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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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Going into Detail with In This Corner of the World’s Home Video Release

22 Nov

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

A lot of research went into producing In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に). This anime is now out on home video, released by Shout! Factory on Nov 14th, and the bonus material reveals why this film deserves high marks for not only its story but also in historical accuracy. Not many productions go into exquisite detail and I was amazed.

For comparison, this release also offers a 12-page insert of the manga by Fumiyo Kōno it was based on. The three-volume set is available for purchase and it goes into greater detail for specific set pieces. I have reviewed this film when it made its rounds at theatres (it can be found here) and to watch the featurettes certainly made me appreciate this product more.

I have to agree with the points answered in the interview with Sunao Katabuchi about how this movie redefines what anime can do. Masao Maruyama says this product he helped produce is a very cultural. Although this genre has never been limiting in what tales can be explored — anyone who has watched enough product over the decades can find gems — my choice in what I love to see has been more with historical or biographical works than the usual fantastical material.

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Full Moon Musings on Puppet Master: Axis Termination, Legacy & Laserblast

18 Oct

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By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Hardcore fans are most likely hoping Charles Band’s latest film, Puppet Master: Axis Termination is not spelling out the end of his franchise. This subset of movies brings the pulp-era adventures to completion, perhaps leading into the first movie of the series. There can be more made, as there’s an approximate gap of 40 something years before Puppet Master (it takes place 1989 while the Axis films are during WWII), as the little ones need to find their way home to Bodega Bay Inn. Only time will tell if this producer/director will feel inclined to make more, or is cutting them loose for other filmmakers tell their tale.

With this film, Blade and gang are trading masters yet again. Danny and his girlfriend are not at the helm. Instead, the nefarious Dr. Ivan (George Appleby) gets to be in charge. He needs the boys to help thwart the plans of Gerde Ernst (Tonya Kay) and Krabke (Kevin Scott Allen). These Nazi antagonists have a foothold in Southern California and the war this group of Allies and Nazis are waging is an occult one. Their mission is to discover the key to reanimation. To create a new tiny sized army is the goal, but can either do it?

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