Monday, December 19, 2011

The Muppets (2011) movie review

Overall verdict: 9/10

The Good: heartwarming characters, truly hilarious and well written humor that breaks the fourth wall, a touching story that anyone can relate to, vivid emotions and very human portrayals from the muppet characters, catchy songs, a simple story that appeals to all ages

The Bad: sometimes feel like two movies pasted together, dissonance in overall tone of the story

The funny and fuzzy sensation of a generation returns for one last hurrah in "The Muppets", a warm hearted musical comedy that acts less like a brand relauncher and more like a grand final act to a classic franchise. For years, the Muppets have appeared in TV holiday specials and movies but this movie returns to the original series that first jumpstarted the Muppes to fame: the 1976 Muppets Show. Self referencing humor, witty comedy and familiar characters pay the ultimate tribute not just to a well loved franchise but to the Muppets fandom as well. Why else would the main character be a muppet fanboy?

Meet Walter, the ultimate muppet fanboy (who is also portrayed as a muppet) who lives with his human brother Gary in "Smalltown" USA. The two grew up together and have been fans of the muppets ever since The Muppet show first aired in the 70s. One day Gary plans a trip to Los Angeles with his girlfriend Mary. Walter jumps at the opportunity to tag along and visit the muppet theatre, much to the dismay of Mary who was hoping for some private time with her boyfriend. But instead of seeing the muppet theatre of his childhood, Walter comes face to face with harsh reality: the muppets have disbanded, the theatre is in ruins and a greedy tycoon is looking to buy the location and tear down the place of Walter's childhood dreams. Undaunted, Walter tries to reunite the Muppets for one final show in order to raise the money needed to buy back the theatre.

Cute, heartwarming and absolutely nostalgic, "The Muppets" only downside is that it feels like two different shows pasted together; on one hand you have the plot thread about the Muppets getting back together for a final show, and on the other you have this disney styled buddy romance triangle between Greg, his girlfriend and his brother Walter. The tone between those two plot threads varies quite a bit, with the trio being like something out of "Mary Poppins". All saccharine and happy song and dance.

On the flipside, the tale of former muppet leader Kermit the Frog getting the gang back together is played more tragically and, believe it or not, more realistically. Yes he is a cloth puppet and so are the other Muppets, but this movie never panders to the kids. What we have is a story that adults can enjoy as well. The years have not been kind to the Muppets and Kermit is a performer past his prime, divorced from his former love Miss Piggy, with only memories and mementos of his glory days. As he tours the world looking for his friends, he sees the sorry state some of them have landed in. This story thread is both emotionally moving and ultimately satisfying. What's more, it would surprise you how vividly cloth and stick puppets emote. There is a certain warmth and realism present that even the best computer graphics animation cannot replicate. Despite having new voice actors, these are the same lovable characters from the original show, quirky personalities and all.

Throughout the movie, the ongoing tension between Walter and Gary references the real life balance between childlike passion and adult responsibilities. With its self referencing narrative, the movie works as a parable about growing up and taking on new priorities in life; something many fans of the original muppets show would have personally experienced.

But perhaps the main attraction is the movie's witty humor. Not even the fourth wall is safe as the characters lampoon everything from High school Musical style dance numbers to a time saving montage sequence. It is clever, well written comedy that pokes fun at itself and other shows. So hilarious that it has to be seen to be believed.

The Muppets covers all grounds for a good movie experience. The most human of characters portrayed by inhuman looking cloth puppets, cast chemistry that tugs on the heart strings and a simple story that anyone can relate to. Throw in some catchy songs and celebrity cameos with a healthy dose of nostalgia for those who loved the original Muppets Show and you have a sure winner that appeals to fans new and old alike. And once the curtain comes down, you would be clamoring for an encore. Here is a true tribute to a timeless classic that brings a childhood icon to a whole new generation of viewers. Let us give a standing ovation to "The Muppets", definitely one of the must watch movies of the year.

*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if you liked the original Muppets Show and would like to see the ultimate tribute to it. If you like disney styled musicals or if you want a quick trip back to the more innocent days of childhood and have a good laugh.
Avoid it: if heartwarming and saccharine shows make your stomach churn

Entertainment: A
Story: B+
Acting: A
Characters: A
Music: A-
Replay value: A
"Brains": B+

Friday, December 9, 2011

Some Comic book Animated movies that MUST be made

The animation market. The less popular little brother to live action comic book blockbusters. Free from network restrictions, direct to video animated films adapted directly from comic books have been all the rage since the trend was reignited in 2006 by "Ultimate Avengers".
Previous animated films have been based on their respective animated series.

Both Marvel and DC have been churning out DTV animated movies. Some to rave reviews and strong sales, others to lukewarm reception.

So far DC is leading the charge with 12 movies and 3 more in production. Marvel is trailing behind with only 8.

But enough background talk. HERE are some direct to video animated movies that i would like to see made in the near future.

In no particular order

1) World War Hulk (Marvel)

Marvel did Planet Hulk. A direct, but slightly shortened, adaptation of Greg Pak's Hulk epic. It is only natural that they follow up with its sequel "World War Hulk". Same production team, same character designs. Madhouse did a great job combining western art asthetics with the dynamic feel of japanese anime. The story would place immediately after the events of Planet Hulk. The Hulk's peaceful life as King is shattered when the ship that brought him to the planet detonates, killing thousands including his queen. Overcome with a thirst for vengence, Hulk leads his former Gladiator allies back to earth on a mission to take down those he deems responsible: The Illuminati consisting of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Mr Fantastic, and Black Bolt. It will be a sure fire hit, combining large scale action with a savage brutality that only the animation medium can do justice to.
My only tweak would be to get Fred Tatasciore back as the voice of the Hulk. His deep growling and wild roars fit the character better than Rick Wasserman's smoother more "civillised" performance.

2) Frank Miller's Ronin (DC)

In 2007, it was announced that Frank Miller's RONIN was picked up for a live action movie. news so far. So how about this, since Warner has alraedy adapted Batman Year One and are making the animated "Dark Knight Returns", why not do another Frank Miller graphic novel? This could be a great opportunity to tap into the non-superhero comics in DC's library starting with this one.

Drawing its influence from old school manga like "Lone Wolf and Cub" as well as cyberpunk elements of Akira, Ronin is the tale of an ancient japanese warrior's quest to avenge himself against a demon named Agat. In their final battle, Agat placed a curse on the Ronin, causing him to be reincarnated into a dystopian future. Now on the run from the authorities and facing a world of underground mutants, roving street gangs and anarchy, the Ronin must once again track down his adversary. But is this truly the future? Is the Ronin truly who he thinks he is?
Like Batman Year one, RONIN should be a straight up adaptation fo the comic. It is inevitable that the designs be streamlined for animation but i would like to see a more subdued color palatte. A studio like Production I.G (Blood: The Last Vampire) who have done similar "lone warrior/wanderer" type of anime would be good.
Old school coloring, none of that sharp bright colors we see so commonly in recent anime. And hopefully they can keep the unique panel format of the comic by using split screens and other less-common transtion techniques. As long as they do not redesign everything and turn the characters into wide eyed bishonen with wavey hair billowing in the wind among falling sakura petals.
Speaking of split screens and dynamic animation framing, no other animator comes to mind other than Genndy Tatarovsky. Ronin was afterall one of the inspirations for his creation, Samurai Jack. It would be a major fan service there. And to top that, just get Phil Lamarr to voice the Ronin. There will be cheering in the streets.

4) The Darkness
Now why should just Marvel and DC dominate the animated movie market? Independent comic company IMAGE had a couple of animated productions in the past. Anyone remember "WildCATS"? Ok maybe not a good example. They made the most badass Jim Lee creation into something family friendly. How about the 2006 anime series Witchblade?? oh sorry, bad example. Those japanese turned a supernatural thriller series about a hot headed lady cop bounded to a cursed artefact into an overly emo semi-hentai with MILFs, bouncing........melons and sexual undertones.
So why do i suggest that Image should have a direct to DVD movie of THE DARKNESS?

For starters, with a Direct to DVD release, the company can control the written content themselves. No pandering to TV network moguls' whims. Best example of a past success? SPAWN
This show went directly to HBO with Image and Todd Mcfarlane having full control of the look and the content of the show. AND JUST LOOK HOW AWESOME IT IS.
If, given full content control, Image can pull off one badass supernatural horror comic title as animation, why not another?
THE DARKNESS is a perfect contender. I say the movie should just adapt from the first story arc by Garth Ennis and Marc Silvestri
It is already paced like a pilot movie complete with proper introduction of characters, development and conclusion. Mafia Hitman Jackie Estacado was both blessed and cursed on his 21st birthday when he inherited the power of The Darkness, an elemental force that allows those who wield it power over the shadows and control over the demons who dwell there. But this power comes at a price. Jackie is now hunted by the forces of the Angelus, the eternal enemy of the Darkness. Yet lurking in the shadows is a mysterious cult and its charismatic leader, Sonatin, who seek to control the Darkness for their own purposes.

As much as i like Marc Silvestri, i propose the show goes with Michael Broussard's style in the recent "Darkness: Accursed" series.
Silvestri's (seen above) is just too stylised and boasting too much intricate detail to be put into animation.

Broussard's on the other had is detailled enough but not as intricate as Silvestri's. But mostly the reason is in the coloring and shading. Broussard has a lot more blacks in the shading, giving it a very atmosphereic look that fits the atmosphere of the story
The animation studio that did Spawn, Madhouse, is no stranger to dark supernatural genre movies. Have them return for this production.
And i cannot think of a better person to voice Jackie Estacado than Steven Blum (Spike Spiegel, Wolverine) himself.

5) The Flash
We are back to DC for number 5.
After doing origin stories for Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and, in a way, Batman (Batman Year One), it is only natural that DC set their sights on the next member of the Justice league.
A "Flash" animated movie could have come a little earlier, perhaps to tie into the release of "Flashpoint", but it is never too late. Here will be an origin story similar in vein to "Green Lantern first flight". Hopefully Warner premiere will use a different art style again, but i suspect it would be either Sam Liu or Lauren Montgomery in charge, so best not to expect much changes.
Storyline will combine elements of the Silver age and the revamped origins of The Flash plus introduce Reverse-Flash. Why Reverse-Flash? Well he is technocally what Sinestro is to Green Lantern and a fair match for our crimson speedster. Unless you would want Captain Boomerang or Captain Cold, or perhaps the Weather wizard? No way. Speedster against speedster.
Unlike First Flight however, The Flash would not be a galaxy spanning epic. It should be tighter, more character centred and pay more attention to character development, especially to the rivalry between the 2 Flashes. It will be a personal conflict combining drama with superheroics.

6) Ultimate Avengers 3: Ultimatum (Marvel)
Another sequel, but a necessary one. As good as the first two "Ultimate Avengers" movies were, they ultimately failed to capture the gritty realism and darker tone of the "Ultimates" comic series. I propose that Ultimate Avengers 3 return the franchise to its gritty roots by first throwing out that saturday morning cartoon look

And replacing it with something more like what was showcased in the original trailer for the first Ultimate Avengers movie.

Notice that most of the footage featured an increadible amount of detail and fluid motion. THAT is what i am going for. Kick the previous animation studio out and bring in a better one like DR Movie or Gonzo who are used to high detailed artwork.
Now for the story. Although its called "Ultimatum", it will have little in common with Jeph Loeb's infamous 6 issue hero-cide. Instead, the movie will adapt its plot from Mark Millar's "The Ultimates 2"

Yet the theme of an "Ultimatum" resounds stronger than ever. In a controversial turn of events, the US Government turn the Ultimate Avengers into a superpowered black ops team carrying out raids on foreign soil in the name of American foreign policy. Their Ultimatum: cooperate or we'll sic the Avengers on your ass. The enemies of America retaliate with the formation of "The Liberators", the culmination of secret foreign supersoldier programs with one purpose: destroy the Ultimate Avengers and bring America to its knees. A superpowered cold war brews but the balance suddenly shifts when Thor is declared a traitor by his own team. At The same time, the Avengers are incapacitated one by one. Distrust and treachery rules the day as the Liberators gear up for a final campaign against USA. Little do they know that they are all pawns in an elaborate scheme set up by Loki, god of mischief.
Political satire, moral philosophy, epic violent battles; what's there not to like. I expect no less than a NC16 rating for this.

7) Swamp Thing (DC)
No not this atrocity

This image of a pensive, brooding Swamp Thing sort of actualises the direction i hope a possible "Swamp Thing" animated movie would follow: That is, ALAN MOORE's Swamp Thing. There is a big difference between Swamp Thing and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing is your typicaly "pity the monster" horror comic book. Scientist gets turned into a plant monster, tries to regain his humanity and faces down an evil occultist named Arcane who believes Swamp thing holds the key to immortality.
Alan Moore's Swamp Thing is an ontological exploration of identity incorporating environmental themes, moral philosophy and a startling revelation: Swamp Thing is merely a plant with a man's memories.
No, of couse it is not going to be a all talk and no action kind of movie. The key ingredient would be atmosphere. Dark and forebodding. Make it more of a character study of Swamp Thing rather than a typical monster movie.
What movies like this usually do is that you have a generic main character who is supposed to be the "audience vessel". This character comes to the swamp and encounters Swamp Thing. But that is not how it should be.
A Swamp Thing animated movie should not be from a POV of an outsider encountering Swamp Thing, but from the POV of Swamp Thing himself. He is the main character, we delve into his psyche, his motivations, his humanity, his conflict. It is HIS story.
It would be awesome if they would take material from Alan Moore's first Swamp Thing Arc with Swamp Thing coming to terms with the truth behind his origin and his conflict with Jason Woodrue, a human plant hybrid with delusions of grandeur.
Why Woodrue?

(fine, we'll give him some cooler looking leaves)
Well because he is Swamp Thing in a dark mirror. Swamp Thing is a plant who believes he is a man but learns the truth of his inhuman origin. Yet he clings on to his humanity and seeks to discover his place in the world Woodrue is a man who forsakes his humanity and becomes plant, seeking only to destroy the world of man. Not only are they perfect opposites, but their final showdown in the comics could make for a great animated battle.
Animation can be done by DC's de facto studio "Moi" who have shown that they can handle dark and atmospheric pieces like Batman Year One.

8) A.B.C Warriors
Seven unique fighting machines, one mission

A famous comic book from UK published by 2000AD, ABC Warriors is easily described as "Seven Samurai on Mars". At the end of great war known as the Volgn War, veteran war robot Hammerstein is tasked with recruiting 6 other bots into a team in order to tame the now lawless Mars colonies. Each of the team members have their own unique personalities and powers. Think the main cast of Transformers. Now what would be even more fun is if we get Transformers voice actors to do the ABC warriors.
You have
-the fearless leader "Hammerstein" (David Kaye aka Optimus Prime in Transformers Animated),
-the lovable muscle bot "Mongrol" (voiced by Kevin Michael Richarson aka Bulkhead in Transformers Prime),
-black magic acolyte "Deadlock" (voiced by Corey Burton aka Shockwave from G1),
-"Blackblood" the schemer (voiced by Charlie Alder aka movie Starscream)
- dim witted but sadistic "MekQuake" (Voiced Gregg Berger aka Grimlock)
- cunning Marksman and assassin "Joe Pineapples" (voiced by Jeff Bennet aka Prowl)
- comic relief sewer droid Ro-Jaws (voiced Tom Kenny aka Spongebob Squarepants)

So for the movie, i believe that the story would have to be cut down a little into something like "Apocalypse Now, with robots, on Mars". The ABC Warriors are formed for the mission of travelling into war torn territory on Mars in order to assassinate some rogue general who has established himself as warlord over the planet. Along the way, the ABC Warriors have to deal with the aftermath of war, the people's unforgiving attitudes toward fighting robots, and their own conflicting primary programs as well as the suspicion that one of the ABC Warriors is a traitor. We get to see how in war, it is the civillians who suffer the most.
Already there seems to be CGI animated movie in production but other than this one trailer, no other news has been heard from it

I intend to go for a CGI standard that is more in line with "Transformers Prime". Sure its no where near movie level, but admittedly its much better than other recent CGI animation like Green Lantern

Besides, the premise of having a team of unique robots who are sometimes at odds with each other mirrors the premise of the Autobots in transformers.
Here's some trivia though. The main inspiration for "Transformers Animated" was indeed ABC WARRIORS.

9) Deadpool (Marvel)
This video is reason enough why there should be a DEADPOOL animated movie starring the merc with a mouth himself. If he's this hilarious as a side character, imagine what he'd be like in the leading role

To entice newcomers, it would be funnier to NOT do an origin story. Instead lets follow a common Deadpool format shall we? Some rich dude offers a bounty, mercenaries go hunting, Deadpool is nto invited but gets news of the offer and proceeds to eliminate the competition. One of the rival mercs would turn "fanboy" and throw in his lot with Deadpool, naturally. However the target in question is not the hardened criminal Deadpool expects. Maybe it could be a kid or a helpless lass whom Deadpool falls for. Personally i would prefer the kid. NOW Deadpool has a crisis of conscience.
He tries to reason with the rich dude but guess what not only does the rich dude REFUSE TO PAY DEADPOOL. Oh............. no.................. He sics his entire private army on the Merc With a Mouth.
Its moron massacre time when Deadpool has to race against the clock to break into the rich dude's fortified mansion and GET HIS CASH!!!
See, already it sounds like something big on action, big on violence, brimming with laughs but with a tender emotional centre that would help develop Deadpool as a more rounded character. Some flashbacks would vaguely tell DP's origin but thats not the main focus.
You can see where we're headed here? It would be fairly down to earth. We wouldnt want too many well known Marvel heroes in the picture.
And won't it be awesome that X-force and Cable make a cameo appearance at the end?

10) Kingdom Come (DC)

It would be Epic!!! A clever, metafictional tale of old vs the new. Set some twenty years into the future of the then-current DC Universe, it deals with a growing conflict between "traditional" superheroes, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war.
Conspiracies abound as the ageing Justice League has to deal with a world that distrusts superheroes.

The story is perfect as it is. And being only 4 issues long, it would fit well into 80+ minutes. The only issue is HOW TO MIMIC THE EXTRAORDINARY ART OF ALEX ROSS?

No i am not crazy. But everyone else might think so.
For starters, there is no way traditional animation can do justice to the awesome artwork of Alex Ross. Therefore, i propose that for starters, we do this in CGI (Computer generated images).

Not just any CGI though. I'm talking the high quality life-like motion capture CGI as used in productions like TinTin and Beowulf

Notice the insane level of detail and uncanny lifelikeness (is there such a word?)
Now imagine we give this a softer focus to produce a more painted look. You'd get Alex Ross' artwork in animation already.

And there you have it folks.

10 animated comic book movies that are just too awesome to be allowed to become live action. THESE MUST be made.

Friday, December 2, 2011

50/50 (2011) movie review

Overall verdict: 9/10

The Good: clever mix of tragedy and comedy, never overly melodramatic, subject matter is handled sensitively despite the comedy, excellent cast chemistry, nuanced acting

The Bad: cliche story premise

Adam Lerner has a pretty sweet life. He lives with his hot artist girlfriend, hangs out with his funny best buddy Kyle, and holds a cool job as a radio journalist. Life is good, life is normal, life could not have been better. And then one day, he discovers he has cancer. Now before you expect another tragic sob story full of teary emotions and melodrama, stop right there. And no, neither is this a light hearted buddy laugh fest. Adam Learner deals with his 50% chance of survival and the fallout which destroys the perfect life as he comes to terms with his fate.

We all know that "beats" of a typical cancer story. The five stages of grief form the narrative skeleton of the movie as Adam goes from denial through anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance of his fate. What is different here is how Adam deals with each stage. From befriending an inexperienced psychiatrist to going along with Kyle's suggestion of using the cancer to score chicks, Adam tries to live his remaining days to the fullest.

Central to the movie is both the characters and the actors portraying them. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam as the quintessential "everyman". Here is an actor who says a lot about the character without actually saying much. His earnest and increadibly nuanced performance makes it easy for anyone to relate to Adam's plight. The paranoia of an uncertain future, the sense of betrayal when someone dear to you betrays your trust or the frustration at an over-protective smothering mother is carefully yet lightheartedly explored.

How this film works is that it plays on the audience's stereotypical expectations then throws in a twist. You can see that in how it uses a familiar premise of a terminal illness but weaves an original tale. It is apparent in the characters too. Seth Rogan's Kyle is obviously the bumbling comic relief right? Well you might be surprised with the many layers to his character. Oh, Adam is so going to fall for his psychiatrist right? Perhaps, but not in the way you might be expecting.

"Natural" would be the proper word to describe the way all the characters are fully fleshed out. And rightly so since 50/50 has the advantage of being based loosely on the real life experience of screenwriter Will Reiser. It feels less like a story per se and really like taking a peek into someone's diary entry. Yet thanks to the awesome cast, timely humor and fresh dialogue, it never feels mundane.

In the end, we are left with a powerful message about the people who truly care in a crisis. The emotional spectrum never veers into the extreme, effectively balancing the tragedy and comedy. Criticising the unoriginal premise is easy, but 50/50 scores in its fun but bittersweet execution of a tried and true narrative.
*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if you would like to see a refreshing take on the "I am dying from an incurable disease" genre of drama movies.
Avoid it: if a few dirty jokes would put you off

Entertainment: A
Story: A-
Acting: A
Characters: A-
Music: B-
Replay value: A
"Brains": A-

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995) anime series review

Overall verdict: 7/10

The Good: many thought provoking themes, intense mech action, greatly improved coloring and artwork, incorprates politics and philosophy, catchy soundtrack, gorgeous character designs, excellent japanese and english voice acting

The Bad: under-developed characters, overuse of repeated footage, mediocre chinese voice acting,

Current Availability Status: none in Singapore.


The year is After Colony 195 and Operation Meteor, the plan to topple the oppressive "OZ" organization" on earth, has been launched. Five Gundams, each with their own strengths and flaws, piloted by five very different young pilots arrive on earth but their secret missions are already compromised from the start. What follows is a grand sweeping tale of conspiracies, betrayal, hidden motives and conflict of ideals set among the backdrop of a world on the brink of war.

Compared to previous gundam series, Gundam Wing starts off with a "flipped" premise. The Gundams are no longer the "good guys" defending against an onslaught, but the ones provoking attack. It can be easily argued that they are the antagonists and OZ are the protagonists, retaliating after the Gundams have struck first. The defining line of good and bad has never been so blurred. The "invincible" Gundams is another refreshing change for the better. It emphasizes the point of view that no matter how powerful a weapon is, it is the weakness of the soldier behind the trigger that causes it to fail; seen in the many instances where the "invincible" gundams are defeated due to the pilot's and not the hardware's fault.

The story also has a fresh style, focusing more on the larger scale political happenings in the war instead of the 5 main characters. Deceit, political backstabbing, secret uprisings, changing values and a lingering air of mystery lends to a highly intriguing plot. Each episode brings its own share of story twists as former allies become enemies and friends turn on each other in this era of distrust. In the way the series slowly unravels the varying plot threads and mysteries, it manages to hook the viewer into being interested in what comes next.

Easily the more "intelligent" of the Gundam shows, Gundam Wing revels in its philosophical ramblings. Every single theme you can think about with respect to war, politics, human nature, and purpose are all in there. This series challenges you to think. It feels like the creators whipped out every book they could find about war philosophy and threw in wholesale whatever they had. Its thought provoking nature is sure to be a treat for the more learned and knowledgeable viewers, allowing for a wide range of intellectual discussion.

A pity that so much time and effort is spent planning out the otherwise convoluted storyline and in researching the underlying themes that little thought is given to character development or entertainment value. The most well developed characters are only Relena and Zechs Merquise, their motives and personality evolving nicely as the series moves along to its conclusion; Relana matures from a shy rich girl just moving through life into an assertive leader figure and Zechs' convictions to attain peace by any means drives him to be a very compelling character.

Sadly most of the other characters are already presented less as people and more like "personifications" of ideas, ideals and unique perspectives on war. They seem to be just in the story to convey the numerous thought provoking themes inherent in the series through their personality, dialogue and sometimes even monologue. Their "larger than life" personalities and nature coupled with their "over-the-top" way of speaking in the japanese voice track make them very difficult to relate to. It is over-acting, pure and simple. Gundam Wing is no better in chinese where everyone sounds like actors in a stage play, over emphasising their lines and not even trying to sound natural. The english dub on the other hand is more subdued but plays it more realisticly. The campy dialogue is dialled back a notch, as is the over-emoting that commonly plagues the japanese voice track. Furthermore, most of the characters are Caucasian so hearing them in english just feels more natural. The downside is some roles are badly miscast making many characters sound older than they are supposed to be.

On the technical side, Gundam Wing is quite inconsistent in its artwork and animation. Take a look at these scenes for an example of such inconsistency

It suffers from an overuse of repeated stock footage and sometimes the same stock footage(like some re-used scenes of Mobile suits blowing up) can be played more than once within the same episode. Below are screenshots of one such repeated scene shown in episodes 7, 8 and 9.

Artwork is generally beautiful, although the occasional lazily shaded, flatly drawn scene does appear. Sunrise has learnt to incorporate dynamic lighting effects into the coloring of the Gundams resulting in pure mecha eye candy.

The colors themselves are comparatively subdued compared to other Gundam series. So dark in fact that in some scenes in the blackness of space or at night, you can just barely see the mecha's outline. This lends a gritty gloomy feel to the show that matches its tone.

Gundam Wing is not a series for everyone. Those looking for pure popcorn entertainment would be disappointed by this show. Think of this as the Gundam franchise trying to appeal to an older and more sophisticated western audience. The unique core team of gundams and pilots call to mind superhero teams like the Justice League. Through its story, Gundam Wing does not seek to merely entertain but to convey a wide range of ideas and thought provoking concepts that would hopefully lead to intellectual discussion.

*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if an intelligent, thought provoking series showing war on a grand scale is your cup of tea
Avoid it: if brainless action is what you usually go for

Entertainment: B
Story: A-
Characters: C+
Animation: C+
Art: A-
Voice work (japanese): B+
Voice work (english): B+
Voice work (chinese): C-
Replay Value: B
"Brains": A-

Gundam Wing remembered to appeal to the fan-girls


What could be cooler than a gattling gun? TWO gattling Guns!
What could be cooler that 2 gattling guns?? Wait for the movie to find out.

This single exchange spawned a flood of yaoi fanfics.

Mobile Fighter G Gundam (1994) anime series review

Overall verdict: 5/10

The Good: Awesome japanese voice acting, imaginative premise, a few terrific Gundam designs, upbeat background music and songs.

The Bad: sub-par animation, cheesy script, shallow characters with chiche'd backstories, mostly silly gundam designs, slightly insulting racial stereotypes, overuse of stock footage, contrived and predictable narrative

Current Availability Status:
On DVD but not available in Singapore

VCD now out of print.

An "alternate universe" in a franchise is a marketing ploy more commonly used in comic books. It either takes previously well known characters and places them in completely new settings or it takes the spirit of the original story and translate it into something fresh for newcomers to the franchise. Mobile Fighter G Gundam is the first Gundam series to apply this ploy. However, somebody took that whole "Alternate" bit a little too far. Aside from the Gundam's faces, there is absolutely nothing in common with previous gundam series; neither the spirit, feel nor the themes of war. A fresh start, yes. But is it too "fresh" to be considered "Gundam"?
G Gundam seems to cash in on the popularity of Hong Kong "wuxia" movies like "Stormriders" and fighting games like "Street Fighter" that had gained a huge following from 1991 to 1994. The story takes place in year 60 of the Future Century. During the 13th Gundam Fight tournament we follow Neo Japan's representative Domon Kasshu who's mission is two-fold: win the tournament for Neo Japan as well as track down his brother who had stolen the mysterious Devil Gundam from the Neo-Japan government.

Most of the themes center around the individual characters and their interpersonal relationships. The western philosophical waxings about ethics, warfare, politics and purpose have given way to more eastern schools of thought bordering on new age "Ying yang" stuff. There is a hint of a socio-political undertone around the middle of the series but it is never pursued. An environmental theme which seemed very common in the early 90s is also present.

Along the way Domon meets many bizarre characters and fellow fighters, some of whom he befriends. Too bad that almost the entire cast seem to be just re-threads of the usual stock literary characters; the strong silent type, the hyper active loud mouth, the calm suave thinker to name a few. But in what is possibly the worst case of political incorrectness ever, some of the side characters are just downright insulting to the countries they represent. Take the "SCUD" Gundam representing neo-Arabia piloted by borderline terrorist, or perhaps Neo Germany's Nazi themed Speigel Gundam.
The main characters only come across as mildly interesting with much of their motives(Fighting for his lost honor, fighting to free loved ones from prison, fighting to prove his manhood etc) seemingly "tacked on" just to provide some illusion of character development. There is even a attempt at a love story in the later part of the series but it soon takes a nosedive into cheesy territory. One wonders what monkeys wrote the script. A Lot of dialogue feel like some bad fanfiction; overdone, unnatural, almost like a self parody at times.

Thankfully the Japanese cast manage to take the script seriously and deliver a terrific and professional performance. Veterans like Tomokazu Seki, Kappei Yamaguchi and Yuri Amano bring much needed heart and passion to the otherwise wonky script, making even the silliest lines sound good. The English dub however was horrendous, which was a real pity actually. G Gundam's multi racial cast could have benefited from having different accents or even mixed languages(eg: Neo Japanese characters speak Japanese, french characters speak french, Chinese characters speak Chinese etc etc). Not only does the English dub for this series sound flat, everyone sounds.........Canadian; no effort at all is made to give the cast a variety of accents. A taiwanese chinese dub exists for the show but unlike the japanese cast, these guys obviously thought the show was a joke. Roles are over acted, lines are over emoted, and everyone seems to be shouting all the time in a constantly excited state.

Perhaps G Gundam's greatest crime is to fall into the trappings of typical shonen anime staples. The constant "powering up" and learning new techniques got really old back in Dragonball Z. Sadly, even the animation is as dated as Dragonball Z with some well animated stock footage inter-spliced with the mostly stiff and uninspired character animation. The art is very basic on G Gundam and has an overall low budget feel. Details like clothing folds and shadows are kept to a minimum making the characters look flatly colored. Even 1980s Gundam series like Z Gundam and V Gundam manage to look better than this 1994 series. Only the overused stock footage of Gundams preparing to fight or performing special moves look remotely decent.

Aside from its engaging character relationships, top notch acting, and an overall original look and feel for a Gundam series, Mobile Fighter G Gundam suffers from too many flaws, from its less-than-mediocre animation to the contrived story and satirical side characters. But if you are on the prowl for an over-the-top, entertainingly fun, action packed series that still has some of that "Gundam charm", then Mobile Fighter G Gundam is a great way to pass the time until something better comes along.
*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if you like fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken
Avoid it: if you expect anything similar to other gundam series or any of the elements common to the gundam franchise

Entertainment: B-
Story: B-
Characters: B
Animation: C-
Art: B-
Voice work (japanese): A
Voice work (english): C-
Voice work (chinese): D
Replay Value: B
"Brains": C+


Ooh! Gundam Up-skirt shot. Woof!

Fly!! Fly!! Fly!! Buzz off! AAAARRGH!! Fly!

Great Snakes! Its a great snake

Sometimes, the jokes make themselves

You really do not need a caption for this

Look, Up in the Sky! Its...............

We should stop with the captions now. These screenshots are hilarious as they are

Universal Century Gundam fan's reaction to watching G Gundam