Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII Cast Announced!

After an absurdly long wait, the cast for Star Wars: Episode VII has been revealed, and it does not disappoint! First off, the long rumored original cast of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Kenny Baker (R2D2) are returning to reprise their roles, all of which are fantastic to see return. As for new faces, Lord of the Rings veteran Andy Serkis will be playing a role in the film, and as a massive fan of his work as Gollum and other roles, I am beyond excited to see him cast in the film. One would expect him to play a computer generated motion-capture character, and maybe he will also play a live-action role considering that he is an all around great actor. If you remember, in a post a while back about the rumored "Seven Jedi" film, I suggested that Andy Serkis should play a role in a Star Wars film, and it turns out that I was right! The cast members include, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow. My first impression of the cast is that I am glad to see relative newcomers and unknowns in the various roles, opposed to big name actors. The original Star Wars films had a lot of newcomers, and the Marvel films have had similar success with their casting. On a side note, my biggest disappointment with the new film is that the EU is said to be skipped over, which is a topic that will take another poster entirely to discuss.
Daisy Ridley is the least known of the group having only done a few minor TV roles. On the other hand, Max von Sydow offers a veteran presence to the cast, without being too big of a name. Harry Potter fans will recognize Domhnall Gleeson for his role as Bill Weasley, and both Isaac and Driver are notable for last year's critically acclaimed Inside Llewyn Davis. No announcement on who these actors will be playing, but my thoughts on each cast member will be coming tomorrow. My overall thoughts on the casting is that they are all inspired choices that appear to be focused on quality rather than getting the big names, which is exactly what Disney and Abrams should be doing. In fact, my entire outlook about Episode VII and the future of Star Wars is now much more positive than it was in the past.

What do you think of this breaking news? Are you satisfied with the cast? Please let me know in the comments and please check back tomorrow my breakdown of the new cast with details about their past works and my speculations about what role they will be playing.
This is the official picture from the script reading.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Agents of SHIELD: The Only Light in the Darkness Review

After two years of speculation, we finally get to meet the mysterious "Cellist" from Seattle, who was referenced in the Avengers several times in passing, and she happens to be played by fan and personal favorite actress Amy Acker! Also, there was a Doctor Who reference! If you missed it, yesterday was my Three Year Blogoversary so I wrote a retrospective, which you can read here.
*Spoilers Ahead*
Yet another top notch episode that does not disappoint in the least, "The Only Light in the Darkness" opens with Coulson's team be interrogated by Agent Koenig. In this interrogation, which used a special lie detection apparatus that even Agent Romanoff, aka Black Widow, could not defeat, Koenig asked the team a few questions, which gave us some interesting insight into the characters. My favorite was Simmons as to what she would have in the box, a TARDIS, which nearly killed me I laughed so much! Love the reference to my favorite TV series by Simmons (I love her character so much!). Fitz answering Simmons would be in the box was quite assuming, and I glad that Simmons asked about what was wrong. Another very interesting piece of information is that Triplet, who is becoming even more likable very episode, is the grandson of a Howling Commando. The Howling Commandos are, in the films, the team of top soldiers that helped Captain America take down the Red Skull and HYDRA in WWII, based on the comic book Howling Commandos, most of which joined SHIELD after it was created. Logic would imply that Triplet is the son of Gabe Jones, the only notable black Howling Commando in the film, which would be particularly awesome if the Agent Carter series is made and that aspect is tied in with Triplet somehow. 
Going back to the interrogation scene, it was particularly suspenseful when Grant was almost caught by Koenig, which lead to one best of the more edge-of-your-seat moments from the series to date. Also, when Grant arrived, the flashbacks to what he did felt a little unnecessary, but not a big problem. After Coulson and crew headed out to stop Marcus Daniels, May, Ward, Skype, and Koenig are left in the bunker. May decides to leave because Coulson does not trust her anymore. With May out of the picture, Ward murders Koenig! NOOOOO! Why!? He was such a great character! Patton Oswalt was so much fun to watch, but his death certainly paid off for its shock value for the audience. Also, the entire scene up to his death was intense and suspenseful. To convince Skye, Ward tries to use their romantic relationship, but they are stopped after Skye realizes that Koenig is dead. Skye not losing her cool after discover that Ward is bad was a great moment for the character. She was even smart enough to put the penny back on the door. Also, Ward murdering Koenig basically puts him past the point of no return. It would be stupid for anyone to trust Ward now that he has killed so many agents.
Over in Seattle, we finally get a chance to discover the identity of "The Cellist," and how she met Coulson. Also, we get yet another comic book villain introduced into the picture with Marcus Daniels, AKA Blackout. In the comics, he has fought the Avengers on several occasions, usually when working with Baron Zemo's Master of Evil team. His powers were relatively accurate to the comics with using "darkforce." Also, learning that he was experimented on by SHIELD to enhance his powers was an interesting twist.
Making Marcus a creepy stalker of Audrey was an interesting idea, albeit one that has been used in the past, but considering that Marcus is mentally unstable in the comics, it was a solid idea. As for Audrey herself, I loved her character! While I am extremely biased because I love everything that Amy Acker has ever done, particularly in Person of Interest, having the Whedonverse vet play a role in Agents of SHIELD makes me excited for her possible return. I like her character and how she and Coulson met. Also, the team's reaction when she said that she and Coulson were in a relationship was hilarious. My only problem with the episode is that Coulson did not reveal that he is alive to Audrey. At first, I particularly disliked that aspect; however, after considering Coulson's reasoning, it made more sense. Considering the state of SHIELD and the HYDRA incursion, Coulson could end up dying, which would only make revealing to Audrey that he is alive all the more painful, which is justifiable reasoning behind his decision. However, I want to see more Audrey next season!
Did anyone else think of Ghostbusters during this scene?
Overall 9.7/10- Despite my personal biased towards certain elements of the episode, I enjoyed nonetheless, making "The Only Light in the Darkness" yet another high quality episode of TV, not just for Agents of SHIELD.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Three Year Blogoversary! And A Retrospective

Today is the third Blogoversary, or anniversary, of the inception of my blog! Thank you everyone that has ever left a comment or followed my blog during the past three awesome years. It means a lot to me. To celebrate the occasion, I decided to post a timeline of J and J Productions chronicling some of the milestone events during my time writing this blog, as well as letting everyone know my original intent for the blog. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011: The Beginning
Technically speaking, April 26 is the actual Blogoversary of the blog. However, due to the fact that I did not have the time to write all of this in time, and that the post was only a test post at the time, I am declaring today the Blogoversary. Anyway, my original intent of the blog was not to review movies, or even write a movie blog at all. In fact, my only intent was that J and J Productions 1809 be a place to promote the stop motion animation Lego movies that my brother and I made, not for movies and movie reviews. Above is a picture of the original J and J Productions header, which has odd white bars at the top and bottom that make the picture look odd.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011: Inception of Reviews
On June 14, I decided to try something different and write a movie review. Why did I decide to write a review? Honestly, I do not even know. It was just on a whim. My only reasoning that I can recall is that thanks to Marvel working on The Avengers and the other films leading up to that, I was very interested in what was happening in production of the film, so I read a lot of articles on, which lead me to reviews. My initial reviews are some of the most horribly written crap ever with tons of misspellings and incomplete sentences. Also, my first review was for Inception, which is ironic since it was the "Inception" of my reviewing hobby. Despite the complete lack of writing ability, my first review contained many of the main features that are still present in my reviews today like breaking down scores into each category, all of which I still use today, just with a few extras. Also, unlike basically everyone else that has started a blog, I disliked writing. Writing was actually my worst subject in high-school. Today however, writing is easily my strongest subject in college with many of my teachers telling me that I was the best in the class at writing, particularly my English professor. My improved skills are largely thanks to blogging, which gave me a reason to write, which in turn led to improved writing ability, and without it, I would not be the straight A student that I am today. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012: The Madness Begins
2012 marked the unofficial beginning of my maddening drive to post almost every day. While my original intent at the was not necessary to post every day, at least I thought not, that actually ended up happening for the most part, even if I did miss a few days during 2012. However, ever since then, my average posts per-year has been over 365, and my goal is to make 2014 the year that I post literally every day. Despite college slowing me down, I almost reached that goal last year, but thanks to an unfortunately timed illness last summer that sent me to the hospital for a day, I missed one day, but made up for it with more posts overall, 389 to be exact. Honestly, do I not know why I decided that I need to post every day, but it is something has just happened, and considering that am an obsessive perfectionist when it comes to certain things, I just do it. Plus, reading your comments everyday is the most satisfying part of blogging, and that is what keeps me going. Honestly, I am just a madman with a blog (Doctor Who fans will get this one).

Friday, May 4, 2012: The Avengers Assemble
After four years of waiting since the After-Credits scene of Iron Man, The Avengers finally assembled, and not only was it one mind-blowingly perfect experience, it remains the best cinematic experience I have ever made, and it opened the door to legions of new fans, some of which I partially influenced. In many ways, it was my interest in the news of The Avengers that indirectly led me to become a reviewer. Also, to this day, I consider convincing several fellow bloggers, who are now friends, to watch The Avengers and the films leading up to it, which turned them into fans, one of my favorite accomplishments as a critic and writer, plus I made cool friends.

Tuesday, November 1, 2012: Disney Buys Star Wars and Episode VII on the Way
When I first heard that Disney bought Star Wars, I sick with something that I do not remember, but I do remember bringing up the Blogger Dashboard for the first time a couple of days and seeing someone post something along the lines of "Disney Bought Star Wars: Episode VII Coming." My first thought was, "This is obviously a joke," and after a little research, I discovered it was true, and I was left in a bit of shock for a while. Considering that Star Wars is my favorite franchise of all-time, as well as being the number one reason behind my interest in movies and geekdom at all, I was both ecstatic and skeptical, but nonetheless intrigued for the future of my favorite franchise. Whether good or bad, it is bound to make a giant impact on pop-culture and geekdom, as well as this blog.

Thursday, April 11, 2013: Top 100 Movies
After literally a year and a half of planning to make a Top 25 Movies list, which turned into Top 50, which turned into Top 75, which led me to finally make a Top 100 Movies list, I actually accomplished the feat by actually posting it! Despite posting that list, it is in severe need of re-working because some of the movies on are not even ones that I like anymore and entire look of the post is dull and boring. Therefore, in the next month, I will be reposting my new Top 100 Movies List with all of the new additions and a near complete re-ranking of most movies on the list. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013: Anime Endeavor
My endeavor into the world of Japanese animation began nearly a year ago, and thus far, it has been a fun ride. Considering that serious American animation died with The Clone Wars' cancellation (with the exception of the Avatar series, which is said to be good), my search for something to fill the void led me to anime, which began with Death Note and my review of it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013: 100 Followers!
After more than two years of blogging, I finally reached 100 Followers! Reaching 100 followers is a milestone of sorts for most bloggers, and it was great to finally achieve it.

Friday, December 27, 2013: 1000th Post
Another milestone for many bloggers, I reached 1000 posts! Currently, I am at 1123 posts and I do not plan on slowing down anytime soon. 

There are undoubtedly other milestones and other important dates from my time blogging, but I should probably stop here because this post is getting too long. Also, while writing this post, I noticed that Tuesdays seem to be big days for me in terms of posting things, which is interesting. 

My next goal for the blog is to make it better. Something does not seem right. Maybe it is the content or something else; I do not know, but I want to figure it out.

Thanks everyone again for following and commenting on my blog! Without your comments, I would not be doing this right now. Also thanks to my guest authors Jamie, Jordan, Rebecca, JT, Maegen, and Ashley Tara for contributing to the blog as well during the last three years.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Hobbit Movie Name: The Battle of the Five Armies

After many rumors that suggested that the next Hobbit movie would be re-named to, "Into the Fire," Peter Jackson has finally revealed the new name of the third film, "The Battle of the Five Armies." So, yeah.... not the best name ever, but it could have been worse I suppose. Originally, the third Hobbit movie was named "There and Back Again," which has now been the suggested name for the trilogy box set, because it is the final installment in the Hobbit franchise. Despite not having read the books, I do know that there is a "Battle of the Five Armies" that takes place, and naming the movie after that will hopefully make general audiences more interested in seeing a film about a giant battle. Obviously, the title of the film is entirely a marketing strategy, and providing it works, I do not have any problems, except for the fact that the name sounds kind of dumb. It is not terrible, but "Into the Fire," sounds particularly cool and epic, whereas "The Battle of the Five Armies" is more generic and overly long. Overall, the title does not matter that much providing that the actual battle is satisfyingly epic and amazing as the name implies. What do you think of the name change? Please comment below and let me know. Also, tomorrow is my third Blogoversary! And to celebrate the occasion, I have written a retrospective about some milestones and why the blog was made in the first place. Also, my review for Oscar Nominated Captain Phillips will be coming as well.

Also, below is the upcoming posting schedule:
Monday: Three Year Blogoversary! And A Retrospective
Tuesday: Agents of SHIELD: The Only Light in the Darkness
Wednesday: Captain Phillips
Thursday: Seven Samurai Review
Friday: Coming Soon: April

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Underrated Music of the Week

If you are new to my blog, you might not know that I am a soundtrack enthusiast, or junkie if you prefer, and my immense enjoyment from various movies, TV, and video games is always making me look for the next great score that will have me addicted for the next month, and I believe may have found it. Without further ado, here are some of the best tracks from what I consider to be one of the best underrated soundtracks that I have discovered. Today's score is by composer Hiroyuki Sawano, who scored the immensely popular Attack on Titan, from the series Kill la Kill. Even if you have no interest in the series, you should be able to find at least one score among Sawano's excellent work. He combines many genres from Danny Elfman type scores, to rock, to oriental, most of which blends brilliantly. On a side note, my Underrated Music posts in the past have failed, but I want to try them again since I enjoy critique soundtracks and other similar music so much that I want to make it a regular part of my posting schedule again, if it succeeds.

Of the score, Nui Harime's theme is easily the most haunting. It heavily reminds me of a Danny Elfman score combined with hints of rock and electronic beats mixed in. The track takes a few seconds to get going, but when it does, it is some truly great work by the composer.

Nonon Jakuzure's theme effectively captures the marching band feel, while simultaneously throwing in some slightly techno distorted sounds, resulting in one rather bombastic score. Aside from the appealing cadence and general bombastic sound that you would expect from a march band, it is the type of track that I can listen to on a loop many times without trying of it, which I have done quite often.

Among the score, Blumenkranz is the one that is most often praised, and I can most certainly understand why, because it is utterly effective. While listening to the song on its own is quite good, it is even more effective when used as the villain's main theme, making it one of my favorite villain themes in recent memory. To my knowledge, the lyrics are fittingly in German considering the context, and that makes the song all the more ominous. 

Uzu Sanageyama's theme is fittingly fast, fun, and heavily influenced by the oriental aspect of the character. Again, some minor electronic distortion is mixed in there to rather great effect along with some background chanting. While not the best of the score, it is rather good and fun to listen to. 

Another villain type theme titled, Satsuki Kiryuin's theme, and it very bombastic and imposing, just like the character. It perfectly captures the militaristic overlord feel that it is trying to convey rather nicely. Later in the track, there are some fun guitar notes, which I am very fond of. 

There are several other tracks from the series, particularly the song "Don't Lose Your Way," however, I wanted to focus more on the more orchestral music opposed to the songs, which are still really good for the most. 

What did you think of the soundtrack? What do you think of me bringing back Underrated Music of the Week back? Also, what did you think of my commentary? Maybe I should review soundtracks in the future. Please let me know in the comments.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Captain America Watches Sherlock?

In the opening scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap refers to his notebook of various things that we needs to catch-up on since being defrosted and, in the UK version, Sherlock is listed as the TV show that he wants to watch. However, each of the 10 regions actually have a different version of his list, most of which are listed below. In addition to Sherlock, the UK version has Sean Connery and the Beatles, which is cool. From what I understand, the UK got to vote for what would make the list and Sherlock and Sean Connery were two of the winners. The Australian version had Steve Irwin and AC/DC, which is interesting. Tony probably recommended AC/DC to Cap though, considering that "Shoot to Thrill" is entrance song (that was joke). On the American version at least, Cap appears to have already seen Star Wars, which is not surprising since he is owned by Disney. And I like his choice of music in the French version with Daft Punk. Also, Thai Food, Star Wars/Trek, Nirvana (Band), Rocky (Rocky II?), and Troubleman (Soundtrack) seem to be on every version of the list, so I will just list the top part that is different. I am interested to see what is on the Japanese version of the list; however, because the film has just been released there this week, I have not been able to find the Japanese version of the list. If anyone can find a picture, or happens to know what is on it, please let me know. To make it easier to read, I have what is on each list and what country it is from above each picture. Without further ado, here are the lists.

Note: Due to the massive amount of spam comments, comments on this post have been disabled.

TV Show - Sherlock
Moon Landing
The Beatles
World Cup Final (1966)
Sean Connery

I Love Lucy
Moon Landing
Berlin Wall (Up + Down)
Steve Jobs (Apple)

Space Travel
Steve Irwin
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
Tim Tams

Ayrton Senna
Wagner Moura
Mamonas Assassinas

Dance Dance Revolution
Ji-Sung Park
2002 World Cup

Rafa Nadal
Chupa Chups
Héroes del Silencio
1978 Constitution
Camilo José Cela

Latin America:
Chilean Miners
Maradona's Hand of God
Neri Vela (1st Mexican Astronaut)
Octavio Pax (Nobel Winner)

World Cup Championship
Vasco Rossi
Berlin Wall up + down
Roberto Benigni
Ferrari's victories at F1 Grand Prix

Yuri Gagarin
Vladamir Vystoskiy
Soviet Union Dissolution - 1991
Moscow doesn't believe in tears

Currywurst (a food dish)
Moon Landing
Berlin Wall up + down
There is no screencap for this one.

What do you think of Cap's various To-Do Lists? What pop-culture things would recommend for someone that has been on ice for the last 80+ years? Please comment below and let me know.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kill la Kill Review

From the creators of FLCL and Gurren Lagann comes Kill la Kill, a series loaded is absurd amount of hype with some even claiming is "the savior of anime." Does it live up to the insane hype? In many ways, it actually does. 
Kill la Kill follows Ryuko Matoi as she attempts to avenge her father's death. However, she does not know exactly who killed her father, but only that the assailant has the second half of a giant scissor blade that has special powers. For a continued spoiler-free description of the plot, you can read my First Impression post by clicking here.

First off, Kill la Kill is insanely awesome at times. It is the type of series that can make me pumped up and excited, especially when amazing music kicks in. On the flipside, the series can be insanely dumb at times, but thankfully the series does not take itself too seriously during the dumber parts. However, when the series is more serious, it is at its best with some surprisingly likable characters that you really begin to care about, as well as some unexpected twists. 
Kill la Kill comes from studio Trigger as their first full anime series. Considering that this is a freshman effort, it is a rather impressive one at that. Trigger is comprised of animators from Studio Gainax, who is responsible for classics such as the aforementioned Gurren Lagann and FLCL, as well as Neon Genesis Evangelion (my review here). Also, the director of Kill la Kill, Hiroyuki Imaishi, directed both Gurren Lagann and FLCL. While I had not seen Gurren Lagann at the time of watching Kill la Kill (I have just finished it), I did watch FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly) not long before watching Kill la Kill, and it certainly prepared me for the absurd weirdness and insanity to the point that Kill la Kill rarely phased me in the craziness department, although many viewers would certainly be off-put by the series.

The Good: Awesome action, Sometimes amazing animation, Likable cast of characters, Some great humor, Epic final episodes, Ryuko is a cool protagonist, Strong villains, Fantastic soundtrack, Several unexpected twists, Absurd amount fun throughout, Over-the-top insanity, Somewhat understandable reasoning for fan-service, Mako is freaking hilarious, Some interesting metaphors (others did not work),

The Bad: Inconsistent animation, Absurd amount of fanservice, Sometimes too dumb and ridiculous, A few annoying moments early on, Middle-section falters some,

Plot: 7.2/10- Kill la Kill's plot ranges from utterly stupid to insanely fun to surprisingly smart (on a few occasions). However, from what I understand, it takes many cues from Gurren Lagann (I haven’t gotten that into it yet). Many parts of Kill la Kill parody other anime in a very self aware manor. It is technically set in highschool, and it almost makes fun of this fact since very little about the story feels like it is set in highschool or needs to be, which is good. Much of the series is like that of a shounen except without being childish like a shounen due to the mature themes that are not suitable for a younger audience.
Early on, the series is very lighthearted and non-serious, but it becomes darker and more serious as the plot progresses while still maintaining its fun and entertaining feel. In fact, the last quarter of the series is the best part, since the middle portion begins to meander a little too much. There are some interesting plot twists and turns that are mostly unexpected. The big explanation of how and why the Goku uniforms have special powers is explained with typical anime BS in a such a way that I believe it was more parody than anything. Also, the series does throw around some interesting and humorous metaphors, some of which are interesting and fun, while others miss the mark. In addition to the metaphors, there is some thematic depth that some will argue is there, while others will write it off as stupidity.

Characterization: 8.6/10- Surprisingly, Kill la Kill's characters might be the best aspect of the entire series with a large cast of likable characters. Some of the characters that, at first, seem like only side-characters are given interesting, and often humorous, backstories that flesh out the character to the point where you really end up liking the character. Also, the villains in the series are top notch. One interesting factor is that all of the main characters are female. In many ways, the female characters are not written as female characters, but more in a gender neutral way, except for the moments of massive fanservice. Honestly though, I do not care either way if the main characters are male or female, they are just main characters that the plot follows, as characters, they are fun to watch and are interesting, so I did not even think about this observation until writing this review and reading other reviews. My only complaint with the characters is that there is a random, out of character, and poorly executed attempt at romance in the final episode, but that may have been a joke considering how the series ended.
Ryuko Matoi: Ryuko is the main protagonist of the story. She has some clichéd shounen qualities, but ultimately comes off as cool and bada** most of the time.
Senketsu: Senketsu is actually Ryuko's sailor uniform that gives her superhuman abilities, but he actually has a personality and develops a friendship with Ryuko, which is the best aspect of his character.
Mako Mankanshoku: Mako is the comic relief character, and she has to be one of the best comic relief characters I have ever seen. As any Star Wars fan knows, comic relief characters can go horribly wrong (Jar Jar), almost to the point of ruining a work of fiction, but Mako only adds to it. In fact, she might be my favorite character from the series! She is so much fun to watch in all of her comedic insanity.
Satsuki Kiryuin: Satsuki is the main antagonist of the series, and as a character, she is easily one of the best parts of the series. She is a menacing villain and leader of her forces. At first, she seems rather onenote, but without spoiling any, she turns into a great character by the end.

Action: 9.5/10- The action is one of the best parts of Kill la Kill. It is really freaking awesome most of the time. While it can be a little slideshow-ish with some unnecessary still frames, for the most part, the action is thrilling! During many of the action scenes, I got a real rush of excitement.
Acting: 8.3/10- Kill la Kill has no English dub as of now being that it has just finished airing, but the Japanese cast is very strong, and I doubt that any English cast can give the proper insane feel to the series. 

Art Style: 8.1/10- Kill la Kill's animation is somewhat inconsistent, but overall very well done. Due to how stylized and unrealistic the art-style was, it took a couple of episodes before I really started liking it, but in the end, I liked it a lot. Despite some parts being a little low quality, they rarely stand out due to the wacky nature of the series. Also, there is some unnecessary 3D animation mixed with the 2D. Since there is no better place than the animation to discuss it, let's talk about the fanservice. Wow, Kill la Kill is packed with fanservice. It is not the worst ever since the detailing of the body is very rudimentary, but from Ryuko's impractical outfit to a couple of disturbingly odd scenes, the fanservice runs rampant in the series. Unlike a lot of fanservice however, the series does justify it to a degree with some plot points trying to explain it, and the characters are actually self-aware of it, with Ryuko being embarrassed of her outfit several times. However, the fanservice is not all one sided with a surprising amount of female oriented fanservice. For me personally, the fanservice got to the point where I did not even notice after a while due to the shear amount of it, so it was not a major drawback for me. On the other hand, if you have any aversion to fanservice, Kill la Kill is not the series for you.  

Soundtrack: 9.8/10- Kill la Kill's soundtrack is fantastic! The use of the score during key points of the series, particularly the action scenes, works to great effect in making the viewer pumped up and even inspired. "Blumenkranz" has to be one of the best villain themes in quite some time and the song "Don't Lose Your Way" never gets old, particularly the orchestral version that is used throughout the series. Also, each of the character themes is fantastic! In fact, the soundtrack deserves an entire post, which will be coming this weekend.

Humor: 9.1/10- Kill la Kill is probably the funniest action comedy that I have seen since Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and that is mostly thanks to Mako's comedic brilliance. Some of the comedy is hit or miss, particularly with Mako's family, but it made me laugh quite many times throughout the series.

Opening and Ending: 7.9/10- The first opening is opening nothing special, and first ending is quite good. On the other hand, the second opening, while not amazing, is very strong and worth listening on its own.

Non-Otaku Appeal: Unless you want to watch a great example of how crazy anime can be, this is not a good gateway series by any means.

Entertainment Value: 9.5/10- Kill la Kill rarely creased to entertain with its over-the-top fun style. I was almost never bored and often glued to the screen to see what insane thing was going to happen next to the likable characters.

Overall: 8.4/10- Kill la Kill takes the insanity of FLCL, the over-the-topness of Gurren Lagann, a lot of fanservice, and mixed it all together for one unique and entertaining ride. However, Kill la Kill is difficult to rate. Due to how dumb and clichéd the plot can be at points, actually saying that Kill la Kill is a "great" series is difficult, but thanks to the likable characters, shear entertainment value, and arguable amounts of depth, I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot, even if I can see why others might call it stupid.

Closing comments: While some might hate the series due to the hype and large fanbase, Kill la Kill gave me exactly what I was expecting from the series, as well as some unexpectedly strong characters.

Update Side Note: Since writing this review, I have finished Gurren Lagann, and its influence on Kill la Kill clearly evident. While Kill la Kill is great, Gurren Lagann is definitely my favorite between the two due to the last third of Gurren Lagann being possibly the most epic thing I have seen in anime and because of the superior emotional impact, which Kill la Kill was lacking in comparison. 

Recommended for *Mature*: Action fans, Fanservice fans, FLCL fans, Gurren Lagann fans,

To read more of my anime reviews, you can click here.

Here are other reviews of Kill la Kill for alternate opinions:
Review by Crescent Reviews
Review by Meeping Anime
Review by Nigma Box

Also, if you have reviewed this anime, leave a comment with a link to your review and I will post it here (providing it does not contain any explicit content).

You don't like Kill la Kill? Well....

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gravity Review

Gravity, the absurdly popular film that basically everyone is crazy about. Does it deserve the hype?
Considering that a ton of people ranging from movie critics to fellow bloggers praised Gravity as one of the best of the year, you it should be no surprise that I was excited for the film, and in terms of special effects, Gravity most certainly delivers. It is a visual and audio spectacle that are almost worth seeing for the visuals alone. Unfortunately, the visuals and audio are virtually the only thing the film has going for it.

Obviously, I watched the movie at home on Blu-Ray on an HDTV, and it is probably the best looking Blu-Ray I have seen. From what basically all of the reviews of the movie have said is that you have to watch it in 3D. While watching it in 3D would have probably enhanced the experienced, I am glad that I did not pay $13+ to see it in IMAX 3D, because I want more for my money in terms of story and characters, but the price of renting the Blu-Ray at the Redbox is certainly worth it.

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Genre: Thriller, Drama,
Release Date: October 4, 2013
Running Time: 91 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Stunning visuals effects, Wonderful direction, Impressive sound design, Excellent cinematography, Strong performances, Gripping first half, Great review,

The Bad: Several dumb character actions, Generic and clichéd characters, Predictable second half, Weak script,

Plot: 4.2/10- Gravity has an incredibly simple plot. Basically, astronauts are in space and crap happens for 90 minutes. Thanks to technical aspect, the first half was suspenseful and unpredictable; unfortunately, the second was entirely predictable. In terms of plot, there is not much to it, which I suppose is that point. Also, the movie tries to manipulate the viewer's emotions, and it definitely failed at affecting me in any way, but I guess I can see others feeling differently.

Characterization: 4.3/10- Despite the film's small cast, none of the characters are more than clichéd caricatures. The main protagonist, Dr. Ryan Stone, is an incompetent scientist, who should never have been allowed in space, with a tragically generic backstory that is supposed to manipulate the emotions of the audience. Lieutenant Matt Kowalski is a charismatic and entertaining, yet one dimensional, astronaut. *Spoilers* One part that completely took me out of the movie is that when Ryan was low on oxygen; she and Kowalski continued to carry on a conversation as if there was no problem. I know that he was trying to calm her down, but talking consumes a lot of oxygen, especially if there is very little left. Also, I sincerely hope that we do not send astronauts into space that are incompetent as Stone was in the movie. I know she is just a scientist, but astronauts go through some rigorous training before going into space. *End Spoiler*

Action/Suspense: 7.5/10- During Gravity's first half, it had several genuinely thrilling and suspenseful moments. As stuff is being destroyed, it is certainly a visually stunning experience that can be entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, in the second half, most of the suspense was gone due to the utter predictability of the plot. I wanted to feel more tension, but when you can basically figure out what is going to happen next, there is not a lot driving the audience to feel tension. Fortunately, since I avoided all spoilers and trailers, I knew virtually nothing about what happened in the movie except for the first two minutes, which added to the suspense of the movie, even if it was predictable.
Acting: 8.1/10- Sandra Bullock in the leading role is fine. She overacts at certain points, and her character comes off as a little too inexperienced and clichéd, but that is mostly the material rather than the performance. George Clooney is the best part of the movie thanks to his natural charisma and likable performance.

Special effects: 9.9/10- Special effects are Gravity's strongest aspect. From the stunning cinematography, almost all of which was done digitally, to the thrilling visuals rushing past the screen, Gravity is a visual treat. Except for some scenes obviously being computer generated, the effects are believable and extremely well executed considering that the movie is basically an animated one with talking heads. The 1080p video quality of the Blu-Ray is simply immaculate. It is one of the best looking movies I have seen on Blu-Ray. From a directorial standpoint, Alfonso Cuarón nails it. He actually makes first-person perspective effective and not annoying. Also, the movie certainly earns the awards for the technical aspects of the film.

Sound Design: 10/10- Gravity's sound design is equally amazing as its visuals. The deep bass tones in the film are particularly effective at making the audience feel as though you are inside the spacesuit with the characters.

Soundtrack: 9.5/10- Except for some generic "emotional" music, Steven Price's score is top notch. The soundtrack is often similar to that of Jaws in how it makes the audience feel the tension of the situation. While the predictability of the plot lessens the score's effectiveness in the second half, it is used to great effect in the first half.

Humor: N/A- 

Entertainment Value: 7.3/10- Again, the first half was great and entertaining, but when you know exactly how the second half is going to end, it takes away a lot of the fun.

Overall: 7.7/10- Thanks to the stunning visuals and excellent sound design, Gravity is a feast for the eyes and ears that is worth seeing for its technical proficiency alone, and unfortunately, that is about the only thing going for it.

Closing comments: Now that a lot people disagree with my opinion for not giving a perfect score to Gravity, I just have to say that I wanted to like the movie more, but giving my honest and unfiltered opinion is what I do, even if it does not go along with the pack. Gravity has a few problems, most of which come from the script, but it is still a very good movie.

Recommended for: Space enthusiasts, Thriller fans, Special effects fans,

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Rating: Entertainment Value and More

My reviews have gone through a couple of changes as late, and I plan to add one other category for me to critique, "Entertainment Value." At some point next month, I will likely devote a post entirely to explaining my review system so that newcomers will understand my rating system better, but before I explain Entertainment Value, I have noticed one big problem with my reviews: they are so freaking long! 
Admittedly, I am a wordy person that enjoys analyzing basically everything which results in reviews that are upwards of 1500 words on occasion, but average out around 1200. With my categorized system of analyzing various aspects individually, I have been trying to write my reviews in such a way that if you want to know the gist of what I am saying, read the opening, Good/Bad, Overall, and Closing Comments, and any other category that you are specifically interested in. On the other hand, my reviews look rather imposing to read due to the length. The addition of pictures and gifs seem to have improved the look and feel of the reviews, which many of you have noted (thanks for the feedback!). So, right now I am thinking of ways to say everything in fewer words. Obviously, important movies definitely require a full explanation of why they are good or bad, but my more general reviews probably need to be cutdown. If you have any feedback on how that could be accomplished, please let me know. Maybe I should be more generalized in my critique of acting and only note particularly strong or weak performances. 

Moving on to my explanation of the new rating category: Entertainment Value. As the name implies, Entertainment Value gives a rating to my personal amount of entertainment experienced while watching the film. More so than any other category, Entertainment Value is the most subjective and is based on personal enjoyment. I am entertained in a variety of ways. Some movies are fun and entertaining thanks to the humor and characters like Back to the Future, which would receive a 10/10 for Entertainment Value, and some are fun action movies like Die Hard that receive similarly high ratings. On the other hand, suspense mysteries that challenge me to figure out what is happen also entertains. Examples of that would be Rear Window and the Usual Suspects. Darker movies like The Godfather even offer a good amount of Entertainment Value. Also, Entertainment Value heavily influences rewatchability and how a movie ranks on my Top 100 list. For me, historical epics like Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, and Seven Samurai are very entertaining, even if many modern viewers would cite them as "slow" and "boring." Even though not all movies are intended to be entertaining, like Schindler's List, those types of films are not the ones that I rank among my favorites, but are, nonetheless, "great," well crafted films.
All in all, Entertainment Value has a lot to do with personal enjoyment and that is how the rating is decided. Also, if you have not figured it out already, my scores for each category are not added up for a final score. Many movies have non-quantifiable qualities that are evident in the Overall rating.  Also, this new rating is going to be applied to all of my types of reviews like TV and anime. Hopefully, that all makes sense, and if you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. Even answering seemingly simple questions can help everyone better understand my ratings, myself included. Also, please check back tomorrow for my review of Gravity.

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