Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2045 (Season Two) [REVIEW] | To Doublethink Outside The Cage

Yeah, let’s tackle something a bit more challenging before we once again dip our toes in braindead killer animal exploitation crap.

When i reviewed the first season of this new Ghost In The Shell series back in 2020, i wasn’t expecting it would take 2 years before the second part/season would finally air, not because these projects aren’t time consuming (they are), but the general lack of interest in this new 3D CG iteration of the franchise shown by fans and the lack of much news at all almost made wonder if Netflix didn’t consider cancelling.

But then again, in the meantime we saw that it would take a gargantuan dumpster fire such as the live action Cowboy Bebop to make the streaming giant go and actively go “yeah, we’re gonna make more of this trash but we actually decided not to”.

A rare move, given WHAT this company is usually okay with greenlighting in excess, while killing stuff people actually likes.

Still, after a while it became clear this second season wasn’t exactly making anime fans go in the streets to demand it big time. Riots were not made for SAC 2045 Part 2, that much is undeniable.

Eventually, in late May 2022 the second season dropped on Netflix, preceded by a compilation film of the first season, called – fittingly so – GITS SAC 2045: Sustainable Warfare, which we talked about in its EXPRESSO review, and overall served as a good refresher since 2 years had passed.

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Anacondas: Trail Of Blood (2009) [REVIEW] | Bone Cancer Snakes #snakesofjune

It took this series 4 movies, but this we’re actually getting an actual sequel… to Anaconda 3, but still, unlike that claimed to be a sequel to Anaconda: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid, Anaconda 4/Anacondas: Trail Of Blood it’s actually a sequel to Anaconda 3: Offspring, and it has the director of that movie, Don E. Fauntleroy, returning, so let the spunk pumps go off in celebration.

As i’ve said before, you gotta treasure the small things in these movies, and a movie claiming to be a sequel actually being a sequel it’s definitely something you can’t trust/take for granted.

I’m gonna spin this into a positive note, for a change. You can’t stop me.

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Anaconda 3: Offspring (2008) [REVIEW] | Hit That Hoff #snakesofjune

As previously discussed, the Anaconda series did prosper… ok, “continue”, as this third installment was a made for TV movie that originally aired on SciFi, instead of a theathrical release.

And to save some extra buckaroos, you film two shitty TV killer snake movies in some Eastern European country for the price of one, as both Anaconda 3 and the sequel Anaconda: Blood Trail were shot back to back in Romania. I guess Nu Image claimed their “turf” for cheap shooting in Bulgary, so Stage 6 Productions did their business in the other closest country there.

While it’s described as a sequel to The Hunt For The Blood Orchid, the only thing that provides any slim bit of continuity is the name of the pharmaceutical company, Wexel Hall, there’s no returning cast from the second one, heck, not even any returning character. Plot involves an industrialist named Murdoch – played by John Rhys-Davey looking strongly like Pavarotti here – having an anaconda captured from the Amazon River and brought to the company’s Romanian branch to experiment on it a serum made from the Blood Orchid.

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Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid (2004) [REVIEW] #snakesofjune

Let’s go back to a slightly older time, not implying it was a better time per se, just saying that back in the late 90s – early 2000s you still could make B-movies about snakes with good effects and released widely in theathers, and this is true for Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Archid.

Though worry not, even if you didn’t see the original Anaconda (which we covered sometimes ago), this is a stand-alone sequel with a completely different cast and a completely separate plot, with directing duties handled to Dwight Hubbard Little (Marked For Death, Free Willy 2, Halloween 4).

Aside from proving than indeed what it’s old it’s eventually new again, there’s the fact that today this kind of sequel would never reach theathers, heck, not even the first/original movie would.

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[EXPRESSO] Congo’s Caper/Joe & Mac 2 SNES | Sun Wukong Upon A Star

Ah, yes, the three inescapable truths of life: death, taxes and SNES caveman platformers that somehow you didn’t play or knew existed, like todays’s Congo’s Caper, just recently rereleased on the NSW Online subscription/retro apps.

This one it’s a bit more recognizable than stuff like Prehistorik Man, as it’s basically a spin-off of the Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja series by Data East, but also the second game in the series, since it was actually sold as Joe & Mac 2 in Japan and PAL regions.

And i kinda get why, as Data East also recycled some characters from the mainline Joe & Mac series, like the devil or the first stage t-rex boss , and the controls are similar, as it retains the high jump, but not the weapons, as you use only a small club to attack.

The more distinctive feature is the player character turning back into a monkey if hit, and regaining your human form with a red crystal (Mario style), with the ability to enter a “super saiyan” invincibility state too, you’re a half-monkey man after all.

Controls are actually pretty smooth, arguably better than the original Joe & Mac, the new protagonist has some new abilities like hanging from vines, so it should be better…. and it arguably is, it’s definitely more polished, has a lot more levels, BUT it’s too easy for its own good, it’s fun, but it lacks challenge, and the level themselves are very short, while also not providing anything you haven’t seen (or heard, as some of the sound effects are pretty much “ripped off” of Super Mario World…. or its sound libraries) done better in terms of level design.

So it’s not a bad game, but a decent one that could have been potentially quite good.

Shame, really.

[EXPRESSO] Top Gun: Maverick (2022) | The other kind of “dogfighting”

Guess i’m really showing my age in saying i never saw Top Gun in “my days”, but i didn’t, so i simply watched the 1986 movie literal hours before going at the cinema to see this legacy sequel.

And honestly it’s good, it’s a pretty loyal follow up that feels like a proper continuation of where we left off 36 years ago, and while of course the movie has nostalgic moments harking to the original movie, they do serve a purpose as they directly affect some of the events in this sequel, so it ain’t a naked cynical attempt at milking the feels, because the movie honestly earns it.

The plot sees Captain Pete Mitchell basically dragged back by the military to serve as a Top Gun instructor (recommended by Colonel Tom “Iceman” Kazinsky), to prepare new cadets for a secret stealth operation involving the destruction of a soon to be operative uranium refinery captured by a “bandit force”. All made more complicated as among the cadets he sees the son of his old fallen co-pilot “Goose”.

Aside from some modern technological and the more vague identity of the enemy force, it’s pretty much the same formula, where character drama and “military slice of life elements” are the main trust, with a slower pace to compliment that, and the action scenes – despite what you might remember – aren’t the main focus, while they’re important, spectacular, and quite fun, with that level of hollywood bombast allowed by the pseudo-realistic approach.

For better or worse (like it being Air Force advertising), it’s definitely Top Gun.

This sequel also has more actual plot for the narrative to “stand on”, and the slightly longer runtime is mostly to add more action scenes of aerial combat, so overall it’s solid good blockbuster fun.

Fate EXTELLA: Link PS4 [REVIEW] | #musoumay

3 years after putting out Fate Extella: The Umbral Star, Marvelous followed up with the sequel, Fate EXTELLA: Link.

And yes, it’s a sequel, taking place after the “true/actual ending” of The Umbral Star, where the protagonist and “child Altera” are suddendly approached by attack programs, only to be saved by a new Servant of the Saber class, identifiying itself as Charlemagne.

He then explains that within SE.RA.PH a new threat has arisen, with a self-dubbed “Conquering Emperor” that’s bent on controlling all the digital created world by a mind control/brain wash process he dubs “Oraclization”. The protagonist, with his/her Servants Nero Claudius and Tamamo are then helped further by this new ally, as Charlemagne gifts them a new flying fortress where to organize the counter-offensive and figure out how to stop the plans of this mysterious “Emperor”.

And no, it’s not Caligula. Gotta specify that, it’s Fate we’re talking about, that could have been a honestly sensible guess.

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[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).

War Of The Colossal Beast (1958) [REVIEW] | Recasting The Giant

Last year we tackled The Amazing Colossal Man, so it just common courtesy to cover the sequel, War Of The Colossal Beast, released just 1 year after and again directed, written and produced by the master of rear-projection cinema, Bert I. Gordon.

And yes, this isn’t just a loose remake/redo that might or might not take place after the original, this is actually a sequel, which isn’t always a given for this kind of movie, even more since it wasn’t marketed as a sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man (hence the title that doesn’t include “colossal man” in it) and the cast is different. But like the first movie, it was originally released as a double-feature, this time with another Bert I. Gordon flick, Attack Of The Puppet People, which i already mentioned in the review for The Amazing Colossal Man (and has an amazing Rifftrax version out).

After an alarming number of food delivery trucks robberies in Mexico, Joyce Manning, the sister of lieutenant Glenn Manning, starts to investigate and believes his brother, mutated into the giant, actually survived being shot by a tank and falling off the Boulder Dam, as she suspect he might be behind the delivery trucks being robbed of food.

Continua a leggere “War Of The Colossal Beast (1958) [REVIEW] | Recasting The Giant”

[EXPRESSO] Matrix: Resurrections (2021) | Present Day, Present Time

An obligatory preface: i didn’t see the movies since i was Matrix Revolutions in theathers, but i remember the story more or less. I say this because the storyline actually continued from Revolutions into the videogame Matrix Online, but i never played that or cared to read its wikia.

And i also know this already proved to be very divisive.

I can see why, as Lana Wachoski uses the premise as a meta-manifest to lament the absurdity of these “decade laters” sequels , publicly venting how she was basically badgered for decades in making a sequel despite no real plans for it, as it happens to every franchise with any following or nostalgia brought back from the cold dark grave, regardless if there was any point, merit or reason.

We live in a post-Space Jam 2 world, after all.

I will concede that this movie it’s flawed, it is, and i kinda hate when it goes “remember that?”, but at the same time this movie has actually the balls to use this meta-context in order to to make a real sequel to the series with something to say, instead of working as a banal “series best hits”.

I can’t assure you’ll like it, but i’d say it’s worth watching nonetheless because it has the edge of actually having a purpose, a vision (the plot has a pretty smart way to “modernize/justify” a fourth movie), not just to exist in absolute and risk averse complancency, the action it’s great, and it has heart, even if it’s flawed and at times so excessively earnest it becomes goofy, but the confidence still shines through.

Though with it feeling a bit long and some of the meta “gags” being sometimes grating, i can’t fully say it’s “good”.

But i still recommend seeing it, absolutely.