Isle of Dogs (2018): Overlong Beginning Leads to a Good End

Wes Anderson is one of my Top 3 favorite directors (the other two being Stanley Kubrick and John Carpenter). How does this film stand up compared to his other works? It is good, I loved the visuals and characters, but it doesn’t have the depth as some of his other works and it never reaches greatness, even though it is really good. The location and characters are wonderful with some beautiful homages to Kurosawa, and the main cast is wonderfully quirky with the main character arc being solid. So for my non-spoiler thoughts, this definitely gets a strong recommend.

The film was directed by Wes Anderson, who also wrote and was one of the producers of the film. With the other producers being Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson.

The story follows Atari (Koyu Rankin) a young Japanese boy and ward of the new authoritarian Mayor. He travels to the Isle of Dogs to find his dog Spots (Liev Schrieber) on the Island after all dogs are exiled there due to the Dog Flu. Five dogs help on his quest, with Chief (Bryan Cranston) being the stray who hates humans but must learn to trust Atari for them all to survive the quest. As the quest unfolds a conspiracy is revealed on the Isle of Dogs and Megasaki City.

The Pros:

The Animation and Visuals – The film is done in highly detailed, beautiful stop motion animation. Wes Anderson’s use of symmetry is on full display, as each character and their emotions stand out like drum beats on the screen. You can tell that Kurosawa inspired Wes Anderson, and the making of the film. Both directors are good at using wide open spaces to tell stories of travel, and color to express life and death. We get all of that in this film.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack, like the visuals, takes a lot of inspiration from Akira Kurosawa, from the quiet openings with stark drums, and the emphasis on percussion. Alexandre Desplat captures the world so starkly, bringing the characters and scenes to life.

The Pack – The Pack is wonderful. Goldblum’s Duke is a gossip and hears things, Murray’s Boss is kind of oblivious and likes wearing trinkets, Norton’s Rex is the default second-in-command and sometimes leader, Balaban’s King is the washed up ex-celebrity dog who goes through bouts of depression, and Chief is their tough battle-worn leader.

Chief’s Arc – The main arc of the movie belongs to the stray, Chief, who goes from hating humans to becoming Atari’s new bodyguard. His story is believable too, with a dog he likes (Nutmeg) first suggesting he give the kid a chance, and ending with the Atari caring for him as he goes from covered in black soot, to looking just like Spots. He was my favorite character, and I loved how as standoffish as he initially was. There were reasons behind it, just like his transformation made sense due to Atari’s compassion. By the end, he’s the main connector between humanity and the dogs.

Atari and the Mayor – The Mayor is a distant relative of Atari, and for some reason really hates the dogs (it is implied that his ancestors did, and of course they loved cats). In the end Atari’s love for the dogs changes his heart. He does what he can in the end to stop the dogs from being destroyed due to that last minute change of heart. I liked Mayor Kobayashi in the end, he was a great antagonist and had a level of complexity to him.

Okay: The Foreign Exchange Student / The Student Arc – Tracy Walker leads her class in saving the dogs on the Island. My issue with this was that we never get what brought her to Japan, so it gives a bit of a white savior vibe to her interactions, especially since the other students are never given words. I’m still putting her at okay as Tracy was a compelling character, the downside is she could have been anyone, and I would have preferred she’d have been Japanese like Atari.

What About the Cats? – I’m putting this as okay as the film could have become overcrowded if we had the cats speaking. I also wanted to know the cats motivations. It implies they are the leaders of Japan, but it never does anything with it. The cats never have a voice, and it takes away from the overall point. They weren’t even needed, since the focus was on the dogs.

The Cons:

The Japanese are Only Given a Voice Through Limited Translation – This ties into Tracy and the students. Most Japanese never get the chance to speak, or be understood, as they are filtered through translation. This wasn’t needed at all. I think it was meant for us to focus fully on the story of the dogs, but the story of humanity and the dogs is interconnected, so both should have their voices fully heard.

Pacing – The pacing is the biggest issue, about 20 minutes in I was exhausted (I walked from Ready Player One to the awesome indie theatre, Salem Cinema, for this double feature). This may have been a contributing factor to how slow it felt, and why it took me out of the film early on. It is slow, even though the payoff later is fantastic.

This was a film that I really enjoyed, and captures so much of why Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors. From the characters and their detachment, to the fight against the stronger enemy (Atari against the government), and the quirky characters (mostly the dogs)… If you are a fan of Wes Anderson, you will love this film. If you aren’t a fan, or haven’t heard of him… I’d still recommend it. This is an original story that may take a while to reel you in, but once there you’ll be hooked.

Final Score: 8.8 / 10

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“The Devil is a Part-Timer!” Season 1 – At Times the Comedy and Drama Clash But Overall Consistent Tone and Theme

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     It has been a while since I reviewed an anime, and “The Devil is a Part-Timer!” was one I had already gotten halfway through so I decided it was time to finish it, to see how it held up against the other animes I enjoy. This was a solid anime but has some of the common tropes I found annoying in that the Devil has a harem making it a harem anime (though thankfully he doesn’t hook up with anyone) and there is a contrast between the drama and the comedy that is jarring at times. To the shows credit on both counts it manages to offset some of it, which I’ll get into deeper into the review.

    The anime was based off a light novel of the same name written by Satoshi Wagahara with the anime being produced by White Fox and directed by Naoto Hosoda.

    The story involves the Demon Lord Satan and his general Alciel escaping their world of Enta Isla is the war they are losing against the Church, into Tokyo. Here they find themselves powered down leading Satan to take up a job at the local MacRonalds so they can afford to live in this realm. The hero Emilia who is hunting them crosses over too and takes up a job at an office as others from their realm pull them into what they behind as they find themselves changed by our world.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is really cool! A powerful being from a fantasy realm forced to live as human and take a mundane job…there is room for so much drama there that sometimes the show does a good job exploring.

The Action – The fight scenes are a lot of fun and pretty epic in their own way as we see powerful angelic and demonic being tear apart the town in their standoffs.

The Characters – The characters are the main reason to watch this show, besides the the premise itself being draw enough. They are fascinating and most of them have arcs.

Chiho – Chiho is a high school student who has a crush on Satan, even after learning who she is. She is the heart of the anime as it is her appeals to goodness that change some characters back as she sees the most how Satan was not who he was before.

Lucifer – Lucifer is the villain in the first part of the anime but ends up being part of the good guys after he is depowered. Though he still manages to cause a lot of trouble when he does a ton of online shopping. His moment of great is when he punches the corrupt Church leader Olba during the final fight and shows that he isn’t about power and likes being human.

Suzuno – Suzuno is an inquisitor sent to kill Satan who changes over the course of the anime as she learns how to feel and sees that Satan is good and that she hates the fact that the Church and Archangel are using her and doing the evil they claimed Satan was. She helps Satan in the final fight after trying to kill him and is one of the core group.

Ashiya – Ashiya is the comedic relief as he is the domestic at the apartment. He is a good character as we see his devotion is what defines him, though he does long for more just not from Enta Isla.

Emilia – Emi is the hero sent back to defeat Satan as Satan’s forced killed her family in Enta Isla. She is obsessed with stopping him until she sees the Church is the one hurting people and forms an alliance with him the process. Their friendship is very combative and reminded me a lot of Ron and Hermione. Sadly she doesn’t get to take part in the final fight though she saves the Demons in the last episode from a scam. I wish they’d done more with her character as she is really cool.

Satan – Satan is the King of Demons and is very human after passing over as he is happy with his job at the MacRonalds and just wants to help people and have a life. In this way he doesn’t change at all and we never get how he changed from the Demon Lord of before. He is a great character though who could do with more exploration as his personalities between the two different worlds are very different.

Okay: The Comedy – The comedy is all over the place, the MacRondalds stuff tends to be funny since Satan is serious about his job but a lot of the humor tied to the girls who like Satan is really hit and miss.

The Ending – Satan stays to be a MacRonalds manager and is friends with the hero and the other friends he made as they stop a con man in town. It feels like a day in the life episode and was a waste as it did nothing to tie to Enta Isla or how they’d all changed. They still felt like the same characters from past changes.

The Cons: Tonal Shifts – The show wants to be a comedy and a drama but doesn’t pull it off nearly as well as “Voltron.” This largely due to having comedy in scenes that should be dramatic and vise versa. It is hard to know when to take anything seriously and that took me out of it. It is somewhat consistent in this in that the shift is happening all the time but I hate that in any kind of show.

The Villains – The villains are a corrupt Church official, Lucifer at one point who becomes a lazy computer guy and a pervy archangel who is just turned into a pervy human. I was really disappointed in the villains in this show.

The Enta Isla Plot – We get really cool glimpses of Enta Isla…from the Inquisition, to Emi’s backstory, etc. But it doesn’t amount to anything. In the end every character who crosses over just becomes part of our world and none of them go back. This was missed opportunity given Enta Isla sounded like a place that needed a lot of help.

     The premise is really cool but the show really feels unfinished at the end, and some of it’s worst tendencies were on display, such as fanservicing the female characters and having everything be about Satan in regards to saving the day, when Emilia was as much a part of the story on fighting corrupt folks tied to the Church as he was. This isn’t a great anime but if you are looking for a quick escape, the season is only 13 episodes long and the characters are great even if the tone can sometimes be all over the place.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016): A Masterpiece of Animation With an Unforgettable Story

Kubo and the Two Strings

  “Kubo and the Two Strings” is my favorite movie of the year. Whether it was hold that place remains to be seen but thus far, it is the most perfect film I have watched this year. Not only is the stop-motion animation and soundtrack amazing but the story and characters kept me involved through the entire story, and the story starts out slow to let know become familiar with the world. You should see this film, I want more films like this to be made and it needs all the support it can get, given it is only Laika studios that is keeping this form of art alive.

   The film was directed by Travis Knight, who was also one of the producers, written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler with the other producer being Marc Haimes.

    The story involves Kubo (Art Parkinson), whose eye was stolen by his grandfather the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and must not go out at night unless his grandfather finds him and takes his other eye. During the village’s festival he stays out too late and finds himself hunted by his two Aunts (Rooney Mara) who have come to take his other eye at his Grandfather’s behest. He must collect his father’s armor, sword and helmet in order to stop the Moon King and is helped by Monkey (Charlize Theron) and a former samurai turned into Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) along the way.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is wonderful and full of amazing monsters! From a Garden of Eyes, Witches and Gods to a Ten Foot Skeleton…this is a world that is lived in and all the powerful for it as it embraces Japanese mythology while creating a mythology all it’s own.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is beautiful, Dario Marianelli manages to create a soundtrack infused with magic that is full of power in depth, where you feel each loss and the power behind each action or fight.

The Writing – Marc Haimes and Chris Butler did a fantastic job on the writing! There is powerful drama and humor that gives it a balance that doesn’t really exist in “Deadpool”(which is a favorite film). It is their mixture of humor and drama mixed with a powerful message and characters are what made it my favorite film this year thus far.

 The Animation – “Kubo and the Two Strings” is my first Laika film. Suffice to say after this I plan on watching the rest of the films they’ve made. Stop-motion animation is a lost art that they keep alive and continue to improve upon.

The Characters – The characters are extremely memorable! Each of them is an archetype to some degree, but also manage to get beyond those archetypes in how they are written. They have humanity and flaws and it makes them worth rooting for or makes them feel threatening.

Hosato – George Takei plays one of the people in the village who takes care of his daughter who is Kubo’s biggest fan. He’s a nice solid presence in the film and in a way reminds Kubo of the fact that he believes his father to be dead at the beginning of the story and his mom is only lucidly present of him…

Kameyo – Kameyo is the older woman who is a beggar in town and the soul of the town. She is a mother figure to Kubo a bit as she is one who looks out for him and helps him with his storytelling. Brenda Vaccaro is fantastic.

The Sisters – The Sisters, who are Kubo’s Aunts are amazing! Rooney Mara gives a haunting performance as these two mask wearing witches who are so powerful that they kill both Kubo’s mother and father. They are one of the best animated threats I’ve ever seen.

Beetle/Hanzo – McConaughey is wonderful in the role of Beetle, who we learn was turned into a Beetle by the Sisters and the Moon King to punish him for leading their sister out of immortality. He has a lot of humor to him and isn’t very bright but his heart is in the right spot and he has great humor. His death is powerful too as he risks his life to protect Monkey/his wife Sariatu.

Monkey/Sariatu – Theron plays my favorite character in the film. Monkey and her Sisters are the best parts of the film. In Monkey we get the strength of her personality and her love for her son and husband while as Sariatu she is a traumatized shell destroyed by her family being cared for by her son. The dichotomy is powerful and gives her humanity and depth. She was a God and gave it up to protect Hanzo from her family…She is the best part of this film.

Kubo – Kubo is a great protagonist who feels very much like Link a Zelda game but has so much more depth and layers to him as we see him finally allowed to be a kid after he leaves the village and is collecting his father’s sword and armor. Before that he is forced to be an adult caring for his mother and making money for food. He had no childhood until his life was at risk and seeing how they explore it is something you have to see for yourself.

Facing Loss – He loses both his mother and father twice, both times as they protect him and in the story we see him face that loss and remember the memories as well as honoring them with the lantern ceremony the village does as who they both are live on in him. The missing of another never goes away, but those we lose become a part of us like the strings on Kubo’s instrument.

The Power of Story – Story is a major theme as the Grandfather is trying to force his story upon his Grandson and make him like him, the village story of his Father’s past is never finished until he becomes a literal part of it when myth (his grandfather the Moon and his Aunts) hunt him and the stories of the dead are interwoven through the film. The self and it’s connection to story is powerful…how a story can change or be erased is captured in the story of his family as at different points they lose their story.

The Hero’s Journey – Kubo’s Hero’s journey is powerful as he discovers connections only to lose them and has to adapt to change all around him. From his mother becoming Monkey, his father being a live and Beetle…to losing them both and in the end having to care for his Grandfather who loses his memory as well. Even as he discovers joy and childhood circumstances force him to lose it and from it find himself.

Okay/Pro: Raiden the Moon King – Raiden has great minions in his daughters and I liked the fact that he is like a sympathetic old man until he turns into a monster…in the story it is left open too if he ascended to Godhood and was once human or was forced into humanity by Kubo…there is so much possibility in this character that I can’t just put him as okay as he is interesting in what they do with him.

    Minus the fact that Raiden is a bit underdeveloped (though still interesting)…this is  a film that I can’t really find any faults with. Kubo doesn’t really get his happy ending, his parents are dead and he has to face it. This is a film that is well worth your time and you should really see it if you have the chance. Give strength to these stories that don’t exist as franchises and are timeless and powerful. This is the best film of the year I have seen thus far and is well worth your time, it is in the timeless stories that we are reminded of our own and this story does it with unforgettable power and beauty.

Final Score: 10 / 10. First perfect film of the year.

Ranma 1/2 Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Here’s Ranma” – Establishing the Relationships and the Crazy

Here's Ranma Ranma S 1 E 1

     “Ranma 1/2” is going to be insane, and I think I’m probably going to like it. The relationships are never what they seem and all the characters are unhinged and the relationships are complicated. It’s a nice change of pace from what I usually watch in regards to anime where there are usually clear antagonists. This was a show that quite a few friends recommended to me, so it feels good finally getting started on it.

     The episode involves Soun Tendo setting up his daughters so that one of them will be the fiance of the famous martial artist Renma. Instead of Renma showing up as himself a red haired woman arrives with a Panda. After chaos and hot water it is soon discovered the red haired woman is Renma and that she changes back into he when hot water is poured on her and cold is when the Panda turns back into his father Genma.

The Pros: Soun Tendo – He’s a well meaning father just trying to save his Dojo and I never felt he didn’t care about his daughters. He actually faints when the red haired girl says she’s Renma as he feels betrayed by Genma. In the end it is established and he’s cool with them and the only cool head in the room.

Genma – Genma is Renma’s dad and is violent but never in a harmful way. He’s playful with Renma and always pushing him to be better and is very much a child as he is constantly trolling him.

Akane – Akane is the youngest of Soun’s daughters and the one uninterested in having a relationship. She actually makes friends with Renma when Renma is a she but feels betrayed after the hot water turns Renma back and comes to hate him because of it. She is openly violent and knocks Renma out after Renma insults how she looks and that she looks better as a she than Akane.

Renma – Renma has a huge ego and most of his/her problems are on him/her. Renma is always fighting and trolling and like Akane doesn’t want to be in a relationship since he’s been in so many already that he just doesn’t care anymore. Renma does grow to at least have an inkling of something for Akane though, I think it’s cause Akane can fight and Renma respects that.

The Cons: The Other Daughters – Kasumi and Nabiki are ciphers and don’t really have any personality. I hope they are made to be distinct later, if not there isn’t any point to having them around in the show.

   This was a good start to the series. It establishes that it is a relationship show and that all the characters are crazy in different ways…creating conflict right out the door. I’m curious to see how the relationships develop though, especially between Akane and Renma and I really like how Renma is comfortable being both a man and a woman. It makes Renma a great character.

Final Score: 8 / 10. Solid start to the series.

Kagemusha (1980): A Story of War, Purpose and the State

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Akira Kurosawa is a director I’ve been wanting to review for a while. Back in College when I was studying Japanese history, culture and language we watched some of his films. It’s been a bit since then, so it was great to return to one of his classics. Not only because of how great of a director Kurosawa is, but because of the time period the “Kagemusha” takes place in. The Warring States period is one of my favorite periods in Japan to study…especially in relation to the rise of the Shoguns and the figures of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

I’m going to say now, the film is not entirely historically accurate. For one the Warlord Takega Shingen was not killed and replaced by a double for 3 years. The movie also takes inspiration from Japanese Noh theatre so exaggerates some of the costumes and characters so that the message can come through clearer. In that way it is an excellent film, just not necessarily a good historically accurate film.

“Kagemusha” as said before, takes place around the Warring States period when the largest powers at play were Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the one he’d allied with and become a retainer of Oda Nobanaga as well as the third largest faction Takega Shingen. The story than goes smaller as Shingen’s brother found a criminal to play as a Kagemusha…a body double for Takega so he would have more protection and could “be” in many places at once. This body double is an unnamed theif, and after Takega is shot during one of the sieges he is called up to take his place so the generals can keep stability and keep Nobunaga’s and Ieyasu’s armies away. From here the story unfolds.

large_kagemusha_blu-ray4Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: The Cinematography – Kurosawa uses the the stark Noh colors for inspiration throughout the film and it is done masterfully. Even mundane things like marching become beautiful as the different legions wear different colors of armor. This is used as  a backdrop for battles as red is used to illustrate the violence or the multi-colored backdrop of the Kagemusha’s dream sequence. This helps the movie flow better, as it is a really long film.

Takega Shingen / The Kagemusha – The same actor Tatsuda Nakadai plays both the Warlord and the Body double, and though people say he overacts…this is based off Noh, that is kind of the point. He plays the extremes really well. From extreme cowardice as the thief, the confidence and coldness of Takega and when the Kagemusha embraces his role and becomes a kinder version of the warlord.

Oda Nobunaga – This is one of the most fascinating people in history, and this movie illustrates parts of the reasons why. He was an atheist who was a patron to Jesuit Missionaries, he wore Western Garb and drank wine from Spain but also was a huge supporter of the arts within Japan. He was an adaptable man which is why I think he was able to conquer so much before he died. Daisuke Ryu does an excellent job capturing this character as he is always smiling, energetic and active, but serious and respectful of his enemies. He has some great scenes with Ieyasu where they share some red wine and another scene where he says Amen to a blessing from the missionaries. Daisuke Ryu lives this role…and I can’t wait to see him in more films.

Tokugawa Ieyasu – Historically in regards to looks he was the opposite of Nobunaga. While Nobunaga was active and adaptable…Ieyasu was the waiter and watcher and tester. He always figured things out before he acted, which is why out of all the Shoguns leading up to Unification in the Warring States Period, he was the one stood victorious at the end. We see bits of that here too, though at this time Nobanaga was the superior force so we see that deference in their alliance. Masayuki Yui does a good job in the role, I just wish we could have got more. He doesn’t have as many unique character moments as Nobanaga.

The Battles – There are two major battles we get in this. One where Takega Shingen’s son goes to win honor as he was exiled away from his father and wants to reclaim honor and leadership of the clan from the Kagemusha, who with his generals than has to rescue him with a show of force…and at the end where the same son leads all his soldiers to the slaughter form Nobanuga’s guns.

The Reveals – The Reveal of the Kagemusha not being Takega Shingen is heartbreaking. It all came from pride too. He tried reading Shingen’s horse and was cast off revealing that he didn’t have Shingen’s scar on his back. He is given money and cast out into desolation. It is touching as the generals who have had some respect for him can do nothing since it was all a lie and ruse to begin with. After this Nobunaga does a Noh performance before Ieyasu in honor of Shingen and being tricked for three years by such a worthy foe.

The Ending – We see the banner of Shingen’s clan in the water as the Kagemusha is dying after joining the battle, having finally found his purpose.

The Messages – There are quite a few messages in this film. One major one, is how duty can give one purpose since as the Kagemusha tries to steal from Shingen after his death, and it only when he realizes all he lost that he devotes himself to the clan and the role they gave him. This in turn leads to him dying for a cause at the end. He is no longer lost, no longer wandering…his purpose is found.

Another message is the uncaringness of the State. The Kagemusha is just a tool and after he is of no use he is left as a possible death in the Warring States. No one checks up on him and the relationship he formed with Shingen’s grandson means nothing because he was a peasant and thief so has no power. He is only worth as much as he is useful, which is exaggerated even more in war time.

Kurosawa is a master director and this film is a classic for a reason. It is a bit long, but the cinematography and major characters are so great that it keeps you interested and curious to see what happens. The time period being one of my favorite periods of study is also a plus for me as well. I highly recommend this film and it is one of my all time favorites after today.

My final score for it is 9.5 / 10

 

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) – Full Speed into Unintentional Hilarity

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“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” is unintentionally hilarious. There are some good things this film does, which I will get into. It is better than “The Good Son,” but that isn’t saying much. It also has problems “The Good Son,” doesn’t have. The reason I chose this film is because a good friend requested on my facebook like “The Good Son” (I’ll be making my way through the other bad films and ones you request). Fair warning I have never had any desire to watch any of “The Fast and the Furious” franchise so this is the first of them I have watched. I don’t know if the others are better or worse and I am only taking this movie on it’s own.

Before I get into the review the premise is a high school student from Alabama named Sean gets into a stupid race for a football player named Clay’s girlfriend (Women as trophies…WHAT!)…which leads to a lot of property being wrecked. This leads to him going to Tokyo to escape going to prison to stay with his Dad. From here he introduced to the underworld of racing and the story unfolds as another stupid rivalry starts with a nephew of  a Yakuza boss named DK.

Without further ado, here is the assessment:

Pros: The Cars – I’m not a car person but these cars do in fact look lovely. They are fast and seeing the races are fun in a visceral sense. Just like video games of racing are fun as well. It is essentially watching that as a movie on the few actual good scenes.

The music – I was surprised how much I liked the music. It is electronic at some points and has some catchy rap on other scenes. This make scenes that drag because of the acting actually bearable.

The cinematography – This film was shot really well. You can tell the director Justin Lin loves cars and racing because it captures the tension of both those things amazingly.

Okay: Han – The character Han who (Spoiler) get’s killed by DK for stealing from him and is best friends with the lead is the only interesting character who isn’t either boring or a dick. He postulates freedom against society at one point in regards to Japan which is actually kind of neat…he is the only person with motivation…which is why I won’t put him as a con. Sung Kang is the best actor in this entire film.

Cons: The characters – Like I said before everyone is pretty much one dimensional or props (The women). DK is needlessly cruel as is henchman which leads no reasons why the main love interest Neela would even like him. Neela is all (don’t get involved) but than wants him to get involved. Twinkie played by Bow Wow should not act. He is comic relief in this entire thing and ends up playing up the White Savior trope with Sean who is flat and is one of the worst actors I’ve watched in any film. The races didn’t mean anything at the end because the only good character was dead and all the rest were so bad that they meant nothing to me.

Machismo/Sexism – This one has to have a thing here because the try and fail to address this through Neela. Every women in this picture is a trophy to be won. They aren’t characters they are things…and worth less than the cars in most cases. Can’t stand that…poor storytelling for pointless action. Meant to look pretty and nothing more, like the cars…but the cars are active units at least. They get broken and reborn and remade. They help the hero succeed. None of the women do. They are usually two faced in this film and just after the fast vehicle. This film has nothing good to say about women…

The ages – The characters are supposed to be in high school but they look like they are in their thirties…clearly no thought went into casting…but that isn’t saying much since no thought went into this film.

White Savior Trope – This movie takes place in Japan but the only Japanese hero dies. It’s like “The Last Samurai” this way but worse. Sean saves the day and in the end Vin Diesel from the other films appears to race him…so Japan is literally just a location and means nothing except the Yakuza in regards to the film. I would have liked at least one Japanese character to survive and be more than a prop or a villain…but that doesn’t happen. It is all about Sean…the weakest character of the entire film who is from outside who saves the day and gets the girl…who like at the beginning has become a trophy. Why even have this movie in Japan plotwise? Anywhere in Europe or the U.S.A. would have worked just as well and avoided this problem a little more.

The action in this film was enjoyable but if you aren’t going to have fully fleshed out characters and not treat people like human beings than what is the point? In the end you accomplish nothing but playing a nice racing game. This is a movie I’d recommend for the laughs because the acting is just that terrible and it shows you a lot of “What not to do,” in regards to casting and script writing. Visually it is great and some of the music is good, but that is about all I can say for it positively. Was recommended as a bad movie for a reason and it has earned that spot. A movie needs more than visuals, it needs story and characters.

My final score for this film is 4 / 10. So bad, worth one watch and if you like cars go check out some of the races and chases from the film on youtube.

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 35 – Night of the Ninja – Where Bruce Wayne Had his Training

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“Night of the Ninja,” explores Batman’s past and where Bruce Wayne received his Ninja training. The mystery begins when a Ninja is stealing from Wayne Enterprise and is seeking revenge against Bruce Wayne for went down in the Dojo years ago.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: Batman – We get to see when Bruce Wayne was younger and the drive behind his training (his obsession with his parent’s death and wanting to avenge them and to be the best) while he is training at a Dojo in Japan. We see his relationship to his sensei and also his training of Robin. This is a great character episode for Batman/Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne also finally has the chance to beat Ken.

Robin – Robin is like a companion on Doctor Who, the Doctor’s companion keep him grounded and from going off the handle in rage or anger. Robin in many ways serves this same purpose. He keeps Batman from destroying himself and reminds him what to live for. This is handled beautifully in this episode. He is also given the chance to be the hero this episode.

Okay: Kyodai Ken – He is an alright baddie, I wish we could have seen how poor he was in a scene though. We only have his word for it, which is a shame, though it at least gives us his motivation which more than can be said for some of the baddies.

The story – I wanted to know more about his time at the Dojo. We never get the chance to see more of the philosophical side of his training or how it informed him becoming Batman to a greater degree. We also don’t see what the cover story was for him going there, we only know that Alfred was with him.

This was a good episode and is an enjoyable glimpse into Bruce Wayne’s past. I definitely recommend it.

My score for this episode is 8 / 10.