Tag Archives: Movies

The Karate Kid part II, American movie (1986)

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

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FINISH HIM!!!!!!

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

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

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

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Ice, Ice, baby…..

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

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Okay, sorry, just one more…..

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Breathe, American movie (2016)

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

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Shhhhh, did you hear something? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kong Skull Island, American movie (2017)

There are some Hollywood creations that have simply become icons in their own way. Never mind having never seen the movie it appeared in, everyone seems to know about it anyway. One of those icons is the legendary ape King Kong. It made it’s first onscreen appearance in the 1933 movie with the same name, and it has since then become the stuff of legend. One of it’s most famous scenes was King Kong being on top of the Empire State building and getting shot at by airplanes. Moviemaking certainly has come a long way since then, and when you look at that scene now it may look dated in terms of special effects. But it definitely still is every bit as powerful as when it was first shown to the public. These days we get a lot of movies that have terrific special effects, but fall short when it comes to showcasing any kind of emotions or story. That does not mean that a movie like that can’t be entertaining though.

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There was a sale on fresh tentacles, he just could not resist.

Kong Skull Island starts in the year 1944 when two fighter pilots, one American and one Japanese, parachute onto a mysterious island, after having lost both of their planes to each other. While continuing the fight on the ground, they are interrupted when a gigantic and monstrous ape appears. In the year 1973, 29 years later, we meet up with a US government agent called Bill Randa. He is trying to get approval to get an expedition formed to visit the island known as Skull Island. Eventually his superiors give in, and Bill hires skilled tracker James Conrad to help with the undertaking. Accompanied by a group of soldiers led by the tough Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard and a female photojournalist named Mason Weaver, the expedition takes off for the island. But once they arrive there, they are about to discover that mankind may not be on top of the food chain anymore. If they manage to survive the wrath of the King of Monsters that is…..

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Where is Thor when you need him?

This movie is a part of the Legendary film company’s attempt to create a new cinematic universe, with this film being the second offering. (The 2014 version of Godzilla was the first) And quite honestly I had a monster, pun intended, of a good time with this film. What it lacked in story it certainly made up for in entertainment value. Yes people, this is a special effects driven movie, I am not even going to deny that fact, but boy was it a lot of fun. The creatures infesting the island the group lands on are gloriously designed and the absolute highlight of the film. Kong of course will get to fight a few of them, and it is these scenes that impress the most. You can’t help but get a big grin on your face when the creatures start bashing each other’s skulls in. It never gets gory at any point, but it provides some solid fight scenes all realised through computer, and the effects are truly convincing to say the least.

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Smile, you are on Candid Camera.

The cast that was assembled for this film is quite impressive. John Goodman plays the role of Bill Randa, and it is a more serious role that you usually see him play. He is an actor that I always think is pretty underrated, and he did yet another fine job in this movie. Tom Hiddleston who most people probably know from playing the evil yet incredibly fun role of Loki in Thor, plays the character of James Conrad in this movie. His natural charisma makes him instantly likeable and the role of Conrad is certainly one that suits him. And then ofcourse we have Samuel L. Jackson as Lt. Col. Preston Packard. I always like Jackson’s performances, and the best way to describe his character is a new version of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. He will stop at absolutely nothing to kill Kong, no matter what the cost might be. Even though the human factor in this film was minimal, all actors in this played very well and certainly contributed enough to the movie to make it a worthwhile experience.

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I love the smell of ape in the morning.

As I said in the beginning, this is a special effects driven movie, and that’s why the story isn’t really worth mentioning. It does get the job done though, and there is enough tension, occasional humor, and excitement that makes this movie a solid piece of entertainment. The after credits scene hints at the next installment for Legendary’s monsterverse, and I do honestly have to say that I am excited for it. There are pretty much no really bad things in this film that I can think off that are worth mentioning. It’s just two hours of mindless monsterbashing fun, and only if you don’t really like these sort of films will you be disappointed by it. So put on some popcorn, crank up the volume of your television and go sit down in your favorite chair to watch the King of Monsters back in action. Hail to the King, baby.

I give Kong Skull Island a 8 out of 10 score.

Lethal Weapon 2, American movie (1989)

We all know what happens when a movie is succesful at the box office. When it brings on buckets full of money, the studios look for ways to increase that money. And than the word appears that movielovers both hate and love at the same time : sequel. Throughout movie history the sequel to a succesful movie has mostly got a track record of being a lesser product than the original. Luckily though, the sequel these days does seem to be improving to what it usually was in the old days: a cheap way to make more money. But there were certainly noteworthy exceptions. One thing that the 80’s did right was produce an incredible amount of highly entertaining action franchises. Rambo, Die Hard and ofcourse one of my personal favorites the Lethal Weapon series. I already did a review of part 1, which you can find here. Two years later the sequel saw the light of day, and it was every bit as fun as the original movie, if not more so.

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Hmm, you think we can eat this?

Lethal Weapon 2 starts off in the middle of a high speed pursuit. Our favorite crimefighting heroes Riggs and Murtaugh are hot on the tail of a suspect when the car chase ends abruptly with a crash. Inside the trunk of the car they were chasing, an enormous amount of gold Krugerrands is found. This soon leads them to a South African consul general called Arjen Rudd. Riggs is almost certain that this man is tied to a couple of highly illegal dealings, but because Rudd enjoys diplomatic immunity, they are not allowed to pursue the matter any further. What’s worse is that they get a new assignment and that is to protect a valuable federal witness called Leo Getz. This would not be so bad were it not for the fact that Getz is truly driving them completely crazy. But when an attempt is made on Leo’s life, Riggs and Murtaugh discover that the case of Getz might also be linked to the case they were ordered to stand down from. And when colleagues of them start to die, the two of them will have to pull out all the stops in order to solve the case, but also to escape with their lives still intact.

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Sorry miss, I am going to have to confiscate your groceries.

Man, oh man, oh man. What a joy it was to see this movie back again. I might have seen it way too many times already, but it just never get’s old. I was grinning like an idiot all throughout the film and still had to laugh at all the jokes this movie has on offer. Right from the very first opening scene this movie comes out guns blazing. I don’t care about the fact that we certainly have had a couple of great and memorable action movies in recent years: 80’s action just has a certain charm and atmosphere to it, that will never be recaptured on screen. And the action in this one just never let’s up. Highspeed car chases, gunbattles, fist fights, the action lover certainly get’s his or her fix in this film. And all this is mixed with a brilliant comedic blend, that takes the edge of some of the darker moments in the movie.

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No need to argue about this…..I am going to appear in the next two parts as well.

But once again it is the actors that make these movies, and praise most definitely goes out to both Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. The comedic banter between these two is even better than it was in the first film, and you can really tell that the both of them had a blast making this sequel. Another very welcome addition to the cast is Joe Pesci who plays the role of Leo Getz. It is not often that you get a character that is so obnoxious, but endearing at the same time. Some of the best moments from this film occur when he is around, and it’s a great thing that his character returned for parts 3 and 4. The villain Arjen Rudd is portrayed by actor Joss Ackland, and he manages to create a character that you will truly grow to hate throughout this movie. He is a really evil man, who does some loathsome things, and certainly is a handful for Riggs and Murtaugh to take down. Ackland’s acting is superb, and only adds more depth to the sinister character that Rudd is.

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Come on man you spent enough time on the toilet now, let me get you off.

The story of this movie ofcourse takes a backseat and pretty much serves only to propel the action and comedy forward. And it succeeds in doing that in a good way, while providing enough twists and turns to keep you entertained until the end of the film. Lethal Weapon 2 is a prime example of how a sequel can definitely work. It’s a great follow up to the original movie, and if you liked that one you don’t even have to think twice about watching this. It’s one of the greatest 80’s action flicks that has been made in that era, and still provides a fantastic experience even though the film is now nearing it’s 30 year anniversary. This movie definitely still isn’t too old for this sh*t.

I give Lethal Weapon 2 a 9 out of 10 score.

A Company Man, Korean movie (2012)

Yes everyone I am back, and my vacation has finally started. In the coming days, I will try and catch up with some of the posts I have missed out on, as well as write some reviews of my own. And what better way to kick off a vacation from work, with a movie about work. Well, sort of. Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate my job or anything like that, but it is not my lifelong ambition either so to speak. And I guess the same can be said for most people that have a day job. If you happen to be one of those lucky few that are an exception to this rule, congratulations on that great achievement. But before this post is turning into a job interview let me start by telling you what this movie is about.

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Just another day at the office. 

In A Company Man, we are introduced to Heyong-do, a man who seems to love his job. Wearing a suit and tie, he always turns up in time for his work at the seemingly normal company he is employed by. But the company is a front for an entirely different kind of business namely that of assassinations. Heyong-do is one of the hitmen, and one of the company’s best. Never before has he failed a mission, and it looks like he has no conscience whatsoever. But then he meets up with the single mother of one of his co-workers, and falls in love. This is the beginning of the end for him. Because of his intense feelings he really wants to change his ways, and quit being the stonecold assassin that he has been all his life. When he begins to spare certain people that he was supposed to kill, the company wants to get rid of him. But not by laying him off. No they have a much more permanent solution in mind….

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Hitman by day, houseman by night…gotta keep those shirts clean. 

This is one of those great Korean actionthrillers that I really love to watch. Although actionthriller seems to be too harsh a word for it. There certainly is action, I won’t deny that, but at the heart of it is also a pretty heartbreaking drama, and a truly great story to boot. A movie such as this stands or falls with the performance of it’s lead actor, and luckily the casting for this one was perfect. So Ji-sub portrays the role of Heyong-do in a terrific way. His natural charm makes sure that you instantly care for this character, even despite the horrific job he is carrying out. Both in the drama and action scenes So manages to deliver a believable role, and he is one of the best reasons for watching this film. But actress Lee Mi-yeon, who plays his love interest also does a great job. Their on screen chemistry works very well, and in scenes that could normally have turned into something very mushy, they both manage to avoid that altogether.

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So…tell me, what makes a good cup of tea? 

For the actionlovers out there this film offers just enough to satisfy. As mentioned even though you can classify this as an action thriller it isn’t the overall theme of the movie. So do not expect an action sequence every minute, as you will be really disappointed. The movie is shot and directed beautifully with a terrific final shoot out scene, that is one of the highlights of this movie. I have tried to find some things that I did not like about this film, but I honestly could not find them. This is just a solid Korean movie, that is truly worth seeing. With great performances by the cast, and a story that provides enough drama and action, I highly recommend this movie. So, as Heyong-do mentions at one point in the film: “The work day is over ” . And so is this review.

I give A Company Man a 9 out of 10 score.

Blog Update

Maybe a few of you have noticed, but the past few days I have been a little bit less active on my own blog, and commenting on posts from your blogs. Now, no worries, my blog is not going to shut down or anything like that. I have just been a bit busier than usual, (and a bit more stressful lol), as these are the final days before my three week vacation from work. As such I have a lot of things I need to finish before I can finally go on my break. This does mean that in the upcoming days I will in all likelyhood miss out on a few posts from you, for which I apologise in advance. The good news is that after the upcoming weekend I will have a lot more time on my hands. So I thought I would share some things that will be coming up in the next few weeks.

Upcoming Reviews

Movies

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I have seen quite a number of movies that I haven’t been able to write a review for yet. As you have come to expect from me, these movies are all from very different genres. Reviews that will be coming up are: Kong:Skull Island, The Wailing, Lethal Weapon 2, A Company Man, War for the Planet of the Apes, Don’t Breathe to name but a few.

Anime

imageI am really running behind on watching anime, something I hope to catch up with in my upcoming vacation. I am currently in the middle of watching Corpse Princess, which so far has proven itself to be highly entertaining. After that I am really looking forward to Ergo Proxy, and finishing Black Bullet, which is also a very interesting series. You can expect reviews from all these three shows, and probably a few others that I just need to find time for.

Boardgames

imageTwo boardgames that I have been dying to try out, are the ones that are pictured above. Scythe especially has been gathering dust on my shelf for ages now,and hopefully my vacation will turn that around. Salt Lands is one of my newer purchases and looks like awesome fun, especially since it’s setting is in a Mad Max type of wasteland. Hopefully both games will hit the table soon, and when they do you can expect reviews for both of them.

Books and tv series

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Ofcourse I can’t forget books and tv series here. I am currently reading the art and making of Alien Covenant, a beautifully illustrated book about the latest Alien movie. Speaking of Covenant, the fantasy epic The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever I finally plan to finish in the coming weeks as well. It is a massive 1100 page epic fantasy novel, which has been an amazing read so far. As far as television series go, the Korean drama Bad Guys I have almost finished and it has been a blast. Next on my to watch list is the spinoff series of The Walking Dead: Fear the Walking Dead, that cronicles the beginning of the zombie outbreak. All these and more will be reviewed in the coming weeks.

Final Thoughts

Now, as mentioned the coming days will definitely be very busy. In the weekend I will be hosting an Asian movie festival at my own home for my parents. It is a lot of fun to do, but also will need some planning from my part (that is selecting the movies and buying the food to get us through the weekend lol). And then there is ofcourse my work, which already is stressful to begin with, not only for these final few days. I will try and keep up with your blogs as best I can, but if I miss the occasional post, please do not bite my head off. I hope there are some things in this update that you are looking forward to. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

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

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

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

Ghost in the Shell: Opening Theme

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

 

The Battle of Wits

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

 

The Sky Crawlers: Opening Theme

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

 

Avalon: Log in

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

 

Ghost in the Shell: Nightstalker

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

 

Final thoughts

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I believe I can fly….

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

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Come on in, the water is great.

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

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

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

I give Dunkirk a 7 out of 10 score.

Spider-Man Homecoming, American movie (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m Batman….whoops wrong movie. 

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

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