Monday, August 6, 2018

She Said Yes!

Hello everyone, I am briefly back! I know I've been away for a while; long story short: working through college, slowly recovering from my disability, and most importantly, romancing my beautiful now-fiance Jamie. We recently got engaged last week! Sorry I never posted that I would be gone for a while, eventually, it became so long that I just didn't know what to say about it. 
If you follow Jamie's blog, you'd know that we have been in a long-distance relationship for a couple years now. I finally asked her to marry me, and we're finally engaged! I love her so very much and I am so happy that we are planning a future together. It has been an amazing ride and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her. Right now she's in town for another week and we're watching lots of movies and hanging out.

Hopefully at some point I can use my newly developed web designing skills to renovate and update this blog with a new custom template. For now I'll leave it as is and hopefully one day I can come back and try writing again about my passion for the cinema. Thank you everyone for reading this update and I'll see you in future. 

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Batman v Superman: The Fundamental Flaw

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Yes, I am indeed, not dead. Yeah, I've been away from the blogosphere for a while. I'm not sure if anyone cares to hear an explanation, but I guess I will explain after post. Above is a brilliant video about Batman v Superman and why it fails. Sometimes, as a critic, you can have a feeling that something is off, yet you cannot articulate yourself. Thankfully, this great YouTube channel I discovered, Nerd Writer, does an excellent job at breaking down one of the main flaws in Batman v Superman. Check it out! 

As for my absence, it can mostly attributed to school and my disability taking up all of my physical typing energy. That's really it. Well, hope every enjoyed the video!   

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Coming Soon: October 2016

Hello once again everyone! Hope your transitions from Summer into Fall were wonderful :-) Let's review September before we dive into October's offerings.

Morgan: Not the sci-fi classic it was hoping to be it would seem. I didn't hear much about this one because I'm guessing people had forgotten that they'd seen it.
The Light Between Oceans: Touching, if not overlong, and ultimately just a bit too sad for its own good. It features gorgeous cinematography and fantastic lead performances but is missing a couple key components to be truly remarkable. RRS: 7.5/10
Sully: A taut, well-organized, intense thriller that will make you cringe in your seat, even if we already know what happens. A tremendous effort by Hanks and Eastwood based on the tremendous effort by the actual pilot, Sully. RRS: 9/10
Blair Witch: Features some effective scares and the "found footage" takes some appreciated steps forward (i.e. drones and HD) but ultimately this is a forgettable and generic horror film. RRS: 6.5/10
Snowden: Not nearly as great as it should have been, Snowden played it safe and resulted in a film that was a bit of a bore when you'd expect it to be edge-of-your-seat thrilling. Still though, the subject matter is interesting and the performances were strong. RRS: 7/10
The Magnificent Seven: It would have been almost the lone "surprise" of the summer as this remake is bada**, fun, and violent. It doesn't rewrite the book on this plot or Westerns as a whole, but the great cast and action filming make it well worth your time. RRS: 8/10
Storks: Seems to be a funny, if not generic animated film that the whole family can enjoy. 
Deepwater Horizon: Much like Sully, this is an effective retelling of a story where we already know what happens. Strong cast, intense sequences of mayhem, and teaches the audience effectively about oil rigs. RRS: 8/10
Masterminds: Being delayed by over a year didn't do anything to help this film as its critical reception has been lukewarm. The laughs don't come often enough for the cast that's involved.

Biggest Disappointment: Snowden
Biggest Surprise: The Magnificent Seven
Worst Movie: Blair Witch
Best Movie: Sully

October is really shaping up to be a busy month where many Oscar contenders will release. Let's take a look at everything coming out. As is always the case, click the titles for trailers!

For It: It's won several awards on the indie circuit thus far and looks to be a powerful retelling of the struggle for African American's to find freedom in this country. Count on it to have strong performances and timely lessons to be learned.
Against It: Not much other than the fact that I'm not sure how you compete with 12 Years a Slave or Selma, both great films. Civil Rights movement films seem to have become their own genre lately (probably because of the current political climate) and I imagine it's hard to stand out in such good company. 

For It: It's subject material is fantastic and features a winding, twisting road towards its climax and revelation. From the trailers it looks like they're taking it more seriously a la Gone Girl as opposed to cheesy a la 50 Shades.
Against It: Depends how they treat the subject matter. Girl on Train is certainly no Gone Girl in terms of their respective novels, but it was still an engrossing story that kept you guessing. A close adaptation would be welcomed.

For It: The trailers have been phenomenal and after realizing that Affleck is the best thing in the DC Universe, I'm eager to see his next roles. I get the feeling that this will be a smart, brooding thriller that doesn't disappoint.
Against It: Its premise is a bit silly and it could all end up being more like a Taken than the realistic action thriller its setting itself up as.

For It: Inferno is probably in my Top 5 books of all time and I'd say it's Dan Brown's best novel. The groundwork is certainly there, especially if they handle the villain correctly. Tom Hanks remains as Robert Langdon and he's probably the best part about this series.
Against It: For whatever reason, Ron Howard has trouble pushing his films into that extra territory. They lack that special something to really resonate emotionally and be thrilling. I blame original scores and editing mostly, but it's hard to put a finger on it. I highly doubt that this one bucks that trend.

For It:  Hart is one of the hardest working entertainers there is and I applaud his effort to create a unique standup experience. I'm sure it's going to be outrageous.
Against It: Hart can wear on the senses sometimes so hopefully this standup is smart and funny rather than loud/obnoxious and funny. Or at least a combo of both.

For It: The previous Jack Reacher was surprisingly entertaining, turning a somewhat generic action icon into a slightly less generic action movie. It doesn't hurt that Tom Cruise can lead an action movie like no one's business either.
Against It: Jack Reacher and its trailer still come across as generic. It takes a skilled filmmaker to make something more of a film like this as it doesn't necessarily dive into the crazy stunts that make Mission Impossible films so awesome. If that skill isn't there, this will be forgettable.

For It: The cast looks like it could have a lot of fun hamming it up (pun somewhat intended) and there are funny moments in the trailer. Plus its cool to see Gal Gadot in a comedy after her somewhat-newfound superstardom and before WW
Against It: I imagine the laughs are few and far between and that it tries too hard for most of them, as it would seem like in the trailer.

For It: By switching time periods this sequel to a pretty bad original film became instantly more interesting and the initial trailers do indeed look really messed up.
Against It: Horror sequel history wants to count against this one, despite the smart creative changes. A time period change doesn't necessarily equate to an automatically worthwhile film.

Must See (in order): The Accountant, Birth of a Nation, Girl on a Train
On My Radar: Inferno, Kevin Hart: What Now?, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Predicted Duds: Keeping Up with the Jones, Ouija: Origin of Evil 

 There ya have it! October has the potential to be a great month and hopefully it doesn't swing the other way. Check back in November with the return to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Marvel's next [likely] homerun. As always, I'd be really appreciative if you came and followed me through Blogger at RATH'S REVIEWS and like me on Facebook HERE! I follow-for-follow 100%. Thanks again!!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ghost in the Shell Teaser Trailer - Scarlett Johansson

The first set of teasers for the new live-action Ghost in the Shell film starring Scarlett Johansson is here! And I just do not know how to feel. Honestly, this is just a series of teaser clips more than anything, but the quality of the cinematography looks incredibly cheap. Rupert Sanders is not known for being a good director, but I am really hoping that this movie will not suck. I want it to good so bad! Scarlett Johansson does look good as the Major, so  that's something. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai) Review

Space Brothers, a unique anime that is praised by critics yet very few have actually seen it.
Space Brothers, also known as Uchuu Kyoudai, follows two brothers, Mutta and Hibito Nanba, who, as children, witness a UFO, and this experience inspires the brothers to become astronauts. Fast forward nineteen years, Hibito is a NASA astronaut preparing for a mission to build the first base on the moon and to become the first Japanese man on the moon. On the other hand, Mutta has recently been fired from his job as a car designer, which eventually leads him to pursue his long lost dream of becoming an astronaut alongside his younger brother.

Space Brothers began airing in the spring season of 2012 and finished its run in the March of 2014 with 99 episodes in total. Despite praise from the few people who have actually seen it, Space Brothers is a criminally under watched anime. Part of the low popularity is obviously the episode count, making the second longest anime that I have finished. Also, it is a series about two men in the their early thirties, not high school students, and it is a drama set in a realistic world without many tropes or fanservice present in most anime, and yet, this is exactly what makes it one of the best anime of all-time. On a side note, even though the series is about adults and is targeted at an older audience, it is, surprisingly, family friendly part in regards to its content for the most part.

Also, I want to give a shout out to my favorite podcast, the AAA (Anime Addicts Anonymous) Podcast (you can check out their website by clicking here).

The Good: Lovable cast of characters, Realistic and believable, Many cheer worthy moments, Never melodramatic, Compelling character drama, Strong character development, Fascinating realistic science, Main characters are adults!, Superb performances, Inspirational, 

The Bad: Lack of conclusion, Some pacing issues, 

| Plot: 9.1/10 |
Space Brothers' story is split into arcs with each of the earlier ones focusing on Mutta's struggle to pass the rigorous tests to become one of the chosen few to enter the NASA space program. Towards the later portion of the series, the focus is split between the brothers, although Mutta is ultimately the main character.

One aspect that series does so well is the drama. Never is the drama portrayed in a melodramatic fashion, nor is it ever overly dark. What happens might be sad at points, but the series is often more uplifting and inspirational than anything else. Also, the series can create surprising tension with some characters being in real peril, and a certain arc is especially riveting.
Unlike most almost every other anime, the series is very much grounded in the real world. Space Brothers' world might be set ten years in the future, but it is portrayed in an incredibly realistic fashion with the future technology being based on realistic science. The characters and the process of becoming an astronaut are mostly realistic from what I know about JAXA and NASA, and it makes real world space travel interesting, even though it is not something that usually interests me.

However, there are two problems with the series; the first being the pacing. Even though most of the series is engaging, at certain points during Mutta's training, the series begins to drag out plot points a little longer than necessary. Also, on two occasions, we are presented with the backstory of a supporting character literally on the last episode we see them. The backstory for the character's motivations are shown, and then you never see that character again, and while it is not a major detriment to the story, it is strange. Fortunately, this pacing issue is only a small problem that only persists for a few episodes. My second problem is the most significant: the series lack of conclusion. While this may not be the fault of the creators, Space Brothers ends its 99 episode run with no sense of conclusion. It does not end on a cliffhanger necessarily, but it concludes at the end of a story arc making it seem as though the series will continue next week. With 99 episodes, you would hope the series would end on a good note, and while it is not a bad ending, it just makes me want more, and whether or not we get more is undetermined as of now.

| Characterization: 10/10 |
Mutta Nanba is the main protagonist. As revealed during the opening scenes of the series, he was born on October 28, 1993 a day when Japan lost a qualifier in the World Cup, which is a bad omen that Mutta refers to as the cause for his bad luck. On the other hand, Hibito was born on September 17, 1996 when Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo threw a no-hitter in a major league baseball game, which is regarded as a day of good fortune, thus the superstitious reason for his success. Interestingly, my brother and I were born on similar dates with a similar age gap between us, which adds another reason why the characters are relatable to me. It actually made me think about where I will be in 2025 when I am in my thirties.

Going back to Mutta, he is one of my favorite anime characters ever. Constantly throughout the series he is presented with obstacles to overcome, and as he overcomes them, the audiences wants him to succeed and when he eventually does, it makes you want to cheer! Throughout the series, supporting characters are introduced and their interactions with Mutta often serve to teach him valuable lessons to both progress the character and to be legitimately inspirational without being too blatant or in-your-face about it. While an anime like Clannad managed to make me legitimately sad, Space Brothers often makes you feel uplifted and inspired, and most of this is done through Mutta's progression and your investment in his character.

Hibito, Mutta's younger brother, is not present through most of the first half of the series. However, his character is further explored in the latter portion of the series with a story that is very compelling and well executed, and if the series is ever continued, his character is likely to take an interesting direction.
Space Brothers has a gigantic cast of supporting characters with some of the more prominent ones being Kenji Makab, Serika Itō, and Sharon Kaneko,and while not the focus of the series, their interaction with Mutta and Hitibo is a crucial aspect of the character development. On occasion, a few of the minor characters are annoying or overly silly, but this does not detract from the overall experience.

| Acting: 9.7/10 |
Hiroaki Hirata as Mutta is the standout among the cast as he gives a very distinct performance that makes Mutta's comical goofy antics work, while still delivering a strong performances in the more dramatic scenes. Kenn as Hibito is equally distinct in his role, and the supporting cast is all around fantastic. My only issue is that the series runs into some awkward language barriers since a large portion of the series takes place in the US with American characters, and as expected, the English speaking characters speak Japanese for the most part. The problems arise when an American character does not understand something in Japanese when he/she is speaking in perfect Japanese. It is not a major issue, but it is kind of strange at times.

| Animation: 7.1/10 |
A-1 Pictures' animation is the weakest aspect of the series. Being a long running drama with little need of complex character designs or fluid animation, most of the series is simply talking and inner monologue, and in that respect it is entirely functional. The character designs are simple, yet effect as to portray generally realistic characters, while still being distinct enough to never confuse one character for other in the large cast, and Mutta’s reactions are very expressive, even if they are reused often. The animation does shine during some of the space scenes though.

| Soundtrack: 7.2/10 |
Toshiyuki Watanabe's score features some great tracks. However, a small handful of tracks are used repeatedly throughout the 99 episodes. You can almost predict when certain tracks are about to be played during scenes, and while they certainly create the proper mood, they are reused too often.

| Humor: 8.7/10 |
While not a comedy, Space Brothers manages to maintain a light hearted atmosphere between the more dramatic scenes as to ever bore the audience. Mutta's character in general is humorous with his sometimes goofy antics being hilarious at times, yet nevering undermining the seriousness of the drama. Some of the supporting characters also provide comedic relief.

| Opening and Ending: 7.5/10 |
Space Brothers changes opening and endings every 12 episodes or so, and while some of the OPs and EDs are fun to listen to, most of them are only worth listening/watching a couple of times before you skip them, although the last opening is a lot of fun.

| Entertainment Value: 8.7/10 |
Due to the occasional pacing issues, Space Brothers did drag at times. However, as a whole, it is an easy to watch series, which is crucial for watching something with such a large number of episodes.

Uplifting and often inspirational, Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai) is, ironically, one of the most down to earth anime to date. Despite two minor issues, the characters, cheer worthy moments, and compelling drama makes Space Brothers one of the most unique anime ever made as it sets itself apart from just about anything in the medium.

If you have the time for a long anime series and do not mind a less than conclusive ending, Space Brothers is highly recommended for just about anything that prefers more mature anime.
Watch if you like: Drama, Lovable characters, Sci-fi, Space travel, Seinen, Long anime,
2012 - 2014 | 99 Episodes | PG-13 | A-1 Pictures
Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi 

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