Category Archives: Apocalypse Week

Noah (2014): The Meaning of Humanity

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We end the first Apocalypse Week with Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah.” This was a film I’ve been curious about for sometime since Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors and it really does have an all star cast, and the subject matter is interesting.

I’ve always been interested in mythology, whether it’s Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Greek, Norse, Egyptian or other…there are so many rich stories that have conflict and premises that are left pretty open ended giving a lot of creative leeway, assuming the director has vision. Aronofsky clearly did for this film.

The story is that after Abel was killed by Cain, Cain’s descendants spread throughout the world and over industrialized it the point of making it a wasteland while hunting down the descendants of Seth who saw it as their duty to protect the world. The story begins with Noah and his father Methuselah doing the ritual of Seth for caring for the Earth. They are than attacked by a tribe of Cain who attack Methuselah. Noah believes him dead and we flash forward. We than see Noah dealing with visions from “God” of the Earth being destroyed which sets the story in motion as Tubal-cain and his men attempt to take the arc and Noah’s wife Naameh and family try to save more of the line of Cain and humanity as Noah resists at every turn. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is fantastic, but I wouldn’t expect any less of Darren Aronofsky. Some of the moments that stand out though is when Noah tells the creation story and it shows us the creation of the universe and the evolution of life on the planet. The other scene is when the flood occurs and the descendants of Cain are destroyed as they fight the Watchers (fallen Angels defending Noah and his family).

The Music – Clint Mansell is one of my favorite composers and he does a great job creating tension in this film. We see this especially when Noah believes it is his duty to keep man from spreading so when Ila is pregnant he plans on killing her children if they are girls. The music has it set so that the ship feels claustrophobic and being trapped with a mad man (Noah). It is brilliantly done.

The Writing – The screenplay is top notch, Aronofsky and Handel did a great job. Every characters’ lines feels real and it does mostly showing rather than telling. Especially as Noah is facing the consequences of what he has done. We are presented with dilemmas. The Canaanites who are men are bad people trying to enslave and kill Noah and his family…but the women and children are innocent…and Noah does nothing to save them. His wife and Ham call him on this, but he ignores it, blinded by his religious devotion to a being who doesn’t speak clearly and maybe is all in his head. It is really awesome.

The Watchers – Giant Rock beings that were once angels who came to fight for humanity. These guys are cool. They start out resistant to Noah and his clan because of how Cain’s line turned on them but in the end fight for Noah as they are rewarded with being returned to Paradise and Noah and his family treat them kindness. They have great designs and good voice acting.

The Line of Seth – They are vegetarians and planters. Tenders of the garden of the world. Kind and only willing to fight as a last restort seems to the theme. They are survivors, but mostly because they know when to run.

The Line of Cain – These are the warriors. Anything weak is prey and the story is empire. In extreme cases they are cannibals because they’ve killed off most of the animals and hunted them to extinction. They are the apocalyptic survivors in the apocalyptic world they created.

The Characters – The characters in this film are really solid. No one is really wasted except for Noah’s son Shem who is mostly a passive character and is only there to protect Ila.

Methuselah – Anthony Hopkins is great as Methuselah. He is found to be alive after Noah receives some of the visions and gives Noah the magic seed that creates an oasis of life that Noah and the Watchers use to build the arc. He doesn’t go with them and dies in the flood after a moment of bliss when he finds a berry. Why he decides not to go is unknown. He seems to be there as a guide and a counter to Noah as he gives Ila the ability to have children when she was barren before.

Naameh – Jennifer Connelly supports Noah but always reminds him of life, which he mostly ignores if it isn’t animal and plant life. She sees the bigger picture and fights him when he plans to kill Ila’s twin girls. You can see how powerless she feels given that she’s expected and told to follow Noah, when Noah, especially when they are on the arc and before hand in how he saves no one else and has gone insane. You can see the trials she faces dealing with that. She is the one truly good person in the film.

Tubal-cain – Played by Ray Winstone, he is the primary antagonist outside of Noah. He is a king and believes that humans were made in God’s image in order to dominate rather than to care and create. He is the one who tries corrupting Ham and almost succeeds as he taps into Ham’s anger at his possible partner being left behind by Noah in Tubal-cain’s attack. He fights to the end and is a crafty and interesting foe. He is survival of the species in the most extreme sense, though his inability to see how in ancestors had destroyed all life is sadly missed. I wish that had been brought up in the many talks he had with characters.

Ham – Played by Logan Lerman, he is the character walking the line between the way of Cain and the way of Seth. In the end when they find land he chooses to go his own way. He wants to learn how to care, since all his actions are tied to his own wants and desires. He does this really well too and you can see why he hates Noah for a lot of the film.

Ila – Emma Watson is the most successful of the “Harry Potter” cast post “Harry Potter” and rightfully so. She is damn talented. We see that hear too where she was a survivor of an attack on the mine where her family was raising her and Noah and his wife take her in. She is barren and it implied she was cut as a child. Because of this she has a lot of fear connecting but is able to heal from literally and figuratively after speaking with Methuselah. She is a great character and defends her children to the end. It is her showing them their innocence that staves Noah’s hand.

Noah – Is he mad? This is the big question throughout the film. So much of the film you are left wondering if it is all just in Noah’s head as he thinks God wants to annihilate man completely given the near extinction of all life by many of Cain’s line. You can see where he is coming from too as miracles do happen throughout the film. The big issue is when the daughters are born and he has to break away from what he believes God’s message is. He believed God wanted them to restore the Garden, so after they help the animals all survive…they would die out. What he misses in his nihilism is that humans are part of the world too and it is only after accepts that that we see him deal with the guilt of letting the innocent Canaanites die and the fact that he nearly killed his grandchildren and planned on doing so for quite a while once he knew they would be born, and if they would be girls. Russell Crowe does this really really well. He is good at playing complex mad characters, which Noah is. We see him wrestle with his decisions and face the reality of his character relationships. He eventually becomes a drunk when they reach land once more but is brought out of it when he is reminded once more of life carrying on…showing that he has changed from the man he once was.

The Message – The message is dilemmas. Is humanity redeemable? What makes a civilization worth saving or not saving? What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we we have as human beings? This film deals with all of this and lets us make our own decision. Noah is not a good person, but he is a human being. It is through his eyes that we are shown the question and can judge Noah for the decisions he makes. This is powerful and makes the film truly a masterpiece.

I’m glad this is how Apocalypse Week ends. This is one of the greatest films I’ve watched, though I can see why so many were torn about it. The thing to remember is to take it on it’s own merits. Like all films it is a story and a good story at that. What message you choose to take from it is up to you as Daronofsky leaves it pretty open ended. He leaves the hope for us with Seth’s line surviving after the flood, but doesn’t say that the flood was Just. That is up to the viewer. The actors and actresses, cinematography, music and writing are phenomenal and I highly recommend to anyone looking for a great film based off fantasy and mythology that lets you find the meaning in it.

Final score is 10 / 10. Shem isn’t a great character, but he isn’t bad. None of the minor characters who don’t get exploration hurt the film in anyway.

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World War Z (2013): An Alright Action Film

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We continue Apocalypse Week with “World War Z.” World War Z is one of my favorite books, and I’m going to say off the back, there is not much related to the books in how this film was executed at all. It doesn’t prevent it from being an enjoyable film mind you, it just doesn’t reach it’s full potential and takes the simple route for storytelling and entertainment value.

The novel World War Z written by Max Brooks is told as a historical narrative of life under a zombie apocalypse, with journalistic reports of the outbreak as it happens from the initial spread, to the end and how humanity fought back against it. It takes place in locations all over the world and has a diverse cast of interesting characters. There really isn’t a traditional main protagonist. These are some of the reasons, beyond the social justice commentary that make it such a miraculous book. There isn’t any of that in “World War Z” the film.

“World War Z” was directed by Marc Forster and went through a lot of writers to actually be completed. There are five names attached to the screenplay. Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof and came from a screen story by Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski. From the look of it, they did not know what they were doing, so it is a miracle it even managed to come together as much as it did. Everything was going against this film being any kind of good.

The story itself is simple in the end. Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a United Nations Employee is called out of retirement to help find out how the outbreak occurred and finding some way to stop it. The narrative is entirely around him and the survivors and people he meets as he tries to survive the initial outbreak and trace the source of the contagion and find a cure.

Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: The Action – The action is really good. The zombies are like fire ants and having rage type zombies is great for action since people turn quickly and it creates tension when a zombie gets close since you don’t know if one of the survivors that Lane is with are going to turn. There is also a great scene of the outbreak occurring on a plane in flight.

The Cinematography – You see Israel, London and New York City as some of the locations destroyed by the outbreak. The sheer destruction…most of which we cause in trying to stop the spread of the zombies is powerful and the shots of fear and creating tension with simple things like people singing is masterful. Most of the times hope occurs it is squashed…until the third act.

The Music – I really liked the score for this film. Marco Beltrami created a great score that adds tension and drama when it needs too and can be reflective on the scenes that demand it. I plan to use music from this score to write sometime.

Gerry Lane – Brad Pitt is a solid actor, and he pretty much needs to carry the plot since they kill off all the interesting characters, like the doctor who thinks he knows what might be causing it dies when they land in South Korea, they go to Israel and the government agent who built the wall to protect from the outbreak dies too before we get the chance to know him, the only two who survive are people who are interesting characters who I’ll list below.

The Scientists – The final area is the pharmaceutical company in the UK where some of the scientists have a theory that the infected only target the strong to spread the contagion so they need to infect themselves with a deadly virus and cure it in order to be safe from the zombies. This is done and is one of the best parts of the film. Peter Capaldi (The 12th Doctor) plays one of the scientists and he is great as the distrustful guy. We also see one of the scientists go with him and the Israeli soldier to get the viruses. This scene is great and everyone survives!

The Ending – The ending is when we finally see people other than Brad Pitt and the military fighting back. We get references to things in the book too like the the fight in the north where people went to in order to escape the zombies and to get their bodies to freeze and destroy them that way. We also see some folks in an apartment creating a makeshift flamethrower to fight against the zombies. Honestly, I wish this had been the film. Seeing different groups from all over the world fighting against the outbreak is what made it interesting.

Cons: Lane’s Family – He has two daughters and a wife and they don’t feel so much like characters as props. Which is a shame since a lot could have been done. They are there to motivate Lane to do his job and to be protected. They are motivation and nothing more.

Most Minority Characters are Killed or Turned – If you are a minority in this film, chances are you will be turned. We see this in the Hispanic family who decides to stay in the apartment during the initial outbreak, the doctor who slips in South Korea and accidentally shoots himself and in the Palestinians and Israelis who die when the zombies climb over the wall. Only ones who survive are the U.N. Deputy-Secretary General and one of the Israeli military folks who is working with Pitt and almost gets infected.

The Pepsi Moment – Lane after he is infected grabs a Pepsi from a machine and looks relieved as he drinks it. He later uses it to get the zombies away from the door so he can get back to the science team. It is pretty blatant product endorsement and I laughed during it because it was so against everything going on before. I’m sure Pepsi was on this survivor’s mind…Wow, in the final score taking away a point just for this scene.

I honestly was expecting worse from this film. Most of the problems with how minority characters and the family were handled was just bad writing, which I think wasn’t the intent. Since Lane works for the U.N. and the whole feel of the film is global, it should have had more of it’s global characters survive. Since every group has people turned. In that way I recognize those issues but also that they were larger issues…like the blatant product endorsement thrown in at the end. The movie still manages to have a pretty strong narrative for it’s protagonist Lane and the music and cinematography are fantastic. I thought those would suffer too because of all the different writers and time in development hell.

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, just know the problems going in…and know that it is pretty much nothing like the book. Where the book was a deep story that had a larger point socially and politically, this is just a fun apocalyptic survival action film.

Final score for this is 8 / 10

Battlestar Galactica Mini-Series Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1, 2 – “Night” – War, Politics, Religion and the Survival of the Human Race

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We continue Apocalypse Week with “Battlestar Galactica.” “Battlestar Galactica” is one of those shows that I will always come back to I think. The themes of religion, spirituality, history, politics, war and survival are handled so well that every time I watch the series I discover something new. I am of course referring to Ronald Moore’s re-imagining, I have not seen the “Original Battlestar Galactica,” but do plan on it at some point.

I still remember the first time I watched this episode and how excited I was at all the possibilities it offered in it’s stories and characters and the reality of the relationships and world it was already exploring. Very few Pilots manage to pull this off. I think what helps was a lot of the themes of religion, war, politics and purpose were explored by Moore in “Star Trek: Deep Space 9” but where DS9 was limited by being public television…there weren’t those limitations on “Battlestar Galactica” for better and for worse he could explore those themes fully.

“The story kicks off with history: The Cylons were created by the people of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol as a labor and military force. Approximately 52 years ago, the Cylons turned on their human creators and the Cylon War ensued. After an armistice was declared, the Cylons left the Colonies, ostensibly to seek a homeworld of their own.”

“The Colonials maintain an Armistice Station as a place where Cylon and Colonial representatives can meet in order to maintain diplomatic relations. However, the Cylons have never sent an ambassador. No one has seen a Cylon since the end of the Cylon War, over 40 years ago.”

This is done over the Cylons returning to the station and Six (played by Tricia Helfer) kissing the Colonial Representative before the station is destroyed. We then go to the different characters with Admiral Adama retiring the Battlestar Galactica and introduction to the main crew and characters…the main locations being Battlestar Galactica and those coming to Galactica via way of Caprica…the most important characters being Gaius Baltar who invented the security (and gave over the data to a Cylon Six he was sleeping with and didn’t know she was a Cylon) that the Cylons hijacked to destroy the Colonies and Laura Roslin who is the Secretary of Education who finds herself President (and recently learned he had Cancer) when the Cabinet is destroyed on Caprica. From here the story unfolds.

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Here is the assessment of the Pilot Epidodes:

Pros: The Music – In this instance the music was largely composed by Richard Gibbs and he does a fantastic job and creating tension with the creating of tension in battle and all the different feelings with the end of the world.

The World: Ronald Moore did a great job with his writers creating this world. There are 12 Colonies, 12 Cylons and such a diverse cast of characters from different backgrounds that we barely scratch the surface but are still given so much. We know about the last Cylon War, the silence of the Cylons and that they fear being destroyed again and are reacting as such. We also see the Cylons have an extreme belief in a single God while the Colonists are believe in many Gods. We see the military relationships between the civilians and government via Laura Roslin and the conflict in the military among the military through Lee and his father Admiral Adama and Starbuck and the XO Tigh. We also see the relationships and power dynamics between ships and Cylons a bit too.

The Premise: The premise takes the robots and nuclear destruction of humans but does something interesting with it…the robots are given humanity and reasons for what they do and we see conflict among the human factions…which rarely happens in movies that go this route (see “The Terminator Series”). This unique twist and adding religion to the mix with the Cylons being a believer in God adds more depth to a premise that is usually taken as pretty simple.

The Action: There are quite a few ship battles and a lot of destruction…from the nuking of Caprica and destroying of civilian vessels by the Cylons…to the battles between Vipers (Colonial) and Raiders (Cylons). It really drives it too since there is so much desperation. Each fight is a literal fight for survival, as humanity is far outmatched.

The Colonials – More on what I said above but very brief…the military, civilian and government relationships are really rich in this episode. We see different people and groups reacting to the end of the world and doing what they can to survive or help as many people as they can to survive or to fight. This is the group experiencing the apocalypse and the destruction of their worlds and lives.

The Cylons – There are 12 Human looking copies and over the course of the episode we meet 4. Spoilers being one of the main characters in the Colonial Fleet is in fact a Cylon. The new Centurions and Raiders look really awesome too. They have a sleek and deadly design.

The Characters – The characters and character relationships are the strongest part of this series, besides some of the messages so I’m going to say now that any character who gets exploration…isn’t a dull character. They are really interesting and intriguing and have great dynamics with others.

Admiral Adama – Edward James Olmos is one of the greatest actors for a reason. We see it in this with how he is a man dealing with finally having a normal relationship with his divorced wife, his son who died from him pressuring him to join the force and his other son Lee Adama (Apollo) blames him for all of that. He is the heart of the fleet besides Roslin who pulls the people together and fights to defend the human race when he realizes that they’ve lost the war after President Roslin helps him to see. He is the one who gives the lie of Earth to the Fleet to give them hope and reminds them that their lives are worth fighting for, as well as apologizing to Lee in regards to his son and their relationship. Starbuck the rebel fighter pilot is also like a daughter to him, contrasted with the fact that she hates the XO Tigh who is one of Adama’s closest friends.

Laura Roslin – Mary McDonnell is wonderful in this role as someone both empathetic and strong. She holds the civilians together and finds survivors to bring to Galactica. She is also the one who reminds Adama that they need government and structure so that the people can be cared for. She was originally the Secretary of Education, and also found out she has cancer at the start of the episode.

Gaius Baltar – James Callis plays an awesome anti-hero. Gaius Baltar is the scientist who unknowingly gave over the security information to the Cylons since he was sleeping with a Cylon Six model. You see his selfishness of the bat in that he cheats on her and is watching interviews of himself and when the bombs fall he is first thinking how not to take responsibility…but than we see him use his information via Head Six (A Six living inside his mind) to reveal who the Cylon Mole is on the ship. He also sticks up for an older lady when he could have taken her ticket given his past actions. His most telling statement is at the end. “I am on no one’s side.” This is his anti-hero character for a lot of the series, which gives him lots of room to grow. His character arc is what makes him one of my favorite characters, and the awkwardness of how Callis plays him.

Lee “Apollo” Adama – Has a thing for Starbuck, blames his dad for his brother’s death and his brother was married to Starbuck. His life is complicated. He is the idealist though and it shines through and also the one whose goal seems to be to get out of his father’s shadow and make his own path. We see this in how he advocates for government and Roslin to be respected and his confronting of his dad. For him the big thing was finding out Starbuck was the one who passed his brother when he should have failed, throwing their complicated friendship into jeopardy, just as he is beginning to heal with his dad. Jamie Bamber does great.

Kara “Starbuck” Thrace – She is the arrogant fighter pilot who truly is the best at what she does. She doesn’t put up with crap (largely from the drunk XO Tigh) and is willing to risk her life at the drop of a hat for others. She also has a lot of baggage via helping her lover pass flight school when he was unqualified and the fact that she loved his brother Lee. Her story is fascinating and I can’t wait to write more about it when I review more of the series later. Katie Sackhoff became unforgettable in this role.

Caprica Six / Head Six – They are two different characters but the same actress Tricia Helfer. Caprica Six loves Baltar even though he doesn’t love her and saves him when the apocalypse comes. Head Six could be Angel, Demon or Hallucination is what is implied at this point and has a mental and sexual relationship with Baltar. She guides and manipulates his actions for his and her gain. Both are great characters.

Sharon “Boomer” Valerii – Played by Grace Park, she is the one who is a bit of a rookie and the main savior of a lot of the people as she helps President Roslin when they meet up with her and the fleet later on. She is stubborn and quick to anger and also in love with Chief Tyrol. They have a secret relationship and a great dynamic as they play fight. She is great as the officer who finds her footing. Also, she’s a Cylon who doesn’t know she is. We see another model of her at the end of the episode in the Cylon Meet up.

Chief Tyrol – Major feeler type He is the guy who you see in his face when he loses crewmembers to a Cylon Nuke and the desperation of survival. He is good at his job and very no-nonsense. His relationship to Sharon also feels real.

Karl “Helo” Agathon – Helo is the guy who makes the noble sacrifice on Caprica. He gives up his seat for Baltar so that the human race will have a better chance at survival. He is also the one who helps Sharon find her cool. Tahmoh does great and I can see why fan reaction brought him back when he was supposed to die this episode.

Gaeta, Dee and Billy – These three are very minor characters at this point but good in what they do. They give us glimpses of humanity. Gaeta is the one who idealizes leaders like Baltar and Adama and with it has hope, Dee is the one who has lost but sees hope in relationship via Billy and through Billy we see the loss on his face and him trying to work as his family was destroyed in one of the colonies. Billy is Roslin’s aide and they have some good moments.

Leobon and Doral – Doral is the everyday press mole who poses the dilemma of imprisonment without evidence and Leobon is the fanatic who nearly kills Adama. He is the religious fanatic to the Cylon Cause that we see outside of Six. We see them at the end with a Sharon and Six too in the military base that the Colonials had escaped to temporarily before jumping into deep space.

The Choices – Should one stay to try and save all when the chance of annihilation of all is at hand? Should people be imprisoned without evidence if they are suspect in a war of annihilation? What people should be saved when facing extinction? What is a just war? These are all the questions and choices faced in the episode and part of what makes this such a great series, beyond all the characters.

This is one of the best if not the best pilot of a tv series I have ever seen. I can’t recommend it enough. If you like character dramas, moral dilemmas, politics and war this is definitely your show and this episode is a great introduction. Can’t wait till when I do a look back and review the rest of the series.

“So say we all!”

Final score for this episode is 10 / 10. One of the best sci. fi. and television show pilots I’ve ever seen.

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The Trigun Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1 – “The $$60,000,000,000 Man” – The Cost of Vash

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The next item for “Apocalypse Week” is the Trigun Pilot. “The The $$60,000,000,000 Man.” Trigun the tv series is based off the manga written and illustrated by Yasuhiro Nightow. Which was produced by Madhouse and directed by Sathoshi Nishimuru. The anime ran for one season and was created in 1998, while the manga was created in 1996 and ran to 1997.

i chose Trigun because the story takes place on an alien world that is wasteland ruled by human survivors. It kicks off with stories of Vash the Stampede who destroyed a town in which no one survived. We later see a mysetrious man in red attacked by mercenaries who destroy a town which leads into the main plot of the episode. I also enjoyed the series in High School, so figured it would be a fun one to go back too, even if it is only just for a single episode in this instance.

The pilot is a case of mistaken identity in that everyone is looking for Vash (a bunch of mercenaries) and two insurance agents Meryl and Milly who are trying to find him in order to get him to stop destroying towns so their insurance company won’t have to keep paying for damages. They run into the mysterious stranger as well and mistake a bounty hunter for Vash who in turn mistakes another bounty hunter for Vash. They eventually figure how the man in red with the two guns is Vash and target him only for them to be tricked and defeated by their own weapons. This is how it ends with Milly and Meryl not quite sure if he is Vash or not, though the episode implies as much…as they continue their search.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The World – The world is really cool. It has a Space Western Feel (will probably include it in another one of the week’s for this reason) and has a threatening feel to it too, as it opens with news of the slaughter of a town. This is a world where there is no law and the largest fish rules. This is the traditional aftermath of most apocalypses.

Milly and Meryl – These two are awesome. They are two women just trying to do their jobs in a rough situation, but having the stubbornness to get through it all and find the person they think is responsible for all the damages. They are the everyday folk, but with a twist, since Milly has a giant gun for protection.

Vash – Vash is a bit of a clown, but still interesting. I hated when his face went all anime cat after doing some antics against one of the mercenaries, but I like his philosophy. He never kills…which makes all the damage happen in turn be more tied to him. Because he refuses to kill, the bullies of this world run rampant until he can outsmart them and beat them by their own devices. Descartes, the giant gangster who fights with a mechanical Boomerang and the sniper Loose Ruth…both of who are taken out by the boomerang and without Vash firing a shot. He is a coyote, Lokish figure, which makes him intriguing…if at times annoying.

The art style – I like the art style when it isn’t exaggerating expressions. The character designs are drawn large and look very cool for the most part. It has that western meets sci. fi. feel and also a sense of desolation. There are no trees and most of the color in in peoples’ hair or what they wear.

Cons: The Gangsters – Descartes and Loose Ruth have no exploration and pretty much function as baddies of the week. That was disappointing.

The Cat Face – At one point when he trolls and beats Descartes, he makes a cat face, that and the exaggerated expressions in the episode were kind of grating since it started out so serious. It kind of clashed with the tone.

Vash  Reveal – Milly and Meryl still don’t know who he is? There should have been the team up or conflict starting at that point, beyond just Vash stealing their food.

So how does the pilot hold up? From what I remember the series gets better. The episode does okay with introductions to the characters, and great for introductions to the world…but that’s about all I can say. It’s worth watching for what comes later, but is not a great story in it’s own right.

Final score is 6.5 / 10 A slightly above average anime pilot.

Akira (1988): The Apocalypse and Humanity’s Awakening

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We begin Apocalypse Week with “Akira.” “Akira” was one of my favorite films, and it still holds up. It has great characters, philosophy politics and more. I’ll go into the details in the assessment.

“Akira” is based off the manga of the same name by Katsuhiro Otomo, who also directed this film. The film was written by Otomo as well, but also Izo Hashimoto. After seeing this again, I really want to read the manga.

I chose this movie for apocalypse week for two reasons. The story takes place in Neo-Tokyo (which has a broken steampunk feel to it), a city which has recently rebuilt from the apocalypse of World War 3. The reason for this I’ll discuss this later, since it has to do with the theme. The story in Neo-Tokyo is based around Shotaro and his biker gang who get attacked by the government when one of the gang Tetsuo is attacked psychically by an esper who was trying to escape from the government attacks him. From here Tetsuo is taken into custody as a test subject and the gang is brought in. An attack from the anti-government faction soon after brings Shatoro into contact with Kei, and the story unfolds from there.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros:

The World: Neo-Tokyo is fascinating. It is a city that was built from the ruins of World War 3 and has a really cool Steam Punk feel to it, as it was once the height of industry, and now has just reached there again. There are many factions too, the government faction, the anti-government faction, the Espers and the Gangs and the Akira Worshippers.

The Music – The music has this mystic and haunting feel to it that contributes to the world changing events that occur throughout the film really well.

The characters – All the characters in this are great. I’ll go into it individually too, since it is through the characters that the story and world is fully revealed. All the characters have agency and their choices matter and advance the story.

Shotoro – Most of the drama is based around this character. He is leader of the Capsules, his biker gang and is good at looking out for all of them. He is also very clearly a punk too as when we first meet him he is fighting the Clowns (another gang) when a government take down of an Esper  (psychic telepath)a is going down which brings him into the drama itself. The youngest member of the gang Tetsuo gets taken in by the government after he’s attacked by an esper and after the government finds out that Shotoro and his gang know nothing about the Espers so are released. After there is attack by the anti-government faction and Shotoro follows a woman who comes out of it leading him to the work by the anti-government faction and closer to the actions of the Espers. Shotoro is a character who is stubborn, but also extremely loyal. No matter what Tetsuo does, Shotoro is always trying to find a way to stop them, he also goes along with Kei and the government faction out of loyalty and attraction of Kei. This I think, is how he is able to survive all the events that go down.

Kei – Is the woman who works for the anti-government faction and The Colonel in the work with the espers. Their goal is to protect the city from another Akira incident. It is for this reason that dark has been done, such as killing the esper’s parents to raise them by the Colonel’s agency. Kei does all she can to prevent Tetsuo from bringing about another Akira Incident, even allowing the Espers to possess her and use their abilities against Tetsuo. She also eventually grows to care about Shotoro when she sees his actions to try and save Tetsuo.

The Colonel – The most interesting of the government factions, this is a guy with enough awareness of the city dying in it’s current form, but wanting to protect it anyway, because he does not want it fully destroyed. For him the honor of a soldier and protecting the people is the highest goal, after Tetsuo goes on his rampage and he is asked to step down by Parliament he does a coup in order to bring the fight to Tetsuo and prevent another Akira incident.

The Espers – The Espers are all children who have the bodies of old people, since containing the power caused them to age. Each of them has a distinct personality. Masaru is the leader and is larger kid in a floating chair, he is the planner, Takashi is the one who was recently kidnapped and is the one who acts quickly and there is Kiyoko who is the feeler and predictor who sees the next Akira incident tied to Tetsuo. It is from them we learn about the other subject Akira was who experimented on and could not contain his powers, so ended up destroying Tokyo. We also learn from them all have this powers, they are just unique in that they are aware of it.

Tetsuo – Tetsuo was a character who grew on me. I didn’t like him at first, especially when he first got his powers. He was a kid who was bullied but also a bully as seen by his membership in a gang. He becomes more sympathetic when he tries to escape it all with his girlfriend Kaori, as this is the first time we’ve seen him in an equal relationship. All the others he was mad with power and angry at being less so kills (the one who experimented on him, and a member of the gang, as well as the Clowns who beat and attempt to rape Kaori). You get why he goes mad at the end…and why he comes back when his power is turning him into a giant mutant baby that is absorbing all things and life. He loses Kaori, but after the Espers and Shotoro go into the center where Akira has melded with Tetsuo a mini big bang occurs and Tetsuo creates another universe in another dimension (though still destroys a lot of Tokyo). In the end he does look out for Shotoro though, and limits the damage he was causing in his mad power trip.

Akira – Akira functions as a reveal of the full potential of humanity. He was a normal kid who was overwhelmed by the power but eventually transcended his body…becoming one with the universe. A form of enlightenment I’d say, as the kid’s identity is still there…and he is one of the people able to help Tetsuo transcend.

The Message / The Ending – The message reminded me of Buddhism, as there is a lot of Buddhist symbolism in this film. The Akira Incident is that moment of change. Tokyo, Neo-Tokyo are the ego part of the self and it is in that destruction of the anger and the hate (the actions in the city going on as it is a civil war and in Tetsuo himself who is all anger and hate until it leads to him losing Kaori and overwhelming his identity). It is when that is destroyed that he is able to become a God like Akira and is guided through that process by Akira and the vespers. Symbolically it is really cool and a great metaphor for Buddhist enlightenment. Practically within the story, most of the population dies again, just like the first Akira incident. We see that someone was reached though as both Kei and Shotoro are left in the aftermath, and Shotoro is left holding a single point of light…all that is left of Tetsuo. The second apocalypse that lead to a second destruction (Tokyo, Neo-Tokyo) and Creation (Akira, Tetsuo), it is powerful and a really great and unique apocalypse.

Okay: The Government – The government is just a corrupt organization, we don’t really get their desires beyond wanting to keep the status quo, so when they are overthrown it isn’t as much of a shock as it would have been. More could have been done with them, like having an operative working with The Colonel or watching the Espers. All we get are corrupt politicians and police as the face of the who they are.

“Akira” still holds up as one of my favorite films. The point about destruction and creation in regards to Buddhism is fascinating and very true, in regards to letting go of the parts of our anger and hate and destroying the fear that bombards us. The approach to apocalypses is unique as well as the Esper abilities are fascinating and how that is used as a metaphor for our own potential in our actions and being. I highly recommend this film. It is a classic for a reason.

10 / 10 and also remembering Robin Williams today (will be reviewing one of his film later to honor him). “Akira” was one of his favorite animes too. R.I.P.

Apocalypse Week – Movies and Television About the Apocalypse

Apocalypse

There is a great human fascinating with the end of the world. We see this in our stories, religions (all of which usually express some sort of final end or change to a time or cycle). I think I know at least part of the reason why this is.

It is when things end or change that the best and worst of humanity is revealed. This is true regardless of what is causing the destruction…be it aliens, robots, zombies, natural disasters, something else or any combination of these. Really, there is no limit to the ideas you can come up with as a world ending or changing catastrophe.

This is going to be my first Apocalypse Week, but I plan on doing many more. I’m pulling from a few different types of film and tv for this too as the ones I chose for this week are:

Akira (1988)

The Trigun Pilot

World War Z (2013)

The Battlestar Galactica Mini-Series Pilot

and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014)

Each of these are quite different in how they have the end and in how that end is brought about. In the case of “Akira,” “Trigun” and “Battlestar Galactica” they are already things I like, so I’m curious how they’ll hold up since it has been years since I’ve watched them. I have not seen “World War Z” or “Noah” so am also curious about those two films too.

Until than, thanks for reading and now is the time to explore many different apocalypses.