Monday, June 30, 2014

New Doctor Who Teaser and Premiere Date Set

Another Doctor Who teaser trailer is here, and we get to finally hear what Peter Capaldi's version of the character sounds like. Also, the premiere is officially set to air on August 23. The teaser does not give us much other than The Doctor asking, "Clara, be my pal; tell me, am I a good man?" with Clara replying, "I don't think I know who the Doctor is anymore." As expected, this new Doctor is darker and conflicted, or at least that is what this teaser is suggesting. My question is still, what is the Doctor conflicted about? *Major Spoilers* He saved his home planet after all! *End Spoilers* Regardless, I am seriously excited for more Doctor Who! What do you think of the teaser? Are you excited for the next season? Please comment below and check back tomorrow for my continuation of the Top 100 Movies of All-Time list.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Star Wars Ep. 7 Delayed?

Star Wars Episode 7 is reported to be delayed past its set December 2015 release date! A couple of weeks ago Harrison Ford was reported to have injured his ankle. Later reports stated that Ford actually broken leg his leg! Since Han Solo is said to play an important role in the film, Harrison Ford's injury could end up delaying the entire film! Wow, this is terrible news. While nothing is official, according to an article from, Ford's recovery could take up to six months! Disney is reportedly adamant about the December release date and writing Ford out of the script is, thankfully, not going to happen. Maybe this delay is going to Force Episode 7 to be released in Star Wars’ usual summer season. Hopefully, Abrams and company will be able to get everything worked without affecting the quality of the film and Ford's health. What are your thoughts on the possible Star Wars delay? Please comment below and let me know.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Attack on Titan: Episode 8 Review

After yet another unexpected plot twist in the previous episode, episode eight continues to deliver high quality writing, animation, and action.
*Major Spoilers Ahead*
With HQ still overrun with Titans and the others low on gas, Armin thinks of a plan to lure the new "Traitor Titan" to HQ to help take it back. After the characters reach HQ, Armin continues to demonstrate his strategic skill with a plan to take back the inside of HQ. While Armin might be a little cowardly, he is a skilled strategist, and I like that side of his character. His plan to use the muskets and the elevator thing to distract the Titans was a cool and practical plan. When the characters are walking down the steps to execute the plan, animation turns into a slide-show with just pictures as they talked, which was odd. Honestly, I did not notice it much until my second viewing of the episode, but it is still worthy of note. Also, the joke about the Titan's other weakness being their butt was admittedly humorous. 
During the planned attacked, Sasha and Connie Springer (or was it someone else?) which left the resident bada** ladies, Mikasa and Annie, to save the day. I am sure everyone recognized the attack from the opening animation as well. As for the Titans themselves, seeing the smaller four meter Titans up close for the first time was interesting. If my memory serves right, those Titans have not been shown up-close before until now or at least not close enough to reasonably judge their size. Also, the infamous "Kawaii Titan" was a little unintentionally humorous, although I did not think it was as bad as others have said. 
One minor thing is that the conversation Jean had with one of the other characters, whose name I cannot remember, while running towards HQ, is not kind of a terrible idea. It is really not the time for a chat when you should be running from the Titans. It is not a big problem, but it still kind of odd, but not uncommon for anime or any TV series for that matter.  

After killing the Titans and taking back HQ, the "Traitor Titan" is seen fighting off more Titans outside HQ, and, unlike the other Titans, he does not appear to be regenerating as fast as the others. But what comes next is the major plot twist: Eren is the Titan! As stated last week, I already kind of heard that he turned into a Titan, so it was not a huge shock, but the scene gave me chills nonetheless. Also, I think I would have figured it out anyway. To my surprise however, Eren turning into a Titan happened much earlier in the series than I expected. I thought it would happen towards the finale. Now that his major plot point is out of the way, I do not believe I know anymore spoilers! Hopefully, the next few episodes provide a decent explanation as to how he turned into a Titan. Otherwise, this is going to be the deus ex machina plot twist that I did not want to happen, but considering the series' praise and popularity, I do not believe it is going to disappoint.

Overall: 9.3/10- Ramping up the epic action to yet another level, episode eight, "Hearing the Heartbeat: Battle of Trost District, Part 4," delivers in spades.
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Friday, June 27, 2014

My Movie Bucket-List

Today, I have compiled a Bucket-List of popular and critically acclaimed movies that I need to watch at some point. If you know of some movies that are not on the list that you think I should watch, please comment and let me know. My goal is to eventually watch most of the movies on the list, even if some of them are not ones that I particularly want to watch, but rather feel the need to watch due to popularity or critical praise. Since I already know that I will watch some of the more recent films like The Lego Movie, I have not included movies from the last year. Lately, I have even started catching up on some highly regarded Asian films like Oldboy and The Host, so if there is an Asian film that I should watch, please let me know. My goal is to watch several of these movies before the end of the year. Also, of course, you cannot know if I have already seen a movie that you recommend, so just please leave some suggestions and I will reply to comment about whether or not I have seen the movie in question. I have also added a new page for the Bucket-List and as I watch more of the movies, I will use the "Strikethrough" feature to mark the ones that I have seen. So, without further ado, here is the list.
  • 12 Angry Men
  • 13 Assassins
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • A Christmas Story
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • American Splendor
  • Annie Hall
  • All About Eve
  • Army of Darkness
  • The Artist
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Brazil
  • The Cat Returns
  • Charlie Bartlett
  • Chinatown
  • City Lights
  • Clue
  • The Crow
  • The Departed
  • District 9
  • Django Unchained
  • Double Indemnity
  • Duck Soup
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Exam
  • Following
  • Frago
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Fight Club
  • The French Connection
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Ghost World
  • The Graduate
  • Grease
  • Hellboy
  • Ikiru
  • Identity
  • Infernal Affairs
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • Ip Man Trilogy
  • King Kong
  • Legend of the Drunken Master
  • Leon: The Professional
  • Looper
  • Mad Max Trilogy
  • The Man from Nowhere
  • Memento
  • Memories of Murder
  • Metropolis
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • Network
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • On the Waterfront
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Platoon
  • Ponyo
  • Pulp Fiction
  • The Raid: Redemption
  • Raising Arizona
  • Raging Bull
  • Ran
  • Road to Perdition
  • Schindler's List
  • Scream Sequels
  • Se7en
  • The Shining
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • The Sound of Music
  • Sunset Blvd.
  • Taxi Driver
  • The Thing
  • Trainspotting
  • Upside Down
  • Yojimbo
Reader Suggestions:
Note: Since writing this post, I watched Memento, hence why there is a line through it.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Teaser Trailer

The first trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 is here! In line with other viral marketing teases, this is like an announcement by President Snow to the people of Panem, and Peeta is standing beside Snow! Apparently, readers of the book are not surprised by this revelation, but as someone who has avoided reading the book and spoilers in general. Considering that Catching Fire turned out to be one of the best movies of last year, I am most definitely excited for Mockingjay: Part 1, and I am going to see it in theaters, so it is not like the trailer has to sell me on the movie. While not particularly special, this teaser is better than most teasers. What did you think of the teaser? Please comment below and check back tomorrow for My Movie Bucket-List.
On a sidenote, you may remember that I posted about the Hunger Games: Mockingjay filming in my hometown. While I am not sure if the footage will be used in part one or two of Mockingjay, I am certainly excited to see it, and you can check out the original post with my covertly taken set pictures by clicking here.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review Part 2

Here is part two of my Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review, please comment below and let me know if you have seen the series or are interest in watching it. If you have not read part one, you can click here.

Plot: 9.9/10- In general, the biggest difference between a series like FMA: Brotherhood and another one of my favorites, like Death Note or Fate/Zero, is Brotherhood's lighter tone, while also maintaining a serious side. It is just more fun as a whole. 
Even though the series is mostly serious in its overall themes and story, there is a lot of great humor, drama, and unexpected deaths. The tone of the series is one of the most unique things about it since it is never too dark, nor it is too light. At first, the show starts out fun, action-packed, and somewhat violent, but then episode 4 hits, it demonstrates the series’ ability to have a very dark side when necessary. However, the series' overall tone is somewhat similar to American TV’s mix of humor, action, and drama, although Brotherhood balances those aspects better most other series. Brotherhood's first half the brothers’, Ed and Al, quest to discover a way get their bodies back, but the second half is more like a rebellion, which reminded me of Star Wars, that results in an all out war. There are elements of political intrigue, an overly controlling government, and many other elements from various genres, which results in a series that is unique and original. My only real compliant with the plot is that the ending went into the weird territory a little too much, but only for half an episode, and the ending in general is one of the more satisfying ones to date. 

Characterization: 10/10- FMA: Brotherhood has some of the best and most compelling characters from any series. 
Edward and Alphonse Elric: Not only are the two leads, Edward and Alphonse, the best representation of brothers in any work of fiction, almost all of the side characters are well developed and memorable, and there are a lot of side characters. The brother relationship between Edward and Alphonse Elric shows a very realistic and relatable brotherly bond. Even though brothers might have their disagreements, in the end we always have each other's back no matter what and that is exactly how Edward and Alphonse are characterized. Typically, brothers in fiction almost always conflict with each other or have troubled relationships, but Ed and Al are a refreshing take on siblings, and they are easily the best. As individuals both have excellent character traits that often result in some hilariously comical moments as well as serious ones. 
Roy Mustang: Redefining the definition of Bada** since 2001
Roy Mustang: Colonel Roy Mustang is quite possibly the most bada** character ever. He has an absurd amount of epically cool scenes throughout the entity of the series yet, he also has great character development and shows a more comical side on occasion. 
Winry: Winry is one of the better romantic interests in anime because she is neither the clich├ęd butt-kicking chick nor is she a damsel in distress. She is a smart and very skill automail (mechanical arms and legs to replace lost limbs) mechanic that helps Ed and Al, albeit not usually in combat. 
Something else FMA: Brother does well are the villains, and there are many menacing villains throughout the series. My favorite of the villains is the character named Lust, and while she does not receive the most screen time, she is a compelling antagonist. However, discussing the villains in detail would spoil the surprise. 
There are far too many characters like Armstrong, Riza Hawkeye, and Hughes to discuss in one review, but be assured that if I made a Top 25 anime characters list, there would be a lot of FMA: Brotherhood characters. Also, since the series is longer than the typical anime, there is ample room for character development and the series uses it effectively.
Action: 10/10- Few other animated series out there matches FMA: Brotherhood's quality of action scenes (only Black Lagoon and Attack on Titan). 
Seriously, the last quarter of the series is essentially one epic battle, and it is amazing. The use of alchemy and a complete disregard for physics allows for some insanely awesome battles throughout and the animation during those scenes hold up incredibly well. Not only is the quality of action impressive, the variety is even more impressive since the battles range from epic alchemy battles to large scale military assaults to skillful hand-to-hand combat. Also, it should be noted that while the series is not overly gory, there is a lot of blood and death throughout. 

Acting: 9.9/10- While there is not a lot wrong the Japanese dub, I do have one big problem that distracts me, Edward's voice. Edward is voiced by Romi Park, a woman. 
Vic Mignogna cosplaying as Edward
Women voicing young male characters is not uncommon in all animation voice acting (Alphonse is voiced by a woman in both the dub and sub), but when Edward is 15-18 years old throughout the series, it more obvious that a woman is the voicing the role, and I cannot get past that fact. On the dub side, Vic Mignogna manages to sound like a teenage boy. If you did not mind Park's performance, that's great, but it was difficult for me not to notice. Granted, I pay more attention to voicing acting than most. That being said, the English dub is positively fantastic! It is easily one of the best dubs out there. It perfectly captures the over-the-top nature of characters, as well as the more dramatic scenes. Vic Mignogna and Maxey Whitehead voice Ed and Al perfectly giving the characters depth, yet showing their naivety. Travis Willingham should be given special praise for his portrayal of Roy Mustang. All of the other English dub actors are also top notch and essentially perfect. Also, another reason I prefer the dub is that the canonical language of the universe if English, so it makes sense.

Art Style: 9.8/10- Since FMA: Brotherhood was the first true shonen that I watched, the slightly odd art style was off putting at first because the animations changes to a style like the gif below for comedic effect. However, after watching a few episodes and a lot of other somewhat similar series, those brief parts of the series were actually hilarious! The animation in the other parts of the series is often very fluid and detailed, particularly during the impressive action scenes. The character models are one of the stronger aspects of the series in terms of animation quality. While the somewhat blocky shape of the characters is different at first, it works perfectly for the series. In fact, most modern shounen series do not look nearly as crisp and consistent as studio Bones’ animation for Brotherhood. 
Ed's not a fan of milk, which reminds me of my brother.
Soundtrack: 8.3/10- Brotherhood's soundtrack is its only weaker element. While all of the tracks are very good and fitting for the situation in which they are used, very few specific tracks are especially memorable, with a few exceptions. 

Humor: 9.9/10- As stated previous, FMA: Brotherhood can be a very serious show when it needs to be, but it can also be utterly hilarious! 
Most episodes have at least one or two laugh-out-loud moments spread throughout thanks to the comedic chemistry between Ed and Al. Also most of the other characters in the series are also funny and add great humor. Brotherhood has the type of humor that adds to the overall quality of the show, rather than detracting from its story.
Opening and Ending: 9.7/10- FMA: Brotherhood changes the opening and ending themes often, and while all but the last opening is superb, none can top the first opening, "Again" by Yui. Two of the ending themes are memorable enough to listen on their own, and admittedly, I listen to first four openings and the fourth ending often.
Sound Design: 9.9/10- From Alphonse's voice actually sounding like it is coming a metal body with the echoing, to cool sound effect that the Alchemist's transmutations make, all of the sound effects in FMA: Brotherhood are top notch.

Non-Otaku Appeal: Despite my initial skepticism that Brotherhood is not the best gateway series, after actually testing said theory on a true Non-Otaku that I know personally, he ended up enjoying quite a lot. Therefore, my verdict is that non-Otaku should at least give it a watch to see what they think about the series.

Entertainment Value: 9.9/10- Rarely was I not entertained while watching Brotherhood; it is a ton of fun, but smart fun.
Alex Louis Armstrong: The Strong Arm Alchemist
Overall: 9.9/10- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of those series that combines a fun, sometimes, lighthearted tone, with an epic story, and lovable characters that results in one of the best works of fiction I have ever seen. While there are a few flaws in the series, they can be more easily overlooked due to the sheer amount of quality episodes that Brotherhood contains. Also, even though the epic story and humor is great, the characters and how well they are developed is what raises Brotherhood above the rest. In fact, FMA might just be my favorite anime of all-time.

Closing comments: Despite the length of my review, I have barely scratched the surface of what makes Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a classic and there are so many things that you can discover for yourself as to why it is one of the best. Also, if you are already an anime fan, Brotherhood or the original Fullmetal Alchemist is mandatory viewing.

Note: It should go without saying the FMA: Brotherhood is recommended for more mature audiences, however compared to other shows like Fate/Zero, Brotherhood is more in line with the majority of shows on network TV with mild profanity and violence that is mostly suitable for teenagers and maybe even younger.

Recommended for: Fantasy fans, Action fans, Anime fans, Animation fans, Science-Fiction fans, Epic fans, Avatar: The Last Airbender fans,

Extra Recommendations: If you are a fan of the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, FMA: Brotherhood is highly recommended since it is somewhat similar in terms of the setting and Avatar was obviously influenced by Fullmetal Alchemist.
Watch FMA or Roy will not be pleased...
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blogger's Broke, Again

Blogger is having problems again! As you may have noticed, the Blogger Dashboard is only displaying the most recent post (picture below) and the "View More" button does absolutely nothing! After doing some digging, many others are having the exact same problem. Google/Blogger is apparently aware of the problems, and they have started a forum for people who want to be updated on the progress of the problem, which you can check out here. Hopefully, Blogger will get this problem fixed! Unfortunately, due to this problem, most of you will not be able to find this post. Please let me know if you are also having this problem, and if you have found a way around it, please let everyone know in the comments. Thus far, I have tried every web browser and nothing is happening. Also, I planned on posting my second part of the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, review, but that will be coming tomorrow or the next day, depending on what happens.

This is what the problem looks like.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

A "Girl" Movie Everyone Should Watch: Guest Post by Jamie

My friend and guest author, Jamie, is here with another guest review!

I spent several days with only a simple outline written for this guest post, unable to find the right words to describe what I want to say to you all today. And it's only near the end of my self made deadline that the words have finally come. The reason for my word block is because this movie has layers and dimension and there are so many ways to look at it. However, I've finally been able to pin down my thoughts!

The movie I want to talk about today is Thelma and Louise. It's become one of my top ten favorite films of all time, right up there with Star Wars and Ben-Hur. Even though it's usually considered a film for the female audience, I'm here today with three reasons as to why everyone should be able to love this movie, including guys. (I don't want to spoil anything, so my reasons will be on the broader side.)
Here's a little information on the film before we get started, in case you haven't seen it or only heard a little about it. An adventure buddy film, Thelma and Louise was released 1991 and won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, which it definitely deserved. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are our lead stars (and a very young Brad Pitt joins them too.) To younger readers: take note that Thelma and Louise is rated R for strong language, along with some violence and sensuality.

The plot synopsis at it's shortest: Two good friends decided to go on a weekend vacation together to get away from stress and a domineering husband.  However, before reaching their destination, a side stop turns sour when one of them is nearly raped and the other shoots the offender as they walk away. They decided to hightail it to Mexico but are soon pursued by a detective and the FBI. While on their journey, Thelma and Louise begin to discover the freedom they have in their own choices and in their friendship with each other.
I love this movie for so many reasons; Davis and Sarandon's acting in this movie is fantastic. They bring the two characters Thelma and Louise to life with their perfect chemistry. Other characters like Brad Pitt's sweet-talking hitchhiker also brings smiles to one's face while you feel happy to loath Thelma's sexist husband Daryl. The film is paced nicely--moments are captured so well that it's hard to look away even during a few slow points. Hans Zimmer's score fits the film beautifully while the scenery captures the road trip atmosphere; so, perfectly combined with the deep thoughts and the iconic ending, which I will not spoil for you, it all makes this movie the instant classic that it is. 

But now let's hit my three big reasons why everyone should watch and be able to like this movie, okay?

The first reason is that this film has a great sense of humor. It's not silly like a comedy but it is quite funny. The humor is strongly needed as it balances the rather somber story lines of attempted rape, murder, an abusive husband, ect. Yes, the movie gets gritty and dark with it's realism. However, it also made me smile and laugh many times. The timing of the actresses and actors was perfectly orchestrated for many hysterical moments. While not everyone always finds the same movies funny, I think the humor in Thelma and Louise should be universal to almost everyone. The dialogue is smart yet realistically written and combined with the fantastic acting of the cast, the story delivers some great laughs alongside its other themes. If  the humor hadn't been pulled off well, this movie would be rather depressing.
The second reason everyone should watch this movie is that this story is about women as real as they can get, both in the characters and the two actresses Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, who weren't "Hollywood Youth" when they made this. You can't instantly stereotype either character as you watch this movie; for me, that makes the ride a lot more interesting because you can't as easily predict what they're going to do or say.

While it's refreshing for female viewers to see realistic, relatable women who aren't super models or complete stupidheads on the screen, the guys who do like dimensional female characters should definitely find this film an enjoyable watch because Thelma and Louise are people. They aren't puffs of air; instead they're complicated, they're funny, they're smart, they're people. And I don't see how guys couldn't find that at least a little intriguing.

My third and final reason why everyone should watch this movie is because the story is about friendship at it's strongest, best and most beautiful. Yes, I know there's lots of "you're my best friend" type movies out there but this one is different because of the element of seriousness. The grime. And the blood. And the chances to make life changing choices that Thelma and Louise go through together. 

No matter what gender, we all secretly want a friendship as solid as theirs.  As humans, we need people who are there for us, who will support our choices in life, who will build us up, and who will help you pick up the pieces when they all hit the pavement. This is portrayed beautifully in Thelma and Louise and I think it's one that can easily cross the gender barrier. Great friends are priceless, especially when they will go with you all the way. So, if that isn't a reason to give this movie an honest try, then I don't know what is.

If you don't know me already, I'm Jamie and you can find me over at my blog Through Two Blue Eyes. I love movies and I write about them quite frequently over there. I also write about all sorts of odds and ends and sometimes I write over here, too. So, if I don't see you over at my blog, then I will see you next time right here! Thanks for reading. :)

Thanks Jamie for another great guest post! Be sure to check out her blog.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

New Expendables 3 Trailer

A new trailer for The Expendables 3 is here, and it still looks like it is going to be a blast! Even though Harrison Ford is not going to have a large role in the movie, finally seeing the best action hero of all-time in a movie with the rest of the top action movies stars like Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to be a lot of fun. Maybe when the movie comes out I should make a Top 25 Action Movie list. Anyway, as for the trailer itself, it looks like a lot of fun! The Expendables 2 was a lot of fun, largely thanks to the meta-humor and great cast; however, the movie took itself a little too seriously, so I hope that the third entry does not. Honestly, who watches the Expendables for the plot? The use of the whistle theme from The Bridge on the River Kwai was, again, a nice touch. Overall, fun trailer, which will hopefully result in a fun movie. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review Part 1

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of those shows that after you finish it that you have such an amazing feeling of satisfaction and overall bewilderment that you just have to sit back and take in all of its greatness. It is one of those rare series that has something for almost anyone, and it is considered by critics to be one of, if not, the best anime series of all time. There is action, comedy, strong characterization, drama, and tons of epicness. In the beginning of most of my anime reviews, I feel the need to convince non-fans of the genre why they should give the series a chance, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood definitely falls in this category since it is one of the best television series I have ever seen, not just anime. 

Fullmetal Alchemist is a science fantasy epic about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are Alchemists, that tried to bring their mother back from the dead through human transmutation. However, something went wrong and Alphonse, Ed's younger brother, lost his entire body and Ed lost his leg. To save his brother, he transmuted his soul onto a suit of armor, but it cost Ed his arm to save his brother. At first, the series seems to be only about the brothers trying to get their bodies back, but there is so much more to it than that.
Best supporting cast ever.
Aside from the great cast of characters, one of the best aspects of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, or FMA: Brotherhood for short, is the unique setting. In the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, alchemy actually works, and while the idea of alchemy is obviously not realistic, the rules that govern how alchemy can be used and the scientific principle of "Equivalent Exchange" add a unique twist on the rules of "magic" that are usually present in a fantasy setting and it makes the "magic" like elements more science fiction than fantasy. However, it should be noted that the show does not in the slightest apply to the rules of gravity, physics, or believably in the action scenes, which results in utterly awesome action scenes. The series is set in an alternate world that resembles 1910s and 20s, except it is set in the land of Amestris‎, which is a lot like Europe. As a fan of world building and stories that take place in a land other than earth, the setting was executed perfectly. 

It should be noted that there are two different versions of Fullmetal Alchemist. The original Fullmetal Alchemist series, which air in 2003, and the newer one, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is what I what I am reviewing today. The original series was made while the manga was still being written and when the series caught up to the manga; the series created a new path for story, which was obviously different than where the manga ended up. Several years later in 2009, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was created, and it followed the manga also verbatim. 
At the time of writing the majority of this review, I had not seen the original Fullmetal Alchemist. However, after watching the original FMA last month, I can say that while Brotherhood is a better, more focused series, with more development of the side characters, the original FMA is not to be missed. It is nearly as well written, and the different path the story takes is intriguing. Be sure to look for my review of the original FMA at some point in the near future.

Unlike many of the other anime series I have seen, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is longer than the typical 24 episode series with 64. Because of its length, the series is sometimes quantity over quality, by which I mean that the series does not always have riveting episodes in the beginning like Death Note, but rather it is a series that has large overarching story lines that offer ample character development and world building. However, the pacing of the series is rarely slow since an amazing action is thrown in often, with the final 20 episodes being one of the most epic battles ever conceived. 

Brotherhood is a shounen series. Technically, shounen refers to the demographic of teen boys with tropes of the genre being relentless action and cartoony animation with the most popular series in the genre being Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach. However, unlike many other shounen series, FMA: Brotherhood is a focused narrative without filler episodes, and it is full of deep themes, strong character development, and a compelling narrative, although there is plenty of action and comedy throughout the series. 
One of my only minor issues with the series is that it starts out a little slow. The pacing is fine, but I was not encapsulated in the story until later in the series. Actually, I started watching the series back in September or October of 2013, but did not finish it until February of this year, because I took a relatively long break in the middle to watch The Walking Dead and a few other shows. However, after you get through the first several episodes, it turns out excellently. 
My other small issue is that, in the series, firearms are a common weapon by the military, and while it is not explained, the State Alchemists are not said to be bulletproof with the exception of a few characters. Obviously, a bullet to the head would kill them, yet they often fight hand-to-hand, which is much more entertaining to watch, but it bothered me a few times that the characters were not killed easier. Maybe, since Alchemists can do all other kinds of superhuman things, they are bulletproof, but it was never explained clearly. Also, some of the dialogue was the typical shonen, "I'm going to explain how I am beating you in slow motion while I am fighting," which worked sometimes while other times it did not.
On a side note, there is basically no fan-service. Aside from one scene that is borderline mild fanservice, the series is almost entirely void of it. 

The Good: Incredibly strong characterization, Perfect mix of action drama and humor,  Epic scope and scale, Lovable characters, Well developed main and supporting characters, Unique and original, Impressive action scenes, Good message, Surprisingly deep, Often hilarious, Accurate and strong representation of brothers, Edward and Alphonse are excellent characters, Awesome villains, Unexpected plot twists, Epic finale, Superb English dub, Surprisingly sad and dramatic when it needs to be,

The Bad: Potentially slow start (not a problem for me), Some cliched dialogue,
While my overall opinion will be coming in the second part next week, explanation below, in short, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the best experiences I have had with any franchise. It hits the mark with its action, drama, humor, themes, and even emotional notes, flawlessly. 

As for the non-Otaku audience, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not exactly the best place to, or at the same time, if you do try it and enjoy it, Brotherhood is an excellent example of the variety of content that anime can offer. Interestingly, I introduced my brother's best friend to anime with Brotherhood, and unlike my brother, he actually enjoyed Brotherhood a lot. Also, the entire series is on Netflix in both English dub and sub.

Note: Due to length of my review, the review had to be split into two parts, so please be sure to check back next week for the continuation of the review with a breakdown of the characters and other elements.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Review

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World combines three of my favorite things, video games, comic books, and anime into one quirky, entertaining, and stylist live-action package.
After failing at the box office, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World became a cult classic of sorts. It is the type of film that is designed to appeal to specific audience members, and if you are not a part of that group, you will likely not find the movie particularly entertaining. If, however, you are a part of the intended audience, you will likely find a lot to enjoy.
The film is directed by the popular Edgar Wright, who is most notable for making the Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End), and his fast editing and directorial style is presence throughout Scott Pilgrim. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is also based on the comic book, Scott Pilgrim, and just like the comic book, the movie contains many references and the visual choices that resemble video games, anime, and manga. For example, when someone dies, they explode into coins and points pop-up where they die just like a video game, and that is just the beginning. There are tons of visual and even plot points that mimic video games, and if you expect to take the movie seriously or for it to explain why all of these people have crazy powers, then you will disappointed. The original comic book was written by a Canadian, but took a lot visual cues from manga (Japanese comics) and anime, which is evident throughout the film. At one point during the movie, one of the characters' faces turns into an anime type face, which was hilarious!
Scott Pilgrim comic
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Genre: Action, Action Comedy,
Release Date: August 13, 2010
Running Time: 112 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Awesome visuals, Impressive action scenes, Tons of style, Video game and anime references, Often humorous, Unique is almost every respect, Great direction, Chris Evans is a lot of fun, Smart parody of pop-culture, Fast-paced, NegaScott FTW,

The Bad: One incredibly annoying character, Occasionally too corny for its own good,

Plot: The following plot summary is copied from
In Toronto, 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim, the bass guitarist for the band "Sex Bob-omb", begins dating high schooler Knives Chau, much to the disapproval of his friends. Soon, Scott meets an American girl, Ramona Flowers. Ramona begins appearing in Scott's dreams, and he becomes obsessed with Ramona, losing interest in Knives. While playing in a battle of the bands sponsored by one "G-Man Graves" for a record deal, Scott is attacked by Matthew Patel, who introduces himself as the first of Ramona's "evil exes". Scott defeats Patel and learns that, in order for them to date, he must defeat all seven of her evil exes.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 7.9/10- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's plot plays out much like an old video game with Scott having to defeat Ramona's seven evil exes, which makes the plot somewhat simple, yet that is also the appeal. Plot points follow elements of video games and even anime to a lesser degree. While not as apparent to me as it was for others, there are some metaphors about dating, and it almost makes fun of it to a certain degree. It seems as though the romance in the movie is more parody than anything believable, which works to the movie’s advantage in the end.

Characterization: 7.9/10- For the most part, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's characters are fun and cartoony in the best way possible with one exception. Scott Pilgrim is timid and almost a wimp in many respects on the outside. However, he is a competent fighter, and from what is revealed from his past, he is not a complete social failure, as his stereotypical “nerd” appearance might suggest, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition. Ramona Flowers is the girl that Scott falls for, and she is mostly a good character, although her tsundere traits might annoy some viewers. Wallace Wells, Scott's friend, is the most annoying and worst character in the movie; he almost ruins the movie.

Action: 8.8/10- Surprisingly, the fight scenes in the movie have a lot of strong choreography and anime style action. From the insanely cool weapons to the hand-to-hand fights, there is not a single frame of shaky-cam. Also, the fight scenes, just like the movie, ooze with flashy video game/anime style.

Acting: 7.5/10- Some members of the cast in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World seem to be intentionally overacting, especially the Evil Exes. Sometimes the overacting works brilliantly like Chris Evans and Brandon Routh as two of the Evil Exes, while, at other times, it feels a little too corny.
Having not seen Michael Cera in any other film prior to watching Scott Pilgrim, I cannot fault him for playing the same role again, because I have no frame of reference. As Scott Pilgrim, Cera does a good job with the wimpy aspects of the character. Mary Elizabeth Winstead nails the tsundere character type, although she can be a tad grating at times. Ellen Wong as Knives Chau is a ton of fun in her role, and having Anna Kendrick in a minor role as Scott's sister is never a bad thing. Also, Aubrey Plaza is excellent as always in a role that perfectly suits her style.

Special effects: 9.5/10- Not only are the special effects surprisingly good, Edgar Wright's direction is superb! His quick cuts and generally fast editing is absolutely perfect. The use of on screen text and comic book like "Bang" and "Pow" visual aids are often humorous and add to the video game/manga aesthetic. Some of the special effects seem to be intentionally absurd, and it usually works.

Soundtrack: 8.1/10- While I am no fan of punk rock, the songs used in the movie are actually quite good. The score by Nigel Godrich nails the video game feel with a lot of 16-bit electronic sounds.

Humor: 8.8/10- Even though it is not entirely a comedy, Edgar Wright's tongue-in-cheek and satirical wit and humor is absolutely perfect for the movie. If you get the references to video games and other geeky tropes, you will find a lot of humor to enjoy.

Entertainment Value: 8.8/10- A few parts of the movie were a little too corny for its own good, which took me out of the movie, and Wallace annoyed me to no end, but for the majority of the film, I was most certainly entertained.
Overall: 8.6/10- Overall, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fun, stylistic, and insanely unique movie with a style all its own. While it has its flaws and does not always hit the mark, it is yet another stellar movie by Edgar Wright, too bad it failed at the box office.

Closing comments: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the type of movie that is made for a very specific audience, and if you are not a part of said audience, then you will not find much to enjoy. On the other hand, if you do like video games, anime, comic books, and Edgar Wright, you are sure to at least enjoy the movie and its quirky humor and stylistic direction.

Recommended for: Anime fans (Otaku), Comic Book fans, Edgar Wright fans, Action fans, Action comedy fans, Manga fans, Video game fans,

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