[EXPRESSO] Dampyr (2022) | Bonelli: The Masquerade

While i made clear i was very familiar with Dylan Dog’s source material in the review of Dylan Dog Dead Of Night, i can say quite the opposite for this new adaptation of an italian comic book series distribuited by Bonelli Editore, Dampyr, debutting at this year’s Lucca Comics & Games with renewed aspirations of a Bonelli MCU-thing.

So if you were looking for an in-depth review from a fan of the series, i’m not the guy this time, even if the situation it’s convenient for the sake of a more unbiased piece.

Set in the war torn Balkans during the early 1990s, Dampyr it’s about Harlan, a guy that manages to survive by posing as a dhampir (a half-human half-vampire hybrid in slavic folklore) for superstitious small villages, but it ends up dragged into the war as a unit of soldiers is attacked by vampires and Halan is brought there to help as a last resort. Little does he know he IS an actual dhampir, and the horrible dreams he constantly has are hints to his actual origins…

The vampire lore isn’t anything amazing but ain’t totally copy and pasted either, it has some inventions of its own (you can tell this was based on a comic book, regardless), acting by the international cast it’s fairly decent, the war-torn Balkans are a nicely bleak setting, production values aren’t shabby at all, the movie it’s definitely more than just “presentable”.

Overall, Dampyr it’s a fun, quite decent film, fairly entertaining but not much more, especially with some very cliched turns the story takes and the ouvert sequelbaiting. And the slightly confusing fact that two important characters basically look almost identical, like gothic vampire armored Alan Rickmans (or italian singer Renato Zero, for the “homies”) despite being played by different actors.

The Spooktacular Eight #14: Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night (2010)

As they announced via a trailer early this month, we’re gonna have Bonelli, an italian comic books publishing house, give another crack of turning one of their decades long running series into a live action film, with the movie adaptation of Dampyr, a horror comic book series created in 2000 by Mauro Boselli and Maurizio Colombo about the supernatural adventures of the protagonist, a hybrid between a human and a vampire (so, yes, a “dhampir”), set to release very soon in theathers here.

Not only that, this is supposed to kickstart the Bonelli Cinematic Universe, and while to many non-italians readers this sounds like a cheap joke i’m making up…. it ain’t, and from a more marketing-oriented view, it makes sense, as now the time is ripe to give it a shot as audiences are familiar and used to superhero stories and stuff alike.

Still, it sounds hilarious to me to see them still trying to go this route, as if Universal itself tried and managed to cock it up not once, but twice, and in general very few players can do the MCU thing.

So it’s worth bringing back that the precedents aren’t exactly high in terms of inspiring any confidence or actual committment to any long term plan, as we saw Sergio Bonelli’s publishing house try it more than a decade ago with the live action adaptation of a far more famous italian horror-supernatural comic book series that will ring a bell even outside of Italy.

Continua a leggere “The Spooktacular Eight #14: Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night (2010)”

Resident Evil: The Series (2022) [REVIEW] Teens & Weskers

Oh boy. This one.

So good a couple of months after its release Netflix cancelled the series all together.

Exactly like it did for its Cowboy Bebop’s live action series, but i doubt this will be the last time we see this treatment, as Netflix is committed to bring more live action crap into its folds, especially by picking a “random” videogame or anime/manga license.

But that discussion will have to wait for when the One Piece live-action series (also by Netflix and also handled by the same production team behind the aforementioned live-action Cowboy Bebop), for this is a Resident Evil affair, and the series already had its own spotted history of adaptations.

I was gonna review this thing anyway, but cancelling any further seasons it’s definitely a move that appeals to my vulturine tendencies, and also means i hopefully won’t have to talk about it again at a later date. Hopefully, who the hell knows with Netflix nowadays, since not even instant super mega hits that are well received by most people like The Sandman (adapted from Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name)… aren’t guaranteed a second season, as the very people making it explained.

Continua a leggere “Resident Evil: The Series (2022) [REVIEW] Teens & Weskers”

[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] Full Metal Alchemist: The Final Chapter – The Avenger Scar (2022) | Alexander “Ahoge Cum Head Tumor” Armstrong

As you might be aware, more live-action Full Metal Alchemist films were on to way to make it a trilogy, actually a two parter, announced last year to celebrate the manga’s 20th anniversary, directed by Fumihiko Sori (Ping Pong, Vexille) and both already released theathrically this year in Japan.

Now we’re getting the first part of this “Final Chapter”, The Avenger Scar, internationally via Netflix, so let’s talk about it, i did review the first FMA live action film back in 2017.

It follow directly from when the 2016’s FMA movie left, and – as the title lays out – it’s about a nameless serial killer that is roaming about Central City offing State Alchemists, dubbed “Scar” due to his “X” shaped headwound.

The brothers encounter Scar but suffer defeat and have to escape, while the intrigues surrounding the military and the Homunculus unfold..

Like the previous movie, you’ll ask yourself why bother making live-actions like these, for the obvious reasons, which include some character designs clearly never meant for real people.

I wasn’t ready to see live-action Alexander Armstrong, nor could i ever be. Jesus.

If you can get over the many absurdities that come from the “anime/manga to live-action” transition, you’ll find a decent, fairly faithful adaptation of this part of the series, with some changes to the plot that basically relocate some events earlier or later and some fairly necessary concessions that had to be made anyway to have a 2 hours film.

It’s not the bad adaptation you think it is, nor it does the material quite the justice it deserves, but it’s a decent retelling, acting it’s ok, and it does what it sets out to do.

With some questionable effects at times, but at least it’s definitely better than the Bleach live action movie.

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”

[EXPRESSO] Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2022) | & Knuckles

Might as well, since i did watch the first live action Sonic movie 2 years ago, i didn’t hate it, so let’s see if there are some improvements or whatever. Shame that since it’s dubbed here i won’t be able to hear Idris Elba voicing Knuckles, but what can you do?

After banishing Eggman/Robotnik into another dimension at the end of the first movie, Sonic and his acquired human family move to a peaceful town in Montana. Sonic tries to moonlight as a superhero-vigilante but as he causes more trouble by doing so he’s recommended to lay low and wait until his powers will be needed again.

Turns out that time is sooner than expected, as Dr. Robotnik comes back from his fungine dimensional exile, bringing a powerful creature known as Knuckles fighting for him in search of the fabled Master Emerald, while Sonic finds an ally in the two-tailed fox Tails.

To my surprise, this one (in a similar fashion to the actual videogame sequel of the original Sonic The Hedgehog game) is better, still nothing mind blowing, but it’s definitely a step up, not only as the story ups the ante (as expected), introduces more characters, but also has more lore about the world from where Sonic was born, with the owls vs echidnas wars and stuff.

It’s just more fleshed out all around, with even the human characters having some funny bits, the various elements from the game being integrated more into the plot, which is pretty much predictable all the way but quite enjoyable, in no small part thanks – once again – to Jim Carrey’s gargantuan serving of acting ham as Doctor Robotnik, but also due to the more substantial plot.

It’s honestly a decent family-kids movie with a 90s flair (deliberately and fittingly so).

[EXPRESSO] Uncharted (2022) | Not The Erudite Henchman!

After years of delays, some vague posters showing a confused main cast that felt out of place and a trailer, the Uncharted movie its finally in cinemas pretty much worlwide, promising something with Tom Holland, Mark Whalberg and action adventure movie cliches based on a videogames that also looked at spy flicks, heist movies and Tomb Raiders as inspirations.

Personally, i had only one question in mind before seeing this: could it be worse than the shit Tomb Raider movie from 2018? Really was aggressively bored by that one and its undecisive handling of the mystical stuff, i still remember being way more frustrated than entertained when watching it.

I mean, this at least being directed by Ruben Fleischer (of Zombieland and Venom fame), so i did expect something out of it, despite the project looking very mediocre, at the very best… and i’m glad he directed it, as it moves about a great pace, the action is what you would expect from the material (and in turn the material Uncharted itself pillages/is inspired by), and there are some fun action sequences that stand out, like the airborne pirate ship battle.

It helps as it’s a very miscast adaptation, with lead actors chosen because they’re popular Hollywood faces and… that’s it, you never believe that Holland and Walhberg (or Banderas) are actually playing a character, at all, not that their characters resemble the ones from the games they’re supposed to represent, with a younger Nathan Drake that doesn’t tally up a respectable body count, because i guess Tom Holland would never do that as Spider Man doesn’t kill people, let alone with guns.

It’s not bad, it’s fine, but also the generic and lukewarm videogame movie adaptation you would expect, honestly even the games themselves have better stories.

Serviceable, though.

[EXPRESSO] Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City (2021) | Herbal Bundle

Finally time to review this one, the first reboot movie for the Resident Evil film series, distancing itself from the previous films by Paul W. Anderson in order to make a more faithful adaptation.

Helmed by 47 Meters Down director Johannes Roberts, Resident Evil Welcome To Raccoon City basically provides an abridged retelling combining the plot of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 into a single one. Not completely random as both games’ plot take place in Raccon City, where in 1998 the farmaceutical megacorporation Umbrella Corporation had basically withdraw from operating, leaving the city to wither.

After an epidemic turns people and animals into undead monsters, a squad of local police officers is sent to investigate the Spencer Mansion in the nearby mountain area, while other survivors rally to survive the horrors left by Umbrella.

There are various changes and differences, often kinda necessary due to the merging of the two plots, which leads to the movie feeling rushed, as i feared. Aside from some hamfisted (but still cute) references, the movie actually captures pretty well the horror B-movie spirit of the games, and actually wants to be a horror film.

And it succeds, the atmosphere is nice and creepy, there’s a lot of practical effects, the characters are mostly quite accurate, and most of the elements from the games are used with sense in-context.

It’s not perfect, the cast is decent but there is some questionable acting and the “plot mix” it’s a source of other issues, but overall it’s actually quite solid and enjoyable.

Shame because this is arguably the better, more faithful RE live action adaptation… but it’s shaping up to be a box office bomb, not surprising since it was released in late November, and the “Thanksgiving holiday weekend” window makes sense only for Americans.

[EXPRESSO] Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop (Season One) (2021) | It’s time we blow

I was gonna make a full review, but then realized it wasn’t deserving of it.

Often you see people wondering who the hell is the target for live action adaptations of anime series that etched theirselves as classics, even more when it’s a series that become a hit even outside the anime circles, so you can’t really pull the snarky excuse “no normal people have seen the thing”.

In this case, i feel no one, because it’s incredible how they managed to create something that not only the fans will despise but newcomers will just find bad, and wonder why the hell people liked Cowboy Bebop to begin with.

An adaptation of an anime that should actually work better than most in live action, but manages to be a genuine complete wreck.

It’s also a live action adaptation made by and for people that scoff at anime, because that sentiment it’s made pretty much manifest by the many changes made to excuse, justify or alter many elements and expand on stuff regardless if it makes sense or if it’s good.

This was always gonna be different from the original, but this is such a witless, soulless, boring, badly paced and barely recognizable adaptation that fundamentally misunderstands the material and it’s willing do any random garbage with it, hypocritically treating the original as gospel but without really respecting it, or even understanding it, not really caring too much to anyway.

The fairly cheap CG it sparely uses to remember you it’s technically set in space doesn’t help. I seriously hope the budget for the One Piece live action they’re also working is higher than this.

The cast it’s quite good and does an unbelievable job, but they can’t save this pitiable, hackneyed, utterly ill-conceived trash from itself. Don’t even bother hatewatching it.