Movies – Amazing Spider-Man 2

Okay, so I was on my way to the dentist to make my monthly checking, when I noticed they were already playing Amazing Spider-Man 2 here where I live. So I decided to postpone the appointment and watch it, since, after all, I’m a Spider-Man movie fan.

I’ll admit, as much as I hate this aspect of mine, I’m not really, really big with the new Spider-Man trilogy. Ever since they announced it, I’ve been very ambivalent about it, and I didn’t really like it the first time I watched it. I mean, sure, I told my girlfriend I liked it, but I didn’t actually like it. The costume was pretty good, the main actor is on par with Maguire, the effects were pretty cool, the 3D was barely noticeable (she WANTED to watch it on 3D, damn it), but I wasn’t really into it. There were many aspects that I believe were handled better in the Raimi films.

That said, when the second one was announced, and the trailer came out, I was really, really hyped about it. I mean, there was Jamie Foxx as Electro, Paul Giamatti as the Rhino, a new take on the whole Norman/Harry Osborne thing, Gwen and Peter’s relationship, and all that.

And I’ll admit, all those aspects were pretty well done: Foxx nails it as Electro, Giamatti’s unforgivably-brief appearance steals the show, DeHaan makes a perfect Harry for the kind of take they’re doing here, Emma Stone is hot as usual, and Garfield is great as Spidey as usual.

But there was something in the movie, mostly in the latter parts, that didn’t really seem to mix with the rest of the awesomeness of it. Especially after a certain scene in the latter parts of the movie. That said, though it’s pretty enjoyable overall, and even if the new Spider-Man movies aren’t of your liking, or you just hated the first one, I recommend this for at least a once-a-time viewing in theaters.

 

Just don’t watch it in 3D. 3D a shit.

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Movies – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first half (so to speak) was building up to The Avengers, all the way: from Iron Man’s ending to Selvigg working for S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of Thor, everything was built up for this, establishing even the most minor elements that would appear in the 2012 epic.

However, in my perspective, it was actually building up to this particular movie instead.

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Now, a sequel for Captain America: The First Avenger was highly anticipated since the release of the aforementioned movie in 2011. I myself was pretty excited to know it would take place in modern times and not be some silly side-story set in World War II or something (yeah, yeah, I don’t read a lot of comics, sue me; I just fap to the girls’ pin ups).

Either way, I was pretty hyped for The Winter Soldier when it was announced, and even moreso when I knew more helicarriers were appearing, Falcon was appearing, we were getting more of delicious Johansson in that delicious, skin-tight black suit of hers, and of course, the Captain in modern times, with modern weapons, and all that jazz.

But the movie completely, much more better than I would have ever imagined. It was complex, it was thick, and the action was amazingly done, with great, live action fights and great use of CGI. Captain kicks all kinds of ass, as usual, and his adaptation to the real world is pretty amusing and nice to see; his friendship with Falcon is also a highlight of the movie, and although it doesn’t spend an entire hour exploring it, it handles in the most proper way possible, making it a believable and cool friendship; Scarlett Johansson was cool when fighting the bad guys, and hot, as usual – and the same goes for Maria Hill at that; and Samuel L. Jackson is a badass, again, as usual.

Although it isn’t brooding and “depressing” like the Nolan Batman movies, it does share their sense of complexity, and, when you look at it and think about it, it is a dark movie in the end, and what boosts this aspect of the movie is that it is not done in such an obvious, “in-your-face” kind of way like in Nolan’s Batman films. It also makes you go out of the theater, and think about what happened, all the consequences of what happened, and speculate what will come afterwards (especially after those after-credit scenes).

This movie kicked all kinds of ass, and I personally find it to be better than The Avengers, due to all the reasons I mentioned above. The Avengers is awesome, but when it comes to overall nature, The Winter Soldier is a superior film.

Have you seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier? What did you think about it?

Anime Nostalgia – Prefectural Earth Defense Force

Parodies are something that can go right or wrong in any medium, especially animation. However, one of the strengths of animation is that, like in writing, you can go wild with the animation because one isn’t limited by a thing called “reality”.

Animators all around the world inject parody to varying degrees in their work: whether it be call-backs to popular or recognizable things, or entire works that are dedicated to this, they do it. Cartoon Network originals, Bugs Bunny, even Disney, are filled with this.

The Japanese animation industry (a.k.a. anime industry) is filled with this too; the medium is actually very notorious of making countless references and call-backs to things of world pop culture -from locally, but well-known-in-Japan anime series to worldwide phenomena like Star Wars and Aliens, nothing is safe from being parodied in anime.

One of the most critically-acclaimed parodies in Japan was a manga series called Prefectural Earth Defense Force, which was released in 1983 and ran for two years, for four volumes. It was a success, as it contained delicious art, delicious girls, well-illustrated action and genuinely-funny comedy. It also happened to parody a very popular special effects series called Ultra Seven, which made it even more accessible to audiences in Japan.

Back in 1986 (which seems to be a year of release of many popular and famour OVAs and films like Gall Force), an anime studio called Gallop made an OVA based on the manga. Although it is a one-shot OVA, it is by far one of the finest gems of its time and place of origin.

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The OVA starts off with a bangin’ opening sequence…I don’t feel like describing. Just watch it.

Excellent shading, great animation, catchy theme. It seems like it’s gonna be a typical, fun sci fi action movie.

Well, it is in the “typical” where one is wrong.

It is not “typical” as there are no aliens, monsters, or any other typical enemy to confront. Rather, the elements are, in the end, much more mundane and down to Earth. The “bad guys” are just stooges, whose only aspect of “normalcy” is them wanting to rule the world, but that’s about it. Seeing them in the OVA makes you wonder if they’ll be actually able to do so.

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The heroes themselves, while completely into their own parts, are really just kids playing around. And no, the robot is just for show. It does have, however: cyborgs, super-powers, cute and sexy girls, and a ballin’ soundtrack. It also has Shuichi Ikeda (Char Aznable, Brian J. Mason, Kessler) voicing the main bad guy, and is by far the best performance in the entire OVA.ImageNow, Ikeda is one of the most famous, most profilic and best respected voice actors in the anime industry, right up there with Norio Wakamoto…no, actually, quite higher than Wakamoto, due to his role of Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Gundam. Pretty much every single role he does, whether major (Ulrich Kessler) or minor (Brian J. Mason), he nails them. He can play the gentleman or the ruthless, cold, calculating bastard. And something he excels at as well is comedy, one of the best, if not the, best example being his role as the captain of the alien ship in Project A-Ko, another highly popular product (in this case, a theatrical film) of the same year as Prefectural Earth Defense Force. Ikeda’s performance is charming and it is clear the actor is completely enjoying himself.

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The only thing I can think of that is somewhat similar to this is the movie Help! with the Beatles. While watching it, I was reminded of it. I cannot explain why, mainly because Help! didn’t have any cyborgs, although thinking about it, the tone of both this OVA and the Beatles movie seems quite similar.

This OVA was, sadly, only released in the west until the mid-2000s, by A.D. Vision during its last years of existence. The DVD is pretty hard to find online, but it might be out there on the shelves of video stores. Either way, I recommend it. It is one of the true gems of its time.

Have you seen Prefectural Earth Defense Force? What do you think about it? Love it, hate it, indifferent at it?

Comment below, let me know.

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Random Rambling – Alien 3 impressions

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Everyone who is a fan of the Alien movie series/franchise knows the story behind the troublesome -you could even call it “chaotic”- production behind Alien 3: all the scripts that were forwarded and rejected, the issue the H.R. Giger, typical executive meddling, the cocktease trailer, and the enormously -perhaps one could say, even “excessive”- expectations for it.

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Then there’s the reception for it: it didn’t perform like how Fox wanted in the states, only did decently in other parts of the world, and people involved in the previous movies felt that the film didn’t do justice to whatever was established before; Cameron was pissed at them killing certain characters in their certain ways of death, Biehn was also pissed at them using their likeness, and got quite some money out of this as a result. People weren’t as loving with it as they were with Alien, let alone Aliens, which was ingrained in pop culture with Hudson’s quotes and Vasquez and Apone’s Sergeant attitude – to the point that Hudson is used in image macros whenever someone wants to express despair, and geocities was full of shrines to even the most minor of characters like Crowe (remember Crowe?).

It reached a point when the director, David Fincher (Se7en) disowned the film because of how pissed he was at it, and most of all, the whole production process of it: the pressure to make a movie “worthy” of the previous two, the producers cancelling many of his creative decisions, shooting without a solid, finished script, and myriad of other things. Understandably, Fincher treats it how Cameron treats his flying Piranhas movie, perhaps even harsher.

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As for me? I wasn’t old enough back when it was released. Hell, I must’ve been five or six when it came out. I had watched the first two films with my cousin (who would introduce me to pretty much everything I love today), in one those beautiful LaserDiscs. You know, the big, enormous, discs encased in some of the most beautiful packages ever? The ones that people now scorn at and sell for cheap on EBay?

So I was familiar enough with the franchise by the time I watched Alien 3 on television for the first time, many, many years later. By that time, I had browsed message boards and web pages where Alien 3 was (usually) talked shit at. Sure, you had the fans of it, who loved it, but they were usually silent. I for one wasn’t impressed with the movie, but looking back, I was heavily influenced by my online peers’ opinions.

Then the Quadrilogy set came out, and I bought it, and I watched the so-called Assembly Cut.

I loved it.

 

All the stuff that was added made one hell of a great film. But I never bothered re-checking the original cut. Not until recently, when I decided to marathon the films, just for fun.

And I must admit, the original cut of Alien 3 is as solid as the Assembly Cut.

I just watched (a few hours before I finished this post, actually), and I loved it. Every second of it. Well, except for that part when Ripley shouts “No!” in the final parts of the film, and the dated CG effects. But everything else -music, production design, acting, setting- was not only interesting, but it was well-enough executed to make one hell of an entertaining movie.

Although there’s no denying the Assembly Cut is vastly superior to the original cut, I’d say the original cut is fairly capable of being considered comparable to the other first two films. Sure, I’d argue that it’s not as scary as the first one, or as exciting as the second one. But this third entry in the series is its own thing, and has its own, unique qualities that make it a truly great film.

So overall, I recommend Alien 3 for anyone who is a newcomer to the franchise, or has never actually watched it. And the Assembly Cut? I give it an even bigger recommendation. In fact, I recommend you watch both versions. It’s really cool to compare them, see where the Assembly Cut improves on things.

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So have you seen Alien 3? What do you think about it? Hate it, love it? Indifferent? Are you David Fincher and want to finally express your uncensored feelings towards it? Comment below, let me know.