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One of the best Bond films.
Okay, slightly controversial opinion... this isn't my all time favourite Bond film. I still rate it very highly, it has great locations, great action scenes, great sets and really defines the franchise. Oddjob is definitely the best henchmen, Pussy Galore is a great Bond girl, Goldfinger is a little underwhelming. The main villain is somewhat outshone by his counterparts, his plan makes some sense but at the same time is ridiculously elaborate for a fairly simple goal.
The film builds on what the previous two films had mapped out, the gadgets and henchmen become very unique to the Bond franchise. On top of that we have a different style of Bond girl in Shirley Eaton who only makes a short appearance but a very lasting impression as Jill Masterson. It also introduces Bond's car, indirectly enforcing Q's role in the series along with it. This is a definite turning point for Bond, everything became larger in scale after Goldfinger it set a benchmark for everything Bond.
From Russia with Love (1963)
The forgotten Bond classic.
Why is it forgotten? Outside of huge Bond fans From Russia With Love is never first on peoples minds as one of the best. But it really is, Dr No. laid the foundation but this took the franchise to a whole new level and it's only the second film. So what exactly does it bring? It carries over the seriousness of Dr No. along with keeping Spectre as the main threat to the world. More importantly it introduces Q (properly) and the first Bond gadget to the series, this is one of the reasons why this film feels more fun than Dr No. It still has a long and intricate story but there's a lot more action to go along with it.
The film also brings a great custom theme song and the first set of fully rounded henchmen who also come with their own unique gadgets which become a key component of future Bond films. Daniela Bianchi also brings a new dimension to the role of a Bond Girl, she's not only beautiful she is integral to the main story arc and provides a great twist with her characters moral dilemma. She follows on from Ursula Andress as another strong female character (a tough act to follow), but does a fantastic job in the role. We also get our first glimpse at Blofeld, it's a great teaser leading up to the final reveal of the character later in the series.
It ticks almost all of the boxes that a Bond film should, everything apart from having the villains lair. It might be a little silly but it's something that only the James Bond franchise could truly get away with.
Dr. No (1962)
A solid start to one of the best ever movie franchises.
Okay it's not the most exciting film but it lays a lot of the ground work for James Bond as a character and a franchise. It doesn't have the gadgets and it's not overloaded with action although it definitely has it's moments. What truly goes unappreciated with Dr. No is that it's setting up famous lines, the high benchmark for what goes on to become the 'bond girl', the exotic location and it has a very underrated title sequence including the famous theme and gun barrel sequence.
Imagine the Bond films without these, it would not be the same series that we know and love. That's the beauty of Dr No. it is rough around the edges especially some of the jump cuts but you can see the building blocks, Connery starts out a little wooden but gets better and better. Ursula Andress was the perfect choice for one of the most iconic cinema moments despite not being able to speak English for the role. It's definitely worth a watch even if it's just to see the iconography.
Death Note: Desu nôto (2006)
A quality anime for beginners.
This would be the kind of anime i'd recommend to someone who hasn't seen one before, it has a more dark and violent theme. It isn't overly long, as much as I like other anime series trying to introduce someone to a show with several hundred episodes is usually a tough sell. It is well thought out and you see the progression of two brilliant characters in Light and L, it's quite intense and surprising plus you get some humour from Ryuk to break things up a bit. I also think the art style goes very under the radar, it's beautiful but it's hard to talk about Death Note and not just talk about the story.
Kaiji: Jinsei gyakuten gêmu (2009)
Entertaining with plenty of twists.
It's easy to criticise this film for being very over the top and downright outlandish, and that's because it is. It definitely has some overacting and very silly moments or dialogue, does it really hurt this film? No. The entire premise is over the top right off the bat, the film is about a guy playing a casino game (on a boat for some reason, maybe to bypass illegal gambling laws... who knows?) which is basically rock paper scissors to wipe out his debt and if he loses is doomed to pay it off through slave labour. I can't turn around and say "Aw man, they've managed to make this silly!" on top of that it's an adaptation from a manga, a good adaptation as you would expect from a cast reunited from the live action Death Note (that's right they actually had a good one before Netflix).
This is a very entertaining film and with almost all films you know the hero is going to come out on top, this film is very good at baiting you into thinking he's found a way to basically cheat the system. I like the original idea that there is debt collectors who would victimize people to extort more from them including a sort of underground (ironically) mining operation that pays them a pittance then entices them to give it back in exchange for luxury items.
A struggle to get through.
This isn't a long film by any stretch but it manages to feel so immensely slow, the story is nothing new. An older man chases the affections of a young woman and he supposedly struggles with the moral dilemma of it. The acting isn't too bad, you don't really buy into Kostis being a doctor although that's more down to the script than the actor (Makis Papadimitriou). Makis does a decent enough job selling how meek and awkward Kostis is as well as the downward spiral he goes through. Elli Trigou is also pretty good as the free spirited Anna. The film does have some great cinematography, Greece is just beautiful to look at.
I have quite a few bugbears with this film, while the acting is okay absolutely no one could make you believe any of these characters were actual people. They don't interact like normal people, they don't converse like normal people. Kostis goes from seeing guys his age chasing young girls as odd and not his thing, to not only doing exactly that but going a million miles further. The idea that Anna and her friends would take any interest in the dullest man on the island being their friend when they're so clearly about living life to the fullest, is hard enough to believe. There are a couple of scenes that just seem to be in there for the sake of looking good, which yes they are pleasing to the eye but that is all they offer. The film does feel very ponderous, in another film it might be ok to have extra scenes for artistic value whereas in this film you just wish it would pick up the pace.
The ending is a weird choice, we've witnessed a guy who in the beginning you feel does have a sense of morality and is maybe a bit weak willed or caves in to his infatuations but as the film goes on he just behaves worse and worse yet at arguably his lowest point that is where he draws the line? To that point he's been so weak and easily lead into being a terrible person, he's even went more than halfway through a very disturbing plan. I guess you could say he eventually broke or reached his limit, but to end there... there is no redemption for the character, there is no apparent consequence for his actions.
The Gold Standard For American Sitcoms.
For me this is the best American sitcom hands down, from episode one you can see the camaraderie between the characters and it remains strong right until the series end and beyond. Unlike many other shows Friends manages to find the perfect ending to the series despite the writers actually intending to end the show several times prior. The show is still reaching new generations of people and will stand the test of time for the foreseeable future.
The Simpsons (1989)
We all know, the problem.
I think for most of us that if The Simpsons ended far earlier it would be without question a 10/10 show, and really it pains me not to be able to credit the amazing early work with the score it truly deserves since i'm technically reviewing the show as a whole and not just the parts I want to.
I'm a very lenient person, for many the series was killed at Season 9 Episode 2 why this specific episode? They took a beloved character and turned his entire backstory into a lie, 9 seasons leading up to this point and all ruined in one moment. I completely get why that is the turning point for many, and I agree that it definitely was a turning point. But I do think that there were still some great episodes after that right up until as far as season 14 admittedly they were becoming few and far in between at that point.
Even listening to the dvd commentaries you can tell the difference, they lose several writers and contributers and they slowly seem to lose the enthusiasm as the series wears on. After all they're not up to about 30 seasons, and to be honest even I haven't been able to stick through all of the episodes just yet. I do recommend watching the episodes with commentary, it makes you appreciate the early episodes that much more. You even discover more jokes and references that are very obscure or hard to pick up on. It's for that reason that I still rate it this highly despite over half of the episodes being nowhere near that standard, and the fact that it would be criminal to rate it very low considering the amazing episodes it did give to us. In a perfect world it would have ended after season 14 and Futurama would never have been cancelled as early as it was.
Sex and the City (1998)
Great show brought down by one major thing.
I'll admit i'm not really the target demographic for this show, but in spite of that I really do have a soft spot for it. There is however one thing I really dislike about it and it does hurt the show to the point were i've dropped the rating from what could easily be an 8 or a 9 out of 10.
The first character I want to mention is Samantha, it would be easy to judge her negatively as promiscuous and abrasive. But that isn't a fair reflection of her character in reality she is a woman who is attractive, intelligent, independant, driven, fiercely loyal to her friends and simply someone who knows exactly what she wants in life. She's by far the most open minded of the four, and there are times were she seems like she's being harsh but really she's just being brutally honest which to me is what makes a great friend.
Next we have Charlotte, I just adore her. She is definitely the more stereotypical girl next door, she's gorgeous, she's innocent to the point of being somewhat naive. She is however still a very intelligent character just burdened by being a hopeless romantic and being an overly optimistic person. It makes her very sweet but it also causes her a lot of problems, that's only one aspect of her though. She's another independant woman with a great career, she is somewhat similar to Samantha in that respect the main difference is that she is a lot less secure in her own skin and she is prudish at least around her friends or in public. She still shows she's open minded when it comes to the person she could potentially fall in love with.
Then we have Miranda, another intelligent, confident and very successful woman. She's a bit cynical and a little prickly, I feel she is the one who has the least real luck with her relationships. She tends to be seen as too independent, too confident or too smart by most of the guys she meets. So it's not really anything she is doing, just that the guys don't seem to be able to deal with that.
Lastly we have my major problem with the show, Carrie... Just everything about this character is irritating. She is hugely self absorbed, her problem is always the main focus in terms of the running theme or even when they get together her problem seems to outweigh everyone elses, any guy she dates is expected to constantly yearn for her. She refers to herself and her style as being cute, and excessively tries to bring attention to it. The other three are cute but don't make a point of it. She creates all her own relationship problems even if nothing is actually wrong, she lies to her partners, she has a really childish attitude. If a guy isn't doing what she wants him to be doing, it's his problem and she will do whatever she wants to do including cheat because of this. She dislikes people with no real reason, she is very materialistic. She has an inflated opinion of herself partly because of her column she seems to think everyone must read it or cares about it, she also uses it to talk about her partners or even her own friends intimate details. This is supposedly to be the main character and we're to believe her friends all adore her and guys are really eager to be with this woman and we as viewers are supposed to root for her?
When it comes to Big, I don't see much he actually does wrong in relation to his relationship with Carrie. She either dislikes it when he's with her and dislikes him being with anyone else. Look at him and Natasha, he married her and Carrie decided she was an awful person despite Natasha actually being very nice. On top of that she has a great boyfriend in Aidan and cheats on him while also knowing that Big is still married effectively ending it.
Breaking Bad (2008)
A flawed 10 out of 10.
Okay I get that calling it flawed and giving it full marks seems a bit silly, but frankly despite the parts of the show that I don't personally like 100% I cannot mark it down for them. I think that if I don't say this is a real 10 out of 10 that no show ever would be, every show will have its flaws. But the rating is a reflection of just how good the series got at it's peak and the journey you go through watching it. I'm always skeptical when a new show is made out to be one of the best ever, because it rarely ever lives up to that. Luckily I caught this at the beginning before people really made a fuss over it.
So what exactly are the flaws for me? This will no doubt be an unpopular opinion but Jesse Pinkman simply isn't a great character, he is only there due to Walt's original problem entering into the drug trade. He does show some character progression from being an addict and getting past it eventually. But beyond that he is simply an inconvenience and he always has something that is keeping him completely miserable on top of that he ends up with a holier than thou attitude when it suits. Walt himself asks what exactly does Jesse bring to the operation? and other characters such as Gustavo Fring see the same and want him out in one way or another. He seems only to get through because Walt has a bond with him. He does have a moment in later seasons were you get the impression he has learnt from Walt but for me it doesn't make up for several seasons of dragging his heels. Going back to the series later made me realise he's more unlikeable than Skyler, why? Because he's in every single episode.
The other big flaw for me is no doubt another unpopular one, despite a lot of positive reviews I really did not like the ending of the series. The reason it was a let down, despite knowing that Walt will die eventually from his illness the season essentially teased a better ending earlier were Walt goes off the grid. It could have finished on a note like that and it would have been better, instead they felt they had to have Walt's demise concluded and Jesse had to be rescued one more time and despite that there is no real long term closure in the episode for Jesse he literally just drives off into the distance. I am being overly critical as both endings would have left questions either way, I think that if I hadn't had an episode were Walt disappeared that the actual ending would bug me as much.
So what makes this series still a 10/10 for me? There are several characters who really make the show, Walt is a big part of that. Bryan Cranston is one of the few actors who could still win you over even when he becomes an antihero. The main villains in Mike Ehrmantraut and Gustavo Fring are formidable, they steal any scene they're in. Hank is intelligent, witty and likeable. I feel that Walt Jr and Marie are also very important characters, they're the mediator between both sides. On top of that the stories each of these characters have are creative, well scripted and so intense. I would say that Mike and Hank are my two favourite characters and considering they both get killed the show never lost me. It would be easy to see your favourite character go (nevermind two of them) and just want to stop watching.
Often overlooked but charming.
Having read a lot of the reviews on here, I can't help but notice a lot of the issues people have with this show are that it isn't Buffy. I think that is rather unfair, sure there is undoubtedly similarities between the two shows and in the end Buffy does it better. But these are two entirely different and seperate tv shows, it isn't a spin-off like Angel.
The only real criticism I have of the show is that it has a very clear formula and 99% of the time it will religiously stick to that, it makes a lot of the episodes predictable and it means that the villains do come off as very one dimensional. Although to be fair to Charmed the villains are very much the same because their goal is the same and evil in the show is connected by one thing, the source. It also makes any twists in the story an actual surprise. They also have some creative ways of telling a similar story, the outcome can be the same but they did try to get there a different route each time.
I also don't agree that the cast was chosen and simply there because they're attractive women. I mean try and name a show in general were the main cast aren't attractive, beyond that they are very strong characters and they don't play a damsel in distress. They don't really need help from the men in the show, Leo is the most prominent male character and despite healing them many times he's seen as rather helpless and needs protected as much as anyone.
The main characters are also what really makes the show, they all bring something slightly different to the table and despite notoriously disliking each other in real life you could watch this and honestly believe they were close. The ongoing story is the reason this show gets better, if you watch only an episode or two in no real order you will only get the impression that it's a paint by numbers show.
Terrace House (2015)
The only reality tv show worth watching!
I'll be honest, my friend had to introduce this show to me despite my own interest in all things Japan and Netflix. I'm also not a big fan of reality tv, this show is completely different. It seems a lot more genuine and there is little to no interference from the production.
It's a very simple premise, 6 strangers live in the same house but otherwise carry out their normal life (going to work or school as usual). They can join and leave whenever they like, they don't have to have a specific motive to be there. Some want relationships other want friendships but it gives free rein to the housemates. They do have an outside cast of what I assume are celebrity personalities and/or comedians who weigh in on the events and give a quick rundown of previous episodes. It is a different style of humour so it could be hit or miss for some people but it is pretty enjoyable either way.
I hope that Netflix stick with this show, I feel that subbed series and films often get the short end of the stick in Europe.
One of the most underrated shows around.
This show is without a doubt my favourite tv series of all time, you could argue the sex and violence is oftentimes gratutious. The storylines can also be overly complex and outlandish, but what the show does so well is it was able to work those otherwise over the top ideas into a viable story. It also has a bit of everything and never shies away from ideas that would never make it to screen these days. It's just refreshing to see something that is without any restraint and went head first into absolutely anything it liked.
I don't understand the view that the acting is poor, I think Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon have definitely had dodgy projects throughout their careers. But Nip/Tuck wasn't one of them, you do truly buy into their friendship despite both characters being polar opposites. There are other characters who become very unlikeable as the series go on, Matt (John Hensley) never becomes more than an entitled whiny kid anytime he makes a little progression he finds a way to reach a new low. Julia McNamara (Joely Richardson) falls very much into the same category, very self entitled and complains constantly over non issues.
The show is intelligent and has great use of dark humour, it amazes me so few people appear to know about it. I think they must hear the name Nip/Tuck and assume it's a surgery documentary or something. The surgery scenes are very realistic but the show is very much a drama.
The Big Bang Theory (2007)
Never Reaches It's Full Potential
I get that it's become a bit of a cliche to hate on The Big Bang Theory, but in the beginning I really did like the show. The early seasons were refreshing comedy the characters and their relationship with each other were well formed and the show had it's own take on nerd culture. The real pitfall of the show was the idea the characters all had to find love, usually that isn't an issue for a show so why is it an issue here?
Rewind to the beginning of the series, the only one who functioned in normal society was Leonard and even then he had a lack of confidence but his relationship with Penny was a part of the series from the beginning which makes their story understandable. But when we look at the other characters, we have Howard who is made out to be repulsive to women and on top of that he isn't made out to be someone who is interested in settling down. Then we have Sheldon who not only is made out to be lacking interpersonal skills, he is also supposedly irritating to even his closest friends and another big joke in the early series was that he had no interest in nor understanding of women. Finally we have Raj, while women tended to show interest in him the most of all the characters he suffered from selective mutism which hindered his relationships in every case early on.
So already the latter seasons backtrack massively on this, but beyond that the show goes from making jokes which were new and original to becoming a formulaic sitcom making ancient jokes about relationships that have been done a thousand times over. It's a double edged sword the change not only made it become just another sitcom it also frustratingly ended a pretty good run. To add insult to injury, Sheldon who was a great character obviously got recognised as a fan favourite and became a caricature. It was apparent they picked up on his popularity and just overloaded the show with an overpowering amount of him to the point were he has his own spinoff.
Ruined by The Simpsons
If there was ever a show that could have picked up from The Simpsons, Futurama was it. For me when Futurama was at it's prime, The Simpsons had begun it's now infamous decline. I've heard all kinds of rumours including suggestion that they ran out of ideas for Futurama, which frankly astounds me. I think the majority of fans would agree that The Simpsons should have graciously bowed out years ago and retained it's position in everyones memory as one of the best animated shows of all time. I personally find it hard to believe that finding new storylines for The Simpsons would be easier than writing new ones for the universe that Futurama had available to it.
I don't want to be too harsh on The Simpsons as it was a brilliant show in it's own right and the shadow it created is inadvertent, I suppose it's unfortunate this show came with the expectation that it was going to be The Simpsons Mark II because of it's creators in the same way Disenchantment has. In saying that it's a statement of how good both shows were, Futurama definitely surprised a lot of people with how great it was and it definitely still has it's own cult following. The real benefit is that Futurama has went out on a high, you will always be able to look back at it as a fantastic comedy instead of a show that fizzled out. In an alternate universe i'd have wished that The Simpsons would have ended around 14 seasons in and Futurama would have filled the void.
The Best Long Running Anime.
For a lot of us this show was a staple of many of our childhood years, it's hard not to look at it through rose tinted glasses and feel overwhelming nostalgia. Of course it has flaws, but there is no film or tv series that doesn't. I could easily talk for hours about why this show is so great, but it will always boil down to the characters. The show is a big commitment DBZ on it's own is pushing almost 300 episodes which i'm sure is a downside for people looking at it, but it's also a huge strength of the show. You can see the progression of the characters and they aren't like other animated shows, they completely change and they grow up. They all have strengths and flaws, they aren't all perfect and they aren't invincible.
The show sets a good pace, it is split into sagas which has a combination of fast pace action and has a mix of slower paced filler which has become infamous. The filler episodes are usually the go to criticism for many, but in the bigger picture it was necessary in keeping the show true to the source material in terms of it's main storylines. It divides opinion but a lot of the filler adds to show and gives you a break and a bit of a wind down from all of the action as well as some extra insight into the characters. It's easy to follow but there is a lot to the show as well and there's always something new to notice. I'm fast approaching 30 years old and I can still watch this show and not be bored with it which is another benefit of the length of the show.
Batoru rowaiaru (2000)
My personal favourite film.
I've always wanted to review films so I feel the best place to start is with my own favourite. I've watched countless films in my lifetime, including a lot of classics and cult classics. So many might think, well of all the films you've ever watched why is this your favourite one?
I'm not going to say it's the perfect movie, like all movies it does have it's flaws and in Battle Royale's case it does have oddities which you may or may not enjoy. But for me it has the perfect mix of what I look for in a film/story and in my opinion it's done in the right way. The film is based off of a book which was later turned into a manga and eventually lead to this film. One of the few flaws about it is that the source contains a vast amount of individual characters and trying to condense all of them down to fit into a film that is under two hours long. It does mean that some character deaths seem to be placed into the film and you don't feel connections to those characters. But it's important to think back to the context that the film lines up.
Essentially we find out that a class is chosen for the BR act and they are kidnapped and instructed to kill their classmates until they're the last man standing or alternatively everyone will be killed via an exploding neck collar. The question the movie always poses is what would someone do in that situation and we are given several ideas. Some students refuse to play the game and don't wish to kill their friends or the person they love so instead take their own lives, others decided they're very much willing to win to save themselves and have reasons for their thinking. Kazuo is a psychopath who volunteered and presumably enjoys killing on that basis. Whereas someone like Mitsuko is part of the class but she feels that she has been a victim her entire life it's hinted that she has been abused throughout her life and in the end she has had enough. We only find out as she is killed by Kazuo that this is the case which is a twist that really makes you feel sorry for her after she has been made out to be one of the main villains to that point of the film. The final group of people are those who don't want to kill their friends and instead try to win the game with their friends or just survive as long as possible with each other.
We see different outcomes of this as well, some run into either Mitsuko or Kazuo and don't make it. Another group get suspicious of each other and in the end turn on each other, and we have our main characters who care for each other and keep their promise to survive together. The film covers a lot of or scenarios and possibilities and I could easily write a book on everything about it. That is one of the reasons it is my favourite, there is a lot of story and background for a lot of the characters. It has a lot of action and with most things in the film it makes you think about something. Even the ending isn't a plain happy ending, you feel good about it for a few reasons but you also feel bad for other reasons and that's down to getting to know some of the characters so well. On top of that the film is well cast, Tatsuya Fujiwara was in the live action version of Deathnote, Takeshi Kitano is probably the most famous cast member within Japan. But i'd say Chiaki Kuriyama is the most recognisable to general movie fans around the world thanks to her contribution in Kill Bill as Gogo Yubari.
It's impossible not to draw parallels between this and The Hunger Games although in saying that I feel Battle Royale is the far superior film, I understand that being in Japanese and subtitled makes it less desirable to the english speaking world but it is worth it. For years I put off foreign cinema, but looking back it restricts you from seeing a lot of great movies especially with Hollywood now backtracking and simply recycling old ideas and old movies.