Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Scary Story

Anybody out there like scary stories? Anyone? Just me then? Well I’m going to tell you about this one anyway. I’ve been reading this manga, that’s a Japanese comic book, called Monster. The author is Naoki Urasawa, credited as Japan’s master of suspense. And the series is fifteen volumes long, so it’s taken me awhile, but I am currently on the fourteenth, and brrrrr! It’s been quite a journey.

The story starts in 1986, in Düsseldorf, then West Germany. A neurosurgeon named Kenzo Tenma is struggling with hospital politics. His superiors would rather he saved the lives of famous people, if given a choice between an opera singer and a Turkish woman’s husband, for example. But Tenma has too much of a conscience and he believes that all patients lives are equal.

So, when a fatally injured boy named Johan Liebert is brought in one night, and the mayor is brought in shortly after, what do you think Tenma does? His bosses want him to operate on the mayor, citing his expertise. But Tenma doesn’t believe the mayor to be any more important than the life of a little boy. He also determines that the doctor assigned to operate on Johan would probably screw it up. So, in defiance of his superiors, doctor Tenma saves Johan’s life.

However, the mayor doesn’t survive. This could be the end of Tenma’s career. His bosses want to make sure everybody knows it’s his fault the mayor died, and moreover, they refuse to credit him with saving little Johan, trying to turn the whole thing into publicity for the hospital. Also, his fiancé, Eva Heinaman, who is also the hospital director’s daughter, dumps him.

And just as Tenma’s life lies in rubble, the hospital director and a few other hospital officials die under mysterious circumstances. This results in Tenma being appointed chief surgeon. Johan and his twin sister Ana simply vanish. Eleven years pass and Johan comes back into Tenma’s life. And what do you know, the kid's a serial killer.

So now, Tenma chases after Johan, intent on correcting the mistake he made eleven years ago. Along the way, he runs into all kinds of characters, like Johan’s sister, who now goes by Nina Fortner. Inspector Lunge, who has a perfect memory. And Mr. Grimmer, who’s always smiling. And at the center of it all, always a step ahead, the sinister and mysterious Johan. The monster.

It’s a very chilling series to read, and I can see why Naoki Urasawa is Japan’s suspense master. If you deicide to pick it up, remember that manga is formatted right to left, so don’t try reading it the way your used to or you’ll get confused.

Anyway, see you later!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Dark Knight Review

Finally got my sister to see The Dark Knight this week, now I just need to get my parents to see it. This is the second time I've seen it, and it makes me wish I still worked at a theatre so I could see it anytime I wanted.

First of all, Christian Bale is Batman. Now I did like Micheal, Val, and George well enough, but it's like choosing a favorite James Bond. Shawn Connery, George Lasenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig all did Bond a little differently, but they defined the character for their time. That's what Christian Bale does for Batman.

And Heath Ledger as the Joker? Wow! After this, there's just no way they'll be able to use the Joker in a movie anytime soon. Nobody could follow Heath's performance. I mean, I've seen the Joker portrayed before, but this is the first time I've found him truly chilling.

The film itself was amazing in how it explored the line between good and evil, how the line can be blurred, but also how there is always a distinction. Another thing that's explored is how what's right and what's fair are not always the same thing. We're used to thinking that what's right is always fair, but that's not the case; there's a distinction there too. In that same way, what people percieve as herioc isn't always the right thing. I can't say much more without spoilers, but trust me, this one will blow you away.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hellboy Review

Well, this week I went to see Hellboy II: The Golden Army. And I gotta say, I liked it. Visually, it stands pretty close with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As far as action goes, it was better than the first Hellboy. And contentwise, I don't remember what it was rated, but I would say it was appropriate for most people of about any age. (intense creature violence notwithstanding) Just to clarify what I mean by appropriate, there is some cursing, but very it is very mild. Though there is some confusion as to the way one character pronounces the word "focus." But I figure kids aren't likely to pick up on things like that, kind of like how Bugs Bunny would dress in drag to dupe Elmer Fudd, and that didn't seem weird to you until you got older. As for sexual inuendo, it is virtually nonexistant.

Now, in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, Hellboy is a character in a comic book. He's a demon (like from Hell, hence the name) but he was raised by human beings, so he wants to do good in the world. However, his stone right hand is the key that opens the gates of Hell, and he's also the son of the devil. So it would seem that he's destined to cause destruction and misery to all of mankind.

The first movie spends a lot of time exploring this idea, the whole nature versus nurture thing. Hellboy was born a demon, so it is in his nature to be one, but the people who raised him have done their best to nurture in him a sense of right and wrong and the desire to do right. Simply put, he's not human, but he wants to be a man. At the core of the character is a longing to fit into the world he lives in. He even files his horns flat to look more "normal." He also loves candy, cigars, beer, and cats.

Hellboy II spends less time exploring that part of the character, but it is still a fun time. One of the biggest critiques I've heard was in regards to the script. Specifically, that there wasn't much of a story to it. But, after actually watching the movie, I realized there didn't need to be much of a story. It's like the Mummy movies. (the ones with Brendon Fraser) They lay all their cards out on the table at the beginning; you know what is going to happen, or what is likely to happen, you know that even if the scary, world endangering event does occur, the good guys will win anyway, and you just have a fun time watching it all play out. It's not about where the movie is going, it's about how they get there.

Finally, let me say that I am not a professional movie reviewer by any stretch of the imagination, but I will always do my best to review a movie for the people who will actually go to see it.

Tell me what you think, or throw in your own two cents if you went and saw Hellboy II as well. Liked it, didn't like it, fell asleep, whatever. And if you go to see it on my recommendation, and didn't like it, well, umm... Sorry. I still liked it.

Until next time!

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This is me, I am here.
Really hope someone will read this.