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Oh, woe is me for not having seen a Miyazaki film sooner. I’m back again for a few reviews (after vacation back home) and I thought I’d start with a film that, for me, was a revelation and fan-creating film. If only Disney hadn’t have put its grimy paws all over this film and let Studio Ghibli find English voice actors, this movie could’ve surpassed even my expectations. (But Disney is all about them big bones.) But it had Christian Bale, so it’s all good. This wonderful film about growing up
A house with a view.
and finding what you believe in is a more mature answer to the childish wonder we all find in cartoons and fantasy.
In this steampunk-like adventure story, we come across Sophie (Emily Mortimer), a young woman and local hatter in a town ruled by an aristocracy and the army. Magic is an agreed upon phenomenon and witches and wizards roam the countryside. After an encounter with a young, dashing, magical man named Howl (Christian Bale), Sophie finds herself swept away by the man’s charm. After encountering another witch later that night, The Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall), Sophie is turned into an old woman (voiced by Jean Simmons) and is not allowed to speak of her curse.
After this terrible twist of “Big”-like events, Sophie travels off into the countryside to escape her mother and what people would think of her. She encounters a wonderfully fun and lovable scarecrow on a stick, and, eventually, Howl and his Moving Castle. Accompanying Howl are his associated fire demon, Calcifer (Billy Crystal), and his apprentice in waiting, Markl (Josh Hutcherson). Acting as a makeshift nanny/homekeep, Sophie attempts to gain everyone’s trust, all the while searching for some way to reverse her curse. It ends up being one wild ride, indeed.
Look at that redonk detail.
I was overall impressed with this film. Like I said, I’ve never seen a Miyazaki film before and my girlfriend owned this one and wanted me to watch it. She was totally right and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a great film. Miyazaki’s style for me is completely original, unusual and quirky. His plot may have been taken from a book of the same name, but it was such a unique and off kilter movie/story/plotline that I loved what was going to happen next. It wasn’t action packed, it wasn’t magic performance filled or anything like that. It was what it was. And I appreciated that immensely.
For the most part, the voices in the film were accurately matched to each of the characters. Christian
Cosplays waiting to happen.
Bale, for the kind of frail character Howl was, was a bit of a stretch. And he wasn’t even allowed to use his British accent! What kind of crap is that when a decent percentage of the rest of the cast was British? Oh Christian Bale, will you ever be able to use your own voice? I enjoyed Billy Crystal and his comedic portrayal of Calcifer. And I was spot on again at recognizing voices when I heard both Josh Hutcherson and Crispin Freeman’s guest voicing of Turnip Head towards the end. Some of the supporting cast and background voices were a bit iffy, but overall I wasn’t disappointed.
I loved the overall feel and message of this film. The style it was going for was just right for the way this movie presented itself. The music was whimsical and the animation is above and beyond a lot of cartoon films that are done here. Why? That’s because of the attention to detail and colorful style that Miyazaki and his animation crew have created with all their projects. The film is beautiful to look at and is a visual journey in itself. Hell, this movie didn’t even need much dialogue did it? I would’ve watched it just as a silent film and enjoyed it just as much. The creative ways in which Miyazaki created a world with unique aspects and inventions left me awestruck. I’m definitely in for some treats with the rest of Miyazaki’s films. I’ll give Howl’s Moving Castle a 8.7 out of 10.
Leave a comment | tags: adventure story, amazing animation, apprentice, aristocracy, army, attention to detail, based on a novel, beautiful to look at, Big, Billy Crystal, British accent, Calcifer, cartoons, charming, childish wonder, Christian Bale, colorful style, comedic performance, Crispin Freeman, curse, Disney, Emily Mortimer, english voice actors, fantasy, find yourself, fire demon, frail character, great film, great message, growing up, handsome young man, Hatao Miyazaki, hatter, home cleaner, Howl, Howl's Moving Castle, iffy background voices, impressive, inventive, Jean Simmons, Josh Hutcherson, Lauren Bacall, magic, Markl, mature, Miyazaki films, moving castle, nanny, off kilter, old woman, original style, quirky, revelation, Scarecrow, Sophie, steampunk style, Studio Ghibli, The Witch of the Waste, Turnip Head, unique, unique aspects, unusual, visual journey, whimsical music, wild ride, witches and wizards, young woman | posted in Anime/ T.V., Movies
And now I begin the journey of slobbering and raving all over The Matrix series. You know those experiences in movies when, after it’s all over, you want to believe what you saw is real? I had that. And the insane desire to practice martial arts moves. I can say with pure conviction that this movie was the exact point where I defined
That’s a stunner right there.
myself as a person. My love for action/martial arts films started here. My love for metal also started here. With how I’m saying this was such a definitive movie in my life, how can it not be considered amazing and a game changer?
For those who don’t know what The Matrix as a movie/concept is, I’m not gonna reveal too much, but I’m going to talk about this movie at great length. So sit back, relax, and be ready to jump into that rabbit hole.
The Matrix is the story of Neo (Keanu Reeves), a computer hacker by night and a computer programmer by day. The duality between his life is cleverly dictated by colors and clothing as well as surroundings. On a constant search for Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Neo must steer two lives as Mr. Anderson and Neo in order to bring some semblance to his life. But he discovers something he may not have expected. In a chance encounter with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Neo realizes the truth about the turn of the century world we live in even as we speak.
In a world so heavily controlled by technology and computers, it isn’t any wonder that a film with complete computer
Black is back.
dependence would be created. It adds an element of mystery to it when the creators of the film, the Wachowski Brothers, are really not well known at all. Wanting to keep their own privacy, it seems as if these brothers know something about the world they’re not supposed to tell…
He is the one. (How many times have you seen this homaged in movies?
I truly love all the influences that the Wachowski Brothers drew on in order to make this movie. Anime style world and immersion, sci-fi concepts and futuristic ideas of control and advancement, Kung Fu fight scenes, even turn of the century CG effects and camera techniques. This movie, in 1999, was the true game changer when it came to creating a whole new era of cinematography and special effects through computer graphics. This movie was well thought out in all aspects and stands as one of the last true bastions of original thought in cinema. Stand aside Inception, you took your “original” ideas from The Matrix. (The whole time I was sitting in the theater at Inception, I thought hmmm, this seems familiar… A dream within a dream? More like, are we within the Matrix?)
She wrecks pretty hard in this one.
Some people criticize the first film for creating this amazing start to a story with original story and unconventional means of explanation. Then the second half of the film deals with guns and fighting, turning into a traditional action film. That is EXACTLY what I wanted from this film. I am a sucker for great fight scenes and lots of blood and carnage. This movie made me think at the same time that it delivered in a visually stunning way. When you can cross genres like this film did, you know you created something unique.
Add to wonderful things about this film: acting. You got a great cast that each person has done a handful of works, but not that well known. You got Laurence Fishburne, a man who will always been seen as
The greatest fight scene of all time.
Morpheus. His ability to act as sensei and grandmaster of knowledge and leadership shines in this film. Joe Pantoliano as Cypher. He did some work before this, but I felt this was a springboard for a lot of actors to get bigger and better work heading into the 2000’s. His “cheesy action lines” felt well delivered, as did every line in this film. This is one of those movies in which every line feels original, as if Neo is awaking to a world where everything is new and fresh. That’s excellent. Carrie-Anne Moss is the sexy, badass, femme-fatale chick who rocks the short haircut and kicks in bullet time. I had no idea who she was, but this movie made me aware a woman can be just as cold and calculated in a film like this. Cue every other female hero in a movie after this one.
A world gone wrong.
And then we come to Keanu Reeves as Neo. People complain he didn’t do well. People make fun of Keanu Reeves in general as always playing that dumbass Ted from the Bill & Ted movies. I would say he lost the surfer accent in this movie and really took the reins. His character dictates the film and discovers himself throughout the series, regardless if anyone thinks Keanu is a good actor. Here’s the thing though. Could you imagine anyone else in the role of Neo? Will Smith turned it down because he felt he wasn’t mature enough of an actor to do the role. And Nic Cage was offered the role. As amazing of a movie as that would’ve been, it wouldn’t have been as good. I think the Wachowski Brothers made the best choice possible. Of anyone.
So you got the great acting, the amazing cinematography and effects, and an amazing storyline. What more could you need? ENTER THE AMAZING SOUNDTRACK. Don Davis absolutely
Mind bending with Aang. (Am I right?)
created the best score possible to set the tone for this movie. An amazing brass section to create revelation moments throughout the film, making the jumps and feats seem that much more badass. Quick trills and a pounding bassline when needed just to make you wish you were onscreen, in the Matrix, doing what Neo is doing. When a soundtrack, not even the songs used, can pump you up that much, that is an award winning musical score.
And then there’s the songs from the film. Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Rage Against the Machine… Talk about all the 1990’s greats that have exploded into the 2000’s. This movie made “Calm like a Bomb” at the end feel like the only song anyone could ever
I’m calm like a bomb.
end a film with. So kick ass. When I heard those ending credits roll, I knew what kind of music would define my life for the rest of it. Superb.
So combine all these outrageously amazing aspects into one film and create a series out of it? You have me hooked for life. I would consider this in the top three movie trilogies of all time, probably #1 of all time. Nothing gets better than this if you love movies. No question. 10 out of 10. Check it out to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes (I also love Alice in Wonderland. Go figure.)
Leave a comment | tags: 10 out of 10, 1990's greats, 1999, 2000's, action films, advancement, Alice in Wonderland, amazing movie experience, amazing soundtrack, amazing story, anime style world and immersion, are we within the Matrix, badass, best choice made, best score, Bill & Ted, blood and carnage, bullet time, Calm Like a Bomb, camera techniques, Carrie-Anne Moss, CG effects, character defines the film, cheesy action lines, cold and calculated, colors, complete dependence, computer graphics, computer hacker, computer programmer, control, cross genres, Cypher, definitive movie, Deftones, discovery, Don Davis, duality, ending credits, excellence, female hero, femme fatale, futuristic ideas, game changer, Grandmaster, great acting, great influences, guns and fighting, hooked for life, Inception, Joe Pantoliano, jumps and feats, Keanu Reeves, knowledgable, Kung Fu fight scenes, last true bastion of original thought, Laurence Fishburne, leadership, makes you think, Marliyn Manson, Martial Arts, martial arts films, metal music, Morpheus, Mr Anderson, mystery, Neo, new and fresh, Nicholas Cage, pump you up, rabbit hole, Rage Against the Machine, revelation moments, Rob Zombie, sci-fi, sci-fi concepts, self defining movie, sensei, sets the tone, sexy, short haircut, special effects, sprinboard for more acting, surfer accent, technology and computers, Ted, The Matrix, The Matrix series, the truth, top movie trilogy of all time, traditional action film, Trinity, turn of the century, unique, visually stunning, Wachowski Brothers, well delivered, Will Smith | posted in Movies
Based on the Japanese manga (where all good stories come from) written by Nobuaki Minegishi, what incredible things can I say about Oldboy? Considered the best in the Revenge trilogy, Oldboy comes from a very visceral place combining elements of all
kinds of storytelling into one film. It’s got revenge and tragedy, theatrical protestations and all the heart and music of an opera. People have said (CNN has said) that it is one of the 10 best Asian films ever made. Let’s back that up and rephrase. There’s no need to include Asian in that statement. Ten best films ever made? Sounds good to me.
I’ve seen Oldboy twice now and I’ve been thoroughly entertained both times. The story is fresh and there’s just enough plot and action that keeps you captivated to the edge of your seat. Visually striking, poetic in the way it is formulated and the scenes are shot… Think about the snazziest guy you know that does things in such an elegant way and give him a beat-up haircut and a hammer. That’s this movie in a nutshell.
If you laugh, then the world laughs with you…
Revenge, as I’ve talked about in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is played with in this movie as well. Just when you think you have the good and bad guy figured out, it turns itself on its head. Sympathy is the keyword in all these films. You are meant to feel sympathetic towards all characters in this film. Nobody is spared a reason for doing what they do, and that makes it all the easier to see this as a truly brutally honest humanistic film.
Basic plot, shall we? Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) was kidnapped after a drunken night out around his daughter’s birthday. He vanishes from society for 15 years and we get to see a montaged version of that process. Through Oh Dae-su’s diaries, we see the tortured mind that has no idea of his crimes or who he wronged. He writes down every name he can remember in case he has to seek
I forgot to mention Ji-tae Yu, but he did some great work in this movie too.
revenge or beg forgiveness, it’s all up in the air at this point. But, with no reason or rhyme, Oh Dae-su is released after 15 long years of seeing no one and having no company other than a T.V. This leads him on a calculated and cold chase for the man who put him away for seemingly no reason.
Choi Min-sik is a theatrical master in this film. I’m pretty sure Park Chan-wook liked him so much that he brought him back for Lady Vengeance for that reason (different character, just as good). He has a great sense of theatrical, dramatic moments, and he takes his time in delivering lines. That’s what I found interesting about this movie (and Lady Vengeance). Choi Min-sik gathers his thoughts (as a person not on camera would) and says things as if he is choosing his words carefully (no script style). It’s a very unique and non-traditional way of acting, and I enjoy it every time I see him (i.e. watch I Saw The Devil).
The cinematography in this film is a bit more fluid, but you see the same basic ideas come across in this one that you saw in Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. Long shots, wide angles, an extreme focus on the bigger picture. This movie has a fight scene from a side angle that is about 5 minutes long and took 17 takes in 3 days to make. Uncut and visceral, it’s realistic fight scenes like this that make martial arts films being made today possible. (You can see a similar scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector.)
The plot is fantastic and the cast is great as usual. It’s movies like this that only come around once in a lifetime that everything comes together perfectly to make a film that transcends genre, style, and overall movie like quality. You feel you are watching something more real and ethereal than you expected to see with something created by man. I can’t say anything bad about this movie and I feel, for all audiences (above 13, I’d say) this movie is worth watching again and
A strange sense of Korean comedy…
again. Moviemakers out there, if you don’t already have this for your collection, get it. This should change the movie industry (hopefully) for the next 20 years. And I really hope Spike Lee doesn’t remake it…
Anyways, 10 out of 10. Obviously.
Leave a comment | tags: 10 out of 10, 13 and above, 15 years, 17 takes, 3 days, 5 minutes, all audiences, all kinds of storytelling, based on Japanese manga, beg forgiveness, bigger picture, birthday, brilliant plot, brutally honest film, captivating, change the movie industry, chase, Choi Min-sik, chooses words carefully, CNN, cold and calculated, comes together perfectly, crimes, daughter, delivers lines extremely well, diaries, dramatic timing, edge of your seat, elegant, entertaining every time, ethereal, fluid feel, fresh storytelling, genre, good inspiration for movie makers, good vs bad, great cinematography, hammer, heart and soul, humanistic, I Saw the Devil, imprisonment, kidnapping, Korea, Korean, Lady Vengeance, long shots, martial arts films, montage, motives and reasons, movie quality, no reason, Nobuaki Minegishi, non traditional, Oh Dae-su, Oldboy, once in a lifetime film, one of the best 10 Asian films ever made, one of the ten best films ever made, one take fight scene, opera, Park Chan-wook, poetic, realistic fight scene, remake, revenge, Revenge trilogy, side angle, snazzy, solid cast, Spike Lee, style, sympathy, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Protector, theatrical, theatrical master actor, Tony Jaa, tortured mind, tragedy, transcendent, TV, uncut, unique, visceral, visually striking, wide angles, worth watching many times | posted in Movies
I have to say at first I was a bit skeptical about this movie. From the get go, the Iron Monkey/Robin Hood hero is flying through the air pulling off some ridiculous kicks and spin moves. It reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but in more of a comical way. And then I let all those inhibitions go and enjoyed the movie for its technique and visual thrill. By the end, I was pumped up, and inspired to go downstairs and try out some moves on my little sister. But it was 2 in the morning, and I was to lazy to beat up on a sleeping person.
Iron Monkey is the epic tale of a man with a hidden, superhero-like identity. Yang Tianchun (Yu Rongguang) is a medical doctor. He treats the poor for no fee and makes the rich pay what they feel is necessary to heal their ailments. Nights, Yang
Donnie Yen, the master.
moonlights as The Iron Monkey. He sneaks into the evil Governor Cheng’s (Jean Wang) chambers and steals from him. He defeats a dozen guards and four Shaolin monks. It is apparent that no one can stand up to the power of The Iron Monkey.
Wrought with despair at having any of his massive plunder taken, Governer Cheng orders the head of his guard, Fox (Yuen Shun-yi) to search and find anyone who could be the Iron Monkey. When a foreign physician/rapist martial artist rolls into town, Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen) and his son/disciple Wong Fei-hung (Angie Tsang) are arrested. Noticing Kei-ying’s power, the Governor enlists him to find the Iron Monkey, or he will leave his son in the dungeons forever. It is up to Donnie Yen in his fight for his son and the well being of a town who benefits from the one man he is trying to capture. Let the chase begin.
Angie Tsang, what amazing things she did with that stick.
After getting over the wire propelled stunts and kicks, I came to really enjoy the characters and the setting for this film. A remake from back in the 1970’s, this movie went farther and more elaborate than I’m sure the other film did. Based on a myth of the Wong father and son’s interaction with an “Iron Monkey” like character, a real mystery is placed around a Batman like character.
All of the fight scenes are dope. Every one is unique and takes place in a different location that utilizes the surroundings to pull off a spectacularly choreographed fight scene. And there are 4 martial artists whose skills are showcased. It’s not all about the Monkey. I
An evil power looms…
found that to be a relief from films that focus on the protagonist and no one else. The Iron Monkey actually had less fight scenes than anyone else!
And here’s another thing that blew my mind. Donnie Yen’s son in the film is actually played by a girl! Angie Tsang is on Hong Kong’s national Wushu martial arts team. She won silver in the Asian Games and Gold in the Wushu Championships. And the whole time I thought she was some malnourished little boy. I’m always thrilled to see a young woman destroying big burly guys on camera with skills she actually can do and will do in order to defend herself and utlimately kick you ass (i.e. Chocolate). A big bravo and props sent Angie’s way.
What a great last fight scene. Get some of that.
With an almost over the top plot with lots of great comic relief and fight scenes, this movie is something I would recommend to a lot of first time martial arts movie watchers. It has the plot in order to draw you in and then blows you back with the martial arts action. Donnie Yen is a martial arts destroyer as usual, and I plan to do a lot more reviews of his movies in the future (most likely his Ip Man films). This movie inspires you to fight for the weak and poor, and rightly so. It is the true way of a master. 8.2 out of 10.
Leave a comment | tags: 1970's, Angie Tsang, Asian Games, Batman, blow you away, Chocolate, comical, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, different locations, disciple, Donnie Yen, dope fight scenes, draw you in, dynamic characters, epic tale, first timers, Fox, girl fighters, Governor Cheng, great choreographed fight scenes, great comic relief, great technique, healer, Hero, hidden identity, Hong Kong, in flight, inspiring, Ip Man, Iron Monkey, Jean Wang, kick your ass, kicks, Martial Arts, masterful, medical doctor, myth, over the top, physician, pumped up, remake, Robin Hood character, Shaolin monks, showcased, skeptical, skills, son, spin moves, the chase, The Iron Monkey, the poor, theft, thief, unique, visual thrill, wire rigs, woman, Wong Fei-hung, Wong Kei-ying, Wushu Championships, Wushu martial arts team, Yang Tianchun, Yu Rongguang, Yuen Shun-yi | posted in Movies