Review Roundup - After Life


AKA How Do You Live, a title which in a way reflects the tone of a story centred around personal loss. It's also a film which brings a lot of the director's earlier projects together in one place. Between 1984 and 2001 Hayao Miyazaki has been involved in some of the greatest animated films of all time. Not everything was perfect but everyone will have a personal favourite. Some fans are even enamoured with his later projects after Spirited Away, which shows the appeal of his sensibilities. However, in a story which covers everything from wartime tragedy, time warping alternate dimensions, and a whole lot of talking animals, this is a movie that avoids being too lightweight but often feels too unwieldy; in both length and scope.

HCF Review - Jackpot


A Wong Jing movie about gambling with Andy Lau that was released in 1989… that’s not God of Gamblers? Yes that’s right, the prolific film-maker loves this subject and these actors so much that he did it twice in one year. After all, why make one movie when you can make two for twice the price? However, far from the usual comedic farce that Wong is known for by some this is, in some ways, a more conventional crime thriller. Which is to say that it’s generally a more sombre affair, but at the same time it’s a film with a very odd structure. Perhaps this is simply the influence of have a second director-writer on board. So while the tonal shift is refreshing this is an experience that can often be unwieldy and unfocused.

Monster Bites - Space 1999


Time for one last Battle Royale. Or at least that was the intention at the time of its release, before the producers at Toho decided that making more money and having the series last for another seven years was a better plan. Looking at it now there are moments in which it's clearly the last of its kind, but in other ways it's also another alien invasion story in which many familiar narrative moments appear. But purely as a large scale spectacle it's debatable whether this really is the biggest and best of the Showa era, as the marketing would have you believe. Claims that this is the brawl to end all brawls, featuring every classic monster, are certainly in doubt as things unfold.

Monster Bites - Dino DNA


So with the end of the Heisei era things were finally over for Godzilla series. The big guy took a nap after one last hurrah in 1995. For a short spell at least, since in the meantime the likes of Roland Emmerich and TriStar had their hands on the property. Did this attempt to Westernise the Godzilla brand call the Japanese film studio back into action as a course correction? Probably. Although it's notable that in the meantime there was a revived Gamera trilogy threatening to take the Kaiju crown while at Toho the Rebirth of Mothra series had brought things back to a child friendly tone. Perhaps they thought it was best to get their house back in order... even if it's not an ideal start.



FILM OF THE MONTH: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit ☆☆☆☆