Monday, April 11, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane.

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost three years since I made a post on this blog. I was so into it for a while. I guess I let myself take too much of what other people said to heart. I'm not sure what prompted me to make a new post after all this time, but I guess taking a look at my page today for the first time in years, I was feeling a little nostalgic. Nostalgic of what, I'm not quite sure. Spending hours writing stuff that hardly anyone would read? Jeez, who knows? I guess this time, unlike most of the times in the past, I did it because I felt like writing, not because I wanted to feel important or like I was in some way contributing to the internet, which I never really was. Sure, I was able to get in a few early reviews and such, but looking back, my writing wasn't really good enough for a person to consider it a worthwhile review to read. But I wanted to be a part of things... I found myself as a regular on the message boards, among the most jaded of movie goers. People who couldn't enjoy a movie unless it was wanked out by Tarantino. I spent too much time there. I found myself becoming jaded, letting other people's opinions affecting the way I view movies. I guess that makes me easily manipulated, but if the general mindset is that a movie is bad, you tend to view it through shit-goggles. I hate that I let myself become that way. But in the end, I guess I'm getting better... these days I can look at an action movie that has 36% or something on Rotten Tomatoes and go into it not expecting greatness, and ending up enjoying the time I spent watching the movie. And that's what movies are all about to me. Enjoying yourself. Do I still live under the illusion that I could become a great movie critic? No. It would be nice, but I don't think I am nearly good enough to be able to do it. Although admittedly, I do feel like my opinion is just as valid as some of the schmucks you see on Rotten Tomatoes.

Though definitely not without it's faults, my time as an internet douchebag did provide me with some good TV and movie suggestions. Had I not spent so much time there, I may not have taken a chance with the shows of Joss Whedon, who I have since become a huge fan of. Heck, at the moment I've got a stack of Buffy/Angel comics on my shelf and an autographed photo of Charisma Carpenter next to my bed. If that doesn't scream geek, I don't know what does. And don't even get me started on my weird guy-crush on James Marsters (come on, the guy is just awesome). So allowing myself to be opened up to new things can be a positive thing. Three years ago, if someone had suggested I watch Sarah Michelle-Gellar spend seven seasons stabbing vampires, I probably would have dismissed them immediately.... but now I'm willing to give new shows a try, and quite often I've ended up enjoying them a whole lot.

Another show I've given a try in the past year is Doctor Who... when I say that, I'm talking mostly about the 2005 reboot series, though I'm slowly getting into the original as well. It took me years to get around to giving it a shot, and I'm glad I finally did. There's so much fun and adventure to be had. Plus, I love the concept of a show that doesn't have to constantly get bogged down by casting issues, because you know there will be a whole new lead in a few years.

Yes, I am well aware that this is simply turning into a "what I've gotten into in the past three years" post. But hey, what's wrong with that... as I've discovered today, it's interesting to look back and see what your tastes were like at a certain point. Looking through my older posts, I see that a lot of my favourite movies/TV shows have changed, and at the same time, a lot of it has stayed the same. I'm still a giant dork who collects everything Dragon Ball that he can get his hands on (no, not the Fox movie... I won't get into that)... that's not something I expect to change. Being "that Dragon Ball dork" is part of who I am, and it's a part of me (believe it or not) I actually like. So looking at all this, my tastes do not change so much as broaden. No, I don't like everything that I liked several years ago, but most things I liked I can still at the very least enjoy. A lot of movies I listed under favourite movies would still make that list. Let me put it this way, I add more movies to that list than I take away.

So at this point, I'll close off again.... for another three years? Maybe. Or maybe I will just keep writing... it's kind of nice to have a page that's all mine. As long as I don't get into my old mindset that there's no point in writing if nobody is reading it, there's no reason why not. I'll just treat it as a sort of movie diary. Something to do when I'm bored.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Movies of the Past: Spider-Man

This movie is great in almost every way. This is one of the movies that helped get me into all the comic book stuff when I was in my early teens. Well, the character of Spider-Man anyway. Now, six years on, Spider-Man is one of my favourite comic book characters and Stan Lee is one of my heroes. It gives a really good origin story in the beginning that stays pretty true to the comics for the most part. Sure there were changes made to the story in some parts, but it was still pretty close. The origin carries into a pretty solid plot, which really works as a Spider-Man movie.
The acting was really good, and I felt the actors all portrayed their characters well. I thought that Tobey Macguire made a really good Peter Parker and a decent Spider-Man, James Franco was really good as Harry Osborne, and I think I'm one of the few people that thinks Kirsten Dunst made an alright Mary Jane Watson. They all had great chemistry together. You could really imagine that Mary Jane was the girl that Peter loved, and that Harry was his best friend. The father/son relationship between Harry and Norman Osborne was pretty believable. All the actors just worked really well together, and I believe good chemistry works really well toward making a good movie. Even the supporting characters are perfectly cast, like Uncle Ben, Aunt May, J Jonah Jameson and Betty Brant seemed as if they were straight out of the comics.

The storyline is pretty cool, being filled with lots of drama, and you get to see Peter feeling different things throughout the movie. Guilt, love, confusion. You get to see the transformation of a nerdy, weak teenager into a powerful hero. It's not just about some kid who gets bitten by a spider and becomes a superhero, it's got a whole lot more depth than that. And for the most part, the actual storyline doesn't just feel like filler until the next action scene. That's part of what sets it apart from a lot of other comic book movies. Some of the dialog in the movie is a bit cheesy, especially some of the stuff between Peter and Mary Jane, but I don't really let it bug me.

The action scenes are really good, although a little fleeting for the most part. They just seemed over too soon sometimes. They were still really cool though, and were definitely some of the high points of the movie. The costume designs are really good as well. The Spider-Man costume looks awesome in about 132 different ways. Apparently the changes that were made to the Green Goblin costume in comparison to his comic counterpart caused some problems with fans. I think the changes were necessary to avoid being too cheesy. And his new costume looked awesome anyway. The special effects in the movie were pretty good, especially in scenes where Spidey is swinging around. There are some scenes where it does look a little fake, but it shouldn't take away from the movie for people. But I know people do like to whine about every problems in movies, so some people might find the effects an issue.

All in all, it's an awesome movie, and we were lucky enough to get two sequels to it. I've watched it a few times, and it holds up well. A fairly re-watchable movie. It was one of the movies that helped start the modern Marvel movie trend, along with X-Men and the Blade movies before it. Just another great thing it had a hand in. Sam Raimi is a great director. Spider-Man is a great character and was really done justice in a movie that could have easily been awful.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Character of the Day: Bubbles

In my earlier teen years, I used to watch a lot of Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network, especially when they had several episodes of it on every day to promote the movie. My favourite character of the show was always Bubbles. She is one of three little girls, created when a professor attempted to create the perfect little girls, by mixing together sugar, spice and everything nice. The experiment went wrong when the professor's lab partner (a monkey called Mojo, who went on to become the main villain of the show) knocked in a chemical known only as Chemical X. The resulting three girls were born with amazing powers, such as eye rays and flight. Bubble is the friendliest of the three sisters, and this little blonde usually stayed true to her name, as a bubbly and sweet little girl. She wasn't exactly the smartest of the three, and could sometimes be a bit naive. She seems to have been a bit on the outside of the team, since Blossom and Buttercup shared a bit of a rivalry, which sometimes meant Bubbles had to try and keep the peace. At first glance, Bubbles would seem like the weakest Powerpuff Girl. In actuality, it was the complete oposite. As the series progressed, the hidden potential of Bubbles was revealed, showing that she is possibly the most powerful of the team. This was originally shown when her abilities as a warrior were being constantly questioned. She set up a training session for herself at maximum difficulty, and when she thought about people thinking she was weak, she unleashed amazing power and destroyed all her oponents with ease. Since then, Bubbles sometimes displayed a darker and more angry style, which I always thought was cool. But I always loved the sweet and inocent Bubbles a whole lot.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Character of the Day: Flippy

I know that I haven't been keeping up with these characters of the day or my blog in general. I've just had problems with motivation. But since I am trying to become a better writer, I need to stick to things. So I will try harder. Anyway, today's character is the lovable little bear from the series of internet shorts turned TV show- Happy Tree Friends. He is a war veteran who was left severely traumatised by the events in whatever war he was in. Although he has returned to living in peace, (well, as peaceful as you can consider the world of Happy Tree Friends) he cannot help but return to being the killer that he was turned into during the war whenever he hears a noise that takes him back to the time. Like, for example, a crackling fire making him think he's under bullet fire. When this evil version of the usually kind hearted Flippy is unleashed, nobody is safe. He will use anything at his disposal to kill everyone as horrifically as possible. It is not until he has killed everyone around him that he returns to his cute and cuddly self, with apparently no memory of the terrible things he has just done. Later episodes showed that while he had no memory of these events, he was aware that they happened. One episode showed him fighting the urge to kill long enough to stop himself murdering somebody, but he was trying to fly a helicopter as a weapon, and because he stopped, a crash resulted, killing him. This shows how good hearted Good Flippy really is. But that doesn't matter, because he was back soon enough, just like all the other characters. Later on in the double episode Double Whammy, when Flippy got professional help to try and control his gruesome outbursts. This led to an awesome battle between Good Flippy and Bad Flippy in the mind. That's all I will say about that episode.... I will just say that it is probably my favourite one. The reasons I like Flippy are pretty simple. He is a killing machine, who is always creative. But I also like his good side, because of how sweet and caring he is.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Movie Review: Star Wars: Clone Wars

Fan buzz has been very negative for this movie. Myself, I have tried to remain positive. But even I, as a very leniant movie watcher has to admit that this really wasn't great. It's not on par with any of the other six movies of the franchise. It wasn't all bad though, and I will tell you what was good and bad about it now.

The animation was a real mixed bag. It had great backgrounds that looked almost like they were taken right out of the movies, then you have these very poorly designed characters. As much as I liked most of the designs on everything but the characters themselves, I couldn't help looking at the animation like a beautiful painting with poo smeared in some spots. You can look at the painting, but it's hard to enjoy it when you can't take your eyes off the poo. It takes away from the potentially awesome animation. They look plastic and stiff, and the facial expressions and lip syncing look like something from a Playstation game from 1999. The voice acting was pretty bad aswell, although Christopher Lee did and alright job, and Matt Lanter had a lot more emotion in his voice acting than Hayden had in the entire role.

The dialogue was about as bad as can be. The exhanges between Anakin and his apprentice were all cliche and boring. Not to mention almost all the droids were like copies of Jar Jar Binks. A main problem was that this would focus more on action than it did. That's why I felt all that lame childish stuff wouldn't matter. But it was mostly disussions and stuff, which was the last thing this movie needed. There was a fair bit of action, but even when they were having awesome lightsabre duals, they felt the need to stop every 4 seconds and talk about stuff that I didn't need to hear. I wanted to see lightsabre duals on a level that they couldn't manage in a live action movie. They did not deliver in this way. A lot of the other action was pretty good though, some being very fast moving and intense.

The storyline really didn't consist of much.... just people trying to get Jabba the Hutt on their side, basically. This is not a movie that I think many old Star Wars fans will enjoy, but it may be a movie that helps introduce new people to the franchise, which is always a good thing. This is definitely a movie for the younger audiences, not older people and film critics. It basically just felt like a long TV Show episode, which is basically all it was. It was good for a TV episode, but not for a movie. If the action is as good in the series as it was in the movie (and hopefully there will be more), then I will be looking forward to it. But if they release another movie that looks to be at this level, I will have to wait until DVD. If I had to rate it, I would probably give it around a 6-6.5.

Character of the Day: Butters Stotch

Butters, one of my favourite characters from the series South Park. Easily the kindest and sweetest of the series, Butters usually just wants to do what's right and avoid getting grounded. I love Butters because of how goodhearted he is, a trait that is rare in the South Park series. The fact that he is usually teamed up with the evil Cartman always makes for great episodes. Originally more of a background character, Butters has grown into a much more important character over the seasons, especially after Kenny's "death," when he became the new forth friend in the main group. But in unlucky Butter's fashion, he was soon kicked out of the gang, of course not before having poo smeared on his face, chased by a robot, given home liposuction, and beaten by his parents. That's when he became Proffesor Chaos, an evil supervillain bent on causing whatever chaos he could. Too bad he couldn't come up with an evil deed that hadn't aleady been done in The Simpsons (The Simpsons Already Did It is one of my favourite episodes). Soon enough, Butters was back to his sweet old self. Sadly, the fact that Butters is so sweet and trusting, often leads to him to great suffering (like the things I listed before). One of the best episodes sees Butters finally getting the upper hand, when one of Cartman's schemes go wrong, in AWESOM-O. All in all, Butters can be summed up in one word. Awesome. But, I will also say that he is adorable and just plain likeable. Butters is the character that I think most people won't be able to resist loving.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Movies of the Past: Big Fish

When I first saw this movie in the cinema, I was a mildly bored teenager who, though enjoyed the movie, didn't find it very memorable. Several years later, after hearing a lot of great stuff and realising it was from one of my favourite directors Tim Burton, I decided to grab it and give it another watch. I am definitely happy that I did so. I got so much more out of it when I watched it a second time. I'm not saying every teenager will be bored when they watch it, though. Probably the opposite. I'm the first to admit that my taste in movies at a young age wasn't exactly the best, but even at that stage I was able to look back and see the good in the movie.

The movie revolves around the stories that father, Ed Bloom (played by Albert Finney as an old man) told his son, Will Bloom as a child,(who as an adult is played by Billy Crudup) who has now grown up and looks on those stories not as nice exaggerated tales, but as lies that he was once foolish enough to believe. Throughout the movie, you are shown various stories from Ed Bloom's (played by Ewan McGregor throughout his adult years) life, where he meets lots of colourful characters and affects their lives. And you also have the side of the story Will Bloom dealing with a tattered relationship with his father. The story is nice and sweet, with lots of touching moments. I'll avoid much more about the plot, so I don't take anything away from the joy of watching it for yourself. I will just say it's a great plot, and I loved watching all these far-fetched stories come to life.

The characters and acting in the movie are great, because of all the depth and well.....character they have. The character of Ed Bloom (in the stories) was very well written, and very likable. Ewan McGregor plays him perfectly. Will Bloom, wasn't exactly the most likable character in some ways, but the aspects of his personality were important to the overall plot. He was played well by Billy Crudup. The supporting cast was really great, with very interesting characters played by actors like Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi and the late Matthew McGrory. Considering the large cast of characters in the movie, they were all handled very well considering their stories were all being told in one movie. That is another positive point of the movie.

Visually, this movie is fairly different from most of Tim Burton's movies. It lacks the Gothic theme that almost all of his films have. It was a bit of a change for him, but he handled it really well, and I look forward to seeing him take on some more movies in a similar style. This movie has become one of my favourites and is definitely in my top five Burton films. People of a really young age may not enjoy the movie much, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under the age of about ten anyway, since some of the scenes may be a little mature for them. My advice would be that if you haven't already seen this movie, it should be near the top of you "Films to Watch" list.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Character of the Day: Piccolo

Piccolo is today's character of the day. Originally a member of the Demon clan, it was eventually revealed that he was an alien called a Namekian. First appearing in the final saga of Dragon Ball, he was the reincarnation (or son, however you want to look at it) of Piccolo Daimao, another villain of the series, who was the evil half of the Kami of earth. His mission was to kill Son Goku, the hero. His battle at the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai against Goku remains one of my favourites of the series, due to how evenly matched they were. That saga showed Piccolo as a ruthless warrior. I thought he made a really great villain. After being defeated, he eventually faced new threats, which pushed him to train the son of his nemesis- Son Gohan. Son Gohan's inocent nature and the fact that he treated Piccolo like a human brought out some of the goodness that was lying deep in his heart. He soon became a mentor figure to Gohan, maybe even more than Goku was. He couldn't help but develop feelings for him, and when he was in danger, he sacrificed his own life to save him. That sacrifice was probably one of the biggest moments of character development in the series, and it was very touching. Even Piccolo didn't know why he did this. After he was brought back to life, he continually risked his life for the greater good, even willing to go head to head with the awesomely powerful Freeza. But he still wasn't exactly the friendliest guy around. Except, of course, with Gohan. He later fused together with Kami-sama and became incredibly powerful, and seeminly a little more happy. He may not have always been the most powerful character in the series, but he was always willing to help in any way he could. He lived the life of a true warrior, even turning down a peaceful life with his own kind, because it was too "boring." He has an awesome design, an arsenal of cool attacks, and the really handy ability to regenerate lost limbs. He remains one of my favourite villain/heroes ever, even higher in the ranks than Vegeta.

Character of the Day: Homer J Simpson

The first character I am talking about is our yellow skinned hero, Homer Simpson. Everyone should know who he is. If you don't, then you don't have a TV. Obnoxious, rude and basically an alcoholic, Homer is seemingly a terrible father, husband and friend to have. In most cases you would be right, but you can tell that Homer actually has a heart of gold. Sure, he messes up a lot and does some downright awful things (strangling a 10 year old, anyone?), but in the end he is always willing to put things right. He loves his family and would do anything for them, such as hiring mobsters to help his wife sell pretzels, risking $2000 for a half-brother who hates him, giving up his dream to ride a blimp so his daughter can enter a beauty pagent feel pretty and facing a mob of us crazy Australians to avoid his son getting kicked in the bum. He is a very important character for me because he (along with the rest of the characters) was always there for me in a way. I know how lame that sounded but it's true. I wasn't exactly the happiest guy when I was younger, but I could always count on the Simpsons to be there for me. I suppose I should also than Channel 10 aswell, for not having anything else to put on most the time, so usually we could have it on every night, sometimes up to three episodes. The Simpsons always makes me smile. Anyway, moving on. I guess part of what makes Homer perfect is how far from perfect he is. He is obviously not the smartest guy around, and he has a lot of issues. He has to work hard to be the husband and father he wants to be. He's not the nicest person, with an apparent hatred of his infinitely happy and friendly neighbour Ned Flanders, but even with him, he will come through for in the end. He cares for people a lot more than he lets on. In more recent years he has become more of a jerk, but I still like his character a lot, since the true character always shines though the jerkiness. This is why he is my first character of the day. Come back tomorrow to see who is next. No, it won't be someone from The Simpsons.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Movies of the Past: Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

Another thing I plan to do for the blog. When there is nothing to report, I will try and post reviews movies of the past. They will not all be classics (which should be clear from this review), but they are basically just....older movies. I can't define what is considered "old" here. I could review a movie from the '70s, or I could review a movie from as recent as the early 2000s. I don't know. At least you won't really know what to expect. Anyway, on with the review.

This is a great mindless horror movie. This seems to be the part of the series where they just decided "Look, people don't watch these movies to be scared anymore, they watch them to see Jason cause carnage." So what do they do? Well for the most part they forget about the type of scenes where they hear a noise, and it turns out to be a cat or something like that. Then they throw in a bunch of corny humour, and last but certainly not least, bring back our man Jason and throw all his limitations out the window. Sounds like the perfect recipe to me.Yes, it has the most ridiculous plot so far in the movie, (Remind me to write in my will that before burying me, I want my family to have me struck by lightning a few times and see if that helps) but who really cares? It's all part of the fun.

It was offering something new to the series. As much as I love the other movies, most of them were all pretty similar in terms of plot, with characters that were hard to distinguish from one another, to me anyway. Sure the movies were all different in a couple of ways, but they still had a fair few similarities. Bunch of teens in a secluded area getting picked off one by one. Sure Jason Lives sort of has that, but it's a much smaller part of the movie.

A New Beginning tried something new, but it didn't really pay off for them. The thing about the other movies were they were essentially about the killer taking out the people for most the movie. The minor exception to that rule was The Final Chapter, which contained some awareness to the situation, but even that came under that profile for the most part. Jason Lives seems to focus more on the fight against Jason. There are characters who know what he is doing from the start.

Another thing I like about the movie is the fact that the kills seem a lot cooler to me. Normally you would just see characters see Jason, have a scared look on their face and get killed. Or a character killed so fast they probably wouldn't even realise that they are being killed. It's not a major problem but it wasn't really what I wanted to see every time. Now scenes in the range of someone firing rounds of shotgun shells into Jason is more like it. The movie has removed a fair few of the Friday the 13th series, such as bare breasts and drug use.

There is lots of awesome and pointless violence, heaps of lame jokes, and an awesome soundtrack (Alice Cooper! Hell yeah!) and just plain Jason being awesome. This is not a movie to watch if you want to be challenged intellectually or anything. It's a movie you watch when you want some mindless entertainment.

I will add that the mindless entertainment is what I like best about the series. If they can do that with the reboot of the series, then I have no problem with it. The franchise was never really more than a cash in on the slasher genre, so I don't see why people have such a problem with the movie being made. It may be lazy, but I also see them trying to do some different stuff with the series. I'm looking forward to it. If it's as fun as Jason Lives then I will be happy.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lethal Weapon 5: Too Old For This Shit?

Yep, from now on I will be reporting on new information and giving my opinions on it. Let's see how many updates you can make it through, before you just say to yourself "This guy is a fucking idiot!" I'm a guy who embraces the idea of sequels......well, in most cases. There are exceptions. Lethal Weapon 5 is not one of those. Yes, rumour has it there will be a 5th installment into the franchise. Could suck, right? I'm not so sure. Firstly, aren't they too old? My answer, no not really. Not the actors, anyway. It really depends on how long after the forth they set it. In the first movie the characters were written a fair bit older than the actors were at the time, such as Danny Glover's character, Roger Murtaugh was celebrating his 50th birthday at the start, while Glover was only 42 at the time. So I guess if they wanted to, they could have the 5th take place like 3 years after the 4th and the actors could have just been written to have had a rough few years. I think the actors can handle it. And if they want to write them as old farts, then let's see what they do with that direction. Something that gives me faith in this movie is that it doesn't just have another director planning to do it, it has Richard Donner, who has stuck by the franchise the whole way. Also, the writer is Shane Black, who not only wrote the first movie, but also the awesome "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." So I'm not worried about the director and writer. Now this is what worries me. Will they get back all the old characters and actors? What I liked about this franchise is how they kept the characters, even if they only had the smallest of roles. Like how Murtaugh's family always had minor roles. And Joe Pesci showing up time to time. When I watched the movies, I thought that was really cool. So I really hope all the characters make appearences. Yes, that means Chris Rock aswell. Sorry that I can't really offer much in the actual information department, since my original source,, didn't really have much information. At least you know how I feel about this potential sequel, if that's any consolation. I hope we get to hear more on this, because this is a movie I would like to see.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Top 10 Movies

Sure, these may not all be the movies I enjoyed the most, but they are ones that spring to mind when I think of as my top 10. They may not be the best movies of all time, but I am going to give reasons for all my choices. So let’s begin the countdown.

10. Spider-Man 2.

This sequel to the already great Spider-Man, this movie improves on it in almost every way. With its amazing special effects and incredible fight scenes, it works as a great action movie, but at the same time is more than that. It shows Peter as a flawed human being with real problems, and not just as a superhero who will save the day without question. It makes you ask yourself how long somebody can really put everyone else first? It took risks by making certain changes, but they all worked out well in the end product. It had a good cast, with Alfred Molina being a fantastic choice as the movie's villain "Doctor Octopus." The train battle scene remains one of the coolest scenes in all the Marvel movies (certain scenes from X2 would also make that list). With this movie Sam Raimi once again proves what a good director he is. I hope he gets to take on Spider-Man 4.

9. Kung Fu Hustle.

I love a good action/comedy. This is basically the definition of the genre. With its fantastic fight scenes and its hilarious cartoonlike humour, it was a really nice surprise seeing as I knew hardly anything about the movie, and it's probably the only movie I've ever gone to see just to pass the time. Stephen Chow was brilliant as the main character Sing (and as the director of the movie, aswell), and was backed up by lots of colourful characters who all had their own charms. The fight scenes were very well choreographed and a whole lot of fun. In fact, the fight scenes alone would have been enough to make this a great film, but it also had an abundance of hilarity. Sure, the humour was pretty immature, but I thought it was all genuinely funny. I don't think I have ever laughed as hard in the cinema as I did with the knife throwing scene and the Roadrunner style chase. This is a movie that I really hope we get a sequel for.

8. Dogma.

You have to love a good religious comedy. With a movie like this you have to ignore all the bullshit contoversies that people create from either a basement or a position of power that they are really too uptight to have. You have to enjoy it in the way it was intended. It's an intelligent comedy with a good story that points out some pretty interesting facts about the bible. I would have to say this is Kevin Smith's smartest movie, and is obviously my favourite. It's hard to hate a movie with Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Jason Lee and Kevin Smith involved. That alone makes a movie awesome. I thought Matt Damon and Ben Affleck worked together great as the fallen angels. And of course you have a lot of people getting killed and the possible end of existence. How can you go wrong with that? And of course it's hilarious. Jay and Silent Bob are great in it, as always, and it's they have good roles in the movie. I would have to say this is the ballsiest movie that Kevin Smith has made so far, and it pays off with the end product. Get me a... Holy Bartender.

7. Shaun of the Dead.

Zombies! If you don't love zombies then get off my blog. No not really, but seriously, this movie is pure undiluted awesomeness. It is the kind of movie that is able to be funny without a script full of jokes. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright work so well together that almost everything they say and do in the movie is funny. But it also serves as a good horror movie, with scenes that are genuinely scary. This is not a spoof movie, it's a comedy movie with horror aspects, as the director said himself. There are great effects on the zombies, and lots of awesome blood splatter in what I see as being the most entertaining zombie movie ever made. All the acting is great, and most work with the roles in ways that I don't think many other actors could. A suppose you could call this the movie that really got me into the zombie genre. I pray for the day they announce the movie that can only be called "Day of the Ed." I would also recommend you check out Hot Fuzz, another movie from the director of Shaun of the Dead.
6. Ed Wood.

This was one that I would never have imagined would make this list before watching it. Looking at the movie, it really didn't seem like my kind of thing. The whole arty, biopic thing doesn't really interest me, but I thought I would give it a try, since I'm a fan of Tim Burton (not an "OMG THE GUY WHO MADE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS" fan, the type of fan who grew up with movies like Beetlejuice and Mars Attacks!) and Johnny Depp, I would give the movie a chance. I was really surprised at how much I liked it. It's hard to explain why I love this movie the way I do. Maybe it's just the fact that the movie is about a person so genuine, a person that didn't want to make movies for money, he wanted to make them because that's all he wanted to do. Was the way Ed Wood was portrayed in the movie the way he was in real life? I'm not sure, but I am sure that I enjoyed this movie a lot. It doesn't matter if it was biased in Wood's favour, it was a movie that was pleasant to watch. All the acting was brilliant and deserves all the praise it gets. I also think it had one of the best coolest sequences around.

5. The Green Mile.

What a beautiful movie this is. This one makes it on my list by the sheer emotion of the movie. Oh, and I also like movies with faithful animals, and Mr Jingles is certainly an amazing little mouse. The story of the movie is just do I word it..... great, and at the same time sad. I think that this is the only movie to get me teary. The movie was 3 hours long, and remembering it, it seems like only half that because it was so great. The acting was great, which is no surprise considering how good Tom Hanks is. And it was an achievement how Michael Clarke Duncan came across so sweet and sympathetic, considering I'd only really seen him in villainous roles before that. There's not really much more I can say on this movie, other than it is just an incredibly moving film.

4. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

The transition from a television show to a movie is not an easy one. This is one movie that got it right in every aspect. The movie doesn't come across as a long episode or anything. It comes across as a movie. It's probably the movie I can watch the most without getting bored of it. It's got a good (and of course ridiculous) plot. America takes Canadian comedians Terrence and Phillip hostage for making a smutty movie, which all the kids saw and picked up bad habits from. If they get executed, Satan and his gay lover Sadam Hussein will be able to take over the world. South Park Humour at its best. And the songs are just fantastically funny. And not just funny but very catchy as hell. The movie basically pokes fun at many different things. It pokes fun at the way things get blown way out of proportion. It pokes jun at how uptight people are about smutty stuff, and the fact that violence is a lot more accepted. It serves as a great political satire. And of course there are an abundance of gay jokes about Sadam. And if I'm right it's also poking fun at the way America sees other nations. I'm sure many people find this movie offensive, but it's all just good fun. I would have to say it's probably my favourite comedy ever, and I can watch it heaps without being bored with it.

3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Of course this sci-fi movie of infinite awesomeness makes the list. I see this as being one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever. It's completely groundbreaking with its visual effects, which James Cameron seems to be pretty good at. The new T-000 makes an awesome villain with his liquid metal characteristics. And Arnie as The Terminator makes a great hero. There are plenty of fantastic action scenes and great (and of course cheesy) quotes. "Hasta La Vista, Baby." And when it gets down to it, when you have two cyborgs fighting with effects as good as they have, you can really do no wrong in my eyes. The Terminator was a good movie, but I see this as being in a whole different league, with its amazing effects, humour and what I see as being a much deeper story. It's a great movie, and would be my favourite science fiction movie, if it wasn't for what comes next....

2. Aliens.

Another James Cameron classic. It was not easy to pick between my two favourite science fiction movies... Terminators or Xenomorphs.... how can one make that decision? But in the end Aliens won just barely. Normally while watching a movie from the 80s, you would have to remind yourself of what the special effects were like at the time. The effects of this movie still hold up today. The aliens in this look better than they did in Alien 3 and even Alien Ressurrection, which came out over a decade later. The action scenes were awesome, and are what helps this movie be the second on my list, since I'm a simple minded action lover. The aliens are really awesome creatures and work well as one of my favourite movie villains (if you can call an entire species a movie villain). Also, Sigourney Weaver's character Ripley is a lot cooler than she was in Alien (which was a great movie aswell) and Weaver her really well. She makes for a good hero. I hope some day we will have another great movie from this franchise. To ask for something as good as this is a bit much, but just something awesome. At least we're getting Avatar from James Cameron next year. More sci-fi from him can't be a bad thing.

1. The Dark Knight.

Wow, big surprise. Yes, this is my number 1 movie, and that's not just the hype talking. Never had a movie had me as involved as this one did. I was absolutely absorbed in the movie the whole time. And of course it had The Joker, which certainly helps make it my number 1. You have to love the Joker. The acting was at the top of the ranks. Christian Bale has once again proved that he is made for the role of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Maggie Gyllenhaal served as a great replacement for Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine both played their roles just as good as before, which is all anyone can really ask, is it not? I think Gary Oldman was even better as Gordan than he was in Batman Begins. Harvey Dent was played really well by Aaron Eckhart, as well. But I guess in the end what people want to know is about is how the late Heath Ledger played the Joker, easily my favourite Batman villain, and maybe my favourite villain of all. Well, he was perfect. I feel that the role will go down in history as one of the greatest villainous portrayals of all time. Give him the Academy Award and any other awards that he could possibly qualify for. Hell, invent a new category just for him. He was The Joker. May he rest in peace. I loved the way the film was shot, whether it was the hotel scenes, the scenes of Gotham City and especially the action scenes in the movie, which I felt was another improvement made on Batman Begins. I guess you could say it was a lot more fun, since a common complaint about Begins was the lack of that. I thought the blue colour scheme of Gotham was really great. The movie also had some great wit throughout it, which rarely seemed cheesy or out of place. The score was really something as well. It is probably one of my favourite ones around. One of the best things about the film, for me, was just how dark the movie was. If Batman Begins pushed Batman and Robin to the back of your mind, then The Dark Knight will be the movie that pushes it out. The film was made to really let The Joker be what he was truly meant to be, without restraint. I am amazed that it got away with the rating that it did. The costumes and make-up in the movie were, big surprise, just great. I thought The Joker's makeup was really cool, because it didn't just take the easy way out and make it perfect throughout the movie. They went into detail with it. Batman's new suit was also pretty cool. I guess all I can say to sum all this up is that I loved this movie, and I thought it was incredible. This is way more than a Batman movie or a summer blockbuster, it is just incredible. Thank you Mr Nolan.

Other movies that only just missed the list were-

John Carpenter's Halloween-This movie surprised me with how litte violent it showed, but even without the violence it had an eery atmosphere that so few horror movies are able to achieve. To me it is the movie that defines the slasher genre.

Reign Over Me- This movie was incredibly touching. I thought it was a great story that was told fantastically. And it was good to see Adam Sandler prove that he isn't just a silly comedy actor.

Stranger Than Fiction- I see this as being similar to Reign Over Me, by the fact that it stars someone (Will Ferrell) who generally stars in silly comedies, only this time they are playing a more dramatic role which they play really well. It's a very different story, and it really worked. I was glad I watched this without reading any overviews, because it was a great movie to watch without knowing anything about.

Grindhouse- Mostly because of Planet Terror, which I thought was an awesome movie (You know...zombies!). I thought it was a whole lot of fun, but it was partly held back to my indifference to Death Proof. Death Proof was an alright movie, but the parts I found entertaining were too far in between. Planet Terror was great, but it just wasn't enough to make it to the Top 10 on its own.

Shrek- I just think this is a really funny movie with a lot of great characters and basically everything you could want from an animated movie.

The Incredibles- A great take on the superhero genre, this is my favourite of the amazing Pixar movies. With its great animation and character interaction, it was almost like watching a live action movie.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan- I love the sort of movie that shows people for what they really are. And even with a lot of crude humour, it holds up as a great comedy.
X2- I think this is one of the most exciting comic book movies around. I also think it is one of the best cast ones aswell. This one was probably the closest to making the list, and it was a difficult to choose between this and Spidey 2. I think it would be a tie, actually. Wolverine!

The Muppet Movie- I am a huge fans of the Muppets. I just love everything about them, from their humour to the way they look.

Labyrinth- Another Jim Henson one... Great Story. Great Puppets. Great Music. Great Villain. All that needs to be said.

There are many more, but sadly I can't list them all if I ever want to get this finished.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Great Teacher Onizuka: The Anime and the Live Action

First of all I will start off with the anime series. No, this doesn't have giant fighting robots. It doesn't have talking animals so cute that it makes you squeal. It doesn't have many of the things that people have come to associate with anime (except for a decent dose of panty shots and such), but what it has, it has a lot of. I was still willing to take a chance with this one. I'm definately glad I did. I love feel good comedy. And I love anime. So when I watched combination of those two things so awesome, I was hooked. I also love tough characters with golden hearts, and Eikichi Onizuka is a perfect example of that sort of character. The anime is based off the manga series of the same name, which I haven't personally read yet. But look forward to getting the chance. So likely most of the stories in the anime were written by Tohru Fujisawa, the writer of the manga.

A former juvenile delinquent (and certified 22 year old virgin) who decides that he wants to be a teacher because it would be a great way to meet teenage girls. Fortunately, he unwittingly impresses the director of the prestigious Holy Forest Academy, and by a miracle he gets a job. Unfourtunately he is shoved in with a bunch of 14-15 year old kids who are sworn never to trust a teacher, and will stop at nothing to get them fired. Onizuka soon realizes that he can do a lot for these children... but he will have to survive them first.
Throughout the series he has to struggle to keep his job, and at the same time get through to the very same kids who are trying to destroy him. One by One, you get to see him change the lives of these children, and the anime shows that not everything in life is black and white. The children are real kids with real problems, some like the ones that go unspoken, but do happen. Like the boy who has a mother complex because his mother was 13 and alone when she had him. And the boy who gets beaten up by a group of girls. In short... it's a pretty screwed up group of kids. He also has a certain assistant principal who wants to get rid of him as well. It's very well written, and the characters are both likable and unlikeable at the same time. They have real depth.

Also in the series is the other new teacher at Onizuka's school, Azusa Fuyutsuki, who essentially serves as Onizuka's friend and possible love interest. The show is also extremely funny. It's not so much the overly zany humour that most comedy animes have, it's more of a clever and witty sort of humour. A humour that people can understand on a personal level. Every episode offers you something new, and the time will fly be. I was very upset when I reached the end of the series. Not many animated shows can be called inspiring, but this is definitely one of them.
The animation is pretty basic, nothing really to rave about there. No complaints from me though, there's nothing wrong with it. I will make note of the music used in the series. I really like it. That's what I will say about it. The opening theme is one of my favourite anime themes around.

So in closing, this is a fantastic anime, albeit a little different than you may expect. I would gladly recommend it to anyone. Although I will note that from what I've heard of the English dub, to be blunt, is not good. The voice of Onizuka didn't do an awful job, but for the most part the voice acting is not as well suited for the characters. They basically took the most basic aspect of the characters and gave them the most stereotyped voices I could imagine. For example, the character of Yoshito Kikuchi has been given a high class, snot nosed voice that just pains me, to be honest. Let me put it this way, In the Japanese version they sounded like a bunch of teenagers, in the dub they sounded like a bunch of voice actors. So my opinion would be to get the DVDs and watch them in the original language with subtitles, but to each their own. Keep in mind, my opinion on dubs is pretty biased, as I usually dislike them. Although for the most part, I am not against the voices, more against the fact that a lot of the dialog gets changed, and it doesn't always seem necessary.Now for the live action series. I was lucky enough to find a subtitle version of this. Since I was a huge fan of the anime I was more than happy to watch it. And I was happy to find that it was a very funny series. Takashi Sorimachi did a perfect job as Onizuka and the story lines were pretty good. Some of story lines were very different to the ones in the anime. Most of the characters from the anime remain the same, although some of them have been combined to save time, as there was only 12 episodes of this series. All the acting was pretty good and it was overall a pretty good series. It's a fun series with a lot of hilarious ideas that come together really well. This series has more of an emphasis on the relationship between Onizuka and Fuyutsuki than the anime did. Yes, I have no shame in admitting that I love romance, so I enjoyed this aspect of the series. So I would definately recommend watching this if you are able to. Good stuff.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Review of Dragon Ball Z, GT and Certain Games Based off Them.

This anime is based on the later part of the Dragon Ball manga written by the insanely talented Akira Toriyama (For more of his work read the Dr Slump manga or look at the character designs of the Dragon Quest series of games). It is the follow on from the incredible Dragon Ball anime. (see review.) Set 5 years after the battle against Piccolo, Son Goku is living peacefully. But in the Dragon Ball universe peace is never lasting. Pretty soon the past he didn't even know he had escaped from catches up from him leading to a series of epic battles.

The series goes across four main sagas- Saiya-jin (or Saiyan), Freeza, Cell and Majin Boo. It takes place over a time span of about 27 years, which is pretty cool, and something you rarely get to see in a show like this. You get to see the characters grow up and change. Some character you will like a lot more by the time the series is finished. It contains some of the most likable characters of all time. I don't see how anyone could not like Son Goku. Or Son Gohan. Of course almost all of the old characters return in this series, although most have smaller roles. But most of them still get a chance at some action in at least one part. Piccolo and Kuririn still have fairly large roles, in the first half of the series at least. Yamucha and Tenshinhan have a lot less to do in the series, and Chaozu doesn't play much of a role at all. The villains are awesome. Vegeta is an awesome and well rounded character, Freeza may be one of the most memorable villains around, Cell is awesome just because of the basis of his character, and Boo.... well Boo is just the ultimate killing machine.

Dragon Ball Z is very different from the first series. Dragon Ball focused more on humour and martial arts, this focuses more on powerful ki blasts, hardcore action and ridiculously powerful characters. There are many cool transformations that a lot of the characters go through, for example Freeza's transformations, and the awesome Super Saiya-jin. It will never be the most challenging series around, but it is still a whole lot of fun. Great action scenes, really cool transformations, and a bunch of alien races. What more can you really ask for? The show spans for 291 Episodes, 13 movies and 2 TV specials. And you will still be sad when it ends.
The Dragon Ball Z movies can be seen as separate stories, as most do not fit into the timeline of the series well. Also, you will find some of the material in the anime doesn't fit in very well. For the most part, this is because it is filler material that wasn't in the original manga. An example of filler is the Garlic Jr. Saga, which was put in after the Freeza saga and is a sequel of sorts to the first movie. The movies and filler are sometimes not as good as the stuff taken from the original manga, but that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. Some of the movies are pretty cool with villains like Brolli and Cooler. So I would recommend you check them out.

As with Dragon Ball, there is not much to say about the animation, although by the end it had improved a fair bit. It is drawn well, and is nice to watch. The characters all have their charms in terms of the way they are designed.

This is the show that, along with Evangelion: Neon Genesis, helped me get into anime, way back when I was just a dumb kid. Now I've grown up and become a dumb adult and I still love it. I watch it differently now than I did all those years ago. I grew up with the edited and dubbed version, which is great for kids, but if you are looking for the true series, try and get your hands on some DVDs with Japanese language options. I find them much better. But that's just me. No matter how you want to watch it, I would just advise you to sit down, switch off, and enjoy.

With the upcoming Dragon Ball live action movie, I can only hope that it is successful enough to warrant a few sequels, as a Dragon Ball Z movie would be awesome. I would not expect it to quality cinema, just a whole lot of fun.
Okay, moving on now. We finally get to Dragon Ball GT, the apparent sequel to Dragon Ball Z. It was made after Akira Toriyama did not want to keep writing the manga and ended Dragon Ball Z after years of writing. But Toei Animation was not ready to give up on the franchise and decided to create an anime only sequel to the series. The result was Dragon Ball GT. Now most fans that I have met absolutely hate this series. I did not hate it. I would not consider it part of the true series. But I don't hate it. I take it as what it is. An alright, albeit a little lazy, attempt at recapturing the humour the first series had, and later making an attempt at the action that Dragon Ball Z had. I was really dissapointed with parts of it after first seeing it, but have since gotten over my problems and can still enjoy watching this from time to time.

The general idea of the series seemed good on paper, but the premise seemed to wear thin very fast. Son Goku is training in the Heavenly Realm with his new apprentice Oob. After the end of their training session Pilaf (Who fans will remember from the original series) and his henchmen somehow reach the Heavenly Realm and proceed to summon the Black Star Dragon Ball's Shenlong, who somehow nobody else seemed to know about except him. Goku catches them and after Pilaf makes a slip of the tongue, he accidentally wishes Goku back into a child. The Black Star Dragon Balls are them scattered across the universe. Why in all good logic they would do that I may never know. Then Goku finds out that if the Dragon Balls aren't gathered back together again within 365 days, then the world will blow up into space dust. Of course our hero does not like this idea, so decides to set off into space with Bulma's son Trunks, and his own son Goten. Unfourtunately his hot tempered grandaughter Pan has other ideas, and takes off in the spaceship with only Trunks and Goku on board, leaving Goten behind. Soon after taking off, the ship crash lands on a strange planet due to a missing piece in the ship. On the planet they come across a little robot who swallows their Dragon Radar, and absorbs the functions of it. They take him along for the search to use as a radar, and name him Gill. They then proceed to have several adventures in search of the Dragon Balls.

That was basically the layout for the start of the series. Soon after that we got the Baby Saga, which revolved around a parasite being which took over the bodies of many of the heroes. This saga wasn't bad, yet it didn't have much going for it. It was the point where they stopped with most of the humour they were going for in the earlier episodes... and tried to be more action oriented. The main problem was that the action really wasn't that great. A big gripe for me was the fact that Oob, who was meant to become the next hero of the earth, was basically given a three minute fight in this saga. I did like the fact that this saga introduced the final Saiya-jin form, Super Saiya-jin 4, which I really like the design of. It's probably one of the best designs of Dragon Ball that wasn't done by Akira Toriyama. Next came the Super 17 Saga, which involved all the villains of the past coming back to life and causing problems on earth, while Goku is trapped in Hell fighting Cell and Freeza. Meanwhile Artificial Human #17 has been turned evil again and is trying to fuse with a duplicate of himself. This was a saga that really dissapointed me. I was hyped for some awesome battle between the heroes and the villains of the past. Unfortunately there were none. Most villains got defeated off screen and almost all the ones who didn't were simply killed with one blow or ki blast. I was especially upset with the battle between Cell, Freeza and Son Goku. All I really got was a child Goku playing around with these guys who should have been able to handle the form Goku was in easily. It basically turned two awesome villains into a pair of wimps.

Then we come to the fight against Super #17. It wasn't very good, I'm sorry to say. There was really next to none of the hand to hand combat that Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z had. It was all essentially big blasts and characters getting knocked out all too quickly. When Goku got into the action things only got worse. And the climax of the fight just really didn't work for me.

Now I come to the last saga of the entire anime legacy. The shadow dragon saga was an excellent idea and was actually perfect on paper. When the dragon balls have been there to help from the start, you turn them against the world and it makes for a bloody good idea. It just seems that they didn't work as well as they could have with it. Most of the 7 evil dragons weren't very cool or well designed, and didn't seem like anything you'd see in a Dragon Ball saga. That said Si Xing Long was still a pretty cool character and Yi Xing Long made for a pretty good final villain. The fights against Yi Xing Long were a pretty big improvement over the ones I made complaints about earlier, yet still fell a little short. The saga also has good points in the fact that we get to see a Super Saiyajin 4 fusion, which is pretty damn cool. But again, the climax of the saga didn't work for me.

I would like to make some comments now, about the animation. It wasn't what I'd call bad... it just didn't have the same charm as Dragon Ball Z. It was really different, and just had a sort of blandness in the colouring and such.

In closing I would like to say that when you watch this you shouldn't expect Dragon Ball Z... just expect some light entertainment. The series wasn't bad, just lacked a lot of the adrenaline and charm the other series' had. And it was plagued with plot holes, like why Son Gohan, the most powerful hero in Dragon Ball Z, was suddenly only slightly more powerful than Goten, and able to transform into a Super Saiya-jin again. Too many of the characters are minimized, and the only ones who really get proper screen time are Goku and Vegeta. Many of the characters from the other series barely appear, save for a few non-speaking appearences. Over time, all the problems I've mentioned don't bother me anymore, and I have grown to like the series in its own little way. It's also good that the series still kept the proper cast of voice actors. I would advise that fans check it out.
Now to talk about the video games. Dozens of games have been made based on series, yet only the more recent ones have been sent overseas and translated. I have only gotten the chance to play a few. Right now, I will be talking about the Budokai and Sparking! (Budokai Tenkaichi) games.

The Budokai games played like typical fighting games for the most, 2d style fighting yet with the ability to side step and such. The game series started off at a fairly low point, with blocky graphics, and difficult controls. There was not many characters to choose from either. It wasn't an awful game, it just left a lot of room for improvement. Luckily they made use of that room over the next two games in the series. The second game improved the graphics by a massive degree, by using cell-shading, the controls were easier to use, a few more characters were included (Yet some were removed) and the gameplay was basically a lot more fun. I don't think many people liked the board game style of the gameplay, yet I did. The third one changed a lot, with free romaing gameplay, better fighting graphics, and a few more characters, including child Oob, Brolli, and new transformations for some characters. Hyper mode made the game a little more difficult, as it was needed for ultimate attacks, yet it drains your ki to be in.

The gamelplay in the Sparking! series is completely different, it plays in first person view. I really enjoyed this format, and would gladly welsome it back for more games. This is a review of the PS2 versions, as that is the only version I've played of both games. I've only played the second and third games in the series, so those are the ones I'm reviewing. The second game was the first Dragon Ball Z game I played for the PS2... I was hooked. The length of the game was awesome, and it's just endless fun. I liked the leveling up system and though the controls take some getting used to, the basics will become intuitive after only a short time. The character roster is awesome, with over a hundred characters and tranformations. Another feature I am sure glad they added, was the option to change the language to the original Japanese dialog.

The third game, Sparking! METEOR/Budokai Tenkaichi 3, is very good aswell. This is one of the few games that I bought full price. After playing Dragon Ball Z: Sparking NEO I was hanging out for this one. The character roster is even better than the one in the last game. With even more characters added, including ones that had only small roles in the series, such as Future Gohan, King Vegeta, King Cold and many characters from the first series, Dragon Ball. The 1 player mode is designed to play like the series, with cut scenes in the middle of the fights and and often the choice of whether to change characters, finish the opponent of with an ultimate finishing attack, or defeating them on your own. Although the game is a little shorter than the previous one, A lot more detail has gone into it, with heaps of new characters and battlefields. And in my opinion nothing beats playing 2 player team battle. A small problem I had was the leveling up system, and the inability to increase your health. like you were able to in the second game. This often makes the fights a little too short for my taste.

In short, Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! NEO and METEOR are the games I dreamed of when I was a kid. The only reason I'm not recommending the first game in the Sparking! series is that I haven't played it. You'll have to find out about that one on your own.

Of course what makes the games worth the time and money in itself is- KAMEHAMEHA!

is was helpful to you.

Dragon Ball: The Right Mix of Action and Comedy

It's not an easy thing to do. But the Japanese can do it. Anime is very good in mixing stuff the right way. This is no exception. This anime is based on the popular manga, written by one of my favourite manga writers, Akira Toriyama, author of the hilarious Dr Slump manga. Dragon Ball is partly based on the old folklore tale of "Journey to the West," although I don't know much about the story, except that some of the characters in Dragon Ball were based on ones from the story. That is all I can really say on that.

The story revolves around a 12 year old monkey boy, named Son Goku, who meets up with a 16 year old girl named Bulma who is searching for seven mystical balls named Dragon Balls, which when gathered together, will summon the dragon god Shenlong, who will grant you any one wish. Throughout their adventures they meet many memorable characters, such as the perverted shapeshifting pig Oolong, the not so good around girls desert bandit Yamucha, and an old martial arts master, who's technique and strength is only matched by his appetite for pretty, young girls known as Muten Roshi. There are many great stories spanning across 153 episodes, including several Tenkaichi Budokai's (Known in the American version as The World Martial Arts Tournament.) An evil organisation bent on world domination (who cares if it's cliché, you can't go wrong with the classics) called the Red Ribbon Army, An ancient evil known as Piccolo Daimao, and many more. It's an excellent show because you also get to see the steady transformation of a gifted, and pure child into a martial arts genius. The show has lots of strange talking creatures and a an awesome item called a Hoi Poi Capsule, which store every day items in pill sized capsules to be used whenever you decide you want them. Even items such as houses and cars are often stored in these cool little inventions.

People who are more used to the non-stop action of its successor Dragon Ball Z should be warned that this series focuses a lot more on humour on most parts, until later in the series. There are many great fights in the anime, they just aren't as frequent as Dragon Ball Z. But if you are a fan of action anime, I would still highly recommend this to you.This show was taken to America and turned into a kids show, which is not how it should be seen. If you want to watch this anime, watch the DVDs with Japanese dialog with subtitles. I'm sure you will enjoy it. Masako Nozawa is great as Son Goku, and captures his personality perfectly. Even if you do want to watch it, you need to watch it on DVD, as the television version edits out anything that is even slightly adult. It's just way too G rated. The original version (mostly in the early episodes) is filled with toilet humour, sex jokes and nudity.

The animation is nothing really to talk about. It started in 1986 and it was pretty standard animation for that time, in Japan anyway. There is nothing wrong with it, it's just not something to write home about. But in a way, I find that nice because it has an 80's feel to it. It doesn't take away from the quality in the least.
Now to bring up the subject of the new American live action movie that's coming in 2009. How do I feel about the concept? I have made no secret about my disliking for the way the American's have handled this anime. So am I excited about the movie? In short, definitely. Do I think it will be a good movie? Probably not. Do I think it will be a good adaption of the series? Bit of doubt there. But do I think it will be entertaining? Now that I can give a yes to. I don't expect quality cinema from the movie, and I don't expect a reflection of Dragon Ball, I just expect a fun movie that shares certain aspects of it, and from the casting work, I think they could do a pretty good job. I look forward to seeing how they do it, and I am definitely psyched to see a live action Son Goku and Piccolo duking it out, hopefully with some epic ki blasts. A huge Kamehameha wave or Mafuba by Chow Yun Fat should be worth the $10 admission fee alone.

Now to sum up the series. Even if you don't like the start I would recommend that you continue watching, as you may find you like it later on, partly because of the way the tone changes a little in later episodes, where it stops a lot of the toilet humour and sexual stuff (not all of it, just a fair bit) and focuses on more serious stuff, like death. All in all, I'd say this is a great way to introduce yourself to anime, or even just if you want something fun to watch. Don't watch it if you want a series that will make you think, because that isn't what this is for. The show is hilarious, and the action is great.