Movie night: Creatures from the Abyss vs Ace Attorney

Posted in Crime, Horror, Movies with tags , on March 16, 2014 by Cara Marie

Our last movie night featured what is possibly the worst movie I have ever sat all the way through. Creatures from the Abyss is a really awful Italian exploitation film, brought along by H of course.  He has promised to vet the films more thoroughly in the future.

Creatures from the Abyss is kind of like Alien if Alien were set on a scientific research yacht with mutant fish instead of aliens, and with the sex scene from Prometheus, if halfway through the sex scene the guy had turned into an alien mutant fish instead of only impregnating the woman with alien mutant fish babies. Except worse than that description makes it sound.

Also none of the characters are likable, the editing is near-incoherent, there is no budget, and really I don’t know why anyone would inflict this monstrosity on the universe.

Thankfully one of the other films H brought along was Ace Attorney, which restored my faith in film-making/humanity. Such a good movie! I enjoyed it, without ever having played the games (we were a Playstation family, okay!), and H enjoyed it, having played the games; and I think L enjoyed it too although he got quite worked up about how ridiculous the court system was.

I think the best comparison I have in terms of adaptations is to Scott Pilgrim vs the World – it takes some of the very stylised elements of the source medium and replicates them entertainingly. I mean, you have to respect this level of dedication to replicating cartoon hairstyles:

Phoenix Wright has his trademark pointy hair, despite not being a cartoon.

Unlike Scott Pilgrim vs the World, though, Ace Attorney is actually a successful movie. (Apologies to anyone who likes the Scott Pilgrim movie.) It’s not a serious movie. But it also doesn’t make fun of its source material. It takes the characters’ emotional arcs seriously.

Red Unicorn

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Young adult with tags on February 20, 2014 by Cara Marie

Just reread Tanith Lee’s Red Unicorn, which is the third and last of her books about the sorceress’s daughter Tanaquil, and for some reason the only one that I reread.

At the end of the second book, Tanaquil and her beloved mutually agreed to break up, because Tanaquil’s sister also loved him, and really, needed him more than Tanaquil did, so it was for the best.

Tanaquil then returns home to her mother, miserable because of the break-up, because of having put herself in a situation where she has nothing to distract her from the break-up, and because her mother and even her familiar are finding themselves in love.

That’s the first segment of the book. In the second segment, Tanaquil finds herself in another world, curiously disjointed from her own, where there is a Tanakil, who also has a sister, and who is also in love … Read more »

Queen Seon-deok, up to episode 50

Posted in Historical, TV with tags , on February 9, 2014 by Cara Marie

Some thoughts on recent episodes, with spoilers. Read more »

Overthinking TV pilot blurbs

Posted in Comics, Crime, Fantasy, TV with tags on February 1, 2014 by Cara Marie

iZombie, from Warner Bros TV and Rob Thomas Prods, is a supernatural crime procedural that centers on a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity, but with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories. With the help of her medical examiner boss and a police detective, she solves homicide cases in order to quiet the disturbing voices in her head.
Deadline

I’m not sure what to make of this. Asides from the zombie-who-has-to-solve-crimes aspect, it doesn’t seem like it has that much in common with the comic. If I were going to write that kind of summary for the comic, it would go more like this …

iZombie, the comic, is a supernatural apocalyptic adventure story that centres on an art student-turned-zombie who takes a job as a gravedigger to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity, but with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories. With the help of her ghost friend and werewolf friend, she deals with the deads’ unfinished business – and on the way discovers that the end of the world is nigh, and she may be the only one who can stop it.

The fact that the impending apocalypse isn’t mentioned in the TV summary makes me think that they’ve scrapped that element. Sure, in the earliest issues of iZombie, it’s not obvious that’s where things are going, and it does seem as if the series might just be episodic – but it’s not. It gets apocalyptic fast, and it’s always been going there.

Based simply on the summary, it sounds to me like they’re not adapting the comic at all, only using it as inspiration. Like they just needed a quirky new premise for the procedural they were going to make anyway. Which is a huge disappointment to me, because I love the comic series, and the route it takes.

Movie night review

Posted in Action/adventure, Movies, Science fiction with tags , on January 26, 2014 by Cara Marie

I Love Maria

‘The most transhumanist film I’ve ever seen.’ – L

If you’re a gang leader wanting to take over the city, what do you do?

  1. Build a moderately sized war robot – let’s see the cops fight that off!
  2. Build a humanoid robot – more subtle, also you can impress your girlfriend by creating it in her image
  3. Build a really fucking big robot, like big enough to squash people
  4. All of the above; also, turn yourself into a cyborg – the human body is fragile

The cops are incapable, so it’s up to a group of misfits to become heroes and save the day.

I’m struggling to think how I can describe this movie without going into overwhelming detail. So instead, I’m just going to put this trailer here.

Mandrill

The main thing I learnt during this film was that L and H are such HUGE GEEKS. I mean I knew this already, but WOW how much time can you spend discussing colour timing? In turns out that when you’re not especially engaged in a film, you can discuss colour timing a lot.

The main thing I learnt from this film is that the way to a woman’s heart (read, her pants) is to compliment her five weaknesses: her eyes, her hair, her mouth, her skin and her scent. ‘At least it’s not negging?’ we decided.

So, this movie is basically Batman if instead of becoming a caped crusader, Bruce Wayne became a bounty-hunter who modelled himself off James Bond (the movie has an in-universe equivalent).

Ok, actually, I’m doing Bruce Wayne a disservice – Bruce is motivated by a sense of injustice. Mandrill is all about the revenge. Which means that when he has the opportunity to kill the man who murdered his parents, he takes it. Even if it means breaking the heart of the woman he’s just fallen for.

I actually quite liked the love-interest-come-villain in this movie. Mandrill has been trying to seduce her (so he can get to her father, the parent-killer), but she’s not buying it. At least, not until he wins her over with SILLY DANCING. I think he’s meant to be harking back to a scene in the James-Bond-equivalent movies, which they are both giant geeks for.

After dancing, they gallavant about the city, laughing, and stealing alcohol even though she’s a casino-heiress who really ought to just pay for it, and finally making out. Then they go back to her room and have sex.

OH! I forgot that the previous night he killed/incapacitated a bunch of security guys so he could sneak into her room. I’m not sure why he was sneaking into her room, but he discovered that she had his mother’s locket, so he stood in the corner of her room and had a little cry, and then presumably left.

So, the day after they have sex, he kills her father in front of her. BANG! How rude. He feels really bad, because that’s the moment he decides he’s in love with her. But it’s too late; she puts on a slinky black dress and becomes evil.

She then:

  • sleeps with his uncle
  • manipulates him into killing said uncle
  • SHOOTS MANDRILL DEAD instead of letting herself be properly overcome by romantic feelings
  • collects the bounty on his head and drives off into the sunset.

It probably says something about unsympathetic a protagonist Mandrill was, that we found this a satisfying ending. And then they spoiled it. Because instead of our heroine checking  he was properly dead and putting him in the body bag herself, she let her lackey do it. So of course, when the bounty collector checks the bag (after she’s left), it turns out it’s the lackey in there, and not Mandrill at all. COP OUT.

I guess we were meant to want Mandrill survive. But he was an awful person, and so we didn’t.

7 Seeds – the anti-grimdark post-apocalypse

Posted in Manga, Science fiction with tags , on January 3, 2014 by Cara Marie

7 Seeds is a post-apocalypse story for people who:

  • like to read about human cooperation and resilience
  • don’t like reading sad, grimdark tales of how awful humanity is or how doomed we all are.

Sometimes the story is heartbreaking, or horrifying – but it’s never pessimistic. Read more »

Queen Seon-Deok – up to episode 41

Posted in Historical, TV with tags , on December 31, 2013 by Cara Marie

Things that I am happy about in recent episodes of Queen Seon-Deok: Read more »

Recent movie nights

Posted in Action/adventure, Crime, Horror, Movies with tags , on December 8, 2013 by Cara Marie

Kung-Fu Chefs

Two brothers, both excellent chefs, have a falling out that ends up with one never being able to cook again, and the other, played by Sammo Hung, getting kicked out of the family for serving a dish that made everyone sick.

Years later Hung starts cooking again, which causes his nephew to try and avenge his father’s honour by ruining Hung’s restaurant, beating everyone up, and also by hiring chefs that can defeat Hung’s protege in a reality TV show cooking contest.

Kung-Fu Chefs was hard to follow at times – not because the plot was especially convoluted, but because a bunch of connecting scenes seem to have been cut out, leaving you to wonder how people got from here to there, and why aren’t they in the refrigerator any more?

Despite that, it was a really fun film. The action scenes were enjoyable, and we all got really hungry while watching it. Which is really what you want out of a movie called Kung-Fu Chefs.

Also watched that night: Tai Chi Zero. Will leave talking about that until we’ve seen Tai Chi Hero as well.

Hard Boiled

It took a while to really get into this movie. I think it suffers from the two leads not actually meeting till quite a way into the movie. (It also suffers because after a certain point, you can’t help but compare it to another movie, which anything would suffer in comparison to.)

So: Chow Yun Fat plays Tequila, a cop driven to revenge after his partner dies in a horrific shoot-out in a bird cafe. (I mean, everyone seemed to have birds with them. I’m not sure what that was about.) Tequila is in trouble with his boss for killing the gangster they were after during the shoot-out; he’s going to be taken off the case altogether and that is not okay with Tequila.

Our other lead is played by Tony Leung (the character’s name is also Tony), and he’s a hitman being seduced into a rival gang. (I say seduced, because the rival gang boss expresses some rather romantic sentiments when he’s trying to convince Tony to join him. Maybe it was the translation, but S and I were both like, um.)

Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung have great chemistry, and the film really picks up once the two of them are on screen together. (They’re both so young in this!) Sadly, it’s not for a while.

The action scenes are shocking and brutal, and some of the choreography is very impressive … but they go on too long. There’s a point where there’s been so much shooting you can’t tell why they’re just not all dead yet, and you’ve lost what the point of the scene was.

The final action sequence spices things up by forcing Chow Yun Fat to fight while carrying a baby, though, so I suppose I can forgive it for that ;)

Also watched that night: Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Experimental stop-motion metal-fetishist bizarrity. S told us there was no weird sex stuff. There turned out to be a lot of weird sex stuff. It was an experience.

A Natsu appreciation post

Posted in Manga, Science fiction, Young adult with tags , , on November 10, 2013 by Cara Marie

I’ve recently been reading 7 Seeds, which is Tamura Yumi’s other post-apocalyptic manga. The basic conceit is that five groups of seven people wake up in the future to find that most of humanity has been wiped out, and we follow each of the groups at various points, and watch as they come together.

Natsu, who is our first protagonist, is very shy.

Natsu is telling herself off for not being able to talk to another character – she tells herself, 'Stop it. He's a kind person.' Her narrative text then reads, 'I want to say something, but I can't respond properly. Always, always ... I'm ...' and the final text is over a white panel.

I’m not as shy as Natsu is, but a lot of her thought patterns are very familiar to me. And Natsu feels true to me in a way a lot of supposedly shy characters don’t. For example, in Tamora Pierce’s Provost’s Dog books, we are told repeatedly that Beka is shy – but Pierce does a poor job of showing it. The only time Beka’s social anxiety actually seems to affect her is when it comes to public speaking. And being scared of public speaking is not the same thing. It surprised me, actually, because Pierce wrote Kel’s fear of heights so well in the Protector of the Small books. But I guess she doesn’t ‘get’ shyness in the same way.

Tamura clearly gets it.

Natsu's back suddenly starts hurting, and she wonders whether or not to tell the group.

She can't bring herself to tell anyone, so she keeps on walking, hoping, willing someone to notice. Pretty sure I have had this exact conversation with myself.

Over the course of the series, Natsu learns to speak up, to do things she’s scared of, to relate to (and stand up to) her teammates. And this is just as important as is learning to survive in the future, in a hostile and unfamiliar environment.

Semimaru grabs Natsu, and she squeaks for him to let go. 'That's all I needed,' he said.

Semimaru there is a character I’m very fond of, even though he starts off as a complete asshole. He gets a lot better over the course of the series, to the extent that it’s a shock to look back and see just how nasty he was. Now his relationship with Natsu is one of my favourite things. Because, yup, social anxiety can make you very self-centred, and Semimaru will call Natsu on that.

Semimaru calls Natsu out on her habit of talking to herself, rather than making the effort to interact with her teammates.

It’s not easy for her, but she learns. She’s able to become far more of the person she wants to be.

7 Seeds is unusual amongst post-apocalyptic stories in that it’s actually optimistic. To the point that you think, despite the many life-threatening situations, some of the characters are better off than they were in the present day. And Natsu is one of those.

In the present day, Natsu would have gone on as she was, often miserable, never able to connect. In the future, she has to connect to survive, and she’s a lot happier for it. She’ll never be an outgoing, vivacious person, but she’s able to stick up for herself when she needs to, and apologise when she needs to, and be there for people when they need her.

Natsu climbing up something which isn't closely spaced enough to be a ladder, thinking that she'll take responsiblity for her choice, and reassuring herself that no-one is watching, so they can't laugh or get angry at her. 'I'm giving it a go,' she things. 'Please let this not be a mistake ...'

And then it turns out her two male companions do see her, and she has to rescue them as well. And one of them is judging her the whole time. (He has issues.) But she makes it anyway.

Natsu might not be the easiest character to like, but she’s certainly the one I appreciate the most. And I look forward to where Tamura takes her in the future.

Thoughts on Thor: The Dark World

Posted in Movies, Superhero with tags , on November 2, 2013 by Cara Marie

Spoilers below! Read more »