Shinsekai Yori (2012-2013)

Well this is my first anime review so it should be interesting. It took me way too long to finish this 25 episode series. I don’t like using the term binge watch, so I’ll just say I watch things in small chunks unless it’s really short or really good. The first half of this show was the latter. I liked the mystery and the art style which reminded me of Ghost Hound, one of the first anime I watched. It had this nostalgic feeling for me, but nostalgia does not make a good show! There were really interesting episodes with a good story behind it, but it got VERY heavy into terminology and history half way through. I am just awful at remembering names, places, terms etc. which is made worse by the chunk watching. This is not a show to watch lightly because it’s very easy to get lost and when that happens it becomes really hard to enjoy. Another thing that I thought was both good and bad is the fact that a lot of characters just disappear. I love that they have the guts to just remove characters from the story and not introduce some Deus Ex Machina so that no one will be sad. If you’re gonna go for it, really go for it! On the other hand… I was sad. Not only did some characters I liked disappear, but I don’t think I’m a huge fan of the wide time span of the show. It starts off with the characters as younger children then keeps jumping forward in time. I found it hard to really connect with a character to keep me invested in watching it.

I guess I did the complaints first, so now for the positives. I’ve been following new anime for years and this show really does stand out. It looks beautiful and the story is really fleshed out. There is no bimbo character with huge boobs, as is the trend among many anime, and there are no girls with inhumanly high pitched voices to irritate my ear drums. This was a more… mature show, which I really liked, and I rarely if ever felt my intelligence being insulted. If you don’t mind putting in a little work for this one, I think it will be worth the watch. It’s ranked 97th right now on MAL and for good reason. If my ability to retain terminology was higher I’m sure this would have gotten an 8/10 because I really enjoyed the first half.

Verdict: 7/10

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Before I saw this movie I had thought that 2001 was supposed to be a year; I now realize it’s how many minutes of my life I feel I wasted watching this. You heard me! This movie just went on forever and I think I had the cut version which was 22 minutes shorter than it could’ve been. Woah ok, gotta hold on for a minute while I go over the positives. The music was classic. The opening song is iconic and so is that other song they play when the monkey throws that bone up in the air. The HAL 9000 is another iconic image and idea that has been reused and spoofed in tons of shows and movies. The space effects were amazing for its time. The weightlessness looked as good as what you’d see in modern movies. The space setting was really… spacey too. Yeah, I’ll give some respect to those elements for sure, this movie was ahead of its time.

Now here we go. The copy of the movie I had started off with 1 and a half minutes of black screen. Then it’s… 20 minutes of monkeys doing monkey things. Finally that’s over and I really did think that the movie was going to pick up and be awesome like I was expecting, but nope… just people talking. Everything was extremely extremely slow. There are scenes of objects floating in space that can last for 5 minutes and a psychadelic LSD trip that last for 10 minutes. I haven’t been this bored in a movie since I watched A Man For All Seasons. I will also point out that I haven’t been so bored since I watched Barry Lyndon, which is another Kubric film. I really truly wanted to like this movie but I can’t stand it. It’s supposed to be “artsy and deep” but this is still film and something needs to keep the audience’s attention. I find it extremely difficult to believe that anyone watched the spacecrafts connecting for 5 minutes and thought how amazing it is. There is no reason for it to be so damn long. I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of many art movies but I’m not an action junkie or a transformers baby… I’m quite capable of understanding and appreciating deep ideas in film. This movie just took it too far. At some points I could have been staring at a photograph and got the same effect as what I was seeing on screen because nothing moved or happened. I’m going to stop it here and say that I can understand why this movie was rated so highly. It tried to accomplish something that hadn’t been attempted before and push the limits of film, but the final product was nothing more than a polished, high production snoozefest.

Verditc: 6/10

The Thing (1982)

A weird thing happened when I watch The Thing… I actually enjoyed myself. Talk about a smart, cool, horror thriller mystery film. I’m sure it’s possible that I missed a big “WTF?!” moment, but the characters acted like real people. “Holy shit, what is that? Get the flamethrower and burn it… BURN IT!!!” Then the head dislodged from the guy’s body and tried to crawl away, and I’m thinking “Oh no, guys turn around right now!” and they did! They turned around, saw the head and burned it like no severed head has ever been burned before. They didn’t have to rely on that cheap trick where a part of the alien gets away and we kinda forget about it for a bit, then it comes back later to screw everyone in the movie. Instead that part was just a cool scene that showed us it’s one crazy alien that needs to be extra killed, and added an extra element to the story. I’m also going to applaud the writers because I had no idea who was turned and who wasn’t throughout the whole movie… this concept totally messes with your head. Aside from the great screenplay, this movie has incredibly amazing effects. It’s all puppets and makeup and WOW is it good. Even 30 years later it still looks believable. I can’t even imagine how they did some of the transformations because it’s so intricate. A movie just feels better to watch when everything is physically there and not CG.

Well I guess I need to come up with some complaints. Let’s see… I lost interest near the end when they discovered the spacecraft thing. I think I just enjoyed the mystery and suspense of them figuring out what was going on and who was turned, rather than the conclusion.  But the most obvious problem with this movie, and I think everyone would agree with me on this is that they shot a dog. They shot a dog! Not only did they shoot a dog, they axed a dog in the neck. I do not approve of dog killing, especially when they’re awesome huskies. That was almost enough for me to drop this a point but I let it slide… this time.

Verdict: 9/10

Rear Window (1954)

Let’s go back to a simpler time, a time when entertainment comes in the form of watching your neighbours through your window… your rear window. Compared to some of the other movies I’ve seen from the pre-60s era this was pretty surprising. The subject matter isn’t tip-toed around, they fully talk about dismembering a body, burying the parts and cleaning up the bloody mess. Not only was it cool they could go so far but it was a woman saying it. One of the reasons I liked this movie is the fact that Jeff was confined to his wheelchair and was pretty helpless, while the women got to do all the dirty work. Was pretty funny seeing Lisa and Stella climbing up to the garden and Lisa climbing up the fire escape to the window. Woo girl power! Grace Kelly was picture perfect with her hair and makeup, and her character, Lisa, was really deep. She wasn’t just the money obsessed socialite we were led to believe from the beginning. She became as obsessed as Jeff about the crime, and seemed to have fun trying to solve the case and messing with Thorwald. The dialogue felt so real, and it actually made me chuckle a few times. Maybe I’m a simple minded fool but for most of the movie I wasn’t totally sure if Thorwald actually did it or not. I had a hard time predicting how the movie would end which I love more than an ice cold pop on a hot summers day.

Now for the complaints I have! When Jeff is getting manhandled out the window, the neighbours coming out of their building to see gets all sped up. It looks really really bad and in the middle of the climax of the movie it kinda of jolts you out of the moment. There is a possibility that it was just my copy, but from what I can gather this was actually intended. The flashbulb trick was kind of funny too. After the first one or two, if it were me, I would’ve maybe covered my eyes? That part went on a little too long. This next complaint I have is complicated, on the one hand it is really cool that the only sounds comes from inside the movie (people talking, people playing music in the next building etc.). On the other hand, why can Jeff hear everything so clearly? He could hear the conversation in the music guys house as though it was happening in his own apartment. But at the same time he can’t hear Thorwald’s conversation on the phone. How very convenient. Also… killing a dog? You sick son of a bitch! Why didn’t you dig up whatever it was and let the dog live?! What, is he going to tell people there was something there? Killing the dog brought MORE attention to that spot because Jeff and the gang went digging there anyways. Come on! Whew, ok… got that out of my system. This movie starts off really slow and at times I might have been inclined to be bored. However, the last half of the film is superb and made me feel some sort of emotions.

Verdict: 8/10

Forrest Gump (1994)

Momma always said, “Why haven’t you watched Forrest Gump yet?” My answer to that was always, it’s my life I watch what I want when I want! So 20 years after its release I answered that question with “Fine I’ll watch your precious Forrest Gump.” I have mixed feelings about this one. See the thing is that right now it’s 14th on IMDbs Top 250. so clearly it must be a good movie and for the most part I agree. At the time it was made, inserting Forrest into all those iconic video clips was pretty impressive. I thought it was neat that they showed the passage of time through music and current events at the time and the people coming and going on the bench listening to his story was a cool idea too. Overall it was just really well made and thought out. I watched that bad boy on VHS and unlike the tape I watched it on, this really stands the test of time. I will say though, I’m not American and wasn’t alive in the 60s and 70s, so some of the events I didn’t really know and 30 years from now people might watch it and not get it either. BUT! I don’t think that will matter a whole lot cause the core message and the story of his life were more important.

The one thing that really bothered me about this movie though is Jenny. I’m gonna just say it, she was a bitch and she didn’t deserve Forrest. She used him when she needed him and pushed him away when she felt better. *spoiler alert?* If she didn’t have “a virus” she probably would never have called him, told him he had a son, and married him at all. You can argue that she followed his running across America thing so she still loved him all the time but that’s garbage. If she wasn’t sick would she have called him then? I don’t think so! I could go in to more about how ridiculous a lot of the situations were, but that’s the point of the movie so I won’t go there. This is an iconic movie with some funny parts, some sad parts, and a cute little Haley Joel Osment. I giggled like a school girl when he was getting on the bus, so short and cute… like some kind of shrunken human. Honorable mentions goes to the guy with the ridiculous smile on his face and the crazy eyes! You’ll know who I mean if you ever see him, so watch out on your next viewing. Now I suppose Momma will always say “Why haven’t you watched 2001: A Space Odyssey yet?”

Verdict: 8/10

The Dark Knight (2008)

Well I’m about 6 years late to the party on this one, but I finally got around to finishing the Dark Knight. At the time of writing this it sits at #4 on IMDBs Top 250 list and I think it is well deserved. I liked the fact that it started where Batman Begins left off. Makes it feel like a real sequel. It’s pretty tough trying to review a movie that had few flaws in it; the acting and casting was amazing, the script and story flowed really well and felt like it happened as it was supposed to–the writers didn’t have an “Oh Shit” moment where they pulled the ending out of their ass and smeared it on the page. Heath Ledger was perfect as the Joker… I love how he kept telling people different stories about how he got his scars and that mouth thing he does when he talks *claps*. Christian Bale is too good as Batman, he really has the sexy millionaire vigilante thing down. Even the voice… cause realistically if he used his normal voice everyone on the street would be like “Hey Bruce, how’s it going man?” He had no choice!

Now I wouldn’t really be me if I didn’t point out a few things. Thing one, Joker busts out of the bank in a school bus and everyone on the street is just casually walking by like nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Thing two, this is supposed to be realistic like what if Batman were alive in this modern world… why did two face keep his singed jacket on? Maybe you could argue it’s just his costume, but meh, I would go get some new clothes if half my face was burnt off. Thing three… no, I got nothing else. Great movie, great batman, great job on Two Face’ face!

Verdict: 9/10

Contracted

I needed a movie to watch for the night so I decided to browse through Netflix, the Canadian Edition. I see Contracted and think to myself, “Hey, why not?” Well, if I could go back in time to my previous self, I would say watch it anyways but be prepared. The movie starts off promising with some pretty decent cinematography, but you quickly realize what you’ve gotten yourself into. The acting, dialogue and just a basic human reaction to events are mindblowingly bad. The premise of the film is that this woman “contracts”(get it? the title is Contracted and she contracts something, pure gold) some sort of virus/disease/STD from a random guy she meets at a party. Every one this woman comes in contact with from that point on proceeds to tell her she looks awful. Maybe she just has a cold? Quite possible, because I know whenever I get a cold I vomit blood, have weird blue veins everywhere, my eyes turn red and I get disgusting black sores around my mouth… vagina maggots optional. Yup, just your everyday run of the mill cold!

There is little to no background given on any of the characters, most of the characters are just awful people, the story is never fully explained, and it constantly jumps from scene to scene without any real point to it. Or, I don’t know, maybe a certain character will say that he really likes another certain character and then later on we’ll find out that all he really wanted to do was get in her pants. “I really like you enough to stalk you at parties and work, but not enough to look at your face before having sex together for the first time.”  The saddest part of this movie is the fact that Fat Neil is in it. Come on, man, you can do better than this!

Verdict: 3/10