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Sadako 3D June 22, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Cinema, Ring, Asian Cinema, Book to Film, J-Horror , 12 comments

I heart Sadako big time so being me I was very excited to see Sadako 3D. The 3D platform just seems perfectly suited to that famous TV scene at the end of Ring. Unfortunately this part might be the only reason to recommend Sadako 3D. It uses the 3D effect for cheap thrills as things jump out at the screen at you. It’s a film that is made better by 3D, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.

The story centers around Akane a High School Teacher whose student dies after watching a viral internet video that kills whomever watches it. The only one who has the power to stop this Sadako is Akane whom possesses some kind of psychic powers. Unfortunately Akane is exactly what Sadako is searching for as she tries to return to the living world.

The film no longer bothers with the slow burning psychological horror of it’s predecessors and remakes and goes straight for the “BOO!” type of scares that make you jump but in no way scare you. Any asshole can jump out from behind something and do that to you. This sequel (if I can even call it that) is a cheap ploy to use 3D and it’s pretty obvious that more thought went into the promotion of this film than the making of it.
The film, while a little scary in parts got more laughs than screams, due to the pretty silly plot and idiotic characters. Why are all the police officers in these Ring movies complete idiots?

I went to the Midnight showing of ‘Sadako 3D’ and the atmosphere was electric in anticipation. But scenes in the film that were played for dramatic effect caused the audience to laugh more than anything else. For example when the main character Akane’s screaming causing CGI glass to shatter and fly out of the screen in slow motion. Another was a police officer under the control of Sadako so much so that he grew Sadako like hair down over his face. Which probably got the biggest laugh since the audience didn’t realize the character was actually serious and not joking. Weird. Near the end of the film the main character Akane is suddenly some kind of Kendo expert who runs away from the Sadakos chasing her yet is able to easily take them out in the most ridiculous, laughable manner possible with sticks and poles lying around.

The most memorable aspect of lead Heroin Akane played by Satomi Ishihara is that she looked pretty and I couldn’t stop thinking what nice lips she had. That might show how bad the film was when my main concern was how kissable her lips were anytime she was onscreen. Anyway, what’s the deal with her boyfriend Takanori? Is this the same Takanori from Rasen? (the clone) Why does he live together with Akane as her boyfriend yet they treat each other more as brother and sister. Or either this is a relationship of convenience and they’re both secretly gay. It screams cheap TV drama relationship and the makers of this must think the viewing audience would be too young to understand anything beyond platonic. Yeah, platonic and living together. Give me a break.

Sadako. Why oh why did they have to mess with Sadako so much. We get 3 different versions of Sadako. The Sadako we all know and love that comes out of a screen to kill you. Then we got these weird Sadakos from the Well that look like a cross between Samara at the end of The Ring TwO and the Xenomorph from Alien. These so called Spidakos are nothing but monsters providing some gore and more cheap/hilariously embarrassing thrills. The third type of Sadako is some frickin kid with a bang hair style (the in style obviously…) that attacks with her hair. So Sadako has also become something of a hair type monster in this too. Ghostly hair attacking you was cool 10 years ago ala the Korean Horror ‘The Phone’, today it’s just cliche. Give me something new or stick with what’s already established.

So what the hell is this? Possibly a reboot since no character has any prior knowledge of Sadako and there is no mention of her actions in any of the previous films. The Well is not located in Hakone at a holiday resort Inn but instead at some abandoned building, could be a hospital, or a school but it’s never clear. It is Sadako’s well though because it has a chip missing from it. One of the characters mentions that everything in this world is artificial meaning that it’s very possible we are inside “the Loop Project”, meaning we’re getting pretty deep into the whole Ring mythos here. There is a Ring novel called ‘Loop’ in which it is discovered that the world of Sadako Yamamura, the Ring World, is an artificially created computer program. Think ‘The Matrix’. ‘Sadako 3D’ is based on ‘S’ the most recent Ring Novel by Suzuki Koji which is set in this computer generated Ring world. However, from what I’ve read it doesn’t follow the story of the novel much. So why even mention this is an artificial world? Most cinema goers with knowledge of only the movies will have no idea what the hell that line means and the line is thrown out there twice with no real explanation or follow up making it rather pointless except to remind viewers that it’s not real.

Unfortunately the movie is real though…
It seems the chance to revive this series has been crushed by Sadako 3D. It’s of the quality of a made for TV movie of the week that is embarrassing to watch. It is most likely the final nail in the Well cover for Sads and anything that was once remotely creative and ingenuitive about this franchise is now dead thanks to this film. The future now rests with the American remake sequel ‘The Ring 3D’. Lets hope that fairs better, but with the focus being on the 3D once more I somehow doubt it. Then again nothing, NOT-THING could be worse than what they attempted here.

Favorite Quote: “Everything in this world is artifical.” - some creepy woman

The Ring Virus June 20, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Horror, DVD/Video/T.V., Ring, Asian Cinema, Book to Film, J-Horror , add a comment

A more interesting attempt at a remake of Ring that combines elements of the original Japanese movie and the novel it was based on with some incest thrown in for good measure!

The film starts off “well” with a young girl doing some stretching on her bed. But after she dies in the first 5 minutes the rest of the film gets less interesting (except for the incest thing). The problem is that it’s just without any momentum and starts to drag it’s feet from early on.

I didn’t really feel these characters actually thought they were going to die within seven days. They handle their investigation pretty calmly only smashing a glass vase in a moment of anger. There is little onscreen chemistry. The male character Choi Yeol, based on Ryuji is closer to the novels and is pretty much a prick who sees the whole thing as a game. I felt the character lacked sympathy and didn’t have anything to lose which made him pointless. Closer to the novel is good, but the novel’s character is so much more of a prick that he is an interesting one. This guy in the film is just a jerk asking a woman when was the last time she got laid. Less intelligent and more morbid.

The Sadako character Eun-Suh is a bit of a babe. However it’s not advised to spy on her in the shower because this character is closer to the Novel version of Sadako, the reason being that she is a hermaphrodite, meaning she has male and female genitalia.The beginning of the film alludes to this with the discussion of Zeus cutting people in half making them male and female when they had once been both. Eun-Suh represents perfection as Choi Yeol puts it near the end of the film and this plot point is a crucial key to the origin of the Virus.

The only thing that is unique to this story is the incest where Eun-Suh’s half brother attacks her and throws her down the Well. Unfortunately this new twist isn’t really explored and I question the necessity of making her killer her half brother.

The problem with ‘The Ring Virus’ (링 바이러스) is that it’s not sure what it wants to be, straight out horror or science fiction mystery. By not being one or the other it just gets lost within the story and becomes something routine thanks to the added acting skills of the cast. There’s not much going for it. There’s nothing that stands out and takes a punch at the audience as ‘Ring’ did. There is only replication of the simplest form and done in a less frighting way.

Favorite Quote: “Just as light and darkness existed as one before the big bang, man and woman probably co-existed as one. A perfect combination of strength and beauty. But she was the target of ridicule in her life.” - Choi Yeol

The Ring June 18, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Horror, DVD/Video/T.V., Ring, J-Horror , 2 comments

Before you die, you see the Ring. Quite literally in this American remake where they whack you over the head with the image of the title. An image of a Ring, because been subtle would be just silly when you need to explain everything clearly.

I question the necessity of ‘The Ring’. Except to rip off the original and make more money than it. Of course we continue to see examples like this today with close remakes of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, ‘The Grudge’, ‘Dark Water’ etc etc.

The reason seems to be partly because English speaking Audiences are less conditioned to watch foreign language films where they have to read the subtitles to know what’s going on. I realize not everyone is in the same boat and statistics are a bit blurred on this when the foreign distributors of the original film don’t show it in enough cinemas for people to watch and instead have it remade to get the ka-ching!

‘The Ring’ isn’t a bad movie. It just sucks out all the atmosphere and tension the original had and sticks in CGI effects and movie make up to make the horror more “real”, because having everything look normal would be unrealistic. Yes, I’m being facetious….

It just ticks me off that the Director Gore Verbinski of ‘The Pirate of the Caribbean’ movies would be so damn lazy and play it safe by copying the original Japanese film almost ‘Ring’ scene for scene. (Call it Ringu and i’ll send Sadako after ya). He even takes some scenes from Hideo Nakata’s other film ‘Dark Water’ using elements of that as part of Samara’s machinations.

The kid in this, Aiden is too much of a rip on the kid in the ‘Sixth Sense’. Rather than just being like, you know, a normal boy, he is a creepy little kid with knowledge of Samara and her ways. I can see this working better for an adult character but the film is already about a creepy little girl who kills people with her video tape. We don’t need a creepy boy also.

What I really like about this movie is the score by Hans Zimmer, the majority of the theme revolves around a little song Samara sings near the end. It’s a chilling piece that sticks with you longer than the visuals.

The Ring TwO

Didn’t do as well as the original but I always find that sequels to the first Ring movies are difficult. In the original you have that 7 day countdown giving momentum followed by that twist ending that scares you pant less. That’s a hard act to follow unless you’re gonna be really creative.

In the Ring TwO Samara seems to be out in full force having been released from the Well by Rachel in the previous movie. Samara’s attention turns to Rachel’s son Aiden as she slowly starts to possess him.

They brought in Hideo Nakata to do the remake. Pretty smart move I thought. He is the one who made ‘Ring’ scary and letting him lose with an American budget was fun. He does go a little too CGI for my tastes and there are parts of the film that drag in places. But I still find it to be quite scary in places and it is at the very least, original.

It is somewhat confusing as to when Aiden is under Samara’s possession and when exactly he was taken over by her. The film seems to be more of a series of scenes developed first with the story tying them together after.

I found Samara to be more frightening in this film. Firstly she is bigger in some scenes and also has the Sadako screeching sound effect which reminds me of the originals in a scary way. In ‘The Ring TwO’ she is played by Kelly Stables. In ‘Ring’ she was played by Daveigh Chase and only her image is used in some scenes here where her face is CGIed in which didn’t look great. While Samara in Ring TwO is full on Well Mode I rather liked Chase’s portrayal of Samara pre-Well, you sense there’s an unnatural power and she’s not all that sweet to begin with.

Samara’s origin seems to be related to the Sea too like that in the Japanese sequel ‘Ring 2′. She is the daughter of the sea/underworld like a female version of ‘The Omen’.

Interesting to note that Suzuki Koji wanted to script ‘The Ring 3′ which would include elements of ‘Spiral’ in the story making it more scientific as Suzuki himself has said he never considered the Ring story to be Horror.

Favorite Quote: “I’m not your fucking Mommy!!!” - Rachel

Ring June 15, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : DVD/Video/T.V., Ring, Asian Cinema, Book to Film, J-Horror, Best Ever , add a comment

Upon it’s release in Japan in the summer of 1998 ‘Ring’ became an instant success, it was followed by two sequels with alternate stories, a prequel and was remade as ‘The Ring’ in the US and ‘The Ring Virus’ in Korea.

In ‘Ring’ (リング) female reporter Asakawa Reiko discovers that her niece and friends have mysteriously died after watching a video tape they found in a log cabin in Hakone. After setting out to investigate she too becomes caught up in events, becoming cursed herself and with a 7 day deadline she has to resolve it’s mystery in the hope of breaking it.

‘Ring’ takes a familiar curse idea: the chain letter. Unless you send the letter on to other people you’ll have bad luck. The video tape is the ultimate chain letter, killing those that don’t copy and send it on after 7 days. The execution of the curse in the film ‘Ring’ is sheer genius. Using the Television as the device through which those cursed are killed by. Every home has a TV set and usually in more than one room. It’s an inescapable reality and once you’ve watched the film ‘Ring’ yourself you can never look at a TV in the same way again. Surely you won’t turn your back on it at least because in your mind you too wonder if you have been cursed after watching the film. Who didn’t secretly count down the 7 days after watching ‘Ring’ and breath a sigh of relief when they passed them without event? I’ve heard stories of people who placed table cloths over their Television sets after watching the movie so as to protect themselves.

The movie is based on the equally excellent Novel “Ring” by Koji Suzuki. The movie follows the Book’s plot very closely except for the change of the main character Asakawa to a female lead, as is the norm with most J-Horror movies. The overall Tone of the film is changed too. You can still feel a “presence” in the background of both the Movie and Novel however the movie introduces a supernatural aspect to the curse where as the Books take a more scientific/realistic approach grounding the Virus (curse in the movie) to the real world. The supernatural quality works unsurprisingly well for the movie and the imagery dreamt up by it’s Director Hideo Nakata is, as I said above, genius.

When they made Ring they also made at the same time a film called ‘Rasen’ (English title ‘Spiral’), also based on the sequel Novel of the same name. The problem with Rasen is that it loses all the tension, all the psychological horror of it’s predecessor, replaces it with gore and becomes a straight forward mystery from then on. In ‘Rasen’ we are introduced to a new character Mitsuo Ando a former friend of Ryuji Takayama. Upon doing an autopsy of his friend he is brought into the events surrounding the cursed tape, with Ryuji’s ex wife and son missing and later found dead it is up to Ando to discover why they died.

That problem with ‘Rasen’/'Spiral’ seems to be a lack of communication. One director decided to be creative, the other did a more straight forward adaptation of the novel. They decided to go their own ways. The tone and atmosphere of each movie is completely different. ‘Ring’ is Horror, ‘Rasen’ at best a mystery and Horror lite. In ‘Ring’ we have the chain letter curse, in ‘Rasen’ it’s the self replicating Virus. ‘Rasen’ also relies on the gore aspect a little bit too much, for example Ryuji’s autopsy at the beginning which was unnecessarily graphic. ‘Ring’ was all about not showing things and letting the audience use it’s imagination. ‘Rasen’ leaves little to the imagination. It isn’t a bad film. But up against it’s predecessor it’s hopeless, it’s not the sequel people would expect after going into see Ring. In ‘Ring’ Sadako is a queer walking pus eyed monster, in Rasen she’s a sexy, hot, perverted ghost who licks your face. Now I’m not complaining about hot Ghost chicks that lick faces, but sexy ain’t scary. However, credit can be given to the fact that the characterization of Sadako matches the novel more so as that of a seducing temptress. When both films were released in Japanese cinemas Audiences went to see ‘Ring’ but skipped ‘Rasen’ which lead to an alternate sequel ‘Ring 2′ being released a year later, the movie would tie in closer with the first film.

The first time I watched ‘Ring’ was on UK channel Film Four in 2001. The most recent viewing of the film was on the Tartan DVD box set which has updated the subtitles. While it’s a nice transfer and all the subtitles are a bit too perfect a translation and leave a lot of the “flavour” of the original out. Take this line for example

“Frolic in brine, goblins be thine.”

Which is now

“If you keep doing SHOUMON, BOUKON will come.”

What the Fudge?! How could they mess that up. They screwed a great line.

Ring is what started the J-Horror wave, it changed the Horror film industry and introduced a new element into it that remains until this day. It’s why I see the film as being so significant. It also scared the hell out of me like no other film did and planted Sadako in my mind forever leaving me psychologically scarred. Yay!

Favorite Quote: “This kind of thing… it doesn’t start by one person telling a story. It’s more like everyone’s fear just takes on a life of its own.” - Ryuji Takayama

PROMETHEUS Review Part 2: And another thing! June 11, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Cinema, Science Fiction , 4 comments

The cast

Charlize Theron. Now besides been able to portray a stunningly hot woman in a space suit in the film just by standing around and doing a few wet push ups I really have to question the validity of her character.

She’s an Oscar winning actress who we know can play very strong female roles that we would not want to mess with. But all she does is stand around on the ship and incinerates someone’s boyfriend with a flame thrower. She could have made a very strong female lead but her character doesn’t do much and I wonder why spend the pay check on such quality casting without using her more.

Noomi Rapace. I haven’t seen ‘The girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ yet (so shoot me) but here Ridley also cast a strong female lead. I just wonder if he was looking for another Ripley with this casting but the character is thrown around into so many situations that the emotional story is not there. Her bf gets turned into fried chicken, yet there are no scenes following that where she reflects upon it. Of course having an alien inside you might do that, but when she gets over that surely she has lots of things to be pissed about. Nope, now she has got to go talk to Aliens with some old man whom is largely responsible for her woes. But we don’t get that “fu*k that company!!” line or a “you bitch!” line that the character sorely needed.

The two guys navigating the ship who made the bet about whether or not it’s a terraforming mission. Probably the most redundant characters of them all. Could you get anymore generic movie type character than these two guys who just sit around throwing in some dialogue about their bet and in the end sacrificing themselves? Compare with ‘Alien’ where every character had an extra dimension or at least seemed to think for themselves, not blathering on about the same thing till they DIE!
The Captain, Janek. He willy nilly sacrifices himself and the ship just like that as soon as he is told about the threat. What about exploring all the possibilities? “we gotta die? OK no problem, whatever you say!”. Wouldn’t a more realistic thought first be “Fu*k that sh*t, I aint blowing myself up”.

Thoes two guys who get left inside the pyramid. Whatever you call em, lets say Ippy and Dippy. Whose sole purpose are to get killed horribly by alien type creatures. Fine with me but it’s the way they do it. One of them sees a white alien snake (insert penis joke here) and tries to touch it saying “come on baby”. So you’re on an Alien world and this is your very first encounter with an alien that you have never seen before in your life, that you know nothing about and your first reaction (as a scientist!) is to touch it?

Mr. Weyland. I don’t really have too many problems with this character or the make up. I’m just disappointed we couldn’t have seen more of him in the movie. There were promo virals for Prometheus that I felt dealt with the subject matter they were exploring in such a better way than the film did. One of the Virals was an excellent speech by a younger Weyland who I hoped would be in the movie because Guy Pearce is a great actor.
Ridley Scott does have some of the blame in the use of the characters but this guy is a visual film maker which is why his films look great, he can tell a good story too. However a story by Damon Lindelof is not one worth telling. This guy has fu*ked up the intelligence in Star Trek and now Alien.

PROMETHEUS June 8, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Cinema, Science Fiction , add a comment

Hmmm, I’m not entirely sure what to think of this one. I’ve been hyped about it for months. Well it’s a mixed bag of sorts. In ways it can be an Alien prequel and does hint at what is to come but it can be seen as a standalone film too. However the appeal of the movie seems to rest with the ‘Alien’ xenomorph aspect of it and I don’t think such a movie would have this kind of budget or design without bending to that. It doesn’t work as a stand alone story. Unlike ‘Alien’ or ‘Aliens’ or heck even ‘Alien 3′ I don’t feel this is a film that you can randomly jump into while looking for something to watch. The audience for this movie are those who have followed the ‘Alien’ franchise. Which is a shame because they could have done so much more if they stuck to one idea and made it a more intimate story. But here there is no real satisfying conclusion.

The basic concept was Humanity finding that their creators might be from another planet. The film would explore the idea and the philosophical implications of it. We do get that for a moment, but the concept is bludgeoned by playing the scary Alien Card. People getting acid in their face, being attacked by strange alien creatures, People getting infected, people getting impregnated, people dying, people burning.The funny thing is the focus isn’t on the Xenomorph. It’s supposed to be about the “Space Jockeys” now known as “the Engineers”, but by the end of the film we don’t really get an introspective view of these Aliens in our lives, why they created us, but instead a new question is brought up. Why do they want to kill us?

Ok, as someone who HAS anticipated this I liked it. It is a beautiful looking film and I liked the parts that dealt with the genesis of the Xenomorph. The “Engineers” to some degree were interesting and I was glad to finally see some of their back story revealed. Michael Fassbender as the android David was excellent and the exploration of his character’s facets were some of the more interesting parts of the movie (Blade Runner anyone?).

Ridley Scott has said that to reach the point of the first ‘Alien’ movie it would take another two more films. I question why that is necessary other than to become another franchise series. I don’t think the story needs to be stretched out that much. A fuller story could be told in one or two movies (as was originally planned) but what is the point of a third film other than to get that magic trilogy? When are we also going to see a sequel with Scott busy on so many other projects including a Blade Runner sequel.

Random geek nitpicks: WTF is that black goo. It seems to have a different effect on everyone it touches. Now this seems to be a quite convenient plot device and confusing too. But we’ve seen this before with the Red Matter in Star Trek 2009 Alien prequel by the same writer Damon Lindelof.

The Prometheus vessel. Lovely ship design but I don’t imagine this as a ship for traveling long distances across space. From it’s design it seems better suited to atmospheric flight, more of a drop ship.

Didn’t we see a somewhat similar storyline done before in ‘Alien Vs Predator’? A team go to the Antarctica to explore an ancient temple that worshiped gods that were actually aliens that visited earth thousands of years ago. Even the ending is similar. Just saying..

Other Sci-fi franchises such as The X-Files, Stargate and Star Trek have done the “human’s come from Aliens” idea before and have developed the idea far better than here.

Finally, the Engineers found on the planet were there for 2000 years. So the plan to go to Earth back then was because? People stopped worshiping them and started believing in Jebus? Why didn’t other Engineers go or check out LV-426 to see why they aint heard from anyone.

Prometheus is flawed. It seems to be stuck between being a stand alone film and being a prequel to Alien and leaving sequel room compromised the story. What’s good though is that we are finally moving away from crap like ‘Alien Vs. Predator’ and ‘Alien Resurrection’ and trying to move back into more mature storytelling.

Favorite Quote: “There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing.” - David

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