The Machine Girl review

After watching Tokyo Gore Police I got talking about it, and how terrible it is, at work. My colleague Gareth is a bit of a Japanese film hound and loved it. So he’s lent me a few other movies. None of the epic scale of TGP, as far as I can tell, but potential cheese (and one genuinely good). So expect a few reviews over the next couple of days/week. And even though 3 of them are Japanese craziness don’t think that’s all I watch, it’s just the way things have worked out.

So The Machine Girl. Ami looks after her younger brother after their parents commit suicide due to being accused of a murder they didn’t commit. He’s bulled by the son of a local Yakuza, a complete psychopath, who kills him and his friend. So Ami seeks revenge. Spoiler spoiler spoiler, arm cut off, machine gun arm.

Yes, spoiler spoiler spoiler. This film actually has a coherent plot. A bit of a red herring start though. In the beginning we see Ami with her machine gun arm saving a random boy from bullies. She then flashes back to how it all began, when she was a normal girl, and we see what leads her to that start point. But not directly. The two don’t sink up. Think of that opening as being a scene from The Machine Girl 2. Otherwise you’ll be a bit frustrated waiting for it to get to that point and it never will. It’s not a quick burn either, I don’t think she becomes The Machine Girl until about two thirds in.

The film was obviously made for about 30 quid. They use some CGI and lighting effects which are on the cheesy side. The gore is no where near TGP but there is a standard Japanese massive jet of blood motif all over. If you aren’t very good with blood and guts you may have a minor issue, but if you don’t mind some you’ll have no trouble. There’s a lot of cutting away, cut back and someone is severely injured moments. They do alright with what they have though. Her machine gun arm also doesn’t rotate which was a shame. It looks like it was built in a garage, but it was so that’s okay.

Same with the acting. A LOT of cheesy moments, some good. No one hear went to RADA. Some of the dialogue is what you would expect from some chop socky too. In fact it pays homage to those films a few times, there are a few moments where they introduce named gangs of baddies and there’s the “sword being drawn ching” sound effect. So tongue is squarely in cheek for much of the film.

I’ll do the final comments bad then good so I can end on a high note as this was enjoyable. The amount of disrespect for ninja’s in this film is pretty damned bad. I know, I’m a gaijin and the film makers are Japanese. WHATEVER. I have friends who practice Ninjutsu, and I’ve seen and read enough to know that they should have honour and be worthy of respect. I was also pissed of that the Yakuza psychopaths were supposed to be descendants of the legendary Hattori Hanzo. This all struck me as disrespectful as hell and completely unnecessary.

On the flip side, there’s actually quite a clever thread through this on how pointless and cyclical revenge is. Whether it’s intentional or not I don’t know. Minor spoilers here but it shouldn’t ruin enjoyment of the movie. Ami is brought together with the family of her brothers friend who was killed along with him by their need for revenge. It’s that family that sets her up with a machine gun arm, and she goes in to battle with the kids mum, Miki. Ami and Miki kill a gang who attacks them under Yakuza command. The parents of those gang kids then end up forming a gang to stop Ami and Miki. See what I mean? Admittedly this cycle would end quickly as there is no one to avenge Ami and Mikki BUT it just goes on. Everyone is fueled by their need to get revenge. It’s subtly handled but quite clever.

OR I’m just reading in to it.

Either way, The Machine Girl is a rather fun film with a coherent if sometimes a bit dodgly done plot, pretty crap effects and plenty of chop socky type action. If you like a bit of that turn off all but the subtitle reading bit of your brain and have a fun 90 minutes. I did. Not a fantastic film, but decent enough craic.

The Dark Knight Rises review (finally)

Synopsis from IMDB to avoid spoilers:

Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

That’ll do alright I guess. I was trying to think of one myself on the walk from the cinema to Tesco and failed massively. I will get to some spoilers in a bit, but will try and avoid them as some of you probably haven’t seen it yet. And it’s very good.

Very good but not great. Feels like it was pulling it’s punches a bit to me. And Dark Knight is an EXTREMELY good film so it had a hard act to follow. It is probably the best threequal I’ve seen for a comic book franchise though, this is generally where they fail. Plot wise it’s good, and I do realise this would make the film about 5 hours, I would have liked some stuff to be more fleshed out than it was. There’s also the issue of a hero with a ridiculous voice talking to someone with a mask over their face but they keep it relatively legible. Some bits and bobs were a bit “huh?” but a repeated viewing would probably take care of that.

Bale does a fine job playing Bruce Wayne/Batman, more of one character than two in this. Essentially the same as the last films. Same goes for Gary Oldman, whole heaps of respect for the character of Jim Gordon and his portrail of him. The let down in the regulars is Michael Caine. It’s not Sir Michael’s acting in the least, it’s that Alfred isn’t given anything to do beyond moaning and blubbing then buggering off. Sure it’s probably realistic but it’s also kinda crap. Rounding them out is Morgan Freeman. Still in his Q job to some extent, he’s as good as you’d expect from him.

The newbies to the franchise are all spot on as well. Tom Hardy has a tough job playing a character who you can only see half the face of and sounds like he’s talking in to a cup. He still conveys emotion quite well, very well in some scenes. And he’s a big fucking bad ass too. The voice choice is a bit off if you ask me, makes Bane sound older than he is (he based it on an old Irish gypsy bare knuckle boxer which I suppose fits).

I love Anne Hathaway more now that I’ve seen this film, and I was already pretty head over heels. She’s a bad ass when needed and can switch from one extreme to another at a snap of the fingers. As a cat owner I know that she also snarls and preens in exactly the right manner for this characters animal totem, but not in an evenly slightly cartoony way. No Michelle Pfieffer meows. The character is never referred to as cat woman which is good as it would just be cheesy.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent as beat cop then detective Blake. It’s a grounded and internalised performance for the most part and I can’t say too much about him without giving some spoilers, as I enjoyed the characters revelations as they unfolded. He’s very motivated, given quite a lions share of the film to deal with, and continues to be one of the best actors of his generation. Who’d have expected that from the Third Rock kid, eh?

So there aren’t really any miss steps in this. It looks lovely, the plot is consistent and well….plotted. Everyone bar Alfred is given something good to do and there’s good action. Bane is an excellent villain and they didn’t screw the pooch beyond not being quite as dark as I would have wanted. But I guess we don’t want everyone blubbing in the aisles. If you haven’t seen it, go do so now. If you have, I’m about to talk about the last 15 minutes. Shoo, not seen its! Watch out for spoilers in comments too btw

Sooooooooooooo. Yeah. They pussied out there really didn’t they. While I would have liked Batman’s struggle to heal to have gone on longer, along with the orgy of criminals once Gotham is cut off and the whole “city in chaos for a couple of weeks (months?)” to have been given more air time I can understand because the film would be to god damned long. But what is the point in his noble sacrifice if it wasn’t one at all and he gets to retire? Yay! No. DARK Knight dammit. Though being blown up by a nuke wasn’t exactly how I expected him to go out. Mutual destruction with Bane was. But never mind, it’s Hollywood and everyone gets a happy ending. As for the very very end.

Look, all through the thing I was thinking that Blake would be a great Robin though Robin doesn’t really fit in the Nolan verse. Not as a sidekick anyway. But as an HEIR? Fuck yeah. He’s perfect. Similar origin, tougher background, same sensibilities, great actor playing him, good chin. I’m well up for seeing a Nightwing Nolanverse movie. I’ve heard rumblings of a Catwoman movie, that may work but not sure. I loved Hathaway’s portrayal but not sure if the character could sustain a whole flick. But the studio will want another Batman and this is a damned fine compromise.

And that’ll do. I’m off to get Alfred a hankie and some balls.