jump to navigation

Cencoroll – Review February 17, 2010

Posted by Cello in Anime Reviews.
add a comment

Cencoroll tells the story of a town under attack by a mysterious monster, and a young girl named Yuki and a boy named Tetsu, who hold the secret to fighting back: a strange and even-more-mysterious pet called Cenco. When another Cenco user discovers Tetsu, the two will ultimately duel for control and dominance, involving the entire city as their battleground. What is a Cencoroll? Well, the only description given is large, mostly white amorphus creatures. Cenco here is special in a sense that he really adept at shapeshifting into many kinds of different yet useful things to blend into the surroundings. The fluidity of such scenes really shows the technical prowess that Uki has for understanding the amorphousness nature of his creature designs. It is an outstanding anime to behold. However, scene selection is incredibly unconventional, most likely due to it being an amateur work.

At a little under twenty seven minutes, barely a fraction of its theme is explored. Overall, Cencoroll could best be described as a winning idea burdened by a lack of design sense and questionable editing. There is not much to work with but it makes for a quick escape for the casual film watchers and just the right fix for the hardcore fans of the genre. I also don’t know whether the Yuki and Tetsu pairing should really be treated as a pairing since their relationship was just flimsy. Maybe, if they were given a little more time in order to develop the character of this short film, then maybe their paring would have been more convincing for the viewers.

Cencoroll is a quirky little anime that gives you a snapshot of what the genre is still capable of, given the appropriate resources and a little imagination. No doubt a weird story, but I really enjoyed it and while I was watching this I could not help but think that this would work really well as an actual series or at least a long film. Alas, I had to take the film at face value and it’s structured in a very straightforward manner, with the events following a tried and true formula. The way the film uses its assets is worth reproducing in future works, but Cencoroll lacks a life of its own.

Even more, it intentionally does not put forth a great effort to be overly dramatic and thematic. The combination of straightforward cinematography, a blunt protagonist, and weird mecha battles sounds right up my alley. I can’t find any faults in what it sets out to do although from a critics perspective I can rip this anime apart. It puts me at a bit of a crossroads because one of my major criticisms of this movie is that it leaves you wanting more since there are quite a few questions that went unanswered to make for a complete entity as a whole. That can either be a bad thing or a good thing. Yet there is so much wrapped up in this half hour; so much room for imagination and potential for future possibilities. I loved the two simultaneous extremes. Split decision down the middle stamped with an average final score, but it is only 27 minutes of your time…you could do worse.

Wild Zero – Review February 16, 2010

Posted by Cello in Movie Reviews.
1 comment so far

I’ve been spotlighting a lot of the newer big budget movies as of late so I thought I’d bring it back and talk about Wild Zero, which I dug through the archieves to find and am now officially labeling it as B movie greatness. Let us start with how awesome the plot is, Ace helps Guitar Wolf defend the honor of Rock n Roll against an effeminate night club owner who insists cheeseball pop is the way of the future. For this, Guitar Wolf makes Ace a blood brother and gives him a magical whistle that he can blow and summon Guitar Wolf to help him anytime. As Ace hits the road on the way to the next Guitar Wolf gig, a meteorite crashes into the town of the next show, turning all inhabitants into zombies. It is now up to Ace and the members of Guitar Wolf to save humanity in the name of Rock and Roll. Fans of the rock ‘n’ roll movie genre will be pleased to see rock ‘n’ roll doing things you don’t see elsewhere; like taking down huge alien spaceships!

I loved every single second of this movie, from it’s outrageous dialougue, over the top bad special effects and downright fun of it all, I don’t think I can watch this movie enough. Despite being a zombie flick the gore in this film is kept to an incredibly minimum. Another thing that that stands out in the film are its characters. They are all underdeveloped but in their own way very colorful and interesting. Now, this is not an action film so don’t expect it to be one or you’ll be disappointed.

Wild Zero is just crazy and twisted but after watching the whole thing I’m a huge fan. I particularly liked the character of Makoto Inamiya who played a womanizing villain and Haruka Nakajo as a sexy bazooka wielding assassin. Shot in Thailand, the film’s army of the undead was reportedly played by Thai military staff and their families. The alien invasion aspect of the film is pretty much just a plot device to explain the zombies and all we ever see of them is their ships flying past.

Wild Zero is an incredibly silly movie, but if you like that sort of thing, you’ll get ninety minutes of enjoyment out of it. There’s no portion of the flick that hasn’t been done better somewhere else, but all the elements have never been juxtaposed quite like this before. The paranoia of 28 days later or the claustrophobia and social commentary of Romero’s films are entirely absent. Although the concept is ludicrous Wild Zero is major fun from beginning to end. The film is around 10 years old so it should be easy to track down.

Legendary Assassin – Review February 15, 2010

Posted by Cello in Movie Reviews.
add a comment

We’ve all heard of the greats like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and Donnie Yen, but there are always rising stars that pop up in films from time to time that usually float below the radar. Legendary Assassin looked really good and was somewhat like the hope of many Wu Jing fans, that this might be the next step for Wu to climb up the ladder into stardom. Legendary Assassin takes place on a Hong Kong island, kicking things off with Bo taking out a crime boss. His next step is getting off the island, but a Typhoon Signal No. 8 cuts off all transport to the mainland. So from there, he is basically on the run as people look for him.

As action movies go, Legendary Assassin is blazingly unimaginative, so it naturally falls upon the film’s star to carry the proceedings. I don’t think the actor was seasoned enough to take over the lead role. No doubt, the fight scenes here are well choreographed and brutal, especially the epic final battle. But, with only a 85 minute running time, we can only ask for so much. Legendary Assassin might not captivate many with its overall story. It might also turn off a few purest since they included the addition of wires to the fights. Actually it is an extensive use of wires, which are brought into action when performing even the smallest flying kick.  A few realistic moves of Wu would have been so much more impressive.

Where Legendary Assassin does score is with its set pieces and minor details. I’m also all for romance in my action films. The subplot played out nicely and I felt they wrapped it up very nicely. Ultimately, Legendary Assassin is easy to forgive but hard to completely appreciate, as it only scratches the surface of Wu Jing’s abilities. I would track down the fight scenes and leave it at that, as this film left a bad taste in my mouth given the paper thin plot and poor execution.

The film itself remains only recommendable to fans of the genre. There aren’t a whole lot of opponents in this movie that are in Wu’s league skill-wise – the most impressive one on one is with Tenky Tin, so we get a lot of action scenes where Bo is taking on multiple opponents. As I said before, the film may not offer anything new in terms of story, but I would still recommend it for its very well executed action sequences and Wu Jing’s presence alone. Wu Jing can really do a lot more than this. Hopefully a project will come along that will allow him to show that off.

The Cat Returns – Review February 12, 2010

Posted by Cello in Anime Reviews.

The Cat Returns is by director Hiroyuki Morita, his first head directing credit. What a debut it is. A crow statue named Toto comes to life and main character Haru finds out that Baron and Toto were both given souls because their creators loved them so much, and started the Buearu with refugee Muta. With that, The Baron agrees to help Haru and visit the Cat Kingdom to talk sense into them. Just in time, because the cat vanguard arrives to take her away. The Bureau pursues, and Muta and Haru are whisked away, with The Baron and Toto in hot pursuit. I could go on and on about this wonderous story but I am pretty sure I already left you scratch your head. It only sounds complex, because what is underneath the layers is a truely classic tale.

The Cat Returns has all of the charm, incredible animation, and intensity of a Hayao Miyazaki film. If Morita represents the next generation of Ghibli directors, the studio should prepare itself for years upon years of further successful releases. However, the character development is rather narrow and limited. Almost all of the films on this site aren’t suitable for kids but this is one exception. This movie is suitable for all ages and I highly recommend it for younger viewers who are questioning themselves and do not have trust in their own judgement.

The Cat Returns is wildly hilarious, with excellent one-liners and brutal slapstick. It is hard to keep a straight face during the brilliant and hysterical execution scene. Combine that with a 75 minute run-time, and The Cat Returns is a perfect cinematic pick-me-up. The extent of the story is dotted with comedy and lightheartedness. Haru grows up tremendously over the course of time, and in the end we see a girl who’s much happier with her life. The art is crisp, plenty of memorable characters light up the screen, and the music and ending theme made me track down the soundtrack. All signs that the film moved me, obviously. This is an amazing, classic tale which, just like some of Disney’s classics, just pulls you into the story and doesn’t let go.

I also thoroughly enjoyed The Cat Returns’ perfectly paced and straightforward plot, even if I could already more or less guess how things were going to turn out. It’s like a modern day fairy tale, and once again Studio Ghibli’s impeccable knack for merging reality and fantasy takes over. If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli’s films, then you should see The Cat Returns. This movie is not a deep meaningful story that will make you cry your eyes out. In fact it is a pure, simple and hysterical story. The Disney version brings some of the greatest talent to the table and the end result is one of the best movies I have had the pleasure of reviewing in the last few months.

Seven Swords – Review February 11, 2010

Posted by Cello in Movie Reviews.
1 comment so far

While the violence is well done and the General’s top soldiers are truly wicked and have great battle sequences, everything else is just way too standard. Yes, the great Donnie Yen is still in this film but it’s difficult to go into a lot of character development when you have 7 characters to fit into a two hour movie. Basically, seven unique swordsmen band together to save a village and its people from the evil General Fire-Wind. That’s about all you need to know about the plot. There’s also a subplot of love triangle between the main character and the Korean female love interest.

The Manchurians have taken over China and built the Qing Dynasty. The new government is banning the practice of Martial Arts fearing that the villages that practice it could rebel. This ban is far worst than you can imagine, the services of the Fire-Wind army are acquired to help make this law certain. The only thing the army cares about is money and they make a profit off eliminating entire villages that practice martial arts to make sure a martial artists never walks the earth again. The acting was really good, the camera angles were great, and though the picture was cool, it could’ve been better lit.

Donnie Yen fans rest assured, this is a very easy movie to obtain unlike a few of his other films. The fight choreography is nothing special, and the dialogue seems to lurch from one non sequitur to another. So, if you want to see a Donnie Yen showcase, you might want to look elsewhere. I won’t lie though, even though a lot of the fight scenes seem to fall short until the end of the film, the ending battle is truely awesome. You get to see all the swords in action and each person use there own skill and techniques that make them unique.

I guess looking back, my only complaint is it gives no time to love and character develpment. They exist in the movie but for a very short time. As a result, they can’t make me feel anything. The Director had the admirable goal of making us an emotional spectator, but because he’s burdened with placing Seven Protagonists behind the Seven Swords, he has only a handful of minutues to offer any kind of substantial backstory to each character. The movie Seven Swords is a really spectacular production with a really great story line and cast. It is just too bad I was let down by the execution, and if you know anything about films, it is all about execution. Perhaps we could get a sequel in the coming years, until then, I’d say you should pass on this unless you are an extreme Donnie Yen fan.