Tag Archives: Action

Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope, American movie (1977)

There are some stories in this world that are kind of hard to believe. Take the Star Wars franchise for instance. No matter the fact if you love it or hate it, I think nobody can deny the fact that it’s incredibly popular and makes a ton of money. But did you know that director George Lucas had an incredibly hard time to even get a funding for the first movie in that galaxy far, far away? After writing a 13 page treatment for it, he went from studio to studio, but pretty much no one believed that this was a movie that would attract an audience. After getting declined numerous times, Lucas finally got a green light from 20th Century Fox. But he only got a very small budget with which to make the movie. After many hardships during filming, including suffering a near heart attack, Lucas managed to complete his film. When the movie was finally released in 1977 it blew everything that had come before it completely away and became a huge success. It never fails to make me smile when I think about this story, as it is proof that pretty much everything is possible as long as you keep believing in it.

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You seem to have trouble talking. Is it something I did?

Now 40 years later, Star Wars is still going strong with no end in sight. This week the eagerly awaited eight installment of the franchise will be released. I have already got my tickets, although I still have to wait a few days, as I will be seeing it on saturday morning. Which means that I have got to avoid social media the upcoming days in order to not come across spoilers. It’s only fitting to conclude my Countdown to the Last Jedi feature with the movie that started it all, Episode IV, A New Hope. Probably most of you know the story of this film by heart, but for the few unlucky souls that have never seen this one, let me break it down for you. In a galaxy far, far away an evil Empire has grown that holds everyone in an iron grip. With the creation of a new weapon, a planet killer called the Death Star, it seems the Empire is ready to snuff out the final rays of light. But there is always hope. A rebellion has grown that has managed to steal the technical plans of this new terrorweapon. The plans are currently in possession of Princess Leia, who is racing home to try and find a weakness in the Death Star. But the Empire’s brutal enforcer Darth Vader is in hot pursuit with the sole purpose of extinquishing the rebellion once and for all….

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That’s no moon, it’s erm…..I don’t really know actually.

I was one year old when this movie came out, so I never saw it in the theatres when it was released. I of course did see it at a later age, when the special editions came out and the movies were brought back to the cinema. But the experience could never rival what movie audiences at that time must have felt. These days we are not easily surprised anymore by special effects. But imagine the reaction people must have had when that Star Destroyer came into view for the first time in 1977. Movies that featured that level of special effects were completely unheard of at that time. And in that way it pretty much changed the movie industry overnight. Rival companies were trying to play catch up and released science fiction movies that tried to copy what Star Wars did. With a few exceptions, most of these attempts failed. So what exactly made this movie so special, and why has it captured the hearts and minds of so many people?

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Your hair looks really ridiculous you know that right?

Yes, the special effects were mind boggling, and even though they are now showing their age, they still hold up very well even today. But for me it’s the story and the characters that form the main reason why I love this movie so very much. It’s the ultimate epic tale of good versus evil. Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and of course the classic actor Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi, all of them did such an amazing job in creating wonderful and heartwarming characters. When you look at this movie now, it’s amazing how young they all look. I don’t know if this makes me old or something, but it’s just incredible when you realise that time seriously is flying by faster than the Millenium Falcon on lightspeed. But let’s not get off track here. For another reason this movie is so memorable is it’s main villain: Darth Vader. The first time he enters the screen you can’t help but feel intimidated. He is the very personification of evil, and it oozes out from him in every way. For me he simply is the best villain in movie history.

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We are all going to be made into action figures? You are kidding me right?

When it comes to Star Wars it is really hard to stay objective. I have been a fan of this franchise ever since I saw that memorable opening crawl on my television screen for the first time. It is also hard to believe that after 40 years we will again see Mark Hamill reprise his role for which he has been famous all his life. No one yet knows what is in store for Luke, but I will be awaiting with anticipation that is bigger than a Womp Rat, I can tell you that. For those of you that have not seen this first film I can only say that I envy you. To experience a movie like this for the first time is something truly amazing. And yes, in case you were wondering this really is the movie you should start with first. I know it’s called Episode IV, but this was the very first installment. (Even though Episodes I-III were released much later, but that is a story for another time). A New Hope is an amazing piece of cinema, and a movie that you simply must see at least once in your life. And so we have reached the end of this feature. I leave you with the original trailer for the movie, and for those of you that are going to the cinema the coming days to see Episode VIII: May the Force be with you!

I give Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope a 10 out of 10 score.

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Sisters of Battle, a Warhammer 40000 novel by James Swallow (2017)

Imagine a grim and dark universe that only has one thing on it’s mind: war. Not a very bright thing to look forward to is it? But it has been the setting for decades for a tabletop game called Warhammer 40.000. In that game players battle each other with fictional armies of painted miniatures. Taking place in the 41st Millenium (talk about a time jump), it is one of the most detailed science fiction universes ever created. With literally thousands of novels and sourcebooks that tell the tales of the men, women and aliens that are living in there, it can be very overwhelming for people that are not familiar with it. In this far future, mankind has taken to the stars and have created an Imperium that consists of thousands of planets. Humanity is led by The Emperor that was mortally wounded in a great war called the Horus Heresy. He now permanently resides on Terra where he is kept alive on The Golden Throne. In his name vast armies of Space Marines take the fight to enemies ranking from aliens to horrifying demons.

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Yup…..we get girlpower now!

I myself have never played the game, but I really love the stories that are written for this universe. I have a pretty big collection of books in this range, and most of these tell the accounts of the soldiers of the Imperium, the superhuman Space Marines. That’s why it was very refreshing to find a novel that does something entirely different. It brings girlpower to this male dominated universe! The Sisters of Battle Omnibus features four stories that focus on the women soldiers also known as the Adepta Sororitas. Fanatically loyal to the Emperor, these women are not supersoldiers or enhanced in any way. But what they may lack in strength, they more than make up for with their courage and faith. In this omnibus we get introduced to Sister Miriya, who has become one of my favorite Warhammer 40.000 characters. Raven haired, headstrong but courageous to a fault she is an absolute delight and a true heroine.

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One of the more horrifying enemies that lurk in this book: The Necron.

The second main character of this book is Sister Verity, who is not a soldier but a medic and almost the complete opposite of Miriya. Where the former is of the type to shoot first and ask questions later, Verity always tries to reason through everything and is an incredibly kind soul that always sees the best in people. This unlikely pair soon become vast friends, and are going to have to face some true challenges. The four stories that make up this omnibus are all good, but my two favorites have got to be the two novella length ones. In Faith and Fire the two Sisters are going after a rogue psyker that has killed Verity’s real sister, and is responsible for the death of countless other humans. But soon it becomes clear that there is something far more sinister going on. In Hammer and Anvil Miriya and Verity land on a planet that contains an outpost from the Adepta Sororitas that has been silent for years. No one really knows what transpired there, but the truth is more horrifying than both could ever have imagined.

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Who would argue with a woman like this?

James Swallow, the author of all four stories, has really outdone himself. This collection comes running out of the gates, and never once becomes boring in any way. There are some great battlescenes, terrific characters (both heroes and enemies) but there is also enough time amidst all the carnage to tell some great tales. If you have never before experienced the Warhammer 40.000 universe this omnibus certainly is a great way to enter it. As it features a branch of The Imperium that hasn’t been featured in many other novels yet, you need no real other knowledge to enjoy this book. If you love military science fiction, that has fast paced action and interesting characters I highly recommend checking this one out. It really was a great read from start to finish, and one of the best novels that I have read all year. And really, who can resist an awesome cover like that!

I give Sisters of Battle a 9 out of 10 score.

The Walking Dead Season 7, American tv series (2016/2017)

I recently read that one of the executive producers for The Walking Dead can see the show running for about 25-30 more years. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. A television series about a post apocalyptic world where zombies have taken over, could potentially reach a season 30. Now, as much as I am fan of this series (it still ranks as my alltime number one show), even I have trouble believing a statement like that. There are only so many places you can go to with a concept like this and keep it interesting. It’s still a great watch, but from an objective point of view I have to admit it just isn’t as strong as it used to be anymore. Season 7 is a great example of this as the series is now definitely beginning to show a few cracks in it’s otherwise shining armour. But before I’m already going to head into full review mode, let’s just see what the storyline for this season is all about.

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One has to admire a man that gives a name to his baseball bat. 

This season starts where  season 6 ended, right in the middle of a pretty big mess. The new bad guy, Negan, looms thriumphantly over our heroes with his pet bat Lucille promising to bash someone’s brains in. Yes you heard that right, this guy actually gave his bat that has been wrapped in barbed wire a name. And more horrifyingly he really keeps his promise as two people of the main cast don’t survive the encounter. It is the first time we see a truly broken Rick, that comes to the conclusion that he isn’t in charge anymore: Negan is. It is a truly depressing fact, and one that carries over for most of the rest of the season. And Negan really puts the screws on everyone, as he gives orders to find as much supplies as they can for him, or else suffer the consequences. It seems that this time there really is no way out for our heroes as Negan and his army are all but invincible. But there is always hope. Slowly new alliances are formed and plans are being made to take the fight to Negan. But in this world no one can be fully trusted, and Negan’s spies are everywhere. The rebellion against him might just be over, before it even has a chance to start…..

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I smell something rotten…..

The first episode of this season has got to be the most heartpounding, stomache churning and quite frankly most horrible 45 minutes of television that I have ever seen. I went into that episode with a heart rate that must have raised quite a number of alarmbells if it would have been monitored at the time, and left it as a broken man. It was truly and utterly devestating, and that’s what the creators of course went for. One has to wonder though if things did not go too far, as the level of brutality in that episode really was completely off the charts. Whatever your thoughts are on that episode, one can’t deny the fact that it contained a few incredibly tense and nailbiting scenes, that really managed to create a level of fear that all bets are now truly off. The rest of the season however, never even once came close to that level of fear again. It was almost as if the writers did not know how to proceed forward from this point on.

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This season they really went full out to make sure the dead wear the latest trends in fashion.

Most of the cast is seperated from each other throughout this season, and we get episodes that at times focus on a single character, or small groups of them. While this is not a bad thing in itself, the execution for it leaves much to be desired. Some of the episodes in this season are just plain dull, with not much of anything really happening. We get introduced to a couple of new characters, of which the most noteworthy of these is King Ezekiel. Played by the relatively unknown actor Khary Payton, Ezekiel seems to have walked straight out of the Middle Ages into the modern world. And even better he has a tiger that accompanies him. It makes for a great character that unfortunately was a bit underused in my opinion. But that’s pretty much the problem with this entire season: it really serves as a build up to something big and as such really takes things slow, and at times a bit too slow.

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The lions, the tigers, the bears…..oh my…..

But not everything in this season is bad though. The real saving grace is the character of Negan played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Wow, will you grow to hate this man with a vengeance, but at the same time laugh at him as well. Because really, Negan is funny. He is deliciously evil, and some of his (bad) jokes are just seriously funny. You don’t want to laugh at them, but you just can’t help yourself in doing so. Negan really is a terrific villain and the absolute highlight of this season. Most, if not all of the scenes he appears in are a delight to watch. And then there is Rick. Andrew Lincoln has always been a very impressive actor, but this season he plays Rick to the fullest, and some of his scenes will leave you with goosebumps on your arms. He really still is the driving force of this show, and if he were ever to leave the Walking Dead, I would say it’s time to pull the plug.

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25 more seasons? Really? Please somebody just shoot me now! 

This season leaves me with a lot of conflicting emotions. It starts off with a bang, but then seems to fizzle and never can quite rediscover it’s momentum. While there is still enough for me to enjoy being an enormous fan of the series, more casual viewers will probably find the pacing too slow in order for them to really have fun with it. The season’s finale also wasn’t as big as in previous seasons. So one has to wonder what this means for the future of the show. Season 8 has just reached it’s midseason episode (and I have heard it rumored that it again contained quite a shock), and also promises to really start the war between Rick and Negan in earnest. But what then? Where can the show go after that war concludes? As much as I love this series, it is a concept that I think can’t be taken much further than it already has. It was the same problem that 24 eventually faced: the show just became a rehash of things that we had already seen in previous seasons. Still, I will never stop watching it, right up until the end. I just love it too much for that. The score below for this season represents watching it as a fan. If you are a more casual viewer you might want to deduct one or even two points from it.

I give The Walking Dead season 7 a 8 out of 10 score.

Serenity, American movie (2005)

Joss Whedon is just one of those familiar household names in the world of geeks. And even if you never heard of him, something that must definitely ring a bell is the tv series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It dominated the television back in the days for seven seasons, and also served as the platform for the spinoff series Angel. The man responsible for it? You guessed it, Joss Whedon. But he also created a show that had an altogether different fate, namely the short lived Firefly. In, what has to be one of the stupidest decisions in the history of television, this terrific blend of western and science fiction got the axe after just 14 episodes. The ratings for it were given the blame, but they also conveniently forgot that it was shown in a very unfavorable timeslot. But despite all that, Firefly lived on through an incredibly loyal fanbase. And even today there are still new books, games and other merchandise being released for it. Three years after the series got cancelled, Joss Whedon sort of took revenge by making a pretty succesful movie based on the show called Serenity.

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Does anybody know any good jokes?

Serenity while being a continuation of the original series, can actually be enjoyed even if you have never seen or even heard of Firefly. It takes place in the 26th century where most of humanity has left Earth because of it being overpopulated.  With the colonisation of the Galaxy, there came the inevitable wars as well. In the end The Alliance was the faction that was left standing. But to say The Alliance is a friendly regime would be saying The Emperor from Star Wars is a fluffy teddy bear. River Tam is a young girl that is being conditioned by them to fight as an assassin and a psychic. This totally messes up her mind, but just before things get really bad her brother manages to rescue her. They both join a crew of outlaws and misfits lead by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, and have been on the run ever since. But The Alliance doesn’t give up River so easily as she knows secrets that she herself is not even aware of. A topsecret agent, known only as the Operative is tasked with bringing her back. Malcolm soon more than has his hands full with his ship The Serenity becoming the target of both the Alliance and the bloodthirsty cannibalistic Reavers. As people start dying around him he has to ask him self if one girl is worth all this trouble……

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I don’t know why. But I have a feeling nobody really likes him….

Serenity is a fun adventure filled science fiction romp. It’s a very unique take on your standard science fiction films, especially because of the setting. It really feels like a western at times which is something that really hasn’t been done much in the world of science fiction. But as usual it is the characters that make this film come alive, just like they did in the television series. Everyone from the original series reprises their roles, and it was great to see the beloved characters at work again. Malcolm played by Nathan “Castle” Fillion really steals the show. His character tries to act as tough as nails, but in between all that outward bluster, lies a heart of gold. Even though he doesn’t always show it, he really does care about all the people around him. River Tam, played by the lovely Summer Glau, is the most complex but also one of the most fun characters. I think it’s one of Summer’s best roles, as she manages to create a character that is downright scary, completely insane, but also very loveable, all at the same time.

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One has to love big fleets going head to head.

The rest of the original cast have somewhat smaller, but no less important parts to play. I was also impressed by The Operative, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. His character always remains calm, never gets angry no matter what happens, and this makes it a very creepy and chilling man. Ejiofor’s performance definitely is spot on, and is one of the best roles from the film. The special effects are also highly worth watching this movie for. There are some great sequences both in space and on the ground, that would give bigger blockbuster movies a run for their money. Everything in this movie just looks very shiny (pun intended). The story, while certainly not the strongest point of the film, is still good enough to not just serve setting up the action, but also adds some nice twists and turns. In fact I can find very little that is wrong with this movie. If I were a bit of nitpicking guy, I could say that the pace of the film was a little bit slow in the middle. But honestly that would really be stretching things.

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Psst…..bigger isn’t always better: show off!

If you like Firefly, this movie is definitely a worthy follow up to the original series, and also serves to bring some closure to a few plotlines that were left wide open after the show got cancelled. It contains much of the same humor as well, although it does have a bit of a darker tone to it. But also if you are a sci fi fan in general this movie is highly recommended. It isn’t very often that you see a mix of two completely different genres work so well together, but Serenity manages to pull it off. And that’s it for the fourth part of the Countdown to the Last Jedi. To bring this feature to a close next up will be the Star Wars movie that started it all so many years ago: Episode IV, A New Hope. As always, thank you for reading, and boy is it good to be back to blogging again. See you all on the next post, but I will leave you with the original trailer for Serenity. Enjoy!

I give Serenity a 9 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: First trailer for Alita Batle Angel

After a bit of a strange week of blogging, and my recovering from a rather nasty flu (you can read all about that right here), today marks the first day that I hope to get back to normal blogging operations. Erm, yeah I don’t quite know what that means either. I’m at least going to try and make an effort to catch up on some posts that I have missed, and try and write some stuff myself again as well. They say there is such a thing as not believing in things that are a coincidence, but I sometimes beg to differ. I literally acquired the first volume of the Deluxe Edition of the Battle Angel Alita manga, this weekend. For those of you not familiair with it, Battle Angel Alita is a long running manga series. It features a young innocent looking cyborg woman called Alita, that is found and rescued at a Scrapyard by a cyber doctor where she was dumped. Floating above this Scrapyard is the floating city of Zalem. While the people at Zalem seem to enjoy a life of luxury, the people at the Scrapyard live in poverty and try to get by as best they can. It soon becomes apparent though that Alita is no ordinary cyborg, and is in reality a deadly assassin skilled in the legendary martial arts of Panzerkunst.

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The first volume of the Deluxe Edition of the manga. Expect a review for this one next year. 

Now getting back to that coincidence, friday the first trailer for the live action movie of Alita seemingly came out of nowhere. It was a movie project that has been rumored for ages now, with director James Cameron having said that he has always been interested in making a film for this. It seems that plan has now finally been put into motion. Although Cameron doesn’t direct, he is quite involved in the project. And I have to say that what is on display in this trailer is really awesome. Not only does it look rather unique, we also get a pretty good cast that bring the characters to life. I for one can’t wait to see the final product, which will make an appearance in the theatres next year. For your enjoyment I have provided the trailer for you to watch, and judge by yourself. Let me know what you think of it in the comments section below.

 

Tron Legacy, American movie (2010)

Remember the 80’s? I’ve mentioned it quite a few times in the past that I am a fan of that particular era. It is famous for bringing us some great cartoons, wonderful and very memorable movies, but it also saw the rise of a completely new form of entertainment: the video game. People back in those days went to the arcades to play classic games such as Pac Man, Space Invaders and Centipede to name but a few examples. In the year 1982 Disney made a film that focussed on computergames in a way that had not yet been done before. Featuring groundbreaking special effects the name of that movie was Tron. It became a moderate succes back in those days, but it is now recognised by many as being lightyears ahead of it’s time and has gained the status of cult classic. Almost 30 years later a sequel was made to the original film. It was anticipated by a lot of people but unfortunately it did not become as succesful as many had hoped. Welcome everybody to part 3 of Countdown to the Last Jedi.

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Now tell me, was I lying about the visual aspects of this film?

In Tron Legacy we are introduced to the son of Kevin Flynn, a young boy called Sam. In the year 1989 his father disappeared without a trace just after he was promoted to CEO of the computer systems corporation Encom International. Ever since his disappearance, now over twenty years ago, nobody has heard anything from him. Sam has grown up, but has little to no interest in his father’s company, despite being the primary shareholder. He does like to play a prank on the board of directors every year. Kevin’s closest and oldest friend Alan Bradley one day checks in with Sam, but not without a reason. It seems that Alan has recieved a pager message that originated from Kevin’s old, but now sealed video arcade. At first Sam is very skeptical, but eventually he decides to investigate it anyway. Arriving at the arcade, he discovers a hidden basement, where he inadvertently gets transported to The Grid. This virtual reality world was created by his father, and it seems that something very sinister has been brewing there. A rogue and corrupt program called Clu and that closely resembles his father, has taken control of everything. But Clu has bigger plans than the virtual world….plans that threaten the real world and every living thing in it. Sam becomes the reluctant hero that has to save the world. But stranded in an unfamiliair place, will he be up to this task?

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Were you just talking about me?

Tron Legacy can be only by described as a visual masterpiece. It is a feast for your eyes in many ways. The virtual world of The Grid is created in an absolutely breathtaking way. The buildings, the vehicles, the world, all of them are simply put works of art. It is one of the most beautiful fantasy worlds that I have ever seen created for a movie. I unfortunately missed the opportunity to see this one on the big screen, something that I regret to this day. But not only the visual aspect of this film is worth mentioning. It is also the film’s soundtrack, created by Daft Punk that brings this movie to life. Heavy synthesizer sounds combined with some orchestral score create a truly unique sound, and one that fits this movie perfectly. I highly recommend listening to this one with a headset on, as it will give you the best experience. But for all it’s visual might and powerful sounds, this movie is not without it’s faults unfortunately.

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I want one of these bikes for Christmas.

One of the least interesting aspects of the film are it’s characters. Sam, played by Garett Hedlund is a rather boring guy. He tends to overact in certain scenes and just doesn’t really convince you as the hero. Olivia Wilde, in the role of Quorra is one of the key characters of the movie. An apprentice created by Sam’s father, Olivia’s role is decent, but ultimately also underused. Most of the film she spents her time fighting along Sam, but has just too few lines to really make an impact as a character. Luckily the film is saved by the solid performance of Jeff Bridges, who reprises his role as Kevin, but also plays a younger version of himself as the evil Clu. Now the younger version of Bridges is created mostly through the heavy usage of CGI effects, and is not really done in the best way I’m sorry to say. Still it get’s the job done, and both roles by Bridges are without a doubt the best parts of the movie. It was also fun to see Bruce Boxleitner, who played Tron in the original movie, return for a small cameo performance.

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Ahh…to be young again, well…sort of. 

And then there is the storyline. At times it is quite hard to follow, and there are a few parts of it that just don’t always add up. But honestly the same can be said of the original film. Tron Legacy is one of those movies that will not be appreciated by everyone. Even though it boasts some astonishing special effects and an incredible music score, it’s the story that will not sit well with most people. I for one though, really enjoyed the film. Yes it definitely has it’s flaws, I’m not going to deny that, but there was enough in the movie that made it a solid science fiction adventure. I’m going to leave you with a clip that showcases one of the best scenes from the film: the light cycle sequence. Worthy of mention is also the song by Daft Punk that accompanies this scene and that makes the it even more powerful. Next up for the countdown to the Last Jedi feature is Serenity. I hope you all enjoyed reading this post. End of line.

I give Tron Legacy a 8 out of 10 score.

Deadman Wonderland, Anime tv series (2011)

I’m beginning to have a small luxury problem. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one that has this particular problem. Ever since I started my blog, now more than a year ago, my love for anime has resurfaced. Shock of all shocks, it might even surprise you that before that, I had not been watching anime for a period of more than five or six years. I know right? How on Earth did I even survive that? Now though I have so much anime to watch, that I don’t even know where to start anymore. Besides my own rather formidable dvd collection, I now also have Crunchyroll and more recently Netflix, that have such a great variety of anime series on offer. So what to do about this problem? I’m just going with the flow I guess. I now try to watch a series from my own dvd collection, and then one from either Netflix or Crunchyroll. Just to keep some kind of balance. Erm, yes I guess I can be weird like that at times. Anyway, it was Netflix that was next in line, and after browsing through their considerably large animelist, my eyes were drawn to Deadman Wonderland.

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This brings a whole new meaning to the term papercut. 

In Deadman Wonderland the life of the seemingly ordinary highschool student Ganta Igarashi is about to take a turn for the worse. When his class is preparing to take a school field trip to the privately owned prison Deadman Wonderland, that at the same time serves as an amusement park, a mysterious being suddenly appears. The being that is known as The Red Man, slaughters the entire class, with the exception of Ganta. Being the only survivor, Igarashi soon gets charged with mass murder. Things get even worse when overwhelming evidence is presented that can’t be explained and soon young Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the Deadman Wonderland prison. Once there he meets a mysterious white haired girl called Shinto, that saves him from a bunch of bullies that were about to kill him. All of a sudden a large explosion rocks the prison and brings down a large object right on top of Ganta and Shinto. Just when it is about to crush them, a mysterious power awakens in Ganta that allows him to take control of his own blood. In this way he manages to keep the object from falling on their heads. With the awakening of this power it is beginning to become apparent that Deadman Wonderland holds many secrets, and not all of them very friendly…..

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Hey, I told you Shinto could get a little crazy at times

Well, let me start this review by saying that this series is not, I repeat not, for the faint of heart. To call this series rather gory is quite the understatement. The blood flows freely in this anime, and I am not talking about a few small drops either. No we have buckets full of blood that are spilled, including several mutilations, and a rather nasty removal of an eyeball, that makes this a really brutal show. But before you all turn the other way, let me tell you that this show also kicks ass (pardon my French). I have never seen an animeseries that featured such a unique power. Ganta, and a rather large cast of other colourful characters, can use their own blood to form  weapons like swords, whips or even projectiles. And this makes for a couple of incredibly cool fightscenes between the inmates, that while at times rather bloody, really are highly entertaining to watch. It’s almost as if you are back in Rome during the days of gladiator fighting.

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Don’t worry these are all special effects, he is fine. 

As mentioned the cast is rather large, and more and more are added with each episode. This eventually results in quite a few them being rather bland, and not ones that you can form an attachment to. But one character I guarantee you will in love with is Shinto. This free spirited girl that has a special, and really protective bond with Ganta is a truly fun character. Sometimes a little crazy, at other times seemingly innocent, but more than capable of taking care of herself she is the absolute highlight of this anime. Ganta, the hero of the series is your typical innocent young boy character, that you have seen in quite a number of other shows. That is not to say that you don’t feel sympathy for him though. Not only is he wrongfully accused, he also gets confronted with a mysterious power and is placed in the most awful place one can imagine. It is enough to drive most men or women insane, but Ganta keeps fighting the good fight, and you have to admire that.

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In case you were wondering, no she is not naked, she is wearing a suit. 

For those of you that are observant, you might have already taken a glance at the final score I have given this anime. Made you look didn’t I? So why the low score for a show that I haven’t been really negative for yet? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those anime series that wraps things up in a really bad way. Or maybe it’s even better to say it doesn’t wrap up anything. After 12 episodes you are left with so many unanswered questions, and no real resolution that you end up feeling rather frustrated. I absolutely hate it when something like this happens. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching this, up until the final few episodes. And this is really such a shame. The storyline for this was very good, the animation more than decent, there were cool fightscenes and some very interesting  characters. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket. Whether or not you want to give this a try depends on the fact if you don’t mind shows that end with with no real resolution. I do have to admit that the fightsequences alone are worth seeing at least once, so there is that. All in all, despite a pretty big list of positives I can’t really bring myself to fully recommend this one. So watch at your own discretion.

I give Deadman Wonderland a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

Prison Break: Event Series (Season 5), American tv series (2017)

Don’t you just hate it when your favorite television series gets cancelled? It’s bad enough when something like that happens, but it’s even worse when it ends on a bad note. There have certainly been quite a few examples of tv series that were incredible but wrapped up with an absolutely horrible ending. I still remember the end of Dexter and how that really made me wonder how on Earth the creators of that series managed to completely ruin an otherwise brilliant show. Luckily there are also tv series that do end on a high note, and manage to give closure to the fans that have been following it. Prison Break was a televisionshow that ran for four seasons during a time that I always like to call “The Reign of the Big Three”. Yes, I know that sounds quite dramatic. The “Big Three” that I am talking about are three television series that really made an impact on the world of the small screen, 24, Lost and the aforementioned Prison Break. The final episode of that show aired just about seven years ago. It ended the series in a pretty satisfactory way, and I was quite happy with it myself.

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Never bring a gun to a fistfight…or was that the other way around? 

Lately there has been a renewed interest in resurrecting old television properties with small new seasons. The X-files and 24 already had a go at this, and this year it was Prison Break’s turn to continue the show with a 9 episode event series. This fifth season picks up the story seven years after Michael Scofield’s death. His brother Lincoln Burrows has tried his best to make a living, but has fallen back into some of his past criminal behaviour. One day when he arrives back at his home, he sees an old familiar face sitting on his porch: Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. Apparently he has just been released from prison, but he brings with him a message that is kind of hard to believe. Bagwell shows Burrows a picture of Michael sitting inside a prison in Yemen, alive and well. Lincoln at first thinks this is all a trick. But soon certain events are starting to happen that are beginning to make him doubt. Reaching out to Michael’s former wife Sara, who is now remarried, he says he is going to Yemen to find out the truth once and for all. But why has Michael not reached out to them once in all those years? And is Michael still the same man he was or has he turned into someone who is all but unrecognisable……

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Let’s see you break out of this one…I dare you. 

 

So the question I guess that is very valid to ask for this fifth season is: Do we really need this? As I mentioned before I was quite happy with the way the show ended. It gave closure to all the storylines and characters and nothing was left untouched. When you do something like this, you of course run the risk of ruining things. But before I get into that, let’s first start with the positives. It was awesome to spent some time again with all the old familiar faces. Fan favorites T-Bag, Sucre and C-Note all returned for this, and played in a few critical events. However the main focus was on Michael, Lincoln and Sara, and that was a good thing. It’s almost as if they never left, and it was great to see the actors play again and reprise the roles of these beloved characters. The cast is joined by a couple of new characters as well, of which the most interesting one is Whip. There is a revelation about him later on in the season which I certainly did not see coming. He is a great character and played very well by actor Augustus Prew.

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Looking at this picture it’s kind of hard to tell if this is Prison Break or the Walking Dead.

Another thing that was very positive was that this season takes us all over the world. Most of the time is spent in Yemen and these were definitely the best episodes. They don’t call this series Prison Break for nothing, and of course a jailbreak is again part of the story. But the location itself adds a pretty cool element, and gives it a bit more flavour. The problem I had with this event series is that it all started very well, but then something just went wrong. The first couple of episodes were full of action, had a lot of tension, and some nice twists and turns. But by the time the series hits episode 7 it all started to drag a little bit. It’s almost as if the money ran out, and the writers were told they had to finish it all. As such we end up with a really rushed finale that just did not leave a lasting impression and left me feeling a bit hollow. It again brings me back to my original question, did we really need this?

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Please tell me that we are not doing another season after this one. 

It’s a tough question to answer. I can honestly say that this certainly wasn’t a bad season. For fans of the series, there was enough in it to certainly make it a worthwhile watch. It was nice to see most of the original cast returning for this, and in the beginning it recaptured a lot of the magic of what made the show so awesome in the first place. But the wrap up for this event series did leave a lot to be desired. If this season would not have been made, I would not have felt left out in any way whatsoever. I’m going to leave it up to you to decide whether or not you should watch this. If you are a fan I guess you will enjoy it, I won’t lie to you there. To give you a little bit of an impression for this season I’m going to leave you with the trailer.

I give Prison Break Event Series a 7 out of 10 score.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, American movie (1982)

When it comes to science fiction franchises there are what you could call two major players. One is a series of movies that take place in a galaxy far, far away. Otherwise known as Star Wars, these science fiction movies are based on pure fantasy and have little or nothing to do with reality. The other player takes voyages across the galaxy to boldly go where no man has gone before. Now consisting of six television series and thirteen movies the science fiction phenomena Star Trek is known by pretty much everyone in the world. Where Star Wars as mentioned is pure fantasy, Star Trek has always tried to take a more realistic approach and predicts a positive future for all mankind. The fun thing is that Star Trek fans usually don’t like Star Wars and vice versa. There a lot of hilarious sketches on YouTube where the two camps take pot shots at each other. However, I love science fiction in general, and have always loved both franchises. So that’s why today I’m continuing the Countdown to the Last Jedi with what by many is considered the best Star trek movie to date, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

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Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!

The Federation starship USS Reliant is on a mission to find a suitable planet for a topsecret project called Genesis. If succesful the so called Genesis Device will be able to turn a lifeless planet into a fertile one, ready to be colonised. Arriving at a possible  planet that might qualify for the project, the Reliant’s captain, a man called Clark Terrel together with Commander Pavel Checkov beam down to the surface. To their astonishment they find what seems to be an abandoned cargo ship. Upon entering the wreck, Checkov sees a name that makes him stop dead in his tracks: Botany Bay. It brings back memories of his time aboard the starship Enterprise fifteen years earlier. The Botany Bay was the name of the ship that was commanded by the infamous Khan Noonien Sing, a genetically engineered tyrant. The Enterprise under the command of captain Kirk was barely able to defeat this criminal mastermind. In the end though, Kirk won, and marooned Khan together with his crew on the surface of the planet Ceti Alpha V. Checkov screams at Terrel that they must leave immediately. But just when they are about to, they get surrounded by a group of unknown assailants. When their leader reveals himself, Chekov is shocked to find out it is Khan. Still alive, and out for revenge against the man that took everything from him: Kirk. The captain of the Enterprise will soon find out that revenge is a dish best served cold…..

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She may be old, but she is still a terrific ship to look at.

After 25 years this movie is still just as awesome as when it was first released. There is so much cool stuff in this film, that it’s almost impossible to mention everything. I’m going to make an effort anyway. For one thing it’s the original crew that will always hold a special place in my heart. No matter what you say about William Shatner, I think nobody can deny how truly terrific his role as Kirk was. And in this film I think he did the best job out of all the movies and tv episodes. In the beginning of the film we see a Kirk that is feeling old and finds himself bereft of energy. Having accepted a promotion might have possibly been the worst decision of his career. It is only when he returns to the Enterprise, and is forced to take command, that he comes alive again. This change is remarkable and portrayed perfectly by Shatner. But it’s also the enormous rollercoaster of emotions that the captain goes through in this film, that makes it so fascinating. Laughter, anger but also sadness because of the death of a major character and close friend of Kirk, will absolutely strike a chord in you, I guarantee you that.

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Look! We are on television!

But Kirk is ofcourse nothing without his two close friends Spock and Bones. It’s the comedic banter between the three that always puts a smile on my face. There are so many great moments with them in this film, both heartbreaking but also very funny ones that will have you bursting out with laughter. But let us not forget there is also the villain Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban. Perhaps the best, but certainly the most interesting enemy that Kirk has ever faced. The natural charisma, and pure evil wickedness of this character are a joy to behold. As much as you grow to hate him, you also don’t want him to die, which is always the sign of a great bad guy. On a fun side note, we also see a very young Kirstie Alley play the role of Spock’s protege, Saavik. It’s always funny to see someone play a completely different character than what they are used to. She pulls it off very nicely though, and Saavik plays a pretty important role in the unfolding of the plot.

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Yep, that really is Kirstie Alley. Erm, just to make sure, she is the Vulcan on the left.

And what a great plot it is. Sure it is your basic revenge story, you will get no argument from me there. But it also contains so many layers and great lines, that it’s so much more. Above all it is a story about friendship. The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. That line really bears great weight in this film especially near the admittedly very heartbreaking end. Another recurring theme is the fact that you are only as old as you feel. Always continue doing what you love to do, for as long as you can. Before you know it, time will be up. This being a 25 year old movie, one might argue that the special effects do not hold up so well. But even those I think are still very good. All in all what we have here is a remarkable and solid science fiction adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone. You don’t even have to be very familiair with the franchise in general to watch this movie. I have been wracking my brain to find something negative about this film, but I really can’t find it. I’m going to leave you with the trailer from those days. Coming up next for this countdown feature will be Tron Legacy. Thank you for reading as always!

I give Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan a 10 out of 10 score.

Ergo Proxy, Anime tv series (2006)

Have you ever felt the pressure when you are writing a review? A cold sweat that the things you are about to write might not go over so well with everyone? I’m feeling that pressure right now. A certain amount of dread for a review that I have been promising for quite a while now. Namely that of the anime Ergo Proxy. And now that I’m actually starting my first draft for this, I don’t really know where to start. Because honestly I have no clue what to make of this series. When I first started watching this, and that was weeks ago, I really felt this was a anime that contained a lot of elements that I usually enjoy quite a lot. A dark dystopian future, a very unusual but utterly terrific style of animation, and characters that at first I thought I would really like. But at some point, it all started to go wrong. At least for me it did. So what happened? Let’s first talk about what this series is all about, before I am going to dive into the review itself.

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It was a dark and stormy night….unfortunately it was like this every night, and day.

Ergo Proxy is set into a future where thousands of years ago the planet was all but destroyed by a global ecological disaster. What is left of humanity lives on in a domed city called Romdo. It is supposed to be a utopia, but as is so often the case beneath all the shine, dark secrets are being kept from the general public. The humans that live in Romdo coexist with androids called AutoReivs. The AutoReivs serve humanity in different kind of ways either as Companions or Entourages. The peace is soon shattered when a series of grissly murders take place. Re-L Mayer is the investigator who is assigned to look into the case together with her AutoReiv partner Iggy. While at the site of one the murders, Re-L encounters an unknown entity. She has never seen anything like that before and later she is attacked at her house by a similar being. Her investigation eventually leads her to a young immigrant called Vincent Law that seems to be involved with these mysterious creatures called Proxys. But just how is he connected to them, and just what exactly is a Proxy? All the answers to these questions might be more than Re-L can handle, and might shake Romdo to it’s very core….

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You meet the strangest people these days while donating blood.

Ergo Proxy starts very promising. The first ten or so episodes tell a very interesting supernatural mystery, with some intriguing moments that will have you guessing at every turn. Re-L’s investigation into just what exactly is going on is a fascinating journey to follow, with many twists and turns. Eventually she ends up outside the city of Romdo together with Vincent Law and a young AutoReiv called Pino. And that is the point where it all started to go wrong for me. Every episode afterwards sees the three of them travelling across a dark and very depressive landscape aboard an airship. And almost nothing happens. The time is spent with a lot of talking, and talking….and more talking. Okay, this is maybe a bit of an exageration, but it is not very far of the mark. I don’t mind slow series at all. I certainly watched quite a few of those that were incredibly entertaining. But I do mind it, when a show goes into very deep philosophy mode about subjects that I can really not make heads nor tails of. And it becomes even worse for me when all of a sudden an episode is inserted that is just complete and utter crazyness.

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Woohoo….at least one character is happy in this show!

Let me explain that last remark. Episode 15 sees our three leads enter a quizshow completely out of the blue. Yes you read that right, a quizshow. It is so incredibly out of place when compared to the rest of the series that one just had to wonder what the point of it was. Another thing that I was not satisfied with, was the wrap up of the story. Everything just goes into full on speed mode in the last 3 episodes. It was almost as if the creators were thinking we don’t have any time left, let’s finish this as quick as we can. The result is an unsatisfactory conclusion with quite a few things just not fully explained. And then there are the characters. Both Re-L and Vincent are just not really people that I would love to make friends with. They are incredibly dull, have an expression on their faces most of the time as if someone has died, and quite frankly were not people I could feel any sympathy for. Which is a real shame because the design for Re-L especially is really beautiful. She looks bad ass so to speak, and could have ended up as a truly amazing character.

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Yeah, I just had to include another picture of the happy character.

This is turning a bit into a rant, for which I am truly sorry. Is there nothing positive? Yes there is. The animation style is really unusual but also very beautiful. The dark city of Romdo looks amazing, and so do the truly dark backgrounds. And then there is the character of Pino. This young childlike AutoReiv was a joy to watch, and one of the only shining lights in a series that consisted of characters that at any point seemed almost ready to take their lives. Or at least that was what they looked like at times. Pino was infected with the so called Cogito virus that makes her self aware. It only made her more human, and quite luckily a very welcome happy note in this very depressive series. The storyline itself, besides the for me truly poor execution, was still very intriguing. Especially in the beginning it contained some very cool elements that were a joy to watch and at times had me on the edge of my seat.

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Erm, no I am sorry. I am not going to shut up about my feelings for this show.

I really wanted to like this anime. I’m sure a lot of you reading this review might even be surprised at my reaction. But in the end the series just didn’t work for me. It unfortunately happens at times, and sometimes even with shows that contain elements that normally should have you bursting into joy. Another note of warning I also want to give to you is that this really isn’t a happy show. It can really affect your mood, turning it into something very melancholy. I know some people can be overly sensitive for things like this, and that’s why I’m at least mentioning it. So, in closing I want to say that this is my own opinion on an anime that really has some very high ratings. Don’t take my word for it, but just go and watch it yourself and maybe you will be someone that is going to really enjoy it. I hope not everyone is going to bite my head off after posting this. So with a few drops of sweat on my brow I guess I’m going to press the publish button.

I give Ergo Proxy a 5 out of 10 score.