Friday, June 27, 2014

Is The Signal a live action Akira?


I recently saw a trailer for The Signal(2014) and instantly I was reminded of Akira(1988). I hadn't seen Akira in several years, so I decided to watch Akira again and see if it still holds up. While also taking a closer look at this new film.


It would be ridiculous to say that Akira did not influence the history of film. Akira blew the minds of people when it first came out and it continues to be a gateway into anime for many people. 


Watching the film after so long, I am awestruck by how close the creators came to mimicking actual camera like movements and angles used in traditional films. While they mimicked traditional cinema they also maintained their own unique style. The other thing that becomes apparent from the first action sequence is that modern cinema is mimicking Akira and other animes to this day, the way the action flows to some of the abstract storytelling elements have been adopted into modern tv shows and films. 


Akira has also been cited as a major influence on films ranging from The Matrix(1999) to Chronicle(2012). Which brings me to why I re-watched Akira in the first place, this new film The Signal. So after watching Akira I watched the trailer to The Signal, and then I watched the trailer again and then I watched it one more time. I was confused and maybe you'll see why.

  **The following screen caps are from The Signal trailer and Akira, they have not been enhanced or edited. Also I took the screencaps from the film, they are not fan art.**

 
So is Akira still relevant? I'd say that it still holds up and even inspires current films. I think that The Signal was heavily inspired by Akira, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below. 

Akira(1988)
Director:
Katsuhiro Ohtomo

Writers:
Katsuhiro Ohtomo
IzĂ´ Hashimoto

Top billed cast:
Nozomu Sasaki
Mami Koyama
Mitsuo Iwata
TesshĂ´ Genda


The Signal(2014)
Director:
William Eubank

Writers:
Carlyle Eubank
William Eubank
David Frigerio

Top billed cast:
Brenton Thwaites
Olivia Cooke
Beau Knapp
Laurence Fishburne



Dominion: Godspeed

I've never done a recap/review of a tv show episode by episode before and I'll do my best to avoid spoilers. But fair warning some spoilers may slip through. 


This show is off to a great start and the casting choices are magically perfect. Enough gushing, let's dive in. Quickly, this show is about angels (as in celestial warriors/messengers) and their war with mankind. The show's main setting is the citystate of Vega(formerly Las Vegas). Of course there is a chosen one that will save the human race. In the first episode the chosen one is revealed to be a young man, Alex Lannen. This week's episode, Godspeed, is primarily about Alex's struggle with his new identity.



The episode starts with a flashblack to Alex's childhood, which highlights two points: one of which is the danger that the angels pose and how growing up in a hostile environment affects one's development. The second point is tied to the emotional conflict Alex feels towards being abandoned in Vega by his father(whom died in the first episode). Christopher Egan is the actor playing Alex Lannen and his ability to capture the turmoil inside Alex is simply breathtaking. 


Also we get a better understanding of the Archangel Gabriel's outlook and rationale for wanting to exterminate all humans. Michael (the archangel and only angel to side with humanity) pays Gabriel a visit and they have an interest exchange, the scene is a great character building moment (adding depth to both main angel characters). 


After returning to Vega, Michael warns Alex that the angels know about him and that he's in incredible danger. Alex not knowing whom he can trust lashes out against Michael and decides to seek comfort in his true love, Claire Riesen. 


  ***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***
After comforting each other, Alex and Claire along with Bixby (a little orphan that Claire has taken in) come under an attack from an angel. We learn that Alex is almost as strong as the angels and that his weakness is the woman he loves and the little girl she protects. 


Claire suffers minor injuries but unfortunately Bixby is severely hurt and that's when Alex realizes that in order to protect the people he loves he has to leave them behind. This links back to the beginning, he realizes that his father didn't abandon him in Vega but left him there to keep him safe. In order to keep Claire safe, Alex has to embrace his role as the savior of mankind. The question is will he? Will Alex save mankind? Will Gabriel win and is Michael truly on our side? These questions are what I'm really curious about. Please let me know what you think and what you're curious about. 


As a sidenote, whenever Anthony Head is on the screen, he steals the show. His performance is brilliant and stunning. David Whele truly is intimidating and I love his character.



Dominion
"Godspeed"

Thursdays @ 9/8c on Syfy

Director
Scott Stewart

Writers
Peter Schink
Scott Stewart
Vaun Wilmott

Top Cast
Christopher Egan
Tom Wisdom
Roxanne McKee
Luke Allen-Gale

This is Bixby (Betsy Wilke) with Alex Lannen (Christopher Egan)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Dungeons & Dragons film we deserve


So an orc warrior, elf rogue, and a human cleric set out on an adventure. Sounds like an familiar Dungeons and Dragons session. Well that's the adventuring party in the film with multiple titles: The Shadow Cabal, SAGA: Curse of the Shadow, and Curse of the Dragon Slayer.

 

I do not pretend to know the politics or policies around copyrights and or trademarks. I suppose the name had to be changed due to one the possible things I mentioned, but there are no dragons in this film (well aside from one that dies in the first 3 minutes with no fanfare). So let that go, and also understand that this is a few steps above making a film in your back yard. While the makeup effects and computer effects are well executed they are also done on a tight budget, which in my opinion make them all the more impressive.


If you're a fan of fantasy films then you'll like this movie. However if you like Dungeons and Dragons (the game) you'll love this film. This low budget, b-rated movie is what we deserved as fans instead of what we got from the film Dungeons and Dragons (2000). The acting is decent, from the relatively young cast. The camera work is as good as any big budget film and over all the movie is shot fairly well. The writers and director seem also comfortable with a certain level of cheese which all good fantasy films need, what's the point if you can't laugh at yourself. There is a sequence where mermaids attempt to seduce the Orc warrior, apparently he passes his will save (DnD reference) and responds with: 


Do not expect LoTRs quality and if you don't mind alittle cheese in your fantasy films then I recommend this movie. And with it being on Netflix I ask what do you have to lose?


SAGA: Curse of the Shadow (AKA Curse of the Dragon Slayer, 2013)

Director
John Lyde
 
Writers
Jason Faller
Kynan Griffin

Top Billed Cast
Danielle Chuchran
Richard McWilliams
Paul D Hunt
James C Morris



Dominion Series Premiere Review


Do you remember the hit film Legion(2010)? No? That's probably because no one saw it, it was dismissed critically. Personally I liked it and wish it had done better. However if it had done better we might not have this new awesome show to watch


The setup: 25 years ago God left. The angels, lead by the Archangel Gabriel, blame man and unleash the dogs of war on humanity. The Archangel Michael chooses to side with mankind by saving the chosen one, a human child that will save the world. The savior is then hidden and will be revealed when they're needed.


The last 25 years of war have nearly made man extinct and only a few isolated pockets of human settlements exists. The story starts in the city-state of Vega (formerly Las Vegas), where humanity has regressed to a brutal & strict caste system(V1-V6). 



From the onset you're reminded of Ancient Rome & Greece. The visuals are not subtle and they work fairly well.There appears to be two powerful families that control Vega, House Riesen and House Whele. Like all ancient civilizations the powerful manipulate the weak and play political power games with each other. As the series continues it will be interesting to see how these two houses play each other.


The action sequences are amazing and the writers along with an amazing cast seem to be able to handle the drama. What I am most excited about is that David J. Peterson (HBO's Game of Thrones and Syfy's Defiance) created the angelic language. 


The  premiere episode builds up this very rich and immersive world while not skimping out on healthy doses gratuitous angelic violence. If you like it when fantasy and science fiction blurs this show is for you.


On a personal geeky note, Anthony Head (BtVS, Repo, Merlin) is on this show and I am so happy! The man is incredibly talented and he plays David Whele, head of House Whele.


Dominion
Thursdays @ 9/8c on Syfy

Director
Scott Stewart

Writers
Peter Schink
Scott Stewart
Vaun Wilmott

Top Cast
Christopher Egan
Tom Wisdom
Roxanne McKee
Luke Allen-Gale