It’s not often that an original creation for the internet crushes servers and becomes a worldwide sensation. Of course, when such a project involves Joss Whedon, all bets are off – and when that project turns out to be the brilliant Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, well, you just have to sit up and take notice.
The story – Billy, a.k.a. Dr. Horrible [Neil Patrick Harris], wants to win the heart of Penny [Felicia Day] and join the Evil League of Evil, but the conceited superhero, Captain Hammer [Nathan Fillion] keeps getting in way… on both fronts – is simple, twisted and thoroughly entertaining. It may take a dark turn, but Whedon has been subverting people’s expectations ever since Brain-Dead Poets Society, the episode of Roseanne in which ultra-jock Darlene had to read a poem she’d written – in public! So, the thing is, nobody should have been surprised.
To Kazuki Muto it all seems like a dream when he recalls saving a young girl from a strange monster, but dying in doing so. An encounter with a teacher who changes into something else – and finding his lost backpack in a location from his dream – jolt him, but not as much as having his life saved by the girl from his dream. He learns that Tokiko Tsumura, the girl from his dream, is an Alchemist Warrior who is trying to save the world from monsters called homunculi.
Tokiko saved his life by replaced his ripped out heart with a medallion called a kakugane – a magical device that gives its owner a powerful weapon, called a Buso Renkin, that is the essence of the person’s fighting spirit [in his case a spear with a long haft and a trailing red banner]. He learns that homunculi eat humans to life – the younger the better! Because he is the person he is, he insists on joining the fight.
The Buso Renkin Box Set #1 collects the first thirteen episodes of the popular series and introduces Kazuki [and us] to a world unlike anything he’s ever encountered. We meet his friends [the usual gang of idiots who complicate things at the worst possible moment, or get jealous of his new “girlfriend”], his sister [who is already pretending that Tokiko and her brother will marry – making Tokiko her sister-in-in-law], and several villains from the world of the homunculi – though not all of them are, in fact, homunculi.
The series is smart, wickedly funny and very entertaining. The Buso Renkins of the various Alchemist Warriors [and some homunculi] are wildly diverse and create unique battles. The characters are engaging and the pacing is fast enough to keep the viewer engaged, even during the character and exposition arcs. The first thirteen eps doing a very nice job of introducing the main characters and establishing the series mythology – and are entertaining as heck, to boot.
Features: Three Audio Commentaries [by the English vocal cast]: Episode One: A New Life; Episode Six [The Butterfly of Black Death], and Episode Nine: The Hayasaka Twins; Behind the Scenes of Buso Renkin, and a set of Postcards featuring various characters. The set comes in a bookcase-styled package with a card stock slipcase with embossed print.
Imagine, if you will, that you could easily, and in total anonymity, execute criminals who had gotten off on a technicality. Not only that, but the only person who could even hope to figure out your identity was a consultant for the police – and your father was the police chief. This is the situation in which Light, a young man who has come into possession of a Death Note.
By the time Volume Four opens, Light has made an impact on crime but somehow not completely covered his tracks. Even better [or worse, if you’re the police], there is a second person who seems capable of the same kind of vigilante justice. Light has become known as “Kira” to the police, so he thinks of this new person as the Second Kira. And did I mention that each owner of a Death Note has a supernatural companion? Well, they do.
Throughout the four episodes on DN4, the cat and mouse game between Light and L [the aforementioned investigative consultant] is twisted and complex. The capture and interrogation of the Second Kira ties Light to a rising young model/actress and the series’ complications seem to grow at, pardon the expression, light speed. Because of the nature of the duel of the minds between Light and L, the writing needs to be sharp or we would never believe it – and it is that sharp and more [check out the reasoning behind the police chief having himself put behind bars!].
The animation is solid and the character designs seem a bit sharper than one might be used to. Both voice casts are excellent at sustaining the appropriate moods, and the overall effect is just about perfect [I’m definitely going to watch for the first box set!].
Features include: Audio Commentary [English Voice Cast] on Episode 14, “Friend,” Behind the Scenes: English Voice Cast Interviews and Recording Sections, and Production Art.
The folks at Fox Home Video are one of the first studios to come out with a Blu-Ray disk that supports the new 1.1 (or picture in picture) spec. One of the things that distinguished HD-DVD was it’s copious use of picture in picture for extra features. For instance on the 300 HD-DVD you could watch the entire movie in it’s original unedited green screen form and compare the original shots with the finished product. Very cool insight into how that film was made. Fox Home Video’s “Sunshine,” doesn’t do anything nearly as nifty as that. But it’s nice to know that they’ll have that capability in the future. For now the Sunshine Blu-Ray Disk has some basic pop-up featurettes that go in-depth into how certain scenes were made. The picture window is quite large and beautiful. The navigation menus on this disk are also really nice. They are transparent and float in and out of the picture with minimal fuss. It’s probably pointless to tell you that the movie looks amazing. It’s sharp, clear, and clean with no artifacts. The blacks are “blue black.”
Action movies have become increasingly sophisticated but the advent of CGI hasn’t completely taken over. The summer’s best threequels took radically different approaches: The Bourne Ultimatum was almost completely shot in camera; Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was a bravura usage of CGI. Then there was the summer’s one fourquel, Live Free or Die Hard, which relied heavily on practical effects to underscore that its hero was an analog guy in a digital world.
Hey Everyone, one of my studio friends sent over a review for Blade Runner. He’s a studio plant, but the review is good, and I’m interested in this DVD. I’ll admit, I never got the Blade Runner thing. I’ve tried to watch a couple of times in the past and can’t make it past the first 1/2 hour. I’m going to give it one more try when the new DVD set hits next week. My plant wanted to let you know that he does freelance stuff for Universal and has nothing to do with Warner Brothers. If he keeps up with the good review, I may give him his own byline. Continue reading Blade Runner – The Final Cut DVD Review from a Plant!→