drives like that?

The review would not be complete without mentioning the amazing score of Jerry Goldsmith. It adds another layer to what is already a terrific movie, and the theme for Rambo is one that will stick in your head for the remainder of the day, whenever you hear it. This movie is now 35 years old, and you would think it was made yesterday. With some fabulous action scenes, great and very memorable characters, and a story that does also make you think about the futility of some things, this is 80’s action moviemaking at it’s best. It will probably not please everyone, but if you are an action adrenaline junkie and have yet to watch this one, you will be in for a treat. And otherwise it’s a great movie to revisit and to relive the golden 80’s.

I give Rambo:First Blood a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Transformers (1986) review

We all know what it’s like: you start a new blog, and are trying to get your bearings and ofcourse people trying to read your stuff. Today I wanted to share a post from a friend of mine who has just started blogging. And seeing as it is a review from one of my favorite cartoon movies (Transformers), and it’s in keeping with this whole nostalgic vibe I seem to have going, I thought I would share this with you all. Feel free to look around at her site, she has a great review for a series of graphic novels that I had never heard about, but that sound truly interesting. And ofcourse if you like her stuff, please subscribe 😀

Flowangelic

Transformers-movieposter-west

Even though I am a cartoon addict (well not addict, but I have seen way too many to be considered a “normal” viewer) and having seen Transformers as a youngster, I never saw the actual Transformer movie.

We started rewatching the transformers series (all ordered from Ebay) and when season 2 was finished we popped in the movie (also from Ebay).

Now the fact that te movie takes place in 2005 is hilarious, as its already a decade past that date and there are still no transformers in our world….(actually its not hilarious, its sad… boring world).

The movie is a complete bundle of sadness in itself. I do not mean that as the movie is bad, on the contrary the movie is great! But almost all the autobots die. ALMOST ALL OF THEM! Even Optimus Prime bites the dust. I can I enjoy this film when not one of…

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The Karate Kid part II, American movie (1986)

When I grew up as a kid there was a movie that always made me feel good. It is one of my favorite childhood movies and it’s called the Karate Kid. I watched this film at a time where attending school was a very dark place for me. I was bullied nearly every day, and here was a film where the same thing was happening to this young boy called Daniel. But guess what? He not only managed to gain respect and grow as a person, but he also beat his bullies in a brilliant way. It gave me hope that eventually everything can be beaten if you just put your mind to it. I will always be grateful to the movie for providing me a sense of relief and escapism in what was quite frankly a time in my life that I don’t like to look back on very often. Three years later the sequel came out. And it blew my young mind away again, but this time also for a few other reasons.

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FINISH HIM!!!!!!

The second part of the Karate Kid literally starts where the first part ended. Daniel has just won the All-Valley Karate Tournament and prepares to go home with his teacher mr. Miyagi. Once outside the pair see Daniel’s rival from the first movie being accosted by his own sensei John Kreese. Luckily Miyagi intervenes just in time, proving that you should never hold a grudge for too long. Six months later mr. Miyagi receives a letter from his lost love in Okinawa, Yukei, telling him his father is very ill. Daniel is eager to find out who Yukei is, and he soon hears the story behind the reason for his old master’s departure from Japan all those years ago. Yukei was apparently arranged to marry a man named Sato, who was mr. Miyagi’s best friend. But when he fell in love with her, Sato challenged him to a fight to the death. Unwilling to enter into such a duel, Miyagi left Japan, leaving behind a heartbroken Yukei. Having no choice now but to go to Okinawa and his dying father, he departs in all haste, with Daniel travelling with him. Upon their arrival though, both master and student are about to find out that some people can hold a grudge for a very long time……

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Honestly I would have included only pictures of Kumiko, but I guess I did not want to be too obvious.

This movie is very dear to me. It’s my number one go to movie whenever I feel down or depressed. Somehow it never fails to lift my spirits. There are two things this film did besides the general feel good atmosphere it manages to create. The first is that it introduced me to Asian culture, more specifically the culture of Japan. I loved the many customs we as an audience get to experience through this film. One of the scenes that really still brings a smile to my face is the tea ceremony between Daniel and his love interest in this movie: Kumiko. It is a wonderful custom to observe, and it is also incredibly romantic. With this movie my interest for Asian culture in general started to take shape, a fact that continues to this day. The second thing it did was give me my first movie crush. I was absolutely mesmerised by the beauty of Kumiko, played by a young Tamlyn Tomita. In my young mind she was the perfect woman, and I completely fell in love with her. Ah teenage love can be so strange at times.

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Ice, Ice, baby…..

From an acting point of view there are some great roles that I think are worth mentioning. First up is Pat Morita, as mr. Miyagi. I think his role in this second part was even better than in the first movie, as in this film the spotlight is somewhat more on his story instead of focussing all the attention on Daniel. It gives us a few wonderful scenes, most notably the ones between him and Sato and his love Yukei. Sato played by Danny Kamekona is the perfect adversary for Miyagi. His gravelly voice is terrific, and he also manages to create a humanity to his character in a great way. Lastly we have Sato’s nephew Chozen Toguchi, played by Yuji Okumoto, who eventually becomes Daniel’s opponent. He is a particular breed of nasty, and you will come to hate him over the course of this film. Some of the things he does still gets my blood boiling after all these years, and it is only a big compliment to Okumoto’s acting, that he manages to invoke such a feeling.

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Okay, sorry, just one more…..

Now some might argue how mediocre the fight scenes in this movie look. Certainly we are not watching a Jet Li or Jackie Chan movie here. The fights only serve to create some extra tension, in what is otherwise a really great and heartwarming film. I can’t express through words alone how much I still enjoy seeing this movie, even though it is now 31 years old. Both parts 1 and 2 are the ultimate feel good experience and are a perfect watch for whenever you just want to feel like you can take on the world again. It probably won’t please everyone, cynics might certainly point out the many flaws this film probably has, but I just love this movie to death. If you have never seen this one, I do recommend watching part 1 first. That movie establishes the relationship between mr. Miyagi and young Daniel, and to skip that would be to miss out on a lot of things. And remember to relax: wax on, wax off.

I give the Karate Kid part II a 10 out of 10 score.

 

The War for the Planet of the Apes, American movie (2017)

After reviewing Kong Skull Island earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to do another review that featured monkeys, or apes if you prefer. Honestly it is just a coincidence that these reviews are coming out in the same week, as I saw this film quite a while ago. It’s just one of those posts that for some reason I did not get around to earlier. In 1968 the original movie was first released starring Charlton Heston, and it is considered by many to be a science fiction cult classic. And of course it was inevitable that Hollywood at one point would remake this. The first attempt dates back to 2001, and was directed by Tim Burton. Starring Mark Wahlberg, it certainly wasn’t a bad film, but it also can’t be considered a very good one either. However in 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released. The first movie that would be the start of a new trilogy was a terrific film. It featured amazing special effects that for a change served in telling the story, instead of being the driving force of the movie.

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Hmm, I wonder who the human is in this picture. 

Three years later the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes came out, and it was another amazing film. Again featuring ground breaking special effects, a heartwarming story, and plenty of action, it was a great follow up to the first movie. And now we have the War for the Planet of the Apes, which draws the trilogy to a close. In this third and final film, Caesar together with his family and the rest of his band of apes, tries to live peacefully in a secluded forest. This peace is shattered however when a ruthless human colonel attacks the camp of the apes. After suffering a terrible loss Caesar, together with a few of his most trusted friends, sets out on a path of revenge. In the middle of the quest they stumble across a young human girl who they eventually befriend and decide to bring along on their journey. Their path brings them ever closer to the colonel. Unbeknownst to them however this man has drawn his own plans, and they spell complete and utter doom for the remainder of the apes…..

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Kids these days like Teddy-apes more than Teddy-bears. 

Let me not keep you any further in suspense: War for the Planet of the Apes was a worthy end to a fantastic movie trilogy and then some. With a title that has the word war in it, you would expect a movie that has explosions, loads of action and other stuff like that in it. It’s all the more surprising however that this movie turned out very differently than I expected. This is not an action extravaganza, but more a very thoughtful drama set in a truly believable post apocalyptic science fiction world. We go along with Caesar and his friends on a journey that makes us question our own humanity at times. The apes were definitely possessed of more kindness, than the humans that were in this film. In fact, besides the young girl, there is not a single human character that you can relate to. Which is a good thing, because it’s the apes that you want to grow attached to in this movie. And they are brought to life in hyper realistic computer effects, that make the apes look completely real and lifelike.

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Haha, I am not worried you will miss me anyway. 

The main character Caesar is again played by Andy Serkis, who already did such amazing work playing as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings saga. Even though his face is completely hidden by computer effects, Caesar almost feels like a human, and that is mostly because of the amazing work of this actor. The colonel is played by veteran actor Woody Harrelson. His character is pretty much as far from being human as one can be, which is funny considering he is almost the only human being you get to see in this picture. At least as far as the bigger roles go that is. Harrelson creates a truly loathsome character, that you will grow to hate throughout this film. And that of course is a credit to the acting skills of Woody.

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Hey, come over here. Did you hear that joke about the monkey and the human? 

War for the Planet of the Apes is a movie that I label as a must see picture. I would even go so far as to call this closing installment the best part of the entire trilogy. Some people may at times feel the movie is moving along too slow. I was never bored for one second though. All the scenes that were in the film were created with a single purpose in mind: to make us truly feel for a group of apes and see them in the same light as normal human actors. And I would say the film certainly succeeded in that mission. The movie is a truly beautiful film to look at, with amazing special effects, and a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful tale as well. I highly recommend this movie. Even if you don’t regularly like science fiction I think you might still enjoy watching this one. Only if you are expecting an action fest it might be wise to avoid this one, for this is most certainly not an action oriented film.

I give War for the Planet of the Apes a 9 out of 10 score.

Don’t Breathe, American movie (2016)

If there is one thing that I am afraid of losing, it is my eyesight. I can’t imagine living in a world of total darkness not being able to watch movies anymore or reading books anytime I want to. Or even more important: not being able to see the faces of friends and loved ones. If I were allowed to choose, I would rather lose my hearing. Not that I would ever want to mind you. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a review for a horrormovie. The last time was more than a month ago, so it’s about time that I revisit one of my favorite moviegenres. So what was all that rambling about losing my eyesight you ask? Let’s just say it has everything to do with the movie that I am about to review. And not to get to far ahead of things, but it’s certainly one of the better horror/thriller movies that I have seen in quite a while.

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Shhhhh, did you hear something? 

For anyone who was ever in doubt that crime does not pay, he or she should really watch this movie. Don’t Breathe focusses on a trio of young burglars, Rocky, Money and Alex, who struggle to make a living. Money is the toughest of the threesome and someone who has pretty much no conscience. Rocky, his girlfriend, tries to make enough cash to get away with her younger sister from her horrible parents that are neglecting them. And then there is Alex the more sensible of the three, and who obviously has a crush on Rocky. When Money sells the goods from their latest heist, he doesn’t really get a fair price. Rocky is especially distraught by this, as she sees her dreams of a quick getaway evaporate into smoke. But then a golden opportunity arises. In an abandoned Detroit neighbourhood there is a house that is occupied by a retired US army veteran. He supposedly has a lot of cash in his house, and even better: he is blind. This seems almost to good to be true. But when the trio enter the man’s house at night, they soon find out that they might have taken on a little bit more than they can chew……

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Aww come on, don’t be scared. You do know a dog is man’s best friend right? 

Don’t Breathe is one of those movies that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout most of the film. It’s not without it’s flaws, but overall it’s a very effective thriller with a pretty cool concept. Stephen Lang, who most people might remember as the villain from Avatar, plays the retired blind army veteran. And boy is he a scary guy. You will truly be afraid of this man, despite his blindness, and Lang’s acting is superb. Rocky is played by the relatively unknown actress Jane Levy, and I was pretty impressed by her performance. She is not the damsel in distress you see in most horror movies, but a really tough chick that can hold her own in a very gruesome situation. Her acting was very natural and I hope we get to see more of her in the future.

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Hang on a second guys, I have an itch I have to scratch. 

As much fun as this movie is there are a couple of things that might turn some people off. For one thing this is a pretty violent movie. There is a scene near the end of the film, and trust me you will know which scene I mean when you see it, that really was pretty disgusting. It did not ruin the movie for me, but I did think that it went a bit too far in terms of violence. And then there are some actions that the characters do that make no sense, and are pretty dumb to say the least. But I guess that is nothing really unusual as we have countless examples in horror history where we have seen this sort of stuff before. Another not altogether small problem is that these characters are not very likeable. In fact they are criminals, and even though Rocky certainly seems to have a tough life, that doesn’t justify her going off on a crime spree.

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I’m not that fat, you can pass without any problems mr Blind Man. 

All in all though, this is a very decent thriller with some nailbiting scenes that will get your heart pounding. Coupled with Lang’s great performance, and some interesting plot twists, it’s a movie I recommend seeing. If you are turned off by violence though I think you had better pass on this one. As usual when a horrormovie becomes a succes, I hear a sequel is already in the works. I hope I am proven wrong, but this will probably mean that we get a product that throws away all the stuff that was so great in the original. And it will ramp up the violence. One only has to take a look at the Saw franchise to see how that turned out. And you really don’t have to be blind to see that.

I give Don’t Breathe a 8 out of 10 score.