Now I gave this review “The New Face of Horror” for a reason. This movie may be 5 years old, but this movie packs a whole lot of suspense, shock, and plot into one film. With a simple plot inside of a psychological mess of meaning, this movie entertains the mind on so many levels. The Pang Brothers, directors of Bangkok Dangerous (surprisingly the original and the remake), The Eye, and The Messengers, these bros do a whole lot more with this film. I did find The Eye to be terrifying (the original, mind you) and full of disturbing images, it was coming from an honest place in the horror genre that speaks to exactly what horror is. The idea of seeing just what frightens you and not being able to stop it. And, I would like to argue, Re-Cycle does the same with its intent.
The movie starts out like any Ring-like/Grudge like plot device. Ting-Yin (Angelica Lee) is a successful author of romance novels, drawing on her own heartbreaking life experiences with her lovers. When her agent announces that the book she will be currently working on is one of a supernatural nature. Delving into a world of literature and life she is unfamiliar with, Ting-Yin finds difficulty in this topic. After her ex-lover of long ago returns from divorcing his wife, Ting-Yin finds she must reexamine just what love means to her. And then that’s when things get weird.
Ting-Yin and the girl.
Ting-Yin, after writing a bit of her novel, finds that the supernatural events she is writing about… are happening to her. After scenes of suspense and danger, Ting-Yin escapes into a world not her own. She wanders through this world, encountering those who would wish her harm and others who provide help. Will she discover the meaning of this world and the characters she encounters? What exactly is the meaning of Re-Cycle? You’ll have to check out this wonderful film to discover its secrets.
The chilling ghost town of Ting-Yin's mind.
What really blew me away about this movie was the Guillermo del Toro special effects. Who I consider to be the greatest creature/effects creator of all time sets the bar for me when it comes to comparison on fantasy effects. And this movie ranks highly on the del Toro scale. The hanging forest chills me, and the mask that the little girl wears is terrifying. In an almost Silent Hill (again, there’s a review on this movie on my blog), the world that Ting-Yin encounters rivals that of the decayed town in which the main character of Silent Hill finds herself in. In an almost eerily similar way, at times in the film, Ting-Yin finds herself in a section of her world that begins to decay (or recycle, as it were) underneath her feet. And there’s one section of the world that will leave you in shock.
Known as the aborted fetus room (I’ll call it that, thanks), this place of horror and its demented baby fetuses is classically considered to be a comment on the issue of pro-life. I found it to be interesting in that, in a Chinese film, a woman encounters this house of horrors in what is truly a reality for many Chinese people. Due to the regulations on population size and number of children allowed, many women would have to face this trial for themselves. But, as the Pang Brothers divulge, “That just happens to be one of the topics in the movie. We are not out to say if abortion is right or wrong.” (That was said by Oxide Pang. What a badass name.)
But this movie really rolls a lot of fantasy worlds I find endearing into one. For one, Silent Hill. The idea of a demented ghost town is always a creepy thing. Then, there’s the elements of a “Fall” type realm. In another strain, The Fall is a movie I cherish close to my heart. Tarsem Singh brings an amazingly visual movie to light with a wonderfully tragic story. Not that this movie had that, but it came so damn close I cried regardless at the end. And, as always, my personal favorite, Alice in Wonderland. As if Ting-Yin herself was the Alice down the rabbit hole, this author turned experiencer of her own mind effectively symbolizes Alice and Lewis Carroll all at once.
I actually liked this cover better.
There were only a few drawbacks to this film. The biggest one I would say is the love interest. Well, former love interest. The few parts he had were entirely dubbed over by another Chinese actor. This jarring experience really ruined one of the more emotional scenes that was meant to show you the anguish between Ting-Yin and her lover. The other was the few slightly below average demons in the world in which Ting-Yin traversed. If only a bit of special effects work had been done instead of makeup, it may have looked a bit more demonic and devious. But, all-in-all, this movie delivered on all levels. With a move from the suspenseful and shocking to the macabre and surreal, this movie ends with an emotional bang, in a good way. So definitely check this out. If I had seen this movie earlier, I would’ve given this one of the more enjoyable and engrossing movie watching experiences of 2006. 9.8 out of 10.
In my searchings through the Martial Arts section at F.Y.E, I came across a Thailand Martial Arts films I had not heard of before. It featured, on the cover, a young girl, poised with swords in hand, the most intense look on her face as if to say, “Yeah, I’ll rough you up a bit, Van Damme style.” This immediately piqued my interest. So I got it, took it home, and watched it with my best bud, E.
Let me just say, this is a major statement in the Martial Arts entertainment/otherwise industry. Not only does a girl do Tony Jaa like moves in this film, but she beats up guys 3-4 times her size. With a ridiculously good idea at its base, this solid films sets you up for an action packed Muay Thai styled film that didn’t disappoint, and never left an opportunity for a great new location for an action sequence.
So Zen (Yanin Vismistananda) is the subsequent child of a West Side Story love
Look at those moves. Wow, Yanin.
affair. One parent Thai and one Japanese, this love child of two warring factions is born autistic. Not only is she born autistic, but her concentration allows her to catch things thrown at her from all angles and allows her to pick up Muay Thai fighting techniques from the dojo next door and from T.V. (some great moves from Tony Jaa’s films, obviously a planted element from same director, Panna Rittikrai)
When things start to heat up with old wounds opening, Zen must protect her mother Zin (Ammara Siripong). The cancer eating away at her is expensive to treat, and Zen and Moom (Taphon Phopwandee) must team up to add an element of suspense and comedy to this film about how tweens can do anything. Collecting old debts and pissing off No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) and getting her father Mashashi (Hiroshi Abe) involved, who knows what lengths an autistic girl will do to protect her family of attrition.
There are some really great elements in this movie that shine through in all of
I'm just gonna keep showing you these.
Prancha Pinkaew/ Panna Rittikrai’s work. First of all, fight locations. This movie has fight scenes in a ice factory, warehouse, slaughterhouse, and tea house, all in one. Using the layout of the locations in combination with Yanin and the stunt actor’s skills makes for a deadly combo that is played out poetically on film. Jumping over boxes, avoiding ice hooks and blocks, what could be better than imagining this all happening in an actual real life situation? This girl knows her stuff, and it shows hard.
How is this not a 12 year old girl?
And that’s another thing that impressed me so much. Yanin Vismistanada, a 24 year old Thai girl, master of Taekwondo with a 3rd degree Dan blackbelt, looks like a 12 year old. Looks can be deceiving. He moves are fluent, her Tony Jaa imitation is flawless, she’s got the works. Discovered on the Born to Fight set in 2003 by Panna Rittikrai himself, this girl is destined to eventually equal/surpass Jaa himself (or at least Dan Chupong).
Simply the best.
With some fantastic English spoken by both Thai and Japanese men (still needed subtitles though) and quite a few transvestites, speaking to Thailand’s rich heritage, this movie has a combination unlike anything I’ve ever seen. An inspirational movie speaking to how children can do whatever they wanna do, this movie is a definite need in anyone’s growing Martial Arts collection. I give this movie, in comparison to all other Panna Rittikrai/Muay Thai movies I’ve seen, a definite 9.5 out of 10.
As I promised another badass Dan Chupong film, with some intense use of firepower! In this one, as it suggests, Dan
Dan Chupong. Ready to spark it up.
Chupong is the Dynamite Warrior, Jone Bang Fai (Bang is right). Appearing out of nowhere at the beginning of the film, Jone Bang Fai launches his dynamite-fueled rockets at a pack of thieving buffalo herders. With direct impacts and a few good, swift kicks, Dan Chupong dispatches the thieves and takes the buffaloes for the poor farmers who need the buffalo to attend to their farms.
And therein lies the genius behind this film. With a hint of Disney magic (from Hell), Dan Chupong becomes the Robin Hood-fox, and steals from the evil and gives to the just. With his skill with explosives and Muay-Thai, Jone Bang Fai becomes a force to be reckoned with. But not all is well in Nottingham Forest. Lord Wang (Leo Putt) has struck a deal with the American manufacturers of the West and plans on stealing all the buffalo to force poor farmers into utilizing the tractors. Did I mention this is early to mid 19th century Thailand? With this evil plan, Lord Wang plans to make a fortune and bow his little slice of Thailand to his will.
Dan Chupong. Rocket rider.
But there are a few men who wish to stand up to his tyranny. An “evil” group of magical warriors, led by Naai Jan (Jaran Ngamdee) blocks Lord Wang’s plans from seeing their full fruition. His fellow warriors, a lion and a monkey (well not exactly… they have the fighting styles of those animals…), he taps them on the head and they become lethal warriors, unable to quell their thirst for violence and blood. With Naai Jan and his fighting force, it appears they can’t be stopped. Unless Dan Chupong stands up to these behemoths of pain, no one can truly be safe. But oh, the twists.
And how many twists there are. You really have to check out the film for all the suspense and…
And there's these guys. Legendary director/stuntman Panna Rittikrai on the left!
unfortunately… hilarity that ensues. There’s talk of period blood, virginity, and an awkward relationship that mirrors the idea of incest. It’s all rather a freak show wrapped up into one action packed film. But that doesn’t change the fact that this film still kicks ass. Ignore the poorly dubbed acting (rather unfortunate I couldn’t get a chance to watch it otherwise). Ignore the strange overuse of fireworks. And the strange magical and mythical twists. This movie stands out with its plot and bare knuckle brawls. No holds barred, stunts and blunts, beat-down of an epic proportion film. With a crossover of the small amount of Thai action film stars, you see parallels between Dan and Tony Jaa, but it doesn’t detract from the film. It enhances the appreciation and experience. And that’s what counts with this film. It’s all about the presentation. That’s why I give the good ole Dynamite Warrior at 6.6 out of 10.
What is there to say about Mnemosyne? This short 6 episode, 45 minutes per is one of those anime you watch without really being able to explain it. Set in 4 different time periods (1990’s, 2011, 2025, and 2055) these episodes display a pattern that is constantly broken. Rin, a private investigator and femme fatale, takes the ordinary and mundane in her cases and uncovers the surreal and supernatural. And this isn’t unfounded. Rin herself is an immortal. How did she get to become an immortal? Well you’ll just have to watch to find out.
There’s not a lot to say about this show, so this’ll probably be a short review. The plot becomes intricate as it
Too sexy Rin.
develops, so it’s not too hard to follow despite the changes in time. There are some consistent characters though. Besides Rin (Colleen Clinkenbeard), there’s her assistant Mimi (Jamie Marchi) the other immortal computer wiz of the ever changing duo. And, as the show progresses, Koki Maeno (Robert McCollum) and his descendants become integral parts of the plot.
See what I mean?
This anime is quite graphic as well. Known as a grotesque and erotic anime, there’s some pretty gruesome and pornographic scenes. I mean this thing borders on straight up Hentai. (Not for the kids, mind.) These elements mix to make a suspenseful thriller mystery unlike most anime I’ve ever seen of any of these anime by themselves. I mean there are scenes of sodomy, scenes of overwhelming erotic passion, and bondage with torture. Who doesn’t love that?
I initially wanted to watch this anime because of a really cool AMV I saw (I’ll post it at the end) and I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. I had originally planned to watch this subbed and found a respectable english voice class. Todd Haberkorn did a great job as Apos, the slightly devious and strangely evil… well… angel. (Now you have to watch it.) I’ve not seen Haberkorn
Rin. A different experience.
ever voice act for a villain, but it was slightly chilling. Christopher Bevins gave a respectable performance as Tamotsu Yanagihara, the hardened investigator who’s career develops over the course of the anime. And I give all the credit to Colleen Clinkenbeard for her performance as Rin, the amazingly sexy protagonist of the series.
So, all in all, this is a little anime that gives the creeps. Tastefully sexual and quite intricate, it’s worth more than one watch. Check out Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne, straight out of The Abyss. 7.2 out of 10.
Even after watching this anime and reading about it, I am still at a loss for words. This anime, in a word, is confusing. To a high degree. I mean, this is intelligent, philosophical musings about the world and the purpose of life. As seen by the praying AutoReivs. That is one of those images that has stuck with me throughout the anime. Those androids, staring up into the sky, arms brought together in prayer, a rare piece of imagery that will continue to perplex me as I muse upon the meaning of Ergo Proxy.
Let me give you a bare-bones explanation of what I took away from the plot of this anime. This anime is
What is a Proxy?
focused mainly around the upper class citizens of Romdeau, one of the last vestiges of life on Earth. This is because of some great ecological disaster that happened sometime in the past that has forced dome-like structures to keep out the pollution and destruction of the outside world. Humans and AutoReivs (androids who are created for specific purposes to help humans) like in harmony, helping one another in their struggle to survive. And, even in this devastated world, there are those humans who are considered not to be citizens of Romdeau. One of these immigrants is Vincent Law (Liam O’Brien). With no past and what seems to be no future, this lowly character has some connection to the murders and soon to be discovered Proxies of this world. It is up to Rie-l Mayer (Megan Hollingshead) to discover the connection, and it is up to Vincent Law to discover his purpose. A daunting task that leaves me in awe and confusion.
Dark and foreboding? I think so.
This being a crime/suspense/thriller anime, and my wonderful girlfriend recommending it/loaning me the DVDs, I knew I would like this anime. I just didn’t realize how confused it would leave me. But, in this instance, I was not confused in a frustrating way. This anime invites watchers to come back and re-analyze this anime more than once. I feel its the only way to really grasp what this anime is trying to put across. Every episode, although some may seem disconnected to the flowing plot, are important in their scope. (One of the episodes deals with a Walt Disney look-alike and cartoon characters.) But these episodes enhance the meaning of what these characters are trying to discover. And, if you watch very carefully (as I will again), I’m sure the meaning of the show is laid out right before your eyes.
One difficulty I had following this anime was the dark way in which it was produced. The artwork is all dark from the very beginning. It’s hard to see things onscreen (or T.V.) and I felt like I was missing things that were quite important in the first few episodes. Looking back on it now, maybe you are supposed to view the anime through this lens as if you are in the dark, just like the characters. For the anime does begin to brighten as it progresses. Maybe that was the intention. Either way, this anime was truly dark, visually and psychologically. The implications that lay just beyond the plot gave it the weight of the foreboding apocalypse of the world, a comment on our own and the theorized one presented in Ergo Proxy. The way in which these images are presented is a whole other story. The combined animated mediums bring together a visual experience unlike most anime I’ve seen. This gives it that sci-fi feeling that the show really goes for, and I quite enjoyed the ride.
There were a few, although not many, notable good voice acting performances in this dubbed anime. (I might watch it subbed for fun later.) Most notably was Liam O’Brien as Vincent Law. His voice really stood out to me in a way that’s hard to describe. It was as if O’Brien knew the anguish that Vincent Law was facing in not knowing who he is and what his purpose is. Travis Willingham does a great job as Iggy, Rei-l’s AutoReiv and friend. (Loose term.) As funny
Confusing and good. Thank you Dameon Clarke.
as he is for a n android with little/no emotions, he brings life to a character that comes to realization that his purpose is flawed. Some of the best episodes come when Iggy comes to terms with that. Bravo, Travis Willingham. Patrick Seitz is amazing as Raul Creed, my favorite character in the anime. This Security Bureau head is a character of duty and conflict that comes because of that duty. He is always being pressured by the Regent and feels he has no breathing room. But when he lets all that go, then Patrick Seitz’s voice really shines through (best episodes towards the end). Another two voices that I’d just like to commend in passing are Troy Baker (my boy) and Dameon Clarke as two of the Proxies in the show (I won’t be specific, might ruin it). These elegant voice actors really bring a menacing element to the table in the way they present their characters, and they really flesh out the plot and bring to light just what Vincent Law is. Really amazing work.
Besides all this, you really have to watch the anime for yourself. If you’re a fan of dark, twisted, suspenseful anime, this is indeed for you. But make sure you’re willing to commit to a re-watch and thorough analysis. This may just existentially blow your mind. 8.8 out of 10.
So I just recently re-watched The Mummy and The Mummy Returns with my roommate and it was quite the nostalgic experience. I went back to a time where I used to be obsessed with the Eqyptians. I read books about them, I talk with my grandma about her trips to Egypt, she showed me slides, and, most importantly, I watched The Mummy series. I loved the story of Imhotep and how the story was interesting and at the same time based on historical evidence. The people, the places, the times of the Pharaohs, it was all real and interesting. And it was all set in the era of the archeologist. And automated weapons. What could be better?
So, basic plot of both films. Rick O’Connell (Brendan Frasier) and Evelyn “Evy” O’Connell, (Rachel Weisz) (Yes, they get married in the second. They even have a child! Imagine that!) accompanied by her brother Johnathan, (John Hannah) awake a mummy named Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). He was never meant to be awoken, because of his travesties against Seti I. He was given the Hom Dai, the worst of all curses that transfers over into the afterlife. He fooled around with Seti’s wife-to-be Anck Su Namun (Patricia Velasquez) and killed Seti I. This story is all explained and re-explained in the two movies.
So Evy awakes Imhotep and the whole rest of the movie Rick and Evy race around Egypt attempting to stop the creature. And thus does the first one end. What’s nice about the second one is that it picks up from a point later on, and now Evy and Rick have a kid in tow. Their little “bundle of fun” Alex (Freddie Boath) puts on the Bracelet of Anubis and awakens the Scorpion King (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who will bring about the next apocalypse. Those are Ardeth Bay’s (Oded Fehr) words, not mine. So this movie is about Rick and Evy vs. Imhotep in their race to the lost oasis of Ahm Shere to stop/utilize the Scorpion King’s army.
And these nice little action/adventure plots are what makes the movies. They’re not hard to follow, the keep up the suspense and action, and they’re academically infused with a bit of mythology and history. All based around the idea of a mummy coming back to life. Frightening, and at the same time mesmerizing.
I might be a little biased in my review because I grew up with the Mummy series, but these movies are quite fantastic. And no, I’m not including that hulking piece of garbage known as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. That thing was awful. There’s no Rachel Weisz, the plot is rocky, there’s no Egyptian aspect to it, it’s just trash. If I had to do it, I would compare it to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Not as bad, but really detracted from the Indiana Jones series. But yes, The Mummy/Mummy Returns are quite fantastic in their scope. They use the history of the Pharaohs and the rituals of Egypt to spook and entertain. Setting it all in a early 1900’s era gives it that age of discovery and adventure around the world. And the use (?) of actual (?) locations really ties it all together. (I don’t know if it was filmed on location, but I do like all the pyramids.)
Brendan Frasier at his finest.
And the acting, quite frankly, is some of Brendan Frasier’s finest. He’s witty, but at the same time he can be serious. But I feel like that’s the way this movie was set up. It has the witty, corny lines (to a degree), but at the same time it has its serious parts and serious acting shines through. Rachel Weisz is always great (I can understand why she did resign for the Dragon Emperor) and John Hannah (although Scottish) does quite a good English accent. Probably not the point, but you can only see a little Scottish that pops through throughout the films. Oded Fehr is amazing and does a great job as an Egyptian Medjai. Kevin J. O’Connor always makes me laugh as Beni in The Mummy and whenever Rick O’Connell deals with him is great. I really appreciated Patricia Velasquez’s acting in the second Mummy as Anck Su Namun, trying to pretend to be a reincarnated version of herself. And the list goes on with cameos and small supporting roles that are all quite great.
So if you haven’t already seen these films, check them out. They’re worth the watch and are great for their entertainment value and scope in what they deal with. A definite 8.9 out of 10.
There is only one word that can completely encompass what this movie truly is.
Sucker Punch. Yes.
Plain and simply incredible. When I went with a crew to watch this movie, some didn’t know what to expect. Others were excited. Even few others, me and my roommate/best friend Ian were just about ready to cause some mayhem up in that theater because of pure joy. This movie, as of this year, is my favorite movie of 2011. Heck, best of the past two years, let’s just throw 2010 in there. I thought, hey, The Fighter will clinch my favorite and do okay at the Oscars. Granted. Now… If only Sucker Punch had come out in 2010. It would have blown The Fighter out of the water. This movie was some ridiculous shit. Hands down.
You really will be unprepared.
Let me try to explain this without giving anything away. Not much to give away though, it’s really all just about the experience. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is a supposed mental patient accused of killing her sister and almost murdering her father. She became deranged after her mother’s death and couldn’t take it any longer. Her father takes her to a mental asylum in Vermont and she is held there until she’ll be lobotomized in a week.
Parallel to this runs Baby Doll’s inner fantasy of being taken to a bordello in which the girls dance for their clients. Baby Doll, being that unattainable virgin, is being withheld for the high roller (Jon Hamm) that is set to come in five days. Baby Doll plans on escaping before that day and enlists the help of four other girls at the bordello. Sweet Pea (Abby Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung). With their help, Baby Doll further escapes from reality into her mind as she dances to obtain the four items she needs to stage an escape. And that’s basically it.
Let me just start off by saying that Emily Browning was amazing in this movie. She’s beautiful, talented, and really come into her own in her early twenties.
Emily Browning. New Favorite Actress.
I’ve seen all her movies since 2000, major and minor roles (Ghost Ship, Darkness Falls, Lemony Snicket’s, The Uninvited, now Sucker Punch) and enjoyed every one of them. As she’s grown up, she has taken on a wide array of movies, from horror to children’s to action and the occasional drama. If I had to pick a favorite actress that I’m going to watch from now on, I’m going to place my bid on Emily Browning.
And that’s not to demean the rest of the girls in this film. I really enjoyed the Abby Cornish/Jena Malone combo. Acting as sisters who followed one another to the bordello, these two really did feel like sisters. I’ve found Jena Malone great since Donnie Darko with her alternative look and quirky acting, and now I’ve got a new actress to look out for. Abby Cornish, a new up and
Sweet Pea & Rocket
comer from Australia, was quite the actress, and I didn’t even know she was from there! In other movies she’s done (Bright Star, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) she stuck to her roots and did more period pieces. But I find now that she’s broken more into action and other forms of drama, I feel we’ll be seeing a lot more of Abby Cornish.
Blondie & Amber. They're okay.
And then there’s Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung. Let me put it this way. Vanessa Hudgens is attractive. She may be talented in the way of singing and Disney Channel acting. But the part as a supporting cast member in Sucker Punch was about the only thing she could play. She was more for show than for play if you catch my drift. Jamie Chung on the other hand was a bit better. Playing as the fragile transporter bordello girl in this movie was not a stretch for a girl I’ve only seen in Sorority Row (not bad, I must say, even though most critics wouldn’t agree. It was brutal, at least.) Oh, AND SHE WAS IN DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION. Enough said.
Who I have to give it up to in this movie is Oscar Isaac. That man can act. As Blue, the bordello boss and mental asylum orderly, he switched between roles flawlessly at the end and kept up that “don’t mess with me, I have a short fuse” type of acting style. Although he may seem not that strong or menacing, he pulled it off with his voice and actions throughout the entire film. The first thing I’d seen him in was Pu-239 (great film) and I remember him distinctly in
Oscar Isaacs, Prince John. Better in Sucker Punch
Robin Hood as Prince John, quite the effeminate, yet brutal character. I guess if I had to compare him in acting to anyone, I would say Joaquin Phoenix (like in Gladiator).
Now, let’s talk about the special effects. I’ve heard people liken this movie to a two hour Final Fantasy cutscene. Yes. I agree. But about 1,000 times better. This movie was insane when it came to special effects. No need to see this in 3-D, this movie was just as badass in 2-D. This movie has everything (probably why they called it Fantasy, Sci-fi, Suspense, Thriller, Action… etc.) There are zombie WWI German soldiers, Orcs, Dragons, killer robots, you name it, this movie has got it. And it’s not cliche. It gives an authentic feeling to the old classics that every man in the world has imagined battling. And then it does it. Zack Snyder directive attention to the details of the small things, example, the texture of bullets and shell casings, the way glass looks when it is rained on, the inner workings of a functioning robot. All present and accounted for, slowed down, and shown in detail. That’s what I call devotion to the art of art direction.
All in all, this movie is hands down the best movie I’ve seen in a year. But what else do you expect from Zack Snyder. Let’s recap, shall we? 300, Watchmen, Guardians of Ga’hoole, Sucker Punch. That beginning of a laundry list of badass movies is what I like to call ridiculous. Zack Snyder is fastly becoming one of my favorite directors. 11 out of 10. Yes. 11.
Oh, and the SOUNDTRACK. Check it out, it’s quite amazing.