So once again we have survived.

Scanners: The Showdown

tn_scannersshowdownFrom the director of MISSION OF JUSTICE and the writer of EXCESSIVE FORCE II: FORCE ON FORCE comes SCANNERS: THE SHOWDOWN, or SCANNER COP II in some jurisdictions. It’s a follow-up to SCANNER COP, and the first SCANNERS movie to continue with a character from the last one. For some reason I guess they must’ve assumed the characters from SCANNERS II and SCANNERS III were not dear to our hearts.

In this one Scanner Cop (still Daniel Quinn) has a new Scanner Case. He’s gone from we-behind-the-ears rookie to completely-dry-throughout-the-entire-ear-area cocky veteran with long hair and even – and this is how you understand what he’s all about – a brown leather jacket.

mp_scannersshowdownBy now people don’t just think he’s a psychic, he’s out in the open about being a scanner. In SCANNERS, scanners were completely underground. By part 3 they were rumored and discussed at parties. At this point they’re common knowledge enough that Scanner Cop can say to a doctor, “You know she’s a scanner, right?” and not have to explain what that means. On the other hand, people always seem surprised and confused when they use their powers.

The science of scanner medication has also improved. You know how in SCANNER COP he had to stay off his pills to use his powers and that was real dangerous because he was guaranteed to go crazy in a couple days? In this one they brush that off by having someone mention it and somebody else says oh no, he has new medication that lets him use his powers.

“The Showdown” of the subtitle is between Scanner Cop and a new Scanner Villain named Karl Volkin (Patrick Kilpatrick, Mercenary #2 from UNDER SIEGE 2). He’s a maniac scanner who escaped from an asylum and is going around scanning other scanners, defeating them and absorbing their powers (“like a vampire”). A girl (Khrystyne Haje) who Scanner Cop wants to date and who also is trying to help him find his birth mother tracks down an obscure case that happened in Canda one time, a case we at home would call “the David Cronenberg movie SCANNERS.” Kind of sad that the earth-shattering events of the original story are now just an old newspaper clipping of something even Scanner Cop never heard of and that doesn’t even affect his case that much. But what this guy Volkin is doing is supposed to be like what happened at the end of SCANNERS, if I understand this right.

So like Michael Ironside he’s got a list of all the scanners, but he’s using it more as a hit list or a list of different snacks he wants to eat than as a recruiting tool. He goes around finding the scanners and causing them to shrivel up like mummies. One poor bastard hears his girlfriend go to answer the door and then has to peel her gooey head off the security caging.

I’d say it’s not as dumb as the case in SCANNER COP, but it’s sure not exciting enough. It’s very repetitive. In slasher movies at least you can imagine they might slip away. This guy is too super-powered. You’re just watching him feed over and over. I mean the effects are cool like usual, but that’s not enough. It’s like I COME IN PEACE without the humor, the action, or the charisma of Dolph Lundgren.

There is one minor thing to make it seem more like a straight up cop movie: Robert Forster plays his commanding officer now. Poor bastard. He doesn’t have alot of screen time and what he has is 100% dedicated to generic cop lines and exposition. But he’s Robert Forster so he still seems to make it a little better than it should be. He has that professionalism.

Also I had no idea while watching it but if you ever watch this keep your eye out in the opening scenes, it turns out that redneck sheriff who first encounters Volkin is the Lone Ranger himself, Clayton Moore. I guess I didn’t recognize him with his mask off.

The funniest part of the movie is definitely the showdown itself, when the Scanner Cop finally faces down Volkin. For some reason the girl keeps telling him that the only way he can defeat Volkin is through illusion. She doesn’t say it like, “I had this idea that you should try using the power of illusion!” She says it very matter of factly that it’s the only possible method of victory. No disrespect to her librarian skills or her scanner heritage, but what the fuck does she know about this? How is she so confident she has the solution? She’s telling Scanner Cop what to do. Who does she think she is? This is Scanner Cop you’re talking to, lady!

Anyway there are these two innocent people that get knocked out by Volkin, then Scanner Cop comes in and they have a scanner fight and Scanner Cop loses and gets torn up… but then it turns out no, it was one of those unconscious guys being controlled by Scanner Cop and made to look like him in Karl’s mind. So Scanner Cop walks in again and says, “Fooled you, didn’t I Karl?” Real proud of himself.

Yeah you fooled him. Fooled him into murdering an innocent man instead of you! Way to protect and serve, asshole. Then he does the exact same thing with the other guy. I don’t know, maybe these guys were supposed to be dead already, and he just horribly desecrated their bodies so that their loved ones will not be able to have the closure of an open casket funeral. But it seemed to me more like he used two injured people as human shields (and puppets).

Anyway, Volkin yells “WRETCHED COP BASTARD!” So it’s a pretty funny scene. And with that David Cronenberg’s original vision of 14 years earlier was finally fulfilled, and there were no more SCANNERS movies.

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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 11:45 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

55 Responses to “Scanners: The Showdown”

  1. Jareth Cutestory

    June 7th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    “… and there were no more SCANNERS movies.”

    Because A SCANNER DARKLY doesn’t count.

  2. How about reviewing THE FURY? And then CARRIE. They are sort of scanner-movies, I guess… Well, maybe not, but I`m sure you can find some sort of connection and review them anyway. Oh, and AKIRA. Yes, I know it`s for kids, but I`m pretty sure there is a couple of exploding heads in it. Also exploding doctors. Akira could easily be a sort of sci-fi sequel to Scanners.

  3. With his penchant for reviewing full film series, how long before Vern reviews the Police Academy movies?

  4. Say what you want about the Police Academy movies (and I know that they are not easy to like without nostalgia), but many of them ended with awesome action scenes. My favourite might be the one in part 4, which includes airplanes, hot-air ballons and stuntmen that seriously and for real not just climb around on them while they are already flying very high in the sky, but also jump out of one just to land on the other! I don’t think stuntmen are allowed to do these things anymore on film.

  5. The “Everything is Terrible” folks distilled Scanner Cop 2 into a two-minute version composed entirely of Daniel Quinn doing his scanning thing. EIT is great at editing down movies into something that both takes far less time to watch, and is actually a better movie, than the original:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e3wL8votog

  6. CJ-That’s what I think too. It’s just odd as you wouldn’t really class them as action movies, but they do tend to have pretty well-staged climactics third acts.
    Not that there weren’t other directions they could have gone:
    http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/920/harris.jpg

  7. “Say what you want about the Police Academy movies”

    CJ Holden -Honestly, how did we get all those movies? I mean I would expect endless sequels for a Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger, but a cop comedy? Where did the mileage come from?

    I remember that EW article, part documentary part comedy piece, which tried to explain that “phenomenon,” how it was mostly juggernauts on VHS and did better in Europe on average than most such yankee comedies….I don’t get it.

    dna – yeah I liked THE FURY too. Not as good as CARRIE, since you had what amounted to the well-executed, ultimate bullied revenge violent fantasy. So good, no way Hollywood could produce such a picture in post-Columbine unless you’re an arty examination like ELEPHANT or what the fuck.

    THE FURY isn’t as good perhaps it lacks that whole element which alot of folks could relate to. More a popcorn, less controversial retelling of CARRIE mixed with spies, government conspiracies, Israeli beaches, an AWESOME roller coaster crash, John Cassavettes giving a good paycheck villain role, an underrated John Williams soundtrack, that memorable gunfight sequence in the street, Kirk Douglas and his tradmark snarl, and a quite explosive ending. quite literally.

  8. Dr. Peaches N. Herb

    June 7th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I misread something in that review as ‘Scanner Cop vs. Maniac Cop’, which is a terrible idea that I would probably pay good money to see.

  9. Vern needs to review the MANIAC COP trilogy.

    Agree Mr. M?

  10. He at least needs to do the second one. The first is kind of a half-assed start and the third has some moments of greatness (like the car chase with one of the drivers ON FIRE), but MCII is a real gem, with a slew of amazing stunts, a wry, witty script, and weird plotting. Also, I’m sucker for the way Larry Cohen writes New York.

    Plus, it has a copshop slaughter that might actually be better than TERMINATOR’s.

  11. Mr. M – To me both #1 and #2 are 2/3rds short of being a really darn good B movie worth watching. #2 probably comes closest to pulling it off.

    what does that 2/3rds mean?

    Well it means (1) A solid premise, (2) A good plot set-up with that premise, and (3) uniquely compelling, storytelling visual spatial narrative execution.

    Obviously MANIAC COP has a fun idea, and I think #1 sets it up with the Maniac Cop killing people randomly and poor Bruce Campbell stuck as the poor sap at the wrong place at the wrong time. #2 you have the Cop teaming up with a serial killer to commit more rampage.

    But then both fall short in that they end up relying way too much without much thought or creativity to the formula and it just ends up being fucking mindless chase scenes which leave me bored. Like blowing out the tire on the last lap of Daytonna 500. OK #2 again comes closest to escape this with that crazy fireball climax and the fucked up coda. Robert Davi is awesome too.

    In contrast, look at a really darn good “B movie” involving cops and sci-fi/fantasy shit from around that same time period….THE HIDDEN. Good premise, good set-up, good execution all the way. All the actors playing the same “hidden” alien terminator/stalker/assassin character. Who didn’t laugh at that scene of the alien-now-an-old-guy headbanging to punk rock on his boom box at that diner? Good chemistry with cops Whats his Face and Paul Atreides. Kyle MacLachlan particularly pulling a STARMAN in obviously an alien trying (and failing alot) to fit in as human without getting busted. And shit that climax kicks ass with the flamethrower!

    The plot in itself isn’t original per say (which could apply to most movies) but like TERMINATOR (which plagarized Harlin Ellison) there are so many good little touches throughout the picture and never once did the movie drop the ball and act the stereotype of its genre. Unlike MANIAC COP 1 and 2. Dig it up, but you can find that old Siskel & Ebert clip where they raved about THE HIDDEN. And for good reason.

    For that matter, my B movie recipe could include many John Carpenter movies from that decade too. THE FOG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, THEY LIVE, PRINCE OF DARKNESS, whatever. All were mixed in with the ingredients of the formula (mostly action/adventure) but I can’t say either of those had serious gaps where the movie coasted too much lazily on the formula. OK maybe PRINCE came close, but still good little shit, enough to save itself from this predictament. Kinda like needing just enough chocolate chip drops in a muffin to make it a chocolate chip muffin.

    And not simply a muffin with chocolate chips in it.

    I’m hungry.

  12. THE HIDDEN kicks ass!

    And Claudia Christian wrapped in red PVC is not too painful on the eyes neither…

    yum!

    Wtf happened to Jack Sholder, anyways?

  13. I had a friend from Russia once who told about movie love behind the Iron Curtain, when whispers would go around about a Western videocassette being smuggled into the country … so the guy gets an address and a synchronized arrival time (to avoid suspicion of assembly) … finds the building, heads for the miserable walk-up apartment … where he and maybe a dozen others huddled around a tiny b&w tv in order to drink in the forbidden culture of “Police Academy”.

    It went over pretty well.

  14. I would love Vern to review Akira (KANEDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA), but has Vern EVER reviewed anime? methinks me might suffer from some culture shock, however I would love to see Vern review something like Lucky Star because it would make me laugh endlessly (however that’s a tv series, not a movie)

    also , I’m glad I’m not the only one who knows about EIT

  15. You know, I love Vern’s reviews and all, but nothing will beat the Joe Bob Briggs TNT Monstervision showing of THE FURY. The glee Briggs had in his descriptions of all the “Fu” in the film made The Fury more enjoyable to me than it probably should have been. Not that Vern shouldn’t review it, although I think it’s a better match to FIRESTARTER than CARRIE, for some reason.

  16. POLICE ACADEMY was popular because its characters transcended national boundaries. Look at any police force in any city of the world and you’ll find the nerd cop, the one that makes those silly noises, the one with big tits, Steve Guttenberg, etc.

  17. POLICE ACADEMY was odd in that it started as an R-Rated raunchy and stupid adult comedy but quickly evolved into a kid friendly screwball farces as the series went on. I remember when there was a cartoon and action figures in the late 80s (Yeah, the TOXIC AVENGER had a cartoon and toys, but the movies never went kiddie). The ability to evolve served Too Tall Jones well.

  18. I third the call for a review of The Hidden! Such an underrated move, its one of the best 80’s Scifi films.

  19. “Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies? For fun? Well, I didn’t hear anybody laughing – did you? “

  20. Griff- it depends on whether you count the Boondocks animated series as anime or not, because Vern’s reviewed that. He doesn’t review animation in general whole lot, besides some Pixar movies and the Transformers Cartoon one. I don’t get the impression he has much interest in the medium.

  21. I was under the impression that anime was a strictly Japanese phenomenon. But isn’t there one lone anime review lingering somewhere in Vern’s back catalog? NORTHERN NINJA FIST OF THE SAMURAI SWORDSTAR or something? (I don’t really know what I’m talking about. Anime makes me feel fidgety.)

  22. Jareth Cutestory

    June 8th, 2010 at 8:16 am

    The only anime I know is that SOUTH PARK episode where Butters takes a throwing star to the eye. That was awesome.

  23. “I was under the impression that anime was a strictly Japanese phenomenon. ”
    Which is why I was unsure about Boondocks. It’s actually made in Korea, and written by americans. It undeniably has an anime-style, but does it count?

  24. Vern has reviewed Princess Mononoke and Vampire Hunter D, if I remember correctly. And he liked them a lot.

  25. @ Mr. Majestyk

    “(I don’t really know what I’m talking about. Anime makes me feel fidgety.)”

    Come on, that`s like saying french movies makes your brain hurt. There is a lot of bad anime, true, but as a true (platonic) lover of the art of cinema, you can`t ignore the wonders of japanese animation. There is some great and very influential stuff among all the stupid crap, like in all genres of cinema. I can highly recommend features like “JIN-ROH”, “GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES” and everything Satoshi Kon has directed. That man is one of the most exciting directors at the moment.

  26. I have the same reaction to anime that I have to live theater: “Wow, this is really well done. I hope it ends soon.” I have seen the movies you mentioned in both posts, and while I admire them on a technical level, I get no enjoyment from watching them and do not ever wish to repeat the experience.

  27. anime was Japanese, but then it came over to the states from SPEED RACER to AKIRA and you get the drift, and that influence is firmly implanted in alot of recent American animation to the point that we don’t think much about it.

    Except for us old timers I suppose.

    Mr. Majestyk – Let me guess, the anime nerds pissed you off one too many times. They can be abrassive, but don’t hold the fans against the material. There are good and bad, and no I’m not the most helpful in the recommendations.

    Though I remember the first run through of COWBOY BEBOP and TRIGUN on Adult Swim, and loved them. Two creatures that wouldn’t have come from America, even though both mined (i.e. ripped-off) lots of Americana for their canvases. Imagine trying to pitch TRIGUN: “Yeah this goofball Jerry Lewis-type clown is also this melancholic infamous outlaw. And his partner is a guy who hauls around a giant cross on his back, which is also his gun locker.”

    And I liked the smartass dubbing done for LUPIN III and SHIN CHAN, either making a slight mockery of the material or manipulating innocent footage to incenuate something nefarious. Even though from what I understand, LUPIN III the original comics and anime movies are actually darn good fun this side of its fellow swashbuckling comic book cavalier thief across the world over in DIABOLIK.

    So there you go. Yet another RRA rant which is about as connected and on interestingly on point as MEIN KOMPF.

  28. What Mr. Majestyk said, minus the technical level. Okay, many animes have awesome backgrounds and incredibly well done action scenes, but even the oh-so-well-done Miyazaki movies suffer from bad animation* and uninspired character design.

    *Although I’m not talking Pokemon-ultra-limited-animation here.

  29. Nope, I have absolutely nothing against anime nerds. In fact, I don’t even know any. I just tried to get into anime back in the late 90s and found that it was impossible. The movies just bore me to tears, no matter how eye-popping the visuals are. It’s weird, I love comic books but have no interest in animation. It’s really, really rare when a cartoon movie engages me in the slightest.

  30. @CJ Holden

    Miyazaki suffers from bad animation? That`s just crazy talk. Yes, anime doesn`t have the same budget as Disney features, but what does? Off course, if you mean that good animation is very animated characters, I get your point, but if you like animation as an art form, you won`t find a better animator than Miyazaki.

    But the budget of the animation doesn`t really bother me, if the movie has a great story and great direction. My anime favorite NEON GENESIS EVANGELION has long scenes with people not moving or talking for minutes, due to a cut budget, but the director uses it in favor of the story.

    And I hope we can all agree that (old) simpsons and south park are brilliant animation, despite being “poorly” animated (when compared to disney)

  31. See, I like animated TV shows because they focus on characters and gags, which is what animation is best at, in my opinion. But even then it takes a lot of episodes before I warm up to an animated character and see him as a person that I can relate to, which a 90-minute movie just doesn’t have the time to do. I know most humongous blockbusters are half animation anyway, but at the center is a flesh-and-blood person I can look in the eye. I guess I need that to get sucked into a movie and not just stare at it like a pretty diorama.

  32. It is hard to explain what bothers me so much about the animation. There is this special kind of jerking that you find only in japanese animation. I mean, as stiff and cheesy as early Simpsons and South Park (though that one was a deliberate choice) were, they were still more fluid in their movements as any anime I’ve ever seen.
    Meanwhile I seriously got over the fact that the dialogue is never lipsync and the characters talk by just opening and closing their mouths (I heard this comes because they first animate the movie and THEN let the voice actors speak their lines.), but this slightly jerky animation annoys the shit out of me.

  33. @CJ Holden

    What sort of anime have you seen? And was it dubbed?

  34. @dna: Many of them were dubbed, although you should know that the German dubbing is (on a technical level) often considered as one of the best in the world. (And they are right IMO) A few years ago I also got a pay TV channel named Animax. As the name says, they are showing Anime all day long (although they recently put some american stuff inbetween, like Happy Tree Friends, Dilbert or the MIB series) and let the viewer switch between the German and the original soundtrack, which I used from time to time, when I didn’t want to know what was gonna happen.
    Animes I’ve seen include* some Miyazaki movies, The Cat Returns, Animatrix, Gantz, Hellsing, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in The Shell, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Shin Chan, Dr. Slump, Case Closed, some Street Fighter adaptation and several sometimes more, sometimes less pornographic fantasy movies, whichs names I can’t remember. So you can’t say I didn’t try. :)
    My favourite of them was by far The Cat Returns, because it did not bore me. (But I find everything that includes cats very entertaining) I also remember how deeply shocked I was back then (I was 13) by the ending of Sailor Moon’s 1st season, so they get points for that. Hellsing and Cowboy Bebop get also bonus points for being extremely stylish, but please note that Sailor Moon was really the only show that I didn’t stop to watch after a few episodes. (Because nothing else was on back then.)

    *It took me a while to get all the English titles of them.

  35. Jareth Cutestory

    June 8th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I saw SPIRITED AWAY and the Pixar garbage robot movie within a few weeks of each other in an attempt to understand what the kids were talking about. I wasn’t much impressed with either, particularly the Pixar film. You could tell they really wanted that little robot to pull at the old heart strings, but it really didn’t do anything to me. The action sequences were obviously made with care, but I can’t say I felt involved in any of it, much like Majestyk described above.

    I liked the critique of consumerism in SPIRITED AWAY, and it was neat to see all those monsters, but I get the feeling much of it was aimed at an audience that I don’t relate to (ie. pre-pubescent girls). I try to not be a snob, but when I hear people talk about how visually inventive Miyazaki is, I wonder if their opinion would change if they ever studied Chagall or Picasso.

    Maybe that’s why SOUTH PARK works for me: it’s created by and aimed at grumpy old adults.

  36. Jareth Cutestory

    June 8th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    CJ Holden: I’m not ashamed to admit this: THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE had a profound influence on me when I saw it as a child.

    Okay, I’m a little ashamed.

  37. I have a vague memory of catching maybe 10 or 15 minutes of one of the SCANNER COP movies. It must have been more than 10 years ago. All I remember is, the scanner cop is fighting some dude, and he uses his mind powers to rip the flesh off the guy’s face, exposing a metal plate in his head, which then falls out. It was pretty awesome.

    Am I remembering that right? Did it really happen in one of these movies?

  38. @CJ Holden

    Thanks. Well, I`ve only really enjoyed Ghost in the shell and Cowboy Bebob of the titles you mention (except Miyazaki – I`ve wached everything he has done again and again). GITS is actually very lowbudget for a japanese animation feature, mostly financed by Manga Ent. in britain. It`s one of my favorites movies anyway. Cowboy Bebob was kind of hard of getting into, but I loved it when I finally got it and watches the entire series once a year.

    Stuff like Gantz and Pokemon pisses me off, badly and stupid animated crap imo. The Cat returns seemed like a Miyazaki rip-off at the time i watched it.

    I know germans have a very different attitude towards dubbing than me. It truly ruins the movie for me (except if it`s 007). I hated Mad Max the first couple of times i tried to watch it, but when i finally catched it with original sound instead of the american dub, i frigging loved it.

    Anyway, if you saw Miyazaki-movies and didn`t appriciate them, I really can`t recommend anything else. Except movies by Satoshi Kon. They are worth checking out for anybody interested in cinema.

    @Jareth

    I`m a grumpy old man and Spirited Away makes me feel like a pre-pubescent girl. It`s a nice feeling :-)

  39. SPIRITED AWAY is far too trippy for prepubuescent girls. American ones, anyway.

    (Any fans of TEKKON KINKREET? If you wanna be a purist (snob), it’s arguably not “true” anime, since it’s co-directed by an American who’s been living and working in Japan for many years. But it has an amazing atmosphere and sense of place, one I sometimes just soak in with the sound turned off. Seriously, it’s almost on par with BLADE RUNNER. It’s about 2 street urchins, and yakuza, and gentrification, and killer robots, and horn-headed apparitions. It’s cliche to say “the city is a character,” but it’s really true in this case. Fantastic soundtrack, too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IU9pqWA3go&feature=related

    Yeah, THE HIDDEN is a great little almost-classic. I’d rate in on the level of TREMORS — not a revelation like TERMINATOR or ROBOCOP, but way better than it had to be.

    I had no idea there were so many SCANNERS films. I was aware of the existence of the first two sequels, but I never even heard these last couple. Judging from the trailer, it looks as if the dude playing villain is doing his best Michael Ironsides impression. It’s an endeavor which is bound to fail, because you can growl and yell all you want — but big Mike is scary without even trying. He just has to lift the corners of his mouth.

  40. It just hit me where I recognized him (the bad scanner) from. He’s the gym teacher from CLASS OF 1999. No “gotta eat” jokes, please.

  41. @frankbooth

    I don`t know any american prepubuescent girls, but my flatmates four-year old daughter loves spirited away and doesn`t care for that weak disney-shit. When I saw it in the cinema (it opened at childrens film festival in Denmark) the tween-audience loved it. But I don`t really think of Miayzakis movies as childrens movies. All ages can enjoy them, like I loved James Bond, Star Wars and Indiana Jones as a child.

    Tekken Konkrit is beatiful, but it just seems like it tries to hard to be a real anime. It gets better everytime I watch it and the soundtrack is brilliant. But it tries to be a all surreal psychodrama in the end, like Akira, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Ghost in the shell, without really earning it. Too banal and weird for the sake of being weird.

  42. dna – Miayzakis movies, similar if quite different I suppose in approach and execution to the Pixar releases, really to a degree are perfect movies in being quite universal to all ages without at expense being condescending to a particular group.

    Hell I read somewhere those Pixar guys snuck in a Totoro toy cameo in TOY STORY 3 as a respectful homage. Watch out eagle eyes!

  43. Jareth Cutestory

    June 29th, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Okay, based on some of the encouraging comments made in this discussion I watched something called GHOST IN THE SHELL, which you guys all know about but that is new to me. I have to say, it was more interesting than I thought it would be. I think I finally get the “visually inventive” tag people put on this sort of animation. Surprisingly moody for a cartoon too.

    So, should I watch the sequels or move on to COWBOY BEBOP?

  44. – Jareth Cutestory

    Glad you enjoyed GITS. I can highly recommend the tv-shows (Stand Alone Complex 1. and 2. gig, which is more action-oriented and less philosophical than the features. GITS: Innocense is even more philosophical than the original and a lesser movie imo.

    The director of Ghost in the shell wrote and produced JIN-ROH, which is another moody and challenging sfi-fi about fascism and terrorism. And a very good movie with a great soundtrack. Highly recommended. (I even think Vern reviewed it at some point).

    Everybody loves Cowboy Bebob (the tv-show) and it does turn out great if your stick with it. And I think Samurai Champloo by the same director is even greater.

    But if you want a really great anime I would go for Satoshi Kon`s entire output: PERFECT BLUE (an animated guillo), MILLENIUM ACTRESS ( the story of an old actress being interviewed about her life), TOKYO GODFATHERS (homeless people trying to safe an abanded baby), PAPRIKA (eh.. something about a dreamtherapist..something-something..) and his tv-show PARANOIA AGENT (about schizofrenia.. I guess?)

    My all-time favorite is Neon Genesis Evangelion tv-show (episode 1-24) and it`s alternate ending the feature THE END OF EVANGELION. A kids show about robots which turns totally bonkers as the director quits his anti-depressives halfway during the show and goes psycho on the audience. Expect multiple nervous breakdowns, suicide-attempts and sexuel confusion, as our young teen-protagonists fights aliens with big robots. Oh, it`s funny too. Maybe not the bit where our protagonist ejaculates on his suicidal comatose co-pilot, but.. Well, that bit is actually pretty harrowing.
    WETA planned to make a live-movie of the show for years.

  45. Jareth Cutestory

    June 30th, 2010 at 6:23 am

    dna: Thanks for the helpful information. You’ve provided enough titles to keep me busy for months.

    What I liked best about GHOST IN THE SHELL was the vivid, tangible atmosphere; the dystopia was rendered in a really thoughtful, effective way. I also liked how even the action sequences felt like a sad dream.

    Which of the titles you mentioned comes closest to those qualities?

  46. – Jareth

    That would be Jin-roh and Ghost in the shell: Innocense. Jin-Roh is my favorite.

    The dreamy city-mood (argh, I hope you know what I mean) is present in most of the directors movies. They almost always include a 5-10 minute break from the plot, where we see parts of the city. I`m refering to the bit in Ghost in the Shell where The Major travels through the city from the ocean and sees her clone in the office-building. Jin-Roh has a beatiful montage of our heroes hiding from the police, while it starts to rain or something like that. If you like that sort of stuff, I would also recommend Patlabor 2, by the same director. Good political thriller with the same sort of sad atsmophere.

    Oh

  47. Jareth Cutestory

    June 30th, 2010 at 9:03 am

    dna: It’s those breaks from the plot in GHOST IN THE SHELL that I found realy effective, where the shot lingers on walls, windows and signs. Really nice stuff.

    I’m not sure my brain will ever recover from trying to decide what to think of naked cartoon robot girls, but I’m glad they treated that stuff with dignity.

    Thanks for the recommendations.

  48. Jareth – I’d have to agree with dna that GHOST IN THE SHELL 2 and JIN-ROH are the most similar in tone to GHOST IN THE SHELL. I’d say there are very few filmmakers quite as good as Oshii at that melancholic, contemplative mood you describe. Even though he didn’t direct JIN-ROH his fingerprints are all over it. Definitely a frame job by the actual director.

    I think I like GHOST IN THE SHELL 2 more than dna since I’d consider it on par with the first one. Though as he mentioned it is a lot heavier on the philosophy. And on the naked cartoon robot girls. But if you don’t mind a detective movie where they spend much of the case discussing the nature of the soul it might be up your alley. I liked how, as in so many other movies, the characters spout off obscure quotes verbatim but in this one, due to their cybernetic memory, there is an actual explanation for how they can do it beyond the fact that the writer liked the quote and made them say it.

    Satoshi Kon I would say is also good at generating atmosphere though it has a different feel to Oshii’s stuff. Kon tends to get more into the subjective nature of reality. With his movies it is often difficult to tell where dreams end and reality begins. Even when a huge parade of trumpet-playing frogs, giant toy robots and the Statue of Liberty are walking through downtown Tokyo. If you are a fan of Japanese cinema, or even just cinema in general, I’d say MILLENNIUM ACTRESS is a must see. As a film lover, I have a soft spot for movies about movies. I mean how can you not love them? They are movies about possibly the single great invention in the history of mankind. Except for maybe the Dorito. Though I think I’d have to give the edge to movies. Anyway, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS is a great meta-movie that traces the history of Japanese cinema through this actress’s life as they literally jump from movie to movie.

    Judging from your posts on this site you seem to like the artsy, though-provoking stuff so you might also like SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN. Like Oshii’s stuff it is pretty moody and atmospheric and like Kon’s it is all about virtual forms of reality. One of my favorites. There was also a small, kind of overlooked anime film in the 80s called AKIRA. I don’t think even a lot of hardcore anime fans know about that one. That was pretty good, too. One day it will get the respect it deserves.

  49. – jake

    This whole anime-discussion actually started when I suggested that Vern reviewed Akira as a part of his scanners-reviews. Akira made me fall in love with anime as a kid and is required viewing for anybody interested in the film of cinema, in my openion. I like SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN a lot, but I just don`t get it. Might give it a second chance soon. Have you seen ELFEN LIED?

  50. Jareth Cutestory

    June 30th, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Jake: Dorito love isn’t confined to just humans:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqy9hxhUxK0

    Thanks for the additional suggestions. I feel like a bit of a chump for my earlier post about this anime stuff; it wasn’t fair of me to look at these films based only on seeing SPIRITED AWAY.

    On your recommendation, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS got bumped up the list.

  51. dna – Whoops, I had read those comments back then but I completely forgot about them.

    I remember watching AKIRA and GHOST IN THE SHELL for the first time when I was younger and not liking them as much as their reputation would suggest I should. I blame the English dubbing and the stupidity of youth. Now they are both among my favorite films, animated or otherwise.

    Yeah, I saw ELFEN LIED and liked it a lot. Though I think the rest of the series didn’t quite live up to the first episode. But, man, what a great way to start a series. If every episode was on that level it’d probably one of my favorite shows ever. Still, good stuff. And I too need to see LAIN again soon. It’s been a long time since I saw it so I want see if my opinion of it has changed.

    Jareth – I agree with that seagull. Doritos should be provided free to everyone regardless of race, creed or species.

    Yeah, I hope you like MILLENNIUM ACTRESS. If you don’t, please blame dna for his terrible suggestion, I had nothing to do with it, I don’t even know what you are talking about.

  52. Yeah, blame me. At least I restrained myself from recommending Urotsukidoji part 1-3 (the original series), cause that`s some nasty shit your brain will never recover from. Actually, you would do yourself a big favor if you forget I even mentioned them.

    Jake – funny with Elfen Lied, cause I found it quite boring for the first couple of episodes, but it got better and better. Good point about the dubbing. The english dubbing almost always ruins the movie.

  53. Jareth Cutestory

    June 30th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I just looked up UROTSUKIDOJI on Wilipedia.

    Sexcraft? Horny teachers who get possessed by an iguana demons?? Tentacle rape?!?

    Can’t say you didn’t warn me.

  54. dna – You found a young girl massacring an entire military facility boring? ‘Cause that’s a pretty perfect definition of entertainment in my book. Maybe all that tentacle rape has desensitized your appreciation of good, old-fashioned wholesale slaughter.

  55. – jake

    Nope, nothing beats old-fashioned slaughter, but as an action-scene or horror-scene it didn`t excite me or scare me. It`s a perfect idea as a beginning, but not executed very well (imo). But as soon as I started investing in the characters, around the flashbacks starts, the story really gripped me and I found the series as a whole friggin scary and very very toutching. I think it`s the story and the characters that makes it a great series, not the action-scenes.

    The same goes for urotsukidoji, which has a great story and profound psychological depth, which people usually dismiss because of the tentacle-rape. And the action-scenes kicks ass.

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