Tag Archives: Manga

Adultimation – The Guyver: Bio Booster Armour (1989)

In the next instalment of the Adultimation Series, Matt Lambourne explores the world of global conspiracy, the human genesis story and a deadly alien weapon. Dust off your VHS collection, as we delve into the brutal world of one of Matt’s all-time favourite Anime series’.

By Matt Lambourne (@LamboMat)

guyver 1What would you do if you were a normal teenage boy, who stumbled upon powers that made you the deadliest weapon on the planet? That’s a pretty far out question for most of us to wrap our heads around. It’s a theme that was recently explored to great effect in 2012’s Chronicle whereby several youngsters accidentally gained superpowers and struggled to contain their ego’s given their new found ability.

In 1989’s ‘The Guyver’, Sho Fukamachi is posed the same question. He is taking an afters school stroll in the woods with his best pal Tetsuro, when upon investigating a distant explosion; they stumble onto a strange mechanical unit. Sho attempts to touch the unit and is immediately engulfed by the unit, which extends tentacles that consume Sho and eventually bind to his body.

It appears Sho is being killed by the machine as he screams in pain as he falls into a river and briefly disappears, however the worst is yet to come. Quickly in pursuit of the unit are agents of the Chronos Corporation, who threaten to kill Tetsuro if he doesn’t hand over the unit whom are concealing a dark secret.

In order to have Tetsuro cooperate, they morph into hugely powerful monsters known as Zoanoids, a higher form of being that is significantly more evolved from humanity. As they are about to kill Tetsuro, a dark figure emerges from the water, covered in armoured plates and loaded with weaponry.

The figure dispatches the Zoanoids in brutally violent fashion, before eventually coming to a halt and Sho’s consciousness regains control. He is now the Guyver, a hugely destructive and powerful weapon system brought to Earth by an Alien race many thousands of years ago.

Now, for those unfamiliar with the Guyver, the armour is akin to how you might imagine the Japanese would make RoboCop. Its steel armour, with Samuari Sword-esque blades attached to the elbows, a small laser from the head and a chest cavity that be opened up to unleash a near-nuclear strength blast that annihilates anything in its path.

There is a catch though; Sho is not entirely in control of the Guyver, and in Peter Parker style reluctance, he struggles to accept his fate, the power and the responsibility of being the bearer of this armour. And with good causes, as the Chronos Corporation which is bent on world domination through the first of their genetically enhanced Zoanoids will not rest until the Guyver unit has been reclaimed from Sho.

Guyver 3

My body…. I have become a monster!

The Guyver is difficult to review as it’s pretty flawed in many ways. Again for a pre-90’s anime it’s not the best animated and the dubbing to English is quite cheesey, however it does become quite memorable for that reason as lot of early Manga crossovers were.

The series takes place over 12 x 30min episodes and for the first half of those, the series is exciting, suspenseful and to a degree, quite frightening. One of its greatest achievements is that you always feel a sense of peril for Sho, you’re never quite sure he’ll survive any episode and is thrust into harm’s way repeatedly throughout the series, and it’s his gradual understanding of his powers that help him to overcome the foes he faces in each episode against the odds.

However, the sad thing is that the series was based on an Anime comic that was still running far after the release of this video series and the plot falls off enormously towards the end. In fact it’s almost reduced to an X-Files style ‘Monster of the Week’ dirge which at times becomes slightly tiresome.

But let’s focus on the positives. The Guyver is IMMENSE in its action. Sho and his fellow Guyver, the mysterious Agito Makashima, come up with imaginative ways to use their powers to dispatch of the Zoanoids in each episode and it is exciting watching them become more powerful in every episode.

The design of the Guyver armour itself is very cool, a sleek Robo-Samuari armour that whilst incredible powerful is also highly vulnerable, particularly as it shares a Symbiotic relationship with teenagers that struggle to contain its power.

The series also explores a fascinating human-genesis story, whereby it is revealed that Humans are of alien origin and were brought to Earth by the same race that built the Guyver, deployed to new worlds as weapons to exterminate their inhabitants. It’s quite a shocking revelation and a theme that is repeated in the Alien Vs Predator movies, and something that the protagonists struggle to comprehend in their journey.

guyver 01

“You probably don’t even know the meaning of the word, Guyver. It means OUT OF CONTROL. It doesn’t fit into any category, nobody knows what the Guyver truly is, but we know one thing for certain. The Guyver is a bio-weapon”

It is a huge shame that the series wasn’t given its own direction and a diversion from the plot from the comic so it could have tied up the series after 12 episodes. Unfortunately it is left wide-open and is ultimately an unfinished and abandoned work, which ran out of steam towards the end.

But it does leave quite the legacy. There were 2 western movies made on the back of the popularity of the anime series. One being 1991’s ‘The Guyver’ (or Mutronics) for which Mark Hammil receives top-billing for despite not being the lead character. It’s very poor and a little too ‘Power Rangers for adults’ for my liking. Whereas the sequel ‘Guyver: Dark Hero’ is a respectable B-Movie sci-fi romp with decent action and is worth a watch.

The animated series was also rebooted in the 2000’s as Guyver: The Bioboosted Armour which can be found on Netflix, bringing the franchise to a new audience. Overall, the Guyver is a spoiled master-piece, that starts off strong but leaves you needing more than it provides at the end. That said, it is a piece that fans of classic Anime simply must check out!

Adultimation – Fist of The North Star (1986)

Here at Failed Critics, we’re all attempting to regain our collective composure after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road over the last couple of weeks. But just when you thought it was safe to leave the wastelands behind, Matt Lambourne takes us back into the post-apocalyptic future with one of the most famous and entertaining Anime’s ever created.

By Matt Lambourne (@LamboMat)

fist of the north star 001If you enjoy Anime films, comics or video-games you are already probably familiar with Fist of the North Star (or Hakuto No Ken in Japan), but if you haven’t then strap yourself in for an epic assault on the senses!

I’ve wanted to discuss Fist of the North Star for a long time with my colleagues on the Failed Critics team, but we’ve lacked a relevance to feature it. However with the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, I think we have a mutual ground of interest to dip into the ultra-violent and harsh world of this film.

The world of Fist of the North Star is set amongst the post-nuclear global war, scorched Earth. Much of the world is wasteland and few survivors remain. Those that have survived, struggle to rebuild a fragile way of life and continue to fight over the limited food and water supplies that remain.

The hero of the film is Kenshiro, who is to succeed his adopted father Ryuken as the new First of the North Star, a deadly assassination style that is passed from from one Master to a chosen successor.

However Ryuken’s other adopted sons grow jealous of the rise of their youngest sibling and plot against him to remove him from the line of succession. Early in the movie, Kenshiro is confronted by his long-time friend, Shin, who has a deep love for Kenshiro’s fiancée, Julia.

This is used as bait by Kenshiro’s older brother, Jagi, who convinces Shin that only the strongest can protect the ones they love and that he should forcibly take Julia away from Kenshiro.

This results in a grizzly scene in which Kenshiro is repeatedly maimed by Shin (Fist of the South Star) and he inflicts 7 severe wounds into Kenshiro’s chest before leaving him for dead and taking Julia with him.

The story reconvenes a year after Kenshiro’s death at the hands of Shin and we are introduced to 2 children, a thief named Bat and a mute girl named Lin, who are being pursued by a biker gang (ala Mad Max). Just as the 2 are cornered by the murderous bandits a strange and dark figure is seen wondering in the barren landscape, heading towards them.

fotns“Infact, you’re already dead…”

The figure begins smashing down the crumbling skyscrapers with his fists as he casually walks towards the group. As it draws closer the bikers engage the figure who is eventually revealed as a rejuvenated Kenshiro, who easily annihilates them and rescues the 2 children.

The group eventually meet another deadly martial artist named Rei who is searching for his lost sister. She is being held captive by Jagi, who is impersonating as Fist of the North Star and reigning in terror of the local towns-people.

The group engage Jagi and he is eventually defeated, but not before he makes Kenshiro aware of his betrayal and that he encouraged Shin to take Julia. Learning that Julia is still alive, Kenshiro makes his way to Shin’s stronghold. However he is unaware that his eldest brother Roah: The Conqueror is moving there also with a huge and deadly army, which sets up a climactic battle between the 2 deadly brothers at the end of the film.

There is much to critique about Fist of the North Star, the character development is very much an after-thought to the spectacular violence and compared to the great Anime movies that come at the end of the decade (Akira for example), the animation is very ordinary.

However I think this misses the point of Fist of the North Star. It’s a movie that concentrates on how men’s sole desires influence their entire existence when the world around them falls apart. A theme that was explored to great effect in Mad Max: Fury Road, whereby Max is reduced to a single human instinct, survival. In this movie, Kenshiro’s undying love for Julia keeps him alive and is his sole reason for existence, whilst everyone else around him is power hungry and bent on domination.

Whilst these movies are explicitly different, Fist of the North Star and Mad Max share many themes, particularly the protagonists. It’s what made me instinctively think of FotNS when watching Fury Road and going back to the original Mad Max.

The film’s action is what it is most remembered for, with it’s over the top martial arts and splatterhouse death sequences being some of the most infamous in all of anime. But at the heart of the movie, is an overwhelming sense of the triumph of human-spirit, as Kenshiro wanders the wilderness in search of his true love, the only motivation he has to keep on living.

It may not rank amongst the greatest Anime movies for the purists and perhaps detracts away from the source material in the comics of the same name. But for me, Fist of the North Star is blissfully nostalgic, stylishly violent and conveys a great message behind all of the madness it shrouds itself in.

Just stay clear of the mid-90’s live action movie… we’ll just conveniently pretend that never happened!

Adultimation – Ghost in the Shell (1995)

For one day only on Saturday 27 September 2014 (almost 20 years after its initial release in the UK, the iconic, influential and often imitated but never bettered Ghost In The Shell gets the big screen re-release treatment courtesy of Picturehouse cinemas across the country. As if that wasn’t enough, on Monday you can pick up the limited edition Steelbook blu-ray! Once described as the film “James Cameron would make if Disney let him”, resident anime fanboy Matt explains why this is one of the most influential films of the last 20 years in the second instalment of our Adultimation series.

by Matt Lambourne (@Matt_Lambourne)

ghost in the shell 2If you purchased any Manga Entertainment VHS between 1993/94 it would have been impossible for you to not have seen or heard of Ghost in the Shell. It had been many years since the impact of Akira as the genre-defining movie had crossed-over graphic Anime into the mainstream. The world was ready for the next adult hit and by 1995 it had arrived.

“Can you offer me proof of your existence? How can you, when neither modern science nor philosophy can explain what life is?”

Ghost in the Shell is the story of a Special Police Unit (Public Security: Section 9) based in a not so distant future Japan, comprising of semi-cybernetic agents whose physical bodies have been fine-tuned and mechanically enhanced, known as Shells. In this post-cyberpunk future however, the Shell (or body) is somewhat dispensable and persona and memory can be transferred between bodies, this is the Ghost element of the movie, referring the transference of soul into differing physical entities.

Section 9 are in pursuit of an expert hacker known only as the Puppet Master who is responsible for implanting fake memories and realities into its victims minds to use their bodies to hack via proxy (known as Ghost hacking). As the movie progresses it becomes clear to the cybernetic contingent of Section 9 that the Puppet Master may not indeed be a person at all, but a Ghost that has evolved from the modern equivalent of the Internet, initially weaponised but has now become sentient and acting upon its own will.

This causes the members of the team to question their own origins and purpose in life, particularly the central figure of the movie, Motoko Kusanagi, who begins to consider if it is even important whether she was born human, or simply artificially constructed. As her investigations draw her closer to the Puppet Master, Kusanagi becomes paranoid or perhaps even indifferent to value of her own humanity.

The film progresses with Section 9 tracking down the Puppet Master’s temporary Shell. However, another government agency is seeking to obtain it for themselves, resulting in the climatic engagement of the movie with Kusanagi confronting a Spider-Tank in a battle sequence that may seem somewhat familiar to film fans for reasons which we’ll cover later in the article.

Without spoiling the end of the movie too much, Section 9 come out on top, although the Shell of Kusanagi is destroyed in the tank battle, her Ghost is merged with that of the Puppet Master. The new lifeform whilst resembling Kusanagi is neither her or the Puppet Master, which ends the film on a delicious outcome that leaves the future for this character open to interpretation.

Hype

Few films have ever been as hyped prior to release in the adult-Anime world as Ghost in the Shell was during the early 90’s. It featured in trailers for just about every anime film released for the 2-3 year period prior to it reaching a cinematic and eventual home release. For me it holds a tremendous fondness and was one of the first films I can recall ever being truly excited about for an extended period before its release.

The trailer itself is still one of my personal favourite examples of how to ramp up expectation and excitement with good marketing and extraordinary iconography without spoiling all the movie’s key plot-points. I implore you to take a look for yourselves:

Cel and CG animation

Ghost in the Shell is easy on the eye, that goes without saying. Even 20 years later it still looks fresh and edgy. Whilst the film is set in a near-future Japan, the densely populated City scenes are based upon modern day Hong Kong. Long narrow alley-ways, with a plethora of signs and that all-too realistic weaving of heavy concrete and rain causing a claustrophobic, damp and grey Urban-Jungle

The art work is especially stunning. Beautifully detailed digital Cel backgrounds combined with then state of the art CG animation made Ghost in the Shell not only feel light years ahead in terms of the sophisticated sci-fi plot but also in how it looked.

The music is also a key component, more so than in any Anime I’ve seen before or since. Gorgeous Japanese symphonic cords, blended together with traditional wedding vocals create a haunting tone during the film’s opening sequence with the shell of Kusangi being created, you know the movie is taking you into deep into the imagination of the director Mamoru Oshii from the get-go.

Influence

It can’t be stressed strongly enough how much impact Ghost in the Shell has had on movie makers, particularly in Western Science Fiction (namely the Wachowski Siblings). Its influence on 1999’s The Matrix for example becomes immediately noticeable from Ghost in the Shell‘s title sequence, which bears the hallmarks of the now iconic binary green rain as well as the cybernetic implants on the back of the characters necks.

There are many more touches shared between both films, both in the plot mechanics and the use of the Internet as a form of alternative reality. The action sequences also compliment each other greatly, as touched upon earlier in the article the climatic battle sequence is very similar to the lobby action-scene in The Matrix whereby pillars are used as means of cover but massively destroyed from gunfights to demonstrate fire-power.

Whilst it would be fair to say that The Matrix inserted more martial-arts at the expense of the the political plot lines, Ghost in the Shell features a limited amount of hand to hand combat whilst also borrowing from other Sci-Fi properties such as Predator with Thermo-Optic Camouflage being a key plot-trigger of the film

Its not a stretch to say though that The Matrix wouldn’t exist without Ghost in the Shell (and Akira before it).. that’s how important this film is in grand sphere of influence it wields amongst its industry fanbase. If you’re fortunate enough to have it showing near you this weekend, we highly recommended taking the opportunity to see it on a big screen. It’s a perfectly paced and easily digestible 90-mins of Sci-Fi Action that will live long in the memory.

Adultimation – Venus Wars (1989)

In the first of a new running series, resident Anime fanboy Matt takes a nostalgic look back at the golden era of Anime – circa late 1980’s to mid 1990’s – beginning this week with the first Anime he ever purchased.

by Matt Lambourne (@Matt_Labourne)

venus warsHere at Failed Critics, we love a good animated movie. The team have declared their love and admiration for the likes of DreamWorks and Studio Ghibli on numerous occasions and rightly so. Some of the greatest movies of all time have been animated feature films. The only downside is that many of these are either aimed at children, or appeal to the more gentle side of our nature as viewers. However, Japanese Anime unlocks a proverbial Pandora’s box into sides of the human psyche that few directors and script writers dare to explore.

The repressed darkness, ultra violent and downright too far-out imaginings of a select few animators all got their rallying cry during the golden age of adult anime in the late 80’s-early 90’s and we’ll be celebrating as many as we can, revisiting the halcyon days of Adultimation.

The first film to go under the microscope is Venus Wars, originally released in 1989. The film takes place in the late 21st century as Earth has terraformed and emigrated to Venus in the hope of a better life. However, the new frontier is dominated by 2 warring nations, Aphrodia and Ishtar, and all hopes for a better tomorrow are sunk into all-out war.

The film’s central protagonist, Hiro, is a hot-shot biker who captains the Killer Commandos in a Rollerball-esque deathrace team motorcycle sport. The film opens to a spectacular crash & burn race whereby the Killer Commandos of Aphrodia are about to seal victory in their latest race just as the aid raid sirens sound and the Ishtarian invasion begins.

venus wars 2“Aphrodians shot me, not some soldier from Ishtar! So who is my enemy, and who is my friend?

It seemed rather apt to choose to review this movie now given the WWI centenary and the current struggles in Gaza. Venus Wars isn’t an all-out action blaster following skirmishes in global war, it’s actually about the psychological effect of occupation on a distrusting and enraged youth. It’s this theme that stops the film from slipping into being just another run of the mill War film.

Hiro, who feels betrayed by his own government and refuses to accept dominion by the occupying Ishtar forces, rallies his fellow Killer Commandos to strike against an Ishtar outpost that has made home in their racing stadium. With all the pent up rage and zealous youthful enthusiasm they attack a Tank via their Mono-bikes with some light weaponry. Naturally disaster strikes as members of the team are slaughtered as their ill-conceived plans go awry.

Hiro is able to take down the tank in spectacular fashion using a crane to smash it almost like the fist of a giant robot. However, he and his team are captured by a legitimate rebel force (The Hounds) that also had plans to attack the Ishtar outpost at the Stadium. Hiro is recruited into the Hounds reluctantly in exchange for the release of his comrades and eventually pilots a heavily armed mono-bike into the crucial end of movie battle.

The action is satisfying and it has one of the better soundtracks in an Anime I’ve ever listened to with a good balance of dramatic orchestra and exhilarating J-Rock riffs that keep tempo with the on-screen action. The best aspect of Venus Wars isn’t the action, it’s the focus on the relationships between the idealistic youth and the corrupt adults and how people exploit war for their own benefit.

Aphrodia is portrayed as a weak and measly country with no backbone (almost akin to WWII France by stereotype) and Ishtar is very much the all conquering Nazi Germany; even their general has a German name (Gerhard Donner)! It’s a film that can be casually enjoyed by anyone at face value, but might stir emotion in anyone who has endured occupation of their homeland and the desire to resist is a powerful one.

Venus Wars is a very ambitious movie that had a lot to live up to, coming out on the back of the release of the mighty Akira. Whilst not quite being on the monumental level of the former, it ultimately succeeds in keeping up the momentum of the genre as it broke strongly into a Western audience.

Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s adaptation of his own manga series is probably a more relevant story today than it was when it was first released. Its similarity to the current Israel/Palestine conflict cannot be ignored and whatever side of the fence you choose to throw your metaphorical hat onto in that dilemma, you’ll find some admiration for the immeasurable human spirit to continue to fight against all odds, as is so entertainingly portrayed in this movie.

A Decade In Film: The Eighties – 1982

A continuing series where Failed Critics contributors look back on a particular decade in the world of cinema and choose their favourite films from each year of that decade. Matt Lambourne has lucked out with arguably the most entertaining, balls-to-the-wall decade of all. This week he takes us through his choices for 1982.

5. Space Adventure Cobra

spaceactioncobra“So, are you taking any bets on how this is going to end?”

Space Adventure Cobra is perhaps the oldest in a line of 80’s/90’s Anime that adorned my Video shelf as a teenager. Being released only a few years after the original Star Wars, it steals from the source material incessantly even beginning with a large Starship flyover, however it is far from a film for all the family.

The story follows Cobra, the most wanted man in the galaxy who is on a voyage to protect a beautiful female bounty-hunter whom is being hunted by the evil ‘Space Mafia Guild’. Cobra himself is the happy go lucky, overly confident macho hero who is very much Han Solo crossed with Mega Man, due to the ability to morph his left arm into a powerful Psycho Cannon.

The aesthetics of the movie certainly complement the era it’s trying to imitate, with vivid colour and a Vengelis-esque soundtrack, it may lack the polished animation that later Manga will trademark yet is still so easy on the eye.

Every Star Wars wannabe needs a bad guy and that comes in the form of the seemingly indestructible ‘Lord Necron’, who resembles more Dr. Doom (of the Marvel Universe) or perhaps even the camped up bling-bling diva that is Emperor Xerxes from ‘300’ more than the Sci-Fi baddie archetype Darth Vader.

The film is a charming love-story, brilliant sci-fi and hypnotic psychedelica all crammed into the right running time for easy viewing. The saga continued in a popular anime comic and has spawned a cult following. If a movie has ever paid a better tongue-in-cheek homage to classic sci-fi then I’d very much like to see it! Cobra provides a bite-sized action adventure that defies its age and leaves a lasting legacy that it is ‘Love’ not good, that will conquer all.

4. Tootsie

TootsieI was a better man with you, as a woman… than I ever was with a woman, as a man. You know what I mean?

The 80’s did two types of movies better than any other decade, action movies and great comedies. Tootsie is a delightful example of taking a ridiculous concept, adding a great ensamble cast and making on screen hilarity ensue. The focus of the film is on Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) an actor who is a notoriously difficult to work with, as he struggles to line up his next big role. He takes matters into the extreme by creating a female counter-part, Dorothy Michaels to enable to find work. However he never banked upon falling in love with the lovely fresh faced Jessica Lange or the number of men who’d fall for his less than classical feminine character!

The cast really makes this movie so watchable. Aside from Lange and Hoffman, you have a typically funny supporting role from the legendary Bill Murray, a creepy TV actor has-been in George Gaynes (better known as Commandant Lassard in Police Academy) and a very early mini role for Geena Davis. Hoffman is quite brilliant as Dorothy, much more so than he is as Michael. His no nonsense approach to his professional and personal life which rendered him so unemployable as a male makes him a prime candidate for a full time soap opera role as powerful leading lady.

This allows him much closer access to Lange’s character who is a single mother being taken advantage of by the show’s creepy producer, she slowly gains a remarkable liking for the mysterious and refreshing hard-nosed approach of Dorothy, wishing she could emulate her. Dorothy begins to spend more time with Lange outside of work and there is a particularly disturbing heart to heart part way through the movie whereby you actually wonder if Lange’s character is falling in love with a transvestite, unbeknownst to her! It’s an awkwardness so convincing that it landed her the Oscar for Best Supporting actress!

It goes without saying that Hoffman really delivers when thrust into extreme roles, such as that he will later take up in Rain Man. This movie really sets a blue print for those that follow in the 90’s such as Mrs. Doubtfire, but even that does not match the innocence and delight of Tootsie, which was 1982’s 2nd highest grossing film behind E.T!

3. First Blood

first-blood-knife-rambo“I could have killed ’em all, I could’ve killed you. In town you’re the law, out here it’s me. Don’t push it! Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe. Let it go. Let it go!”

It’s the movie that defined the action hero archetype. Sylvester Stallone is John Rambo, vagrant Vietnam veteran, passing through a sleepy mountain town that simply does not want him spoiling their idyllic scenery. He crosses the path of Teasle (Brian Dennehy), Sherriff of the town who makes it clear on no uncertain terms that he should leave town immediate and escorts him to the town borders. However when Rambo marches back the wrong way, he is taken into custody having committed no crime.

He eventually escapes into the wilderness and begins a one man guerrilla war against the inept local law enforcement. It likely encouraged a generation of youngsters to enter into their local woods planting booby-traps and getting gimped up in camouflage face-paint, or was that just me and my friends?

Unlike later Stallone action romps, the action here is subtle and realistic; it’s a stealth war against meandering nincompoops. It’s also one of the few movies where Stallone talks fairly eloquently, it would seem he perhaps dumbed himself down for many roles he played later.

Whilst the action is clever and satisfying, it poses a greater moral concern to the American viewing public as to how veterans are perceived upon leaving service, particularly those deployed to Vietnam. It demonstrates a common disregard for soldiers who served in a messy war, something that Hollywood was slow to highlight. Later efforts such as Born on The Forth of July picked up the mantle, though it is arguable that that ‘First Blood’ is more mainstream friendly, thus ramming home the undeniable truth to a wider audience.

The Rambo character does for the action-movie genre what Hoover did for Vacuum cleaners. It became the synonymous figure for the unstoppable one-man army genre that dominated the 80’s. It spawned 3 sequels, non of which live up to the original in my opinion, but First Blood was the movie that established Stallone beyond Rocky and saw his career go supernova!

2. Blade Runner

Blade Runner“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

It was a difficult decision in regards to the positioning of my favourite two movies of 1982, both are worthy of the grandest title of them all. I think you’ll approve of my final choice, however there is much time to discuss the grandeur of my number two choice.

I was fortunate to only see Blade Runner for the first time in my twenties, a good 25 years after its release. I feel much of its subtle appeal and nuances would have passed me by at a younger age. Co-produced by Ridley Scott, Blade Runner is sci-fi indulged on the most epic of scales. From the monumental soundtrack by Vengelis, to its dark and wet Urban backdrops dashed in Neon lighting creating a Future Noir masterpiece. Blade Runner is easily one of the most visually impressive movies ever created.

The film follows Deckard (Harrison Ford) who is a Blade Runner, a group of specialist police assembled to hunt Replicants, which are near perfect human duplications with enhanced strength and tolerance to pain. He is assigned one last case to hunt down 4 recently escaped Replicants and ‘retire them’ before they cause havoc on the LA populous and ultimately meet their maker.

Ford puts in a great performance as the care-free and seemingly nonchalant Deckard, who shows no sympathy for those he is trying to hunt, or those whom his spiteful tongue might disturb, namely that of the seemingly emotionless Rachel (Sean Young) who is introduced to Deckard as test subject for Replicant interrogation, yet she is unaware that she is even a Replicant.

Lining up for the Replicants is Darryl Hannah and a career defining performance from Rutger Hauer, whose soliloquy as quoted at the beginning of this piece brings together a fitting finale that ties up many of the movies deeper residing themes,  which can be easily lost when distracted purely by the visual brilliance of the film.

A particularly favourite piece of eye-candy during this film is the scene where Deckard shoots one of the escaped Replicants following a chase from a strip club, A a rather stunning young lady is fleeing her would-be assassin wearing nothing but spiked boots and a see-through PVC rainmack.  The moment that she is shot in the back by Deckard as she crashes through several panes of glasses, all of which are illuminated by an abundance of neon is one of my all time favourite scenes for sheer visual impact.

The greatest gift the movie leaves for the viewer is that of an ending open to interpretation, is Deckard a Replicant or a human is ambiguous at best with strong cases for either. Fortunately this is one classic movie whose legacy has not been destroyed with a meaningless sequel meaning you can decipher the evidence and make your own conclusions.

It’s yet another IMDB Top 250 for Harrison Ford who was really at the top of his game during the few years either side of this movie, Blade Runner resides as a Science Fiction hall of famer and one of the best films ever made.

1. Gandhi

Ghandi Ben Kingsley“The function of a civil resistance is to provoke response and we will continue to provoke until they respond or change the law. They are not in control; we are.”

There are few movies that have stirred me as much as watching this movie for the first time. Directed by the mighty Richard Attenborough, the film follows the tribulations of Mohandas Gandhi, an English educated lawyer and Indian immigrate who is assigned to a practice in South Africa and is immediately subjugated to horrendous treatment due to his ethnicity. He leads a minor rebellion against the white British establishment, seeking equal rights for all races in South Africa and becomes a national hero back in India.

Upon returning to his home nation seeking peace and tranquillity he finds the problems of subjugation have not eluded him and the rape of his country’s resources prompt him to become the spearhead for India’s claim for independence from the British empire. This is accomplished using a innovative tactic of ‘peaceful rebellion’ or more accurately referred to as ‘non-cooperation.

Ben Kingsley is brilliantly cast as Gandhi and is entirely convincing in playing the hero of the movie, both in terms of aesthetic suitability and the humility he brings to the screen. It’s very difficult to take your eye off Kingsley during the whole film, it’s almost as if you’re watching the real Gandhi and it is truly a remarkable performance considering he’d done very little outside of TV roles at this point in his career.

It leaves a somewhat nasty taste in the mouth to see Kingsley selling himself short in movies such as 2012’s ‘The Dictator’ playing a somewhat stereotyped and foolish middle-eastern politician, it removes some shine from the legacy he build for himself in the Gandhi role and directly insults the magnitude of his performance. That said he deservedly bagged himself the 1983 Best Actor gong at the Oscars and the movie itself taking a tremendous haul of 7 further Oscars. It really is a heavyweight of a movie and is a must see for fan of history, particularly that of the civil-rights movement or the British Empire

In regards to the latter, it opens up some scar tissue and painful memories of how the British treated their colonial Empire. This is particularly emphasised in the excruciatingly merciless killing at the Jallianwala Bagh massacre where up to a 1000 men, women and children were trapped and shot by the British army during a peaceful protest. The movie closes out with the crushing division of Indian Territory following independence prompting the founding of Pakistan and the eventual assassination of Gandhi himself.

A lifetime of defiance in the name of justice, Gandhi established himself as one of the most important persons of the 20th Century and this movie more than does him worthy and is an incredible addition to the IMDB Top 250 and my best movie of 1982.