Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Deep Purple - InFinite (2017)

Five years after making one of their best efforts in over a decade with 2013's Now What!?, the Purple ones returned to the studio in hopes to add another impressive chapter to their already legendary catalog. The result of their efforts is InFinite.

Despite its seemingly politically-charged opener and brilliantly epic Time for Bedlam (which is somewhat reminiscent of The Spanish Archer), InFinite is actually a fairly carefree rock album. Perhaps there's no more appropriate proof of that than their cover of The Doors classic Roadhouse Blues. The cover seemed to be suggested by their producer Bob Ezrin. He told them to go in and just play a song they liked and they settled on that one. It makes for a strange inclusion on the album since they haven't put covers on their album since their early days, but it is by no means a bad one. I liked their cover. Although I can't help but wonder what kind of fire they'd put into this song if they had done it back in the day. 

Johnny's Band (and its humorous music video) is about a rock band that once hit it big and then fell down in epic fashion. Although, the music video is certainly a reference to the Purple ones and their history, I felt more as if the song itself was a reference to one hit wonders... which Purple most certainly are not. I do think the song is a bit of fun poked at the fact that people sometimes claim they are one when they mention Smoke on the Water as their only "hit" and they were finished after they had it. Still, the song is fun and something to not take too seriously regardless. 

All I Got Is You is probably my favorite song from this release. It's some of Gillan's best vocals on the album (next to The Surprising) and the band really does kill it with the musical breaks between verses. And I personally think the lyrics are beautifully vicious. Hip Boots and On Top of the World are a bit silly

When I finished listening to this album I was really glad that Deep Purple had managed to release another stellar album, but I admit that this one didn't quite have the same punch as Now What!?. Part of that could be because the emotions felt by Jon Lord's passing made Now What!? a bit special. It was a glorious tribute album to him and songs like Above and Beyond and Uncommon Man were just so damn beautiful. InFinite doesn't quite reach that level, but I don't think we should expect it to. I also don't think anyone should expect this to be Fireball Part II or Machine Head Part II. If you are still waiting for that you'll be waiting a long time yet. 

This is Deep Purple for the modern day and they are still kicking ass and they do it quite well. 

Time for Bedlam 4:35
Hip Boots 3:23
All I Got Is You 4:42
One Night in Vegas 3:23
Get Me Outta Here 3:58
The Surprising 5:57
Johnny's Band 3:51
On Top of the World 4:01
Birds of Prey 5:47
Roadhouse Blues 6:00

Line-up: Ian Gillan, Steve Morse, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Don Airey

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

What is going on, everybody? It is time to break the silence for my first post of 2017! 

It's terrible that my blog has been collecting dust, but I just haven't been in a blogging mind for a while. I think I might've mentioned some issues I was going through earlier here or maybe elsewhere so I won't dwell on that here right now.

For now it is time to dish out the goods on some anime. Let's get to it. 

I cannot speak for the new theatrical Ghost in the Shell movie where Scarlett Johansson portrays the incomparable Major (since I have not seen it yet), but I can tell you that the original Ghost in the Shell anime film that debuted in 1995 is a revered classic. 

For the sake of this review I am going to pretend the new live action movie does not exist to avoid any and all confusion. When I refer to Ghost in the Shell I am talking about the original movie and nothing else. 

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is an anime film that debuted in 2004 and... well, it's not quite a classic. That's not to say it is a bad film, but it is a really strange brew. Normally, sequels that get thrown out in the world nearly a decade after the originals just don't have the same grip. Perhaps it is a bit like wearing the same hat too long. After a while the spark just isn't there and it is best to let the fire die. 

However, the amount of time that passed in the real world between these films doesn't really hurt this movie. I think the same exact crew handled both movies and the cool thing about animation is you don't have to see the new wrinkles on the voice actor's faces. 

Bad CGI does do this film some damage, though. I love animation (obviously) and I do not mind CGI if it is used properly and looks visually pleasing, but what I saw in this movie just didn't cut the mustard with me. This does date this movie somewhat. Unlike the original this film doesn't look like it could be made today. 

The dialog in this movie is dense with obscure (and even made up) quotes, but Ghost in the Shell has always been fairly dense in both plot and dialog. Still, the quotes did seem a bit more obvious and forced this time around. 

Of course, the biggest thing about this movie is that the mythical Major Motoko Kusanagi is largely absent from this film. I don't want to spoil things, but there's a reason she isn't here and if you watched the original film you know why, more or less.  

Not having her in this film does hurt it a lot because she's obviously the pulse of Ghost in the Shell and so much of this film is spent hoping that she shows up. So much so that the film doesn't really get to be appreciated along the way for what it really is. 

I did like the film, though. Batou was the obvious choice to make the new lead for the film and he did fine with Togusa as the support. Batou is the cliched drunken loner and Togusa is the straight-laced family man and they made a fine team. They are not the Major, but then no one is. It's just a pity that almost no depth of character was given to them this time around. 

The story also isn't quite as complex as the one in the previous movie and it did not quite pack the same dramatic punch, but it didn't leave me feeling let down, either. I just missed the immense depth I felt from the first movie. Sure, I can watch this over and over again and still enjoy it to a degree, but I won't really gain anything from it like I do with each repeat viewing of the original film. 

All in all, this is a decent entry in the Ghost in the Shell franchise, but it feels more like a spin-off than a true sequel. Perhaps The Adventures of Batou and Togusa: A Ghost in the Shell Story might've been a better title.

Thanks for reading my blog. Hope you have a nice day.