Bird Box

Total run time: 124 minutes

Year: 2018

Genre: Hide-and-seek-simulation, Sci-Fi, Drama, Stephen-King-Impersonation


When a mysterious force decimates the population, only one thing is certain — if you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them — and complete the trip blindfolded.


I wasn’t initially going to write a review on Bird Box, or anything about it at all. I’ve watched it last year, enjoyed it for the most part and haven’t really thought much about it after. I think that’s the main thing about Netflix productions: competent but generally forgettable is how most off them go down for me.

But, after seeing how the film’s started trending lately, what with the idiotic online challenge and the record setting numbers, I’d feel remiss not to throw a few words at this one.

“Writing on a popular film while it’s still popular and somewhat relevant? Aren’t we the little attention whore?”

Yes. Yes, I am. Moving on.

Bird Box, based on a 2014 novel written by Josh Malerman and directed by Susanne Bier, is an interesting little experiment and exercise in tension building. It’s a failure at that, if you’re asking, but no less interesting for it.

Continue reading Bird Box

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Total run time: 117 min

Year: 2018

Genre: Comic-book-adaptation-done-right, Animation, Love-letter-to-Spidey-fans


Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.


In this day and age, after the monumental success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the colossal misfire of the DC Expanded Universe, the surprise hits such as Kick-Ass, and the general meteoric rise of the superhero movie genre…how do you manage to bring out something new and thrilling to rise above the crowd and yell “I AM HERE! WITNESS ME!”?

Well, Sony Pictures Animation seem intent of exploring just that question and, through some wild voodoo of animation and probability, have brought us Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, my favorite film of 2018.

I’ve watched this on the 30th of December 2018 so my opinions on the film aren’t as fresh as I’d like them to be while writing a piece, but the image of it is still bright and perfectly clear in my mind.

 

Let’s take a leap of faith and dive into this one.

Continue reading Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Bumblebee

Total run time: 114 minutes

Year: 2018

Genre: Mistake-Undoer, Franchise-Redeemer, Sci-Fi, Live-Action-Cartoon


On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.


I’ll admit that I’m neither a big fan of the Michael Bay Transformers franchise, nor am I one of its avid detractors. I’ve enjoyed the first one  for the spectacle on my then brand new HD TV, and Optimus Prime riding a giant mechanical T-Rex  is still a scene that makes my inner 10 year old go “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” really really obnoxiously. I never got around to watching the last film since I, like most of the movie going audiences, am sick to death of King Arthur in cinemas.

So yeah, the Transformers is a franchise towards which I am almost completely indifferent. I know people like to rag on it for all of its directorial excesses, but it’s never managed to draw that much vitriol or ire out of me as I’ve always treated it as imbecilic CGI spectacle. I grew up on Legend of the Gobots rather than Transformers, so I don’t even have that nostalgia string for the films to tug at.

My expectations for this particular reboot / prequel / spin-off couldn’t have been more subdued while walking into the cinema. It seemed to be trending well with audiences and I’m still waiting for a couple more friends to be available before I head to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, so why not see the latest dumb as nails imbecilic CGI fest? Right?

Well…I got my ticket’s worth and then some.

Continue reading Bumblebee

The Predator

Total run time: 107 min

Year: 2018

Genre: Predator-parody, Sci-Fi, NOT-Horror, Space-dog-training-guide


From the outer reaches of space to the backwoods of southern Georgia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before. And only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.


 

As some of you may know by now, context is a very important element for my reviews. I thoroughly believe that the context of an experience can impact greatly said experience, for better or worse. A bad movie won’t become good by magic regardless of how you experience it, probably, but the experience of it could be colored one shade or another, enough to at least turn a sordid experience into an actually enjoyable one.

So the context here is thus: I’ve watched The Predator together with four other people, on a cramped couch, on Christmas Day simply because rewatching Home Alone seemed like too much of a cliche. The culprit for suggesting this particular flick had already watched it before hand and promised us we’ll be having a fun, stupid movie. In our defense, he’s generally trustworthy so no deceit could be foreseen.

One of those present also happened to be a Predator 1 and 2 old school super fan, so that gave me a nice barometer for how this particular “sequel” stacks up against the old ones. The following hour and a half was spent with five people laughing, commenting, picking apart plot holes and character inconsistencies, and generally making a mockery of this 88 million dollar pile of horse shit. If that isn’t the highest calling for a film to aspire to, then I don’t know what is.

This review is based on this particular viewing and I can’t promise any objectivity here.

I had a blast watching The Predator…but it was for all the wrong reasons.

Continue reading The Predator

Mortal Engines

Total run time: 128 minutes

Year: 2018

Genre: Rule-of-Cool-Logic, Sci-Fi, SteamPunk, Young-Adult-Bumfuckery



Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), emerges as the only one who can stop London — now a giant, predator city on wheels — from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.


I don’t write many movie reviews on this blog. I don’t know if I’ll be much good at this, but Mortal Engines I think is the perfect vehicle – sic! – for me to try my hand at. I thought I would go POP! if I didn’t get to write something, somewhere about this particular movie after coming out of the IMAX tonight.

Hope you’ll enjoy my barely coherent rant.

Continue reading Mortal Engines

Stein’s;Gate

Total run time: 24 episodes x 20 minutes

Year: 2011

Genre: Every-time-travel-cliche-ever, Sci-Fi, Romance, Comedy,  Wholesome-hodge-podge


* Based on a visual novel by 5pb and Nitroplus.

In Akihabara a group of friends have managed to customize their microwave into a device that can send text messages into the past. As they perform different experiments, an organization named SERN who has been doing their own research on time travel tracks them down and now the friends have to find a way to avoid being captured by them.

Note: The first episode received a preview screening in Tokyo on Sunday, March 6, 2011. Participants were chosen through an email lottery held until Monday, February 28. Two other preview screenings were held in Aichi, Nagoya’s Gamers branch on Saturday, March 12 and Osaka, Namba’s Gamers branch on Sunday, March 13. Tickets for those two events were given out to people who pre-ordered and paid either the opening or ending single. The regular television broadcast started on April 6, 2011.


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Yes, you’ve seen this image before

I do NOT like time travel in Sci-Fi.

Well, that’s not entirely true, but close enough.

Time travel is one of those things that exists as a Sci-Fi staple that I don’t really mind, but with which I’d rather not deal in my entertainment. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen something entirely novel or surprising from the tropes that come attached to this concept.

It’s not you, time travel. It’s me. I don’t really want, or even like you. We can still be friends. We’ll do brunch someday. Not today, or this week, but someday. Maybe soon.

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Like a bad breakup that never really happens

Stein’s; Gate is, thankfully, not entirely about time travel. And that’s great.

Continue reading Stein’s;Gate

Stormfront – PROLOGUE

PROLOGUE

THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED


Some of us were there on that day. We still remember it, late at night, when the Ark sleeps and dreams her alien dreams. Like snakes, unheard and unseen, the memories slither into our minds and into our own dreams. We dream dark dreams and remember, because we have no choice but to do so. I can always hear the others in their cots on those nights as they cry themselves back into the lull of sleep.

We were there, on that day when the world ended.

Continue reading Stormfront – PROLOGUE

The way of kings

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: Stormlight Archives #1

Genre: Fantasy

Format: Audiobook

Release year: 2010


Quote: “In the end, I must proclaim that no good can be achieved of false means. For the substance of our existence is not in the achievement, but in the method.” 


From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive begins an incredible new saga of epic proportion.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.


2018, the year where Claudiu read and listened to entirely too much fantasy…and he doesn’t regret it one iota.

I started this year by finishing Brandon Sanderson‘s  initial Mistborn trilogy early in January and was left craving more of his work. It wasn’t up until August, though, that I managed to work up enough courage to dive into this other gigantic series of his. I got somewhat burned on The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss, earlier in the year so I can’t say I was anxious to dive into another million+ words series. But my curiosity got the better of me when faced with the need for something long to listen to for a few nights on end, and I ended up diving into the 45 hour long audiobook.

AND IT WAS A BLAST!

Continue reading The way of kings

Mobile Suit Gundam F91

Total run time: 120 minutes

Year: 1991

Genre: Mecha, Space Politics Simulator, Kirito-sama prototype simulator


To build Cosmo Babylonia, a space nation ruled by aristocrats, Crossbone Vanguard, the private army of Rohah’s, attacks Space Colony Frontier Side. When his peaceful homeland is destroyed, high school student Seabrook Arno pilots the latest model of Gundam, the Gundam F-91, and joins the resistance.


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I DO NOT miss the old Zaku designs

I feel that I may end up copying most of my Megazone 23 review into this one without actually meaning to. That is all at once amusing, puzzling, and terribly worrying as I feel that I’m stuck in a loop of sucky anime that consistently fail to hit their mark. Mobile Suit Gundam F91 is just the latest production that had my hopes up in the first 20 minutes, only to spend the rest of its run time thoroughly chastising me for ever daring to hope for some quality entertainment.

To be fair, I’m not a big Gundam fan on the whole. I like the franchise well enough and I even have some particular shows out of it that I hold dear. 08th Ms Team is one of my favorite mecha anime of all time, Gundam Seed Destiny is an interesting political experiment and Gundam Wing is, in my opinion, a curly, steaming, log of dog shit. Yeah, I like the franchise well enough as it is, which is, in retrospect, not a whole lot.

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GOAL!

Be that as it may, though, I’m always up to giving some of the Gundam entries a fair chance of entertaining and/or impressing me.

How does that work out? Let’s see.

Continue reading Mobile Suit Gundam F91

Megazone 23

Megazone 23 – 1985 – Total run time: 80 min

Megazone 23 Part II: Himitsu Kudasai  – 1986 – Total run time: 85 min

Megazone 23 III – 1989 – Total run time: 110 min

Genres: Matrix inspirator, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Dystopia


The world literally unravels for a group of Tokyo teens as they attempt to discover the truth surrounding the death of one of their friends. Everything turns inside out once Yahagi Shougo gets his hands on a top secret power bike and is hunted by the authorities. When Shougo turns to his friends for help, they discover a complex web of dark, political intrigue and shocking government cover-ups.


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Eve has such nice designs throughout

God damn, this review has been brewing in my mind for the past three weeks. No, it won’t be as complex as to require that much thought put into it but it did take me three weeks, due to various circumstances, to get through this three part, four episode long series of OVAs. And finally here I am at the point of delivering my impressions at long, long last…and they’re not all that good.

Megazone 23 is, as stated above, a three part, four episode long OVA sci-fi mecha anime that is, to the best of my knowledge, credited as being one of the very first OVAs launched in Japan. It even managed to garner quite the cult following over there, which spawned Part II and III over the years, and also influenced some heavy hitters in the West – the likes of The Matrix, though it never gets credited, or the the less well known Dark City.

While the whole series is based on the works of one Ishiguro Noboru  and one Aramaki Shinji – click their names and see some impressive lists of accomplishments – every part has been directed and produced by a different team of people. Each part is as distinct as possible from the rest, though they all share, perhaps surprisingly, the very same flaws.

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If an image could scream ’80s BITCHES’…

So then, is Megazone 23 any good?

That…doesn’t really have that simple of an answer. Let’s talk about that.

Continue reading Megazone 23