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Posts Tagged ‘action’

The Crow

This atmospheric action thriller is dark, a little depressing, and deeply touching.  Based on a comic series, it tells the tale of a man who comes back from the dead in order to achieve justice for his and his girlfriend’s murders.  It’s a story of revenge, full of violence and mayhem, nudity and language.  Definitely not for kids, it is fun in a different kind of way.  It’s very cathartic to watch our hero take on the city’s underbelly and come out on top, all in an effort to get back to where he belongs, in the land of the dead with his beloved.  The acting, music, tone, and pace are all superb, stitched together in a way that holds your attention without moving too quickly.  The settings and special effects are presented with a very graphic novel sort of look, and that suits the story very well.  The deep tragedy is interlaced with bits of hope and light, and everything ends on a bittersweet note.  I can’t recommend this one to anyone who is opposed to cursing and violence in their movies; that’s all part of the environment and most of the characters here.  But if you’re looking for something darkly poetic and soul-searching, with a heaping helping of cathartic revenge thrown in, you’ll love this one.

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Cowboy Bebop

One of the best anime series ever made.  This brief show revolved around a group of bounty-hunting ne’er-do-wells who each have complicated pasts and unique personalities.  The animation is astoundingly well-done, with detailed backgrounds and smooth movements.  The faces and bodies of the characters are all unique, as well, setting them apart from the usual anime figures.  Everything is done in a realistic style that lends a beauty to even the darkest moments.  The music is memorable and appropriate, and each episode comes with its own storytelling style that is propelled by the song choices, sometimes jazz or blues or rock or country, depending on the pace and tone needed.  It’s as much a sort of musical or operatic show as an action show, with the music telling the story as much as the plot points.  Each episode could stand on its own as an amazing story, but altogether, it makes for an epic tale.  The voice acting and the characters are sympathetic and believable, and it all comes together seamlessly.  The world of Bebop is handed over bit by bit in the same way that the characters’ pasts are revealed, and there’s a lot to take in.  In the end, not every question is answered, although most of the important backstory pieces are provided.  The series finale is tragic, but it suits the feel of the show.  There could have been so much more, but it’s all tight and smooth and leaves you wanting more, which the best shows always do.  There’s plenty of violence and blood and some nudity, so this one isn’t for the kids.  But the psychological and philosophical discussions are perfect for anyone who likes a show that makes them both think and feel.

There was also a theatrical movie based on the series that seems to take place somewhere in the middle of it.  It’s more of a standard action flick, without the poetic beat led by the soundtrack of the series.  The music is still pretty good but all over the place and with no consistent style, and the animation is pretty good too but is more CGI than hand-drawn.  The story is slower-paced, probably due mostly to the fact that the film is four times as long as an episode of the series.  There are a few other minor inconsistencies, particularly in the character and behavior of the main protagonist.  It’s still an interesting story with some humor and plenty of action.  Just don’t expect the same atmospheric beauty and style of the series.

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Cleopatra 2525

This short-lived action sci-fi series has many flaws but is a great deal of fun.  The story has a surprising number of unique and intriguing ideas and details.  There’s a great deal of background that goes largely unnoticed unless you’re paying attention, and it’s obvious there was a lot of work put into the set pieces.  Even the parts of the story and world that aren’t particularly original are done in an interesting and unique way.  The setting is five centuries in the future and involves aliens, robots, and a post-apocalyptic environment.  The acting is mostly acceptable to good, if a bit cheesy at times, and there is a lot of over-the-top combat, Hercules and Xena-style.  There are a few plot holes, but everything improves over time.  It’s a lot of fun, and while it doesn’t present any deep philosophical questions, it does touch on some very human drama.  There’s quite a bit of fanservice in pretty much every episode, aimed squarely at the young male audience, but even this is coyly addressed in the first episode.  In fact, the main characters may be dressed like party girls and strippers, but they own their own sexuality and never hesitate to objectify the scantily clad men in their vicinity, which may not be fair but is definitely closer to equality.  Unfortunately, the plug was pulled on the show too soon, and its final episode is an unresolved cliffhanger.  Just when it was getting really good too, with more in-depth storylines and better acting.  But the rest of it is well worth the watch if you’re craving something fun and action-y and don’t want to think too much.

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Chill Factor

This action-comedy is heavy on the action.  Most of the comedy comes from the characters’ overreactions, especially the one portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr.  There’s an exciting story about a top-secret government project and a man trying to steal it.  His motivations are explained by an emotional opening sequence, and then the insanity starts.  It’s a fun ride, nothing too deep or thought-provoking.  Plenty of excitement and a healthy dose of humor.  The acting is mostly good, and effects are well-done.  It’s a great popcorn movie.

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Lego Batman

One of the many games in the Lego series, this was the first in the Lego Batman franchise.  Like most of the other Lego games, it’s a lot of fun and full of craziness and humor.  Collecting studs and playing with Lego bricks are a blast, and there are occasionally interesting puzzles, as well.  The one thing this game is lacking is a really coherent storyline.  Most of the Lego games are based on movie franchises, such as the Harry Potter series or the Star Wars movies, so they tend to have a heavy focus on translating plot details into Lego-style fun and games.  The first Batman game didn’t have the luxury of an existing story, so it makes up its own.  Following that loose plot from one scene to the next feels frantic and random.  If you like a good story, this will be too much chaos for you.  But beyond that,  it’s a lot of fun, including the multiplayer options, and it’s family-friendly.

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Chain Reaction

This film from the early days of Keanu Reeves’ action career is a bit of a popcorn flick but still a lot of fun.  There’s a surprise casting choice for the initial villain, some other excellent casting choices, good acting all around, and plenty of explosions and chase scenes.  There’s nothing intellectually stimulating, but there are some cool-looking techno gadgets.  The plot pretends to revolve around advanced scientific jargon, but it still holds up pretty well after all these years.  If you’re a Reeves fan, you’ll like it.  If you’re a mindless action movie fan, you’ll like it.  There’s little to complain about except the dearth of interesting female characters.  There’s even quite a bit of racial diversity in the cast, and the main female character is compelling and well-played.  If you want something fun that doesn’t make you think too much, this is a good one.

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Angel

This is a spinoff from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv series, starring Buffy’s on-again/off-again boyfriend, the vampire Angel.  He goes on his own journey, completing quests and fighting evil.  Right from the start, the show has a darker tone than Buffy started out with, but that’s to be expected.  There are plenty of lighter, more fun moments, and the characters really stand out as separate entities.  Once again, the earliest couple of seasons are the best, but there are standout episodes throughout the five seasons.  The finale isn’t satisfying, however.  Buffy got a proper, if not happy, ending, but Angel gets none of that.  There are a couple of production reasons for this, but they’re not important.  Having gone through the whole thing, I would be sorely tempted to skip the ending and quit two or three seasons before I even get there, just to avoid the annoying parts.  The last season is the worst, with the characters acting like they’re not themselves and not being given a proper explanation for that.  That being said, there are still redeeming qualities in the show right up to the end, so it’s a toss-up.

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