This movie may hold its place solidly in British Comedy, but this movie has one of the best final action sequences of all time. As a kid I fantasized after watching The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, etc. about busting in on some thugs and being strapped to the teeth. You know that scene I’m talking about:
I’m one of those guys who can make the auto gun noise with my mouth and dived onto my bed while shooting two finger guns through the air. I love all action movies and guns, swords, and martial arts really get my blood flowing. When you have an homage/spoof/comedy movie like this that lets out the little kid in you who fantasized about riding into town on a horse and lighting up the bad guys, you have come to the right spot.
You may not have come to the right spot if you don’t like a bit of British humor… or at least 2 hours of it. If you’re anticipating the final showdown and you have to wade
The Sandford Police Service.
through two hours of well crafted action jokes and situational comedy, that might kill it for you. Not for me.
So this is another in the Cornetto Trilogy from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, and they just keep getting better. Their next one on the list to end the trilogy is “The World’s End”. Maybe more zombies? Who knows… All I know is that they are fantastic. For the childhood that I had where Star Wars, action films, cartoons, and sci-fi knowledge was a everyday thing, this hits home. Very close to home. And I loved it.
Heaven’s fallen Angel.
Simon Pegg plays Police Officer Nicholas Angel (No. 777, if you didn’t get it already). He is the best on the force in London (he’d rather I say “police service” because it comes off as less aggressive) and is making all the other officers look bad. With the recommendation of all three superiors (Cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy), Nicholas says goodbye to his former GF (played by Cate Blanchett in a white CSI outfit) and heads to Sandford Gloucestershire. (A fictitious name for a police situation town when running drills/scenarios.)
When Nicholas comes to Sanford, he is blown away by the life of the small town chum. The police station sees no action and Sanford is considered the safest town in England. Headed by Constable Frank Butterman (Jim
Broadbent) and his son Danny (Nick Frost), Nicholas stumbles upon a bunch of “accidents” that could be nothing short of murders. Who is he to suspect? And who is he to trust? And finally, who is he gonna shoot up first?
I saw this movie in theaters after falling in love with Shaun of the Dead, I had to see it the first weekend out. I about died laughing every 15 minutes of the movie (usually more often). This movie has a lot more punchlines per minute than Shaun had, but every bit just as good. They watched over 150 action films to get the script to be just right (insert their own British flavor and Bam!). This movie went to great lengths to be successful, and rightly so. It delivered on all movie going levels. Entertainment. To the extreme.
There are a lot of great British actors in this movie as well. Obviously the buddy buddy duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. You’ll never see two other actors onscreen who seem like they’re two best friends doing exactly what they wanna do.
Lunch. Dat. Shit.
They are living their dream making these movies. As I mentioned before, my idol Steve Coogan had a small part beside Martin Freeman (Tim from the Office) and Bill Nighy, the funniest old British man. The Andes as they were referred to, Paddy Considine (you might recognize him as Ross from The Bourne Ultimatum) and that great famous son, Rafe Spall. He lost a lot of weight and did some growing up to play the other Andy in this film, and I loved him.
This movie has the wit and fast cuts you’d expect from an action film. All the guns, action, and cheesy action comedy (combined with some really clever comedic work) make this one of the best comedies of the 2000’s (right beside Shaun). You won’t see comedies this entertaining and perfect come along that often, and also featuring a former James Bond, Timothy Dalton. It looks like a lot of fun was had with this film (with plenty of homages to other films) and it really is a laughable thrill ride with slangin’ guns. Perfection in a barrel. 9.7 out of 10.
Finally, here’s the long awaited post from my Dad for his Father’s Day present. Enjoy!
On the surface, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977, is a story of how three individuals’ lives become intertwined when some possible alien ship encounters are experienced. Roy, an electric company engineer in Indiana, has a growing need to understand if he is crazy or if he has really received a message from the aliens. Jillian, a single mother from the same area of Indiana and her three-year-old son have received the message too and the aliens have apparently taken a particular liking to the little boy. The final character is Frenchman Claude Lacombe who is part of an international team both reaching out to the aliens and investigating the people the aliens have affected.
It would be easy to say I like Close Encounters because it is a Steven Spielberg movie. He both wrote and directed the film, and it was early on in his career when I feel he had a great child-like sense of wonder in his storytelling (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun). I also think he was enjoying his time saying, “I really get a big budget and get paid for having fun?” I could say I like the movie for the gifted John Williams score. I could discuss the symbolism of communication like languages (French, Spanish, Indian, English), physical interaction (radar, toys, sign), and art (music, painting, sculpture) to show that even humans have a hard time so why do we think the aliens could easily get their message across. I could say I like the 70s costumes – which weren’t costumes at the time but who would have put Teri Garr in a short yellow nighty and robe with earthy clogs – brilliant!! And I do think the special effects are good with the alien ships, the clouds, the lighting, the sandstorms, etc. I guess the problem I have is with the aliens. Why are there three different kinds of aliens so vastly different from each other?
My favorite part of the movie is the hero portrayed by the everyman who has been tapped for an adventure – Roy Neary. Despite his obstacles – like his beautifully portrayed dysfunctional family, like everyone thinking he is crazy, like his own belief that he is on the edge of sanity – he faces his fears, does the right thing, and is rewarded in the end. Richard Dreyfuss, who had been acting at this point for over 10 years but hadn’t had a great deal of recognition except for his role of Curt in American Graffiti and Hooper in Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws, is fantastic in this role. He shows anger, wonder, insanity, happiness, and despair. He gets to be in the action sequences – driving in the chase, driving cross country, climbing the mountain; being interrogated by the “bad guys;” saving the girl. He deals with the mundane – his son’s math homework, kids that want to stay up late (watch for a great quote – “I told them they could only watch five commandments), a boss who doesn’t want to talk to him, and a wife who cares for him but can only take so much. And he does it all while trying to figure out his purpose in life. He gets the Oscar nod from me!
So do yourself a favor, when you don’t feel the need for extreme action or extreme thought but want to play with your mashed potatoes, play in the dirt, and watch a great actor having a great time with a great script, get lost in the wonder of Close Encounters. It is better than Goofy Golf or Pinocchio. I give it a 9.9 out of 10!
Alright, I have to tell everyone now that, out of all the genres of anime out there, I am the least fan of magical girl anime. And the prospect of sitting down to watch this anime kind of gave me the willies. The misconceptions on magical girl anime run abound in our society and in Japanese society. Sailor Moon: A bunch of girls transforming without the power to beat the bad guy without the help of Tuxedo Mask. The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network and their original, scarier version of transformation from Powerpuff Girls Z. I mean, come on, those transformations take forever. And the bad guys are a joke. Mojojojo? (I gotta say, Him is the only good bad guy from that series.) But then I was presented a show that completely breaks the stereotype of what exactly defines a magical girl anime, even though it clearly stays in the boundaries… to an extent.
In the town of Mitakihara, there exists a school in which Madoka Kaname, Homura Akemi, and Sayaka Miki, three young middle school students, exist in a world of evil. All around them, evil spirits known as witches cause havoc and chaos in the best way they know how. Murders and suicides. And the only way these beings can be stopped is by the power of the magical girls. And the only way these girls can become magical is through the power of through Kyubey, a creepy cat-like alien that will grant your wish.
Kyubey. Screw that little freak...
And that’s where the twist comes in. After encountering Mami Tomoe, a veteran magical girl who has lived the life of a magical girl, the true weight of just exactly what it means to fight the witches hits them. Sayaka and her love interest clashes with the use of her wish and his disability, and Madoka and her indecision leaves conflict in her wake throughout the show. The ending is slightly confusing, but there is a constant element of danger that is ironically juxtaposed (my least favorite word to use, sorry) against the comically drawn witches of innocence and childish fantasy. It all works out in the end, as expected from a magical girl anime, but not in a way that leaves everyone in a win-win situation. With that breath of fresh air achieved in 12 episodes, an amazing amount of twists and turns are evilly inserted in a short amount of time, really breaking away from what I would consider a bland form of anime into a more interesting one.
You know what caught my eye the most? The animation in relation to the witches. Every time in which the magical girls had to interact with the witches in their world, I was blown away by the different animated styles of the witches. Either crayon colored whimsy or a collage of layered paper, I was intrigued by the clash of anime and art. The fluidity of the two worlds combined was stylistically stimulating.
Some of the more interesting artwork in Madoka Magica.
The pain and anguish behind the show that permeates each episode is something one wouldn’t expect from a livelier, happy form of anime. The choices and decisions of the characters and the secrets they hide from one another leave gaps that none of the characters can cross in order to connect. Not as a
The interesting girls of M.M.
drawback, but more as a connection by separation. Feeling for the characters comes as a challenge for me (especially some of the more fated of characters like Sayaka and and Mami) but one character that stood out with her cruelty and activity was Kyoko Sakura. Although you don’t meet her until later, she’s well worth the wait.
So, all-in-all, Madoka Magica is a quick watch with a lot compiled into its short run. And, in this case, quality over quantity, one of the greatest assets of the anime. With an interesting plot scope and character development (for the most part) with the combination of fate and decision, the magical girl stereotype is effectively squashed. The powers are interesting and the tradeoff is quite good. Never sign the contract, but check this show out. A solid 7.3 out of 10.
This has nothing to do with the show, but it gives you a taste of the anime’s look, with some Suckerpunch 😛