Friday, March 25, 2011
So, anyone who watches Adult Swim I hope has seen Superjail!. But if not, I think I should blog about what is one of the best shows on Adult Swim right now.
So, Superjail! takes place inside a giant prison that is inside a volcano, which is inside another volcano. The jail is run by the Warden, who is basically a demented Willy Wonka. He's assisted in running the jail by Jared, his neurotic yes man, a killer robot named Jailbot and a transsexual prison guard named Alice. As for the prisoners of Superjail, there aren't many recurring characters, besides two creepy genius twins and a knife-wielding psychopath named Jackknife.
The main characteristic of Superjail is that it seems like the Warden can bend the laws of time and space to his will in order to control the inmates. Such as dressing the inmates up in wolf costumes which causes them to turn into werewolves during a full moon.
The main appeal of Superjail! is the deranged animation and the over the top graphic violence. Each episode ends with nearly all of the prisoners being killed in a gruesome bloodbath, each of them being given a unique death. I'd be surprised if this WASN'T made while on drugs.
The only real flaw of Superjail! is that each episode is only fifteen minutes long. But in that time you still get to see some of the most creative animation I've ever seen. So definitely watch it on Adult Swim if you're not already. And it's getting a second season which is going to premiere on April 3.
And just so you can get a feel for it, because really, it's almost hard to describe, here's a link to the pilot episode:
Thursday, March 17, 2011
This movie is based on a novel by award-winning author Neil Gaiman. I remember buying this book back in middle school at the scholastic book fair and I loved every moment of it. When I saw a movie based on the book was coming out in 2009 I couldn't wait for an adaption of one of my favorite childhood books. And when I finally saw it in theaters I was not disappointed.
Coraline is about a young girl named Coraline Jones who has recently moved into a new house. She finds life constantly boring and is annoyed by the lack of attention her parents give her. However, one afternoon she finds a hidden door that is mysteriously bricked up. Later that night, she follows mice to the door, which is now open, and leads to a more fantastic version of her world. The world is an exact copy of her house but with its residents more lively, more delicious food, toys which are alive, and animate plants. There also lives the Other Mother, an exact copy of Coraline's mother but with button eyes, and who promises to give Coraline anything she wants. However, she is also intent on making sure Coraline stays with her forever.
Looking back, I'm almost surprised the book was marketed to children because it gets consistently more creepy as it goes on. The movie is exactly the same way, and the ending scene is downright nightmare fuel. I heard numerous children crying when I saw it in theaters. It gives the film a great feel though, oftentimes feeling like a modern day Grimm's Fairy Tale, and its nice to see an animated film which isn't worried about scaring kids.
What really makes the film stand out is that it's probably one of the greatest pieces of stop-motion animation ever produced. Stop-motion is a type of animation where objects are moved in small increments and photographed between frames, giving the appearance of motion. The amount of detail they show in the world which is created is incredible, and makes you appreciate how much patience the animators must have had. One short "making of Coraline" videos released prior to the film's release, shows one artist using knitting needles the size of human hairs to create the clothes of the characters. In contrast to most other animated works, there's very little computer generated imagery, its done almost entirely in stop-motion. To get an appreciation of the skill it must have taken to animate the film this way, just watch the trailer:
What's also notable about the film is that its directed by Henry Selick (not Tim Burton), the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. And it was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was also the first stop-motion film shot in 3D and I'm really glad I had the chance to see it in 3D when it was playing in theaters. Overall, Coraline is definitely worth checking out. Both for its exquisite story and for its amazing stop motion animation
Friday, March 4, 2011
Get ready for some of the trippiest animation you'll ever seen in your life.
Paprika takes place in the near future where a device called a DC allows people to enter other people's dreams. And yes, I know this sounds similar to Inception but Paprika actually came out four years prior to Inception. The device is used as a type of psychotherapy treatment, with one researcher, named Dr Atsuko Chiba, assuming a persona in the dream world with a completely different personality named Paprika, which she uses to treat people. However, a prototype portable version of the device, called the DC Mini, is stolen and is missing a safeguard which basically prevents people's minds from being hacked. Soon, people start going insane as a dream from a schizophrenic patient invades their minds, and people's perception of reality begins to unravel.
As I mentioned, one of the main appeals of Paprika is the trippy animation. It honestly looks like it was made while on drugs. The dream from the schizophrenic patient I mentioned? Here's what It looks like:
Most of this has to do with the film being about the nature of dreams. In the dream world the laws of physics are constantly broken and the setting of the dream world shifts nearly every minute. As the film goes on, the viewer can no longer tell what is reality and what is the dreamworld anymore.
The director of this film, Satoshi Kon, was an absolute genius, who had frequently been compared to Hayao Miyazaki and had won numerous awards. I would highly recommend anything by him, especially one film, Millennium Actress, which I may blog about at a later date. What's tragic is that he died of pancreatic cancer last May at the age of 46, thereby depriving the world of one of the most talented directors to ever live.
All in all, if you're looking for something trippy to watch, I would definitely recommend Paprika. And while the nature of dreams is the main theme of the film, don't expect it to be like Inception.