Recent Stuff 22
January 08, 2017

"Next blog entry is likely going to be mid to late December." - A Filthy Liar

-GAMES-

I think I'm going to drop this section. I've realized I don't like talking about games I just spent time already talking about in reviews, especially if it's something I finished writing 3 to 4 weeks prior. Also, I don't particularly like writing about games I'm currently in the middle of playing/reviewing, since it, due to past experience, deflates my drive to actually write the review for some reason. Dunno why. At best, I'll talk about a game if I really, really want to mention one.

But I will say I'm happy that I reached my goal of writing over 20 reviews, with 28 total, for 2016. I was disappointed by my lackluster output in 2015 with only 18 reviews, which motivated me to do more in the following year. Hope I have a decent output this year, as well. 20 being the goal again.

-MOVIES/TV SHOW-

Street Fighter II The Animated Movie: Finally given a Blu-ray release that came out this October (2016) in the US, I wanted to check it out because the last time I actually viewed the movie in its entirety was back in the 90s. In Japanese. So I had no idea what anyone was saying throughout the movie. Also, the Blu-ray has all versions of the movie: the original Japanese, the US PG-13 cut, the unrated US cut, the unrated UK cut (more swearing), US soundtrack, Japanese soundtrack, and two subtitle options depending on your preference of the US or JPN names, and you can mix and match to your desire. They also went the distance to match the Japanese soundtrack to go along with the unrated cuts, which was a hassle since the "uncut" versions still had a few seconds of footage cut from them. They even did a new sound mix for those just for this release. All that probably sounded like a mess... but there's a nine minute feature on the Blu-ray that explains and compares the differences between all the versions of the film.

As for the movie: as far as film adaptations of video games go, it's a solid picture. Since I haven't watched it in forever, I feared it was something that might not have aged well the older I got, especially the final fight scene with Ryu, Ken and Bison. That fight sequence is still awesome. Since this movie is just under two hours, it's obviously difficult to cram all the characters into the movie in a fleshed-out manner, but I think the characters that were chosen as the main, main characters were appropriate. Though, I do feel bad for ONE character: Sagat. His role in the movie was reduced to a joke, in my opinion. His big moment happens at the start of the film... and then he gets minimized to a background character that doesn't speak for the remainder of the plot. His last appearance is just embarrassing: after Bison turns down his request for a rematch with Ryu, the last shot we see is of Sagat standing quietly in humiliation, while wearing some stupid green long pants. The movie stops acknowledging his existence after this.

But yeah. Good video game movie. I completely forgot that the end credits tells you to watch the live-action Street Fighter movie coming in 1995. That was a riot.

The Searchers: I'm trying really, really hard to remember, but to my recollection, I don't think I've ever seen this movie. That's boggling my mind after just watching it for, supposedly, the first time. It's such a beautiful movie to look at, especially during the first 30 minutes where every scene, or every after, where every backdrop is amazing. I envy anyone who watched the film on a big screen. In contrast, I watched Doctor Strange in theaters a few weeks back when it came out, and despite the constant showcasing of special effects, the best I could say is that it's a colorful-looking, big-budget movie. I was surprised how heavy-handed the movie is with its themes, though I was slightly disappointed this movie suddenly went for a happy ending right at its climax. I'm not bugged by that in itself, but that it literally happened at the end. Still, that sudden shift barely tarnishes the entire movie as a whole. Very solid movie.

The Dead Pool: I didn't want to leave this one hanging for too long after viewing the previous four, so I watched this the day I got it. Even after viewing it, I can't tell if the movie was intentionally being corny or if it was an accident. That's not necessarily a knock against The Dead Pool, as it still managed to be entertaining, and a good sendoff to the series. Not sure if this was deliberate either, but I thought it's hilarious that, by the last two Dirty Harry films, Harry has become such a huge threat that the mob have been sending hits against him. The rc chase was definitely a fun sequence, and it made me wonder how many takes they had to do with that little car; that thing had to have flipped over more than a dozen times. Liam Nesson standing beside Clint Eastwood was an odd moment for me, because I always consider Clint to be the tallest person in a movie. So to see Liam slightly beat him out in the height department was weird. Maybe it's just me, but Clint Eastwood seems more energized in The Dead Pool than he was in Sudden Impact. Was surprised to see him running and weaving around so much. Anyway, it's a nice climax to the franchise.

The Chinese Connection/Fist of Fury: Shout Factory gave this a Blu-ray release in December, and when I realized it was a 4K scan and a restoration release, I figure I would give this a go since I haven't watched this movie in a loonnnnggg time. Movie looks good, and it comes with a buttload of audio options: audio mono for Mandarin, Cantonese, and English, along with DTS-HD master audio 5.1 for all three. Bonus features include trailers, which hilariously uses the "Sunrise" piece (the same one used in the 2001 A Space Odyssey opening), US tv spots, alternative title sequences from varying versions of the movie, one which even has lyrics, and some interviews and stuff. Impressive considering the lackluster content in previous US releases, at least for the DVDs. Anything outside of Enter the Dragon never got any proper respect.

As for the movie itself, the action sequences are just as great as I remembered. It's Bruce Lee. Though, rewatching the film, I completely forgot his character goes all Secret Agent during the second half. The hell he get all those outfits? Isn't he wanted? Living in a graveyard? Doesn't know his way around Shanghai? Does he, a martial artist, just conveniently carry around costumes? I really don't have an issue with it, but I do find it hilariously out of place. It's still a very fun movie to watch, especially if you ignore all the weird little stuff. Do Chinese investigators really go around wearing those hats?? Okay, I'll stop...

The Big Boss/Fists of Fury was also released in December, so maybe I'll check that out as well.

*Note: I forgot to mention that Shout Factory released two different Bruce Lee Blu-ray box sets in the past, though I don't know the extent of whether they were given the same treatment or not. I'm just commenting on this as a single release of the movie by Shout Factory.

Gundam Reconguista in G

In usual fashion, I watched these in bulks (since five-ish episodes is about the same length as one movie), and so I comment on the episode bulks as I watched them at the time. And there will be spoilers. If you won't go below due to spoilers, then my overall impression is: I enjoyed a huge chunk of the show until... well, that's huge spoilers. It's entertaining until it abruptly stopped being entertaining deep into the show. That's the best way I could put it.

(episodes 1 - 5): SPACE POPE

Now that that's out of the way... man, this is a very colorful show. I mean, I had a feeling it would be judging from images, but seeing it hit me all at once, in motion, was a bit of sensory overload. And in almost typical Tomino fashion, the show tries to throw as much at me as possible within the first episode. Not gonna lie, it was a tad difficult keeping up with all the stuff they were literally explaining to the audience in the first episode, but I got the gist of it. Actually, the explanation on the back of the Blu-ray case did a clearer job of explaining things. I was a little bit worried about the protagonist, Bell/Bellri, at first, due to his super carefree and know-it-all outlook on life, but as the episodes went on, his personality wasn't as "offensive" as I feared it to be. The "Monday" character is a literal plot device waiting to happen. Only five episodes in, and I feel like I've known these characters for at least 15 extra. The writing did a good job fleshing these characters out without making it feel forceful.

I do find it really weird that, so far, the show is going out of its way not to show pilots being killed. Not really a "flaw", but after watching four Tomino Gundam shows where mobile suit pilots get killed on a minute-basis, I was a bit thrown off by the change of tone. Though... it didn't throw me off as much as the toilet seats inside the mobile suits. I know JV pointed that out to me, but when I saw it for the first time, I literally did a double take; I actually couldn't believe what I was seeing. I did find it hilarious how much they kept reminding the viewers those toilet seats exist, especially that one moment when four characters were in a mobile suit. I actually had to rewind that moment, because I thought I was thinking too hard about that scene to the point I thought I was imagining it.

But yeah, so far, so good. I'm liking what I'm seeing at the moment. Though, I'm both curious and worried how all this is going to wrap up in just 26 episodes, considering Tomino's Gundam shows in the past are normally 40+ episodes in length.

(episodes 6 - 10): Man, I didn't think Dellensen dying that fast and abrupt would bum me out that much; I guess it was the combination of thinking he would last longer and him fighting under the assumption that Bell was still a hostage, thanks to the ever-so-lovable higher-ups of the Capital Army, made it a bitter pill to swallow.

So far, Gundam Masked Man #249 isn't really doing it for me as a character. He's not bad, but so far, he's just been acting more as a nuisance to the Megafauna crew than an actual threat. Hope they expand on him. Also, I tried typing in Megafauna in google search because I forgot how to spell it and found out it's an actual term. Learn something new everyday. Cumpa Rusita's design is distracting the hell out of me simply because he looks like the antagonist from Eureka Seven, Dewey Novak. I mean, I know they're done by the same artist, but still. If anything, this makes me realize I need to watch Eureka Seven again.

Of course, I'd be absurd if I didn't mention the mobile suit fights in this show have been fun to watch. Granted, this is Tomino we're talking about, but toss in the colorfulness and the fluidness of the animation, and it's quite the spectacle.

(episodes 11 - 15): Well, that escalated; small skirmishes have now gone into full-blown space battles between two countries, a third party, the Dorette Fleet from the moon, has entered the fray, and small fractions from each side have their own plans about how to proceed. Yup, this is classic Tomino. Though, I thought it was ridiculous how, not only did Aida's father just allowed his side to go to war after desperately trying NOT to let it happen, but even casually takes one of their spaceships into battle. The hell?

Certain mobile suits are starting to look vaguely familiar to ones I've seen elsewhere... but I'm gonna hold off on making more comments on that for now. And I haven't mentioned this aspect until now, but it is a bit of an annoyance that everyone insists on making Aida stay behind whenever an actual battle ensues. I mean, I know she's lacking combat experience (for some reason??), but this seems a bit... forced on the writing side of things. Raraiya Monday finally speaks normally the closer she gets to the moon, and it's done so casually: not only does she unload plot details during a breakfast/lunch/dinner conversation, but she then also briefly takes control of a mobile suit and protects the Megafauna like it's nothing, all in one episode. Not really a huge complaint, but I wasn't expecting her "reveal" to be so nonchalant.

Also, someone finally uttered the magic word: Newtypes. Considering Bell's absurdly skillful command of the G-Self over the last 14 episodes, I was hoping someone would make some sort of comment about it other than "he's a good pilot."

(episodes 16 - 21): I didn't think the sudden revelation of two characters being related to one another would give me so much relief; the weird undertone of Bell possibly hooking up with Aida for the last 15-some episodes made me squirm, simply because of how forceful it would have felt. That twist put an end to it. And I didn't think I would enjoy Bell getting incredibly upset within the same episode about where he was born. Maybe it was because of his incredible lack of inner conflict up to this point in the show. Granted, him getting mad ultimately didn't go in any direction, but still. Also: the most dramatic space cleanup segment you'll ever see!

Thinking back on it, it's weird to think the tone of the show went in a completely different direction an episode later: we went from having the three factions fighting one another around the moon, to the main cast floating deeper into space alone and meeting an entirely new group of characters and locations. Odd. However, it actually felt very natural the way it went about it. Tomino and gang get props for pulling that off, at least. Though, with only five episodes remaining, I'm a little nervous how everything's gonna get wrapped up.

Haven't finished at this point, but I think that idiot blowing up the seafloor in episodes 20/21 is possibly up there as the dumbest thing any character has done in this show. Then he proceeded to blame everyone but himself for the incident and continued attacking INSIDE the structure. Like, wow. That's Zeta levels of stupidity.

(episodes 22 - 25): Ah, so Aida tries protecting her father's ship by... staring directly into the ship and not providing cover. Then she's shocked that it blows up. Good job. Then in the next episode, she blames the death on him. At first I thought she was just venting, but the way that scene played out, with Bell agreeing with her, was meant to show that she was in the right. Yeah... no. You can disagree and be mad at the way he did things, but YOU were the one being careless in that moment; no space suit in the world would stop him from dying from a huge explosion. That was a ridiculous moment.

On a positive side, the show during its final episodes did a good job portraying an actual World War; instead of the typical two/sometimes three side conflict, there were multiple sides with multiple ideals, switching and flipping sides to meet their end goals. By extension on that, the show also did a good job portraying how every side, every character, genuinely believed they were in the right to the point where, even up to the final episode, I had a difficult time deciding if any of the characters were truly in the right OR wrong. At best, I could only face palm at the characters that died due to their emotions getting the best of them, and in fact, I was also growing more weary of the main characters' viewpoints towards the end of the show; their ideals ultimately fell in the grey area for me.

So. Now this next part.

(episode 26): I was enjoying the show for 25 of its 26 episodes. Then episode 26 happened. That... was a trainwreck of a finale. I very much disliked the finale for various reasons, and before I dive into them, the overall reason is: it felt rushed and abrupt.

I honestly can't believe they made the Bell/Mask fight the focal point of the finale, two of the most mundane characters during the show's final episodes. If they were trying to invoke some kind of nostalgia for a "Amuro/Char" style showdown, due to the main protagonist fighting a character in a mask, then they failed spectacularly. The showdown and "hatred" pretty much came out of nowhere, especially since the two characters didn't spend all that much time with or against each other prior to this. The battle felt too forced and artificial, and I feel like they could have spent that time tying up... the actual plot of the show.

The "wrap up" suffered severely for this, as the show desperately tries to conclude as many things as possible within the span of its final five or so minutes to the point where I thought I missed five extra episodes of plot development. Klim, OUT OF NOWHERE, decides to kill his father by crashing into him AND a town of innocent people with a ginormous spaceship... because he was mad his dad sent his own son to war. Where did this plot point come from? It was never hinted before that he was upset about it. Shoot, he was actually pretty chill and thrilled about fighting the whole time. You know the most jacked up thing about this scene? All of the main characters were also on the ship and completely unfazed about the killing. In fact, they were relaxing on a couch when it happened.

???????????????????????????

And, if I was seeing and hearing this right, in the very end the Amerian nation failed at breaking the Capital's monopolization of batteries? And all the surviving main characters live happily ever after (except Bell's not-really girlfriend)? That's a weird way of ending the show. I remember towards the beginning how most of the main characters being disheartened by this monopolization. Well, except Bell; he was weirdly unfazed by the political side of the show. I swear, I'm completely fine with this show's 25 episodes, but that last episode just sucked really hard. They either need to redo that, add a few extra episodes via OVA, or do a full-length movie going into extra plot details about those final five minutes.

If it sounds like I'm really, really bummed out, it's because I actually enjoyed this timeline in the "UC" era, and to see it all fizzle out like that was like.... mannnnnnnnnnnnnn. One single episode tarnishes the plot built up over 25 episodes. Agh!

Edit - Additional comment: At the same time, too, while the last episode is a wreck, the writing could have curbed this by preparing for the finale in the previous episodes. Some stuff could have been left out or fused with other stuff in earlier, mid-way episodes. This really could have been prevented by omitting a bunch of extra material from the latter half of the series.

Good thing I held out on Turn A Gundam till now. At least I have one more "new" Tomino-related Gundam show to watch.

That's it for now. Next blog entry is... never mind. Later.

Most recent blog posts from Wendell B...

Feedback
honestgamer honestgamer - January 08, 2017 (09:33 PM)
Street Fighter II: The Movie was included with one of the PlayStation 2 games, and I got it then... not long after I picked up the DVD separately from Sam Goody for a ridiculous rate. That was irritating. I might have to get the film on blu-ray, though, when I have more money to throw at frivolous things. I thought it was a good film. My favorite part of the movie was the fight between Chun-Li and Vega.
pickhut pickhut - January 08, 2017 (10:42 PM)
Yeah, the Chun-Li/Vega fight is pretty cool once it gets going. And I'm surprised how different in tone that fight is depending on what version of the soundtrack you have it set to.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - January 10, 2017 (11:08 PM)
A word on the lack of Kill 'Em All tendencies in G-Reco... that's something that's actually typical of a lot of Tomino's post-Victory shows. IIRC, Turn A has fewer deaths than Reconguista.
pickhut pickhut - January 11, 2017 (03:41 PM)
Yeah, I heard he mellowed out with deaths at some point, but it was still pretty weird to witness it firsthand. And I just find it amusing that the same guy who once made the Space Runaway Ideon movie (opening with one of the harshest smash cuts I've seen in any show or movie) is now consistently making more "upbeat" stuff.

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