Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Movie Reviews

So fall has arrived here in the lower mainland. While we continue to have sunshine the average temperature is dropping. The days are getting noticeable shorter again. The selection of summer produce is getting less and less at the local market. Our Thanksgiving was a fairly simple family affair at mom's. Lots of delicious food - the turkey was traditional, the perogies were . . . well maybe traditional German food, but not really your standard Thanksgiving fare. Something about this time of year makes me want to curl up at home and watch some movies or read some good books. So, Monday evening, hubby and I went out to the video store, where we managed to pick out 5 weekly rentals (we very rarely get new releases). Lance just noticed today that of the 5 movies we rented, only one of them is English. I wonder what that says about us.

I'll start this with the caveat that I'm not very good at movie reviews. I love discussing movies, but I don't really 'rate' them or anything. Plus, sometimes it's very difficult to express how I feel about them. I'll also mention I'm tired and (technically) working right now, so I don't really have time to look up all the details or find any great links.

Movie #1: Kung Fu Hustle

Yes, this is one of those super-cheesy martial arts movies. It is made by the same group of people who did Shaolin Soccer (I believe the main actor/creator's first name is Sam . . . ). When we saw Shaolin Soccer (hereafter SS), we loved it. It was full of cheesy campy martial arts funniness. Totally awesome special effects that played into the campiness of it and a plot that poked fun at the standard epic martial arts 'quest.' So, when we sat down to watch Kung Fu Hustle (hereafter KFH), we were expecting something similar. Maybe it was the setting or they were trying too hard, but it didn't deliver the same way as SS did.

The movie is set in a 1940's China (I assumed) that is overrun by gangsters. They had some awesome costumes and sets for the movie, so at first I was hoping they would really poke fun of the era and take more advantage of that. Perhaps it would have more of a campy musical-meets-martial-arts type of feel to it? Well, I was wrong. There were a few moments that were prime for parody and they were left to fizzle out. The movie also felt as though there wasn't any one primary 'quest' or purpose. The plot felt a bit jumbled and there were a few scenes that had me wondering about their purpose in the whole movie.

On the bright side, there were still some humourous moments (the knife-throwing scene particularly resonated with Lance and I) and some great campy martial arts. I would definitely recommend watching KFH before SS to really appreciate it.

Movie #2: Steam Boy

This movie is an anime movie. Anime is quite a rich genre with a lot of possible variation among different movies. But, I can't really narrow down the type of movie any more. Maybe my brain is just having a pause and not coming up with the correct term.

The movie is made by the same person who made the well-known movie Akira (I can't remember the person's name right now). It is set in Victorian England (it was a bit strange at first to see Victorian characters speaking Japanese, but I adjusted quite quickly) and is centered around a family of inventors. Steam power was the driving force at the time and the movie takes a few liberties with the capabilities of steam engines and steps a bit toward Science Fiction at parts. The core of the movie is definitely a popular theme in SciFi as it questions the purposes of science. However, the movie is not filled with scientific jargon and is quite accessible (or perhaps I'm more of a SciFi geek than I like to admit).

The main character goes through a bit of a struggle as he tries to decide who is right and who is to be trusted. He finally has to stand on his own and make his own decisions independent of others. The movie is quite serious, but does have a few funny moments. They aren't really laugh out loud moments, but they lighten the mood a bit.

Both Lance and I really enjoyed this movie and would recommend it if you enjoy anime movies and reading subtitles (I didn't even check if there's a dubbed option on the DVD.)

The other movies we rented may or may not get reviewed as I see them. It really depends on the relative levels of business vs. laziness on my part. But, I'll tell you what they are, 'cause I know you're wondering . . .

Castle in the Sky - It's by the same guy who did Spirited Away, whose name I can't remember either. I do remember that the production studio is called "Studio Ghibli" though. This was the one movie we'd seen before. We'd own it if we could find it at a reasonable price. That in itself should serve as an indicator of how well we liked it the first time we saw it.

The Chorus - This is one that I saw a preview for on the apple site a long time ago. I liked the preview well enough to put it on my list of movies I want to watch (yes, I have an actual list in my palm pilot). It's also a foreign film (the title is actually Les Chorsitres, but don't check my spelling on that) about a man who goes to a boy's school and turns things around with his music program. My description makes it sound like Mr. Holland's Opus. Maybe it IS like that movie, just in French. But, I'm kinda a sucker for music movies.

Kingdom of Heaven - We still haven't seen this and we kinda want to. Not sure if it'll be any good, but it's one we have to see to decide if it's worthy of adding to our collection, or just another piece of fluff. It came out about the same time as King Arthur and Alexander. We saw King Arthur in theatres and laughed at the inaccuracies. I'd own that one only if we were determined to collect all the King Arthur movies out there. That would mean also permitting First Knight into our collection and I don't think that'll be happening any time soon. Alexander I've seen parts of and it didn't really do much for me. Even the previews didn't really spark my interest much. So, now we have to see if the last movie is good enough to redeem the epic movies of (insert correct season/year here) or if they all sucked.

This is turning into a long post, but I also want to briefly mention that I picked up a few books at the library yesterday. They are both young adult fiction and I'm almost half way through the first one and am LOVING IT! It's called The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. It's a retelling of a fairy tale and I have those bittersweet butterflies in my stomach when I read it that tell me I want to read more but am also sad because the more I read the faster it'll be over. Only a few books really do that to me. The other book I got is by Eva Ibbotson and is a more modern book. I believe it falls in and around the time of WWII. I'm also looking forward to that book. I also got myself an audiobook of Meg Cabot's Princess in Training. I haven't read it, but it's one that I don't feel as though I *have* to read to enjoy it. Again, I make no promises about forthcoming reviews on any of these.

1 comment:

Kim said...

Sounds like an interesting selection of movies. I've seen Kingdom of Heaven. It was okay. I remember some awards show with Castle in the Sky on it. The Oscars, maybe? Anyway, enjoy the movies!