The Phantom Planet (1961)

Like many of these oldies I chose this purely based on the absolutely epic title. After that I then followed up with a touch of research into the plot and looked at some images on Google. I quickly came to the conclusion that yes, this is a movie I must watch.

Plot you say? Well allow me to enlighten you. It’s the futuristic year of 1980 and mankind (and by that I mean the US) is now firmly set up on the moon. Alas there seems to be a problem, a few US astronauts and their ships have gone missing. So the stiff short back and sides Colonel orders a two-man search party. The surprisingly blonde Capt. Chapman (Dean Fredericks) and Lt. Makonnen (Richard Weber). It’s not long before this young all-American duo suffers damage to their ship from a meteor shower which forces them both outside to try and fix it.

During this spacewalk Chapman is knocked-out after a meteor-like particle pierces his oxygen hose. Something that you’d think would kill him pretty quickly but nonetheless. Makonnen manages to get him back inside the ship before he is also struck by a meteor-like particle which sends him floating off into the cold depths of space. Sometime later Chapman comes to and finds the ship being drawn down to a large asteroid, forcing him to land. Upon landing and still suffering the effects of his incident Chapman exits the ship and collapses. He briefly awakens to notice tiny six-inch tall aliens approaching him, before passing out again.

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No this isn’t a space set Gulliver’s Travels, but it is very much a blend of The Twilight Zone and the original Star Trek series. Basically these little aliens (Rhetonians) are trying to keep their existence (on the asteroid Rheton) secret from other lifeforms mainly down to their superior technology (gravitational control). So naturally Chapman isn’t allowed to leave. But naturally Chapman wants to escape despite being welcomed into the alien race with his choice of attractive female companions. Yes it’s at this point I must mention that the aliens do in fact look exactly like humans, because of course they do.

It’s also at this point that I should point out that when Chapman lifted the visor on his space helmet, the alien asteroid ‘air’ or ‘atmosphere’ was breathable and instantly shrank him down to the alien’s size. So obviously I needn’t point out the complete lunacy of this. Firstly, asteroids do not have an atmosphere to breathe, and secondly, even if it did why would it instantly shrink a lifeform to the exact size of the aliens? In fact, why are the alien that big anyway??

As you might expect Chapman does start to settle in with his new alien hosts but all the while he is scheming to escape. And again as you might expect there is romantic jiggery-pokery afoot as one attractive alien female wants to get in Chapman’s pants but this makes one of the male aliens jealous (cos he wants to get inside her knickers). Naturally this leads to some stern but polite language between the pair and eventually the alien custom of battling to the death in the movies main Star Trek moment. Think Kirk vs Spock but way way more crappy and without that classic tune.

Anyway after all this cliched nonsense (Chapman wins the battle but doesn’t kill the alien cos basically he’s a decent chap) we eventually get to yet another plot detour. Turns out this little human-like alien race has enemies. Enter the incredibly cliched rubbery monster-esque alien race called the Solarites or ‘fire people’. Because the technologically advanced goodie race of aliens look like humans, whereas the baddie war-obsessed alien race look like large bug-eyed bipedal lizard monsters. Oh and the ships they fly seem to be…rocks? That are actually engulfed in flames? I guess that’s why they’re called fire people…monsters. Fun fact, the Solarite we see in the movie is Richard Kiel in his first film role.

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Long story short, with Chapman’s help the Rheton’s beat the fire people and all is well with the universe. Chapman is now allowed to go back to Earth when the very conveniently timed US spaceship arrives in orbit. Chapman crawls back inside in spacesuit and automatically grows back to his regular human size because…he breaths in atmospheric gases from Earth?? Huh?? Firstly, why would Earth ‘gases’ undo the shrinking process? And secondly, how was there any Earth ‘gases’ left inside his suit when his visor was left open this whole time!

There are lots of solid goofs and cringeworthy moments to be found. The fact that the astronauts move quite normally when doing their spacewalk. Also, neither of them are actually tethered to the ship, they are ‘walking’ freely. In fact there doesn’t seem to be any attempt at the effects of zero gravity at all which is most amusing. Why didn’t Chapman’s spacesuit shrink with him? It’s things like this, the goofs, the errors, are exactly why we (the fans) watch this stuff. Glorious.

Overall this is definitely an entertaining bit of sci-fi hokem which definitely gets more and more ridiculous as the plot goes on. The introduction of the Solarites was but the icing on the cake frankly as I didn’t expect that. The movie does have some nice effects here and there and the costumes, mainly the spacesuits, are well done. Set wise it’s as you might expect with everything looking rather flat and obvious but it does the job. It’s mainly the space sequences that showcase the thoroughly enjoyable clunky effects at their best. It was also surprising to see a blonde male lead as often you get a tall dark handsome hero. Fredericks hair definitely gave him some much-needed edge. So yeah, this space mystery adventure pretty much provides you with everything you could want in a cheesy old black and white early 60’s peek into what life would be like in 1980.

7/10

Unknown World (1951)

So I found myself craving some classic black and white science fiction once again, after a prolonged period of modern-day crap (it just gets worse). Having a stroll through whatever a simple Google search would find me, I came across this little number. I read the plot, it sounded sweet, so here we go. I might add this movie is available to watch on You-Tube, so go watch it now.

At a rather compact 74 minutes this movie can’t hang around too long, yet it does. As you might expect with many of these old flicks the start of the movie is one long narration explaining the current situation of mankind at the time. This narration is intertwined with scenes as the key characters set up the basic plot. Nonetheless this entire setup does take around the first five minutes of the film. Add to that the usual long period of talking and debate amongst the key characters and other background characters as they decide on what to do.

So what is the plot? Well you’ve probably guessed the basis seeing as this is a 50’s flick. Yep it’s all based around atomic bombs again, ugh! Bottom line, Dr. Morley (Victor Kilian) is concerned about mankind if a nuclear war were to start. So he manages to create a small team of various experts in order to burrow down into the Earth in order to find a safe haven just in case. At first he can’t get the funding, but then he does via a rich young tycoon type (Bruce Kellog) and all systems are go.

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Yes this is essentially an early Doug McClure movie minus the gloss. The team of experts are all men with one attractive woman, which seems to be (an amusing) contractual part of all these old adventure movies. And as you might expect there is the obligatory tension between a couple of the male experts over the lady. The vehicle they use has a neat little name, a Cyclotram. Essentially a pod-like featureless submarine with a big drill nose. As you might expect visual effects are pretty basic and what you see is an obvious small model being tugged along. The interior is a simple layout with all the characters sat neatly behind each other. There are various dials and pipes on the walls as you might expect. Although it amused me how there only seemed to be a few other quarters, very little space for seven experts. Where’s the toilet?? No need for a kitchen in this futuristic vision though as everyone is living on tiny pills that constitute a meal.

Anywho after much adventuring around underground and the death of a few experts from toxic gas and one falling into an abyss, the team discovers a vast underground cavern. This cavern is yet again everything you might expect from a silly fantasy flick. Firstly it’s enormous, like a valley with its own mountains, ocean, desert, nice climate, convenient light reflected off the phosphorescent cavern roof, and a weather system. And secondly, it’s conveniently absolutely perfect for human life to survive. BUT there is one small problem, for some reason this cavern renders all living things sterile. The pregnant rabbits which the team brought gave birth to dead rabbits. This is of course makes no sense because the rabbits were pregnant before they reached this cavern and I don’t believe they were fed anything from the cavern. So just being in the cavern made them sterile? Does that mean the humans are now sterile? Something in the air is that powerful? Oh I should also point out flaw number two, no dinosaurs.

Unfortunately this apparent oasis turns out to be an oasis for the dead. Humans could probably live and prosper but would not be able to have children and would die out after one generation. Thing is old Dr. Morley doesn’t accept this and still has hope as he thinks life on the surface is doomed anyway. Morley has also lived through two wars so he holds little affection for mankind as it is. But before you can self-destruct, a volcano erupts and seemingly destroys everything. Morley is depressed and allows himself to be killed whilst the others escape into the underground ocean. They happen to surface just by an inhabited island, lucky huh.

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Watching this on You-Tube probably didn’t allow for the best visual representation but the movie still managed to entertain me. Naturally the effects are limited and quaint but still utterly charming. The view through the cyclotram cockpit summed up the corny charm. Portions of the movie were filmed in and around various real caves in America which definitely helped. The huge underground cavern seemed to be a matte painting and a very nice one at that. As already explained model shots were pretty basic but they do the job. The cast seemed to be taking things seriously which also helped sell the adventure, unlike their rather dapper attire and juvenile equipment but it’s all good.

Of course the science is silly and of course it’s all very hokey, but movies like this paved the way for your modern-day blockbusters. How many big CGI spectacles have taken inspiration from old movies like this eh. Fans of things like this know what they’re getting into, you don’t need me to tell you this stuff is great. Just a shame there weren’t any monsters, this movie actually took a more intelligent route, surprising really.

7/10

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)

So this is a movie that has gone down in the annals of movie history, or is that infamy?

I think everyone who has a slight passing interest in movies knows the story behind this long-gestating project. Long long story short, there has been interest in making a Sonic flick for decades. Ever since Sega introduced the zippy blue hedgehog the idea has been floating around. Alas with the epic infamous flops of videogame adaptations ‘Super Mario Bros’ and ‘Street Fighter’ the idea took a backseat. I think it was the surprising success of ‘Mortal Kombat’ in 1995 that probably got people thinking again.

After much studio faffing Paramount Pictures acquired the rights and announced the movie would be released in November 2019. And this is where the fun begins. The visual effects were handled by a few effects studios and all under the understanding that making a more realistic Sonic was the way to go. The idea was to create a more human-like appearance for Sonic so that he would blend into his live-action feature more easily. As we all know this included realistic fur, separated eyes, human-like legs, human-like hands, human-like teeth, a realistic nose, and actual realistic sneakers. Apparently they were going for the 2012 ‘Ted’ look. Unfortunately someone forgot to them Ted was a teddy bear and still looked like a teddy bear. At no point was Ted ever made more human-like.

Oh, the team also looked at the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for inspiration too. Feck me! Yeah apparently they expected Sonic fans to outrage but thought the general audiences wouldn’t care about the redesign as that same thing happened with the Turtles. This goes to show how these ‘creative people’ think with these franchises and explains why so many tank.

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Of course we all know what happened next. The trailer for this movie was released in May 2019 to astronomical levels of backlash. It seemed all the Sonic fans didn’t like this ugly freaky human-like nightmare of a vision and actually wanted Sonic to look like…Sonic, you know, from the videogame. So with their tails set firmly between their legs the studios withdrew the movie and got to work on fixing the problem. But did they??

Well in my opinion no they didn’t. OK let’s be real here, yes I can fully appreciate the director and co listening to the fans and going back to fix the visuals on Sonic, sure. But the movie is still a pile of garbage. The visuals before the backlash were pretty bad granted but at least they had an original spin to them…I guess. The new visuals were fine and looked like Sonic should but it doesn’t help the movie in any way. The plot is weak as hell and merely involves Sonic getting thrust into our world and having to find his magic rings. He manages to find some human friends along the way to help him oh and the evil Dr. Robotnik is chasing Sonic too to harness his power (yawn!).

As you might expect it’s actually the small snippets from Sonic’s world and the mushroom world Robotnik is banished to that are of more interest than anything else in this movie. Setting the story in our realm was positively the worse decision you could make. Has no one learned from previous videogame fudge ups?? Everything takes place in boring settings with boring characters that do cliched unfunny boring things. James Marsden is simply your average good-looking lead that is ten-a-penny in Hollywood. He isn’t particularly good with comedy…or acting frankly. His partner is played by someone called Tika Sumpter who has no chemistry whatsoever with Marsden. Literally to the point where I don’t understand how she was cast.

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And then we have good old Jim Carrey who is admittedly the best part of this lame flick. Of course, as everyone knows, Carrey’s performance feels like it’s been ripped from the 90’s, back in his heyday. In turn this makes the entire movie feel completely dated in an odd blend of nostalgia and pure crap. It is very bizarre how one person can make an entire movie seem dated, but Carrey does just that. His performance is little more than his ‘Cable Guy’ and ‘Liar Liar’ characters rolled into one and regurgitated. So yes while Carrey is the best part that still doesn’t help the movie because we’ve seen his schtick many many many times before decades ago.

Yup I know this is essentially a movie for children, I know that. But it was always gonna lure in the aging fanboys, like myself, from back in the golden days of videogaming. Call it a case of morbid curiosity I guess, on my count anyway. But yeah this turned out exactly as I expected it would with or without the creepy Sonic visuals. The CGI is generally poor and obvious all round. The acting is generally poor and cringeworthy all round. Sonic does all the stupid childish goofy things you’d expect him to do in a kid’s flick. The movie has all the usual big blockbuster tropes and cliches that get used ad nauseam to the point of switching off (you see the same crap in all the Marvel fluff or any other big blockbuster).

Overall this was very basic generic guff with poor visuals and bad acting. Simply sticking 90’s Jim Carrey in there doesn’t save the day in my opinion, nor does the ‘upgraded’ Sonic design. In fact, I’m more curious to see the original movie with the original Sonic design because I genuinely feel it might be better. Yeah, how bout dem apples.

3/10

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

You know it really did highlight to me how much I miss George Lucas and his visions when watching the final installment in this new Star Wars trilogy. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like all of Lucas’ ideas were perfect and his prequel trilogy was good, far from it. There is no way I can honestly turn around now and say to you the prequel trilogy was good now I think about it, or these new movies justify the existence of the prequels, oh no. Lets be clear, the prequels were bad on many many levels and Lucas fecked them up, but at least Lucas had a vision, a path, a story to follow.

We now all know that the new trilogy had no story to follow, there was no path, no vision, it was literally made on the fly. The first movie ‘The Force Awakens’ was merely a poor remake of the classic original which didn’t even look as good! The second movie ‘The Last Jedi’ was impressive visually, at least, but director Rian Johnson was allowed to go off on his own tangent and wrecked the whole storyline. If his movie and ideas had been in a spin-off then maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad. And now finally we have this final movie which had to fix Johnson’s mess and get everything back on track and tie it all up with a nice bow on top. As we now know this was an impossible task which basically would have required another flippin’ trilogy to fix.

I’m not going to essentially write a review here, I’m just going to list in order everything I found nonsensical about this hodge-podge.

The movie kicks off with a bang that’s for sure, with a rapid succession of quickfire sequences that basically confuse and disorientate you. We are skipping from one location to another with action sequences fuelled by ‘light-speed skipping’, something that has apparently just been conjured up? What I didn’t get was how the TIE fighters could also use the same light-speed passage as the Falcon. Is that new also? This is also interspersed with small sequences of Kylo Ren massacring various aliens in his quest for a Sith wayfinder (Marvel influenced mcguffin).

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It’s at this early stage that I noticed how ‘clean’ Chewie looked, like the actor’s costume just looked way too glossy and clean for a Wookie. It didn’t look real, it looked like a cosplay. Also, who or what is that huge slug-like alien in the Falcon? Where did that come from?

The Rebels/Resistance continues to be made up of mainly minorities and women now, apparently. Although it’s not as obvious as previous movies. I’m just gonna assume the majority of white male fighters were killed off in the original trilogy.

Kylo gets his helmet fixed (forged back together), and it looks stupid. Get a new cool helmet mate.

The gang head to another planet in search of a Scooby clue to lead them to the location of the Sith wayfinder, it’s yet another desert planet. Here, out of nowhere, Lando pops up to save them and then literally disappears for half the movie.

Desert planet must equal speeder-bike chase sequence and voila! Not too bad of an action sequence but there’s no tension whatsoever because you know none of the main heroes are gonna get hurt so…Also, they fly now??!!

Eventually they stumble across this Sith dagger with text on which 3PO is not allowed to translate because more Scooby clue searching is required to pad out the plot. How can they get around this? They have to wipe 3PO’s memory again, ugh! We also get the first glimpse of how much of a Mary Sue Rey now is seeing her heal an alien with the power of touch…just like Jesus!

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Whilst trying to escape the planet on an abandoned ship Rey wanders off for no reason causing issues. Turns out its to confront Kylo in a TIE (translation – have a cool looking Matrix-style action sequence). This whole confrontation turns out to be pointless, but it does result in Chewie, somehow, getting captured also. Kylo is on a mission to assassinate Rey by this point, under strict orders of Palpatine. He has plenty of opportunity to do this or at least confront Rey (after she takes down his TIE), but for some reason just allows her to leave when she was only around 20 metres away.

Another planet and another pointless strong female character in a nifty looking helmet. Always female.

After Rey senses where Chewie is (on Kylo’s Star Destroyer) they go off to rescue him. Using another mcguffin they infiltrate the Destroyer…literally guns blazing. Somehow the entire Destroyer isn’t alerted to their gung-ho entry. Somehow they manage to wander around virtually unimpeded. And somehow they manage to find Chewie almost straight away. These sequences were like watching a first-person shooter on easy level, the stormtroopers were that useless.

Then it’s off to yet another planet where the remanents of the second Death Star are found. Somehow large sections of the Death Star rubble have remained intact! Despite being blown to pieces at the end of RotJ. Amazingly even Palpatine’s old throne room is recognisable! This is where the Sith dagger comes into play…’Goonies’ style. Oh did I mention yet another strong female character on this planet? Well there you go, another one. Can’t have enough strong female characters ya know, just in case we forget ourselves men.

Rey fights Kylo, beats him (of course), mortally wounds him, but then heals him? I dunno. Leia helped with her force powers, dies in the process. Why? I duuno.

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Kylo has seemingly flip-flopped on sides during this saga and apparently having a conversation with a memory of his dad Han Solo gets him to finally go to the light side. Why? I duuno.

Rey goes off to battle Palpatine one on one. Palpatine looks like something outta the Hellraiser franchise now. He also has an entire legion of Star Destroyers, literally hundreds. Who built them? Who’s manning them? Why are all stormtroopers and Star Destroyer gunners now in red armour? (to sell more toys). Who were all those hundreds of hooded people in the arena type area watching Palpatine converse with Rey??

Movie tries to get your emotional juices flowing as the Rebels gear up for this one last final huge battle. It doesn’t work because they rush the build-up. We get one shot of them piling into their ships, a quick take-off, then all of a sudden they’re at their destination and getting stuck in. There was none of the slow dramatic build-up we got in RotJ. Also why do all the pilots looks squashed in their rebel starfighter cockpits? And why does the Nien Nunb mask still not look as good as in RotJ?

This whole finale is yet again a simple rip-off from Lucas’ previous work (RotJ). The only difference is its just not as good, its pants. As usual the Rebels start off well but then start to succumb to the might of the Empire. Various faceless pilots get blown to smithereens whilst trying to take out this navigation tower that helps Star Destroyers take-off (navigational tower, shield generator, meh). But of course when reinforcements turn up with Lando the tide turns. This whole sequence just can’t muster the same goosebumps you got with the original classic trilogy I’m sorry.

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Riding on alien horses into battle on the surface of a Star Destroyer? Feck off movie. Literally what the feck??

Apparently taking out a Star Destroyers’ main planet-destroying gun causes the entire ship to blow up? We also see our first black male Imperial Star Destroyer officer here (?!).

How do the Knights of Ren know their leader has turned to the good side when they meet up? They just see him and go after him. Also, why to the Knights of Ren look like Ringwraiths?

Palpatine reveals that Rey is his granddaughter, really?? At what point did Palpatine have a relationship? Surely this might have cropped up at some point during the last six friggin’ movies???

Palpatine explains his plan to allow Rey to kill him in order for his soul to enter her body giving her all his power, or so he can control her body or something. He seems pretty confident in this plan. But when Kylo turns up and helps Rey he decides to drain them both and rejuvenate himself. Well…why didn’t he just decide to do that in the first place? Seems like a better plan and it works out pretty well at first. Unfortunately for Palpatine Rey is a Mary Sue so she beats him.

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I’m still amazed the Rebels actually won this battle considering the literal hundreds of Star Destroyers packed with tonnes of TIE’s. Surely they were outnumbered tenfold? Most of the Rebel ships were cruisers, frigates, and smaller crafts manned by regular people/aliens. How could they defeat all those Imperial fighters and Destroyers?? Pretty sure there were loads of Destroyers left at the end too.

Denis Lawson cameo as Wedge? Well played movie, plus point earned.

Then at the very end we are given a few pathetic shots of other locations as the Empire falls. Bespin…because they’d not been able to crowbar that into the trilogy. The forest moon of Endor with a couple of Ewoks? Why?? Jakku I think, again why? Its a barren desert world. Oh and Chewie is given a medal…because ‘A New Hope’.

Rey goes back to Luke’s home on Tatooine to bury his and Leia’s lightsabers, for some reason. Some old crone asks her who she is, Rey replies ‘Rey…Skywalker’. Bollocks! You aren’t a Skywalker! You’re a bloody Palpatine! Feck off movie.

So yeah, tis a load of crap basically. A hot mess of padding and guff stuffed into an overly long movie desperately trying to fix the last fiasco whilst keep the fanbase happy. Disney should have thought harder about their direction, hiring choices, and political angles before diving in. How could a company feck up Star Wars? How??!! Plus points? Visually this looks good as you might expect, that’s it. But yeah, the whole trilogy has been an unmitigated disaster. I hate the new characters so much I wanted the Empire to win.

4.5/10

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Now this has to be some kind of record right. Hollywood has actually tried to kickstart three trilogies with this franchise and every one has failed at the first hurdle. Three huge blockbuster attempts, three flops. ‘Terminator Salvation’ was probably the most original and better of the attempts, tank. ‘Terminator Gen-I-sys’ or however you pronounce it, über tank. And now finally ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’, a woke tank. Seriously that’s an impressive record of shit right there Hollywood.

So you see my use of the word woke just now, well it’s kinda justified. No I’m not trying to just on any bandwagons here but come on, look at the evidence here. What we essentially have is James Cameron’s T2 remade and genderswapped. The plot is exactly the flippin’ same for Pete’s sake! The main difference here is they have killed off John Connor only to replace him with a young female minority version. As said, the rest is the same as before with a new Terminator coming back from the future to try and eliminate its target. Wash, rinse, and repeat, again.

Oh Jesus where to begin?!

So they killed off John straight away, right off the bat they render everything that has come before pointless, obsolete. The funny thing is Hollywood pulled the same shit with other franchises like Star Wars, Predator, Alien etc…You know, making ridiculous decisions with the story in newer sequels that render everything before it null and void. They never learn.

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The new Terminator isn’t threatening…at all! Now I understand the notion of having a regular looking guy as a Terminator because a Terminator is supposed to be an infiltration unit for assassination purposes, cool. And personally I loved the original casting idea of Lance Henriksen as the Terminator in the original 1984 movie because of his unique appearance (using Schwarzenegger always seemed like the cheesy option to me). But this guy (Gabriel Luna) has no presence or visual appeal at all. The man literally looks like a generic clothes catalog model. Sure you could say that is perfect for a Terminator but at the same time you need something of interest for the audience, the actor needs to have an interesting face. It’s a hard line to walk granted but this choice was poor.

Speaking of casting choices, the entire cast was wrong in my opinion. Natalia Reyes as Dani (the new John Connor) was not only terrible acting-wise but completely unbelievable as the new future of the human race mainly down to her height and size. She couldn’t even hold an assault weapon believably for Christ’s sake. Then we had the character of Grace (Grace?) played by MacKenzie Davis sporting some tomboy haircut (anyone notice she had the same haircut as a child in a flashback sequence?). Clearly this character was part of the neo trendy transgender obsession as she was obviously supposed to be androgynous. Grace was the Kyle Reese character genderswapped but better because she was augmented with technology that enabled her to do fancy pointless flips and such (eye-roll much?).

And then we have Arnie and Linda. I facepalmed so hard at the thought of Schwarzenegger returning yet again as a Terminator. I mean come on people!! This guy is too old! It’s just embarrassing now. The fact they still used that stupid idea of aging flesh from the previous flop was laughable. The fact they used the whole notion of Arnie’s Terminator learning human emotions to the point that it becomes a good character, marries and is self-employed selling curtains were both fecking absurd and laughable. How the hell does it marry and not have the female discover its a fecking robot?? As for Linda Hamilton, this was clearly to try and get the older fanbase back on-board as Arnie wasn’t working anymore. They pulled a pathetic Disney/Star Wars move. Both are too old and both looked ridiculous.

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The Terminator had a stupid design. This time the hook is it can separate into two Terminators. One is the metal skeleton whilst the other is the liquid metal skin. They can part at any time which seemed like a reasonably lengthy process that rendered the whole thing pointless to me. Also, why not just send two Terminators? Oh yeah and Skynet no longer exists of course, its called ‘Legion’ now. Another pointless move because not only does this render everything prior obsolete, it also surely means the threat from the machines will never end…right? One super machine will just replace another so there is no real tension anymore.

The special effects are poor. How can a movie of this size and cost have poor effects? Overuse of CGI as per usual. But yeah the effects are generally bad and obvious. There are multiple scenes with horrendously obvious greenscreen effects. The action sequences use horrendously obvious ragdoll effects on characters when they are being flung around. And, as expected, some sequences are way way overblown with completely unnecessary set-pieces such as the mid-air plane collision. I mean really? Did..did you really need to have a jumbo jet action sequence here? Did we really need the Humvee sequence? This franchise is supposed to be an adult horror thriller, not a superhero movie. All this does is prove to me once again that Hollywood (and even Cameron) doesn’t understand these old franchises anymore.

This pretty much sums up my whole opinion of Hollywood and how they approach movies these days. They just don’t understand old franchises anymore, classic or otherwise. They can’t come up with any original material anymore, everything has to be remade or rebooted. They think everything needs (biased) political commentary, not even subtle but obvious in your face political commentary. They keep gender or race-swapping key characters to appease specific groups. And, apparently, they think everything needs to be like a Marvel movie now. This entire movie felt like some fan-made Latino version of the franchise, literally taking bits from the first two movies and remaking them, including the ending! One word, abysmal.

2/10

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Moving (1988)

Now this is a prime example of one of those movies I saw in the videoshop, back when I was a kid, and simply wanted to watch it because of A. the amusing looking poster, and B. it starred Richard Pryor. That’s all it took back then, something to catch your eye on the top shelve. You had no idea if it would be any good but without the internet, movie magazines, or any TV shows about current movies, you took the chance (parents willing).

The plot is simple. As the title of the movie indicates, the plot surrounds a move. Arlo Pear (Richard Pryor) has just lost his job as a transportation engineer based in New Jersey. After some time he manages to snag a job with another engineering company in Boise, Idaho. Obviously this would require his family to up sticks and move across the country. At first, naturally, his family isn’t happy, but they soon agree. As you might have guessed the whole process becomes one disaster after another involving a shady moving company, their new home, their new neighbours, and the guy Arlo hires to drive his sexy Saab across the country to their new destination.

This is your typical 80’s National Lampoon’s type affair, so much so you have expect to see a Chevy Chase cameo. The whole thing is very cliched and very predictable to be honest. Take a look at the various characters, Randy Quaid’s characters for instance. Without even typing any further I’ll bet you’d know exactly what type of character Quaid plays, and you’d be right. In the New Jersey setting he plays a crazy shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who is impossible to live next door to. In the Idaho setting he plays the twin of this character who is also a crazy (mostly anti-social) person who is impossible to live next door to. So yeah, Quaid kinda does his usual thing which wasn’t that far off his Cousin Eddie character from the National Lampoon’s franchise.

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The moving company is (of course) represented as a bunch of criminal types that, for some reason, Arlo is unable to get rid of. Arlo turns them away on first impressions but when he goes to another company the same guys turn up! Anyone with sense would just keep looking but Arlo goes with them. The movers themselves are obviously completely over the top with their dodgy appearances and behaviour, King Kong Bundy being one of the most outrageous. Then you have the innocent and apparently squeaky clean Brad (Dana Carvey) who Arlo hires to drive his precious Saab across the country. Naturally he turns out to have a personality disorder and wrecks the car. It’s all pretty straight forward stuff.

Everything here is ramped up to ridiculous degrees for obvious comedic effect. So much so that it kinda seems a little too daft to be honest. This is why movies like ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ are so good because they are funny and very relatable. Most could probably recall a time when something similar did happen on a journey, or when you met an odd person as in the film. But this movie goes too far, it gets too stupid. Randy Quaid’s characters are amusing and probably the most realistic if you are very unfortunate, but the whole dodgy moving company and Dana Carvey character are beyond silly really.

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Add to that the various daft occurrences that befall Arlo besides these characters. The fact they buy this lovely house off an elderly couple only to find the place completely stripped of everything, right down to the actual stairs and doors, is amusing but insane. They even take the swimming pool leaving a big hole. Then you have this pretty lame (unwarranted) action sequence with Arlo chasing the moving vehicle on the highway which is so obviously done at a slow speed with obvious stunt doubles. Again it’s another silly moment that is unrelatable and looks silly and fake. And then right at the end Arlo manages to turn his new crazy neighbour around from his unsociable ways purely by scaring him with his large dog? Eh?? A bit of a convenient wrap for that entire saga. Apparently Quaid’s crazy twin character suddenly has newfound respect for Arlo…because he used his big dog on him?

Anyway the movie is clearly not supposed to be taken seriously and obviously a deliberately goofy affair. It’s a comedy vehicle for Pryor to flex his comedic muscles. Unfortunately this could have been so much better in my opinion. The idea is there but the execution is just sloppy and dumb. Sure it’s funny watching Arlo snap and get tough with everyone, but at the same time it’s just silly because it’s not really very realisitc (again I must refer back to that John Hughes classic). Granted the movie did succeed in making me feel uncomfortable and somewhat nervous as I watched Arlo’s life crumble, so there’s that. But overall I really feel this would have been better if it were more grounded with less lunacy. Great original poster though, really draws you in.

5.5/10

The Addams Family (2019)

In 1938 Charles Addams created a cartoon family that would become his legacy. The Addams family was a satirical inversion of your typical American family of the time. The all American family was seen a certain way and this was Addams twisted view on the matter. Addams macabre little family of ghouls, misfits, and monsters has since gone on to become a staple of American pop culture alongside the similarly themed Munster Family with cartoons, TV series, and movies. This 2019 animated movie is apparently a reboot of the classic 1991 movie.

The plot is unfortunately you’re average affair which has been played out many many many times before (including the 1993 film ‘Addams Family Values’ and the basis for the entire 1992 animated series). The Addams move into their new home (I’ll get to that) and go about their daily strange lives. All the while Gomez and Morticia are keeping Pugsley and Wednesday unaware of the small local town nearby. Their reason is they know they will come across as weird outcasts to the ‘normies’ and they don’t want Pugsley or Wednesday to deal with it.

As expected Wednesday does eventually discover the outside world and wants to explore it after meeting another local girl her own age. As expected Morticia is firmly against this but struggles to keep Wednesday from exploring. Meanwhile in the town there is an obsessive reality TV host who is wanting to turn the local town into the perfect community; as expected the Addams are getting the way of her vision. Her solution? Get rid of the Addams family.

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So firstly as already mentioned, at the start of this movie we see Gomez and Morticia before they are married. We also see how they get the mansion and how they meet Lurch. None of this satisfied me in the slightest. Allow me to elaborate. Firstly where does Morticia live at the very start? It appears as though she’s living in the sewers? Eh?? Where is this located? It kinda looks like a period set village. Secondly, after the newlyweds are run out of whatever town they live in, they reach an abandoned loony bin. This asylum becomes their new home, the Addams mansion. I hated this! Surely in Addams lore the mansion has been the family home for generations of Addams before Gomez and Morticia, right? But here they just stumble upon it and basically take it? Does this mean the Addams family are swatting in this abandoned asylum? I mean, they haven’t bought it, surely it belongs to the state (?).

This leads me to the introduction of Lurch. Gomez hits Lurch with his car just before they find the abandoned asylum. Turns out Lurch is an ex-patient of the asylum and is somehow just wondering around in the wild. So how did Lurch get into this situation? What happened to the asylum? Why wasn’t Lurch switched to another asylum with the other patients? (I’m guessing that’s what happened). This also leads me to query Lurch’s mental state seeing as he’s a patient. He isn’t working for the Addams by choice per se, it happened by accident and mentally he’s not stable. So with the proper help, he could get well again and this could mean he wouldn’t want to be a butler for the Addams. So if you wanna be technical and picky, this plotline basically has a mentally sick person being abused for the Addams gain, almost slavery. They should have just stuck to the original storyline.

Indeed the opening of the movie does lend itself to many questions as I’ve mentioned. I really didn’t like how they handled it because I was left yearning to know more about the origins of the family. Where does Gomez hale from? What was Morticia doing in the sewers? What about the other Addams family members etc…Ripe for a prequel. Alas I really don’t like the way they went with the origins for the mansion and Lurch. Also the fact they wanted to live somewhere dangerous and away from people who don’t understand them, so they chose New Jersey. Yeah I know its a joke but obviously there are far better, more isolated places they could have gone.

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I do like how the characters now resemble the original comic strips from Charles Addams from back in 1938. Neat touch although not entirely necessary to be truthful. As the two 90’s movies proved the characters can be highly successful not looking exactly the same. I say this because I’ve never been a fan of the original look for Gomez. I loved how Morticia seemed to be portrayed as a bit of a gothic slut at the start of the movie with her black knee-high boots, black mini skirt, and black tight-fitting corset. Nice to see the Addams pet octopus (now named Socrates) make an appearance. Oscar Isaac did a great job with Gomez’s voice and actually sounded like the late Raul Julia (unsure if that was intentional). But I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Uncle Fester. Must admit I didn’t like some of the designs for other Addams family members.

I had been looking forward to this movie ever since I heard about it (I’m a huge Addams fan). And whilst I’m not totally disappointed, this wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping for. Visually its gorgeous no doubt. I love how the mansion looks both exterior and interior (would have liked to see more of that really. Mores secret passages etc…) Would have liked to see more of the Addams estate too, the grounds around the house.

As said the plot is a bit deary and unoriginal leading to screentime with ‘regular characters’ which, for me, were the boring parts because I just wanted to see the Addams getting up to spooky hijinks. Yes it’s for kids but not overtly so, there are some nice tiny touches here and there that will make older folks smile. The small ‘IT’ gag was appreciated. A quick exorcist visual reference and a clever and quite adult-themed visual gag surrounding Thing being online was amusing. So yeah its solid but I hated what they did with Lurch and the mansion origins, can’t get past that. Oh and the rap song over the end credits is nowhere near as good as MC Hammer’s ‘Addams Groove’.

7/10

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Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge (1997)

So back in the mid 90’s I was a teenager and only three things mattered in my life, football, movies, and videogames. Twas back in 1996 that I was in the ownership of the much-touted Playstation games console and as it happened I was obsessed with 2D fighters (you see where I’m going with this). Yes anything Capcom was considered an absolute must have if possible. After years of being teased with Street Fighter II in the arcades and only eventually getting to taste the real deal at home via the SNES, I was a Capcomoholic.

So along comes this wacky looking new fighter Darkstalkers. It has all the hallmarks of something I should love, a 2D fighter with the same game mechanics as Street Fighter II but with classic Universal monsters (albeit knock-offs). I gave it a try and predictably loved it. Yeah sure it was essentially just a Street Fighter II clone with different characters but I didn’t care. Capcom were (and still are) the masters of 2D fighters and this was no exception.

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Moving on a few years and this anime was released in four parts or episodes. Once again at the time I vaguely remember seeing this around in the shops but never seeing it. As I have explained before in previous anime reviews, whilst growing up anime wasn’t really my thing. It’s only now I have come to appreciate this genre (this review is my first viewing of this particular anime). Once again top anime studios Madhouse Inc (‘Wicked City’, ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’) were in charge so I knew I was in for a solid looking adventure.

The Plot: When it comes to videogame adaptations this is always a sticky issue. Obviously the plot behind most of these fighting games is ridiculous as they have to include all the fighters. But for a videogame no one really cares because no one buys the game for the plot. When it comes to an animated movie things start to get tricky. In this world humans coexist alongside various monsters and ghouls known as Darkstalkers (cos it sounds cool).

These Darkstalkers (or at least some of them) are in a constant war with each other to see who is the most powerful. Humans are generally terrified of them and tend to hunt them or try to ignore them. Some of the Darkstalkers claim not to be monsters but are misunderstood and simply want to blend in and live their lives. Naturally some humans are OK with this, some are not. Other Darkstalkers are bad and merely use humans for food or slavery or whatever.

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The main basis is the Earth hasn’t seen sunlight for hundreds of years and has returned back to the days of the horse and cart (for some reason). This is because Dimitri the Vampire was exiled from the dimension where demons/Darkstalkers live and he has basically ruled the Earth with an iron fist. There are some Darkstalkers who are willing to fight back against Dimitri such as Felicia a catwoman hybrid and Donovan, a dhampir (half human half vampire). But wouldn’t you know it, a powerful alien arrives on Earth to wipe everyone out who stands against his power, so the Darkstalkers find themselves working together, kinda.

So let’s just get right into it. If you’re a fan of this franchise then you might like this for the fighting and that’s it, maybe, anyone else I’m not so sure. Unfortunately whilst the fighting sequences are pretty good (in places) that’s all that’s on offer. The rest of the movie is padded out with lots of aimless dialog and timewasting. The animation is, for the most part, top-notch and moves smoothly across the screen. All the characters look fantastic and are very faithful to the original source material including their individual moves. Watching characters face-off against each other is very satisfying to see and it’s not disappointing. What was disappointing was the lack of the full roster of characters and how other characters seem to come and go.

The whole story only revolves around a few of the main characters, kinda. Felicia, Morrigan, Demitri, Donovan, Pyron, Phobos (Huitzil), Hsien-Ko (Lei-Lei), Anita, and Bishamon. Out of these characters only Morrigan, Felicia, Demitri, Pyron, and Donovan are actually around for the bulk of the plot. Others merely appear for a scene and then disappear altogether (Gallon/John Talbain and Zabel/Lord Raptor being typical examples). Unfortunately Sasquatch, Viktor, Anakaris, and Rikuo are killed off in quickfire sequences at the start of episode four.

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But yeah the plot is nonsense because you simply cannot make a decent plot out of a videogame fighter (unless you maybe focus on one character and even then…). And alas that’s where this anime falls down because it’s just a load of boring guff until the next fight. I mean there is never any explanation as to how these characters have come to be. I mean vampires, werewolves, and zombies are easily explained, but catwomen? Also, Morrigan’s and Ksien-Ko’s outfits have always looked ridiculous. Some characters you can work with because they look good (Bishamon), others look stupid. But where did they all come from? Why have humans gone back to the dark ages just because of a lack of sunlight? etc…

I also found Pyron to be outrageously over powerful and the fact he was beaten in the end seemed inconceivable frankly. He is able to defeat almost all the Darkstalkers quite easily, often with the same powerful move. Yet then at the end he is beaten with one supernatural move from Donovan (which I didn’t quite follow). I still don’t really understand why Pyron needs the Huitzil robot drones either. He built them and in the end destroys them all, why not just switch them off?

Don’t get me wrong this isn’t an outright fail of an anime, not by a long shot. It’s definitely not a masterpiece for sure but its certainly a solid effort and adapting this videogame. Overall the visuals are great and really atmospheric. Like I said all the characters are beautifully recreated and some of them do get some great sequences. Donovan vs Bishamon is probably the best fight both visually and from a story point of view (Bishamon is probably my fave character after Gallon). If you like the videogame then you might like this, its leagues better than the US cartoon series that’s for sure.

6/10

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Ninja Scroll (1993)

Ah another anime movie I saw back in the 90’s because I felt I had to see it as it was seen as the right/popular thing to do/see (so easily influenced when you’re young). Yes in my early to mid-teens (can’t remember) I did see this anime (somehow) after seeing and hearing lots about it…probably mainly in Forbidden Planet. As I recall I didn’t actually like this film upon seeing it (same with most animes at the time) because it simply wasn’t really my thing at the time. Back then my young self was all about Arnie and JCVD so this didn’t really fit into my wheelhouse.

So seeing as I’m on this little anime binge right now its time to revisit this supernatural samurai epic. Firstly what’s it all about? Well like other anime films the plot is actually quite simplistic. Taking place in feudal Japan, Jubei Kibagami is a Ronin of sorts, a wandering masterless samurai looking for work. Upon rescuing the female ninja Kagero Jubei finds himself caught up in a battle against the eight devils of Kimon who are a team of supernatural ninjas hired by the Yamashiro clan to protect their secret gold mining operation. The gold are payments to the Toyotomi Shogun of the Dark for protection. In turn the Shogun of the Dark wants to use the gold to buy Spanish weaponry to overthrow the current Japanese government. Bottom line, Jubei and Kagero must defeat all the bad guys to protect the government.

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Visuals and Animation: So let’s just get down to the nitty-gritty. This film looks amazing, stunning, sumptuous. The director is once again Yoshiaki Kawajiri (of ‘Wicked City’ and ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’ fame) and it is obvious in the style. The animation is silky smooth throughout with tonnes of tiny details. For example there are many simple shots of nature, such as fireflies, rippling water, trees, birds etc…which are there merely to add atmosphere in the moment but at the same time are beautifully drawn and animated. There is absolutely no slacking on any frame of this animation I assure you. Every frame looks like an exquisite watercolour painting from the bamboo forest to the mystical woodlands to the shimmering bodies of water. Add to that various striking sequences that utilise only one or two colours such as red and black or shades of blue which look very dynamic and comicbook-esque.

Violence and Non-Consensual Sex: As you might expect with a sword based anime feature there is indeed a lot of violence…and it’s amazing. The ninja based action is nothing short of breathtaking as characters whizz around the screen slicing and dicing in super-smooth animation. I think the first fight we see sets out the stall for the film. A group of ninja is massacred whilst investigating an attack on a local village by one of the eight demons of Kimon. They are brutally cut to pieces by his flying blade which then culminates in their leader having his arms ripped off (out of their sockets) in a shower of claret. Said demon does actually eventually get his own blade firmly implanted in the centre of his skull. There are some amazing katana fights between Jubei and various villains which are heightened by the sound effects which really add some weight to the proceedings. And of course you have the obligatory supernatural elements of gore and trickery that are a staple diet of these productions.

Another staple of Kawajiri’s animes seems to be nudity and rape (gulp!). Yes once again the lead female character Kagero seems to be more of a sexual toy for certain fantasies rather than a strong female character (although she still is that). Now whilst ‘Wicked City’ was more bizarre with its body horror element this film feels a bit more realistic, almost. Sure the characters doing the rape are supernatural demons but they still have human form and are generally dressed in historic attire. So yeah there are nipples and sucking and fingering and rope bondage and licking…all whilst being unconscious. The fact that Kagero’s body is covered in a poisonous toxic that can’t be cured makes the porn aspects seem more dangerously kinky and vindicating if that’s at all possible, or just me.

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The other rather hilarious and uncomfortable plot point is the fact that Dakuan informs Jubei that the only way to rid himself of the poison he gave him (Dakuan deliberately injects poison into Jubei via a ninja star to blackmail him into doing his bidding) is to have sex with Kagero. Apparently the toxins across Kagero’s body will combat and reverse the poison in Jubei’s body. So not much pressure there then! Unfortunately for Kagero Jubei declines (she fancies him) but later on he kisses her and cures himself that way (so why didn’t Dakuan just say that?).

Representation: Yes there is LGBTQ representation in this old anime film. It seems in times gone by people have been happy to showcase gay characters despite what the far-left Twitterati try to force down our throats. Gemma’s right-hand man Yurimaru is his male lover! He even pushes back on a fellow female villain’s advances! How about that then! We don’t see any man love, surprising when you think about it, but the representation and lovers angst is definitely there.

Old Wise Men: Another aspect of these animes that seems to keep popping up is the wise old man character, something I have pointed out in previous reviews. Yep in this story Jubei and Kagero are aided by the short, Yodi-esque, troll-like character of Dakuan. Dakuan is a government spy charged with helping Jubei kill the demons. As already stated he does so by poisoning Jubei and promising him the cure after he completes the mission. As you might expect Dakuan is one of these characters that hides much of his skills, only showing the odd glimmer of what he can do. We know he has some kind of special powers and we know he can move quickly (despite his appearance) and is an expert in stealth. Again, like other similar characters, Dakuan is also the comedic relief in the film.

As for the other characters, its the usual anime cliche truth be told. The main protagonist Jubei is your standard good looking western-esque anime hero with a slim wiry physique, lightning katana skills, and long flowing dark hair. His female partner is again your standard attractive western-esque looking heroine with a slim physique, a slightly tomboy-ish hairstyle, and also lightning fast weapons skills.

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Most of the main bad guys also have a very cliched look about them which we’ve seen many times now (thanks to films like this). Himuro Gemma is a large hulking handsome western-esque looking villain with a lantern jaw and almost invincible fighting skills (but he is a demon). Whereas Yurimaru is the typical calm but deadly handsome skinny villain who dresses all in white, has even longer flowing hair and looks almost religious. He is able to generate electricity through his body and conducts it down a steel wire he strangles people with. The other demons literally come across like a Capcom fighting roster. There’s a ninja bloke who can utilise shadows. A sexy chick with living snake tattoos. A massive bloke who can turn his skin to stone. Another sexy chick who can manipulate gunpowder in all manner of weird ways. And a hunchback with a living hornet’s nest in his back!

In short almost everyone is very good looking with lovely straight flowing hair and great muscle structure that is either just right, hulking, or monstrous. At the same time there is also that typical exaggerated facial anime style where characters have extremely strong jaws, chiseled cheekbones, and long chins. Their features are basically very prominent…with perfect hair. Oh and everyone is really fit, even the people that don’t look it. Can make you a bit self-conscious.

As I’ve hinted at here and there, nowadays this film will come across as rather unoriginal. But that’s only because many properties have more than likely been highly influenced by other properties that were originally influenced by this anime. You can spot so many ideas that will have popped up in so many flicks over the years, not to mention videogames. Hell this anime is almost like a Samurai Shodown movie. That’s not a bad thing, I love it! Overall the sizzling action sequences, hyper turbo characters, and absolutely gorgeous artwork and animation are just so good and engaging I can’t not give this a perfect score. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this. A true cult classic, an all-round epic, a work of art.

10/10 spinstar

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Wicked City (1987)

Or ‘Supernatural Beast City’ as it’s known in Japan was another creation by Hideyuki Kikuchi (of Vampire Hunter D fame). This anime is based on Kikuchi’s six novel series called ‘Black Guard’. Funnily enough this anime movie was also directed by ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’ director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animated by Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The team works, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

So what’s it all about? Well I kinda think of this as an early adult version of ‘Men In Black’ (possibly a strong influence of said movie). Basically towards the end of the 20th-century humans coexist with another dimension that is inhabited by supernatural demons called ‘Black World’. This other dimension is only known to the select few, it’s a top-secret kept from the general public and is policed by a secret organisation of special agents (on both sides) called Black Watch.

The two worlds coexist via a peace treaty which is due to be renewed between the two sides. Unfortunately a militant group of demon radicals from Black World want to stop the treaty for their own nefarious purposes. So on the human side, agent Renzaburõ Taki, and on the demon side, agent Makie, are both assigned to protect the treaty signatory in Tokyo.

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Now to say this movie has a sexual element combined with an element of body horror would be an understatement. This was one of the first anime movies I remember seeing as a young teen purely for one thing, the first sex scene between the protagonist and a Black World radical in human form. Sounds normal, allow me to explain. For starters this sex scene is pretty in-depth all things considered, certainly an eye-opener for newbies to the genre. Anywho the real shocker comes from the girl who transforms into a spider-like humanoid with spider-like limbs (no hands) and a tooth laden vagina…yup. But wait, I’m not done. Not only that, but she walks on all fours like some kind of quadrupedal posessed horror movie nightmare and she shoots webbing out from said tooth laden vagina…yeah. She then proceeds to try and bite off Taki’s junk with her vagina (for fecks sake!).

So there’s that character. Throughout the movie there are various other Black World demons we come across which also serve up some rather gruesome visuals. Two radicals again attack Taki at the airport. One appears to have tentacles growing from his torso. He gets his head shot off which then proceeds to grow smaller tentacles and walk on its own in a spider-like fashion. Yes I too immediately thought of ‘John Carpenter’s The Thing’. The other radical seemed to have a huge tooth laden maw in his chest. Later on we see the treaty signatory almost absorbed into another female radical body in yet another sex sequence. Another female radical with mind control powers and a huge vagina-like opening in her chest (talk about subtext!). And the main antagonist of the story turns out to be your typical tentacle sprouting demon with a rock-like humanoid skin which he/it eventually sheds to reveal a more terrifying toothy monster.

Remember when I mentioned a sexual element? Yep well get ready because there is also two (yes two) full-blown animated rape sequences in here too. Firstly Makie is captured by a huge slimy snake-like slug demon which coils around her (she’s also naked), and then proceeds to literally f*ck her mouth with its rather phallic-looking tongue…ahem! Then later on poor old Makie is captured, restrained and strung up by the wrists, and then thoroughly gang-raped by two Black World radicals. It does tend to come across as if the character of Makie is more of a fetish implement than anything. I know about the Japanese and their love of tentacles, schoolgirl uniforms and whatnot.

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I think one thing that does stand out to me is the fact that no one is ever around in this movie. Tokyo is often empty. Narita airport was empty. Every battle never seems to raise any alarm from anyone or alert any police no matter where it takes place. One action sequence takes place inside a long tunnel for cars yet there are no other cars to be seen, no other humans, no traffic nothing. I know its a minor silly gripe but it did stand to me. The same can be said about the often seen ‘frozen face’ thing with anime movies. By that I mean the fact that you get loads (and I mean loads) of close-up shots of characters faces that are almost frozen, no movement.

I should also point out another often seen trope in anime movies, and that’s the wise old man character. In many anime movies I’ve seen there is often an aged wise old man character (sometimes a bad guy) who is usually very small, sometimes fat but usually skinny, ugly, troll-like almost, and usually the comedic relief. Often these characters also tend to look more cartoony in appearance than the other main characters. In ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’ there was the Dungeon Master-like character who led the Barbarois. In ‘Ninja Scroll’ there was the character of Dakuan. And here in ‘Wicked City’ there is the treaty signatory Giuseppe Mayart. A Yoda-like character who, like Dakuan from ‘Ninja Scroll’, harbours secret powers and skills.

Anyway whilst the overall plot is very simple I did find the ending somewhat baffling. Taki and Makie both face off against Shadow the villain but are finding it tough going. Even the wise old Mayart is having trouble. But low and behold Makie is able to land the final blow because…she is pregnant? Yep by this point Makie is expecting a (half-human) child with Taki and that has increased her powers (remember she is a demon from the Black World). Not sure why but there you go. Apparently this was the crafty plan all along by both parties of Black Watch and all overseen by undercover Black World agent Mayart. Taki and Makie are perfect for each other. To create the perfect half-human half-demon…person…who will ensure everlasting peace between the two dimensions, somehow. So I guess its a John Connor scenario?

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This is definitely one of the more surreal anime movies I’ve seen, but it wasn’t unpleasant (apart from the spider-woman). If anything the movie draws you in with morbid curiosity to see what crops up next. The sexual undercurrent throughout is both disturbing and again engaging I can’t deny. Watching a huge wet slimy slippery snake-like creature have its wicked way with the highly attractive female lead is something you can’t look away from even though you know it’s not supposed to be good (I think, can’t tell with these anime/manga franchises as we all know the original lure way back was the animated sex and violence).

Again the animation is top banana. Slick and smooth as butter with, I think, the odd touch of CGI? Yes the story is cliched, the main characters aren’t too original, and many of the Black World demons are, by today’s standards, a bit derivative (obviously so in some cases). But the sheer explicitness of the movie is admittedly a draw. This is one of those animes that does live up to the adult rating hype that you might recall from back in the day. Oh and yes it does have yet another one of those crappy Japanese songs over the end credits that sounds like a karaoke recording.

7/10