Tag Archives: sci-fi

Marvel’s The Avengers

In this culmination of the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk series of movies comes The Avenger’s movie, produced by Marvel and Disney Studios. Okay, let’s be realistic about how much I know or care about the Marvel series and any of its connected works. There’s very little. I never really read  comic books when I was younger, other than Ghost Rider and Spawn. I always had a thing for the darker characters and (other than Ghost Rider) not a lot of Marvel characters caught my interest that much. So I was apathetic as to the plight of the superheroes in this movie. Didn’t mean I wasn’t converted into a huge fan in less than 2 hours. This movie alone makes me wanna go back and watch all the others, just to know what went down.

Now it’s not that I’m completely ignorant of the superhero world. I love Batman (not so much these latest installments that showcase Christopher Nolan as the be all end all of Batman with his same cast from every movie that he loves so much)

Lookin’ good there, Evans.

and Spiderman (again, why are they making another one in less than 5 years of the last one? Yes, it may be “more true” to a comic, but Sam Raimi doesn’t need to be spit in the face. My favorite director doesn’t need to be shown up for no damn reason.) and Ghost Rider (we don’t need to get into the whole Nicholas Cage issue, just read my blog on the second movie). I followed the Blade films and even checked out a Hulk or two. I was a kid once, and cartoons are all about superheroes.

The Hulk. Become a fan.

Which, I find, comes at a fault. To realistically shape and morph comic superheroes into people and set them in a different medium is a bit weird to me. You got these groups of superheroes coming together and nobody finds it odd or strange in a modern society that all of this is coming up out of sci-fi fantasy make believe. To depict these dark characters for what is considered to be something that children collect and watch and slap a PG-13 rating on it so the younger kids who like this stuff can’t see it? It seems strange to me. If my little 5 year old cousin can’t see The Avengers and he loves Iron Man, what kind of a situation is that? Yes, there are those comics geared towards an older audience, but you’re still appealing to something meant for those who are younger. Just something to think about.

Enough of my rant about the paradox that is comics and comic book movies. The Avengers is a particular story that has been in the making for a while now. All of these movies were put out in anticipation of one film that would unite all these superheroes in a huge clash of good versus evil. I can tell you though, I have

Some egos clash right here.

no idea who the bad guys were or what their purpose was in coming to Earth other than to destroy it. Nothing gained, a planet destroyed I guess. But you bring together all these clashing egos and you have yourself a more dynamic and interesting squad than the Justice League or any other huge star superhero teams out there.

Go on and use those “superpowers” guys…

Meanwhile, at some underground base that S.H.I.E.L.D. runs…

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has heard some terrible news about this source of power/reactor thing that is going to change the world, known as the Tesseract. Talk about throwbacks to Madeline L’Engle and A Wrinkle in Time. Loki (Tom Hiddelston) transports from this sinister looking purple planet and steals away Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and this scientist, Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard). They plan to use the Tesseract for some nefarious deeds, and take down Thor and all the other superheroes who have done them wrong. Loki has a score to settle with his brother and he is seeking revenge through some freaky deaky alien people.

So Nick Fury decides its time to assemble the team. He gets Captain America (Chris Evans) who was frozen in some ice in the ocean from way back when. There’s Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) who has been working on some new energy sources and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who has been helping sick Indian children before he’s picked up by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Rounding out the team is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), come to find his brother and stop him. With these ultimate superheroes (and those like Black Widow and Hawkeye who really aren’t anything special thrown in) comes ego clashing, fights on an epic scale, and one of the coolest final battles shot in Cleveland and made to look like NYC that you’ll ever see.

Looks like Cleveland to me…

I didn’t have a lot of problems with this film. Overall, it set out what it wanted to do, entertain and tell the story of the Avengers, and make as much money as possible off of the series. I mean, a BILLION DOLLARS?!?! That’s pretty redonkulous. The dialogue wasn’t too bad and cheesy like a stuffed Ritz or anything, although Samuel L. Jackson got the short end of the stick in this movie. He was really bad in comparison to everyone else. He came off as incompetent and not a hardass at all. For shame Samuel L., for shame. I really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s acting in this movie as The Hulk. He was witty and laid back enough to believe that he was truly holding back a beast. And when he finally let out all that anger, I instantly became a Hulk fan. On the spot when he punched that alien dirigible thing in the face.

Thanks for this one Joss Whedon. Not so much Nick Fury over there…

There were some stunning visual effects in the film and some free flowing action. Unlike other movies that have a lot of cheesy comedy for the fans, this movie was far different than those. This movie has some good humor for a bit of an older audience. And every character has their own comedic scene. This movie is a pretty good balance of comedy, violence, and full throttle action. At no point in the film was I bored, and that’s a good achievement for a 2+ hour film. And a setup for a sequel? I wouldn’t mind that at all. If it’s still in theaters (and at the time of posting, it is) go check this out. It’s got a good range for a film that a lot people will find fun and exciting. So suit up and join The Avengers, it’s a cinematic ride you don’t wanna miss. A solid 8.5 out of 10, perfectly good action/superhero movie.

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Monsters: Nothing Happens.

As much as I loved the premise of this movie and the idea of another Spielburg-like sci-fi alien film, it appears as if they progressive plot that should occur in this film is absent. Gareth Edwards had a great idea in posing a film in a world that has gotten used to a monster invasion, but this has been explored to a further degree in District 9. The aliens/monsters are still unknown in this film and are avoided at all costs. This creates a sense of mystery, but the end of the film leaves nothing learned. We still haven’t discovered the big twist that sets this apart from just a setup of a film. So close, and yet so far.

So the premise of this film is quite simple. Andrew Caulder (Scoot McNairy) is an investigative reporter in search of the next big story about the aliens that landed along the U.S./Mexico border. He has come the

Very interesting locations and commentary.

safe route into Mexico in order to retrieve his bosses’s daughter, Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able). After some complications and a wild night in Mexico, Andrew and Samantha miss the last boat before the season of the monsters activity. For a lot more money, the two are able to illegally and dangerously obtain a ride through the river and jungles of the contaminated zone.

The actual couple, Scoot and Whitney.

From this big buildup, we expect some really awe-inspiring and weird things to go down in the jungle. The make their way down the river, Anaconda style, and then Jeep their way through the jungle. Things go South for the assisting party, but Sam and Andy make it out scratch free. They make their way to a pyramid, have a moment, and become intimate after only spending a few days together. They head into America, desolated at the point of impact around the border, and spend the rest of the film in a gas station. You get a bit of monster interaction and a disappointing Quentin Tarantino ending. And that’s it. I didn’t reveal anything you would want to avoid in a spoiler alert of a review. That is literally it.

The entire film you learn nothing and don’t grow along with the main couple. (And they are a couple, interesting to find Scoot brought along his girlfriend for the ride.) The monsters appear violent, although the tone of the film suggests they are just living in the place they’ve found. They kill, they are attacked, and it

A bit of symbolism that shows nothing is going on, ever.

seems to be a mutual hostility between the two. I did like the political undertones of the “aliens” landing on the border of the U.S. and Mexico, but that’s about all I took away from this film. Yes, visually striking at parts, but those parts are about 5 minutes of face time the monsters get on camera in a 90 minute film.

Ah, is this the map that shows where our plot went?

I was impressed at the lengths that Gareth Edwards went to film his movie on a small budget. Filming without permission, actual locations, small crew. That’s the way movie are supposed to be made. Show the world you are depicting for what it’s worth. Pull no punches, never apologize for a things. I’m in admiration of Edwards guile and ambition, and just wish this film was better and more interactive. Maybe his version of Godzilla will be better. But for this film, I’ll give it a 4.1 out of 10.


Blue Gender

I’m not usually a fan of pre-2000’s anime. I love some of it, but a big killer for me of such a wide array of anime is the choppy animation. I know the times have been a-changin’, but that’s just the kind of person I am. I’m excited with the direction that anime is going, and this is one of those shows that kicked it off. Blue Gender is the show of a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been disheveled by gigantic bug creatures called the blue. One of those mecha shows in line with Evangelion and a little bit of Gundam, this show provided more than action, it provided mental breakdown and disaster.

Blue Gender is the story of one man, Yuji Kaido (Eric Vale). Let’s start off by saying I was happy to see Eric Vale do good justice to another hero in a series of heroic mecha shows I’ve seen him do. Anyways, Yuji is a sleeper, one of thousands of citizens of the world that were sent to sleep in the 2000’s. Now, 22 years after his slumber began, Yuji is abruptly awakened into a newly advanced world that is being slowly destroyed by a gigantic race of bugs. You may be wondering, “How did these bugs get so damn big? Are we in Honey I Shrunk the Kids?” No, that’s a strange assumption to be making. It will all be explained at the end.

Eight legged freaks?

So Yuji is accidentally awakened and he spends the first episode yelling and running around this scientific facility, trying to figure out what’s going on. He nearly dodges death and finds his way into the arms of a young, unfeeling cadet, Marlene Angel (Laura Bailey). The two of these spend a big majority of the show attempting to get into space to regroup on Second Earth. And that’s not where the show ends. That is a big discovery and a secret I will keep. Well worth the wait that this show still delivers all the way until the end.

Yuji, always emotional and humming.

At first this show started off similarly to Casshern Sins (refer to earlier blog if you need a refresher). Yuji and Marlene’s gang of soldiers are in a race to beat the clock back to Second Earth. But a lot of people die along the way. But a lot of new people are met at the same time. The first half of the show, basically, is Yuji’s discovery of just exactly the difference is between living on Second Earth. The schism between the two is brutal and astounding to him. This is where the heartfelt apathy is felt for humans in general. Then the show picks up with a lot of action and some role reversal, and you’re left with a “we must save the world” situation.

I don’t mind this construction in anime. What I did mind was a not so subtle undertone of sex in this sci-fi/horror/mecha anime. With this whole idea of

Yuji and his B.A. mech unit.

free love and no consequences came off as strange. Nobody cares about each other and this is really emphasized through Yuji’s eyes. But what I don’t get is that all this free sex is unabashedly displayed and done in front of everyone else. I get that this is a common theme in sci-fi novels, but I think it reflects poorly on the genre in that it really doesn’t have to do with anything and just comes off as awkward.

This show gets steamy.

Animation-wise, the show looked fine. There was a good deal of gore and mature content, and I was okay with that. I can imagine its stint on Cartoon Network’s Toonami must have been greatly edited. The recording of the dub was a bit low and I missed some key lines throughout. I don’t know if it was Netflix, but that was a bit of a problem and detracted from watching it. But that opening song sure is bumpin’.  Overall, I really enjoyed that this show was more than your average mecha fighter. The characters had fight and soul, and it made out for a better plot and drama. I’m sure some other anime could take some cues from this formation. A well deserved 8.4 out of 10.


Gentlemen Broncos

Hello, my name is Dr. Ronald Chevalier. You may not know who I am, but I am the successful author of over 30 trilogies in the Cyborg Harpies series. I love the use of mammary cannons and mind probes. It’s best to use characters with suffix names like -ainous. I draw all my own cover art and am currently working on a new series that “inspiration” hit me like a troll named Teacup. I am one of the greatest characters of all time. Who am I truly? I am Jemaine Clement of the folk rock comedic band, Flight of the Conchords. Welcome to my film, Gentlemen Broncos.

From the same creator/director who brought the world the tame/awkward comedy of Napoleon Dynamite comes another movie of the same caliber. In this version, Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a young aspiring sci-fi writer. In his stories, Bronco (Sam Rockwell) is a hero of the Yeast, a material I’m not at all familiar with. In his pursuit of the evil Lord

Bronco on a battle stag. Nice.

Daysius, Bronco attempts to reclaim his stolen gonads. In his journey, Bronco encounters cyclopses, (?) pudding, and battle stags.

With this true potential inside of him, Benjamin hopes to have his work published, and he plans to do this in a contest at a local authorian convention, Cletus Fest. (Similar to a sci-fi convention, but nobody dresses up and everyone is a reclusive ego booster.) While there, Benjamin encounters the host of the convention, Dr. Ronald Chevalier, acclaimed writer in the aforementioned paragraph. Swept away by his presence and knowledge of cover art and troll clans, Benjamin submits his work, The Yeast Lords. Little did he know that in Chevalier’s current state, he was in need of some desperate inspiration. And it would come in the form of plagiarism. From this point on, it is a steady slope of failures and downtrodden feelings for little Benjy boy until he can pick himself up, trusty blowdart in hand and a mission to reclaim his creative piece of work.

Who doesn't love Dr. Ronald Chevalier and his "ainous"?

Now I’ve heard from other review sites and such that this movie was a poor attempt. For those who don’t like Napoleon Dynamite, I can see how that could come across that way. Hell, even for those who liked Napoleon Dynamite and hated this movie, I can understand trying to compare the two might be futile. But this movie is on another plane from the good old N.D. of our early high school years. It was all the rage (not trying to generalize a huge populace’s high school experience) back then to quote the bejeezus out of this movie, as it was with Anchorman. But what stood out to me about these films (and the lesser successful awkward cousin, Nacho Libre) is that these were wholesome films. There was no need for swearing or gross out humor that comes with a lot of F-bombs. This movies took a childen’s PG base and made an outlandish film out of toned down slang and some of the most awkward laugh out loud scenes I’ve seen in a long time. And I credit the shizz (see there, sample that) out of Jared Hess for these films. He’s brought a genre of film to the world that doesn’t need Hangover like situations and vulgarity to make it a piece of comedy. And that be the truth.

So let’s get back to the point of this film and just what makes it tick. Coming from a sci-fi enthusiast that may slightly phase me to be a bit biased about this film, (Dune all the way) there’s a certain charm to the science fictional. Set in worlds outlandishly unbelievable and yet endearing, this genre of writing is populated by the sexually deprived and socially awkward. I can’t remember the last time I read a sci-fi novel and marveled at how clinically nerds analyzed sex. (Being a nerd myself, word.) With no true substance of emotion (usually) we are given the world of a sci-fi writer from a logical perspective. And we are told this movie from the perspective of a young boy who, by the end of the film, truly learns how to stick up for himself and express emotions.

Surveillance Does. I hate those.

Accompanying this story of redemption comes two other stories. One, the truth of Benjamin’s novel, The Yeast Lords. Bronco and his journey of revenge goes hand in hand with that of Benjamin and his reclamation of creative property. Set in a world even I would watch, we are given cheesy graphics and explosions that endear an entire world of Star Trek and Star Wars fans for the pure effort the movie puts into the story is attempts to portray. Contrast this with scenes of the dialed up, transexual version of Sam Rockwell as Brutuss, the effeminate fighter of the cyclops and surveillance does. (He hates those.) Within these two extremes, the entire story of Bronco and his lynx that will rip your throat out comes to an end as we connect with a grow with the real world situations that Benjamin has to endure.

Lonnie, you strange bastard.

And with that real world comes some of the strangest characters I’ve ever seen. Starting with Jennifer Coolidge as Benjamin’s overprotective mother, Judith, and ending with Hector Jiminez as Lonnie Donaho, a strange-mouthed director/producer of the failed low-budget movie made from Benjamin’s novel, there are so many strange characters in between. There are few lulls in laughs in this movie (depending on your humor) and quite a few unexpected, crazy scenes that even I couldn’t handle. In comparing this to N.D. or N.L. ( Lonnie was also cast in Nacho Libre as another ridiculous character, go figure.) this movie goes farther than the other two. I mean, there’s a python pooping onscreen for godsake. At an unexpected moment too. It’s just all gold.

I could go on and on about all the ridonkulous characters and strange situations they find themselves in, but then I would be telling the whole movie. I’d rather leave that for you guys to go out and find out for

One day, Jemaine Clement will rule the world.

yourselves. I loved this movie. For a fact, I watched this movie 4 times in less than 3 weeks, if that means anything. I showed this to all my friends, and I hope you guys will go out and watch it too. It’s a bit hard to find (Damn you, Netflix) but it’s well worth it. Utilize your libraries and let me know what you guys think of it. Cause I thought this movie was an 8 out of  10. (About the same rating I’d give Napoleon Dynamite.) Sweet.


Casshern Sins: Robotic Humans, or Human Robots?

Hey all you readers out there! It’s been too long, so now I’ve returned in full force! Expect over the next few days to be reading over 10 new posts! I’m pumped and I hope you all are too. So let’s get down to this.

A little while ago, I watched Casshern Sins, the story of a mecha dramatic tragedy in which the world is ending and there’s no glimmer of hope in sight. And who is this tragedy all due to? Casshern. The misunderstood tragic hero of this tale is said to be invincible. By destroying the Sun Called Moon, Luna, Casshern has gained invincibility and is now sought by all robots to be consumed. Why he is sought to be cannibalized, you may ask? Casshern, with his everlasting life, appears to be the only cure in a world that now is overrun with the Ruin. The Ruin is a disease of sorts that begins to slowly errode the machines. With their metallic bodies rusting, it seemed as if the immortality that had been achieved by humans and robots alike. With the meshing of these two races into one race against time, Casshern must rediscover his murder of Luna and the world in which he has destroyed.

Now, to tell the truth, this anime threw me for a loop. I had caught the first 4 episodes at Anime Boston and I found it to be dark and interesting. With a sort of

The interesting art of Casshern.

animation and drawing style I’d never seen before, the first 4 episodes seemed to flow with a slow undercurrent slowly building. Never having seen what Masaki Takei has done before (it seems as if he’s written/created smaller works dealing with sci-fi/fantasy) I was intrigued with the way in which this anime looked. With swooping hairstyles and slender, fluid characters up against the blocky, brutal masses, this sci-fi drama blends the worlds of what’s real and what is seen as the apocalyptic future into one.

Eric Vale gives a stirring performance as Casshern.

What really caught my eye about this anime was some of the voice acting. Not knowing which characters would remain constant after the first 4 episodes, I found Eric Vale, the voice of Casshern, to be a compelling and distant character. His innocent voice withholding power to end lives creates a construct in a character often show in control, but that’s the last thing that Casshern is. Lyuze (Brina Palencia) gave another angle to Casshern Sins with a character with a soft side and revengeful edge. Another few actors that round out the top actors of this anime are Jerry Jewell, Shelley Calene-Black, and Jason Douglas, characters that’re introduced later in the anime.

And now I come to the bad point about this anime. The cyclical nature of this anime is its downfall. Despite the draw of the first four episodes, the following 20 episodes follow in the same fashion. Casshern, on his journey of discovery, comes across characters with tragic and emotional pasts. And what happens? He passes on past them and continues on his way. Either through destruction or heartbreak, Casshern can’t seem to come to terms with those around him and his uncontrollable power. But this anime, if you can get past its monotonous pace, really makes up for this in its art style and fluid animation in a rigidly dying world. So I encourage you to check it out. I give Casshern Sins a 5.8 out of 10. The Abyss is back in full force!

If anything, the fluidity may blow you away.


Blassreiter: Emotionally Fueled Motorcycles

The title of my review says everything about this anime. I fell in love with the graphics, the 3-D battles, the back story. And I was taken away by the emotions behind the characters. The anguish of the foreigner in a land that doesn’t accept them for who they are. The man in love who cannot tell the woman he loves how he truly feels. The orphan abandoned and left without a help in the world. This German set anime (talk about a country of hate and anguish) is tastefully portrayed with a religious background and a head full of steam. With every new character arc (from Gerd to Malek, Hermann to Amanda) you are lead by your heartstrings to the heartbreak you are meant to see, and some you are not.

The idea behind Blassreiter is one of mecha, with a sci-fi drama backdrop. The line between man’s science and God is

An Amalgam's go to vehicle. Can you feel the emotion?

blurred. No longer is it the struggle between machine and man, but a meshing of the two. Man’s ultimate goal. In futuristic Germany, a crack team of soldiers known as the XAT (Xenogenesis Assault Team) has been given the task for  the bast decades to find and eradicate as well as protect the citizens of Germany from what are known as Amalgams (Demoniacs to the public.). These Amalgams are humans who have been transferred using some scientific disease into machines capable of attaching themselves to electronics and vehicles.

It is only common for these Amalgams to be created from dead bodies. Until one day, after being involved in an Amalgam attack, Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat) is given the chance to regain his

legs and race again. But the price it pays is that he becomes a living Amalgam. And the fate of all Amalgams? Bloodlust, insanity, and death. It is up to the XAT to discover the cause of a living Amalgam and what this would mean for the furure of Germany and the rest of the world. But the Amalgams go deeper than a mere nuisance. And I’ve only covered the first 6 episodes. You have to watch the rest for yourself.

Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat)

As I said before, this anime has some pretty spectacular 3-D animated graphics that blew me away. Any scene with an Amalgam or vehicle is given a special touch of full-breadth motion and fluidity. Combine this with a 2-D background and characters and you have an interactive combo right there. What could be better than this you say? Well, the character creation is top notch. The characters (and there are quite a few) deal with so many different emotions and personalities. There are the soldiers of the XAT, dealing with betrayal, duty, and what it means to be a soldier. (A very German thing, the honor of fighting for one’s country.) The humans turned Amalgams and their struggle with their humanity. The original Amalgams and their struggle with their pasts and their duty to the furthering of humankind and its evolution. God’s role in this anime is huge. (Another attitude of a prominently Protestant country.)

And then there’s the skeletons in Germany’s closet. The race hatred. The problems with German old

The amazing graphics behind Blassreiter.

family citizens of a higher class and the lower class foreigners given a chance for a new life in Germany, but given the scraps of the other classes. The hatred, the xenophobia. It all plays out on a tasteful stage. But even as this issue fades out to a respectable end, Germans are given a nod of respect for the strides they’ve made since the blood of the past has begun to dry and flake on their hands. And I give a nod of respect to the Japanese for the nod to the Germans.

The premise is interesting for a mecha. In a world moving forward, what is the point in which humans must pull back and examine their humanity versus their

What is behind the Amalgams?

technological drive? Anti-sci-fi (?) in a mecha is an interesting approach, and I welcomed it, being a mecha anime fan myself. (If I haven’t covered this before, non-anime fans/fans to be, mecha is mechanized (?) anime, dealing with machines and robots, i.e. Gundam Wing.)

Joseph (Todd Haberkorn), a character of anguish.

There should also be some credit given to the voice strained voice actors who lent their emotion to this anime. Watching this dubbed, I was amazed with the power given to the characters purely through voice. Joseph Jobson (Todd Haberkorn). Almost unrecognizable, but gives that brooding hero voice with a disturbed and tragic past to perfection. Hermann Saltza (Travis Willingham). This guy swore and yelled more than any other voice actor I’ve ever heard. I give him credit for days at a time (probably) of a hoarse speaking voice. His emotions and pain came to the table and delivered. Gerd Frentzen (Christopher Sabat). I give him credit because he is the amazing Christopher Sabat (as you know, I’m a big fan.). His voice of gruff torture and anguish spoke to me as usual, and kept me grippingly emotional. And Amanda Werner (Jamie Marchi). Her torrent of emotional confusion and desperation was quite excellent. And that’s only a few. But isn’t that enough to get you watching this anime? Get to it. 7.8 out of 10.