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Member's Reviews

Grave of the Fireflies, a review by RossRoy


Grave of the Fireflies
 
Original Title: Hotaru no Haka
Year: 1988
Country: Japan
Director: Isao Takahata
Rating: NR
Length: 88 Min.
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
Audio: English: Dolby Digital Stereo, Japanese: Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English

What they say
In the aftermath of a World War II bombing, two orphaned children struggle to survive in the Japanese countryside. To Seita and his four-year old sister, the helplessness and indifference of their countrymen is even more painful than the enemy raids. Through desperation, hunger and grief, these children's lives are as heartbreakingly fragile as their spirit and love is inspiring. 'Grave of the Fireflies' is a tale of the true tragedy of war and innocence lost, not only of the abandoned young, but of an entire nation.

My Thoughts
Honestly, words totally fail me. Not that I really know what to say usually, but in this case, even if I was good with words, I wouldn't know what to say. But I'll try anyway.

I've rarely, if ever, been moved that much by a movie. You can't help but feel for these kids. All that they had to go through after losing their mother in the bombing. From their aunt who simply doesn't care, all the way to a farmer who won't spare even a spoonful of rice. You see these kids persevere, trying to make the best of what they have. But when it happens (if you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about), it just hits you. And then you start to think, that even though this is a work of fiction, you can't help but think that it may have been like that for some child. And not just in Japan during World War II, but in any war, anywhere on the planet, at any given time. We've all seen wars in movie or on the news, but it always feels so surreal, almost fake. But this movie, manages to bring it closer to home. It actually makes you realise how hard it must be.

Now, some may be thinking "What the heck man? It just a silly animated movie!". Well, I'll reply to that by saying that the fact that it is animated is probably what makes this movie work so well.

They don't take any shortcuts in this. You see the bombers in the air, the bombs raining down, people running for their lives, burnt bodies everywhere, even the common dumps. All this can be done live action, yes, but would it be as effective? With live action, you would know that the people aren't really running for their lives. You would know nobody got killed by the falling bombs, as they would probably be duds anyway. The burnt bodies would be mannequins and makeup. And you'd know that. Deep down inside, it wouldn't be real. The fact that it is all animated here, removes that layer of reality, so you are left with only that idea that it is real. And you get thrown back to what it might be like in real life. You have to imagine it yourself, you have to create the image in your mind, which makes it that much more powerful.

Even the little girl being animated makes it more real. (I'll put that in a spoiler tag. And it is a BIG spoiler, so please, if you plan on watching the movie, DO NOT READ THAT!)
(click to show/hide)

The whole movie is really powerful in what it's trying to convey. I can wholeheartedly recommend the movie. It is a must see. I can't recommend it enough.



(From RossRoy's Random Viewings on April 21st, 2008)

Member's Reviews

Aliens, a review by Jon


Aliens
5 out of 5




Lt. Ripley returns to Earth and no-one believes her story. In fact, the planet is being colonised. Soon however, they lose contact with the colonists and a rescue mission is mounted. Ripley reluctantly agrees to go along as consultant.

Alien has always been one of my favourite films. Aliens was my absolute favourite for a long time and it still holds up today. Utterly magnificent, it gets better with every viewing (I pretty much know it off by heart! :-[). In the mid-1980s, sequels were not as expected as they are today and the only truly successful ones were often part 2's of a continuing story (Empire Strikes Back for instance). So I feel confident in saying that Aliens is the best "unnecessary" sequel ever made.

Although it lacks the grace and unique atmosphere of the peerless Alien, it expands on the original without compromising its themes, rather it emphasises them, using the familiar motifs in new ways. In Alien, I felt the creature was so perfect it represented a shift in the food chain. Marines armed to the teeth should be able to kick nature in the nuts and force the balance back, but the cocky soldiers (all with their own personalities rather than faceless grunts) are on the back foot from the first attack and need rescuing by Ripley who is only there as an advisor on the "bugs".

One of cinemas icons, Ripley is the one who evolves to find a common ground and a foothold to survive. Not as the kick-arse Ripley everyone remembers because she was clearly that by the end of Alien and comes back pretty quick here to take charge of the disintegrating military. Here, more importantly, it's as a mother to runaway Newt that will get her through this time. The Alien lifecycle may be perfect, but that humanity is the best weapon we have. Sigourney Weaver was deservedly Oscar nominated for the role. Newt (Carrie Henn) is a brilliantly written child character, something that is frequently mishandled and annoying. Cute, but tough, she gets some great lines and her expression is faultless at conveying real terror.

The mother angle is what brings Ripley face to face with the Alien Queen. Stan Winston's fantastic creation still causes a shiver down the spine. I'm not sure if a Queen was actually envisaged in Giger's original bio-mechanics and simply not used in Alien, but either way, it's development here is perfectly handled and honours the original cycle. She's truly the stuff of nightmares.

Aliens greatest trick though is that all this worthy psychological extension of the themes in Alien is wrapped up in one of the best and most influential, balls to the wall action films, peppered with quotable one-lines (admittedly almost all from Hudson!). It's a brutal masterpiece that leaves you exhausted and gets the adrenalin pumping, and that's before the final act! The power-loader sequence is superb. The music and editing build to a crescendo few other films can match.

The fact that the Aliens theme is used time and time again in trailers is proof alone of the enduring power of this rollercoaster.



(From October Marathon: Horror! on October 21st, 2008)

Member's TV Reviews

Pete's Pilots, a review by addicted2dvd



JAG


Pilot
Lt. Harmon "Harm" Rabb, a JAG lawyer who investigates and litigates crimes committed by Navy and Marine personnel, looks into the mysterious death of a female pilot aboard an aircraft carrier. Harm is convinced the female pilot who fell overboard didn't commit suicide, but was actually pushed, with all the suspects still aboard the aircraft carrier.

My Thoughts:
This is another of my favorite shows... unfortunately I have fell way behind on collecting this series... as I only have the first 5 seasons (of 10) so far. While this is a good pilot episode... I did enjoy every minute of it. I definitely prefer seasons 2 on. I like the character of Mac much better then any of his other partners. Gotta love Catherine Bell!  :drooling: The storyline for this episode is very good. It really keeps your attention!

My Thoughts:

(From Pete's Pilots on February 22nd, 2010)