Monsters, Inc. Review

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It’s time to look at a retro Pixar film. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this one, possibly even over 10 years at this point. I enjoyed the Dodgeball game that they made for the Gamecube so it was about time that I gave the film a revisit. It’s definitely aged really well and I’d consider it to be one of Pixar’s better films. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of rankings for it so I’m going to have a list near the end. I’m not sure why this film needed a prequel when a sequel makes more sense, but that’s an adventure for another time. Lets dive into the plot.

There exists a world filled with monsters who sneak into kids’ rooms at night in order to scare them. This is because their world runs on scream energy so they scare the kids and then dash back. They have to be careful because if a kid makes contact with them they will die from the poison. As such they can’t even touch anything that has been in touch with a kid. Sully is the best Monster Scarer in the business and is getting ready to break another record. The big hitch in this plan is that a kid manages to sneak out of her door and grab onto Sully. He must now find a way to return her to the human world without anyone noticing. His reputation is at stake, but he quickly finds out that kids may not be as dangerous as he was told. Will he make the right decision and help her out or follow corporate and not ask any questions?

Pixar has definitely come up with another very interesting world here. Doors that lead you to other worlds really sounds like something out of Kingdom Hearts. A whole society being born out of it is also very interesting. There’s definitely a lot you could do with the concept. If only Watermoose had adapted to the plot twist that laughter works just as well, he could have really been raking in the money. It’s sad because he seems like a decent guy for the majority of the film. I suppose they usually do seem nice at first though. He shows his true colors by the end though and the cops had the last laugh. Still a fun antagonist though and he can fight which is pretty impressive.

The writing is pretty solid for the film and that quickly makes the main characters pretty likable. Monster, Inc. has good pacing as well so it never really drags on. The film goes by in a snap with no real weak points. Even the brief Yeti part of the film had the potential to drag on, but the characters didn’t stay there for very long so I’d say that it wasn’t bad. The door hopping shenanigans at the end of the film do raise some questions though. They would jump in one door and escape through another. This is because Boo powered up all of the doors, but then can’t Randall do the same? I mean, if he is still alive anyway. If he isn’t, then there was no reason to break the door either though. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry though.

The animation is pretty consistent with Pixar’s usual style. The character designs for the monsters and the humans are classic at this point. We even get a quick fight scene which looks good even if you’ll wonder how Randall can be so much more skilled than Sully. You’d expect the main character to put up a better fight considering how much raw power he has right? I guess he just wasn’t ready for invisibility and I suppose it can take you by surprise. There isn’t much of a soundtrack here, but maybe next time.

Sully is a good main character. He never let the fame go to his head even when he was the fear champ. He looks out for his friends and while he didn’t plan for Boo to be around, he still takes her appearance in stride and then aims to protect her. He’s just a nice guy who always makes the right call. There’s nothing really bad to say about him. He has no real negative qualities unless you count his poor combat showing, but that really can’t be held against his personality.

Mike provides a nice contrast to Sully. He is interested in the records and getting onto the covers of various magazines. He has bad luck with a stamp always canceling out his face, but always looks on the bright side of things. He talks a good game and doesn’t really fear anyone. His only downside is the romance plot. It’s one of those romance plots that is rather small, but still cringe-worthy and doesn’t add anything to the film. It’s just there so the film can say that it had a romance plot, but we didn’t need one of those. Mike and Sully may bicker at times as they disagree on what to do with Boo, but at the end of the day they’ll always be friends.

Boo is the little kid who tags along with the crew and she can be rather annoying. She can’t talk and keeps on trying to get the heroes in trouble. Not a very nice thing to do if you ask me and she does seem to know what she is doing. Boo is young enough where it’s hard to pin the blame on her, but that’s why I still prefer for kids to not be main characters. She’s more of a plot device than a character here I suppose, but her only role is to make things tougher on the heroes. I’m guessing she’ll be a
better character in a sequel since she’ll be older and more experienced. At least she can fight though which is really good since self defense is a must.

While Watermoose is the head honcho of the villains, Randall is still the main antagonist. He really wants to be the scare king and will do anything to get the title. He gets rather drastic by the end and is willing to attack the heroes to get what he wants. Of course, his skills don’t matter much against full fledged adults as we see by the end of the film. He’s a solid villain who is nice to have in the film. Whether he is acting as a rival or a pure villain, he’s definitely a lot of fun. Randall is able to be charismatic while also being a threat.

There is a group of workers who try to keep the place sanitary and they are definitely some of the best characters in the film. One of them goes for a full body slam on an unsuspecting citizen. They are certainly over the top with their methods of keeping the germs at bay, but you can never be too safe. There will definitely be no contagion event in this film since they have the place under lock and key. They may not be appreciated by the monsters, but their duty and service is the only thing keeping monster world together.

All right, it’s time to take a rough look at how all the Pixar films stack up. Here we go! Cars, Cars 3, Inside Out, Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Cars 2, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Up, Ratatouille. At the very least this is how I’d rank them at the moment. There are quite a few close ones in there but there can be no ties so I had to make the tough calls. We’ll see how Toy Story ranks once I finally check that one out. I’ve heard pretty good things about that series.

Overall, Monsters, Inc. is a good film that has definitely aged well. It’s the kind of movie that has quite a lot of replay value so you could watch it multiple times because of how fast it moves. It’s just a charming film with a lot of heart and an upbeat tone all the way through. The ending gives it a nice boost as well since it’s the perfect way to wrap things up. Ending another way would have just been needlessly sad. If you haven’t seen it yet then I’d definitely recommend giving this film a whirl. It’s a fun premise and doesn’t go too far in making the monsters appear cowardly either. The writing is solid enough to keep the film balanced. Hopefully the prequel is as good although it’ll certainly be tough.

Overall 7/10

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Elevator To The Gallows Review

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It’s time to take a look at a French murder thriller. It’s pretty rare that I see a film which isn’t American or Japanese so it’s always interesting to see how everyone else handles this. It’s a fairly old film as it’s still in the black and white period so as you’d expect the writing is on point. It is partially a romance film which can be rather dramatic, but the film’s at its best when an old guy shows up to mock the teenagers and their subplot. Time to learn more about this guy.

So the film starts off with Julien and Florence recommitting their resolve to murdering her husband so Julien can be the rebound guy. He breaks in and murders the husband pretty easily, but then forgets his rope at the window ledge. He runs back after hours to get it, but as soon as he gets on the elevator the power goes out. He is now stuck with no way to get out and his only hope is that Florence will learn where he is. Meanwhile his car is stolen by Louis and Veronique as they decide to cruise around town. Unfortunately, they decide to commit murder under his name which will further complicate matters. Julien has to trick the cops into not pinning the first murder on him while also avoiding the fake charge of the second. It’s going to be a long day.

From the start the movie makes it clear that the leads are the villains so you are rooting against them. As such, it’s actually pretty satisfying when the elevator crashes and things don’t go right for Julien. He dug his own grave and now he’ll have to get used to it. There’s not much that he can do from this point so you can’t really blame him for a lack of trying. He was the most experienced and talented member of the villains so taking him out of the equation worked well for the cops. He also held up well under interrogation, but eventually he cracked from lack of sleep. The cops always get their man.

You don’t really see this form of interrogation too often, but it is quite effective as getting the suspect to concede their guilt. Physically nothing actually happens to the suspect, but he/she is kept from sleeping until the cops get the story they want. After even 1 day of this it can be tough to function so even the great Julien fell to the technique. You have to be careful about getting a false conviction like this though, but I guess the cops decided it was worth the risk. It did work out well here after all.

Florence isn’t the greatest sidekick you could ask for. She further incriminates Julien by asking around for him everywhere. She was also fooled quite easily by Louis as she thought it was Julien who sped by her. I guess the jacket trick worked, but would Julien really betray her so easily? It may be poetic since she ditched her husband and now has some paranoia that Julien would do the same thing to her. She did a reasonable job of tracking down Louis and making threats, but then she didn’t do a thorough enough job of preventing them from leaving. That’s game over.

Louis is unfortunately the worst character in the film. He is over the top with his many lies which is the only reason he and Veronique were caught. If he had played it cool or even somewhat calmly then he could have escaped. Instead he gets humiliated by a drunk, rich guy and then tries to steal his car. Not a very smart move and then shooting the couple just made an even bigger mess. He even messed up on trying to destroy himself with pills since he didn’t swallow enough of them. So much for that. You’ll be cringing whenever he is on screen. Veronique is a big improvement as she is also insane, but hides it well. She pretends not to want to go along with Louis’ plans, but always relents in the end. She just wants to keep up the appearance of being a good person even if it may not be all that accurate.

My favorite character here was actually the rich guy who kept making fun of Louis. Making fun of the teen was reason enough to like him, but we also can’t forget that this guy saw through the ruse immediately. It’s too bad he underestimated how dangerous the villains were though. The scene of him and his friend getting shot was fairly tragic and probably the saddest scene in the film. I was hoping they were going to live through this since they were a lot of fun. Maybe not too smart in how they handled this, but fun all the same.

It’s good to see the cops looking pretty good here though. They connect the dots between the crimes pretty quickly and then set their plans into motion. Once they nab the suspects it is all over for them. At first you may wonder what is taking them so long, but it’s all just because they are setting their pieces in motion. Getting all of the pieces into play so to speak. It would have been fun to have seen the Jury sentencing, but I suppose the ending gives you a clear enough idea of how it’s going to go down anyway.

The pacing is pretty good. The only plot which probably drags on more than a little bit is Florence’s section. She goes through a great number of shops looking for Julien and after a while it is really just more of the same. You get the point of her search and we know that she stayed up all night so I think a few places could have been cut. The random drunk guy and his friend didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, but maybe they were just there are red herrings or as world building. Either way, putting more screen time in the elevator plot could have been nice although I’m sure the film didn’t want to make that one feel stale. It’s a tough balancing act.

Overall, This is an interesting film. The ending is very satisfying and probably the best part. The atmosphere is pretty good, but you can’t help but feel bad for the last two victims. It’s hard to be too sympathetic to the first guy since it’s at the very beginning and he was fairly shady anyway, but the other two characters were too hype to be bumped off the way that they were. The romance is pretty bad, but that’s how it is for all rebounds and it goes without saying why Louis’plot was iffy. I’d recommend checking this film out as a retro classic. There are quite a few plot lines going through the movie and it’s nice to see how they all connect.

Overall 5/10

Serra vs Madam Mim


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Suggested by iKnowledge Madam Mim has some magic up her sleeve but as you can tell from the picture, she is quite old. Serra is a skilled fighter who can fire shockwaves and even heal herself. She would easily be able to defeat Madam Mim in both close and long range combat. This fight will be over very quickly and is a nice start for Serra. Mim is going to need a power up if she wants to compete with the younger fighters. Serra wins.

Toph vs Bumi (Earth)


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Suggested by Eric This is a pretty close battle between two Earth masters. Bumi has a lot of power and experience on his side, but Toph is quick and also has significant metal abilities. It’s a close spar, but I think Bumi’s age will seriously work against him here. He will have a tough time keeping up with Toph. Her speed would likely be the advantage that she needed in order to claim victory here. Toph wins.

Savageman vs Hagrid



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Suggested by Megapot Savageman is a very fast netnavi and one who was even able to keep up with speedy opponents like Megaman and Protoman. In his dark energy state, he received a massive power and speed boost. Hagrid won’t even have time to let out a yell or anything like that. His reaction times aren’t quick enough for him to handle such a speedy foe. Savageman wins.

Sub Zero vs Jack Frost



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Suggested by Anonymous Sub Zero and Jack Frost both specialize in ice, but Zero is able to fight from both close and long distance. Sub Zero is also more experienced in combat and has taken many foes down in his day. Jack’s ice blasts also won’t be quite as effective here. This just isn’t a fight where I think he has a great chance. Sub Zero wins.

Twilight Sparkle vs Water Horse



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Suggested by Destroyer Twilight Sparkle is quite possibly the strongest pony. She can fire giant energy blasts and has been shown to be more than capable of defending herself. The Water Horse wasn’t really able to take down a group of humans with guns. Sparkle could take down an entire army with her magical abilities. Twilight Sparkle wins.

Bloody Moon Dragon vs Tetsuya


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Suggested by Sonic Tetsuya is back and he is up against quite the dragon. Bloody Moon Dragon is huge and has a whole lot of attack power at his disposal. With this much strength it should be an easy feat for him to defeat the kid one on one. Of course, a Buddyfighter is never alone and together with his army of monsters, Tetsuya will be able to easily overwhelm this dragon. Tetsuya wins.

Superman vs Kale



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Suggested by Random Superman is a strong fighter but every year more fighters are introduced who are just stronger than he is Kale is one of those fighters and I don’t think Superman can handle her. She has a Broly esque form which grants her incredible power and speed which allows her to take down almost any for without even needing a strategy. Superman could exploit her lack of experience if he was faster or stronger but since she still outranks him in both areas I don’t see him being able to make a comeback here. It’s just a loss that he will have to roll with. Kale wins.

Black Panther Review

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It’s time to take a look at the next Marvel Cinematic film! Even though we get 2-3 of these a year, it always feels like such a long wait until the next one. This one has been a long time in the making as Black Panther got a lot of fans after his appearance in Civil War. He was definitely a highlight in that film and remains a great lead in this film. The movie does a good job of not letting the jungle limit it and we do get quite a few nice city scenes as well. All told, it’s a solid addition to the MCU and I’d be up for a sequel although I don’t think there is too much more they can do here in Wakanda so a sequel would probably need to take place at one of the other bases.

The film starts with a quick recap of Wakanda history. We then see the previous Black Panther murder a traitor which sets up the main plot. Right after Black Panther is crowned King of Wakanda, another member of royal blood has shown up to take it back. King T’Challa must now learn what it means to be King and if he even wants to rule such unloyal followers. Either way, he has a duty to stop this villain from launching an attack on the rest of the world or Wakanda will face severe retaliation of the Avenging kind.

I had one big fear when walking into this film and that was that the movie would resort to animal violence since part of Wakanda is essentially a jungle. Then just when I thought I was safe, 3 large Rhinos showed up. Fortunately the film went out of its way to ensure that none of them were hurt. Panther trapped one, a second just ran off, and the third one turned good. Once this scene had been played out, I knew that the film was going to be safe. We also mitigate the jungle aspect as most of Wakanda is actually very high tech and sci-fi esque. I definitely enjoy seeing technology and cities the most so this was good for me. I’m still not a fan of any landscape that isn’t a city of some kind or the inside of a high tech facility. Those just make for the best scenes if you ask me.

The best scenes of the film all take place in the city for the most part. The opening fight scene with Klaw and his gang was handled really well. Panther’s new suit made for some good action effects like when he totaled the car. The old suit was bullet proof which is great, but this one does all of that and more. While the suit is shown to have limitations, this should help him keep up with heavy weights like Spider-Man now. In theory, Captain America would probably lose at this point since their fight was already very close and now landing any damage on Black Panther will be very difficult. It’s a really useful power up and with all of the new tech Panther’s sister is coming up with, he is only going to get stronger.

Pretty much all of the hand to hand fights here are really good. The scene where both Panthers are decimating the opposing armies was a nice contrast as they are both way stronger than the rest of the fighters. Of course, that’s why Black Panther needed to hurry and take the other one out since casualties would run high. Even with this, the film does a good job of making the warriors look reasonably strong. I’d personally say that they looked more impressive than the Amazons in Wonder Woman as these seem to know how to fight and wouldn’t get caught off guard by bullets from people right in front of them. The film also corrects one more thing from the WW film. In that title we learn that the Amazons are also hiding in plain sight by having their island just appear as more water. This doesn’t work for obvious reasons. People just fly through there anyway and then the illusion fades. They would get found out in no time. In Black Panther, the illusion is backed up by being an actual country with borders. They have soldiers and weapons deter anyone from approaching. The deception is simply in appearing to be poorer than they actually are. Maybe this will still be a bit of a stretch for some, but it’s much more believable if you ask me.

Black Panther is a very solid character as I mentioned earlier. While his best appearance will likely always be in Civil War as his character was perfect there, he doesn’t really do anything wrong here. Maybe he should have been quicker to throw the villain out or done more to prevent Klaw from escaping, but you can’t expect him to think of every possible contingency. Thanks to the ritual fights forcing Panther to be in human mode, we do see a more vulnerable version of him. His hand to hand skills actually may be under Bucky, Black Widow, and some of the other hand to hand characters in the series as he has trouble with various fighters, but granted, he should always have the Panther serum for future films so it shouldn’t be a problem. He’s still more than proficient as only high level fighters can hope to defeat him. He may be King, but Panther isn’t stuck up or arrogant yet which is good. Part of why he can be annoying in the comics is that he ends up being like Black Bolt at times where he seems completely corrupt with power. I don’t think the films will be going that route.

Ross is a surprisingly great character and was actually my favorite in the film. He’s a very confident CIA agent who doesn’t back down from anyone. His illegal dealings with Klaw may be suspect, but I get the feeling that he was going to double cross the villain. He’s quick on his feet and an ace pilot as well. He’ll certainly be fun to have around for future films and I’m glad that the CIA has at least one really good member. It seems like they’ve been playing second fiddle to SHIELD for a while so it’s time to finally surpass them. Ross doesn’t really have any bad scenes. Another really good character is Panther’s sister Shuri. She recently got to appear in an animated Avengers episode and based on her portrayal there the film’s depiction was also very accurate. She’s a genius with tech and has come up with many great inventions in a short span of time considering that this takes place only around a week after Civil War. Considering that a big threat like Thanos and his army won’t go down to brute force so easily, her tech will come in handy. She’s not afraid to get on the front lines as well and is just a very charismatic character the whole time.

Killmonger is the main villain of the film and he’s pretty cool. Even before becoming the Panther Killmonger was a very talented fighter as he racked up kills in many different countries. It was interesting to see how he was an undercover agent for the CIA who managed to use the heroes and villains until he finally got into Wakanda. To an extent I do have to question how he knew so much about Wakanda though. He knew about the traditions and seemed just very well aware of the culture in general. We can assume he found the location from the book and since his father was okay with him finding it, maybe that’s when he learned everything. Maybe the book was also just very detailed. Getting Klaw was easy enough since it was relatively common knowledge that he was the one who broke into Wakanda the first time. Killmonger does continue the Marvel tradition of having a villain who has the same abilities as the main hero as he and T’Challa are essentially copies of each other, but that doesn’t really matter to me all that much as long as the fights are good and they were here.

I didn’t care for Klaw though. He’s just not my kind of villain and seems to just get lucky all the time. He’s just a normal guy with a sonic cannon and he isn’t even all that fit. I don’t know how he escaped for this long, but it definitely seems like a stretch. He’s wanted by basically every powerful person on the planet so where can he possibly hide? Well, his plot seems to have finally wrapped up here and I won’t miss him. Okoye was a good member of the Wakanda special forces and is certainly one of their best fighters. Her best combat appearance is probably in the club where she beats up quite a few special agents, but she also puts up a reasonable fight against Killmonger. At that point, tech just beats talent, but otherwise I don’t see any Wakandan fighter beating her in a fair battle.

W’Kabi is a pretty terrible character. I can’t say much about him, but you’ll probably know where his character is heading right from the start. It’s similar to a character beat we saw from Doctor Strange only this one is probably more petty. There’s definitely no saving this character. Nakia is a decent character. She doesn’t get much to do and is overshadowed by the others, but isn’t bad. I do wish we could have avoided the token romance which doesn’t add anything to the film and just seems to be filler, but I guess it wasn’t given much of a focus so it could have been a whole lot worse. Nakia’s Tron Discs were cool though. Between that and the Energy Cannons, we had quite a lot of good weapons that have a lot of potential for future films. She just need a hoverboard or air boots to help her maneuver quicker. Baku’s a fun character s well. He definitely has a strong sense of honor and will repay his debts. When he accepted his defeat gracefully without trying any cheap tricks I had a feeling that he would be a good character. He also has a point that Killmonger beat Black Panther in a fair fight so calling it murder was a little drastic. Blame the outdated ritual system, not the player. Baku made the right decision in the end though and really came through for the heroes.

It can be hard to feel bad for Wakanda when they have such poor traditions though. Why should Black Panther have to fight to be king anyway? I guess it’s to give the other tribes a way to be King, but since it will just cause tensions and potentially get them to split again it doesn’t really seem to be practical. I’m pretty sure T’Challa learned his lesson with that though and probably abolished that rule very quickly. Also, the fact that it’s possible to suffocate underneath the dirt they throw on your for the ceremony is another part where you have to shake your head. What’s with all of these unnecessary risks? Killmonger may not have done it for the right reasons, but at least thanks to him these traditions are probably gone as well. On a side note, I was wondering where Bucky and Captain America were hiding the whole time, but I guess getting involved in this fight would have just made things more complicated. Panther could have certainly used some backup, but it all worked out.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack here. I didn’t care much for the Lion King themes or the tribe tradition music, but a lot of the tunes were surprisingly techno/electronic. It seems like this theme would pop up whenever the villain showed up and basically for any action scene. Good music makes the whole presentation that much better and it definitely worked really well here. I’d say that as far as MCU soundtracks go this would definitely be in the top half. The visuals are also really good. I do like the purple energy that the suit gets from taking a hit and the metallic invention room that the sister uses looks cool. It’s a pretty nice set up for sure. The writing is also solid as you’d expect. The one liners between the characters are usually pretty solid. Killmonger adding a more modern/slang spin to Wakanda was also rather nice. He acts as a bridge between the new and old ways to an extent.

The film does have some of the weakest after credit scenes though. The first one just feels like it should have been the actual ending. It’s not really teasing a lot considering you knew this was where Panther was going with the idea. It’s not a bad scene, but it’s not really much of a stinger either. The second scene is far worse as it is showing us something that we’ve already known. It isn’t even a good character that we see and is just rather boring. You could feel the theater letting out a sigh as we waited for something else to show up and then the clip ended. These scenes are just bonus so they can’t hurt a film at all, but I was still hoping for something a little more hype.

So where do all of the Avengers stack up power-wise now? I’d list the rankings as 1. Thor 2. Hulk 3. Dr. Strange 4. Spider-Man 5. Iron Man 6. Vision 7. Black Panther 8. Captain America 9. Scarlet Witch 10. Black Widow 11. Ant Man 12. Hawkeye. For now I’m not counting the Guardians or the helpers like War Machine and Valkyrie, but I’ll do a more complete list for Infinity War. The suit was definitely enough for Panther to finally pass Cap. Strange could potentially pass Hulk depending on how powerful his magic is in Infinity War and by the same token Vision could drop behind Panther and Cap if he looks really bad without his Gem. Some of these matchups are pretty close so a power up can make all the difference.

Overall, Black Panther is a fun and engaging film. It’s pretty fast paced for the most part so it comes across as very exciting the first time around. I do think it will lack in replay value to an extent because some of the dialogue will likely drag on the second time around along with the flashbacks. When the action is happening the film is at its best but we do get some reasonably long breaks in between the action like getting Panther back into fighting shape and having the council of Wakanda chat about things. The writing is strong though and the cast is good though so it’s certainly a movie that I’d recommend to everyone. It’s good to see another Marvel hero get a stand alone film and we are one step closer to Avengers Infinity War now. I have high hopes for that film and am fully expecting it to be one of the best MCU films yet. There are just so many good ways that the film can play this out that I have to assume they will choose one of them. It’ll be cool to see Panther lend his might to the team as well. Only a few short months left.

Overall 7/10