Thursday, March 15, 2018

Inuyasha (2000 - 2010)

A Japanese Anime directed by Masashi Ikeda, Yasunao Aoki and Toshiya Shinohara.
An extremely mature middle school girl falls down a well and ends up in the Feudal era where she releases a demon who has been sealed to a tree for 50 years. The demon was sealed because another demon played him and his girlfriend against one another to get a sacred jewel. The modern girl and feudal demon team up with a child fox demon, a lecherous monk with a vacuum hand, a 2-tailed cat that grows and flies and a demon slayer woman whose group has been killed by her younger brother.
I watched the entire duration of 197 videos. Most were 20 minute TV episodes, besides the 4 hour and a half movies. It's a lot of Inuyasha. The plot seemed standard and stereotypical for anime, featuring mainly searches for characters and items, fights and comic relief. I liked comic relief the most in this series. There were episodes devoted to secondary characters that entertained me more than the main plot of the series. Because it was made for TV, there were frequent "plot recaps" to inform viewers who were not watching the whole series straight through what was happening. There were tons of characters and many of them had similar names: Naraku, Kohaku, Kagura, Kaguya, the list goes on. I know I'm an American, looking at Japanese names from an etic perspective, but they seemed too similar to me. What I liked about the characters was variety. There were humans, half demons and demons in every available Dungeons & Dragons alignment. Each of the main characters had identifiable personality traits that were demonstrated at every opportunity. An example of this is the monk touching the demon slayer's butt. Much of the dialogue was characters saying each other's names: "INUYASHA!!" "KAGOME!!" which got old quickly. The English voice actors fit the Japanese animated characters well enough for my tastes. Only Final Act was subtitled and not dubbed. I found the Japanese voices disorienting because I was so used to the English dubbed version, having watched 167 episodes by that point. On a side note, I heard a few phrases so frequently that I rewrote them as qwerty keyboard and sexual innuendo references: Sexomaru, No-cock-u, Titsaiga, Bitcoin jewel and Inutrasha's famous attacks: Spacebar    , Backslash wave\\\\, Ampersand Barrage&&&& and Cheesy Beaver Hole Feeler. Animation style was a mix of traditional anime with some computerized effects. I could tell the difference, but a person less versed in digital video effects may not be able to discern between the two. They were blended very well and the CG was used extremely tastefully and sparsely. As with any TV series, the music was repetitive. There were a few theme tracks for battle, comedy, drama, etc. that just got copied and pasted where they were needed. The anime series was quite popular and the 4 movies got 7.5-7.9 on IMDB. My real anime comparison test is Dragonball. This was goofier than Z and GT, but not as goofy as original DB. It was also not as good, but Goku and friends set a pretty high mark to beat. Inuyasha is nice to have in addition to Dragonball though. I rate it good. It must have been for me to still like it after watching that much.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

An American mystery directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten.
A long absent uncle goes to visit his relatives and is trailed by detectives who think he is a murderer. The family's eldest daughter tries to learn the truth of the situation.
Dull. An hour and 47 minutes seemed to pass slowly. I had to force myself to be interested in the plot because I was watching this for film class at school. Nothing of consequence happened until the last few minutes. Characters were stereotypical of the era: the dorks, businessmen, housewives... The whole thing was based mostly on dialogue that was not very interesting. I think that the actors did a professional job of playing their roles. Sets and costumes looked like an early sitcom. It seemed to be a prototype for I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver. The suburban town, men in suits, women in dresses, everything looking the same. Camera-work was not as bad as the rest. Hitchcock is known for shot variety and this delivered on that, if nothing else. The audio was actually mixed quite well. I could hear dialogue, music and sound effects at the correct levels, with nothing clipping into distortion. I would describe the style best as gentrified and stuck in first gear. This got 8/10 on IMDB, Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 and it has 100% tomatometer, 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. 92.5% A grade average seems a little high for something so uninteresting. I rate this tolerable because it was just plain boring.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Dinosaur Island A.K.A. Journey to... (2014)

A British Australian children's science fiction directed by Matt Drummond.
A boy from the present brings a crystal on an airplane and wakes up on a beach after a storm. Wandering in a nearby forest, he encounters dinosaurs and is saved by a girl from about 60 years in the past. Together, they are captured by a tribe of children and escape as the boy tries to find a way home.
Crappy. An hour and 20 minutes felt like forever and a half watching a flick made for kids. There was a definite lack of plot. It seemed like there were CG dinosaurs with a thin veil of plot carelessly draped them. The characters were annoying to no end because their dialogue was poorly written. Acting was even worse. Shit having been talked, it was a technical masterpiece. Sets and costumes looked convincing (mostly CG), camera-work and editing were beautifully done and obviously, special effects were the main attraction. The dinosaurs looked alive and featured an incredible level of detail. Audio brings us back to shit talk again. No matter how epic the symphonic string section gets, I won't buy this farce of a plot. It also included the voices of the 2 main characters. This has 3.4/10 on IMDB and 21% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I agree completely with this 27.5% average grade. I have to rate it bad because I didn't turn it off. The only way to save it would be to edit out everything except CG dinosaurs.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Man From Deep River A.K.A. Deep River Savages, Sacrifice!, Il paese del sesso selvaggio (1972)

An Italian exploitation adventure directed by Umberto Lenzi, starring Ivan Rassimov.
A British man is captured by a rural tribe in Thailand. He has initial difficulties with them, but is accepted and marries one of the women.
A Man Called Horse 2 would be a better title. It was too similar to even merit a full review because I already did that for the film that this copied. So, what was different? I think there was more female nudity and I know there was more animal cruelty. Apparently, they really killed the animals in this. This had less creative use of camera-work and editing, with no compositing being used. The color balance was better too. Although there was lots of green, it didn't spill over onto non-green items like orange/brown did in A Man Called Horse. Audio was better too. I didn't hear distortion on any of the dialogue. The ending was also different. This was much clearer about the main character's plans for the future. This has a 5.5/10 on IMDB, 1/5 AllMovie rating, 2.5/5 user rating on AllMovie and 39% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 41% average is not a good grade. I rate this o.k. because what it was copied from got adequate and this only made minor changes from the source material.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Girls Trip (2017)

An American comedy directed by Malcolm D. Lee, starring Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Larenz Tate.
A quartet of women who were friends in college reunite in New Orleans.
Way to perpetuate racist stereotypes! 2 hours was too long to have to watch this. I had to watch the whole thing too because it's for school. Yes, this is part of a college curriculum. The simplistic premise had fickle, little sub-plots to fill time and add fuel to white supremacist fires. There is only 1 word to describe the characters: niggers. I saw them engaging in every negative aspect of African-American activity and culture that could be fit within the film. Same goes for dialogue and acting. The sets were not bad. I liked the zip line over the street most and it was the only joke that I found almost funny. Costumes were stereotypical, but I kind of liked the vests for the main characters. Camera-work and editing were not bad either. There was plenty of shot variety, with some dollying around characters. There were 2 instances of clear special effects. These were the zip line and some creative editing in a club scene. The audio was not to my liking because of musical genre and annoyingly insipid dialogue. This won 6 awards and has 6.3/10 on IMDB, 3/4 stars from Roger Ebert, 71% on Metacritic and 90% tomatometer, 80% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. 76% average C grade is astronomically high for what I saw. I rate it bad because it was annoying, insipid and racist. Coming from the guy who finds race-based stereotypes funny, it has to be REALLY racist for me to label it as such. This makes Bamboozled (2000) seem unprejudiced by comparison.

Danny Boy A.K.A. Adventures of Danny Boy (1946)

An American adventure directed by Terry O. Morse.
A boy's dog comes back from the war and has trouble remembering life at home. Just when it seems that the dog has remembered, he is kidnapped by a neighbor and "The Orange Man".
The main problem here is plot hole logic. At only an hour and 4 minutes, it passed quickly enough. The plot was implausible. Allow me to explain: Why would the army take a dog away from a small child? The child actor was 15 years old when this was filmed, but is clearly portraying a younger child. It is stated that the dog was away for about 2-3 years. It thus follows that the U.S. army took a dog from a 10 year old boy. The boy's older friend was in the war as well, but that doesn't help to explain much. Everything that happened was also predictable. I saw the baseball going through that window from miles away. I also knew that the boys would dump their bikes at the climax when they needed to move fast. Plot hole and predictability aside, the characters were not developed all that well. The antagonist showed more development than the protagonists! Dialogue and acting were extremely dated. "Gee, but you're a swell pal!" is almost a foreign language compared to modern American English. The sets and costumes were very mundane. The only special use set pieces were a barn with a ladder and a backyard with a fence bordering on a sidewalk. Camera-work was less than creative, but kept directional consistency. The audio was not so great. Dialogue mic volumes were clipping and all of the soundtrack music seemed major and happy. Everything about this film is very much of the time in which it was made. It has 6.7 on IMDB. I rate it tolerable because it wasn't pleasant enough to be called quaint.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Curtains (1983)

A Canadian slasher directed by Richard Ciupka, starring John Vernon and Samantha Eggar.
An actress intentionally gets admitted to a mental hospital to do research in order to play the part of a crazy woman. The director does not have her released as agreed and invites other women to be cast for the part. Someone starts killing people, as always.
Another crappy movie... An hour and 26 minutes seemed like a long time. I don't think the plot was clearly communicated. There were dreams, imagination sequences and missing time, none of which were clearly identified. Characters were pitiful, except the female lead and she was just barely 3 dimensional. The dialogue was not written all that well and the acting was not bad, but not good either. Sets and costumes were pitiful too. "We got this ugly mask, let's write a plot around it!" Camera-work and editing were actually not too shabby. I liked the scene when the woman gets out of the car to examine a doll in the road. Good framing and composition were seen in various areas. The ice skating scene also looked good. There was some special effect blood, as with most slasher flicks. Audio was mixed decently. I would have raised the dialogue just a tiny bit. The soundtrack piece for the ice skating scene was very much of the time. This has 5.8/10 on IMDB and 60% tomatometer, 39% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. 52.3% average is just slightly low. I rate it poor, mostly because it failed to hold my attention.