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movie review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

January 1, 2018 Leave a comment

If I could sum up this movie in one word, that would be polarizing. I saw this movie on the debut weekend Friday morning. Surprisingly, the theater room was half vacant for a movie that was highly anticipated. So after viewing it, I thought it was pretty enjoyable and slightly better than Force Awakens. However, the more I think about it, the more criticisms I notice.

Last weekend, I had to see it the 2nd time due to unforeseen events, but this time in Imax 3D. As someone who wears glasses, this was not a good experience. Upon watching it, it was on analysis mode. I have to say that my impressions got worse. Pretty much everything I thought was wrong with this movie has been confirmed. Now I realized that I enjoyed Force Awakens more than Last Jedi.

By the way, spoilers obviously.

Starting off with the obvious problem, the pacing. The scenes with Fin and Rose were so unnecessary that it made the movie felt like 2 hours and 30 min. As much as I like Fin’s character, I think he’s wrongly placed in side mission roles. Every scene where Fin and Rose were searching for that Code Breaker was dragging down the film. Rose setting those weird horse creatures free made no sense logically because they’re going to be captured again when they’re only a couple miles away from the city. Whatever Fin and Rose were trying to accomplish failed and even worse, created terrifying after effect. The most pointless character introduced has got to be that alternative code breaker. Rose comes follows closely since her existence adds nothing productive to the story. When Fin was about to sacrifice himself on the ice planet, that would’ve been quite emotionally impacting, but too bad it was ruined by Rose going in giving a cheesy line. Also, I see a forced chemistry between Fin and Rose. I felt nothing between the two. Some minor complaints I had were the beginning space battles where the slow clunky space bombers were deployed. What happened to the Y wings? Around the 3rd act, the sub admiral lady took way too long to think about a hyperspace ram. Plus the rebellion coup d’etat was such a waste of time. Just tell Poe what the plan is so there won’t be any trouble.

Now for the stuff I liked. All the scenes with Luke and Rey. Luke’s past with Kylo Ren. Yoda making a brief return as a force ghost. Rey teaming up with Kylo during that lightsaber battle scene. It was nice to see the elite guards take action. Luke going out on his own terms looking at the 2 suns making it the best death in the franchise. Luke confronting Kylo near the end there. The hyperspace ram was incredible. The silence after that was pure gold. Liea using the force was nice to see, although I wish the delivery wasn’t cheesy. Kylo Ren’s complexity as a villain remains interesting. Music is still a strong point.

For the next movie installment, there poses a huge issue. Carrie Fisher is dead, but Liea still lives. What are they gonna do? They could probably kill her off off-screen during the movie, or was probably killed in between the two films. But after seeing this movie, my anticipation for the next one is very low.

Rating: 5/10

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anime review: Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower

December 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Here’s are some quick thoughts on the movie I saw last Thursday. (Also for the sake of keeping this blog updated.)

Good:

  • Visuals. Absolutely gorgeous art. The action scenes are very well animated. It’s what you expect from a studio reputable as ufotable. My favorite fights have to be Saber vs Berserker and Lancer vs Assassin. This is probably the best non-Shinkai animated film I’ve seen.
  • Sound effects. This made the scenes so much more immersive. I don’t know who did the sound design, but the action scenes were amplified by the incredible sound effects. This can only be experienced when watching it on the big screen.
  • Darkest route of Fate Stay Night yet. This is right on par with Fate Zero with its dark overtones. The violence however maybe worse here.
  • Quite lengthy for an anime film. Felt like more than 2 hours. This could either be a good or a bad thing depending on the pacing.
  • Next movie preview after the end credits.

 

Bad:

  • Awful pacing in the beginning. The intro spent too much time showing the school life, and that’s from point A to point B which lasted like 30 min. The intro credits come immediately rushing point B to point D within a min which is a detrimental part of the story. During the intro credits, it was a short montage of Shiro getting attacked and summoning his servant not giving the audience enough time to process what happened, recycled footage straight from Unlimited Blade Works. Not cool ufotable, for a quality animation studio like them, this is straight up lazy.
  • Not friendly to viewers who aren’t familiar with the franchise. Because of the weird direction in the beginning, first timers won’t understand the catalyst behind the conflict.
  • Shiro is still annoying and Fuji sensei is as unbearable as ever. Sakura’s constant notion of saying “senpai” throughout gets annoying. Is it that hard to say his name after all those years?
  • Very little of Archer.

 

Thankfully, this movie of Heaven’s Feel route is the first part of the trilogy, otherwise I would totally rip it apart for its abrupt ending. This flick alone is better than the original Fate Stay Night series. So it’s a start.

 

Rating: 7/10

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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.

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

Categories: movies, review

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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