Posts Tagged ‘Tsuyoshi Abe’



JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Hideo Nakata Written by: Satoshi Suzuki  Novel by: Honobu Yonezawa Cinematography by: Junichiro Hayashi  Editing by: Nobuyuki Takahashi  Music by: Kenji Kawai  Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Haruka Ayase, Aya Hirayama, Shinji Takeda, Satomi Ishihara, Tsuyoshi Abe, Nagisa Katahira, Kinya Kitaoji, Yuki Himura, Daisuke Kikuta, Yuki Furukawa, Takuro Ohno

Ten people are promised a dream job that pays them 1,200 US$ per hour. All they need to do is join an experiment and stay in a remote underground facility for 7 days – and survive. Because as soon as they arrive a murderous game begins and the facility turns into a true paranoid house where everyone distrusts everyone else – who will make it out alive and rake in the big bucks?

If that all sounds pretty familiar to you, you probably have watched KAIJI, LIAR GAME, DEATH TUBE or the mother of all death game movies, BATTLE ROYALE, before (and if you have ever seen the brilliant CLUE with Tim Curry, you will notice how much the detective plot in THE INCITE MILL reminds of its dramaturgy). THE INCITE MILL is a movie that not only comes surprisingly late, but is also surprisingly unspectacular: with a story so hackneyed you should expect Mr. Nakata to step up the game, or at least add his own touch of horror to the film. But neither is the case with THE INCITE MILL: instead of a top-notch fright fest we are confronted with a movie that is listless and astonishingly mediocre by comparison.

Now the question is if we should be surprised really. After Takashi Shimizu’s flop THE SHOCK LABYRINTH 3D also the former master of Japanese terror cinema presents a lackluster update of his original work (choosing a similar visual mood and tone as seen in SHOCK LABYRINTH, by the way). When Mr. Nakata shocked the world with THE RING many believed he was the apostle of a new wave of horror cinema, when in fact he largely profited from the fact that western horror was de facto inexistent at that time. The genre had worn itself out, and audiences worldwide were waiting for a fresh impetus that would revive the comatose patient.

More than anything THE RING marked the return to real horror (no Mr. Raimi, despite that marketing tagline DRAG ME TO HELL did not), scaring the living hell out of us with virtually nothing. It’s all in the mind; and that’s what true horror has probably always been about. But what fans and critics shouldn’t have attributed to Mr. Nakata is great filmmaking: with every subsequent work he (just like fellow filmmaker Mr. Shimizu) stuck to the formula that never was a formula in the first place, but fortune that favored the bold (or maybe just plain luck); or, he began to make movies that were anything but interesting, or genuine. Just right now he is doing it again: THE INCITE MILL and CHATROOM are like twins, and they both add nothing to what other filmmakers have done years ago and better.

THE INCITE MILL is a low-budget flick, a commodity that looks like a commodity, a classic detective story that tries to fit into the world of online broadcasts and vicious games run by voices from the off and scary puppets. For a detective story, it is simply too predictable, for a terror movie not scary enough, and for a slasher the violence is too harmless. We have all noticed that THE INCITE MILL is the 50th anniversary project commenced by Horipro (all actors are contracted by Horipro), however that does not excuse being too late with a subject like this, and doing too little to make up for it.

With grand gestures that have no meaning and an increasingly confusing plot the movie gambles away the least bit of its credibility towards the end. THE INCITE MILL is not exceptionally boring, but far from being exceptional. As a matter of fact, it remains below any standard from beginning to end. Seems like those who once resurrected the horror genre are now burying it once again.









JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Takashi Miike  Written by: Kankuro Kudo  Produced by: Akio Hattori, Makoto Okada, Takashi Hirano, Arimasa Okada  Cinematography by: Kazunari Tanaka  Editing by: Kenji Yamashita  Music by: Yorihiro Ike, Yoshihiro Ike  Cast: Show Aikawa, Riisa Naka, Tsuyoshi Abe, Masahiro Inoue, Naoki Tanaka, Gudalcanal Taka, Mei Nagano, Nana Mizuki, Miki Inase, Sayoko Ohashi, Yuko Shimizu, Suzanne

ZEBRAMAN was set in 2010, and its 2010 sequel is consequently set in a more distant future (2025): a long while after Zebraman defeated the Aliens the world has changed entirely. While Zebraman has lost his memory and is in a rehabilitation facility, Toyko has been renamed to Zebra City and has become virtually crime-free, thanks to a funky idea called Zebra Time: every morning and evening, for a few minutes, police is allowed to eliminate any potential threat (= criminal) they can get hold off.

One day, the police closes in on ex-teacher Ichikawa, trying to kill him, but he survives with the help of Ichiba and brought to a safe house. There, Ichikawa meets other survivors of Zebra Time who plan to rise up against the fascist new system headed by the mysterious Zebra Queen. It’s not long before we learn that Zebra Queen and her Zebra Police are trying to bring Zebra Time to the whole world using the aliens from 2010, but the more important question is how long will it take for Ichikawa to regain his memory and realize that he is in fact Zebraman?

ZEBRAMAN 2, different from the original film, was not exactly successful, and it’s not going to take you too long to see why that is. The charm is gone, the tongue-in-cheek humor, the warmth, the subtexts, all gone. From the beginning, ZEBRAMAN 2 is an incoherent spectacle, without a stringent storyline, proper character introduction, story development or clear direction. It’s a very jumpy mess, overloaded with plot fragments and intangible characters, creating artificial complexity that proves to be a trap for the film itself as it can’t find a way out for the entire running time.

If there’s one thing to be blamed for ZEBRAMAN 2’s failing it’s the decision for the “memory loss” concept: who on earth wants to see a film where the hero loses his memory and regains it only at the end? Ever since the birth of film this idea has been a bad idea, and it’s made for slow, uninteresting movies, and consequently ZEBRAMAN 2 never gets out of the starting block. For the first hour you can see how everyone is desperate to fill the hole that an AWOL Zebraman leaves, and even the ever-inventive Mr. Miike has found no remedy.

Maybe he thought he has. But I’d still consider an almost exclusive focus on a Lady Gaga-like character, music video fillers and elements stolen from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE insufficient to make up for a superhero movie that lacks a superhero most of the time. And once Zebraman is back, he bears little resemblance to the original character: Ichikawa is largely gone, leaving a one-dimensional Zebraman who is missing most of his human side.

Last but not least ZEBRAMAN 2 lacks the whole “about” factor; like “what’s the movie about” exactly? Unfortunately it seems to be about nothing. Without the “normal guy dreams to be superhero” story all that could fall into the “about” bracket is an allegory of a fascist regime suppressing its people. But the movie is never believable as a serious critic of politics or society, but is pretty much what Mr. Miike has been accused of by many for  many years: a patchwork movie that lacks originality as much as inspiration and sophistication.

While I consider myself an admirer of most of Mr. Miike’s work, I must say that ZEBRAMAN 2 is neither a good film nor entertaining. It is not more than a pale follow-up to a charming original, replacing heart & soul with gloss & glamour. You could say it’s kind of made-up.




UPDATE: READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE! – – – – – – – – – Takashi Miike is back and brings along ZEBRAMAN 2: the follow-up to his own ZEBRAMAN movie boasts more weird super heroes, crude action, japanese humor, crazy performances of Sho Aikawa and Riisa Naka and Lady Gaga approved outfits.

Up for release in May, and also starring Tsuyoshi Abe, Masahiro Inoue and Naoki Tanaka.