Superman Secret Identity Review

It’s time to look at another Elseworlds Superman story. I believe Elseworlds refers to any alternate Superman story, but if that’s not true then you know what I mean. This one’s more of a character story so it deals with the Clark Kent aspect of Superman more than the classic hero form. It’s a fun enough story although this is definitely one of the less likable versions of Superman. Time to see how the hero would operate in a more realistic Earth where he is one of the only heroes…or as far as he knows. There is lightly hinted to be a bunch of other superheroes operating, but we don’t get to see them.

Clark Kent has been teased a lot because his parents named him that after the classic comic book character. Clark’s never liked the fact that people keep calling him Superman and then he also gets bullied at school. Luckily, this all changes when he discovers that he actually does have Superman’s powers. It is to a lesser degree as he can still be injured and being near the Sun doesn’t recharge his abilities. Still, it’s more than enough for him to be a hero, but what he really wants is to just lead a normal life with Lois while stopping some crimes as well. Can he achieve this perfect balance when the government is constantly at his heels?

The concept of having Superman in a normal world is always interesting. He would certainly be even more of a threat in the eyes of the government since there really wouldn’t be much that they could do to him at that point. Malloy is the main figure head for the government and he is actually pretty likable. He does his job quite well and really hounds Superman. Even after the two of them reach a mutual understanding where Superman will help him out in any tricky situations in exchange for the government stopping all efforts to find out Superman’s true identity, Malloy continues to mildly try from time to time. Eventually, both of them grow quite old and we even see Malloy retire. The mutual respect between the two was handled well and government agents don’t always have to be completely unreasonable stereotypes. Malloy was certainly much more realistic. Of course, it did help that Superman proved how easily it would be for him to take them all down if he was evil.

I did mention that I didn’t care all that much for Superman here. Well, that’s because the comic went a little too far to make him realistic. After all, this version is aware of his comic counterparts and as such, his personality is quite different. He tends to get angry with everyone a lot easier when they compare him to Superman and loses his cool at his colleagues as well when they make a few small jokes about it. Obviously, they shouldn’t overdo it since Superman doesn’t like that, but he didn’t really handle the situation well. He also started properly using his X-Ray vision after realizing that it would probably be harmful to other people, but I would have hoped that his morals would stop him from even attempting that in the first place. Likewise, the story of his Mom walking in on him in a dicey situation was also rather unnecessary. Beyond that, Superman was all right for the most part in his portrayal as just an average guy, but Superman should never be an ordinary person. He should always be a beacon of hope, a guy with absolute morals. This is not meant to be the real Superman of course, but that’s why he isn’t as likable as he could be.

Lois is also not as good as her comic counterpart of course, but she’s all right. She helps Superman through a lot of his decisions and overlooks the fact that he cracks a lot. She’s dependable and helps him solve all of his problems. Without Lois at his side, things probably would have been pretty dicey for him. Their two kids also get a small role towards the very end of the comic. There wasn’t much of a point to adding them, but since the comic showed Superman’s development from kid to old man, I suppose it was a good way of showing how much time has passed. Since they have powers of their own, he won’t have to worry about them too much.

The comic’s biggest flaw was probably the art. I definitely didn’t like it as it went for a gritty, indie-esque style. There were no flashy colors or awesome double spreads and instead it was just all darkly colored. The style didn’t work so well for the comic. There weren’t any real fight scenes so the art didn’t have to worry about that, but better art could definitely go a long way. The New 52 look may have shifted the tone a little, but it’d be worth it for the incredible character designs.

Still, the plot is more important in this case and the story was interesting. I ended up reading the full trade paperback in one batch since it was a lot of fun to read through. I won’t call it a great comic, but it was a pretty good one and makes for a good read. It’s always nice to read about the various portrayals of Superman and aside from the evil versions which I’m tired of, most of them tend to be quite good. Even if the character himself was lacking, the world around him was interesting. The government stole the show here although it was a shame that aside from Malloy, they were all a little shady and without morals.

Even the TV reporter who pretended to be a nice person turned out to be just another villain by the end. It’s easy to see why Superman doesn’t trust anyone with his secret identity aside from Lois. Meanwhile, he got to end his school days on a high note as he saved one of his classmates which earned him respect from the rest of the class. Even the bully complimented Clark and stopped messing with him after that. It’s always nice to see the bully finally stop once his victim has actually helped him out. Of course, it’s just as satisfying to see the bully get knocked out since it will encourage him not to be a bully at all, but we can always say that this bully stopped permanently after the experience.

While there were no fights, we did get a few action scenes. The big fire next to the school is one example of this and Superman also fell into a government trap a few times which resulted in some energy blasts and buildings breaking. Superman never goes down without a fight after all and you have to give the government some credit for having such large armaments at the ready. If nothing else, America is certainly prepared for any situation.

Overall, Superman Secret Identity is definitely a good comic to check out if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to wake up with Superman’s powers someday. It would mean that you would have a super life with two kids, a wife, and constant thrills by flying around all day. You could eat whatever you wanted whenever you wanted too since you could zoom over to Italy and buy a Deep Dish pizza before zooming to France and grabbing a Pepsi…because why not? The government would be after you, but as long as you weren’t too obvious you would probably be okay. I’m sure we’ve all thought about having Superman’s powers and I don’t even know what I’d do with them first. The possibilities are endless, but one thing’s for sure, I’d be going around the world trying out every limited edition snack that I could find. My super metabolism would prevent me from ever gaining any weight while still enjoying all of the flavors. That’s why the concept behind the story is so good and why it doesn’t work as well for Batman comics like Year One. I’ve never been tempted to wake up as a normal guy in a Bat costume. The gadgets are handy I guess, but not really for everyday life. I wouldn’t mind suddenly being a hand to hand master though.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon Hoopa and the Clash of Ages Review

Considering that the Pokemon anime messed up big time and probably lost a lot of viewers, it is nice to go back to before that time and remember the more innocent days. This film is fairly recent so it isn’t that far back, but it still counts. The movie was fun although I didn’t care for Hoopa’s true form and didn’t like how they overhyped him the whole time. The manga does a great job of fixing that up although it feels super small, even for a one volume one shot. The whole film is being played on fast forward mode and the manga diverges a little bit for fun. It’s a fun little read.

Ash and friends are enjoying some donuts when Ash is thrown into a portal. He meets up with Hoopa and two guardians who have decided that it is time to bring him back to full power. Unfortunately, this causes Hoopa’s true form to go on a rampage as he starts to blow everything up and summons 6 Legendary Pokemon to defend himself. Ash grabs Pikachu and prepares for the fight of his life. He is aided by 3 Legendary Pokemon as well so now he is ready. Can Ash prove that he is the true Pokemon Master and take these clowns down? Time to find out!

One thing that this abridged version makes very clear is that the plot gets a little repetitive. Hoopa’s jar is broken so he turns evil at the very beginning of the volume, but the heroes quickly turn him back to normal. That’s good…but only a few pages later we see Meowth grab the jar and unleash Hoopa once again. In the film, there was a decent amount of fluff so this didn’t happen immediately, but the manga depicts just how quickly these two identical events occurred. It did help us get to the climax very quickly though so that’s always fun.

The original characters from the film were okay, but mostly just generic here. The two protectors remember happier times with Hoopa and one of them gets to help out a little during the climax, but that’s about it. In the end, it really came down to Ash and his friends to save the day as you may have expected. Hoopa wasn’t quite as charismatic as in the film, but he is still a decent Legendary. I still don’t like the Unbound form though. At least he makes for a good villain. I was also glad that the manga fixed some of my issues from the film regarding his power level. He was definitely very overhyped there, but in the manga version we see that Lugia was wrecking him. Had the fight continued on, I’m confident that Lugia would have won here. He had Hoopa on the defensive right from the start.

The 6 vs 3 fight of the Legendaries was also handled a lot better than in the anime. Who hasn’t wanted to see Rayquaza take on heavy weights like Dialga? I do think that the 6 evil Pokemon would have won in the end since the numbers advantage is important and Latias is fairly weak, but it would have been a good fight. Ash was around as well so his Pikachu can really tip the scales. I was satisfied with Ash’s portrayal here. He was eager to help Hoopa out and didn’t back down from a fight. He was even willing to get zapped by Pikachu in order to save the day. His friends felt forced in though and the classic “The future is now!” saying felt a little tacked on as well since it was a really odd way to start the sentence. Ah well, Ash will get new friends soon.

Now, the writing for the manga could be a little odd at times. At one point, Hoopa asked Ash what he would wish for so he could thank Ash. Ash responded with his wish to become a Pokemon Master, but after Hoopa offered to grant this to him, he quickly backpedaled and said that it couldn’t be done. He could have given Hoopa an actual wish or simply declined as he did in the movie. Another moment was when Hoopa told his Unbound version something. I’m going to quote the dialogue word for word so here goes.

Unbound- “You disappear…I am Hoopa. I will be…the one…who remains!” Hoopa- “Ashkan said…he wanted to help you too. I’ll tell you everything about me. So please…..calm down and listen…They’re all waiting for you….You and I should become one again. Hee hee, Surprised? You can have fun with them too!” Then Unbound turns good and the two of them merge. Not only did this conversation use the classic three dots…too often, but it didn’t make much sense. Hoopa said that he would tell Unbound all about himself, but then he didn’t. The conversation didn’t actually go anywhere. Maybe it was a bad translation or something, but the dialogue throughout the manga isn’t great. The other lines aren’t quite that bad at least, but it definitely is something.

The art is very clear at least. It’s not great art or anything as it stays very basic to make it look appealing. It’s good for kids since they can easily understand what is happening and I’ll definitely take this over vague artwork that you see from time to time, but it still didn’t feel really high quality. A good example of a great take on simple art is Bleach. That series got it down to a T.

Overall, This was a bit of a short review, but there isn’t a lot to say about this manga. It did a good job of covering the events from the film, but it probably should have been a little longer as everything was really glossed over. I am glad that the 6 vs 3 fight was extended a little though and it definitely shows that the author had his priorities straight. These one shot adventures are always fun and a great way for Pokemon fans to experience the movies in case they don’t have the opportunity to watch them. It’s a good adventure and while it is not great, you’ll have fun reading it. Even if you’ve never watched Pokemon before, this makes for a good story. After all, you won’t need any previous context to understand what is happening since it is all self contained.

Overall 7/10

My Hero Academia Smash

This is a little spinoff to the main series. It very lightly retells the story’s events as a 4 koma comedy title. As with most titles of this kind of series, the jokes can get old rather quickly so there isn’t much of a future for it. It’s not all that bad though, but there isn’t much of a reason to read it. I’ll review the series when I finish it.

Overall 4/10

Zootopia Review

Lately, the theatrical animated films have been pretty solid. Big Hero 6, Frozen, and more gems have been popping up. Zootopia is another good addition to these ranks and it is actually more fun than those. It’s hard to call it a better film as I’ve still always thought of Frozen as being better, but it is getting a higher score so maybe it just is better and I’m finally realizing that. It’s all subject to change of course, but as of now things are looking good for Zootopia.

Judy is a bunny who wants to be a cop, but everyone has always doubted her skills because she is so small compared to the rest of the cadets. Society feels like she is ill equipped for the task and her parents agree as they try to get her to settle for something a little safer. Judy decides that she still wants to go after her dreams though and heads to the big city. She is just in time for a new conspiracy as the meat eaters have suddenly started going back to their primal roots. Her partner is a fox and this causes a rift between them. Can Judy find out who is framing these animals or is it really their DNA just running wild? Only she can crack the case!

Zootopia deals with a lot of themes about defying society’s expectations and not letting it limit you. People can try to tell you what you can or can’t do based on their judgments on your abilities, but if you work hard you will often find that you are better equipped to handle the situation than you may have thought. It’s all about determination and trying your best. It also shows why you shouldn’t use first impressions and hearsay to judge people. The residents of Zootopia heavily believe in stereotypes which causes a lot of friction in the city. Judy does her best to break those boundries and it is something that the real world still has a lot of trouble with as well. The message is handled well here even if there is one subplot that doesn’t make a lot of sense. More on that in a little bit.

Judy is a great main character and there are really no flaws to be found with her. She stands up to the bullies even if she doesn’t always wins and does her best to be a great cop. She leaps at the chance to help crack the case and rarely lets herself get down. I liked how tough she was and how she was able to talk back to Nick a lot of the time. He’s a fast talker who uses her naivete against her, but Judy’s very intelligent and quickly learns how to counter such word play. One of the better scenes was when she threw the recorder over a fence to trick Nick into following it as she took a short cut. Moments like that helped to add an extra layer to her character. She’s a nice person, but also knows how to realistically deal with the shadier element. Her good deeds also come back to help her out at the end like her partnership with the gang boss.

Nick’s a great sidekick to have and I’d actually say that he is even better than Judy. Judy is excellent as I just pointed out, but Nick’s just as great. I love his personality as he is very snappy and has a fast method of speaking that allows him to make a lot of good points and solid burns. He had to grow up with his share of difficulties as well and responded to them by creating this tough exterior. When he sees how Judy treats him like an equal and isn’t afraid despite him being a fox, they quickly become close friends. They make a good team due to how different they are and their strengths compliment each other. All good buddy cop films need to have two good main characters and Nick completes the puzzle here. He’s not quite as super heroic as Judy, but you can count on him in a pinch.

All right, it’s time to mention the subplot that was a little forced and came out of nowhere. After a few meat eaters start turning violent, the media asks Judy for a statement on the matter. She then starts to talk about how it may be in their DNA and they are just turning savage because they can’t help it. She was simply parroting what she had heard from others and it was meant to look like she just didn’t know any better, but I can’t buy that. While she may have been a little naive, she was very intelligent as well and part of her whole character arc was how she was standing against these stereotypes. From the start she had been defying them even though everyone tried to push this onto her. This complete character reversal was out of character and only existed so that she could have a disagreement with Nick. Considering how quickly the two of them became partners again, I think the film could have just completely skipped this. It was essentially filler and the quick time skip along with Judy recovering to the farm could have been cut out as well.

Of course, having a good supporting cast is important for a film as well. Zootopia’s got you covered on that account. Judy’s parents were both fairly charismatic and fun to have around. They meant well, but kept making the situation a lot worse anyway by doubting Judy’s skills and trying to get her to just be a normal farmer. Their scenes were all pretty rich. Chief Bogo was only all right though. As with the Mayor, he felt a little too antagonistic for me to buy them acting a little more noble at the end. They certainly enjoy being in positions of power, but haven’t really earned it. The Mayor was better than Bogo though as he was more over the top and at least leapt into his role as a villain with open arms.

Dawn was certainly handy to have around as she did her best to help Judy out whenever the character was in a pinch. She gets pushed around by the Mayor quite a bit, but doesn’t let it get her down. Nothing gets her down as she always has a plan in mind. She’s a fairly deep character whose goals and motivations make sense. While his role is not quite as big, Flash was also a scene stealer. He is a sloth who works at a job involving a lot of typing so you can imagine how long that will take. The film does a good job of making him comically slow while not overplaying the joke. It happens just enough to stay funny while milking the joke as much as possible. The final scene with Flash was the perfect way to end it as well. A sequel would need to be careful not to overuse him, but with moderation, he is definitely a must have!

Mr. Big was a fun gangster to have as well. The trope of the big villain actually being tiny is a bit overused, but he was a decent villain to have. He certainly has loyalty for his friends with is good and he was also pretty crucial by the end. Most of the characters had their roles to play by the end and the film did a really good job of balancing this all together.

Zootopia never drags and it is a lot of fun from start to finish. The fundamentals are strong throughout and that’s what really makes a good film. The writing is definitely on point and it has to be to make a film like this one really good. Bad writing would completely shred it since the whole film revolves around that. There isn’t much of a soundtrack unfortunately, but I guess that would have been a little too good to be true. There are a few action scenes even if there are no real fights though. Graphically, the film looks pretty solid as well. The animation isn’t at Yugioh/general anime levels quite yet, but the character models are clear and the screen is never blurry. You can always tell what is happening and you wouldn’t mistake this for a really old film.

For a sequel, I definitely think I’d rather not have humans get involved. They would just seem really out of place if you ask me and it could destroy the nice balance that the film has had. I’m sure that the film would handle it as well as possible, but I’d rather stick to the flying animals potential plot or water animals getting to the forefront. Keeping Zootopia as an animals only zone just seems like the right move if you ask me. The film’s positive reputation is definitely well earned and I’m glad that it did so well int he box office. Hopefully Disney’s animated films can keep up this high level of quality. With other animated rivals like Incredibles 2 coming out soon as well, this is a good time for fans of American animation.

Overall, Zootopia is definitely a film that I recommend. It’s a blast and was just a lot of fun to watch. It’ll fly by as you watch it and there aren’t any real big negatives to be found here. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the characters like the Chief of Police or the front desk clerk, but most of the cast as solid. It definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite American Theatrically released animated non superhero movies out there. I’ll probably be watching Finding Nemo 2 at some point in the not so far future so you can bet that I’ll be comparing these two a bit. (Talking animals and all) The deck is stacked against Nemo, but you can never count that series out!

Overall 8/10

Clare vs Bass

Clare may have won her first round, but now she is up against the incredible power of Bass. Bass is no stranger to sword combat either, but he also has his speed and durability to help him out here. It will be tough for Clare to even land a single hit thanks to the difference in their abilities. Clare is strong, but no one is strong enough to stop Bass. Bass wins.

Clare vs Rose Hathaway

Requested by JHG It is a double debut in this round as these two fighters join the fray. Clare is a very powerful swordfighter who has a great amount of speed and strength. Her 7 years of training were certainly worth it as her power level jumped up. Rose Hathaway is also fairly skilled as she possesses a degree of super speed and strength. Unfortunately, her abilities are only superhuman and as a result, they are significantly under Clare’s abilities. Clare simply outranks her at the moment. Clare wins.

Mata Nui vs Ego

Requested by Destroz I was never all that impressed by Ego. Technically he is super strong since he is planet sized and has a lot of resources at his disposal. I just find him to be rather slow and defenseless against enemy attack. Mata Nui can sit back and fire his lasers. He will have to dodge Ego’s strikes a little in the meantime, but it shouldn’t be all that difficult for him. This should be a close match since it will take many blows to stop Ego, but it can and will be done. Mata Nui wins.

Curucu Beast of the Amazon Review

This film makes you feel pretty sad after watching it. There’s simply not much that this film was able to accomplish except leaving you with an empty void. The title wasn’t all that promising anyway, but I like to think that any film with the subtitle “Beast of the Amazon” has got to be pretty hype. It makes you think of Godzilla or some other giant monster. Curucu doesn’t sound all that intimidating though so that might have been a bit of a mistake if we’re being honest here. While it’s certainly not as bad as Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark, it’s on that level.

Rock is your average explorer guy who goes around trying to have fun. He hears that a giant monster has been scaring away Indians and now they are considering a return to their old way of life. They’ll move back to their old homes and they will stop adapting to the modern world. Rock can’t have that since he wants to be rich and famous so he agrees to go over there and beat up the monster. Andrea beats him to the punch though so he ends up being her assistant and a friendly Indian by the name of Tumpanico comes along as well in the form of a guide. The three characters prepare themselves for this tricky journey.

So, where to start on how this film turned into a train wreck? Well, there is one aspect that stands out above the rest. The random animal violence doomed this film to mediocrity at best. There are quite a few scenes where we will randomly see an animal destroy another one and the scenes have no rhyme or reason to them. The director was likely trying to buy some time since the film doesn’t have much of a plot, but that’s one of the worst ways that you can pass the time. It is simply not worth it. I think the film could have managed to grab a 3 or maybe a 4 if it was super lucky, but that certainly wasn’t going to happen now. The 4 was a long shot anyway.

The writing is also pretty bad as it tries to bring us all of the really outdated Indian stereotypes that we have grown out of. They all act very barbaric and unintelligent. One of them gropes the main heroine for no reason which was definitely a terrible scene. We also get a pair of scenes where Rock walks up to the Indians and starts punching one of them. The guy was trying to encourage the Indians to run away and Rock couldn’t have that. The Indian doesn’t put up much of a fight and then the story starts to move again. There was no point to either one of these scuffles.

There is another issue with the film that ultimately haunts it just about as much as these other problems. This one’s a spoiler so I recommend skipping this paragraph unless you want to know about it. Are you ready? Prepare yourself! The monster isn’t real. It is just Tumpanico putting on a costume and murdering his fellow Indians to convince them to run away. It explains why it took him so many tries to destroy a lady even when he had the element of surprise and she had her hands full carrying a pot of water. It’s a pretty cheap twist though and you have to ask yourself why he would even wear the costume? It seems like this is a rather terrible way to achieve his vision and not the most effective method either. The monster suit looked decently cool, but we came here to watch a monster, not a guy playing dress up.

As the main character, Rock isn’t any good either. He’s the kind of guy who flirts with everyone and will then flirt with another character while the heroine is still around. Unfortunately, she falls for him anyway, which is quite sad. We even get some scenes with the two of them eating really gross meals including insects, dirt, and “anything that moves” according to the Rock. It makes for some really tragic scenes and Rock doesn’t do anything to show that he could be even a slightly cool character. As it stands, he just brings the rest of the film down with him. He sets the bar low and the film responds by lowering it further. There’s not much to say about Andrea. She allows herself to simply be the trophy for Rock by the end and she negates all of her tough talk by constantly panicking and fainting. I’m waiting for her to actually get tough in the sequel, but luckily we never got another movie to continue this.

The film isn’t long by any means and that is a good thing. It never actually drags on, but the whole thing is just very pointless, which is just as bad. The characters always act scared of the Indians, but play along anyway. It’s clear that Rock only sees them as brutes, but the film only serves to strengthen the notion that he is right, rather than clearing it up. We are even told that the main villain is a Christian although he may have just been humoring the pastor who was there. The pastor didn’t seem all that nice though and it wasn’t a very flattering representation of the religion by this guy. Of course, some people’s definition of Christianity was quite warped back in the day. There were certainly a lot of fakes and posers back then.

The film’s best chance would have been to have stayed in the city instead of going to the jungle. Seeing the other businessmen talk a good game along with the Rock would have been a more entertaining film. Just watching all of the bluster and posturing could have made for a decently good game of mental chess. It wouldn’t have gone anywhere since you need actual writing to have a good strategic match of wits, but it would be a start and still beats the alternative. Better yet, have an actual Kaiju show up with a chessboard. It would definitely be original!

Overall, The only saving grace of the film is the fact that it is barely an hour. You can watch it while eating supper and then quickly try to forget about it. Of course, the most effective course of action is to simply not watch it in the first place. If you want to watch a monster film, just watch one that actually has a monster. Godzilla, Gamera, Beast From 20000 Fathoms, or something like that. Those films stay classy and provide you with a good story. This one just reminds you that a bad plot twist can only make a bad film even worse. Double negatives don’t suddenly turn into positives when it comes to films. The animal violence still boggles my mind though. Why would the film do such a thing? Whyyyyyyyyyyy!

Overall 1/10

Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark Review

Disclaimer: This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be read as such. A review of the unedited version would likely be even more negative.
It’s time for another horror film. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fare any better than the average one. The film may not be afraid of the dark, but it’s also not afraid to step into every possible cliche. There is nothing original or even semi interesting to be found here. Even the villains are very weak and unimpressive. Add in the fact that all of the characters are annoying and you’ve got the makings of a very sad film on your hands. It’s not the worst horror film by any means, but even for a horror title…it’s one of the weaker ones. The film is right about one thing though…the fear is not made up. You definitely feel fear for your attention span while trying to watch this film!

Alex and Kim have finally nabbed a large house. As interior decorators, they know how to make the place look attractive and the money can start rolling in. Unfortunately, Sally is staying over for the weekend and won’t be leaving anytime soon. It seems to be related to custody issues and now Alex has his daughter back. She doesn’t like Kim at all though and decides from the get go that they won’t be friends. Tensions continue to rise when Gremlins start to frame Sally for many tricky situations like all of Kim’s clothes being torn up. Can Sally hope to stop these little monsters or will they continue to pull pranks and eat people?

The Gremlins are tiny though and they are very weak when it comes to durability. Stepping on one of them is enough to end the fight as shown a few times. A kid can beat them so that kind of destroys the scare factor. They simply aren’t interesting villains either way though. Even if they were physically tougher, the design doomed them to 2nd string status for good. I can’t say that I’m surprised though.

Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark started off on a terrible note right from the get go as we see an old man destroy a maid and then give her to the Gremlins. They decide that the sacrifice isn’t enough though and destroy the old man next. The segment is so terrible and needlessly violent that a 2 was as high as the film was going to get by that point. No need to make it so dark as to have the Gremlins eat teeth, they could have settled for soul snatching or something like that.

The action scenes are all pretty terrible in the film as well. Since the Gremlins can’t fight, they have to grab scissors and other blunt objects to attack with while Sally uses her Camera to retaliate. Watching Alex also lose to the Gremlins was pretty sad. For a horror film, there surprisingly aren’t many “scare” scenes, but I suppose they were hoping that seeing the Gremlins was enough to achieve that effect. They certainly did do a number on the local Gardner who tried to hide the secret of the Gremlins. Why was he hiding them? I dunno, seems like a terrible move on his part since he could have helped to avoid the whole situation.

The ending is also pretty terrible. Kim decides to help Sally out and fights the Gremlins while Alex gets knocked out again. They eventually overpower her and throw her to the underworld where they are. Alex watches and then decides that he won’t risk his life to save hers. I mean, they were a couple and you’d think that risking his life for her is something that he’d do without a second thought, but clearly Alex wasn’t quite that brave. He was already a very unlikable character, but that didn’t help matters. As for the film ending on that really tragic and sad note…it didn’t help the film’s case either.

We’re already discussed how Alex was unlikable. He kept putting the job ahead of his kid. Sally was also on the annoying side since she had a sour attitude from the start and it is part of the reason why Alex doesn’t believe her when she denies being responsible for the mayhem that the Gremlins start. Kim’s really the only reasonable character here as she tries to get along with Sally, but she also didn’t help the situation too much at times. Considering that the place isn’t soundproof and Sally is right next door, she should have probably held off on the “fun times” with Alex for a little while. That’s not going to win her any brownie points with Sally.

Even once Kim realized that the Gremlins were real, she sure took her time doing anything about it. At least she finally began to pack, but still left Sally by herself for a while. Not a good move since Sally was the main target the entire time. No reason why Sally can’t just follow Kim around right? They still may not have been able to defeat the Gremlins since they kept making rookie mistakes, but their odds would be better. Just don’t go to their home base where they have extra power….it wasn’t a wise move. Of course, they were dragged there, but it just goes to show that numbers are important. If only they could have convinced the guests to help out, but the Gremlins know better than to show themselves while the guests are there right?

Well…they actually didn’t care. They attacked even with the guests present, but somehow they weren’t spotted. These Gremlins certainly weren’t the smartest villains out there, but I guess they got the job done anyhow. There isn’t really a soundtrack here although the opening credits theme wasn’t bad. Having one decent tune is actually more than I would expect from this title. Nothing else stands out about the film when it comes to the technical aspects.

Overall, Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark is your average horror film. It grabs all of the cliches like evil old men, random bath scenes, fanservice, terrible jump scares, excessive violence, sad ending, and throws them all together without any real subtlety. The characters make all of the wrong decisions like you would expect and the cast is fairly unlikable. Kim was the only decent character and she’s still not great by any means. In case it wasn’t too clear from the review, I heavily recommend avoiding this film. There’s nothing to be gained from watching this title and even among horror films, it is simply terrible. If it ever gets a sequel or a remake, my advice would be to make it 20 minutes long and see if the writers can use that as an excuse to cut out all of the sad cliches. The shorter the better is always my recommendation for horror movies.

Overall 1/10

Little Battlers Experience W Review

It’s been a while since I reviewed the first series. I actually finished this one a while back and am getting closer to finishing the third series which is why I needed to get this one out. The first LBX series was a lot of fun and a great series all around. The characters were solid and we got a lot of great fights. W ups the game to another level and I don’t see any other LBX season defeating it. Wars has the best plot, but W has the best action scenes and the power levels were a blast. They were all over the place, but pretty hype all the same. With 2 arcs and a whole lot of tournaments included, W couldn’t get much better.

It’s been a while since Ban and friends won Artemis so they’re taking a long break from saving the world. Ban was hanging out at the mall when LBX robots suddenly go on a rampage and start attacking civilians. One kid is targeted so Ban quickly gives him a robot to fight with. The kid’s name is Hiro and he’s a natural prodigy at the game. It’s not surprising though since he is proficient at every video game that he has ever played, including the LBX game inside of the Arcade. The two of them fend off the robots, but at a lethal cost to Ban’s LBX from the original series. No worries though, he gets a new one and the two of them are set to save the world.

Who is threatening the world this time? A mysterious group of terrorists known as Detector are behind it this time. The stakes are quite serious this time as the terrorists are attacking countries around the world and destroying national landmarks. They won’t stop until every country bows before them. Naturally, America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, but they are sitting ducks against the legions of LBX robots that assault them. Detector has the power to take control of any LBX and since America has hundreds of them lying around, it is a sticky situation. Ban and Hiro join the government in order to put a stop to this and are aided by American representative Jessica and Japanese brawler Ran. Jin and ex villain Yuuya also decide to come and help. The heroes have a lot of members on their side, but they are still outnumbered 100-1. It also gets personal when most of Ban’s friends from season 1 are kidnapped and brainwashed into joining Detector. Ban has to stop them now…no matter the cost!

The tone of this series is certainly more serious than the first season which makes sense, but it keeps a good balance of also being light hearted. Between the super serious fights there is still time for tournaments. The animation is very sharp and I’d say that it is noticeably improved from the first season. The best fights from the original series can still hold their own of course, but this one consistently had a lot of great fights and good speed showings from the characters. We even got a space fight in this series which was certainly a treat to watch. The series also kept the recycled footage to a minimum with the special attacks so the actual fights still had good animation. The special attacks always look nice and flashy as well so I still like to see them.

The soundtrack is excellent. There are a lot of great battle themes to be found here and the music can always be heard over the sound effects. Some shows put the music on a little too low at some points or you just can’t remember the music by the end. That’s not the case with W as most of the themes become fairly iconic by the end. I also really liked the first opening. The 2nd and third openings weren’t quite as good, but they weren’t bad either. Well…the third one may have been a little bad, but it wasn’t terrible. The first one was easily the most energetic though and it was the most fitting for this series.

Ban is the main character of this adventure once again although this time he shares the role with Hiro and Ran. I’d say that Ban still is The main character in the end though and he still gets the most hype. Several fighters like Kirito and Jessica wanted to fight Ban right from the get go since he has the reputation of being one of the world’s greatest players. He does a good job of upholding that title as well. He takes a few losses during the series when the big villains start to show up, but in 1 on 1 fights he always holds his own. If his robot hadn’t been broken in the first episode…things could have been very different as well. Ban’s a great leader and a super solid main character to have around.

Hiro had me worried when he first appeared. I really didn’t care for his design as the glasses were a bit much. Luckily, the show was just trolling and after he fell into a fountain, his hair style switched and the glasses broke. Suddenly he looked like the hardcore main character that I had been waiting for. In any other show, Hiro could have easily passed as the main character and nobody would blink an eye. His personality is a little different from Ban’s as he is less serious and likes to have a good time. In that sense, he’s like Ban from season 1. Unfortunately, saving the world so many times has taken its toll on Ban and he seems to have less fun than the others. Jin and Ban both reflect on this at one point as they may not be much older than the others physically, but it sure seems like it when the two groups are together. Hiro really likes superheroes and classic anime which makes him even cooler. His natural battle skills are great and while his special reaction ability isn’t really delved into…at all in the series, it is finally explained in the third title.

Ami and Kazu may have had a huge role in season 1, but their roles are minimal here. Ami doesn’t look bad, but she simply can’t fight alongside the others anymore. Her LBX has been completely surpassed even if it used to be very powerful. Kazu has also changed quite a bit as he worked out a lot and is more outgoing. Unfortunately, he developed into a completely terrible character. It involves a plot twist that I’m about to mention, but it erases any chance of me ever liking the character again. So much for character development.

Professor Yamano is to blame for Kazu’s downfall. So, remember the terrorist group known as Detector? They went around blowing up landmarks and terrorizing people. Yamano claims that they never destroyed anyone, but I find that incredibly difficult to believe based on the first episode. The LBX robots were blasting away at the entire mall and this was happening on a large scale around the entire planet. There were definitely casualties if we’re being honest here. They threatened all of the countries around the world and used fear tactics to accomplish their objectives. The big twist behind this is that Ban’s father created the group. What was his reasoning? He needed to steal a few vans worth of some material to stop the real villains from getting it and getting to space where they could destroy the world….
So the show is trying to say that Yamano…with his political clout with all of the high ranking officials, couldn’t have simply explained the situation? Even if he thought that the government was corrupted, he could have told just about any smaller security group or even have hired Ban and friends to secure it. Creating a global terrorist group and actually attacking all of these locations just to legitimize his group as a serious one is inexcusable. I don’t care what his excuses were, Detector did way too many horrible things to be forgiven. The twist made no sense and Yamano should have been arrested. No matter the reason, he caused a lot of large scale destruction and likely many murders. He shouldn’t be walking around the world carefree after all of that. I was really hoping that the final scene of the show would be him in jail. Even the cops and his friends barely seemed to care. Kazu knew about this and joined anyway…so he’s just as guilty. This is a good way to destroy 2 characters in one easy step.

Cobra is the American liaison who helps the characters get flights and whatever resources they need. He doesn’t really add anything to the show though. If he had been cut out, I wouldn’t have minded at all. A lot of the season 1 supporting characters show up during this title as well. Most of them don’t get much of a role, but it’s always fun to see the Power Rangers return. Otacross would have been better left to our memories though. Gouda and Sendou get decently large roles here. Surprisingly, they can still keep up with the new robots. Sendou isn’t too surprising I suppose since his Joker was all about speed and that keeps him relevant. His skills are actually pretty good and I find him to be significantly stronger than Gouda. Gouda feels like a parody at this point. His LBX is extremely slow and all of its attacks are predictable. How he manages to win anyway is beyond me. It’s a good thing that the show doesn’t really care about power levels. It’s fun to see them, but most of the new supporting characters are more likable.

Ran is the third main character of the group. She’s always eager for a fight and likes to brawl without a weapon. That’s certainly not how most LBX fight so it’s fun to see the hand to hand battles. Unfortunately, her LBX does start to get seriously outclassed by Ban and Hiro’s after a while, but she managed to keep up with them for most of the series. She’s definitely a likable heroine and a solid addition to the cast. I ended up liking her more than Ami from the first series. It certainly does help that she is a fighter.

Jessica is the other heroine and I feel like she had potential that was never reached. For example, she is very confident in her abilities. She believes that nobody can beat her 1 on 1, but why does she think this? Jessica never gives the viewers a reason to buy into this self hype since she never seems to be nearly as strong as Ban and Jin, let alone worthy of the title World Champ. Her gun skills are good, but her LBX doesn’t seem all that impressive otherwise. Ah well, I still like to see the characters have confidence. She just needs to prove herself a little more and since she missed out on the third season, she may not get that opportunity.

Jin may have been the big rival in the first series, but his role is a big smaller this time around. He’s a main supporting character, but his robot never got any real improvements so he is no longer to fight on par with Ban. It’s a shame, but you could tell as soon as he appeared that he wouldn’t be much of a threat this time. That’s because the design for his new LBX simply wasn’t that good. It had a throwaway feel to it and the writers didn’t even try this time. He still talks a good game and comes up with good strategies though. With some plot hax, he was even able to take Ban down once. He’s a fun character, but much like Zoro from One Piece, the time skip seems to have dulled his competitive flame. Jin is now content to just be an ally, as opposed to trying to surpass Ban.

Asuka is one of the new rivals who shows up. She was able to take on Ban and Hiro at once so her skills are certainly for real. I don’t believe she should be portrayed as quite That tough though since Hiro and Ban were given custom LBX robots that should be the strongest on the planet. How is Asuka’s so much better than theirs? I do like the design of the Vampire Cat though and Asuka certainly lives up to her hype. She even steps up to aid the heroes against the villains and ends up being one of the better new characters.
It was fun to see Yuuya return in this season, but I was never a big fan of the guy. His character is certainly very different since he isn’t being mind controlled anymore. He is just too serious and I typically disagreed with him whenever he was on screen. I wouldn’t have minded if he didn’t join the others as a main character and would have preferred that. Another old face to show up was Kousuke. He was a surprise stand-out character from the first series. He really just appeared as a cameo and got wrecked by Hiro, but it was nice to see him. I do think that the character was nerfed though as he should have put up a better fight.

Kirito had an intriguing plot during the series. He wanted to use a program to help bring his sister (I think it was his sister) back to life, but naturally this kept leading into dead ends. His journey was a futile one, but at least he learned how to like the LBX game again by the end. He is one of the stronger players and he made for a nice rival to Ban. Since Jin no longer counts, Ban needed someone who could compete against his skills. While Kirito may not live up to his name compared to then more popular Kirito, he is still a solid character. The fact that he is proficient with just about every robot is quite impressive as well.

Dr. Mummy is a villain that I couldn’t take seriously. I didn’t like how he had to take a deep breath between every sentence. That gimmick got old incredibly fast. The character gets a pretty big twist at the end. I can’t say that the twist really mattered all that much though and didn’t help the character much. It did get rid of the gimmick though so I was super glad about that. At least Mummy had more of a purpose here than Gojou though. I always like seeing villains betray each other and Mummy pulled that off. Gojou is an Egyptian LBX player who randomly shows up, gets wrecked, and then shows up again. There’s no real rhyme or reason to the character and he is really pointless. As you can tell…I’m not a fan.

While not a character, Achilles Deed was a fun villain to have. Someone is operating him of course, but the mystery of it all was neat. Achilles was such a fun robot from the original series and I was always a little sad that Ban never got him back. Seeing a new and improved evil version of the robot was definitely a lot of fun. It could fly as well, making Deed one of the most powerful LBX robots of all time. I was definitely very impressed with it. Another robot that got a lot of hype was Killer Droid. It’s not an LBX, but it is a robot that was created to destroy them. It is rather large, but I don’t consider it to be that fast. The problem is that it is incredibly difficult to injure the beast at all. Speed is great, you don’t get hit by Killer Droid, but if you can’t hit him, then it is an endless stalemate. He does get a weakness by the end though so suddenly everyone can beat him.

An underrated character is Jack Gelato and his LBX Proto-1. It was one of the original LBX robots and it is so powerful that it was able to take on the hero group. Hiro, Ban, Ran, and possibly some others were there, but Jack was handling them all rather well. He’s a great character and a government agent who is actually portrayed as really competent. His Proto-1 can hold his own against any robot based on that impressive fight and it’s good to have a government agent who can rank that high. Sadly, he only appears a small handful of times, but his opening fight is what really sold me on the character.

There was a random episode to tie into the Izuma 11 Go vs LBX movie. It was really good though as aliens suddenly show up and challenge Ban and Hiro. Surprisingly, the duo is completely overwhelmed and the aliens leave right before the heroes would have been destroyed. If that episode is any indication, then the movie must be incredible. I love the concept of alien LBX robots showing up and just dominating. Aliens are always a good story device to use in order to give the series some fresh and powerful villains. It was easily one of the best episodes in the franchise and I’d say that it was the best movie tie-in episode of all time. It was straight to the point and the whole episode was basically just one big fight.

After the initial arc with Detector, we get a mini arc after that. The LBX robots are on a rampage again and this time it is because of an A.I. program known as Mizel. The arc felt like filler and it didn’t really serve much of a purpose, but we got some more good fights so that is always a plus right? Mizel’s robot can infect other robots so you must defeat it without making any kind of contact. That’s incredibly tough, but it made for some good fights. The arc itself is rather bland, but I don’t think it could have passed the first arc anyway. At least Mizel has a good character design. We also get to see what a giant life sized LBX would look like. That made for a fun villain and even Godzilla may have had to back away from this foe.

One thing I have to say though is that the Chief of Security wasn’t too smart in the series. At one point, he finally figures out that the Vice President is one of the big traitors who is working for the villains. So…what does he do about it? He tells the President while the Vice is still in the room. Naturally, this results in the President getting kidnapped along with the Chief since the foot soldiers were also in on it. Aside from how terrible a decision that was by the Chief, I also just can’t buy it. I don’t care how much corruption there is, not all of the guards would be bribed and the President was in the White House. I don’t think you could kidnap her so easily. The whole thing just screamed plot hax.

Also, as mentioned earlier, the power levels are all over the place. At least the show doesn’t even pretend that it is logical though. Characters just fluctuate constantly with Ban having trouble against light-weights and then going on to fight the strongest villains. Everyone gets speedblitzed from time to time and the characters have to keep upgrading their robots to stay relevant. This typically happens with toyetic shows though so it’s to be expected. Just look at the first fight between Bass and Slur from Stream. That was lunacy!! It’s not something that would hurt the score though. It can still be entertaining although I admit that I would love to see the power levels be straightened out. It would make the villains more impressive when they beat Ban and Hiro. Instead, it happens so often that it becomes expected.
Overall, LBX W is a superb title. With its constant action and great characters, it’s virtually a perfect anime. There is no fanservice, language, or other such negatives that plague the average title. It’s a blast and a half from start to finish. It always remembers how to be a fun show and there are only 1-3 episodes that may have not been all that entertaining. For a long show like this one, that’s mighty impressive. The fights are so good that something should always be happening. I highly recommend this show to anyone who likes a solid action scene. One of the best fights in the series is the 5 way free for all at the Artemis finals, but there were dozens of awesome fights so I couldn’t even say which one was the best. Even fights that seem like throwaway battles have a tendency to be awesome by the end. Just look at Jack Gelatto? That didn’t seem important, but ended up being epic anyway. This has definitely been a fun franchise to get into and I look forward to reviewing the final installment in this series!

Overall 9/10