Cowboy Bebop series (1998) and movie (2001) review

The bounty hunters, who are gathering in the spaceship “BEBOP”, will play freely without fear of risky things. They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called… COWBOY BEBOP

Series Rating: 5 / 5
Film Rating: 3.5 / 5

 

Cowboy Bebop. Probably the first major anime I introduced myself to when I was younger, outside of Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Yu Hakusho anyway (didn’t see much of the latter). One of those series I found myself coming back to on a couple of occasions, including recently. I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered. Well, it wasn’t. It was better.

Despite its episodic structure, in the sense that each episode is sort of stand-alone, there is an overarching theme to the whole thing. It’s all about the weight of the past, and the ways it affects the present. Every episode has that aspect of it to some extent. Whether it’s a character’s past mistake or broken relationship, a misdeed done by a government or corporate agency, old vs. new technology, or even a callback to a past cultural influence such as the western cowboys, Japanese samurai, or the Jazz/Blues music of the 70s exploitation era. It all affects one or more of the major characters in each episode in some way.

Each episode tackles this central theme in a different way, while also building upon the central protagonists who are in (almost) every episode themselves, or the galaxy they inhabit. This is a setting where mankind has acquired the technology to colonize a few planets in the solar system, thanks to jump gate technology (which itself had at least one catastrophic event with its development, which has affected individuals in certain episodes), and the development of various forms of spacecraft, small and large (including one ship design giving it the look of a tommy gun), capable of entering and exiting planet atmospheres and flying in space. And aside from ship technology, it is also possible to change one’s identity if one has enough cash (woolongs). Some episodes show a man going from skinny to fat, from a white guy to a black guy, a man to a woman, etc. Primarily with the intention to evade authorities and bounty hunters (the latter of which exist because there isn’t enough of a police presence on a solar system scale to track down all criminals).

Just as the criminals can’t outrun apprehension from the hunters or the authorities forever, neither can the protagonists, or anyone for that matter, outrun their past forever. The past only serves to chain us down until it is confronted and resolved. Yet one may find themselves in a position where resolving the past is impossible, or so one could think. There are multiple ways to resolve the weight of the past, each way leading to a different outcome. After all, the criminal could always just turn themselves in, an option that was presented in at least one of the episodes (though they never seem to take that option). It’s more about figuring out a way to let oneself be reconciled with their own past. Otherwise, being so hooked up on the past, you’ll be unable to appreciate what you have in the present. And if you stay hooked up on the past long enough, the stuff in the present you could’ve appreciated may be gone, just like the past.

And incredibly enough, this is a mature series. And by mature, I don’t mean in regards to the violent content or the sexual content or the nudity (the latter of which is only present very briefly in one episode). I mean mature in the themes themselves. Past weight and consequences aside, have you noticed a trend in most anime films that are out there? The same kind of trend that occurs in most films over the past few decades? This series is not one about “the coming of age,” or, “realizing/fulfilling one’s destiny,” or, “overcoming impossible odds through comradery and personal discovery,” the latter of which is something I tire of seeing, because it’s fucking everywhere, in virtually everything that is classified as an action/fantasy/adventure film. It’s about adults, who are likely past their prime, trying to rediscover a meaning in their life, to try and make a living in their self-employed conditions and harsh lifestyle. Adults who have no more life-lessons to be learned. Because normally, a situation like that acts as the motivation for the protagonist to do any of the previous traditional film/series arcs. We need more series and films with mature content like this, without any quest or destiny to be fulfilled. We need films and shows that teach us to be mature in their own way.

But anyway, funnily enough, the first episode I ever saw of this series is the same episode a few people I’ve become acquainted with coincidentally first saw. Heavy Metal Queen. And yes, it’s still one of my favorites, with this space trucker chick who blasts heavy metal music, plus that awesome sequence where Spike Spiegal is attempting to hop from one ship to another, by ejecting himself into space without a suit. My other favorites include Mushroom Samba (the “Edward” episode that’s also all about 70s blacksploitation, and a bit of Django), Gateway Shuffle, and Wild Horses. That being said, all the episodes are great.

As for the characters, the major characters are all solid. Spike and his Bruce-Lee inspired martial arts and philosophy, Jet being his stubborn hard-ass self, Fey being dangerous seductive manipulative and somewhat self-destructive, Ein just for being there, and Edward. Edward completely steals the show from everyone else, for two reasons. One, she is so wacky and unique and fun. Two, the English voice actress for her is unbelievably great. We’re talking greatest dub for one of the greatest animated characters of all time great. On-par with Mark Hamill’s dub of the Joker.

There’s a reason this is considered not only one of the best gateway anime series to watch, but also one of the greatest of all time. Accessible and deep, and ages like fine wine.  Some episodes are hilarious, others great solid action/drama/noir/thriller entertainment, others pack an emotional gut-punch.  It doesn’t answer every question raised or hinted at, and that’s perfectly fine, because it’s good to leave people wondering about some of these things, to have some mystery about the past, and how some characters will turn out in the end. And unlike most anime, it’s also refreshing to see one that has a definitive end.  With it’s mismatch of different genres and episode structures, and managed to pull things together in such a perfect concoction, it’s a true lightning in a bottle series.

 

 

 

And then there’s the movie Knocking on Heaven’s Door.

It does a bit of development on Spike’s character, but it’s not really anything any true fan didn’t already pick up on from the series. But it does have those bitchin’ insta-noodles, and the callback to the battle on Titan (and no, this has nothing to do with that series Attack on Titan, though I’ll eventually get around to watching the latest season of that), with another dimension to it. Another example of how fucked up things were in that war. The show and the movie never does enough to show/tell all with what happened there, and that’s a good thing. All you need to know was that it was hell, and there were some weird biological/chemical/nano experiments utilized on some of the soldiers in some of the battles. It’s more of a background thing among a bunch of other background elements in both the movie and the series. It has enough subtle world-building moments to compare to the series.

I want to like the movie more than I currently do. It’s a decent enough stand-alone (fitting in with the episodic nature of the series). Not the best entry, maybe not the worst (though the worst is better than most anime can approach). But it is a real slow burn at times, especially during the first half. The filmmakers really wanted to indulge in having that extra time they wished they had to pad things out, going from a 25 minute episode, to a 90 minute movie. It’s just that you can really feel the slow crawl at times.

Thankfully, the film kicks into high gear at two separate points, from Fey chasing the hacker arcade guy, and leading to the fight on the subway; then the breaking out of jail all the way to the finale. It made getting through the slow portions worth it. That’s not to say the slow portions were entirely bad, they had some decent moments too. Like Edward and Ein going trick or treating (this movie should be watched annually for Halloween!).

There are two aspects of this film that make it truly memorable. First, the fights between Spike and Vincent, especially during the finale. It’s some of the best martial arts sequences ever put to animation, and I challenge anyone to find grounded fight sequences in any animated film that does it better than this (CG does not count, and fuck anyone who tries to pull that shit; you won’t find any grounded fights that use CG anyway; sorry if that’s coming off as harsh, I’m boozed up for this review [not while I was watching the movie]).

Second, the sequence where Spike is flying his ship and dodging the military aircraft. Holy God. That whole bit is a masterpiece in animation. You can feel the weight, you can feel the change in gravity and momentum. They put so much effort into making these aircraft seem real that it’s insane. This sequence doesn’t get anywhere near enough of the appreciation it deserves, especially for a non-CG animation sequence. I’m sure there are other anime films/shows that have reached the level of this sequence, if not surpassed it. But it’s more than a pleasant surprise to see something like that in this movie. I also appreciate that it doesn’t dumb down the military aircraft/pilots just to have the protagonist have a chance. They use some intelligent maneuvering, and it’s never anything really over-the-top.

And that’s one of the things I appreciate about this anime flick. Just because it’s an anime (let alone an animation) doesn’t mean they have to go full bonkers with it by doing stuff that defies the laws of physics and couldn’t possible be done in a live-action film. They keep it grounded, which makes it all the more investing for someone like me. Plus there aren’t enough solid R rated animated flicks out there, especially ones that don’t do R-rated stuff just for the sake of having an R-rating, or for the sake of being exploitative, and really cartoonish. That’s not to say I don’t get enjoyment out of animated flicks that do just that (Dead Leaves, Heavy Metal, Golgo 13: The Professional, Redline), it’s just refreshing to see one that makes an extra effort to stay in grounded territory when it comes to the action.

So I’d say that extra half star is partly for appreciation of what the film contains compared to other animated flicks out there, and also partly just for being a Cowboy Bebop flick, with the same director, and same voice actors. The film didn’t do a disservice to the show, but I can’t say it’s outstanding in it’s own right. It’s just there, as a stand-alone extended episode. And that’s perfectly fine.

I do have to admit though. Considering this was originally released in Japan September 1, 2001, 10 days prior to 9/11, and it has a Middle Easter character responsible for developing a bio-weapon (and the vaccine for it), terrorist bombing killing hundreds of civilians, plus brief imagery of the twin towers, it got a bit eerie. It makes some of the more subtle themes and background stories somewhat relevant, though you have to pay attention to catch it.

 

 

 

PS: Just to get ahead of the curve, fuck you Netflix for fucking this up.

 

Amazons (1986) drunk review

I guess I’m not done doing these types of reviews.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever, unless my liver gets fucked up somehow.

I’m in the mood for some 80s sword and sorcery flicks.  But not the ones that are in the top 5 that hold the highest standard for the rest.  Those would be Conan: The Barbarian, The Beastmaster, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Deathstalker, and Red Sonja (I honestly haven’t seen that last one; I tried once, but couldn’t get into it).  No, not those ones.  I’m talking about the more lower tier flicks, that look like they have a backyard budget and are always shot on location, in a forest.  And the only thing they really have going for them aside from the genre are the hot chicks willing to show their skin.

I have seen a couple of these that actually aren’t half bad.  But most of them are pretty fucking terrible.  Let’s see where this one falls.

If nothing else, the 80s sure knew how to make some great posters that were too good for the films they represented.  I miss those.

 

Not sure how I feel about the soundtrack so far.  Sounded bad at first, then it got a bit better the longer it went.  Foreshadowing of this film being a mixed bag?

Executive producer Roger Corman.  Whoah boy, we’re in for it now.

I swear, I didn’t mess with the editing at all.

Weird editing choices with the women warriors practicing their staff swinging.  “Huh!  Hyah!  He!  Hye!”  I swear, some of the shouting gets cut-off mid-shout.  Almost sounds like what you would hear playing a 16-bit videogame.  They should’ve made a sword and sorcery side-scroll beat-em-up done in thee same vane as Streets of Rage.  Oh wait, they did, Golden Axe.  Well, I want an all-female scantily clad version damnit!

There’s an evil king named King Kaloomba?  What the fuck?  Well in that case, I wanna know where King Koopa is!  I mean, I could be mishearing this, maybe it’s King Kalunga or something, not that it doesn’t sound any less ridiculous.

The lighting hand effects.  I gotta make a meme-gif out of that.

Phahah!  The sounds they make during this battle scene!  I swear, some guys are yelling, “Get out of here!” to the enemy.

I love how these women try to act badass, yet some falling rocks make them react like an elephant seeing a mouse.  It’s actually kind of adorable.

The soldiers talking to their king after they got beaten up by the Amazons, “[The Amazon women] fought like demons!”  Heheh.

And yeah yeah yeah, the typical, “There is no mercy for failure” speech.

Ok, as much as I like some of the cheesiness, I’m not really getting into this movie.  I don’t give a shit about the plot, I’m not spending enough time with any of the characters to give a shit about any of them.

Are those guys who look like women, or are they women without tits?  They’re hot either way.

Hah!  How they are so casual with how they practice with their spears (or whatever you call those weapons).  As in not putting much effort into it.

Oh yeah, and just like that they know where to look for this long lost sword no one’s been able to find.  Because of some vague vision that doesn’t give any details.  Whatever.

Maybe his name is Kolungo.  I don’t know, their pronunciation of his fucking name seems to change every time they say it.  Goddamnit, now I’m too curious about the name.  What the fuck does IMDB say about its spelling?

According to IMDB, it’s spelled Kalungo.  I don’t know if it’s the booze or that most people in this film don’t know how to pronounce the fucking name.  Then again, it’s not like they knew how to be consistent with pronunciation during that time period.  It’s not like they had dictionaries, or the Internet, let alone books.  Well ok, maybe the did have books, but fuck if they knew how to read them.

Hah!  A white female James Earl Jones!

white female james earl jones

They stare at each other like they’re about to have an arm wrestling competition.  “You want me to do what?”  “Kill her!”  Fuck that!  I wanna see these chicks arm wrestle each other!

Ohhh, I see.  This one blonde chick (amongst all the other blonde chicks who look so similar I have a hard time telling them apart; and that’s probably the first time I’ve ever said that about a group of people who were white) has a fake metal hand, or something.  Apparently they were so advanced about replacing sliced off hands back then, that they could muster some finger movement while they were worn.

“I raised you as a tool Tashi.  An instrument of vengeance.  I never loved your father.  And I never meant to love you.  But I do.  Are you my daughter or aren’t you?”

Well, that’s a nice inspiring family speech.  18 minutes in and we finally get some character development and some protagonists (kind of) to get attached to.  Plus some motives about wanting to kill a woman who is a part of their tribe for vengeance.  Not sure why she didn’t try this at an earlier time, especially considering it sounds like this mother has been holding this grudge since before her daughter was born (it makes less sense the more I think about it)… You know what, fuck it.  I’m supposed to be drunk enough to not think about this shit.  Hang on, I need to chug a few more shots.

Ok, back to the movie.  Horses.

“It’s time to ride, not talk.”

Oh how I would love that to be a line used in a sexual way.  “Stop talking, start riding me!”  Or, “Stop talking and let me mount and ride you!  Maybe not in that order!”

Huh.  Interesting plot twist that I might care more about if I knew this character (or her daughter) better.  The mother being in league with the evil King Doodoopudu or whatever the fuck his name is.

Whoah!  What the fuck was with the lion montage?  And with lion masks that looked fucking weird on these people?  That came out of the blue.

Oh wait, no it didn’t.  It was supposed to show the lion in his room turning into a human female.  Who is naked.  Alright!  Our first nude scene of the Sword & Sorcery flick!  How long until there’s more?

Jesus Christ!  Apparently the two lead actresses were so jealous of lion lady’s good looks that they decide to not only bare their breasts and asses int he next scene, but to swim in the water too.  Phahahah!  Are they condensing the mandatory female nudity requirement at this point in the movie?  It’s shameless enough to seem so.

And they fight the pervs who were looking in on them and trying to pierce them with their swords.  Oh shit, but the men best them, and strip them, and try to rape them.  And then lion lady saves them, in lion form.  On top of that, we get what will probably be the best moment in the movie when a topless chick kicks the shit out of a perv and kills him (I think, based on that hilarious groan sound he makes).

Why the fuck are these villains so keen on having these protagonists get the sword that can kill them?  Am I the only one who thinks this is fucking ridiculous?  Ah whatever, titties.

Hah!  Ok, this has gotta be it.  The most hilarious part of the movie.  When she’s wrestling with this snake, and overacting in how it’s strangling her.  Pretending that this isn’t a friendly domesticated snake.

Whoop, more tits to show.  And it seems more pointless than last time, and that shouldn’t be possible.

What the fuck!?  What the hell is up with this movie?  Every time some girl flashes her tits there’s pervs in the bushes waiting to ambush them, and then do exactly that?  You’re not supposed to be representing people like me who are watching this movie, let alone showing them getting their asses kicked!

“I will only let someone stand by my side who is strong.  Like you.  And who will let me fondle her tits.”

I made that last sentence up, but seriously, that’s exactly what he does when he says that.  You know, I seriously misjudged this movie.  For the first 20 minutes, I thought the women were going to dress only slightly scantily, and remain that way throughout the rest of the film.  I only thought that because I’ve seen films like that.  I don’t know, maybe I’m too used to seeing modern shit films that frown upon this sort of thing.  Glad to have misjudged this.

Speaking of which, now we get a sex scene.  And not just any kind of sex scene, oh no.  This has got to be the most unique sex scene in the history of film-making.  The main villain antagonists are the ones who have sex with each other.  And we see it in all its softcore porn glory.  Seriously, when the fuck has that ever happened?  When have we ever gotten a movie where we see the villains go at it.  Never!  You know why?  Because it makes me want to root for the antagonists!  You know what that means?  If the protagonists get into a hardcore lesbian sex scene where they scissor each other and moan.  Then again, Roger Corman may have a thing against lesbians.  I doubt it though, considering that weird shower/sparkle/massage scene in Forbidden World (1982).

Alright, after seeing this slave prison cell caravan thing with a topless chick in it, I’m convinced this film is going overboard with the nudity.  Yes, it took me this long to realize this.

Ok, how far am I into this 76 minute movie?  Only 38 minutes?!  Fuck me, I need to ease up on the comments.

Forbidden World

Alright, now I’m getting bored with the tits.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this movie needs to ease up.

Fuck these guys!  I don’t care who they are, or what their reasons.  When they indiscriminately start sacrificing hot topless chicks by knifing them, they become permanent villains in my eyes.  Someone kill these fuckers!

Whoop de doo, a rescue from people who sacrifice hot chicks to a tree.

“With the sword I can conquer even the Where-Ways.”  Yeah, you can conquer wherever.

Hey, 3 minutes have passed without nudity being show.  Guess things are getting interesting again.

If this horse turns into a man, I swear to God, I’m going to start watching spaghetti western flicks again.

The sword of Azandaddy.  Who’s you’re daddy?  Azan is your daddy.

“Three will enter, one will leave.”

Fuck you, and your Mad Max wannabe rip-off dialogue!

I’m bored.  Can we get a lesbian sex scene yet?  Preferably one that involved more than just kissing?

These two women are so desperate to find a sword.  I take it back, we don’t need a lesbian sex scene.  We need one or two guys capable of pleasuring both these women.

“Hell?  Hell will be my greatest conquest.  Then I’ll be in Heaven.”

Ok, I have to admit, that’s a badass line.

You know, a crossing across the rope over a cliff scene isn’t all that tense when you keep showing the river below them.  Because, you know, in 80s flicks like these, water seems to break their fall just fine regardless of height.  You want to give us tension, make it a pit full of spikes or snakes or rapists or something.

The third who will enter is a literal lioness.  At this point, I’d be up for that kind of beastiality.

Friendship.  Didn’t see that coming.  Give me a hug.

What the flying fuck!?  This lioness chick can throw a knife to kill a bitch and then instantly transfer back into a lion before the body hits the floor?  And start a woman vs. lioness wrestling match?

I’m convinced the lioness should’ve kicked this chick’s ass.

No tits being shown over a span of 10 minutes.  It’s like there’s a bell curve with this flick in terms of nudity.  Appropriate.

Morons.  They should’ve been charging the palace/fortress/set/whatever the fuck it’s supposed to be during the first sorcerer lighting bit.

Where-ways again. Or We’re-Ways.  “It’s the only way.”  Balgor, folklore, butt-whore, whatever.

Flashing white light.  We gonna get a dance floor scene?  No?  Then fuck off with that shit.

Hah!   Ghost attack!

I fucking hate getting the fucking hiccups when I’m fucking drunk!  Or at anytime regardless of my state!  Fuck hiccups!

Did she just fucking kill that guy by hitting him with the hilt of her sword while he was behind her on horseback?  That’s stupid.

“You cannot defeat me!  I have the power!” 

Fuck you.  He-Man has the power!

She shouts, “Where are you!?”, and then a horse sticks its ass into the frame.  There’s a joke in there somewhere.

This final fight between the Amazon chick and the evil King Koopahka is kinda lame. Until they resort to this very weird edit trick that’s beyond words of describing.  I would’ve preferred they just sped up everything, but whatever.

I swear, I didn’t mess with the editing at all, again.

And the protagonist decided to try overacting.

I’d like to know about the guy with the mustache.

“Someone is killing my tree!”

Can’t say I’ve heard that line before.

Ok, this final final fight scene is also kinda lame.

What the fuck!?  PHAHAHAHAHAH!  Oh my God!  That’s got to be one of the most hilarious death scenes in my life.  The bitch villain accidentally kills herself by chopping down a tree which then falls onto her.  You can’t make this shit up.

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????!?!!?!!?????????????!!!!!!!!!!?????

This bitch that died in the cave came back to life?  Alright, fuck this movie and the assholes who decided to give it a happy ending.  Especially when they did that without having the decency to give us a lesbian sex scene.  You know what?  Just because of that shit, I’ve decided how I’m going to score this movie.

Rated: 1 / 5

Fuck this movie and it’s contrived happy ending.  I don’t care how much tit service it decided to give, among all the other so-bad-it’s-good shit.  That ending pissed me off!

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John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019) review

If you want peace, prepare for war.

Rated: 4 / 5

So I’m sitting in the theater, and watching all the trailer for the upcoming films this year.  And I felt nothing.  Felt no anger at all the PC feminist SJW NPC moments in practically all upcoming films.  I’m burned out from being angry.  I’m just bored with it all.  I’m just waiting for it to end.  And if it doesn’t end, that’s fine by me, ’cause I’ll just find something else to do.  Like trying to find employment somewhere where I’m not going to get circle-jerked everywhere between cities and states.  Or maybe even try writing a fucking fantasy book again.  Dare I try making a video again?  Not today with the latter (just to squish any of your hopes).

Before you all get up in arms and put a contract out on me, you should be warned that spoilers will follow.

Honestly, there are only two films coming out this year that I have any semblance of interest in seeing.  One is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but each new trailer I see of that movie crushes my hopes a little more.  It looks like it’s pushing the same bullshit diversity message that I’m sick of seeing, to the point where it’s going to knock the enjoyment factor down a couple notches (these talentless hacks have spread far and wide enough to fuck up Star Wars and Game of Thrones, I should’ve figured Godzilla would be next on the chopping block; next sequel will probably have him kill some white nationalists and some albino monster or something).  The other is Joker.  After all, life isn’t a tragedy.  It’s a comedy.  Sometimes I just have to look back at everything and laugh.

John Wick hasn’t succumbed enough to those attacks yet, but I’m sure some pushback is building from this successful franchise.  To make my case, consider what happened near the end of John Wick 2.  He kicked Ruby Rose’s mute ass so hard, she got pissed at him and men in general.  Pissed enough to regain the gift of speech, start trashing on men, get hooked up with a black lesbian lover, and steal Batman’s persona (along with a black butler pretending to be related to Alfred), dress up as Batman while calling herself Batm’am, try acting more “handsome” masculine and manly (penis envy), and start kicking dude’s asses while trash-talking men in the process.  John Wick is sending some serious shockwaves (as Atomic Blonde will attest).  But that’s one of the main themes this film is carrying: consequences.  He’s not the only one feeling them.

I was expecting this film to be the conclusion to the franchise.  Up until this point, I’ve been hearing, “trilogy,” and some talk of how the 2nd film ended on a cliffhanger because the writers didn’t think they could condense the story they had in mind into a single film.  Well apparently, that story didn’t involve wrapping things up in a satisfying manner.  So, yeah, this film ends wide open for a sequel.  Not quite as cliffhanger-heavy as the 2nd film, but definitely not as conclusive as the first.

Women say men are bad because they’re dogs, yet women love dogs.  Have a biscuit you bad boys!

That disappointed me a tad, but that was simply due to my expectations (I don’t have much of a problem with those kinds of expectations being subverted; you listening Rian Johnson and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, you fucking hacks!).  But I got over it quickly, because this film is expectedly awesome.  I’d even go so far as to say that it’s the best John Wick film to date.  The first film was an unexpected solid surprise introducing us to gun-judo-fu (it was Equilibrium that introduced us to actual gun-fu, John Wick just threw in the judo aspect, and ultimately does it all better than Equilibrium).  The 2nd film was a solid follow-up, but the gun-fu started to get monotonous.  This film mixes things up with a pleasant mixture of gun-fu, judo, martial arts fights, various non-gun weapons, motorcycles, horses, dogs, and iron chefs.  Seriously, Keanu Reeves actually fight Mark Dacascos, and that is something I never thought I would ever want to see, let alone ever think it would happen.  But it does happen, and it’s fun as fuck.  And Dacascos is practically winking at the audience at various points in the movie letting them know he also thinks it’s fun as fuck.  That would probably be the best martial arts and blade fight in the film if not for the fight that precedes it, where Reeves goes against those two guys from The Raid films (it’s not Iko Uwais).  Goddamn if I wasn’t having a fun fucking time with this thing!  I recommend this highly over Triple Threat (what a disappointment that ended up being; it wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t “great,” and any self-respecting martial arts film with the cast that film had needed to be “great” at the very least).

I won’t spoil all the action stuff that’s in this film, but I will say the only moment where the action felt like it was dragging too much was this sequence where Reeves and Berry and the dogs were going on a killing spree.  That sequence lasted too long.  Mainly because they wanted to prove Berry was capable of kicking ass in something outside of Catwoman (huh, maybe that’s also why she’s a dog person in this film, plus this joke metaphor acting as a callback to the first film).  Goes on a minute or two longer than it should have.

So I guess my worries about this franchise running out of steam were unfounded.  Plus I was pleasantly surprised to gain insight into John Wick’s origins at one point in this film.  Seems like each film manages to not only build upon the lore, opening up this assassin world even more, but also showing more about John Wick himself.

Still, as far as action sequences are concerned, I am starting to get a tad bit irritated at seeing these faceless bad guys running into the open and becoming easy targets, hesitating a bit too long during some of the close-quarters-combat sequences, etc.  You know, the kinds of irritations we’re not supposed to have when watching any shoot-em-up and martial arts flick where one or two protagonists go up against multiple opponents at the same time.

Plus the plot and situations get more fantastical than in the previous film, and that’s saying a lot.  A part of me started to hope it would get ridiculous enough to where the Iron Chef’s cat would face off against John Wick’s dog.  Honestly, wouldn’t that be great?  Maybe in the next Dog Wick parody they come up with (please oh please make a sequel to that, I’m begging you; come on, people loved it enough to where they included it as a special feature of the blu-ray release of the 2nd film).  Considering how the 2nd film ended along the lines of, “Everyone is an assassin,” at that point my level of disbelief went to, “This does not take place in the same dimension we’re living in.”  You either go along with it or you don’t.

Go see it.  It’s likely the best action film we’re going to get all year.

Shazam! (2019) and Venom (2018) review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people […] ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.  I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards.  I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice.  And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone […] who showed the slightest mercy to it in others.  There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.  And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.  […]  Pride leads to every other vice

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

First of all, I’m going to say that if it wasn’t for Venom, I wouldn’t have even given Shazam (not including the exclamation point symbol) a chance.  And I’ll get to that later.

Other than that, I was also encouraged to see this movie by other reviewers like appabend who said this was the best DC movie yet (post-Nolan Batman trilogy).  This film was getting several positive reviews.  I have to say, I was skeptical, especially after seeing the trailer without even cracking a smirk.  However, considering I’ve been misled by trailers in the past which made a film look mediocre when it ended up being more than that (the main example that comes to mind is How to Train Your Dragon), and since another film managed to get my hopes up regarding superhero flicks (at least those outside of Disney+Marvel), I decided to give it a shot.

Well, the opening act certainly managed to get me interested.  We see a kid, who is somewhat mistreated by his father and older brother, be rejected due to his inability to resist temptation when it comes to power.  And he understandably throws a bit of a fit over this (he is just a little kid after all), and this inadvertently leads to an accident that cripples his father (who didn’t think much of him in the first place).  It was a great emotionally investing moment, making me interested in seeing what would happen to the kid next.

Video Exclusive Sneak Peak Shazam Rilis – Dafunda.com

Turns out that the film pulled a fast one on me.  This kid wouldn’t be the lead protagonist.  Rather, it’s the next less interesting incident involving a little kid; and this would end up being our lead protagonist.  A kid who wants to find his mother after losing track of her at a fairground.  And that ends up being his motivation for most of the film, to try and find his mother after losing track of her at a fairground, not once getting some common sense knocked into his head over those years that she just didn’t want him.  Maybe she got dissuaded from aborting him after seeing Unplanned or something.  Seriously, I was more interested in the first kid, wondering what was happening with him during this time.  But, of course, it ends up being the kid with the more bland backstory (by comparison anyway) who winds up becoming the Shazam superhero.

Despite that, the film still managed to hold my interest.  With the new foster home and parents filled with foster kids which exist purely to mark off “diversity” on the “How to Make an Inclusive PC Movie” checklist.  The rise of the supervillain played by that one British actor who plays a villain in everything except Kingsman (Mark Strong).  The discovering of the superpowers, what he’s capable of, how to use them, “great power great responsibility,” etc.  It was all done well enough albeit not spectacularly.

The film was fine up until the finale.  With the big epic fight.  There’s an awful lot of running around and pussying out until the last moment.  Even when the action does get going, it all goes on for far too long.  I was getting bored and just waiting for this damn thing to end.  The film-makers just don’t realize that, unless you’re doing an extended action finale with practical effects in a live action movie, or at least have some great martial artists doing something along the lines of The Raid 2, or Ip Man, it’s just not going to be all that interesting.  That is, unless the action/fight sequences serve as a way to further the plot and characters.  And in all fairness, the finale does do that; and it does take place conveniently at a carnival to thematically fit in with the kid losing his mother (ie family) at the carnival in the past, and discovers a new family at a similar place in the present.  But the finale is still largely just filler special effects (like, at least 60% of the time, and that’s being generous).  It needed some serious trimming.

Like how the kid on the left could trim a few pounds.

It could’ve worked too.  They could’ve made that finale interesting.  The potential there was so obvious I’m convinced they opted to drop it for the sake of throwing in some anti-Santa Clause jokes (probably because they didn’t want this movie associated with Christmas in the same way Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are; which is fine by me, because both those movies are better-made than this).  There are these monsters that represent the 7 deadly sins (wrath, gluttony, envy, greed, lust, sloth, and pride [arguably the deadliest of all]).  Why weren’t these 7 given time to showcase their distinct personalities?  I don’t mean they needed character development or anything.  We didn’t necessarily need to know their backstory or where they come from.  But it would’ve been nice if they were more than just CG monsters running around trying to kill people.  There’s nothing about them that makes them live up to their names.  We don’t ever see Gluttony tempting the fat kid with a donut or something.  We don’t ever see Lust turn into some hot chick and try to seduce one of them like a pedophile (the sex of the kid doesn’t matter, even girls these days want to get laid by hot chicks); or at least offer to get one of the kids to grow a pair of tits (chubby kid and the 17 year old college-bound girl don’t count, they both already have titties).  We don’t see Wrath offer the superhero nerd power to impose his wrath on those who bullied him.  We don’t see Greed offer wealth to any of these poor kids who could always use some spare change to purchase a couple material items.  Hell, we don’t even have Sloth offer the protagonist sleeping pills or something.  As for Pride, Jesus Christ, that one should be so fucking easy it’s not even worth giving an example (my review is better than yours; now humiliate yourself!).  The best we get is the protagonist using Envy’s weakness to his advantage for one moment, and that’s about it.

Utilizing those characteristics could’ve easily justified a lengthy finale.  But we don’t get that.  Which reminds me, that’s also a problem I ended up having with the main villain.  We don’t see much of an internal struggle within him.  How the temptation from all these vices plays upon his personality and incidents from his past to make him into an evil man with no possibility of redemption.  That arc pretty much ends with him taking care of his family issues permanently, and that’s it.  He’s never haunted by his actions, or presented with the possibility of questioning/mourning his actions by the protagonist(s).  So the last act ends up being weak, because it’s not strong enough on its own without those elements to justify the extra runtime.

 

Kazaam!

As for the theme of the film, it’s more about what one does when they are rejected by their original family, and what they do to settle with a new one.  Family can go beyond bloodlines in some cases.  It’s a decent enough theme, but it would’ve been nice if there was more bluntness with the contrast between the protagonist and the villain to highlight that aspect.  For some more emotional ‘oomph.’  The best extended action sequence in the film is the first encounter between the villain and hero.  Especially because it actually got me to laugh, particularly with the reference to Big.  I was also laughing because of how deadpan Mark Strong’s delivery was this entire time.  Despite how ridiculous all this was, with teddy bears being thrown at him, and running on the piano, he never dropped that dead-serious stare.  I would love to know if he broke down laughing between takes.

All-in-all, the film is worth a watch, I guess.  If you have nothing better to do.  It didn’t work for me mainly due to a weak finale, and a number of minor irritations that built up over time that eventually got to me.  Lost more faith in the possibility of the superhero genre working for me once again.  Though now that I think about it, I was never all that into it to begin with.  Only a few of these films ever worked for me.  Like Captain America: Winter Soldier, a couple of the X-Men films, the 2nd Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, and…

I’m a black man, and this message is A-ok.  Supremacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rated: 3.5 / 5

Hence to say I didn’t see this one in theaters, something I now regret.  I had lost interest in superhero flicks at this point.  The trailer did intrigue me.  But then there was the news that this was going to be an R-rated release, then they chickened out and made it PG-13.  To quote Venom himself, “Pussy.”  So I passed on it.  But then I started hearing some good things about it, along with mixed messages regarding how good or bad it was.  Not enough to get me into the cinemas.  But it eventually made its way onto television.  Plus I have a fellow board gamer who highly recommended it (whose taste in films and shows I question most of the time).  Eventually, I gave in to my curiosity.

Tom Hardy Trailer GIF by Venom Movie

And surprise, this film ended up being pretty damn fun and more entertaining than I was expecting.  Don’t get me wrong, this film isn’t perfect.  It’s got plenty of plot holes in it, with questionable containment issues, the lack of a fallout from law enforcement once everyone went back to a regular life (mostly).  Stuff like that.  But the rest of the film compensated for all that.

We have ourselves an honest-to-God multidimensional character with strengths and faults.  He had a decent job that he loved doing, a good fiance, and enough finances to keep his life stable.  Then he winds up making a dick move and takes classified information behind his fiance’s back, for the sake of getting dirt on this corporate jerk.  Well, the rich corporate jerk hits back, gets him fired, and his fiance leaves him once she learns he went behind her back like that.  A combination of mistakes he made, and of powerful corrupted corporate overlords flexing their muscles.  A real flawed protagonist, who isn’t exactly virtuous, but not a complete wimp either.  Just a regular guy with regular flaws who succumbs to irregular temptations, who has pros and cons to his character.  It was refreshing to see a protagonist who wasn’t a complete wimp who needed superpowers to be somebody (like Captain America, or Kick-Ass).  It was also refreshing to see someone who wasn’t (nor becomes) a Gary Stu or Mary Sue, like Captain Marvel or Rey.

Just that aspect alone made me hold some appreciation for this film (though it does try to pull a climate change and overpopulation message in a half-assed manner).  And once Tom Hardy gets the symbiote transferred to him, he does become considerably stronger, but not unstoppable.  Unlike most of the other superheroes who practically have no weaknesses (or at least none that are easily exploited), this anti-hero actually has a couple.  High-frequency sound waves, and fire.  It’s perfectly possible for mere mortals to take him down if they come with the right resources and a solid game plan.  And these are the types of things I want to see in superhero/super-anti-hero/supervillain flicks.  I don’t want someone who’s unbeatable unless pitted against someone/something else that’s also unbeatable.  I don’t want a film where they can absorb X amount of damage before succumbing to injury/death (where ‘X’ = whatever the fuck the screenwriters decide).  I want guys/gals who are more than capable of facing a legit threat each movie without necessarily tossing in another overpowered alter-ego.

Tom Hardy Sony GIF by Venom Movie

Tom Hardy Fight GIF by Venom Movie

Plus there’s Venom’s attitude.  His dialogue is terrific.  Intentionally laugh-out-loud, and intimidating.  A symbiote that feeds of off the major internal organs of humans (brains, lungs, pancreas, etc.).  How he’ll just spout out something casually in the middle of a conversation like, “Let’s eat his brains.”  I love it!  Moments like that give this film a great comedy element.

Best of all, a clear character arc happens not just with Tom Hardy’s character, but also with the symbiote Venom himself.  Hardy goes from overzealous reporter, to run-down demoralized loser, to terrified man seemingly on the verge of losing his mind, to getting into his powers and gaining a more confident attitude, among other things.  It’s one of those aspects that managed to make this lengthy car chase scene work in the middle of the film.  Normally, I’d bitch about that sequence going for too long.  But there are two elements to it that make the length work, aside from more practical effect work than I was expecting.  1.) To demonstrate some more of the extent of his powers.  2.) Hardy’s character arc that changes from, “Oh my God, I’m going to die!” during the first half of the chase, to “This is awesome!” during the second half.  It fits in with his overall character arc.

Tom Hardy Sony GIF by Venom Movie

I would point out more examples of what I loved about the film, but I’ll save those moments for those who haven’t seen the movie.  But there is another worth pointing out just for the sake of contrast to the Shazam movie.  The final fight.  For starters, it wasn’t as long as that in Shazam.  For another, it also expands upon what the symbiotes are capable of doing, how Venom isn’t the strongest symbiote out there.  But there’s also the bond (metaphorically and literally) that forms between them.  Plus, I have to admit, there’s a moment that looks pretty damn awesome where symbiote is fighting symbiote, and how they all start twisting and mixing together as they clash, while the hosts within are also trading blows with each other.  It’s one of the more unique special effects I’ve seen in a while.

Plus a part of me also loves the idea that this film seems to be taking a jab at that mediocre 2017 film called Life, considering the name of the “evil” corporation is called Life Industries, and the film begins in a manner similar to how Life ended.  Was also a bit surprised to see a Stan Lee cameo in this one (it also tugged at the heartstrings a bit, considering…).

Tom Hardy GIF

All in all, I recommend this film.  It’s the best Superhero flick I’ve seen since Batman v Superman.  Now don’t get me wrong, that movie has problems that are worse than any found in this film (the biggest of which was the huge miscasting choice made to play Lex Luthor).  But at least it is distinct enough to stand out from the other schlock that came out of a conveyor belt, and had decent enough (imperfect) characters with solid motivations.

I’m a white man, and this message is A-ok.  Supremacy!

 

Movie review for April 1st, 2019

Hello, this is BT.  I had the The Anomalous Host taken out in order to stop him from putting up anymore misogynistic cisgendered white nationalist fascist racist deplorable reviews.  To help those of you who follow him get educated so that you know how hurtful and harmful his words are to people like me and those I associate with, I’m going to make the ultimate sacrifice for my sanity and go through this next film he was going to review, which doubtless would’ve caused people like me to kill ourselves (or cause people like him to come out and murder us and our kittens) because of the manner he would’ve contextualized his review.  To avoid that, I’ll bring this film into the appropriate context for this day and age, which has made considerable progress since the patriarchal year of 2010.

 

From Paris With Love (2010)

Not liking this already, with the poster using the gun and the Eiffel Tower as a phallic symbol.

Rated: 0 / 5

chess

Typical men.  They act just like motherfucker Trump when it comes to political matters.  Putting their personal entertainment interests first before the needs of the country, not that it would matter because white rulers are bound to fuck things up either way.  They shouldn’t be playing fucking chess!  And Trump shouldn’t be playing fucking golf either, not unless he intends to swallow golf balls and kill himself and do the world a favor!

trump golf swing

And that quip about the French Senator banging both secretaries at the same time, that’s fucking degrading towards women!  That’s why the muslims are taking over France now, so that shit like this stops so that muslim men will treat women with the respect they deserve!

https://pics.me.me/when-your-fifth-wife-sneeze-in-public-without-permission-angry-5822230.png

At least this film admits that Americans to shady espionage shit overseas, even in countries like France.  That’s probably the only intelligent thing about this film that lacks virtually any sort of intelligence.  America is more guilty of international manipulation than any other country in the world, except for maybe Russia (they were decent when Stalin was around; not so much anymore).  The problem is that it justifies this espionage shit by having stereotypical terrorists and gangsters, portrayed by Chinese, muslims, and women.  That’s disrespectful towards countries that had great leaders like Mao who did more for his people than capitalism ever did.  If anyone is the real terrorists, it’s the white male Americans.  They’re the real drug dealers who like to blow up places.

 

nikita
Luc Besson film reference, about a film allegedly about an empowering female, but she’s really just being used at the whim of men throughout the entire runtime.

While the film will completely destroy this notion later on, it’s nice to see some beta-male with the potential of becoming pro-feminist.  It’s clear by how she “manhandles” him into a chair (forgive me for not coming up with a better term, the patriarchy’s will has permeated through dictionaries through many generations, as also evident by Spike Lee’s Malcolm X indicated with how “black” is often used as a negative metaphor for everything, and never as a good/cool/hip thing; I’m sorry, I’m getting triggered just thinking about this shit) that he’s being setup as a male feminist.  Considering John Travolta’s more feminist roles in films like Hairspray, you would think this is a good sign.  Trust me, it isn’t.

“Whoah, wait a second.  Isn’t it a part of French tradition that the women cooks while the guy watches tv.”

“Well, things have changed since the middle ages, you know?”

Exactly!  Thank you for saying that and putting this toxic masculine dweeb in his place!  It’s also nice to see her go against tradition, and be the one to take charge and ask the man to marry her.

“This motherfucker hates Americans so much even though we saved his country ass in not only 1 world war but 2, he still won’t let me through with my cans.”

It is at this point that this film goes downhill very fast, losing any (small) amount of goodwill it has built up to this point.  John Travolta’s character is so toxic, so masculine, so offensive, so politically incorrect, so repulsive, that he’s a borderline icon to all these other toxic white male nationalist motherfuckers.  Not to mention his full-blown representation of male testosterone with how he’s got no hair on his head, but has it in abundance everywhere below his head.  This film should be banned just because of this despicable white trash character.  He’s just… oh God, this is too triggering for me–

*takes deep meditative breath*

Hang on, I need to calm myself with estrogen pills downed with a soy latte.

https://i2.wp.com/i.ebayimg.com/images/i/161192871325-0-1/s-l1000.jpg

Ok, I’m ready to continue.

I’m not sure I can do this.  Let me just sum up what the rest of the film is basically about up until these two bleach-faced assholes decide to stop killing people for a few minutes and actually try eating a decent meal.  They spend the rest of the film shooting and killing a bunch of Chinese dope dealers, because of course this fucking movie portrays them as such while portraying these despicable Americans as celestials, who have to save the day when the French are portrayed as pansies incapable of defending their own homeland from criminal foreigners.  And even then that’s a lie, because the Chinese guy stated that he’s a 4th generation French guy, who at this point has more in relation with the French than he does the Chinese (even though he works for a Chinese gang in a Chinese restaurant).  Amidst all this, Travolta manages to have sex with a hooker while on the job.  All the while the “authority over the phone” figure is telling the protagonist, “Don’t think.  Just follow his orders.”  It’s shit like this that gives us mindless drones in the army.  Thankfully my liberal arts curriculum allows me to know otherwise, and I’d encourage anyone else who passes high school to get a loan and learn from the same.

bq-5c9e611524783

And that’s just the Chinese.  Granted, they go after (what I presume to be) French terrorists too; but they are also Pakistani.  So yeah, we got Middle Eastern racist stereotypes thrown in for good measure too.  Then there’s little teenage drug dealers, and, as if this wasn’t racist enough, a couple black guys in the drug gang too.  This film practically has it all when it comes to racist stereotypes.  I don’t see how the hell The Anomalous Host can subject himself to shit like this.  It’s no wonder he’s so brainwashed and deplorable.  People like him need help.  They need to be put in therapy, maybe like a re-education camp like the Vietnamese did to those assholes who fought against peaceful Uncle Ho.

And then there’s the whole degradation of women this movie contains.

“If you met Caroline, you’d feel a little different.”

“I’ve had my share of Carolines.”

“She’s no ordinary girl Wax.”

“They never are.”

It pushes this whole “bros over hoes” message that hasn’t been this prevalent since rap music videos during the 90s and early 2000s.  Not to mention it also portrays them to be a bit similar to these toxic male assholes, doing their own form of espionage.  That’s sexist and disrespectful and degrading towards women, especially muslim women.  That’s bullshit!

Racist dirtbags beating up an innocent French Pakistani.

Plus it uses the whole ‘getting high on coke’ thing as an excuse to quadruple the number of fucking f-bombs this film wants to drop.  Like it has some kind of “fuck” quota it’s gotta meet.

bq-5ca24aaf3b7aa

The whole film ends up being about Pakistani’s, who the film labels as terrorists.  The film even goes against anti-stereotype arguments with these lines of dialogue:

“She’s Pakistani you stupid fuck, it doesn’t mean she’s a terrorist!”

And she does end up being a terrorist.  You see, it’s negative portrayals like this that hurt the country of France more than these people ever could.

That is why this film should be banned.  That’s why anyone who watches it should be imprisoned like those who distribute the New Zealand shooting video and the shooter’s manifesto.  That’s why–

bq-5c9f8c52ec4d2

Wait.  You’re still alive?  What the fu–!

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***************************


 

 

 

Next time you try to have me “taken out,” try having your goons hired based on their merits and not on their diversity.

Anyway, sorry about that everyone, I’m back.  Since Bitch Tits here has pretty much ruined the review I had planned for this film, I’ll condense my version of it a bit.

 

 

 

Real rating: 4 / 5

“What type of people did you kill today James?”

“The usual.  Bad guys.”

“Bad guys?  Baddest-assed suicide-vested cold-hearted Pakistani motherfuckers this side of Karachi!”

This movie is ridiculously entertaining.  It’s arguably the last great anti-PC action-comedy that’s been around in the last decade.  It’s got 2 Americans in France killing Chinese drug dealers and muslim terrorists.  Seriously, when’s the last time (if any time) any action film went after those 2 birds with one stone?  When’s the last time any American film (albeit with some French production) had fun at the expense of either one of those?  Just that alone, in hindsight, makes this film worth watching.

https://amzrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Uber_331.jpg

But make no mistake, this film is a dumb film on-par with Michael Bay Transformers level of dumb.  On the other hand, this film is very much self-aware of that fact.  Once John Travolta shows up, it’s impossible not to feel the “give no shits” attitude this film has.  It’s a film that just wants to provide a good dumb fun time, and it succeeds tremendously.  The stereotypes, the effort made in the action sequences (sure there’s plenty of quick cuts, which weren’t all that bad by my standards; but damnit, they used squibs and a lot of non-CG special effects, and that’s more than appreciated in this day and age), the lines of dialogue; like these spoken after Travolta killed a bunch of Chinese guys:

“How many more of them do you think there are?”

“Last census, about a billion.”

How can you not laugh at something like that?  Well, I guess if you’re oversensitive regarding jokes like that, I could see your point.  It’s a shitty point that ruins everyone else’s day, but I see it.

The high point of the film’s ludicrous nature has to be during the car chase.  Travolta glances at his handgun, shakes his head, and says, “This isn’t going to stop him.  Do you have anything better?”  Because of course you couldn’t just shoot the muslim guy through the window, or take out one of the tires.  No, that would be too easy for a finale like this.  So then he gets a giant fucking bazooka that just so happens to be in that vehicle.  At that point, I just had to laugh.  It’s so over-the-top and ridiculous that it’s great.

Highly recommended.

 

 

 

PS: Hopefully that’s the last we will have heard from Bitch Tits.

France

 

Edit (4-15-2019): I’m sorry France. https://www.jihadwatch.org/2019/04/allah-est-grand-muslims-laugh-celebrate-as-blaze-destroys-notre-dame-cathedral-during-holy-week

Ferguson: A Report From Occupied Territory (2015) review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

This review appears to be shadow-banned on letterboxd, so I’m porting it over here.  Originally reviewed October 4, 2016.

 

“For example one teacher said that she felt that Darren Wilson wasn’t wrong, that she felt that he should’ve shot him.”
“And that’s what she said?”
“Yeah.”
“Verbatim?”
“Yeah.”
“What was the first thing y’all said in regards to how she felt?”
“My exact words were, ‘Man did you hear what she just said? She must be crazy.’ Those were my exact words. Like, when she said it, I couldn’t believe it like, i- it all saw makin’ me feel like, makin’ me wanna stay more distant from those teachers. Like, we can’t really relate so, how can you sit there and talk to me, like, I don’t understand.”

“If they catch us, we don’t know what could happen. We could be the next Mike Brown, for real. They wonder why we just take off running. It’s not that we doin’ anything bad, we scared to be around them. If they see young black kids, trouble, that’s what they think right off the bat, trouble.”

“Black folk are seen and thought to be innately criminal. Innately terrifying. More powerful, more strong, beastly. Which is why you can have a recording of Darren Wilson referencing Mike Brown as something other than human, as an ‘it’. And if that perception is guiding our engagements with folk, the biggest problem is not about the use of weapons alone, as in physical weapons, but as in the ideological weapons we need to rage war against.”

So I went in this documentary expecting to get pissed off. At the bias. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned about the Black Lives Matter movement over the past several months, it’s that the cases of police brutality they base the foundations of their cause on are horseshit. Case in point, Michael Brown. It doesn’t take long to debunk the whole, “He was an angel who did no wrong to the officer or to anybody,” theory. A video here, a video there, and you realize that the officer was in fact within his legal and logical rights to shoot that guy. But no matter. Once it made headlines by the biased sack of shit news media that chose to spin the story in the most racially-motivated way possible (as they continue to do to this day), the riots began.

Justice for Brown. Hands up, don’t shoot (a situation that didn’t happen at all, so even that is built upon a lie). So let’s also loot and burn down some buildings while we’re at it. The court house? The police station? No, that’s too dangerous, let’s take out the easy targets.

The riots were bullshit, and anyone who loots stores that had nothing to do with the events are sacks of shit, I don’t care if they’re crackers or niggers.

And of course the documentary didn’t cover any of that. Because the poor suffering black community has to be held in a shining light. It’s bullshit manipulation.

That being said, the documentary did go into a direction of understanding that I wasn’t expecting. Because the black community in Ferguson was (is) poor, the black community in Ferguson was (is) suffering. But it’s not because police are discriminately killing black people left and right because their racist emotions got the better of them. Oh no, it’s more logical than that, though no less anger-inducing. The city of Ferguson (and a portion of the city of St. Louis from what I understand) initially had a housing plan that developed in the 60s. Long story short, it fell through, and the city began doing horribly financially. And what’s the best way to generate income for the city if there is a sector of Missouri that isn’t offering a source of income due to failed businesses and minimum wage housing where the black community lives paycheck to paycheck (how and why the housing plan initially failed is left out of the documentary)? By ticketing the shit out of them. Get police to patrol areas and target low-wage earners for citations and ticketing, at which point they will go to court, where they can’t afford a lawyer, and they will most likely plead guilty to it, and they will be stuck having to pay off the fine, which is anything but cheap for them. Add onto that fact that there are more tickets that citizens living in the city, and you’ve got yourself a very bad state of affairs. But it got the city the money income it was looking for to keep itself going. And to make sure the process got more effective, they would hire more and more police officers.

“You need so many police officers that you start getting to a point where the quality of those police officers I think is being compromised, to say the least.”

This explains perfectly why there is such disdain between the black community and the police force. So why isn’t this in the news more often? Because it targets the higher ups? Top officials? Well if there’s any good that came out of this, it’s that ever since the riots and protests, despite how misdirected they were, something happened as a result of this.

“On March 4 [2015], the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report of the Ferguson Police Department. It confirmed that officers violated constitutional rights by disproportionately targeting African-Americans and exploiting them as sources of revenue.”

As a result, the mayor and the police chief and a few others stepped down from their positions. Now one can only hope that progress will be made. But to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how. What is an honest and legal alternative mean for the city to generate income and not go bankrupt? Is progress being made towards such a goal? I don’t know. I’m not an expert on the subject, and I just don’t know. What I do know is that, if there’s to be protesting, it would go a lot better if they picked their spots and methods for protesting more logically. Such as in front of the court house where they are given their fines to pay, or in front of the police station where the cops are at who hand out these tickets, or at the mayor’s office.

There is an injustice being done in similar towns with similar black communities, but this isn’t a nationwide epidemic as far as racism is concerned. Believe me, if they could pull this off on a white community, or dare I say a mixed community, they would. And they do. Because I’ve lived in and been to such communities. It’s nothing new for the police force to seek out giving tickets to citizens, because that generates their paycheck and is what keeps the courts going and generates revenue for the city. There needs to be a better way than that. This is something to focus on, on a city by city basis. So why can’t something like that be the focus of the media as opposed to this racially/viewership-motivated cherry-picking those fuckers do?

Michael Brown, Black Lives Matter, Hand up Don’t shoot, those are built on lies. The anger built from mistreatment by the police and the city government is not. Can we find some common ground here?

Metropolis (2001)

(I can’t stop loving you.)
I’ve made up my mind, to live in memory of the lonesome times.
(I can’t stop wanting you.)
It’s useless to say. So I’ll just live my life of dreams of yesterday.

— Ray Charles

Rated: 3 / 5

This film has an interesting way with music, and it works. It may not be traditional to play a Ray Charles song the moment when everything is blowing up as is bound to happen in an anime, but it pulls it off. It’s just too bad I didn’t feel the anime was strong enough to match up with the lyrics.

 

It starts out with red lines making intersections among a black screen. A target? Paths crossing? Or just a simple opening credits stylistic choice? Who know? More importantly, it starts black and white, and grainy, before emerging as a bountiful amount of yellow/gold lights, brightening up the dark. The film stays this well lit up until the coup, where the snow starts to fall and the colors become more and more muted, until near the end, encapsulating the film’s arc. As any film art 101 student would know, this indicates that life is good, then it’s not, but then it will get good again. But I find such a conclusion questionable for this film.

The main reason I went and watched Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was to prep myself for this version of it. This movie is not a shot for shot remake in the slightest. In fact, ziggurat and futuristic utopia with underground workers and some Christian metaphors aside, these are very different films. Sure there’s a robot girl created for different purposes among the 2 parties involved, but she behaves differently than in the 1920s Metropolis. The Supreme Being, as she’s called, is the 2 girls made one from the older film, both the demented robotic version, and the good version. She starts out good and innocent, and angelic as bluntly shown at one point, mainly due to her ignorance and lack of knowledge, and hair growing solar powers. But as she goes on and gains more and more knowledge about herself and those around her, she eventually transforms, quite suddenly actually, when some internal part of her (the heart part I believe) activates. Then she becomes an enemy to all of mankind, including Astro Boy.

The theme from the first film is that the mind and the hands need the heart as a mediator. Well, that’s not the theme from this film, though it does put some emphasis on the heart. If I understand correctly, when the heart activates, what’s really going on is that it’s shutting down. She no longer has a heart or emotions, just as her creator eventually desired. The repercussions are disastrous, because a Supreme Being without a heart will reign down destruction. One could say that she learned to be this way because of the violence she’s seen, but really, when you think about it, it just ends up being due to programming, which takes away from the film.

In fact, the finale is when things start to fall apart. Of course they designed the ziggurat to become an uncontrollable time bomb when a robot they had designed for it decides to take control. Of course there aren’t any backup security measures. Of course the tower would start to do things unexpected by the very people who built it. All this wiring and circuitry shit just comes out of the blue because, fuck it, anime’s need a big bombastic over the top finale. Things just happen manically because the script says so from that point, not to mention our two protagonists are the only ones to somehow survive the destruction of the ziggurat.

So, yeah, I found things that I disliked this time around, after haven’t having seen this movie for many years.

Like more films of today, the question and theme is on artificial intelligence. Can a machine think for itself? Can a machine love? Are machines better than humans? You know, all that bullshit, a theme that I’m not a big fan of. It’s not as universal as the themes found in the Fritz Lang original.

All that aside, the animations are largely fantastic, even if some of the CGI meshing doesn’t, you know, mesh all that well or look all that good compared to the 2D style. Many of the camera views aren’t close ups, they are pulled back to give a large view of areas of the city, allowing for a massive amount of detail to be captured in many frames. Close-ups are used sparingly, and largely saved for brief moments. Another difference between this film and the old silent picture is that there are less details shown about how this society functions, technology-wise. I mean, there are the robots, and the robot firemen, robot firehoses, robot garbage collectors, robot detectives, robot everything. As one character states, the machines will replace man and take all their jobs one day (which is a guarantee if the political cocksuckers keep attempting to raise minimum wage to the point where having and maintaining machines is cheaper than having human workers; sorry, tangent).

There are sectors of people who are for machines and their rights, and those who don’t believe machines have any, so they resort to violence against the machines, destroying them (some in the coup, others for security reasons). The film makes sure we are supposed to feel sad when machines are killed off. Killing off a machine that places some animal symbol in a spotlight. Killing off another that is up on some advertisement mannequin. And guess what? No explanation is given as to why those dumbass machines were there in the first place, which makes the film feel manipulative as hell. “Oh the poor machines, why do they have to kill them? Boohoohoo!” You know what, fuck the machines. There are only 3 to care about in the entire movie, who’s reasons for acting in such a way as to be killed off make sense and the context is understandable and more clear. The rest of them can burn in robot hell for all I care.

What makes me sad is that now I can’t enjoy this movie as much as I used to. And there’s plenty to admire about this film. Great animation, decent plot, interesting music, good characters. The first 3/4ths of the film are solid enough before the “the less fucks we give for the sake of the action, the better” finale, except for a few things:

* The mad doctor who created Supreme Being Tima. Not much motivation as to why he’s wants to run away with her, or what his real intentions of creating her are if not for Duke Red. There’s a brief moment when we first see him that gives a potential reason that links back to the original film. He’s glancing at an old picture of Duke Red’s daughter. But that’s all we get. You know, considering that this is a Japanese film, and that the Japanese aren’t know for being subtle when it comes to film, you would think they’d clear that up somehow. But they don’t, so I’m just assuming this is a nod to the mad doctor character from the silent film, and settling for a character with less dimensions to him.

* Some robots that die to make the viewer feel sympathetic about it, when the average viewer probably wouldn’t give a flying monkey shit about them.


So, what could’ve been done better then? Well, the above two points could’ve been easily resolved with more footage and an expansion upon the subjects. But the finale, well, why not link things back to what happened midway through the film? Duke Red creating the ziggurat with the intention not to make the city/nation more grand and beautiful, but also as a way to gain power and threaten the world with the power of the ziggurat, which can shoot lazers at the sun and cause the sun’s radiation (the sun’s rays) to hit the Earth and mess up the robots (not to mention the citizens themselves if the radiation was bad enough). Is it so difficult to have crazy blonde Tima just hijack control of the lazer and threaten to use it to destroy humanity or something? Or just control all the robots in the city and eventually the world (it does that already, but they need more More MORE!)? Build upon what you’ve laid the groundwork for movie! You can’t just pull shit out of the blue for the hell of it. We’ve already got Takashi Miike for that.

The main characters, Kenichi and Tima, their relationship with one another isn’t all that well developed, so when the turning point of the story happens, the emotional impact isn’t as great as is needed (not to mention that Tima’s turn happens a bit too drastically with no hint that it would happen in that way).

This film has some heart to it, but not enough. I rewatched this with the intention of enjoying it again, but I can’t enjoy it like I used to. Unless there’s something I’m missing, or some other way of looking at the film that I haven’t comprehended. Still, all in all, it is a beautiful looking film. The CGI may not mesh perfectly, but it’s the next best thing compared to Memories. Three stars is the best I can give it, and 1/2 of those stars is due to sympathy.

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