Sunday, October 23, 2016

Quick Movie Review

April and the Extraordinary World (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Every once and a while, it's nice to see a 2D animation film, especially outside of the usual anime for me at least. I think it's an art form that needs to be kept alive among the Pixar and 3D animation films, along with stop motion films. Going into this movie, I knew next to nothing about it. I've seen previews of it in a couple DVDs I rented and that it vaguely reminded me of more mature animated features that I've seen in class: Waltz with Bashir and Persepolis. I think of these two movies because of the mature content and the visuals. The story isn't beyond a child's comprehension or anything, but I can't see their attention being kept by the earth tone color palette and the focus on dialogue and subtleties. The story is quite simple as it follows a young woman looking for her parents and trying to finish the project they left behind. Her journey leads her to meet a new companion and discovering new parts of herself she never knew about herself. I enjoyed the trip I shared with our main character April, but I don't think it left as big of impression as the two movies I somewhat compared it to. It wasn't a bad movie in the least as I enjoyed the characters immensely and the way the story took some interesting creative turns.

The Shallows (2016, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

Another small entry to this nonsensical challenge I've created and will probably fail! This is a movie I remember seeing lots of previews for and having little to no interest seeing. When I saw the positive reception it received and some short commentary from TheCinemaSnob, I spared some time to check it out when it hit DVD. I was amused that the Blake Lively's character was from Galveston (my hometown) and seeing it was very unbelievable. It made me research some stuff and I talked to a few people about it. So, the truth is that it's shot in Austraila and someone told me that they originally wanted to shoot in Galveston, but were turn down for whatever reason I forgot. Nonetheless, I wasn't particularly excited to watch this movie, but that didn't stop my curiosity from forming. I've never seen the iconic Jaws movie, but what I know about it, it pretty much seemed like they were trying to make a modern version of it. I believe a co-worker commented that it sounded like it was trying to be Cast Away, another movie I haven't seen. If you combine both of those movies together and take the excitement out, I think you get this movie. It's kinda uneventful and it drags a lot after Lively's first attack. Her battle with the shark was not that interesting to me and the conclusion was blah. I'm sure someone got some thrills out of this movie, but I found it kinda boring and slow.

High-Rise (2015, UK) | Rating: 2.5/5

In 2013, a Korean director by the name of Joon-ho Bong created a little movie called Snowpiercer. It was a post-apocalyptic story that involved a class system on a train that really left a great impression on me. I enjoyed the execution of this concept and the visuals were beautiful and dark. It felt like a lot of care was put into crafting this film and it didn't lose that Asian aesthetic in the tone. So, why do I bring this movie up? Well, me and some IMDb commenters have thought of this movie when it comes to High-Rise. It's another post-apocalyptic concept with a class system, but this time it's in a high rise apartment complex. The main reason I checked out this movie was because I really enjoy watching Tom Hiddleston. So far, everything I've seen him in is quite enjoyable whether the subject matter hooks me completely or not. This was one that didn't completely hook me, but it did keep my interest from time to time. I had a hard time keeping up with the various characters and most of them were very unlikable, which made it hard to care about what was going on. Hiddleston's character tended to straddle the fence in this aspect. The story was very relationship driven, but the dialogue was hard to get into; there might've been low audio issues as well, which kinda takes me out of the moment. Really the thing that I enjoyed the most about this movie was the decline of the residents and the complex. Other than that, I slowly was just waiting for the movie to end so I could watch something more engaging. In short, Snowpiercer was the better movie.

It (1990, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Surprisingly, I have never seen this movie...well, mini-series, but I'm counting it as a movie. I've seen snippets here and there and even a review or two of it, but I've never sat down and watched the whole thing. I knew what the movie was about and the tone of least the first part of it. Watching the first half confirmed the campiness, but kinda creepy side of the movie. It focused a lot on delving into the cast's backgrounds and giving the viewers a chance on learning about them and their various situations. Once I flipped the disc over to the second part, it was time for them and myself to face the monster at hand in the "present day". Obviously, Tim Curry made his mark as the snarky, taunting clown Pennywise and I enjoyed his character quite a bit. I think humorous villains in horror movies can be kinda charming at times. Looking at you, Freddy! As for our cast of characters, I enjoyed following them and seeing how Pennywise affected them in adulthood. The second half lacked the campiness of the first half and it took their situation a little more serious, which I didn't mind. It was a nice gradual shift from one side to the other. I also liked that the fear wasn't about the clown, but the individual situations the kids were facing, hence the title. "It" follows you everywhere. Even though this didn't scare me or anything, I can see how people were a little scarred by the shifty clown trying to lure you away in the sewer drain. Pennywise is definitely not one to mess with.

The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016, USA) | Rating: 1/5

Since I saw the first movie, I felt somewhat obligated to check out the sequel, despite what happened to Kristen Stewart and the director. I guess it was a smart move to make a prequel, instead of a sequel to this movie, but it didn't change my opinion going into it all. Once again, I expected a great performance from Charlize Theron and beautiful visuals, but the story would still be lacking. Much like the first movie, I was correct. Unfortunately, Theron's character isn't in this movie that much and it focuses more on Elsa Emily Blunt's frozen queen. Blunt isn't a terrible actress, but her character was just super bland and lacked dimension as a villain. Chris Hemsworth reprises his role, but I still didn't find him all that interesting either. While I should be intrigued by his and his supposed love interest's origin story as children, I simply felt nothing. Honestly, I fell asleep off and on throughout this movie. Every time I woke up, they were still fighting. Yeah, there's more action scenes in this movie compared to the first, but it lacks heart and it felt like it dragged on. I wouldn't be surprised if there's another movie, but I'm not expecting it to be any better than the previous two.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Quick Movie Review

The Intouchables (2011, France) | Rating: 4.5/5

When my workplace first received this movie, I didn't think anything of it, until I saw a preview for it in another movie. It actually looked pretty good and apparently critics thought the same thing as I believe it won some awards for it. It also gained an "overrated" comment thread on IMDb, which amuses me. Anyway, I was excited to watch something new for a change as I don't watch too many based on a true story type of movies and most of the time, I'm unfamiliar with the subject matter. I neglected to see that the movie was in French and didn't have an English audio option, which isn't a big deal or anything, but I have to watch subtitled movies early in the day when I have the proper energy/attention to put into it. Nonetheless, I thought it was a very fun and entertaining story. I really enjoyed these characters, their differences, and how they influenced each other over time. It was also nice seeing the real life people that inspired the movie at the end as well. While I did see a tiny bit of criticism of the movie catering to the usual black stereotypes, I wasn't all that bothered by it at all. It wasn't anything near as annoying as something Hollywood would put together. Honestly, I found Driss quite charming and lovable; I felt like I was gradually falling in love with him at the same time as Philippe.

Now You See Me 2 (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

The Ocean's Eleven of Magic are back at it again with a surprising sequel. I didn't think the first movie was bad in the least, but it seemed like a good stand alone movie. Of course, the semi-cliffhanger ending kinda gave off a potential sequel. Everyone is back again for another exciting and magical heist! Well, except Isla Fisher's character, which might appear in the third installment. Daniel Radcliffe makes an odd appearance and plays a slightly obnoxious bad guy. Fortunately, Jesse Eisenberg isn't all that grating, so there's not two obnoxious guys in the bunch. The magical heist scenes are still fun to watch and definitely keep you guessing along the way. The addition of Lizzy Caplan's character added some much needed quirkiness to the bunch and I'm curious how she and Fisher will get along, if she appears in the third installment. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a small appearance on Jay Chou in this movie.

God's Not Dead 2 (2016, USA) | Rating: 2/5

Back at it again with the sequel! I remember liking this movie, despite it's flaws. Once again, I was surprised that they were making a sequel to this one as well. I mean I don't watch a lot of religious or Christian movies, but usually they're just standalone films. Nonetheless, I was curious what they were going to do in the sequel. My mom and a co-worker commented that they almost cried somewhere toward the end of the film and when I got to that part, I understood why...but I didn't necessarily shed any tears. I really don't cry during movies, so you can't really judge me on an emotional level for this movie. They also either liked it more or about the same as the first movie. Me, on the other hand, I actually preferred the first movie as this one kinda bothered me in places. If people felt attacked for being non-Christian in the first one, they'll definitely feel it in this one. I am a Christian, but I thought the movie's antagonist(s) felt over the top evil and I can't just really see anyone really being like that. The situation was overblown in my eyes as well, which made it hard for me to really get into this movie. I understand what it was trying to do, but I felt like they went off track by really victimizing Christians and villainizing non-Christians/atheists. I also faced the same problem I had in the first movie with some side stories really didn't transition very well with the main storyline. Despite the slightly disappointing negatives, it does have some powerful scenes from Melissa Joan Hart and I'm glad her story was the main story.

Equals (2016, USA) | Rating: 3/5

Unnecessary fact about me: I like Nicholas Hoult! He is cute, charming, and a great actor with a promising future. Judging by the handful of movies I've seen him in, his abilities never falter even if the movie is subpar. Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, I don't have as great of track record with her. I never watched a Twilight movie, but I took the time to watch Snow White and the Huntsman and I wasn't too impressed with her performance. I don't think I've seen anything else she's been in. For some reason going into this movie, I didn't have that low expectation for her. Maybe because the story sounded interesting or that she was paired with Nicholas Hoult. I'm not sure. Nonetheless, I found her performance appropriate. I guess her usual expressionless and emotionless performance fit this restrained storyline, but she did manage to display just enough passion and chemistry to keep me satisfied. Watching these two actors interact with each other was quite intriguing and it made me really want their forbidden love to work out for the better. Sure, this concept has been done before, since I'm currently reading the series I immediately think of The Giver, but the execution made it engaging and kept my interest to the end. I loved the visual aesthetic and I wished the audio could've been bumped up a few notches as some moments were hard to catch and with this kind of movie, dialogue is very important.

Sociopathia (2015, USA) | Rating: 1/5

A small entry to my little challenge, which honestly I'm not doing to well on. This was another one of those movies I thought looked absolutely terrible, but wanted to watch it to get a few laughs. There were two versions at the main menu: black and white director's cut and a regular version in color. I didn't really care too much to watch the director's cut, because with a title like that and a cover like this, I wasn't expecting any kind of depth from it. The first day I attempted to watch it, I had to stop it, put something else in, and save it for another day due to the opening scene. It wasn't anything jarring, grotesque, or something I'm not used to seeing, but I wanted to avoid any misunderstandings from the 'rents. Obviously, I did eventually watch the entirety of the movie and fast forwarded some of the sex scenes, especially that first scene. That gave me even more reason not to watch the other version of this movie. Anyway, this was a farce of a movie if anyone is interested in seeing it. It's a lesbian softcore porn with the good parts of the the Maniac remake, but watered down. The acting is terrible, except for the actress who plays the main character's girlfriend, and everything is very low budget. Although, budget's don't necessarily determine quality, but casually researching the director's previous work, she's pretty much done some other questionable [read as: semi-erotic] horror movies. In short, this movie is a hard skip unless you're super desperate for fap material, because as a horror movie, it's nothing new and doesn't change any aspects of this concept.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: Fear the Walking Dead Seasons 1 & 2

Title: Fear the Walking Dead Seasons 1 & 2
Starring: Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Episodes: 21

AMC has made another hit show with The Walking Dead and has added it to one of its most successful series along with Breaking Bad. The show successfully kept fans of the comic and newcomers interested by altering and slightly deviating from the source material, but still maintaining the essence of it. Like Breaking Bad, the creators figured out a way to expand the universe further and show us a different timeline through this spin-off series, Fear the Walking Dead.

Set initially in Los Angeles, California, the series follows a dysfunctional family composed of high school guidance counselor Madison Clark, her English teacher boyfriend Travis Manawa, her daughter Alicia, her drug-addicted son Nick, and Travis' son from a previous marriage, Chris, at the onset of the zombie apocalypse.[7][8] They must revamp themselves to survive, as they come to terms with the impending collapse of civilization. [Source: Wikipedia]

When the series was being marketed, I was kinda skeptical and wondering why they would be making a spin-off. Clearly, the answer was obvious, which is that The Walking Dead is a very successful series and they created Better Call Saul, so why not? The other reason may be to hold fans over for the next season or perhaps distract us from the long wait from winter to fall. The marketing strategy for this series took an interesting route by providing snippets of Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462 on AMC and offering full episodes of the webseries on their site. I can't comment too much on them as I never put the effort into watch what happens next with each commercial submission, but it was fun wondering what was going on and connecting the two to the franchise we've grown to love. I'm assuming the webseries also warmed up fans to the pre-apocalyptic world that we'll be exposed to in the spin-off in a slightly different scenario.

When it comes to a new show, you either immediately get hooked, immediately know you're going to not enjoy it, or know that you might have to sit through a few episodes to figure out if you want to stick around or not. It's been so long since The Walking Dead came out that I don't really remember my first impressions of the show. Obviously, from season to season, I became hooked along with some of my friends and my mom. My mom and I started reading the comics not too long after, although right now she's very much ahead of me. The first season of the show was a mere six episodes long mom and I weren't super into it. I think Ophelia was on the same boat as well. While the show wasn't boring in the least, it was something that we needed to get used to with a new set of characters, so I kept my mind open and gave the second season a chance. It would also give me an opportunity to learn more of the characters' names too, which usually is a bad sign for me. Well, maybe not bad, but it's definitely not completely good. The first season felt like an introduction to our new group of characters and a chance for viewers to adjust to this world before walkers threatened humanity. Unfortunately, a lot of these characters lacked likability, which I think is the main reason my mom and I had difficulty getting into it. Nonetheless, I was open to giving the show another chance through the second season as we only had six episodes to gather our bearings.

As soon as The Walking Dead left us a giant cliffhanger or dramatic ending to a huge opening, it was time for the placeholder to reappear. Coming into this new season, I really wanted to like this show and I was hoping that it wouldn't disappoint. Like the first season, it was a little slow and I still was learning character names. Things became a little more interesting when the show finally tied together its webseries with the survivors. Hopefully, we will see these characters again in another season as I really liked Alex. Once they made it to Mexico, the show finally kept my interest. I was seeing similarities to previous seasons of The Walking Dead and I was intrigued and even worried about certain characters. By the time of the mid-season finale, I was surprisingly curious and perhaps a bit excited to see where the story was going to go next. The first half offered a lot of interesting information and delved into the characters even more...granted there were still a small few that I didn't care for. I felt like the characters were trying to learn about themselves at the same time as the viewers. This was a changing world that required some immediate evolution on their part.

Once the second half began, I had many questions, especially after the group split up in a foreign country. Nick was trying to find his place in the world, Travis and Chris are trying to figure out their relationship, and the rest of the group are simply trying to survive among each other. Delving into these three distinct groups was quite the entertaining journey. The second half definitely proved that there is hope in second chances. I learned character names and became attached to some of them, during each obstacle they had to face. By the end of the season, my jaw dropped at the twists and turns that were thrown at us on the final two episodes. Now I can confidently say that I'm excited for what the third season has in store for us. We have a few new characters to the group, some major conflicts that need to be resolved, and the big question of a group reunion.

Fear the Walking Dead is a series I'm still a bit skeptical about, but the second season has made me optimistic and curious what the creators have waiting for us. The characters can start off as being unlikable or lack personality, but the second season redeems itself by having more time to develop, engage, and react to them. The story also begins to tap a little into the same tone as The Walking Dead, but maintains its own style as well. Although, the show has definitely shown some improvement with its story and characters, it hasn't quite gotten to the point of "addiction" as TWD. I think if the improvements continue and the pacing picks up just a tiny bit, I can see it being pretty close to its predecessor. According to Wikipedia, Fear the Walking Dead has been renewed for a third season and will be airing on AMC in 2017.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Another

Title: Another (2010)
Author(s): Kiyohara Hiro (Art), Ayatsuji Yukito (Story)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, School, Supernatural, Thriller
Volumes: 4
Episodes: 12

I've been wanting to post about this manga for a while now and I waited so long that I ended up watching the anime series, so this is a rare moment where I review both mediums. And what better time than the month of scares and thrills, right?

In 1972, a popular student in Yomiyama North Middle School's class 3-3 named Misaki passed away during the school year. Since then, the town of Yomiyama has been shrouded by a fearful atmosphere, from the dark secrets hidden deep within.

Twenty-six years later, 15-year-old Kouichi Sakakibara transfers into class 3-3 of Yomiyama North and soon after discovers that a strange, gloomy mood seems to hang over all the students. He also finds himself drawn to the mysterious, eyepatch-wearing student Mei Misaki; however, the rest of the class and the teachers seem to treat her like she doesn't exist. Paying no heed to warnings from everyone including Mei herself, Kouichi begins to get closer not only to her, but also to the truth behind the gruesome phenomenon plaguing class 3-3 of Yomiyama North.

"Another" follows Kouichi, Mei, and their classmates as they are pulled into the enigma surrounding a series of inevitable, tragic events—but unraveling the horror of Yomiyama may just cost them the ultimate price.
[Source: MyAnimeList]

Another was a series I heard about occasionally in my circle of friends. Usually, it was brought up around October when people are looking for horror themed anime and manga. Obviously, it doesn't have to be the season of Halloween for me to enjoy horror movies as I post horror movies regularly here on Muddy Cult. When I was getting into this series, I think I either knew the manga existed, but not the anime or vice versa; it's been quite some time since I've read and seen it. Nonetheless, I started with the manga with an open mind and a bit of excitement. I've heard a lot of good things, although these comments were quite minimal. As much as I love the horror genre, I really don't read a lot of horror manga. I think in general I watch more horror than read it, but I try to mix it up when I'm in the mood for it. When I first started reading, the word that immediately came to mind about the story was "intriguing".

Whether you start with the manga or the anime first, we are introduced to our main character Kouichi who suffers from pneumothorax (collapsed lung), which explains his absence from school. We learn a little bit of his backstory with his parents and other family members, but for the most part, the story confirms that we will be tagging along with him during this bizarre, supernatural journey. Whatever he knows is what we the audience knows. So, when he runs into Mei for the first time in the hospital, we feel just as intrigued to know more about this mysterious girl with the eyepatch. For the most part, you can tell something is off about Kouichi's classmates and every time they want to talk to him about the class rules, a distraction appears and the mystery lingers in the air a little longer. This thing that his classmates are keeping from him and us is what intrigued me the most. You're constantly wondering what this class secret could be and what Mei's backstory is. The further you get involved in Kouichi's day to day adjustments, the more the mystery lingers in the air. This caused a lot of suspense and the pay off was definitely worth it. Normally, you would think that you would get frustrated by the pacing and the secret remaining a secret for so long, but the way it is written keeps you hooked.

Not only does the lingering mystery keep you glued to the story, but the realistic depiction of the characters also helps. Majority of anime series have these crazy designs, hair colors, and personalities, but everyone looks fairly normal that it reflects reality. On top of that, they also act pretty normal as well, despite the paranormal aspects of this show. The paranoia, fear, and overall freak outs are portrayed very well and built up at a steady pace. These emotional aspects really come through when you're following Kouichi for this terrifying ride with little to no information of the classroom rules. Pretty much, you kind of share an emotional tie to him as I felt suspicious or wary of some classmates, while others brought me comfort and relief to some extent. Of course, some of the adults can fall into either of these categories as well. Whether you trust these individuals or not, they did bring a lot of insight into the mysterious class rules and even Kouichi's past with his late mother. These two plot points seamlessly worked together very well and painted a very vivid and detailed picture of what secrets are being kept. If you really enjoy this series and are curious about Mei's backstory, check out Another: The Other. This OVA gives the audience more insight on Mei's relationship with her cousin Misaki.

Another is a fantastic horror series, whether you watch it or read it. It has a lot of good suspense and well paced mystery that'll keep you wondering what the class secret is, who to trust, and main character back story. The character development presented to us is very satisfying and keeps you hooked to the suspense and mystery that constantly lingers in the air. The visuals are appropriately shocking and dark and know when to lighten the moment up a little. The story and characters make it easy to immerse yourself in and Another: The Other really adds to Mei's story. Obviously, this series isn't for everyone, especially if you're not into the horror genre, as it does have some graphic imagery.

Rating: 4.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Review: Knock Knock

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas
Directed by: Eli Roth
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 99 minutes

If you know me personally you know I don't have the best relationship with Eli Roth the director. I haven't seen too many of his movies and I honestly can't think of any movie I've seen him acted in either. When I saw the preview for this movie, it actually looked good, but I knew I had to proceed with caution since I got burned the first time. Naturally, I waited for the DVD release as I don't think it was released in theaters in my hometown.

When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse. [Source: IMDb]

Starting with my first entry to this challenge, which I really hope I can fulfill considering I'm still very behind on some other things I need to post, this was a movie I slacked on to review right away. I saw this movie when it was fresh off release on DVD and I wasn't expecting very much. My first experience with Eli Roth's work was a little movie called Hostel. It's a movie that really pushed the torture porn genre and it was fairly popular I believe. Unfortunately, it left me frustrated and unsatisfied, especially when it was so popular. It also didn't help that people kept lumping it with SAW. Forgive me for being such a passionate James Wan fan. Hostel was a movie that I dragged a former friend to (along with her boyfriend at the time) and I had high expectations. It looked really good and had something different, but I was very much let down with the sexual content and flimsy storytelling. So, when Knock Knock came along with its previews, I had flashbacks of that moment and reeled back my excitement for this movie. I didn't want to rush to the theaters to see it just to regret spending money on something that makes me mad. At the same time, I think I also watched another Keanu Reeves movie that didn't leave a good taste in my mouth either. Obviously, this movie had a lot against it for me, but I tried to clear the negativity out of my head when going into it.

The concept for this movie wasn't anything new as I've seen movies where people invite strangers into their homes and things gradually or quickly go downhill after that, but the way this was presented in the trailer got me interested in checking it out. When it's done well, it's exciting to see devious female characters taking control. There's so many unexplored or barely tapped ideas that could come into fruition. Unfortunately, in Eli Roth's hands, things could easily go awry and certain elements get turned up unnecessarily. After I finished watching this movie, I saw that Mr. Roth wanted to create a new horror genre called "erotic thriller" or something silly like that. This is totally not gonna become a least I'm praying that Roth's influence doesn't make it one. Considering Hostel was borderline softcore porn in about the first half of the movie, I'm not surprised that he would propose such an idea for this one. It features more or less the same amount of sex scenes as Hostel, but I honestly don't remember. I tend to block dumb sex scenes in horror movies out, unless it really, really stands out and that's usually for a bad reason. I'm far from being a prude, so I'm not offended by seeing explicit scenes, just an annoyance. I think if it doesn't serve a purpose, then it doesn't need to be inserted into the movie. In the case of this movie, it does add to the manipulation of our "visitors". In short, it's not as "erotic" as Roth might think it is, but then again, maybe guys easily get off on that sort of thing. I is Roth's girlfriend and another beautiful woman with a fairly handsome man. I really don't know, so let's move on it.

While refreshing my memory on the details of this movie through Wikipedia, I found out that this is actually a remake of a movie from 1977 called Death Game. Knowing that now makes me realize why this movie is super over the top and just isn't an Eli Roth movie without over the top moments in it. Obviously, I'll be constantly comparing this to Hostel, since it was my first experience with one of Roth's films. The story starts off fairly tame, setting up Keanu's character Evan Webber as the likable family man who loves his wife and children. His family has a brief appearance, but you can tell that he has a healthy relationship with them and no obvious signs of changing that status. In short, the story does a good job of making Evan relatable and fairly normal at this point. Once the girls enter, you can expect some typical cliches of surprise guests that simply ruin your life. Honestly, I think these characters Genesis and Bel steal the show. They balance out the tame and settled life of Evan with their spontaneous and uninhibited personalities, but even during their introduction to the story they are fairly normal in a sense they're two young women wanting a place to dry off and figure out where their destination is...supposedly. Surprisingly, the story does a good job of building a foundation for those two opposing personalities and letting them innocently interact while at the same time, subtly adding sexual tension bit by bit. Obviously, once infidelity enters the story, things get crazy and that's where the story tends to waver in quality.

At this point, the lines began to blur in this review between story and character, but it also provides a good segue to talk about the characters. As I mentioned earlier, Evan is the every day man, so I believe his love for his family and the temptation he ultimate falls for with these beautiful young women. Unfortunately, when he realizes that Genesis and Bel are getting a little too comfortable in his home and become more than a nuisance, Keanu's range begins to show...or lack there of. Keanu Reeves as an actor isn't terrible, but he doesn't have too much to work with as far as emotions go. So, when he has to show inner conflict with his character Evan on what to do about Genesis and Bel, that believability tends to come and go. His range really strains when he's putting under physical stress, but I still felt a little sympathy for his character throughout the movie...well, between laughter and cringe. As for the actresses who play Genesis and Bel, they're performances have a good range of seduction, crazy, and balanced immaturity, but there were moments when they went a little too crazy and became somewhat obnoxious. Then again, that might've been intentional. When they go over the top, it also affects Reeve's performance and overall the story tends to get a little shaky. But overall, I really enjoyed watching these girls go zero to sixty with their personalities. They made for effective antagonists that knew how to taint precious family pieces and really ruin Evan's evening of solitude.

In the end, I didn't experience the same disappointment and frustration I felt with Hostel. While the movie wasn't anything spectacular, it did have it's annoying moments and dragged on parts I wish would just keep going. The story was fairly interesting, despite it being a remake and something I've seen before in other movies, but what Roth did with it wasn't that bad. The sexual moments could've been toned down a little and Keanu Reeves did his best being Keanu Reeves, especially under physical stress. The girls were effectively annoying and there were plenty of moments I wish they would just shut up and get out already. Knock Knock is surprisingly a movie I would probably return to because it had such devious, seductive antagonists and I don't get to see many movies where women have the upper hand in such a manipulative (and sexual) way. They really knew how to mess with Evan's head and not only tortured and humiliated him physically, but mentally and emotionally too. That's how torture is really done!

Rating: 3.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

October Spoopy Marathon Challenge

October is finally here! And it's the perfect time for Muddy Cult to shine once again with some entertaining and sometimes quality horror themed media. This time around I will personally try to post as many horror themed entertainment, ranging from anime, manga, television, and movies to voice my opinion on. Of course, the real challenge will be reviewing 31 horror movies! This could be a full length single review to a handful of quick reviews, because sometimes I don't have too much to say about some movies and I can't force myself to do a full on review. Let's see how well I end up doing.

In the meantime, please check out the poll on the right and place your vote!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Quick Anime Review

The Wind Rises (2013) | Rating: 3.5/5

As an anime fan, it's natural to succumb to the charms and whimsy of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli at some point in your life. I try my best to watch as many of these films as possible and while I haven't seen them all just yet, it's something I try to accomplish. Being late to the game, I finally got around to checking this one and the one below out. I remember seeing previews for both of these movies in their respective years and mentally made a note to catch them at some point. This fictionalized biopic of Jiro Horikoshi was something I normally wouldn't watch if it were live action, but since it came from Studio Ghibli, it was a mandatory watch. Even then, I normally don't care too much for war stories, I knew in the studio's hands, it would be an enjoyable and most likely emotional journey. I definitely got that and also learned some things about Mr. Horikoshi as well as the time period he contributed to. He had a fascinating life, whether it reflected on the real person or not, and I thoroughly enjoyed his struggle to balance his love life and his ultimate design vision.

When Marnie Was There (2014) | Rating: 4/5

While watching this movie, I glanced through some comments on IMDb and wondered if this took an unusual route of sparking a romance between two young women or something else entirely. At times, the comments read that way, but the movie had nothing to do with romance in the slightest. The story was more about finding yourself and the confidence within you. This film features the usual emotional depth and intricate, colorful scenery and animation that Studio Ghibli is known for it. It touches on a subject matter I don't see too often in anime which is adoption and feeling out of place or not wanted. Certain elements of the story spoke to me on a personal level and I can see adoptees and families really enjoying this film. It has a somewhat mature subject matter and probably won't speak to a lot of children easily, then again some Ghibli films can be a little up there with its content. Nonetheless, I found it very enjoyable and it really knew how to pull at your heartstrings and keep you engaged throughout the journey. This definitely made me confident about the future of Ghibli post-Miyazaki.

Show by Rock!! Short!! (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5

To hold us over for the second season of Show by Rock!!, the fans were given these lovely shorts. These 5 minute episodes of amusement takes a break from the main story that the first season presented to us and treats each band like a real group by showing us the members playing together, the origins of their band, and getting to know them (kinda) through a television program. These shorts are not required viewing for the second season, I'm assuming, but it's something fun and fanservice-y for the fans who are really into these characters like a real life group. Obviously, I really love this show, so seeing ShinganCrimsonZ playing an over the top, fierce game of ping pong or acting like high school delinquents makes me very happy and gives me plenty of cosplay ideas. For me, I thought it was successful in keeping me entertained until the second season airs.

Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5

Most people in the anime community are more familiar with the term fujoshi, so fudanshi is pretty much the male equivalent. This is another anime short that conveys just enough information to know who these characters are, their quirks, and the humor of this series in roughly three minutes. The show disproves the notion that fudanshi are gay or personally attracted to same sex relationships. Sakaguchi, the main character, became attracted to the yaoi genre due to its storytelling and intriguing content...or something like that. He does take this addiction/obsession to the extreme by posting on fujoshi forums daily and rushing to buy the latest yaoi manga in the shop. His friend tolerates his behavior and his obsession with pairing every day men he sees around town or creating romantic scenarios for them; sometimes his friend becomes victim to these musings. Obviously, this isn't for everyone just like yaoi and shounen ai isn't for everyone, but for those who are part of fujoshi/fudanshi culture or are familiar with it and casually enjoy the yaoi genre will find this short series entertaining and amusing.

Hatsukoi Monster (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5

There's an ongoing joke of how anime characters never look their age and this series takes that joke and runs with it. When I first started this series, I was very confused and pretty much had the same expression as Kazuo (the one facepalming). It took me a few episodes to accept what was happening...well, more so the whole age difference between our two main characters Kaho and Kanade...and Kanade's friends, but that was the whole joke of the series was their age and appearance contrast. First loves are already a nerve-racking feeling, but this makes things more amusing and difficult. It also proves that you have to have a lot of patience once you enter such a relationship. Sure, the humor may be immature, but its a bunch of fifth graders who still think "w*iners" and "p*op" are hilarious and fascinating. [If you've seen the show, you would get the censorship.] It does have some serious moments to break up the immature and perverse humor and they don't seem out of place either. I wouldn't mind checking out another season of Kanade and the gang, but on the other hand, I also feel very satisfied with this single season and upcoming OVA.

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