A Mass Review Post

Thanksgiving is done and gone, and I’m back with some reviews. First up will be the anime Requiem from the Darkness. Next will be the cult film Barbarella. Thirdly will be a review of Prophets of Science. Finally, I’ll have a double review of The Sci Fi Boys and Ray Harryhausen.

Requiem from the Darkness

Requiem from the Darkness is a 2003 anime based upon the novel of the same name by Natsuhiko Kyogoku. It is about a young writer, Momosuke, who encounters a traveling group of spiritual con artists who use their powers to punish criminals (in a usually horrific way). Momosuke finds himself repeatedly drawn to and repelled by the trio.

I first encountered the series during the waning days of Sci Fi’s AniMonday bloc. But I haven’t been able to watch the entire series until just recently on Netflix.

To put it simply, I love this series.

Momosuke is an engaging and interesting protagonist. His humanity is never lost even as he plums the depths of human darkness. The supporting cast is equally interesting. Mataichi is an engaging, if sometimes annoying, trickster who leads the trio of spiritual avengers. Ogin is amazing and the most fleshed out character of the trio (it helps that she is Momosuke’s love interest). Nagamimi is perhaps the least well fleshed out of the trio, but he is interesting non the less.

Until the concluding two part episodes, the series is comprised much like a monster of the week series (or a traditional detective/ crime drama). Each mystery is related in some way to a ghost story, which attracts Momosuke to the area. While there are some supernatural elements, those are almost always supplied by the Ongyu (the spiritual avenging trio) to flush out the true culprit (who is often pulling a far more deadly Scooby Doo style scam).

The only problem with the series is twofold. For one thing, the series is too short. And secondly, the concluding two episodes do not have enough buildup for the concluding showdown (although the preceding two episodes do interweave with the conclusion). It just seems too sudden.

But over all, I really like this series.

Barbarella

I finally watched Barbarella (1968 dir. Roger Vadim) last night on Netflix. To be honest, I’m quite torn about the film.

I liked it. It is an exuberant and fun product of the 1960s. But it also annoys the shit out of me.

Barbarella (Jane Fonda) is completely useless as a heroine. She’s supposed to be one of the best astronauts, but she reveals herself to be supremely naïve and, honestly, stupid. Her innocence is both endearing and frustrating. If only the protagonist was written as being more competent. . .

On a mission to rescue a missing scientist, Barbarella finds herself repeatedly in situations where she must be rescued by a man. Who then has sex with her. This happens three times. Ugh.

The only bright spots in the film are:

John Phillip Law’s Pygar, a walking shirtless scene if ever there was one. And a very nice looking walking shirtless scene at that.

Anita Pallenberg’s Black Queen/ Great Tyrant. Why the fuck could she not have been the main protagonist? She is far more interesting than Barbarella. And does far more interesting things.

The visuals. Damn, the Labyrinth is awesome. And so is the city of Sogo. Amazing work on the settings.

I was expecting more. But it was fun. Even if the writing sucked. And the main protagonist really frustrates me.

The Prophets of Science Fiction

This short series from the Science Channel is interesting, informative, and engrossing. It takes the work of the great science fiction writers (all but George Lucas being dead) and looks at how their work has predicted or inspired subsequent science.

I like the series even though I think that a little too much time is spent on looking at the science predictions and not enough time on the wider themes of the works. This is most telling during the George Lucas episode where David Brin, who had been featured in most of the previous episodes, is notably absent. I would love to have seen him give a more critical take on Star Wars rather than what we get.

Regardless of my criticism, I still think this is an interesting documentary that any fan of science fiction should take the time to watch. And hopefully there will, eventually, be a sophomore series.

The Sci Fi Boys and Ray Harryhausen

Let me say from the beginning that I fucking love both of these documentaries. I mean it. I love them.

The Sci Fi Boys explores the influences that got many of the great visual effects artists into science fiction film making.

From Movie Monsters to Ray Harryhausen, the influences on many of the interviewees is explored with a depth and compassion that is truly fun.

It almost makes me wish I had gotten into film making. It appeals to the artist in me. And it bears a second viewing.

Ray Harryhausen is much like The Sci Fi Boys except that it focuses exclusively on the work of Ray Harryhausen. This documentary looks at the entirety of his career. Each film is explored in a fair amount of depth.

The film reveals Harryhausen to be a true genius in his field. What he was able to accomplish, alone, is now the work of dozens. That is just amazing.

If one is a fan of his films, it is highly recommended that you check this documentary out.

 

I know these are very short reviews, but I wanted to get them out as soon as possible. I’ve given my Netflix account quite the work out over the past few days. And I expect it to get more of one in the coming days.

 

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Posted on November 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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