Extended Tweets: Adapting the Bone Comics

boneWas on a Mariah Carey musical kick on YouTube and noticed that her general look in the Butterfly music video looked a lot like Thorn Harvestar’s in the Bone comic. I get that the fictional fantasy world Bone took place in was primarily white, but I’m sure a young Mariah Carey would have been an exception had a live action movie been made (I mean, she did pretty well in Precious from what I heard, though that was a good number of years later).

… either that, or animate the movie and have Mariah as the singer for an epic inspirational late-90’s/early 00’s type of tune while the end credits roll. I could totally imagine a Bone movie being more possible at around the same time as something like Disney’s Atlantis or Titan AE. Then again, it would probably have the same levels of critical acclaim as them, too, so maybe it was for the best that it hasn’t happened yet.

Still. A Bone movie would work beautifully as a hand-drawn movie. Don’t wanna be nitpicky, but I’d rather Wikipedia be lying about a CG animated trilogy in the works. I mean I’m sure the fact that they’re splitting the movie into a trilogy suggests some care will be given to the franchise, but going the CG route for animated works as of late seems to be a decision made “because all the cool kids are doing it” rather than the aesthetic working well with the story and characters.

Spoiler-Free Review: Evangelion 3.0 You Can (not) Redo

Of the entire Harry Potter series, in terms of both movies and books, I absolutely hated Order of the Phoenix. It was one of those stories that could summed up in a sentence or two in its entirety without losing any bit of detail to the story (The Ministry of Magic doesn’t believe Voldemort’s back until Harry and co. fight him on the Ministry’s turf where Sirius dies). Sure, technically stuff happens (I think all but the most avant-garde of works hold this common thread), but when it comes to the grander scheme, it was pretty obvious that it was only used as a stepping stone to get the meat of the series’ latter half.

A similar thing can be said about Evangelion 3.0: You Can (not) Redo, but for some reason I thought it was a solid enough addition to the franchise that I didn’t mind it.


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The Thieves – Korean Movie Review

When I heard that semi-recent Korean movie The Thieves was the third best-selling film in South Korean box offices ever, my interests were piqued to say the least.


The Thieves is one of those movies whose synopsis alone doesn’t come anywhere near doing it justice. As the movie starts, you’re introduced to a myriad of thieves, each one of them with a particular quirk or specialty. Aiming for a rather pricey diamond known as the Tear of the Sun, thief Macao Park gathers thieves from both Korea and China to plan the heist. With the movie’s cast and general setting for the heist taking place in a casino, you may think of this as the Korean version of Ocean’s 11, though to leave it at that wouldn’t come close to explaining the rest of the movie.

While the cast has a certain charm that makes you root for their robbery, there’s another level to the characters in the form of their interactions with each other. Besides the tension brought about in the Korean thieves mingling with the Chinese thieves, additional tension is introduced in the form of backstories with characters. It’s this slow reveal of backstory, making you side with certain thieves over others, that gives a refreshing take on the genre. The intricate and sometimes overlapping stories certain thieves have is this movie’s biggest strength, making for a narrative that delivers on so many levels.

From my understanding, each thief is played by a big name actor, though my ignorant American know-how was only able to spot out Gianna Jun, best known as the main lead in Korean dramady movie My Sassy Girl. Jun’s performance does not disappoint, delivering an expected amount of sassiness that her previous works have made her known for and stealing practically every scene she’s in. Though that’s not to say that the rest of the cast doesn’t deliver either; the rest of the thieves from the false-mustachioed Popie to the dopey Andrew really make the characters their own, interacting with each other in a way that you really believe that they’re a team of professionals, albeit occasionally goofy ones.

Usually, when it comes to movies with large casts, there’s bound to be more attention given to certain characters over others. And while such is true for The Thieves, you don’t really mind it since each character is given the amount of screen time they deserve, with nobody getting absolutely shafted. It’s the kind of movie that knows how to deal with each of its characters and their personal character arcs, as numerous as they may be for just one movie.

Overall, The Thieves deserves every bit of praise it’s gotten, with my only gripe being that its American release isn’t as packed to the brim with special features as its native Korean release was. Still, if that means a cheaper price on amazon, then you have even more reason to blind buy it. I did so myself and loved every minute of it.

Wolf Children Ame & Yuki Review

I won’t say my expectations for Wolf Children were high, though I will say that considering director Mamoru Hosoda’s track record, I was prepared to watch something well… good. And while said expectations were met, I couldn’t help but think there still remained some untapped potential in this latest work.

Wolf Children Ame & Yuki poster

Wolf Children tells the story of Hana, a woman who unknowingly falls for a werewolf. The story begins with the two of them meeting at college—Hana working hard to balance classes and part-time jobs to pay off rent and the like. Meanwhile, the Wolfman spends his days performing manual labor while occasionally finding the time to sneak into college lectures, where Hana takes a sudden interest in him. While the whole idea of werewolf on human ackshun is a rather difficult pill to swallow, the film does do a fine job of at the least making the love between them endearing and the Wolfman’s untimely death that much more tragic all in the span of the first 20 minutes.

What follows after such Disney-levels of trauma is Hana’s journey in raising two wolf children as a single mother. Not only must she hide her children’s secret from the public (the film takes the Japanese lore of werewolves into account, which can transform at will rather than just on full moons), but she must also be able to provide for them in a society that is arguably just not made for them. The fact that Hana is able to just smile through her problems when she is clearly suffering on the inside just makes you empathize with her that much more, even if you aren’t a parent yourself.

My only real problem with the film is its approach to the wolf children as they grow up. At least in older sister Yuki’s case, her exposure to both the human and wolf lifestyle seems even enough for her to make a sound decision as to who she chooses to define herself as. With younger brother Ame, though, he seems to have chosen the lone wolf lifestyle early on without too much of a struggle, making his decisions later in the movie to come off as more selfish than selfless. More of a clash between the human and wolf life throughout the movie rather than in select parts would have definitely helped raise the drama overall. Certain scenes like a toddler-aged Ame crying over the wolf being the antagonist in his picture book really brings home the idea of a clashing of cultures that I wish was better emphasized throughout, especially since when it comes down to things, life isn’t as simple as choosing one “culture” of lifestyle over another. On the contrary, culture should be what you make of it.

As a whole, Wolf Children is your standard Hosoda-directed movie, with plenty of poignant moments throughout. Though in comparison to his other works, it definitely doesn’t stand out as prominently.

Further Reading: Interview with Mamoru Hosoda on Wolf Children at kokidokum.net

Solanin (manga and movie adaptation)

I’ve already shown my appreciation of manga-ka Asano Inio through his still-ongoing manga Oyasumi Punpun, but I’ve yet to get past the surface when it came to backtracking through the rest of his works. Having read Punpun as well as his first major manga What a Wonderful World, I was well aware of Asano’s care of balancing realistic stories and overall weirdness, but I’ve yet to find a title of his that was more grounded in the former until I read Solanin.

dmncap solanin

Solanin is told from the point of view of Meiko—a recent college graduate that is struggling to find her place in the world—alongside her other friends/former classmates. The premise is simple enough, but Asano’s execution in storytelling gives it the life and personality it deserves. Each character, from Meiko and her boyfriend Taneda, to comic relief/bro characters Billy and Katou goes through their own daily life struggles that are easy to relate to, but never boring to read. As each person comes to their own realization of what it means to truly live, signs of a story begin to form and Solanin’s genre itself seems to transform from slice-of-life, to something more music-centric, following the death of a loved one. It’s this sudden shift paired with its already unique style that makes Solanin a stand-out title.

But what happens when you translate that to the big screen?

Four years after the original manga was released, Solanin was adapted into a live action movie in 2010.

dmncap solanin movie
Story-wise, the movie is a near identical clone of the manga series, taking no shortcuts when it came to adapting each plot point and each character (both major and minor, surprisingly enough). And yet for some reason, I found the movie just “alright” in comparison to its source material. Perhaps it’s the exclusion of author Asano Inio’s slight deviations from the plot with his more dreamlike asides. While the story itself is bound in the real world, Asano takes advantage of the medium that is manga by illustrating some concepts in a more fantastical sense than normal. Things like Taneda having a thought process involving personifications of each of his emotions sorting things through, to more minor things like Billy dreaming of himself dreaming were a nice demonstration of what you can get away with in the manga world that just can’t work well in a live action adaptation, and thus were dropped from the story entirely. Without such asides, the Solanin movie doesn’t seem to stand out to me as much. And considering that a certain other movie involving a ragtag band that also cast Kenta Kiritani as a supporting character was released that same year, it just made the movie that much more forgettable.

Another debilitating factor would have to be the general hype for the film.

Not only does the trailer completely and utterly spoil a twist in the plot that shows up halfway through the movie, but it makes it out to be the central point that drives the entire movie. On top of that, posters and the like seemed to focus on the film more in terms of its cast creating their band post-(spoilers), shoving aside the whole “finding yourself after college” theme entirely. I know that trailers and movie posters are only a small part of the movie, but they do serve as an influence for audiences and should give a feel of what the movie has to offer rather than showing all its cards upfront.

But gripes aside, that’s not to say that the movie still isn’t a fun ride. It faithfully adapts its source material to the T, maintaining the likeable cast and relatable-ness of the overall story with a cast of actors that really brought the characters to life (again, allow me to mention Kenta Kiritani and his scene-stealing performance as Billy). But even with that in mind, I still can’t give it more than a “good but not great” rating.

Oddly Shonen: Rise of the Guardians Review

I remember back when Watchmen was announced to be adapted into a movie a couple years back. So many people were excited to see one of the most celebrated comic titles up on the big screen, but for everyone else they were just excited to see another superhero action movie. And then the movie came out. I don’t know about general reactions across the board, but I will say that in my circle of friends and acquaintances that caught the movie, there was a very visible divide between people that enjoyed the movie as a decent adaptation of its source material, and the more casual viewers that went into it expecting a simple action movie and well… got more than they bargained for.

I wouldn’t say I got that exact same vibe from Rise of the Guardians, but it was definitely something similar to it.

Proof that more poster space = more of a main character

Proof that more poster space = more of a main character

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Short Review Means I’m Still Speechless: Wreck-It Ralph Review

With the amount of videogame titles (not to mention snack foods) incorporated into Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, from an easter egg standpoint, it was already guaranteed to deliver. But what about in terms of story?

Minutes into the movie, we’re introduced to the land of videogame characters. The varied cast interacts with each other in a way similar to that of the toys in Toy Story, except switch out Andy’s room with an arcade where all the videogame characters intermingle through means of their shared plug outlet. Within the shared videogame world, amazingly enough, is an established set of rules/game logic that helps push the story forward, never once contradicting itself—a difficult task when dealing with such an “anything goes” mentality of videogames in general.

We’re introduced to Ralph, who’s been a certified wrecker/antagonist for the arcade game “Fix-It Felix Jr.” for a good 30 years now, and by this point in his life, he’s starting to consider what it means to be a bad guy and how much better his life would be if he was simply made to be a hero instead. It’s a rather simple concept that ends up being executed exquisitely. Rather than being too caught up in standard definitions for “good” and “bad,” Wreck-It Ralph understands and acknowledges that living by “how you’re programmed” is a murky topic and as such takes a cautious, yet satisfying, approach to the subject.

But what I especially loved about the movie was the progression of its story. What initially comes off as a gag or minor detail is not only mentioned again later in the story, but helps flesh out the plot significantly. It reaches the point that you can really tell just how much time and effort was put into the story’s structure.

I feel like I’ve kept the review incredibly vague, but I swear that’s only because I was so taken away by this movie and to delve further into it would only give spoilers. Just watch it and you’ll see.

Let the Skyfall: Skyfall Movie Review

James Bond certainly isn’t new to the film industry and as such needs some kind of touch-up every now and then to set it apart from the rest of its billion-and-something other films. Add to this that fact that it’s been four years since the first Bond film starring Daniel Craig and you can say that it’s about time we see some kind of overarching progression when it comes to his own take on the character.

Following the par-for-the-course (which still equates to spectacular in this case) chase scene and Adelle-accompanied animated credits that open the film, MI6, the agency Bond works for, is starting to show signs of wear as the powers that be challenge their existence in the first place. And with few people to turn to, M, head of the MI6, is forced to rely once again on Bond. However, it’s clear that while Bond is willing and able, there’s a certain air about himself that hints at him having seen better days. Unlike John McClane’s “action hero in a tech-savvy world” premise that was Live Free or Die Hard, though, the idea wasn’t so disgustingly blatant and was handled with the amount of grace that you would expect out of Bond. 007’s fish-out-of-water interactions with the techie Q are one of my favorite ones throughout the entire movie.

Skyfall continues in classic 007-style with its standard-yet-still-exquisite tropes of fun gadgets, sexy ladies, trips to foreign places. However, rather than being part of the main plot, these tropes end up serving as more of a lead-in to the main villain, Silva. As the story progresses, we learn that a hard drive was stolen, containing the names of every undercover agent within a terrorist organization. Silva, played by Javier Bardem, does an excellent job of making the most out of this stolen information, with every step he takes being not only an attack on the MI6, but also a slap in the face to them, mocking their lack of efficiency in an almost child-like manner (when YouTube and Robin Hood references are made, “child-like” was honestly the best word I could think of). And upon learning of the villain’s backstory and relations to MI6, things are only escalated that much more, with Bond now having someone that can match him hit for hit (in a Dark Knight type of way, and thankfully not in a Game of Shadows type of way).

By the final act, the audience is finally given an explanation to the title of the movie which I still have mixed feelings on. To delve as far back into Bond’s backstory as they did was interesting, yes, but felt unnecessary the more I thought about it. Regardless, the action built up in the first two acts still delivers in the finale and doesn’t come off as too aimless (again, I’m looking at you Game of Shadows).

All in all, Skyfall serves as the perfect end-point for Daniel Craig’s run as 007, with just enough wiggle room in the end for a possibility of him continuing his role for another handful of movies.

Accent on “Amazing” — The Amazing Spider-Man Movie Review

The most anticipated movie for me this year would hands down have to be The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, it doesn’t build off of the backstories built by multiple earlier released movies like The Avengers did, but its beginnings had just as much buildup and hype—mainly from the fact that they were re-starting the movie franchise from the beginning a mere five years after the last movie’s installment (the horrendous, horrendous Spider-Man 3).

Before the review, some pre-movie notes: 1) Nickelodeon apparently dipping their toes into the PG-13 realm is bad for everyone involved (seriously, not one, but two humping jokes in the same trailer?); 2) a polite “screw you” to the theater people for running out of ticket paper material and nulling out the supposed quickness of having fandango tickets sent to my smart phone (which just snowballed into more crap ultimately resulting in me getting a free movie voucher for putting up with all this). Anyways…

A major beef people had with this movie before it even came out was the fact that it was a reboot. Now, people wouldn’t have such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the Spider-Man mythos has been told so many times that even my parents get the gist of his origin story by now. That said, the movie actually does a good job of making sure a majority of the origin story isn’t treading the same ground that the Raimi’s Spider-Man movie did, giving things a more modern take (Flash’s bully scenes in Raimi’s film scream early 2000’s), altering them somewhat (the conflict leading to Uncle Ben’s expected death is significantly different), or making something new altogether (the whole dealie with Peter’s parents). The results make for a lot to handle in just a single movie, but as a whole, things are delivered efficiently enough.

Contrary to all the rumblings building up before the premier, Peter Parker’s character pre-spider-powers is not an emo douchebag. The film does an exceptional job at the start establishing his position in the brutal hierarchy that is high school in a number of scenes without coming off as too redundant. Parker is a nerd, but one without friends that is still willing to stand up for what’s right even though he doesn’t have the power to really do so.

His family life is a bit different. Since the movie has taken the route of weaving in his parent’s story with his origin story, you’re given a significant amount of screen time explaining his parents and how they relate to events unfolding in the present. This would be fine, but it does result in Parker’s Aunt and Uncle getting less screen time. And while this didn’t hurt Uncle Ben’s scenes, Aunt May was noticeably affected. While it isn’t said outright, Peter’s late-night patrols as Spidey seem like shady gang-related activity to people who wouldn’t know any better. Having her nephew come home late at night with bruises on his face and insisting everything is alright must be getting to Aunt May on the inside, so it’s a shame that we’re only shown a small scene building up her thoughts on the matter. If anything, there’s the one bit problem I had in this movie: sacrifice of some characters in favor of others. Speaking of which…

The interactions with the Stacys (Gwen and her dad, in particular) gave an interesting take on outsiders looking in on Spidey’s life that the Raimi films didn’t really have (at least not in this form).

Gwen starts off as a simple classmate of Peter’s but is able to develop into a love interest without falling into the generic pitfalls that MJ’s character had in the Raimi films. She’s a smart character (insisting she’s smarter than Pete on one occasion) and clearly makes the best use of her smarts when she’s in a pinch. Add to this the awesomely quirky chemistry between her and Pete and you have a love story you can root for that doesn’t hinder the plot any. It helps that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are crazy endearing as their characters and as actors in general.

As for her father, Captain Stacy, I was surprised that they went out of their way to flesh out his character as much as they did. Like all cops in superhero movies, he sees Spider-Man as a vigilante that’s taking the law into his own hands. He sends his men out to capture Spidey any chance he gets, and it almost reaches the point that if it weren’t for the Lizard being in this movie, you’d think the Captain was the main villain. Such a premise could have fallen flat on its head had it not been given the attention it needed. Thankfully that’s not the case this time around.

One thing I noticed throughout the entire movie is that the name “Spider-Man” is rarely said out loud. Over the course of the plot, you see Peter begin to grow into his role as a hero, initially taking on the Spider-Man persona as a means to get revenge on his uncle’s killer, taking down any crook in hopes that he’s the one that took his uncle away from him. It actually isn’t until well into the movie does Parker perform such a selfless heroic act. The buildup towards it makes the payoff worthwhile, and Spidey’s little quips every now and then at the baddies and police are a welcome addition.

As a little sidenote, I’m also glad to say that the new Spider-Man movie suit is nowhere near as distracting as promotional images suggested they’d be. With the amount of debris and running he does, you’d never even notice any changes to his design were done outside of his gloves and self-designed web-shooters.

And what’s a superhero movie without a superhero villain? Doc Connors worked alongside Peter’s dad back in the day, both receiving considerable heat from their colleagues for going into realms of science that were mainly considered possible only in monster movies (or in this case, comic books). His connection with the Parkers and Peter’s later involvement in the creation of the Lizard makes things more “personal,” but in the end his actions come off more as someone trapped under the foot of a superior rather than someone that’s a full-fledged villain in his own right. Though, considering the heavy amount of foreshadowing with Norman Osborne, I guess this is understandable (btw, stay during the first couple seconds of the end credits for some additional sequel seed-planting).

Lastly, while Amazing goes out of its way to separate itself from the Raimi films, it does share in the previous movies’ interest in working class heroes. From what I’ve heard, New York has an unreal pride in Spider-Man—probably the most pride you’ll get out of Americans towards a fictional character, even going as far as having actual celebrations in his name whenever a Spidey movie comes out (must have been awkward when Spidey 3 came out). As such, the films seem to tip their hat off toward New York and its patrons by giving some screen time towards the every-day man in the form of a scene or two where ordinary citizens help Spidey rather than vice versa. While it’s a nice gesture and it does fit in with the rest of the plot, I will say that for this film, it slowed down the action somewhat, which could be problematic considering that time was a factor by that point in the film.

Still, at the end of the day, Spider-Man remains one of the best representations of the common man faced with taking on unreal responsibilities. And it’s this simple connection that makes him and this movie so enjoyable.

“In space no one can hear you make prequel movies” Prometheus Movie Review

Okay, like a month late on watching this, but that’s what I get for actually caring about graduating.

Let me first say that before this month, I never even gave the Alien movie franchise a second glance and pretty much grouped it along with the other franchises of Hollywood’s past that got run into the ground after one too many sequels.

Thankfully, impulse buys were able to slightly change my stance on the franchise (seriously, $30 for the quadrilogy on Blu-Ray is just too good a deal to pass up). My opinions are essentially the same as most I’ve heard: Alien redefined the genre of sci-fi; Aliens took a different route than I woulda have expected, but was equally good (and served as a good precursor to Terminator 2, who previously directed Aliens); Alien 3 just put me in a bad mood due to its overall crappiness; and I never even followed up with Resurrection since I didn’t want to be in too bad a mood for Prometheus. Still, an overall solid series that deserves its position in American film and pop culture (where would Freeza be without it?).

So a good 10+ years since the last sequel, I guess it was only inevitable that Hollywood would want to dip back into their old ideas with something of a prequel in Prometheus. The plot starts in the not-so-distant future of 2089, where archaeologists have found an odd link between multiple ancient artifacts from unrelated cultures—a depiction of a tall figure pointing towards circles in the sky. The archaeologists interpret the coincidence as an invitation from the race that preceded humans, and with some funding from Weyland Corp, a voyage to the star system depicted in those drawings from civilizations past is a go (with quite the diverse crew, might I add). But, as commonplace in sci-fi movies, nothing is as it seems, and things start going awry when the crew finds that the life they’re looking for may not be as hospitable as initially thought.

At its core, the setup of a crew of space explorers with good intentions only to be killed off one by one is pretty much what the first Alien movie was, too, but it makes for an instance of a good rehash that takes all positive influence from its predecessor without sticking too closely to its source material. For example, the deal with Weyland Corp, a group that pops up a number of times throughout the older movies without much backstory to them, is finally given something of a history that isn’t just “we wanna put people’s lives at risk for the sake of alien exploration” and advances the plot forward without merely serving as lip service to fans of the old series. Similarly, the claustrophobic sweaty visuals from the older movies are back in full force, taking classic cues and using them to the fullest here for a good horror-type of feel. You’re also given an equally large and quirky team in charge of the operation that makes sure that you find at least one person to root for to survive through all the nonsense thrown at them (the ship’s Captain and his two mates are the best characters in the movie; just saying). As a whole, Prometheus just does an excellent job of taking the themes present in the first Alien but taking enough of a different spin on them to be set apart from the franchise.

…though I will say in terms of use of sex / sex appeal in females, Prometheus takes something of an opposite approach than its forefathers did. The Alien movies, especially the first one, wasn’t afraid to be blatant with their use of sexual imagery, from the shape of the alien and the ship, to how main lead Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was portrayed, especially by the movie’s finale. To have such imagery in something as mainstream as a Hollywood sci-fi movie seems so contrary to what would one would expect, but it worked. Compare that to how Prometheus took character Shaw (Noomi Rapace) who starts off as something resembling a cute, bright-eyed archaeologist in hopes of finding new life only to transform into (not literally, and without spoiling anything) something disgusting to the point that when she strips off her clothes you honestly wish she’d put them back on. It’s an equally unorthodox approach to a female lead, but it works just as well.

As the movie’s release approached, one particular thing I was wondering about was just exactly how much from the previous films would Prometheus be using as a crutch—something like a shout-out to the older works that in the case of a crappy movie would at least get the fanboys on the edges of their seats. Thankfully, no cues from previous movies were used in any way to make up for the film’s lacking. Though that’s not to say that the film tried so hard to go out of its way to work as a separate franchise altogether. On the contrary, the film works as something that takes place in the same universe as the prior films, but doesn’t rely on anything from them as a crutch in the slightest. You see things like similar species of alien with acid for blood, robot helpers that look like humans, and even straightup designs from movies past, but never are they used as an attempt to take away from what the movie itself has to offer.

It’s a rare case of a spinoff taking place in the same universe as its past works and combining the right mix of old and new to make something enjoyable for everyone that’s a fan of the genre as a whole.

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