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Best Anime From Summer Season

October 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Made in Abyss

What I expected from this show judging by the promo art came out to be something unexpected. At first, I thought this was gonna be some kiddy fantasy adventure anime. However, as the show gets through half way point, it becomes shockingly disturbing. Honestly, it was really unsettling watching the last few episodes due to some certain scenes which I won’t mention here. The disturbance factor was like an appetizer to Berserk. Aside from that, what drew me in the show was the mystery surrounding the depths of the abyss. The further you go in, the more unexpected dangers you encounter. Our 2 main leads, Riko and Reg, goes on a journey in search of Riko’s missing mom knowing she might be at the bottom of the abyss. No one on the surface has ventured passed the first several layers of the abyss because of the negative effects it will have on the human body. Another mystery is Reg. He’s a half robot half human who doesn’t even know his own origins. Made in Abyss ends with a very good season conclusion, but the overall plot has yet to be concluded. I strongly recommend this show if you’re itching for fantasy adventure. It’ll shock you and emotionally wreck you and leave you wanting more. Will there be a season 2? Who knows. I guess that depends on the reception of the show or the increase sales in the manga.

 

Princess Principal

Now here’s an interesting one where it’s moe steam punk Victorian age spy thriller anime. What I love about Princess Principal is the well written individual episodes and some of the twist & turns in the overall arching story. Most of the episodes aren’t in chronological order, so you’ll have to pay attention to the case# if you’re really bent on that. Basic plot is a group girls doing espionage things such as assassinations and infiltrations. By the way, don’t be fooled by the moe character designs because this show pulls no punches. There are plenty of nicely choreographed action scenes from car chases and sword fights. Music is by Yuki Kajiura who does a fantastic job here. The best episode to me is 6. It reminds me of an Outlaw Star episode where Jim Hawking is unknowingly fighting his love interest but ends up killing her without ever finding out the truth. My biggest complaint here is the rushed final episode. Many plot threads are left hanging, and it’s practically begging for season 2. Unfortunately, nothing is announced. So like Made in Abyss, it depends on the reception. Except in this case, Princess Principal is an anime original.

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Quickie Thoughts: “Spiderman Homecoming” and “Dunkirk”

July 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Spiderman Homecoming – This may have been my most anticipated Marvel flick ever since his appearance in Civil War. The problem was, it was a little overhyped for me. But it was still a good movie nonetheless. This is the one Spiderman movie where he’s completely in character. Smart and a wisecracker. Vulture surprised me. I think Michael Keaton did an amazing job playing the villain and he was quite menacing in certain scenes. The one issue I had was the amount of school that was in it. Sure, I’m not the target demographic, but it bought down the pacing for me. Other than that, I would rank this 2nd best after Toby’s Spiderman 2. Rating: 8/10

Dunkirk – Imagine a gripping intro scene like from the Dark Knight that’s extended to a full length film. That’s the feeling of Dunkirk. So much tension and panic that you can feel it. I was kinda surprised the length of the movie considering Chris Nolan movies tend to be over 2 hours. Hans Zimmer once again shines with his score. It’s almost like he has one continuous track throughout the movie. The movie is quite realistic with its war scenes, no spectacular explosions. So don’t go into this movie expecting your typical war action movie. When it was over, I felt kinda shell shocked because of how immersive it was. Overall, it was a riveting experience. It’s so worth seeing it on the big screen, however it’s not the kind of movie I’ll rewatch. Rating: 8/10

movie review: The Case for Christ

April 16, 2017 Leave a comment

When I first saw the trailer, my immediate thoughts were “oh great, another Christian movie that’ll most likely be awful.” Let’s be honest here, a lot of them are just plain terrible. Only handful of them are good such as Ben-hur, Passion of the Christ, and Hacksaw Ridge. The fact that so many awful Christian movies exist makes the community look bad and embarrassing. I went to a Willow Creek service to see Lee Strobel get interviewed by pastors and said they already saw the movie and thought it was pretty good. Of course that did nothing to change my skepticism because it sounds biased. Lee admits how terrible Christian movies can be but assures this won’t be bad. So I decided to give the movie a chance before immediately writing it off. So how does The Case for Christ stack up? It’s actually quite decent!

I knew of The Case for Christ book for many years since I own a copy of it, but shame on me for not reading it (yet). What really caught my interest was Lee’s desire, as an atheist, to debunk the existence of Christ and the faith. The story starts when his wife became a christian after a friend sharing the gospel with her. This enrages him because this new purpose of life his wife found is taking away her away from him. It’s actually amusing of him to think that she’s cheating on him for Jesus. So there begins a journey of Lee, as a professional journalist, to seek the origins of Jesus trying to find loopholes to prove Christianity wrong that it’s nothing more than a cult. Long story short, he finds enough solid irrefutable evidence that concludes God does exist, Jesus is the real deal, and converts to the Christian faith. There’s a certain theme in this movie that does a fine job depicting truth. When someone looks into a case with presupposition or bias, that prevents them from seeing the whole picture.

Yes, I’m quite surprised the movie was pretty good. Some scenes were well shot especially the cathedral where Lee walks in. The acting was decent throughout. No one annoyed me. The pacing was consistent. Aesthetically, I’m not too sure about this. It takes place in the 1980s so there were some questionable things like the lifestyles during that time. One scene that nearly teared me up was the father and son relationship of Lee and his pops. It’s a very relatable thing for me since I struggle that same issue. What’s interesting is, I never knew that most well known atheist had either abusive fathers or were abandoned by them. This was addressed in the movie by a psychologist Lee meets in the 3rd act of the movie.

As for my criticisms, nothing major but some personal nitpicks. First is how watered down this movie is compared to what Lee’s testimony really was. He described himself as a profane drunkard who would come home and kick a hole in the wall making his wife and kid cry. I guess they really wanted to keep the PG rating in order to make this movie friendly enough to the youngsters. 2nd, I really wish they went into more detail of the evidence that was shown here, but that would run the risk of info dumping making the movie dry and boring. Nonetheless, it went straight to the point. I’ve heard some criticisms about scenes not actually happened in real life, such as Lee’s family in the restaurant incident in the beginning of the movie. Now I haven’t read the book so I have no clue. Whether this was true or not is irrelevant to me because it’s dramatized and the main focus is the investigative journey. For the sake of the script, there had to be a catalyst to get the plot going. There’s not a single movie based on history or biography that’s 100% accurate. If it was, I doubt anyone would had the attention span to sit through the entire thing. Heck, this even includes fictional book movie adaptations.

Other than that, I think this movie is worth the watch at least once, whether you’re a Christian or not. It dwells straight into the apologetics without too much detail. I don’t think it’s that good of a movie to own but it does deserve a recognition for being one of the better Christian movies out there.

Rating: 7/10

 

Here’s a hilarious review from David Wood. Watch it!

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movie review: Ghost in the Shell

April 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Before I give my thoughts, here’s a disclaimer. I went into this movie without any presupposition or expectations. I believe it’s fair to judge a movie by its own merits rather than comparing it to its original source. Because going to see a movie with those preconceived mindset will automatically disappoint viewers. With that out of the way, let’s dive into this.

+Jaw dropping beautiful cyberpunk world
+Cinematography
+Memorable soundtrack
+Shelling sequence
+More personal story of Major
+Mostly well good action scenes
+Great cast especially Scarlett Johanson and the guy who played Batou
+Interesting first antagonist
+Kenji Kawai’s famous track used in the end credits.

-End villain is just another Hollywood typical corporate bad guy
-Psychological theme of human and AI identity ditched after the 2nd act
-Some CG looks prerendered such as the underwater scene with jellyfishes in the background
-A certain action scene that involved super bright flashing stun batons almost gave me a seizure
-Aramaki’s acting wasn’t convincing

So yes, my first impressions came out good overall! I don’t think I’ll go pay to go see it again but I do recommend seeing it. Whether or not you’re a fan of the franchise doesn’t matter. It depends how open minded you are with how this movie turned out. And just throw this out there, I’m an Asian person myself and I have no problems with the casting here especially when the movie’s world is built upon a cyberpunk setting.

Rating: 7/10

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music review: the GazettE – TRACES VOL.2

March 12, 2017 Leave a comment

 

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In this album, we have the band’s best ballad songs compiled here. At first, I thought this was just another cash grab for the band with no changes to the songs whatsoever but I was wrong. Thank goodness.

My first impressions have been pretty decent. Every song here is rerecorded with some added arrangements and lyrics. Also, every song does not fade out except for ITO. Long time fans of the GazettE will appreciate this album because it’s got oldie songs such as Kare Uta, Reila, D.L.N., and Taion. All the songs here are great.

Now for the bad. This could be a hit or miss with the new recorded sound. It sounds very compressed and thick where as the original has a more balanced sound mixing. This may be because I’m used to the way the original sounded but your mileage may vary. While I love the emphasis put into the drums, it sounds artificial here. Come to think of it, this production is quite similar to Dir en grey’s THE UNRAVELING. My favorite GazettE ballad is PLEDGE, and to hear that the song butchered here was quite disappointing. Ruki’s voice no longer has that emotional impact that was in the original. The same result happened when I heard Dir en grey’s rerecorded version of THE FINAL. Guren has these children giggling in the background which is kinda creepy. I really miss the piano standout that was in Reila.

I think of this album as another option or a 2nd chance for those who didn’t like the way the original sounded. Either way, it gave me a good reason to listen to the oldie tracks again. Without a doubt, the new Kare Uta will be on my phone.

Rating: 7/10

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movie review: Hacksaw Ridge

November 20, 2016 Leave a comment

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“Please Lord, help me get one more… help me get one more.”

When I heard that line during the scene where Doss solo rescues the wounded men, I was literally on the verge of tears.

Hacksaw Ridge is probably the best movie I’ve seen this year. It’s also the most intense, graphically violent war film I’ve seen since Saving Private Ryan. When those war scenes hit, they hit hard like a high speed truck that suddenly appears right in your face. But more importantly, it’s a very moving story that’s uplifting and inspirational.

This story was actually based on true events. Desmond Doss did save more than 50 wounded soldiers including the Japanese soldiers left behind in the battlefield of Okinawa. And he was 7th Day Adventist christian who became the first conscientious objector.

The first half of the film focuses on Doss’s civilian life and the persecution he faces during his boot camp training. There’s many happy moments with scenes of Doss and his romantic interest Dorothy. It’s actually quite sweet despite of being hokey at times, but this makes Doss a very likeable character. The 2nd half of the film is where the war comes in. Seeing how convicted Doss throughout in the midst of that brutality was incredible.

Thematically speaking, it’s heavy and multilayered. Desmond wants to serve his country while at the same time follow the commands from the bible. In doing so, he puts his faith as priority over the country’s commands. Which comes to a question, while Desmond certainly glories the Lord from his works, would taking a life of an enemy be glorifying to God considering the circumstances? On top of that, Jesus commands us to love our enemies and forgives those who persecutes us. When Jack Glover told Doss that he believes the book as much as he does, Jack still goes out there to fight the war. It’s a tough question that we Christians have to go through. These are just one of the themes that the movie brings up. Although, this is my first time hearing about 7th Adventist Christians, I don’t see any bible verses about not eating meat or worshiping Saturdays. Sounds like a man made rule from certain divisions. But that’s a discussion for another time.

I came out of the theater absolutely stunned. To say I’m still thinking about this movie after a few days really means something. I actually wouldn’t mind if I went to go see it again! Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but you can’t deny his directing skills. Also, all the actors did a splendid job. Not a single one felt like a miscast. Before people start misunderstanding what this movie is, it’s NOT a christian movie but it’s a movie ABOUT a christian who’s strongly convicted with this way of serving. I highly recommend this film whether or not you’re not into war films.

Rating: 9.5/10

Update: Here’s an interesting facts/movie comparison.

http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/hacksaw-ridge/

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movie review: Doctor Strange

November 13, 2016 Leave a comment

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I knew nothing about Doctor Strange other than knowing it’s a marvel hero.

After seeing this, it’s like a poor man’s Iron Man in terms of formula, except in a breakneck speed without giving us time to properly develop the character. Ever since Civil War, my standards for superhero flicks has risen. It either be on par with Civil War or surpass it. Doctor Strange was as underwhelming and generic as it gets. The plot was nonsensical. Instead of wasting time training Strange, why not have that bald old hag use the men she already has in her dojo? In typical marvel fashion, their villains are weak as their motivations. I can’t even remember their names. The visual effects are the best thing about this movie. It’s like I’m watching Inception on steroids. Of course let’s not forget the acting, Benedict Cumberbatch (I can’t spell his name) fits right in with the character. It’s decently entertaining film, but ultimately forgettable.

Rating: 5/10

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