action, animation, drama, movie, movie review

June 22nd, 2017 Movie – Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem For The Ishin Patriots

rurouni kenshin

Man, do I miss being able to watch Toonami on Cartoon Network. Back in the day, it was a great way to introduce US audiences to some Japanese anime. Now I had watched various animes before Toonami came around but one show that I was introduced to was Rurouni Kenshin, or Samurai X as it was sometimes called. I really enjoyed this cartoon as it had a great story with a nice mixture of actual historical events adding to the plot. So when I saw that there was a movie I decided to buy it since I enjoyed the anime so much. So let’s see if the feature film holds up to the anime as I watch today’s movie, Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem For The Ishin Patriots.

The plot: In the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a group of swordsman attack a house but the end up being killed by Himura Kenshin, the Hitokiri Battosai or Manslayer. 12 year later, during the Meiji Era, Kenshin has long since given up killing people, choosing to carry a reverse blade sword instead. Kenshin travels to Yokohama with his friends Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke, and Myojin Yahiko to Yokohama to see the influx of Western culture and architecture that has occurred in the city since the borders have been opened. As they wander around the city, they come across some drunken Western sailors harassing a woman but as they are watching, they see a swordsman, step in and rescue the woman, then slice up the weapons the sailors attempt to use on him. When some more sailors go join the fight, Kenshin deals with one of them who attempts to bring a rifle into the fight, but his actions are noticed by the swordsman. When the police show up, Kenshin and the swordsman leave the area, while Sanosuke tricks the sailors into fighting the police, then makes his own escape. Later, Kenshin and the swordsman are talking and when the swordsman introduces himself as Shigure Takimi, Kenshin seems to recognize the name. As he leaves, Kenshin encounters Hajime Saito, a former rival during the war who is now a police officer, who warns Kenshin to stay away from Takimi, as Saito believes he is up to something. As Kenshin rejoins his friends, a group of men attack the British embassy, killing all of the guards there while using explosives to torch the building, then quickly leave as reinforcements, led by Captain Tomono, arrive to try and capture them. Some time later, in Tokyo, Takimi is at his home with Toki, the girl that the sailors were harassing, and the are kneeling before a memorial for Toki’s brother, who was killed during the war. When the man that led the attack on the British embassy arrives, Toki leaves as the man tells Takimi that the British ambassador has changed his plans and will be arriving in Tokyo earlier but he should be ready and wants Takimi to lead the attack. Takimi says he was planning on it as he wants to make up for the decision that cost his friend his life. In flashback, it is revealed that Takimi was one of the leaders of the Izu clan and when they were planning to attack some targets during the war, he chose to split up their forces but when he realized the location he went to was wrong, he raced to the other location to help his friend but got there just in time to see Kenshin kill him. When Takimi leaves with the man, Toki goes to see Kenshin and ask that he talk to Takimi, as Takimi speaks highly of him. When Yahiko walks Toki back home, he meets Takimi and is introduced to Musashino, a young man whose father was in the same samurai clan as Yahiko’s father and the two become friends. The next day, Sanosuke visits his friend and learns that Takimi might be planning a revolt, while Saito’s spy is killed by Takimi’s men. Yahiko had followed Musashino and overhears Takimi telling the assembled men his plans and when he is captured, he asks Takimi to let him join them. Meanwhile, Kenshin and Sanosuke arrive at Takimi’s house but before they can enter, Toki opens the door and, seeing Kenshin, she hands him a note that Takimi left her. When Kaoru arrives and says that Yahiko is missing, the four search the city for Yahiko and Takimi. Takimi leads his men to the dock and they head out in some small boats but Takimi knocks Yahiko unconscious, as he feels Yahiko is too young and he doesn’t want to have one of Kenshin’s friends killed. Elsewhere, the man that led the attack on the embassy in Yokohama secretly meets with Tomono and it is revealed that they are working together to discredit the commander of the Japanese army, so Tomono can take his place, and frame Takimi for everything. After searching all night, Kenshin and the others finally come across Yahiko and Kaoru slaps him before hugging him and saying she is glad he is ok. When Kenshin asks if Yahiko knows what Takimi is planning, Yahiko says they said something about a foreign visitor and Kenshin realizes they plan to attack the ambassador, who will be part of a parade in his honor. As the parade commences, Saito is keeping watch as he also believes the rebels would attack during the parade. As the ambassador reaches the embassy, the rebels attack with cannons, killing several of the guards before charging in to attack the remaining guards. When Takimi goes to kill the ambassador, Kenshin stops him and the two begin fighting, while Sanosuke deals with the other rebels and Saito takes out the cannons. Tomono, seeing his plan falling apart, orders his men to start shooting and ends up killing several of the rebels, including Musashino when he shields Takimi, and Takimi and the others escape. When Kaoru, Toki, and Yahiko arrive at the scene, Yahiko discovers the body of Musashino and cries for his friend while Kenshin stands amidst the bodies and recalls what brought him to give up killing people. When the location of Takimi and the rebels is discovered, Kenshin approaches the commander and asks that he be allowed to go in and talk to Takimi, in order to try and arrange a peaceful end to the fighting. Tomono doesn’t like it but the commander overrules him and allows Kenshin to proceed. Kenshin and Sanosuke head to the rebel’s hideout and after Sanosuke has a brief fight with some of the rebels, Kenshin gets his audience with Takimi. Kenshin tries to get Takimi to surrender but Takimi refuses, saying he doesn’t blame Kenshin for his friend’s death but does blame him for what the government has done since then. The two men start fighting and Takimi appears to have the upperhand, saying he had memorized Kenshin’s fighting style since he first saw it years ago. Kenshin is finally able to defeat Takimi but when Takimi tries to continue fighting, Toki runs up and embraces Takimi and begs him to stop fighting. Takimi agrees to give himself up but before he can, Tomono and some of his men appear and begin firing into the crowd of rebels. Several of them are killed, including Takimi as he tries to shield Toki but before anyone else can be killed. Kenshin renders Tomono unconscious. The commander orders his men to stand down and tend to the wounded while on a hill overlooking the hideout, Saito confronts the man that was working with Tomono and kills him. Some time later, Kenshin goes to see Toki and he admits to her that he killed her brother. Toki accepts Kenshin’s apology and says she plans on taking some of Takimi’s things and burying them next to her brother, and says that she hopes to see Kenshin and the others again.

This was a pretty good movie all in all. I was disappointed that they did not get the same American voice actors from the TV anime to do the movie but I thought the voices for Kenshin and Kaoru were pretty good but Sanosuke and Yahiko’s voices were annoying. The story was good, using a recurring theme from the TV show of former samurai and other people dissatisfied with the current government trying to make changes and Kenshin and his friends trying to stop anyone from getting hurt or killed. The animation was very well done and had a mixture of dark and light tones and colors that did it’s own part in setting the tone as effectively as the story itself. If you are a fan of the anime or martial arts movies, you will probably enjoy this movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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dark comedy, drama, movie, movie review, romance

June 20th, 2017 Movie – The Rules Of Attraction

the rules of attraction

Ahh, the memories of all of the random movies I was able to watch for free due to my old roommate. Back when she worked for Disney, my roommate would get advanced screening passes to all sorts of movies, even some that were not Disney films. Today’s movie was one of those movies and I remember enjoying it in the theaters so during a random movie buying binge several years ago, this wound up being one of those purchases. So let’s see if this movie is still enjoyable as I watch today’s movie, The Rules Of Attraction.

The plot: Lauren is attending the End of the World Party at Camden College and wants to lose her virginity to Victor but he had been having sex with her roommate Lara. So she ends up taking a film student upstairs to have sex with him but she passes out and when she comes too, she finds herself being raped by a “townie” while the film student films it on his camcorder. Paul is at the same party and stares across the room at Sean but ends up taking a jock up to his room to do some ecstasy. As the pills start to take effect, Paul tries to kiss the jock, who violently shoves him away and when Paul taunts him about being “closeted”, the jock throws him out of his room and spits on him. Sean sees Lauren taking the film student upstairs and rips up some letters written on purple paper. As he looks around the party, he heads towards a girl who he had sex with at the beginning of the term but when she asks him his name, he lies and says he is a freshman named Peter. Sean takes the girl back to his dorm and as they are having sex, he finds himself thinking that he can’t remember the last time he had sex while sober. Going back several months to the beginning of the school year, Sean checks his mail and receives a love letter written on purple paper. Later, Sean goes to see Rupert, his drug supplier, who is angry over the amount of money that Sean owes him and threatens to shoot him but Rupert’s friend, a Jamaican named Guest, tells him to leave Sean alone. When Sean says that all the new freshmen are coming to campus so he can charge them more for the drugs, Rupert agrees and allows Sean to leave but Sean has trouble getting his customers to pay the money that they owe him. At the Edge of the World Bonfire, Paul sees a guy, Mitchel, that he had flirted with before and continues flirting with him but Mitchel’s girlfriend shows up and tells Mitchel to take her back to her room. She invites Paul to join them but Mitchel tells her he can’t come. Paul goes to get a beer from the keg but Sean cuts in front of him and the two end up talking. Sean is only half paying attention to what Paul is saying and through miscommunication, Paul believes that Sean said he was bi and arranges to meet with him the next day. Saturday morning, Sean and Lauren both head to a Saturday morning class but the teacher is passed out in his office so the class is cancelled. Sean and Lauren start talking and after Lauren takes his sunglasses as she leaves, Sean pulls the letter from his pocket and thinks that she is the one writing to him. Meanwhile, Paul is getting ready for his supposed date with Sean when a friend bursts into his room saying another friend is overdosing and drags Paul away to help him. Paul reluctantly helps take the kid to the hospital and watches as his two friends panic over the fate of their friend. Elsewhere, Lauren is at her dorm looking through a book of venereal diseases in order to convince herself to not go to a party and hook up with a guy, though her roommate Lara tries to convince her to come. At the party, Lara talks with Sean for a while, who asks if Lauren is coming, and she explains about the book. Later, Sean is getting some more beer and Paul approaches him and apologizes for missing their date, then invites Sean back to his room to smoke pot. Lauren shows up at the party and asks Lara if she has seen Sean and when Lara tells her he went off with Paul, shoe worries at first but calms herself by thinking that he just went to sell Paul some pot. As Lara goes to hook up with a guy, Lauren’s teacher approaches her and asks about why she missed the tutorial on Saturday. Lauren accompanies him back to his house and they start making out but when she finds out he is married, she refuses to sleep with him but does end up giving him a blow job. Sean and Paul end up getting stoned in Paul’s room and Paul imagines sleeping with Sean. The next day, Paul receives a call from his mom telling him to come up to the city for the weekend and he asks Sean to give him a ride to the bus station. Returning to campus, Sean gets another love letter that says “Tonight is the night.” Meanwhile, Lauren and Lara are snorting cocaine in their dorm room and Lauren tells her that she plans on going all the way with Sean, saying that they have a connection. In the city, Paul meets up with Dick, the son of one of his mother’s friends, who will be joining them for dinner and ends up causing a scene at the restaurant before he leaves. Back at college, Sean attends a “dress to get laid” party and is talking to Lara as she snorts some more cocaine and when he asks about Lauren, she tells him that she isn’t coming and that she has a boyfriend. Sean ends up having sex with Lara but he imagines it is Lauren. Meanwhile, the girl who was writing the love letters is actually a student that works in the cafeteria. She sees Sean leave with Lara and ends up writing him a suicide note, then heads into the women’s bathroom and slits her wrists in one of the tubs. Lauren returns to her room and finds Sean finishing getting dressed and she slams the door as he tries to apologize and heads to the bathroom to cry, only to find the girl’s body. When Sean finds the suicide note, he tries talking to Lauren but she refuses to speak with him. When Lara tells him he is wasting his time, he ends up punching her, blaming her for what happened. Sean attempts to commit suicide through various methods but they all fail so he decides to fake it. Lauren shows up at his room and sees him lying in bed with fake blood and while Sean laughs at fooling her, she calls him sad and runs off. Victor, arrives back in town from Europe and he is telling Sean and Mitchel about his adventures in Europe. Victor asks Sean for some pot and Sean agrees to get him some but says Mitchel has to come with him. Sean and Mitchel head to Rupert’s house to get the pot but when they get there, Rupert demands his money. Sean gives him the money that Victor gave him but Rupert says it isn’t enough and ends up threatening Sean and Mitchel. A fight breaks out, with Sean cutting Guest’s hand, and Sean and Mitchel manage to escape and make it back to college, where Mitchel kicks Sean out of his car. Meanwhile, Lauren learns that Victor is back in town and heads to his dorm and runs into Sean, who tries to talk to her and asks to get to know her but she tells him he will never know her. Lauren reaches Victor’s dorm and knocks on the door and when he opens it, she hugs him and starts kissing him but Victor says he doesn’t know who she is and Lauren notices Lara jumping on Victor’s bed in her underwear. Paul sees Sean sitting on the steps at the stadium and tries talking to him, saying he wants to get to know him but Sean tells Paul that he will never know him and Paul starts yelling at Sean as he leaves. Sean goes and checks his mailbox but doesn’t find a letter inside. Rupert and Guest enter the mailroom and Sean tries to run but the stop him and proceed to give him a beating. Returning to the events at the beginning of the movie, Sean sees Lauren heading upstairs and then spies the blonde but it is shown that his sleeping with her was only a fantasy as Sean puts his drink down and leaves the party. Later, Lauren walks outside and runs into Paul, who is moping on the porch. The two start talking and Paul tells her that Sean loves her but Lauren says it doesn’t matter. Paul asks if she was the one writing Sean letters and Lauren tells him it was someone else, as the two watch Sean ride off on his motorcycle. As he rides, Sean starts a monologue about his thoughts on Lauren but it is cut off as the credits start to roll.

The Rules Of Attraction met with mixed to poor results from the critics, holding a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, ” A tiresome movie about unsympathetic college kids engaging in self-destructive behaviors.” The movie originally received an NC-17 rating so the director made cuts to the film in order to get an R rating, however those cuts were retained in some of the foreign releases of the movie. The movie was a mild success at the box office, earning $11.8 million off of a $4 million budget and has since garnered a bit of a cult following.

This is a pretty dark look at an aspect of college life that most people don’t necessarily want to think about. The acting was good, with James Van Der Beek (Sean), Shannyn Sossamon (Lauren), and Ian Somerhalder (Paul) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was really good and from what I remember, followed the novel it was based on pretty closely. Like I said, this movie essentially focused on the other aspect of college life that did not involve grades or sports, sex and drug use, though some aspects of this felt like something out of the 70’s. Especially Lauren hooking up with her teacher, which felt similar to what happened in Animal House. There wasn’t much special effects work in this movie, but they did have a pretty effective use of split screen camera work a couple of times, especially when Sean and Lauren first meet. It’s probably not going to be your first choice for a college themed movie but it is worth watching.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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comedy, drama, movie, movie review

June 17th, 2017 Movie – Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

rosencrantz and guildenstern are dead

You ever what might be going on with the minor characters in a play? Well that is pretty much what happens with today’s movie. Back in 1967, Tom Stoppard wrote a play about two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where the focus is on them while the events of Hamlet play out in the background and only briefly come to the forefront. I remember watching this with some friends back when I lived in Texas and thought it was pretty funny. Years later, the DVD just happened to catch my eye while I was wandering through Best Buy and, recalling the fun I had watching it, I decided to buy it. So let’s get a little bit of culture into our day as I watch today’s movie, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

The plot: Two men, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, are riding along a desolate hillside when Rosencrantz stops and picks up a coin he sees on the ground. After dusting it off, he begins flipping it and it always seems to land on heads. Guildenstern moves closer and when Rosencrantz flips the coin again, he grabs it and examines the coin to make sure it isn’t a trick coin, then tosses it back to Rosencrantz, who says it lands on heads. When Guildenstern pulls out a coin of his own to flip, Rosencrantz makes a wager that it is heads and ends up winning several of Guildenstern’s coins this way. As they continue on their journey, Guildenstern wanders as to what it means that the coin keeps landing on heads (78 times at that point). After spouting various theories, he asks Rosencrantz what the first thing he remembers is but Rosencrantz can’t say. Guildenstern remembers being summoned and later Rosencrantz also recalls it, saying it was a royal summons. Suddenly, they hear a noise in the woods and come across a The Player and his travelling band of Tragedians. As The Player begins describing the various performances they can do, Guildenstern questions him about the obscene nature of his plays, wondering if that is really what people want. When Rosencrantz tosses a coin into the air, Guildenstern steps on it and makes a wager with The Player but the Player calls heads and Guildenstern leaves the stage in disgust. When Rosencrantz tosses a second coin to make another bet, they find The Player and the Tragedians have disappeared and Rosencrantz picks up the coin and comments on it being tails. Suddenly, they hear a moaning and find themselves transported to the castle in Elsinore, where they are covered by draperies as Hamlet chases Ophelia through the castle. After extricating themselves from the draperies, they find themselves approached by King Claudius and Queen Gertrude, who explain that they summoned the two men due to their friendship with Hamlet to see if they can figure out why Hamlet’s behavior has changed so much since the death of his father. After Claudius and Gertrude leave with their entourage, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern wonder exactly what they should do as they wander about the castle until the eventually come to a tennis court. After Rosencrantz starts playing around with some of the gaming equipment, he challenges Guildenstern to a game of “Questions”, where they can only respond by asking each other questions. After the game, Guildenstern notices the Tragedians arriving at the castle and as he goes to explore further, he overhears Claudius and Gertrude talking to Polonius, their Chief Counselor, about Hamlet. Later, they overhear Hamlet and Polonius talking and Guildenstern decides to prepare themselves to question Hamlet by pretending to be Hamlet and having Rosencrantz ask him questions. After some confusion, Rosencrantz begins asking questions and essentially recaps what has led up the events in Hamlet. The pair finally decide to see Hamlet, who greets his friends warmly but after talking briefly, asks if they were sent for and Guildenstern says that they were summoned to visit the castle. The pair have dinner with Hamlet and he later leaves with Polonius after hearing of the arrival of the Tragedians. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern discuss their conversation with Hamlet, which Guildenstern feels went well but Rosencrantz believes they were slaughtered, then they follow the sound of voices to find The Player giving an oration for Hamlet and Hamlet invites the Tragedians to stay the night and perform a play he wrote the next day. The next day, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern encounter the Player and the rest of the Tragedians in the bath house and speak with the Player a bit about Hamlet before the Tragedians leave. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern follow after them and eventually come upon them rehearsing their play (which is essentially Hamlet) by performing it for the servants. As they finish, the Player asks if Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are familiar with the play and when Rosencrantz asks what it is, the Player says it is a slaughterhouse, with 8 deaths all told. Guildenstern corrects him by saying 6 but the Player says 8, as two of the Tragedians, who bear a resemblance to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, hang themselves in the play’s finale. After another confusing conversation with the Player, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern encounter Claudius and Gertrude, who asks what they have learned about Hamlet. They observe Hamlet mourning at his father’s grave and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern mention the Tragedians and the play that they will be performing at Hamlet’s request. Afterwards, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are talking about death when Guildenstern overhears Hamlet and Ophelia talking. Later, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come across the Tragedians doing a final run through of the play when they are interrupted by Hamlet and Ophelia, who burst through the door at the back of the stage. After Hamlet yells at Ophelia and storms off, Claudius and Polonius enter and while Polonius tends to Ophelia, Claudius mentions his plans to send Hamlet to England. The Tragedians finish their run through, as the Player explains the story to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and when it is performed for the Royal Court, Claudius rises to his feet during the scene where the king’s brother poisons the king so that he can assume the throne, causing Hamlet to cry out in glee as his plan appears to have worked. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern observe Hamlet summoned to see Gertrude by Polonius and as they are walking away, they are approached by Claudius, who tells them that they will escort Hamlet to England, then gives them a letter to give to the King of England. After Claudius leaves, they hear talking and find Polonius listening in on Hamlet and Gertrude’s conversation. When they startle Polonius, Hamlet ends up stabbing him through the curtain, killing him but he does not see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hiding at the edges of the curtain. The next thing they know, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are on the boat heading for England and as they discuss what they should do, they end up reading the letter that Claudius wrote and learn that he asks the King of England to have Hamlet killed. The two are unaware that Hamlet had overheard their reading of the letter and when they go to sleep, he secretly writes a different letter calling for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to be put to death and switches it with the letter from Claudius. Later, the ship is attacked by pirates and Hamlet escapes onto the pirates’ ship while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are surprised to find the Tragedians are on the ship as well. When the attack is over, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are trying to figure out what they should do now when they are approached by the Player, disguised as the King of England, and after talking with him, they hand him the letter. When the Player reads that they are to be put to death, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are confused and Guildenstern actually stabs the Player but it was with a stage knife. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are strung up and prepared to be hung and as the final events in Hamlet play out, foretold by the Tragedian’s play, the envoy announces that the king’s order was carried out and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. The scene cuts to the two ropes going taught as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are hung, then the Tragedians pack up their cart and continue traveling through the woods.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, almost every critic liked the original book but seemed torn in their opinion on if the movie was a good adaptation. Originally, Gary Oldman (Rosencrantz) and Tim Roth (Guildenstern) were cast in the opposite roles (Oldman playing Guildenstern and Roth playing Rosencrantz) but that was later changed to the final casting, while a running gag throughout the film is that people would constantly confuse the two men as to which person had which name, including the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern themselves. While the original play won a Tony award for Best Play, the movie did not fare as well and would only end up making $739,104 at the North American box office.

This is one of those movies I will put in whenever I need a laugh because it is such a fantastic, clever comedy. Gary Oldman was hilarious in this movie, showing some great timing in both his dialogue and his physical comedy while Tim Roth did a good job playing the straight-man for him, though he also had a couple of funny moments and lines as well. I also enjoyed Richard Dreyfuss, who was great as the Player and mixed some dark humor as well as a sense of omniscience into the character. The story was really good and liked how the movie focused on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern but when it would feature one of the main scenes of Hamlet, they would be relegated to the inconsequential side characters that they originally were. I also liked the various instances of Rosencrantz coming up with some of Newton’s scientific theories, such as gravity or conservation of motion, but not able to accurate demonstrate them. The camera work involved with the various scene changes was a little confusing at times but overall, there was very little to complain about with this movie. A great movie that is definitely worth watching and might even help give you a better appreciation for Shakespeare.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, drama, movie, movie review

June 3rd, 2017 Movie – Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves

robin hood prince of thieves

Out of curiosity, did anyone else get a little sick of hearing Bryan Adams back when this movie came out. Nothing against Bryan Adams but that song was all over the freakin radio back then. So this was one of the biggest action movies to come out of 1991 and the first time I saw it, I fell asleep during it. This doesn’t mean that I thought the movie was boring, I was just super tired and has been up for several days at a time (which I had a bad habit of doing back then). Anyways, I received a VHS copy for Christmas the year it came out and then I eventually decided to get it on DVD a couple of years ago. However, the DVD I got was the extended edition, with some extra footage that focused on the Sheriff and Mortianna’s relationship. So let’s see if the new scenes damage the movie any as I watch Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

The plot: In 1194 A.D., during the Third Crusade led by King Richard, Robin of Locksley and his friend Peter Dubois are both held prisoner in Jerusalem. When Peter is accused of stealing bread, the guards plan on cutting off his hand but Robin insists on taking the punishment himself due to Peter being too weak to handle the trauma. As the guards tie a strap to Robin’s wrist and prepare to cut off his hand, Robin yanks on the strap so that the guard holding him has his hand cut off instead. Robin and Peter kill their executioners and try to free the other prisoners but the only one they are able to free is a Moor named Azeem, who promises to show them a way out. Azeem leads them out through the sewers but a sentry sees them as they exit onto the street and fires an arrow at them, mortally wounding Peter. Peter gives Robin his ring and says to give it to his sister Marian, then makes Robin swear to protect her in his absence, then grabs the scimitar from Azeem and takes on the approaching guards, allowing Robin and Azeem to hide. As the two men quickly eat some food from a nearby shop, Robin offers his thanks and prepares to head back to England and Azeem says that he must travel with Robin, as he now owes a life debt to him. In England, Robin’s father, Lord Locksely, is writing a letter to a friend to see if he has any word of Robin when a man enters the castle and says that his daughter was taken by men on horses. Though his servant, Duncan, tries to stop him, Lord Locksley rides out to rescue the girl, only to find that the man betrayed him as he is surrounded by men in white robes and masks. The leader removes his mask to reveal the face of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who asks Lord Locksley to join him but when he refuses, he has Locksley killed. Some time later, Robin and Azeem arrive on the shores of England and Robin has one of the men on the boat try to attack Azeem in order to cancel the debt but Azeem easily dispatches the man and continues traveling with Robin. As they head towards Robin’s home, Robin notices some men chasing a small boy into the tree and ends up fighting the men and defeating them and their leader, the Guy of Gisborne. After the fight, Robin yells at Azeem, who had not helped Robin as he was in the midst of doing his afternoon prayers, before he questions the boy on the truth of Gisborne’s accusations. Gisborne heads to Nottingham Castle and informs the Sheriff of Robin’s return but the Sheriff does not seem too concerned. When a bell starts ringing in his chamber, the Sheriff leaves and heads down to the lower levels of the castle, where the witch Mortianna lives. Mortianna proceeds to read the runes to predict the Sheriff’s future and tells him that Robin’s arrival proceeds the arrival of King Richard, which would ruin the Sheriff’s plans. Suddenly, Mortianna cries out and says she has seen their deaths, telling the Sheriff that he must kill Robin and Azeem before they kill them. Robin returns to Locksley Castle to find it in ruins and his father left to hang in a cage. When he sees Duncan, he is shocked to find that Duncan’s eyes were put out and that Robin’s father was accused of devil worshiping and allegedly signed a letter of confession in front of the bishop. After burying his father, Robin swears to avenge his death and clear his name, then heads to Peter’s home. When they arrive there, Robin asks to speak to Marian and is allowed inside but unarmed and alone. When he gets to the dining hall, Marian greets him but scoffs at his offer of protection, saying Robin was nothing more than a bully as a child, and has a masked guard draw a sword on him in order to escort him out. Robin and the guard start to fight and as Azeem breaks down the door to help Robin, Robin discovers that the guard is the real Marian. Later, Robin gives Marian Peter’s ring and tells her of his oath but she believes it is merely him making boyish promises in order to alleviate his guilt. When Azeem calls out for him, Robin climbs onto the wall he is sitting on and Azeem hands Robin the spyglass he just made. When Robin looks through it, he sees Gisborne and some soldiers approaching and he and Azeem are forced to steal some of Marian’s horses in order to escape, with Marian yelling at them for doing so in order to appear unfriendly towards them. Robin, Azeem, and Duncan hide in Sherwood Forest, using the stories about the woods being cursed and haunted in order to keep Gisborne and his men from following them. As they make their way through the woods, they are ambushed by a band of outlaws led by a man named John Little. John tells Robin that he can cross in exchange for the medallion Robin is wearing and when Robin refuses, the two fight with staffs for it. John is able to get the best of Robin at first but Robin sneaks up behind him and manages to knock John into the water, where he can’t swim, and John is forced to yield, then offers Robin and his companions to stay the night at their camp. At their camp, Robin makes friends with John and the others but one of the outlaws, Will Scarlett, expresses a fierce hostility towards Robin. The next day, Robin disguises himself and sneaks into Nottingham Castle to attend mass and after the service, speaks with Marian. She tells him that the Sheriff has put a bounty on his head and warns that the Sheriff is making an army but doesn’t know for what purpose. Robin then sneaks into the Bishop of Hereford’s chambers to speak with the Bishop about his father. Meanwhile, the Sheriff is speaking to Marian about Robin stealing her horses and says she should move within the castle walls for her own protection. Marian refuses so the Sheriff hands her a dagger to use as protection and Marian thanks him and says her cousin, King Richard, will reward him for keeping her safe. In the Bishop’s chambers, Robin doesn’t believe the Bishop’s story about his father and goes to leave, only to open the door and see the Sheriff and Gisborne about to enter. Robin quickly slashes the Sheriff’s cheek and shuts the door, then cuts the rope on a chandelier in order to escape out an upper window, with the Sheriff yelling threats at him below. Robin then proceeds to steal the Sheriff’s horse and a bag of bread and rides back to Sherwood Forest, where Will Scarlett and John chastise him for stirring up trouble. Back at Nottingham, the Sheriff orders Gisborne to attack the outlying farms and force the people to turn on Robin and bring him in for the reward. When the angry villagers approach the camp, Will threatens to turn him in for the reward and a pardon but Robin says that the Sheriff will never honor it and hang them as well. As Robin walks away, Will pulls out a knife to throw at him but Wulf, John’s son, shouts out a warning and Robin manages to shoot Will in the hand with an arrow. As Will runs off, Robin speaks with the villagers and tells them that they can learn to fight back against the Sheriff and his men, using the forest to provide food and shelter for them. The villagers begin making weapons and lodgings and Robin and Azeem both work on training them all in how to fight. They then begin robbing the rich barons who ride from London to Nottingham, as Sherwood forest is the only route for them to take. They also stop the Sheriff’s men from harming or stealing from the villagers, giving them the money that they steal from the Sheriff. The Sheriff tries raising the bounty on Robin but his scribe tells him it will do no good as the poor love him, which drives the Sheriff into a rage. During one of the raids, Gisborne is leading a convoy through the woods when he spots two of the outlaws nearby. As Gisborne and some of his men ride off after them, the two outlaws are able to escape by using concealed hiding places. Meanwhile, Robin and the others ambush the remaining guards and hijack the carriage with the treasure, as well as a cart driven by Friar Tuck, then hide all of the bodies, so that when Gisborne returns, there is no sign the convoy was ever there. As Robin opens the chest, he remarks that it is blood money and they should find out what it is for, just as Tuck regains consciousness. When Robin asks him to share some of the beer he is carrying, Tuck attacks him and tries to ride off but is knocked off the cart. Robin forces Tuck to help pull the cart to their camp, then speaks again to Tuck and asks him to join them and Tuck, feeling humbled by what happened, accepts his offer. Some time later, Marian and her servant, Sarah, are riding through the forest when they are set upon by two of Robin’s men and after easily defeating the two men, Marian demands they be taken to Robin. The two men lead her to where Robin was bathing, and then Robin escorts Marian to the camp, showing her how they are managing to survive. As he shows her the gold they stole, Marian thinks he is trying to brag but Robin tells her it is blood money intended to pay off King Richard’s enemies. Later that night, as Robin and Marian continue to talk, they see Wulf running towards John and tell him that Fanny, John’s wife, is dying. Robin and Marian rush to the tent, where Azeem and Tuck are already there, and Azeem, after examining the pregnant Fanny, tells her the baby has turned and can’t be born without help. Tuck tries telling them not to listen to Azeem, as he has been hostile to him due to his being a Moor, but Robin says that they should let Azeem try to help her and John agrees. Azeem has Marian gather some supplies for him and as she runs off and with Robin and Marian assisting him, Azeem is able to safely deliver the baby. As John shows his new son to the crowd, Tuck apologizes to Azeem for his disrespect and offers his friendship to the man. As people begin dancing in celebration, Will approaches Marian and asks her to dance but Robin says she is spoken for and grabs her into the approaching dancing line. The next morning, Robin leads Marian and Sarah to a different way out of the camp and asks Marian for two favors; to take Duncan with her as he worries about his safety, though he tells Duncan that he wants him to go with Marian for her safety. For his second favor, Robin asks Marian to try and get word to King Richard and let him know of the Sheriff’s plans and she says she won’t do this for Richard, but she will for him, then kisses him quickly before boarding a boat and heading back to her home. Meanwhile, the Sheriff is speaking with Mortianna about losing the money he was going to pay the barons and asks her adivse. Mortianna says that he should hire the Celts to defeat Robin and the Sheriff seems pleased at the idea of using them as mercenaries, then Mortianna suddenly suggests marrying Marian in order to produce an heir to Richard’s throne. Meanwhile, Marian writes a letter to King Richard and then gives it to the Bishop to deliver to Richard in Paris. Though the Bishop tries to dissuade her, Marian insists on having Sarah accompany the messenger but as they are riding through the forest, the messenger knocks Sarah unconscious. Later that night, the Sheriff’s men attack Marian’s home and take her away and Duncan manages to get away and ride off to get tell Robin, unaware that he is being followed. When Duncan reaches the camp, he manages to tell Robin what happened just before he dies but before Robin can grieve, a warning cry is sounded as they see a Celt army on the hill. The Sheriff tells the Celt’s leader that he needs prisoners and the Celts attack but Robin and the outlaws are able to drive them off. As they start to cheer, they see the Sheriff’s men armed with flaming arrows and catapults, and the second wave suddenly attacks. Many of the outlaws are killed while others are captured, including Will and Wulf. Robin manages to rescue Fanny and her baby when they are trapped in their tree house but as he tries to escape himself, the rope he is on catches fire and snaps, dropping him into the fires below. That night, the Sheriff approaches the captive Marian and reveals that the Bishop is working for him and that Robin is dead, handing her his family medallion as proof before blackmailing her into agreeing to marry him by threatening to kill the captured children. The Sheriff then heads to the dungeon and asks the captured outlaws of any news concerning Robin and Will says he will kill Robin for him and the Sheriff agrees to let him go, though has him lashed to keep up appearances. Robin, Azeem, Tuck, John, Bull, and Fanny are burying the dead when Will suddenly appears in the woods. John assaults him, accusing him of being a traitor but stops as he sees the lash marks on his stomach. Will tells them that the Sheriff plans to hang their men in the square as entertainment for his wedding to Marian. Robin suspects Will was to use this information to try and kill him and asks Will what he plans to do and Will says it depends on Robin. Will then admits that he is Robin’s half brother and blames Robin for ruining his life but found himself believing in Robin’s crusade against the Sheriff. Shocked into silence, Robin embraces Will and says he will stand by his side and the others agree with him. Meanwhile, the Sheriff is celebrating his upcoming wedding when he discovers Mortianna’s spy holes and confronts her about being a fraud but Mortianna says that she is actually his mother and had killed a baby and substituted him for the dead baby so that he would grow up and be able to fulfill her desire to have her bloodline on the throne. Robin and the others manage to sneak into the castle and take their positions but as the prisoners are being led out, Wulf sees Will in the crowd and attacks him and as the Sheriff asks what is going on, he sees Will and orders him strung up as well. Robin plans on going ahead with their plan but the barrel of black powder that was placed by the hangman’s galley is moved and Will is tied to it in order to be beheaded. As the executions start, Wulf is the first one to be hung but Robin manages to fire an arrow and sever the rope. The Sheriff orders the hangman to continue the executions but Azeem, Robin, and John manage to save the men. As everyone starts to leave, Robin sees Marian being taken away by the Sheriff and he goes after her. Seeing this, Azeem yells out to the crowd and inspires them to rise up with Robin against the Sheriff. Finding their way barred by the gate, Robin and Azeem use a catapult to launch themselves over the wall so they can chase after the Sheriff. Meanwhile, the Sheriff enters the chapel and orders the Bishop to marry him and Marian, with Mortianna doing her best to ensure it proceeds. Robin and Azeem try to break through the door but when they don’t have any luck, Robin tells Azeem to keep trying and he heads up to the roof, then swings down through a window into the room just as the ceremony finishes. The Bishop hastily retreats as Robin and the Sheriff begin fighting while outside, Mortianna attacks Azeem and injures him but he manages to stab her with a spear and she runs off. Tuck catches the Bishop in his chamber and accuses him of selling his soul and when the Bishop asks if he will strike a fellow man of the cloth, Tuck says he won’t, then proceeds to load the Bishop with several containers of gold before pushing him out the window. Robin and the Sheriff continue fighting and the Sheriff gets the upper hand but when he taunts Marian about killing Robin, Robin stabs the Sheriff with the dagger he had given Marian. As the Sheriff falls dead, Robin starts to approach Marian when Mortianna suddenly appears and rushes at Robin with the spear but Azeem finally breaks through the door and throws his scimitar at Mortianna, killing her and telling Robin that he has fulfilled his vow. Later, Tuck is presiding over the marriage of Robin and Marian when King Richard interrupts them, saying he cannot let the wedding commence unless he can give away the bride. Richard thanks Robin for saving his throne then tells Tuck to commence and Robin and Marian kiss after they are wed.

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, several critics praised the fight scenes and visual appeal of locations, while others criticized the story and acting, primarily Kevin Costner and his lack of an English accent during the film. Cary Elwes was offers the role of Robin Hood but he turned it down because he thought the plot was too contrived, which makes his playing Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Men In Tights that much funnier. Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves was a box office hit, earning $390.5 million off of a $48 million budget, making it the 2nd highest grossing movie of 1991 behind T2: Judgement Day.

This is pretty much exactly what you expect to see out of a big budget blockbuster; a lot of action and excitement but a little weak on the plot. The acting was ok, with Morgan Freeman (Azeem) and Alan Rickman (Sheriff) doing fantastic jobs. Several of the other actors also did good jobs, such as Michael Wincott (Gisborne) and Michael McShane (Tuck), and while they did good jobs themselves, I did think it was a little sad that Kevin Costner (Robin) and Christian Slater (Will) didn’t really try to do a British accent. The plot of the movie covered the basic story of Robin Hood but I honestly thought that they could have done a bit better and gone in depth with some of the character development in the story. The action scenes were definitely great and very well coordinated, with the battle against the Celts being very well done. A little lacking as far as plot, but definitely one of the great action movies to come out of the 90’s.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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drama, horror, movie, movie review

May 25th, 2017 Movie – Ringu 0: Birthday

ringu 0

Man, what is it with popular movies coming out and then a prequel coming out some years later. I mean, Star Wars is one of the more obvious instances but there have been others, including today’s movie. With the popularity of Ringu and Ringu 2, another sequel was made only this time, they decided to focus on how Sadako came to be the spirit in the well. So let’s see how good they did with today’s movie, Ringu 0.

The plot: A girl is talking on the phone to a friend, who is telling her about a video she watched, and when her friend mentions a well, the girl starts telling her about a dream she had. In the dream, she saw an old well, that was pitch black inside it, as well as an old house nearby. When she went into the house, she didn’t see anyone there and was about to check upstairs when she hears a scream and sees a man killing a woman and throwing her body down the well. 30 years earlier, a reporter named Akiko Miyaji is interviewing an elementary school principal named Mrs. Sudo about a former student named Sadako Yamamura. Akiko asks if Sadako had inherited her mother Shizuko’s powers and Sudo says she doesn’t know, but relates an incident that occurred on a class trip to the beach where 14 children had drowned and Sadako, who was terrified of the sea, had said if they went into the sea they would die. Meanwhile, Sadako, now 19 years old, has moved to Tokyo and joined a theater troupe, which was at her doctor’s suggestion as a way to deal with her nightmares. Aiko, the girl that Sadako is the understudy for, is not happy with Sadako being there, as the director seems to have become more critical of her since she joined. When one member comments on her looking pale, Aiko admits that she has been having bad dreams about a well and a house and the woman admits that she has had the same dream. Later, as the actors run through a scene, Aiko sees a barefoot girl in a white dress approaching her, though nobody else sees her. At the same time, Hiroshi Toyama, the sound director, hears a strange squealing sound coming from somewhere. When the director, Yusaku Shigemori, tells everyone to take a break, Aiko is seen slumped in a chair and when the woman she was talking to approaches her, she discovers that Aiko has died. Meanwhile, Akiko is interviewing an associate of Dr. Ikuma, Sadako’s father, and plays the recording of the incident that occured during Shizuko’s demonstration. Akiko informs him that while one reporter did die that day, all of the reporters have since died over the last 12 years and that the strange squealing noise can only be heard on that tape. Akiko asks if the man knows where Izuma or Sadako is but the doctor says he doesn’t know. Back at the theater, Sadako is named as Aiko’s replacement and while most of the actors shun or insult her, Toyama tells her to ignore them. After rehearsing her first scene, Shigemori calls it a day and Toyama approaches Sadako to congratulate her but Shigemori tells Toyama to finish editing the sound reels while he takes Sadako back to her apartment. As Toyama is checking the reels, he has his girlfriend Etsuko, the costume designer, listen and explains that the tape was on when Aiko died but the sound wasn’t there originally and Etsuko is shocked to hear what sounds like someone saying “You will die.” The next day, Etsuko is working on altering Sadako’s dress while some of the troupe members warn her that Toyama and Sadako are getting to close. As Etsuko takes a break, she sees what appears to be a young girl dressed in white walking across the room and she suddenly has a vision of the well and a forest by the sea before passing out. When she wakes up, she notices the dress is missing and when she sees Toyama walking down the hall, asks him if he has seen Sadako. The two go looking and eventually find Sadako holding the dress and Etsuko accuses her of taking it but Toyama tells her to stop. When Etsuko leaves, Sadako apologizes and says that sometimes she does things and doesn’t remember them, then starts to tell Toyama a little about her dreams. The next day, Etsuko looks up Sadako’s resume and goes to see her psychiatrist but he refuses to answer any questions as Etsuko leaves, the flyer for the play she was carrying is left on the ground and a man, who happens to be Akiko’s assistant, picks it up. Etsuko returns to the theater and goes to speak with Toyama, begging him to stay away from Sadako but Toyama refuses to listen. Akiko and her assistant show up as the troupe is preparing to rehearse and Akiko speaks with Shigemori for a few minutes about Sadako. Getting Shigemori’s permission, Akiko and her assistant approach Sadako and try to take some pictures but the camera breaks and Sadako runs off. Later, Akiko returns to office and finds Mrs. Sudo waiting for her. Mrs. Sudo explains that she couldn’t tell Akiko this earlier but she had paid a house visit to Sadako’s house shortly after Sadako was enrolled in her school. She said that Shizuke had begun her descent into madness at this point and she heard strange noise coming from the attic and when she looked up the stairs, she saw another child hiding there. From that point on, she was scared of Sadako because she didn’t know which child would actually be coming to school. Akiko goes to see how the pictures her assistant took turned out and they see that the entire troupe is cursed and that the pictures of the dead journalists are seen behind the picture of Sadako. The assistant says that Akiko will never be able to print this story but Akiko says it was never going to be a story, later revealing that the dead journalist during the demonstration was her fiance. Back at the theater, Shigemori confronts Sakado, saying he knows about her mother and her past and says she is the perfect actress. When nearby objects start shaking, Shigemori accuses Sadako of doing it and attacks her but Toyama, who was listening to their conversation, stops him. As the two struggle, Sadako hears a child’s laughter above them and yells for them to stop when there is a sudden crash and Toyama is shown to have accidentally killed Shigemori. Sadaku takes the wounded Toyama to Dr. Kuno but when he goes to treat Toyama’s injuries, he finds that they are already healing. As Toyama recovers, he tells Sadako that he will confess to Shigemori’s murder, saying that he will not let them hurt her. As Sadako waits for Toyama to be released, she sees a man in a wheelchair and touches his legs, enabling the man to stand up, which shocks the nurse attending him. Sadako and Toyama return to the theater and Toyama hides the body before the other troupe members arrive. When Shigemori is nowhere to be found, the troupe says that they can’t cancel and must perform the play. Sadako goes to see Toyama and he suggests they run away together after the show and Sadako agrees as they both profess their love to each other. Meanwhile, Akiko meets up with Etsuko and hands her a package, then heads inside the theater to watch the play while Dr. Kuno, having heard about what happened to the man in the wheelchair, also heads to the theater. As the play progresses, one of the stage hands discovers Shigemori’s body and one of the actors blames Sadako, causing rumors to start circulating. Etsuko gets Toyama to leave the sound booth, saying she will cover for him, and quickly switches the tape to the recording from Sizuke’s demonstration causing Sadako to have a breakdown. Dr. Kuno tries to get Sadako to calm down but she ends up accidentally killing him. The rest of the troupe chase after Sadako and while she pleads her innocence, several of the actors proceed to beat her to death while others hold Toyama at bay. When they are finished, Akiko approaches them and says that there is another Sadako and they must kill her as well or else they will all die from the curse. Akiko and the theater troupe head to Dr. Ikuma’s house and after he lets them inside, he explains that somehow Sadako had split into two people, with one of them taking after Shizuke while the other took after Sadako’s real father. This is what drove Shizuke mad and Ikuma explains that the only thing he could do was to use drugs from keeping it from growing up. Akiko heads up to the attic and goes to kill the other Sadako but finds the attic empty. Inside the truck, Toyama is holding onto Sadako’s hand when it suddenly starts grasping his, shocking both him and Etsuko, who was in the truck with him. Toyama tries to escape with Sadako and Etsuko, feeling guilty for her part in what happened, lets them go and tries to stop the others from chasing after them. Sadako tells Toyama to get away from her and heads to the edge of a cliff and as Toyama watches, he sees the other Sadako merge with Sadako and he tells her one last time that he loves her. As Toyama’s scream sounds through the air, Akiko and the theater troupe stop and look around in the woods as one by one, they all start dying. Akiko and Etsuko manage to make it to Ikuma’s old house to hide but Sadako approaches them and causes Akiko to shoot Etsuko and then herself. Ikuma, hearing all of the commotion, goes looking for Sadako and the others and finds Akiko and Etsuko’s bodies as well as Sadako, who is breaking down over what she had just done. Ikuma takes her back to the house to tend to her wounds and gives her some drugs to calm her down but then tells her that they should end this now. Sadako tries to escape but Ikuma chases her down and, catching up to her by the old well, strikes her in the head with a cleaver and throws the body down the well. Sadako has a dream of being reunited with Toyama but wakes up and screams as she realizes where she is and sees the lid being placed on top of the well, sealing her in.

This was a lot better than I thought it would be. The acting was pretty good, with Yukie Nakama doing a great job as Sadako while Seiichi Tanabe (Toyama), Kumiko Aso (Etsuko), and Kaoru Okunuki (Akiko) did good jobs as well. The story was interesting, with the part of there being two different Sadako’s being a good twist but they did a poor job of really explaining Sadako’s abilities, as the healing aspect seemed to come out of nowhere. I did like how the darker emotions in humanity, primarily jealousy, fear, and revenge, served as the real driving force in the movie and ended up forming Sadako into the spirit she would become. The special effects were pretty good and really helped focus the drama and tension in the scenes onto Sadako, painting her as a more tragic figure than she originally was portrayed. A surprisingly good prequel and a worthy entry into the franchise.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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drama, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review, Uncategorized

May 23rd, 2017 Movie – Rasen

rasen

Ok, now this is a perfect example of me completely falling asleep on the job. Back in the dying days of Blockbuster, I was buying dozens of movies for cheap at the nearby stores. Well, one day I noticed that they had almost all of the Ring movies, both the Japanese and American remakes, and decided to purchase them. Key word there is ALMOST. See, the one movie that the did not have was Ringu, the original Japanese version of The Ring (2002). No worries though, I said to myself, I will simply find it somewhere else or buy it online. Obviously, I never actually got around to doing that which is why I end up watching the original sequel to that movie today. Well, time to stop kicking myself for being a procrastinator and watch today’s movie, Rasen.

The plot: Mitsuo Ando, suffering from his own bout of depression, receives a phone call telling him that Ryuji Takayama, a friend from medical school, is dead and he is to perform an autopsy on the body. When Ando arrives at work, he finds several police there discussing the matter and how there are no signs of foul play but no sign as to why he died either. Ando performs the autopsy but as it is nearly finished, he has a vision of Ryuji’s body suddenly sitting up and commenting about how Ando can’t even slit his own wrists but he can cut up his body. As Ando is washing off after the autopsy, one of his assistants hands him a note that was found inside Ryuji’s stomach. Ando speaks with the detective assigned to the case, who tells him about Ryuji having reconnected with his ex-wife Reiko Asakawa but the day Ryuji died, she disappeared along with their son Yoichi. The detective has Ando try and speak with Ryuji’s girlfriend, Mai Takano, and Ando asks her some questions concerning Ryuji’s health before he died. When the detective starts asking her questions, Mai ends up fainting and wakes up to find Ando looking after her. The two talk and Mai says that Ryuji had mentioned Ando before and talked about how they came up with coded messages during med school. She mentions the video and then says that Ryuji told her that only Ando could figure out what is going on. Mai heads back to Ryuji’s apartment, where she has a vision of how Ryuji died as well as a flashback to when she found him and she breaks down and cries over the chalk outline left in the floor. The next day, Ando is discussing the case with his boss when they receive a phone call from the police saying that they found Reiko and Yoichi, as she had been involved in a car crash. When Ando and his boss show up at the scene, the detective tells him that it appears that Yoichi was already dead before the crash occurred. When a man, Yoshino, photographs the inside of the car, the detective yells at him and Yoshino explains that he was Reiko’s boss and points out a smashed video deck in the car, which draws Ando’s interest. Later, Ando is talking to Mai about the crash and she talks about how Ryuji was acting before he died. Yoshino shows up at the med school to speak to Ando and shows him Reiko’s diary, which describes a video tape that somehow kills people. Reiko first heard about it when 4 people watched the tape and then all died a week later from heart attacks. She went and found the tape and learned of Sadako Yamamura, the young woman that is on the tape. Yoshino says that Reiko believed if you made a copy of the tape and showed it to someone else, then you would be spared from the tape’s curse. Yoshino then hands Ando the dub of the tape that he found in Reiko’s apartment and hands it to him, saying it is a present. When Ando gets home, he works on trying to decipher the coded message that was found in Ryuji’s stomach and realizes it spells present. Figuring it means the tape, Ando watches it and ends up being visited by Sadako’s spirit and he quickly smashes the tape. The next day, he goes to see Yoshino and tells him not to report on Sadako and tells him to give him the copy of the tape that he made so that he can destroy it, so that he will be the last victim but Yoshino refuses and Ando ends up being knocked unconscious when he tries to attack Yoshino for the tape. Ando talks to Mai and says he believes Ryuji knew this would happen and he would ensure all of the copies of the tape were destroyed after he got what he wanted. When Mai asks what he means, he tells her about his son dying and how he wanted to kill himself but keeps chickening out so by watching the tape, he will get his wish but Mai says that Ryuji wouldn’t have wanted that. Ando goes to see Yoshino at his home and sees pictures of scenes from the tape and accuses Yoshino of watching it. Yoshino swears he didn’t and hands Ando the diary and the copy of the tape he had but as he heads to his room, he collapses to the floor. Ando checks on him and determines he is dead, just as Mai shows up and Ando quickly ushers her out of the room. Ando smashes the tape and says that he will be the curse’s last victim and Mai tries to console him as he admits that he is afraid of dying. Ando and Mai end up having sex and afterwards, Ando asks if Mai will stay with him when he dies but she tells him she is too scared. Ando then decides to figure out what the curse could actually be and thinks it could be smallpox, as there was a smallpox clinic in the area where Sadako was killed, and has some cultures taken from him to see if he has it. Meanwhile, Mai wakes up feeling sick and heads to her bathroom to vomit but when she looks in the mirror, she sees Sadako standing behind her and when Ando goes to see Mai later, she has vanished. The next day, Ando gets the results back from his cultures and is told that he shows no sign of the virus, but Ando notices that his friend Miyashita, is coughing much like Yoshino was. Ando sees Mai in the lobby and the two sneak off to a stairway to make out but Ando is shocked when Mai licks him much like Sadako did in his dream. When a body is fished out of an air shaft, Ando is called to the hospital and sees that it is Mai. The detective tells him that it looked like she had just given birth but there was no sign of the baby. As Ando heads back to his car, Miyashita approaches him, showing signs of infection, and says the diary also contains the virus, as both he and Yoshino never saw the video, and asks Ando how he cured himself but Ando says he didn’t do anything. Ando heads to the office to find the Mai look-a-like retrieving Reiko’s diary from his desk. She reveals herself to be Sadako, reborn when he had sex with Mai and explains how this came to be. She then tells Ando that the same process that allowed her to be reborn could let him bring his son back as well. Ando gets Miyashita to help him, though Miyashita says they are basically selling out the world to Sadako. Some time later, Ando is on the beach with his son when he is approached by Ryuji and Mai/Sadako. Ryuji says that Reiko’s diary is being turned into a novel and the virus will spread all over the world and after they leave, Ando feels guilty about what he did but chooses to accept it as he stares out into the ocean with his son.

Since I have not seen the original movie, I honestly can’t say how good of a sequel this is. On it’s own merits, this is a little weird and not quite what I expected. The acting was ok, with Koichi Sato (Ando) and Miki Nakatani (Mai) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was a bit confusing and tried to make this less of a supernatural horror movie and more of a medical/science style movie instead. From what I read, this is supposed to be closer to the book it is based on but it still just made it feel boring. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects but the camera work in the movie did a good job of giving this a more suspenseful tone than expected. A decent movie but definitely confusing and really serves to make me watch the first movie that much more.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance, silent movie, sports

May 22nd, 2017 Movie – The Ring (1927)

the ring 1927

Two old school Hitchcock movies in a row. This is a great start to the week. So this is another of his early silent movies that had never heard of before. So this is going to be a little interesting for me because while I enjoy watching sports, I don’t necessarily like watching sports movies. Obviously there are some exceptions to that but in general, sports movies just don’t really hold my interest. So let’s see how this one does as I watch today’s movie, The Ring (1927).

The plot: A man and his friend are walking along the grounds of a fair when they approach a tent where the barker is challenging members of the crowd to compete in a boxing match with the athletes. As the barker is promoting the talents of “One Round” Jack Sanders, the man becomes infatuated with the ticket girl, Mabel, and begins flirting with her. When Jack notices this, he challenges the man to be one of the fighters and the man agrees. Inside the tent, Jack easily defeats his first two opponents and then proceeds to fight the man, but the man is more of a challenge than Jack expected. When the fight last longer than one round, Mabel, who was watching the fight through a flap in the tent, informs the barker and he begins selling more tickets for people to watch it. The man eventually beats Jack and he leaves with his friend but as he starts flirting with Mabel again, she is upset because Jack and her were going to get married but Jack might have lost his job after he lost. The man’s friend hands her a card, revealing his name to be James Ware and that the man is the World Heavyweight Champion boxer Bob Corby, whom he manages. James and Bob approach Jack later that night as Mabel tends to his wounds and James offers Jack a job in becoming Bob’s sparring partner providing he win a trial fight. As they are talking, Bob continues flirting with Mabel and she leads him outside the tent, as some people were staring at them. Outside, they walk behind a trailer and Bob gives her a bracelet that he bought from the prize money as a gift. Mabel give his a quick peck as thanks but Bob kisses her again and she allows it but then reluctantly breaks it off when she notices Jack and James looking for them. As they are saying their goodbyes, Mabel does her best to keep the bracelet covered up, though Bob sees this and sneakily tries to get her to reveal it to Jack. After they leave, Mabel goes to the fortune teller’s tent and asks to have her fortune read but Jack shows up and believes the fortune is about him. The next day, Jack is washing his face in the pond behind his trailer and Mabel goes to talk to him when the bracelet falls off her arm and into the pond. When Jack retrieves it, he questions her about it and she admits that Bob bought it for her because he didn’t want to take their money. Later that day, Mabel receives a telegram from Jack stating that he won his fight and he would meet her at the church the next day so they can get married. Jack and Mabel get married, though Mabel appears a little reluctant to do so and at the reception, Bob, who had attended the wedding, jokes about wishing Mabel was the prize in their fight. Jack says he will fight any man to defend his wife’s honor and an exhibition match is arranged, which Bob ends up winning. Jack notices Mabel flirting and gets upset but his trainer has him take out his frustrations on the punching bag. Later, Jack tells James he wants to challenge Bob for the championship but James says that he is too far down on the list of contenders and will need to work his way up. Jack begins winning his fights and at a party at James’ house, James informs Jack that if he wins his next fight, he will be the #1 contender for Bob’s title. Jack worries about leaving Mabel alone while he goes to the fight, as he fears she is having an affair with Bob, but James says that he was doing this for her and to trust that she will be there for him. Jack wins his fight and afterwards, sees the barker and some of his friends from the fair were there to watch the fight. As the talk about the upcoming fight with Bob, Jack invites them back to his house to celebrate his win and surprise Mabel. When they get there, they find that Mabel is out and Jack pours some champagne, saying she should be back soon and they will drink when she gets there. As it gets late and Mabel still doesn’t show, their friends say their goodbyes and leave while Jack waits up for Mabel to return. Looking out the window, Jack sees Mabel getting out of Bob’s car and when she enters the apartment, they end up getting into an argument over her affections towards Bob. Jack then heads to the club to confront Bob over his spending so much time with Mabel and when Bob tries to punch him, Jack blocks it and knocks Bob down, then tells James that Bob can try and get revenge in the ring. When Jack returns home, he finds that Mabel is gone, having left a note saying she is staying with people that know how to treat her. On the night of the big fight, Jack’s trainer and the barker notice Mabel heading into Bob’s dressing room and they decide not to tell Jack that she is there. As the fight is about to start, Jack keeps looking out into the crowd to see if he can catch sight of Mabel but he doesn’t see her. As the fight commences, Jack notices Mabel sitting in the front row in Bob’s corner and it distracts him to where Bob is able to get the upper hand. As the fight continues, Mabel begins to get worried about Jack and starts making her way over tho his side of the ring. During the rest period before the final round, Mabel manages to reach Jack’s corner and tells him she is there in his corner and when he sees her there, he gets a second wind and manages to knock out Bob, winning the championship. As Jack celebrates his win, Mabel apologizes to him and he accepts and as they hug, she sees Bob watching them in the corner and takes off the bracelet he gave her and leaves it on the ground, which Bob’s trainer returns to him after the fight.

The Ring (1927) received high praise from the critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seem to feel like this was one of Hitchcock’s best silent films, praising all of the visual nuances and symbols used to tell a compelling story. Out of all of the movies that Hitchcock made over the years, this is the only original screenplay that Hitchcock wrote himself, having collaborated with other writers for all of his other films. The movie was a success during it’s initial release but when it received a more general release, it was considered a failure.

I have to admit, this was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Carl Brisson (Jack), Lillian Hall-Davis (Mabel), and Ian Hunter (Bob) doing good jobs in their roles, though I also liked Gordon Harker, who made for some funny comedic breaks as Jack’s trainer. The story was very good, with the main three actors showing a lot of emotions to help showcase the drama of the situation. To be honest, some aspects of the story and fight, primarily the whole underdog aspect, kind of feel a little similar to Rocky and makes me wonder of this might have influenced Stallone a little when he wrote that movie. The fights and camera angles during them did look a little off at times and didn’t seem as clear as the rest of the movie but that could have been intentional. Regardless, this is a great movie in it’s own right and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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