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Nov 092016

When it comes to aliens and the horror genre, it’s not often that I would visualize them together but it does happen. One such example is the independent film Extraterrestrial.

This is about college teen April (Brittany Allen) spending a romantic weekend at her mother’s cabin with her boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma). However, April is dismayed when Kyle brings his friends along. They include goofball Seth (Jesse Moss), his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic), and stoner Melanie (Melanie Papalia).

That’s right. It’s a movie about teens in the woods being terrorized by something frightening. This time, an alien spacecraft comes in search of victims to capture and experiment on. The way it was done is much more intense than the common cliché.

At first I thought the aliens were blowing up people after what became of their first victim Nancy McPherson (Emily Perkins) at the beginning of the movie.

Luckily the teens have an ally, Travis (Michael Ironside), who was friends with April’s father. He’s a weed farmer with a military background. It’s amazing what he knows about the aliens.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Murphy (Gil Bellows) investigates the disappearances. Of course he’s skeptical but all the clues he finds always lead to alien attacks.

The aliens only appear in short glimpses throughout the movie, but I can tell that they have a generic look with green skin and bald heads, wearing no clothes. The aliens never talk, so their reasons of invading remain a mystery.
This was a good movie. Sure it contained quite a few clichés of sci-fi horror films but that’s what made it easy to follow, just the way I like it.

Sep 142016

Sometimes when I go DVD shopping, I find a group of DVDs that are very cheap, which look like a good deal. They’re usually old movies I never heard of before, or a series of cartoons from as early as the 1930s. On a rare occasion I find old Anime features that look interesting. One such feature is Solar Adventure.

The story line is a little hard to follow, but here’s what I can make from it. The country is divided into two zones, the North and the South, and the two sides are always at war with each other. The North wants to live under communism and the South doesn’t. After the way some of the North soldiers beat on a couple of kids, you can tell that they mean business.

The main focus is on a group of young students and their teacher on a nature study field trip, caught in the middle of things. Oddly, none of their names are mentioned, which makes it hard to identify the heroes.

Originally, this movie is featured in live action, but then goes to Anime without notice when a couple of alien children arrive along with a group of spaceships that transform into robots.

That’s right. These robots are like Transformers, but have to be piloted using emotional wavelengths. I’m not kidding. These robots look like they were taken straight from The Transformers animated series from the 80s. It’s hard to see past that.

The main villain is Siporta the space conqueror. He has teamed up with the northern communists as a way to take over the universe. Siporta may only be a one-dimensional villain, but at least his name is revealed unlike the other characters.

The action is nothing more than what you would find in a war movie, even with the robots, which is unfortunate.

This wasn’t a bad movie. The music was good, along with its level of adventure. As a war movie, it’s okay, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Much of the dialogue is very blunt and the pacing is so slow that it makes the feature feel longer than it really is. On the plus side, it’s always interesting to explore Anime titles. You never know if you’ll find a gem among them.

Aug 172016

Remember the old classic arcade games of the early 1980s like Asteroids, Space Invaders, Defender, Frogger, etc.? Well here’s a movie that puts them all together with a modern twist called Pixels.

Home theater installer Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) was once a video game wizard and even entered an arcade world competition. The secret to his success was memorizing the patterns. Unfortunately, Sam lost on the final game, Donkey Kong. You’ve got to admit that it’s a hard one, since remembering patterns isn’t always the key to succeeding like many video games we have today.

After the competition ends, the footage from it gets put in a time capsule and sent out into space in hopes of finding alien life. Thirty years later, aliens did find the capsule and saw it as a declaration of war, even though that was not Earth’s intention at all. It often seems like any gesture of peace toward extraterrestrials ends up mistaken for war. Like on Mars Attacks when a dove was released, then the aliens go crazy and shoot everyone.

When the aliens arrive on Earth, they attack in the forms of the old classic video game characters, starting with Galaga, then Arknoid. Luckily, Sam’s best friend Will Cooper (Kevin James) is the President of the United States, since Sam’s expertise in gaming is the key to stopping these aliens from destroying the planet. Sam needed that connection so he would be allowed to share his knowledge with the government despite that everyone thinks that President Cooper is a buffoon.

With the assistance of conspiracy nut Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Lieutenant Colonel Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan) a new squad is formed called the Arcaders. However, it also includes Sam’s old nemesis and arrogant gaming champ Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage).

The next game the aliens attack with is Centipede. The look from the original game was pretty tame, but this new updated look is cooler and edgier. The battle was exciting and smooth once Sam and Ludlow had the opportunity to take action themselves, even with the giant spiders jumping around.

It’s also neat that even though the aliens don’t show their true forms, they disguise themselves as celebrities from the 80s like Ronald Reagan, Hall & Oates, and young Madonna. Even Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) makes an appearance. Remember that character?

The next game is PAC-Man, a true classic, but as a twist PAC-Man is the enemy. Sam, Ludlow, and Eddie drive cars that represent the ghosts in a wild action sequence. If you thought that it couldn’t get any more exciting, think again.

In the climax, the Arcaders face their greatest challenge yet, Donkey Kong. What are the odds that it’s the one game Sam struggles with most? On the other hand, it’s so awesome that you get to see the game play from such an intense angle.

Although it’s definitely not something you would expect from an Adam Sandler film, Pixels was a creative movie about a love for video games that has plenty of nostalgic value as well as Adam Sandler’s brand of comedy. It’s especially humorous with Q-Bert’s antics.

Jul 202016

I can remember when I saw Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the movie theater and there was a short animated film called Almost Home, where a race of aliens called the Boov go from planet to planet in search of a new place to live. Each time it always ends in disaster, thanks to their smooth talking leader.

About a year later, there was a full-length movie that extended on that story called Home. In this feature, the Boov are a race of aliens with no family values and can change color based on their emotions. They often relocate because they’re on the run from enemy aliens called the Gorg (Not to be confused with the Gorgs from Fraggle Rock).

The Boov leader’s name is revealed to be Captain Smek (voice of Steve Martin). As the Boov arrive on Earth, he relocates the entire human race to certain parts of the world while the Boov invade the rest of the planet in a friendly manner, despite how they declare things like toilets, bicycles, and accordions obsolete.

Of course the real focus is on Oh (voice of Jim Parsons), a Boov that’s more excitable and freethinking. That’s what makes him a misfit and frankly that’s how Oh got his name. Oh has made many mistakes in his time and becomes a fugitive when his only intention was to throw a party.

While on the lam, he meets a young teenage girl named Tip (voice of Rihanna) that was separated from her mother Lucy (voice of Jennifer Lopez) during the invasion. Tip is outspoken, but I also find her very likable.
Tip also has a pet cat named Pig. I admit that can be confusing, but I’m sure that name comes from the cat’s curly tail.

Let’s certainly not forget Oh and Tip’s traveling vehicle, Slushious. Oh was able to modify a car to fly and run on slushies. What a great idea, now everybody is going to want one.

I really enjoyed this movie. It leaves me laughing every time I see it. Do you suppose Dreamworks will make an animated series for Home just like with Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Penguins of Madagascar?

Apr 132016

As you might recall, the classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers contained Japanese footage within the episodes. But have you ever wondered exactly where that footage came from? It’s from a Sentai series called Super Sentai Zyuranger(1992-1993).

These rangers originally coexisted with the dinosaurs 170 million years ago. Each one was from a different tribe and put in suspended animation until they were awakened to defend Earth. Best part is that there is no identity secrecy. Everyone knows who the Zyurangers are and they befriend the many citizens, especially the kids. They are Geki (Yuta Mochizuki) as the Red Ranger, Goushi (Seiju Umon) as the Black Ranger, Dan (Hideki Fujiwara) as the Blue Ranger, Boi (Takumi Hashimoto) as the Yellow Ranger, and Mei (Reiko Chiba) as the Pink Ranger.

Later on, a sixth Zyuranger joins the team, Burai (Hisashi Sakai) as the Green Ranger. Like the Green Ranger on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, he’s not featured as frequently but for a completely different reason altogether.

The rangers also have zords, but they are featured as the Guardian Beasts and they actually talk. When the five Guardian Beasts combine they become Daizyuzin and Burai’s Guardian Beast is called Dragon Caesar. As interesting as that sounds, I still prefer to call them Megazord and Dragonzord. The same goes for King Brachion as Titanus the Ultrazord.

Instead of Zordon and Alpha 5, the Zyurangers’ wise mentor is a wizard named Barza (Jun Tatara) and he lives in an underground temple instead of a command center.

The villains have the same exact look to the ones on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. However, they are very different in comparison. Not just their names, but their personalities too. Let’s start with the leader who is the witch Bandora (Machiko Soga). If you thought Rita Repulsa was evil, Bandora is much worse. She hates children and often targets them as a way to conquer Earth, sometimes in a brutal manner. Now that’s just low. On the bright side, she is funny when defeated much like Rita.

Bandora’s group also consists of strong warriors Grifforzar and Lamy (Ami Kawai) who are actually husband and wife. That was certainly a surprise since Goldar and Scorpina were never a couple.

And let’s not forget the comedic Topat (Baboo) and Bookback (Squatt) who can take human form. As well as Pleprechaun (Finster) the unusual artist, who created the Golems (Putty Patrollers) and the various Dora Monsters.

Speaking of which, the names are very different but the monster is easy to recognize like Dora Goblin (Gnarly Gnome), Dora Sphinx (King Sphinx), Dora Ninja (Dark Warrior), Dora Cockatrice (Chunky Chicken), Dora Laygor (Madam Woe), and so on and so forth. Personally I prefer to identify the monsters by their names on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

I’ll tell you, I really enjoyed this Sentai series. If you think it’s like Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it isn’t. Super Sentai Zyuranger is edgier and definitely not a kid show. It sure is nice to compare the two shows, especially if you’re a Power Rangers fan.

One last note: There are other Super Sentai shows that follow a similar premise. One I would also recommend is Gosei Sentai Dairanger, which contains footage of the Thunderzords, the White Ranger, and monsters from season two of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.