Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mr. A's review of.....Attack The Block



The Story:
Sam, an overworked nurse from Lambeth, is having a horrible night. She's far from her family, her boyfriend is halfway across the globe doing Red Cross work, and she just got mugged by five young boys.
Moses isn't having a good time either. Not having a solid home life he's turned to selling weed, shoplifting, and most recently, mugging overworked nurses from Lambeth.
But when their mugging is thwarted by what seems to be some kind of monkey, Moses and his crew take their anger out on the beast and viciously murder it.
Soon they realize that it wasn't a monkey at all, it's an alien, a weird furry alien. They also realize that maybe...just maybe...killing it wasn't such a hot idea.
With an impending alien invasion knocking at their door (literally) and a vengeful drug dealer not far behind, Moses and his crew must now team-up with Sam and the other tenants in their housing project in order to survive.
Why are these aliens hellbent on killing everyone Moses has come in contact with? Why won't anyone believe them? Will they make it out alive or will they end up alien snacks?
Look out, people, the aliens are here...and they're gonna attack the block.

The Review:
First things first, the casting is what really makes this film. Moses and the rest of the punk kids really make this movie worth watching. Each one of them brings a level of reality to the story that, in my opinion, older actors couldn't portray.
The second thing that makes this film awesome is the humor. While there isn't as much of it as I would have liked, it does break up the horror moments and allows you a bit of down time before the next jump into the freaky alien action.
Speaking of which, the alien designs are probably one of the best I've seen in a long time. I don't know if they were short of budget or if they really intended them to look they way they do, but it works for the film and it makes them all the scarier.
And speaking of scared, there wasn't as many jumpy moments in the film as you would think and the gore was pretty minimal, but I'm not a fan of those sort of things anyway so there was just enough for my taste.
I found the soundtrack a bit lacking, but it did help the humor along a few times so I suppose it can be forgiven.
And finally, even though this is Joe Cornish's first time in the director's chair, he obviously knows what he's doing.

The Verdict:
Action, aliens, humor, and horror, Attack The Block should not be missed. However, if you don't make any of those words I just gave you, please steer clear and go see something else (30 Minutes Or Less maybe?).
I personally will be seeing this film again in theaters...let's just hope this time there won't be any annoying couple talking throughout the film...you know who you are.
8/10


Jaa mata,
Mr. A
(Executive producer)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mr. A's review of.........Fright Night



The Story:
Former nerd Charlie Brewster actually has a pretty good high school life. He's got a girlfriend who loves him, he lives next door to a stripper, he's got a mom who gives him his space, and besides his motorcycle breaking down in the middle of the road, things couldn't get any better.
Well, until people start disappearing that is.
Suddenly Charlie's life is thrown into a tailspin. His girlfriend is on the verge of breaking up with him, his mom is flirting with the new neighbor, and his former childhood friend "Evil" Ed Lee, after trying to convince Charlie that his neighbor Jerry is a vampire, ends up missing, too.
But that can't be right. Jerry? A vampire?
Sadly it is and Charlie's entire life is now just a race against time to stop Jerry and save his family.
Turning to Las Vegas magician and self-proclaimed vampire expert Peter Vincent, Charlie must devise a plan to put Jerry down and save the people in his town from being turning into blood-sucking freaks.
Can he do it or will he end up one of the walking dead himself?
Welcome, everyone. Welcome.....to Fright Night!

The Review:
So right off the bat the soundtrack is awesome, including personal favorites like "Pumped Up Kicks" from Foster the People and "99 Problems" by Hugo.
The acting is awesome with most memorable performance by former Doctor Who star David Tennant. As soon as he appears on screen the film gets better. On the down side his character wasn't featured as much as I would have hoped.
Anton Yelchin holds his own as the reluctant hero Charlie Brewster, I must say that he is now one of my favorite actors.
Unfortunately I found Colin Farrel's portrayal of Jerry to be a bit underwhelming. Not to say he didn't get the job done or that he wasn't a good villain, there was just something missing.
The pacing was a little off for the first half of the film, but it does even out around the half-way mark.
The effects are a bit shoddy when it comes to one particular chase scene and during the final battle, but the rest of it is quite good.
The direction wasn't really anything new, but it worked for the film.

The Verdict:
With more kick-assery and humor than the original, Fright Night delivers on quite a few levels.
There really isn't much gore, however there is quite a lot of blood so please don't take your kids to see this, this isn't some sparkly BS like Twilight.
There are a few frightening moments, but any adult should be able to handle them.
As a last bit of advice I suggest you don't see it in 3-D, I've been told by many people that it really wasn't worth the extra $5.
Now get off your ass and go see Fright Night!
7/10


Jaa mata,
Mr. A
(Executive producer, vampire hunter)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mr. A's review of........30 Minutes or Less



The Story
Nick, a lowly pizza delivery boy, is having a pretty rough time. He sucks at his job, he just got into a massive fight with his best friend Chet, and to top it off the love of his life (who happens to be Chet's sister) is moving out of state to take a high paying job at a hotel chain.
Dwayne isn't having such a hot time either. He hasn't done a whole lot with his life, his lottery-winner father treats him like crap, and the only friend he has in the world is Travis who lives in a junk yard and makes bombs as a hobby.
However, unlike Nick, Dwayne has a plan...
Hiring and out-of-town hit-man, Dwayne plans on having his father killed so he can get his inheritance and open a tanning salon (which would be a front for a brothel BTW). Not having the money to pay for the hit, Dwayne and Travis kidnap our poor hero Nick, strap a bomb to his chest, and force him to rob the local branch of a woefully under-protected bank.
With nothing to lose but his life, Nick sets out to get the cash, get the girl, and to hopefully get his life back on track.
Think he can do it? Don't worry, he does this for a living (inside joke).

The Review
So the casting was perfect. Jesse Eisenberg plays the incredibly pathetic Nick perfectly, but you do see a bit of his character from Zombieland bleed though so I guess that he's just really good at playing pathetic characters.
Nick Swardson does a great job as Travis, being stupidly funny at one moment and playing a great straight-man the next.
And a special shout-out to Aziz Ansari for letting his humor shine through as Chet ("'Do you think Lisa would go out with me?' You mean that Lisa? Hello no, she's laughing in your face! No texting in my class!")
The directing wasn't anything to praise, but it wasn't horrible either.
The pacing was sort of slow in the beginning, but once the bomb vest goes on it does pick up quite a bit and there's enough humor to cover whatever down-time there is in the film.
The action beats were pretty far apart, but they kicked a lot of ass when they did finally come around. In all honesty, if there wasn't any comedy in this film it would actually make a pretty good action-drama.

The Verdict
Funny, entertaining, and with just enough naked boobies, 30 Minutes or Less should not be missed. If you like action, comedy, or any combination of those words you should go see it in theaters at least once (I plan on seeing it twice).
But please, please, please, don't take your kids to see it...

8/10

Jaa mata,
Mr. A

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mr. A's Review of.....Green Lantern

The Story
Hal Jordan is--


--Okay, I honestly can't talk about this film. Find out why below...

The Review
This film is the biggest piece of crap I've ever seen. This makes Superman Returns look like Wrath of Kahn! First off, the CGI was HORRIBLE. The costumes looked like they were photoshopped onto the actors, Oa looked like it was a reject city from Lord of the Rings, and the Guardians looked liked wrinkled Smurfs.
Now let's talk about the acting. Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan like he's playing Tony Stark mixed with Han Solo. He's more suited to play either Guy Gardner or Kyle Rayner.
The plot was so hastily thrown together and the pacing was so damn choppy that NONE of the film makes any sense around the half-way mark.

The Verdict
DO NOT SEE THIS FILM!!!
Seriously, it's a waste of time.
-5/10

OMG, I honestly can't say anything else about this movie....

Jaa mata,
Mr. A (Green Lantern, sector 2814)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Totoro's Review Of... "Stardust"


As promised, here is my review of the 2007 film "Stardust"... So, let's get this party started!

CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Story
The nondescript English village of Wall holds a wonderful secret. The village's namesake stone wall near the town (and specifically, its large hole) is actually the gateway to the magical Kingdom of Stormhold. While enjoying a romantic evening with his friend/beloved Victoria (Sienna Miller), Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox) sees a star fall from the sky and land in the forest behind the wall. Tristan then promises to bring the star back for Victoria as a way of showing his affection. Little does Tristan knows that this one act will set off a series of events that will forever change his life.

The Review
As this movie is an adaptation, there are some divergences from the original source material (Neil Gaiman's 1998 novel). But, as I had not read the book prior to seeing the film, I cannot explicitly comment on any major changes on that front.

But I will comment first on the acting in this film. Charlie Cox does a fine job playing the dramatic lead, but Michelle Pfeiffer turns in an a deliciously evil performance as the oldest of three witch sisters on a quest for immortality. The rest of the cast, Claire Danes, Mark Strong, David Kelly, Kate Magowan and Ricky Gervais also turn in strong performances. Fantasy stalwart Ian McKellan puts in a vocal cameo as the film's narrator while Peter O'Toole also appears as the dying King of Stormhold. But, my customary "Scene Stealer Award" goes to Robert De Niro for his performance as Captain Shakespeare.

After my initial viewing, I was surprised to discover that this film was directed by Matthew Vaughn (who had previously directed Layer Cake, and would go on to direct both Kick-Ass and the forthcoming X-Men: First Class). He, along with editor Jon Harris (Snatch., 127 Hours) kept the film at a frenetic yet considered pace.

The Verdict

Upon the advice of Jupiter & Mr. A, I was told to see this film. After delaying for almost two months, I finally set aside some time to watch it, and I found myself regretting that I had not watched it sooner. While I don't view this film on the same level as The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter sagas, it still remains a good fantasy film nonetheless.

7.5/10

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Special Announcement From The Otaku 5-0 Show

Aloha everybody...

It regrets me to inform you, but due to various issues, this season of The Otaku 5-0 Show's audio podcast has been brought to an abrupt end.

I cannot disclose specific details, but on behalf of the staff I would like to thank YOU - our audience - for your continued support of our endeavors thus far. While we will not be producing any podcast episodes for the foreseeable future, we will continue to post feature articles (including my forthcoming review of, "Stardust"). So please stay tuned!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 12

Episode 104
3 episodes before Totoro's departure

Aloha everybody!

Last week I formally announced that I would be stepping down as Executive Producer of The Otaku 5-0 Show at the end of our current season. As such, we have decided to make some changes to our podcast format in an effort to return to the light-hearted, stream-of-consciousness style that dominated our earlier episodes. From now on, we will put more focus on discussing specific entertainment-related issues instead of on weekly topics.

For this first revised episode, Maka and Jam re-join the panel (having sufficiently recovered from Kawaii-kon), along with our mutual friend Caitlin, who will be known as Alacorn.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the (rediscovered) fruit of our labors!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

WARNING! Portions of this podcast contain mature language and adult content. Listener discretion is advised!



Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.12

Recording Date: May 9, 2011
Running Time: 71 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Maka (Contributor)
Jam (Contributor)
Peeps (Contributor)
Alacorn (Guest Contributor)

Format
1. Lead-in (Peeps)

2. Random Chatter (Doctor Who, Kawaii-kon, Summer Movies)

3. What If? (All)

4. Ask Mr. 8-Ball

4. Lead-out (Totoro)

Musical Notes
-Opening Theme: Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto, "Eyecatch" from Full Metal Panic!, "Pre-Title" from His & Her Circumstances, "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger
-Ending Theme: Breach of Contract from Ah! My Goddess

Coming Soon...
Our next audio podcast episode!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post a comment on this blog!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Otaku 5-0 Show's "Pick of the Year"

Aloha everybody!

Sometime in 2009, DJ Buma (a.k.a. Lord of the Butishake) asked the staff of The Otaku 5-0 Show if we were interested in sponsoring an award for the V.A.S.T. (Video Arts Showcase Theater) competition, held every year at Kawaii-kon. We jumped at the opportunity, and then proceeded to screen a LOT of videos submitted from all over the world, before finally settling on the eventual, "Most Entertaining Video" winner:



So, when Buma asked us if we wanted to submit an award for this year's kon, we were even more excited. So, after watching all the videos for this year's competition, we are proud to present our, "Pick of the Year". Enjoy!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 11

Episode 103

Aloha everybody!

Though we are tired and weary from our kon weekend, our podcast team returns for our special discussion of Kawaii-kon 2011, with a special announcement from Totoro!

So sit back, relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)



Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.11

Recording Date: May 2, 2011
Running Time: 63 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)

Format
1. Opening Bit: Ask Mr. 8-Ball

2. Lead-in (Totoro)

3. Pick/Phail of the Week

4. Kawaii-kon 2011 Highlights

5. Lead-out (Totoro)

Musical Notes
-Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto, "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger, "Subtitle" from Full Metal Panic!, "Pre-Title" from His & Her Circumstances
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract" from Ah! My Goddess

Coming Soon...
Our next audio podcast episode!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post a comment on this blog!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 10

Episode 102

Aloha everybody!

With days to go until Kawaii-kon 2011, the staff of The Otaku 5-0 Show has gathered for its customary "Pre-kon" discussion, where we give a quick rundown on guests, events and other stuff we are planning to do for the weekend. In addition, Maka re-joins the proceedings to give his review on his DVD Grab Bag pick, Martian Child.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors!

~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

WARNING! Portions of this podcast contain mature language and adult content. Listener discretion is advised.



Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.10

Recording Date: April 26, 2011
Running Time: 53 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Maka (Producer)
Gypsy (Producer)

Format
1. Opening Bit: Ask Mr. 8-Ball

2. Lead-in (Jupiter, Totoro)

3. Pick/Phail of the Week

4. DVD Grab Bag VII, Part 2 (Continued)

Maka reviews Martian Child

5. A Serious Conversation About... Kawaii-kon 2011

6. Lead-out (Jupiter, Totoro)

Musical Notes
-Post-Disclaimer Theme: "Gato's Theme" from Chrono Trigger
-Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger, "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract from Ah! My Goddess

Coming Soon...
Our next audio podcast episode!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post a comment on this blog!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 9

Episode 101

Aloha everybody!

While we are happy to make our triumphant return after our two-week hiatus, I regret to inform you that we have suffered through another recording malfunction. Apparently the last topic of this episode (originally a "Serious Conversation About..." segment) did not save properly after we had finished recording. However, the rest of the episode was saved intact! So, please accept our apologies in advance for the sudden jump into our end theme.

So sit back, relax and enjoy (most of the) fruit of our labors!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

WARNING! Portions of this podcast contain mature language and adult content. Listener discretion is advised.



Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.9

Recording Date: April 18, 2011
Running Time: 41 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)

Format
1. Opening Bit: Ask Mr. 8-Ball

2. Lead-in (Totoro)

3. Pick/Phail of the Week

4. DVD Grab Bag VII, Part 2

Totoro reviews Shaolin Soccer
Mr. A reviews Little Women
Jupiter reviews The Pentagon Wars

5. Best Disney Movie Moment Ever!

Musical Notes
-Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto, "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract" from Ah! My Goddess

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post a comment on this blog!

Coming Soon...
Our next audio podcast episode!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Totoro's Review of... "Rango"


I proudly present to you the second film from this week's "Tuesday Double Feature" outing! I know this film is nearing the end of its theatrical run, but I wanted to ring on it anyway.

CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Story
Since I kinda liked how it worked for my "Hanna" review, I will post the film's premise (according to The Internet Movie Database):

Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.

So, here's my question: "Did the film live up to that statement"?

The Review
On the acting front, while Johnny Depp does a splendid job in his nuanced performance as the protagonist lizard, the supporting cast (in particular Ned Beatty, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Abigail Breslin, Stephen Root, Ray Winstone, Harry Dean Stanton & Timothy Olyphant in a HILARIOUS cameo) also turn in strong performances as their respective characters. However, I will present my Scene-Stealer Award to Bill Nighy for his delightfully devilish "Rattlesnake Jake".

Now, let me ring in on an issue cited by Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly in her review of this film. Basically, she says that the characters in the film are "Jar Jar Binks ugly". However, I must register a note of profound disagreement. Since this movie primarily takes place in the Mojave Desert, wouldn't it make sense to use animals that you would typically find there as a baseline for designing the characters? When you view the film through that prism, making Rango as a chameleon is an inspired choice, particularly because he represents not just the outsider, but "city folk" as a whole. Another reason to ponder: Don Knotts (in particular his Barney Fife character on, "The Andy Griffith Show") was an inspiration for the titular lizard's character design.

Now let's look at things from a production standpoint. Gore Verbinski (known primarily for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) was an excellent choice to direct this film, mostly because he knows a thing or two about putting an interesting spin on a period film (the film's editor Craig Wood, also worked on the Pirates movies.) The film also has the added bonus of paying homage to a LOT of period films, in particular Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns, High Noon and in an interesting twist, Chinatown.

The Verdict
This film was a joy for me to watch from start to finish. While it will prove to be a great visual spectacle for younger audiences, only longtime film fans will truly appreciate the comedic value of this film. Looks like I have another solid contender to my "Fantastic Four of 2011".

10/10

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Totoro's Review Of... "Hanna"


In the short span that I have been reviewing movies, I have established a very helpful principle: When confronted with writing reviews for two or more films, write the film you find most difficult to talk about first.

As part of my "Tuesday Double Feature" outings, I decided to see this film along with "Rango".

And so, here goes nothing...

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Story
The film's straightforward premise, as stated on The Internet Movie Database, sums up the proceedings quite well:

A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

The only question left to answer is: How well did the film live up to this statement? Read on to find out...

The Review
On the whole, I'd say the film did an excellent job delivering on its premise. The coming-of-age drama/action-revenge thriller elements were held in tenuous balance from almost the very start of the film. While the action sequences are kinetic and well-staged, the heart of this film is in observing Hanna's own journey from a state of childhood to adulthood, made more difficult due to her prolonged isolation. While sitting in the theater, I was able to draw a quick parallel between this movie and Plato's famed Allegory of the Cave.

From an acting point of view, the cast turn in solid performances. My customary Scene-Stealer Award goes to Tom Hollander, who plays the quirky second-fiddle to the movie's villain (played to perfection by Cate Blanchett), Ms. Ronan does an equally perfect (but no less difficult) job in portraying the young protagonist. I must also give special recognition to the film's director-editor team of Joe Wright (in only his 4th feature directing gig) and Paul Tothill (both previously worked on Pride & Prejudice and Atonement) who were largely successful in balancing the fast, frenetic action sequences with the slow, deliberate pace of Hanna's journey of self-discovery.

The Verdict
This film affected me for a while after leaving the theater. I spent the commute home wondering where I should start. My mind also started drawing a further parallel between Hanna and hardened combat veterans returning/adjusting to civilian life, who no doubt experience the same general feelings of isolation and culture shock. After quite a bit of introspection, I wholeheartedly conclude that this film is a solid contender for my "Fantastic Four of 2011".

9/10

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Monday, April 11, 2011

We're still on hiatus, but...

Aloha everybody!

As we enter the last week of our hiatus, let me do some housekeeping procedures...

First, I am pleased to announce that Yoda from the original Star Wars trilogy (you know, the BETTER one) has edged out a victory over Doctor Who as the audience favorite to win a last-character-standing cage fight!

Second, I would like to inform all our fans that I will be once again heading to the cinema for my next "Tuesday Double Feature" outing. So stay tuned for my reviews for both "Hanna" & "Rango"!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Totoro's Review Of... "The Hunt For Red October"


Since my fellow Executive Producer Mr. A has started posting reviews to older films, I have decided to add my two cents by reviewing the now-classic 1990 film The Hunt For Red October, starring Sean Connery & Alec Baldwin.

Here is my review...

CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Story
The year is 1984. Sean Connery (Goldfinger, Murder On The Orient Express) stars as Marko Ramius, a veteran Soviet submarine commander assigned to Red October, his country's newest underwater ballistic missile platform. The ship is also equipped with a magneto-hydrodynamic "caterpillar" drive, rendering it virtually undetectable to enemy sonar. Ramius then murders the ship's political commissar and, after replacing the ship's mission orders and briefing the crew, activates the silent drive and sets a direct course for the American coastline. Before setting to sea, Ramius dispatches a letter stating that he and his officers intend to defect to the United States.

Meanwhile, CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) has recently arrived to Washington with intelligence photos of Red October. However while briefing Vice Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) at CIA Headquarters, he is told that the ship has already put out to sea. He then visits Skip Tyler (Jeffrey Jones), a Naval Academy instructor and consultant, and learns of the existence of ship's caterpillar drive. Later, at a briefing with National Security Advisor Jeffrey Pelt (Richard Jordan), Ryan voices the theory that Ramius might be attempting to defect. Pelt then sends Ryan on a mission to make contact with Ramius and learn his true intentions.

At around the same time, Captain Viktor Tupolev (Stellan SkarsgÄrd), a former student of Ramius and commanding officer of the Soviet submarine Konavalov receives word of Ramius' defection and decides to pursue and destroy Red October. Meanwhile, Ryan ends up aboard the USS Dallas, commanded by Captain Bart Mancuso (Scott Glenn), who has been pursuing Red October shortly after leaving port. Ryan ends up convincing Captain Mancuso to hear Ramius out, and devises a plan to safely recover Ramius, the other defecting officers, and Red October.

...Will Ryan's plan succeed? You'll have to watch the movie to find out. For those of you who already have, you know the answer.

The Review
This film would later go on to be a huge box office success, earning a worldwide total of $200 million during its theatrical run. The movie remains a classic example of the action-espionage genre, and became the first film in what would be known as the "Jack Ryan trilogy" which also include Patriot Games (1992) & Clear & Present Danger (1994). A later, less successful attempt to reboot the franchise resulted in the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears, with Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan.

While the entire cast (including Sam Neill as Red October 1st Officer Vasili Borodin & Tim Curry as Red October Medical Officer Dr. Yevgeniy Petrov) turn in stellar performances, the movie's Scene-Stealer Award belongs to Courtney B. Vance, who played USS Dallas Sonar Technician Ronald "Jonesey" Jones. Credit must also be given to the film's director, John McTiernan (Die Hard) and its co-editors Dennis Virkler (The Fugitive) & John Wright (Speed) for its taut pacing and clear narrative structure. Additionally, Director of Photography Jan De Bont (who would go on to direct Twister & The Haunting) deserves special recognition for developing the various interior lighting schemes for the three submarines in the film - Red October (Blue), Dallas (Red) and Konavalov (Green).

The Verdict
Despite diverging from Tom Clancy's novel in several areas (the order of key events was changed, the presence of the Royal Navy in the book was significantly scaled back, and Red October's silent drive is a pump-jet system in the novel as opposed to the magneto-hydrodynamic system seen in the film), the fact that this film still retains a 95% "Fresh" rating on RottenTomatoes.com is a testament to its enduring popularity. Additionally, the film would later win an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

In closing, if you're interested in seeing what has become one of the most beloved action/espionage/thriller movies of the past two decades, then look no further. I wholeheartedly recommend this film.

10/10

Mahalo,
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Totoro's Review Of... "Source Code"


Earlier, I stated that I recently resurrected my "Tuesday Double Feature" movie outings, and as such I finally got around to seeing two films that have been on my radar for a while: this film and "Source Code", starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga & Jeffrey Wright.

Here is my review...

CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Story
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Captain Colter Stevens, a decorated Army helicopter pilot who suddenly wakes up on a commuter train approaching downtown Chicago inhabiting someone else's body. Stevens learns via a trip to the restroom that he is in the body of teacher, Sean Fentress. Also on the train is Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), who knows Stevens as Fentress. Before he can figure out what's going on, the train blows up, possibly killing everyone aboard.

Steven then wakes up, now strapped inside a capsule at an undisclosed military facility, greeted through a computer screen by Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). Stevens then learns that he is part of a government project called Source Code, headed by Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) which allows someone to inhabit another person's body for a short time (in this case, eight minutes). Goodwin then tells Stevens that his mission is to locate the bomb and identify the bomber before he can strike again. So, Stevens is sent back to the train for another eight-minute interval after being told that he cannot stop or fail, lest more people die.

The Review
Based on what I wrote in the previous section, this movie seems like a LOT to digest. But strangely, its Groundhog Day-meets-Die Hard premise has proven to be both interesting and entertaining to see play out. All the principal actors in the cast turn in fine performances (with my customary Scene-Stealer Award presented to Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Rutledge.) The film itself, directed by Duncan Jones (in only his second feature-length directing gig, after Moon) & edited by Paul Hirsch (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) is taut and well-paced, a crucial part of any action film but especially of THIS film, since it has an added "time-travel" element.

The Verdict
Considering the initial positive response to this film, I had understandably high expectations going into the theater. However, the only weakness that I could see in the film was its ending, which felt too "sunshine & rainbows" for my taste.

Otherwise, I am pleased to report that the film met my expectations, I cannot declare that it will have the same long-term effect as Groundhog Day or Inception, which was my #2 favorite film last year. My initial disappointment aside, I enjoyed the film, and would still recommend it to people based on its premise alone.

8/10

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Totoro's Review Of... "Paul"


I am an avid fan of the cinema, but in this economy I don't get the chance to go out and see movies as often as I'd like. But recently, in an attempt to further expand my cinematic horizons, I decided to resurrect my "Tuesday Double Feature" outings. So I, along with Zyconis went to the theaters to see both this film and, "Source Code", which I will review later.

So, away we go...

CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Story
Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) & Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) star as two British Sci-Fi/Comic Book/UFO geeks vacationing in America (the film starts out with them attending the the geek mecca known as the San Diego's Comic Con where they meet their idol, famed Sci-Fi author Adam Shadowchild, played to mysophobic perfection by Jeffrey Tambor.) The pair then rent an RV and travel to various sites of extraterrestrial importance, including the famous the Black Mailbox outside Area 51. During this road trip they meet Paul, a foul-mouthed, happy-go-lucky alien who has been stranded on Earth for decades. Paul has found a way to return home, but needs a ride to the rendezvous point. So, Graeme & Willy agree to help Paul in achieving this goal and meet some very peculiar characters along the way.

The Review
Pegg & Frost (who also co-wrote the screenplay) have given us a film that only fellow Sci-Fi/Comic Book/UFO nerds could truly appreciate. The film is filled with NUMEROUS references to classic Sci-Fi movies of the past, most notably the Steven Spielberg film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, with even the Maestro himself putting in a (voice-only) cameo.

While Pegg & Frost put in fine performances as transmutations of themselves, it is the supporting roles, and in particular Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who make this film so enjoyable, with Jason Bateman, SNL's Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Jane Lynch, Blythe Danner & Sigourney Weaver rounding out a hilarious supporting cast. Rogen's characterization of the happy-go-lucky alien fit in perfectly with the movie's light-hearted tone. Kristen Wiig (also of SNL fame) receives the film's Scene-Stealer Award for her hilarious performance as a devout Christian with an eye defect (Yes, you read that right.)

The film, directed by Greg Motolla (Superbad, Adventureland) and edited by Chris Dickens (Hot Fuzz, Slumdog Millionaire) is deftly-paced, with just the right blend of over-the-top action and comedy to keep things interesting. But however, a word to the wise: The film's "R" rating is well-deserved, given the sheer amount of profanity heard during the proceedings. So, I'd advise you leave the kids at home for this one.

The Verdict
I had fairly high expectations walking into the theater, given my enjoyment of the two previous Pegg & Frost movies, Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz. This film met my expectations, but sadly did not exceed them. However, Pegg & Frost have given us a film that, while more accessible to mainstream audiences than their previous efforts, still contain the absurd, geeky qualities that made me enjoy their work in the first place. As a result, this film will keep me pleasantly occupied while I look forward to the third (and final) film in their "Blood & Ice Cream" Trilogy.

8.5/10

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator/Executive Producer)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Totoro's Review Of... "The King's Speech"


Recently I had the privilege of seeing "The King's Speech", which was recently honored with four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth) & Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler).

And here is my review...

(CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!)

The Story
Colin Firth plays Albert, Duke of York (second son of King George V of the United Kingdom), who has spent his entire life in the shadow of his elder brother Edward, Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce). However, Albert has thus been able to live free of any expectation of ascending the throne, which may be a blessing in disguise due to his severe stutter. But occasionally Albert is called upon to perform royal duties on behalf of his father, which include public speaking engagements (the opening scene of the film involves Albert giving the closing address of the 1925 British Empire Exposition at Wembley Stadium, a speech carried abroad via the new technological marvel of radio.)

The speech goes so poorly that Albert's wife Elizabeth, Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks aid in managing her husband's stutter. Eventually she meets speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who agrees to take Albert on as a patient. Soon after starting treatment, George V (Michael Gambon) dies and Edward assumes the throne as King Edward VIII. However, Edward soon abdicates after a prolonged crisis, leaving Albert (now King George VI) the task of ruling (and later uniting) a nation now at war with Nazi Germany. With Logue's help, the King successfully gives the first of many speeches that would help galvanize the country through what would become known as the Second World War. As a result of their experiences, the King and Logue strike up a close friendship which would last for the rest of their lives.

The Review
This film was a joy to watch from start to finish. From an acting standpoint, Colin Firth gives a perfectly nuanced performance as Albert/King George VI. While Geoffrey Rush gave an equally superior turn as Lionel Logue, I was pleasantly surprised with Helena Bonham Carter's performance as the Duchess of York/Queen Elizabeth. I must also give special distinction to Timothy Spall for his performance as Winston Churchill. Director Tom Hooper, who previously on my radar screen due to his work on the John Adams mini-series, scores big points with me for his confined, incisive shooting style. The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Danny Cohen with a visual palette that perfectly captures the gritty opulence of Depression-Era London.

The Verdict
I can understand the viewpoint of those who labeled this film as a bit TOO conventional for its own good. It certainly seems like a story an Oscar voter would love, in that it pushed all the right emotional buttons. However I thoroughly enjoyed the film in spite of these flaws, and recommend it not just to film fans, but students of history. I will also state that this film serves as an excellent companion piece to The Queen, since they both convey the tone of a monarch (and monarchy) in crisis.

9/10

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 8

Episode 100 out of 100

Aloha everybody!

I am proud to present to you our 100th total episode! After 2+ years in production, we have achieved the 2nd noteworthy milestone since its creation (the first being our Laura Bailey interview.)

For this installment, we not only bring back a DVD Grab Bag (last used in our Season 4 Finale episode) but we also showcase a new topic, Cage Fight!

So sit back, relax and enjoy our 100th total offering!

Program Note: In celebration of recording our 100th overall episode, The Otaku 5-0 Show will be on a two-week hiatus. We will be back into production on April 18th!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

WARNING! Portions of this podcast contain mature language and adult content. Listener discretion is advised!



Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.8

Recording Date: March 28, 2011
Running Time: 70 Minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Maka (Producer)
Peeps (Producer)

1. Lead-in (Mr. A, Totoro)

2. Pick/Phail of the Week

3. DVD Grab Bag VII, Part 1

Maka selects Martian Child
Jupiter selects The Pentagon Wars
Mr. A selects Little Women
Totoro selects Shaolin Soccer

4. Cage Match I: Sci-Fi Action Movie Characters

5. Topic From The Past - Great Debate: Final Fantasy or The Legend of Zelda (Episode 2.14)

6. Lead-out (Totoro, Mr. A)

Musical Notes
-Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "DVD Grab Bag Theme" (vocals by Jam), "Pre-Title" from His & Her Circumstances, "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract" from Ah! My Goddess!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post a comment on this blog!

Coming Soon...
Non-podcast content, including new feature articles from Mr. A & Totoro!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 7

Episode 99 out of 100

Aloha everybody!

I am pleased to present the next episode of our audio podcast, featuring new installments of Moviematic 5-0 & How We Would Have Done It.

Joining us on the panel tonight are special guests (and Kawaii-kon Co-Administrators) Kekumanshoyu & DJ Buma!

Sit back, relax and enjoy another week of entertainment-themed discussion!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

WARNING! Portions of this podcast contain mature language and adult content. Listener discretion is advised!




Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.7

Recording Date: March 23, 2011
Running Time: 98 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Maka (Producer)
Peeps (Producer)

Special Guests
DJ Buma & Kekumanshoyu

Format
1. Lead-in (Jupiter, Mr. A, Totoro)

2. Pick/Phail of the Week

3. Moviematic 5-0 XI: The Pitch - "Swagger"

4. How We Would Have Done It: Battle: Los Angeles

5. Kawaii-kon Interview Segment with DJ Buma & Kekumanshoyu

6. Moviematic 5-0 XI: The Return

7. Lead-out (Totoro)

Musical Notes
-Post-Disclaimer/Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger, "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto, "Pre-Title" from His & Her Circumstances
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract" from Ah! My Goddess

Coming Soon...
Our 100th Podcast Episode!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post a comment on this blog!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 6

Episode 98 out of 100

Aloha everybody!

As our staff gathers for another week of entertainment-related topic discussion, I would like to thank both Kekumanshoyu & DJ Buma for including us at the Kawaii-kon booth for this year's Honolulu Festival. Jupiter's Totoro costume (which won the award for Best Craftsmanship at last year's kon) was a HUGE hit with the audience!

Show some respect! You are in the presence of a forest God!

And now, some house-keeping announcements:

1) I have closed our "mobile gaming poll" with Cartridge-based games holding a strong 7-2 lead over App-based gaming.
2) I would like to send a special shout-out to Smylex, who recently let us know that he is unharmed following the recent natural disaster in Japan.
3) I am somewhat displeased to announce that have been forced to REMOVE a topic from this week's episode. The prospective topic was an installment of "Duel to the Death", pitting Bruce Lee against Jet Li. While there was a fair amount of passionate discussion, the topic itself was just too one-sided to make it interesting. However, we decided to save the footage in its entirety and may include it on a future episode. As a result of this deletion, this episode will not feature our customary "Exodia!" cheer.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors!

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

WARNING! Portions of this podcast contain mature language and adult content. Listener discretion is advised!



Click here to download episode.


Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.6

Recording Date: March 14, 2011
Running Time: 53 Minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Maka (Producer)
Jam (Producer)
Peeps (Producer)

Format
1. Opening Bit: A Word From Our Sponsor (Mr. A, Jam)

2. Lead-in (Totoro)

3. Pick/Phail of the Week

4. Favorite & Least Favorite... Musical

5. X Reasons Why... Last-Minute Cosplaying Should NOT Be Done

Musical Notes
-Post-Disclaimer Theme: "Gato's Theme" from Chrono Trigger
-Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto, "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract" from Ah! My Goddess

Coming Soon...
The next audio podcast episode, featuring the return of DVD Grab Bag & The Gauntlet!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post a comment on this blog!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 5

Episode 97 out of 100

Aloha everybody!

In the final installment of The Otaku 5-0 Show's "Bumper Family Pack", we present to you our next regular audio podcast episode, featuring fresh editions of, "Best Moment Ever!" and "A Serious Conversation About..."

This episode also features our first "Writing Phail!", in that we could not agree on the episode's final topic. So, we decided to include the first-ever "Random Chatter" segment, which basically was all of us just talking with each other for no less than fifteen minutes.

However, on a personal note I would like to state that, in my humble opinion this episode was one of the best that we have done so far. The level of passion in our discussions was quite high, and I was proud to be a part of it.

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

WARNING! Portions of this podcast contain mature language and adult content. Listener discretion is advised!



Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.5

Recording Date: March 7, 2011
Running Time: 83 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Maka (Producer)
Jam (Producer)
Peeps (Producer)
Gypsy (Producer)

Format
1. Opening Bit: A Word From Our Sponsor

2. Lead-in (Mr. A)

3. Pick/Phail of the Week

4. Best Power Rangers Moment Ever!

5. A Serious Conversation About... Entertainment That Messes With Your Head

6. Random Chatter I (All)

7. Lead-out (Totoro)

Musical Notes
-Post-Disclaimer Theme: "Gato's Theme" from Chrono Trigger
-Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "Catch (boon)" from Ah! My Goddess, "Pre-Title" from His & Her Circumstances, "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract" from Ah! My Goddess

Coming Soon...
The next audio podcast episode!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post on our message boards OR post a comment on this blog!

The Otaku 5-0 (Trivia) Show!

Episode 96 out of 100

Aloha everybody!

I am pleased to present the 2nd part of The Otaku 5-0 Show's "Bumper Family Pack"!

But first, some backstory:

A few weeks ago, Mr. A was telling us about an impromptu trivia game that he and Smylex would play with their mutual friends called, "Movies, Music and TV". We then decided to modify this idea and record a special bonus episode of our show featuring us playing the game.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors!



Click here to download episode.

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 (Trivia) Show!

Recording Date: March 7, 2011
Running Time: 51 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Maka (Producer)
Jam (Producer)
Gypsy (Producer)

Format
1. Lead-in (Mr. A)

2. The Otaku 5-0 (Trivia) Show!

3. Tie-breaker round: Jupiter & Maka

4. Lead-out (Totoro)

Musical Notes
-Opening Theme: "Scarlet of the Campus" from Revolutionary Girl Utena
-Ending Theme: "One-Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII

Coming Soon...
Part 3 of The Otaku 5-0 Show's Bumper Family Pack!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post on our message boards OR post a comment on this blog!

Audio Podcast: Season 6, Episode 4

Episode 95 out of 100

Aloha everybody!

Let us start by making a few house-keeping announcements regarding our two previous polls:

- Captain Jack Sparrow quickly disarmed The Dread Pirate Roberts in their final tie-breaker duel, scoring 5 hits against 2.
- Robots scared Aliens back into the dark reaches of space with a 6-0 unanimous victory!

Okay, I am now proud to present to you the first episode of what I like to call, "The Otaku 5-0 Show Bumper Family Pack", which are three audio podcast episodes (you read that right... THREE) that we recorded in a single day in order to get us back up to speed!

After last week's Recording Phail! myself, Jupiter, Mr A and Peeps got together to record a replacement episode using the exact same topic lineup.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the first part of, "The Otaku 5-0 Show's Bumper Family Pack!"

Mahalo,
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)



Click here to download episode.

Show Notes
The Otaku 5-0 Show's Audio Podcast: Episode 6.4

Recording Date: March 7, 2011
Running Time: 59 minutes

Panelists
Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)
Jupiter (Executive Producer)
Mr. A (Executive Producer)
Peeps (Producer)

Format
1. Opening Bit: A Word From Our Sponsor (Mr. A)

2. Lead-in (Jupiter)

3. Pick/Phail of the Week

4. Please Produce This...

5. Mobile Gaming Great Debate: Cartridge-based vs. App-based?

6. Fill In The Blank - "Triscuit"

7. Lead-out (All)

Musical Notes
-Opening Theme: "Kefka's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI
-Interstitial Clips: "I'll Do It Right!" from Naruto, "Frog's Theme" from Chrono Trigger, "Subtitle" from Full Metal Panic!
-Ending Theme: "Breach of Contract" from Ah! My Goddess

Coming Soon...
Part 2 of The Otaku 5-0 Show's Bumper Family Pack!

Feedback is always accepted here at The Otaku 5-0 Show. Please send us an e-mail to us at otaku50podcast@gmail.com OR post on our message boards OR post a comment on this blog!