Category Archives: My Reviews

Capsule Reviews: Anime and Movies (The LEGO Movie, Paul, etc.)

War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012)

War of the Worlds: Goliath is a 2012 Malaysian animated science fiction film directed by Joe Pearson that was released in November 15, 2012 in Malaysia. Unlike other War of the Worlds films, this film is a loose sequel to H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.

With strong dieselpunk/steampunk undertones, the film is set in an alternate reality Manhattan, New York City, in 1914, just before the First World War. As it happened, Earth was invaded and laid waste to by Martian invaders, doing most of their damage via giant tripod battle machines. However, the invaders eventually succumbed to common Earth bacteria, thus allowing humanity to recover and rebuild.

However, the aliens are set to return, now immune to Earth’s bacteria, setting the stage for a second confrontation. This time around though, humanity, having learned a few tricks of their own since the first war, are ready – as are their giant battle mecha!

Honestly, this wasn’t very good as a whole. The backdrops are generally beautiful and well animated, but the main characters and action sequences not so much. Simple lines, over-muscular builds on all the male characters, and often very flat CG overlay effects (particularly for things like fire, lasers and explosions), means that visually not everything works on this one. The story is relatively simple and just a little too ‘rah rah’ for me as well, and I have to be honest, despite one or two nice ideas (particularly the steampunk aspect of it all), I struggled to make it through this one in a single sitting.

It isn’t for kids I don’t think (given all the death rays employed to great success), but it doesn’t really work for adults either, leaving this film stranded in a bit of a no man’s land scenario really. Not recommended, nor worth the time.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A

war of the worlds goliath movie

The LEGO Movie (2014)

The Lego Movie is a 2014 computer animated adventure comedy film directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman.

Based mainly on the Lego line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmet prophesied to save the Lego universe from the tyrannical Lord Business who plans to use the Kragle to glue everything in place.

Sounds simple enough, but oh my goodness, what a fantastic, heartfelt film that is guaranteed to please absolutely anyone who watches it – provided of course they’ve had some sort of exposure to LEGO in their lifetime. It pushes all the right buttons, features humour on levels for both young and old, carries a huge sense of nostalgia for older viewers, and then to top it all off, tugs equally hard at the heartstrings at the very end.

It’s a fantastic tale, that is brilliantly done, featuring the perfect voice actors, fantastically clever visuals and an awesome soundtrack. Having gushed all that, by now you might just have guessed as to how much I enjoyed The LEGO Movie – and just how much I recommend you see it, especially with your kids!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96%

the lego movie emmet batman and wild style

Paul (2011)

Paul is a 2011 British-American Comic science fiction road film directed by Greg Mottola and written by and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, with Seth Rogen as the voice of the title character. The film is about two British science fiction fans who meet an ET-like alien who has a sarcastic manner and a penchant for alcohol and cigarettes. The two help the alien to escape secret service agents who are pursuing him so he can return to his home planet.

Hmm, I have to say, I’ve come to realize that I’m not actually such a big fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost buddy movies after all. Paul has a moment or two, but to be honest, it felt as if it just lumbered through some over the top scenarios (one after the other) and just didn’t put in the necessary laugh a minute punches to make it a memorable comedy film. Maybe it is because I’m a little jaded, but I have to say, I can’t really remember enjoying this one all that much.

Still, the CG visuals are great, and the soundtrack pretty good too – plus, the surprise ending certainly proved a unsuspected treat!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 71% (looks like a lot of people enjoyed it after all).

paul movie simon pegg nick frost

Æon Flux (2005)

Four hundred years in the future, Aeon Flux is the top underground operative at war with the totalitarian regime governing what appears to be a perfect society. But is this perfect life hiding a perfect lie? Aeon is on the front lines of a rebellion that will reveal a world of secrets.

Hmm, it’s hard to say that I found Aeon Flux a complete disappointment, primarily because at the end of the day I really did enjoy the visual style, the visuals themselves, and all futuristic concepts on display. That said, the acting is perhaps not the greatest in the world, and there are some action sequences that are just too over the top (read silly) to be enjoyable. The story starts out interesting enough and there is certainly twists and turns that you don’t see coming, but it feels jerky quite often in terms of pacing, and there are just too many implausible logical jumps (and twists), all of which combine with some seriously dull dialogue that eventually just weighs the movie down.

Honestly, it probably isn’t worth watching, even if you adored the original MTV cartoons. Unless of course you’re a big Charlize Theron fan that is.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 10% (That rating seems a little harsh to me)

aeon flux movie charlize theron

The Skull Man (2007)

Studio BONES adapted Skull Man into an anime TV series which premiered on Fuji TV in April 2007. The series is directed by Takeshi Mori and written by Yutaka Izubuchi. Unlike the previous Skull Man, the story closely focuses on a journalist named Hayato Mikogami who returns to his hometown at Otomo to investigate strange rumors of killings done by a man wearing a skull mask. Tailed tightly by a young photographer, Kiriko Mamiya, the two soon uncover the many strings of connections between the victims, a local pharmaceutical company, a mysterious new religious sect, and strange half human, half animal creatures, which roam the night streets for blood.

Nice and short, lots of intrigue and some decent twists and turns (even if the plot does hasten a little too fast towards the end) makes for an enjoyable viewing that starts out strong, fumbles a bit during the middle, and then picks up some good steam to deliver an action-packed finale – which doesn’t necessarily satisfy the viewer mind you. Dark visuals, slick animation and a generally likable cast makes for a decent drama/horror watch that will certainly entertain followers of the genre.

In the end, I did enjoy the viewing, though I can’t necessarily say that I loved it. Worth catching given the slickness of production though.

the skull man anime

Review: InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time (2001)

When Kagome’s arrow shattered the Shikon no Tama, its shards scattered across feudal Japan, putting power into even the most lowly of creatures’ hands. Now, surrounded by their friends and fighting comrades, Inuyasha and Kagome must journey across Japan, locating the shards and righting the wrongs which they have caused.

Two hundred years ago during the Mongol invasion of Japan, a powerful Chinese demon named Hyoga attempted to enter Japan with the intent of collecting the souls of the dead. Inuyasha’s demon father entered into battle with this powerful enemy and the resulting backlash destroyed the entire Mongol invasion fleet. Hyoga was defeated and imprisoned within the Tree of Ages in the Forest of No Return, with one of Inuyasha’s father’s fangs as the seal.

When one of the Shikon no Tama shards embedded itself into a tree, its power triggered the release of Morenmaru, son of Hyoga, from his own imprisonment. Now the moth-controlling Morenmaru seeks the power of Inuyasha’s Tetsusaiga, in a bid to release Hyoga’s energy from the Tree of Ages. Should he do this, he will inherit his father’s will and power and be able to absorb all the souls from the land, turning him into something akin to a God.

Gathering more Chinese demons around him, Morenmaru now seeks to tear apart Inuyasha’s group and take Tetsusaiga for himself – and with the ability to seize control of peoples’ bodies, friends are soon going to find themselves fighting some very familiar faces. Sango and Miroku are going to have to face and fight their own demons, while Inuyasha is going to have to fight the hardest battle of them all – Kagome!

The ripples of Morenmaru’s quest for power are going to be felt throughout all of time.

InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time is the first movie release based on the hugely popular Inuyasha anime series aired on Japanese television. Inuyasha is based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi, the same person responsible for bringing the world Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku and Urusei Yatsura. The movie is specifically targeted at viewers of the regular Inuyasha series and therefore foregoes lengthy background information which may thus be a little off-putting to viewers new to the Inuyasha world.

For those of you that are new to the franchise, Inuyasha is a dog half-demon or hanyou who is on a mission to claim the power of the magical Shikon no Tama for himself and use it to turn him into a full-blooded youkai (demon). Kagome is a time-displaced girl who is the heroine of the Inuyasha saga. Travelling back to the feudal ages from present day Tokyo, the spiritually powerful Kagome befriends Inuyasha and slowly begins to bring out the humanity of this antisocial hanyou. Her accidental destruction of the mysterious Shikon no Tama that lends power to anyone it comes in contact with, led her to join forces with Inuyasha on a quest to recover the shards of the jewel and undo any damage caused by it. They are joined by Miroku, the perverted monk who controls the fearsome air void in his right hand, the youkai exterminator Sango and her pet youkai, Kirara, and lastly the child fox demon Shippo. The wise but cowardly old flea youkai, Myouga is also on hand to lend them some advice should they ever need it. Together they travel across feudal Japan, slaying monsters, righting wrongs and slowly rebuilding the magical Shikon jewel.

The film is based somewhere after the 35th episode of the television series, but manages to stay clear from impacting upon the television series’ storyline or time line. The story revolves around a Chinese youkai that awakens after a Shikon no Tama shard frees him from his sealed imprisonment. Morenmaru immediately sets about fulfilling his father’s mission from more than 200 years ago, seeking to capture the souls from this very land. But to acquire his father’s power and will, Morenmaru requires Inuyasha’s Tetsusaiga to break the seal on his father’s grave.

The story is well written and beautifully self-contained, making it one of the strongest Inuyasha stories to date. Not working in the half-hour constraint of a normal episode, the movie tells a complete story that is filled with the usual Inuyasha action, suspense, fantasy, romance and comedy. Though the film’s main story focuses on the battle between Inuyasha and Morenmaru, its main theme focuses very squarely on the developing relationship between Kagome and Inuyasha.

The artwork is of the usual Inuyasha high standard, with characters and backgrounds being very solidly portrayed. The colours are bright and the action sequences smooth and exciting. The special light effects are also well done, adding to the production as a whole. The voice acting is good, with the same voice cast used as in the regular television series. The movie boasts a strong soundtrack that really adds depth to the cinematic experience.

If you are a fan of the Inuyasha series then this is a must watch. It is action-packed, makes you laugh and even tugs a little at your heartstrings. A fine production, the only flaw being that it doesn’t perhaps cater for introductory viewers as much as it should. Still, The Love that Transcends Time is a highly recommended and polished addition to the Inuyasha universe.

InuYasha the Movie Affections Touching Across Time

(Historical Note: This was written back in November 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InuYasha_the_Movie

Review: Jungle wa itsumo Hare nochi Guu (2001)

Deep in a forest on a remote tropical island, far removed from the mainland, lives a peaceful village. The people there live in a strange combination of the modern and the old. Access to modern technologies yet sticking to the old ways is the way things get done around here. One little family that lives in the village consists of the mother Ueda and her son Hale.

Hale is a hyperactive loud kid, who up to now has enjoyed his life. He enjoys his video games tremendously, even if he does occasionally forget to save them.

But the village’s peaceful lifestyle is about to change. Enter Guu. Guu is a young girl who is found and adopted by Hale’s mother. But there is something strange about Guu. She has two distinct personas and she swallows things. Whole. In fact, the more Hale looks at it, the less human Guu is.

But Hale is certain of one thing though – wherever Guu goes, problems are sure to follow.

Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu is a highly entertaining comedy romp that aims to tickle your funny bone as much as possible. Set in a modern-day jungle, the story revolves around the hyperactive and highly stressed Hale and the mysterious, anarchy-bringing Guu. Hale is basically a very nice boy with his own set of troubles but who is always thinking of others. Guu on the other hand is not even remotely human. Able to swallow almost everything in sight, Guu appears to be from a completely different dimension. Packed into the body of a young girl, Guu seeks to cause chaos and generally make Hale’s life as difficult as possible. Playing on Guu’s otherworldliness, the show takes on a very surreal aspect. However, this allows for a lot of unexpected and extremely hilarious humour to creep into the show. The series consist of loosely connected once-off stories that put Hale in a series of difficult situations.

However, one is always reminded throughout the show of a slightly darker story thread weaving its way through the series. Things like why Hale’s mom is living in the jungle in the first place and Hale’s missing father adds depth to an otherwise pure comedic series.

The characters that inhabit this show are a bright and bawdy bunch, each with their own personal wit and charm. The jungle is also inhabited by a variety of very strange and unusual-looking creatures, the strangest of which probably being the Pokute.

The animation is bright and fairly simplistic. However, the characters are well animated and the use of caricatures and super-deformed artwork during the show works very well in the comedic moments. In fact, the general smoothness of the animation allows for a lot of the show’s humour to seamlessly be brought to light.

The music score for the series is upbeat with a great jungle rhythm. As the show progresses, a slightly more dramatic style of score does however begin to creep in. However, the show is generally characterised by its fun and upbeat musical score. The voice actors for this show are really good and Hale’s hyperactive, energy-driven character is perfectly carried out. Guu’s slow, monotonous voice is sheer brilliance as well.

This show won’t tug at any heartstrings, but it may very well tickle your funny bone. Sit back and enjoy the weird, surreal world of Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu.

Jungle wa itsumo Hare nochi Guu

(Historical Note: This was written back in June 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungle_wa_itsumo_Hare_nochi_Guu

Review: Initial D: Third Stage (2001)

Fujiwara Takumi exploded onto the street racing scene six months ago, literally sweeping away all competition on the mountain slopes of his local Mt. Akina with the aid of his outdated Toyota AE86. Gone is the self-conscious, sleepy Takumi who wasn’t interested in racing one bit, only to be replaced by a young man who is yearning to become a proper racer of the highest regard.

There are only a few more weeks of school left, and Takumi and his best friend Itsuki need to begin deciding what to do with their rest of their lives. For some people it is easy to map out the future they want to achieve, but for others like Takumi, this can be one of the hardest decisions ever made in their lifetime.

The best and most famous street racer in the Kanto prefecture, a man Takumi has already defeated, Takahashi Ryosuke has extended a hand in friendship to the young man, offering him a place on his new elite team that is being formed. Under Ryosuke’s tutelage, Takumi will gain experience and skills never dreamt of before. But Takumi has always been a loner, so just how can he answer Ryosuke yet?

And then there is the unfinished business with Sudou Kyouichi, leader of Irohazaka’s Emperors racing team. Last time they battled, Kyouichi defeated Takumi thanks to a blown engine. Now, the AE86 has been restored and Takumi will battle Kyouichi again in an effort to restore his lost pride.

The AE86 can never rest on its laurels though. Another challenger has emerged from the woodwork, this time a legacy from Takumi’s father’s racing days. The son of Fujiwara Bunta’s greatest ever rival has come to battle Takumi – and regain some of his father’s glory. Against this challenge from both father and son, Takumi is going to have to turn to the most unexpected of sources for advice.

Amongst all these battles though, another battle of a different kind rages on. Despite what he saw and how he feels about it, Takumi still holds a torch for Mogi Natsuki. Though she is trying to right her sins of the past, will it be enough to bring these once friends back together again? Perhaps the right circumstances are all that are needed to force this relationship back on the tracks.

All in all, life if pretty busy for Takumi on his journey to becoming a true street racer!

Initial D: Third Stage brings the exciting world of the two Initial D television series’ to the big screen. A movie aimed mainly at existing fans of the title, Third Stage attempts to finish off the plot threads that remained after the two television series’ had completed. Takumi is again the focal point of the story that revolves around the exciting world of street racers, finding one’s goal in life, and first love relationships.

Although there is a brief background given in the story, first-time viewers to the Initial D genre will miss an awful lot of just what exactly is going on. As per usual, the movie features almost the entire cast of people from the first series, as well as a few exciting new ones.

The story however does feel a little forced, particularly because it feels so linear. It is as if the director kind of forced himself through all the remaining plot issues, neatly tying them up, one by one. The problem is that this kind of takes away from the excitement and flowing of the story. Nevertheless, as proper Initial D material requires, the action is fast paced and will without a doubt keep you glued to the edge of your seat as Takumi’s battered old Toyota takes on all challengers.

The animation has again went through an upgrade, with the 2D animation just about completely shaking the bad character style which so defined the first stage episodes. Still, the characters remain instantly recognisable, with no one losing any of their distinct appeal. The major change to the animation comes in the form of the updated CG special affects and their integration into the 2D surroundings. No longer plagued by the two shots that looked horrible when put together, the CG now blends seamlessly with the 2D, causing a much smoother and spectacular visual feast.

For the racing sequences, Initial D has once again turned to its ‘Euro dance’ beats that so characterised the first two seasons. The music is fast-paced and makes you want to get out there and race. The voice cast is pretty much the same as for the television show, meaning that all your favourite characters maintain their unique personalities. All in all, nothing is bad about the sounds of Initial D: Third Stage.

This is an exciting movie to watch, racing fan or not. Although it has lost some of the underdog charm of the first stage, it still tells one great story of skill triumphing over money and is a must watch for Initial D lovers, simply because it beautifully closes off many of the plot lines left begging at the end of the television series.

initial d third stage anime movie

(Historical Note: This was written back in January 2005. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initial_D

Capsule Reviews: Movies (Elysium, Kick-Ass 2, etc.)

Elysium (2013)

Elysium is a 2013 American dystopian science fiction action thriller film written, directed, and co-produced by Neill Blomkamp (South African, woo-hoo!), and starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat called Elysium. It explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, exploitation, the justice system, and class issues:

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief, and now a parolee, lives in the ruins of Los Angeles and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company which supplies Elysian weaponry as well as the robots which police Earth. After being accidentally poisoned by a lethal dose of radiation, Max has only five days to live, and seeks help from a smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium.

Visually, Elysium delivers on all fronts, and in general, I have to say I enjoyed this film. The story is well implemented and paced, Matt Damon is fantastic as always, and although Sharlto Copley’s South African accent was a bit over the top, he made a great psychotic antagonist. It’s a heavy, but action-packed watch, and certainly a good follow-up to Blomkamp’s previous outing, namely District 9. (Essentially, if you liked District 9, you’ll probably like Elysium).

elysium movie matt damon sharlto copley

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack. Matthew McConaughey stars as the real-life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms, and distributed them to fellow sufferers by establishing the “Dallas Buyers Club” while facing opposition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

First off, this really is a terrible movie. The guy is a dick from start to finish quite frankly, motivated entirely by profit and self preservation, and as such it makes it impossible to actually root for anything. Matthew McConaughey is brilliant in the role, but seriously, this story doesn’t really go anywhere and I genuinely struggled to bother watching it all the way through.

If these happenings were part of your reality at the time, then maybe this will appeal to you, but I certainly can’t say that I got anything out of the viewing. Neither did Chantelle for that matter.

dallas buyers club movie Matthew McConaughey

Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller/horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities embodied by the new arrival Lily. Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.

This is not a movie that I would normally watch, but seeing as it was one that Chantelle wanted to see, I sat through it with her. To be honest, the dark tale is pretty okay most of the way through, and certainly does keep one interested from start to finish – but I have to say, it fell a little flat for me when Aronofsky took a couple of steps too far and incorporated the whole CG swan transformation sequences. This broke the story’s ‘reality’ for me just a little too much, and as such, I ended the film feeling a little disappointed and disillusioned with the tale as a whole.

Again, not my cup of tea, but for people who enjoy dark tales of the human condition, this probably hits all the right spots.

black swan movie natalie portman

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Kick-Ass 2 is a 2013 British-American superhero action comedy film based on the comic book of the same name and Hit-Girl, both by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., and is the sequel to the 2010 film Kick-Ass, as well as the second installment of the Kick-Ass film series. The film was written and directed by Jeff Wadlow and co-produced by Matthew Vaughn, who directed the first film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloë Grace Moretz reprise their roles from the first film as Dave Lizewski, Chris D’Amico, and Mindy Macready respectively.

Dave Lizewski, bored after having retired from fighting crime as Kick-Ass, begins training with Mindy Macready to become a proper hero. Eventually he resumes his life as Kick-Ass, and joins the superhero team Justice Forever, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes. At the same time, after accidentally killing his mother, Chris D’Amico is now in control of his family’s money, and reinvents himself as supervillain The Motherfucker – and swearing vengeance on Kick-Ass, the two groups head straight for a very bloody confrontation!

Um, yeah, I have to say, I found this a pretty boring outing. Jim Carrey blew me away in his role as Colonel Stars and Stripes (wasn’t expecting that!), and it was nice seeing Turk from Scrubs (Donald Faison) getting some screen time again, but outside of that, this movie was a bit of a chore to sit through. Over the top, violence for the sake of violence, gross out bits, and really just a bit… juvenile, I strongly suspect that I definitely was not the target market for this one. Though to be honest, I’m not exactly sure who is.

kick-ass 2 movie hit girl jim carrey

Oblivion (2013)

Oblivion is a 2013 post-apocalyptic science fiction film based on Joseph Kosinski’s Radical Comics-edited unpublished graphic novel of the same name. The film was co-written, produced and directed by Kosinski. It stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Olga Kurylenko.

In 2077, the Earth has been ravaged from war sixty years prior with the extraterrestrial Scavengers (Scavs); the war destroyed the Moon, causing earthquakes and tsunamis, while humanity used nuclear weapons to achieve a costly victory. Humanity is now relocating to Saturn’s moon Titan via the “Tet”, a large tetrahedron-shaped space station used as a launching point.

On Earth, Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria “Vika” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) are two of the last few humans on Earth. Stationed at Tower 49 in what used to be northeastern United States, they are instructed by mission controller Sally (Melissa Leo) to protect from Scav attacks the gigantic offshore fusion energy generators, using a combination of Drones and Jack’s reconnaissance via his ship. Though both had memory wipes five years prior, Jack experiences visions of being on the observation deck of the Empire State Building well before the war – and images of a mysterious woman…

First up, I have to say that the visuals are absolutely stunning, and the cast are perfect, the action sequences great, and the story contains a well executed twist – in other words perfect Sci-Fi. But the pacing… not so much. Actually, I lay the blame squarely at the muddling and slow-paced soundtrack – M83, the band behind the music fails to generate the necessary musical temp to match the action-packed sequences, resulting in an almost boring, listless affair.

It’s a pity really, because everything else really appealed to me, and yet I ended the viewing feeling a little ‘meh’. So did Chantelle, so I know I’m not alone on this one either.

oblivion movie tom cruise and drone

Capsule Reviews: Games (Max Payne 3, Hitman: Absolution, etc.)

I can’t say I really game any more these days, but funnily enough, thanks to Microsoft’s Games with Gold XBOX 360 initiative, I have been able to dip my toe into a far greater range of titles that I might have otherwise. This is a quick round up of the titles that I’ve spent a little time on over the course of the last couple of months (you know, when the three year old and newborn in the house let me…)

Hitman: Absolution (2013)

In the aftermath of Hitman: Blood Money, Diana Burnwood, Agent 47′s handler with the International Contract Agency, suddenly goes rogue, carrying out a catastrophic sabotage that includes publicly exposing the Agency. The Agency reforms under agent Benjamin Travis; Travis assigns 47 to kill Diana and bring Victoria, a teenage girl in her care, to the Agency. Shooting and wounding Diana in her home in Chicago, 47, rather than executing her, comforts the dying Diana, who gives him a letter and asks him to keep Victoria safe from the Agency.

It’s the fifth installment in the Hitman game franchise and as such, if you’ve played any of these titles before then you know exactly what you are going to get. Lots of sneaking around, carefully laying traps and taking people out, disguises, and of course when necessary, gun battles. Great graphics, an intricate and dark story, loads of polish, and a good reward hook means that you should very much find yourself trying levels over and over again, attempting to better your score with each and every go! Sadly, I’m not all that fond of stealth games, but despite even this, I have to say that Hitman: Absolution came very close to winning me over to the genre.

hitman absolution backdrop

Full House Poker (2011)

Featuring Avatar FameStar! Go all-in with Full House Poker! Play Texas Hold ‘Em against your friends and thousands of players worldwide, and bring your personality to the table with unique tells and unlockables galore. Save your player progression and winnings between sessions as you increase the stakes and make your mark as a Full House Poker pro!

It’s an online poker game that happens to be rather cutesy in its presentation thanks to the fact that your XBOX avatar is the star of the show. Still, it’s a poker game. Which means if you like playing poker online (I don’t), then this could work for you. If not, rather grab a group of friends and a pack or two of cards. Much more fun in real life quite frankly.

Spartacus Legends (2013)

Developed in collaboration with the television series from Starz, Spartacus Legends invites you to experience raw, visceral combat using multiple fighting styles and thousands of different weapon combinations. Follow your gladiator’s journey through multiple arenas and watch as they strive to reach legendary fame, or meet death at the hands of another. Compete with friends online and see if you have what it takes to kill them all.

Spartacus Legends is a freemium model game, and as such allows you to either compete by grinding it out, or by splashing out some real world cash in order to quickly gain access to better fighting togs. It’s a pretty simple one on one fighter, but it is nicely implemented, even if the graphics aren’t all that spectacular. Plus, it is pretty fun trying to kill off your online opponents gladiator, though the reverse is rather painful. If your gladiator is killed then you kind of need to go and build a new hero.

Deadlight (2012)

The world has ended. There is no hope. No new beginning. Only the survivors. Deadlight follows the journey of Randall Wayne, a man searching for his family across Seattle during the aftermath of a 1980s event that has decimated life on earth. This visually stunning Cinematic Survival Platformer will challenge you to run, jump, climb, and struggle for your life as you look for answers and the ones you love.

Yup, as the description states, this is a classic side-scrolling platformer, but pumped up with a beautiful visual style and a very cinematic story/feel to it. That said, at the heart this is still a zombie/survival game, and as you know, I’m not a great fan of the genre. So in other words, can’t say I played a lot of this one in the end.

deadlight backdrop

Civilization Revolution (2009)

Legendary game designer Sid Meier brings the greatest strategy game of all time to the Xbox 360 console! Built from the ground up for the Xbox 360 console, Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution challenges you to lead your chosen nation from the dawn of man to the space age on your quest to rule the world. Go head to head with history’s greatest leaders as you wage war, conduct diplomacy, discover new technologies and build the most powerful empire the world has ever known.

Growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed playing the Civilization series on my PC. That said, this type of game really doesn’t translate well to a console controller, and as such, I just really couldn’t get into it. At all. (In other words, I didn’t spend very much time actually playing this one then).

Toy Soldiers: Cold War (2011)

The Cold War is decided when ’80s era action toys come alive and wage war! Toy Soldiers: Cold War blends intense first person combat with addictive action strategy, whether you’re scrapping solo or jumping into the fray with friends.

Yeah, this one didn’t really grab me. You set up your various types of turrets, get ready to go, and then start protecting against wave after wave of attack. You can jump into first person mode to control your turrets, and sometimes take control over a vehicle or a commando to run around and inflict even more damage. Honestly though, these are just toys, and as such, just really doesn’t offer all that much charm for an older gamer like myself. Pass.

Max Payne 3 (2012)

For Max Payne, the tragedies that took his loved ones years ago are wounds that refuse to heal. No longer a cop, close to washed up and addicted to pain killers, Max takes a job in São Paulo, Brazil, protecting the family of wealthy real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco, in an effort to finally escape his troubled past. But as events spiral out of his control, Max Payne finds himself alone on the streets of an unfamiliar city, desperately searching for the truth and fighting for a way out.

Damn it, Max Payne, despite a really silly name, remains as awesome as ever. A fantastically well told story that takes you on a very dark, but very satisfying path is combined with the trademark bullet time gun action that has been a hallmark of the Max Payne series from the very beginning. Lots and lots of shooting, fantastic visuals, and a simply brilliant implementation (with polish) makes this a game I seriously enjoyed working through!

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Dead Island Riptide (2013)

Dead Island Riptide takes players to the island of Palanai on the Banoi archipelago, infested with bloodthirsty Zombies and only a few remaining Survivors still fighting for their lives.

Yup, it is a first person zombie survival game, which means plenty of creepy scares, knocking things over the head when the going gets tough, and running around trying to stay alive. It’s best played as a multiplayer experience, but to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of survival games, and I’m also not the biggest fan of zombie games, which means I genuinely didn’t enjoy this one then.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)

Tomb Raider is back, though this time Lara and her new Mayan partner Totec have got plenty of puzzles to solve and platforming to perform in order to defeat the evil spirit Xolotl and make it through these ancient tombs alive!

An isometric view, co-op platformer that is surprisingly fun to play with a partner, as it has you running around like a mad thing, solving varied platform-related problems and puzzles, and trading intense fire and explosive blasts with a host of nasties. A very different Tomb Raider experience, that’s for sure, but an enjoyable Arcade romp nonetheless!

Capsule Reviews: Television and Movies (Legend of Korra, Babalas, etc.)

I don’t really feel like typing up reviews any more, and in truth, I haven’t been doing so for a while. However, I do like coming back every couple of years to see if my thoughts on a particular movie or television show has subsequently changed (like how I found Love Hina hilarious the first time I watched it and then atrocious the subsequent time I tried to rewatch it), hence this quick capsule reviews.

The Legend of Korra [Season 2] (2013)

The second season, Book Two: Spirits, is set six months after the events of the first season, with Korra learning that restless spirits called Dark Spirits have been terrorizing the south seas. Feeling that she can not learn to calm the Dark Spirits through Tenzin, Korra turns to her uncle Unalaq, the Northern Water Tribe chief, for guidance. However, as civil war among the Water Tribe branches erupts from the Northern Tribe’s forced occupancy, Korra learns that the exile of her father Tonraq was arranged by Unalaq who is using her to achieve his own agenda. Which now means that Korra and her comrades will have to unite once more in order to put a stop to whatever it is that Unalaq is putting in motion!

As with the first season, I absolutely loved this second helping of the Legend of Korra. Fantastic animation and backdrops complement an intricately woven story that carries the right amounts of drama, action and of course humour when necessary. It’s a great blend of elements that then combines well with a fantastic voice cast and soundtrack, making for a very polished, and very enjoyable animated television show.

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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

When time travel allows a past wrong to be righted for The Flash and his family, the ripples of the event prove disastrous as a fractured, alternate reality now exists where a Justice League never formed, and even Superman is nowhere to be found. Teaming with a grittier, more violent Dark Knight and Cyborg, Flash races to restore the continuity of his original timeline while this new world is ravaged by a fierce war between Wonder Woman’s Amazons and Aquaman’s Atlanteans.

Another hit addition to the DC Original Animated Movie stable, The Flashpoint Paradox is a slick and polished animated film with high production values, featuring a great story (loads of action, surprise character reveals, and plenty of drama), an excellent score and fantastic voice acting. I thoroughly enjoyed this animated outing and will definitely watch it again in the near future.

Community [Season 5] (2014)

Jeff Winger and most of the old study group find themselves back at Greendale, after failing to have made the cut in the real world following their graduation. Now on the committee to save Greendale from the various problems that always seem to land at its doorstep, the gang is at again as if they had never left… (though with one or two new faces thrown into the mix, mind you)

So the good news is that Dan Harmon is back. The bad news is that Community should probably not have returned after the third season. They continue to do the same thing over and over again, this time with a slightly tweaked cast, and to be honest, the humour is now very much stale. There is only so much that you can rely on meta-humor and pop culture references in order to make your show funny, and unfortunately this limit feels as very much as it has long since been reached. It’s a pity really to watch this show fizzle out just as much as it has. (Sigh, and to think I absolutely adored the first two seasons of it…)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine [Season 1] (2013)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy television series set in New York, telling the story of a group of detectives in the Nine-Nine Precinct. With a new, by the book, Captain to please, these detectives should probably get themselves back into line – though to be fair, that’s not really how they do things in this particular precinct…

Definitely one of our favourite comedy television shows to sit down to at the moment, the acting team of Andy Samberg, Terry Crews, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio and Chelsea Peretti do a fantastic job of bringing to life some very funny scripts, and with some clever writing and decent plotting to boot, it is no wonder that Chantelle and I can’t wait for the second season to come rolling in!

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Man of Steel (2013)

A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

It is always a bad sign when you are forced to watch a movie over two sittings, and then fall asleep during both sessions. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is unfortunately a prime example of a comic book movie that just fails to have any real substance, in fact, making it par for the course when it comes to live action Superman films of recent years. Although the visuals and action sequences are stunning, the character development is non existent and thus one’s emotional attachment to the story is just not where it should be. It is a polished production to be sure, but I just didn’t like it, and the fact that they did a very un-Superman-like thing at the end did just enough for me to simply not have enjoyed the experience. Quite a pity really.

DC Super Villains Superman: Worlds At War! (2013)

This is a compilation disc pulling together episodes from Superman: The Animated Series (10 stories), plus 3 Superman-centric episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Everything is Darkseid and Apokolips based, meaning that naturally there is no surprise as to the flavour of the villain of the day for all the various stories.

Nevertheless, it is a good trip down memory lane if you haven’t seen any of the classic DC animated universe stuff for a long time, and pleasingly the quality of the story telling remains right up there. That said, chances of you not having seen this material before is pretty slim, and if by chance you haven’t in fact seen these before, then honestly you’d be better off purchasing the series DVD releases instead, because obviously they give more variety in the stories being told. Still, I did enjoy seeing these again…

Tiger & Bunny [Season 1] (2011)

In a futuristic city, people born with super abilities train to be Heroes, sponsored do-gooders that protect the city and fight crime for points, all in front of a cheering television audience. One of the older heroes, old fashioned, clumsy but with a will of steel, Wild Tiger is about to be assigned a brand new partner – the calculating and efficient Barnaby Brooks Jr. The thing is, Barnaby Brooks Jr. brings somewhat of a history with him – and its a mystery which both he and the old man will have to work together on in order to solve!

This is a difficult one. I’m a bit off anime these days, but I have to admit that overall I really did enjoy this show, despite its sometime over the top goofiness and silliness that at times threatened to derail the seriousness and drama of the story being told. The animation is a good blend of traditional and CG, and the action sequences are well choreographed, particularly the various fight scenes. However, the character models are sometimes a little too goofy for my liking. It’s an action ability-powered hero story at the heart of it all, and as such, delivers on the points that it is expected to, thus making for a watchable and relatively fun show at the end of the day. That said, I can’t ever see myself re-watching it any time in the near future…

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Babalas (2013)

An events co-ordination company executive goes in search of the nostalgic Boet and Swaer from the old Castrol ads to lure them to a big gala event at Emperor’s Palace. What follows is a road trip of misadventure, fueled of course by copious amounts of alcohol – the good old fashioned South African way!

I hate to say it, but the trailer for this movie is what reeled me in – I definitely thought it could be funny and a bit of a trip down memory lane to see a movie revolving around old South African television adverts that used to air when I was growing up. Sadly, that was not the case, and this time around, the trailer is by far better than the movie itself. It’s not very funny, Jack Parow is really not an actor, and in short, I should probably just have picked up a Hollywood blockbuster instead. Still, I did rather enjoy the very cool South African soundtrack that accompanied this rather limp script…

Capsule Reviews: Animation (Tangled, Monsters vs. Aliens, etc.)

I’m not really into watching television or movies any more to be quite honest, and my love of animated things has dwindled to the point where I can’t even be bothered to sit down and enjoy simply superhero-themed kids’ show at all.

That said, with a little 3 year old girl in the house, I certainly caught up on a lot of the big screen animated movie releases from the houses of Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks over the holiday period – from the comfort of my couch and with a little body tucked in tightly next me.

As for this litter of capsule reviews coming right up? Well, I kind of like coming back every now and then to check up as to how my enjoyment/appreciation of any given piece of entertainment may have changed over time…

Tangled (2010)

Rapunzel is a girl with insanely long, magical-imbued hair who just happens to be trapped in a tower thanks to a rather overprotective ‘mom’. Of course, as any rebellious teenager would do, when the charming thief on the run, Flynn Rider, ducks in to escape his pursuers, Rapunzel seizes the opportunity to join up with Flynn and break free from the confines of the tower – the result of which leads to one very epic adventure that just happens to end with the returning of joy to an entire island kingdom!

Long story short, I simply can’t fault this film on any level whatsoever. It is astoundingly pretty and well animated, it is truly funny, dives through a deep and drama filled story, has fantastic action sequences, features brilliant voice actors and a polished soundtrack, and at the end of it all, is just the perfect kids animated movie – pitched perfectly for both young and old to enjoy. Seriously love watching this with my little ones!

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Bolt (2008)

A film star pup who is incredibly protective over his human girl, manages to get separated from the film studio and is now forced to travel back thousands of miles to reunite with his missing owner. Only problem is, this dog happens to think he is something of a super canine thanks to having been completely cocooned in his make believe world – something which definitely spells trouble for his new found travelling companions!

Bolt is a wonderfully animated kids movie that is impossible not to like. It is a great story of friendship and loyalty, and features some truly funny and touching moments. It is endearing, slickly animated, and well voiced, all backed up with a great soundtrack and a really fun character cast. I have to say, it is a hit with the kids, and it is certainly one of those animated movies that I don’t have any problem sitting down and enjoying with them.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

James Sullivan and Mike Wazowski are monsters, they earn their living scaring children (their fearful screams are what powers Monster City) and are the best in the business… even though they’re more afraid of the children than they are of them. When a child accidentally enters their world, James and Mike suddenly find that kids are not to be afraid of – and they uncover a conspiracy that could just threaten all children across the world.

Without a doubt, one of the classics to emerge from the powerhouse that is Pixar animation. It is a superbly well told and heartfelt story, that doubles down on the humour, drama and action all at once. Pleasingly, it holds up well more than ten years later, and quite frankly, remains a pleasure to watch for both young and old!

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Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

When Susan Murphy is unwittingly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall. Naturally, the military jumps into action and hauls her away to a covert government compound where she is renamed Ginormica and placed in confinement with a ragtag group of monsters… which is just as well because Aliens are about to knock on Earth’s door!

Monsters vs. Aliens is a surprisingly enjoyable romp that sees well, monsters going up against aliens. The story is funny and naturally includes tons of action sequences, making it particularly enjoyable for all the boys sitting at home. That said, there is enough there for adults to feed on as well, meaning that this isn’t the worse way you can spend your time watching television with the kids.

Brave (2012)

Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Mérida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus and Queen Elinor. An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Mérida one day defies a sacred custom of the land (she doesn’t want to be married off) and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to smooth things over, Mérida seeks out an eccentric old woman (who happens to be a witch) and is granted an ill-fated wish. A very ill-fated (and bear-related) wish!

Brave is something very different when it comes to CG animated movies, but that in itself is refreshing. It is a story about learning to take responsibility for one’s actions, and along the way to teaching this lesson, the film enthralls with its marvelous backdrops, action sequences and enchanting musical score. I don’t think it works quite so well for the younger kids, but for the older guys as well as the folks – well let’s just say that both I and Chantelle quite enjoyed the experience. (Plus, it really wasn’t what we were expecting).

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Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. It is up to Po and The Furious Five to journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. But how can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu?

I’m a big fan of the original Kung Fu Panda, and sadly, this second outing of everyone’s favourite Kung Fu Panda Bear isn’t quite as awesome as the first, primarily because (as with pretty much all sequels) it has now lost the original charm of the lovable and silly incompetent panda bear succeeding against great odds – this time around we kind of expect him to succeed because he has already proven that he can. Never the less, it is still an enjoyable action romp that is brimming with silliness and high octane adventure. The boys will definitely love this one, that’s for sure.

Capsule Reviews: Movies (John Carter, The Wolverine, etc.)

I’m not really into spending time collecting my thoughts in the form of movie, gaming, television reviews any more, but that said, I do like coming back three of four years later to see just how my enjoyment/appreciation of any given piece may have changed over time.

Hence these little capsule reviews of things I’ve watched over the last few months.

John Carter (2012)

Civil War vet John Carter is transplanted to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, who is in desperate need of a savior.

I have to say, I enjoyed this otherworldly sci-fi action film literally from start to finish. Great actors, great action sequences, wondrous worlds and a truly enjoyable story + ending means that I can’t help but give a solid thumbs up for this polished epic.

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Justice League: War (2014)

When the powerful Darkseid and his massive, relentless forces invade Earth, a group of previously unaligned super heroes – misunderstood and, in some cases, hunted by the authorities – discover that the only way to fend off the attack will be to work together as a cohesive unit. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Shazam! and, in his origin story, Cyborg combine their respective talents in an all-out battle to save the planet.

The animation is slick and superb, the voice acting is perfect, and the action is perfect comic book action. The New 52 angle means a fresh look at some tired faces, and quite frankly, everything just works in this over the top, enjoyable, and action-packed Justice League animated movie hit!

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (2014)

With Lex Luthor granted the power to go back in time and eliminate the Justice League before it was even started, it is left up to young heroes of the 31st century, Dawnstar and Karate Kid to travel back in time and try and fix this disaster they accidentally unleashed – before all the timelines are completely altered beyond repair!

This is a standalone direct to video film that doesn’t form part of the current DC Animated Original Movies stable, the reason being that it is pitched at the slightly younger viewer and as such the story comes with a strong moral motivation attached to it. I’m not the primary audience and as such can’t say I really enjoyed it, even if there isn’t really any wrong with it per say. That said, the fact that the primary Leaguers aren’t the stars of the show here, might just hurt it as well.

Pacific Rim (2013)

Giant monsters arise from the deep and threaten to overrun the world. Earth’s only defense are the gigantic fighting mecha known as Jaegers. But after years of slugging it out, the Jaegers have all but fallen, and the monster Kaiju appear to be increasing in number and strength!

An absolute visual feast, there is no other way of describing this epic sci-fi monster versus mecha slobber knocker. It’s a great film from start to finish, loads of action and drama, plus a satisfying storyline even if the majority of the international Jaegers get so little screen time! Excellent acting and a fantastic soundtrack makes for a very polished film outing which I thoroughly enjoyed!

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Thor (2011)

God of Thunder Thor finds himself disobeying Odin one too many times, and as a result, is punished by being banished to Midgard (Earth) for his disobedience to the All Father. However, this perfectly orchestrated play by the Trickster Loki, is exactly the opening he has been waiting for – and his allies the Frost Giants at his side, the play is made to make Asgard his once and for all!

This movie couldn’t have been better cast quite frankly, with the characters and actors all being perfectly matched up. Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki are literally perfect, and in the end, so is the movie. This is a fantastic comic book movie done right, with a larger than life story, mind-blowing visual affects, and just the perfect amount of drama and fantasy action. Comic book movie perfection in other words!

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

A malevolent evil spirit is awakened, and bonded with the hapless Jane Foster. This in turn awakens the Dark Elf Malekith, and with him comes a renewed attempt to take down Odin and Asgard with him. With Jane now under Asgard’s protection, Thor is forced to team up with his imprisoned brother Loki if there is any hope of stopping Malekith’s overwhelming forces – and the immense power of the Aether!

Following on from the slick and thoroughly enjoyable first Thor movie, this second outing pretty much continues where the original left off. Once again the actors are perfect, and in turn, the story is a perfect fantasy comic book yarn, with big stakes, plenty of action, and not to mention more than a little drama to go around. Great soundtrack, superb visuals, this is yet again another comic book film done right!

The Wolverine (2013)

An old acquaintance sends word from Japan that he is on his deathbed and as such would like to personally thank and say farewell to Logan. Of course things are never quite so cut and dry for the Wolverine, who soon finds himself leaving his self-imposed exile, travelling to Japan, and embroiled in the middle of a fierce battle over the daughter of a powerful and rich family. A life that needless to say he feels responsible for and must save, no matter the cost!

The first standalone Wolverine movie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine [2009]) was quite frankly horrible. Pleasingly, this time around it is much, much better. Hugh Jackman has without a doubt grown much more into his Wolverine persona, and with a drama-filled story that features exotic locales, ninjas, yakuza and not to mention exhilarating (and bloody) action sequences, The Wolverine ends up being a fantastic comic book movie. It is ever so slightly too long, but that isn’t a complete deal breaker for me, and in the end I seriously enjoyed it – which is great, because the X-Men family of movies really does need a bit of a boost in my book (based purely on how bad they look compared to the awesome current crop of Marvel Universe releases!)

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The World’s End (2013)

Gary King and the lads are all grown up these days, well everyone but Gary King that is. A man with a lot of personal problems to deal with but with no concept of responsibility anyway, rounds up the old gang for the sole purpose of completing a pub crawl they failed to complete as lads. The final target of the 12 pub crawl being the renowned World’s End. Unfortunately for the group though, they’re about to find out first hand that something downright alien is going on in their old stomping grounds…

Rounding out the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), this is another Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost collaboration and thus blends the same everyday life and drama with some completely over the top twists and then some completely over the top action sequences. As expected, the film is slickly done and well put together, the twist is over the top – as expected, and to be honest, it really does fit in as another installment of the Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz puzzle. In other words, if you liked those, then you’ll like this one. As for me, it wasn’t horrible, I did laugh occasionally, but I can’t say I necessarily walked away having enjoyed it.

Review: Argento Soma (2000)

argento soma anime dvdIn 2054, an unknown alien life form fell from the sky. The destruction began and the United Nations government was forced reorganise the army to oppose them and to defend the Earth. This combat action was dubbed ‘The first encounter action’. In 2059, after five years, the battle is still going on.

Takuto Kaneshiro is a young scientist, currently completing his studies at a prestigious aerospace university. His girlfriend, Maki Agata, is also a young scientist, currently working with Prof. Noguchi to decipher more about the mysterious aliens. Their current project is a gigantic alien iron life form that fell from the sky. They finally managed to piece the patchwork giant up again and now hope to resurrect it.

But the experiment to awaken Frank, or Extra-1 as the military designates it, goes horribly wrong. As the facility known as Morgue crumbles around his ears, Kaneshiro can only watch in horror as the monster Extra-1 crushes his beloved Maki and Prof. Noguchi.

Somehow Kaneshiro’s life is sparred, but he is left horribly scarred and disfigured. As he lies recovering in the hospital bed, a mysterious man with red-hair approaches him. The man proposes a deal. If he gave Kaneshiro the power to destroy Extra-1, will Kaneshiro become his tool? With hatred burning in his heart, Kaneshiro accepts the stranger’s offer. He awakes to find himself with a new face, a new name and a new identity. Ryu Soma.

He joins up with the elite military anti-alien task force known as Funeral. Using their advanced weaponary such as the Sarg Mecha and the Mistel carrier, Funeral wage a non-stop war against the alien menace. Ryu fights alongside them, but his only real opponent shall ever be Extra-1.

Argento Soma is a very stylish artistic anime title. The stories are well told, the use of imagery nicely done and the music nicely presented. The ideas being portrayed are interesting and so you feel that this series should be a good package. Unfortunately it isn’t. It’s not bad, but the pace at which the story unfolds is so badly handled that you find yourself wishing the series would end already, that is, if you have continued watching it so far.

As mentioned before the story is relatively interesting. Aliens have invaded Earth and the military have scrambled to stop them. A special division called Funeral is established, and utilizing advanced mecha and machinery, are in charge of stopping the alien incursions. A pathwork alien falls in their hands and becomes their tool against the aliens. However, the main character, Takuto Kaneshiro loses his girlfriend as well as a part of his face when they revive the patchwork alien, known as Extra-1. Kaneshiro, pushed by a mystery man, assumes a new identity of Ryu Soma and joins up with funeral. The story focuses on the hate relationship between the two and how this is eventually resolved. The character, alien and mecha designs are all first class and the storytelling is very well done, but the series is let down by horrible pacing.

The animation on Argento Soma is very nicely done, with movements being very fluid and realistic. The aliens take on the same feel as those in Neon Genesis Evangelion, something instantly recognizable to Evangelion fans. The music is atmospheric and the anime has a beautifully melodic opening track. However, the end track sounds kind of out of place, so I usually skip listening to it.

Overall, you can see that the director was trying his best to put forward a polished and artistic piece of work. It would have succeeded too, if it only hadn’t been for the poor story pacing. If you enjoy a good drama and some mecha action, then you might enjoy Argento Soma. Just don’t expect to watch the series all in one go though.

argento soma anime

(Historical Note: This was written back in August 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argento_Soma