Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Movie review: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

 When a young girl is kidnapped by a vampire her wealthy family hires Vampire Hunter D, a human-vampire half-breed, to find her. But does she want to be found? Based on the graphic novels of Hideyuki Kikuchi.

Andrew Philpot (D), John Lee (Meier), Pamela Adlon (Leila), Wendee Lee (Charlotte), Michael McShane (Left Hand), Julia Fletcher (Carmila), Matt McKenzie (Borgoff), John DiMaggio (John/Nolt/Mashira/Sheriff).

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is an interesting story set in the future but with tastes of spaghetti Western's, overdone violence, and gothic backgrounds. The story is interesting, fairly well developed, and moves along at a nice pace. I'm not a big fan of anime but this one is nicely done with good detail and depth.

Voice work was well done throughout.

Animation was enjoyable with interesting detail and good consistency. The dark, gothic aspect of the film added nicely to the overall tone. Dialogue was good, though some conversations were hard to hear and required volume manipulation. Sound and soundtrack are enjoyable.

Those who enjoy anime, horror, and violence should enjoy this one.

With some mild sexuality, plenty of graphic violence and gore, and intense scenes, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: 1.3.18
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Anime, Animation, Action, Adventure, Vampires

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Monday, January 15, 2018

Movie review: Kill Bill: Vol. 2

 Picking up where the first film left off, Kill Bill Vol 2 has The Bride still out for revenge with only three left on her list; Budd, Elle Driver, and Bill. Of course, things never go as planned.

Uma Thurman (The Bride), Lucy Liu (Ishii), Vivica Fox (Vernita), Daryl Hannah (Elle Driver), David Carradine (Bill), Michael Madsen (Budd), Clark Middleton (Ernie), Sid Haig (Jay), Samuel Jackson (Rufus).

This one made me want to go out and buy a sword. Continuing the story, The Bride still needs to exact revenge upon Budd, Elle, and Bill. As usual, things never go as expected, including this film. Unlike the original, this one takes a bit more time, allows for some quiet moments, and kills a lot fewer people. The result is a film that is almost better than the first leading us to hope the franchise continues.

Acting was good once again with Thurman, Liu, Fox, Hannah, Carradine, and Madsen all doing well and working nicely together once again. Cameo appearances by Haig, Jackson, and others were enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were once again pure Tarantino. Action scenes were once again nicely done with a quality feel. Dialogue moves things along nicely and adds a few laughs as a bonus. Sound and soundtrack are once again very good quality.

I actually think I like this one better than Vol. 1. It felt like there was more character and plot development without contrived pokes in every quiet moment. Tarantino fans may feel the opposite.

With added violence and foul language, this one should be saved for adults but in reality is probably fine for teens and above.

Released: 2004
Reviewed: 1.2.18
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller, Action & Adventure, Crime Action

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Friday, January 12, 2018

Movie review: Kill Bill: Vol. 1

 Awakening from a four-year coma, The Bride finds the child she was carrying gone, taken by her employer who also tried to kill her. Determined to find her child, The Bride will stop at nothing.

Uma Thurman (The Bride), Lucy Liu (Ishii), Vivica Fox (Vernita), Daryl Hannah (Elle Driver), David Carradine (Bill), Michael Madsen (Budd), Julie Dreyfus (Sofie), Chiaki Kuriyama (Gogo), Michael Parks (Earl).

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 begins well and does nothing but get better from there. The story is a tale of revenge that takes some really strange turns. The story is also told from an unusual perspective, as it seems are most Tarantino films. The result is an action packed film that does a great job of challenging assumptions and expectations about movies on a few levels.

Acting was good with Thurman doing a surprisingly good job as an action hero and delivering nicely as always. Liu also put some great energy into this one. Fox and Hannah rounded things out nicely and also did quite well. Carradine, Madsen, and the remainder of the cast all do very well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are nothing short of a roller-coaster ride of changing sets including numerous Easter eggs and physical special effects. The result is a more solid, realistic feeling action flick. Dialogue is enjoyable with some nice laughs. Sound and soundtrack are superb.

Overall Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is a good choice for your Must See list if you enjoy unique action thrillers or Tarantino films.

With plenty of graphic, intense, bloody violence and prolific use of foul language, I dare you to try and keep this one away from teens.

Released: 2003
Reviewed: 1.2.18
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Action & Adventure, Crime Action, Action Thrillers, Crime Thriller

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Movie review: Advantageous

 Gwen is seeing her career aspirations, and as a result her daughters life, slip away before her eyes due to her age. But there may be a way she, and her daughter Jules, can hold onto their lives.

Jacqueline Kim (Gwen), Samantha Kim (Jules), James Urbaniak (Fisher), Freya Adams (Gwen 2.0), Ken Jeong (Han), Jennifer Ehle (Isa), Troi Zee (Amanda), Olivia Horton (Sarai), Jennifer Ikeda (Lily).

Advantageous is an interesting film that can be described in a variety of ways; emotionally intense, intellectually entertaining, technologically amusing, but also; tepid, plodding, quiet, and lacking energy. But that is only if it engages you, which for me it did not. While the film is entertaining, it lacks entertainment if that makes any sense. The story remains interesting in so far as the audience is willing to participate in the journey. When they don't, the film stops being entertaining.

Acting was solid with J. Kim delivering a well-rounded performance. S. Kim also did nicely with solid delivery throughout. Urbaniak was a nice fit and did well, as did the remainder of the supporting cast.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are good with a solid, realistic feel throughout. Effects, and action, are minimal but good. Dialogue has nice depth and does a decent job of conveying the complexity of the information presented. Sound and soundtrack are both good quality with some nice pieces.

Overall Advantageous just didn't land for us, feeling more like a social experiment than a film. Maybe we just prefer entertainment be external, not something we create for ourselves. Approached with desire for intellectual or moral challenges this might be more engaging.

Possibly some mild foul language but not much else to limit audience age.

Released: 2015
Reviewed: 1.2.18
Star rating: 2 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Family, Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Drama, Independent Movies

copyright ©2018 Dave Riedel

Monday, January 8, 2018

Movie review: The Handmaid's Tale

 In the future most women are sterile and right-wing fundamentalists rule. Caught trying to escape, a powerful couple forces Kate to be their handmaid and bear them a child. If she fails she faces exile, or possibly death.

Natasha Richardson (Kate/Offred), Faye Dunaway (Serena), Aidan Quinn (Nick), Robert Duvall (Commander), Elizabeth McGovern (Moira), Victoria Tennant (Aunt Lydia), Blanche Baker (Ofglen), Traci Lind (Janine/Ofwarren).

The Handmaid's Tale is a strange story of a dystopian society which, due to a need for population growth, has turned to the sexual slavery of fertile women for childbearing. Caught trying to escape with her husband and daughter, Kate is forced to become a childbearing handmaid for the Commander and his wife. This brings Kate to the attention of rebels and complicates things further. The remainder of the film is and entertaining and strange journey through emotions and ethics with a big side helping of morality.

Acting was good with Richardson delivering nicely and working well with Duvall and others. Duvall fit his role well and delivered well as always. Dunaway also did nicely as part-time antagonist. Quinn and the remainder of the supporting cast were enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds are pretty good and quite amusing with repurposing of common 80's items as futuristic. Action is solid with a realistic feel. Dialogue was enjoyable though it could have done more to explain the storyline and add depth. Sound and soundtrack are decent.

The Handmaid's Tale is an interesting, and entertaining film that at the same time is a bit disturbing. Those who enjoy dystopian Sci-Fi's and drama should enjoy this one quite a bit.

With plenty of sexuality, some of which is quite mature in nature, violence, gore, and foul language, save this one for the oldest teens and above.

Released: 1990
Reviewed: 12.29.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance, Drama Based on a Book, Sci-Fi Drama

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

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