Pinocchio (2022) Review

Pinocchio is the kind of character who is so well known and respected that he has gotten countless films over the years. They really just keep coming in all sorts of different animation styles and alternate retellings. This one is definitely going for a bit of a creepier feel to it although by no means would I call it downright dark. It’s just not going to be quite as whimsical as some of the other versions and all in all it follows the main story beats that you know. It’s a fresh take which should keep fans entertained.

The movie starts off on a rather somber note as we see Gepetto and his son enjoying a normal day and are setting up decorations in the local church when a bomb hits and the kid dies in the explosion. Geppetto is really shocked into silence and eventually decides to rebuild his son using his skill in puppets. The experiment succeeds and Pinocchio is born. Pinocchio isn’t quite Geppetto’s old son but he’s a nice enough kid. The main problem of course is that he’s made out of wood and so the people in the village don’t really think of him as a real boy. The government wants to use him in warfare and a circus owner wants to use him for money. Whichever side wins, Pinocchio is the one who will lose out here. He needs to find a way to resist all of these plans for his life and just do things his way. Is that even an option though?

The intro is definitely a powerful way to start the film off with because you can definitely see how sad it was for Geppetto to lose his son like that. In mot stories the kid is already dead so we start with Pinocchio being built. Going back just a bit further the way this film did certainly makes the moment hit a lot harder. In general the movie wasn’t afraid to go all out like in showing the war and how a lot of people kept dying in the bombings. The film was certainly ready to have a bit of a deeper look at what was going on during this time period that’s for sure.

Then with the creepy designs as I mentioned, Pinocchio looks like someone that you don’t want to bump into in a dark alley. The opening scenes of him smashing everything as he learns new words would have been absolutely terrifying to see in person. Then you have the fairy which brought him to life and the one in charge of bringing him back every time he dies. Both of them look like rather surreal creatures and ones that you would not want to cross. It’s a fun vibe all around and while the core plot is still the same so this isn’t suddenly turning into a horror film, you could absolutely have seen the film going that way.

While the townsfolk and government are still rather judgmental in seeing him as a potential soldier and threat, at least having him look dangerous does add a little to that rather than everyone just being super unreasonable the whole time. We don’t get the iconic moment of Pinocchio getting drunk and smoking when the bad influences get to him which is probably for the best since it makes him look a bit stronger morally. Pinocchio certainly still makes his mistakes here and gets manipulated but these errors are more about him being naïve than weak willed this time.

Pinocchio’s never going to be my favorite character in the film because of how easily he’s used but ultimately I would say that he’s still a decent character here. He is certainly trying his best the whole time and his nose even gets to be really handy by the end. The end of his character arc here is also a bit different because of the introduction of the immortality clause. Everything couldn’t be quite so smooth this time. So Pinocchio is brought back to life every time after he dies as I mentioned before and a big catch to this is the fact that he has to wait in the realm of the dead longer and longer after each death.

Now granted the ending changes things a bit but you have to wonder what this would do to his psyche over time. Just waiting there like that is intense and especially since there isn’t much to do. At least the death fairy seems really chill so that helps but it’s yet another reason why I wouldn’t want to be immortal. There are just so many catches and outliving everyone seems rather grimm to say the least.

Geppetto was a nice character as always. He went through a lot and never ended up cracking. The guy journeyed quite far to find Pinocchio after the guy was tricked by the circus and never gave up. Meanwhile the head of the circus made for an imposing villain as always. The guy loses a bit of his bite in this version only because you know he can immediately be overruled by the government general at any time. This guy wasn’t te head honcho villain this time around but seeing the government is always fun. It absolutely makes sense that Pinocchio would be seen as a powerful soldier at the ready because of his immortality and robotic parts. In a way he could help ensure that there are no human casualties in any other battle if they could reproduce him. Of course then you run into a lot of moral issues but this army didn’t care about those things.

Now while the animation style may have helped to set up the grimm tone of the movie, ultimately I still would have preferred hand drawn style. Stop motion to me just can never really compete with the more traditional styles no matter how polished it gets eventually. There’s just something about it that is less fluid and as a result you can’t get the same high speed movements. I would say the famous animated version that came out a long time ago still looks better than this one and it all comes down to style. Still it does work well enough.

Overall, Pinocchio is a story that you may have seen many times by now but I do think this adaption approached the story in its own way and as a result it was more memorable than usual. The film has a lot of replay value and it’s one I would enjoy checking out again. It does tackle some of the more serious aspects of what would happen if a doll could come back to life after all and the themes are handled well. It’s also a movie that you could easily recommend to anyone as it’s very accessible.

Overall 7/10

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note: Waver, Reunion, and the Magic Lantern Review

This review’s been a long time coming in part because I was toying with different ways of listing the title. The normal TV show was already a mouthful and then the TV special had an episode title of sorts. I wanted to go with “New Year’s Special” or something but nobody seems to really refer to it that way as a title and most barely even use this episode. I could have called it special episode but that seemed too general. So after a ton of back and forth…you’ve got this mammoth title!

The basic plot here is that Waver ends up meeting two of his old classmates from back in the day. Amleth who is good at illusion type magic (This is Fate so that’s a super simplified version of his abilities which are a lot more technical than that) and his partner Camus who used to be good friends with Waver. They’re really looking forward to the big class reunion coming up but when Waver wakes up the next day he has reverted back to his days of being a child. What could have caused this? He needs to figure out a way to reverse this and quickly or he will be the laughing stock of the reunion! Additionally there may be something a little more sinister at play.

It’s definitely always fun to have a special that takes place across Christmas and New Year’s. This is a fairly low stakes adventure that is more about showing you all of the characters and having fun with the cast than an end of the world event and that’s what you would expect for a fun TV special like this. Just about all of the supporting characters from the show appear to help out or just to tease Waver at times.

We do get one brief action scene for Gray to use her mystical Saber type abilities but beyond that this is a chance for fans to see the old Waver interact with the new cast. While this spell did not affect his mind much at first, the longer he’s in his younger body the more he starts to act like his old self as well. He just can’t drudge up the same level of confidence when he looks this young after all. It doesn’t help that he was never much of a fighter either so take away his confidence and then things really get dicey.

The special is part mystery. Now obviously you know something is up with either Amleth or Camus (Or both) since they’re the new characters here acting really shady. Illusions are also one way to make someone appear younger right? As the special goes on we have to find out the motive behind this because surely you wouldn’t go through all of this work just for some kind of personal prank right? Nah that wouldn’t track and of course we do get a sob story by the end so watch out for that.

Ultimately the motivation isn’t great. It’s a very personal one to be sure but it just makes one character look a bit whiny/petty. One character was certainly a bit oblivious back in the day so someone’s feelings got hurt but in that case I’d say what I always say. If you’re the one who likes someone else then the initiative is on you to make the move. If you prefer to just drop hints then that’s fine but they should be rather direct hints since vague ones can absolutely be misinterpreted. By the end Waver feels rather guilty about how he used to be but at the same time I think it’s a bit harsh. You can’t expect to recognize everything as the situation is unfolding. Looking back with hindsight is also not effective since that’s completely different.

The writing in the special is on point and so it all goes by very quickly. The animation is also very solid. While we don’t get a whole lot of action here, Gray’s attack animation is as stunning as ever. Additionally the soundtrack is still really good as you’d expect since Fate always has grand music. The grand feel of the soundtrack works just as well for the mystery here since the characters are always in such elaborate mansions. The character/location designers for Fate always do a great job.

Overall, This was a fun special. There isn’t a whole lot to talk about since it’s under an hour and the plot is part mystery so you don’t want to spoil things. That said, it’s solid on all sides and so you could recommend it to anyone. Someone who is not familiar with Fate will probably get less out of it but you can appreciate the fun vibes of the special and the mystery either way. It has a good blend of humor and suspense to keep you engaged all the way through. Hopefully we get more content in the El Melloi part of the franchise soon because mysteries within the Fate verse definitely work really well. With all of the complex magical spells all around it makes for a lot of possibilities in any case. It definitely increases the variables compared to a normal detective kind of adventure even if you always have to assume Waver will need to be lucky in order to not just get blown up by the culprit since most could just take him out in a single blow. It’s tough being a scholar in a world of warriors but I suppose until the next Grail War he should be mostly safe.

Overall 7/10

The Summit of the Gods Review

I can’t say that I was really familiar with this film before watching it but I can safely say that it holds up well. It’s a quality title all around with a good amount of tension and quality characters. The animation style was also very smooth and worked well with what the film was going for. It sounds like a back handed complement to say it’s better than I would have expected it to be but it definitely did exceed my expectations. If you’re looking for a solid mountain climbing adventure then this is the film for you.

The movie starts by introducing us to Makoto who is a reporter. He’s trying to follow up on the story of two climbers who vanished after Everest and we don’t know if they truly climbed to the top or not. One day he’s at a bar when someone tries to sell him the fabled camera of the explorer which would prove beyond a doubt what happened but Makoto has no time for that. The guy ends up being mugged by the mysterious climber known as Habu though so maybe this actually is legit. Makoto must now find out everything about Habu so that he can track the guy down and grab the camera.

So most of the film is actually a flashback as we see Habu slowly become better and better at climbing to the point where he doesn’t need a partner. Habu’s skills are very real but his personality isn’t always the best. Not only does he not have a filter but he really doesn’t seem to respect his partners’ abilities all that much. Certainly not as much as you would expect at least and so this leads to him being isolated. He still wants to keep on pushing himself though and in a way he lives to climb so as long as he can keep climbing then he is happy. The rest just doesn’t matter nearly as much to him.

A good chunk of the film is about trying to understand what is so fascinating about climbing. It’s a super dangerous hobby without a whole lot of upside and things can easily go sideways for you. So with all of that in mind. Why do it? Well I suppose people like what they like but I can’t say that I’d ever be too interested in the hobby myself. I’d enjoy the cold temperatures to be sure but risking my life for something like this just wouldn’t feel worth it. In general few things are so I’d rather stay safe if I can help it.

Habu is definitely the best character in the film either way. He really gets a lot of screen time here and is quick on his feet. Ultimately at least by climbing on his own he’s not really putting anyone else in danger. It’s only when others want to join him that things get a little crazy. Meanwhile Makoto is a good character as well. He feels a little out of his depth the whole time but I do have to give him some credit because he holds his own by the end. He has enough strength and climbing expertise to actually scale mountains and not just get left in the dust. To an extent I do have a little bit of a hard time believing that but since he’s so invested in the hobby I suppose he may have trained at some point.

Mountain Climbing is not a forgiving sport either so even if you enjoy it a lot, you better spend some time in the weight room. There’s no escape and few places to rest once you’re on the mountain so you really do need to see the whole thing through to the end. Seeing the characters just hanging from the to of the mountain with nothing but pure arm strength is extremely impressive.

As I mentioned earlier the animation is really smooth here. I like how streamlined everything appears and it really supports this kind of adventure. The mountain itself is very sleek and the snow stands out. The movie even uses some really creative effects later on for the storm and also has some rather spooky scenes involving a ghost. I would say this looks a bit more like a DC movie than an anime but that’s not a bad thing in the slightest because it’s just so high quality.

Visually the movie keeps up with the pacing and story. I would also say that the writing is very good here as well. It’s very much a slice of life kind of movie as we follow Habu’s adventures and everything makes sense in that context. There’s no random drama, no rushed romance, no super villain here to cause trouble. It’s a story that could have easily happened in real life and even when bad things do happen like a character might die, everyone handles is very maturely. In general you could call this a very mature movie and not in an edgy way. It’s not particularly violent or disturbing, but it is a film that probably wouldn’t be super exciting for a kid. The movie is just confident enough in itself to have a satisfying story without needing to add any fluff or anything extra.

Overall, I thought this was a great movie. It excels in just being a simple, direct movie about mountain climbing. There is a lot of attention to detail here and they don’t hold your hand through how this works. You see the characters setting up their gear and just have to follow along the whole time. You can absolutely do this if you are paying attention and it’s a nice test in a way. The flashback is engaging enough where you don’t mind most of the film not being in the present. Usually I’m not big on flashbacks but as this turned out to be part mystery it worked well. In a way there’s not a whole lot to say about this movie. It’s not a title you will spend a lot of time theory crafting and instead you can just sit back and enjoy it.

Overall 8/10

Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes and Huntsmen, Part One Review

The RWBY reviews continue with the new movie! I had to buy this one immediately on day 1 because the hype was too real. After all these years RWBY was finally getting the movie it deserves. After completing the movie I can definitely confirm that it is a great title and hopefully this gets more people into the fandom. Automatically there are a lot of DC fans who will watch this one even though they haven’t seen RWBY and so it’s a good introduction there. I will say that it doesn’t quite feel like the movie budget but just seeing the characters is cool.

The movie starts off with Superman waking up in a different world and for some reason he’s a teenager. He remembers fighting someone but can’t remember anything beyond that. He’s quickly saved from danger by a pair of superheroines known as Ruby and Yang who defeat the Grim monsters in the area. There is something off about their world too though as the Grimm are now able to absorb all dust related abilities which means that Weiss and Blake are going to have a tough time but it won’t affect Yang and Ruby quite as much once they adapt. Superman knows that he needs to find the rest of the League and quickly but why are everyone’s memories off?

Now amnesia is not exactly my favorite trope. I’d always choose to have the crossover with both verses at their peak in terms of strength and ability but hey at least it is the real characters as opposed to the comics which went in a very different direction. Mainly part 1 is about solving the mystery of why everyone’s memories are spotty and why things just don’t line up. For example why are all of the RWBY characters in their volume 1 outfits yet they have things that they shouldn’t yet. (Ex: Yang’s metallic arm) I remember people pointing that out immediately in the trailer which helped to build up the suspense of what was going on here. The mystery is very engaging and of course you’ll have a lot of theories right off the bat. They’re trapped in a dream, a simulation, time travel’s at work, visual illusion, just an AU, etc. The reveal definitely works pretty well with this in mind.

Now this is still a part 1 so don’t expect the full answers to be revealed. I won’t say where this takes place in the RWBY series yet but from the ending you can narrow it down to the volume and come pretty close to the exact episode that makes the most sense. If the ending just went on for an extra minute or two that would have been great to confirm exactly where the cast is. I’m also really intrigued on who the big villain for part 2 will be. I’ve got really high hopes for that one and so I hope part 2 comes out soon. My understanding is that both parts were animated back to back in the middle of Volume 9’s production so it should already be all done. Summer release would be nice as opposed to waiting for the Fall.

So lets jump onto the good stuff first. It’s super nostalgic to see Ruby and the gang in their original forms dealing with classic Grimm. It’s a very nostalgic return to form for their classic days and the environments look very clear. We get to see a lot of interactions between the cast in a fun setting that wouldn’t really be possible currently with how high the stakes are. It’s always nice to see the characters have some downtime to just talk and this movie has a lot of that with the various interactions.

I also liked the emphasis on using dust again since it’s been a while. In the main series the heroes always use dust like Weiss with her rapier, Raven’s attacks, etc. but it’s all just used silently and it’s nice to discuss the specifics of dust some more. Beyond it being an energy source we’ve never gone too far into it and you always wonder what the upper limits are. In theory you figure more fighters should be able to make super powered weapons powered by dust to fight the Grimm. Perhaps they wouldn’t be as advanced as a huntress but it would still be very useful in war efforts.

The crossover aspect itself is great as well of course. Seeing the heroes interact was fun and Team Jaune taking on the Justice League’s B team was fun. The fact that they basically won that fight was also excellent. While Team RWBY may typically overshadow them, it’s important to remember that this team is still very skilled and has a lot of powerhouses on their side. They aren’t the type of fighters to just roll over and take a loss. By this point in the series they are full fledged hunters and huntresses after all.

There is a ton of action here as well so if you missed that in volume 9, there is no shortage here. Now granted I would have liked more human type fights like the earlier battle I mentioned. Most of it is against the Grimm and since the monsters can barely fight back it’s not like you can have as much fun with the choreography. Of course you see all of the super attacks being used but when things are too one sided it just won’t have the same impact as a true fight. In a power levels sense I also have some doubts on how well they do against the larger Grimm but I think given the situation and context I can overlook those power level moments because it’s not quite as if it happened in a normal setting. Otherwise I thought the power levels were good and the RWBY verse looks real impressive here. They have homefield advantage of course but it still counts. (I hope Part 2 takes place in DC’s world because that would make a lot of sense as a parallel although given that we’re probably sticking to the RWBY animation style, maybe they’ll just keep home court. It would also be interesting if the League just doesn’t appear and part 2 is purely RWBY but that would be an odd choice given the title)

Now for the animation, it’s classic RWBY style so it looks great. I would just say there is a bit of a noticeable downgrade compared to the RWBY show which is a bit ironic. Typically you expect the movie to blow the show away after all but that’s not what happened this time. It’s very clear and the attacks look good but the animation itself is a bit choppy. Now from what I heard, this happened fairly last second as between episodes 7 and 8 in production the animators were all pulled off of the show to work on Justice League and that’s why the volume was pushed back. Not sure how much of this was confirmed but if they did have to rush through the two movies to get back to the show then it does make sense that this one’s a bit choppier.

Still, even a weaker RWBY style is still great and I enjoyed the visuals. The DC character designs were more of a miss for me but that’s not strictly speaking animation. It feels like they were trying too hard to make the League look like RWBY characters and they come across more like NPCs or fanfic characters. Batman’s design is easily the weakest although Flash would be in second there. They just don’t look much like the characters and I think they really could have done a better job there. Reminds me of when I would create a character in Soul Caliber and you could see the resemblance but it just wasn’t right.

The film is fairly short but makes the most of every moment so you do feel like this was a complete adventure at all times. The heroes are always rushing from place to place and with how often you switch from plot to plot, it never reaches a slow point. That’s probably one of the most impressive parts of the movie really. The amount of content it covers is impressive and whenever we’d get a flash into the RWBY memories that was a lot of fun. We even see a new angle to the big Adam scene from Volume 5 which was intense. No matter what that guy always find a way to return.

The RWBY characters are mainly all in character as you’d expect so I’ll keep their sections brief. There really isn’t much to talk about in terms of Yang and Blake. They go in and do their job as needed. Yang’s maybe a bit overprotective of Blake the whole time which I feel is retroactively setting things up for volume 9 unless the writers are trying to acknowledge Blake as the weakest but otherwise the film does her a lot of justice. This is easily the most powerful Blake has looked in years and I was glad to see it.

Ruby is struggling to be an effective leader here as everyone shouts her down and holds her back but ultimately she proves that she has the right stuff. She was good when it counts. Meanwhile Weiss showed off her expertise in using computers which was cool and in general she was in command of the situation. I would actually say she looks the best from all the RWBY characters. Jaune is in competition for that title though as he helps out Green Lantern quite a lot in this one. He gives her multiple pep talks and shows her what it means to be brave even when you don’t have powers. He was just really patient the whole time and very genuine. You can see why he is a good leader.

Ren looks pretty bad the whole time though. He gets jealous about Nora way too quickly to the point where he is always bickering with Cyborg. They could have toned that down somewhat as he is usually supposed to be the emotionless one so why he is blowing a fuse in every other scene? It just didn’t feel like the usual him at all. Meanwhile Nora was definitely more on the aggressive side here and taking things personal. Definitely not the really chill and goofy Nora you may expect but at least she does a ton of damage in every fight so you can cut her some slack.

On the DC side of things, Superman looks solid. He’s a natural leader as always and is someone you can count on. He gets a lot of great scenes and consistently thinks things through before making a move. Then you have Batman who in comparison is one of the worst members here. (Not the worst though, that’s coming up) Now in part I would say the voice is to blame a bit as he just doesn’t sound like any version of Batman and lacks the power or charisma behind him. But most of it is just how he’s written here. He’s a bit sloppier, has no prep time, and tends to get humiliated a lot. He’s lacking in confidence and apparently has always wished he could have powers. He gets outbrained by Weiss in the computer room and just wasn’t the decisive, capable vigilante that we’ve always known. This guy is truly Batman in name only. They really should have just kept him as being super in control the whole time around and that would have went over perfectly.

He may have stolen the show a bit but that’s what Batman does so it would have been worth it. Not much to say about Vixen, I’d say she seemed in character and was about what I expected. She has a good amount of confidence and is always ready to fight which is good. Then you have the Flash who is definitely on the goofier side but his character is ultimately handled well and the movie even has a great reason for why with his speed he isn’t just ending the movie in one second. Leave it to RWBY to come up with a solid way and not let this turn into the usual power level hax that happens with the Flash.

Cyborg definitely looks rather disgraceful here though and even worse than Batman. Yes this guy is the worst. He yells at Ruby for basically no reason and I was really hoping Yang or someone would slug him at some point. Sure he apologizes and says he was stressed out but really? Eh I didn’t think that was a great excuse. Then he also does seem to be overtly flirting with Nora at times which seems very much like a wrong place kind of moment. They’re trying to save the world right now so there’s no time for that. Yeah this was definitely not his best moment.

So in some ways I do think the writing could have been a little better to really maximize the effectiveness of the crossover. With the characters not being fully in character, it makes the meetup not work quite as well as it could have. I’d also have liked more in-fighting but that’s a fairly small thing. Either way this is still a great film and one I would definitely recommend checking out. It also holds up well as a stand alone film so you don’t have to worry about watching the sequel per say. Watching it as soon as possible is good to help with the sales and views then maybe we can keep getting more films in the future. Crossovers with the Teen Titans, Avengers, TMNT, and more would all work really well. The possibilities are endless to be honest.

Overall, It’s really nice seeing RWBY in a movie. They deserve a theatrical movie one of these days to really show off the budget but right now this will definitely work. It has been fun going on this little RWBY review marathon but all things must come to an end and unfortunately there probably aren’t going to be many other RWBY reviews for a while because there aren’t many other products out right now. Hopefully that will change sooner than later but in the meantime you need to enjoy this adventure while you can. It has a lot of replay value because of all the fights so you can enjoy watching it a lot.

Overall 8/10

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Review

It’s finally time to review the Mario movie. Right when the trailers came out I had a feeling that this one would be a winner because it just looked like a lot of fun. Now granted, I am one of the few supporters of the 90s film from the start and I don’t intend to reverse course now but even I have to say that it was surpassed by this one. The new Mario movie really does justice to the franchise and has a ton of great easter egg and character moments for all to enjoy. It’s definitely one of the top gaming movies out there really just after the first two Mortal Kombat films and the second Sonic movie. If we start to get technical like with the animated Tekken and Final Fantasy VII films then things get a little dicey so lets not count those for now.

The movie starts off with Mario and Luigi finally getting their commercial to appear over the news. They’re excited since now they can expand their plumbing business. Unfortunately their family members aren’t very supportive and it’s really been tough. When they end up messing up on their first job, all seems lost but they won’t give up! When trying to stop a big disaster in the city they end up getting transported to the Mushroom Kingdom and Luigi is kidnapped by Bowser’s forces. Mario will now have to team up with Princess Peach in order to save his bro, but will he be able to do this? Bowser is known far and wide as being immensely powerful.

Of course in the games you always beat Bowser but in the 2D ones that is only because of his fatal weakness to fire and in 3D you typically use bombs to beat him or throw in a black hole. This time Mario has to try going mano and mano and it’s tough since he can’t even beat the local work bully back home. Still, where there’s a will there’s a way and Mario puts in a lot of work to improve his skills and get ready for the challenges that are to come. He makes for a solid main character who never gives up and always stays true to himself. It was always great seeing him defend Luigi from the bullies both in the past and then in the present at the café.

If I have one little complaint about Mario it’s that he is a bit too weak physically at the beginning though. He should absolutely be able to handle Spike and just about any normal human he comes across. I mean Mario is a human too I suppose and I guess it’s actually a legit plot point that he’s smaller than most but you figure he makes up for that with agility and power. Later on in the mushroom kingdom he is pulling off some good jumps and acrobatics so I assume that any human is capable of this unless there is a twist that Mario is not human. I wouldn’t even mind that twist to be honest since it could be interesting but having him lose to a random guy was a bit much. I’m guessing they were going with a parallel to the first Sonic movie where he lost to a random punk but it just didn’t work out.

Back to the positives, the animation here is definitely top notch. It really looks just like the games. The colors are vibrant the whole time and everything has a fast paced energy to it. Things are always happening and that’s part of what makes the movie so exciting. You aren’t given a lot of time to rest or anything like that, it’s just all full speed ahead! As a result the movie seems to really end in a snap but the benefit of this is that there is no wasted time. Something is always happening here and all of the story beats work.

One of the most significant changes here is Peach who has turned from being a damsel in distress to a real fighter. It’s about time that they updated her character to be honest and this is easily the best version of her yet. I love the confidence and she does a whole lot of damage to Bowser’s kingdom. I dare say the film could have even gone just a little bit further here and had her get into a one on one battle with Bowser. The way she wielded her axe/trident type weapon I think she could have done a good job. Would have gone something like Yamato vs Kaido where Mario then steps in to finish the fight. Still, I was more than satisfied with what we got here.

Now the movie seems to be setting up a bit of a romance with Mario and Peach here which I’m not really buying into. They barely know each other at all here and DK teasing them about it doesn’t make much sense because they were having a completely normal conversation. Much like the games I expect this romance to not go anywhere and they stay in the permanent friend zone but we’ll see how it goes. Right now I’d much rather we keep the friendship dynamic with a lot of good banter to go along with it. Now that Mario has saved the world I see him having a lot more confidence and really keeping up with the banter on his side. So that’ll just make the dynamic even better than it was here.

Toad was also way better than I expected. For starters he wasn’t annoying and he wasn’t all talk either. This was a Toad who could actually defend himself and fight back. Needless to say I was not expecting that since it’s super rare for a Toad to do anything except get bullied and crushed all the time. This Toad knew what he was doing and ended up helping out when it counted. I look forward to seeing more of him in the sequel. Luigi doesn’t do a lot here and he’s mostly scared the whole time so I wouldn’t say he was great. I look forward to him getting some more development and really helping out in the future. Now that will be a real credit to his character and then he can team up with Mario on an even playing field.

The worst character by far was the Luma though. The gimmick of always being depressed about everything and thinking they were all going to die stopped being funny after about 1 second. Eh, definitely a swing and a miss from the film in terms of having a gimmick character. I much preferred the work bully because at least that guy had confidence and wouldn’t just give up like that. Meanwhile DK was also a really solid character here. They did a good job of showing off his strength but maybe too much in a way because nobody’s going to buy into Mario taking him on. DK was landing combo after combo on him so a comeback would just be impossible. The difference in their abilities was just too much and I would have had Mario take a hard loss but DK decide to help anyway.

The fight was fun though as we get a lot of back and forth there with some good Super Smash moves. As a slight missed opportunity I think we should have had a proper DK vs Bowser fight though. It could have been like Hulk vs Thanos in showing just how strong Bowser is. He’s always a decent amount ahead of DK after all and this would establish him as even more of a threat. The climax still works due to the circumstances there so that would be good.

Now, I do have to say Bowser wasn’t quite as solid as he could have been though. They focus a bit too much on how he’s in love with Peach and it comes at the expense of him being a true threat. His song wasn’t very good either so that was unfortunate. I know it’s getting a lot of buzz but it wasn’t really my thing. I like Bowser as the antagonist who looks out for his troops and is generally a wholesome guy. His not even knowing the name of some of his minions felt a bit out of character there. This is probably one of Bowser’s weakest incarnations as a result and I hope he improves in the sequel since I would like to see him be a threat again. Surely this isn’t the end of the road for him so lets get him back into the swing of things right away!

While I didn’t really care for the Bowser song, I did enjoy the soundtrack a lot overall. When the hero song started to play I knew that things were getting real. That song is always excellent and really gets you feeling the hype. It worked out well during Mario’s trial attempts and I dare say it would have worked really well in the climax as well. Then you also have the actual Mario game tunes which are solid as always. The movie definitely paid attention to the details here.

At the end of the day the most important thing here is that the movie is a lot of fun. That’s absolutely what you are hoping for with a title like this because if the movie was even slightly boring then something went dreadfully wrong. This is not the kind of movie that should ever be boring. That just wouldn’t make any sense. It’s also always nice to see all of the little cameos like King Bob Omb and King Boo running around. Definitely big villains from the classic days and acknowledging their existence was a great move. One of the best things you can say about the movie is that it really had no glaring weaknesses. It’s just a lot of fun all around.

Overall, The Super Mario Bros movie is a great title. There is a whole lot to love here and it has a ton of replay value. The adventure is great and the movie has an excellent cast of characters. We’ve already set up a whole lot of world building. I’m hoping the sequel adapts Super Mario Sunshine since I think that’s a very organic adventure to deal with next. Of course there are a lot of options so we’ll have to see how it goes. The final after credits scene is a lot weaker than expected though so don’t expect anything too hype there. It was definitely a questionable decision ending with that scene but hey I’m still glad it did have an after credits scene overall. Hopefully they don’t wait too long before releasing that film because I don’t want to wait.

Overall 8/10

Tarzan Review

Tarzan is definitely a very well known Disney film from back in the day. It has a lot of adventuring and has grown to be rather iconic over the years. That being said, I’ve never been a big fan of the jungle landscape. Give me the big city anytime as it just ends up feeling a whole lot more exciting. The big buildings and everything is really what gets me pumped and Tarzan is not one of my favorite Disney leads either. Still I have to say that the animation here is exceptional and holds up very well. I dare say that most of the modern titles can’t touch this one and this came out before 2000!

The movie starts with Tarzan’s parents being obliterated so he is adopted by a gorilla known as Kala. He grows up with her family and the tribe and becomes quite talented. His English isn’t great as he is used to talking with the animals but it all works out reasonably well either way. One day a group of humans show up to study the gorillas but the chieftain Kerchak warns Tarzan to stay away from them. Humans are often awful creatures who destroy everything in their path after all so associating with them would not be a good idea. Tarzan can’t help himself though. Will his infatuation with Jane cause destruction to all those he knows and holds dear?

Tarzan had a tough time fitting in with the other Gorillas throughout the movie so that’s part of why he looked forward to spending time with some other humans. They were people he could really understand and hang out with after all so it really did make a lot of sense. That said, it is still a shame since he had finally gotten the reluctant respect of Kerchak and people didn’t mess with him anymore. Putting his family in danger was just not good and ultimately Kerchak is the one who has to pay a heavy price for it. He should have just said his hellos to the humans without selling out the rest.

As I always say you can risk your life if you want to but the instant you put other people in danger is when you have officially gone too far. You just can’t be doing things like that, it’s not a good idea. Even if there wasn’t a villain like Clayton in the mix, the risk itself is the problem and you can’t rely on hindsight to fix that. He has to hold the L here. I did like Tarzan more once he was really able to talk in English with the others. He actually learned a lot quicker than I expected since I’m used to him still being in the trying to adapt phase. I guess that may just be a popular part of his character since in the film he changed rather quickly.

Tarzan can also fight so that’s always handy. He’s not someone that the villains can take for granted. He does lose quickly on the boat but he was outnumbered so I will cut him a little bit of slack there. Meanwhile Jane is a good main heroine. She may panic a lot at first but ultimately she does help out and gets used to the current situation going on. Her father Porter is trying his best as well and doesn’t have any malicious intentions with meeting the Gorillas. Porter and Jane really just want to learn more about them and of course there’s nothing wrong with that. They just needed to be careful who else they brought along with them on the trip.

Clayton does make for a very imposing villain though. The guy is quite good at his job. He may be an antagonist but he’s not slacking in any areas as he is able to climb trees almost as well as Tarzan. Their fight in the climax is really intense because this guy is crazy strong, almost inhumanely so. If he lasted longer he would have made for a powerful recurring villain but either way he is not someone that you will be forgetting anytime soon. No shot of that, the film really shows why this guy is such a threat.

As mentioned earlier, the animation here is fantastic and they use a lot of strong lighting to really make Clayton appear as imposing and intimidating as possible. It’s part of why he leaves such a lasting impression whenever he is on screen. Even simple tasks like climbing vines are more fun in this movie because of the sharp animation. There is just so much energy to every action and it’s why I miss when we had such top quality animation like this. I think if this style had kept up then America would even be able to contend with anime right now on a consistent basis.

The supporting characters are a bit on the weaker side for me. You have Tantor who is an elephant who learns from Tarzan’s example and ends up finding himself a home in the gorilla tribe. He is someone who comes through for Tarzan even when the others don’t so I give him points there. He’s just not super entertaining. Then you have Terk who may be one of Tarzan’s best friends but she’s not super loyal. She turns her back on Tarzan at one point and then early on was quick to dismiss him while hanging out with the bullies. Both of those scenes started her off on the wrong foot for me.

Kala did well the whole time in bringing Tarzan into the tribe and integrating him into the mix. She defended him for years and then when he was old enough to defend himself she was still there as a good supporting character. Kerchak was more on the stubborn side since he really didn’t see Tarzan as being quite tough enough to fit in and felt he would always be an outsider. I’ll give him some credit for at least giving Tarzan his due respect once the hero took out the tiger who had been attacking them and defended the tribe against Clayton. I mean the latter was his fault but at least he tried to remedy his mistakes.

There are some songs here but none that I would say would end up going down as all time classics. They don’t seem very nostalgic to me compared to other songs that I’ve heard in the past so it at least feels like they weren’t super huge. They could be fast paced but weren’t big game changers for me either. The animation stands out as more impressive than the ost here. It helped to redeem what could have otherwise been a very boring jungle backdrop.

Now because of all the animals running around here and the jungle there is some animal violence going on. There are at least two main deaths here which was unfortunate. Neither one is particularly cruel or drawn out but I would have much preferred a clean win for the hero and then the animal either runs off or turns good. It was just unfortunate that it had to go this way. Particularly the heroic animal’s death because it just makes Tarzan’s mistake feel a lot more irredeemable because of the heavy price paid for it. At the very least he will need to work really hard to try and mount a comeback after that because this isn’t something that’s super easy to come back from.

Overall, Tarzan does feel like a grand movie because the budget for it was so high. They did a good job of making it as sleek and intense as possible. At the end of the day there are just parts of the premise that will always make it hard to be very good though. With the origin out of the way I could see the sequel being a lot better. The romance was rather weak so I’m not sure I’m ready for much more of the Tarzan and Jane pairing but otherwise you could probably have a fun adventure coming up. I’d put this around the middle. It’s not a film I would look forward to checking out again but the animation keeps it from dragging out and the fights are intense. Check it out if you do enjoy the Jungle setting.

Overall 5/10

One Piece: 3D2Y Review

It’s always hype to be getting some more One Piece adventures into the mix. This one’s got a really solid budget with the animation and it’s nice to see Luffy have to try and take on a fairly powerful opponent when he’s just getting used to haki. That said, the film starts off better than it ends as two fights end up being wasted. It would seem that Boa is doomed to never really get to show how powerful she is in a serious fight at this rate. Still, it is a solid action title all around.

The movie starts off with retelling the events of Marineford. It’s definitely hype to see that as it’s still one of the absolute peaks of the series. It was really the moment that defined the series and all of those high budget scenes were great. Still, Luffy wasn’t yet strong enough to win the day and so we cut to the present in between parts 1 and 2 of One Piece. Luffy is training on how to become a lot stronger when a villain named Byrnndi World shows up and kidnaps some of his allies while also crushing Luffy in a few good shots. Luffy will have to team up with one of the 7 Warlords, Boa Hancock in order to take him down. Will their combined abilities really be a match for someone that even the World Government fears?

Now the movie does give World a whole lot of hype but if we’re being honest here he should be no match for the admirals. There is no real reason to call in all of the war lords or treat this as such a big event. You could get around that a little later in the series like around Whole Cake Island since Luffy was at the top levels by then. Luffy’s still too weak at this point in time though so if Luffy can take this guy down then the world shouldn’t be afraid of him. His devil fruit is cool but that’s just not enough.

I did like World as a villain though. There’s not a whole lot to him beyond being a bruiser but he has a good design and his ability to make things really big made for an imposing power to go up against. He would be able to give many opponents a really hard time in combat. This guy’s just built different after all. World isn’t the smartest villain around but he can fight and that’s the important thing. His battles with Luffy in this film are animated very well and the guy can hold his own in a fight. Even Luffy’s greatest attacks were really not matching up well against this guy at all and Luffy’s no slouch in the power level department. Sure, he isn’t at the top like I mentioned but he is still very high tier without a doubt.

Luffy takes a lot of beatings in this film but his character portrayal was still on point the whole time. He never ran away from a fight and kept on trying to save everyone. He’s the kind of determined main character you expect to see here. Much better than Raleigh who basically decides not to help for no reason at all. I’d almost have more respect for him if he just admitted he was scared of fighting a pirate as notorious as Byrnndi. He also needs to work on his haki since somehow he never sensed the villain appearing on the island. The film was a bad look for him all the way around that’s for sure.

Boa gets a big role here since it’s her soldiers who are kidnapped by Byrnndi. A lot of people always figured she is super powerful to be one of the Warlords even beyond her stone abilities and I’d say that’s likely true as she got a good hit in during Stampede as well but that’s why it’s a shame when she doesn’t get to fight much. She does not look very impressive here at all. Unfortunately her fight quickly devolves into fanservice and stops being taken seriously as a fight almost immediately.

The second half of the fight is more focused on being a full on comedy than you’d expect. Boa’s fight is very lackluster and the same is true for Buggy. Of course that guy is always the comic relief character so it’s less surprising that he wouldn’t get a true fight. Even in the New World he doesn’t seem very powerful even though he overpowered Law once. Luffy’s fight was great but it sort of has to carry the second half while the first parts were a lot more engaging and set the tone really well.

One Piece usually isn’t as fanservice heavy as you’d expect so this was on the higher side for the series. It’s nothing too crazy but I still want Boa to get a true fight before the series ends and that is looking less and less likely to occur. Now while I liked World as the main villain, I wouldn’t say the same for his two sidekicks. For starters they are super forgettable. I didn’t remember their names by the time everything had ended. They had some cool abilities and techniques which had some real thought into them but the characters themselves really weren’t anything special. World didn’t think so either with how easily it was for him to believe the worst about these guys.

At the end of the day 3D2Y is a fairly basic One Piece adventure but one that hits on enough of the good points of the series. Luffy’s new outfit is a lot of fun and having an ally be kidnapped is always a good way to instantly get the stakes high and have you excited for what’s going to happen next. Especially when it takes place deep into a series like this so it’s always shocking to see Luffy taken down so easily. It’s a shame that Zoro and friends couldn’t be here due to when it takes place but that’s just how it goes sometimes. At least we had the intro movie to tide us over.

Overall, One Piece 3D2Y isn’t going to be beating any of the big films but it’s still a title that I would recommend to any One Piece fan. It’s new content with a high budget after all. How can you say no to that? The action starts up right away and there is always something going on. Even if it had some faults, I enjoyed my viewing experience to the ened and due to the fights it will have some replay value as well.

Overall 7/10

Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night Review

Sword Art Online is a master class of how to write a great main character, heroine, romance, story, and then balance that with top tier animation, fight scenes, and soundtrack. It’s why the first arc of climbing Aincrad is always considered to be one of the top arcs of all time by me. It just has everything you could want in a story so a movie retelling the events but in an alternate route where Asuna is the main character was a great idea. Similar to Fate it’s basically going to show how making a single choice can take you onto a whole different route and I’m here from it. (I mean it’s a little different since in Fate everything is exactly the same up to the decision while here things are a bit different but it’s close enough) I would definitely recommend this film to anyone looking for an excellent time.

The movie starts out by introducing us to Asuna who is a straight A student who excels in all students. It’s still hard to please her mother though who wants Asuna to keep excelling and doesn’t give her any real praise for this. Asuna’s only time to have fun is when she hangs out with Misumi who is the top student in the whole school but is a professional gamer on the side. Asuna wishes she could balance her time out like that and one day decides to make an impulsive decision of her own and borrows her brother’s nerve gear to play the new Sword Art Online game on its launch day. She meets up with Misumi but then she quickly finds out that there is no log out button.

It turns out that this whole game was an elaborate MMO trap. Every gamer who is in here cannot leave now and if someone tries to take off their virtual reality helmet from the real world then the player will die. The only way to get out of this game is to complete all 100 floors but as any MMO player will tell you, completing these games takes years and years. It’s nearly impossible to get through and you can’t speed run it. There are no revives either.

If you die in the game then you die in real life.

You have to let that sink in for a bit. Asuna was never much of a gamer but her friend Misumi is really good so perhaps the two of them will be able to clear this game. Their bond will be tested in this death game. Of course everyone’s favorite hero Kirito is around as always but this time it isn’t his story to tell, but Asuna’s. As you can probably guess this film can’t cover the entire 100 floor epic so you have to try and guess how far it’ll go and what the ending will be. With this new character, Misumi, in the equation you also don’t know how far the arc will diverge or if it’ll still play out the same.

Don’t worry though, we don’t have a “Chris in Sonic X” scenario here. Misumi isn’t around to steal scenes from other characters and instead she adds extra context and depth to Asuna’s character. I thought the movie did a great job of incorporating her character into the story in a very natural way. It’s part of why I’d like to see them adapt some of the video games at some point where all of the heroines from every future arc also get warped to Aincrad with Kirito and Asuna for the first time but it’s probably a very tough thing to adapt without it feeling forced. Throwing in one character is a lot easier.

Part of the appeal of Sword Art Online is just how cool it would be to be in this scenario. Who wouldn’t want to be warped in there with such high stakes? Personally I would love it and I think that’s why the isekai genre is so big. Living in a fantasy world like this where you have to fight to survive just sounds amazing. Of course you can die but deep down everyone figures they would be able to survive. I’m confident enough in my gaming skills to figure I’d do really well here and Sword Art Online handles the fantasy world angle way better than any other series.

As to the film though, we can go over the technical aspects first which are top tier as you would expect. The animation is really sharp and full on movie quality from start to finish. The show has already always looked good right from the start and the movie takes things up a notch. The fights are all very streamlined and the colors stand out. Then the soundtrack is also top tier with a lot of operatic themes going on the whole time. It helps make the adventure feel even more grand and it’s why music can always enhance a great film to be even greater.

As the main character Asuna is a very fun character. Initially she starts out as a rookie who is eager to learn but eventually it really becomes a matter of life or death. When given the option of fight or flight, she chooses to fight. She really works hard to keep on fighting at the top of her game even if it means putting her life on the line constantly. Asuna pretty much starts to use her cool and reason as she fights over and over again but she gets big props for always fighting.

Asuna is willing to take the high road and help out those who aren’t the best of characters and has more of a conscience than some of the others. She really still thinks of this as real life and acts appropriately. We also see a glimpse of her leadership qualities even if it doesn’t seem like she will be going that route this time. Asuna is a well balanced fighter and a quick learner and that makes sense since she was shown to be athletic and very knowledgeable. The intro scenes in the real world do a good job of establishing her character that way. She grew up with a very strict family but never shows any resentment about this. She certainly gets a little upset and discouraged at times since she is trying her best with no recognition of this but that just inspires her to keep on trying harder.

I also thought some of the mistakes she makes when starting her first VR game made a lot of sense. I could absolutely picture someone using their real name and image when setting up an avatar if they didn’t know any better. It’s all written well so these are rookie mistakes are opposed to them making her exaggerated in what she doesn’t know about the game. Even not understanding the menus to see someone’s name makes sense because sometimes I’ll be watching a Call of Duty stream and the menu is so cluttered with all kinds of stuff on the screen that I wouldn’t know what I was looking at. SAO does seem to have a cluttered screen so even if it seems obvious to see the name, I could see you missing it.

Kirito may not be the lead but he still gets a good amount of screen time here. He is a pivotal character in Asuna’s journey after all. He’s the classic loner who acts cold and aloof but is always the first to run in and help when things get tough. He’s the only one who tried to help the party leader when the guy got greedy for the kill bonus and of course he found Asuna and prevented her from meeting death early on. Kirito is just a great guy and he is very game savvy while also being good at reading people. So he foils the first attempt by Laughing Coffin to disrupt the player base and basically puts everything on his shoulders. Kirito is still the genius that we all know him of and the only difference is that he’s doing this in the background now. He takes more of a main character spot for the second half of the film though and that should continue into the sequel.

Then we have the new character, Misumi. In a way she serves as a role model to the person Asuna wants to be. Misumi is top of her class but still finds time to just have fun and do whatever she wants. While Asuna is burdened by social responsibilities, Misumi has none of that. At school Asuna is way more popular but Misumi doesn’t care about those kinds of things and just has fun her way. She’s a true free spirit and the two of them make sense as best friends.

Ultimately Misumi does make one crucial decision though which will be a big determining factor on if you like her a lot. She reminds me of the main character in The Mist in how she gives up a little too soon. When you have to make a crucial decision you really need to make the right move. When you’re in a situation of life and death you really see a person’s true colors and they won’t always turn out to be bright. So for me Misumi made a big mistake like Madoka’s Mami and that keeps her from being a top quality character.

You’ll still enjoy all of her scenes prior to that but it does leave her in a very tricky spot. It’ll take a whole lot for her to really rebound from that. I still respect her abilities though and it’s clear that she is one of the strongest players. She has a great dynamic with Asuna too and I’d like to see her interact with Kirito. I think there could be a fun rivalry dynamic there too. You could really have the 3 adventuring like a trio and then slowly continue to redeem her character. Misumi has a fun personality and is nice to have around so given enough time she could really rise up high in the ranks. Honestly I already like her more than virtually every arc 1 character so it’s not like she’s very low in the ranks. If she can get enough good scenes then we can start the conversation of her against characters like Yuuki and Alice but those are high bars to clear.

Now while the film is amazing all the way through it still does have minor issues. Mainly one would be that it still does indulge in some fanservice. We get the clichéd bath scene because SAO can’t seem to ever get away from that. Sometimes there will be a drawn out camera angle or some tricky visual choices but at least on the whole it’s nothing crazy. It never gets to Gun Gale levels of the camera being obnoxious or anything like that. It’s nothing drastic enough to hurt the film or anything and honestly SAO has been really good about this in the films compared to the show but it would still be nice if we could bypass that and then the film would be really close to perfect.

If I’m nitpicking a bit here as well, the world feels a little too empty at this point on the story. There is only one floor unlocked in the game right now so the roughly 8000 players left after the first 2000 died are all here. You feel like every area should be swarming with people after a while, especially the meeting place in the main town. I understand from an animation perspective it’s better not to be so cluttered but it’s something you’ll be thinking about the whole time. Beyond that I thought all of the mechanics and aspects of being in the game were really thought out though. Even the small things like stocking up on potions before a boss is addressed which is important. I would absolutely be doing that before any boss especially when you’ll die if you lose.

Overall, The film does a great job of introducing you to the world of Sword Art Online. Whether you’ve seen the series before or not the film is very accessible. You feel like they will have to cover more ground soon since you couldn’t take 100 films to finish the story. The first floor is important as an introduction to the characters though so I think it was the right move to spend the whole movie on it. After this you could probably do more like 10-15 floors per movie as not every floor is important. It would be fun to see all 100 bosses but you don’t absolutely need to have that. Still, if they want to drag this out as long as possible I’m game for that because this will always be the best arc in the franchise. I definitely recommend checking this out.

Overall 9/10

Frozen II Review

The original Frozen was definitely a very fun film with a song that caused a lot of waves around the globe. It’s one of those songs that you don’t really forget because of how catchy it was. The songs here don’t come quite close to topping it but it’s still a good soundtrack and the main singer’s on point. We also get some more action here and so all told this is a sequel that really holds up to the original.

The start of the movie takes us back to when Elsa and Anna were kids. Their parents tell them about how there’s a supernatural forest out there that is very dangerous. It’s asleep right now but if it ever wakes up then they’re all doomed. The parents go die in a boat crash and then we go back to the present where things are going well. Elsa rules the kingdom really well and has a nice handle on her powers while Kristoff is getting ready to propose to Anna. This is all put on ice (Ha!) when the spirits wake up after tricking Elsa into using her powers. The elemental spirits of water, fire, earth, and wind intend to destroy the kingdom and claim their vengeance. Elsa figures that it’s up to her to stop them but doesn’t want to bring Anna along since she’ll be in danger. Anna’s not going to let Elsa go so easily though. Will this all work out for the best?

Throughout the film Elsa is trying to ditch Anna and you can’t really blame her. Anna has done well to keep on fighting and hold her own throughout their previous adventures but at the end of the day Anna doesn’t have powers while Elsa does. So it makes sense not to bring her onto the front lines against these elemental monsters. Even Elsa nearly dies a few times while fighting the formidable water spirit and if she had to protect Anna then she may have lost that battle. I don’t blame Anna for trying to get in either but I’m saying this is not a character flaw on Elsa’s part but is in fact the correct strategic decision.

I liked Elsa’s portrayal here quite a lot. She’s still very mature like in the first film and hasn’t really lost her edge. She is more open to working in a group and hearing everyone out but will make the command decisions when necessary. Her mastery over the ice abilities is also good to see and it’s clear that she has not been slacking off. Elsa has been working to better herself off screen and holds her own in each fight. Having ice abilities would be really cool to have and the film does a great job of illustrating that. Elsa is very determined and never gives up, she’s absolutely still one of the best Disney princesses.

Meanwhile Anna is still a great foil to Elsa’s character. It’s almost like the Batman and Superman dynamic where she has more to prove since she has no powers but always ends up helping out quite a lot. Anna is very creative and can make herself useful in a great number of ways. She may overthink things as she never gives Kristoff a chance to finish his sentences as she runs with whatever the first few words were but it’s because her mind is operating at such high speeds. Anna is quirky but in a fun way and that dynamic between her and Elsa is a big part on why the Frozen films are so much fun. At the end of the day she looks great throughout the movie.

Kristoff also looks really good here and in some ways that’s more impressive than the first two. See, you expect Elsa and Anna to look great the whole time because they are the main heroines. For Kristoff it would be tempting to shelve him for the sequel or just make him comic relief but he’s actually useful the whole time and gets a number of important scenes to himself. He’s never just in the way or slow to catch on but instead he helps out a lot. Whether its herding animals or keeping the townspeople calm, Kristoff does what he can to help. Towards the end he is quick to help Anna with her plan and doesn’t ask questions about it. He just trusts that she is doing the right thing and goes in to help. You can’t ask for much more out of the guy.

Olaf is the comic relief character here and he was good. His song about becoming more mature actually wasn’t as bad as you’d expect. It’s still way weaker than the main songs of course but it was a good song about his character development as he tries to stay brave. Some of his jokes may drag on a bit too long like recapping the first film but it is fun to see if someone who hasn’t seen the first film would be able to understand what happened from his story. Personally I think they would be able to understand because he does still hit the main topics here. Olaf may have a hard time helping out compared to the other characters but he does get some solid emotional scenes. He’s not here purely for the comedy unlike other comic relief characters.

Frozen continues to operate on a higher level than your average musical adventure. Of course a big part of that is because the character cast is on point. This is a much stronger core group of characters than most films would be able to trot out. Additionally having a protagonist with actual super powers is a big deal too since her ice abilities make for a lot of fun visuals. There is a real sense of danger here like with the battle against the water spirit as she actually puts her life on the line. The scene of Elsa being frozen was also intense.

There’s an intensity here that you just don’t see very often from a film like this. You may not care too much about the feud from the past and those people stuck in the forest but you don’t have to be invested on that. At its core this is still an adventure about Elsa and Anna getting through their past and continuing to make the future brighter. It’s a very complete story and you don’t even need a third film. Things are fairly well tied up here although if we did get a third film, I’m fully expecting the parents to return and have a big role. It feels like we are really building up to something like that. And even if it’s not necessary, I definitely want a third film.

It goes without saying but the animation here is also stunning. It’s one of Disney’s best films in that area and the character models are on point. Each of the elements stand out visually and I’ve already talked about how good the ice is. The characters are expressive and so this actually does look like it’s even improved from the first one which should be the standard for any sequel. A lot of detail was put into this movie and it paid off.

Overall, Frozen II is a very fun film. The pacing is good and you’ll have a good time throughout. There are no areas that stall or slow down the pacing in any way. You’ll be invested in the quality characters throughout and the action scenes are played straight as serious moments. I’d be cool with the third film taking on an even more action oriented approach with a ton of big fights but realistically you’ll always have a balance with the Frozen films and this one really nailed that balance. If you haven’t seen this movie yet then you should definitely change that.

Overall 7/10

Oliver & Company Review

It’s time for a fun animated movie that I don’t recall hearing about back in the day despite it seeming like a fairly big deal. The animation is on point and it seems to have a good budget at any rate. It’s a fun film and one that can be surprisingly intense with how things go for the villains. It has aged well and the movie has really good pacing. There isn’t much to find fault with for this title.

The movie starts with a cat named Oliver not being adopted so now he is lost and alone in New York City. It looks like things will be tricky but he quickly meets up with a dog who is very street savvy. This guy’s name is Dodger and he seems helpful at first but tricks Oliver into helping steal a hot dog and then runs off. Oliver corners him at the home base but Dodger has quite a lot of friends there. Fortunately they’re a little nicer and so Oliver is entered into their group. Basically they find lots of little gizmos and knick knacks for their owner Fagin. He is in a tough spot and owes money to a tough guy named Sykes. It’s a fun enough job for the pets but then Oliver ends up meeting a little girl named Jenny who is super rich. He can now have the time of his life but can he really leave these other animals who were so good to him? It’s a tough call.

This is one of those movies that feels like it’s always moving. Each new plot development doesn’t take much time to stop as it just keeps going. It’s a good thing and so while this may sort of be the basic plot, there’s always more going on but you don’t want to give away too much. At the end of the day it is a bit of a tough call but you could make the case that Oliver didn’t have many doubts. And he shouldn’t. He got into this situation because he wasn’t adopted so finding a nice owner is really perfect for him. Sure it’s rough for the other pets not being able to have an easy out like that but they shouldn’t begrudge Oliver his opportunity.

Things worked out perfectly for him and that’s a great thing. Hopefully the situation will continue to go like that and then maybe the others will have their shot. Dodger was the most petty about this. For the most part the other members of the crew were actually understanding on this but Dodger just got way too offended. I get that it was a shock but I would have liked him to have been a bit nicer about this right up front. It did hurt his character a bit with how hard he made things on Oliver.

Oliver was a good kid. He may be young and not know as much about city life but he still did his best at every opportunity which is what counts. His owner Jenny also did her best. She takes a big risk in heading outside to try and help Oliver when he’s held for ransom and she is a nice kid. In the end that’s why this is such a nice situation for Oliver.

As for Dodger’s friends, Tito is more on the annoying side. He’s one of those guys who talks really tough and is always picking fights but he can’t really fight. So it’s closer to just being full of hot air. Look I do like confidence in general but you have to be able to back it up. His flirty nature can also get out of hand a whole lot. Einstein is a decent dog but doesn’t do a whole lot in the story next to the others. Georgette is the spoiled dog who is Jenny’s first pet and doesn’t appreciate having another member of the family there.

You get it since that would be a big change and she has always lived a really pampered life. It would take a lot of adjusting and so she wasn’t really my favorite character but gets better as the movie goes on. Rita seems to be the wise member of the hero group who never really panics and tries to de-escalate things. She did a good job there and then you have Francis who is a bulldog so you know he can fight but unfortunately he is usually outmatched against Sykes’ two dogs.

Sykes is the main villain here and he has two rottweilers that are powerful enough to threaten the entire group. They’re definitely not to be messed with and make for very intimidating villains. At any point they could crush the heroes if given the order by their boss so the group always has to hope that this doesn’t happen. Occasionally the heroes will try to hurl some kind of insult but they usually regret it right after.

Then Sykes himself is a very impressive villain. He has complete control over the situation right from the start and is clearly not someone to be trifled with. He was really close to winning it all and he didn’t get to be the top mobster around by being nice. This guy earned a lot of respect from the underworld and rightfully so. He made for a very entertaining villain but perhaps because he was so mean the film didn’t mind really going in against him during the climax.

As I mentioned before the climax is really serious for this film. They definitely weren’t trying to scale things back for the kids. At the end of the day it’s a level that I think is fine for a kid’s movie, I was just surprised by it. The film is never too detailed or anything so it avoids my usual animal violence issues. Would I change a few things about the climax? Sure I definitely would but it’s still a fun film that I could easily recommend. It doesn’t even try to force a bunch of songs into the mix to destroy the pacing.

The animation for the film is also fairly sharp. It’s very expressive which I like to see and you can always tell what is happening. I appreciated the detail here and the movie really got a good budget backing it up. It’s very smooth and so I definitely have no issues with it. It really helps to enhance the movie which was already solid.

Overall, Oliver & Company is a good movie. It has some fun humor and quality characters but at the end of the day the main strength is that it’s a well written title. It doesn’t have any real issues that would end up hurting it down the stretch. It’s the kind of movie that you can watch at any time so whenever you have a good moment you should check it out and see what you think. Maybe eventually this one will be more popular and be widely known across all of the animated movie circles.

Overall 7/10