Saturday, December 31, 2016

BM5's Favorite Music of 2016 (Video)

Favorite Music of 2016
Instead of doing a top 10 type of list, I decided that I would do it in categories. I hope you enjoy and check out the reviews for many of the projects mentioned in the video. Here's to the future of music in 2017. Hopefully, we'll have even more wonderful tunes for our ears!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Awaken, My Love & Atlanta Video Review

Awaken, My Love - Childish Gambino
(Genre: R&B/Soul/Funk)

Links related to Awaken, My Love:
Me and Your Mama LIVE (One of first previews of the project)
Redbone (The second "single")
Stand Tall (My favorite song from the album)
The Needle Drop's Review (He actually likes the project)
Dead End Hip Hop's Review (Even though they mainly do hip hop) 

(Genre: Comedy/Drama)

Links related to Atlanta:
Black Hollywood Live (Their review of Episode 8, "The Club")
AfterBuzz TV (Their review of Episode 7, "B.A.N.")
Brian Tyree Henry Interview (On Sway in the Morning)
FX Live Event w/ the Cast (Talking about Atlanta)
LaKeith Stanfield Interview (On Breakfast Club...I semi-hate this interview. lol)
Dead End Hip Hop on Atlanta (A discussion from people in Atlanta)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quick Movie Review

Thinner (1996, USA) | Rating: 2/5

I think it's common knowledge among Stephen King fans and horror movie lovers that sometimes his movie adaptations can be a bit hit or miss. I'm not huge on King films, but there are some that I've been wanting to see and this is one of them. I believe Syfy was doing their usual Halloween marathon in October (obviously) and decided to do a different theme each week. I decided to put off my DVD binge watch from my workplace to finally catch it on air. Unlike It, I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. Before coming into this movie, I knew that our main character would be cursed with rapid weight loss and...that's about it. Watching it was unfortunately not as entertaining as I thought it would be. I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, which made it hard for me to care about any bad thing that happened to them. I guess I felt like our main character and his associates were kinda...jerks or something, I really don't know, but I hate feeling disappointment during and after a movie.

Emelie (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I picked this movie up expecting it to be a cheap thrill or something, judging by the cover art. Surprisingly, this babysitter made my jaw drop and creeped me out a little. Sure, babysitter impostors aren't a new concept to the horror genre, but as I've said time and time again that execution of said concept is what makes it interesting and entertaining. This movie was a bit of a slow build, but definitely not a slow burn. It knew how to set up suspense very well, in other words. Emelie wasn't obviously a creepy babysitter. She definitely had a sweet demeanor and if you already knew something was off with her in the beginning, you still got that feeling with a hint of dark aura surrounding her. The thing I really enjoyed about this movie is that Emelie didn't physically torture these children, she went beyond that to their innocent mental state. These situations was where my jaw dropped. They were quite bold with these babysitting activities. Despite my enjoyment of this movie, it definitely had some imperfections, mostly at the final act of the movie to its conclusion. Something about movie resolutions seem like the most difficult thing. Nonetheless, I think people should give this movie a chance as I thought it was quite fun and had just the right amount of disturbing.

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

I admit I was planning on seeing this movie in theaters as I thought it looked kinda exciting and fun, but I didn't quite make it and just resolved to waiting for the DVD release. The good thing about that, and this seems to be a pattern with movies I've missed in the theaters, is that it wasn't very good. There was something sloppy about the plot and execution of the whole thing. The beginning was okay and the rest of it was just unremarkable or as I would usually say "meh". Pretty much someone picked up something they weren't supposed to, curse comes upon the family, and they stupidly try to deal with it or simply just believe in it. Oh, there's also an autistic kid in the mix as well to make things "interesting", but he just ends up being kinda useless in a lot of situations. Really I couldn't connect with this family, which is quite unfortunate. Even though the plot seemed mediocre, there's a tiny part of me that still thinks this movie could've been interesting in some way...but I can't think of how without majorly changing everything. If you skip out on this movie, you're not missing out on anything as there are way better horror movies that came out this year.

Swiss Army Man (2016, USA) | Rating: 4/5

Oh, Daniel Radcliffe, you're trying so hard to get away from your Harry Potter image. I don't think that'll ever happen as that's what made him the man he is today in Hollywood. For me, I think I have a small advantage coming into this post-Potter films and being able to separate that character from him...after a certain amount of time has past of course. Anyway, I had this movie in my queue to watch before I saw any previews or trailers, then it popped up in another movie I rented and I knew I made the right choice. I expected it to be weird and funny and that's exactly what I got. Yay! This movie was very weird and it has a lot of sexual humor, so I wouldn't suggest bringing the kids around to see this one. I can't see everyone enjoying it either, because of its weirdness and perhaps lewd humor, but there's something deeper beyond what's on the surface. One of my favorite theories on IMDb made think of the movie in a whole different light compared to what I've rationalized, which makes it a fun movie to discuss among friends and movie analysts. The chemistry between our two main characters and the various situations is what kept me thoroughly engaged. I guess if you want something different with weirdness, crass humor, and hidden meanings under the humor and dialogue, then I would check this one out. I think it's one of Radcliffe's better post-Potter films.

Into the Forest (2015, USA) | Rating: 4/5

Going through a list of releases, I came across the synopsis of this Ellen Page movie and lately I've been really loving what she's been doing this year. I was very pleased to see that my workplace was carrying this movie and I immediately jumped on the request list. Since post-apocalyptic worlds are still trending, this film's story is based in that world, but kinda not. No one knows what's going, except that the power has gone out in several places in the area our main characters live in. I can also tell by the way their cabin is designed that it's possibly in the future, considering the technology is more advance than what we have currently. But in a way, it could be set in present day or the near future, I'm honestly not gonna look that up and keep the mystery to myself. Nonetheless, people are becoming desperate and perhaps aggressive for survival and supplies as necessities are running low. We've seen humanity panic as a whole, but this movie focuses on one single family and how they deal with this unexpected outage. Everything seems to go smoothly, until one event throws off the balance and creates a domino effect of unfortunate events...and really that's an understatement. What's great about this film is that it focuses on the characters' reactions and developments to each obstacle thrown at them. It easily pulls you in and makes you feel something for these characters and you're just waiting for things to go back to normal; whether normal is having the power back on or that their relationships will be repaired. It doesn't feature a lot of action or flashy moments; it's very subdue and emotionally driven, which is a nice change of pace for the genre. The acting is very convincing and the chemistry is definitely real and engaging. I would definitely give this one a couple glances if you're looking for something new in the post-apocalyptic genre.

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.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fair Shake Review: 24K Magic - Bruno Mars

24K Magic - Bruno Mars
(Genre: R&B/Funk)

When it comes to artists that I hear in passing that I enjoy but haven't gotten a proper look at, Bruno Mars has definitely been on that list. His throwback style and vocals were always pleasing to the ear ever since the "Just the Way You Are" & "Nothing on You" days. Yet, something seemed to hold me back from going past the singles I'd hear. Then the album title track was released this year and it was the impetus I needed. The nostalgia and fun in the delivery was too much for me not to anticipate this project. Which brings us to this review today.

This short LP follows much of the fashion of last year's hit, "Uptown Funk", with a sound that harkens back to 70's funk and continues to travel through the decades with small touches of modernization. Being just a little over a half hour long, each track is presented knowing it has to hit since there's little room for error. You get some James Brown funk in "24K Magic" & "Perm", late 80's/early 90's R&B with "Versace on the Floor" & "Straight Up and Down", and even New Jack Swing with "Finesse". The one song I feel is the most modern sounding song would be "That's What I Like". Mars emulates each sound with near flawlessness with each track.

In my opinion, there's only one track I feel Bruno missed the mark and it was only with the lyrics. That song would be "Calling All My Lovelies", with it's almost Lonely Island silly lines akin to "Dick in a Box" & "Mother Lover". "Perm" almost panders a little too much in the same manner, but Bruno adds enough character to make it bearable. Absolute favorites of mine would certainly be the title track, "Finesse", & "That's What I Like". Yet, it's uncanny how much of a Jackson 5 feel I get from "Too Good to Say Goodbye".

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who would like a taste of the old days with a modern kick. It's honestly a project full of fun songs for the dance floor and grooving in the car. Matter of fact, the sonics of songs like "Chunky" can make you wanna strut down the street like a player. But all jokes aside, this is a remarkable ode to the past of R&B, funk, & soul. I do not regret finally giving Bruno Mars a chance to work his magic on my eardrums. Now to listen to his back catalog!

If this post is "Too Good to Say Goodbye", here's something else to check out:
The Needle Drop Review (Another balanced look at the album)
24K Magic (The music video)
24K Magic Singoff (Conor Maynard & Alex Aiono Cover)
24K Magic Live (@ the AMA 2016)
Radio Interview (Good interview)
TV Interview (Cringey interview)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Notable Female Rookies of 2015

I've done a couple posts on the notable rookies of 2012 and there were some in 2014, but I never made a post for them for some reason. I guess I was distracted by doing a follow-up for 2012 and other things. Who really knows? I sure don't. Anyway, I feel like so much news about 2015's rookies made a bit of a stir and deserve their own post. This time, I've split them into female and male groups as one list would be too long. I also will only be focusing on 2015 releases and solely basing my opinions of them from last year.

I must admit I wasn't extremely impressed with this group. For the most part, their sound reminds of those jpop girl groups I usually avoid. It's interesting that a kpop group could have such a sound. Their debut song, "Glass Bead", reminded me a lot of a rare favorite SNSD song of mine, "Into the New World", which isn't a terrible thing. I found their debut to be okay and I preferred this song to their follow up "Me Gusta Tu", if I had to choose. It probably will be no surprise that I'm rather picky with girl groups and you'll notice that with further reading of this post. In short, I won't be following these girls too closely, but they're not terrible. From what I heard, they bring back some of kpop's roots back to the forefront.

Rubber Soul
Well, this group isn't exactly kpop, but more khip-hop with a dash of R&B. I want to say I ran into this group on a list of nugus or something. I could be wrong, but either way, I'm happy they've entered my range of vision. This trio of talented women bring back the soul and spirit of American hip-hop and R&B from the late 80s to early 90s. It makes me so happy and warm inside listening and watching videos such as "Life" and "Lonely Friday". I'm looking forward to hearing more of their music beyond the videos and hopefully some new material in the remaining 2016 and into 2017.

Let me surprise you by saying I was very happy with "Pepe". In fact, I'm sure I've shared it with a few friends around the time it was released. I liked the retro and fun sound of the song, the vocals are pleasant, and the visuals were bright and very animated. Sure, it was something I've seen and heard before, but I enjoyed CLC's execution of it all. Unfortunately, "Like" was a bit too cutesy for my liking. The song wasn't as catchy, but it wasn't bad. Sadly, their styling was atrocious and being infantized did become increasingly annoying. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to following these ladies and seeing whether "Pepe" was a fluke or that I will be actually seriously following them.

The Ark
When this group debuted with "The Light", many kpop sites I regularly check went crazy for The Ark. Naturally, I had to check out what the hype was all about. They gave me a similar vibe as D-Unit when they debuted, which is good. These ladies have some impressive rap skills and lovely vocal talent. The video is simple and sweet. I'm not sure if any of the members are featured in the video or not, but the story was very intriguing and different than your typical debut music video, especially for a girl group. Surprisingly, there isn't a follow-up video. So, I hope there's more to come from The Ark.

Oh My Girl
With a name like "Oh My Girl", I was expecting another sugary sweet girl group that I'll be rolling my eyes at and...I was pretty much right with their debut video, "Cupid". It was full of pastels and cuteness you would find in your typical jpop PV. It's not overly infantile and the song isn't that bad. Really, they fit in that same category as early SNSD and GFriend. It wasn't until "CLOSER" was released that the group really gained attention, including myself. "CLOSER" was a brilliant follow-up to the bubble gum colored cuteness of "CUPID". The video reminds me of FLOWER's semi-ballad PVs, which is always a good thing. The choreography is good and the visuals are soft and sophisticated, like a fairy tale. This was a welcomed vulnerable and classic side of the group that I don't get to see often from kpop girl groups.

Pocket Girls
Remember when Wa$$up gained all this attention for their twerking debut music video? Well, Pocket Girls had a similar debut. I believe the members used to be car models or something and you can kinda tell from their physiques that they're not your average girl group. "Bbang Bbang" isn't a terrible song, especially if you're used to the party electronic pop tunes that had been trending for a while and perfected by T-ara. It is a little lackluster, but their vocals aren't that bad. I don't see these girls going too far with their music career. The choreography is overly pandering and awkward in many places, like they didn't practice enough or are missing members. In short, I think Pocket Girls should stick to modeling or something because this music thing has to be a joke. I feel kinda bad for them.

I thought about leaving this other gimmick group that'll probably disappear off my list, but they caused a bit of a stir online as well. I thought they had a music video out for their song "Oppa Oppa", but I could not find anything. So, this dance practice video will just have to do. The song is decent, but it's nothing special. It's pretty catchy and the choreography is...okay. So, what makes this group a gimmick like Pocket Girls? Well, this group is mostly known for their infamous "no panties" fancams. I guess their agency is really pushing the sex thing on them. If that's the case, they'll definitely disappear deeply into nothing this year and probably next year.

With a group name like that and having a debut song be the same title as the group, I was a little skeptical. To my surprise, I honestly enjoyed this cute, upbeat track. The video was brightly colored with neon and pastel colors. Sure, majority of the gestures and imagery featured throughout the video are very cutesy, but it looked like the girls were having fun with each other. Ultimately, there was something about the chorus that was catchy to my ears and the girls had a sweet, yet mature charm about them. I'm looking forward to what else they have to offer their fans.

With a name like "Unicorn", I was tempted not to check this group out. I expected something super girly and cutesy and while there is some of that, there's more than that. In their debut video for "HUK", I had no idea what to expect from the minimalistic introduction, but what I got I was surprisingly pleased with. It was a colorful video filled with plenty of personality. It gave each member their own scene to shine with different glamorous and fun set pieces. It's really a cute song that features the girls' vocal harmonies and range without being obnoxiously cute about it. I'm really curious how this group will develop this year, despite their slightly unfortunate name.

One of the major labels JYP Entertainment was releasing a new group in 2015 and I was obligated to check them out. There was such a big deal made about them. "Like OOH-AAH" proved to be different than their predecessors under the label, Wonder Girls and miss A. They were a young, fresh faced group with a chic and stylish street style that most kpop fans would normally associate with YG Entertainment. I wasn't completely blown away with their cute, sassy, zombie infested debut, but I didn't dislike it in the least. I enjoyed the concept, mixing a fun high school feel with a zombie invasion. Each member had their moments of cute interactions with each other and spotlight scenes to display their unique and quirky personalities. The song is very catchy and I thought the choreography was very fun and suited the mood of the song. I hope JYP gives them the proper care they deserve, because they are rather talented.

Dia Girls
Not to be confused with DIA, this is quartet was one I thought I checked out during their debut, but it was in fact...well, it's obviously DIA. As you can tell that group didn't make the list, even though I think they have more music videos than this one, which is kinda unfortunate. Judging this group by the only music video released, the opening is a little strange, but everything else is golden. I love the sensual, angelic, and mature vocal range of these ladies and it really matches the mood of the song. The visuals are soft and sensual as well. I can't think of that many kpop girl groups that start off with such mature visuals. Usually, they'll go with the typical cutesy and vibrant route, then show off how much they've grown with something more sultry and vocal dependent. So, it was refreshing to seeing something like this right off the bat. I'm not sure if I'll delve further into their music, even though I'm really enjoying this first video from them.

Awesome Baby
Sometimes the most talented groups have the most silly names and this is one of them. When I watched their first music video below, I feared it would be another boring ballad filmed in a sound studio, but it ended up being more than that. Despite the lack of visual appeal, these ladies have voices and I love that! The video switches between a sound studio, street performance, and some solo shots of each member. Their sound was definitely something different compared to the other entries in this list and it made me think of female R&B groups of the 90s. With soulful vocals and energetic beatboxing, these charming ladies definitely kept my attention and make me excited to hear so much more from them. I'm really hoping that other people give them a chance as well, because they do offer something different compared to the big agencies and polished appearances.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Quick Television Review

Penny Dreadful Season 2 (10 episodes) | Status: Completed
Rating: 4/5

Originally, I was planning on giving this second season its own full length review like the first, but as time went on, my opinions started to fade little by little in my memory. I also kinda had a little less to say about this season. Much like the first season, I continued to be intrigued by our set of characters and was looking forward to certain characters improving since some last minute discoveries toward the end. With a new season comes new demons to conquer and face and there were plenty to keep me entertained. Vanessa taps into her past and the occult, which of course is the main focus of the season. This in turn ties into her relationship with Sir Malcolm, Ethan, and Dr. Frankenstein. Of course these characters have their own subplot of problems as well, along with Dorian Grey. While watching this series, I was hoping that the pacing would be a little better and it was, although there might've been some spots where it dragged. More importantly, it didn't feel like I was constantly waiting for something engaging or exciting to occur for several episodes. At the time I was watching this season, the third season was in the midst of airing and the unfortunate announcement of it concluding in the third season. I'm looking forward to more improvements with the story, pacing, and character development, but more importantly another engaging occult adventure with Vanessa and company.

Degrassi: Next Class Seasons 1-2 (20 episodes) | Status: Renewed
Rating: 4/5

Since the time of The N (now TeenNick/The Splat) and possibly before that name change, there was a little show called Degrassi: The Next Generation. This was a Canadian drama that dealt with typical teen situations that not only gave a social message, but entertained me (and my mom) with their colorful and diverse set of characters. When it was announced, I believe, last year that TeenNick would be airing its final season of the show, I felt completely lost. I practically grew up with this show and my mother loved watching it with me. Unfortunately, she hasn't seen some of the newer seasons after Emma's class graduated and some season of their college life was aired. Not too long after that, Netflix swoops in to save the day once again by picking up the show on its streaming service, while it continued to air in its native country of Canada. I actually kinda wanted to review the first season, right after watching it, but time went by and my memory of what I watched faded. Having a second season gives me a chance to redeem myself and comment on both seasons as a whole. Degrassi: Next Class picks up where we left off in the final season of Degrassi: The Next Generation ended, but also keeping with tradition of adding new characters and underclassmen. Per usual, the show upgrades its topics such as cyber bullying, infidelity, school violence, and feminism. While some of these approaches/plot points may teeter the lines of recycling, they still manage to be entertaining and easy to binge watch. I admit when both of these seasons appeared, I unintentionally watched every episode in one sitting. This new generation of students may not make a permanent spot in older fans' hearts like the original cast, but there are some I am very fond of and later on in the second season we do get some lovely cameos.

Mr. Robot Season 1 (10 episodes) | Status: Renewed
Rating: 4/5

I've heard nothing but good things about this show since it aired, but all this time, I had no idea what the show was even about. At first, I thought Rami Malek's character was a robot or something, but that isn't the case at all...kinda. His character is a bit robotic when it comes to emotions and social situations, but, in case you didn't know, it's about hacking. If you're familiar with Orphan Black's storytelling (or even Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), it's definitely a show that's hard to multi-task to. There's so many poignant dialogue and subtle actions that you have to take in to understand the overall picture such as Elliot's backstory and relationship with the people he decides to let be close to him. I can't see a lot of people getting into this show because of that demand of attention the show needs and perhaps even the high tech lingo and dark situations, but for me, the show has gradually held me and kept me wondering what's going to happen next, what's real and what isn't, or how they're going to pull off their hacking missions. After the twists and turns of the first season, I'm looking forward into diving into season two and anticipating what season three has to offer in 2017.

Flesh and Bone (8 episodes) | Status: Completed
Rating: 3.5/5

It's probably obvious to say that my workplace gets a lot of DVDs in and half the time I pick things that sound interesting (good or bad). Occasionally, I'll check out TV shows that I've never heard of as well and this is one of them. This mini-series aired on Starz and looking at the cover of the DVD, I thought it was a horror type show. Upon reading the description on the back of the case, I quickly learned that it was an unveiling of the cruel world of ballet; think Black Swan, but darker and more real. I remember skimming the comments of IMDb, after completing the show, and I saw that some people couldn't connect with the main character Claire, which I suppose I can understand to some extent. She's very...quiet and uncertain, but I think her uncertainty and trying to find her inner confidence was something I could connect to in some ways. Compared to the people around her, she isn't as colorful or aggressive, but she balances out that in her own world. While everyone is fighting against the world, Claire is constantly fighting with herself and I wished this miniseries gave me more to fully explore that turmoil and struggle a little longer, especially when her brother enters the picture. This series does a good job of balancing the beauty and perfection of ballet, while blending the drama and personal battle behind the scenes. It's just a shame that it was simply a one off miniseries.

Helix Seasons 1-2 (26 episodes) | Status: Cancelled
Rating: 3/5

This was another series I was originally planning on doing a full review for, but this time I simply changed my mind on doing it because I realized that I don't have a lot to least, I don't think I do. Getting into the first season was a somewhat slow process, but it wasn't a difficult one. The concept was interesting, albeit something that has been done before, but added a human layer beyond the obvious conflict of infection spreading: mysterious parental history, jealous brothers, and the usual romantic relationship conflicts. Even though there were elements of the story that were a bit difficult to follow due to either unclear dialogue or me trying to multitask, I was very curious where the story was going to go in this isolated land of ice and snow. There was enough action and character development to keep me invested and wanting more. The second takes a different route of going forwards and backwards with time, but also answers the question of what happened to our main cast of characters. This time the story not only focuses on the "disease", but we have a cult to deal with as well. The story does tend to be a little cluttered, drag, or become convoluted in places, but overall the action and characters kept me least the ones that carried over. Unfortunately, this aired on Syfy which is apparently notorious for not keeping its original series on air for long. Even though I had a few problems with the second season, the way it ended made me sad that there wasn't going to be a continuation.

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, November 18, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Mad Love. - Jojo

Mad Love. - Jojo
(Genre: Pop/R&B)

Jojo is a lady that I've always had an interest in way back when she told us it was "A Little Too Late" and to "Leave (Get Out)". But all puns aside, she definitely was one that captured my attention by being one of the first to appeal to both a black & white audience with the likes of Christina Aguilera at the time. As time went on, new music from this soulful singer became hard to find due to the Blackground label dispute. During that time, only if you were attentive you were able to catch her mixtapes, "Can't Take That Away from Me" & "Agape", and the "#LoveJo" EPs. After the announcement of her freedom from the label and joining Atlantic Records, the tringle EP (III.) had me eagerly awaiting a full album.

Being able to ride the line of pop and R&B, this LP delivered in all fronts throughout the tracklist. The songs reaffirm how she should be considered a predecessor of her now contemporaries like Ariana Grande & Alessia Cara. The singles push her R&B edge to the forefront with "No Apologies." featuring Wiz Khalifa and "FAB." featuring Remy Ma. Then "Music." as the final pre-released track is a ballad that has more pop appeal without sacrificing her strong vocal ability. This overall spectrum between genres span the album in a rather cohesive manner as Jojo performs them so naturally, especially having writing credits on every song.

Tracks like the sexy "Like This.", sultry "Edibles.", & melancholy "Reckless." highlight her R&B sensibilities. "Clovers.", "Good Thing.", & "Rise Up." really display her pop appeal. While songs that really blur the line like "I Can Only." featuring Alessia Cara, "Mad Love.", & "Honest." prove that Jojo has been made an underrated artist due her circumstances. I personally love the spite delivered in "High Heels." and the honesty in "I Am.". "Vibe." and "Good Thing." never fail to get me moving. Yet, my favorite might have to be "Edibles." because even though I'm not necessarily interested in taking any drugs, Jojo comes off as quite the temptress.

In summary, I have got to say that this is seriously a great album for Jojo's grand return to the greater public. Every single song on the album has heart and likeability which is perfect for her reentry to the mainstream. She not only fits right into the current landscape of radio, but still maintains a unique identity. I highly would recommend this to anyone who is fan of artists who bridge the gap of pop and R&B like the aforementioned Ariana Grande and Tori Kelly. As you can tell, because of the this project I can only show Jojo mad love!

For more Jojo without the K.C.:
Baby, It's You feat. Bow Wow (How I knew she was a crossover artist)
In the Dark (How I found out she's still dope)
Take the Canyon (One of my favorites from Agape)
Thinking Out Loud (This song's structure just chills me)
Demonstrate (This along with Disaster made us think of how she was back)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

BlipMasta5's Top 20 Favorite Anime

Hey guys,

I would like to formally apologize for having such a long hiatus, but I wanted to come back ready to go with something you'll really like. I had to remake my top 5 anime video for my channel and decided that it was time to expand on it. Then my top 10 became a top 20, and I knew this was just too big to only share on YouTube. Therefore, consider this my return to the blog with more consistency! Hope you enjoy the video and tell me what you think. What's your favorite shows?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Quick Movie Review

The Man in 3B (2015, USA) | Rating: 2/5

"Based on the best selling novel by Carl Weber" as the DVD tells me, this movie I happened to look up on IMDb to see what it was all about. It had an interesting premise and at first I didn't realize it was based on a Carl Weber book. Once I received the DVD, I had to lower my expectations a little more. As much as I would like to think positively about black movies or urban fiction adaptations, they're consistently subpar and littered with cliches (and stereotypes). They barely bring anything new to the table and I'm surprised I haven't seen many complaints about this matter. Of course, that's a rant for another day. Anyway, the execution of this story was poor. I didn't feel like there was any character development whatsoever. All the subplots jumped from point A to point X to point M. It did make sense to some extent, but the lack of flow and development made it difficult to get invested in all these various relationships and situations. Then there's that ending that seemed to come out of nowhere! I have no idea if the book is just as nonsensical as the movie, but I have no motivation to give it any time.

Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

As per usual, my reviewing style for Tyler Perry is very loose. When I come into these movies, I expect the usual real life lesson that mostly incorporates religion in someway, plenty of comedy, and the typical cliches and stereotypes across the board. Nonetheless, my family and I always attend these productions and expect good entertainment, whether we enjoy the actual story or not. Usually, I'm the one that points out the surface problems and avoid delving into the controversy of setting African Americans back in the media to some extent. Of course, that's for another post altogether. This was the first time my family saw the flaws in Perry's movies. When the movie was over and the packed theater exited the room and some after credits bloopers end, they turned to me and said that they really didn't care for this one as much. We all admitted that there were plenty of laughs throughout the movie, but the message was a bit weak. The movie dwindled a little too long on certain scenes which made them increasingly unfunny, which is quite unfortunate with our comedic elderly group and some distracting reverse shots that my mom pointed out. It does a decent job of parodying and incorporating current horror trends such as zombies and creepy clowns, but when you take away the laughs there's not much else to fall back on. The overall message to parents and children are kinda muddled with this over the top prank or "lesson". Nonetheless, it continues to be another fun movie with pretty much the same quality as his most recent films...which can be good or bad.

All Hallows' Eve (2013, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Much like the VHS tape that appeared in the kids' trick-or-treat bag, this appeared to me in the drop off slot. Looking at the cover, I assumed it would be a not so good film...and you guys already know I've been purposely watching bad horror a lot this year. Halloween was within reach when I popped this into my PS2 and it's unfortunate that I didn't get this review up in time for my silly little spoopy challenge. Anyway, when I was watching this movie I learned that it was an anthology type of film like ABCs of Death and I'm guessing V/H/s. When it comes to anthologies, not all the stories will be a hit with everyone. The main story was pretty basic and mostly had its content at the beginning when the babysitter sees the tape and the kids watched some of it and at the end when the babysitter finishes the tape and checks on the children. Majority of the stories revolved around this silent, sadistic clown, which proved to be entertaining for the most part. There might've been one or two stories I didn't care for with him. There is one that I don't think featured him, but had aliens instead, which was probably my least favorite. I admit that a couple of these stories were effectively creepy and borderline disturbing in some areas. I'm not sure if it has or will have a small cult following like Trick 'r Treat, but I think it deserves some sort of positive recognition for a Halloween watch.

All Hallows' Eve 2 (2015, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

At the same time as the first movie, someone turned in the sequel as well. I believe I watched this back to back of each other. In this second installment, we have a different mascot, which apparently disappointed some IMDb commenters. It's some creepy pumpkin head guy. For once, I kinda agree with the comments. Somewhat similar to this first movie, a woman mysteriously receives a VHS tape on her front porch and she decides to watch it on Halloween. Unlike the first movie, the story focuses more on the anthology than giving a narrative to the viewer of the tape. While I can understand the shift in this vision, I kinda liked connecting the recipient of the tape and wondering what's going on in their mind as they watched these horrific stories, but all we get in the sequel is some lady sipping wine casually with a slightly disgusted reaction until the very end. Despite switching "mascots", the pumpkin creep on the cover doesn't really show up as much as the clown in these mini stories. Instead we get varying tales of deceased ex-girlfriends in social media, a guy that uses real humans for his Halloween decorations, and a friend's significant other murdering their partner. Yes, there are some pumpkin head related stories like the babysitter and kid eating pumpkin seeds and the father and son bringing an offering to the pumpkin demon, but they're just not as entertaining or satisfying as our killer clown. The sequel wasn't bad, it just lacked cohesion. My favorite stories featured were the very short pumpkin seed consumption and the cute boy with the glasses hunting monsters with his mom. They had a simple, well executed narrative. If you enjoyed the first movie, you might enjoy the second, but you're not missing out on anything if you skip out on it either.

The Neon Demon (2016, USA) | Rating: 3/5

When I saw the preview to this movie, I immediately knew I had to see this visual treat. I am a sucker for mindblowing visuals and strange concepts. I later found out that it's by the same director as the visually appealing Only God Forgives and the odd Drive, which both star Ryan Gosling. Both of these movies had some stunning cinematography, but the story just didn't stand out as much. This movie pretty much keeps the Nicholas Winding Refn's style consistent. The visuals remain breathtaking and they really kept me entranced. On the other hand, the story kinda goes over your head in certain moments. Like I understood the basis of what he was going for, but in the end, the conclusion is...for lack of a better word, out there. I can't see a lot of casual moviegoers enjoying this visual gift and slightly abstract storytelling, but if you're used to the structure of the director's previous films I mentioned, then you should be fine. I enjoyed the characters and how they influenced our main character's evolution. There are some strange moments that do put me off a little from the story. Much like the previous movies, especially Only God Forgives, I really wanted to fall in love with this film, but the storytelling and certain situations kinda turned me off from reaching that goal, which honestly makes me sad. On the other hand, I kinda want to see this movie again as it does have a little something I can't get enough of.

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.

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

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