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High Chinese Fantasy is Alive in Big Fish & Begonia

31 May

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Big Fish & Begonia () is a beautifully animated film which takes its afterlife seriously. The people living in a mystical Chinese Middle Earth type realm live harmoniously with the elements but when an individual upsets the natural order, the world will retaliate and the cosmic order will need rebalancing.

This movie debuted in 2016 and it got limited play at select film festivals. After two years, it has finally gotten notice by Shout! Factory and FUNimation. Hopefully, another work, I Am Nezha (我是哪吒) will see release. While one is traditionally animated (2D), the other is 3D. Big Fish is a dramatic product whereas Nezha has more comedy action. To catch either work on the big screen is tough; the release from last month only had a handful of theatres doing short runs.

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The Seven Guardians of the Tomb Aren’t Evil, They are just Misunderstood

11 May

7-guardians-poster.jpgBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

Anyone who has arachnophobia is best advised to avoid Seven Guardians of the Tomb, an Indiana Jones styled adventure wannabe horror film starring Li BingBing and Kelsey Grammer. It wants to be like Tom Cruise’s hackneyed take of The Mummy. The sad part is that I was buying the idea when I first heard about this work. I thought the story might follow along the lines of Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The hunt was on ever since I happened upon mention of this film in a newsletter. It’s finally available on video and on-demand outlets—with my TV service and elsewhere Amazon Prime.

Star power helps draw attention to the film. BingBing is a wonderful talent not only on stage but also on screen. Her role is underutilized with this product. Grammer, no matter what role he takes on, always lends perfect gravitas. He’s amusing as Mason, a character with strong ties to Jia’s (BingBing) family. She has more than enough reasons to not be happy about this fact. When he contacts her to say Luke (Korean superstar Wu Chun), her brother, went missing during an archaeological dig, they form an uneasy alliance.

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Disseminating The Last Will & Testament of Rosalind Leigh, DVD Movie Review

5 May

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

One unique gem for fans of the classic ghost story formula to watch is The Last Will and Testament of Rosaland Leigh. This movie originally released back in 2012 and it is one I frequently watch because it is very poetic, very lucid. It’s produced, written and directed by Rodrigo Gudiño, the founder of Rue Morgue Magazine. To liken it to any other films might give too much of this movie way and ruin the beauty of this film.

When Leon (Aaron Poole) has to settle the affairs of his deceased mother’s home, the horrors he experiences are not his own making. He’s just one of the few main actors who have to carefully navigate through unfortunate memories. As for what they represent, that’s left up to the viewer to decide.

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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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