Flavors of Youth (2018) Review

Flavors of Youth (2018) Review

Directed by: Haoling Li, Yoshitaka Takeuch, Xiaoxing Yi

Written by: Tyler Rhoads (English translation)

Starring: George Ackles, Taito Ban, Dorothy Elias-Fahn (English Dub)

Rated: TV-PG

Run-Time: 1h 14min

Genre: Amination, Drama

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

Availability: Netflix

Three different stories of youth set in different cities of China. (IMDb)

This one of those films that regularly finds itself in my Netflix recommendations. I know that I would eventually breakdown and watch it… and I was surprised when I finally did. Sadly, not in a good way. 

This film is a collection of short films, three to be exact. All follow themes relating to growing up/ The stories themselves are the true highlight as they are relatable and heartwarming. The first, “The Rice Noodles” is probably the best overall with its tearjerking storyline. “A Little Fashion Show” falls short as a result of a lack of nuance. Conflict in this particular story felt forced and characters reacted unnaturally. “Love in Shanghai,” the final story, manages to land somewhere in the middle with a common story of young love that unfolds just as you’d expect it to. There is an end credit scene as well, but it does little more than show the geographic relationship of the stories. 

With such lacklustre storytelling, you would hope it would at least be paired with stunning animation. Sadly, this film fails to deliver yet again.. The animation is disappointingly average, honestly barely so at times. The only noteworthy scene is at the beginning of “The Rice Noodles” depicting the titular noodles being prepared. Otherwise, there isn’t anything that sets this film apart from those like it. 

In the end, this film just felt like a waste of time. So little about it is memorable, I’m sure there are similar pieces that achieve what this film set out to but with much more… elegance.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Gantz: O (2016) Review

Gantz: O (2016) Review

Directed by: Yasushi Kawamura, Keiichi Sato

Written by: Hiroya Oku (manga), Tsutomu Kuroiwa (screenplay)

Starring: Daisuke Ono, M-A-O, Tomohito Kaku

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 35m

Genre: Animation, Action, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

Availability: Netflix

After being brutally murdered in a subway station, a teen boy awakens to find himself resurrected by a strange computer named Gantz, and forced to fight a large force of invading aliens in Osaka. (IMDb)

What did I just watch? Like seriously. When I woke up this morning I did not expect to watch a movie that includes a “monster” alien-thing made of up a bunch of naked women forming a giant naked woman. Really, that happened.

Adapted from the Osaka arc of the manga Gantz, Gantz: O is a convoluted visual spectacle that only boasts beautiful game-like visuals. Otherwise, this film has a veil-thin plot and forgettable characters. For those not familiar with the source material, this film is a boring series of events that don’t quite add up. For those familiar with it, this film may be more entertaining, but the experience of watching this film is more like watching someone else play a video game than playing it yourself. There is some semblance of fun there, but it could be so much better. 

In a single sentence, I sum up this film as a visually well-done waste-of-time. The only thing I enjoyed was the Final Fantasy-esque animation that is beautiful but does not lend itself to truly emotional story-telling with the eerily dead eyes and flat expressions.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

The Platform (or El Hoyo) (2019) Review

The Platform (or El Hoyo) (2019) Review

Directed by: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Written by: David Desola, Pedro Rivero

Starring: Ivan Massague, Zorian Eguileor, Antonia San Juan

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 34m

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Availability: Netflix

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole. (IMDb)

The Platform is one of those expected Netflix gems that keeps the somewhat obsolete service intact. It’s a member of what I would consider a current horror film renaissance, a return to form. This film is simply exceptional, but not for the faint of heart… or weak-stomached. 

At a glance, The Platform seems like your run of the mill torture porn flick, full of exploitation but little substance. But it takes very little digging to find the themes the film is presenting in the most explicit way possible. One of the purposes of torture porn is the exhibition of the human human body at it’s extreme and it plays heavily on our morbid curiosity. The Platform, however, adds a layer of social commentary about subjects rarely explored through such means. 

This film really is just a big “fuck you” to capitalism. It blatantly displays the injustice and inherently unfair nature of capitalism while also highlighting the flaws of total communism. It brings class, sex, and race to the forefront with how closely related it so often is with one’s social standing. The film does all this in the most imaginative and in-your-face way imaginable. 

And, most amazingly, this film manages to connect itself to classical literature by drawing clear parallels to Cervantes’ Don Quijote, even going so far as to heavily display it in the film and quote directly from it. The protagonist even resembles the naive chivalry of Don Quijote through image and spirit. This connection is entirely unexpected but works well for the overall message of the film. 

The only issue with this film is the lack of outside information we are given on the world. We are told this is a dystopian society but are given little information as to how due to the contained nature of the film. This sort of soft world-building doesn’t detract from the story but does leave many questions in the mind of the viewer. 

I truly recommend this film but warn that some of the content is not suitable for some audiences. The film includes depictions of mutilation and cannibalism, visual and thematic devices many viewers cannot handle. But for those more seasoned horror fans, this film is an interesting and terrifying watch. 

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating