Archive for January, 2010

Goemon Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on January 21, 2010 by Adam Broome

Having survived the bitterly cold christmas holidays, I returned back to Coventry University. One week in, and the CUEAFS are already back on form, kicking off Term 2 with a follow-up of sorts to Casshern. If you’ve seen even small pieces of Casshern, you’ll know that it’s like watching a Japanese version of 300 or Sin City – a lot of CGI mixed in with the real occurs on screen. This isn’t Avatar either – the special effects are easily distinguishable. But that’s sort of the point.

Taking a few steps back, as far as the story goes, this plays out like a Japanese version of Robin Hood. Goemon is the name of the main character – a ninja-type thief who robs corrupt governmental officials to feed the poor (etc…). The film opens up with a particularly elaborate heist, where Goemon breaks into a vault and steals several valuable items – among which is a blue box. Goemon doesn’t think anything of it and throws it away, where a child subsequently picks it up. However, the box is actually a device that protects a very powerful secret about the current ruler of the region. And as you can probably figure, it’s not long before the ninja discs start flying as various villain-types start emerging in an attempt to recover the box.

One thing leads to another, and at over 2 hours in length, there is (luckily) a lot more that happens in the story than just running around with boxes and getting into occasional fights. I say ‘fights’… ‘massacres’ would probably be better. Unfortunately, as with Casshern, the lead character seems invincible throughout the whole duration. It’s very cool watching a ninja fly like Superman, yes. But there’s no tension. Not one bit. Even towards the end when Goemon decides to attack an entire fortress single-handedly (with the quintessential 5000+ army guarding the entrance), you know who’s going to win. However, the fights are done so well, it doesn’t detract from being entertaining. The CGI-bloated action narrowly avoids becoming a digital mess at times, but for the most part it is very fun and entertaining – one scene where Goemon ascends a tower with chain-guns firing down at him particularly stays in the mind.

Normally the acting is quite well-handled in world cinema. However, I felt rather cut off from most characters in this film. The ending intended to make a point about human greed, but for some reason I felt little emotion – despite the fact that the fun action scenes abruptly stop for an hour in the middle of the movie to build up character profiles. One scene – taken straight out of Gladiator – was full of sorrow and emotion on screen. Yet all I felt was anticipation for more CGI confrontations.

Ultimately, this is a comic-strip film, engineered for action and adventure scenes. Despite one whole hour focusing on characters, it just didn’t work. Goemon is introduced to us as a superhuman thief, and by the end is supposed to have made the transition to becoming a human. In some scenes, the character seemed to act oddly, and against his profile, which again showed that something was going wrong somewhere.

On a more positive note, the sound was superb. Right from the start, the battle music and bass made the floor rumble, which is just the sort of thing you need in a film like this. This is a fun film once you get into it, with some good lines, fast editing and visually stunning set pieces, with very imaginative mise-en-scene on top. It takes a long time to deliver a rather simple message, and when the action stops, the film seems to lose it’s way somewhat. Perhaps it takes itself too seriously for it’s comic-style antics as well. However, I would definitely consider this to be one of the better films screened at Ellen Terry. It’s a good, solid piece of film making. Without the sag in the middle, it could have been spectacular.

8/10

Avatar 3D Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on January 19, 2010 by Adam Broome

Having put this off for quite a while now, I found myself walking into Coventry’s Odeon for the first time last night, to experience what has become one of the greatest selling films of all time.

Avatar tells the story of a marine called Jake Sully, who has lost the use of his legs during service in the army. However, at his brother’s funeral, he is invited to take part in a radical science project on the planet Pandora, where the humans have come up against several hostile alien beings – notably, the Na’Vi tribe. The tribe are sitting over a large deposit of rare rock called Unobtainium, you see (yeah right), and the humans have developed creatures called ‘avatars’, which allow humans to walk around in Na’Vi bodies.
Sully gets the chance to go on the mission because his DNA matches his brothers’, who was part of the the intended science team. Sully’s mission soon becomes apparent: infiltrate the Na’Vi tribe, gain their trust, and feed information back to the gathering human military, who are gearing up for a massive attack under the command of Colonel Quaritch.
Okay, first things first – effects. Any good? Well… yes and no. Sitting only slightly off-centre (a little to the right) was enough to spoil the 3D effects in some scenes, which may limit how effective this new craze will become. Most effects are wondrous, merging the real with the digital seamlessly. However, some CGI was just as obvious as The Lord Of The Rings – disappointing considering the hype.
As any review will likely tell you, take away the effects, and then we get problems everywhere. Story comparisons have been comparing this film to Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas. Personally, I was more ‘Last Of The Mohicans’, but you get the jist. This film has been done before many a time. You will make the entire story out within the first twenty minutes, then watch it all play out over the next two hours. Previous films were based on ‘the real’, which serves as a constant reminder that this is not.
As I had been wary since the film’s release, the comparisons to several computer games is quite shocking, almost the point of plagiarism. Halo 3’s ‘Hornets’ seem to be the main choice of air travel, whilst the enemy Na’Vi use ‘banshees’. When we’re not in the air, humans walk around in big machines, reminiscent of Lost Planet’s VS suits. However, if you’ve never experienced ‘E.D.N III’ or ‘Installation 04’, you will undoubtably be inspired by some of the set pieces.
The script was as obvious as the story, however the actors did particularly well. A cast of largely unknown talent added some much-needed realism, which is rare for a film of this magnitude. Despite all the things wrong with this film, they deserve every success.
So, pretty good effects, obvious and unoriginal story, risky plagiarism, bland script, epic acting. Michelle Rodriguez steals all the best lines. But despite it all, the world created should be experienced, if only to say you saw it in ‘3D’. You could do far worse, this is a good film with (some) imagination, and quite believable. However, it definitely is not the best film ever made. It wont be the best film you’ve ever seen. And this makes me wonder whether it deserves the snowball-effect hype built up around it.

7/10

A hornet fighter from Halo 3

Photoshop Test (B-Movies… The Way Godzilla SHOULD Have Ended)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 19, 2010 by Adam Broome