Appleseed α [アップルシード アルファ] (2014)
AKA Appleseed Alpha
Starring Luci Christian, David Matranga, Wendel Calvert, Chris Hutchinson, Adam Gibbs, Brina Palencia, Elizabeth Bunch, Joshua Sheltz
Directed by Shinji Aramaki
Welcome to the last, or at least most recent, Appleseed film. I’m glad to finally be here because that means I don’t have to keep watching this stuff any more. I’ve gotten more than my fill of Appleseed this past month. I held out a bit of hope that this new one would be an improvement, but that was a false hope. Appleseed α is pretty much the same as the others. Except for that whole part about not having the Japanese audio. Yeah, that was a rather unpleasant surprise.
I poked about for an explanation, and the best I could come up with is the same explanation Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust had, that the Japanese audio wasn’t finished yet, and may still be in production as far as I know. I didn’t look very hard, though. Unlike Bloodlust, Appleseed α isn’t all that great of a film. Bloodlust‘s crappy dub was a tragedy, but Appleseed? Eh, who cares? It’s not worth getting bothered over. The good thing is that, also unlike Bloodlust, the actors in Appleseed were actually trying to act. I grew up with anime in the 1990s, and I will never ever get over the initial fear when watching an English dub that it’ll sound like shit. I know the industry standard has improved since then, but at this point it’s a knee-jerk reaction that I’m never going to grow out of.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Appleseed α (2014) →
If you didn’t already know, Celestial has made many Shaw Brothers films available via iTunes! They’re beautiful HD-quality videos, and in many instances the film comes with both subtitled and dubbed versions. Certain movies — such as one of my favorites Vengeance! — even make their North American debut (unless Vengeance! had some VHS release I’m not aware of). In any case, if you’re a Shaw Brothers fan this is a fantastic way to build up your collection with many films not available on Region 1 DVD. The films are also available on other International iTunes stores, but since I’m in the US I don’t know a lot about that. What I’m trying to say is that if you’re in another country, you should definitely give your local iTunes a search.
But if you’ve used iTunes before, then you know that the search function is far from perfect. Films are indexed by title alone, so manually searching for all the Shaw Brothers movies can be a real chore. That’s where I come in, providing a list of all the films currently available, as well as direct links to them on iTunes! As new films are added to the service I’ll post updates, too!
Rentals will set you back $2.99 SD or $3.99 HD per film, while purchasing runs $4.99 SD or $7.99 HD. There have also been sales in the past (such as a $0.99 rental of 36th Chamber of Shaolin), so if you’re an interested fan, you would probably benefit from liking Celestial’s Shaw Brothers Facebook page so you don’t miss the deals! I’m not getting paid for this either, I’m just a big fan hoping to steer more people towards these wonderful films.
Currently up for both rental and sale (in SD or HD):
(Click the film title to see the film in iTunes!)
Continue reading Shaw Brothers Movies on iTunes! →
Appleseed: Ex Machina [エクスマキナ] (2007)
AKA Appleseed Saga: Ex Machina
Starring Ai Kobayashi, Kouichi Yamadera, Gara Takashima, Miyuki Sawashiro, Naoko Kouda, Rei Igarashi, Takaya Hashi, Yuuji Kishi
Directed by Shinji Aramaki
I suppose Appleseed: Ex Machina is a sequel to the 2004 film, but there isn’t any carryover between the two films. They’re basically two completely unrelated stories about the same people in the same place doing the same stuff. Athena is clearly younger than before, though, so make of that what you will. Maybe plastic surgery in Olympus is really awesome. I would say that it’s a good idea to watch one of the prior films just to have an idea about the characters, but honestly things here are so unrelated and formulaic that there’s no real point. The background and setting are pretty much irrelevant in this film. It’s a future police action movie; that’s all you need to know.
They also nabbed John Woo as producer, and they’re quite proud of that fact, even blasting loose with a flock of pigeons when his name pops up in the opening credits. I’m not sure how much he was involved with things, but I can definitely see the difference his influence made. The action scenes are a lot more over-the-top and intricate than the 2004 film, despite having the same director.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007) →
I usually watch mostly old movies, and 2014 was a banner year for that. I think I saw something like 12 2014 movies in 2014, so there’s really no point in me making a Top 10, or even a Top 5, of those. My favorite was easily The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, if you care. So as I have done the past couple of years, I instead present a Top 10 of films I saw in 2014 that were “New to Me.” Enjoy!
I saw less Shaw Brothers films in 2014 than I intended to, but the ones I did see were largely very impressive. One of the best was Cheng Kang’s large-scale epic The 14 Amazons. Based on the Generals of the Yang family group of stories that have been passed down through Chinese culture since as early as the 11th century, The 14 Amazons relates the story of how the Yang family widows and their teenage grandson went into battle to defend the western Song borders. It’s got everything you could want in a war adventure film… and more (like the human bridge)! Highly recommended!
Even though Oldboy is relatively new in comparison to the other movies on this list, it was one of those that I was most shameful about not having seen yet. And boy am I glad I finally sat down to watch it! It’s a stunning film that twists and turns its way to an outstanding finale that refuses to be forgotten. Suddenly all those praiseful conversations that made me feel shame in my Oldboy ignorance made sense. There are a lot of films that get branded with the “Modern Classic” label, but Oldboy is one that is truly deserving of the title. If you can, do your best to see the film unspoiled and knowing as little as possible! You’ll be glad you did.
Continue reading Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2014 →