Archive for July, 2009

Raging Phoenix Trailer

Posted in Foreign, martial arts, New Movie, Uncategorized on July 31, 2009 by russellsreviews

With Chocolate being a success, fans across the world can’t wait for JeeJa Yanins next movie. The release is still a little ways away, but we now have a english trailer to watch showcasing the cool fighting styles being used in the movie! Enjoy!

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Chocolate Review

Posted in 4.5 Stars, Action, Foreign, martial arts, Review on July 27, 2009 by russellsreviews

Prachya Pinkaew, the action director and the man who discovered Tony Jaa, has discovered a new talent only this time its a girl. When JeeJa Yanin was discovered by Pinkaew he thought she was talented enough to headline her very own serious movie. With the exception of Michelle Yeoh, its really been rare recently to have a leading star in an action movie a female. Does JeeJa Yanin have “it” or is the famous Thai director just over hyping and she will fade away like many before her?

It would a shame if JeeJa Yanin fades away. Chocolate rocks.

First lets talk about the story. Most great action movies have a passable story, or at least one that gets you to one fast action scene to the next. Chocolate goes beyond this and gives you a great back story to the characters. You are not simply in awe of the fights, but you root for her and her family and it makes it more rewarding when she wins.

JeeJa Yanin totally delivers. Fans of Ong-Bak will feel right at home with the action. She flies,leaps, and pulls of crazy kicks that you will want to see again and again. The action is just as fast and unbelievable as any man can pull off. Chocolate is just as good as advertised and JeeJa Yanin has a huge future. Fans of martial arts, this is a can’t miss. With Tony Jaa and now JeeJa Tanin, and the popularity of Muy Thai growing, Thailand looks like it can take the crown from Hong Kong in kung fu and have a chance to keep it for a long time.

4.5 STARS

20th Century Boys Review

Posted in 4.5 Stars, Drama, Foreign, New Movie, Review on July 17, 2009 by russellsreviews

A good mystery can be a non-stop adventure that leads to one direction then to the next. Its full of twist and turns and of course the who done it. A good mystery could also be a slow build, working like a snowball building suspense and clues along the way until the huge reveal. 20th Century Boys does a great job of both.

In 1969, Kenji and a group of his elementary school friends build a secret base to get away from big twin bullies. The kids spend every day there playing and coming up with crazy dreams and stories of a future disaster that can only be stopped by a group of friends. Flash forward to the mid 90’s, Kenji has now given up his dreams and is forced to settle managing a convenience store. When he goes to a class reunion he bumps into most of all his old friends and attempts to reconnect them. Kenji sadly finds out that one them recently was killed and turns the group’s lives upside down. At the same time a strange cult being lead by a masked man simply calling himself, Friend, is growing and is found out to be behind Kenji’s friend’s murder. Friend is also commenting terrorist attacks, literally acting out every detail that Kenji and his friends wrote about when they were Kids. Why is Friend acting this out and how did he find out about these stories? More importantly who is Friend? Only Kenji and his friends know whats going to happen and have the power to stop Evil Friend’s plans.

20th Century Boys is a masterful mystery going back and forth from different points of Kenji’s life that only gets better as the movie moves along. Story and flash backs that once you thought was just character development plays big parts down the line, this is not the kind of movie you can divert your attention from. The movie rewards you doing so ,however, and ties in every character making everything important and engrossing. Seeing how the friends interact when they are kids and when they grow up only attaches you more to their problems and make you care for the outcome. The movie pace builds upon every scene and as you come closer and closer to the answer you still can’t figure it out. Friend is a formidable villian and only becomes more engrossing every step Kenji gets closer to figuring out who he is.

The final showdown comes down between the group of friends and a giant robot. For those who think the giant robot might ruin it, don’t be afraid, the movie never looses its maturity mostly because the design of the robot is realistic and very impressively done on the movies low budget. The final scenes are very memorable and no doubt go down in cinema history at least in Japan and hopefully be somewhat recognized in the west.

20th Century Boys is epic and deserves attention. It’s high class and one of the best films to come out Japan. The only reason you might feel down after the movie is since the movie is based of a popular manga it had to be broken into three parts and ends in a exicting cliffhanger. What’s great though is since all of the movies were filmed at the same time, if you wait after credits they show a cool trailer for part 2. There has been news recently that the whole trilogy is going to be brought over for North American release on DVD very soon, so it will be easy to watch what has already taken Japan by storm. I recommend you do.

4.5 STARS

Moon Review

Posted in 3 Stars, Review, Sci-Fi on July 8, 2009 by russellsreviews

Independent Sci-Fi films have been on a roll the last few years. Solaris, Children of Men, and Sunshine were all not only smart and deep, but touched on topics relevant for years to come. This year best chance to continue this is Duncan Jones director debut, Moon. Does Moon keep or break the streak?

Sam Bell has spent under the last 3 years mining a new energy source from the moon.  I guess in order to save the company money, he has spent the whole time alone, only with the help robot servant GERDY voiced by Kevin Spacey for companionship. With only two weeks left in his contract he has a bad accident and suffers bad injuries. When Sam awakens GERDY tells him he has been forbidden by HQ to continue working or go outside and has to wait for a rescue ship before he can finish out his contract. Sam eager to finally get home to his wife and kid tricks GERDY and goes out to the moon surface to investigate the scene of the accident himself. He finds a body at the crash site and much to his surprise its him, another Sam Bell. Is the other Sam kind of impostor like a clone, alien, or something worse? or is he simpling starting to go insane from all the solitude?

Sadly, you don’t get very long to ponder these questions. Not much longer in the film GERDY just flat out tells him/them the mystery between the two Sams. This takes the film from a psychological thriller that you are expecting from the trailer to more of a run of the mill Sci-Fi movie.  As a result Moon looses at lot of its intensity, uniqueness, and intrigue.  Instead of exploring the depths of true loneliness and being away from humanity in cold dark space, the film instead to focus solely on a conspiracy cover up. There are still good moments, but you can’t help but feel Moon lost it’s edge.

Moon is a solid movie, with even better acting from its lead  actor Sam Rockwell, you just have to change what you were expecting to fully enjoy it. Even still, they took the film in the wrong direction and missed a chance for a greater experience.

3 STARS

Fall TV preview! What to watch…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2009 by russellsreviews

The love for movies and TV kind of go hand in hand, so I figured why not post about shows that I love and get excited about and who knows maybe one of will sound good enough for you to check out and you can get attached as well! With HBO and SHOWTIME showing mature shows along side the normal network programs, its never been a better time to be a coach potato!

Dexter

Dexter

Dexter is entering its fourth season and its still just engrossing and chilling as the beginning. This is by far ranks up there for some of my favorite shows. Dexter is about a man, named Dexter, who has a horrible past, but conquers his demons by being a vigilante killing murderers, psychopaths, and people who escape the law time and time again. Oh, but the show is so much more than a serial killer who only kills serial killers. The show is crazy good, but also provokes deep thinking of the line of when enough is enough. Plus, each season is only 12 episodes long so there is no filler and its easy to catch up on past seasons, so you have no excuse to miss it!

THE PACIFIC

THE PACIFIC

The Pacific is a new show from HBO that tells stories of a group of marines in the well the Pacific during WWII. Its produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Speilberg so you know its going to be good. If you liked Band of Brothers then watching this is a no brainer. Sign me up! The trailer is up on youtube.

LOST

What? Wait up Russell you say? There are no new episodes of Lost in the Fall you say! Yes I know the new episodes don’t air until spring, but since its going to be in its final season you better keep sharp on all the past island happenings with reruns on G4 and the Sci-Fi Channel.

UGLY BETTY

UGLY BETTY

Ugly Betty is a mixture of slabstick, spanish soap oprea, humor, Devil wears Prada, camp, and just plain good drama. Not only is it smart and funny, but it gives you a deeper look in fashion and how to run a magazine. This show has some of the best editing on TV and has scene transitions better than most movies which is big for me. Ugly Betty also has a good true positive role models for minorities on the show. The show was almost canceled last year, so be sure to check it out this season. Plus one of the actors is from Dallas, so for me, and everyone one in the state Texas has the duty to at least give it a try.

Caprica

CAPRICA

Caprica is a sequel/prequel to Battlestar galactica, the smartest and best Sci-Fi show since Star Trek the next generation. You could argue in some ways its even better than Star Trek. IT takes place many years before BSG and explains the mystery of the Cylons. If you haven’t seen a single episode of Battlestar don’t worry this is the first season so its a great way to jump in. For fans of the genre, this show is a can’t miss.

PSYCH

PSYCH

Psych is a show about a eccentric genius detective who refuses to join the police force to follow in his Dad footsteps. Instead, with his best friend Gus, solves crimes with his abilities with the force by pretending to be a psychic. The show doesn’t always have a great mystery or twist each episode, but it always has style and charm. You won’t see best friends like Sean and Gus anywhere else on TV. The dialogue and funny geeky references between Gus and Sean will keep you glued week to week.

THE OFFICE

Steve Carell in awkward improvised situations = funniest show on Television. Nuff said.

FLASH FORWARD

FLASH FORWARD

Now that LOST is ending after this coming season, ABC is eager to find the next big thing. Flash Foward is about a when the entire world blanks out for 2 minutes and 19 seconds. During this black out period everyone sees their future to only awaken to the world in chaos. What caused the blackout? Where the Visions of the future real? The show is produced by the writer of the Dark Knight and the great but recently canceled show Eli Stone(email ABC there still might be a chance to save it) so there is chance it might succeed.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Review

Posted in 4 Stars, Anime, Drama, Foreign, New Movie, Review, Romantic on July 1, 2009 by russellsreviews

Anime is very misunderstood art. It often gets labeled as cartoons or for kids and gets overlooked by many people. Anime also gets pigeon holed as just fast, cool, weird mindless entertainment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Japanese animation is every which way and can be anything only limited to the imagination of the artists. Anime is also free from the restrains of American thinking of what can or cannot be in animation. The art pushes the boundaries of thoughts and explore worlds or emotions that can never be achieved in live action in any country. It can be action, fantasy, family, or even romantic. The Girl who leapt through time is the latter.

Don’t be fooled by the sci-fi name this is very much a love story. Makoto is a regular clumsy girl high school girl who just likes hanging out with her friends. One day after school she some how gains the ability to literally leap backwards in time. The farther she leaps, the farther she can travel back. She uses her new power to help friends, but also to make sure she never makes a stupid mistake again with very funny results. Things get complicated for her however when she discovers that both of her life long friends actually have a crush on her. She doesn’t want to ruin their great friendship so she keeps on leaping back to just simply avoid the questions and changes, but she finds that no matter how many times she goes back she just can’t change fate or love.

How and why she gets to time travel does require some disbelief, but it really adds an extra dynamic to the love story and gives everything unique emotions and a interesting plot twist. The only flaw really is how the movie ends. Its good and emotional, but without giving to much away its also a little heartbreaking and confusing.

Even though the movie is new it looks more out dated compared to most anime standards of today but the hand drawn approach works and gives the characters more realistic emotions than if it was done the other way.

The ending does keep The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to be a true breakout hit, but the movie is still a rewarding experience. Even with the ending, like Studio Chibli films, this a good movie to show your girlfriend who might not be that into Anime as a starting point, but also a good one to show people who have a boxed mind when it comes to Anime.

4 STARS