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Impie

Live-Action Films of Animated Properties That Don't Suck

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The general consensus I hear from my fellow nerds is that animated things aren't meant to be live-action things, which is frankly preposterous (especially considering how frequently it's done in Japan with moderate success). All you need is someone who knows what the hell they're doing, like with anything else. I grew up watching lots of then-obscure films based on animations I was also watching at the time and wanted to share my favorites here, and encourage others to do the same.

 

So share live-action adaptations of animated properties that you think did it right, not the ones that fucked it up or half-assed it. There's plenty of those.

 

 

Guyver: Dark Hero

 

People joke about The Guyver being an R-rated power rangers anime, and then this movie came out and made that reality: it's directed by the Power Rangers guy. Unlike the shit first film, it also knows exactly what it's supposed to be, where it comes from, and how to pull it off reasonably well. The film is as dark and moody as the manga series, and even takes some character designs and scenes directly from the source material: one scene is a live-action frame-for-frame recreation of the Guyver origin story from the manga. Guyver even looks exactly like he does in the anime, proportions, coloring and all. The fights are better too, though they're few and far between given how plot-driven it is (again, a lot like the source material). I was pretty happy when I saw this as a young Guyver fan.

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 

This one needs no introduction, especially for yours truly. I enjoyed the cartoon like the other kids in the 80s who were entertained by any dumb flashy thing on tv, but the movie went back to the source material: the moody Eastman and Laird comics that started it all, combining two great E&L stories with the cartoon incarnations to make a package that is goofy with a hard edge (and lots of low-key lighting). I loved this version of the turtles way more than the cartoon versions, and found it hard to go back to the show once I saw this in theaters. Still the best portrayal of Shredder I've ever seen (the voice in the trailer isn't the voice from the movie: in the actual movie he's fucking scary).

 

 

Dragonball: The Magic Begins

 

Live-action chop socky interpretation of the original Dragonball story, cheesy effects and all? Sign me the fuck up. This movie is tons of goofy fun, and everybody is here: Goku and his extendy-stick, Yamcha and his fear of women, pervy Master Roshi and his flying cloud, Bulma and her car (and vanity), Oolong and his obnoxious shape-shifting powers. They take more liberties with the bad guys so they're actually fearsome and not incompetent: King Horn is especially badass and would fit right in on a super sentai show. The fights are pre-Crouching Tiger high-flying stuff, back when it was really fast and not as awkward. You can enjoy this one in original Chinese (not sure if it was cantonese or mandarin) or the silly english dub if you're into that sorta thing.

 

 

GI Joe: Retaliation

 

The first movie was exactly what the trailer made it look like: it looked like a bad hollywood cash-grab, and I was totally right. They couldn't even get Snake Eyes's costume right. When Retaliation came out, I wasn't gonna bother seeing it, until mom and dad rented it for the evening and I happened through the room during the initial scenes.
 

Once it got to the Firefly clip above, I decided "okay, I need to see the rest of this." Turns out it was aptly named: this movie was made by GI Joe fans who "got it", and ended up making the GI Joe movie I wanted when I was a kid in the 80s, as if in retaliation against the abysmal first one. Even now, whenever I mention the movie, or see a clip from it, I feel like watching it again. Great cast of Joes and Cobras that're really well personified, look like they're supposed to, and get to use all the gimmicks they're known for: Roadblock uses heavy machine guns as infantry weapons, Lady Jaye gets dolled up and does some infiltratin', Firefly blows shit up, Zartan is master of disguise, even Duke was his usual boring "friendly alpha-douche" self. And the whole middle section of the movie is a fucking cliffside ninja battle. And they used some of the classic vehicles from the toy line. Eight-Year-Old Impie was bouncing off the walls.

 

Bonus: Watch The Fate of the Furious and imagine it as a sequel to this. I swear to god they musta lost the license for a third and revised the script last-minute.

 

 

Edited by Impie

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I liked G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra a lot, but thought Retaliation was just okay. 

 

I should probably watch that Dragon Ball movie. Looks like it would be fun with enough booze. 

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Mate does Riki-oh count? (It has an ova but it's originally a manga)

If yes then put it on the list.

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7 hours ago, SOSU said:

Mate does Riki-oh count? (It has an ova but it's originally a manga)

If yes then put it on the list.

i think so? didnt know it was animated too.

 

depends if it was animated first, movie’d afterward. i dont count it if it was animated later, like zeiram.

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Looked it up.The first OVA came out in 1988 whereas the movie came out in 1991 so it counts :D

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I rather liked the first Flinstones movie with John Goodman

 

Does Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit count? If so, both of those

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The recent Disney live-action remakes are pretty good IMO. The Full Metal Alchemist movie was just added to Netflix, I think I'm going to check that out tonight. I'll report back my findings.

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The FMA movie is certainly... OK? I guess?

 

I makes a lot of weird changes in order and cuts a lot of (very) important things & characters while also keeping some fairly inconsequential parts for reasons I totally don't understand and rushes a lot of things. A lot of cheesy acting and poor cinematography in some scenes that I feel kills the mood. It also assumes you already know a lot of things from seeing FMA. It doesn't go through the full series (obviously) and leaves at about a halfway point or so with some late stuff moved a lot earlier.

 

I think, personally, it really shines in the visuals if nothing else. Some characters are completely 1-1 and even pull off the weird anime hair well, while a lot of the scenes also look amazing and very true to how they did original.

 

Better than I expected it to be, but I don't think I can really call it a good movie per se. It's probably as good as a direct anime adaptation is going to get right now, though. I'll have to think on it before I have a true opinion, but I know it's at least not total garbage.

Edited by Lyn

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On that note, there is a live-action Cowboy Bebop series in the works. There's no information about it except that it's happening. I'm personally looking forward to seeing it. Cowboy Bebop is my favorite anime ever, so it's a tall order to get it right in my eyes, but I'm always of the mindset that even if I don't like the new material, I'll still have the original.

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Yeah the Japanese do this sorta thing ALL the time. I was surprised the TV Tropes article on the subject has such a HUGE section on "live action stuff based on anime stuff".

 

They did it with Cutey Honey a few times and it's pretty goofy shit.

Edited by Impie

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