Friday, May 24, 2024

Furiosa

As if to rub salt in the wound, I liked it better than Fury Road.




That could either be a huge credit to this movie or just another rambling review from an old fool. But honestly it was a pretty solid movie all around, it's crazy to think a prequel took about 9 years to materialize in this day and age, but I will never complain about a series taking a hot ass minute to continue. Gives plenty of time at the drawing board to figure out the plot, the production, raise the funds, and fine tune the project just the way the filmmakers like it. Obviously George is back in the director's chair and this movie follows the same aesthetic and visual language as Fury Road, as we follow for quite awhile young Furiosa's turn of fortune from dwelling in the green place to the wasteland which I really appreciate! It's not just, they took Furiosa 5 minutes into the film and then time jump to her grown up they actually take the time to fill her backstory with as much as they could. Utilizing the 2½ runtime completely with nary a drop of filler and ties a nice bow on it when this movie ends Fury Road begins. Anya Taylor-Joy is a good lead and while I haven't seen her in much action-y fare she does admirably here and earns her wings. First also for seeing Chris Hemsworth be a villain, and kind of a right bastard as well I felt he did really well in this role and had that balance between a threat while also having bits of humor. Also props to Alyla Browne as young Furiosa, she got that drama and rage down very nicely. Strange it is to say but I felt the wide breadth and scope of the wasteland was more confined to the fortress hubs this film around, not that I minded because I wanted to know more about them other than Imortan Joe's territory yet it still looks quite good I must say! The action is more varied since it's not a constant moving convoy and though it's an R rated film the blood and viscera is more often than not subdued which is very much the same as the last movie. I liked seeing the story of Furiosa and it was indeed a tale worth telling, what lies for the future of Mad Max I cannot say but I'll be sure to brush up on the rest with any luck before the next new release. 3 stars, 8/10, worth a trip to the theater to feel that intense rumble from all the guzzoline machines.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mad Max Fury Road

Okay here we go.



I don't think I have heard this much good word of mouth and undiluted praise for an action movie quite possibly in my entire life. I've never heard even a mediocre thing let alone a bad thing about Fury Road. So how do I break this gently that I thought it was just okay? Granted I haven't seen the previous Mad Max movies so I'm most likely missing some shit, but I know plenty of people have sat down to watch this movie alone and come out fairly pleased. I know bits about it, the story is set in a nuked out post apocalyptic Australia, so I guess 95% of what Australia is actually like (just jokes Aussie's) following previous cop now road warrior Max as he tries to stay alive amidst gangs, scavengers, and fuel grifters. He very quickly gets swept up in the storyline of Furiosa, a hardened woman transporting several young girls to a lush green patch of the world for their safety. Dirt simple plot, very easy to understand and empathize with. No doubt made so for the unhinged action to take front and center stage, this is unashamedly a leave your brain at the door, popcorn, summer extravaganza, action flick through and through. It is astoundingly impressive how much they just did in camera with stunt crew probably as insane as some of the characters, using as little CG as they could get away with to which I strongly commend and applaud. It's metal as hell, off the wall, subtle as a nitroglycerine brick to the head. I assume the previous movies had aspects of this, obviously not that extreme but certainly there and the worldbuilding while brief isn't necessary to enjoy the movie. Though I do want to know way more about it! This isn't a severe mark against the movie when I say this, the cast does just fine but there isn't a great deal for them to sink their teeth into character wise. I truthfully feel they could cast complete unknowns in this part and little would change, but hey they got some big names who obviously were game to do it and it got butts in seats because of it so I will never fault the filmmakers for doing that. This is simultaneously an easy film to talk about and yet a difficult film to talk about for me, it is without question or doubt the phrase "What you see is what you get" and if you've seen clips or trailers and it looks like your kind of bag then rock on my friend, you'll have a blast. And indeed you can see a lot of craftsmanship, dedication, and ultimately passion put into this project. You know they wanted to make the bestest damn movie they possibly could here. I don't hate it by any semblance of a stretch, I can respect the production side, enjoy the movie side, and am quite looking forward to Furiosa, but I don't immensely love it. I like it. The cinematography is proper damn good, the action makes this 2 hour film pass in the blink of an eye, and it's a good bottled movie where you don't need to know anything before or after and just enjoy the cataclysmic ride this movie takes you on. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10! New release on Friday and more to talk about soon.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Shōgun

I suppose this is what I get for involving myself in politics.



Shōgun is a trip to say the least. An expansive, involved, big budget, notes worthy, 10 hour epic detailing the events leading up to the origins of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is an almost impossible task to sum everything up in one concise and non-rambling synopsis, so cliffnotes version: British ship pilot John Blackmore stumbles upon the isle of Japan and gets very quickly swept up in the political back and forth between the five ruling regents of the nation, as time passes and he cheats death on multiple occasions he takes on more of the culture and becomes a right hand to the disavowed rebel regent Toranaga. It gets complex quick and this is coming from someone who has familiarity with how the government system of Japan worked once upon a long time ago, the customs and traditions of the people, and a rough outline of how each period began, so it's a caveat but if you want to watch this show I severely recommend note taking to keep the family ties straight and to not spread out your watch schedule, rather try to marathon it so you don't forget any details. It took 3 days for me to get through it and what I found simply put, was a show that does not fuck around. It's more fiction than history granted but a true commitment was made to make this as historically accurate, intriguing, beautiful, and coldly violent. To truly make the best series they could. There is zero half assing found in the 10 episodes. And as I am writing this review tale of a second season is coming to which, I have two opinions clashing like mountain goats, on one hand the show ends with a pretty wide opening for more of this story to be told and YET the showrunners claimed it would be a one and done series with no intention for continuation. I'm personally kinda leaning towards never trusting a damn word any studio system creator has to say on any matter. So to keep this from running almost into a 500 word essay let's lightning round some aspects. I completely applaud the, for lack of a better term balls deep, commitment this series has keeping the dialogue heavy on the japanese side with subtitles galore. They do indeed have a dubbed option, I watched it on Hulu, but I love getting to see japanese actors get to speak just japanese, and in a big budget american production? Whaaaaat?? Did I just pull a Sliders and jump dimensions yet again? That's fine, I'll roll with it. Casting is pretty damn good from lead to ancillary characters, Hiroyuki Sanada along with Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai are terrific leads and undoubtedly are the driving force of the whole dang story, you get invested with them quick. Top notch all around! Sweet lord, the costuming, the sets, the environments, as I said no half assing it's very detailed and has enough atmosphere to go around at times, I never thought I would see so. Many. Sets in a television show and very broad ones at that! There just isn't a damn thing on the telly like this right now. The story while a bit complex in terms of character and motivation, knows when to bump the pace up and also let you stew in this albeit foreign but nevertheless understandable political machine, I never go for political dramas or really anything politics heavy outside of The Thick Of It, I just can't stand the backstabbing and drama and overcomplex plans but here I could work with it. You don't really get the battle scope you imagine the story keeps pushing toward, if anything when the violence strikes it sucker punches you in the nose out of nowhere and it keeps you on your toes. Maybe it's more a syndrome of what Game Of Thrones has cast on television series but death strikes unexpectedly and it's appropriately grim. May be a turn off for a lot of folks who want to see samurai battle in large numbers and duel one on one, but it just isn't that kind of show and there are examples for you out there who love that particular kind of stuff. It's almost tailor made for a very specific crowd but that niche crowd has been lauding it with praise since it premiered and you never know if you'll like it if you don't try it. It's a sit, it's not a show you can have on in the background and keep up (unless you are fluent in the language and got a good memory), the ending may not do it for you but hey second season for those who want more, but there can easily be aspects you will enjoy. I can appreciate both sides of samurai media, your Ran's or Throne Of Blood's as opposed to stuff like Samurai Champloo or The Sword Of Doom. So I very much liked it and can recommend it for those select few. 3.5 stars, 8.5/10! Phew, that was a busy week. Next week will be easier as we traverse the arid wasteland and will be my first peek into the world of Mad Max.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Afro Samurai Ressurection

Hmm. Not what I thought it was gonna be.




For those who have seen the ending of Afro Samurai you'll know it actually left the door open for some continuation, so as we pick up on this feature film made 2 years after the mini-series I kinda figured it would follow in those steps. Not really. It ain't a bad thing but this movie does kinda fiddle fuck with the history of events and "canon" of the series, not in an insultingly stupid way it just adds more stuff that wasn't seen before and has a purpose for the movie. So the events follow Afro who after claiming the Number 1 headband is being hunted down by familiar faces from his past who desecrate his father's grave on top of that, and more so than the show in my opinion this really hammers the point home of revenge. It damn near walks hand in hand with Kill Bill, I just kept flashing back to that, if you seek revenge on others someone is eventually going to seek revenge on you. Hurt people hurt people. It is nothing but a vicious cycle with no end, and you already know how I feel about that. Revenge...the most worthless of causes. And that story is told super well here, spanning only 100 minutes the movie starts off very slap dash and a little confusing as to what the plot is shaping up to be, but it quickly focuses and gets going passing by in the blink of an eye and you get some visuals out of it. Obviously the animation style persists, but with a movie budget so you get a lot broader more involved fights with some damn good background scenery. It maybe took 3 shots until I saw something where I was like, "God. Damn!! That looks good!". You ever wonder why I champion animation so hard here? Because you get some atmospheric/environmental shots the likes of which even God has never seen! And I gotta admit seeing a lot more locales and pieces of this world were greatly interesting to me, making me wish it went on longer than it did because it's just cool! Is it necessary viewing? Not in my estimation but if you digged the hell out of the show you'll like the movie just fine. The plot moves at a good pace and has some solid moments, the animation still looks interesting, the music once again done by The RZA I truly need to listen to in full for both these installments, and I gotta admit the voice cast was in some cases better than the show. It's unequivocally different and doing it's own thing and for all I know we could get another addition to this series in the not too distant future, which I'm not completely against. So I give it 3 stars, 7/10, and it is time for a recent show to be discussed. Rare occurence on this site but I'm looking forward to it so see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Afro Samurai

Ah shit, here we go again. 




I've heard of the reputation of this show for quite awhile honestly waaaay back in my early teens, not fully knowing the plot just knowing a lot of people held it up as a kickass show and was a unique standout in the early millenium anime scene. The plot is simple enough told over the course of five roughly 30 minute episodes, of a young boy who after seeing his father's grisly demise commits to a life of revenge against a gunslinger assassin as he takes up his father's sword and becomes the Afro Samurai. There's bits and pieces beyond it including a healthy peppering of flashbacks, and a surprising but underplayed twist of the setting. Cause when we kick off it's very feudal Japan, in terms of weaponry, architecture, and geography but then by either the first or second episode you see someone spying on Afro with I shit you not electrobinoculars straight out of Star Wars, right out of the battle of Hoth and it only gets crazier from there. Now I know the setting isn't pivotal, this isn't a Trigun situation where the more you watch the more you come to realize why the world is the way it is, this show rather centers itself around the Rule Of Cool. You wanna see Afro battle against robot shinobi? You got it. Want to see a villain use basically a handheld ballista with grenade launcher attachment? No problem. But it never forgets it's roots in samurai cinema, and while the animation is....I'm trying to find the right word for it still. It's heavily stylized, jagged yet flowing lines, the color palette is not quite black & white but leans towards greyscale, the blood is a character in and of itself with how over the top it is reaching geiser levels, and at first I thought this was a western made almost tribute to anime but it does indeed hail from the land of the rising sun itself originally created by Takashi Okazaki. It's unlike anything I've seen before but has sheer moments of pure beauty in it. I did watch the dubbed version and it was so not what I was expecting because I did know Samuel L. Jackson was the main part but Afro is seriously the strong silent type and only really starts talking closer to the end and I barely recognized his voice it was so different, but what I didn't know was Sam voiced two roles. He also voices Afro's travelling companion Ninja Ninja (yes I'm serious) who is way more what you would expect from Sam's acting. Chatterbox, throwing lingo and slang to and fro, really is only two steps away from saying the N-word, he's a funny dude and is that levity we need in a very serious story. Ron Perlman is our main villain here, once again the vocal performance is not what you expect it's not as deep voiced, it's way more for lack of a better term reptilian. Fantastic character design by the way, you barely see him in the show but you can feel the threat and the creep factor get pushed near maximum. It's a conglomeration of top voice acting talent presented here, just go look at the cast list it's crazy how many big names in the voice actor community they got. And to think this show hit the States in 2007, my God you want to talk about another time another place? The world was different, anime was different, I was but a 12 year old nerd. Can we just get back to that for a while? Can we rewind the tape please? Fuck. Before I start just getting really depressed, let's wrap this up. It is a real damn good series, feature length just 2½ hours it's worth your time if you dig this kinda shit, I'm so happy I got to see it after 17 years (Oh dear God, make it stop, make it end.), so final scores! I give it 4 stars, 8/10, and the story ain't over yet so tune in tomorrow for the actual feature continuation.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

Phew, thank you God!



Good news! Kingdom is a very good follow up to War and is a strong movie on it's own. It actually crosses into the rare territory of a sequel where you don't need to have seen previous installments to get. Set many generation from the ending of War we see apes of a certain clan in particular Noa take up a quest to rescue his family from an invading much more hostile section of apes, along his travels he frequently has run ins with a human named Mae and a wise sage orangutan by the name of Raka who broadens Noa's mind of the before times, before facing off against the king of the coast Paximus Caesar. First and most crucial thing I gotta bring up is the worldbuilding set up here is so interesting and you may find yourself with more questions by the time end credits roll, but I do not see that as a negative. Because the movie is set most likely hundreds of years in the future that gives the filmmakers such a wide sandbox to play with, and the details you are given whether newcomer or experienced viewer is interesting stuff. The fact alone that it's been so long the events of Caesar's life is legend puts it all into perspective. Apes while still vocal in speech still use sign language and are not super fluent in english. Humans who can speak are practically a myth with most more resembling cavemen from the Paleolithic period. The biggest and most fascinating fact to me anyway was just a tidbit of information, that Paximus has been brought up on roman history and so many pieces click together from hearing that! That's worthy of a movie all on it's own, an intelligent ape who is well read in ancient roman history, that has no right to be as cool as it is! And the performances carry so much whether it's Owen Teague as Noa still young and learning but has an iron will, Kevin Durand as Paximus who doesn't fully slip into the tyrant role but clearly he's no good, Freya Allan as Mae has a lot more going on with her than just a slightly more intelligent human, and Peter Macon selling me once again on why the orangutans are my favorite of the subspecies carrying a lot of history and wisdom with good bits of humor as well. Obviously the visuals have not degraded since War, you get a lot more emphasis on environments both natural and dilapidated human structures and it all looks mighty good. I feel the emotional connection while it can't match the intensity of the last two films can easily be built upon for our new cast, I do want to see where this could go and I was wondering how was this movie going to end. I figured they would try for a continuation but also could have seen the movie end relatively contained. It's pretty good, I'd rank it between Rise and Dawn which is already damn good company to be within, and you can either catch it this weekend or pick it up on video in the future depending on how sold you are on this now continuing saga. I give it 3.5 stars, 7.5/10, and the work is coming along for next week with one show down and one to go.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Tales Of The Empire

Not what I expected!


I like not being right all the time and upon seeing the trailer for Tales Of The Empire it seemed simple enough, chronicling events of imperial engineer and former nightsister Morgan Elsbeth along with inquisitor in the making Barriss Offee. Now with Morgan it basically was what I was thinking, seeing her get from the massacre on Dathomir to being the magistrate on Corvus while tying in some elements from the Ahsoka series, but it was really nice to get some more backstory on her and any additional Diana in my Star Wars is highly welcome! From the small pool of other Star Wars fans I know, apparently I was the select few who just called Barriss turning into an inquisitor which I felt was obvious due to galactic history and her story thus far but I certainly didn't call anything after that event. There is more to her story than just hunt jedi and it kept me guessing where it was going to leave off. For a series clocking in less than 90 minutes it sure as hell made me want more but I was also satisfied with it, I liked gleaning more details from this galaxy and they were solid stories. Animators show offs as they are, give us another spectacular range of scenery and detail, first friggin' shot of the first friggin' episode made me huff in joyful disbelief it looked dat gud! Seeing familiar and new locales as well as characters in the Clone Wars style was great and I have no doubt this animation style will be with us for years yet. Performances while undoubtedly brief due to the structure of the show were regardless quite good, to get Meredith back for this and seeing her encapsulate the character of Barriss so well was lovely, of course some love must also be shared with Jason Isaacs and Lars Mikkelsen I mean those are my guys through and through and I adore them endlessly. I know these Tales series are just bite sized stories to tide us over for the next big project in the pipeline but the versatile range and freedom within can mean anything is next both for the next series focus and also individual stories for each season, I am once again asking Lucasfilm for a Tales Of The Sith series and I know I'm being greedy with The Acolyte mere weeks away but a boy can dream! Speaking of which, that's the next big series and the one I've been looking forward to most since the announcement. Hopefully I can catch up on the High Republic books more beforehand. As for this series big time 4 stars, 8/10!


Next week will be the slowest week so far of the year but I got some work to do so I can give you not one but two television series' reviews so hang tight and may the Force serve you well.