Movies

Bubble

This Japanese animated film caught my eye due to the vibrant color scheme of the animations itself. I felt drawn in, and I knew I had to watch it. Produced by Wit Studio, and directed by Tetsurō Araki (known for the Death Note series, and seasons 1-3 of Attack on Titan), it is a beautifully written story about love. In an alternative world, where gravity defying bubbles have rained down across the earth. One day in Tokyo, some sort of explosion happens which leaves the city enclosed in a giant bubble – cut off from the world. The city ends up abandoned, and children and teens move in to live because they don’t want to live in the outside world. Here they come up with a series of games that utilizes parkour which basically establishes order in the decaying city.

Our protagonist, Hibiki, is a young man who was present at the site of the initial explosion and competes with his team, blue blaze, in the parkour tournaments. A chance of fate, or a predestined outcome has him come face to face with a girl with mysterious powers. Together they embark on a journey into the human condition. It was simply beautiful to watch it all unfold. Loosely based upon “The Little Mermaid”, it has clear moments of genuine soul. The mysterious girl, Uta, changes his life for the better but like in ‘The Little Mermaid’, we can expect some sort of heartbreak. Yet, it isn’t ugly. It is an understandable loss, but with it comes an understanding for life. The cycle of it. Death and rebirth.

The story had hints of philosophical musings, and it was pleasant to finally see some sort of alien life that was truly unique. The animation was gorgeous, and I never felt like it was bad or unnerving (unlike Attack on Titan). The soundtrack was excellent, and I loved the singing from Uta and how it incorporated itself into the music.

Overall, I highly recommend this Japanese animated film. It is worth the watch, even if there won’t be repeated views. It’s one of those stories that you watch once, and it leaves you pondering the human condition; the human heart. What does it mean to feel loss? What does it mean to love?

Movies

Black Crab

I went blind into this movie because I saw Noomi Rapace. I’ve always enjoyed her performances of a stoic tough warrior with a softer side, sometimes motherly. This fit the bill. She stars as Caroline Edh, a young mother turned soldier in a future war that sees prolonged conflict. The enemy’s nationality unknown. She’s recruited for a mission along with several others to deliver a cargo to friendlies deep behind enemy lines with the special premise of having to skate under cover of darkness across an icy archipelago.

The tension was taut throughout the movie, as the party navigated the dangers of their journey. And the story seemed to run its natural course when I noticed there was still 35 mins left in the movie. I wondered what it could do, where it could take us and I was happily surprised in the direction it did take. In today’s political times, it was rather refreshing (more on that in the spoilers blurb). The action had me on the edge of my seat because it felt like the characters were fighting against the rising tide. Sounds of gunfire, and ice cracking with the wind whistling about, the sense of cold desolation came across well.

Noomi Rapace did an excellent job, and during an emotional scene in the later half, she pulled me right in. I couldn’t help but tear up alongside her. Jakob Oftebro followed her lead in that regard. With the portrayal of his character, of a soldier haunted with leadership and the knowledge that comes with it. The rest of the party played to their roles well, as the sniper, the medic, and the inevitable ‘not an idiot on purpose’ soldier.

Overall, I loved the movie. The soundtrack had a futuristic vibe to it, tense when needed, played with your heart, and pumped it up when necessary. I recommend it!

Spoilers

I knew as soon as I finished watching this movie that other reviews will call it poor timing, bland, and a tasteless depiction of war. Some might draw a direct comparison to the recent war in the western media’s eyes, like the refugee camps near the start of the film. They might consider that because the enemy is nameless that it makes the whole conflict not have any impact. They’re missing the point. The bad guys in the movie, the antagonists, were not the invading force but the defending nation. They were going to use biological weapons regardless of the cost on human life. And having a defending nation be the bad guys in a movie was very refreshing. Too often the aggressor is depicted as evil, and rumor and propaganda run rampant. The movie also depicted the defending military using backhanded methods such as lying about a child’s location to a mother to motivate her, or lying to their soldiers that locations have been bombed. They need soldiers focused for their war, properly motivated through manipulation. That is a very brave outlook to show in a movie with the recent turmoil in the political climate.

TV Shows

All of Us Are Dead

Another fresh entry in the South Korean zombie genre, ALL OF US ARE DEAD, is an interesting ride into the eyes and perspectives of a group of teenagers trapped at ground zero of a zombie incursion. I would say it’s a clever take on the zombie virus but 28 days later already came up with such an idea, and executed it much better. This was a deceptive coming of age tale hidden inside a zombie apocalypse, a primary reason being that it was created to stop bullying inside the school system. One of the evil zombies is a bully, and harassed the main party over and over until finally meeting their demise. Then there’s the clichés and clique, jocks and nerds, rich vs poor, all the fun stuff of school life in South Korea.

It was twelve episodes long and I felt it was just enough, it was starting to teeter on exhausting. There’s only so much snarling, screaming, chewing, and all around horrible sounds one can take. And in so many inventive ways before it all starts to numb and blur together. The acting was fun because not all of the actors were recognizable, some I knew from before but for the most part, they were new to me. And everyone did a fantastic job, especially the actress that played the evil rich bitch, that was a particularly fine performance – actress Lee Yoo-mi, recognizable from Squid Game. The special effects team and stunts deserve a callout when making zombie shows, they did a great job making the gore avert my eyes from the screen.

Not much I have to say about this, nothing really morally beautiful, or hidden here. No deeper meanings, even though it did try hard to create some. To be better and kind to each other in dark times. But I mean, that should be a given. Characters in the show asked, who would make such a crazy world? Well, how about the author designs a zombie show where the enemy is the zombies, and they don’t empower the bullies with even more capabilities to spread harm. Because it was really neat to see a show embrace having to establish a dedicated spot to relieve themselves, so a show focused on survival would have had more impact than sprinkling it in lightly over the plot. And yes, so many character deaths were obvious, and served the sole purpose to push the plot action forward, while taking cheap shots of emotional manipulation at the audience. Yes, let’s connect the paternal figure with child that’s been longing after them just long enough to develop a bond in the viewer’s eyes. To let them identify with a very human emotion before we kill him off violently, and incredibly needlessly, coupled with stupidity. If you’re gonna T-Rex some zombies with a flare, you have plenty of time to escape a closed space and run away while tossing them.

Overall, if you like zombies, you’ll like this.

Movies

Malevolent

Sometimes I like to watch ghost stories because I enjoy that bit of supernatural fun, and for the possibility of being healthily scared – preferably without a jump scare. There’s only two or so in the movie which was nice; however, halfway through, the movie decided to shit the bed and stop being a ghost story. It turned into torture porn.

Is it so hard to make a pure ghost story with inventive twists and turns without devolving into some sort of Satanist bullshit?

Based upon a novel called Hush by Eva Konstantopoulos, who shares screenwriting credit, it’s a story about two siblings, a brother and sister, who run a medium investigation service in which they con grieving relatives in regards to their dead who supposedly haunt the living. They do a script, play some sound effects, and get the people to believe it worked. Angela, the sister of the duo, is the one that plays the role of the medium because their mother apparently was one before committing suicide. They get hired by some old lady to help her stop the children’s screaming at the orphanage where she lives. Cue murderous backstory revealing the gruesome demise of the children. Cue Edgar Allen Poe and the guilt of a murderer. And you can figure it out yourself.

There is no twist ending here, simply human beings being murderous monsters. I don’t know why you had to use a ghost story for that. Should have just gone with the murder murder path. There’s too many plot points trying to vie for time, it would have gone over much better if it stuck with just one. For example, her brother needs the money because of gangsters? I wasn’t quite sure. The whole ghost story angle, and how even the brother might be sensitive to it. And then the story of the orphanage, and the old lady could have been an entire story on its own.

I watched this because I was curious to see Florence Pugh, and how she could act because I only knew her from Black Widow. It is obvious she’s yet another star brought in by who she knows, her family, and not the strength of her own bootstraps. She was atrocious here, her emotions stilted, subdued. I would say it is the fault of the writing, but look at Henry Cavill, in the trash released the other day, he was the carrying force. Yet, it didn’t save the show at all there either.

Overall, it’s yet another trash horror release by Netflix, no doubt another in the latest long line of supposedly possibly without any proof, or hearsay, money laundering schemes. Or not, I pulled it out of my ass like Lauren S. Hissrich does with her writing.

TV Shows

An Open Letter to Lauren S. Hissrich

When you adapt a work, or a story, to a different medium, such as television, you need to maintain the theme, aesthetics or message of the original source. You cannot drastically change the characters, with which fans have become endeared to, to your own fan fiction. You have to create an overarching narrative based upon the original source, using their characters as established, to further their arcs and growth. This doesn’t mean you do a 1:1 ratio, and perfectly replicate the plot on screen. This wouldn’t work. What it does mean, is to read the original source, and understand these character’s motivations, fears, emotions, and arcs and replicate them with your actors and actresses. Once you truly understand these characters, and what drives them, then you can focus on making a narrative. You failed step one.

There are spoilers to season 2 of the Witcher here on out. I cannot abide, sitting by idly, while this showrunner ruins a beloved franchise, and runs it into the ground.

“It starts in the writers room. 20 weeks of book-reading, story-spinning, imagination-bending, head-bashing, vodka-slurping and cake-eating.” From her Twitter.

20 weeks? Are you sure? If that was true, then how come you completely butchered/ruined the characters of Eskel, Yennefer, and Vesemir? Eskel is a kindhearted man (who didn’t have a lot of book time), with a heavily scarred face but he proved that looks aren’t everything as he’s a brother like figure to Geralt, and cares deeply for others. What we got? An asshole womanizing douchebag, who doesn’t like anyone, is constantly mad, and brings a bunch of street whores (in summer clothes) to his hidden castle, located high up in the wintery mountains. Apparently, he’s infected by a leshen despite witchers having a natural immunity to almost all disease and poisons. And then, Geralt has to kill him. But don’t worry, we explain his drastic change in behavior due to this infection, and we have a scene showing Geralt fondly remembering who he used to be.

Next, in what world did you read that Yennefer would even remotely think to sacrifice Ciri for personal gain? The answer is 0. It would never happen, she grows to be like a mother to her and not once does she consider to use Ciri for her own gain. Secondly, you can’t have a mage lose magical power casting a spell, especially one of Fire magic when you go and introduce a bounty hunting mage that solely uses fire magic. I tolerated these changes because maybe, the ending could be good, with proper set-up for more events. Nope, you decide to have Vesemir consider killing Ciri to stop her. The older, grandpa, protective of everyone, and has a soft spot for all witchers under him, and deeply trusts Geralt, is going to stab Ciri? That this man who would never consider subjecting another child to the trial of grasses because he knows the suffering, that he would do it to Ciri? How much vodka did you slurp?

I only touched on three characters here. I could probably write several pages on how badly you fucked up Ciri; using portals and casting spells under extremely stressful situations with no proper training and succeeding. Did you watch Star Wars, look at the character of Rey, and think, “Yea, let’s make Ciri like that.” In case you forgot during that 20 week binge, Ciri spends months training with Yennefer before she can even do anything.

If I had to wager a guess, you did read it and then actively decided to ruin it. You took 90% of the content, threw it in the trash, and made your own weird fan fiction, and you have the audacity to call it an adaption of the Witcher. No, you were heavily inspired by it. Adapt it? No, you did not do that. This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. You did it to the Defenders by Marvel. Calling it an adaption is nice legal speak/contract speak, and man, paying off the author a fat sum to call it good? That’s classy.

The best parts of the Witcher have nothing to do with you. Henry Cavill is the reason Geralt is so well received. His physicality and what he brings to the role is so much more than the atrocious writing that plagues his character. A) He’d never use Ciri as bait. Period. B) He’d never say “I will kill Yennefer.” If he did, that’s because the Yennefer you created is some sort of monstrosity and has nothing to do with the actual character.

Elves are not innocent beings, they are just as monstrous and murderous as humans. There should be only 4 witchers at Kaer Morhen, not the 15 or so random dudes that then get randomly killed off during the final episode. “Lambert, Lambert, what a prick!” You switched up the identities of Eskel and Lambert, and as aforementioned, killed off Eskel.

It’s like you decided to pervert as many characters as you could, to change them drastically to whatever messed up vision you thought you had in mind. Vilgefortz, Cahir, Tissaia, Calanthe, Rience, Nenneke, Phillipa Eilhart, and even Nivellen, all of these were made into subversions of what they are. Oh, Geralt and Ciri don’t care that Nivellen let a vampire massacre an entire village of people but draw the line that he raped a priestess 13 years ago. Yes, that one act for which he repented as best as he could is far, far worse than letting entire families get massacred. Yes, I understand Lauren.

“When I talk about The Witcher, I always talk about how these three characters coming together — Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer — they come together as a family. It’s the most important part of the series for me,” Hissrich said.

Right, so in what world do they come together as a family? Yennefer betrayed both Ciri and Geralt in your fan world, Geralt thought and considered killing Yen. In what world, would Ciri ever trust Yen again? How would Geralt? Well, you see, in my finale, through the power of love and family, we get Ciri to return to Geralt and Yen and break free of the mind possession by a demon. Yen heroically sacrifices herself by slitting her wrists allowing the demon to possess her instead. Together, my newfound family sends the demon back where it came from while establishing that the Wild Hunt is searching for Ciri. FAMILY! All that’s missing is Vin Diesel appearing on screen saying “we are family.”

Hold up! Why is there a demon running around amok? The first witchers would have killed it, or exorcized it, not trapped it in a tomb that anyone could find. Oh well, this isn’t the Witcher. This is Netflix’s low fantasy drama that happens to share a similar name.

So to end, I don’t care that you didn’t follow the book’s events or plot, or narrative. Shit happens. I do care that you keep calling it the Witcher when it’s only that in name only. Everything else has been stripped of its original identity, and watered down to a shell of what it is. A better title for the show would have been The Hexer.

And to Henry Cavill, or MyAnna Buring, you guys were phenomenal and tried your best, and I want you to know, in the words of the great movie, Good Will Hunting, “It’s not your fault.”

The blame is solely on Lauren’s shoulders who is entitled to her artistic impression.