Belle Review


It’s always nice to have an anime movie to watch. Typically I watch all of the big Shonen type movies but then you’ve got the emotional types like this one which are still fun too. They may not compete visually or in an action sense with the others but you can see how they are used to beat the classics like how this one beats Beauty and the Beast by improving upon the core story.

The story starts by introducing us to Suzu who used to like singing and having a good time but then she was traumatized when her mother died after trying to save a kid who was drowning. It didn’t help that people criticized her mother for doing this and playing hero (Which came across as a little forced tbh since the kid was saved in the end) so Suzu fell further into despair. She pretty much cut off ties to everyone and even has a hard time talking to her father or her childhood friend Shinobu. One day she discovers an app that lets you into a virtual world. It’s the Metaverse if that app/concept was actually a lot more interesting.

Now she has an alter ego named Belle and can sing to her heart’s content there. Suzu uses this as a complete escape from the real world and wouldn’t mind staying there forever. Still, even this area has its share of issues. There is a mysterious user named the Beast who goes around causing a lot of mayhem and interrupting Suzu’s contest. She senses that there is more to him than the chaos but at the same time she doesn’t know what to do about it. What can she do? Meanwhile the “Justice League” type police officers want to put the Beast down for good. If Suzu isn’t quick on deciding what to do, she could lose everything.

The idea of retreating into a virtual world is certainly a classic one and always an interesting idea. Who wouldn’t want to be trapped in a world like Sword Art Online right? The idea of a fresh take on life has spawned tons of stories and if you ask people IRL, there are many who would love the chance to do this and others who of course would not want to. For me personally, it sounds pretty awesome but if it’s an action game, not something like the world in Belle because it’s still just like real life.

For Suzu it works because she can actually sing here and she’s really good at it too. That alone makes the world worth it and of course flying and stuff is fun too. The visuals in the world are interesting and the CG’s not bad. It reminds you of the old days of the computer so it’s a bit of a nostalgic boost. The animation for the human scenes is good too but a little below average next to what you’d see nowadays. It’s what I call the mainstream anime movie effect where it’s aimed more at a general audience so the colors aren’t as bright and splashy.

Turn on the TV to almost any modern anime right now and it’s going to look a lot better which is a bit ironic since this is a movie. Still, you don’t need to compare this to the rest and on its own the animation is still good. There isn’t a lot of action here anyway but the combos with the Beast in the cyberworld are fun. I wouldn’t mind if the fights got extended just a bit.

At its core this is more of an emotional story though and it succeeds at that. I would say it’s suitably sad without trying too hard or overstaying its welcome. Towards the end of the story we even get a bit of a dark twist. You’ll probably have figured out what’s going on during an early scene when the Beast’s wounds are glowing but if not, the film makes sure not to make it too obvious. I didn’t even realize the symbols on the Beast’s back were wounds until they said it. Either way it’s pretty intense when it happens and works for the story but I’m glad it doesn’t go any further than the quick scene or two. This is the right amount of getting you to understand the stakes without just making the whole thing really edgy.

I’m thinking it was a stylistic choice to not make it obvious as even one guy who drew artwork of injuries still looked like flowers to me. It’s a good choice from an animation level I’d say since it lets the movie be more creative. The soundtrack isn’t too memorable for the most part but the lyrical songs are fun. There’s always a lot of fun special effects during the songs as well and in particular I liked the large venue that was set up for the main song. That place was absolutely massive and is definitely the kind of place you want to be when giving a performance.

As for Suzu as a main character, I wouldn’t say that she was great. Of course you can see what character arc the movie is going for but she’s just a little too timid the whole time. Suzu doesn’t really act upon her feelings and when she does towards the end, it’s not always with a great plan. The climax could have had her take an extra 2 seconds to bring someone along and that would have been a really good idea. Of course it’s also bad on the other characters for not just jumping in.

This is the kind of story where Suzu would certainly be a lot better in a sequel, but I doubt we’ll be getting one. Her best friend Hiroka was really good though. She would sometimes badmouth other characters without meeting them which is a bit petty but at least she always had Suzu’s back. She was around to support her at all times and also did a lot of the legwork in setting up the alter ego. Something tells me Suzu would have been found out right away without someone like Hiroka to cover her tracks. I appreciate that Suzu wasn’t totally on her own here. I mean she had the drama club members as well but you want someone your own age to talk too. So in this way Suzu wasn’t completely alone.

I also liked Kamishin, the sports guy who is really serious about competing. His romance scenes can be a little cringe but as a character he always means well. He works well as the subtle comic relief here and a little break from the main plot. Ruka was also good and didn’t fall into the trap of being the mean popular girl. Instead she is someone who excels but doesn’t have to play dirty or take the low road. I appreciated that since it would have just been too cliché if she was a villain for some reason. As a supporting character she was good.

Then we have Shinobu who was the best from the main characters. He did his best to protect Suzu from behind the scenes and wanted to even be more open about it but she was always running away. While the other characters hesitate on how to advise Suzu, he just comes out with the right answer right away. Ultimately there wasn’t a whole lot he could do at many points of the film with how he was shut out from the context but he never gave up. His detective skills were also on point as he figured some things out right away with no real help.

Ultimately I would say that the romance in this film is definitely more on the weak side though. Focusing more on Suzu’s quest to regain her confidence would be the better play because there just isn’t a whole lot of time for romance. It’s there for some quick moments but doesn’t really enhance the film in any way. At least for me I would have cut it out here and kept the characters as just friends.

Now for the Beast, he was an interesting character and had a very memorable first appearance. His stats are definitely very impressive and when you look at his scenes within the context of the cyber world, it’s easy to see why he was always running off and shaking away Belle’s embraces. Starting a romance in an online game when you aren’t sure who the other person is can be a bit risky and she was a bit clingy from the start. You don’t have many scenes of them just standing around and talking.

In general, I think that’s one thing the film could have used some more of. Belle and Beast actually talking in the cyber world. They barely ever have time to interact beyond quick moments here and there. I think a quick talk could have done well to help set up the scenes in the climax and add some more context that both characters could use. Like memorable lines that would help piece things together later on. Either way the Beast is very solid though and he has very valid reasons for acting the way that he does.

He is one of the better characters here. The so called heroes of the cyberworld look pretty bad though. They’re super unreasonable the whole time and jump to threats right away. I understand going after the Beast because he does act like a villain at times but getting innocent civilians involved like Belle too? That’s where they cross the line and as the film goes on they really just seem to be in it for the clout instead of justice.

At least they gave us good action scenes which is always appreciated. They aren’t long but they’re fun to look at. The film’s humor scenes don’t tend to land as they get dragged out a little too much. I would say a weakness the film has is partially to do with pacing where some scenes go on too long. It tends to have a lingering effect where every moment is just a few beats too long. Sometimes a lot of beats like with Kamishin running out of the train station and being dragged back in by Suzu multiple times. Well, the film definitely goes for a lot of different vibes and so maybe they weren’t sure how long to linger on each moment. One plot I probably would have gotten rid of though was the friction between Suzu and her father. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me based on the origin story. If anything I would think that would cause Suzu and him to get even closer. At the very least, I don’t see how it would make her be unable to even have a conversation with him and avoid everyone. It just felt rather random and didn’t help Suzu’s character any.

As a final note, I definitely liked the mystery angle that was going on for a while. Basically Suzu and Hiroka were trying to figure out who the Beast’s secret identity was. So we get to meet various characters who have some connection to him and you have to decide who the Beast is. I wouldn’t say it would be very easy to guess at all but I do think the film gives enough material where you could have a go at it. I can’t say that I guessed myself though or at least even got the general area of which character it was. At least one of the suspects actually turned out to be a pretty solid guy. I can’t really say the same for the other suspects though.

Overall, Belle is a pretty good movie. There are some things that don’t work so well like the romance, some neighbors talking bad about Suzu’s mom sacrificing her life to save a child, and the general climax doesn’t make any rational sense. The film could have ended very badly if things went as it realistically would. The positives outweigh the negatives though with a generally solid script, good plot, and some fun songs. You can see how the whole thing can be improved without a doubt but it’s ultimately still a movie with a good amount of replay value that you could check out again. I’d recommend giving it a watch.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard YouthQuake


This is a pleasant manga so far. I’ve knocked out the first volume and it captures that low key energy of discovering a trading card game for the first time and having fun with it. I don’t see this being a super long running story but technically there are a lot of stories you can do here. I’ll have a review up as soon as I’ve completed the series.

Overall 7/10

Kiss of Death Review


With a title like this you probably won’t be surprised that this is a Noir movie. It’s certainly got that vibe from the start and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s a solid film about the dangers of getting into the criminal racket. Once you go in, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out easy and Nick learns that the hard way. It’s a satisfying adventure but one that didn’t play out the way that I thought it would.

The movie starts with Nick getting caught after his latest heist and taken to jail. The time for this one is going to potentially be 20 years so the DA, A’Angelo tries to strike a deal but Nick declines. He figures that the other crooks will look out for him. Unfortunately they don’t and his wife ends up dead with no money to her name. Nick decides to do the deal now but 3 years have passed and the opportunity is not the same. He has one shot to get back at the crooks which is to be a stoolie for the cops. He’ll find out info and bring it back to D’Angelo but of course this is a very dangerous job. The villains have a lot of pull and the crazy guy named Tommy on their side. One wrong move will not only destroy Nick, but his rebound girlfriend and his kids.

You can probably guess right off the bat that I was not a fan of the romance here. Look, Nick’s whole reason for revenge and making a deal is because his wife was effectively murdered due to the other crooks not watching out for her. She wasn’t given any money or safety. So then why he is suddenly going out with Nettie? What’s worse is that Nettie and her had a big fight shortly before her death and Nettie basically admits that she has wanted Nick for a while now. Nick’s cool with all of this?

With the title of the film I fully expected Nettie to be the big villain here. There would be a twist about how she’s actually the one who murdered the wife or something like that. It wasn’t a suicide but a frame up. It would have made a lot of sense but the film actually plays it straight which is just as bad if not worse. It’s bad for both parties but in particular it’s a bad look for Nick.

He should not be looking for another wife right now. It’s just way too soon after he’s out of jail. The romance is one of the weakest ones that I’ve seen in a while. He does well beyond that but it’s a big thing to sidestep. The movie is solid in spite of Nick, not because of him. I thought D’Angelo did a good job of giving Nick a lot of chances initially and then explaining that the offer wasn’t forever.

3 years later it makes sense that he would feel a bit sour, especially with how Nick treated him. I wouldn’t say D’Angelo did a good job of protecting him at all though. I can see why Nick didn’t trust him to keep them safe because the guy’s track record was just awful the whole time. Anyone could get past him and that’s absolutely not what you want to hear when there is a big mass murderer after you. Nah, escaping him was the right option here.

Tommy is the big villain and he certainly makes his presence known. He doesn’t like squealers at all and definitely doesn’t take any disrespect. It’s clear that beating him won’t be easy and the guy has a lot of experience. You get the feeling that being his friend is also pretty dangerous since he’s such a spontaneous guy. You may be friends with him one moment and then enemies the next. If you’re an enemy then you’re really out of luck.

I would say that Nick’s plan was extremely risky though and had a near 0% chance of working. There are so many ways it could have gone wrong. I suppose he didn’t have many other options at this point but even so, I wouldn’t say it was a good plan. It’s hard to picture it ever working again even if the scenario was played 100 times. When you’ve got nothing to lose you might as well give it a try, but that’s the only time to play this card.

The movie captures the sense of dread and danger that Nick feels when Tommy is on the loose. These old school Noir titles always knew how to build up a good atmosphere and this one is no exception. Nick knows that as far as he gets, he’ll never be safe. I do think it’s probably worth taking the odds and hopping on a train out of the state though. In theory back then the info networks weren’t quite as advanced so get out of the country and try to survive. Of course there are a significant amount of risks to that and he may be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life but I would wager that the odds are better than trying to settle the score personally. It’s a gamble either way of course.

The writing is also very solid. I like the dialogue exchanges here and it may seem like a small thing but a lot of newer films can’t always hold their own in this same respect. It’s all different eras of course and modern films have their good writing as well but sometimes you just want this classic way of speaking. That false politeness between the heroes and villains, the subtle digs thrown into each sentence. It’s difficult to replicate that.

Overall, Kiss of Death is a good Noir film but I do think it’s held back by some of the choices in the story. I just have a really hard time getting past the whole romance angle. It just feels so crazy considering how the whole plot was about getting past her death. What’s the thought process behind throwing this in? If it was solely because the movie needed some romance then that’s just pretty sad. Making Nettie the villain just made so much sense that I’m still shocked the movie didn’t go that route.

Overall 7/10

Star Wars – The Mandalorian


The Mandalorian manga adventure has started! I’m only one chapter deep so I’m pretty early on but it’s a good start. The main character already seems like the hardcore type of lead that I like to follow. He’s very down to business. I’ll have a review up for the series as soon as it’s over. We’ll see how good it ends up being.

Overall 6/10

Master of the World Review


Vincent Price films tend to be a lot of fun, at least his contributions to them. I can’t say that all of his movies are actually amazing or anything like that but he knows how to have a good time. This is a solid installment in his filmography and it’s a good, classic tale about wanting to stop war. Ultimately many heroes and villains have tried to stop it in these movies but they all come across the big issue that it is just about impossible to stop through normal means. This movie handles that rather well.

The movie starts out by showing us a lot of different attempts at making a plane. Unfortunately it took a lot of tries to get them right and so Prudent and Evans debate a lot about how their plane should be built. Ultimately a government agent named Strock appears and lets them know to just try them both. They head up in a hot air balloon but are kidnapped by Robur and taken aboard his giant plane. Robur explains that he wants to attain world peace and the way he will do this is to destroy all weapons of mass destruction on the planet. Any machine that can hurt someone will have to be destroyed so their go the battleships and tanks. Unfortunately he will only give a brief warning before firing so there will be mass casualties. The heroes need to find a way to stop this guy but how can they?

First off, Robur is an interesting villain. He really hopes that the characters will agree with him but of course the cost is just too high. What I like about him is that he does actually give them some time to try and come up with an alternative. Of course they aren’t able to because in a way there is none. This would be the only way to possibly try and remove wars, but even then it wouldn’t work. If Humanity has shown anything over the years it is that they will keep on creating new weapons forever and nothing can stop that. Robur’s airplane would only serve to embolden the governments to create more things in secret.

Now, the plane can apparently cross the entire Earth in 10 days so he could possibly deal a ton of damage in the meantime. The rest of the world have no combat planes ready yet so if he kept on carpet bombing the way he was now, it’s hard to see how anybody could stop him. It’s why supremacy over the air was always such a big thing in every war. If you control the skies then you control your destiny. So it’s lucky for the world that the heroes did go aboard or that would have been it.

In a way Robur’s pacifist ideals towards directly taking a human’s life were his own undoing. If he had simply shot the characters down then he would have been safe. Villains with misguided ideals that think they are the hero of their own story definitely make for a compelling character and this guy was no different. He’s certainly the highlight here.

As for the main characters, they definitely tend to bicker a lot. You’ve got Evans who is constantly jealous and mistrusting of Strock. After all Strock gets along very well with his fiancé and so Evans needs him to fail. What better way to be top dog around the place again than to realize that Strock has thrown his lot in with Robut? Evans comes across as really petty and naïve throughout the film. He tries to say that they shouldn’t lie even to the villain because of honor and all that but Strock correctly points out how that won’t save anybody. Honor is all well and good at times. There are certainly lines you shouldn’t cross in any situation but this wasn’t one of them and Evans really didn’t seem to know how the world worked.

Meanwhile Strock was very reasonable the whole time. He doesn’t get caught up in his emotions the way that the others did all the time and that allowed him to plan ahead and do some real good. He would put more thought into his actions in one moment than the rest would for their entire appearances. I thought he single handily gave the heroes a chance while the rest would have completely crashed without him.

Prudent is a genius and all but he’s not really ready to be on the field. He does better than Evans but that’s not exactly an achievement now is it? Dorothy is nice enough but she does tend to blame both sides when Evans and Strock argue even when it is completely Evans’ fault. I would like for her to just call him out instead. By the end of the film they are finally ready to work together, it just takes a long while to actually get to that point.

Ultimately this film is about a difference in ideals that cannot be bridged by any kind of discussion or negotiation. There are times when fighting is the only way to solve an issue and this is one of those times. Everyone (All reasonable people) would like to end war once and for all. War only brings a lot of destruction and trauma in its wake but there are no reasonable ways to end it. Short of the world being destroyed, it’s not going to happen. Robur’s plan wouldn’t have worked either even though he was so confident about it so Strock had to stop him. At least maybe he will think twice about selling it to the government though. The heroes were quick to mention that but doing so would absolutely guarantee an escalated level of violence in the end. Ultimately it’s not possible to stop technology so it’s inevitable that this kind of tech will appear someday but why speed it up? (Of course this wouldn’t even be considered high end tech in today’s day and age)

Overall, I liked this film quite a bit. It’s rather low key and even to the end Robur is treated as a villain who made the wrong moves but didn’t crack. He treats his minions well and same with his prisoners. He was just on the wrong path. The writing is good and the movie’s pacing is solid. It all goes together rather quickly in its journey to the end. I didn’t have any issues with it. Of course I didn’t like Evans but he made for a decent antagonist when you look at it that way. This is a very safe movie with a good amount of positives and no true negatives. It may not be very ambitious but it tells a good story and at the end of the day that’s what you want to see.

Overall 7/10

Flatliners (2017) Review


It’s been quite a while since I watched the original Flatliners. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly good film to say the least. This one does improve upon it in some way and so while it’s not as ambitious, it’s a more stable film. The main characters still aren’t particularly likable here though and the whole plot only kicks off because they make the wrong calls.

So the movie starts with Courtney figuring that she should probably try to die real quick to see what the afterlife is like. She plays on Jamie’s feelings for her to trick him into going downstairs and invites Sophia as well. The idea is to put her under and after she’s dead, revive her in under a minute. This way her brain activity is unaltered and in theory she will not suffer from any side effects. That’s the complete plan here and they pull it off but only thanks to Ray showing up at the end to save the day. Now Courtney is a super genius who is heading the class and the other students except for Ray all want a turn. Is there a downside to doing this?

Short answer is yes, of course there is a downside. This wouldn’t be much of a movie without one right? So they’re opening the doors to the next world and by doing so, their personal demons are appearing. Each of the characters has had some kind of trauma or made a big mistake back in the day and it’s coming back to haunt them. Unless they can face their fears, this will be game over so they have to move fast.

One big difference here is that their fears don’t seem as dangerous here. Perhaps they are and the heroes just didn’t give them enough of a chance but in the first film these dreams were knocking the stuffing out of the main characters. They would come out of nowhere and just turn violent. In this movie they mostly just sort of stand there in the distance and glare at the heroes. Rarely do you feel like they’re in a lot of danger. The closest might have been when Marlo was in the basement with the lights off but even then the spirits didn’t take her out. You feel like the ones in the original film would have pulled that off.

Of course the film is greatly toned down from the original so that does work wonders for this one. No animal violence or anything crazy like that. The film isn’t all that violent either, it’s fairly tame. So in that way it’s a very different kind of horror film because you keep waiting for the main characters to be taken down and then it just doesn’t happen. I guess you could say that the heroes are very lucky in that respect since they wouldn’t last nearly as long in other settings.

The ending of the film misses a really big chance to go for a twist ending though. The way the scene was shot it felt like something was coming and there were a lot of interesting ways this could have gone. I was thinking about a certain character just popping out to get everyone or something like that but instead it’s played straight with a fairly happy ending. Not exactly what you would expect for a horror film either so this one really is unique.

Of course, the issues come with the fact that this one is still eager to make the teens as annoying as possible. The romance is very weak with a lot of affairs all around. The characters can’t stay professional with each other for a single moment. They also choose to all go under and effectively take the easy way to being geniuses. This comes complete with a lot of crazy parties and everything though. The characters confirmed they take drugs so they were able to recognize this as a similar effect. There’s no real point to the scenes at all though. It’s a really weird side effect but one that could have been shown a lot differently than to have everyone go mental like this.

Courtney deserves most of the blame for being the one to start up with this idea. It was a bad idea right from the jump and she pressed ahead anyway. Of course everyone else is guilty for jumping in as well. Only Ray stayed strong and tried to warn them against this. He also seemed to have the strongest moral compass like trying to tell Marlo to correct her mistakes and all. You have to give him props for trying even if ultimately she was tough to convince. He is easily the best character and someone who actually cared about being a doctor. The rest seemed to just be messing around a lot.

Jamie is the flirt of the group who is constantly having affairs so there’s no way you were going to like him. His big mistake from the past is also an absolutely massive one that just makes him look even worse. It’s another one of those moments that’s really hard to recover from. Same for Sophia who looks really petty in how far she took things. Wrecking someone’s life in an instant is not something that you can easily take back. Based on how the characters acted before being forced to relive their fears, I have my doubts that they learned much of anything.

Of course the literal threat of death shocked some sense into them but it’s sad that it took this much. Then of course Marlo had her big mistake that quite directly ruined someone’s life. Yeah none of these characters are good role models. In a way the film is almost like a Christmas Carol in how the characters reflect on their pasts, just with a horror element to it. This one is able to be a lot more direct about the second chances kind of message to it since the body count wasn’t quite the same as in the first one. With less scares you have time for more character development.

It’s just that once you make the character bad enough, the development isn’t really going to save them at that point. That’s why you have to really hold back when making the characters delinquents in the beginning because otherwise this is what you get. You could be forgiven for not realizing that this is a horror film by the way because there are barely any scares here at all. Sure, you get the fake jump scare for the elevator but for the most part the scenes are fairly light. The scariest moment was probably Jamie biking through a dark street by himself in one of the dreams and even that wasn’t all that intense. You keep thinking something is going to happen but nothing does which is a common event in the movie.

Overall, Flatliners beats the original but it’s still not a good movie. At the end of the day the characters are annoying and the writing is weak. The romance isn’t any good and it feels like the movie is a little confused about what it wants to do. It even takes a long while for the actual plot to start. They don’t start hallucinating about their past until you’re very deep into the movie so the pacing could have used a little work too. The concept of having to confront your past or face destruction is an interesting one though. In the right hands I think you could definitely do something really good there. These just weren’t the right hands apparently.

Overall 4/10

Harry and Tonto Review


This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
Harry and Tonto is a movie with a fairly basic premise. The two of them are going on a big adventure and getting to see the world. Nothing wrong with that in the slightest of course but I would say the execution was not very good at all. It ends up being rather boring a lot of the time but the writing is always very weak. It reminds me of some Woody Allen films from a while back where it’s just the characters talking but the script is so bad that it falls on its face. That’s pretty much what happens here so you don’t even have that to keep the film afloat.

The movie starts by having Harry get mugged again. The neighborhood used to be good but it’s really been sinking a lot. So he goes to move in with his family but it’s rather tense there as the place is really small. One of his grand kids has taken a vow of silence for some reason and only his son is glad about him staying. So Harry decides to go on a journey with his pet cat Tonto. Along the way they run into a girl who ran away from home named Ginger. The initial goal is to find more of Harry’s family members and even an old flame before he decides where to stay but along the way it just becomes more about experiencing life.

A movie like this can only survive if the characters and writing are both really great. That would probably be the case for a 50s or 60s film but one this late in the game has more of an annoying dialogue style than anything else. When the conversations aren’t about mundane things like the weather, you have Harry being shocked at how depraved the world has gotten. He’s able to hook up with a random girl during one of the drives for money and the runaway Ginger is not shy about just stripping down. Other characters talk to him about when the last time he had an affair was and it’s like nobody ever grew up here.

The romance that we do get later on in the film is more of a cringeworthy affair. Then to show us that Harry can never really be happy, he’s thrown for another loop near the end. The world is moving fast and just won’t let him catch up. In theory he’s good now but this rollercoaster had too many pitfalls. By the end I wouldn’t say there are any real likable characters. Harry’s son would be the best for sticking by him the whole time. The rest of the family wasn’t too helpful like the guy who lost all his money, the son’s wife who wasn’t subtle about wanting him to leave, the daughter who didn’t even try, etc.

Harry was definitely on his own. Harry was a prideful man too so it’s not like he tried super hard though. He did the best he could to keep his old place but once that was gone then it was pretty much all over for him. Tonto was good the whole time though. He always ended up making you nervous though when he’d run off in general because this was the kind of film that wouldn’t pull its punches.

I think Harry may have ultimately had a better time staying in his neighborhood. Sure it was fairly dangerous but at least he knew everybody there. I’d say the best moments were when the film would slow down to actually let him enjoy the adventure. Like going to the casino and trying to play dice for a bit. At least there he got to have a little more fun before unfortunately not being able to make it to the bathroom in time. The crazy adventure with the chieftain in the cell was certainly something that’s for sure.

Maybe Harry needed to have a dog for some more fun Hijinx. But there really isn’t a lot to the film so it does come down to the human. Harry just wasn’t interesting enough to lead his own film. I dare say that he needed to be a little younger to have an easier time of it. Otherwise you have to be super charismatic and likable which didn’t really work here. Having Harry be a very confident guy who figures he’ll have a new place in no time flat could have been a good angle to have here.

As for the writing, maybe you needed more of a solid hook. If not, I think some humor could have gone a long way here. Yeah, this time I would say throwing in some jokes would not have hurt. It would be a good way to keep the adventure light and also give the characters some more substance to talk about. Just something to make it be a lot more interesting because otherwise you’ll be falling asleep here. Also, they probably shouldn’t have written Harry as having a wife who ultimately died before him because it just makes him look even worse when he is still interested in other women and messing around. At his age he should be all over that and definitely not going for a rebound. That’s really it, just live the rest of your life with a lot of fun and enjoyment but not trying to start another relationship like that.

Overall, A film can certainly get by without having much of a focus or a plot but to do that you need to be very funny or wholesome. One or the other can certainly do the trick but when you’re neither then that is going to be a really big issue. This film never ended up getting interesting. It’s a shame because a journey movie will usually be good even if just to see all of the various sites along the way. Maybe if that guy who was with Ginger could have stayed longer then he would have been a good addition to the party. Could have added something to the dynamic I suppose. A subplot that wouldn’t end tragically like Harry finally getting to meet the girl who liked him way back in the day.

Overall 3/10

Looper Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Looper has a very interesting premise of having to try and take yourself down. If you succeed then you already know that you’re doomed but if you fail then you will be axed a whole lot sooner. It’s a lose-lose situation no matter how you slice it and that’s the kind of decision that the main character has to wrestle with. It asks some interesting questions as the movie goes on.

The movie starts by introducing us to Joe who murders whoever his bosses tell him too. Basically the future finally got wise to all the strategies of hiding bodies so the only way to make someone disappear is to send them to the past and murder them that way. Joe is in this business as well and eventually he will be told to murder his future self which ends his loop but he will be paid handsomely for it. In a way it’s like a form of retirement so people in the business know that their time is limited but they will live like kings in the meantime. Considering that this world seems pretty rundown, a lot of people are fine with the risks.

Of course this means that you are murdering people that you don’t even know about so don’t mistake these guys for heroes. They are still very much the villains of the story every which way you look at it. Well, one day Joe is about to murder his next target except it’s an older version of himself (Who looks so different I doubt anyone would guess that it’s the same person) who isn’t tied up (The victims are always tied up in previous scenarios) and has a gun. Naturally old Joe gets away and regroups.

The situation is made very plain to Joe, he has to make old Joe go away or he will be terminated. Old Joe also states his objectives to Joe, he needs to murder a few kids in this timeline because one of them will grow up to become the Rainaker. A villainous leader so cruel and powerful that nobody can stop him and this leads to the death of Old Joe’s future. So if there is no Rainmaker then he is hoping that his future will turn out well. He asks Joe not to get in his way.

So that’s the basic scenario here and you can already see how things get messy here. If Joe destroys his old version then his loop is closed and he’ll be dooming himself down the line. Of course if Old Joe destroys Joe then he will cease to exist immediately so he has to try and win without harming him. It makes this more of a cat and mouse game as opposed to a straight gunfight. They have to be very careful of their moves and Old Joe also has to account for the fact that the villain groups are after him in the past now too so they have to be knocked off.

Old Joe is clearly a villain here. He’s trying to murder children who haven’t done anything yet and acknowledges that he will be getting some innocents too. So lets not get that twisted. Old Joe is an interesting villain because of this viewpoint. He’s ultimately trying to save his present/Joe’s future but is taking the most extreme route to doing so. From his perspective he feels like it’s the only way out and as his current form is already a villain by being in that line of work, it’s easy to see how this escalated.

He even takes out a lot of the villains in the present timeline as well. I would say that Old Joe easily steals the show in every scene that he is in. The guy is the highlight in this adventure. Then you have classic Joe who is not nearly as likable. The first scene with him selling out the friend was particularly brutal. Yes, the friend was pretty bad there with his decision making and made the whole thing Joe’s problem out of nowhere but betraying him is not the right call. Especially for money which is what it came down too.

Over the course of the movie Joe learns how to be someone who can make the right calls but it’s a long journey. Even by the end he makes things a little hard on himself by not keeping his guard up which leads to a really rough call. I’ll give the film kudos for constructing a scenario where Joe pulling the trigger actually turned out to be the right call. In nearly any other situation I would be writing that Joe did the wrong thing here but for once that was not the case. I can’t go into specifics without your seeing the movie as it would be a spoiler but it’s good that he took the show.

One issue that I have with the movie is I don’t think it took full advantage of this world and the mechanics behind it. Time travel sounds awesome and I’d like to hear more about the world but it’s never really a focus. In fact, we rarely see the future as most of the film takes place in the past. There is also a long portion of the film that starts to become more of a drama than an action.

Joe meeting up with Sara and her kid Cid could be a little on the dull side at times. Sara means well though and does a good job of protecting her house. Considering how dangerous this place is, you have to give her a lot of credit there. The inevitable romance was really extremely weak though. It’s super sudden, makes no sense and just doesn’t work. I would say the film could have dodged that entirely.

As for Cid and the whole rainmaker plot, it feels random at first but eventually becomes really important. I would usually say you could have just cut Cid out but that would change the film as a whole. His super powers/corruption just felt really out of place even next to the other powers. He would appear to almost be demonic at times. I guess that’s just his super powers in the end but he does seem like he’s going to go off a dark path right away even without any tragic moments.

Kid Blue is one of the main villains here. He’s not a leader or anything but he’s always wanting to try and stop Joe so he gets a big role as a result. He’s not super skilled or anything though so things don’t usually end up going his way. His boss even stabs and humiliates him and there isn’t much Blue can do about it. So I didn’t find him particularly threatening or interesting at all. At least Abe had the whole leader thing going for him but Old Joe overshadowed him by a lot. Old Joe is what gives the film all of its depth. Fighting for his family for so long that he eventually became one of the villains himself continuing the cycle of violence.

The film can get a little violent at times but never too crazy. It holds back a lot and uses the time elements to its advantage. Like at one point one guy starts disappearing and you quickly realize why that is with how the past affects the future. Showing it would have been way too crazy so in this way you get it across without being too gritty. The movie did good on that.

Overall, Looper is an interesting sci-fi film. I do think it loses a lot of momentum in the middle and also wastes some of the potential of the concept though. It’s all very interesting which is why Sci-Fi’s can be fun but you need to spend more time on the actual time travel. I would still recommend giving this one a look but you’ll find that Joe is a very annoying character. He’s not heroic, not trustworthy, and his priorities are all wrong. The romance is weak here and you don’t buy into it since he’s one of those guys who is more about having quick affairs like early on in the movie.

Overall 6/10

Pokémon: Hisuian Snow Review


It’s time to take a look at a fairly quick mini series. This one only had 3 episodes and combined they’re only about the length of one normal one so it’s over pretty quick. I’m always up for more Pokemon animations though so it’s good to have it and hopefully we get some more in the future. This adventure takes place in the far past to tie in to the recent Pokemon Arceus game. The setting may not be quite as interesting as the modern areas but it’s been a while since we got a snow adventure.

The story follows a kid named Alec who had always been fond of Pokemon. Unfortunately he was born into an era where people don’t get along with them. Humanity is afraid of these powerful creatures and think that it is best to just leave them alone. Keep a safe distance and then they won’t bother you. Humanity even build up walls around their village to ensure that no Pokemon gets close but one day while outside, Alec gets separated from his father. He injures his knee but is helped by a Zorua. Now he has to find his way back to the village with his Pokemon companion but will he be taken in with open arms?

The story also jumps to the present with Alec returning to the village in time for another Pokemon incident. The humans definitely are never too accommodating here and it does make them look a little ungrateful. Especially the father who is quick to be antagonistic to Zorua despite the Pokemon saving his kid’s life. That was definitely a shame but at least Alec was able to settle things later on. Ultimately Zorua was a true friend who helped out even if no gratitude was guaranteed. That’s the kind of Pokemon that you want to have your back without a doubt.

Alec wasn’t bad for a kid either. At least he did try to help the Pokemon out. In the present he even became a bit of a doctor and really went out of his way to be a good person. He’s someone who learned the right lesson from his experiences. The rest of the humans are not impressive at all though and don’t really stack up. The next best character would definitely be Zorua for being a good pal. The special shows that the Pokemon at the end of the day are always the most heroic ones.

In the final episode we even see two Abomisnow’s defend Alec as he tries to heal their injured partner while the humans just stand around. We get a pretty decent fight scene there too although it’s very short. Action isn’t really the main genre of this special after all, it’s really more of a full time adventure. I always enjoy the action when we can get it though. The animation pops out when Pokemon use their special attacks. I wouldn’t say it’s anything super high end but it does look nice and works well for what it’s going for.

The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side. With quality writing and good pacing, this is a miniseries that you could recommend to anyone. It’s still too bad that it was only 3 episodes as I think you really could have turned this into a much longer adventure. Give more time for Alex and Zorua bonding by having them get lost deeper into the forest. With the outside world not being explored all that much, it would be reasonable for the humans not to be able to find them for a while and so a few episodes could just be them walking around and trying to survive.

It doesn’t quite hurt the show that it’s so short but it does mean that it’ll be a little less memorable. Down the road when talking about the various Pokemon titles and all, it would be very easy to just forget this one entirely. Maybe one day they can bring the characters back at least but it seems like they are having more fun just experimenting with a bunch of different characters so I would be surprised to see them again.

Overall, Hisuian Snow is a good episode’s worth of content. It may not be action packed but the story is interesting enough and it’s good to see Zorua getting his hype. The Pokemon always end up taking the high road even when the humans don’t. The world has certainly come a long way since these days as in the present even little kids play with Pokemon. You could say that the Pokemon world got something close to world peace by the end. Sure, you’ve got Team Rocket and friends but by and large it’s a very peaceful world. I still would have liked a formal apology from Alec’s father and the rest of the village by the end though.

Overall 7/10

Odin Sphere Review


Now this is the kind of game I’m talking about when thinking about hidden gems on the PS2. This one is similar to Oni and Eve of Extinction in that I hadn’t heard of the game before randomly seeing it at a video game store. Then after playing it, the game turned out to be great. This title has a superb cinematic story with several different focuses and then a final chapter that brings all of the characters together. It’s something you don’t see too often and it works quite well here. I don’t have very many complaints at all.

In general the plot here involves the Demon King Odin who is trying to use the Cauldron for his own evil ambitions. He’s not the only one though, every faction on the planet wants this from the Underworld, to the Fairies, and even the fire demons. There are 5 main stories so you really see the POVs from just about every side. The fire team is the only one who doesn’t have a champion to represent them. Each character is ultimately fighting for different things, honor, love, revenge, etc. At the end of the day they will have to decide whether their mission is more important than saving the world as a whole. It won’t be an easy decision.

The gameplay is a 2D beat em up. An interesting angle here is that all of the levels are in the shape of a full circle. So for example if you run to the right then eventually you’ll be back where you started. Each area has a bunch of enemies to defeat or one mini boss. After beating them you can go to the next area. You have shop areas where you can buy food and other items, and then a big boss at the end. Defeating the big boss will end the chapter and move you to the next stage. If a boss is too difficult you can click to go home where you start the chapter again but you keep your EXP and items.

You’ll find yourself needing to do this quite a few times. This is one game with a heavy amount of grinding so definitely be prepared for that. This is a very hard game and the level ups are absolutely needed in order to move forward. There are two kinds of levels that you have to increase too. First is your health level and then you have your psypher level. The latter increases your attack while the health one is fairly obvious. You increase health by eating food and the psypher by absorbing energy from villains. That energy is what grows the food though so you always have to decide which area to level up.

For the final bosses you want to have each character close to level 40 in psypher and 30+ in health. You will have to use every character in the end by the way so make sure you level them up and have a lot of food before beating their story. This leads to the only annoying part which is that if you did end up beating the game with a character (And why wouldn’t you right? That’s the whole point of playing in theory) then you are penalized by being sent all the way back to the first chapter. So if you aren’t strong enough at the end then you have to beat the game again with each character. I had to go to the end with all 5 again in order to train which took a lot of time.

In the end this bumped the play time almost all the way up to 40 hours which is really long. Most of that time is earned but it did feel a bit iffy to have to replay so much of the game. They should have had a stage select or something. So if you know this ahead of time maybe you’ll at least be able to plan or something. Also, be warned that the game has multiple endings. If you beat the final chapter in the wrong order then it won’t work out and you’ll need to try all over again. It’s not as long a replay as the others but with how difficult the bosses are, it could be a bit annoying.

So in the end what this game is missing are some quick quality of life updates. With those then this game would be even better without a doubt. The graphics are really nice and fit the game’s style. Each design is memorable and the world designs are cool. I also thought the soundtrack was pretty good. You will hear a lot of the tunes repeat themselves as it isn’t a huge amount but they’re solid which is what counts. There is full voice acting here as well and a lot of cutscenes which is a winning combination here.

It’s got a true RPG plot and a lot of the characters are great. Gwendolyn and Oswald tend to steal the show here. You’ll definitely be drawn in to the story right away so no matter how hard the grinding is, you’ll want to see it through to the end. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a really fun game with a great story. The game is just very impressive and you’ll be glad that you played it.

Overall, Odin Sphere is a great game that you should check out. Just be warned that it is no walk in the park. This is a game that will test your focus and combat gameplay skills throughout the whole adventure. You won’t be able to just coast by here as you’ll die very quickly. Using your abilities at the right time and carefully approaching your opponents is absolutely crucial. Once you’ve got that down then you will really be ready. Use the first character story to get the hang of things are there are a lot more to the mechanics than what I’ve mentioned above.

Overall 8/10