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For Your Eyes Only

A more realistic Bond film
Probably the most realistic and true-to-Fleming Bond film since From Russia With Love, From Your Eyes Only is somewhat of a departure for the usually light hearted Roger Moore. Suprisingly, he manages to pull it off, and gives one of his best performances as Bond. This time, it's an old fashioned spy thriller, with Bond going to the Mediteraanean to find a dangerous device(The ATAK system) before the Russians do. A great film that shows you don't need gadgets to make a good Bond movie. The only problem is the score, while some of it's good, some of it feels a little goofy and out of place...

The Spy Who Loved Me

Moore finally gets the hang of James Bond
So it's not the deepest Bond film, nor the most original(In fact the plot is almost identical to YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE). But none of that matters-it's fun and very entertaining, and Roger Moore finally has gotten the hang of the role after two so-so films. This one has it all-spellbinding stunts, beautiful women, a "Goldfinger"esque villain and nasty Henchmen. The film's discoesque music is somewhat dated, but it's all part of the charm, and is edited extremely well, especially during the scene at the pyramids of Giza. Overall, it's one of the most entertaining Bond films.

Wo hu cang long

A superb foreign film
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a superb film that once again proves that Asian cinema is not just badly-dubbed Godzilla and Jackie Chan films. Crouching succeeds on three levels-it's a captivating drama, a great love story, and also a superb action film. The superb performances of the actors manages to cross launguage barriers and give us very believable and sympathetic characters. It's really hard to hate any of them, even the villainous Jade Fox. The visual effects and choreography bend the laws of physics and make even "The Matrix" look like an amateurish effort. The cinamatography is also very beautiful-there are glorious views of bamboo forests and desolate mountain ranges. A superb film-GO SEE IT!


The best of the Connery Bonds
"Thunderball" is an exciting ride from start to finish, with stunning cinematography, superb, epic action scenes, and some great one-liners(Although it has one of the stupidest lines in the series..."James, have you fainted?") SPECTRE holds the world at ransom with nuclear missiles and it's up to 007 to stop them...following up on mysterious events that happened at a health club, Bond heads to the Bahamas in search of clues-and finds more than he bargained for. Although the character of Domino Derval is not one of the brightest Bond girls, she's still very interesting. Also, Fiona Volpe is interesting as the first truely evil Bond girl, the anti-Pussy Galore. Finally, we have Largo, who while not as in-depth as Goldfinger still is quite menacing(The actor who played Largo would later mess around with a Bond clone in the awful "Danger:Diabolik"). This movie is one of the more controversial films, due to a court battle over who really wrote the story-a battle which resulted in a failed attempt to start a new Bond franchise with the horrible "Never Say Never Again"-a shallow remake of this film.

From Russia with Love

The first Bond sequel is still one of the best...
"From Russia With Love", the second James Bond film, sends Bond to Istanbul where he becomes entangled in the machinations of SPECTRE, who are hoping to play the British and the Russians against each other in order to steal a secret decoder device. Further complicating his efforts is a deadly assassin(Played by Robert Shaw, Quint in JAWS) and Spectre's SMESH informant, Rosa Klebb(Who was the inspiration for Frau Furbisshna in the AUSTIN POWERS films), as well as a beautiful defector. The budget is considerably larger than DR.NO, with more intricate sets, action scenes, and special effects, and also a stunning opening title sequence, the first to feature exotic dancing girls. Another notable mention about the film is that it's the first appearence of the late Desmond Lloweyn as Q.

Tenkû no Esukafurône

A toned down version of an anime classic...
Escaflowne became so popular in Japan and among American anime fans that Bandai decided to give it a run on FOX. However, like most animes put on network television, it suffered from horrendous editing, dubbing, and rescoring over most of Yoko Kanno's excellent soundtrack. Also, it was put in the kid's timeslot, somewhere that even in it's toned-down state it didn't belong. Despite all this, "Escaflowne" managed to captivate a couple viewers even in this version. But the romance and epic nature of the story did not appeal to young children who were into "Digimon", so this show got the axe....

Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040

A great remake of a classic series
The original Bubblegum Crisis came out in 1985 and spawned a very popular following on both sides of the pacific. It was also one of the earliest anime titles to get a video release in the states. An 8-part OAV series, it was a mix of Charlies's Angels, Batman, and Terminator. Now, it's been remade as a television series. Although the animation has a much cleaner look and incredibly vivid color, it's not as fluid as the original OAVs, but that shouldn't be a problem. The story expands on the concepts of the OAV, and exceeds them to a degree. It's also much darker, to an extent. The Boomer design isn't as realistic as those in the original OAVs-here, the Boomers appear more like Zombies or Monsters when they go nuts. The character designs and personalities are also very different(and very 90's) But the changes help improve the series rather than hinder it. Overall, it's very pleasing.

Kidô butôden G Gundam

G Gundam is a rapid departure from the previous series(and even those that followed it) making it truely unique as far as Gundam series go. Instead of being secret weapons or prototypes embroiled in battles between the Earth and the space colonies, the Gundams are fighters embroiled in a tournament. This makes for truely bizzare Gundam designs, such as a Gundam that transforms into a windmill, a female Gundam, and a fish Gundam. However, don't be fooled by the campiness-"G Gundam" hides a lot of complexity underneath it's gaudy look.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

An excellent finale to an excellent series.
"Return of the Jedi" wraps up the original trilogy of "Star Wars" films with incredible special effects and quick pacing. Although not as deep as Empire, it's still an incredibly fun movie. Following the events in Empire, The Rebel Alliance is poised to strike a Deathblow to the empire, which has constructed a new Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke, Leia and Lando infiltrate the fortress of Jabba The Hutt in order to rescue the frozen Han Solo. "Return" has some amazing action sequences-we get to see the Lightsaber used in other ways apart from dueling, and also a stunning multi-level battle which sets a new standard in cinematic spectacle(And which was emulated to a degree in Episode I). As for performances, they're a little less focused than in Empire, but there still is greatness, especially in the supporting characters. Denis Lawson, the surviving pilot from the first film and who also had a cameo in Empire, gets to shine here, as does Ian Mcdiarmid as the fierce Emperor Palpatine, a character that will be expanded as the prequels continue to unravel the backstory.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

The darkest in the series...
Empire takes us from the bright colors of "Star Wars" to the desolate whites and greys of "Empire". The film takes place a few years after the first, where the Rebels have been forced to evacuate their jungle planet fortress for an icy hide-out. However, things get complicated when the Empire forces them to escape. As the base evacuates, Luke journeys on a quest to learn more about the force while his friends in the Millenium Falcon become hounded by an Imperial fleet directly under the command of Darth Vader and aided by a group of skilled bounty hunters. This all leads up to one of the most stunning conclusions in motion picture history. Although "Empire" is, when you come down to it, a chase movie, it manages to rise above it with stunning visual FX(The effects are so good they were hardly touched up at all for the special editions) and direction by Irvin Kershner. Even Mark Hammil gives a powerful performance as Luke.

Star Wars

A true classic
The popularity of Star Wars has been slipping somewhat lately-there was this tremendous build up to "Phantom", but now things have fizzled somewhat as people have walked out of the film either enthralled or really dissiapointed. There's still quiet hype for "Episode II" though. The original-Episode IV-still holds up well, and the revelations in Episode I help enhance the movie somewhat, and raises a few questions. It's especially shocking to see Vader and Obi-Wan duel, after their first meeting in Episode I, and also it's interesting to think that the villanous Darth Vader was a young kid who raced in pods. Weird! The acting of Hammil and Fisher isn't exactly Oscar caliber, and the Imperial soldiers sound for the most part like their voices haven't broke yet-but there are some superb persomances by Harrison Ford, Alec Quinness and Peter Cushing. The film is a roller-coaster ride from beginning to end, although it drags in the rather unnecessary first half of the Trash compacter sequence, which is also the most annoying part of the film. The "Special Edition" enhances some of the dated effects, and adds some unnecessary new ones(Jabba and the Greedo shot), but it failed to fix the most obvious mistake, when Obi-Wan's saber suddenly shrinks during his battle with Vader. Overall, a fun and exhilirating film, enhanced by the revelations in Episode I, but those looking for more serious fare should look elsewhere.

Mystery Men

Sort of "Superman" meets "Austin Powers"
With a cast of bizzare villains, witty one liners, and a stellar cast, "Mystery Men" is a fun movie, but it doesn't really amount to more than that. The plot is standard for superhero films, and even though this is sort of intended to be a parody, the fact that the genre is kind of campy to begin with doesn't help.

Dragon Ball Z: Doragon bôru zetto

A good show, with some faults and major translation problems
Dragonball Z has been maligned more than any other Japanese anime series(Except maybe the infamous "Pokemon"). Granted, some of the criticisms are legitamite, but others form from misunderstanding. The animation might appear a little clunky compared to some of the newer, digitally aided anime and American cartoons, but it's important to consider that many of the episodes that have been aired on Cartoon Network are from the late 80s/early 90s. The show doesn't really begin to develop real good animation until the Buu saga, around 1993 or so. Even then, the animation is visually well-done:Although not as bright or vibrant as "Cowboy Bebop", the show has some nice shading and detail. The show does drag on a little, especially during fights, but this is mostly given it's adapted-from-manga nature. This is common in manga adaptations-episodes are added that hardly advance the plot. DBZ does suffer from this a little. Also, Dragonball Z does suffer from a bad translation. The dub actors aren't exactly stellar-neither is the script they have to work with, which is toned down from the Japanese original. In addition, the music has been rescored-ruining the essence of many scenes. As for strengths of the show, there are quite a few. DBZ is one of the few animations-American or Japanese-in which the characters grow with the audience. The show covers a large amount of time-some three decades or so-in which we see characters age and develop. As far as character development, although many of the original Dragonball characters don't really change that much(Including Goku), it's intriquing to watch the development of the characters introduced in the show-particually Gohan, Vegeta, and Trunks.

So despite a few problems, DBZ is an okay show. It's not the best anime, but it's still enjoyable if you have an open mind.


A little overrated, but still good.
The Third James Bond movie, this film sets up traditions that the later films will follow, such as the gadget-packed car, the lecture from Q, and of course the bizzare henchman....however, this film is weak in other areas. The plot tends to drag(The golf scene, most of Bond's stay in Kentucky, and the "Pressing engagement"), and there really isn't a lot of action scenes. While action isn't everything, I still expected more out of a Bond film. The locations are dull(Kentucky? Come on!), although there are some nice shots of some European mountains. Also, Honor Blackman's character might be tough and have an amusing name, but she's no Ursula Andress. This film probably has the worst incarnation of Bond's CIA friend, Felix, in the whole series. Don't get me wrong-this is still a good film. When there are action scenes, they're well done, and the villains-Auric Goldfinger and Oddjob-are unforgettable. Connery also puts in a great performance as Bond, as usual. So in other words, a good film, just not the best Bond picture...

Dr. No

Still good after all the sequels
Dr.No is the first of the Bond films, but still stands among one of the best. Connery puts in a great performance as Bond, and although the film doesn't feature the amazing stunts and gadgets of it's sucessors, it still stands out well and is well-paced(Unlike the overrated "Goldfinger"). The locations are fantastic too, and Jack Lord gives one of the best interpetations ever of Bond's American counterpart, Felix. The title villain is one of Bond's most sinister nemesis's. The story, by the way, introduces the organization SPECTRE, which continues to plaque Bond for the remainder of the Connery era...


Wild West action meets Lupin-style comedy
"Trigun" takes place on a desert planet which sort of resembles the wild west, except with little pieces of modern technology scattered throughout-not to mention tidbits of "lost technology" nobody seems to know how to use. Feared throughout the towns is Vash The Stampede...a mysterious individual who leaves destruction in his wake and who has amassed a $$60 million reward on his head(That extra $ isn't a typo). Yet anybody who meets the fellow will utterly be shocked by the kind-hearted, hyperactive oaf he appears to be...or is he? Trigun is among the best of the latest anime batch from Japan. The character of Vash brings back memories of Monkey Punch's take on Lupin III, and also those who've been looking for an animated western that isn't dumbed down for kids, this is it. Although the series might seem like an episodic series of adventures at first, like most anime series there's more than there appears to be lurking underneath the surface. The animation quality is also very good, with bright, vibrant colors and a real polished look. A fun and exciting series, highly recommended.

Kidô senshi Gundam: Dai 08 MS shôtai

Gundam-Platoon style
Unlike most other Gundam series, which take up their majority of their time in space, 08th MS team is 95% ground-based. This thrilling, well-animated OAV series focuses on the 08th MS team, a group of pilots who have limited mass production Gundams for Ground use. Their goal is to search out a Zeon research base holding a powerful mobile armor. However, problems start to emerge when the team leader falls in love with the pilot of the armor. The OAV has some of the best animation in Gundam-there's a lot of movement and detail. The mecha designs by Kunio Ookawara and Hajime Katoki are great-Ookawara gives Gundams and GMs a tank-like feel, while Katoki redesigns classic Zeon mobile suits for the 90's. The story is well-done, with convincing characters and a fully realized love story(Much better than the half-hearted romances in 0083 and Wing) Overall, a great series, I suggest you check it out when it comes to video/DVD next year.

Kidô Senshi Gundam III: Meguriai Sorahen

The final installment in the Gundam movie trilogy
Just as Part II was set almost exclusively on Earth, Part III takes the White Base and it's crew back to the stars to a final showdown with the Duchy of Zeon. Along the way, both Amuro and Char once again face each other, and events transpire they won't soon forget(and which carry on to the sequels Zeta Gundam and Char's Counterattack). Part III also has 75% new animation, so it appears more solid than it's predecessors, although the animation is still dated in most places(mostly during battle scenes). Overall, it's very good stuff.

Kidô senshi Gandamu II: Ai senshihen

A classic continues....
Condensed from the middle section of the television series, Gundam Movie II has 30% reanimated scenes, so, despite some dated animation, there is some nice eye candy if you look for it. Unlike the previous installment, this Gundam movie takes place entirely on Earth, as Amuro and the White Base crew deal with Zeon ace Ranba Ral,A trio of ace pilots known as Black Trinary, spies and their old enemy Char Anzable. Char remains largely absent for most of this volume, as the focus shifts to the main protagonists, Amuro Ray and Sayla Mass. This movie's a little slower compared to the other two, but you'll probably enjoy it nonetheless.

Kidô Senshi Gundam

A classic anime series
Mobile Suit Gundam, along with "Star Blazers" and "Lupin III", helped push anime toward more adult stories in the late 70s/early 80s. It's influence can certainly be felt in later anime classics such as Macross and Escaflowne. No longer would the mecha Genre center on a spike-haired hero with a mecha sporting super-special attacks and fighting evil scientists from Mars-it would at least aim for some sense of seriousness. Although it retains some elements of it's predecessors, such as brightly colored heroic mecha(Something that in 20 years, Gundam *still* has), Gundam is more serious. The villains are ambigious-it's really hard to tell who's good and who's really evil. The characters are well-fleshed out, from Amuro-the prototype for later milquetoast such as Shinji Ikari-and Sayla Mass, who is torn between duty and her own secrets. Since this is 1979 TV budget animation, the animation isn't the best(It's better than "Superfriends", at least), but the character designs are well done and facial expressions are very good. The musical score is also well done. This motion picture is actually a compilation of the first third of the Television series, so it's sort of condensed, with many scenes cut out. If one wants to see the full series, Cartoon Network has plans to air it next year, although it's dated animation might turn off many viewers.

Kidô shin seiki Gundam X

The least successful Gundam series
"Gundam X" is sort of mixed. On one hand, it's story is fairly original and it's animation and writing is better than Gundam Wing's. On the other hand, the show seems to miss many good opportunities, and the design sense of the series is highly deriative-the supporting mecha in the series are obvious rips of those from the "early" Universal Century timeline series, and the Gundams don't fare much better(Although they look better and more 'sleek' than Wing's blocky Gundams). Had it had a few more episodes, this series could have been something greater, but it's sort of the misfit of the Gundam shows(along with Double Zeta).

The World Is Not Enough

Breaks the formula-Spoilers!
Like "License To Kill",TWINE certainly stands out among other Bonds, since it actually takes some risks. Although there have been previous "Evil" Bond girls, none are as captivating as Electra, who truely thinks things out, and unlike previous girls, is pretty much the main villain of the film, which up to a certain point we believe is Renard. Another way the film breaks the formula is that it expands the role of M, perhaps in response to all the attention Judi Dench has been getting. Here, instead of standing behind a desk and giving Bond his assignment, M gets in on the action, to an extent. We also see the return of Tchaovosky, the ex-KGB agent turned mobster/businessman and Turner(MI6's chief of staff) from "Goldeneye", as well as Robinson from "Tommorow Never Dies". These additional recurring characters add some extra continuity to the series apart from the traditional combo of M/Moneypenny/Q. We also get to meet John Cleese's R, whose addition to the series is timely considering the sad demise of Desmond Llelowynn shortly after this film hit theathers. Anyway, like "License", TWINE is a refreshing break from the formula, in many ways. There's the usual attraction of stunts and so-on, but at least there's something new.

Tomorrow Never Dies

Too fast-paced...
"Tomorrow" lacks the solid pacing and plot of "Goldeneye" and "The World Is Not Enough" and seems a little too remiscent of the over-the-top theatrics of the late Connery/Early Roger Moore eras. Unlike the spy in the other Brosnan films, the Bond in TND is more of a ramboish character, spinning from location to location. The Gadgets are overused a little bit too. Don't get me wrong, TND is a good film. The stunts are amazing, and the action scenes are well-done. David Arnold's score is fantastic. Dench and Bond(As in Samantha Bond) put in proper performances as always, but the Q scene is too short, with most of the cool inventions appearing in Yeoh's base instead.However, it seems empty. Michelle Yeoh seems to have been put in the film simply to capitilize on the popularity of asian action films, and Jonathan Pryce makes Steinberg,Drax and Zorin seem quite sane. The henchman isn't really that threathening, and most of his lines seem too much like your standard Bond villain lines.Teri Hatcher wasn't that great either-it seems some actresses are chosen to be Bond girls simply by how much they've been downloaded. TND is a flawed Bond film-watch the other Brosnans instead...

Kidô Senkan Nadesico

A superb parody of the mecha genre
MSN takes the usually ultra-serious mecha genre and makes fun of it in every way possible, with homages to "Macross/Robotech" "Mobile Suit Gundam" "Star Blazers/Yamato" "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and also old-school shows like "Mazinger Z/Tranzor Z" and "GoLion/Voltron". To any anime fan who's familiar with these works, Nadesico is a riot, although those who are not, or non-anime fans, might be slightly lost. However, the series has it's own interesting story to keep people interested, involving a war between Earth and mysterious space aliens who attack from Jupiter. The animation quality is variable, but it shouldn't harm your enjoyment of the show. The dub's pretty good too, although hardcore anime fans will be turned off by the use of overlays.

Shin Seiki Evangelion

A superb mecha series
A lot of people tend to look away from mecha anime as little more than giant robots duking it out. However, this is not always the case, as "Neon Genesis Evangelion" certainly proves. Directed and written by Hideaki Anno, also responsible for the excellent Wings of Hommenaise and the underrated Gunbuster, Evangelion starts out somewhat similar to it's predecessor "Gundam"(The first one, not "Wing" on Cartoon Network). A young boy is thrown head first into combat against his will, piloting the mecha his father made. Although it starts off simplisticly, eventually Evangelion expands into a story that asks intriquing questions about humans and their purpose, mixing in conspiracy and religious symbolism to make things even more interesting. We follow Shinji's viewpoint, and watch as he goes through the many ups-and-downs of being a pawn in a very dangerous, potentially apocalyptic game. There are some comic relief moments, of course, which make eventual developments even more shocking, and even somewhat ironic. The animation is well done, although still shots are used a few times, although more for atmosphere than money-saving. The Evangelion/angel battles are beautifully done-hardly any cheats-and some of the character animation is well done too. So if you haven't seen Eva, I suggest you check it out-you won't be dissiapointed.

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