Category Archives: Movie

Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)

Type: At least the title is honest

Synopsis: Get ready for some implied cuckolding! After escaping a hellish warzone in favor of a futuristic utopia, our heroes Deunan and Briarieos must face an even greater challenge: a cute boy! Enter Tereus, a cloned copy of Briarieos before he was turned into a cyborg, genitals and all. Can Briarieos possibly live with the fact that Deunan will probably instantly fall in love with Tereus because her feelings only run skin deep. That despite all their time together in the battlefield, all the trust they’ve built, and the love they share, that she’ll still run off with someone who has his old hair cut. Welp, ignoring the fact that Deunan repeatedly says she’ll only partner with Briarieos as he’s her one and only, let’s trade her off to Tereus. That’s what she obviously wants.

Pros: For a sequel, Appleseed: Ex Machina does a better job at setting up the world right off the bat. It opens with a quick summary of the world, which did a lot better job at explaining the lore than the entire first film. Post Apocalyptic. Utopian city. Cyborgs, clones, and humans. Done. While there is some plot involving collective consciousness or whatever, the real draw is the love triangle the film establishes between Deunan, Briareos, and Tereus. Well, to be honest, the actual high point is the relationship between Briareos and the other two. This is every much a Briareos movie. It defines his feelings towards himself and Deunan very well. This film does a much better job at showing that Deunan and Briareos are in a romantic relationship, which the first film only really implied it. It’s only pretty organic. A quick peck here. A quip there. When Tereus is introduced, we see Briareos insecurities pop up, not only concerning his relationship with Deunan (the whole, “would she love me more if I were still “normal?””) but with himself. This type of thing happens in most relationships, where it’s because someone loses use of a limb, or gains weight, or ages, or just feels that way one day. And like Deunan, a partner could try to reassure them that they love ’em anyway, but like in the film, it’s may not be enough to be convincing. So what happens? The person with insecurities pushes their partner away, the partner finds someone else, and the whole things becomes a self-fulling prophecy. In my opinion, this relationship based story was way better than a conspiracy about computer or whatever.

Cons: I kinda don’t like the fact that Deunan is basically ignored or disregarded when it comes to her relationship with Briareos. Like, no one takes her at her word that she’d rather have Briareos than Tereus. I get that this film is set from Briareos’s perspective, and that his insecurities makes him distance himself from her, but you can’t just give her away, man. She’s not pokemon card. The film does propose that their is some romantic tension between Deunan and Tereus, which is fine. She’s human and he looks exactly like her boyfriend whose being a jerk at the moment. And I do like the fact that she admits that Tereus confuses her, because it demonstrates some ownership of female sexuality. Besides this, the actual plot involving a computer overlord is largely unimportant, and rather trite.

Watch it?: Better than the first!

MVP: Breareos

Why do you have my face!?

Best Moment: Deunan kissing Breareos (the casual pecks do a lot of establish a relationship)

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Appleseed Alpha (2014)

Type: Weird name, cause it’s the third movie

Synopsis: In a story that makes way more sense, two soldiers are traversing the wasteland after a horrible world war. They in the search for “Olympus,” a mythical city said to have escaped society’s collapse. Along the way they must fight those who wish to restart the war that ruined the world. There, doesn’t that make much more sense than cloned robots or whatever?

Pros: I chose to review this movie instead of Appleseed’s direct sequel for two reasons. First, since this was a reimagining, I felt it was prudent to watch it to increase my level of investment in the franchise. Second, I didn’t know that this was the third movie and watched it by accident. Oops! Anyway, being made in 2014 gave this movie some major advantages over Appleseed (2004). Obviously, it’s computer animation improved tremendously. I’d compare it to Red vs. Blue season 10 in quality. The quality of the voice work has also improved, with quips and overlapping dialogue even inserted here or there to give off the sense of realistic  speech. And the story is much more straighfoward, giving you a better idea of Deunan and Briareos as a unit and as individuals. Keeping the story in the wasteland instead of Olympus was a nice touch too, as it kept everything down to Earth. Overall, I’d say watch this version of Appleseed if your curious at all about the series.

Cons: The animation is still janky. Not as janky as before, but you will notice a few lims moving unnaturally. The antagonists aren’t that interesting. They’re your typical fanatics trying to “reinvent the world” by using a big killer robot. In this movie, the real draw are Deunan and Briareos, and the colorful people the interact with in the wastes.

Watch it?: This is probably the only one you should watch.

MVP: Deunan and Briaroes

I finally bought them as a team

Best Moment: The verbal jabs (whoever was the English Voice Over director did good work!)

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Appleseed (2004)

Type: Finally, an anime about Johnny Appleseed!

Synopsis: Thank you. I’ll show myself out.

Pros: Appleseed is a sci-fi computer animated anime movie about humans and their relations with clones, or “Biroids.” A main conflict stems from the old human vs another species troupe. Sometimes it’s androids. Sometimes it’s clones. Sometimes it’s apes. Humanity is just not a friendly animal when it comes right down to it. The idea is interesting, and the movie does show glimpses of the discrimination the Biroids face, such as forced sterilization. To bad the whole story is a mess.

Cons: The whole story is a mess. The movie tends to cut between the past and the present, making it hard to determine what is happening when. The setting is also confusing. From what I gathered, a big war broke out, and some humans managed to build a Utopia called Olympus outside the carnage. One of the last soldiers fighting the war, Deunan Knute, it taken to Olympus becuase…reasons? I mean, I know it’s because her mother created the Biroids and owns the movie’s Mcguffin, but the film doesn’t do a good job at explaining that. Like, how can Deunan be a legendary soldier, but also be like 18? 19? Why was she still fighting a war that ended 2 years ago? Are we just going to ignore those weird mutants at the start of the movie? If everything is in 3 dimensions, then how come everyone moves awkwardly?…At the end of the day this movie can best be described as a starter anime. Ya know? Like, an anime you may find by accident at a video store or Youtube. You watch it because it looks vaguely cool, but later on you discover that Ghost in the Shell exists and just chalk up your previous enjoyment to a rookie mistake. What I’m trying to say is that this is the kind of movie you find at the $5 bin. It’s a movie your Uncle gives you to try to prove he’s with it. It’s the kind of film that low tier internet anime reviewers try to call bad without saying it’s bad because they don’t what to sound mean. Ya know?

Watch it?: Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

MVP: Anime face in 3d

Anime eyes know no dimension

Best Moment?: That time a Bioroid randomly asked Deunan what it’s like to fall in love (those dumb artificial creatures and their feelings)

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Welcome to the Space Show

Type: A movie to surpass Star Wars!...maybe not, but it’s still good.

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Synopsis: A good rule of thumb for kids is to never talk to strangers. Especially if that stranger is a talking dog alien from space. Because next thing you know, you’ll end up on the moon and have to travel halfway around the galaxy to get back home because somebody reported Earth as dangerous. Personally, this is why I’m more of a space cat person.

Pros: This movie is stunning. It’s got a stylized version of space that sorta reminded me of Space Dandy of all things. But Dandy this is not. This is an all ages movie. In the same vain as a Summer Wars or Miyazaki picture. Is this movie as good? Kinda. It definitely apes the tone and feel of those movie. At least the first half. Basically, this film is about a group of small town kids who went camping in the local school house during Summer Break (because you can apparently do that), and get accidentally stuck in space. The group is made up of the responsible one, the nerd, the energetic one, the girly one, and the little girl. They have good interactions and feel like real kids. The first half off the film is them simply trying to get back home by taking up odd jobs around the space port. This is were the great visual designs come in, as the show uses the Space Cosmopolitan approach. Everything is shiny and futuristic, with cool looking aliens all around. This is one of those rare anime movies that everyone in the family can watch.

Cons: The first half is fun, but the second half doesn’t quite stick the landing. This is mostly because the movie starts to shift from the kids to the dog, Pochi. You see, throughout the movie, aliens have been trying to steal the kid’s wasabi, which is a rare commodity in the universe. Pochi thinks for something big, and the last half of the movie just becomes Pochi fighting against his old friends while the kids save one of their own. The story didn’t really need a climactic fight between Pochi and is best friend over the ethics of gene engineering. A simple confrontation to save the kidnapped girl would have sufficed. Speaking of story, while each of the humans have their one little character arcs, Noriko does not. She just sorta hangs around and doesn’t really do much. Natsuki has to learn humility and empathy, Kiyoshi has to learn to be more decisive, Koji has a love interest, and Amane is mad at Natsuki. But Noriko doesn’t have anything to learn. She feel more superflous than anything.

Watch it?: Yes. It has Pochi, a talking dog.

MVP: Natsuki

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A hero of justice!

Best Moment: Amane passing the Space Exam (so cute, but so wise)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.4 Winter of Rebirth

Type: Yaaaaaaaaawn

Synopsis: Huh? Wha? Ja? What was I going again? Reviewing…something. Oh [yawn], oh yeah, the Persona 3 movies. Man, they are not that interesting. Anyways, the hero dies at the end. That’s how Persona 3 ends.

Pros: If you’ve stuck around this long, you already know. Good action animation. (p.s. Bless you).

Cons: Why are these movies so BORING!? This movie spends it’s first flippin’ hour with the cast moping around. The characters are told by an annoying character that no one cares about that the world is going to end. They can either-wait, before I continue, can I just say that I have never liked the late addition of Ryoji into the Person 3 story. The game tries to make us like him because he’s a happy go lucky scamp who comedically hits on every girl he sees. But he really just comes off as a third wheel that the game tells us to care about. Had he been a playable character, maybe, yet here we are. I gladly killed him at the end. Anyways, the cast is bummed because they can either erase their memories and live in ignorance of the End, or fight against the inevitability of death. They win, but not without the protagonist dying to save his friends by becoming Jesus or whatever. There. Play the game instead.

Watch it?: These movies were not a good idea. What a disappointment.

MVP: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (2006)

Having a game in the middle makes the story waaaaay better.

Best Moment: The End (as in the end of all this time wasting)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.3 Falling Down

Type: Also known as Flying

Synopsis: Did you know that I just went on my first ever airplane flight! Crazy man. Everything looks like grids and curves in between mountains. It reminded me just how big the world is, ya know?…anyways, this is the third Persona 3 movie.

Pros: Persona 3 The Movie, No.3. Yes sir. The third movie. The big 3. El tercero movie-o. What can I say about Persona 3 The Movie, No.3. Anyone? Anyone at all? Um, it starts off after the events of Persona 3 The Movie, No.2. It has the same cast. Same focus on action quality over everything else. Ah, for the game fans we get cameos from more social link NPCs. That’s neat. The subplots for this movie are Makoto becoming nihilistic and Junpei getting into a romantic relationship with a girl that cuts herself. And a new supporting character is introduced: Ryoji. Yep, that is what happened in this movie.

Cons: Its boring. Well….no, yeah, its boring. This movie covers the least interesting part of the original game story. The problem is that the Shinjiro story in the second movie is such an emotional climax for the characters that this movie has to deal with the aftermath and therefore feels more passive than the other two in the series. Stuff happens in this movie, but you don’t end up caring as much because your still recovering from before. It’s a shame too, because this movie finishes Junpei’s character arc, finally making him more than a comedic duffus. It also sets that stage for the last stretch of the story. But at the end of the day, it’s not that interesting and actually made me question if the Persona games do have good stories or if it’s just reputation talking.

Watch it?: No. Why do I like this series so much again?

MVP: Junpei

I actually started using him after these events

Best Moment: The bathhouse scene (My favorite moment in Persona 3!!)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.2 Midsummer Knights Dream

Type: Oh, I get it, it’s like wordplay

Synopsis: Because “midsummer” refers to the movies setting, and “Knight” refers to the cover girl Aigis, whose is like a robot knight. I see what you did there Persona 3 The Movie: No.2. 

Pros: Like the title implies, this movie covers the second act of Persona 3 the video game. We’ve established our core characters, so now we have to introduced our auxiliary characters and out main antagonists. Just to keep score, and not counting minor characters, that jumps our cast number from 5 to 12. And while that is a lot of people to keep track of, the film mainly focuses on 2 subplots, namely Aigis’s introduction and Ken/Shinjiro’s relationship. I actually feel that the Ken/Shinjiro story is better off in this condensed version than in the game, which stretched it out between long gameplay segments. You get a better sense of Ken’s youthful admiration of Shinji, of Shinji’s past with the group, and the overall impact that the resolution of the his subplot has on everyone. Plot aside, this is also the movie with the beach scene, festival scene, and love hotel scene, reminding you that Persona is the most anime RPG out there.

Cons: By watching the second movie, I’m starting to notice a few of the most consistent flaw in the Persona 3 movie series. Namely, the disparity in animation quality in dialogue scenes vs. action scenes. This movie was released a year after Person 3: Spring of Birth, and Person 3: Falling Down was released within a year after this one. This quick turn around means that the films were most likely made simultaneously and on a tight schedule, so some shortcuts had to be used. For example, the film used a still image montage for the opening beach segment. And if you noticed, most dialogue scenes involved close ups and little movement. The only parts that seemed to be afforded time and attention were the fight scenes. A lot of the cast is also shunted or minimized in this part of the story, which is fine unless your a fan of them.

Watch it?: Better than the first, but unless you’ve played the game you can skip it.

MVP: Shinjiro

He’s suppose to be 17, but I always thought he was 34.

Best Moment: The opening love hotel scene (it’s funny and I’m basic)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No. 1 Spring of Birth

Type: The theme is Death. The character’s activate their powers by shooting themselves in the head. Do you get it!?

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Synopsis: A movie based on a game that’s based on a mixture of Role Playing Games and Life Simulators, because Japan. In this one, you get to see the life of a character who’s life you would have lived through in the game instead of experiencing your own life, because real life is dull, and the Persona games are, like, a 100 hours. It’s much easier to sit down and give up 90 minutes of your life instead. The crucial part remains: you still don’t have to go outside.

Pros: Fun aside, I actually do love the Persona series. Specifically Persona 3 and 4, when the games got good (you can argue, but you know it’s true). The movie does a great job at integrating the music and layout of the original game. It even uses the calender transitions from the game. Most gamers often bemoan the fact that their will never be a good video game movie, but Persona’s made like 4 movies and 3 anime series. This first movie predictably details the beginning of the game: the protagonist showing up, the main cast coming together, everyone getting their powers, etc. I really liked what they did with the protagonist, named “Makoto Yuki,” here. In the game, “Yuki,” is a nameless and characterless avatar for the player. The move translates this silent protagonist into an apathetic protagonist, which really fits his visual character design. Floppy hair, earphones, hands in his pockets, the kid’s a poster boy for emo teen nihilism. Even more impressive, the movie gives him a character arc involving the power of friendship, which sounds trite, but is actually a crucial gameplay component of the Persona Series (you basically have to go on several dating-sim esque side missions with various NPC’s to level up your character).

Cons: The movie’s biggest positive was it’s ability to turn a silent RPG protagonist into an actual character. But it’s not without it’s flaws. For one, the story flow is choppy. Events sort of jump from thing to another without a smooth transition. This is because the transition is suppose to be the original gameplay, which is obviously absent in the movie. For those not in the know, events in the game are actually about 30 in-game days apart from each other, giving certain revelations time to digest. So the movie ends up covering 2-3 months worth of story in 90 minutes. It’s an admirable attempt, but not quite successful. Certain shots and frames are also a but awkward, almost like the camera man was a 1-2 feet too close to the actors. Cast wise…look, the Persona 3 cast isn’t as charismatic as the Persona 4 cast, but they do grow on you, especially later on in the story. And finally, the big questions: Do you have to have played Persona 3 to enjoy this movie? My answer is Yes. It’s not a bad movie, but without my prior knowledge, I would have found it a bit thin, and a little confusing.

Watch it?: Persona fans would like it. Everyone else could easily live without it.

MVP: Makoto Yuki

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God, how many of us went to high school with this guy?

Best Moment: Makoto talking (holy moley, I thought he was mute!)

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Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (film)

Type: A popular mess

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Synopsis: A girl, who’s kinda a downer to be honest, finds herself in a fantasy land where she happens to be a super special and important Goddess that all the boys have a crush on. To be fair, if she was a he, then he would be a super special and important Warrior that all the girls have a crush on. So no points for originality.

Pros: I chose to watch this movie because whenever older fans of anime (meaning people my age who’s family had money for cable) talk about 90’s anime, there’s always a few names that pop up. Someone will mention Cowboy Bebop, or Evangelion, or Sailor Moon, or DBZ, or this one weird anime called “Escaflowne.” So I decided to give it a shot. Though, in hindsight, I probably should have watched the 1996 anime instead of this 2000 movie (even though the English anime actually did premiere in 2000 in North America). The movie is very pretty to look at, in that 90’s animation kinda way. The themes of depression and escalation stay more or less consistent throughout the story. And the overall world looks fairly interesting. I was actually thinking that I wouldn’t mind following these characters for more than just a 90 minute movie. (P.S. I watched the English Dub, the Ocean Version I believe, and boy…was that something).

Cons: Condensing a full length anime series into a 90 minutes movie is never a wise idea. The movie treatment works better with story arcs that have a more consistent beginning, middle, and end. As such, I often found myself feeling rushed while watching this movie. No character is really allowed to breath. For example, the protagonist Hitomi’s character arc is that she’s suffering from depression, which is only alleviated after she visits a new world and gets a purpose (and also meets a cute boy that solves all her problems, but that’s a separate issue). But the movie didn’t really have enough time to explore this properly, so to me Hitomi was just an angsty teen who felt “alone,” despite not really having any external forces weighing her down and showing evidence being pretty sociable. Then there’s her relationship with Van, the would be Dragon King, which goes from indifference to eternal love in the span of a quick fight scene. Not to mention all the supporting characters that I’m struggling to remember because they don’t really do anything. What all this boils down to is the realization the film version was probably not the best way to experience the Escaflowne story.

Watch it?: Find the anime instead

MVP: Lord Folken

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Now his nihilism I could understand. Being passed over as King would suck.

Best Moment: The characters faces (they look so weird up close)

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Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie [Fighting Game Week]

Type: An actual good movie!

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Synopsis: Col. William Guile, one of the greatest martial artists in the world, travels the global tournament circuit, using it to conceal his top secret mission as leader of an elite group of top secret international street fighters known only by their codename, Street Fighters! Wait, oh crap! Wrong one….Eh, close enough.

Pros: My long journey is over. I finally found a good adaptation of a fighting game. To tell the truth, I probably should have started here. Street Fighter II is an adaptation of Street Fighter II. You know, the fighting game that revolutionized the industry and basically gave birth to an entire sub genre? This film actually treats its source material with respect, FINALLY delivering great fighting scenes. The animation is on point, and so is the story. Basically, this evil tyrant called Bison is collecting powerful fighters, targeting two martial artists named Ryu and Ken specifically, while Interpol agent Chun-Li and Air Force Captain Guile try to hunt Bison down. The film does an admirable job cutting between the Ryu/Ken and Chun-Li/Guile pairings. But the best thing about this film is that is actually feels like a film instead of a game tie-in. Hilariously, the film ends with a ad for the Street Fighter movie made in America, and I kinda hope that part of the reasons this movie is so good was to spite the US live action version (though that film is a definite so-bad-its-good entry).

Cons: From a fan’s perspective, maybe some of the characters are slightly off character. Like, I don’t think T.Hawk is that eager for fight. But all the Street Fighter 2 casts are included, even if they came varying lengths in cameos. Now, let’s all be real here. One of the reasons this movie is so famous, aside form it’s quality, is because of the full frontal shower scene involving Chun-Li. And while I would argue that his is a bit gratuitous, it’s actually done for a stylistic reason. It’s set up as an omage to classic horror/suspense films, with Vega as the “slasher.”

Watch it?: If your going to watch any fighting game movie, make it this one.

MVP: Chin Li

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I liked her delightful nature

Best Moment: Chun Li sitting on Guile’s car (Guile almost ran her over!)

 

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