Rapid-Fire Reviews | Starship Troopers: Invasion

Info:

Genre: Science-fiction, animation

Director/s: Shinji Aramaki

Running Time: 88 mins

Budget: Unknown

Released: 21 July 2012 (Japan)

Okay, first thing’s first.  I feel that I need to clear up the first bit of bullshit about Starship Troopers: Invasion.  Claiming that this film is – “A fast-paced thrill ride that tops the original”, as it says on the cover is a ridiculously stupid statement, clearly designed to manipulate people into buying the film, as it is simply not so.  The original Starship Troopers (1997) was (and still is) an amazing film, filled with space marines, giant bugs and gratuitous violence, placing it among my all-time favourite sci-fi flicks.  Filmmakers attempted to replicate the awesomeness of the original with two sequels – Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008), but they turned out to be such a load of crap that needless to say, when Invasion came along, I completely overlooked it until I realized it was animated.  While Starship Troopers: Invasion has all the aforementioned ingredients that made the first film so great, it definitely lacks the energy and originality that gives a film everlasting re-playability.  The animation is great, seemingly photo-realistic at times, in a similar style to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and everything from the bugs to the space-cruisers have been faithfully recreated in CGI.  A notable difference is the mechanized power-armour that the troopers wear (resembling Master Chief somewhat) as opposed to the regular uniforms of the infantrymen as seen in the first film.  The characters in Invasion are relatively one-dimensional, expendable and utterly forgettable, lacking any modicum of soul that made their predecessors so interesting.  Even though some of the characters return in this sequel, including – Carmen Ibanez, Carl Jenkins and Johnny Rico (resembling Big Boss), they are a far cry from their former, charismatic selves.  My only other gripe with this film is the ‘Invasion’ title.  The bugs only get to Earth in the last twenty minutes, and there’s no actual invasion as the troopers manage to contain the bugs within the confines of the ship that brought them to the planet, so not exactly the all out mankind vs. giant alien bug brawl it should’ve been.

Conclusion

Starship Troopers: Invasion isn’t without its good points – there is plenty of action and gore present in the film and the animation is pretty damn good.  A few new bugs keep things interesting and though Invasion pales in comparison to the original film, it proves to be vastly superior to the last couple of sequels.

Grade: C

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Wallpapers – Brave

Resolution – 1920 x 1200 | Aspect Ratio – 16:10

Batman: Under the Red Hood

Info:

Genre: Action, suspense, superhero, animation

Director/s: Brandon Vietti

Running Time: 75 mins

Budget: Unknown

Released: 27 July 2010 (USA)

Plot:

Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when the Joker falls in the balance between the two, hard truths are revealed and old wounds are reopened – imdb

Review:

Batman: Under the Red Hood is the eighth installment in the ‘DC Universe Animated Original Movies’ franchise and it’s refreshing to see that DC and Warner Bros have taken a mature stance with Batman’s latest outing (being animated and all) as Under the Red Hood is composed of dark themes and hard moral choices.  I think that after the success of The Dark Knight, DC’s decision to move one of their flagship characters into a more realistic and brutal world has been for the best as this film was brilliant.

The Joker returns, as maniacal as ever.

The opening scene in this film is testament to the mature direction that the creators have decided to employ – The Joker beats the young Robin to a bloody pulp with a crowbar and then finally as an added bonus, everyone’s favourite psychopath blows up Robin with high explosives.

The first thing that I noticed about this film is the music, seemingly influenced by The Dark Night, Batman: Under the Red Hood has a beautifully orchestrated and haunting (at times) score, which compliments the film brilliantly.  I also noticed that fan favourite Mark Hamill did not lend his voice to the Joker (a bit disappointing) and in fact none of the familiar voices from past Batman animated films/series are present in this installment, though this is probably due to the fact that Under the Red Hood isn’t part of the classic ‘Batman Animated Series’ franchise which Batman fans are undoubtedly familiar with.  In fact, the animation in this film is quite brilliant and by far exceeds previous entries (with the exception of Batman: Gotham Knight).

…Under the Red Hood is composed of dark themes and hard moral choices…

Based upon the 2005 story arc  in the main Batman title – Under the Hood (issues #635 – 641), I have no idea how faithful this adaptation was as I have yet to read the Under the Hood arc, however if the film is anything to go by then the source material, written by Judd Winick, must really be something special.

The new big hitter in Gotham City - The Red Hood.

The storyline manages to keep things fresh (though the ‘plot twist’ was predictable) by delving further into the psyche of the Batman as he deals with the guilt of not being able to save his partner as well as upholding his moral code when a new vigilante/crime boss – The Red Hood, reckons that he is cleaning the streets of Gotham City up of crime better than the Dark Knight ever could as he isn’t held in place by an ethical code that bars the Batman from killing his foes.  Needless to say there is also tonnes of action scenes that will keep bat fans happy.

In conclusion, Batman: Under the Red Hood is an awesome addition to DC’s growing library of animated films and a must-see for all Batman fans.  Highly recommended.

Dante’s Inferno – An Animated Epic

Info:

Genre: Animation, horror, action

Director/s: Mike Disa (supervising director), Victor Cook, Shukou Murase, Nam Jong-Sik, Lee Seung-Gyu, Kim Sang-Jin, & Yasoumi Umetsu (sequence directors)

Writer/s: Brandon Auman

Running Time: 88 mins

Budget: n/a

Released: 9 February 2010

Plot:

Based upon the EA/Visceral Games video-game, Dante must traverse the nine circles of Hell to save his beloved Beatrice.

Review:

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding EA/Visceral Games’ latest video-game entry; Dante’s Inferno (which I will review once I’ve completed the game) and to promote the game even further Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media in association with EA have released a straight-to DVD/Blu-Ray animated adaptation of the video-game.

The film uses what I like to call ‘The Animatrix Formula’, whereby the film is divided up into several sections (in this case; chapters) each of which is directed/animated by a different animation studio.  While the continuity remains intact, it’s clear that the animation changes as Dante’s appearance and the world around him will differ slightly according to the animation style.  For me, the change in animation is both interesting and fun to watch as I can see how a different director is able to interpret the same subject matter in his own unique way.

…Dante is involved in battle, slaying one demon after the next, from topless she-demons to demonic unbaptized infants with knives for arms…

Though it must be said, if you intend on playing the game, in my opinion it would be best to watch Dante’s Inferno – An Animated Epic after having completed the video-game.  The film acts as a summary of the game so you’ll basically know exactly how the game will play out.

As for the movie itself, Dante’s Inferno articulates the vision of Hell in brutal, gory detail, from beginning to end Dante is involved in battle, slaying one demon after the next, from topless she-demons to demonic unbaptized infants with knives for arms, the depths of Hell have no limits.  As Dante passes through each circle of hell, we learn more about his past and why his beloved Beatrice (a pure soul) is trapped in Hell.

While this animated film is far from ‘epic’, I enjoyed it nonetheless, Dante’s journey into the depths of hell is highly entertaining, if only for the extreme violence and machinations of Lucifer.  While most of the animation studios involved were Asian, the original dub seems to be English language and thankfully the English voice-acting is very good.  If you like your animation morbid and gory, you can’t go wrong with Dante’s Inferno – An Animated Epic.