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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Monday, September 5, 2016

Loot Crate - Dream Crate!

A week or so ago, the fine people over at Loot Crate asked me to write about my "Dream Crate!" Basically, about things I would want to receive in my own Loot Crate box. For those of you who don’t already know, Loot Crate is a monthly mail subscription service who deliver a mystery box containing a variety of geek and gamer related items pop culture items. Which is awesome!

For my "Dream Crate," the theme would be "Space Adventure!" So any space related franchise is welcome to squeeze in.

Alien Franchise T-Shirt
Every Loot Crate needs an awesome t-shirt, right? For my Dream Crate, an exclusive t-shirt from the Alien franchise would be amazing! It could feature a unique artistic design of the Xenomorphs or just about anything else from the films; it’s all awesome. You just do not see enough Alien shirts, so that would be a unique addition.

A Star Wars Comic Book
Marvel has been releasing some very well received Star Wars comics lately. Including any one of the issues from the new Marvel's Star Wars comic book selection would be a great way to get me and others hooked on an enjoyable new story.

Firefly Poster
Everyone needs more Firefly merchandise, am I right!? And I'd love to have a "shiny" new Firefly poster on my wall. It could be a more artistic, minimalist poster, or something more traditional; any type of Firefly poster would do, honestly.

Guardians of the Galaxy Figure
Even though the figure does not have to be a Funko POP, like in the picture, any type of figure from the film would be a great addition to my Dream Crate. Who doesn't want a little Groot or Rocket Raccoon figure to show off on their desk or shelf?

"See you Space Cowboy..." Decal
"See you Space Cowboy..." is a phrase you'll see at the end of an episode of the critically acclaimed Cowboy Bebop. A decal of the famous quote is a small yet great addition to the Dream Crate. I could think of a dozen places I could put it! 

Gundam Mystery Figure
Mobile Suit Gundam is one of my latest obsessions, and those mecha robot suits in the franchise look so impressive. Receiving something like a mystery bag/box with a random Mobile Suit from any of the various series would be exciting since you never know which one you'll get!

Free-For-All: Assorted Keychain,  Lanyards, ect. from Star Trek, Halo, or other space franchises 
As with most Loot Crates, there’s an assortment of various smaller items, such as a keychain, lanyards, or other things. A few examples might be a Star Trek keychain, a Halo lanyard, or even a Tom Baker Doctor Who scarf! Half the fun of Loot Crate is the surprise of just not knowing what you’ll find inside, so I want to leave an element of surprise in mine! Especially since Loot Crate does a great job including trinkets and items that you never really think to buy but are cool to have when you get them. 

That concludes my Dream Crate rundown! What do you think? What would be in yours; what’s your preferred theme? Let me know in the comments below and if you want to know more about Loot Crate, be sure to check out their website by clicking here.

If you want to contact us or have any questions please send an e-mail to

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Coming Soon: September 2016

My my my this summer and especially August have been mighty interesting. I've now started the worldwide trending hashtag #SummerofBummers that extends from the last week in May through the first week of August to express my disappointment with *most* of what Hollywood spewed (trust me, I wanted to use a much worse word there) out. Maybe Civil War was just so good that everything else suffered because of it? ;-) 

Anyway, let's take a look at the final month of the #SummerofBummers that was 2016.

Suicide Squad: I was angry. I still am. There is no way that a film with this much talent and that exciting of trailers should have been this bad. Yes, there are moments of greatness in there. There are characters that I hope live to see another day. But the plot, villain, pacing, editing, and action are all shockingly terrible. And once again we're left exiting a DC film hoping that the "next one" is their saving grace. So frustrating. RRS: 4.5/10
Hunt for the Wilderpeople: August started with a horrendous thud but slowly got brighter and brighter. Seeking to cleanse my palette of SS, I went to an indie that had been recommended to me and it was utterly fantastic. From director Taika Waititi (who'll direct the next Thor), it's a hilarious comedy that's touching, well filmed, and a breath of fresh air after a highly disappointing summer. RRS: 9.5/10
Pete's Dragon: Enjoyable and featuring some surprisingly gorgeous cinematography. It's another live-action Disney film that I didn't quite feel "the magic" in, but I enjoyed my time with a solid movie nonetheless. RRS: 7/10
Sausage Party: Far, far funnier than even my wildest expectations might have predicted, this was one of the year's most pleasant surprises. It's an animated feature that's nearly as smart as a Pixar film (shocking, I know) but just highly, highly R-rated. Many will hate the raunchy and crude behavior, but in a year of stellar comedy, Sausage Party shines as one of, if not the absolute, funniest ones. RRS: 9/10
Kubo and the Two Strings: Due to some atrocious marketing, I had no idea this was even coming out until a week before (hence why I didn't cover it last month). It's a fantastic, deep, and mature animated film that mesmerizing to watch as your brain will try to comprehend how it was all possible using stop-motion technique. RRS: 8.5/10
Hell or High Water: It's a professional film. Great performances. Stunning imagery. Witty script. Appropriate editing and well paced. I may never need to necessarily watch it again, but one can't deny that it's got very few flaws. RRS: 8.5/10
Ben-Hur: Apparently not as bad as many, including myself, predicted, but still mostly worthless in many critics' eyes. Not to mention it's a total financial bomb so maybe Hollywood is starting to get the point that ill-conceived remakes/reboots are not worth anyone's time? 
War Dogs: My need to see this dwindled over time and tepid reviews led me to see other films (i.e. Hell or High Water) rather than a film about two bros. Many state that it's entertaining, but not all that funny, and kind of sad in its true story. 
Mechanic: Resurrection: Seems to suffice if you're looking for Jason Statham to kick some butt, but otherwise mostly forgettable. 
Don't Breath: I didn't cover it last month, nor did I see it (kind of bummed about that), but I've heard it's a taut, intense thriller and has one of the highest Metascores for a horror that I've seen in a rather long time. Probably worth checking out, even if I didn't!

Biggest Disappointment: Suicide Squad, for the entire year likely unless Rogue One ends up sucking
Biggest Surprise: Hunt for the Wilderpeople/Sausage Party
Worst Movie: Suicide Squad
Best Movie: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Let's take a gander at what the new season holds for us! As always, click the title for the trailer.

For It: The premise is intriguing, as Ex Machina's was, and there is the sci-fi potential for it to be smart and well organized.
Against It: It seems a little over dramatic and hokey in the trailers -- almost like it's trying its hardest to impersonate some other movie than to be its own.

For It: The cast is immensely talented and there is likely to be chemistry between Vikander and Fassbender given that they formed a real-life relationship from this film.
Against It: The plot seems like a bore even with the talent and if the script and filming isn't exciting than this could result in a snooze fest with some pretty faces.

For It: Clint Eastwood directing. Tom Hanks starring. Amazing first trailer. Fascinating true story. There is almost everything going for this one.  
Against It: Likely not much. Unless somehow the script or screenplay end up feeling disjointed, I think this one is going to be fantastic. 

For It: Previously titled The Woods to get some well-deserved "original" buzz, it was later revealed that this was a sequel to the movie from so long ago. That movie was trendsetting in its time and if "The Woods" is really as scary as some early reviews say it is then this cold be one of the few way-too-long-after-the-first-film sequels that is actually worth it.
Against It: Hard to tell. A lot of early "reviews" for films like this are from horror sites that want hits and I find it hard to believe that a sequel this long in the making will break any new ground. The surprise announcement of it has me intrigued though.

For It: The cast is stellar and the initial trailers have been really exciting. Oliver Stone is directing and we all know that the story is controversial and layered. This one could be special.
Against It: If the film romanticizes Snowden too much, it could become overly indulgent. The best approach for real life, serious stories like this is to present the facts in an exciting manner (think Argo for the most part).

For It: I feel like, with the luck of the draw we've had this summer, we're due for a "surprise". A film we expect to be ho-hum that actually turns out to be really entertaining. There's a sliver of a chance that Mag Seven is it as the cast is fun and talented and the director is capable.
Against It: But then again, it's another remake and those haven't been going so well this year. I don't see this one outright bombing, but I also don't think it will blow anyone away either.

For It: The newest trailers are actually way funnier than the first ones with the pack of wolves looking to be a constant hoot. Andy Samberg is also pretty constant as a funny entertainer and this year has a continued trend of featuring some super animated films.
Against It: I question why those first trailers weren't all that great and if they packed the funniest parts in the new ones. Not to mention, I'm not sure that the premise lends itself to provide enough for a full-length film to play off of.

For It: It's unique as I don't think there is an oil-rig-disaster film in recent memory and Mark Wahlberg can lead a film. The initial trailers have posed it as an intense drama that has heart.
Against It: I'll be intrigued to see if it over indulges in the destruction/disaster of the rig which it seems to do near the end of the trailers. If it ends up trying to sell an action film, it will become a lot less interesting and likely lose that heart.

For It: Once again, the cast is a pretty funny collection of talent. I like the initial trailer too...
Against It: But I feel like ultimately those will be the funniest parts of the film and it will be forgettable. Call it a gut feeling, what have you, but with the type of comedy year we've been having, I don't see this one rising to the top.

Must See (in order): Sully, Snowden
On My Radar: Morgan, The Light Between Oceans, Blair Witch, The Magnificent Seven, Storks, Deepwater Horizon
Predicted Duds: Masterminds

Thankfully that summer is over and hopefully I never see as disappointing of a one as that again! October has some good ones too so make sure to come back next month too! 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!!
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