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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – His Review October 3, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Fantasy, Movies.
2 comments

Save time and money on both travel and housing now!

Original title: Hauru no ugoku shiro
Dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Chieko Baisho, Takuya Kimura etc.

Young Sophie is a mad hatter. She makes hats for a living, and she is mad because a witch put a spell on her that makes her look like a 90-year old woman.

All is well in Someplaceorother (name escapes me), apart from the fact that the country is at war with it’s neighbour, for reasons unclear. While out walking, a seemingly safe and mundane thing to do, Sophie meets the mysterious wizard Howl and becomes entangled in his “evil plot to not take over the world but rather be left alone in his walking castle”.

The story in Howl’s Moving Castle is paper-thin, but I really don’t give a rat’s ass. How cool is this movie? On a scale from 1 to 10 it’s about.. oh.. 10. If you yourself define a scale, you can’t place your mark outside of it. It was clever around the time when “cats” were “hip”, now it’s the mark of morons. I’m not gonna compare it to Miyazaki’s other works, since he’s in a league of his own, far above the competition, and outside the restrictions of mainstream animation. By now his name is a guarantee of quality, since even if something is off, the rest of the ingredients are tasty enough anyway.

Watch it for the unparallelled cuteness factor of wheezing dogs and sleeping cow dolls. Watch it for the technicolor views and cool action sequences. Watch it for the love of God (Miyazaki).

Oh, and watch the trailer here.

This is His review, you can read Her review here.

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – Her Review October 3, 2006

Posted by Eury in Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Fantasy, Movies.
1 comment so far

They say beauty is only skin deep... how thick is your skin anyways?

Original title: Hauru no ugoku shiro
Dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Chieko Baisho, Takuya Kimura etc.

A wonderful animated movie where we follow the adventures of Sofî, who during wartime, works in a hat shop. One day, while being bothered in a backlane by soldiers, she is whisked away by a young man (Howl) who is not only handsome, but a wizard. She falls in love at first site, but before the night is through, a spell is put on her by a nasty witch that makes her very old. Not knowing what to do she runs away and through an act of kindness, comes to live in Howl’s castle as the housekeeper.

I will not tell you any more of the story because it’s fun to have it unfold but I can say that the director, Hayao Miyazaki, has done a marvelous job of making the characters more than 2D cartoons. He brings them to life by showing us their many facets, such as the brave and bold Howl, who at times is insecure and he even makes us feel sorry at some point for the Witch of the Waste. He makes us think twice about what we really love about the people we care for and why.

Are these gorgeous images, or what?

Although it’s very, very pretty, it’s also quite an adventure with both action and bad guys. Heck there’s even a bit of drama and also a little romance. It’s got an weird castle that looks like a junkyard contraption that not only has legs, it also flies. Although it did have all these characteristics, it was not a movie that tried to be everything and failed, instead it brought all these different aspects together rolled up in very cool graphical eye-candy. It was simply delightful; a true treasure.

This is Her review, you can read His review here.

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The Storm Riders (1998) – His Review August 25, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Movies.
1 comment so far

Der Sturm Ritter ja aber bitte

Dir. Wai Keung Lau
Starring Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Sonny Chiba, Kristy Yang, Qi Shu, Michel Tse

If you know nothing, or next to nothing about Hong Kong movies – that is to say movies made with traditional HK cinema sentiments – let me give you a few hints. If you want to skip it, scroll down to the review. Let’s call it..

A short list of rules for HK cinema.

The characters are often named after their main character trait, so you instantly know who they are. For example someone who is fat generally has no other traits, and is called Fatty or something similar. The sister of the main hero can be named Sister, just to clear things up. If a guy is brooding, then Cloud is a good name, since there’s a dark cloud permanently above him.

The story consists of minor events that are interlinked, and seldom referenced in the rest of the movie, with the exclusion of the beginning and the end – you are often given the setup for the end of the movie right at the start. An example would be: Hero-type-person is face to face with his foe, just about to do battle. He has a cool looking sword. Then there’s a flashback or similar, in which Hero goes on a complicated quest. Then we get to the end, forget all that happened in between and just continue from the prologue. What happened to all the stu-uff? Nevermind.

The effects can be very cheesy. Now, this is of course subjective to your taste, but HK cinema is over-the-top cheesy. While, in a hollywood movie you may sneer at a fake looking dinosaur texture, here you are so overwhelmed by the audacity of the FX-makers and fight choreographers that it just becomes genius. It’s OK to have a Poser-rendering as your main effects shot. It’s totally fine to throw apples at Newton, and have people falling diagonally.

And yes, yes you can steal entire plots from other movies. If you think the Hollywood remake jungle is thick, then Hong Kong is.. well, thicker. With foliage and vines and junk. It’s very hard to be original when the style demands otherwise. Think of it more in terms of homages, or clichés, and you won’t choke when you see the same thing happen in yet another movie.

That probably won’t explain the genre (yes, I’m calling the entire HK movie output one genre, bite me), but it may give you a solid starting point.

On to the review:

The Storm Riders is in some ways the end of an era. After this movie, big-budget HK cinema has become more and more polished (bigger budgets presumably). You get the regular storyline, the usual protagonists, and probably one of the best attempts at live-action anime ever, all with an apparent lack of constraints on the imagination. Suspending your disbelief is impossible, to become engrossed in this story you would have to be dead. The stunts and effects, and even the story, is just so freaky that you have to smile.

This is the movie that made Qi Shu (Chi Hsu / Qi Hsu / Shu Qi / Kei Shu / Qui Shu / Kei Su) a star, reached a new box office record, and it’s got a fire monkey in it. A Fire Monkey!

So yeah, you can go see it now.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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The Storm Riders (1998) – Her Review August 24, 2006

Posted by Eury in Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Movies.
1 comment so far

Let me give you a hand.. I mean arm!

Dir. Wai Keung Lau
Starring Aaron Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Sonny Chiba, Kristy Yang, Qi Shu, Michel Tse
Click for larger poster>>

Conquer is the leader of a clan and wants to be the best in all the World of Martial Arts. A prophet, Mud Buddha tells him he cannot foretell his complete future but he does say that it depends on two young children, Wind (Ekin Cheng) and Cloud (Aaron Kwok). After murdering the children’s parents, he raises the boys as his own. The story continues 10 years later when the boys have grown up. Wind is quite calm and Cloud is very stormy and unpredictable.

I wish I had seen this movie before seeing Hero (Xing xiong) which totally blew me away with it’s storyline, music and imagery. I just couldn’t help but compare them to the detriment of “The Storm Riders”, (Fung wan: Hung ba tin ha) I ‘m not saying this was a bad movie, per se… just that it seems lacking to me when I had just recently seen the other and was so thoroughly impressed with it.

I also kept looking at the principal players and found that they made me think of living manga characters and there seemed to be so many different people involved, and often for short spurts of time that I often was left wondering if this was written after some book or legend and I was missing some of the information needed. The first part of the story was confusing to me, but mid-point I did feel the pieces did come together and I finally understood.. maybe it was the coffee break that helped 😉 .

Although it did come together, there were things that simply distracted me… a box called the Ice Vigor (I won’t say what it is) but to me it looked like it was out of paper maché and another place it seemed like the rocks were made out of chipped styrofoam. Stupid details that shouldn’t be important, like dresses that, at times, I found looked too modern for the story, or a costume that should look old and torn, but looked somehow like it was cut with scissors. I know this sounds insignificant but often the finesse and wonderfulness of a movie are in those little details that just make everything flow so wonderfully when they are perfect. Now, I ‘m not saying it was really bad … but if I’m distracted enough to see these things, then at that moment, I’m not engrossed in the story, now am I?

If you are a fan of martial arts action, there is plenty of it in this movie; if you like special effects, there are even more. It is very fantastical and the stuff of superheroes. Think bigger, faster, more grandiose … not pretty like in the movie Hero, (see my review here) but it still works and some of the effects are quite spectacular and very cool looking.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Nothing (2003) – His Review August 20, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
1 comment so far

Much ado about Nothing

Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Starring David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Gordon Pinsent etc.,

This review contains no spoilers!

This is not the movie version of Seinfeld, but it is a movie about nothing.

Nothing is the story of two friends who both have the worst day of their lives. Dave is accused of embezzling from his work, he is fired, and his girlfriend dumps him. Andrew gets locked out of the house and ends up accused of molesting a girl scout. To top it off they receive notice that their house is being demolished.

Then nothing happens.

If you enjoy odd movies that deal with pure fantastic elements, you’ll like this movie. It’s not a joke-y comedy, it’s got much more in common with arthouse cinema than National Lampoon, but it is very funny. It gets a bit dark and grim at times, but there’s fun in that too.

I can’t really go into anything more about this movie without ruining at least part of the actual point of it. I hadn’t seen the trailer for it before seeing the movie, and they do give way too much away in it, so you may want to steer clear (link to the trailer in case you just don’t care). I promise, it’s a lot more fun to see this film without knowing what’s gonna happen. And it’s an everflowing source of puns – “What did you watch today?” “Oh, Nothing”.

This is His review, you can read Her review here which doesn’t have spoilers either.

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Nothing (2003) – Her Review August 20, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
1 comment so far

Nothing lasts forever

Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Starring David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Gordon Pinsent etc.,

David and Andrew have been best friends since they’ve been 9 years old. Neither are popular; Dave is very self-centered and Andrew is afraid of everything. They survive by sticking together. Even as an adult, David (David Hewlett) doesn’t get along well with anyone, except for Andrew (Andrew Miller) work at home travel agent, agoraphobic and pack rat. They live together in a house filled to the brim with lots of junk until one day their lives take a spin for the worse when both are accused of crimes they have not committed. Nothing more of the plot can be told after this without spoiling all the fun, and I really don’t want to do that.

What I can say is this film, written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who also wrote and directed the famous Canadian cult classic “Cube” is truly “nothing” to scoff at. Natali, quite famous for his grandiose visions that he creates with low-budgets and green/blue screens does not disappoint. This movie is extremely funny, extremely original and like “nothing” I’ve ever seen before and it sort of makes me proud to say that it’s Canadian! Trust me, find this little unknown jewel and let yourself enjoy something truly unique.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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My Little Pony: The Princess Promenade (2006) – His Review August 15, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Movies.
2 comments

Possibly the best live-action adaptaion of an animated series everDir. Victor Dal Chele
Starring Janyse Jaud, Tabitha St. Germain, Britt McKillip etc.,
Click for larger poster>>

With many classic book, game, and comics franchises becoming grand cinema nowadays, it’s hard to keep up. One such many probably have missed is My Little Pony: The Princess Promenade, which is now available on DVD. It is an animated feature, but it’s really hard to tell – the level to which the artists take the classic technicolor pony artwork is beyond real.

We follow the lives and endeavours of a group of charismatic characters, all ponies, who struggle to find individuality and purpose in a time of great distress. In the mystical realm of Ponyville, dark forces threaten the future of the summer festival “The Princess Promenade”, as Wysteria suddenly and unwillingly finds herself occupying the the long since empty throne – as princess. It is up to a most unlikely creature, tiny Zipzee, to call her sisters to arms against the evil of bad color coordination.

This film borrows cues from many recent phenomena, but it is more than the sum of it’s parts. You will find the luscious cinematography of Hong Kong epic fantasy present in almost every outdoor frame, there are enough clever catchphrases to choke Adam Sandler, and the freestyle handheld camera moves bring Robert Rodriguez to mind. At some points, I should warn you, the combination of vivid colors and motion is dizzying. Like many blockbuster ensemble pieces there are enough characters here to give everyone someone to identify with, especially if you like planting flowers, adore the color pink, or say “darling” a lot.

There’s little more to add without spoiling too much of the movie, but I can add that on the DVD you not only get this movie – you also get a bonus movie which delves deeper into the backgrounds and mindsets of our main protagonists. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fans: see miss it at your own peril! And besides, this movie has more ponies than all of those movies combined!

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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My Little Pony: The Princess Promenade (2006) – Her Review August 15, 2006

Posted by Eury in Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Movies.
1 comment so far

They Shoot Horses Don't They? or is that my tongue stuck in my cheek? Dir. Victor Dal Chele

Starring Janyse Jaud, Tabitha St. Germain, Britt McKillip etc.,

Rarely does a movie come along that leaves me practically speechless. This is one such movie. What can I say? My jaw almost dropped on the floor to see so many pretty ponies with long flowing hair all in one movie.

It’s so full of everything you could ever desire:

Sing with me now

Raindrops on roses and flowing manes on ponies
Pink fluffy clouds and purple spiked dragons
Pretty pink flowers on lovely green leaves
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cream colored ponies and blue, purple and green ones
lavender, yellow and don’t forget peach ones
All of them dancing and some wearing wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Pansies and posies and cotton candy kisses
To match tiaras for newly-made princesses
Sunshine and sparkles and of course rainbows too
These will become all your favorites too

When I’m feeling low
When it’s raining
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember the Princess Promenade
And then I don’t “feel” so bad

I pretty much think that says it all. I am not going to give you any spoilers, this movie has to be seen to be believed. Only thing that could have made this better would have more ponies, oh… and maybe they could have made it a tad more colorful. How this went directly to DVD is beyond comprehension.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Ella Enchanted (2004) – Her Review August 10, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Romance.
1 comment so far

find something cute here

Dir. Tommy O’Haver
Starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Eric Idle, etc

Take the fairytale characters of Cinder(ella) and a handful of the fun of Shrek and throw in a pinch of the spoofiness of a Knight’s Tale and you have the recipe for making of this enchanting movie.

At birth, Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway ) is given the gift of obedience. Of course, this is actually a curse as she must do whatever anyone tells her to, including strangers. Luckily, Ella is a feisty child and although she must obey still finds ways to be strong and spunky. As in every good fairytale, she grows up to be beautiful but with the added bonus of being bright and forthright.

Although set in medieval times, Ella is a modern girl with open ideas and while all the other females are swooning over the handsome young Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy) hoping to become his new bride she instead stands up to him for the rights of giants, ogres and elves, which in turn makes her much more interesting and alluring to him than all the others.

Ella Enchanted also doesn’t take itself too seriously and laughs at itself and the “Cinderella Syndrome” by having the prince oftentimes saving Ella as in traditional fairytales, but in actuality, showing that it is Ella who saves the prince from being naive and completely blinded by his evil uncle. There are the classic glass slippers, but nobody needs to wear them, and the evil step-mom has one botox injection too many!

Often times when watching teenage romantic comedies, you just want to choke on the stupid song and dance scenes and the idiocy of everyone involved. Here though, I enjoyed every little morsel that they fed me. And what a feast it was. Ella sings and it’s sweet to the ears, the elves dance and it’s droll… the whole town shindigs, and you want to get up and boogie with them.

The movie has no big twists or surprises and it’s certainly not “the princess bride”. We all know ahead of time how this story will end but it still is an enjoyable ride. I think Anne Hathaway is one of the biggest reasons this movie works… she’s not only gorgeous but very smart and engaging and I just couldn’t help but like her and this movie.
This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Ella Enchanted (2004) – His Review August 10, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Romance.
1 comment so far

Movie Misadvertised

Dir. Tommy O’Haver
Starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Eric Idle, etc

Well, I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this.

In execution, Ella Enchanted is sort of a live-action Shrek meets A Knight’s Tale, but the story is fairy traditional. In other words, the key ingredients are your standard ones – the wicked uncle regent, the good-hearted king-to-be prince, and the farmgirl who steals his heart – but it’s updated with a few modern twists. It’s also spiced up with some song and dance numbers.

It doesn’t stray very far from the realm of Barbie as Rapunzel though, the characters are very shallow and uninteresting, and everything is focused on the premise of Ella being Enchanted. Well, at least the title is accurate, even if the movie’s marketing made me believe this was more in league with Ever After (better movie).
What’s good about it if anything you say? Well it’s certainly not a waste of time if you enjoyed Shrek and A Knight’s Tale. It got a few laughs out of me, and not mocking ones. The effects are good if not awe-inspiring, the settings are pretty, and nobody does a bad job with their acting bits. Except perhaps Eric Idle, he basically phoned this one in.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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