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When I first suggested to Emile that we should go check out Snakes on a Plane he looked at me as if I was crazy. Well, okay, Emile often looks at me as if I’m crazy. But in this case even more so. He hadn’t heard of the crazy internet fuelled history (and some would say hysteria) behind this movie. I took it upon myself to bring him up to date about the movie.

The result of this was Emile spending Sunday at work saying to me “Motherfucking Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane.”

So last night was the night. We girded ourselves with Garlic Naan bread (and I drank waaaay too much Pepsi, so that I was squirming in the seat by the end of the movie… but the less said about that, the better. Needless to say I almost did irrepairable damage to my bladder and liver to stay until the end of the movie…)

I think the best way of describe Snakes on a Plane is to say Motherfucking Hilarious.

This is possibly the best parody and tribute of exploitation cinema ever. It is played straight-faced, while playing on your expectations all the way through. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t cinematic genius by any stretch. Rather, if you are an afficianado of exploitation films from the 70s and really enjoyed their trashy silliness – Snakes on a Plane is just a perfect piss-take.

It uses all the elements of these films – the stereotyped passengers (to the point that I whispered to Emile “where’s the hispanic character?” to then have a passenger barely seconds later on the screen turn and talk to someone in her thick hispanic accent.) Yet the film also tricks you into thinking that one group of people are going to die and then have someone else kick it.

I laughed my ass off throughout this film – it was just fantastic stuff. All because the cast clearly knew that it was a trashy movie and they put in excellent performances. Understated enough to not become pantomime while over the top enough to be funny. Samuel L. Jackson just has a blast being Samuel L. Jackson (and, after all, that is why people wanted him in the film. This guy knows how to deliver what the audience wants. People were applauding in the cinema!)

All I can say is – two thumbs up. Fucking excellent! 😀

Love and Huggles

Conan

Currently Reading: The Reality Dysfunction
Currently Playing: Exalted: The Seventh Legion
Mood: Still buzzing over the film. So much fun!

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Wow. What can I say. Being a wet and dull evening lined up for me, I decided to trade some old DVDs in for a new movie to watch – while I was at Real Groovy, I saw Immortal on the shelf and remembered looking at the poster online and being very intrigued by it.

The basic story goes like this. The year is 2095. A corporation named Eugenics has taken over the world through manipulation of the world’s governments. New York, in particular, seems to be suffering a number of problems. Not only is there an issue with aliens moving to Earth and mutants abound, the city is now dealing with an incident called the Intrusion – basically a space-time anomaly that has ripped open Central Park.

But that’s not all folks. A pyramid has appeared over the city, raising the already tense levels of conflict in the city.

See, the egyptians were right – their gods are the true gods of the universe, it appears. And now Horus (for some reason not really explained) has seven days before he loses his immortality. Yeah, yeah, nobody stopped to ask “if you stop being immortal, doesn’t that mean you never were immortal?” Look, just go with it.

So Horus has some master plan to ensure he doesn’t actually kick the deitic bucket when his time runs out. It involves a girl, a man in cryostasis and a sleazy hotel room. No. I’m not making this up. Really.

Okay, so while Horus gets his shit together – involving a sideline career as a serial killer because all these genetically altered humans are unsuitable to contain his divine essence – a mysterious pale woman with blue hair, amnesia and the ability to blast energy bolts from her hands is scooped up by Eugenics.

See, it ends up that Eugenics has set up the world so that the genetically enhanced (who all look like CG rejects from Hellraiser for the most part) live at the top of the food chain and normal humans live in slums. Now to genetically enhance people, Eugenics needs fresh… parts. Guess where they get them from. Anyhoop, this girl is saved by a lesbian doctor who doesn’t actually have sex or even likes to watch. As far as I can tell she gets off by reading medical readouts of the women she treats or something. Go figure. It simply isn’t explained.

MEANWHILE, a detective is investigating a series of grusome murders where genetically enhanced people have spontaneously exploded. Oh, and the Senator of New York is dealing with something – I think it is covering up his connection with Eugenics, making contact with the Pyramid spaceship and feeding flying tentacled hammer-head shark aliens. Um. Yeah.

MEANWHILE, a bunch of cryochambers on an orbital station fall on New York and land on one of the bridges. Horus saves this guy, Nikopol, who was in one of the tubes. Unfortunately Nikopol loses his leg in the process – but Horus makes him a new one out of a steel pylon.

*sigh*

Then we find out that Horus great plan (which he states is beyond human comprehension and understanding) is to shag the blue chick from another continuum/reality so that he can have a kid who will be his reincarnation. Yeah. Because if there is one thing that we humans just don’t get, it’s sex.

Somehow all this is going to be resolved in a 105 minute movie.

Immortal utilises a fully digital set – like Sky Captain and Casshern. Basically the world is fully CG, with the actors standing infront of a green screen. Unfortunately for some inexplicable reason there are only three actors in the movie. Everyone else is CG. And we’re not talking good CG, here. We’re talking early 1990s Playstation cutscenes CG people. Which look odd against the gorgeous city and vehicles. Horus and the other egyptian gods are also CG, and look kinda okay for the most part.

BUT WHAT THE HELL WAS WITH ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE? I watched the credits. They hired individual actors to do the voices of all the other characters. Voice actors aren’t that much cheaper to hire, and they would have needed actors to do the motion capture. So why have CG people at all? Why not get real actors? GAH!

The movie is based on a series of Belgian comics called the Nikopol trilogy – which, from a little google research – look like they were actually quite cool. So what the hell happened? Immortal is, to put it bluntly, stupid. It has a crap plot, a REALLY dumb execution and the only thing worth commenting on is the gorgeous scenery. The idea of gods coming to a futuristic society and showing that there is more to the universe than science is a cool idea. Shame it got lost in the bizarre mix of ideas and plots and FRICKING LOW-GRADE CG PEOPLE!

I may keep this DVD around for a while longer to see if there can be any humour factor regained from it.

On to Casshern. Ahhh. Well to be honest I haven’t actually watched all of it yet. Why? Because this DVD is possibly… no… it is the worst DVD transfer ever. It looks worse than a bootleg copy filmed in the middle of the theatre. The quality of the visuals is simply shocking. I stopped it after one minute of over saturated poorly visible and hideously choppy recording.

The fact that the subtitles aren’t an option, they are filmed onto the actual video – because it was clearly transfered from analogue onto a digital copy. This means that the DVD has a shocking degredation of quality. So bad that it is difficult to make out details and the beauty of the movie is lost to poor quality.

So I remain uncertain as to how cool Casshern is. Maybe I will be able to force myself to watch this shit copy, but I am boycotting anything by Rialto Home Entertainment again until they can produce a decent quality DVD. Very disappointed.

Love and Huggles

Conan

Currently Reading: The Reality Dysfunction
Currently Playing: Exalted: The Seventh Legion
Mood: Protecting you all from crap DVDs!

Right, on to another anime I’ve been slowly collecting – Gilgamesh.

Now this series is weird. Firstly, I was drawn to the cover art on the dvd box. The picture I added is from the first DVD. It is beautifully evocative and has something nice about the design and layout. The original description put me in mind of a dark anime version of Xmen – boy was I wrong!

Taking its cue from such classics as Akira and Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gilgamesh is set in a post-apocalyptic world. At some point in the near future there will be a war in the middle east where the ruins of the city of Uruk will be revealed. Scientists discover that there is something odd about the ruins and unite in the biggest collaboration in human history – this unified archeological project is named Heaven’s Gate.

Something freaks the heads out and eventually the project is closed. On the day that it is meant to shut down, a scientist turns terrorist and sets something off from the central chamber of the dig – Gilgamesh’s tomb. This sets off a strange event known as Twin X (named because the date of the event is the tenth of October.) The result of this catastrophic event is that the sky is covered in a strange aurora borealis type event that mirrors the ground below it. This mirror is named the Sheltering Sky.

The series then picks up about fourteen years later, after war and famine have wrought hideous changes on the world and society has only just begun to restore itself. A side effect of the sheltering sky is that computers no longer work and planes can’t fly long distances anymore.

Tatsuya and his sister Kiyoko are running from debt-collectors when they cross paths with these mysterious androgynous-looking men who offer them protection. The men are known as Gilgamesh. They are fighting a faction called Orga, who have psychic children on their side to combat Gilgamesh and their mysterious leader Enkidu.

From that set up, the series proves to be one of the best mystery thrillers since Rah Xephon. The twists and turns in the series are clever and manage to start with playing on the cliches of anime. Where the series initially sets up what seems to be a kind of Akira meets Evangelion clone, it deliberately uses this to lull the audience into a false confidence of how the series is going to develop. But if I was to really compare Gilgamesh to a show, it would Boogiepop Phantom. Much like Boogiepop, Gilgamesh utilises a lower range of colours to give everything a washed out and gothic appearance. All the colours are drab, meaning that bright colours really stand out when they are used.

The series also follows the kind of twisty manner that BPP did, leaving a lot of the mystery shown rather than outright said. This series rewards the astute viewer through how the characters react rather than what is said. Initially I thought that the character designs and animation were pretty cheap and crappy – but as the series progresses I’ve come to realise that it is all part of the “feel” of the show. It somehow ends up (possibly unintentionally) adding to the experience.

All in all, I have been really impressed with the way this show has developed – and the english dub has truly excellent voice acting. Again, I thought it was wooden at first, but as the series progressed it has become apparent how nuanced the performances are. These are broken people, and many of them have gained a tragic apathy due to the world around them. As the series progresses I have become aware of how well the actors carry the weight of the show with their performance. There have been a number of scenes where there is no music, scant sound and all the power of the scene has relied on the voice actors to make you believe the characters are really there experiencing things in front of you.

In a way it is also like Argentosoma, in that respect.

Two thumbs up. Gligamesh is dark, gothic and very odd. I love it! 😀

Love and Huggles

Conan

Currently Reading: The Reality Dysfunction
Currently Playing: Exalted: The Seventh Legion
Mood:Still under stress, but coping with the help of anime…

In a bit of a break from my ranting, I thought I’d chat a little about the latest show I’ve been watching. 🙂

Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex is a reimagining of the highly acclaimed movie of the early ninties. Taking its cues from the original Manga, the series is a clever mix of one-off stories and an interlinking series of “complex” episodes.

The general set up is Japan in the year 2030. Cybertechnology has reached some pretty impressive levels of sophistication, allowing for a large number of people in the world to be cybernetically enhanced in some way or another. Most people have a “cyberbrain” installed, which basically allows them to be linked into a variety of wireless networks and peripherals.

Most interestingly is the development of Artificial Intelligence. The series often explores the the implications of having AI technology so advanced that it is indistinguishable from real-life. Yet the series shows that humanity has identified a thing called a “Ghost” which is the sentience of a human being. Your ghost is something that AI can’t mimic, yet it can be transfered from one body to another. The concept is quite fascinating, especially when characters identify that a “ghost” can’t be copied – or when it is, it degrades. However it can be transfered to a cyberbrain – allowing some people to live longer in robotic bodies.

Visually, GiTS-SAC is freaking gorgeous. Possibly the sexiest of the standard animes I have – Gankutsuou (Count of Monte Cristo) remains the most lushly animated show. GiTS-SAC has an impressive degree of detailing put into the backgrounds, characters and simple tricks like the lighting. The CG work is damn impressive. From the beautiful opening episode, up to the latest show I’ve seen where one of the Tachikoma battletanks goes on a trip to help a girl find her dog – it’s all very clever and beautiful to watch.

Most impressive is the blending of GiTS philosophical themes about what humanity is and how “unique” are we with a high action show. Very few episodes have a slow down in pace – most of them involve a great mix of action and thematic discussion.

This is a definitely 5/5 show to date. I’m hoping it keeps up the momentum. 🙂

Love and Huggles

Conan

Currently Reading: The Reality Dysfunction
Currently Playing: Exalted: The Seventh Legion
Mood:Feeling tired, stressed, but a better than before

In Space No One Can Hear You Work…

Planetes has been an anime that I have toyed with buying into for a while now. The art design is attractive, and the cover showing one of the characters mid-space walk is very evocative. As is usual when I’m intrigued by an anime, I checked out animeondvd.com.

To say the reviews were glowing is probably a bit of an understatement. After watching four episodes now, I have to say that it deserves every ounce of praise. What makes Planetes so appealing is what would normally make it seem so boring – it is unlike other anime in that it is literally about people living normal lives.

It’s just that these people just happen to work on a space-station in the year 2075.

Planetes tells its tale at an easy pace, taking its time showing us how everything works. While some of the technology is a bit on the advanced side the physics of the setting are pretty faithful to reality. The DVD comes with an interview with people from NASA, and a lot of the designs are pretty convincing.

The characters are all warm and likeable people who behave in a comical manner – but not too over the top. I can’t help but feel that the show would have worked live-action, and the scripting really treats it as if it is a live-action dramedy. 🙂

What appeals to me are the little details that they think of. When characters are travelling in zero-g areas of the station, there are cut-shots showing their feet hooking into railings, or their hands/feet pushing off surfaces. This allows the animators to convince the viewer that everything you see is genuinely happening in a zero-g environment – often used to great effect when less trained characters will unexpectedly go out of control.

Very clever.

I highly recommend checking this show out – it has a certain appeal and charm that has impressed me. Loads of fun.

Love and Huggles

Conan

Currently Reading: Nothing
Currently Playing: The Grand Experiment; World of Darkness: The University Club
Mood: Feeling pretty bouncy!

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