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Diving into Howard Lovecraft & The Undersea Kingdom

6 Dec

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom is the second chapter of a three-part saga. Here, the child version of this seminal writer (voiced by Kiefer O’Reilly) has to deal with untold dangers from more than one dark world. Youths can be introduced to H.P. Lovecraft before he became the recluse and derisive adult.

This film is  humourous at times. It’s also a safe product to teach young viewers the importance of never forgetting their elders, even when the world shuns them. When considering what the real-life figure was like, perhaps all he needed was more familial love.

After the events of the first film, he has to keep the three books from being put together to form the Necronomicon. He does not know of this tome’s secrets, but in what he learns — how to use magic — he has to use it to fight the minions mad Abdul (Jeffrey Combs) is sending after him! Although his father is committed to a sanitarium and his mother is possessed (and eventually kidnapped), this lad is proving to be able to take on the challenges from the mysterious city of R’yleh and other strange worlds which lays in this maddening multiverse.

This film is adapted from Bruce Brown’s work (original creator) which is published by Arcana Comics. The print edition (available on Amazon) is much more violent when compared to this cinematic version. The changes required to make this product accessible for youths does not distract. Even as I’m thumbing through my hardcover copy of the complete story while watching this film to find what writer and director Sean Patrick O’Reilly changed, general aspects of all three issues (when it was released as individual comics) are retained. He brings much-needed character development to Winfield Scott Lovecraft, the father. While none of this is true to the real life counterpart, to understand this individual offers to fans a hint at what could have influenced the boy to become the man with unsettling dreams.

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The Birth of Gekiga: Tatsumi, A Movie Review

2 Dec

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Tatsumi is a simple animated movie about the birth of a new storytelling form, and it may not be for everyone. I first saw this at the Victoria Film Festival some years ago and knew I eventually have to look for it on Amazon so I can see it again. Of course, the difference between when I will watch it requires me to be in the right mood. Some of the material presented is on the bleak side.

Instead of the traditional comic book style realities that most readers associate manga with, gekiga is a more serious treatment. The narratives can be bleak or sombre, and it is supposed to be an accurate representation of real life. Some art historians say that gekiga is the precursor to the North American graphic novel.

This film begins with a eulogy by the artist himself, Yoshihiro Tatsumi. In the movie, it’s the 7th anniversary of Tezuka’s death and Tatsumi is feeling very introspective about the man he greatly respects. The delivery is a beautiful homage to Tezuka, but that’s not what this film is about.

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Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is not so Chilly & Hints at Sequel

26 Nov

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is the opening act before PIXAR’s Coco, and unless you are a fan of this character, this 20 minute computer animated adventure is almost worth skipping — at least to arrive late at the theater. I can certainly understand why audiences in Mexico disliked it; including it made no sense in a country preparing for Día de Muertos. While the themes certainly connect, Christmas is certainly not in everyone’s mind much less Thanksgiving, which is a American holiday this long weekend.

At the same time, not everyone are fans of Josh Gad. He gets center stage in this story about discovering what festive traditions exist on the day before yuletide and before the bell rings. Anna and Elsa invited their entire kingdom to come celebrate, but instead they politely decline because they have their own to take care off since it’s the eve. Olaf is sad these young ladies do not have their own and embarks on a look at what the people of Arendelle are doing. The list is straight out of Christmas, from candy canes to holiday logs — minus Krampus (he’s further south). A few laughs exist to get younger children smiling.

The new musical numbers are good. The best, of course, is saved for last. The bits of story are said to help bridge entry to the cinematic sequel. As Elsa is finally comfortable with her powers, just what can threaten this kingdom will have to be big. Perhaps there may be an invasion. After all, a few bridges were burnt in the fallout from the last film. Not all the neighboring kingdoms are certain to remain all that friendly.

Peaking into the Layers of Folklore in Pixar’s Coco

24 Nov

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Despite reports of Disney•Pixar having a troubled start in the development of Coco, the movie I saw in all its charming glory and the reveal of how many anthropological experts were acknowledged in the movie credits certainly put any concerns to rest. The fact Hispanic illustrator Lalo Alcaraz was one such person hired on to ensure accuracy made this animated take in what Día de Muertos is about all the more enjoyable. As a group, these people insured this animated film is culturally relevant. Together, with director Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 2 & 3) and writers Adrian Molina, Jason Katz and Matthew Aldrich, they made a film that’s true to the spirit of many past Pixar films, where keeping family ties is important.

Not everyone is fully aware about what the Day of the Dead represents. As a film about young Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) wanting to be a musician instead of a cobbler — against his family’s wishes — just what he has to face in his journey is an adventure. From the land of the living to the city of the dead to find his great-great-grandfather, all he wants is someone’s blessing for what he wants to do for the rest of his life. Upon stealing a guitar in a mausoleum, he inadvertently enters the afterlife and pretty soon, he meets his deceased relatives. They are, pardoning the pun, aghast and side with his great grandmother’s desire to keep the family away from ever enjoying music. None are allowed to listen to it or perform.

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