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 TetsurĊ 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

Russian Raid

This is one of those action movies where the story is not the focal point, just an element to carry the action from one scene to the next. Given that, there is a message to be found buried underneath the superbly executed fight sequences and action choreography. About honor, soldiering, and the deep corruption that can be found in both military and police. That the only answer to such crime is to take it out by the root, killing it at its core.

I loved the frenetic combat, both close quarters hand to hand and gun action. Everything carried weight, and felt almost real. Like Ong-Bak, I wouldn’t put it past these Russian stuntmen that some got too into it. Some of those hits didn’t look like they were pulled. It was glorious. The inclusion of the track suit gangsters was great, and they provided mild comedic relief at the absurdity of some of the situations. And in the end, there is even a sense of honor and loyalty amongst hoodlums. The soundtrack fit in perfectly with the fast paced nature of the fights. The camerawork was top notch, every fight was easy to follow and to see the outcome. No shaky cam here with a thousand rapid cuts. Acting was pretty good all around except for the blond actress, she felt sorely out of place.

Overall, I recommend this action movie. The fights are great to behold, and a good watch for a Saturday night type with the boys.

Movies

The Card Counter

An excellent movie. Goes to show when the material is good, the actor can be good. When the writing is great, everything falls into place. Oscar Isaac was simply gripping in every scene. His performance mesmerizing. He plays a highly controlled man, one of structure and regiment while underneath you can feel a boiling rage. It is a character study into man’s moral responsibilities. Of going down the right paths, and finding redemption wherever it lies. Of the reprehensible acts committed by the American military in the pursuit of “safety”. And it’s all told while playing cards and gambling.

The direction and camerawork was very meaningful, purposeful. Each scene carried a weight to it. The soundtrack was fantastic, and drastically enhanced or added to the mood of the movie. Tiffany Haddish did a good job from her usual comedy routines, and a good job playing it straight. Willem Dafoe is always excellent playing smarmy bad-guys/assholes. And Tye Sheridan is also always on point with his acting. I really felt for his character, trapped in the cycle that abuse brought down on him.

Overall, it was highly enjoyable. A taut tale expertly handled by writer and director Paul Schrader. I’d recommend it.

Movies

The Contractor (2022)

The entire time I was watching this I was waiting for the shoe to drop. The reason why it would have a lower rating than usual action thrillers, and near the end, the plot reveals why. In this day and age, with all the fears around biological warfare, it is perfectly suited. Our hero, played by Chris Pine, is hired to do off the books wet work in the name of national security aka assassins for hire. His flaw comes in the form of a bum knee sustained in active service to his country. After being chewed out by the system, and thrown out with no benefits, he joins the aforementioned wet work mission where things go awry.

In typical fashion, there are twists to be had, and seeing Ben Foster’s name ruined any twists. If the man ain’t in the leading role as the good guy, then he will be playing the character designed to mess with your mind as to his moral code. The drama was good, and raised points and messages about the abysmal treatment of veterans. The action was solid, and carried weight. Soundtrack equally enjoyable.

Overall, I recommend it. It’s a fun watch, has an easy to follow plot, and always a joy to see Chris Pine in the lead role.

Spoilers/Thoughts on the Plot

I really liked the fact that the evil bad guys were stealing a vaccine that would counteract their evil plan of releasing a virus onto the population to make billions off of the untold suffering. Totally not far-fetched. Ben Foster’s character needlessly sacrificed himself which I felt was undeserving of such a fate.

Movies

Moonfall

Everything about this disaster movie fits the typical bill for Roland Emmerich. CGI extravaganza with widespread near total destruction with only a handful of survivors, and long periods spent trying to gain audience sympathy for characters and their families. I came for the aliens and destruction that I expect from his movies.

The opening sequence and the final act regarding our trio of heroes were the best parts for me, and I definitely want a sequel. I want to see where it would lead. Patrick Wilson did a terrific job especially when it counted to get the audience emotionally teared up. Halle Berry was working with what she had, her character didn’t get the same impact as Patrick Wilson’s did. And John Bradley, of GOT’s fame, came off as initially annoying yet became loveable and misunderstood. His character’s arc I wish to see more of in the sequel.

I had to leave my brain at the door to properly enjoy this. It was fantasy up until the final arc where we finally got some sci-fi in the mix. The soundtrack was great; helped increase my heartrate in intense sequences. The actor playing the son of Patrick Wilson’s character was so terrible that I am surprised he got cast. It takes something special to pull you out of a B-movie’s immersion.

Overall, either you’ll find it an enjoyable popcorn or snack-filled movie, or you’ll find it downright dumb and silly. It can be both. If you like aliens and conspiracy theories in your movies, I’d recommend it. Or if you simply like seeing the world get destroyed in CGI destruction.