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The Adventures of Tintin: The Best

Awwww yeahhhh...

Just to let everyone know, I’m about to rave about how good this movie is. I’m already gonna give this a 10 out of 10, no worries. I’m gonna give this best animated film of 2011. As if there was any competition. I’ve been reading Tintin graphic novels since I was a wee lad. This stuff, pardon my French, is my shizz. I love Tintin and his trusty wire fox terrier, Snowy. Captain Haddock is hilarious with his alliterative swear words. The mysteries are fun and engaging for all ages. And this movie EPITOMIZES everything that was good about the comics. I can’t think of a single book/comic/graphic novel that completely translates a movie from the work that you loved. (If you can refute this statement, post one. You can’t, but you can try.)

From the amazing minds of Steven Spielburg and Peter Jackson, the story of the ace journalist/detective Tintin comes

Tintin and Haddock, on the adventure.

straight from the first comic. The meeting of Haddock. Flawless. I felt I was re-reading the first graphic novel. Page for page. In 107 minutes, I was taken into a world I could completely believe in. A world I wished I existed in since I was 9. Now this has been a ridiculously good year for Spielburg. He directed The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse. One is a heartwarming story about a horse getting Oscar buzz, the other is an amazing story about the greatest hero of all time, and it was judge by its earnings in America. Come on, are you serious? Let’s see… Oh my, it made a measly $10 million domestically. It floundered here in the U.S. Hmmmm… $270 in foreign box offices? It just looks to me as if people abroad (where Tintin originated) appreciate it far more than those here who lack a bit of ecclesiastical appreciation. I’m not blaming anyone, it just goes to show we need to publish and distribute more Tintin comics here.

How great does that look? Bell and Serkis, experiencing innovation.

Back to Spielburg. (Sorry Peter.) Along with these great directing jobs, Spielburg executively produced 4 T.V. shows (one of those being Terra Nova, getting some buzz there, the other big one, Falling Skies) and a series of big blockbuster movies. Those being Cowboys and Aliens (need to see), Transformers 3 (eh… no), Real Steel (big no), and Super 8 (HELL YES). Toss in War Horse and Tintin and you got a sextuple threat right there. I’d call that a year of bank. But I guess that’s not to try to detract from Peter Jackson’s contribution. Jackson has The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey two parter to look forward to releasing. That’s gonna do just as well as the LOTR series for shizzle.

What other names can I boast about related to this movie? Well, there’s John Williams on the orchestra chops. Check out about every single Spielburg/Lucas movie and you’ll find J. Williams name tagged on there. Anybody who can cinematically sweep me off my feet with a recognizable build, that’s gold right there. AND THE VOICE ACTORS. That’s just think about that for a second. Voice actors. I know they’re acclaimed actors, but they use their voices to bring this movie together. And a bunch of great names to talk about in relation to their characters.

There are no words for how incredible this is.

Jamie Bell as Tintin. Right there. That’s a big name with some great roles attached to it. The boy of Billy Elliot among other great English roles this guy has taken? Fantastic. I used to do my own English accent in my mind to pretend I was Tintin, but now Jamie Bell’s voice will forever signify and epitomize who Tintin is. Andy Serkis and Captain Haddock. PHENOMENAL. I’ve never known an actor who can throw out a cacophony of voices and make them all sound legitimate. His drunken Scottich drawl is just exactly what Haddock ordered. His buffoonery and hijinks really carry the story along, as Tintin and his levelheadedness truly get them out of some sticky situations. Here, get this. Daniel Craig AS THE BAD GUY. Who saw that coming? Playing the nefarious Sakharine/Red Rackham, Craig really steps it up by expanding his acting chops inside a recording booth. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as the Thompson twins? I’ll take some of that. They were funny in the comics and in the movie as well. Spot on. Toby Jones as Silk the pickpocket? I thought at first that he would be Professor Calculus when I first saw him, but that wasn’t the case. (Professor Calculus was supposed to be in Red Rackham’s Treasure, but only introduced.) Even Mackenzie Crook, side star of the Pirates series as the wooden eyed lackey and star of The Office (U.K.), offered his voice as Tom, one of the lackeys of Haddock’s former crew. And, get this as well, even Cary Elwes, star of Saw 1 and The Princess Bride, lends his voice as a minor character! (Look for him as a pilot on the biplane!) Everyone English wanted to get in on the action of Tintin!

Let’s talk about the animation! This new age of 3-D digital animation is just phenomenal. Anything can be done with today’s technology. I would give this movie and the recently made L.A. Noire game the tops for this category of innovation. When you can make iconic cartoon characters seem real and RESEMBLE the voice actors who play them? Kudos. I will give a standing ovation to that. The amazing attention to details with shadows and minor costume effects and the tiniest of details is just mental. You have to really care about the work you’re doing to be that good. And I’m sure all the people that worked on this movie were.

There are so many great comedic/fast paced action sequences in this movie as well! The scenes on the Karaboudjan ship and the flashbacks to the Haddock/Rackham fight were epic (and I don’t use epic lightly). And the final chase scene at the end are the epitome of badass. Even the final battle between Haddock and his ancient rival are just too amazing. Bravo on all accounts of action.

Just. Fantastic.

I gotta tell ya, there is just no end to my love of this movie and Tintin and all his adventures. I hope they make a movie for every single graphic novel. The start up of every story is great. Tintin stumbles on some piece of history and it ties him into a dangerous adventure that will test his mind and body. He should be every young man’s hero and role model. And speaking of young children, I was happy to see how many parents took their children to see this movie. It’s age appropriate and wonderful for the entire family, young and old alike. It has everything and leaves you wanting more. The entire time. I can’t get over it. A

Tintin 4 Life.

perfect, flawless 10 out of 10. Best film of 2011? Maybe… Tintin will tell.

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Bleach: Shounen on a Giant Scale

With the new circuit of conventions on the East Coast comes a new batch of cosplays to plan. And what caught my eye this summer, as my girlfriend suggested was Sosuke Aizen, main antagonist of the hit shounen series (still running) Bleach from Japan. (As all anime are usually from  there.) Not knowing a thing about the character I would attempt to portray, I thought, heck, let me take a stab at watching some Bleach. I had no idea what was in store for me for the next 5 weeks. With incredibly long battle scenes of at least 2-3 episodes in length, filler SEASONS and the occaisonal humorous episode, this show throws a lot at you in what I feel is a reasonably paced amount of time. And the more you watch, the more you feel for certain characters and the more you feel like talking about it all the time (I wish I had a Bleach buddy to discuss the finer things with…). With such a cult following (very similar to Naruto) Bleach has become a staple I feel any anime fan should at least tune into every once in a while.

Ichigo and Rukia. Strange love twisted relationship?

So I’m not going to delve to deeply into the story, so I’ll keep it restricted to the first couple of seasons. I already ruined one spoiler for you, so I hope it doesn’t deter you from watching at all. Ichigo Kurosaki is a typical 15 year old high schooler. Well, almost. He has the ability to see spirits that haven’t crossed over and he doesn’t really know why. But this hypersensitive awareness to the Other has caused him a bit of trouble. Which turns into a lot of trouble. That he may inevitably face for the rest of his life.

One day, while walking home from school (insert whistling skip here), Ichigo encounters something he’s never seen before. (Which, based on how often it happens in his hometown of Karakura Town, I’m surprised he hasn’t seen it before…) Rukia Kuchiki, a black robed Shinigami Soul Reaper is battling what appears to be a skull-masked monster. After a few episodes, in her weakened state, she can no longer battle and lends almost all of her power to Ichigo. In a sudden flash and transformation, Ichigo is transformed into a Soul Reaper himself and embarks on countless adventures of struggle and strife.

Due to Ichigo’s acquirement of Rukia’s powers, Rukia is taken prisoner by her brother Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abari, and sentenced to death. Ichigo and his friends, Orihime Inoue, Yatsutora Sado, and Uryu Ishida, must all band together and reach the Soul Society, afterworld in which the 13 Court Guard Squads reign supreme over all souls and the dealings with the Hollows. (Hollows end up being a main form of opponent of Ichigo in the first and successive seasons, just in different forms.)

Ichigo fights to save Rukia!

After coming to and entering the Soul Society’s inner chamber, known as the Seireitei, Ichigo and Co. must battle hordes of Soul Reapers, both weak and powerful. Beginning his own path to strength, it is with and against the Soul Society and the Court Guard Squads that Ichigo finds his place in such a new world. With new enemies and challenges that seem to pop up out of nowhere as the seasons go, it may seem (as Ichigo’s voice actor said reluctantly, yet happily, that the show may never end, but at least he’ll continue to get paid for it.)

An immense amount of badasses.

All-in-all, with such an expansive cast with so many characters, this show is unbelievably immense in its scope and plot. And it’s mainly due to the writing and characters behind it. Although many fans may think the show should’ve ended long ago, I’ll have to see once I get farther (I’m on episode 212.). But there needs to be a lot of credit given to the vocal cast of this show. This show, although it would be just fine subbed, may credit it’s American fan base success to Johnny Yong Bosch, voice of Ichigo Kurosaki, our hero. With his deeply troubled teen facing a whole lot of changes in life way beyond that of anyone else due to its mythical quality, Bosch adds an at times playful yet at most times serious voice to a complex character.

Seeing as there are so many characters, I can’t really give credit to all those who lends their great voices to the show. So, for starters, Derek Stephen Prince is owed some credit for his snarky, unabashed portrayal of Uryu Ishida, the

I enjoy this fan pic. (Uryu Ishida)

last of the Quincies. And, although he may not speak much, Jamieson Price gives a greatly underappreciated voice as Yatsutora Sado, the deeply softspoken Hispanic wonder. Gin Ichimaru, voiced by Doug Erholtz, is another voice that stood out to me with its snake-like charm and venomous words as another worthy opponent. Karen Strassman gave a semi-heartbreaking performance as Momo Hinamori, the lieutenant of Sosuke Aizen (voiced by Kyle Herbert), a woman in love with duty and the will to follow. Byakuya Kuchiki is amazingly voiced by a badass, Dan Woren. His I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude really shines through with that heart of gold underneath with

Byakuya Kuchiki, how fantastic

Woren’s voice. David Lodge, a voice actor I’m not that familiar with, adds a new voice I haven’t heard before with the grave undertones of Kenpachi Zaraki. And last but certainly not least comes Liam O’Brien. His amazingly recognizable voice lends itself perfectly to the soft spoken Jushiro Ukitake. And that’s only to name a few. After a while, characters voices become synonymous with the character portrayed on screen in perfect sychronization.

Now, the animation is the good and bad thing about this show. As it progresses, through the past few years, it has gotten better. It’s never been completely terrible, but I admire and try to find anime that have a more fluid style to their action scenes. This show has improved, but I find there are more stationary shots dealing with dialogue and explosions than actual fluid swordfights. Although a part of this show deals with powers and sword attacks not in the short term, there is an element of strategy among the characters I can admire.

Something to look forward to in Bleach.

Apart from being in the top 10 longest running anime, it would be nice to see this show concluded in a way that won’t have been conceived out of a sense of pressure due to its length. I would rather have a harmonious ending with all the seasons fitting together in what becomes a well planned final battle between the characters that matter. Also, I wouldn’t mind if some of the main good guys perished every once in a while, it seems like (with most anime of this style) that no main characters ever die. It might add an element of drama not before captured in this show. Just a thought.

A solid 8.3 out of 10.

 


Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2

Wow, it’s been far too long since my last post! Been busy, but now coming back more furious than ever. (Not mad.) So first things first. Let’s start with the last of the Harry Potters. Didn’t catch the midnight showing, but watched the first part the day before and the second part only 3 days after its release (matinee in the middle of the day? Yes thanks.). I gotta say, I was semi-impressed. In totality, these movies do justice to the end of an era. But separately, it just seems as if they need to be combined. (Total of 4 hours of film in a row? It’ll just be Gods and Generals with magic.) It’s the final battle, and Harry has to take on the wizard of wizards, Voldemort. If you haven’t read the books, then I won’t spoil anything for you. But here it is.

Good old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has to find the Horcruxes. These are items in which Voldemort

Harry, Ron, and Hermione vs...

stored his soul through the act of committing unspeakable evils (a.k.a. killing people). With one down (Dumbledore’s sacrificed hand to the “ring”) and another out there in the kid’s peripherals (a locket), the adventure is set. The Ministry of Magic,

...Voldemort & Crew

Gringott’s, the Malfoy’s house, and even Hogwarts, this movie goes everywhere. And as the books did, everything sums up and becomes clearer and connected. People have always had problems with the movies not lining up with the books, but come on, there’s no way all of the info and exact actions of the books can be portrayed, so some slack has to be given to Warner Bro.’s. But that’s besides the point.

The action is fantastic. No 3-D for me though, there’s really no point in any film being in 3-D. I would continue to rant about this, but the movie industry likes the money coming in from it and doesn’t care about the headaches and unrealistic way 3-D alters the films. Oh well. The magic duels were great

Just some of the movie magic from Part 2

and the carnage was really brought to a level not a lot of children’s books would go to in theaters, hence, the PG-13 rating. The effects, as usual for every movie, every year, are top notch. The locations are interesting and breathtaking. (I always picture any adventure film outside must be filmed in New Zealand since LOTR.) It feels almost as if every location were waiting for the characters to return to play their part.

These 3 have thankfully improved over the years.

The acting, thank God, has gotten better with every film. Daniel Radcliffe’s flighty and flinty acting has improved to an acceptable level, but I’m sure, in most fan’s mind’s eyes, Harry should’ve been different. (No offense, you did the best you could Daniel.) Ron (Rupert Grint) with his older age has improved and gone on to make other good films (two I would recommend would be Driving Lessons and Wild Target.). Hermione (Emma Watson), in addition to her beauty, has become a wonderful young actress (come on, I’m her age and I’ve grown up with her basically.) who I’m looking forward to seeing in other films now that the H.P.’s are over.

There’s still the supporting cast (in reality, senior acting class that really give the movies their class) that needs to be mentioned. Snape (Alan Rickman) gives a stirring performance in Part II that was tearful, heartfelt, and lovely. It completely redeems his misunderstood character over the years. Ralph Fiennes is as

Snape. You were the best.

fierce as ever as Voldemort, scary and unrelenting as he was meant to be. Helena Bonham Carter plays the deranged (yet sexy, well at least to me) Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort’s right hand woman and biggest fan. Jason Isaacs plays Lucius Malfoy. Although completely defeated and beaten by Voldemort and his failings, I respect Malfoy and his wife and child, Draco (Tom Felton) for their misunderstood compassion shown in the films that is taken for cowardice. Rhys Ifans plays Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father, a smaller part but still important. One of my favorite characters, besides Sirius of course.

Neville Longbottom. Just as heroic as Harry.

And there’s the rest of the kids. I won’t go through all the great acting that the students of Hogwarts have given over the years, but it’s spectacular. Neville becomes the hero he always could have been, Dean has gone through some freak growth spurt, Seamus still blows shizz up, and Luna is as quirky as ever. The whole Weasley family is amazingly brilliant, the Hogwarts teaching staff has all come back for the fight and Hagrid is disappointingly left out for pretty much all of the movie.

I feel a sadness in me as the books of my childhood leave me. When I turned 11, for that birthday I went to see the first movie with my friends. From the beginning I was blown away. The books I was reading were coming to life on screen. I was growing up with Harry as a constant friend. They were all my friends I would return to read and see every year. I, like everyone else my age, wished we were wizards. (Or had crushes on Emma Watson.) We wished we had the adventures of Ron, Harry, and Hermione. And now that it’s over, now that Voldemort has been beaten for good, what is there left to do? Will J.K. Rowling write more on Harry and his children’s lives? Will she be a one trick pony? I hope not. I hope generations to come see Harry Potter and become as bewitched with it as we all did. In its entirety, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows deserves the 10 out of 10. (Separately, Part 1 – 8.8 out of 10, and Part II – 7 out of 10) This magical empire has come to an end, but its the books that will be read and movies seen that will live on forever. In all those Muggles who believe in magic.

Will it continue? What is the future of Harry Potter?