Get Smart

First of all, sorry for the slow anime previews. I'm still getting episodes together, picking groups, etc (and I just added another title to the list too). It's rather hectic for the first couple of weeks as I wade through this stuff. I'll likely finish up my Samurai Champloo summaries this coming week, and I plan on doing a review of Kure-nai soon, which I just finished. But for today - we went and saw Get Smart this morning.

Get Smart is (probably loosely) based on a 1960's television show of the same name staring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart/Agent 86, and Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. It's sort of a spoof on James Bond, or we can just call it Mel Brooks' James Bond, as he is one of the original creators. There were two previous movie versions, the first in the 80's titled The Nude Bomb, and the second a made for TV movie called Get Smart, Again! (both staring members of the original TV cast). This 2008 film stars Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart, Anne Hathaway as Agent 99, and Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) as Agent 23. For you Heroes fans, Masi Oka has a small (and humorous) role as a CONTROL analyst.

Get Smart centers on a secret agent group known as CONTROL, which was publicly disbanded after the cold war, but still operates in a secret base located below the museum for the "original" CONTROL. Maxwell Smart is the agency's top analyst, producing (ridiculously) highly detailed reports that are usually based on "chatter" he listens to via satellite. His basic motto is that villains are people too, and he makes it a point to know everything from their favorite band to their favorite food. Most of the Agents (except for Agent 23) find him dull and useless. Maxwell himself has been trying to make Agent status for years, and he thinks this will finally be his time to shine. Unfortunately the Chief refuses to promote him even though he passes his test because Maxwell is his best analyst and he needs him where he is. But the very next day CONTROL is attacked by their nemesis KAOS, and most of the Agents are put out of commission. Maxwell is immediately bumped up to Agent status as all the other Agents have been compromised, and is partnered up with Agent 99 who recently had facial reconstruction surgery.

Maxwell's intelligence has led them to believe that KAOS is making nuclear weapons, so he and Agent 99 set off for Russia to track down their leader, Siegfried, and get to the bottom of things. The fate of the world now rests in the incompetent hands of Maxwell Smart, who is, as his name says, very smart, but exceptionally clumsy and always getting himself into trouble (from which Agent 99 has to bail him out).

The movie is hilarious, and there's also plenty of action. Explosions, car chases, airplane and car chases, a sky diving fight scene, shoot outs, fist fights. All sorts of secret agent spy gear (cell phone shoes, radiation detecting watches, exploding dental floss). Lots of comedy - the jokes work. A touch of romance (critical to any sort of spy movie). Both Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway do excellent jobs. My fiancee also informs me that Anne Hathaway is "hot." And as a warning, the President in the movie has a lot of Bush...mannerisms. So if you're a fan, prepare to have him mocked, because it's very obvious (or rather, very specific). It's an all around good movie though. It has everything it should have, and it does what it's supposed to do - entertain you.

It was totally worth sitting through commercials I already see on TV, and too many previews for (probably crappy) movies. I miss the days when they played cheesy pop music and ran movie trivia on screen before a film. I hear they showed episodes from the original TV show before the movie at Alamo Draft House. I'm jealous.

Also, and it pains me to say this, I'm sort of interested in seeing The Dark Knight. If Christian Bale wasn't Batman I would be less ashamed of that statement.

On a side note, my wi-fi is getting a really low signal for some reason. The router is on the same desk as my computer, so it's not a distance problem. I don't know what could be interfering with the signal, as there doesn't seem to be a problem at the source (meaning the modem signal is fine); there's just something going on between the router and my PC receiver. If anyone has any ideas...because I sure don't.

ps - Still waiting for a valid, understandable reason why my worthless governor is a keynote speaker at E3 this year. The excuses so far have not been satisfactory.


Upcoming for Summer 2008

More reviews of the summer 2008 anime season! Anime News Network usually does this, but they haven't started yet. I assume because they've been busy with Anime Expo. I'd post about that myself, but I get all my news from them anyway, so it's easier to just go there. Though I will say the English cast for Ouran High School Host Club was announced; some of it looks good, and some of it looks dreadful (Vic Mignogna as Tamaki? I don't want Tamaki to sound like Edward Elric :( ). I'll be buying it of course (it's one of my favorites), but I'm perfectly happy with the Japanese voices.

So here's what's coming up. The rest of my reviews of the Samurai Champloo DVDs. I'm almost finished watching them, so the rest of the summaries will come soon. Then I'll be starting Last Exile.

These are the new shows I will be looking at this season, so expect reviews/summaries of them over the next few weeks as I get to them:

Chocolate Underground from Production I.G.
Natsume Yuujinchou (from the people who brought us the wonderful Kure-nai, Brains Base)
Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora (Things that Are Important to a Mage)
World Destruction
Koihime Musou
Telepathy Shojo Ran from TMS Entertainment (who did the charming Itazura na Kiss)

And of course I've already looked at Strike Witches and Antique Bakery.


Samurai Champloo disc 3

Mugen kicks some butt for two episodes, Jin falls in love, and Fuu's privacy is invaded.
Disc three includes episodes 9-12: "Beatbox Bandits," "Lethal Lunacy," "Gamblers and Gallantry," and "The Disorder Diaries." In the extras section, there are some sketches and drawings of the main characters. Emotional facial poses and such, which is pretty common for this sort of extra feature.

Beatbox Bandits:
It's time to pass through the Hakone checkpoint. Unfortunately our misfit crew doesn't have the proper papers that allow passage through the gate. Conveniently they happen upon a scalper selling passports, but the gate guards immediately realize they're fake and all three are arrested. The official at the checkpoint has a tendency to execute...well anyone and everyone who isn't strictly allowed to completely legally pass through the checkpoint. In fact, this checkpoint has a reputation for not allowing anyone through who isn't supposed to go through. Mugen, Jin and Fuu are no exception. The officers receive a letter requesting a certain prisoner with a warrant, but he's already dead. In exchange for their freedom (after all, they were unaware their passports were fake), Mugen is asked to deliver the head of the prisoner by sunset. Mugen confidently sets off on this task, trailed by an officer named Yamane (who is narrating the entire event as a flashback). However Mugen quickly runs into a group of renegade warrior priests who are intending to start a revolution for peace with - believe it or not - their very large field of marijuana.

Lethal Lunacy:
Another Mugen centered episode. In exchange for food and lodging, the three constantly starving wanderers are coerced into cleaning and repairing an old monk's temple. Jin and Fuu seem adept at this, but Mugen grows restless and sets off after a rumor of a skilled swordsman who has been openly killing people in the streets of the town. He finds him easily, and, as usual, jumps at the chance for a fight. But this is not ordinary swordsman; he attacks not with his sword but with his inner Ki in a wind attack that slices his victims. The fight is interrupted (but they agree to continue another night), and Mugen returns, slightly injured and confused. When the monk hears the story, we find out that he is not who he seems, but indeed used to be a warrior and once taught the killer named Shouryuu. Mugen, clearly aware that he can't beat this guy at his current strength, begins to train rigorously until the appointed time when he and Shouryuu will meet again. It's Mugen at his best in amazing animation.

Gamblers and Gallantry:
In the next town, the party splits up to find way to earn cash. Mugen discovers beetle sumo wrestling, Fuu lands a waitress job, and Jin works at a kabayaki stand. It seems Jin didn't really think this through, as he appears to have no cooking talent what so ever. Fortunately for him a mysterious woman named Shino (whom he had met on a bridge moments before) appears and offers to help him. Jin is amazed by her cooking ability and her gentle nature, and is instantly taken with her. But at the end of the evening, Shino leaves Jin, explaining that tomorrow she will start work at a brothel to pay off her husband's gambling debts. When he gets back home, he finds Mugen boasting over his beetle sumo winnings, which he then "borrows" saying he is going to buy a woman. Jin, clearly in love and saddened by Shino's situation, declares that they should run away together. Shino refuses, believing that they will only be chased down until they are found. After seeing Shino's husband yell at her and smack her around, declaring she will always be a prostitute and he will live off her earnings, Jin decides that he must get Shino out of her disastrous marriage and comes up with a plan to send her across the river to a sanctuary for women.

The Disorder Diaries:
A very straight forward episode. Mugen and Jin come across Fuu's diary, and decide to read it in hopes of finding out some information on the Sunflower Samurai (which Fuu has refused to give them). Fuu's diaries chronicles their journeys up to this point, so the episode is basically a recap special. The boys note that certain parts of the story are excluded, but that Fuu is always certain to make mention of the food they ate that day. She occasionally makes comments on Mugen and Jin's uselessness, stating that she can't believe all the times she's been kidnapped. There's little more than that. Fuu's take on events and Jin and Mugen's reactions. But it's very well done and makes for an entertaining recap episode.