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The Daily Life of the Immortal King - Season 4

JeoffreyThe Daily Life of the Immortal King - Season 4(2023) 

English The mightiest Chinese cultivator is back, but if not for the final few episodes, this season would have been dull and forgettable. The storyline was average at most this time around, with the villains, except for the last two, lacking any real impact. It seemed the sole purpose was to showcase once again how effortlessly the main hero takes them down, which unfortunately translated to a rather tedious viewing experience. The usual fun pop culture references fell flat for me this time, except for the Dragon Ball fusion between the main hero and heroine, followed by their ensuing battle. The final impression was largely saved by the last two fights, particularly the one with the fusion and the final "showdown of two brothers". These moments demonstrated that the series still excels in fight scenes, offering creativity and a visual spectacle filled with vibrant effects, all supported by solid and well-suited music. In summary, only the last three episodes truly stood out to me; the rest felt kind of "meh". Overall, neither this season nor the previous one deserves more than a 5.5/10 from me.

Hardware

LimaHardware(1990) 

English My journey through this film - from utter boredom and confusion to great satisfaction. For the first half you don't understand what the film is trying to tell you, where it is going, you just notice at the very beginning a pretty nice production design, Iggy Pop's voice as a radio DJ and Lemmy Kilminster in a small role of a taxi driver playing his Mötorhead hit “Ace of Spades”. With an hour and a quarter to go, you know the plot won't leave one apartment for the rest of the film and you wonder what else they're going to fill it with, given the simple premise. And then, with the robot attack, a geyser of visual creativity, visual personality and some pretty snarky gore is unleashed. There's a bit of Terminator, a lot of Tetsuo, a bit of Blade Runner, and gut-busting gore that would put Fulci to shame. Very, very unexpected indeed, how the film radically switches gears and goes from being a moribund B-movie to a visually distinctive piece that mixes genres in an original way.

Spare Me, Great Lord - Season 1

JeoffreySpare Me, Great Lord - Season 1(2021) 

English This Chinese anime series gets more right than it gets wrong, and I quite enjoyed it. The setting initially struck me as a kind of strange Chinese version of X-men (a world where people with supernatural abilities appear and a society that somehow reacts to them). However, the anime series then moves more into the realm of fantasy (ransacking ruins, the undead, etc.). Lu Shu is a good enough character, though I am beginning to notice that the Chinese seem to prefer their male protagonists to be a bit of bastards (like in King's AvatarHitori no Shita: The Outcastetc.), as Lu Shu makes fun of everyone around him. However, I do not see the problem as long as he is entertaining and this gives him a touch of some originality. Plus, the comedy aspect is good, benefiting from the rather interesting and funny premise of leveling by collecting points for the negative emotions Lu Shu evokes in others. In fact, you could say that the whole concept of how the protagonist's abilities work in general is quite original. I almost thought it was set up as a special RPG mechanic (perks, special items) with the minor addition of a Wheel of Fortune Lootbox. Apart from the main protagonist, there are a few other interesting characters I would like to know more about. The OP classmate, the not so OP classmate, the new school principal, the master swordsman, the protagonist's sister, etc., give me some positive motivation and inspire curiosity regarding the second season. I have to include the animation with the soundtrack among the high points. The standard of Chinese anime shows has been going up a lot in the last few years with the quality of animation that can match many Japanese studios. The Chinese animators are good at creating smooth fight scenes and some special effects and backgrounds, although, occasionally, they require some help from CGI. The soundtrack is also very good, especially the opening, and the ending was good too. Now for the things that did not work for me. First of all, the emotional aspect. A part of one episode is supposed to show the depth of the characters’ relationship and their history with each other, with some pretty appropriate music in the background, yet it still conveyed no emotion. In general, this anime series felt quite empty and did not elicit any deeper emotional response most of the time except perhaps at the very end. Another thing that I think could have been handled better is the pacing of the narrative. I found the beginning to be unnecessarily fast, while the second half set in the ruins dragged on too much for my taste. Anyway, to sum it all up, the first series of Spare Me, Great Lord!  is pretty good. I am curious to see the follow-up season, and whether the anime’s creators can keep my attention, plus, where it goes from here. 6.8/10.

Great Pretender - Razbliuto

JeoffreyGreat Pretender - Razbliuto(2024) 

English The creators could not have come up with a more confusing Great Pretender sequel. Is it a movie? A series? A sequel, spin-off, or just a loose continuation? And what about Dorothy's story? Will it continue, or are we left hanging? There are so many new questions without answers yet. From what I've seen, I was hoping for something much better – more intriguing, funnier, and better planned out. I was especially looking forward to the original group having a significant impact on the plot, but they're basically just there as a cameo. Instead, we're primarily following Dorothy's romantic and life struggles with amnesia, which will end as ambiguously as they started. The plot revolving around the mafia, constant chasing, betrayals, and more left me feeling confused and underwhelmed. It just didn't capture the same excitement as the previous season. I didn't get that thrill of everything being intertwined, nor the satisfaction of it all unraveling. Even the new characters like Dorothy, Jei, and his buddy didn't quite click with me. However, it wasn't all for naught. The animation and music in Razbliuto are nothing to scoff at. Despite the weaker story, it was still easy to watch and enjoy the mafia environment they created. For me, it's slightly above average. 5.5/10

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online - Season 1

JeoffreySword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online - Season 1(2018) 

English I was expecting a disaster of gigantic proportions because taking a well-known brand like Sword Art Online (SAO) and making something like a spin-off is taking a huge risk. Of course, you are going to get a lot of attention, that is unavoidable but it is still a gamble. There are going to be a lot of comparisons to the original SAO anime series, something that in this case is still a phenomenon with a huge hardcore fan base, and that is when it could possibly stop being fun. There will be those who are going to award it five stars just because it has SAO in the title and there will be those who are not even going to award it even one star just because it is not the SAO they love or expected, that much is clear. For many people the absence of Kirito or anyone from his entourage will be sad, others may be angry, even though that is also to be expected. However, how does this affect what Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is like? I should be focusing on that and not just stating the generally bleedingly obvious facts... Personally speaking, even though I was not extremely impressed with SAO including the world of Gun Gale Online (GGO)as I would not necessarily seek out "a firefight" (I prefer close combat, with swords, etc...), I still think this is a very entertaining and refreshing show, and I really liked the distinctive characters. I have to admit that I liked Llenn and Pitohui immensely. Their interactions and rivalry were good, and I also enjoyed what they were like as individuals. Llenn is the epitome of a cute little Lolita in a pink outfit, whose determination, effort, and mad skills simply put a smile on my face. I thought that Pitohui is a perfectly portrayed incredibly attractive and over-the-top psychopath. It is as if a cute Lolita and the female version of Hisoka joined forces for one anime series, and competed with each other in a suspenseful "madman attempting to catch a madmanatmosphere. I enjoyed that and also the ending, I almost wanted to shout at the top of my lungs - “now bite her head off!!!” OK, there is something wrong with me, and I was never well, and that is why I was so pleased with this show despite it having some significant shortcomings. For example, I did not find the world outside the GGO game very attractive, and I was not that interested in the characters when they were outside the game in real life. Also, I would overlook the talking P-Chan. However, despite myself, screw it, I am going to declare this anime series a success, and which I think is comparable to the first part of the original SAO anime series, and reward it with four stars. I am also going to mention that the 3HZ animation studio really does know how to create anime series that I, personally, have always enjoyed, and that I am now looking forward to what they come up with next... 8/10.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

JeoffreyAvatar: The Last Airbender(2024) 

English I have to say, the adaptation exceeded my expectations. Visually, it's absolutely captivating, with top-notch effects The music sounds familiar thanks to the collaboration with Nickelodeon. The casting was spot-on for the most part; I had no trouble recognizing all the characters, despite some minor changes that were announced beforehand. These changes didn't hinder the final result at all. I was pleasantly surprised by some unexpected twists, especially the early introduction of a key character from the original animated series who didn't play a crucial role until later seasons. This adaptation gives us solid character development, moving away from the one-dimensional villain portrayal we saw in the original series. On one hand, this live-action version stays true to the source material, preserving the magic of the story. On the other hand, it weaves events together in interesting ways, placing dialogues in different spots than I remembered. Sometimes this worked really well, other times it didn't quite have the impact, possibly due to pacing issues. One standout example is the part around Omashu, where we see elements from about four different episodes of the original series condensed into two episodes. The storylines don't unfold sequentially as they did before, but surprisingly, it all holds together quite well. I found myself really enjoying this reimagined part of the series. In short, it's still mostly the Avatar that I loved so much, far better than the film adaptation from 2010. Yet, it also has its own identity with added elements, omissions, and rearrangements. Personally, I appreciate this deviation from a strict 1:1 remake; it keeps things fresh and interesting. Overall, I'm highly satisfied and eagerly anticipating the adaptations of the second and third books. 8/10

Midnight Special

3DD!3Midnight Special(2016) 

English Great cast, focused direction, old-fashioned sci-fi feel. Unfortunately, it's a bit bland in the end. It doesn't make use of the interesting themes it presents. There’s no catharsis, nothing. Adam Driver is woefully underused, and so is Sam Shepard. The comparisons to E.T. are spot on, but it doesn’t win your heart. Jeff Nichols seems unsure of what he wants to say.

Here for Blood

EvilPhoEniXHere for Blood(2022) 

English Watchable, but nothing special. The chubby main character is a likeable guy and giving him the role of a babysitter is pretty funny, but it came in handy because a masked cult of intruders invades the house and you trust him to fight more than you would a 40-kilogram woman. It's quite gory and quite action packed, but it's a B-movie so you don’t get to enjoy the gore that much (it’s far from realistic), and the humour could have been played better. It didn't offend but I'll forget it tomorrow. 5/10.

The Zone of Interest

EvilPhoEniXThe Zone of Interest(2023) 

English Zone of disinterest. One of those films that the teacher puts on in history class, but 80% of the students would rather pull out their cell phones and scroll through Instagram because it's almost as boring as regular class. The film is completely empty in terms of information, so it doesn't even serve an educational purpose. We follow the banalities of the daily life of a concentration camp commander and his family. We learn nothing about the characters, the dialogues are cut down to the minimum, Auschwitz is not shown, so again a film for book readers, where the viewer has to figure everything out (fck you!!), it has no script, the atmosphere doesn't work at all, there’s no build-up, no tension or escalated drama between the Nazis, the emotions below zero, and in the end, instead of showing a pile of corpses, they show only shoes. The film is so empty, slow and boring that even if you skips twenty minutes, you won’t miss anything crucial. Son of Saul was thematically similar, but somewhere else. An intimate arthouse of the highest order. 3/10.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

D.MooreEverything Everywhere All at Once(2022) 

English The title doesn't lie. But I was more stunned than dazzled by everything that was happening everywhere and all at once, and I didn't buy on it, even at the end, when it turned out that it made sense and they obviously knew what they were doing and why. If they had only done it for maybe an hour and a half, it would have been more digestible for me. I enjoyed it, Michelle Yeoh is amazing, and the film  straddles genres in a beautiful way, as if was directed and written by Bong Joon-ho... But it's far from him.

Eye for an Eye 2

EvilPhoEniXEye for an Eye 2(2024) 

English A martial arts historical gem from China! The blind bounty hunter is back in perfect form. The first one was already excellent and this is on a similar level. Miu Tse really is a very skilled dude and the grace and style with which he defeats his enemies is a joy to behold. Visually it looks perfect and even though it's just a revenge road movie in terms of plot. The cinematography, the choreography and the fight scenes elevate the film to a high above average. The first one had more limb breaking, here he uses the sword more often, but I had a great time. It needs a trilogy. 80%.

Femme

EvilPhoEniXFemme(2023) 

English This film was touted as a British queer revenge thriller with rave reviews, but the result is queer drama, where there’s no revenge at all. It was all too queer for my taste, with perhaps no straight characters. That feeling you get when you want violence, murder, and thoughtful revenge and instead you get drag queens, gay porn, and gay sex scenes. Fuck this. George MacKay is good as the asshole, but that's about it. The film promised something else entirely. I guess only queers can rate it positively, otherwise I don't know what to give it plus points for, because it's not great in terms of plot either. Not for me. 3/10.

True Detective - Night Country

D.MooreTrue Detective - Night Country(2024) 

English It is a pity about the rushed ending, which for example escalated the relationship between the Prior father and son too much for my taste and almost took the other characters (Danvers' daughter, the mysterious Rose) too far. Otherwise, I really enjoyed Night Country, and I'm not just talking about the fantastic atmosphere and the captivating cinematography, but especially the performances of Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. The combination of crime and mystery worked well, I can't imagine a more appropriate setting for such a case.

Meg 2: The Trench

3DD!3Meg 2: The Trench(2023) 

English I laughed till my stomach was in knots. Right at the beginning, I realized I didn't remember a thing from the first part. Well, maybe Jason Statham was singing that happy song... So I was surprised to see something being mined in some kind of thermal fissure... a trench that's home to giant squid and bloodthirsty... iguanas? A good half of the film consists of goofing around under pressure (Statham just needs to breathe properly and he won't implode!) and bantering with Jacky Woo for the delight of the Chinese audience. Then the final romp on Fun Island is thoroughbred bloody fun. Statham harpooning a helicopter rotor blade takes on an almost Conan-like mythos. He announces something about dolphins, the credits, the song. Good for me.

Double Blind

EvilPhoEniXDouble Blind(2023) 

English It could have been the first good horror flick of the year, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy it at all. The isolated setting, the test subjects, the fight for time, the experimental drug is a theme I like a lot, but unfortunately nothing works here in terms of horror. It wanted more imaginative deaths, this just can't interest anyone today. The finale is at least a little suspenseful and only really slightly gory, otherwise it didn't really grab me with the characters, the story let alone the atmosphere. 4/10.

Cop War

MrHladCop War(2024) 

English In the 1990s, the police in Slovakia had an unexpected rapport with gangsters. But a pragmatic cop from Poprad and his new partner discover that there are things they can't turn a blind eye to, and blood will flow in the streets. Cop War is a stylish gangster drama with great actors, excellent atmosphere and world-class visuals. Too bad the plot is a bit disjointed and there are perhaps a few too many wild twists towards the end. But it is a high European standard in its genre, and we are not used to that here.

The Holdovers

MrHladThe Holdovers(2023) 

English Alexander Payne knows how to make dramas that are humanly warm one moment and uncomfortably acerbic a few moments later. Few filmmakers are as good at it as him, and I'm glad he reminded us of that with The Holdovers. Paul Giamatti is excellent, as are his two less famous colleagues, both of whom we hope to hear from in the future. There's some excellent work with the gradual reveal of the characters and the fact that everyone carries their past, trauma and insecurities within them and it takes a lot of work to start talking about them or even confronting them. I definitely appreciate that Payne doesn't push the envelope in this regard and is rather restrained in working with emotions, not trying to make the characters laugh, move or bare their innermost selves at all costs. He just follows the three lost souls left to fend for themselves at Christmas. The seventies feel (not just the setting) is beautiful too, and overall it's very nice to watch. Whether you take it as a bittersweet pice or a gritty drama about how everyone just has to deal with certain things on their own, it's still not a bad thing to have someone by your side.

For All Mankind - Season 4

KakaFor All Mankind - Season 4(2023) 

English If the third season was wild, the fourth is a blast full of contradictions and contradictory moments. On the one hand, according to the creators of the utopian past, we don't even have mobile phones in 2003, but supercomputers are operating on Mars and rockets have a new propulsion system that makes it possible to cover the interplanetary distance in 14 days. If this is supposed to be a not-so-seriously taken space spy comedy that oscillates somewhere between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Cold War reverberations, then OK. As a serious alternative history of the space conquest, however, it's not even close, and both the first and second seasons had a great start. The third and fourth, on the other hand, are already veering in the wrong direction. What’s worth praise, however, are the Russian actors and the entire Roskosmos, with its typically cold, detached and dark Iron Curtain atmosphere.

Calamity of Snakes

J*A*S*MCalamity of Snakes(1982) 

English The scale of terror in Calamity of Snakes is completely off the charts when compared to almost all competing animal attack horror films. I really don't think I've ever seen that in my life, anyone with a phobia of snakes will either turn it off or die very soon. On the other hand, by today's standards, it's not a very good film, unfortunately. Ridiculous acting, inappropriate humour, lousy editing, when the victims are attacked, the snakes are obviously thrown from behind the camera ... the killing of real animals during filming is a chapter of its own, I don't want to watch it today and I wouldn't want to watch it in 1982. Morally rubbish, film quality barely a two, horror impression easily a four, so take your pick. I'd take a serious remake any day.

Hidamari Sketch - x SP

JeoffreyHidamari Sketch - x SP(2011) 

English This particular segment of Hidamari Sketch composed of two special episodes has been the weakest I've seen so far. The main letdown was mostly the first episode, where neither the museum visit nor the pool outing really grabbed my attention. Almost nothing felt funny, and the girls didn't seem as cute this time around. The museum visit was honestly a bit dull, and the pool scenes felt too generic and cliché for the genre. The episode only picked up for me in the last few minutes during the sleepover, especially with that final gag featuring pictures of sleeping Yuno. On the flip side, the second special turned out much better. It was elevated not just by my favorite teacher Yoshinoya, but also by the landlady and the focus on food, which is always a delightful theme in this series. Plus, I noticed a slight change in the animation style here. The colors seemed a bit brighter, and the outlines sharper than usual. The music also seemed louder than what I'm accustomed to, or perhaps it just didn't quite fit some scenes this time, making it more noticeable. This was also the first time we saw 3D animation in the series, and as is often the case with 3D in anime (especially back in 2011), it didn't quite land well. Frankly, some of the 3D models of artistic works, statues, and sculptures from the museum, even the bubbles in the second episode, were quite jarring. So, where does that leave us? While I adore the girls from the Hidamari dorm, and the second special was just as fun and cute as previous episodes, the first special falls short of deserving anything more than an average, at best slightly above average rating (maybe a 5.5/10 at most)... Once again, I'm teetering between a strong 3 stars and a weak 4 stars, but as a fan of slice-of-life and cute girls doing cute things, I'll probably lean towards the higher rating, even if begrudgingly... 6.5/10

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