So, with my better half out of town, I've had a chance to watch a bunch of movies that have caught my interest.
That being said, I'll be reviewing five movies, and three television shows - The movies are Dead Alive, Game Box 1.o, Ararat, Star Warp'd & Pandorum. The television shows are all (conveniently enough) anime: Bleach, Hikaru No Go & Naruto.
Well, without further ado... We'll start off with Dead Alive.
Peter Jackson's last "minor league" movie before he started doing big budget flicks for Hollywood. The description is listed as A young man's mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey. She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors. A review of the film is listed gleefully as "...the goriest fright film of all time."
To say that it lives up to that phrase is a bit of an understatement. If you're familiar with Jackson's early works (Bad Taste or Meet the Feebles) you'll be in familiar territory. If not, well... be prepared for some corny special effects, non-logical logic, and the biggest salsa making festival of all time.
As the story progresses, we're introduced to an over-bearing, ball-busting mother; a 50's style greaser; a kung-fu practicing priest; a nurse whose only purpose apparently is to get it on with the priest (post zombification); a zombie baby; killer intestines, gratuitous use of a lawnmower, and some very Freudian overtones during the climax of the movie. Like Jackson's other early works, the tongue is firmly planted in the check through the entire movie, but the gore effects get a little tedious and the movie could have probably stood to lose 10 - 15 minutes of running time.
All in all, if zombies, sick humor, or a Pete Jackson fetish are your thing, check it out - if not, I won't fault you for giving it a pass.
Game Box 1.0
Following in the footsteps of low-budget films, I caught this movie the other night. Netflix had it listed as Horror, but IMDB listed it as sci-fi. Needless to say, I'm going with IMDB on this one.
For what it's worth, I actually enjoyed this movie, one I got used to the special effects. The premise of the movie is a game device that puts you into the game itself. Once inside, you cannot quit the game - you either win the game, or you die in real life. While it's been done before, there was a certain kitsch to this movie that made it, if not memorable, at least enjoyable.
As I said, the story revolves around a game tester who is still agonizing over the death of his girlfriend/fiancée. As he withdraws into his world of video games, he gets a strange package in the mail that he uses. Inside the game, he has a choice of several different worlds; a Grand Theft Auto rip-off, a generic zombie rip-off, and a third world that for some reason escapes my mind at the moment.
Anyways, long story short, the bad guy is the cop that shot the fiancée, the love interest is a digitized version of the murdered fiancée, and the special effects look as though they had been processed through the Sega Genesis x32 system. One of the best parts of the movie is when the hero shoots one of the bad guys, they fall to the ground with a poorly digitized, off-center hole in their chest three times the size of the caliber of weapon used to kill them.
In the end, if you've got nothing better to do, check it out. Otherwise, go out and live your life, unlike these neck-beard mouth breathers that infest this movie.
So my buddy Robert was hosting an event for Holocaust Remembrance Week, and the movie we watched and then discussed was the movie Ararat; about the Armenian Holocaust between World War I and World War II. A major part of the controversy behind the Armenian genocide is that Turkey continues to refuse that the event ever happened.
Described as "Interrogated by a customs officer, a young man recounts how his life was changed during the making of a film about the Armenian genocide claims." What they don't say is that this is the overall context of the movie, but it is broken up between five or six sub-plots that give little warning as to shifts. One sub-plot is the relationship between the customs interrogator and his son, the relationship between the interrogator and the young man in question, the relationship between the young man and his lover (who also happens to be his half sister), The relationship between the young man and his mother, the relationship between the mother and the step sister, the story of an Armenian painter who was (allegedly) witness to the genocide, and the making of a movie about the painter and the genocide.
To say the storyline is convoluted is being nice. The shifts in theme often leave the viewer spending approximately five minutes trying to figure out if we're watching the movie being made, the young man recounting his adventures, or the adventures actually happening. I'm not going to bother getting into depth with logical inconsistencies throughout the movie, but I will say that I was extremely unhappy with the end of the movie.
*CAUTION! POLITICALLY INFLAMMATORY DISCUSSION AHEAD!*
There is very little dispute about whether or not the Armenian Genocide happened. While it is frustrating that Turkey refuses to acknowledge the fact that it happened, and even more aggravating that the United States refuses to take a stance on the event, the simple fact of the matter is that this movie, at its core, is propaganda. As we come to the end of the movie, we're shown scenes from the "movie" that has been shot, depicting the degradation and abuse of Armenian women and children by Ottoman Turks. As the scenes progress, it gets more graphic and blatant, further vilifying the perpetrators. The movie then ends with a statement that the Armenian Genocide did occur, based off of documents from the time period, and that to this day, Turkey refuses to admit that it happened. As the movie finished, I found myself sitting there, processing the movie, and all I could think of was "Jesus Christ, we get it. The Armenians were slaughtered. The Ottoman Turks engaged in a concerted effort to eradicate a certain group of people. Stop beating us over the head with it."
In the end, I almost felt sorry for the Turks. I will not make excuses for them, nor will I exonerate what happened. It was a dark period in the history of man, that was then used as an argument to fuel the Final Solution in World War II, but if you're going to make a movie with a strong slant to it, please let the viewer know there is some sort of bias to it - that way they can expect it, instead of having it shoved down our throats.
Worst. Parody. Ever. It would be in your best interests to die before viewing this, and even then, I would give it a pass.
Starts out really spooky, has Dennis Quaid in it (which in and of itself should be spooky enough), tries to hook the whole Ridley Scott Alien vibe. Fails miserably. I would give it a pass, just because you'll be wanting your almost two hours back afterwards.
Interesting story of a fifteen year old kid who acts way older than scripted. Has been able to see spirits of deceased people since he was little. One night, he runs into a shingami (soul reaper) whose job it is to send good souls to the Soul Society, and battle Hollows (evil souls who have become monsters). Main reason I started watching this is because my eldest used to have a subscription to Shonen Jump, where it was serialized. Starts out slow, but picks up speed after the fifteenth or so episode. Definitely check out the books if you're going to watch the show.
Hikaru No Go
Another show that my eldest got me kind of hooked on. Story of a young kid (11, 12?) who breaks into his grandfather's house to steal something so he can turn around and sell it for money. Kid finds an old Go board (kind of like oriental chess). As he's examining the board, he discovers that the spirit of on ancient Go Master inhabits it, and wants the kid to help him play "The Divine Move" apparently a Go move that proves just how bad ass you really are, and will allow the spirit (whose name is Sai) to finally shed the bounds of earth and move on.
The only problem Sai runs into? The kid (Hikaru) has never played Go in his entire life, and has no plans of learning, until he figures out he can make money off of it. Who said kids aren't enterprising? He sure would give the Donald a run for his money in terms of ruthless dealings.
Finally, Netflix got Naruto - The best thing to come from Japan since the invention of home gaming systems (allegedly). Naruto is the story of a twelve year old kid who is a total pariah in his village of the Hidden Leaf. All Naruto wants to do is pass his Ninja graduation exams, train up, and become the best Hokage (Village Protector/Elder) the city has ever seen. The only problem is that he's a troublemaker due to the fact that everyone hates him.
A damn entertaining series, later episodes really go for broke in terms of battle sequences, and the story, while excessively long, is entertaining all the way through, and definitely worth a look.
Just make sure if you're not a fan of subtitles, you get actual discs; don't stream it from Netflix. Subtitles like they're going out of style.
So anyways, that's what I've got. You agree? Disagree? want to kill me over something? let me know.