Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
April 2017

Gotta love Anna Sue, the way she's always on the lookout for more movies that I "have to review." (To be fair, she also looks for stuff that she wants to watch that she knows isn't really up my particular alley, as well as other movies that might be of interest to both of us but which don't fall into the category of "Da'ud Bob movies.") And one of the ones she ran across recently was a recent movie out of China about an ancient (Tang Dynasty, 618-907 A.D.) anti-hero. The synopsis on Netflix is what really did it for her, though: "His boss is a god, his girlfriend's a demon, and he wants to save his city by invading hell." With a synopsis like that, how could we resist? And there have been a lot of pretty good and interesting movies coming out of China of late. And so it is that we sat down in our La-Z-Bubba recliners and hit the "Play" button, as this month, Da'ud Bob reviews for you 2015's Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal.

Starring Kun Chen as Zhong Kui, Bingbing Li as Snow Girl/Little Snow, Winston Chao as Zhang Daoxian, Zishan Yang as Zhong Ling, Bei-Er Bao as Du Ping, and Jike Junyi as Yi Wei, this movie has nothing at all to do with the old Jim Henson movie The Dark Crystal. The only elements the two movies have in common is the words "dark crystal" in the title, and the deadline of a celestial phenomenon which drives some of the action. The slightly more detailed storyline is given as: "Legendary Chinese anti-hero Zhong Kui, a young man endowed with mysterious powers who is forced into a battle among the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell in the course of his attempt to save his countrymen and the woman he loves." As one reviewer said of it, "Gorgeous, if a tad confusing." A significant portion of the film is done with CGI, which sometimes falls a bit flat, but how else are you going to show heaven and hell and shape-shifting demons without it? In the end, though, the movie is all about power: who has it, who wants it, and what is to be done with it. And there's a twist shortly before the climax that I, for one, didn't really see coming, so that was a nice surprise. On the flip side, the conclusion is actually a bit anticlimactic.

Good points: The creature I think of as the Lava Demon. (Watch the movie; you'll see what I mean.) The big drums. Much of the animation. Much of the cinematography. A lot of the fight choreography.

Bad points: The CGI isn't all that it could have been. (Indeed, some of it looks like it was created for a video game.) The storyline is sometimes more than a bit convoluted, and the pacing is often rather slow.

Zero breasts. Two gallons of blood. One dead body (on-screen; there were a bunch more you didn't see as they fell just off-screen). Sword fu. Dagger fu. Icicle fu. Fire arrow fu. Fire fu. Magic fan fu. Demon heads roll. Hand rolls. Gratuitous flying horses. Gratuitous flashbacks. Gratuitous demon lizard girl. Gratuitous belly dancing demon girls. (I could have left it at "Gratuitous belly dancing," but that fact that it's being done by demon girls was too good not to mention!) Gratuitous camel. (Huh. Never thought I'd ever see myself writing those words. Nevertheless, that camel was gratuitous.) A 42 on the Vomit Meter. 2 stars. Da'ud Bob says, "For all of its weaknesses, it's an interesting movie. Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

Pushed back from March to May 12, 2017 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. (Formerly titled: Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur) The young Arthur runs the back passages of Londonium with his crew, not knowing his royal lineage until he grabs Excalibur. Instantly confronted by the sword's influence, Arthur is forced to make up his mind. He joins the rebellion and a shadowy young woman named Guinevere, he must learn to understand the magic weapon, deal with his demons and unite the people to defeat the dictator Vortigern, the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king. Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Katie McGrath, Eric Bana, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey.

The fact that they keep pushing back the release date does not bode well for this film. Just sayin'.

No official website yet, just a Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/KingArthurMovie/

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