Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Jellyfish Eyes
This Japanese film is essentially a combination of E.T. and Pokemon, as the story follows a young boy who moves to a new town and quickly befriends a strange alien-looking creature, whom he dubs Jellyfish Boy. Soon, the protagonist discovers that Jellyfish Boy is a creature known as a F.R.I.E.N.D., an experimental bio-machine thing being manufactured by a mysterious company. And all the other kids in town have them too! Our hero then spends the last 2/3rds of the film getting into battles with the other kids and their F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Ultimately, Jellyfish Eyes is a fluffy movie that’s enjoyable enough to watch, but will leave no lasting impression.
2.5 out of 5

The Zero Theorem
I always eagerly anticipate Terry Gilliam films, regardless of how messy or disastrous they may look, so I was excited to see The Zero Theorem and I did enjoy it. However, I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as many of Gilliam’s other movies, and a large part of that is because it just didn’t feel fresh. This is because Zero Theorem’s plot is very similar to that of Gilliam’s masterpiece Brazil, in which a downtrodden worker in a dystopian world finds himself inspired after he meets a lively young woman. Almost all of the story beats of Zero Theorem match those of Brazil, but as with all good Gilliam work, the movie is full of gorgeous production design and brilliant details. The world of Zero Theorem is the real star, and I think the movie is worth watching for the visuals alone. If you haven’t seen Brazil, or aren’t a fan, you might enjoy The Zero Theorem more than I did. As it stands, this is neither the best nor the worst Terry Gilliam movie.
3 out of 5

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
I had the good fortune of seeing Once Upon a Time in Shanghai at a film festival with a large audience, and the film was introduced by one of the festival organizers who had done a lot of background research into it. He said that the purpose of Once Upon a Time in Shanghai was to introduce a new martial arts star to the world – in this case, Philip Ng, playing the hero Ma Yongzhen. It makes sense, then, that the plot of Once Upon a Time in Shanghai is nothing new to the genre. A somewhat naive martial artist comes to Shanghai looking for work, and he finds it when he is hired to wait tables at a nightclub owned by a local crime lord. Unfortunately, other criminal bosses organize to take down the crime lord, who has become Yongzhen’s friend at this point, and he is executed. Yongzhen then seeks bloody revenge for the death of his friend, and it all culminates in a massive, lengthy martial arts battle. Because it is so generic, I don’t have much to say about the plot or characters, but as a showcase for Philip Ng, this is about as good as it gets. The fight sequences are fast, kinetic and impressive, and many have that hard, visceral feel that makes you feel the impact of every punch. Martial arts fans will love the fight scenes, but don’t watch Once Upon a Time in Shanghai if you want to see anything new.
3.25 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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