I have always liked shark movies. In the movie 47 Meters Down (Blu-ray release 2017-9-26), two sisters are invited to participate in shark cage diving, which goes wrong and they become stranded at the bottom of the sea. For much of the movie they are the only people on screen. For a movie that has so few characters with a limited budget, it does very well in making a fresh story and succeeding in creating tension. Horror movies typically involve a high amount of stupidity, but thankfully the stupidity is rather limited here.
Kuroshitsuji / Black Butler Book of the Atlantic (Blu-ray release 2017-8-23) is an anime movie that follows the demon butler’s and his human master’s adventure on a zombie-filled luxury liner, which reminds people of Titanic.
For fans of the series, this movie is significant because it does not merely offer all the elements that make it a success. It surprisingly redefines the roles of certain supporting characters, and provides more backstory of the earliest days of the two protagonists spending time together. Fans must not miss this. For people who are new to this series, although it is possible to watch this movie alone, knowing more background from previous anime series will help understand it.
KanColle: The Movie (Blu-ray release 2017-8-30) is the sequel to the 2015 anime series based on a popular browser game. The TV anime was not so great. Other than showing the cute fleet girls (battleships literally in form of girls), it had nothing noteworthy. I do not think it is essential to watch the TV before watching this (I forgot most of it anyway).
One of the fleet girls was sunk in the TV series. In the movie she mysteriously shows up again but remembers very little. A mysterious sound is heard from a real place known as the Ironbottom Sound. The sea also turns crimson, which corrode the gear of the fleet girls. The fleet girls set out to investigate these mysteries and to combat their eternal enemy.
There is a surprisingly dark revelation of the origin of the enemy and their relationship with the fleet girls. It adds much needed depth to the otherwise shallow show. Considering the never ending nature of the game, it actually makes sense from my perspective. At least it is better than the TV series. Note 1: there is an extra scene at the end. Note 2: The Director’s Cut contains 3 minutes of extra scenes.
我不是潘金蓮 (I Am Not Madame Bovary) (Blu-ray release 2017-4-6) is a satire of Chinese bureaucracy. The protagonist went through a fake divorce with her husband in order to avoid laws that prevent them from getting better housing. After that her husband married someone else. She tried to convince the court that her previous divorce is fake, so they can stay married and she can then properly divorce him. Of course she lost the case. She complains to higher levels of government, eventually to Beijing. A lot of officials are annoyed and have their careers affected seriously.
I am not saying this is a bad movie, and I am sure plenty of people appreciate it. However, this movie is wrong for me on many levels. I watched it only because many reviews refer to it as a comedy, but this is not a comedy in my book. I do not mind political satire, but when the whole movie is dedicated to it with slow pacing, this is not an entertaining experience for me. There is something fundamentally unrealistic in this drama. The escalation simply cannot happen, and the movie portrays the officials at high levels sincerely wanting to help, and the bad actions are only done by low level officials. (If all the officials are bad, this movie would never get released.) The final revelation that attempts to rationalize the ridiculous premise is odd. My TV is not large enough, the visual representation – reducing the screen to a circle, made this problem much worse, I think this is a totally unnecessary gimmick, regardless of whatever artistic intent there is (say, transforming from an ant to an elephant as a metaphor).
In Wind Chill (2007) (Blu-ray release 2017-4-4), two college students share a ride home, and a traffic accident leaves them stranded in the highway at freezing temperatures. Then creepy people show up.
Although the horrors are not up to standard, and the movie got bad reviews, there are several aspects of this story that I like. Firstly, the relationship between the two protagonists change from unfriendly to hostile, then improves. The movie employs eternal occurrence – the dead repeats their death in the afterlife – I like to see this more in horror movies. I also like the ending.
The Mummy (2017) (Blu-ray release 2017-9-12) mostly got bad reviews. I think it’s not that bad. The action and pacing are fine to be an acceptably entertaining movie. I also like the female mummy. Some parts of the movie look like a zombie movie instead of a mummy movie, however. The climax is much less exciting than other blockbusters. The ending is odd, which does not make too much sense except for leaving things open for a possible sequel.
拆彈專家 (Shock Wave) (Blu-ray release 2017-8-17) is a Hong Kong movie about bomb disposal. Other than a few subplots that are not developed well, and it shows there is only one guy in Hong Kong who can dispose bomb, the production quality of this action movie is remarkably good by Hong Kong movie standard. The overall story is not too bad. The pacing is good. Different incidents happen quickly enough to keep it entertaining during the whole duration of the movie. I love the scene in which a young policeman faces the situation of having a bomb strapped to his body.
指甲刀人魔 (A Nail Clipper Romance) (Blu-ray release 2017-7-14) is a Chinese romance drama with an absurd setting: a woman claims that she only eats nail clippers and nothing else. The movie is not concerned with the truth, but to put forward the notion that true love is unconditional. This is fine for an average romance movie, but the ambiguity, and the lack of details of exactly what happened in the end, make it dissatisfying.
失眠 (The Sleep Curse) (Blu-ray release 2017-8-24) is a spiritual successor to the Hong Kong exploitative movies The Untold Story (1993) (which features human flesh in Chinese style pork bun) and Ebola Syndrome (1996) (which features human flesh in hamburger – notice the connection?). Although the exploitation is the selling point of the movie, the best surprise is its story.
The protagonist is a professor specializing in the research of a medical condition that causes people to be unable to sleep. Early on it is hinted that it may have something to do with a curse. Then the story unfolds between two generations of people, back to the days of the protagonist’s father, who was forced to work for Japanese during the era of Japanese occupation, and met a group of women who were abducted to be comfort women (sex slaves).
If this movie is viewed as a drama, the exploitative scenes are unnecessary and the ending does not make a whole lot of sense. However, since the story is actually an excuse for the exploitation, this excuse is the best I’ve ever watched in this category, although I do not claim to have watched a lot of this type of movies.
Note: The Japanese actor, who played the role of evil Japanese commander in this movie, wrote a blog expressing his frustration and quit acting after having finished this movie.
Based on a manga series, the live action adaptation of One Week Friends (Blu-ray release 2017-8-2) involve a schoolgirl who forgets her friends every Monday, so she avoids making friends. A schoolboy is so attracted to her that he convinces her to exchange diary with him, thereby beginning their friendship. When things start to become better, two people who are related to the event that caused her medical condition shows up.
I have not read or watched the other versions so I don’t know if they are better, but I like this movie a lot. In spite of the slow pace at the start, it has a complete and dramatic story, with an element of mystery that is properly explained (unlike the poor Forget Me Not), and an innocent quality of love.