Sunday, December 5, 2010

2 Reviews: Potter and Robogeisha

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

We have come a long way from where the series started; the relative safety of school and the guidance of both teachers and peers is gone and “The Deathly Hallows” forces a level of maturity on our lead characters that each actor rises to fulfill. Potter’s story has always been that of the classic Hero Quest and these are the darkest times within his path. Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters have come into power, forcing Harry to become a fugitive. We travel the length and breadth of the English countryside with visits to homes and neighborhoods within the Wizarding community, but mostly on the run through the vast European Wilderness. As always, he is accompanied by childhood friends; Hermione and Ron. Their quest to discover the horcruxes are darkly mirrored by Voldemorts’ own mission to obtain one of the objects of the “Deathly Hallows”, characters in a faerie myth passed down through the generations.

While many are praising the work of both Potter and Hermione, I thought Ron was the ultimate glue holding this film together and his presence also became the most heroic as he overcame feelings of his own doubt. He owns every scene and constantly provides an emotional connection with the audience as the most “human” of all the characters. Harry is the chosen one, Hermione is extraordinarily gifted, but it is Ron whose family is in constant danger and whose abilities are notably limited when faced with the dangers of their quest. We have a large host of well known Brits providing their talents in a number of limited “cameo” roles, but the story really is about these three young teens coming to grips with being alone in the world. Limiting their interaction with periphery characters becomes necessary, but the little peeks the audience gets into other lives and events does a good job of explaining just how alone they are.

I haven’t been this satisfied with the Potter series since The Chamber of Secrets. It ramps up the action, the suspense, and brings the story outside the relative safety of Hogwarts without the idea that Dumbledore will ride in at any moment to save them. More than worth seeing, this film is also worth seeing on the big screen for the absolutely stunning photography and brilliant European countryside.

5 out of 5.


The Japanese “Gore” films are a sub-genre within a sub-genre buried beneath another sub-genre and require a certain taste in very strange things, a pseudo-punk mentality, and the ability to wrap your brain around imagery dedicated to the soul purpose of blowing out your optical nerves. The plots usually don’t make a lot of sense… they’re sort of threadbare storylines designed to set a hero against a band of colorful villains. They sort of throw in a cacophony of buzzing saws, fountains of blood, and severed parts flying across the screen while bizarre body modifications are used in an aggressive twist. Limbs transform into waving phallic tentacles, razor filled mouths open wide in the middle of stomachs, and so on so fort in the midst of combat scenes. Robo Geisha isn’t quite “Tokyo Gore Police” or “Machine Girl”, but it is far better than the abysmal “Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl”. The splatter punk outrageous comedy is ramped up with armpit blades, secret martial arts “geisha techniques”, and cybernetic implants complete with acidic discharge of bodily fluids.

The bitter rivalry and competitive relationship between two sisters takes center stage in the classic retelling of “My Brothers’ Keeper”. The two women are training to become Geisha, with the eldest sister well on her way to a successful career as the younger is forced to live in her shadow. They are kidnapped by an evil iron corporation with designs on world domination, or perhaps world destruction, and they are trained and modified throughout their imprisonment. The sisters betray one another, support one another, and receive a number of cybernetic implants designed to create better killers. We’re treated to a series of screaming, crying, battle stances, posing, and long-winded introduction of tertiary characters. These fools just as quickly die off in order to fill up a good hour’s worth of time before things start to get REALLY strange. One of the sisters makes a startling discovery, sending her into conflict with her creators and leading to the ultimate battle to save Tokyo from the corporations’ depredations! Yeah, we get a lot of fan service and plenty of grue to satisfy the bloodlust, but this film is just flat out WEIRD. Buildings come to life as giant robo-Kaiu designed to wreak havoc and step on hapless victims and smear them across Tokyo.

I’m not so sure I could really recommend the movie to others, but if this is your cup of tea then have a watch. It’s not a waste of time, at the very least. If it sounds like something you might like, you should probably check out the previously mentioned films in similar style. Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police are far better entries into this bizarre series of sub-sub-sub-genre work, better stories, acting, and effects and just as likely to leave you scratching your head. Robo Geisha is more like the least interesting in this selection, good enough to waste time with but not quite the feast of utterly strange Nippon extremism I’ve become accustomed to over the years.

3 out of 5.

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