Sunday, July 20, 2008

Good evening Commissioner...WHY SO SERIOUS!!?

I know I haven't gotten around to my impressions of the Sony E3 Press Conference but I was pretty indifferent towards it and at this point I don't really think it would be worth it for me to really write anything apart from the "I didn't really find anything too captivating or offensive about it" at this point in time. I'd rather write about the several films I've seen over the past month that I've never really gotten around to blogging about because I was still unsure what exactly my impressions were on them...and I also saw The Dark Knight today, a film that I've been following the hype for over the last two years.

As of writing this I'm over in the Cape Cod, without anything beyond a stack of my DVDs and my MacBook Pro without an internet connection. I really wanted to see The Dark Knight on Friday night especially after hearing all the positive buzz from both the critics and a handful of my co-workers that were lucky enough to catch a midnight showing of it. My hype for the Dark Knight started immediately after I saw Batman Begins, at that time I was unfamiliar with the other works of Christopher Nolan and I used bouts of multiple viewings of Memento and The Prestige to pass the time in-between what little details existed for The Dark Knight. I followed the viral websites, between the first e-mail campaign unlocking the first image of the Joker one pixel at a time and the I Believe in Harvey Dent viral websites. I even went to see I Am Legend in IMAX solely to catch the first seven minutes of The Dark Knight. In fact when I first heard of Heath Ledger's death I was devastated not for his Academy Award winning performance in Brokeback Mountain but more because he was the first actor that I really felt "got" the Joker and it would be the last time I'd really see the role achieved so perfectly.

Onward to the geekery:
The Dark Knight - As you could tell from my blurb above, my bar was set ridiculously high for this film. Even more than what I had for Batman Begins and for that it was a culmination of all my Batman: The Animated Series watching as a kid. Luckily, The Dark Knight did not disappoint and it did to Batman Begins what the Empire Strikes Back did to Star Wars. The Dark Knight did more than just apply the "more of the same" formula to the already successful Batman Begins, nor did it give us something totally different, rather it perfected what was introduced in the previous film and gave us an elaborate crime drama that is completely believable and realistic, something that you'd rarely see in a superhero movie.

One of the smartest choices Nolan made in The Dark Knight was the ideal of not giving the Joker an origin story and rather just have him exist. While the Joker implies that he may have had domestic problems, he changes the story of his scar several times throughout the movie. This gives us the portrait of an intelligent psychopath, it was best described in the bank heist scene in the beginning of the film where he was called "a nutjob who painted his face white". Even his walk would have both the grace of a Cirque du Soleil performance mixed in with the clumsiness of Cosmo Kramer. From the Joker however, we're given the story of Harvey Dent's transformation into Two Face where he originally starts as a public and cleaner cut lawyer version of Batman and then becomes a criminal mastermind. Nolan's depiction of Two Face is about as disturbing and grotesque as something can get in a PG13 rated movie, with the revelation of his face after the acid burn being one of the highest points in the movie. While Two Face is given a fair amount of screen time its pretty obvious that they were building him up to be the villain of the next movie much like how they built up Batman's character in the previous film. A quick note to anyone who's going in to watch the film, I was trying to find out whether or not Two Face did or did not have his wisdom teeth, you can see his full jaw and I tried to count how many teeth he had, I couldn't tell sadly :(

The use of 3D animation for Two-Face's burnt face and real-life pyrotechnics for the explosions and stunt doubles was also very commendable. While they weren't able to pull off anything a third as over the top as something you'd see in a Spider-man film, it was also a lot more immersive. For what stunts they did have, you'd see trucks flipping over and buildings blowing up, for all of this the lighting, the camera's focus and the physics were all exactly on the mark which is a refreshing change for someone who's used to looking back and seeing Spider-man immediately transition into 3D animation when swinging around buildings. For the parts when they used 3D effects such as Harvey's face (much comparable to the octopus guy from the Pirates of the Caribbean films) it was not used to recreate an actual human but rather to create something creepy, moving the negative effects with the uncanny valley over in its favor.

The Dark Knight was an incredibly sophisticated film for something of its budget and I'm really surprised they decided to stick to the PG13 rating instead of going for an R. I doubt your average mall going consumer would even have the attention span for this movie, with most of the writing being focused on the drama with an occasional splash of action. It never felt like it held back because it was written around the confines of a PG13 leaving most of the really disturbing stuff offscreen but I wonder how different it would have been had they decided to show a few of the more graphic areas of the film and maybe treated it more EXACTLY like a crime movie and put a few splashes of profanity here and there. I'm not saying the movie needed it but when going for realism, criminals are far from role models and I doubt they'd exist in the 1950s era values of the MPAA. Many reviews compared The Dark Knight to The Godfather Part II and Heath Ledger's performance of The Joker to Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs.

Overall, the Dark Knight is EASILY one of the best movies of the year in a firm second place to WALL-E. While it may not be the typical lighthearted subcomedy superhero film, Batman is not your typical lighthearted superhero. While I don't know if this movie would be too dark for young children, I'd give it a whole-hearted recommendation to anyone else who wouldn't mind sitting through a 2 and a half hour long movie with the occasional action scene thrown in.


Other movies:
Batman Gotham Knight - Much like what the Animatrix was for The Matrix: Reloaded, Batman Gotham Knight is an Anime adaptation of the Batman Begins universe (Batmanime?). Produced by Bruce Tim and featuring many of the writers and voice actors from Batman The Animated series mixed in with six different anime directors ranging from companies like Studio 4c (the opening short looks very close to Michael Arias's Tekkonkinkreet), Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers) and the guys behind Ghost in a Shell. In theory, this could be liberally the best thing ever. Despite its pedigree, the biggest flaw in this comes from the fact that it tries to have six different self-contained short films that all tell one overarching story. This works, sort of well but ultimately it limits each team into telling a very specific kind of a story. While the dialogue heavy portion from the Ghost in a Shell creators made sense I would have rather had Studio 4c work on something more fluid and action oriented than just three skater teens reminiscing about their previous Batman related experiences. There was also some inconsistency between the teams with some portraying Bruce Wayne as the tough guy that he should be while others shown him as a pretty boy. I guess this is exactly what you'd get if you asked American's to make a Godzilla movie (which happened in 1998), while we'd understand the basic idea of the character we wouldn't really have much reverence for him because he was not a solid part of our popular culture. None of the shorts featured The Joker either, which is a huge disappointment in my mind. To have a Batman movie without the Joker is like a Superman movie without Lex Luther. He would also be the best character for multiple interpretations from the Japanese. Instead we were left with Dead Shot, Killer Croc and The Scarecrow, all are pretty firmly on the B-list of Batman.

The 2-Disc DVD and Blu-Ray releases of this film also include five episodes from Batman: The Animated Series that were hand-picked by Bruce Tim. Pair that with the collectable tin and art book from Best Buy and you have a solid purchase for your average comic book geek and otaku. I can't quite recommend this though because maybe only half of the shorts in the film I'd really consider worth watching while the other ones aren't particularly offensive but they aren't really memorable either. Its worth seeing for the multiple very different interpretations of Batman but they sadly are all very short lived. The anime idea was much better suited for The Matrix.


Wanted - Dear lord! this was one of the most derivative non-comedy movies I've seen in a long time. In fact, me and my friends were laughing pretty consistently throughout the entire movie in the theater. With a very little amount of rewriting this could have become an Edgar Wright style satire movie on the entire hardboiled action genre that was created by the one-two punch of The Matrix and Fight Club. For what it was though, it was a fairly amusing movie that will probably entertain 90% of the beef-heading crowd that would go to see it. You still got to hear Morgan Freeman say a few very awesome four-letter words, there are a lot of fast cars, a few good action scenes and Angelina Jolie shows a lot of skin, which is probably a plus for the celebrity gossip reading monkeys that would probably go out and see this film.

The real problem with Wanted was that it didn't really have much of its own unique vision but rather it was just trying to be exactly like something else. Like you even had a deadpan Ikea obsessed Narrator who joins an underground anti-corporate society where he gets punched in the face and beaten up by his peers. Factor in hundreds of slow-motion shots and bullet time effects and you have something that's trying a bit too hard to be Fight Club with the commercial success of The Matrix and 300. Say what you want about either of those films being overrated, but they at least knew what kind of movie that wanted to make.

On top of that, halfway through Wanted I felt like they were running out of tricks. While its cool to see a car skid into someone with a door open to pick them up, its only fun the first time you see it and when you do it a few more times it felt tired. Even the fairly lame sequence where two bullets collided with each other in midair could have been forgiven had they done it just once, but after four times I couldn't hold in my collective shrug anymore. If they were going to do that, they should have included it in the narrator's intensive training and them make it out to be kind of like swordplay with guns. Factor in a couple of sex scenes that reeked of "Oh, SEX!!! yeah, I've had that" and you have a movie that is only good for 13 year olds who are trying too hard to be "cool" or "edgy" but don't have the capacity to be either of those things.

For what it was, Wanted was a fun movie as long as you lower your expectations for for just a dumb action movie that has a few moments that are kind of fun.


Hancock - This is NOT a movie I'd want to pay money to see so I'm glad that I saw someone uploaded a handicam version of it onto Veoh, going into it I knew it was going to be terrible but I was hoping it would be more the Wild Wild West kind of terrible and less I, Robot bad. I recognized Jason Bateman was in it, and he's been the biggest tool in Hollywood since Teen Wolf Too and even his good roles in Arrested Development and Juno, they had him play a fairly door matt-esque character. Hancock actually was a really dumb and fun movie for the first 40 minutes but then when decided to try to be a "serious" superhero movie.

Without spoiling too much, Hancock started to add rules to Will Smith's heroism such as a weakness to his invulnerability, only to use them a scene later. While Hancock had a few really funny parts in the beginning and the idea of a Superhero that no one wants is an interesting concept, ultimately Hancock falls apart with a hashed together ending which just served as an excuse for the inevitable Hancock 2.

Though, on the bright side of things, P. Diddy's review of Hancock is funnier and more entertaining than ANYTHING in the movie.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

E3 2008 Impressions: Nintendo

With Microsoft's press conference being done and dusted we were left with whatever Nintendo or Sony had up their sleeves at this coming E3. I never even watched Sony or Microsoft's presentations last year, I mostly only just caught up on the big announcements with my handy RSS reader. All I could really remember from Nintendo's conference last year was the immense feeling of disappointment after seeing their real big guns just amounted to the announcement of the Wii Wheel and Wii Zapper peripherals both of which amounted to really cheap hunk's of plastic that simply just hold the Wii remote in place, apart from maybe a couple of hours of experimenting with both respectably I preferred the typical nunchuk and Wii remote combo, or in the case of the Wii Wheel using the Classic Controller for Mario Kart. While they did show Wii Fit (which I have no interest in buying) which turned out to be quite a huge seller and announce dates for Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl (the latter of which was delayed by a good three and a half months) I really didn't have that much to look forward to. This year, I've felt a lot of the same things with the notable exception being that I still have no idea what Nintendo's big blockbuster game of this holiday season will be.

Nintendo's Press Conference:
The Good:
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk looks like everything I was really hoping for, this wasn't a flooring announcement or anything but if its half as addictive as its Gamecube and Nintendo DS counterparts this looks like it will be quite fun, the City gives off kind of a Harvest Moon vibe to me but it fixes a lot of what was wrong with the random events in the prior installments. I'm also really glad to see that they finally put their foot down and made online play a big deal for this one, hopefully by then we would have something better than the friend code system for this.
  • The surprise announcement of the Wii Speak accessory for Animal Crossing was sort of a mixed blessing for me. I liked the idea of a Microphone that can pick up every voice in the room but why didn't they release this for Super Smash Bros. Brawl? that game is far more suited for voice chat than Animal Crossing, and will this wind up like the voice chat in Pokemon Pearl and Metroid Prime Hunters where you could only chat to registered friend code friends. If that's the case, then it would be barely worth it.
  • Of the three third-party titles that Nintendo highlighted, the clear winner was Call of Duty: World at War. From the brief clip it probably had some of the best third party graphics on the Wii and its one of the few times I was proven right when a developer stated that "they developed the Wii version from the ground up and that its not a PS2-port" where I'd actually believe them.
  • The WiiMotionPlus accessory looks like everything the Wii remote concept was promised to be at Tokyo Game Show back in 2005. I was impressed by the amount of precision the device had and I'm excited to see how some third parties will approach the accessory. I really wish this kind of thing was a mandatory update on all future Wii remotes and an add-on for all existing ones. No developer would want to touch it if its sold separately.
  • Luckily the WiiMotionPlus will be bundled with Wii Sports Resort much like how a Wii remote was bundled with the mediocre Wii Play. This one shows a lot of promise, especially with the new 1:1 sword fighting minigame that Wii owners were practically begging for since they first saw the controller. I wasn't impressed with how much the frisbee minigame relied on the sensor bar during the live demo but I'm sure these issues can all be addressed by its Spring '09 release date.
  • The drum kit in Wii Music looked really intuitive, especially using the Wii Balance Board as a kickpad.
  • There was a new trailer for MadWorld which showed off more of the gameplay though nothing much was really revealed from it.
  • The Japanese GBA cult title Rhythm Tengoku is coming to the United States in form of the Nintendo DS game Rhythm Heaven. The title looked like a combination of the quirky random microgames from WarioWare with all the fun of those oh so popular rhythm games. Elite Beat Agents proved that the Nintendo DS is an excellent system for games that would allow you to tap on the screen, this will probably be pretty awesome.
  • They announced that there would be a new Grand Theft Auto game on the Nintendo DS, but it could easily just turn out to be another Grand Theft Auto Advance and play like the archaic top-down Grand Theft Auto games. If it plays like a GTA III era title, then I'm pretty interested.

The Bad:
  • Why did they devote 10 minutes of precious E3 time to the terrible looking Shaun White snowboarding game from Ubisoft? its bad enough seeing those poor graphics blown up on a large screen but was it really necessary to hear a boring 5 minute story about someone breaking their wrist snowboarding to lead into this? I'd stick to my SSX Blur for the Wii...I could at least stay on my board for that one (the people demoing this either really sucked or the game was poorly made, I'm leaning more towards the poorly made part).
  • Wii Speak will be sold separately from Animal Crossing for $29.99. With such little support I don't think anyone would want this thing, it kind of reminds me of the Broadband adaptor on the Gamecube which ultimately was really only used for a couple of Phantasy Star games and LAN features for Mario Kart and Kirby Air Ride. The broadband port was so useless that it would later be the basis for the Gameboy Player attachment for the Gamecube.
  • There's nothing there to convince me that the new Star Wars: Clone Wars game is really anything more than uninspired shovelware. The gameplay didn't look that much different than the already disappointing looking Wii version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and does anyone even care about the Rayman Raving Rabbids franchise anymore? I think by now most hardcore Wii owners are far tired of minigame collections, just give us a real Rayman game already.
  • Wii Music was one of those things where I was initially very excited after seeing the drum kit and all but my enthusiasm was pretty much gone as soon as Shigeru Miyamoto came on stage and explained that it's impossible to lose in Wii Music and it pretty much amounts to miming playing an instrument with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk while the game does 90% of the work for you. I can't really see this having any lasting value and I broke out laughing seeing four people waggling their Wii remotes on stage with a forced smile on their face. I'm really not feeling this one.

While far from a mess, Nintendo's press conference totally ignored the demands of the "hardcore" Wii audience (and by that I mean, people who play the Wii for more than a couple of weekends) and was focused mostly on corporate bragging and gimmicks. While Animal Crossing was a satisfying announcement, the title is FAR from a traditional game and I would have much rather had at least a teaser for a real Zelda title or something. I'm a huge Nintendo fanboy and this conference just left me with lukewarm feelings.

Monday, July 14, 2008

E3 2008 Impressions: Microsoft

E3 at one time was the Superbowl of games, with stampedes of eager college students and press running in to soak in as many of the new holiday season titles that they could in a meager three or four days. Last year, they scaled down the size of E3 considerably inviting a fraction as many people and moving the date of the expo from May to July. Instead of cramming all the developers into a sweaty hanger, they instead opted for a hotel driven display where the press would have to get on a bus to go between different titles. This lead to a fairly disappointing expo with most of the games on display just being rehashed demos that most of the press members already played in some form at other public events. While there were some surprises like the announcement of the Balance Board accessory for the now unspeakably popular Wii Fit, most of the announcements just amounted to corporate gloating and confirmations of titles most people already new existed.

Fast forward to 2008, this year the scaled down E3 seemed to be taken a bit more seriously as a press outing. With announcements of Microsoft's Xbox 360 price drop and their Avatars leaking out through the internet and Nintendo's official confirmation of a new Animal Crossing game and a mysterious and ambitious Wii MotionPlus accessory this E3 is clearly a whole new animal than we've seen last year. The first conference up was Microsoft's, which I was checking up on the live-blogging and Twitter feeds at work every time I had one of those 30 second breaks waiting for computer related frustrations. As soon as I got home, I watched IGN's prerecorded coverage of the event and was both impressed and disappointed at what Microsoft had to offer.

The Good:

  • Fallout 3 looks really violent and really awesome. I haven't actually played any of the other titles in the Fallout series but I immediately appreciated its subtle 1950's bomb scare style humor and its use of nuclear zombies and severed limbs. While its a multiplatform release (with the exception of my poor neglected Wii), the Xbox 360 version looked pretty solid.
  • As a fanboy of both the American Elite Beat Agents and the Japanese Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! franchises, I was pleased to see iNiS was developing the karaoke title Lips. While on one hand it looked like a washed up version of Singstar, I'm pretty excited for what's to come with the motion sensitive microphone, even if its for some Guitar Hero-style titling gimmick. I'm a sucker for Karaoke, it was a blast at Pratt and its my favorite aspect of Rock Band by far.
  • Resident Evil 5 is shaping up to be the same kind of faux-zombie killing fun that I played to death on my Gamecube and Wii's Resident Evil 4.
  • Portal: Still Alive sounds really cool, I like the idea of it being a downloadable title from the start this time but I'm not too fond of that Xbox Live Arcade exclusivity. It was born to be a PC game.
  • I thought Gears of War was pretty rad from what little I played of it, Gears of War 2 looks just as fun.
  • The original Banjo-Kazooie is coming to Xbox Live Arcade, that's pretty sweet. Here's hoping for some graphical updates to it.
  • The Avatars while being a blatant rip-off of Nintendo's Miis, seem to be a lot more open to third party usage in titles. I've also been kind of a Mii addict so whatever this brings, it gives me a small reason to be excited.
  • The Netflix partnership for streaming movies to your Xbox 360 is a fantastic feature and a great kick in the face to Apple TV. Not digging the exclusivity though.
  • The Square-Enix announcements really came as no surprise to me but I'm pleased to know that the RPG-starved Xbox will at least be getting some non-KOTOR style RPGs. Final Fantasy XIII makes sense with the Unreal Engine being designed for cross-platform support, not too excited for The Last Remnant or Star Ocean though.

The Bad:

  • Microsoft seemed unsure of whether or not it wanted to appeal to the "hardcore" crowd (and by that I mean the immature teens and frat boys who play the Halo games) or the "casual" middle-aged Wii crowd. They opened with the "this conference may be tough to stomach" line with the "hyper violent" (and I put that in quotes for a reason) line-up for the rest of 2008 and 2009 but then they went on to introduce a new Wii Channel and Windows Media Center-esque GUI for the Xbox 360 and the introduction of Xbox Live Avatars which look like blander versions of Miis. Microsoft isn't fooling anyone with this.
  • I don't think anyone will use the Xbox Live Primetime service for longer than a week. The live-game show idea is novel but game shows are more of a passive experience brought together by the liveliness of the host and a few especially smart or dumb contestants, without there being a human presense it just seems kind of lame.
  • Resident Evil 5 looked a little "too" close to Resident Evil 4. While RE4 was one of the best games I've played of all last generation, its really disheartening to see the zombies animate in the same exact way to each play they were shot. While I'm sure they were technically superior to the three year old Gamecube game, the graphics weren't nearly as impressive to me. It wouldn't take much work to port this thing down to the Wii so why can't Capcom take a hint from the fantastic sales of the shovelware Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and give us a real Resident Evil game?
  • I'm a bit disappointed to see Mega Man 9 is also coming out to the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, I saw the WiiWare release of it as a kind of love letter to Nintendo fanboys. I'll still buy it though.
  • Microsoft really shouldn't brag about sales of third party titles being stronger than that of the Wii and PS3 versions combined. Most of the ones they were touting were First Person Shooter titles where the Xbox 360 version is the one that the development team is primarily concerned with, of course the Wii version's going to sell poorly, 9 out of 10 times its a hashed together port of the perfunctory PS2 version.
  • NetFlix shouldn't be "exclusively" on the Xbox 360. With the popularity of services like Hulu and the not-so popularity of Joost we really just need to be able to access these from a television hooked up console to really escalate these services beyond the unwatchable realms of a PC-screen. Why not open it up for a PS3/PSP firmware update or a Wii channel? then everyone wins.
Most of Microsoft's big announcements have already been leaked out onto the internet weeks before they presented it. While their hardcore titles were every bit as awesome as I expected they really fell on their face with their new casual branding. I'd almost say it was a great press conference but I was mostly met with indifference on this one.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A whole Lot of Red, White and Blue, not so much

After loving The Machine Girl so much, I became a lot more open to Japanese horror films. So it came at no surprise that I sarcastically entered a contest to win tickets for Tokyo Gore Police on Twitch Film...and I won. With the New York Asian Film festival occurring at the IFC Center in New York City I knew I absolutely couldn't turn down a chance to be in with all the Kung-Fu movie buffs in New York City. Upon reaching there I was not disappointed. Despite the IFC center being located on the seediest sex shop ridden area on this side of Greenwich Village I knew I was at the right place when the girl working at the table was trying to buy my Forbidden Planet shirt off of me, of course I'd never sell off an awesome piece of '50s nostalgia but considering how the average person only notices that shirt is either the Comic Book store of the same name or the film where Robby the Robot came from, I was fairly impressed.

I was surprised by the crowd at the festival. While there were a few of the stereotypical 18 to 20-something comic book geeks and a couple of fellow Pratt students more than half of the crowd consisted of middle-aged hipster couples most seemed to be every bit as excited for the non-stop gore and graphic violence as the youngest ones in the crowd. The man immediately in front of me in line was a grey-haired man going to see Tokyo Gore Police alone. While he was not really in touch with the Internet hype for this flick, he clearly was a connoisseur of trashy Asian cinema mentioning several different directors that I never heard of and how he has a place that sells cheap kung-fu DVDs right next to his apartment. I asked him what he thought of the Machine Girl, he told me it was "okay" but "the gore was not as ridiculous as BLANK but if you want the gore to go alongside a good plot see BLANK but then again BLANK had a five minute cameo of Quentin Tarantino in the beginning". This was one of the few times in my life as a film geek that I felt totally inadequate compared to the amount of fanboyism that surrounded me.

The crowd here reminded me of what you'd see at a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture show. Before the screening of Tokyo Gore Police started, the event curator gave a brief synopsis of the film explaining that "it has gore...a lot of gore...and police but they are a gritty kind of police that we're not used to...and a plot somewhat like Robocop and Starship Troopers". Posters were handed out to a crowd of excited hands as they geared up for their giveaways. They collected e-mail addresses on forms in a cardboard box for a raffle that according to the form "has really great prizes and really terrible ones". The first thing they raffled off was a NYAFF branded bag full of schlocky DVDs and Japanese beer. When they announced the winner was Stanley Glick everyone recognized his name and cheered. They apparently recognized him as the cult blogger from Asian Cine Fest. Afterwards, winners could pick from one of three DVDs. The first being A Tale of Two Sisters which the curator said was now a piece of nostalgia being that Tartan Asia Extreme recently closed their doors a week ago, this was followed immediately by a loud booing from the audience. I could only recognize them as the label that crowded up my local Blockbuster's foreign section and the label on the relatively awesome film Oldboy. This was followed up with fanfare when they pulled out Shogun Assassin 5 (the first Shogun Assassin movie inspired the popular film Kill Bill) and the Korean horror flick Phone. The two other winners included a bubbly middle-aged woman who waited in line for 3 hours (!) to see Tokyo Gore Police and a young blogger that went by the name ZombieAssassin9099 which lead to a huge laugh from the audience. The director then said there would be random trailers for some of their other 27 festival films afterwards. They played the trailers for Fine, Totally, Fine which looked like what would be a chick flick with absurdist interludes and Strawberry Shortcakes which looked like a Japanese take on Sex and the City.

Onward to this week's film geekery:
Tokyo Gore Police - when I came in to this film I was expecting some sort of self-parody over the top gore film along the lines of The Machine Girl, especially after seeing the ridiculous trailer for it. Tokyo Gore Police however played off more as a straight out comedy film with random interludes of public service announcements, comedy vignettes and recruitment advertisements for the graphic but noble Tokyo Gore Police squad. While these segments were all really funny, they constructed a bleak vision of the future where violence is accepted as the cultural norm and where the violent exploits of the police are followed like the WWE and a spunky blond haired Emergency Announcer that seems more MTV than local government.

But rest assured, Tokyo Gore Police didn't take itself too seriously. The plot revolved around a genetic researcher who was trying to figure out what genes created a serial killer in order to find a way to eliminate the possibility of a killer altogether. Long story short, his research was a failure and he injected himself with the genes of Charles Manson. From then on he was capturing innocent locals and inserted a key shaped brain tumor into the heads of his victims changing them into crazy zombies with regrowing hideous limbs. If your trying to make sense out of the plot your missing the entire point of the movie. It really just seemed like an excuse to have ridiculous scenes such as a Geisha dressed assassin basking with an umbrella in a rain of crimson blood, a living chair made out of the organs of a person, a guy who shot severed hands of fists and middle fingers out of a rocket launcher and a man who after getting his legs severed would propel himself in mid-air with blood fountains and would fly out with his katana for an action scene. There were a couple of other noteworthy scenes but I'll end it there to keep in the element of surprise and to maintain my blog's relatively G-rating.

Tokyo Gore Police clocked in at about 2 hours which seems a bit long for a gore film but among a crowd of hecklers and cheery-eyed inner children it definitely didn't feel like it. Tokyo Gore Police really did a stellar job switching between some great cinematography, and fights and flat out comedy. There's really nothing else like it, I suppose it would be what you'd get if you asked the guys at Monty Python to make an action movie but the themes from Robocop really set it apart from seeming like random humor just for the sake of random humor. On top of that, the special effects in here were surprisingly good. The buckets of fake blood and corn syrup all had the right color and consistency while the key shaped brain tumors looked every bit like brain tumors. If you watch the NSFW five-minute trailer you'll have a good idea of what to expect.

Media Blasters is currently looking for a theatrical release of Tokyo Gore Police under their Tokyo Shock label. I remember reading that between The Meatball Machine, The Machine Girl and Toyko Gore Police we're experiencing a renaissance in Asian slasher movies. While I have not seen The Meatball Machine (yet) if the quality of The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police is any indication I have to totally agree with this statement. The DVD release of Tokyo Gore Police will be out around the holiday season, making it the perfect gift for the cult movie buff in all of us. I'll definitely be picking this one up.