Dirty Pair, or Why Aren’t You Watching The Lovely Angels?

The magic of the Lovely Angels is difficult to describe.  There’s something irrationally appealing about the mannerisms of their characters, the intonations and inflections of their voice actors, and their general screen presence.  It extends beyond mere lines and color on two dimensional cells, and it’s something less concrete than the pleasantly eye-catching character models.  The infectiousness of this attachment blurs on the fringes of moè tinged with no small amount of the erotic, facilitated no doubt by provocative costumes, hot women in dangerous situations, and their seemingly effortlessly-written banter.  Kei & Yuri are fantastic characters, to say the least, as admirable as they are humorous and sexy.

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Jurassic Park

U.S.; Science Fiction/Adventure; 128 minutes; Directed by: Steven Spielberg; Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R. Molen, Steven Spielberg; Amblin Entertainment, Universal Studios

It always surprises me how much people will forgive in a film because they simply call a “popcorn flick”. It’s one thing for a film just to provide a premise for tons of action, loads of special effects, and doesn’t ask the audience to engage in any critical thinking throughout the film. Films like that are actually a lot of fun to watch and can provide good action or suspense from time to time. But it’s another thing to forgive sloppy filmmaking, clumsy story-telling, stale actors, unnatural dialogue, and gaping plot-holes just by labeling it among the “popcorn flick” sub-genre of film. Too long have people looked-over the ugly flaws in Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi/disaster exploits simply because his films didn’t ask them to do any critical thinking at any one point. Why can’t there be a group well-crafted films that are just made for the sake of entertainment without being so utterly stupid at the same time?

Well, films like that do exist. Ladies and Gentleman, I submit for your consideration Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Read more of this post

Don Q: The Son of Zorro

It’s rare for sequels to match the originals, and it’s even rarer for sequels to outright best their originals, but Don Q: The Son of Zorro is one such sequel. At times it only seems a sequel in name, though, as Zorro himself doesn’t appear until the finale and the majority of the plot seems as if it could’ve been taken from any serial adventure. But don’t let that deter you; if Don Q is a serial adventure then it’s a superior one. Much is owed to the production, which, now 5 years removed from the original, truly has the budget to stack up rousing set-piece after set-piece that thrills as much (if not more) than any modern incarnation could conjure.

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The Mark of Zorro

Here it is: THE film that defined the swashbuckler. Any film you could possibly think of that involves intricate swordplay and acrobatics can all be traced back to this film, and to its auteur, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Most today know Jr. more so than Sr., but it’s hard to overstate what a mark that Sr. left on film. For one, it was because of this film that United Artists was established as a studio to be reckoned with, a worthy rival for the Big Five. Secondly, while there were stuntmen even back in the early days of cinema, Fairbanks redefined the athletic grace that a leading man and action star was expected to have. In his introduction to the film, no less than Orson Welles cites him as a boyhood hero, stating that he was also a hero for Laurence Olivier.

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Robin Hood

Now here’s a full-bodied, hot-blooded, expertly crafted action movie from a director that, much like Martin Scorsese, has recently taken up shop in the realm of the genre film, much to the delight of themselves and much to the dislike of nostalgic critics and cinephiles. Maybe it’s overstating it a bit in Scorsese’s case, as many of his 21st Century films have been highly lauded and beloved, but for the fans who erected Ridley Scott as the second-coming of Kubrick with Alien and Blade Runner, their distaste for his recent output is much more caustic. However, Scott’s talent as a superior pictorial, cinematographic, and design artist is in as full effect here as it was in any of his masterpieces. The biggest difference is his shift in focus from tone, atmosphere, and science-fiction inspired themes to more classic, plot-driven films.

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How to Train Your Dragon

At this point in the 13th year of the Disney Conglomerate Animation Studio War, it would seem that Pixar is emerging as the clear victor over Dreamworks (DW). In recent years, Pixar has been so good that they’ve earned an Oscar nomination for best picture (Up!), and has created a group of hardcore fanboys and fangirls devoted to everything they create, including their non-theatrical shorts (which, thankfully, they finally released on DVD). But people have short memories and they may forget the early days when DW looked like the better company. In the first three years of the war, the only battle DW lost was ‘99/’00’s Toy Story 2 VS The Road to El Dorado. Ever since then, the only battles DW has been able to win were those in which Pixar didn’t even show up for (like in 2005 when DW released Madagascar to Pixar’s… errr, nothing). With the acclaimed release of Toy Story 3 in ’10, I figured it was just a matter of procedure that I’d have to wait to actually see the films before I could declare a winner. Well, How to Drain Your Dragon may have just put a kink in my divinations; suffice it to say that this is DW’s best film since the original Shrek.
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