Dracula Untold

05/12/2014 § Leave a comment

I read the novel by Bram Stoker and I find it very interesting. It was a classic Gothic horror that started all the vampire or stories of the same genre, or at least that’s what people say. I might have created a post of my insights about the book and the lines I liked from there. If not, I will try to find my journal where I have written it.

I am not very fond of these mythical creatures called vampires, but I think that in some way, they exist. Like maybe they came into existence by being made up by someone who has based them on bats, or mosquitoes because they were both blood-suckers. Or that they were really just cannibals who kills people for the sake of drinking blood, which was believed by some to bring forth youth. Anyhow, my interest in vampires increased after reading the novel as it explained how vampires are, or how humans become vampires. They are really complicated beings than simply burning when they were exposed to sunlight.

I also came across this anime on my younger days – I think it was called Ghost Hunt – which featured a few episodes regarding vampires. As I remembered it, there were bits and pieces that were based on the Dracula novel, but it was a lot more of an original work. I watched it with my siblings on the Halloween season, and at night too. So just imagine my fright then. It was a lot scarier than the novel with all the visual and sound effects added to make it more terrifying. There is really a big difference between a plain black and white book, whose interpretation depends on the reader, and the anime which gives you the image of how the creators want it to be perceived. I find the novel more educational though.

Van Helsing was also a movie with the main story having to do with vampires, Dracula in particular. I have not watched it, only bits and pieces whenever it was shown on HBO. This movie, however, were mostly told in the perspective of the one who wanted to kill vampires. It was mostly based on the Dracula novel, I think. Well, Abraham Van Helsing was the doctor who also studies and researches about vampires in the novel, so that makes sense.

Moving on, Dracula Untold was something like a prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. The entire story of the movie might not be what Bram Stoker had in mind while writing the novel. Well, no one would know now, I guess. So why not give the story writer and director the credit for making a completely new story based on the original work? I only wanted to watch the movie because I kind of wanted to know how Dracula became a vampire, or what happened for him to be one. There were little bit of details in the novel that could simply be interpreted that he was once a human, but it was never in detail. Thanks to the imagination of the producer, director, story writer and researchers, and everyone involved in the making of the plot, that somehow, we were given the idea of how Count Dracula came to be.

I wanted to include a short summary of the movie but I’m not a good storyteller, so I’m leaving that out. So how did Dracula became a vampire? So for those who was only planning to see the film, this will be a spoiler so stop here.

Vlad III discovered a creature residing in a mountain cave under his kingdom’s jurisdiction. It was the priest who informed him that the creature was called a vampire and the kind of power he possesses. His ordeal only increased when the ruling Sultan, Mehmed, whom his kingdom pledged loyalty to, ordered a thousand young boys from his kingdom to be trained to become soldiers, including his son. He tried to make negotiations with the Sultan but failed. He had decided that in order to save his kingdom, despite the great loss it will cause, he has to abide by the Sultan’s order, fearing to induce a war against the Sultan’s battalion, which will be a greater risk for his kingdom. Stirred by his emotions on the day of the handover of his son, he killed the Sultan’s soldiers, instantly proclaiming war. His kingdom was a small one, and does not even have an army that could match up against the Sultan’s. Knowing about the vampire’s power, he decided to make a deal with the vampire without a moment’s hesitation. This decision, however, was not easily done. Before he could acquire the same power as the vampire, he himself needs to become his kin.

He needs to drink the vampire’s blood to acquire his power. In three days time, if he was able to resist drinking human blood, he would return to being a human. But if he drank human blood, he would inherit the bloodline and become a fully-pledged vampire. On his return, he found his kingdom to be under attack by the Sultan’s army. Confident of his newly acquired ability, he faced the entire army alone, and defeated every soldier. After his victory, he decided to take the remaining of his people to a different place, a castle on the mountain side where the priests reside, as a strategic move. On one of their camps during the journey, he met a man, who wanted to serve him, and believed that he was a vampire. He offered Vlad his blood, tempting his restrained thirst for it. It only angered Vlad and asked him to leave.

Before the third day ends, he was met by unforeseen circumstances, forcing him to drink his dying wife’s blood, with the thought of saving his abducted son. He turned his surviving people into vampires, to get revenge on the Sultan. The Sultan, not unprepared, welcomed him. He and his people won and killed the Sultan and all of his army. He was able to save his son, but with all his people turned vampires, whose thirst for blood seems to have no end, the two of them were in a predicament. To his rescue, the priest came to take his son and bring him to safety. With this, he was able to fulfill his promise to his deceased wife – to save their son. He has decided to kill himself with all the vampires around him, so cleared the sky of clouds, exposing himself and everyone else’s to the sun. They burned and died.

But the man who wanted to serve Vlad came to save him. He dragged Vlad to shelter and gave him his blood, instantly reviving the almost dead vampire. His son, on the other hand, became a young king, but having the kingdom forget about his father and everything that has to do with him. The movie ended with Vlad meeting Mina hundred of years later. So there might be a sequel to the movie, but I think that it will be a little different than main Dracula story.

I am once again saying that I am only keen on watching the movie because I want to know how Dracula came to be. The movie, despite having an entirely different story from the Dracula novel, is still a must-see. I find the story interesting, once again, thanks to the people involved in it. I am not sure about the taking over or passing the vampire position to another, but at least we have been given the idea of how Dracula became a vampire. It was hinted in the novel that he was once human, capable of feeling emotions such as love, and the pain of losing a dear person. I could not really compare the movie with the novel as the plot is entirely different. However, I notice a little difference in the movie ending that might have a sequel.

1) It was never mentioned in the novel that Mina resembled Vlad’s dead wife.

2) Dracula met Jonathan first before Mina. But then again, Dracula met Mina while Jonathan was not around. So it might still follow the novel.

Apparently, in other Dracula movie or television series adaptations, Mina resembled Dracula’s dead wife. And after meeting Jonathan and seeing his fiancee’s picture, he tried to find her after all his preparation for moving to a different land has been done. There were particular characteristics Dracula possessed in the novel which does not make him as powerful as he was thought to be, the thing is that he was smart to make use of his advantages.

1) In the novel, Dracula could not easily enter houses without having been invited by someone. Once granted permission, however, he could easily come and go as he pleased, but only through the entrance he was permitted to enter. In the same sense, he could not simply leave his place and travel to a different country. That country must have the soil of his place, as to be able to reside there. He made a barbaric group of people to send boxes of soil to his new place and eventually send him to that place.
2) He could turn into animals. He was a wolf when he attacked Lucy’s house, and he was a big bird or a bat lurking around Mina’s place.
3) He was weak against garlic, stakes and silvers, as what everyone knows.

There were other things as well but that was not really part of the movie so I’m not mentioning it. By the way, my favorite quote in this movie was:

Sometimes,the world no longer needs a hero. Sometimes, what it needs is a monster.
– Vlad III


The Liar and His Lover

09/11/2014 § Leave a comment

This is definitely not a movie review but just my opinions regarding the movie, hence it might be consider as one. Well, ‘movie review’ makes it sound so formal so I really do not want to use the term to describe this.

The Liar and His Lover (Kanojo wa Uso wo Aishisugiteru, or Kano-Uso for short) is an adaptation of the manga by Aoki Kotomi. I liked the mangas made by Aoki Kotomi in terms of story and art. I have read the Boku no Hatsukoi o Kimi ni Sasagu (I Give My First Love To You) as well, which was also made into a movie. Anyway, my focus here is Kano-Uso, which manga, I think, is not yet finished when the movie was made so a lot of important points are not in the movie. I do not even know whether the manga story is already finished or not yet. And I could not really blame the movie because several chapters of a manga story could not be told in an hour or so long movie. But I watched this mainly because it was based on a manga I read, so I might be kind of biased here…

The story revolves around Riko Koeda, a sixteen-year old high school student who’s family runs a fruits and vegetables shop, and Aki Ogasawara, a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training, in short a bum). They met by chance in the riverside, and it was supposed to be a love at first sight, at least for Riko. Ever since that fated meeting, Aki has been telling Riko nothing but lies about himself, wanting to have someone to accept him, not for what he can do or his worth, but for who he really is. Well, actually, he was just kind of depressed and wants to play around when they first met. He was not serious about falling in love with Riko at first sight. Of course, Riko being the young, innocent, and naive girl she is, did not know about this and agreed to date him. The thing is, being together comes with a condition: she cannot sing.

Riko is an aspiring singer-musician, and part of a band with her childhood friends Yuichi Kimijima, Yuu-chan, and Sota Yamazaki, Sou-chan. All of them only formed a band because of Riko’s inclination to music, and her love for the popular all-male band called Crude Play. She loves the band’s music which were all created by and ex-member/bassist of the band called Aki. So when she met Ogasawara and started dating him, she was burdened by the fact that she cannot tell him how she loved to sing, nor the fact that she was part of a band. The gravity of keeping her love for music a secret just increased when, one day, during their usual practice in a public place, Takagi, owner of Takagi Records who also produced Crude Play and another popular singer-idol, Mari, scouted their three-member band and offered them the opportunity to debut. This is their chance to be known and to be on the same stage as Crude Play, so they did not let it slip.

The suspicious NEET Ogasawara was kind of aware about Riko’s singing talent, but he just did not know to which degree. So why does he hate music and girls who sing anyway? Because his life, in reality, is very much involved in music. He is actually the ex-member/bassist, and the person who composes songs for Crude Play known as Aki. His aptitude and talent for music is excellent that even his old band members, and Shinya, admire his skills. In Shinya’s case though, it was a mix of admiration and hatred towards his talent. Aki only quit the band that he formed with his childhood friends when they debuted because of the conditions that Takagi set on them to debut. The songs that will be released under the name of Crude Play will not be played by them. They will only be a good-looking all-male band pretending to play their music. It frustrated them, of course, but the band members wanted to play Aki’s songs no matter what, hence agreeing with the arrangement, and maybe hoping that one day they can produce their own sound that could be sold to millions of people. Aki, however, felt that it would be a betrayal to music by doing so, hence quitting the band. The current members of Crude Play were Shun, Teppei, Kaoru, and Shinya, the only person who can play proper music, and Aki’s replacement in the band.

Aki not only composes music for Crude Play, but is also sometimes composing songs for Mari, who is his previous lover, as per Takagi’s orders. All these things about Aki was unknown to Riko, maybe except the fact that he lives in a high-end condominium or apartment despite being a NEET.

After Takagi scouted Riko and her band, he wanted Aki to be their producer, to which Aki declined without hesitation, not knowing then that it would be Riko and her friends, or about Riko’s real aptitude for music. The position was then given to Shinya, or more like he volunteered for it after knowing that Aki refused to take the position. He later on became fond of Riko and her voice, and refused to give up being their producer even after Aki changed his mind after learning that it was Riko’s band.

All his lies went on until he eventually fell in love with Riko, and the both of them decided to be honest with each other. This is a short cut because a lot of things happened before he found out about Riko’s debut, and she found out about him being Crude Play’s Aki.

So the things stated above was the basic of the story and I am still waiting for the manga to be finished. I really liked the ‘I Give My First Love To You’ manga story, so I have high hopes for how Kano-Uso will turn out. Anyways, the movie kind of disappointed me, maybe because I have high expectations about it. There were things that were either taken out, not shown, or completely changed, which I admit would be for the proper arrangement of the film, but…! I am just being really personally biased.

– It was not shown why and how Riko got extremely attached to Crude Play, so much that she decided to form a band together with her childhood friends, and insistedn on her father to buy her a guitar. Well, it may not be that important but it shows a little histroy behind the friendship of Riko, Yuu-chan and Sou-chan since middle school. Sou-chan was popular then, and Yuu-chan was a lame kid with poor reflexes, and Riko discovered her love for music. It was only a cute and funny story actually.

– Yuu-chan actually likes Riko but it was not properly shown in the film, or the fact that he hated or was annoyed with Aki for taking Riko away from him. Or that they should have been living in the same condominium/apartment building, with Aki owning the top floor.

– My favorite part was also taken out. I just really like the part where Aki took home the floating remote-controlled shark that was originally bought for him by his childhood friends, because they know that Aki will like it. It was a funny part because he brought that home and took the train, causing a commotion on the roads and on the station. He also met Yuu-chan and Riko that time, and Riko was pretty shocked and upset about his lack of common sense, or his childish behaviour despite his age.

– So I think this is important. The part where Aki punched Shinya. Or that they were actually fighting over Riko in a more heavier and tenser manner than shown in the film.

– Nagahama was not given proper credit than in the manga. I mean she is Mush & Co.’s (Riko’s official band name, Mush being her nickname, given by Aki, and later used by Shinya) manager. It was nice to see, and kind of funny, how she was so hardworking in preparing everything for the debut of the three, from clothing style to merchandise representing the band. And she is actually an old classmate of Aki and Shun and the others back in high school. It seems that she likes Shun as well.

– It was totally taken out how Shun is the heir to a huge confections company. Or that he had an affair with Mari just to make headline news, and take the attention away from Aki. He, more than anyone in the band, cares a lot for Aki. They were childhood and best friends too. They usually hand out at Aki’s place overnight, and the following day, Shun’s manager will come to clean the mess they made.

– Mari’s confrontation with Riko was portrayed differently too. I find Mari more evil/btchy on that scene in the manga. Despite how much she said just to mess with Riko, it only made apparent how strong Riko really is. She realized what Mari was trying to do, which made me to believe that she was not just some naive damsel in distress. It made Riko want to give her best so she could stand in the same ground not only with Mari and Crude Play, but aslo with Aki.

– There were a few more characters not even mentioned in the film. A girl who became Sou-chan’s girlfriend just to get close to Shinya, who she adores. She leaks information by setting Sou’s phone so that she will receive every mail he gets. She hates Riko by the way, and I hate her.

And those were the part that I knew about at the moment. I have not read the latest manga chapters available right now but it seems that several new characters were appearing. I wonder what will happen to Aki and Riko.

I like the balance of the humor and drama in this story. It has a cute and mature touch to it too. I mean, it’s a love story between an adult and an under-aged kid, so how would it not turn out all complicated right? And they were involved in the entertainment industry too which just add more drama and complication to it.

And since this story is supposed to be music related, which I definitely can’t appreciate well from reading the manga alone, some nice songs were included in the film. I liked the melody of Sotsugyou (Graduation) which was supposedly played by Crude Play as their debut single. It has this fun and lively music and the lyrics were nice and playful too. I also like the song Chippoke na Ai no Uta, which is a song that Aki composed about his feelings for Riko. It was sang and played by Riko and Aki at the end of the film.

The story of the movie was more or less the same with the manga, only much details were taken out or were not emphasized. Given the length of the film, that was understandable though. The things that were different was the ending part of the story. Since the manga itself was not yet finished, the story writer for the film needs to create an ending, probably with the permission or advise from the author, just for the sake of the movie itself. Well, the manga story might actually be plotted to go along the same direction as what was portrayed in the movie.

The movie ending was that Riko and Aki were caught to be in a relationship by the papparazzis before Mush & Co.’s debut. And Takagi, using his authority, tried to make an arrangement with Aki and Mari, to divert the attention away from the trio band in order not to affect their debut. Apparently, Aki has never made any public appearance so he could roam around the streets without much trouble. Mari’s help, however, come with a condition: Aki needs to break his relationship with Riko. In order to help Riko, Aki, being the adult that he is, decided to go with Takagi’s solution. And pretended to be in a relationship with Mari. Eventually, the news reached Riko, and Aki broke up with her, saying that he was never serious to begin with.

Though painful for both Aki and Riko, they needed to try and get over it. Aki, wihtout anyone’s knowledge, had decided to start anew in some place no one knew him. This was found out by Riko, and later on, by Shun. Riko, learning of Aki’s resolution stole his first base guitar. Shun, as the best friend who deeply cared for Aki, tried to come up with schemes, beyond Aki’s knowledge in order to help him. He took an untitled demo from Aki’s place and brought it to Riko, saying that it shows what Aki truly feels.

On the day of the first live and debut of Mush and Co. Aki is about to leave Japan. He received a call from Shun asking him to get back his base guitar. He first made sure that Riko is not in the same place as the guitar. Upon his arrival in the place Shun directed him, he heard the sound of base guitar being played wrongly. There he found Riko. Riko asked him if the song is how he truly feels, and he denied it. Then she asked him to play the song with her, and while playing, she mouthed to him that he is definitely a liar. After playing the song, Aki decied to go, leaving Riko by herself. And when Riko decided to leave, with tears rolling in her eyes, Aki showed up and kissed her. The end.

How else would you end an unfinished story without spoiling too much of it? By going with the conventionla plot. And in this story, it would be the involvement of the media people learning something about the characters which the public would not find acceptable, and definitely caused a commotion. And to solve that is to make a scene, involving the same people, in which the public would be more interested. Of course there should definitely be someone hurt in this sort of scenario, someone helping behind the scenes, and someone takig advantage of the problem. Typical indeed but it was how it is portrayed in the story which would matter to the audience anyway.

Riko Koeda – Sakurako Ohara
Aki Ogasawara – Takeru Sato
Shun Sakaguchi – Shohei Miura
Shinya Shinohara – Masataka Kubota
Soichiro Takagi – Takashi Sorimachi
Mari – Saki Aibu
Yuichi Kimijima – Ryo Yoshizawa
Sota Yamazaki – Yuki Morinaga
Kaoru Ono – Kouki Mizuta
Teppei Yazaki – Koudai Asaka
Miwako Nagahama – Mitsuki Tanimura


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