Sunday, November 29, 2009

Evangelion Rebuild 1.0

Hello, Space Monkies.

It seems we finally have a few readers now. Two followers, many more than I ever imagined that I would get. Glad to see I'm not just shouting pointlessly into the uncaring oblivion of the universe.

Now here's something I'm sure you'll like: my thoughts on the brand spanking new Evangelion movie!

I made sure I got this movie pretty much the second it come on DVD on Netflix two weeks ago. It was a rent, not a buy, for two reasons: 1) I'm a poor beggar, and 2) I'll just wait for the super special box set of all four Evangelion Rebuild movies when they all come out. It will definitely look a lot nicer, and maybe I'll get a T-shirt or toy as an extra. That's a good tip: for movie series or TV shows, always wait for the Complete Box Set. Now this would have been my very first post, and in fact I planned on it being so, but I screwed up and review two boring forgettable movies first. My apologies, Space Monkies. I'll be sure to hit myself as punishment.


Oww... There we go.

Evangelion is probably my favorite Japanese cartoon out of all the at least a dozen decent anime shows out there. I'm rounding down to be safe, since most anime is actually really silly and downright embarrassing when you get to looking at it really closely. Back in early High School I was really into this show, and I still have a poster of the movie ending of the series, "End of Evangelion" up in my room. Really, if you haven't watched that show already, you're missing out of one of the darkest, and most unique stories I've ever seen. Its the story of a boy and his giant robot, the Evangelion, and how he fights freaky monsters in a world filled with pseudo-Christian imagery while going slowly insane. Everybody is either a robot or so filled with deep seated psychological issues that you'd think you fell into Freud's wet dream. And that's when things make sense, and the show has lots of little psycho freak-out existentialist moments where you're not sure if its a dream, a hallucination, or maybe the director is just fucking with you. Maybe if you watch the movie about fifteen times you'll finally get it. Maybe not. Another one of my favorite animes, "FLCL" is like too, only a LOT lighter and more silly. I liked this show so much that I nicknamed my sister "Asuka" whenever she got particularly selfish.

And for some reason "Evangelion" is close to my heart and yet I absolutely hate David Lynch. Go figure.

That leads up to now, where an anime studio is looking for more money, so has decided to remake the original series and its movie ending with a four-part series called "Evangelion Rebuild". I guess the ultimate hope this time is to do things right. I was more or less fine with the original product, though it did have a few screw-ups. The last two episodes were complete nonsense, patched-up on the cheap using recycled animation and loads of psychobabble garbage. Also there's a waste-of-time clip show thrown in there too, along with at least one episode that has nothing to do with anything (remember Jet Alone?). I guess it would be nice to see the story pulled together in a more stream-lined package. Four movies is a lot less viewing time than 26 episodes plus a movie. And it will definitely look a lot better too. My Evangelion box set is easily the worst quality DVD I've ever seen.

Of course, if you've been following the Evangelion saga so far, you might have noticed that Evangeliion 1.0 came out two years ago in Japan. Well, it took them THAT LONG to finally import it here! I've been waiting all that time while the importers sit with their fingers up their asses while I get nothing! I suppose I could have gotten it bootleg with subtitles, but I prefer my anime to be in English. I know some of you prefer subtitles, but I don't. Dubbing is the way I first found these cartoons back on Toonami, and dubbing is the way I like it.

And after all that, can we finally get to the issue at hand? Is Eva 1 any good? To that I must say: yes. There we go. Review over.




Hmmm? You want more? Really? Okay, here's more:

Eva 1.0, pretentiously subtitled "You Are (NOT) Alone" is basically a shot-for-shot remake of the first seven episodes of the anime or so. But its not like several anime-movie remakes, which are often just clip shows for an hour and a half, all stolen straight out of the anime. (For example, there's the "Rah Xephon Movie", which is just a compilation of the much better series with a more confusing ending.) This time every shot has been remastered, with extra details that were simply too expensive to fit in back in the 90s. Quite simply, Evangelion has never looked this good. I have to say that whatever scenes or episodes that have been left behind are really not missed at all. It all has been cut down into a surprisingly cohesive narrative.

If I were going to give a few complaints, they would be the same as those as the original series. in the beginning of that series, just not enough is ever explained. Just what the heck are Angels? Aliens? Why are we in Tokyo-3? What the heck happened to Tokyo-2? Can't we get a better explanation as to what Second Impact was? Nearly all of it was thrown into the very end of the story in the original version, and I fear that's what has been done here too. Its just going to alienate new viewers. At the very least they throw us a bone and tell the audience why fighting the Angels is so darn important by revealing the dark secret below NERV.

A few additions got my fanboy side absolutely thrilled, such as Misato's preview of the second movie in the style of the TV show, even including her usual guarantee of "more fanservice" (sadly Evangelion never did deliver as much fanservice as was promised). Plus everybody's favorite little grey-haired alien-boy, Kaworu makes a foreboding cameo at the very end of the movie on the Moon, promising a mysterious twist to this story.

So if you enjoyed the original story or have just always been intrigued about what the heck all the fuss about Evangelion was anyway, I'd give this a view. We'll see in the future if these movies can stay this good. I hear that 2.0 makes some radical changes to the storyline, and I'm very interested to see what direction this Rebuild is going to take. Hopefully its going to be just as good, if not better than the original. I'd check it out. Though if you hate anime, you're not going to like this one either. Otherwise, this was a lot of fun.

I'll be certain to include my thoughts on the next three movies when they're finally out in English. Keep reading! Tell your friends, I'd love more interest here.

Fanwank Corner: For you Eva fans, I have a little theory about these movies that I'd like to share. I notice that the very first shot of this movie happens to be the same as the last shot of "End of Evangelion": a beach on a blood-red sea. For some reason the oceans happen to be red in this movie. Perhaps this isn't so much a remake as a sequel to the original. Kaworu, in his seen mentions an interest in Shinji "so its the Third One again", almost as if he's met him already. There's a blood stain on the Moon. Perhaps it came from the time that Lilith-Rei's head burst open during Instrumentality. That was a Hell of a lot of blood. Could I possibly be right? We'll just have to keep on watching these movies to see.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Drag Me to Hell

Hello, Space Monkies.

What is up with all my reviews being of movies that came out like nine months ago? I would do something more recent, but honestly there just isn't anything out that's really worth a view. Basically everything out there is either putting me to sleep ("Planet 51"), or interesting, but not interesting enough to warrant going out to theatre and paying 8 bucks ("The Road"). I don't have a job, I have to be very careful about what I'm going to spend what little money I have left on. So renting is just going to be a way of life.

And for tonight's Tale, we have the movie I meant to get yesterday! Sam Raimi's majestic return to horror, "Drag Me to Hell".

I missed this one in its theatrical run largely for the reason I mentioned earlier: I'm a poor college student without a job. (Also I waste what little money I manage to dig together on junk food and video games, but that's a different story.) "Drag Me to Hell" looked good, but it didn't look THAT good. Basically a rental experience seemed like it would not be such a huge lose in quality, though now that I've seen the movie I already regret not seeing this in a crowded theatre. The biggest part of this film is the sheer bloody fun of gross-out effects and humor, and without the sight and sounds of a happily disgusted audience something has definitely been lost.

That's probably why I'm just a little bit disappointed here. The Spoony One gave this movie a rave review, probably his most glowing review ever. (If you don't know who the Spoony One is, you are seriously missing out. Go to the right now, Space Monkies!) Yet, I can't say I was quite as enthralled as he was. I mean yeah, watching a chick choke on an entire arm being shoved down her throat - its awesome. I loved the possessed talking goat. I giggled in glee when the main character puked blood all over her boss. But even so, it wasn't scary. There was not a single moment in this entire movie where I was legitimately afraid. And I'm not entirely sure why. Even the worth piece of crap horror movie like "A Haunting in Connecticut" got me shaking in my seat yelling at myself: "why in the Hell do I watch movies like this if I'm just going to get myself all worked up and freaked out?" But "Drag Me to Hell" just didn't do it for me. I can't say I gave two craps about the main character. I can't name anything specifically, she just wasn't very interesting. Not very pretty, not funny, not anything. So if she lived or died, I'm fine either way.

One theory I have is just how incredibly stupid she acts throughout this movie. For instance, like I mentioned before, she pukes blood all over her boss. I mean, she pukes out like a gallon of gore on the guy. Okay, that's bad, but any normal person would instantly go to the hospital about it. In fact, this movie seems like a strange little world where horrific things can happen to you and yet nobody cares. She gets attacked savagely in the parking lot by a crazy gypsy, however nobody in her bank shows the slightest bit of concern. She gets formaldehyde dumped down her throat, yet she doesn't show any worry that the poison going through her veins might be a problem. Maybe I'm over-thinking it, but the "Evil Dead" movies never got this unrealistic. Even in "Evil Dead 2", where things started getting more goofy than scary, I could at least understand what was going through the minds of the characters at every moment.

I don't know, you guys... Maybe its just that I saw "Evil Dead" no less than two months ago and that movie is still fresh in my mind. That right there, that's a scary goddamn movie. I wound up turning every single light in my dorm room, that's how freaked out of my shit I was. The cheesy effects, the bad make-up, it just enhances the experience. Looking at a fully-fleshed CG ghoul just does not have the same chilling effect as a chunky hunk of 80s fake horror gore. I'm not so disappointed with this movie, I mean it did have a talking goat, but still. Its not as great as I was expecting.


Friday, November 27, 2009


Hello, Space Monkies.

This is going to be a long post. Actually, most if not all of the posts are going to be about this long.

Early this year I went out to the local movie theatre to see a little movie called "Watchmen" which seemed to have lit the Internet world ablaze. I, not being a comic book guy by any standard, did not originally read the original "Watchmen" comic and have not read it since. (Sorry about that, fans, I meant to last year but I never quite got around to it.) One of the arguments which caught my eye was an odd rant about a giant squid which apparently was cut out of the movie. Now from what I heard from a friend of mine who was absolutely in love with the comic, the story was a satire deconstruction of the superhero genre based upon parodying comic book tropes. So when I don't get the references and homages that are shown in this film, its just because I'm not "in the club" so to speak. Its like saying "use the Force" to a man born in the sixteenth century - he's not going to get it. Maybe that's a bit too extreme - I was a big fan of the Superhero cartoons from the nineties and quite a few Superhero movies of this decade have been some of my favorites (namely "Dark Knight"). I'm not ignorant of Superman, its just that I never got into comic books. But that's okay. A good movie should be able to appeal to a person of any age with any background. "Watchmen" left me rather unimpressed at the time, and honestly I was not wiling to put it in any "A" category. And that's where I figured it would end.

However, early today I went out to the local Red Box hoping to rent a completely different movie: "Drag Me to Hell" which I had missed during its theatre run. But tragically the Red Box did not HAVE the movie I wanted. Since I had walked out there, I was going to get me a movie. I would not accept this trip as a failure. So I looked around for a movie, and after a few minutes of searching, I had limited my options to either the clearly mediocre live action adaptation of the mediocre "Blood: The Last Vampire", or this movie. I guess the movie made more of a lasting impression on me than I thought. It was freezing out there, I was wearing shorts, a decision needed to be made. So I pulled a impulse rent and got "Watchmen". Now after seeing the film, and starting this blog, its time for my full fleshed opinion on it. What I'm saying here is probably going to hit on both the movie and the comic, since this is the only way I've experienced this story.

First of all, it seemed like the movie went out of its way to cast the most obscure nobody actors that they could. I'm not a lightweight when it comes to naming actors, and even so I couldn't name ANYBODY. The only guy here who I even recognized was the very obscure Matt Frewer, who I remembered from the SciFi channel miniseries "Taken" (he was also in the remake of "Dawn of the Dead"). Elaine's psychologist boyfriend from "Seinfeld" was there too. That's it! NOBODY is in this movie! Even the most Indie of Indie movies that count as major motion pictures can at least grab one C-list actor. I can't say this is exactly a bad thing, it just confuses me.

On another minor point (I'm circling around the big ones) is the music. The soundtrack to this movie would make a very good CD, but it doesn't work all the time. Bob Dylan's song at the opening credits montage made for a great mood setter, but "99 Red Balloons" had no right being here. The tracks hit as often as they miss. The best part musically I must say is the "Koyaanisqatsi" themes used during a key transformation scene in the movie. It fit perfectly, and it made for what was without a doubt the very best part of the entire movie.

Now that I'm done buying time, we have to dig deeper. As a whole, I think my opinion of the movie has definitely improved. Some of my complaints at first were rather shallow thinking back. The combat scenes are bloody, incredibly bloody, especially for a Superhero movie which rarely manage to get any gorier than the average Pixar film. So when you see bones being broken and limbs getting shot off, its a surprise. Most of the fighting is in super slo-mo and it can be very cool looking at times, especially for the main villain, Ozymandias (here on called "Ozymandingo" because that's funnier-sounding).

In my first viewthrough, I felt that the movie seemed like it was like eighteen different movies blended into one. That's probably not fair. What generated this idea was that the film, in what is probably its biggest flaw, has four central characters, each with their own character arc, backstory, personalities and whatever. These four are fully fleshed-out, making the movie criminally long, and creating long stretches where you do not see a major character for almost twenty minutes. Even with these four, I can't help but wonder that perhaps things were already cut out. There are actually six Watchmen, but only four are really central characters. One dies in the beginning of the film, and there's one left over. Since that guy, Ozymandingo, is the least explored, and gives a speech about Alexander the Great, its pretty damn obvious that he's going to be the villain. So the big twist is just a waste. The movie is really just too long, and there's probably nothing that can be done with that. By the time the climax finishes, I was honestly screaming in my head "END!! END!! END!!". For you fans who are annoyed to see favorite parts removes, I'm sorry. But unless your movie is a masterpiece like "Dark Knight" or any Scorese mafia pic, you just can't be this long.

I do have to give props for a movie that can create so many central characters and stay together in a somewhat focused piece. However, four is just too many for a movie I feel. The best of movies usually can only focus upon one or two. And the central narrative doesn't seem to connect all four into clear relationships. Rorschach doesn't have much to say to any of the other three, and is off on his own little world. There's a love triangle, but Owl Guy (I forgot his name) and Dr. Manhattan never say a world to each other! I know Dr. Manhattan is a super god, but there's got to be jealousy someplace! We got two dicks and one vagina: situations like this do not get solved on their own. I don't know... I'm ranting here. The poor villain, Ozymandingo is shafted into maybe three or four scenes, and he just never gets enough chance to shine. How do you go to a place where you think that wiping out 25 million people will save the world? The question is never raised, and never answered. He's just "the Smartest Man in the World", nothing more.

Where I will have to give the story some real credit is the final conclusion. Ultimately Ozymandingo destroys five cities around the globe pretending to be Dr. Manhattan, and this so scares the world powers that they immediately end the Cold War and as one character says "its like we're living in a Hippie World". Even the major heroes (who have completely failed to stop this disaster) are forced to admit that Ozymandingo's utopia is for the best. However I simply cannot except this level of cynicism. Despite how awful the human race may be, we certainly do not need a greater power than our own to create a better world. Maybe I'm just a closet idealist, but if we truly are such a suicidal species, what right do we have to exist at all? I'm not the only character who seems to have troubles with this decision. Rorschach, previously the most insane and cynical of all the Watchmen is forced by his own personal principals to tell the world and punish Ozymandingo. A crime is a crime. The ends do not justify the means, and if our society has become so warped as to no longer understand that, then we have a real problem on our hands. I do like how the movie leaves this final decision in the grey, not actively turning against this action or supporting it as a real solution. It is up to the audience to decide for themselves, and that is probably how it should be. You've seen my opinion, yours might be different. That would be a fascinating discussion, I'd love to have it.

Before I leave, I must make one final point. This whole threat of nuclear annihilation is really a dated one. I know the original comics were written in the 80s, but even so, I just can't feel the fear that my parents and grandparents must feel having lived in the times. I was born the year that the Soviet Union fell, since then the world has moved on. At the very least, I believe I can imagine the emotion. That same fear we today feel towards global terrorism and another attack must have been similar to that which our parents felt during the Cold War. One great counterpoint to Ozymandingo's solution is that the world escaped nuclear war without an alien overlord to scare us into doing it. How can you seriously try to argue this holocaust in the modern period with the benefit of hindsight ruining your position? I don't know, perhaps the story could have been updated, probably not.

So I will have to give this movie an "Okay" rank. Probably worth a see, just not an honest-to-God classic. It probably did a great job adapting the original storyline. I mean, I HOPE it fully adapted that storyline. They had two and a half hours. What more could have been left behind that was central to the plot?


Hello, Space Monkies.

This is going to be my very first post on what I hope will be a somewhat successful run here. With any luck, we will have many long years of me ranting into the empty void of cyberspace about whatever catches my fancy: movies, video games, minor irritants, short original fiction, whatever. And maybe, just maybe, somebody will actually read it. If not, this will make a perfectly fine diary.

Don't expect to learn my name, or very much personal information. Just know this: I am a reasonable intelligent male barely adult age attending a "discount Ivy League" school in the Northeast United States. Usually having very strong opinions about works of fiction I see and not nearly enough people to talk to them about, I need an outlet to pour this wasted creative energy. Once upon a time I ran a blog of this exact same name on the Wikia Final Fantasy wiki, but I left there because of the unimaginable amount of nonsense that floats around such an environment. You have no idea, Space Monkies, no idea. I of course spent most of my time there writing up poorly written joke Walkthroughs and making a complete ass of myself. Which oddly enough is exactly what you need to do become part of the Staff there. Funny, huh?

But I've since left that world and now hope to take up Internet residence here, talking into this white edit box. Do you want to join me on this journey of my opinions? Feel free.

Some explantions are probably in order. Q? is my personal logo. David had the six-pointed star, I have the Q?. It is pronounced "Q with a Question Mark", since the question mark happens to be what makes the magic happen. Your name, "Space Monkies" is a mispelled reference to the movie Fight Club. Any questions?

So for now, that is that. See you Space Monkies next time!