HAUSU: it has ‘huge lips’

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Hi guys, it’s time for another trip down Asian-surrealism Road with our good friend, Connor.

FYI: this was the first review i wanted to do, but got sidetracked along the way.

a little backstory-

because a review isnt just a review, it should be a long winded tale of why your opinion is as it is: i had plans to probably write more frequently for this site over the last few months (waaaaaaaay back in the day i came up with an idea of a materialised newspaper form of this existing called ‘southmouth’ to bridge the southampton/portsmouth divide for lewis and ben).

i wrote about planet terror and then planned to write a review for the movie ‘paris, texas’ (which is just too hard for me) and from then on wouldve only written about things which are two words long, and start with ‘p—-‘ and ‘t—-‘ (‘planet terror’, ‘paris, texas’…. pop tarts…. pony tails…. pear trees…. etc) buuuut it was summer in australia so i didnt do any of that. however its ‘cold’ here now (about 20 degrees) so, back to reviews.

since im an advocate of stream-of-consciousness-write-down-whatevers-in-your-head type stuff, my reviews tend to not quite… review, but elucidate on things. but due to lewis and his bad editing (apathy) im bringing spontaneous prose back one review at a time — removing all the grammatical and syntactical boundaries and saving the world.

so from now on ill probably be writing about weird movies. and i mean weird. weird and all its other synonyms. i am after all (along with lewis) the co-author of a lost segment of a movie about a giant phallic octopus molesting civilians (Ahem, for the record, I didn’t want to include that bit- Lewis). and also the co-author of a tv pilot whereby a baseball coach is arrested for beating up the kids of his disabled little league team, and is then assigned community service to coach the very same disabled little league team. we may even know the true story behind teddy roosevelts ‘bullmoose’ caption.

to summarise: surrealism (or stupidity) is well within the confines of my comfort zone.

that aside, review time!!!!!!!!! (so pumped) #GetKeenOrGoHome

HAUSU. its japanese for ‘house’.

its a horror movie. i dont know if id actually believe that, just because its SO weird that youre too busy being stunned by insanity to even see the horror in it.

it was made in 78. the ‘horror’ genre had only properly kicked in with ‘night of the living dead’ a decade ago, so the genre still had room for creativity. i guess in some ways paranormal activity is kind of a rehash of hausu.

it starts off with one of the girls saying how she doesnt particularly like her fathers new girlfriend. is it important? who knows. subplots are expendable to me. then it moves into the zone of a 1960s childrens show. dont ask why. i was more into the LSD shows of the 60s than anything else when i was growing up (‘HR Puffnstuff’ being the main) so there was some odd nostalgia taking place.

it reminded me of ‘rainbow’ so much so that i thought at any time i would hear ‘paint the whole world wiiith a RAINBOW’ because for some reason theres jovial music, painted backdrops some slapstick and… basically its the worst start to a horror movie ever, and couldve comfortable segued into a ‘lets learn japanese’ show for kids. i tend to take screenshots of weird scenes in movies –and have– but you really have to watch this entire thing to understand its scope in surrealism.

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what we have here is a stereotypical japanese movie: strange. so theres a bunch of girls, and they have names that explain their attributes — kungfu, gorgeous… various other names. and theyre all planning on going to gorgeous’ aunts house for a holiday. this is where the ‘horror’ kicks in.

but to be honest, i dont feel like explaining the whole movie. the movies called ‘house’, and if i tell you this: the house starts killing off all the girls… that pretty much summises the entire plot of the movie.

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but does it?

well…. yes. that is precisely what happens in the movie. however, ignoring the very basic plot, this movie is absolute visual carnage non stop.

so, rather than me telling you what happens, ill just say a few standout things:

theres a watermelon salesman who for no reason whatsoever turns into a cartoon skeleton.

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theres a man who, for even less of a reason, turns into a pile of bananas.hausubanna

hausulipsit has ‘huge lips’.

hausuhousea fairly high number of deaths and then some very childishsubtitles to end the movie.

i essentially cant review this movie because although it makes perfect sense in terms of linear narrative, i cant make head or tail of it. ive wanted to write this for something like 4 months now, but i dont think i could ever do it properly.

theres special effects that are just… awful. but in a good way. at the same time, i think theyre pretty advanced for the 1970s — i think. they look like the graphics of the old ‘art attack’ episodes. maybe a little like the first ‘tron’ movie. they also look kinda like someone cut pictures out of newspapers and glued them on the screen. its sorta almost a jackson pollock painting in movie form. its just madness.

and so, without reviewing the movie in any sense whatsoever, i will say this: its one of my favourite movies. it has been for a long time.

get some friends. get all your friends. get people you dont even know. get in a room. get a projector. put this on.

– Connor

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Benportrait1There may be some unintentional spoilers here, so watch out, and sorry in advance.

“Hmmmmmmm” sums up this film for me. Don’t get me wrong it was undoubtedly good, but in this modern world of Marvel film domination, I want and expect a bit more than good. Age of Ultron was a standard Joss Whedon film. Full with the one liners and “banter” between the multiple protagonists which made the first film great. However, the film lacked something that I am struggling to put my finger on.

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The film is set straight after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with our heroes flying around the world mopping up the Hydra bases left in operation while also attempting to try and find ‘Loki’s Sceptre’ (bit late for a spoiler warning, but if you haven’t watch the second Captain America it isn’t an issue. Although you definitely should). Anyway, back to the point. Age of Ultron starts off with a bang, straight into a frantic action scene during which all the heroes are given a chance to kick some bad guy arse. Except for Hawkeye, who gets shot (honestly, it’s like Joss Whedon wants us to not like him). During this action scene we get our first proper look at QuickSilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), both of which looked like decent additions to the franchise, but I will say no more about them. Following the fighting and The Hulk’s lullaby provided by Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), The Avengers get the spectre and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) decide to use it to create an Artificial Intelligence, in order to give The Avengers a break, without telling the rest of the team. This AI turns out to be the baddie, Ultron (voiced by James Spader), who wants to see the end of the human race. It is at this point I will stop the plot description to avoid spoilers.

Despite being well written, funny, and a very good attempt at discussing what it is to be human through the eyes of Ultron and Vision, the film has some failings. Firstly, it’s become a little too routine; the Avengers fight, Tony Stark is an arse, he becomes good and The Avengers win. A little bit predictable for me.

I also think that there are too many characters floating about. Not only do we have the six old Avengers but we also have to contend with the appearance of Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlett Witch and QuickSilver as well as Ultron. There are also characters such as Andy Serkis’ ‘Klaw’ who are, in fact, under used. In order to get each character enough screen time there is a fair amount of jumping about, and I feel that the four new characters were some-what under developed. On the plus-side, Hawkeye does get a better run this time, and shows why he the vital ‘everyman’ character within the Avengers team. Becoming an all-American hero with his secret family, Jeremy Renner gives a very good performance, mixing the right amount of campy comedy, action and grit required for a modern day comic book film, making Hawkeye a very likeable and relatable character.

Marvel has again struggled with the villain. Ultron in the Comic books was a major thorn in The Avengers side, and he so nearly was here as well, but due to the films being set today there are far too many escape routes for Ultron, and when the Avengers do corner him, it seems a little bit too easy for them. When it comes to the concluding fight it is like watching the battles in Attack of the Clones again, there are so many evil robots you just don’t care about them, and the fact there are about 50 million of the things just shows how crap they are. If Ultron were to make a single robot specialised for each Avenger then we would have a fight on our hands. One we can become invested in. As said during the film, “He knows The Avengers better than they know each other”. Which leaves me wondering where he left all this knowledge?

As I said before, the story was well written and the special effects were fantastic. However, I just feel that a few minor tweaks to the film could make it a lot better than just good. Anyway, those are my thoughts on Age of Ultron. There are probably a million and one things I missed out, but If you agree or disagree with what I’ve said, or have something else to add, just drop us a comment below and I will get back to you.

Cheers for making it to the end

-Ben

Star Wars: Battlefront

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CombinedpicIt has been a big week for trailers, especially ones of the Star Wars variety. With two released during the Star Wars Celebration over the weekend, and being slightly obsessed, we decided to review them both. Here we take a look at the new trailer for Star Wars Battlefront as well as some reminiscing about Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefront 2. Enjoy.

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Lewis: Well, I was pretty damn impressed with the trailer for Battlefront.

Ben: Me too. A game I have been waiting a very long time for.

Lewis: I think every kid who ever played the originals has been waiting for this. From the trailer it looks very promising. I’ve looked up some details about the game itself, and, while I don’t agree with some of the moves they’ve made, I like a lot of what they’ve said.

Ben: I love the idea of a proper online mode. However, I agree, they’ve dropped the single player campaign, which was one of the highlights for me.

Lewis: Yeah, they’re definitely bringing it into the new era of online gaming, which I don’t really have a problem with. I just hope that they don’t make it too online orientated like Titanfall, a game that was a huge success initially, but people got quite bored of it. They’ve also removed space battles which I’m a little miffed about… But as long as you can still fly the fighters and bombers on the ground level, I’m cool with it.

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Ben: I forgot about that… I will miss the space battles. You said that the makers of Battlefield are doing it? Hopefully there will be a few more game modes. Command posts and capture the flag are fine, but occasionally I do like to go out with the aim to kill everyone.

Lewis: Apparently, while there isn’t going to be single player campaign, there will be numerous single-player/multiplayer missions available online and offline, which will be a nice alternative to having to play online multiplayer (because I hate people). I just hope they don’t mess with the dynamic of the original game too much.

Ben: I have a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” feeling towards it. By all means up-date it, but the first and, especially, the second game were iconic, everyone I knew played it all the time. Tt was such a big part of our childhood and I don’t want them to ruin it.

Lewis: I’m sure they’ll create a brilliant game within the Star Wars universe, but I don’t have high hopes for it living up to everyone’s nostalgic expectations… then again, Battlefront was essentially a Star Wars version of battlefield anyway, so who knows, it might be ok.

Ben: It will still be a solid game though, I am sure of it.

Lewis: I certainly hope so, otherwise a whole lot of people are gonna be upset…

So that is what we thought. What did you think? Comment below if you agree or disagree with us, or if you think we forgot anything.

And remember we are on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Mix Cloud.

Cheers

Ben and Lewis

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“The force is strong in my family”

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Ben: “Chewie…we’re home.” What did you think?

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Lewis: Oh man, I’ve watched this trailer over and over, every time I’ve seen it advertised I’ve watched it, and I literally don’t have anything negative to say about it. I was blown away. How about you?

Ben: I thought it was fantastic, in fact, I would be happy if that was the full trailer. Nothing major was given away, just enough to make me incredibly excited. However, if you watch the trailers they made for the prequels they’re pretty good as well… good enough to make Attack of the Clones appear watchable.

Lewis: Hey, let’s not ruin our expectations by talking about those… I have to say, I think that opening shot (on what I assume is either Tatooine or that Jakku planet they’ve mentioned) is one of the most incredible pieces of film I’ve ever seen. I just loved how much it looked like A New Hope… even the background scenery looked like a huge, brilliantly detailed matt painting, which I absolutely love.

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Ben: It is on Jakku, I don’t think Tatooine is in this one. I really liked the X-wing scene, it’s just one of the little things that show us that this film will take us back to what made us fall in love with the films in the first place. It will have the humour, action and story which 4, 5 and 6 had but which the prequels lacked.

Lewis: Yeah, it definitely looks like it has the charm of the original trilogy. I’m very interested in the Luke voiceover, and the scene where someone with a hood and robotic right hand is with R2. I think that’s Luke, but it looks like he’s either exiled somewhere or on a journey…

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Ben: I think it is Luke, I’ve read that he exiled himself following the conclusion of the Galactic Civil War. There are so many fantastic bits in the trailer, including the return of Anakin’s original blue lightsaber being handed from person to person, with the “my sister has it, you have it” voice over.mysisterhasit And the melted Darth Vader mask is a cool appearance too.

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Lewis: I watched Mark Hamill’s talk at Star Wars Celebration last weekend, and he said that for the voiceover they took the Return of the Jedi quote audio and put a new recording of his voice underneath it, giving it that weird echo. It was pretty cool to hear how they did that. Yeah, obviously someone has managed to retrieve that lightsaber from Bespin, and as for the helmet, I heard a theory that someone might be collecting artefacts from the Civil War, maybe the new villain, Kylo Ren?

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Ben: perhaps inspiring his own face mask.

Lewis: Yeah, bloody wannabe (Joking, I quite like his design). There are also a few changes to the design of the X-wings, they look more like the original concept art now.

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Ben: The most noticeable change is the Storm/Chrome/Pilot troopers. But then, they needed some new troops after being killed by the Ewoks…

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Lewis: I doubt there was a huge increase in recruits after that incident… The Empire logo is very different too, so maybe this is a new, rising Empire? Instead of remnants of the old one.

Ben: There are still quite a few unanswered questions. Why are they still using Storm troopers? Why was a TIE fighter shooting Stormtroopers inside the hanger? That is why it is such a brilliant trailer, there are so many things we are yet to find out about.

Lewis: Exactly, and there are so many different explanations you can give, but who knows what’s really going on? I just loved the look of it, it felt like Star Wars should feel. There wasn’t a complete saturation of CGI, the acting in the teaser alone was awesome, and I reckon that this film is going to be everything the prequels should’ve been

Ben: I agree. Probably one of the best trailers I have seen for a long time.

Lewis: Yeah, take note, that’s how you make a worthy trailer. Just before we finish, did you hear the details about ‘Rogue One’?

Ben: I haven’t no, do enlighten me.

Lewis: This is all they’ve said so far, “A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans in Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One”. They also showed a little teaser trailer which just had Alec Guinness’ quote “For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire” being spoken while a TIE Fighter flew over a jungle planet with the Death Star looming over it in orbit.

Ben: It sounds interesting enough, an interesting choice for the first stand-alone film anyway.

Lewis: Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what approach they take, I hope it’ll be like a WW2 commando film where they have to get behind enemy lines to blow something up, but instead they’ll be stealing the plans to the Death Star.

Ben: I can imagine that is the route they would take. I honestly would have thought a Boba Fett film would have been the first one out though.

Lewis: Yeah, I guess a Boba Fett film won’t be out for a few years yet.

Well that’s that. I hope you enjoyed this review/reaction piece of The Force Awakens’ second teaser, and I hope it was a least slightly informative and entertaining. Are you as excited for the film as we are? Or has the trailer left you feeling a little underwhelmed? (If so, do you not even have a soul?)

Let us know what you think down below.

Thanks for reading, Lewis and Ben.

“Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money… we’re gonna have to earn it.”

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Here it is, my favourite movie ever, of all time. thegoodthebadandtheugly

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; It’s the most beautifully bleak, humourous, well written, well directed film I’ve ever seen, a classic western that not only deals with the morality of the time, but also explores the American Civil War through a brilliant adventure story (the fact that Clint Eastwood plays one of the central characters helps an awful lot too).

The film was released in 1966, and directed by Sergio Leone, the Italian director who brought the world A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. Two films that changed the face of cinema forever, and the effects of which are still felt today in modern cinema. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is the last film in the “Dollars” trilogy, but it is in fact a prequel to both the previous films, making For a Few Dollars More the last film in the Man With No Name’s timeline. By the time it was released, the previous two films had taken America by storm, and had changed the way westerns (and films in general) were written and filmed forever. Quentin Tarantino has stated on numerous occasions that this is his favourite film, and you can clearly see the influence of it upon his writing and directing style, which may be a reason as to why Tarantino is one of my favourite directors.

Ever since The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was released, its influence upon popular culture and cinema has grown year after year, and whatever walk of life you may be from, you will have heard the title used as an idiom, or be aware that its theme song is the go-to western music, AY-YI-AHHH. As well as these influences, it’s now widely regarded to be one of the best films ever made and possibly the most iconic film of its genre, for its technical achievements, cinematic scope and great storytelling. The film is about three men and their journey across the west of America to find 200,000 dollars in gold buried in a graveyard (a hefty sum of money back then). The Ugly (portrayed by the superb method actor, Eli Wallach) is a criminal constantly hounded by bounty hunters, The Good (played by the tough but genial, laconic Clint Eastwood) is an opportunist who earns a living however he can, and The Bad (played by an unusually menacing Lee Van Cleef) is a viscous mercenary/gun for hire who, once he’s paid, always finishes the job. They fight their way across the war-torn landscape of America, suffering set-back after set-back, double-cross after double-cross, always motivated by the one thing they all have in common, greed. The Characters do actually have names, but they are always remember by the nicknames the title gives them, even though they can be very ironic in some cases…

The first thing that strikes you about this film is the bleak beauty of the landscape. It was actually filmed on the plains of Spain, but the dry, barren hills and deserts can easily convince you of an American setting. Leone doesn’t waste this picturesque landscape, he uses the wise open spaces to his full advantage, giving you a clear image of just how expansive and deserted these lands really are. My favourite scene for the landscape would have to be finale, where the rolling hills and coliseum-like set are almost always in frame, making you feel like you’re watching from a stadium seat, both in the dizzying heights of Wembley’s upper tiers and in the low, close-to-the-action courtside seats of a basketball game. This flowery description may sound like there’s too much distance between the viewer and the film, but these wide-angles are interlaced with shots so up close and personal that you can see every emotion of the characters in Eastwood’s squint, Van-Cleef’s shrewd leer, and Wallach’s panicked, wide-eyed stare.

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While you’re transfixed on the landscape for a lot of the film, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the main characters are incredibly engaging, and you find yourself even liking The Bad thanks to the great dialogue and acting (besides, who doesn’t like a good villain?). But it’s not just Lee Van Cleef’s portrayal of him that connects you to the character, it’s the fact that when you get to the base of it, all the characters are motivated by the same thing, greed. It’s just that their methods of reaching their goal are different. So when you look at the title again, it’s you can see that it’s not a definite statement about the characters’ morality, but a statement about how morality is viewed in that harsh, violent world. For example, in order to find information on the location of the money, The Bad visits a captured military fort crowded with wounded men from both sides of the war. He chats to one of the men charged with holding it, and, whether it’s through pity or simple business, leaves him a bottle of alcohol. This little gesture says a lot about the character, and you can see it in his eyes that he really does feel something when he sees all these young men bed ridden or missing limbs. That’s a key aspect of the film that draws me into it, everybody has a sense of humanity about them, and there are no two-dimensional characters here, my friends. Van-Cleef-Good-Ugly_l

The Ugly is a very ambiguous and complicated character, but easily one of the most likeable I’ve ever come across, mostly due to Eli Wallach’s brilliant acting. He has been forced to grow up in a harsh environment, pushed into crime by his surroundings and society- “Where we came from, if one did not want to die of poverty, one became a priest or a bandit! You chose your way, I chose mine. Mine was harder.” He truly regrets not being able to live a normal life, but he has embraced a life of crime as well as he can. There is a key difference between him and The Bad though, because while he does do awful things, and while he can’t be labelled as “good”, he isn’t a stranger to good deeds. He’s the ugly truth of that society, a man pressured into a life of crime in order to survive.

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And then we come to The Good. Good old Clint, returning for the third time as “The Man with No Name”, but this time he’s playing him from his origins, rather than during his travels. I think The Good would be best described as an opportunist, or a con-man. He doesn’t do anything to actively harm people, and the crimes he does choose to commit don’t result in innocent people being harmed, but he does frequently break the law for his own gain, which is usually to do with money. Like The Ugly, he’s somewhat forced to act outside of the law in order to survive, but he is definitely the most morally sound of the three, stopping for a few minutes to comfort a dying soldier while The Ugly runs ahead to the gold, for instance. As with most of Eastwood’s film characters, is hard not to like such a laid back, semi-decent guy, and when the climax arrives you find yourself rooting for him all the way (and what a climax it is… I don’t think I’ve ever felt so tense during a film). clint

As for the soundtrack… I don’t even have the words to describe how amazing it really is. Written by Ennio Morricone, one of the most respected composers of the 20th Century, it defies description. Instead, here’s a link to the most beautiful song you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing, The Ecstacy of Gold.

Finally, I just want to mention the script. Apart from Tarantino’s movies, I don’t think I’ve seen a film where the dialogue is almost completely true to life. Everything the characters say feels completely natural and organic, it’s like you’re watching a conversation from the sidelines, with characters firing off quick one liners and making small-talk that is in fact heavily loaded with implications. The sheer amount of quotable lines that come from this film is enormous, and even the title is now an idiom in the English language. Perhaps the best thing about it is that there’s little to no exposition, and that can only be a good thing in my books. Everything you need to know about the characters’ actions and emotions can be seen, and doesn’t have to be explained in clumsy, clunky dialogue, which seems to be becoming more and more frequent in modern cinema, the only problem is that you have to actually watch the film.

Anyway, I could ramble on for a very long time about this film and the different reasons why it’s perfect to me in almost every way, but I don’t want to bore you too much (well, any more than I already have). I guess all I can say is that if there’s one film you should write down on a list of movies you want to see, it should be this one (and if you do watch it, I highly recommend the extended 3 hour edition, because it has a number of extra scenes that add even more to this already superb film), I literally cannot recommend it enough.

Thanks for reading, and if you have anything to say about this fanboy-ish post, please leave a comment!

-Lewis

“It’s 2060, that’s not the kind of world we live in” – Thunderbirds are Go

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CombinedpicIf you hadn’t realised already, Lewis and I are big kids, so when we heard that ‘Thunderbirds’ was being brought back, you can imagine our excitement. The first episode of the new-look-computer-generated ‘Thunderbirds’ was shown on the 4th April, and I can’t think of a better time to write one of our classic combined reviews. Enjoy…

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Ben: So… ‘Thunderbirds’

Lewis: You didn’t like it, did you?

Ben: Actually I quite enjoyed it. It wasn’t as good as the original, but still good.

Lewis: Oh good. I wasn’t sure whether you’d be a fan of the faster, more Americanised pace. I really enjoyed it too.

Ben: No, no, I liked it. I especially liked the use of the original Jeff Tracy Voice for the opening title. However it did get on my nerves when they used it over and over. I also don’t like moody teenager Alan.

Lewis: Yeah, that repetition bugged me a little bit too, but I reasoned that it was due to the fact it was two episodes stuck together, and so if they were separate it wouldn’t be repeated as much. I didn’t mind Alan too much actually… He was miles better than the 2004 movie version…

I also really liked that they kept the brothers’ personalities kinda the same, even if they were a little more exaggerated. John has finally had a breakthrough in his career too. Looks like he’s the temporary leader.

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Ben: I agree that Alan is a million miles better than before but they were still touching on the teenage angst early on in the episode, when he was going on about not getting proper missions, and I was a bit scared they would follow the movie root.

Yeah, at long last John is getting involved. Scott was always meant to replace Jeff though.

One of my favourite bits was the “I almost missed my favourite show” and the TV was showing Stingray. Loved that reference.

Lewis: Well even in the original series Alan often complained about being left out of some missions, they’re just making a bigger plot point out of it I guess. I do feel like it should be Scott calling the shots, but it does make sense for John to do it, considering he’s in a position where he can see everything. I also liked the brotherly-banter between Scott and Virgil. That was a nice touch.

Ben: I don’t remember that as much in the original, but I will concede the point considering it was rectified over the hour of the episode. Yeah I agree with all of that, it definitely worked a lot better than the live action film. The fact I can’t think of much that is wrong with it can only be a good thing.

However, there was a distinct lack of things blowing up/catching fire. It isn’t Thunderbirds unless something explodes.

Lewis: You know, I was thinking about that late last night, there definitely wasn’t enough explosions. Hopefully that’ll change in future episodes. So, moving on from the characters, what did you think of the Thunderbirds machines?

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Ben: There was a perfect opportunity for an explosion early in the episode, when the car went off the road within the first 3 minutes. Yeah, the machines all look pretty solid. It helps that they haven’t changed much from the original (except for 5).

Lewis: Yeah, as it happened I was willing it with all my strength to end up exploding. I’m pretty ok with the modifications they’ve made to the craft, and they all look suitably futuristic. What about the Hood? He’s looking very suave these days…

Ben: Yeah, they have managed to update it for the kids while managing to appease grumpy old men like myself. I haven’t seen enough of him yet. They have dropped the slightly (very) racist foreign accent though.

Lewis: Which is probably a good move on their part. Have you heard that they’re gonna be remaking some of the old episodes? I’m looking forward to a ‘Trapped in the Sky’ remake. That was always my favourite episode.

Ben: Yeah… not very suitable….

That would be pretty epic, there are plenty of great episodes to choose from. We haven’t discussed the quite obvious arc of this series…. Finding Jeff (sounds like the next ‘Finding Nemo’ sequel).

Lewis: I would watch that film.

Now, I thought that finding him would be a fairly big plot point (especially if Gordon is willing to risk the mission to do it), but apparently the people in charge have said that Jeff Tracy won’t be appearing for at least two seasons, and that’s if he does at all.

Ben: Oh really? I wasn’t aware of that. It will definitely be a running theme throughout the show, at least until they get an answer. Saying that, I think it works without him. The dynamic has changed, which also means you can’t compare it to the original, and that is good thing for both versions.

Lewis: Very true, it gives the brothers a chance to run things themselves, and while John seems to be leading them they are all making their own decisions at one point or another. One thing I forgot to mention was the very British script. I liked that the humour and dialogue was similar to the old one, which is one of the reasons why I honestly think it’s a damn good update on the show.

Ben: A perfect closing statement.

And that’s that. That was our review of the first episode of the new ‘Thunderbirds are Go’ series. But what did you think? Give us a shout in our comments section. And don’t forget about our Facebook and Twitter pages. We are also on YouTube and Mix cloud. So please give us a follow and check out our videos and other content made especially for you. (Pure cheese, Ben. I like it- Lewis)

Thanks,

Ben and Lewis

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“What could equal the value of a human soul?”

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imageI was going to save writing about this animated masterpiece for my top seven TV shows, but the urge to re-watch it (for the 5th time) has been so strong for the past couple of days that I can’t help but vent my thoughts on it somehow.

I can categorically state that ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’ is probably my favourite piece of television ever.

Of all time.

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Anime gets a lot of shit thrown at it, and my hands are just as faeces-ridden as the next guy. Because, let’s face facts here, there’s a lot of terrible anime out there. One dimensional characters, over-the-top humour, ridiculous storylines, heavy repetition, and just general poor writing. But ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’ (which I’ll refer to as ‘FMA:B’) never delivers anything but quality content.

I’m not saying I watch a lot of anime, and I’m definitely not the guy to give a definitive opinion on the genre, as there are only three anime series I’ll sit down and actually enjoy watching; ‘FMA:B’, ‘Death Note’, and ‘Steins;Gate’ (four if I count the original 2003 series of Fullmetal Alchemist). But I do like to think that I know a good TV show when I see one, and ‘FMA:B’ is certainly a good show. I’d go so far as to say almost perfect. My reasoning, you may ask? Well, I honestly don’t think I could ever put into words how I truly feel about the show, because (as with a lot of my favourite pieces of media) I just feel a connection with it. As left-field as that sounds, ask yourself, why do you like your favourite song? Sure there are things you can list off that make it a good song (which is what I’ll be doing for this in a moment), but when you really reflect on your love for that song, there’s always something there that you can’t quite explain, something that’s not quite tangible. That’s the connection I feel towards this TV show.

Now, where do I begin here? I think the best place, as usual, is the beginning. To give you an idea of the series, here’s a quick summary of the premise-

Alchemy is the science of understanding, deconstructing, and reconstructing matter. However, it is limited by the law of equivalent exchange, meaning that you cannot create something out of nothing; “in order to obtain something, one must sacrifice something of equivalent value”. And there is one alchemic process that is taboo amongst alchemists, Human Transmutation, which involves the creation or resurrection of humans using alchemy. In a horrifically failed attempt to resurrect their mother, Edward and Alphonse Elric, two extremely gifted young alchemists, unintentionally sacrifice parts of themselves. Edward loses his right arm and left leg, whilst Alphonse loses his entire body. With Edward’s limbs replaced with “Automail” prosthetics, and Alphonse’s soul bonded to a suit of armour, the two boys embark on a journey. Helped along by friends and family, including their childhood friend, Winry, and their commanding officer, Roy Mustang (my 2nd favourite character), the brothers attempt to find the fabled ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ in order to regain their original bodies. However, they soon find themselves caught up in mysterious events larger and more dangerous than anything they could have imagined, events that threaten the very existence of everything they hold dear.

I think that summarises the plot fairly well, I was tempted to write about almost every character and event, but that would just spoil it now, wouldn’t it?

First of all, the premise of the show is such a genius idea. Alchemy is a fabled branch of science that is centred on knowing the individual elements of an object, breaking down the matter of the object into its individual elements, and reconstructing it into something else entirely using those elements. This means that the characters can create almost anything they need, out of (what would seem to be) thin air. However, the biggest limitation is the law of Equivalent Exchange, meaning that for something to be gained, something of equal value must be sacrificed. The show never breaks these rules, and if a character gets around this theory, they do so in a very careful and explained way. There’s no Deus Ex Machina here. Which is why the boys’ attempt to resurrect their mother is such a horrendous event, as the show puts it, “What could equal the value of a human soul?”.

Which leads me onto the themes the show explores. This isn’t the bog-standard, pure entertainment, cartoon that never gets into talking about anything serious (although the entertainment value is really high). This show goes to some pretty dark places. Really freakin’ dark. The themes it broaches are serious debates, and it handles them better than any other show I’ve seen. It talks about the importance of family and friendship, the morality of science, the morality of soldiers and the things they have to do, genocide, the ethics of terrorism and revenge, the quest for immortality, love, the battles between good and evil (on large and small scales), and also the dangers of totalitarianism and the bravery of those who oppose it (heavily referencing the structure and nature of Nazi Germany, and the attempted 1944 military coup). These aren’t things to be taken lightly, and the show never takes them for granted. All of the issues I’ve listed here are just a few out of a whole multitude, and while it may seem like this show sounds a little too preachy for its own good, it never strays into the territory of a lecture on life. The characters and their relatable storylines always make it an enjoyable ride, even when some people don’t make it the whole way (The reason Roy Mustang is only my second favourite character is because the top spot is taken by one of the most lovable but tragic characters I’ve ever come across).

Which leads me onto the characterisation in this show, and it is simply masterful. There is no character who doesn’t have depth and soul, even if they appear for little more than an episode. Here’s some of the main characters, and how they grow as the show goes on-

  • Edward (an arrogant hot-shot who grows both physically and emotionally over the course of the story)
  • Alphonse (a young boy without a body who has to grow up much faster than he should)

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  • Winry (a pseudo-sister to the boys, who is forced to see them get hurt over and over again during their quest, and who never lets them forget their purpose)

winry

  • Roy Mustang (the cool and calculating military war hero, but a young idealist at heart)
  • and his “subordinates” (a group of soldiers who are as hilarious as they are professional badasses)

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-They really are impeccable. As the years and months go by you get a real sense of growth and development in the people involved. They mature as both they and the situations they find themselves in develop, becoming more than they could have possibly imagined. It’s this realistic and thoughtful process that makes them the most relatable and human characters I’ve ever seen, despite the fact they’re animated

One of the things that immediately attracted me to the show is the storyline. It starts out with the boys just trying to get their own physical bodies back, not letting anything else get in their way. However, it soon escalates to a full-blown conspiracy that threatens everyone they know. It’s a classic story of personal tragedy and redemption, and an epic adventure. I’ve said this about most aspects of this show, but I can’t think of a story that is as well-thought-out or well-constructed as this one. It’s believable (as believable as fantasy can be), hugely relatable, and completely immersive.

I haven’t gone into too much detail in this piece, purely because I don’t want to spoil too much of the show for you. However, I hope I’ve given you an idea of just how good it really is, and maybe convinced you to give it a try, even if you don’t like anime. Because, I’ll let you in on a secret, I didn’t like it until I watched the original series of this show, and this version is the ultimate incarnation of the story. As always though, the first few episodes are purely introductory, but bear with it because it really takes off around episode 4.

So give it a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

“The power of one man doesn’t amount to much. But, however little strength I’m capable of… I’ll do everything humanly possible to protect the people I love, and in turn they’ll protect the ones they love. It seems like the least we tiny humans can do for each other”- Roy Mustang

Do you love ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’ too? Or have you tried to watch it and just couldn’t get into it? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear your opinion. (Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic. I promise)

-Lewis