Monday, November 12, 2018

Illang: The Wolf Brigade (2018)

Live action versions of Anime movies or series haven't been too successful. Illang: The Wolf Brigade is based on Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. I haven't seen Jin-Roh so I can't compare this to it. That is the reason if I don't give proper hate to this live action version. Jin-Roh went to my watch list after seeing live action version. So it can't be all bad.

My biggest problem is the premise and about first half hour. I had to take a break after it and come back later.Premise it South Korea and North Korea are planning uniting into one Korea. Much like Germany did. Movie happens in South Korea where some people doesn't want unite with North Korea. They shout it will break families. I am not expert in Korean situation but I thought division of Korea broke the families and united Korea would look much more like South Korea than North Korea. I am not getting deeper into that. It was there to explain why there was special force with inhuman look.

After first half hour we can forget the premise and concentrate on the story. There were moments when I thought giving up but because this wasn't Hollywood movie and I wasn't sure where the story was going I continued. It was worth it. Problem at the beginning is I wasn't sure what is going on. Movie follows some characters and then moves to other characters without giving reason why it does it. It gives reason but stating it is spoiler. Move from one characters to others was bit confusing at first but made more sense when story went on and we got to real main characters.

Movie doesn't stop jumping from one character's point of view to another character's point of view after introducing main characters. It is even used as storytelling device later. Idea was clever but execution wasn't on bar with the idea. Characters are the problem. Characters are either blank slates or introduced as evil. Story tells there are no really good people. People are forced into roles by society and can't be really good because of the world they live in. Or they embrace their role by being evil.

Change of point of view doesn't have impact it should when you jump to evil guys point of view. If he wasn't painted as evil the change would have made it interesting when you didn't know which side you should root for. That was what they wanted but they showed the other guy and his side was evil earlier.

Story needed characters with internal struggles. There is one character with internal struggle but her role is to be the character who shows people can't make real choices in this world. Other characters needed internal struggles to make them more interesting. One other start to have internal struggle at the end but that struggle should have been there from the beginning. Story is build on that internal struggle which doesn't start until the end. They wanted to show the character as emotionless killing machine rather than character with internal struggle.

Illang: The Wolf Brigade is slow movie which doesn't explain too much. You have to figure out what is going on. First half hour is confusing if you don't know anything about the movie before watching it. Story is really good but there was potential to be better. I can understand if Jin-Roh fans doesn't like this movie. Jin-Roh is probably the better version of the story. This version isn't bad. It just lacks character development to be really good and it made mistake of making one side looking evil when it should have shown both sides operating in gray area.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Life (2017)

It took me second try to watch Life (2017). It is one of those science fiction horror movies which doesn't have much to offer. Most people have probably already forgotten it. I saw what it was during first fifteen minutes when I tried to watch it first time. I forced myself to watch it this time. It has good actors but they are not given much. Now I have seen it and can tell why it may not be worth of your time.

Life is story of space station crew who study martian life form. Life form reanimates and start to kill the crew. That is pretty much the movie. Sounds lot like Alien. Alien had good characters and story arcs besides alien killing crew. This doesn't have either. There is no drama. No tension between characters. Character doesn't have different view points. Nothing. It is just alien killing the crew and crew trying to survive.

Worst thing is movie tries to be hard science fiction but it forgets how scientists would work in this kind of situation and basics of living in space. No crew member would open quarantine door when alien life form has escaped. There wouldn't be flamethrowers eating oxygen. Space is cold. There is no need for water based cooling system in spacesuits. These mistakes or what you want to call them took me of the movie.

This might work if you are science fiction horror fan. There were couple good scares. Addition to those there were few cool looking scenes with good camera work. But there wasn't much more to offer. You can safely skip this movie unless you really need to see horror movie where alien kills people in space station. Even in that case there are better options.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Old Ones Awake

Here is little lovecraftian horror video for your Halloween enjoyment. It was inspirited by two Cthulhu tracts and stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Original plan was not to follow Cthulhu tracts' template where one person is telling other about the old ones to someone who doesn't believe them but I couldn't make dialog work without doing it.

If you want to know more about this video check my making of blog post at my other blog.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Blade Runner: Theatrical Cut (1982)

I don't remember when I watched Theatrical Cut last time. When Director's Cut was released theatrical cut became obsolete. Blade Runner is one of those movies studio's meddling ruined. Or at least that is what they say. I have already reviewed The Final Cut so I concentrate on what is different from other versions. Director's Cut and The Final Cut were pretty similar with couple restored scenes and redone effects in The Final Cut.

Studio made changes director Ridley Scott didn't want to do. They got their way but later they let him made two revised versions. This let us see what was changed from Ridley Scott's original vision. Most of the movie is the same. Major differences are the ending and Harrison Ford's voice over. Minor changes include little bit differently cut scenes and louder background voices. Do those changes ruin the movie. No. But they make the movie worse.

Changes were made to make movie easier to follow for common person. Other cuts work better because they flow better without distractions. It is not because I am more familiar with Director's and Final cuts. It is because Harrison Ford's voice over and louder background voices break the rhythm and feel of the movie. Voice over feels half done. It is missing from scenes which needs it to keep the rhythm. At the beginning almost all silent moments are filled with voice over. Then it stops for the most time only to be there to explain some scenes.

To make voice over work there should have been more of it. But voice over wasn't that good. It explained things which didn't need explaining. Other cuts let you find your own meanings. Voice over tells you how you should feel about what is happening on screen. Problem with voice over was it really didn't bring anything. It was afterthought when someone felt movie would be too hard for common people. I wouldn't had problem with voice over if it was supposed to be there from the beginning and had same thought put into it as the rest of the movie.

The ending has same problems as voice over. It is called happy ending. Other versions end with elevator doors closing. It leaves open what happens next. It hints they managed to escape. Theatrical cut shows them escaping and voice over tells they managed to escape. Doesn't ruin the movie but makes it worse.

The Final Cut is the version to see. Theatrical Cut is more of a curiosity. It doesn't have the unicorn scene. If you have problems with that scene you should watch Theatrical Cut. Voice over wasn't good enough to make this alternative version to see. If it was better we probably wouldn't have got Director's and Final Cuts. I could see voice over work completely rewritten and with much more of it. But as it is The Final Cut is the version to see.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight (2018)

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is Batman re-imagination set to 19th century Gotham. Steam punk Batman sounded good but we didn't get one. There is steam punk imaginary but it is inconsistent. Batman has motorbike when there is nothing even remotely like that around except a zeppelin which is as much out of place in world where people move with horse carriages. I wouldn't talk about this if the story was engaging.

Batman is trying to find Jack the Ripper who is killing women in streets of Gotham. This is not origin story but Batman is not well known yet. Some think he is the killer. Movie relies heavily on you knowing the original characters and wanting to see different versions of them. Characters are not who they are in regular Batman but versions they could have come if they lived in different era. This could have been strength but there is one big problem.

This should be detective story but there is very little investigation. Batman literally stumbles into Jack the Ripper's room when he is there for totally other reason. This came out of the blue. All hints given pointed to wrong direction. Maybe if I watch this again knowing who the killer is I might see hints given during the movie but I won't be seeing it again.

This should have been clever detective story. But it is not clever nor detective story. There is a scene where old woman shouts to Bruce Wayne in front of police he will be hanged if he doesn't pay her. Police doesn't react to this at the time but you can see how this could be important in the story later. Story telling was this subtle. Everything else was thrown at us like this but detective story was two or three scenes showing microscope and having references to Sherlock Holmes without giving any real hint who the killer was. Batman found it out by mistake.

Batman fought Jack the Ripper three time. Jack didn't have any problems dominating Batman. But for some strange reason Jack wanted to run from Batman and Batman fight Jack. This wasn't used as story element or character development. Batman just wanted to catch Jack. He didn't plan fight or trying to gain advantage. He just got lucky last time.

There was lot of potential but only memorable things were few visuals. They had some good ideas but something doesn't work. Movie doesn't find correct tone. Sometimes it feels they wanted to show too many 19th century versions of Batman characters. For example everything with Hugo Strange could have been cut off. Movie is about 80 minutes long but it feels much longer because story doesn't go forward. There are just lot of scenes which doesn't lead to anything. If they do it is much later when you have forgotten the scenes.