Science fiction/fantasy film recommendations

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caliban
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New Miyazaki film

Postby caliban » Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:23 am

We've discussed Hayao Miyazaki's films here. I'm in Japan at the moment and just saw his latest film, which just opened a couple of weeks ago and hasn't been released outside of Japan. It's about a goldfish named "Ponyo" who dreams of living in the human world. Outside of that, I'm not sure of the plot, but we sure enjoyed seeing it. Not traditional fantasy, but many fantastical elements as found in Miyazaki films. While probably not the instant classic of "Spirited Away" or "Princess Mononoke" still a terrific film, with many memorable images. Look for it when it comes out in English -- under what title is unknown.

And tomorrow we return....
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Postby intrigued_scribe » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:44 pm

A rather belated replay to this thread, but all the same... Upon recently viewing Hellboy II myself (having simply opted to wait for the release of the DVD) I found elements of it rather enjoyable, primarily the aforementioned character development, for all of its cartoonish aspects and borrowed elements. Also, I agree that it will be interesting to see what direction Del Toro takes The Hobbit in.

By its very premise, the Miyazaki film (to be called Ponyo on the Cliff in English, as far as I know) does indeed sound like an engrossing film.

Heather

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Postby Windwalker » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:32 pm

intrigued_scribe wrote:Also, I agree that it will be interesting to see what direction Del Toro takes The Hobbit in.

Judging from Del Toro's other films, there may be grotesquerie. But then again, Peter Jackson was a shlockmeister before LOTR. This shows in some of the excesses particularly obvious in the extended DVDs of the trilogy, but overall he restrained himself admirably. Perhaps it was the influence of his two collaborators, or the imagined wrath of Tolkien admirers. Then again, as I told Calvin, I still shudder to think how LOTR would have fared if it had fallen into the hands of Hollywood scriptwriters and directors.
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Postby caliban » Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:00 am

Windwalker wrote:Peter Jackson was a shlockmeister before LOTR.

Except for Heavenly Creatures, a disturbing, beautifully done movie that showed Jackson could combine drama, fantasy, and allow actors to act. Knowing that film allowed me, ahead of release, to believe that LotR might not be a travesty.
I would say that del Toro has already evidenced similar abilities.
"Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work." --Thomas A. Edison

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Underworld

Postby Windwalker » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:51 am

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually liked the latest Underworld installment and found myself caring for the doomed lovers. It's still schlock -- but good schlock!

The first of the series was intriguing as a quasi-new universe, the second was terrible. This one, despite its gore, pre-ordained ending and mixed metaphors (Lord of the Rings meets Romeo and Juliet meets Spartacus) is, well, absorbing.

Unlike most other fantasy/sf series, the creators have worked out a consistent mythology. They don't make things up as they go along, as in X-Files, Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica. Their take on how vampires and werewolves arise and behave is not conceptually novel but it makes sense, except for one point: like Centaurs in Xena, all Lycans seem to be men, which begs the question of Lucian's birth. Since they can be both born and made, there should be women among them.

Lucian's vampire lover Sonja is the only one woman in the film, but she's a warrior to be reckoned with. Most importantly, the chemistry between Lucian and Sonja sizzles, something that was patently lacking in the other two Underworld films. Michael Sheen earned the title of snatcho man with this role!
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Unexpected pleasure -- and 1000th post on the forum!

Postby Windwalker » Sun Sep 06, 2009 3:41 pm

I've mostly given up on fantasy/fiction based on Greek mythology or history. Treatments are usually so inaccurate and/or ham-fisted that I've been tempted to write a blog essay titled "Hands off my mythology!" So imagine my welcome surprise when I cautiously opened Jo Graham's Black Ships, which retells the Aeneid from the viewpoint of a Trojan woman who's also an oracle.

In some ways, the book is a companion volume to Le Guin's Lavinia, which tells the same story from the viewpoint of the Latium noblewoman who eventually becomes Aeneas' wife. The story incorporates the Trojan war, the explosion of the Thera volcano with its attendant destruction of the Minoan civilization, the invasion of Egypt by the People of the Sea, and does so well.

The characters are slightly on the generic side but, with one partial exception, there are no villains though there's plenty of conflict, action and romance. There are a few mis-steps that occasionally joggle disbelief suspension -- for example, the explanation for the damaging actions of one character (the Dido stand-in, cleverly transposed to Egypt to keep the events temporally consistent), the appearance of a warrior angel (the only time the book lapses into naked didacticism and infodump) and the instant accommodation of new beliefs, ideas and customs by almost everyone.

However, overall I enjoyed the book and recommend it. In the draught on Bronze/Iron age Greek stories, I'll take a mouthful of lukewarm but good-tasting water!
For I come from an ardent race
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Postby intrigued_scribe » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:04 pm

Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us! I admit that not too long ago, I glanced over Black Ships but set it back on the shelf--thinking along similar lines, that it too would be either heavy-handed or dry--but it seems genuinely interesting. I'll be adding it to the (always) lengthy to-read list. :)


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