Category Archives: review

Star Driver

Unfortunately, Star Driver is an anime series that is not worth a full essay. No, the best summary is, “Modestly entertaining, but ultimately disappointing.” I expected more from the writer of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Instead I got a slight retread in terms of high school students dueling in some sacred space with the future of humanity at stake but lacking in the surrealism that made Utena a true standout among other shows of its time. Read the rest of this entry

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Young Justice: Season One

The original Young Justice comic was the perfect source material for an animated series. It sadly never came to happen, but the Teen Titans cartoon was a good substitute. It still would have been nice to see Tim Drake’s Robin teamed up with Impulse and Superboy in an ongoing animated series.

A couple years ago an announcement was made for a Young Justice cartoon, featuring an Aqualad of color and a lack of overall humor. The latter was a deal breaker for YJ purists with the former being a deal breaker for DC purists. I was of course interested in the series, and it did not disappoint. Read the rest of this entry

Fringe – “Everything in Its Right Place”

Unlike other TV shows, being able to have a conversation with yourself is a sign of having a strong grasp of reality on Fringe.

Fringe is a difficult show to start watching. Tuning in for new episodes is difficult due to the serialized nature of the show, but even starting from the beginning can be rough. Before it reaches its current state of brilliant science fiction, it starts in the muddled area of X-Files-esque science monster-of-the-week nonsense. Maybe that is unfair to say because I never really cared for X-Files. But Fringe did start in that area, especially since it resembled more of a knock-off than anything else.

Until the final episode of the first season introduces viewers to the Other Side, the parallel universe that resembles the point-of-view universe with tweaks. Zeppelins float in the sky, the statue of liberty is made of bronze, and cappuccinos never became popular. (A world lacking in Starbucks?!) Aside from offering a slightly askew world, the Other Side also presents alternate interpretations of the characters and the question of how they got there. We are reaching the end of the fourth season, and every character has been faced with what makes them different. Read the rest of this entry

Chronicle

Have you ever wondered about the importance of Uncle Ben in the story of Spider-Man? Have you ever looked at any of the X-Men and said, “You know what I’d do with that power?” Have you ever just wanted your superhero stories to be just a tad bit more like Akira? Chronicle is the film for you. The story isn’t all that original, especially for comic book aficionados, but the storytelling is absolutely great. The film had me completely caught in its telekinetic grip by its conclusion. No other superhero, or comic book-type, movie comes close to how well this was done. Captain America? Good. Kick-Ass? Good fun. Super? Dark fun. Chronicle? The new benchmark.

This movie is also for people who were pissed that Magneto didn't get his own movie. Oh, and Doctor Doom.

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Rubber

Rubber seems to have a more interesting concept than its creator/director, Quentin Dupieux, seems to acknowledge throughout the film. The idea of a sentient tire with psychokinetic abilities that can cause people to explode is fun for unabashed fans of the absurd. Unfortunately, in its 82 minute running time, it’s not allowed to be just that. Read the rest of this entry

Red Tails

Some people get upset when the two stars listed on a poster aren't pictured on the poster.

Before I go into the review, I want to make it a point to urge you to go out and see Red Tails. It’s not often that you get a Lucasfilms property that isn’t Star Wars or Indiana Jones. It also isn’t often that you get an action film consisting of a predominantly African American cast (and the amazing Bryan Cranston as a condescending racist). This is a film that Lucas has been trying to get made for the past 30 years, only to repeatedly get turned down because the studios said that there is no money to be made from such a film. People don’t want to see the black flying aces of World War II. Unfortunately, the opening weekend box office seems to suggest there is some truth in that – as of now it’s made roughly one-third of it’s $58M budget. I don’t want it to be true. The failure of this film vindicates every studio for casting few African Americans in leading roles and not providing much publicity for any film that casts black people as anything more than a joker, thug, magical negro, overweight loudmouth, etc. I have to admit, I already blame 20th Centure Fox for shortcomings in advertising, as I did not see any advertising aside from a stand at the local movie theatre.

I must also state that a tight knot formed in my stomach when the trailer for Tyler Perry’s latest movie played right before Red Tails. No matter the quality of the film, his will be profitable because his audience attends like good little drones. If we were presented with Tyler Perry presents: Red Tails, I wouldn’t have to implore you to see the film (or buy a ticket and not go – just an option). I’d have to worry about your being fed the horrible reinforcement of black stereotypes for the sake of obnoxious humor. But Tyler Perry’s ruination of black people in the media is neither here nor there. It’s just a fact of life. Read the rest of this entry

Oldboy

Oldboy is the perfect example of the type of film that cannot be done in America, despite its basic revenge flick premise. The twist that makes the tale unique is pretty much forbidden for the mainstream, middle ground-aiming American film industry. Which is pretty hilarious considering an American adaptation of the original manga is in the works. The manga includes none of the taboo elements of the Korean film and completely different characterizations. My suspicion is that the American producers want all of the popularity and notoriety of the Korean film without putting in any of what made it anything other than a generic action film.

Sadly, the American adaptation will probably make a lot of money anyway. Mindless action films sell, the American culture has a history of loving revenge stories, and a fair amount of clout has been building up about the name Oldboy without anyone knowing anything except that they have to see it. The confusion about which one they need to see will be a boon to the new film’s theatrical release.

At this point I shouldn’t have to say this, but there are spoilers here. Read the rest of this entry

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword impressions

You never forget your first quest

Before I get to what I thought of Nintendo’s last huge release of 2011, a little context might help to understand how I view the series of The Legend of Zelda as a whole. The first three games my family had for the Nintendo Entertainment System were (of course) Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, Lifeforce, and The Legend of Zelda. At the time Zelda was too daunting for five year-old me, but it was an amazing game to watch my brother and Papa play. I remember borrowing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link from a friend and being confused by the change in game play but impressed nonetheless with the world it created. Then I rented and played through The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which became one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve owned, played, and loved just about every proper Zelda game since then (yes, I’m excluding the Phillips CD-I games as well as the LCD handhelds) – and I literally received The Minish Cap in the mail last Saturday. The Zelda series represents to me what video games can be when enough thought are put into them. Ultimately, Zelda games are puzzles requiring the player figure out almost everything, from effective combat strategies to advancement in mazes. There’s a lot of thoughtfulness and mindfulness going on. The least appealing factor about the series is its reliance on its own tropes, primarily the “Received New Item, No Longer Need to Think about How to Move Forward in the Dungeon” trope. Yeah, when you get the whip, that will make the rest of the dungeon easier and you now know what to use on the boss. Regardless, it’s difficult for me to not appreciate the earnestness with which they deliver that trope. The designers want players to constantly feel like they are mastering the games.

Of course I picked up Skyward Sword as soon as it was made available, or at least as soon as my pre-order arrived in the mail three days after its availability in stores. So eager was I to play that I did not even bother to wait until the next day to pop the disc in and go, despite the fact that my pupils were still dilated from that afternoon’s eye exam. It was Zelda time, and I needed to experience the new addition to its world. Skyward Sword didn’t disappoint in the areas where it needed to remain strong, and it brought new experiences to the table. Read the rest of this entry

Breaking Bad – everything is connected

I just finished the second season of AMC’s amazing series Breaking Bad. 26 more episodes and I will be caught up with the rest of everyone who appreciates good television, but I had to comment on the series as soon as I could. I’m also going to put out there that AMC seems to rarely misstep with their series. How can Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad all exist under one roof? How can other networks compete, and why aren’t they trying harder to compete?

For the uninitiated, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a man diagnosed with lung cancer years after his work as a chemist. In the first episode, he watches a drug bust and finds that one of his former students (Walt begins the show as a high school chemistry teacher) is a methamphetamine cook. Walt tracks down his former student, Jesse Pinkman, to teach him the art of cooking meth. Why? Walt does not want to leave this world without providing as much as he can for his wife and impaired teenaged son. Despite his pure intention, he is traveling down a dark path that seems to slowly corrupt him. As the show progresses, audiences start to wonder if Mr. White is a protagonist, an anti-hero, or even a villain protagonist. It is really hard to say. In just two seasons, he has made some truly dark and questionable decisions. Read the rest of this entry

Muramasa: The Demon Blade

The push for photo realism in games has really drawn attention away from games with great sprite art. Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a title that got completely lost in the American market, in part because of it’s being a sprite-based side-scrolling action game and in part due to its being released on the Wii. In fact, I remember being interested in the title before it was released here and then totally forgot about it until a friend brought it to my attention again. I’m glad he did because the game really hit me on an aesthetic level and brought me into the world of magical ancient Japan. Read the rest of this entry