June 14, 2013

  • SERIES REVIEW: Dance in the Vampire Bund (2010)

    12 Episodes

    GENRE: Japanese Action Anime

    SUMMARY: To the horror of Japan and the rest humanity, vampires are real and the child princess of the vampires Mina Tepes plans on building a community only for vampires. When teenager Akira gets caught up in her plans, they find themselves facing rogue vampires and other vermin.

    REVIEW: The director has issues. The art is pretty good, but Princess Mina is annoying. Because she’s thousands of years old, the director uses it as an excuse to get her naked and in provocative clothes, but here’s the catch…SHE’S IN AN 8 YEAR OLD’S BODY! Yeah, that killed it for me. Couldn’t get past it. The plot was alright, but with how obsessed the writer is apparently with naked little children, the whole show became tainted for me. There were so many more interesting characters. Take for example the princesses guard which only come up in one episode, there is like 8 of them and they all look like the come from a fighting game each with a different weapon. I want to learn about those guys, but no. Instead lets get a little girl naked and have her try to seduce a teenager. Sweet! 

    ART: 8/10
    PLOT & STORYTELLING: 6/10
    CHARACTERS: 5/10 (not into kiddy porn)
    OVERALL: 5/10 (the kiddy porn aspect just got me pissed off that I invested time into it)

April 4, 2013

  • RESTAURANT REVIEW: Sno Boba Tea Cafe (SOUTH OKC)

     

    CUISINE: Vietnamese, Cafe, Tea/Coffee

    OVERVIEW: 8/10
    My wife and I have been coming here for over a year now after moving from Norman and losing quick access to milk teas via T.E.A. Cafe. We tried various local joints in south OKC and settled on Sno Boba because of the great milk teas, cheap prices, and great staff. 

    FOOD: 6.5/10
    I primarily try to eat gluten free stuff so I haven’t tried very much of their menu, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good their Greek salad was. I was honestly expected ice burg lettuce and a few croutons from such a small tea joint, but got fresh green romaine lettuce with healthy portions of seasoned chicken, feta, veggies, and a great Greek dressing. I’ve eaten their spring rolls  as well during a study session and enjoyed them. They’re seem non-traditional (you’ve been warned), but I don’t get spring rolls very often so hard to say but they were good. 

    DRINK: 9/10
    You have to like the milk teas obviously, but we love milk teas and these are some of the best. We’ve tried just about every flavor they have and have yet to be disappointed. My wife and I’s favorite is the coconut milk tea with black tea and no boba. I know it’s crazy to some of you bubble tea fans out there, but we both think that boba in general tastes like snot balls.

    STAFF: 4 to 10/10 depending
    Okay this is one of the reasons we love this joint. The owner is an awesome friendly gal who we’ve only spoken to when we stop by but she’s turned us into her advocates on a mission to make sure the place succeeds. Her along with the standard staff are great. The only thing is they get in young staff to help out now and again and none of them have never been very good. They seem to be the epitome of what old folks gripe about the young generation: lazy, rude, and not as good at making the food/drinks. However, this only has been an issue 2 or 3 times out of the many many times we stop by and hasn’t stopped us from coming for our frequent mood-lifting milk tea treats.

    BUILDING/ATMOSPHERE: 5/10

    The building is very small, but well kept and comfortable. It is surround by windows on three sides that make it nice to sit in as well.

    PRICE: $

    Sno Boba Tea Cafe on Urbanspoon

March 18, 2013

  • MOVIE REVIEW: Star Trek II Wrath of Khan (1982)

    GENRE: Sci-Fi Movie

    SUMMARY: The title and responsibilities of Admiral feel ill-fitting for the recently promoted James T. Kirk as he attempts to hang up his captain’s uniform and his desire to explore far-off galaxies with it. They set off on a simple training mission, but with the re-emergence of his past foe Khan, a genetically engineered super-genius, and the Enterprise being the only ship in the quadrant, can Starfleet afford not to have their best captain back?

    REVIEW: After finally re-watching Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan I can see why Shane and Ash like Kirk so much. It’s also made me realize why Shatner says his performances were better than Chris Pines’ (from Shane’s post a while back: http://geektyrant.com/news/2012/12/1/william-shatner-says-star-trek-reboot-not-as-good-as-his-own.html). While new Kirk may be dashing, a rebel, and fun, Shatner portrays a truly radical captain who takes command of the scene when he takes command of the ship. 

    In Star Trek II, the whole feel of the movie is like a navy submarine battle in space and it’s amazing because of it. The crew is called to attention for Kirk’s boarding with a electric bosun’s whistle, they respond to Kirk with “Sir” and follow his orders, despite the technology being older for the special effects the computer consoles look more appropriately utilitarian and functional, and the uniforms feel right instead of like fashion statements of the future. The mood they are creating is clear and the director’s vision is carried out expertly. They even subtly explain why the captain beams down to check something out: Lt. Saavik tries to warn him but he goes anyway because he’s Kirk and in command so he does what he wants. When they go they go with weapons drawn like any sensible person would. It really has a true Navy feel to it which should mean something coming from a sailor. It’s sad that almost all this feel and awesomeness was lost in the next movie (from what Mere and I could stay awake through). They move away from the military feel and are clearly influenced by Star Wars in an attempt to make the Starfleet universe feel “fresh” and “edgy”. Unfortunately it comes of as fitting a square peg in a round hole and they lose all the good parts of their storied landscape (what idiot would put Nimoy in charge of a movie whose whole plot centers on his character?).

    This movie meant a lot to me personally because as I’ve started to finally explore the Star Trek universe as an adult, I’ve started to grow weary of the direction its taken. It’s a world envisioned by those more obsessed with “what ifs” that’s grown unnecessarily out of touch with a grounding in the reality of human emotions. It’s rather un-compelling intellectual fluff. Thematic and philosophical story lines can easily be gripping as good sci-fi and Nolan’s Batman trilogy demonstrate. I keep wondering why Picard’s crew is just so soft and undisciplined. Granted they keep using the excuse of “this is a science vessel” but when put in a combat situation there is no reason that Picard shouldn’t switch the ship into a military mode and have security that has been through some training. It also always frustrated me how, because of their limited cast due to budget, the command and support officers would beam down to a possible hostile situation without a heavily armed and trained escort. Even a science vessel could benefit from discipline and a well enforced chain of command. Star Trek II is a vindication of everything that frustrates me. It’s a coming together of all these loose threads into one glorious 2-hour event. The movie is a glimpse into what the Star Trek franchise could have been and a clear illustration of how they missed the starship on this one.

    9/10 DIRECTING, CINEMATOGRAPHY, & STORYTELLING
    8/10 ACTING
    8/10 PLOT & WRITING
    8.5/10 OVERALL (Great great movie!)

November 9, 2012

  • MOVIE REVIEW: The Secret of Kells (2009)

    GENRE: Children’s Adventure-Fantasy Animated Movie

    SUMMARY: In a medieval village, young Brandon lives in a small Irish abbey lead by his uncle the overprotective abbot. When the shadow of invading Norsemen falls over the land, Brandon must brave the enchanted forests to complete a work of legendary illuminated text.

    REVIEW: This was a random find suggested in a forum by a fan to the artist of one of my favorite web-comics (http://tmkcomic.depleti.com/). Just like the comic, it is influenced by illuminated texts only more so. The art is super graphic and beautiful. It is amazing and the best part of the whole movie. It alone is worth the look. The storytelling is weird. There isn’t a lot of explanation and a whole lot of “that’s just the way it is”. It made it feel a lot like traditional stories. Because of this though the movie seemed short and lacked traditional American plot development. So the plot was rather blah but the way they told it was really cool and folksy. It is very much a mesh of Paganism and Christianity. Very cool and worth a look if you have the time.

    ART: 9/10
    STORYTELLING & PLOT: 7/10
    CHARACTERS:7/10
    OVERALL: 8/10

November 6, 2012

  • INCOMPLETE SERIES REVIEW: The Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010-2012)

    1 Season of 2 Watched (2nd not on Netflix)

    GENRE: American Action Anime

    SUMMARY: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Ant Man, Wasp, the Hulk, Hawkeye, and more join forces to combat evil in New York and all over the world. Avengers Assemble!

    REVIEW: It’s a really good solid cartoon. It just illustrates the difference between American vs. Japanese animation production differences. The plot is deceptively simply executed in such a careful way it hides the complexity that is written into it. Bad anime is un-focused and attempts to be overly complicated and emotional. It’s the same story with the animation. At first, it looks like that same tried and true style as the DC Justice League which has its roots in the amazing Batman animated series, but there is more too it. There were still-frames when I found myself appreciating the perspective and correct anatomical foresight of a character. They do so much with few lines and shading. Anime can just try to dang hard. It is more close to the comic than the movie which means the character is more like the original comics (ex. Hawkeye wears a purple pointy headed hero’s uniform while in the movie he’s in tactical gear). Go into realizing it’s made for kids but adults can appreciate and enjoy it as well (like Finding Nemo). Overall, a very solid showing.

    ART: 7/10
    STORYTELLING & PLOT: 8/10
    CHARACTERS: 8/10
    OVERALL: 8/10

November 5, 2012

  • INCOMPLETE SERIES REVIEW: Blood+ (2005-2006)

    6 episodes watched of 2 Seasons

    GENRE: Japanese Action-Horror Anime

    SUMMARY: Saya, a half vampire half human with amnesia of her past, must rally her wits and protect her happy life and family from the onslaught of vampire hordes.

    REVIEW: Because the live-action movie didn’t complete the anime movie, I decided to check out the anime series the made to see if it might be any better. It was better but another disappointment compared to the original and I won’t be finishing the series (I only like to finish shows that strike me as awesome). 

    In the original, the main character Saya is an unapologetically harsh hunter who uses a standard legit katana and finds herself disgusted and annoyed with the humans she protects and appreciative of the vampire race’s power and grace. She suffers from an internal struggle and associates more with her prey than those she works for, but the vampires are just too dangerous to allow to live. It’s a fascinating story of an antihero who doesn’t like her role and a 16-year old girl who is actually a 400-year old badass. The psychology isn’t too complex, but is really interesting too me. Its a rare find in anime to have a powerful female lead who is worthy of respect.

    In this series, they ruin all that by making Saya have amnesia turning her into the typically weak anime female character to appeal to the paternal instincts of males watching the show. Her sword is now a weird katana that channels her blood and she has a male servant and government agent to lead her around and protect her while she freezes in combat and cries because her “female emotions” are just too much to handle. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think every female character in media has to be strong, but why take an awesome example of one and just ruin it when it’s the most interesting thing about the franchise? It was a stupid choice but the directors/producers/writers. However, had I not seen the original I think that the show would have been moderately good, though Saya would have eventually annoyed me too much to continue probably. What is it about anime that people have to make it so emo? The art isn’t as good as the movie (which is probably one of the most impressive displays of animation I’ve ever seen) but is pretty dang solid. Save for Saya’s character, the look and feel of the show are much more loyal to the original than the action movie, but that’s a pretty major shift that hurts the show too much for me to enjoy. I would say skip it (along with the live-action movie), watch the original anime movie, and know that you will never be completely fulfilled since its story is so short and everything that comes after only takes away from the original’s glory.

    ***SPOILER ALERT***
    I skipped ahead to the last episode of season 1 to make sure she doesn’t become the awesome character she was in the movie. She is annoyingly weak the entire time. Sad news.
    ***END SPOILER***

    ART: 8/10
    STORYTELLING & PLOT: 5/10
    CHARACTERS: 5/10
    OVERALL: 6/10

November 4, 2012

  • MOVIE REVIEW: Blood the Last Vampire (2009)

    GENRE: Japanese Supernatural Martial Art/Horror

    SUMMARY: In world where demon vampires are at war with the human race, Saya, daughter of a famous samurai demon hunter, searches a Vietnam-era Tokyo Air Force base for an underground army of vampires. Though she is half-demon herself, Saya seeks out revenge against the demon master Onigen, the one who took all her loved ones from her.

    REVIEW: As a remake of the 2000 anime (which was AMAZING) by the producer of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” I thought this might be pretty cool. It was a let down. It lacks all of what made the original awesome. The computer animation they used nonstop wasn’t good and stood out. The fight scenes where WAY crazy, but with no feeling or grace. They added an American main character (the base general’s daughter) to work with Saya and she was boring, annoying, and way too randomly strong to stand next to a 400-year old vampire character. I was hoping it would finish the plot where the anime left off (it was a really short anime), but anything that was good in this movie was taken from the anime and all that was added was crap. The camera shots were too random. It wasn’t a horrible movie, just a bad one. Not worth watching unless you’re really bored.

    PLOT & WRITING: 3/10
    ACTING: 4/10
    DIRECTING & CINEMATOGRAPHY: 4/10
    FIGHT SCENES: 5/10 
    OVERALL: 4/10

November 2, 2012

  • INCOMPLETE SERIES REVIEW: Nabari No Ou (2008)

    12 Episodes watched out of 26

    GENRE: Japanese Action Anime

    SUMMARY: When young Miharu finds out about the secret shinobi world of Nabari, he’s surprised, but when he discovers he’s destined to rule it because of a secret power all shinobi covet, he has to decide what to do with it.

    REVIEW: Not good. This is one example of why I hate a lot of anime. It is so overly emo it’s unbelievably annoying. It feels like it’s written by a teenager. The whole thing is confused and full of angst. They make such a big deal about how apathetic the main character is when in reality he’s just full of so much emotion and wants to be loved (gag). No one has an once of toughness. Another uncomfortable part is the weird sexual undertones. It’s basically a clean made-for-tv cartoon, but they still manage to make it awkward. It seems like every character is completely unsure of their sexuality including whether or not they are attracted to people of their age group (i.e.-pedophilia undertones). Its nothing explicit but they keep having moments of sexual/love tension. The humor isn’t funny either. They keep trying but, much like their characters, the writers lack the social awareness to make it funny. The art isn’t that great either. Every character is WAY too skinny (like almost Jack Skelington skinny) and the backgrounds are kind of lighter and sketchy in a way that reminds me of Winnie the Pooh. Those are really my only two complaints about the look. It’d actually look pretty good if it didn’t have those two issues. Overall, skip it and watch something that’s good like Bebop, Champloo, Gurran Laggon, or Baccano. If you’re in the mood for something creepier in the anime genre, check out Ghost Hound. Those are all pretty much my favorites in the field. 

    ART: 5/10
    STORYTELLING & PLOT: 5/10
    CHARACTERS: 3/10
    OVERALL: 4/10

  • MOVIE REVIEW: A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

     

    *NOTE: Know that I love scary movies but I also get scared easily watching them (which is why I like them) so if you don’t scare easily it this may not mean a thing to you

    GENRE: Korean J-Horror – Subtitled

    SUMMARY: Sisters Su-Yi and Su-Yeon return home to the the Korean countryside to live with their father and step mother only to find the house is inhabited by something more evil than even their step mother…

    REVIEW: As the highest grossing South Korean film of all time and the first to be screened in American theaters, I was expecting a lot and, for the most part, it did a good job delivering. It was a well done movie and scared the crap out of me, but it started out stronger than it finished. It was pretty well written but I think its strongest feature was the cinematography. I haven’t watched a horror film where the camera shots were so frustrating and scary. For instance, they might use a zoom into a character’s face where you start to feel your own personal space is being invaded or a shot that really confined your view down a hall when you just want to check it out (just let me see damn it!). I think that this kind of trick is really commonly used in horror films but I hadn’t seen it used so well that I noticed before. 

    The setting was good too. They used the old Korean house well. That was one creepy location. I also think they picked up on what makes J-Horror great (creepy hair blocking shots of pale girls etc.) and utilized it really well without making it super over the top. Creepy gets me every time over slasher shocking (like most American films). I felt it had just the right touch of supernatural without running away with it. Acting was just good, but nothing to write home about. Still scared me even though it was light out when I watched it. I highly recommend watching it if you like horror like I do, but it isn’t a life changer like I found The Ring to be (I was scarred for months!).

    PLOT & WRITING: 7/10
    ACTING: 6/10
    DIRECTING & CINEMATOGRAPHY: 8.5/10
    SCARE FACTOR: 8/10 (to give a gauge, “The Ring” and the unrated version of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” were 10/10 for me personally)
    OVERALL: 8/10

October 23, 2012

  • MOVIE REVIEW: Battle Royale (2000)

    GENRE: Japanese Distopia Action Film

    SUMMARY: In a not to distant future where adults fear the youth of Japan during the financial collapse of the nation, high school classes are randomly selected for a special mission. They must compete with one another on a deserted island in a battle royale to the death!

    REVIEW: Well after hearing so many people tell me that the Hunger Games was a rip off of Battle Royale I’m unconvinced. I can see the similarities mind you, but the underlying direction seemed very different to me. Both had children fighting to the death in an arena with sections that turned into “danger zones” and announcements of competitor deaths over a island sound system with a love story throughout the fight. The difference is in what the movie was trying to accomplish. While I felt that Hunger Games was a commentary on the schism between rich and poor, the dissociation of the powerful with reality, and the jaded nature of the modern media/consumer culture; Battle Royale was more about the cruelties of war, adults use of children to accomplish political/national goals, and a schism between the fearful adult population of Japan and the disillusioned youth (a theme I notice a lot in anime and other Japanese media). It was good and enjoyable, but I did like Hunger Games more (granted I have actually read the Hunger Games book and the production value seemed to be WAY higher for Hunger Games). The effects were okay (not bad enough to hold the story back but not good enough to add to it), but a lot of the mind games where the director was trying to give insight into human nature felt very forced and unnatural. Some of the characters felt way too manga/anime for me, but then again it could just be that I more easily recognize and relate to western media archetypes instead of Japanese ones. Overall a fun movie to watch, but expect something along the lines of a good 80s movie quality despite the fact that it’s from 2000.

    STORY/WRITING 7/10
    ACTING 4/10
    DIRECTING 7/10
    OVERALL 6/10