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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Brotherhood of War DVD box Brotherhood of War. DVD Review

15000 bullets, 3000 extras, 500 Stunt people. 1 Sammy Review

Publisher: Eastern Eye

Tue, 6 September 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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In war people get killed, shot, stabbed, crushed, blown up and various pieces of their bodies come off. One of the ways we know about this is because war movies show it. It seems many directors love showing us such things and people then say how important it is that the movie is so realistic in displaying the brutality of war. I suppose that's true to a degree (though, sadly, it has hardly proven to be a very effective deterrent), but how many times does one actually have to see people getting blown to bits in horrific ways in these films before the point is well and truly gotten? For me, I'd say it was about 10 war movies ago.

Just in case I'd forgotten even slightly that war was a terrible thing, here's another one, with exploding heads and missing limbs galore. Brotherhood of War (which is the highest grossing Korean film ever made) certainly does the 'gritty, realistic, violent war scenes' thing very well, perhaps even better than the much lauded (and in my view overrated) Saving Private Ryan. Unfortunately, the rest of the film's story tends to miss the target at various points (which, come to think of it, is also the case with Saving Private Ryan). Actually, I was going to try and write this review and not mention Spielberg's movie, but I just found the comparison too strong to avoid.

You want a plot synopsis? Fine, here is one I've stolen from the Madman/Eastern Eye website: Two brothers live a simple and happy life until younger brother Jin Seok is conscripted to fight in the Korean war. Elder brother Jin Tae also signs up to protect Jin Seok from harm. As the brothers are surrounded by death and destruction on all sides things begin to change and the men both face the horror that confronts them.

Brotherhood of War DVD screenshot 2
Time for the "carefree, jubilant, innocent youngsters flashback sequence"
The first time I watched Brotherhood of War (or Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo, as it is known in its native Korean. Don't ask me how to pronounce that), I really wanted to like it. It is beautifully shot and the impressive visuals sucked me in, perhaps blinding me to some of the intrinsic flaws of the picture. So, I came out of that first viewing thinking the movie was a very good one.

But, as I thought about it more, I realised I felt no emotional resonance from it whatsoever. So, I decided to take another look and try to discover why that was. Looking at it again (without the rose coloured glasses the cinematography initially provided), it seemed perfectly obvious why the drama of the story and characters failed to impact me in any powerful or lingering fashion; Brotherhood of War just has an utter and absolute lack of subtlety. Honestly, it is hard to become emotionally attached to these folks when they overact to enormous levels and generally behave like caricatures. There's virtually no grey area about anything in Brotherhood of War; everything goes from black straight to white, or vice versa. Besides, they may be rendered in "realistic" detail, but some of the situations shown are about as believable as Rambo III.

A couple of examples: Jin Tae (Dong-Kun Jan) often kicks more arse than Batman and is seemingly indestructible, despite receiving no actual training. His brother Jin Seok (Bin Won) goes from being an innocent youth (which is established by showing him sucking on a popsicle and acting 5 years old), to a hardened soldier in about 10 minutes. There are sections of the story even more implausible, but they are major plot points, so I'd best not spoil them for you. If this were, say, a fantasy film, or based on a comic book, that kind of thing would be fine with me. But when it is placed in what is apparently meant to be a very serious and genuine setting, the unintentional silliness is jarring. It is rather difficult to care as much as you are being asked (I might even say forced) to, when you're also required to constantly suspend your disbelief.

The other problem I had with Brotherhood of War is that its grandiose music, dialogue and basically the movie in general is rather clich├ęd. To some extent I suppose that is unavoidable, but this really feels like 'war movie paint by numbers' at times.

Brotherhood of War DVD screenshot 1
It would probably be tasteless of me to make a joke here. So, I won't.
Still, there's plenty about this film that is worthy of merit. Writer/director Je Gyu-Kan's story of how much war can alter and corrupt people's minds and spirits is often heavy handed and laboured, but its point remains a good and valid one. If you allow yourself to just follow the melodrama and not dwell on the numerous gaps in logic, it works much more effectively.

As I already mentioned, this is a very attractively (or grotesquely when it is meaning to be) shot movie. There's also no denying that the action scenes are at times highly exhilarating and/or disturbing, though (like everything else in this flick) they do become overdone by the end.

There are quite a few war movies that I love, but in general I guess I'm not the biggest fan of the genre. For those who are really into them, I would definitely say Brotherhood of War is one you'd be happy to add to the collection. I don't think the big war movie fans would have as much of a problem with the issues I mentioned as I did. Therefore, this one would probably work much better for them.

Otherwise (unless you have a weak stomach for gore) Brotherhood of War would make a good rental. The moments in the film that work, in my opinion, are impressive enough to warrant at least one viewing. It is over the top and overwrought, but taken as an operatic tale about the ways war tears people apart both mentally and physically, Brotherhood of War succeeds.

Brotherhood of War is due for release on 28/09/2005. I reviewed the preview version, so I wasn't able to check out the bonus features. The full list of extras planned for the 2 disc special edition DVD is as follows:

"6.25 And Us" - Documentary on the Korean War (25 mins)
The Creation of BROTHERHOOD OF WAR (12 mins) - Director talks about the creation of the film and features interviews with other production crew
Portraying War (15 mins) - Shows the difficulties of portraying the Korean War on film
A Preparation For War (18 mins) - Features the training and preparation for the film
Special Effects & Cinematography (18 mins)
Making of BROTHERHOOD OF WAR (45 mins)
Storyboard Comparison (11 mins)
Teaser Trailer (0.5 mins)
Theatrical Trailer (3 mins)
Highlights Trailer (5 mins) - Features some behind-the-scenes footage
Stills Gallery (15 stills)
Poster Gallery (40 stills)

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

Some parts of Brotherhood of War are extremely well done, while other aspects are poor. All together it is worthwhile viewing. For big war movie fans it will likely have greater value.

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More DVD Movies

Press Release. National Treasure 2 Coming soon to DVD
Comic Book The Movie. DVD Review
Laugh out Loud. DVD Review
Farewell to Heath Ledger

How would you like to acquire your DVD movies?
Local video store
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Streamed via the net

ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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