Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (Blu-ray release 2012-9-25) is the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s 1986 comic. It shows Batman fighting for Gotham city after retiring for 10 years. I think its story is good, but I find the Christopher Nolan life action trilogy to be much more exciting.
魕 (The Cases) (Blu-ray release 2012-9-17) is a Hong Kong documentary about paranormal subjects – real-life witchcraft popular in Indonesia and Thailand, attempts to contact ghosts, and ghost stories that supposedly really happened. The format and the quality of this movie is incredibly similar to those TV shows featuring 司徒法正 (Szeto Fat Ching). It is not going to convince non-believers, however, believers should find this to be a nice addition to the existing shows.
Red Lights (Blu-ray release 2012-10-2) has an uncommon subject about investigating fake psychics. I love the movie and its cast before it reaches the climax. I’m somewhat disappointed by its climax, its twist ending, and the insufficient explanation of the villain’s methods.
Resident Evil: Damnation (Blu-ray release 2012-9-25) is the second CG movie in the Resident Evil series. This movie shows the protagonist investigating the use of Bio-Organic Weapon (B.O.W.), i.e. zombies, in war in an European country. This sets the background for the Resident Evil 6 game. (This CG movie is in a different universe from the life action Resident Evil movies, I believe, although they share some characters.) The quality of the CG is much better than the previous Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008). On the whole I like this movie more the other recent one about monster shooting – Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012).
Ghosts of the Abyss (Blu-ray release 2012-9-11) is James Cameron’s documentary of his team’s expedition to the wreck of Titanic in 2001. It brings fascinating footage of the remains of the Titanic sitting in the bottom of the ocean. It frequently overlays CG on top of actual footage to help the audience see exactly what is being shown. This is a fine documentary, but I imagine only people who are interested in Titanic or the 1997 movie will watch this. Note: the 91-minute extended version is only available on the 2D disc, not on the 3D disc (which contains the theatrical version).
畫皮 II (Painted Skin: The Resurrection) (Blu-ray release 2012-9-11) is a Chinese fantasy movie about a female spirit trying to become a human, and a scar faced princess who loves a general so much that she is willing to make deals with the spirit in order to be with him. It is not necessary to watch the first Painted Skin movie (2008) for this. It supposedly has the best CG from China, but it is still far from Hollywood standards. Although I’m not impressed by the CG quality, the CG direction successfully gives the picture a dreamy feeling. I also like the story in this movie more than the 2008 version.
Snow White and the Huntsman (Blu-ray release 2012-9-11), as a dark version of the classic Snow White fairytale, is much better than the disastrous Mirror Mirror (2012). Although the story is not without flaws – the (lack of) romantic aspect seems inconsistent with the climax, the fantasy world and the battles are well done. One scene of the story looks like a straight copy of もののけ姫 (Princess Mononoke) (1997).
Resident Evil: Retribution has a distinct lack of plot. However, it has nearly non-stop battles from the start to the end. The action scenes are good and are better than its predecessors in the series. Old and new monsters are present, even including new soldier zombies. The best element in the movie is, of course, 李冰冰 (Bingbing Li)’s character – she should have more screen time. I find this movie to be more entertaining (despite the plot issue) than Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010).
Visually, Starship Troopers: Invasion (Blu-ray release 2012-8-28) is more pleasing to watch than the low-budget direct-to-video Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008). However, the technical quality of the CG is uneven, which I find surprising since it has a Japanese director. As a Starship Troopers animation, this movie is satisfactorily entertaining and has an acceptable plot, although it has some minor flaws. Comparatively, the 2008 video has a richer story and is more meaningful.
Dark Shadows (Blu-ray release 2012-10-2) is disappointing. It’s not really bad, but I expected much more from a Tim Burton movie. I think the tone of the movie is incoherent, and the climax is not very exciting.