Tag Archives: Drama

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.

image
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……

image
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.

image
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?

image
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.

Advertisements

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.

image
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…..

image
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.

image
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.

image
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.

Lethal Weapon Season 1, American tv series (2017)

One has to wonder why things that were already good in the first place, have to be remade, rebooted or whatever else kind of term you want to put on it. Television seems to all of a sudden have a disturbing fascination with creating new shows that are either based on older ones, or Hollywood blockbuster movies. And the track record isn’t very good. Let’s see: Minority Report, cancelled after 1 season. Rush Hour, cancelled after 1 season. Training Day, cancelled after 1 season. Blade, cancelled after….well, you get the idea. Why, oh why do they continue to try? Almost every time fans of the original property don’t accept a new version of their beloved franchise. You see how I did that? I very carefully changed my tune slightly by adding the word almost. Because there are exceptions to the rule. When I first heard that they were going to make a tv version of Lethal Weapon I was horrified. That film, and it’s sequels rank amongst my alltime favorite action movies. I was already condemning the series before I even saw it, thinking this was just going to be another stupid remake attempt prone to become yet another epic fail. But…..I was wrong.

image
Come on….you are making it too easy, how can you miss? 

Lethal Weapon the tv series is keeping a lot of the story elements from the original movie intact, while at the same time adding a few new ones. Detective Martin Riggs has become pretty much a loose canon after the death of his wife and his unborn child in a car accident. Riggs grabs the bottle whenever he can, and while on the job he pretty much doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. One day he get’s a new partner one Roger Murtaugh, who is almost the complete opposite of him. Roger has a loving family, that is very supportive of him, and is just a by the book cop. He just came back to the force after having had an open heart surgery. At first the partnership is going terrible, which should not really come as a big surprise. Eventually though, the two cops are gaining a mutual respect for each other, and slowly develop a friendship. Although that friendship definitely has quite a few ups and downs. The first season sees the two handle a lot of different cases throughout it’s 18 episode run. Most of the stories are selfcontained, although there are a couple of developments that carry over from episode to episode.

image
I guess some people just desperately want a parking space.

Well, as I said above, I was quite wrong about this one. When the first few clips of the series started showing on YouTube my curiosity got the better of me. My initial skeptical response, soon began to evaporate. It actually looked quite good. And even better, the series began to gather some very positive feedback as well. At present the series has been renewed for a second season of 22 episodes, that has just started airing. So why does this series work, while so many other shows based on existing properties failed? One of the main reasons for this I think is that the series doesn’t try to be an exact copycat. In no way are the actors involved trying to duplicate what Mel Gibson and Danny Glover tried to do. The Riggs from the television series, played by actor Clayne Crawford, is at it’s heart the same character. But Clayne is no Mel Gibson, and it seems both the creators of the series and Crawford himself know that fact. He plays Riggs, but brings his own style to him and it works, well most of the time. At some points in the series Crawford overacts just a little bit, but luckily not to the point where it starts to become annoying.

image
Now…I’m sorry, but he does have a point, you are bald. 

The other part of the duo, Roger Murtaugh, is played by Damon Wayans. As with Riggs, the tv version of Murtaugh is also a somewhat different character. He is a little bit more quiet and doesn’t always get as worked up over things as Danny Glover did in the movie version. But for a buddy cop show like this to work, there needs to be chemistry between the two leads. And on that front the show definitely succeeds. We get lots of comedic banter between Riggs and Murtaugh, and that creates some of the best moments in the series. And that is another things the creators seemed to realise. The original movies worked because of the great and memorable characters, and their interaction with each other. And that is also the heart of this show. In between the comedy and action, there are enough moments to further develop the characters with quite a number of heartfelt scenes. Most of the supporting cast also add their own weight to the table.

image
No idea what they are staring at, but it appears to be something very cute. 

Worthy of note is Jordana Brewster, who most people should recognise from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She plays the psychiatrist Maureen Cahill, who is assigned to Riggs to help him deal with his inner demons. Some of the sessions between them are very entertaining and give a welcome reprieve from the action. So let’s talk about the action. This being a tv series, it of course doesn’t have as big a budget as a Hollywood blockbuster. Still, they did manage to include quite a number of spectacular stunts, car chases and gun battles that will give all you adrenaline junkies out there enough bang for your bucks. With 18 episodes in this first season are all of them of the same quality? No, but then again I don’t think that anyone can name a tv series that does have this. But honestly I also haven’t seen a single episode where I got bored or that was just horrible in some way.

image
Don’t worry I will go call a tow truck.

So, with almost everything that is based on something people are going to compare. That might not be entirely fair, but it’s common practice. Is this series as good as the original movies? No, it is not. But those were very big shoes to fill in the first place. What we do have here, is a very fun series that gives a great homage to the classic movies. Fans of the franchise will find enough things in it to make them smile, unless you are an absolute die hard fan that isn’t open for seeing different actors portray the beloved original characters. Lethal Weapon the tv series has been an enjoyable ride so far, and I hope the second season is going to maintain this level of quality. I for one would love to see this series go on for at least a couple of more seasons. I’m going to leave you with a trailer of the show, that was released just before the first episode started airing. It wil give you a nice impression of the series.

I give Lethal Weapon Season 1 a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Call of Heroes, Chinese movie (2016)

I think that pretty much everyone has heard the name Bruce Lee at some point in their lives. Considered by many to be the greatest martial artist that has ever lived, he has made a couple of legendary Hong Kong actionmovies. As many of you know I am a huge Asian movie buff, but I discovered the Asian martial arts genre pretty late. And it wasn’t actually Bruce Lee that introduced me to it, but an equally famous actor, namely Jackie Chan. I have seen many of the old Jackie Chan flicks, and enjoyed them an awful lot. Police Story, Armour of God, Drunken Master, are just a couple of examples of his movies that I really liked. When you really love something though, you try to find out more about it, and eventually I discovered there were a lot of other gems in this volatile genre. These days martial arts movies are made in almost every country, not only Asia. But for some reason I just think the best of these type of films are still coming out of China. That’s not to say that all of these movies are good though.

image
Some people have just watched Indiana Jones a bit too much. 

Call of Heroes takes place in the past, right after the dissolution of the Qing Dynasty. The land is being torn apart by a bunch of military governates that are trying to seize power. The ruthless Marshal Cho, who is a son of one of these military governors, travels across the country killing people indiscriminately. At one point he ends up in the village of Pucheng where he kills three people, one of them a young boy. Soon after he is arrested by Colonel Yeung, who is the leader of the town militia, and sentenced to death. As can be expected, his father doesn’t really take kindly to this, and orders him to be released. If they fail to comply, the town will be destroyed. As the town is not capable of defending themselves against the might of an army, tensions are beginning to run high. The pressure on Yeung increases as the citizens of the town are afraid for their lives, and want nothing more than to have Marshal Cho released. But then a mysterious stranger enters the town. This man could be the turning point of everything, but his intentions are unclear. Has he arrived to offer his help, or has he come for something more sinister? Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking and the time for Pucheng is running out……

image
If not for the fight scenes, this image almost sums up my thoughts for this movie. 

Call of Heroes is one of those movies that really doesn’t know what it wants to be. At the start of the movie, you think it’s a comedy (albeit a very bad one, with seriously cringeworthy humor). Then all of a sudden it switches gears and turns into a Western. Or at least something that tries to be a Western. And then we all of a sudden get a very brutal action movie. And I do mean brutal. Because when Marshall Cho begins to kill, the deaths he causes are quite horrific and unexpected. I don’t mind it when a movie blends together different genres, in fact if done right it usually makes for an interesting watch. Here though the execution is done very poorly and as an audience you are just unprepared to take some of the scenes seriously. Especially since a minute ago you supposedly had to laugh at a few of the slapstick jokes that were fired at you.

image
Noooo….I just bought that furniture!

And then there is the acting. Marshal Cho is played by Louis Koo. Now I have seen him in a few relatively minor roles before, but he clearly is out of his league here. His overacting in trying to make Cho a menacing character just doesn’t work. His maniacal laughing gets on your nerves every time he does it, and instead of fearing him, you just end up thinking of him as a very annoying and quite frankly comical character. Marshal Yeung was one of the few characters that I really liked. Played by Sean Lau, he had a very calm and charismatic way of acting that made Yeung a character that you could really establish a connection with. Eddie Peng completes the triangle of main characters, by playing the role of the mysterious stranger. In the beginning of the movie his slapstick antics failed to impress, but his role did improve over the course of the film, and turned into something better. Veteran martial artist Wu Ying also has a small but decent role in the movie, and gets to showcase his talents in some great scenes.

image
Mortal Kombaaaaaattttttt!!!!!!!

And that brings us to a positive note that I can say about this movie, and that is the fight sequences. The fight choreagraphy is handled by the legendary Sammo Hung and for people who have some knowledge of the Hong Kong action movie genre this name should be very familiair. Sammo has certainly managed to produce a couple of terrific martial arts sequences, that at least managed to make make the movie not a total loss. Unfortunately though that is not enough for saving this movie from being a pretty disappointing watch. With the struggle this film has in trying to decide what it wants to be, as well as some truly over the top performances, it just isn’t a movie that I can recommend. The only reason that I did not grade the movie lower, was the fact that the martial arts on display, especially in two high caliber sequences, was pretty awesome. If you are a fan of Hong Kong action cinema you might want to give this one a go. Casual moviegoers though, had best avoid this one.

I give Call of Heroes a 5 out of 10 score.

The girl who leapt through time, Japanese (animated) movie (2006)

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me: I never sleep in. Not even in the weekends. I’m always up early, usually at around six in the morning, and I do this because time is precious and I don’t want to lose too much of it by sleeping. (It also helps that I don’t need much sleep, so there is that). As a result that means I am never late for things either. I always arrive way too early at my work, or at appointments. I’m always amazed at people that arrive 2 minutes before they have to be somewhere. I would go completely nuts if that were me. It all would be so much easier though if there was some way we could travel through time. We would literally have all the time in the world, and things would be so much easier. Or would they? Even though it might sound like a very nice thing to be able to travel through time, and maybe even correct mistakes you might have made, it always comes with a consequence. Something that the movie I am about to review is trying to make painfully clear.

image
I would not recommend stepping of your bike like that. You might get hurt.

In The girl who leapt through time we meet the happy go lucky highschoolgirl Makoto Konno. She lives at home with her parents and her younger sister, and enjoys playing baseball. She is always in a rush though, racing on her bike to get to places in time, and nearly always arriving late at school. One day after class ends, while riding downhill on her bike, her brakes fail. She desperately tries to find a way to stop before hitting a railroad crossing, but fails and gets hit by an oncoming train. But then strange things start to happen. She all of a sudden finds herself back on her bike, just before the accident happens. This time events happen differently. She soon finds out she has the power to time-leap, essentially travelling back in time for short or longer distances. Makoto begins to enjoy her new found power and uses it for relatively small things such as getting perfect grades or arriving in time. Her two closest friends Chiaki and Kousuke are beginning to notice changes in her behaviour. Eventually time catches up with her, and she begins to realise that everything comes at a price. Especially since one of her friends might be in mortal danger…..

image
It’s scenes like this that are simply breathtaking.

I have been wanting to see this movie for a very long time. To my delight I was finally able to obtain it on this year’s animecon and I have finally found some time (pun intended) to watch it. And I can tell you this movie did not disappoint. This was a really wonderful piece of animation both in terms of story as in art. At the heart of this one is the underlying message that every action we take or might not take, has a consequence. If for instance you might fear to admit you love someone, because you might lose his or her friendship, you might rob yourself from something even more beautiful. This last theme is something that is dealt with quite heavily in this movie, but before you start to think this is a mushy romantic film: it’s not. Though there is definitely some melancholy in this movie, it’s mostly a very uplifting and upbeat story. There were quite a number of times this film presented some heartwarming moments, that managed to put a smile on my face.

image
Sometimes you just enter that fork in the road. 

From an animation point of view this film is really something. We are talking about a movie that is more than ten years old, but the animation presented in this one is breathtaking. There are numerous shots of a beautiful landscape, that coupled with the music, just gives you the feeling you want to stay in those scene forever. The main characters are great as well. Makoto is a great and fun character, which is important as you spent almost the entire movie at her side. You really sympathise with her, and the things she is going through. Her two friends Chiaki and Kousuke are for a change not your typical macho type boys, but two men that have their hearts in the right place. As the inevitable love triangle begins, it is luckily not one of those that will make you cringe (thank God for that). There are some other minor characters that also have some influence in the story, but the movie mainly revolves around the three characters I just mentioned.

image
Take off your earphones when I am talking to you: that’s plain rude! 

The voice acting in the film (I watched the movie in the original Japanese language in case you were wondering) is very good, except for some of the scenes where Makoto has to cry or laugh. Those are always difficult emotions to pull off, but at a brief scene near the end it spoiled the emotional moment a little bit. But this is a minor thing in what is otherwise a truly terrific and beautiful movie. The girl who leapt through time is a film that I can definitely recommend. Especially if you like movies that feature time travelling elements. Sometimes films such as those can get very complicated, but in this one it’s handled very well, without it ever becoming hard to follow. So, they say time waits for no one. In other words, what are you waiting for? Go and see this movie.

I give The girl who leapt through time a 9 out of 10 score.

Plastic Memories, Anime tv series (2015)

For those of you that have been wondering if my love for anime has maybe disappeared, let me put your minds at ease: it has not. I admit it has been quite a while since I have last published a post for an animeseries, which is exactly the reason why I am doing one now. And don’t you just love it that it’s for a series that I just picked by pure chance and turned out to be something really quite special? I’m still in the middle of Ergo Proxy, and while I am so far truly enjoying it, it paints a picture of a very bleak future. The entire atmosphere it breathes is quite depressive and that is why I was looking for something to counter that and put me in a bit of a brighter mood. Looking through the Crunchyroll line up, I stumbled upon Plastic Memories. I found the premise for it quite promising, and I thought it would be a pretty bright and upbeat show. In parts it truly was just that, but I certainly did not expect that the final episode would bring me close to tears.

image
This is a bit how I feel when I haven’t yet had my coffee in the morning.

Plastic Memories takes place in the future where humans live alongside androids that are all but indistinquishable from humans. The most advanced models, the so-called Giftias, have the most humanlike abilities, and have emotions and memory. Unfortunately all this comes at a price. A Giftia has a maximum lifespan. If it exceeds that limit, it results in a change in personality and memoryloss. In fact the best way to describe is that they turn into a very agressieve zombielike being. But there is an organisation that helps to retrieve the Giftias that are getting close to their expiration dates from their owners. The so called Terminal Service carries out that work in teams of two, a human called a Spotter and a Giftia that acts as the Marksman. A young man called Tsukasa has just started working at one of the offices of the Terminal Service. He is introduced to his beautiful partner Isla and together the pair start their job. Tsukasa is quickly developing feelings for Isla though and soon their relationship begins to become very complicated. Even more so as it seems Isla’s time is starting to run out……

image
Don’t you just hate it that you have to prove to everyone who you are?

This is one of those animeseries that seems to have nearly every range of emotions contained within it. You will laugh, you will feel excitement, and you will cry. When the series first starts, it looks like the show will develop into a light hearted romantic comedy. There is nothing wrong with that, but a series like that is usually not really my cup of tea. For some reason I decided to stick with it though, and I am very glad that I did. This is an incredibly heartwarming series. As the series progresses there are an increasing amount of very beautiful moments between owners of Giftias that have a hard time letting go of their almost humanlike androids. A young boy for instance, has developed a very strong relationship with a Giftia that has been acting as a kind of mother figure, as his real mum died. There are several moments like these throughout the show, but at the heart of it all is the relationship between Tsukasa and Isla.

image
I guess they both don’t like the food and drink on offer. I wonder why?

Tsukasa is a character that has his heart in the right place. At the start of the series he is very inexperienced and tries to do his job as best he can. Even though he certainly makes mistakes, his natural charisma helps him to get through these mistakes and get better. Isla has a lot of experience, but when it comes to human emotions she has a hard time coping with those. At first she feels awkward when Tsukasa seems to be developing feelings for her, even calling it an error. But as is usually the case, true love can’t really be denied, and the bond between the two turns into something truly beautiful. The rest of the characters are made up of their coworkers, and even though some of their roles are minor, they really become an integral part of the story as well. Both in providing comic relief, but also in adding to the many layers this series has. I especially liked the redhead Michiru that even though she denies this has fallen for Tsukasa. She really is a great character that provides some of the best comedy the series has on offer.

image
Well, I told you the backgrounds were very beautiful.

The animation style of this anime is rather good, especially when it comes to the backgrounds. The future city this is taking place in, looks amazing and utterly believable. Another strong point and something of a rarity these days, is that the final episode brings the series to a close in a highly emotional and breathtaking way. I do advise you to keep a box of tissues nearby though. Are there any negatives to this one? Well I am hardpressed to find them. There is a very small moment of fanservice in a later episode that I found to be a little out of place. But that scene goes by so fast that you hardly even know it’s there. I highly recommend this series. It’s message throughout is very clear and so true: live live to the fullest and spend as much time as you can with the people you love. Before you know it, time is up. This series plays with that message in an incredible way. This anime shows how precious memories really are, and that you should cherish them as much as you can. Especially the good ones.

I give Plastic Memories a 9 out 10 score.

Blade Runner 2049, American/Uk/Canadian movie (2017)

The movie industry can sometimes be incredibly strange. In 1982 the original Blade Runner was released. A movie that many consider to be a groundbreaking piece of science fiction filmmaking. Throughout the years the film has become a cult classic, that has been gathering praise long after it’s release. Because when it was released 35 years ago, it did not perform very well, and even some critics did not give the movie very positive reviews. When the news was announced that a sequel was being made for this film, many people including myself, had to raise a few eyebrows. Why do you make sequel to a film that quite frankly doesn’t need one, and were there people really waiting for this at this point? When the first trailer was released for it, I became cautiously optimistic. For it really looked….good. With the release of the film now upon us, critics are giving the movie very high marks. With glowing reviews under it’s belt and cool trailers, one would think this film would become an overnight box office succes right?

image
What do you mean this film isn’t doing well at the Box-office? 

Well, that’s where you would be wrong. Just like the original, the movie is currently under performing at the cinemas, so I guess in some cases history does repeat itself. This is going to be a bit of an unusual review for me, as I am not going to tell you much about the plot of the film. To do so, would be to rob of you of a lot of enjoyment as in this case the less you know about it, the more you will be surprised by it. What I can tell you is that this sequel takes place 30 years after the events of the first movie. The mighty Tyrell Corporation has gone bankrupt. Out of it’s ashes a new pioneer for the replicant technology, a man named Niander Wallace, arises. He has created a new type of replicant that is obedient and has been integrated into society to work as servants and slaves. The older types are still being hunted and retired by the cops known as Blade Runners. One of them, the Blade Runner known simply as K has stumbled on a secret that could shake the very foundations of society. Powerful forces will stop at nothing to prevent that secret from coming out…

image
This is my response to that! 

It’s very hard to describe to you exactly what I thought of this movie. Perhaps it’s best to give you my state of mind as I left the theatre yesterday afternoon, after having sat there for almost three hours seeing the movie for the first time in IMAX. And that state of mind was very, very sad. Not because I hated the film, but because of the atmosphere that this movie manages to create. One of the things that I love in films is to escape in a make believe world for a few hours. What we have here however is a very bleak and depressing future, that seems to penetrate itself into the very core of your mind. Together with the brilliant music created by Hans Zimmer, and the incredible visual style, I don’t think I have ever seen a more depressing view of the future than what has been created in this film. It’s one of the main reasons why this has become a must see movie, but it’s not only the visuals that make the film so astounding.

image
Hello little man. 

We also have a script here, that would not surprise me if it got nominated for an Oscar. There are so many layers in it, that it’s difficult to tell too much about it without heading into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that one of the main things that I really liked about it, is something you might be surprised at: and that is the universal theme of love. K has a very unusual relationship, which is both beautiful and incredibly sad at the same time. But just like in the original it’s also the age old question of what it exactly means to be human, that makes it’s return. And even more than in the original 1982 classic, that question is even harder to answer in this sequel. Even though some of the trailers for the film would like you to believe this is an action movie, it really isn’t. It’s very slow moving, and while there is some action, the main part of the film is spent with K trying to figure out his place in the uncovering of the secret.

image
I can see clearly now the rain is gone. 

Performance wise there is a lot to enjoy. Ryan Gosling plays K, and he manages to create a character that is both very human and at the same time also isn’t. This really is his journey, and for an audience to go along on that journey, you have to be able to create sympathy for your character. And Gosling certainly has excelled at that. The role of Niander Wallace is performed by Jared Leto. Though his character had a chilling aura, it certainly wasn’t a very memorable part. In fact it was his replicant enforcer Luv, played by Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks that made a much more lasting impression. She played a great villain, and pardon my French: a perfectly evil bitch. And of course there is Harrison Ford who reprises his role as Rick Deckard. Even though time might have catched up with him, he can still pull off the part. It was an absolute joy to seem him make an appearance again, and the movie just would not have been the same without him in it.

image
The first person to make a remark about my age is going to get it! 

So, are there any negative points? Yes, there are. The film clocks in at almost three hours, and that was just too long overall. Some scenes felt unnecessary, and could have helped with the pacing of the movie had they been left out. At times the film is just a bit too slow. But then again, this really isn’t much different from it’s original counterpart. Now on to the hard part: do I recommend this film? I can honestly say that this is an incredible movie, with a fantastic script, a believable and utterly beautifully created world and some high caliber performances. At the same time, this movie also won’t be for everyone. If you can’t handle slow paced films, and expect an action spectacle you would be wise not to go this movie. For fans of the original though, this almost feels like coming home. It’s a sequel that pretty much rivals and at some points is even better than the classic. And that is a very hard thing to accomplish. I won’t lie to you though, it’s bleak vision of the future will take you a bit of time to let go of. Also be prepared to have the movie spinning around in your head for a while. But that usually is a good sign.

I give Blade Runner 2049 a 9 out of 10 score.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, American movie (2015)

Earlier this week a trailer was released for a very small movie that is coming out in december. You have probably never heard of this film, but why not, let me just throw it out there in case you have: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. See? Told you that this is a pretty much unknown movie. Okay, all kidding aside: how awesome was that trailer! I will go into that a little bit more in depth below, but after I had seen it, it put me into the mood to rewatch Episode VII again, The Force Awakens. This film was responsible for relighting the fire that is Star Wars, not that it had ever gone out completely. With expectations going through the roof weeks before it’s release, one of the things that everyone was looking forward to, was the appearance of the original cast. Yes, classic characters like Han and Leia were back again, and fans at times broke out in tears at watching the trailers. (Not me of course, I am a man and I never cry….blinks back tears). But was the Force Awakens a good film, or merely a rehash of old things?

image
The first one who says my lightsaber looks like crap, is going to get it….

The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after the Return of the Jedi. The Empire has been defeated, but instead of peace returning to the galaxy, a new threat has emerged. The First Order has risen from the ashes of what the Empire left behind, and is threatening to snuff out the last peaces of light that are remaining. The Resistance is desperately trying to find Luke Skywalker who nobody has seen for decades, but who they think might turn the tide of war. They have send one of their best pilots, Poe Dameron, to track down a lead for information as to where Luke might be hiding. But the First Order has tracked Poe down, and one of their most sinister agents, Kylo Ren, succeeds in capturing him. All hope now lies with Poe’s droid BB-8, in which he has hidden the clue to finding the Jedi Master. While on the run BB-8 soon encounters a young scavenger girl that goes by the name of Rey. She reluctantly agrees to help the droid, and together with a former stormtrooper they set out on the mission to find the Resistance. But the First Order is hot on their heals and this time this new hope for the galaxy, might be lost…..

image
Yeah, I know I look pretty good for an old nerfherder. 

The Force Awakens has been hated and loved in equal measures. The hate mostly came from people that said the movie was just a rewrite of the first original Star Wars movie. And I guess they do have a point. Just as in the first film, we have something hidden in a droid that becomes the focal point of the story. We have a Death Star like superweapon in the form of Star Killer Base, and of course we have an untrained person that is cast in the unlikely role of hero. So yes, there is certainly truth in that claim. But to dismiss it just based on that is pretty unfair. For there are also a lot of things that this movie did that were just plain awesome. The return of the old characters for instance. The first time you see Han Solo together with Chewie is just a goosebump inducing moment. And ofcourse that moment returns when you see Leia again, reunited with her scruffy looking love interest.

image
I really can’t believe that you are not a CGI effect.

But the new characters are also not to be excluded. Kylo Ren is one of, if not, the most interesting villain from the entire saga. He is not just a Darth Vader wannabe, a fact that is only enforced when he removes his helmet. Here we have a person that is conflicted throughout the entire movie. And that conflict comes to the fore in that scene, which I am not going to spoil, but for anyone who has seen the movie it should be pretty clear to which scene I am referring. And then there are Rey, the scavenger girl, and Finn the former stormtrooper. Both great characters in their own way. It is still completely unclear who Rey’s parents are, despite all the theories floating around on the web. It is exactly this fact that defines her character though. The unknown, the fact that she really as of yet has no clue to who she truly is. But she tries her utmost to become the hero though. Finn is the true antihero however. Right from the start he stands up to the injustice that surrounds him, and he almost pays the ultimate price for that. I could probably write another 1000 words for how much I enjoyed this film, but I am not going to do that. My final verdict for the film will follow soon enough, but let’s talk a bit about the new trailer.

image
I just had to include a picture that features the fastest hunt of junk in the galaxy. 

The Last Jedi trailer

Unless you have been captured by a Wampa this week, you must have seen the new trailer pop up somewhere on the web. Or a better word for it, is first trailer, as we had so far only seen a teaser for the new movie. And it was worth the wait. One thing this new trailer has been doing is messing with out heads. There are so many things going on that may or may not be true, that it almost makes your mind explode. Is Rey joining forces with Kylo? I myself doubt it. I believe, as a lot of people have said, that the scenes have been purposely blended together to make it look as if they are one scene. Or….it is real, and we are really in for a hell of a ride. One thing we can be sure of is that this film is going to be very hard on the forces of light. It all looks very spectacular, and I for one can’t wait for december. What are your thoughts on the new trailer? Let me know in the comments section below. And of course, just because I am a nice guy, I have included it below for your viewing pleasure.

The Verdict

But of course with the excitement building for Episode VIII let us not forget the movie that restarted this adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Yes, the film certainly may have lacked a bit of originality, you will not hear any argument from me for that. But this was a Star Wars film in every sense of the word, and a pretty damn good one at that. The terrific characters, the special effects that were mostly practical, and of course the return of the old favorites all made it a great adventure to be enjoyed by everyone. I for one loved it, and it truly made me feel like a kid again (although that feeling is pretty much a part of me anyway). So see this one again before the new one hits the theatres in december. To close with a Star Wars phrase: it is your destiny……

I give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a 9 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.

image
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…..

image
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.

image
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.

image
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.

image
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.

image
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….

image
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?

image
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.

image
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.