Tag Archives: great characters

Johnny English: Reborn

I have been a huge fan of Rowan Atkinson ever since I was a young lad, watching the video versions of him as Mr. Bean. In 2003, when the first Johnny English movie came out, I had to see it. His slapstick antics mixed with that English accent you rarely hear in Mr. Bean makes him a wonderfully entertaining character. And, of course, what could be better than parodying the James Bond genre? Reprising his role last year, Atkinson blazed on screen with his good looks and salt and pepper hair. Although he may be getting older, he’s not slowing down one bit.

We are whisked away in the first scene of Johnny English 2: Reborn, to the mountains of Tibet. English is training among the monks in order to repent for an earlier mission that sends English into a state of Vietnam flashback nostalgia. With some great slapstick to kick off the movie, Johnny English discovers that his skills are needed yet again back in MI7. Once he arrives back in the U.K, English must become reacquainted with the newly refurbished MI7. Now owned by Toshiba, English’s penchant for the past and the old way of doing things comes clashing into the wave of the future. Let the insanity ensue.

Atkinson rigorously training with some monks.

Assigned a new partner, Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), and some new gadgets invented by Patch Quartermain (Tim McInnerny) it is up to English to protect the Chinese ambassador from being assassinated during his discussions with the Prime Minister. What Johnny English discovers is a secret plot that has been brewing ever since his mishap in Mozambique. With intrigue and sleeper agents galore, who can English trust?

There are some great characters and actors introduced into this second movie that make up for losing John Malkovich and company in the last one. We’ve got Gillian Anderson, better known as Agent Scully from the X-Files, as the leader of MI7. This is the second time I’ve seen her in a film with a mostly British cast (i.e. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) and she pulls off that air of superiority well. There’s also one of my favorite British actors, Dominic West. Having first ever saw him in 300 as the traitorous senator, West has made a career as wonderfully suave British men. Portraying Agent 1 in this film, he’s someone I could’ve seen as Bond, more than Daniel Craig.

This was pretty dope. Despite him being able bodied.

What else is there to point out in this film? There’s the evil killer cleaning lady. In a fight of the old farts, its a struggle for Atkinson to come out on top. There’s all of Johnny English’s old gags and jokes, done just to show that he knows what the people want, and he can still deliver. There’s new jokes, as expected, but at this point in Rowan Atkinson’s career, I think he’s just doing movies for the hell of it. He’s an established, wonderful actor who is just doing movies for fun now. Or, at least, that’s the vibe I’m getting from his acting in these films. And, by all means, make Mr Bean/Johnny English movies until the day you die, Mr. Atkinson. They are all wonderfully entertaining and funny.

Let the hilarious carnage ensue.

If you haven’t seen the first one, by all means, check it out. And watch this one immediately after. They’re sure to make you laugh, even if you aren’t into British comedy. They’re wholesome, spot on Bond spoofs (the first more than the second) and they establish a character you come to love and adore. What more could you want from a film? His name is English, Johnny English. And he deserves a 007 out of 10 for this film.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I don’t know how long this review may turn out to be, but I have so much to say on the topic of Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In what I would consider, and what others would consider to be one of the greatest and most well known anime of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist delivers on so many levels. It has so much going on and so many characters to follow and love that it’s going to be quite hard in keeping this short (that’s what she said).

All that being said, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (And its original show I’ve watched as well, and own) is the story of Edward (Vic Mignogna) and

Too many great characters to count.

Alphonse (Aaron Dismuke/Maxey Whitehead) Elric. These two brothers are into alchemy, the mystic version of what we today call science. In a world apart from our own, Ed and Al delve into the inner workings of things like equivalent exchange (In order for something to be gained, something must be lost of equal value.) and alchemic circles. Seeming to be something of the occult, these two delve into what is common practice of the early 1900s.

Living happily with their mother and father (for a time, until he leaves) Ed and Al become engrossed in the world of Alchemy. Taking every opportunity they can to learn about its secrets, the two become formidable alchemists in their own right at a very young age. And then, tragedy strikes.

Ed and Al, two brothers on an adventure.

Struck down by some unexplained illness, Ed and Al’s mother dies at an unexpected and early time in her life. While the two of them are still young (7 and 9), they attempt the taboo. The attempt to perform human transmutation. With what appears to be a straighforward procedure, the two attempt to create life from the makings of a human (i.e. water, carbon, trace elements, etc.). What they don’t account for is what costs them. Taking Ed’s right arm and left leg and Al’s entire body, Ed barely saves Al’s soul by attaching it to a suit of armor in the corner of the room. Debilitated and with no family left except some loving family friends, Winry Rockbell and her grandmother, Pinako, these two burn down their family home and leave Risembool.

This leads Ed and Al to pursue the only other alchemic object that readers of Harry Potter will be familiar with. The Philosopher’s Stone. This magical object, in the context of FMA, can circumvent the need for equivalent

Always leaving Winry behind to cry...

exchange. This object, they believe, will allow them to get their bodies back and return to a life of normalcy. But with the heavy prices and hardships in store, it won’t be that easy. Providing his services to the military state of Amestris as a “dog of the military”, a state alchemist. With Al along, the two must discover just what it means to put it all on the line for the Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy. It's hip.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the later workings of the plots that go down in FMA and FMAB. After a certain amount of episodes, the two diverge in plot. Fullmetal Alchemist doesn’t follow the original plot of the manga, while Brotherhood follows it exactly. Never having read the manga (I’m an anime person, sorry.) I didn’t have a problem with either. There is some big debate and divisive opinions on the matter, but I feel the two shows stand apart, despite being about the same things. Both are quite satisfying in the end.

Great characters, old and new.

In any case, the characters in this show are wonderful. So is the voice acting. Actually, if I may be so bold, the English voice actors are just as popular with this show as the Japanese ones. Funimation did things right when they got the rights to this show and casted accordingly. But enough about that for now. We have to talk characters. I guess I’ll have to talk about characters without revealing anything about the plot. Hard to do, but I’ll manage.

Well, there’s Ed and Al, of course. These two drive the plot and give

Armstrong. Always good for a shirt rip.

wonderfully heartfelt and considerate characters to the show. Ed can be a bit hotheaded (and therein lies the comedy) but his stubborn attitude and realistic view of the world really shape our view into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. With Al, who’s just as important, comes the caring and gentle giant (because of the suit of armor) character that I secretly admire greatly. His only flaw and greatest strength is that he cares too much. Winry comes across as the weeping damsel in distress,  one of the only female characters in the show to do so. Functioning as a sort of love interest in what is collectively called a shounen, this girl can pack a punch… comedically, whenever she needs to.

Kimblee. Badass. All in white.

And then there are some of my favorite characters. There’s Zolf J. Kimblee, the most badass villain and coolest alchemist to grace the series. With the power to alchemically turn anything into a bomb at his whim, he lays waste to everything in his paste. His nonchalant attitude about life and the love he holds for chaos is something I find to legit to quit in villainous characters. There’s Scar, the Ishballan priest turned freedom fighter. After his people were destroyed in a civil war, Scar ditches his name and uses the powers granted him by his brother in order to kill those alchemists who wronged him. He’s a bit of a conflicted character who really jumps around in the series, but he’s well worth rooting for. Roy Mustang and his surly crew of officers. Mustang is a high ranking officer among the military and effectively rules it with his ability to set anything on fire. Mirrored in his fiery attitude, he has the ambition to rule the country as Furher someday. (Amestris is basically Germany in the early 1900s. Almost hard to swallow that they’re reflecting Nazisms in this show, but it’s a choice.)

This was legit.

Then there are these creatures in the world known as Homunculi. I can’t say anything more about the topic (it’s too damn important), but I can say that they’re named after the 7 deadly sins. Their powers and personalities reflect that, and look out for Greed, Gluttony, and Pride, three of my favorites. Wrath used to be one of my favorites, but he/she is two different characters in FMA and FMAB. All of the Homunculi are key in the plot and well worth picking your favorite for how diverse and interesting their characters are. With two different explanations as to their origins, you can pick your favorite.

I enjoy this.

Now that I’m thinking about all the things that FMA/FMAB has to offer, I am starting to wish I had done a separate blog on Fullmetal Alchemist. These shows are two worlds apart, and similar in so many ways. There’s just so much to go into in detail and scope, and just not enough time to discuss it in. I don’t want to bore anyone with a long winded review, but if you do have questions you’d like answered or a specific topic I should review on my blog, let me know via comment or something. I’d love to talk about it!

Oh, all the characters and the plot I can’t get into and all that good shit. I’m now seeing this review as more of a teaser than anything. The intricate plot and reveals of both versions are well worth it. The dialogue and emotions will enrapture you in joy and sorrow. I can’t talk this up enough, can I? Well I wanna mention voice actors in English before I give this show the 10 out of 10 it deserves.

Can't even explain what's going on here.

Vic Mignogna is as iconic and well known for his voice as Edward Elric as the Japanese voice actor. Loved by many, he may always be recognized as Ed. Aaron Dismuke, one of the youngest voice actors to grace Funimation, got his start from a very young age as Alphonse Elric. With a voice that began to change as the show went on, it was all too unfortunate that Aaron could no longer fulfill the part. Maxey Whitehead did a good job in her own right, but there was

Here's a little throwback Greed.

a distinct difference in Al’s soft spoken voice. Travis Willingham delivers well as Roy Mustang, the fiery commander of the Amestris military. In what I would consider an improved performance from the original FMA, he really allowed his character to come out in Brotherhood.

Caitlin Glass does a phenomenal job as the constantly emotional Winry at all the right points. I must say though that I liked Dameon Clarke far more as Scar than J Michael Tatum. The gruff demeanor of Scar, I feel, leans more towards a man of few words than a gruff sounding religious freak. Just saying.

You beat them back, Scar, you religious freak you.

Both good, just drastically different. Who else should I mention… Eric Vale was badass as Kimblee with his, “I don’t care, I’m nuckin’ futs crazy. I’ll kill you.” attitude. Enough said there. Laura Bailey is as sexy as ever as Lust, the sexiest of the Homunculi. Troy Baker, more than Chris Patton, in the original, provides a great “I want the world and I’ll do anything to get it” voice as Greed. And, exclusively to Brotherhood comes Lin Yao, a prince from Xing with one of the best scenes and deliveries in the entire show, done by Todd Haberkorn. The goofiness of Todd disappears behind the character of Lin Yao and become something entirely different. And, of course, Christopher R. Sabat is amazing as with everything he does as Alex Louis Armstrong, the Strongarm Alchemist.

So with all these great things all in one amazing anime, why haven’t you already seen this/are watching it now? There’s no need to read this review when all I could have said is watch this show. Watch Fullmetal Alchemist and tell your friends about it. Subbed or dubbed, it doesn’t matter. Watch both versions and compare, let me know which one’s your favorite. Bask in the glory that is FMA/FMAB. It’s all good so trust The Abyss and jump right in. It’s worth it. 10 out of 10.

It all comes full circle. Full alchemy circle.


Darksiders: Puzzles and Death… and the Apocalypse

Ever since I saw the trailer for this video game, I had wanted it. I had no idea what to expect. Would it just be a hack and slash game with complete and utter destruction? Would it be a game of skill or button mashing? What it turned out to be was not what I expected.

Okay, look. I didn’t have the traditional childhood. I didn’t have a Nintendo and have a chance to play all the amazing Mario and Zelda that was out there. So big surprise to me when an Xbox 360/PS3 game comes out that is identical in its gameplay to Zelda.

Link?

It’s really a mixture of the fighting style of God of War and the puzzles of Zelda, but I was thrown off in the first place by the puzzles. Basic day in the life of Darksiders for me? Hey, here’s a block you have to move/portal you have to create. Find a way across without dying. Go. Needless to say I invested a lot of time viewing the walkthroughs online to figure this game out. Scoff if you will, it doesn’t detract from the satisfaction and action of this game.

Basic plot: You are War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. You come to Earth because the seals have been broken and all out war has begun to take place on the planet. There are angels fighting demons, zombies, creatures, you name it. What War gets sucked into doing is representing the Scarred Council on Earth in what I would call restorative justice.

Quite big. Sure you can swing that?

So you start out the game with a bit of firepower. You have your gigantic sword, Chaoseater and a bit of hellish power, Chaos. This stuff can summons pikes from the ground, turn your skin to stone, summon hellfire, all sorts of cool trick War picked up off the street. As the game progresses, you gain access to other various items and weapons that kick even more ass. This gives you access to various areas you didn’t before and also contributes to an arsenal that mixes it up when beating the baddies.

Speaking of baddies, I love the characters in this game. Seeing as this game goes all biblical all over everyone’s asses, It’s a fun and easy way to learn a little bit of Old Testament. And then toss around those characters like rag dolls. I mean, come on, you are War, the most severely destructive of the Apocalypse Bros. The only characters you really don’t see are God and Satan. Even though they may be pulling the strings, all the demons and angels suffer for it.

I would also like to mention that this game reminds me of a game I played for XBox a while ago that focused on Spawn killin’ some angels and demons. It was great.

Weapon moves and combos in this game are great. The game has the “item store” quality to it where you go and collect upgrades based on the amount of carnage you incur. You gain health, armor, and Chaos as you find hidden chests throughout and that always makes for a great replay value when you didn’t find them all. (One reason I want to play again is to find all the Abyssmal Armor pieces, giving War an all new look.)

Only drawback. I took months, spread out, to play this game. I picked it up from Gamestop and took an inordinate amount of time beating it. Why? Some of those puzzles are so vague, there’s no definite way without the help of a game guide to beat them. If there wasn’t the internet, I would have never finished this game. And I don’t think it’s a intellectual issue. It was all about going with the 5 second cutscenes that tried to reveal everything at once for you to utilize to move forward. Not helpful.

War = Complete Badass

But hey, you get a badass steed and frolic through the blood and gore of the battlefield that was our home. I guess if you truly loved Darksiders, wait another year and you might find you can be an active participant in it when 2012 rolls around. Maybe you’ll even get a little glimpse of war.

Oh, and another thing. The voice actors in this film were great. Liam O’Brien (done an amazing amount of work in both anime and video games), Mark Hamill (amazing what he can do with his voice, he’s the Watcher), Phil LaMarr (always great, MadTV prepared him well), Moon Bloodgood (interesting voice actor choice), Troy Baker (RIDICULOUSLY GOOD), J.B. Blanc (great accent as Ulthane), and Fred Tatasciore (his list of video games and anime is so extensive. He’s everywhere.).

So definitely check this game out. It’s worth a play and who knows, maybe you’ll learn how to survive the apocalypse. Or maybe you’ll have a great time running train as War. 8.6 out of 10.


Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!

Let me first start off by saying that this show isn’t for everyone. If you don’t find dark, off the wall, probably funny if you were high or on large doses of acid, absurd humor funny without the addition of narcotics, this show is probably not for you. After I had spent time ritually watching Tom Goes to the Mayor (This is a blueprint stop motion animated short show in which Tom/Tim Heidecker goes to the Mayor/Eric Wareheim.) I found out about this show. I had only seen one segment prior, and my friends at school would laugh about the new episodes every Friday in school. But yes, my first and only image of Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! was Chippy, the baby with a mustache that screams when spotted. I knew I had to check out this entire show.

And so I did. 5 nights, 5 seasons. Series 1 through Cinco. There was many a time I was frightened, and  many a time I pooped my pants in laughter. My roommate Ian and I (he’s my movie/T.V. show buddy, we watch everything together) spent a week straight laughing for the hour and 40 minutes that was Tim and Eric. Frankly, this show has great actors, great characters, and great, absurd humor. I greatly applaud Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim for their work.

Great Job!, Tim and Eric

Every season consists of 10 episodes that are 10 minutes each. Eric and Tim play themselves, they play stock characters, they bust out the outrageous character or two. There’s really not anything to ruin as far as spoilers go in this show. Nobody dies (or stays dead for long) not really any continuous plot from episode to episode. It’s all about the absurdity and low quality/college campus acting and effects.

Best stock characters. Yes. We have James Quall, the horrific, dull, doll-like impressionist who loves Cosby and spaghetti and meatballs. David Leibe Hart, the man picked right off the streets for his work with ventriloquism assisted by the most frightening dummies known to man. Richard Dunn, the cantankerous old man who is always on the verge of kicking the bucket. Pierre (Ron Austar), the dad obsessed funk dancer who loves meat, but not

There's my Chippy

when it’s spoiled. And of course Chippy, the hirsute baby with the greatest scream on the face of the planet.

And it’s not just these drifters off the street that make up the show. We also have character/T.V. show/movie actors and other celebrities that make special appearances based on the episode. Of course there’s Dr. Steve Brule (John C. Reilly) with

For Your Health!

Brule’s rules and the varying segment where he drinks some wine or makes a panini. Tairy Greene (Zach Galifianakis. I feel like this is what made him popular.) the actor/director who shouts at children and dances as he flies through the air. Will Grello (Will Forte), the man who is haunted by his childhood and occasionally lets us into his brain to view his nightmares. Also of notable interest, David Cross who shows up as a pizza boy in a porno, a celeb exec, and a crazed old man who attaches paintbrushes to cats.  There’s Josh Groban, singing the best of Casey Tatum and his brother, Marilyn Manson without makeup as the dark man, Rainn Wilson, always as some creepy character, and Paul Rudd, dancing it out on his computer to himself. There’s also a little scene you may discover interesting when Tim and Eric battle in tennis and they have stunt doubles. Check it out for yourself.

And if that doesn’t catch your interest with that laundry list of great actors and celebrities, there are the stock characters that Tim and Eric perform. There’s Jan and Wayne Skylar, Channel 5’s best married news team, although they don’t show up as much as I’d like them to. (Tim Heidecker always plays really good soccer mom looking women and such.)

Ah Spagett!!!

Spagett, one of the greatest characters that Tim portrays, a balding, pony-tailed man who jumps out and spooks people with a “Spagett!” The Beaver Boys who can’t resist a good shrimp and white wine. Casey Tatum and his brother, always performing on Uncle Muscles’s (Weird Al Yankovic) Hour. This is consistently my favorite sketch and it’s great when they literally have Josh Groban on to do his own renditions of Casey’s songs. And I could go on. Every sketch is great along with every episode. The only part I would recommend skipping is the Women’s  Afternoon Review.” Those sections disturb me, and I don’t mind 99% of the things I see on T.V. and movies.

What more is there to say about Tim and Eric. They take things far beyond any other show I’ve ever witnessed. (Man milk, puberty, eating their own boogers, etc…) They practice their scenes, I’m sure, to such a great degree that every action and gesture is done is such a way that it’s absurd, awkward, too long, and yet hilarious nonetheless. Their humor destroys. The have good guest stars. The premises of their episodes make no sense. And I would consider this among the top 10 funniest shows that have ever been on television. 9.7 out of 10. Check it out. Great Job!

And here’s my Chippy.


Xam’d: Lost Memories, Nice Catch

Let me just say that, until otherwise, this is my #2 all time favorite anime. My #1 is of course Macross Frontier, and I plan to re-watch it for a review on The Abyss. This is what’s known as a “Mecha-Romance Fantasy,” and I would definitely agree. It has great characters, a massive plot that seems to span ages, and art direction that just blows me away.

It all takes place, at first, on Senten Island, A little place in South (Japan?) right after the devastation of war. The island is peaceful and those that are on it have barely begun to forget the war that invaded their lives. We follow Akiyuki Takehara, our soon to be hero, Haru Nishimura, and Furuichi Teraoka (my favorite character, hands down.). Three students who get on a bus, and whose lives are changed forever. In what appears to be a terrorist attack, Akiyuki is turned into a Xam’d, the human-form (hard to explain) creature who is meant to bring about the salvation of the world. From here on, the world is broken out into chaos as we focus around three plot lines that lead to a pulse-pounding ending.

As far as first impressions go, I’m going to have to hold off on commenting on the voice acting in this anime. I watched the first series dubbed and the second subbed, and I was thrown off quite a bit. The only two voices actors that stood out to me in this were Luci Christian and Monica Rial, but that’s not to say that there weren’t other good ones. Although I must say, if it will swing you, watch the dubbed version, if only for Tojiro Kagisu, the crazed military commander, voiced by Chris Hutchinson. I’d never really ever heard his voice before this, and he hasn’t done much, but this anime is worth hearing his voice for. Such a solid performance that I was quite surprised this guy doesn’t do movies.

But yes, what you HAVE to watch this anime for is THE ARTWORK. This shizz blew me away with how great it looked. Everything was so fluid, all of the battle scenes and motion in the anime looked like it came straight out of a video game. (Come to think of it, I hope this is a video game.) What always gets me is when Nakiami burst out of the belly of the postal ship on her Kayak and launches into the sky. So great. Along with that is the great little effect the pervades the show in which when ships take off, there is a circular rainbow that ejects from the exhaust that looks fantastic in this show. But yes, watch this anime for the fluidity and amazing look of the anime.

Great part of this show: the postal crew. Ishuu Benikawa is the quite sexy captain, the whole bad attitude with the heart of gold deal. (Quite a sight I’d like to see cosplayed.) Akushiba, my second favorite characters, plays the wise-ass worker who is actually quite secretly, yet subtlety perverted. Yunbo is the other woman of the crew who plays mother to all and balances out Ishuu’s hard-assedness (New word.) She is Hinokimaru’s mother and not a good one at that. Ahm is great as the solid rock and pilot of the ship, and Namiaki fills out the crew as the outcast who has found a home. This whole dynamic fuels the first season and carries on slightly into the second. You never get tired of seeing the crew though.

The military is great, the postal ship crew is great, and all of the main characters shine in this anime. If you love mecha, watch this. If you love insane art direction, watch this. If you just plain love good anime, please check this out. 9.5 out of 10. The Abyss highly approves.