[EXPRESSO] Full Metal Alchemist The Final Chapter: The Final Alchemy/The Last Transmutation (2022) | Finally Finality Forever

Well, that was quicker than i expected, as part 2 of the finale for the live-action FMA movie trilogy is now available worldwide on Netflix.

For those of you unaware, yep, they made 3 of these things, and btw, SPOILERS beware, because this adapts the final part of the manga, picking up exactly where Scar The Avenger ended, with Envy, Edward and Ling getting swallowed up inside Gluttony… after we’re introduced to Izumi and her husband meeting Hohenheim, father of the Elric brothers.

Then we’re up to the frozen fort of Briggs, meeting Olivia Armstrong, and the whole conspiracy behind the Homunculus, Van Hohenheim and the foundation of Amestris is revealed.

As with the previous movies, there are some changes and cuts to the plot (including some axed characters), , but – as said before – it’s fairly faithful all thing considered, and as one would expect it’s the longer one, almost clocking at 2 hours and a half.

Though i wish it was a bit longer, as in some istances they kinda overdo it and you get the feel that you somehow missed some scenes, as the editor just assumes the audience to already know exactly what was supposed to happen, while rushing, abridging the shit out or outright cutting sequences that were reasonably expected to be included.

Even more odd as this issue could have mostly resolved with 10/15 extra minutes, it’s the final movie of this trilogy and it’s already pretty long, but still, nothing that seriously harms the experience, same for the somewhat inconsistent quality of the cheapish CG for the Homunculus.

Overall, The Last Transmutation it’s on par with the previous FMA live-action movies in terms of quality, it’s decent and mostly faithful, regardless of any “need” for these to exist in the first place.

[EXPRESSO] MEN (2022) | Manstalking 101

AH, yes, that sequel to The Woman we were waiting for, and by Alex Garland nonetheless, um!

One hell of a title that goes straight to the point, does tell you what it’s actually about, and it’s not ashamed to be beyond blunt in the handling of its themes of misoginy and female abuse.

The movie tells of a woman renting out a house in a small countryside english village for two weeks, in order for her to recover from seeing her husband commit suicide (by jumping off from a balcony in the apartment above theirs) after she decided to finally divorce him.

But instead of some quiet solace to process events, she’s stalked by a naked man from the woods, and confronted by a variety of other men that are either condescending, hostile, weird or abusive, most of which seem to share the same face.

To be honest, considering the director involved, MEN it’s kinda disappointing, and not necessarily because it’s so decisively non-subtle about its themes (after all, social media showed us how subtlety is less and less effective), but more because the script lacks the usual sophistication and quality, so we have this really good cast and direction, some incredible (and incredibly disgusting) scenes in the latter half that in themselves make the movie worth seeing, good atmosphere..

…. but also a very slow moving first act, and the script trying to make up for its excessively straightforward nature by overdosing on the “A24”-isms to the point it’s kinda silly, since it mostly stylistic filler that should have been dialed back, since it doesn’t add any real substance and hammer over the already obvious motifs.

Again, it’s just disappointing, but overall a decent horror thriller still worth watching, as the final act definitely delivers “the goods”.

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #6: Baron Omatsuri and The Secret Island (2005)

Oh yes, this one, you’re in for something absolutely special and one hell of a treat.

And i mean “special”, because it sound absolutely absurd in retrospect that Mamoru Hosoda directed an One Piece film early in its career, but did so with a script written by Masahiro Ito of Silent Hill fame. Heck, i can imagine it sounded like a bonkers proposal even back in 2005, and time here ages everything in Baron Omatsuri and The Secret Island like fine wine.

Most of these movies based off long-running shonen series are fairly formulaic, it’s just how it is and it often is, for a gaggle of various & obvious reasons that most of my readers won’t really need explained, so you don’t need much to make yourself stand out.

In other words, this movie didn’t need to go as hard as it did, but i’m so glad for it.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #6: Baron Omatsuri and The Secret Island (2005)”

[One Piece Film Retrospective] #5: The Cursed Holy Sword (2004)

When preparing to do this new One Piece films retrospective, there was one in particular i was dreading to cover again, that i istantly knew i wasn’t gonna like having to watch another time for review purposes. Yes, i didn’t particularly care for the first official One Piece movie, but i always had “beef” with The Cursed Holy Sword, even on a conceptual level it irked me greatly.

But i’m a man fond of redemption tale, and giving this movie a second chance after all was just professional courtesy as a critic, after all it’s a “re-view” in name, fact and spirit.

I will recognize that one could see this movie in particular as an attempt to offer something a bit different from before in terms of movie outings, i can’t fault that mindset, but i still feel like this was a previous script for another shonen series that was repurposed for another, more popular IP, regardless if was a good fit or not.

And yes, i would argue the fantasy-heavy storyline doesn’t really fit the world of One Piece much, usually the weird stuff it’s all due to some Devil Fruit ability or something that is treated akin to science, something that its grounded in its own reality, see the Skypiea arc treatment of the “gods in the sky” kerfuffle. Put another way, 99 % is just stuff that it’s explained in-universe sooner or later, i mean, it fits with the underlying “age of discovery” angle the pirate theme often brings.

Continua a leggere “[One Piece Film Retrospective] #5: The Cursed Holy Sword (2004)”

Noah’s Shark (2021) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs

Since i couldn’t find the 2017’s Land Shark (not the chinese one we reviewed last year), let’s pick something a bit more recent from the output of Mark Polonia that also almost makes want to revisit and review Shark Exorcist… again. I still don’t want to.

So let us bask in the nourishing homemade waters of Noah’s Shark.

It was either that or “Jurassic Shark 2: Aquapocalypse”, also by Mark Polonia and released in 2021.

Banger of a title, perfect bait for both the naive and the connosseur of “no budget homegrown cinema” that dares challenge audiences with crappy stopmotion dinosaurs and papermaciè sharks.

But still, even in this tier of poverty filmaking we’ve seen worse.

Continua a leggere “Noah’s Shark (2021) [REVIEW] #sharksncrocs”

[EXPRESSO] Studio 666 (2022) | Dave Grohl Made Me Do It

No, this is not a Jojo reference, nor its one of those weird hybrid music video-concert films (see for example Metallica’s Through The Never), this a full on fictionalized affair, and one i’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. Sure, rock and metal superstar bands aren’t new to cinematic experiences about their personas, but the pitch-premise of a comedy horror starring Dave Ghrol and his bandmates as themselves it’s so good it’s hard to ignore.

As the band Foo Fighters it’s struggling to come up with ideas for its tenth studio album, they get recommended a secluded house in Encino, California, where in the 70s a band called Dream Widow went to record an album, ending with the frontman massacring all the band members before killing himself. The band settles in despite the creepy vibes they pick up from the house, but things get progressively out of hand, leading to Dave Grohl being possessed by a demon. Among other things.

It’s a good dang premise, and thankfully the script and direction are up to snuff to make the most of the pitch, having a zany time with horror cliches and the expected “behind the music” stuff, with the band proving to be very good sports in this delightfully ridiculous comedy horror romp, especially Dave Grohl overacting like a champ as he grows progressively more obsessed once he manages to “magically” get over his artistic block.

Yeah, it’s pretty funny, there’s more to the story than expect, and Studio 666 isn’t afraid to be extra cheesy and honestly it’s kinda surprising that the effects are very good, but besides that, i’ve seen horror movies that try to take themselves seriously but ultimately wish they could pull off even half-successfully a random jumpscare this movie uses as a joke.

Recommended!

[EXPRESSO] Black Phone (2021) | The Basement Dead

Time for some fresh meat, as this one will drop in theathers here in a week’s time, but i manage to see this earlier preview screening, and boy i’m glad i did, as i’ve heard of this movie before but kinda forgot when or if it was gonna come out in theathers here.

Based on the short story of the same name by Joe Hill, Black Phone is the new feature from Sinister ‘s (and the 2016’s Doctor Strange, as marketing makes abundantly clear) director Scott Derrickson, telling the story of a serial killer – dubbed “The Grabber” by the community – that in 1978 terrorizes a suburban town in Colorado by kidnapping children, with the sixth being the 13 yo Finny Shaw. While being imprisoned, Finny realizes that the black phone in the basement, despite having the line physically severed, acts a conduit for the Grabber’ previous victims to talk with the boy and hopefully help him escape. At the same time, Finny’s sister begins to have weird dreams, or visions..

You know when the trailer and most of the marking material makes the movie look good and “proper”, you go see it and then it’s actually quite good? Yeah, Black Phone it’s one of those.

Not only the setting it’s good, the presentation excellent at using “low budget tricks” like scenes filmed or edited to feel like era archive footage (which is not surprising given the director), all contributing to avoid the common modern mistake of “overly produced/shiny horror movies”, it’s a pretty creepy slice of that late 70s’ suburban America, with a really good atmosphere, a little bit of well integrated comedy and great characters all around, with the villain being as creepy as he looks.

Pretty good, fairly intense and quite satisfying to boot. Recommended.

Dynasty Warriors (2021) [REVIEW] | Wuxia Warriors Of The Three Kingdoms

One last review to end this year’s Musou May (and yes i want to make this a regular column) proper, and it couldn’t be anything else than the Dynasty Warriors live-action film that came out last year in Chinese territories and has landed on Netflix pretty much everywhere. In 2021.

I genuinely did not knew it arrived last summer, and somehow Netflix forgot to tell me they even had it, shocking given my cronology, and due to me genuinely looking forward more to the movie than to mainline Dynasty Warriors games, as i’ve lamented before.

Though it’s one that both leaves you with a lot and very little to talk about, at least in terms of plot, since the series it’s one of the many adaptations of the Romance Of The Three Kingdoms novel, and despite their over the top nature, the games stayed fairly loyal to the source material in terms of characters and events, heck, even on stuff like the sparing supernatural-magic elements.

Continua a leggere “Dynasty Warriors (2021) [REVIEW] | Wuxia Warriors Of The Three Kingdoms”

Ninety Nine Nights X360 [REVIEW] | #musoumay

In the 2000s, the Dynasty Warriors series (and most of its subseries) was not well received in western grounds, often maligned by people that never even gave the formula a real chance but eager to play them for 5 minutes, stop and write some half-baked “review”, because it was cool to bash musou games, and they’re a niche interest anyway, who cares.

But that didn’t stop various other company from having a go at the formula, often proclaiming that them alone knew how to “fix” musou games… and then churning out shit that only demonstrated how people genuinely misunderstood the formula and the appeal of these games, often thinking that they just needed to beef up the enemy IA… leading to crap like Spartan Total Warrior.

One of the “musou pretenders” from that era was definitely Ninety Nine Nights, or N3 because we’re cool like that, dawg. Drop the beets for the l33t.

A X-Box 360 exclusive launch title, developed by Q Entertaiment and Phantagram, Ninety Nine Nights also had a fairly rushed development cycle, which you can really tell from the story perspective. It’s the usual “Light VS Darkness” bullshit set in a medieval-ish looking world with all expected high fantasy races and tropes: goblin, trolls, orcs, dragons and all dat shit.

Continua a leggere “Ninety Nine Nights X360 [REVIEW] | #musoumay”

Berserk and The Band Of The Hawk PS4 [REVIEW] #musoumay

Even if i reviewed (or re-reviewed, since i did already cover this one in 2017 on my older Italian blog) this one before of Miura’s passing, i would have told a tale of sadness, woe and disappointment.

But i won’t deny that with Kentaro Miura spiralling out of this mortail coil just over a year ago… there’s an extra serving of melancholy to the subject, which it’s ironically fitting in its own way.

As you would expect, there was some expectations at the time, even more since Koei Tecmo teased it and made a big deal about one this being one of more bloody and violent Warriors games ever…. and in hindsight it’s very telling, as they also did this lip service for Warriors Of Troy. Oh boy.

That aside, you would expect the Berserk musou to be pretty bloody and gory regardless, and it definitely delivered on that, can’t take it away from the game. I can though laugh at the fuckin localized english title they went with for this game, Berserk’s main character has a name, and a pretty not-generic one, you know?

He’s called Gatsu/Guts, just so you know.

Though that it’s not completely random, as the game starts from the Golden Age arc and covers up to the Hawk of the Millennium Empire Arc, with them boarding the ship after fighting Ganisha serving as the closing chapter.

Continua a leggere “Berserk and The Band Of The Hawk PS4 [REVIEW] #musoumay”