Horror may be the headline feature drawing people into Shudder, but the services accessibility allows users to stumble into genres they have little familiarity with. A prime example: Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion is a Japanese women in prison film, a subgenre of exploitation, that blends together the typical tropes of women in prison films with revenge cinema to create a feature that leaves you wanting more in good and bad ways.
After an assault at the hands of the Yakuza, thanks to a setup by her boyfriend Sugimi (Natsuyagi Isao), Nami Matsushima (Meiko Kaji) attempts to kill her former lover. This lands her in a female prison run by abusive and sadistic guards. Sugimi forms a plan to have Matsu killed in order to ensure his corruption remains a secret, severely underestimating her desire for revenge in the process.
From the outside perspective Female Prisoner appears more action-oriented than it actually is. The pacing is a slow burn, content with having the audience wait for any payoff for our heroine. She is repeatedly beaten down both mentally and physically by the guards and her fellow convicts. This does the work necessary to endear us to Matsu and her plight, but it also sucks some of the joy out of the movie. The raw and casual nature in which her torment is presented is given an excessive amount of time to permeate the rest of the film, and this could leave some viewers feeling downtrodden by the time more stylized moments crop up.
Director Shun’ya Itô does imbue jolts of pizazz throughout the film, staging some scenes like a play complete with rotating walls, and when he crafts larger sequences in this fashion it’s a treat. In particular, he turns a group shower into something more akin to a murderous take on funhouse room. You really want to see these scenes play out longer and extend into larger arenas, but unfortunately they never do.
He also takes care of how he frames Matsu, shooting with intentionality in both the weak and strong moments. He finds a way to worm these images into your brain for a few days. In combination with a stellar performance by Kaji, you see how three more sequels arrived in rapid succession.
Kaji conveys plenty with very little action; it’s all in her gaze. She gives off an aura of mischief and you can tell that she’s constantly planning. Almost biding her time until just the right moment. It’s what keeps you invested and hopeful in the more torturous moments of the film. You want to see her get revenge, but you also want someone to get the best of her so you can watch her climb the mountain once more.
Sure Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion can be hit or miss, but in the ensuing days you’ll be wondering what Matsu is up to and seeking her out for another adventure. This first entry feels like a proof of concept, and successfully teases out the potential of this team and character. It’s as if the creators were holding back – goading you into asking for more. More style, more action, and of course more Matsu. Thankfully there are three more films already waiting to satisfy your appetite.
Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes
Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.
Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2
A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!
It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.
Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.
Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.
Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!
Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!
If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one!
Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive!
So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise.
Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party.
The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe!
Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now!