Creed II Review

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It’s time to look at the new Creed film. While boxing movies may have never become a huge genre, it was always one where you could immediately think of 5 films. That’s because the Rocky series exists. It set a really high bar for the genre so then when it left you couldn’t help but miss it. When the first Creed film came out it worked as a nice sequel to the franchise. Now we could finally see a whole new generation of fights. While I believe the first film holds the slight edge, this movie does a good job of staying on the same level and certainly delivers with the fights.

The movie starts with Adonis claiming the heavyweight title from another guy. He is now the world champ and has begun to settle into his role as a master. He and Bianca are starting a family and things are going well until Viktor shows up. He is the son of Ivan Drago, the guy who murdered Adonis’ father. Naturally Adonis has a hard time trying to refuse Viktor’s challenge and decides to get into the ring once more. The problem is that Adonis is a quick fighter, but his hits don’t land a lot of damage. If he isn’t careful then it’s going to be all over. He has nothing to gain while Viktor has nothing to lose.

From the start of the film’s trailers and plot summaries I was a bit dubious about Adonis’ decision to fight. Of course it’s all very personal to him of course and he brings up the fact that Rocky essentially did the same thing, but it was a little different. In Rocky’s defense, Ivan murdered Apollo right in front of him so he had to get in there and avenge him. In this case, it’s all behind Adonis, but he just wants to prove that he can win where Apollo did not. Adonis can bring honor back into his family name. He trains and everything so it’s not like he walks into the match blind, but I do think it certainly wasn’t a great call on his part. If you gotta take the fight then take it, but don’t block everyone out in the mean time. Adonis even pushes Bianca away for a while during this period.

By the end of the film Adonis has realized once more what is really important and effectively ends his character arc..until the sequel. While he may have had a few rough patches I would still say that he is a pretty solid main character to root for. Meanwhile Bianca has her music plot although it doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time in this installment. From what is shown we can tell that Bianca is doing quite well though. I’m glad the film didn’t try to go for the “Adonis is jealous” route here as that would have been petty. Adonis is certainly not that kind of character. Bianca’s definitely a solid heroine and it looks like her career will keep going on in the next film as well. I don’t know how long the shelf life for a boxer is but there’s a good chance she will outlast him.

Viktor is the main villain here and he definitely looks a lot stronger than the guy from the last film. In fact, the film makes him look so powerful that you may have a tough time believing that Adonis can hold his own at all. The guy is just way too strong and Adonis’ hits don’t have nearly as much weight. There’s not much to Viktor aside from being the villain here, but I’d say that this works pretty well. All you really need to know about Viktor is that he wants to win to please his father so naturally his drive is very strong. At the same time he definitely fights dirty so I don’t think you will be forgetting that he is the villain anytime soon.

Rocky still serves as the main mentor role here and does a good job in it. His fighting days are certainly gone, but he’s still an excellent coach because of his experience both in and out of the ring. Since he overcame the health problems in the first film they aren’t a concern this time around. While it would be nice to see him fight as a homage to the old films it isn’t all that realistic because of how old he is. When Ivan shows up you get the feeling that the guy can still fight, but Rocky is certainly not in a condition to do so. He still gets the good one liners in though. Meanwhile Ivan is a pretty solid villain like Viktor. His only failing I’d say is that the guy puts way too much stock in trying to impress the Russians. He really shouldn’t care after they abandoned him. I suppose his national pride blinded the guy until the end.

Sort of a side note, but it was nice to see Max here. He’s always pretty fun on ESPN First Take so seeing him here was pretty surreal. If anything it made the boxing matches feel a lot more realistic and legit here compared to previous films. The movie does a good job of making you feel every blow. You can instantly tell which shots had glancing damage and which ones really made the character feel it. For the big comeback punches you’ll have the slow-mo feature at the ready. I’m sure that a big reason why you will be watching this film at the end of the day is for the fights so they do deliver.

As for the soundtrack, that one is definitely a step below the classic Rocky films. The new tracks just aren’t nearly as inspirational. They don’t make you feel like it’s time for the hero to take down the opponents and save the day. They may be fast paced tunes, but I can’t say that the lyrics seem all that great. Even the script can be a bit weaker than the old films as it has a bit more language. Nothing too bad, but still just enough that it can be a bit noticeable.

If there is any other weak aspect of the film it is definitely the romance. It did take up quite a bit of time and I think the first film already had that plot completed. The extra drama we got here could feel forced at times. It seems to be resolved though so I’m assuming that for the third film it won’t really be a factor. I’m still wondering what that film will be about, but I’m betting that somebody arrives to challenge Adonis. It would just make sense right?

Overall, Creed II is a solid boxing movie and works as a good sequel to the first Creed. It’s got everything you would want to see in this film. It’s reasonably long with solid pacing so it never feels like it is being dragged out. The main cast of characters are all rather solid. If the film intends to redeem Ivan and Viktor by the end I have to say that they still have a lot of work to do. I still consider both to be villains. While Adonis may not have looked quite as good as in the first film I think he’ll be back at his best for the third film. I hope they get Max to sign on for the third film as well since his insight is always appreciated. Of course, throwing in Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith would also be exciting. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would definitely recommend doing so.

Overall 7/10

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Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 5 Review

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It’s time to look at another volume of the Scooby Doo Team Up series. With a lot of the bigger heroes already accounted for this volume mostly focuses on the less known heroes. That being said, these guys are mainly household names, but just not in the same league as the big 7. As always it’s a fun collection with a lot of fun moments and good pacing. By now you will likely know if this series is your style or not, but I’d definitely recommend it.

The first story has Green Arrow and Green Lantern show up. They have been travelling across America trying to find out what the true nature of the country is. Unfortunately their findings have not been all that positive as of yet and they believe that things aren’t going well for the country. Fortunately the Mystery Inc is here to solve a case and along the way they will remind the heroes that there is always hope. Can this band of adventurers and heroes really help this village visit the outside world though? Yes, part of the plot is that a group of people have secluded themselves in a little village and refuse to go to the outside world but now they are being haunted.

It’s a good first story although the whole thing is definitely a little odd. First off, Green Arrow is just really out of character here. He’s constantly being a pessimist and can’t stop thinking about politics. I also wasn’t crazy about the resolution of the story here. Basically the ghosts were the kids of these people who were trying to scare them into going back to town. The reason is that they moved away but are now lonely without their parents. I mean…they could just visit the parents right? It seems like they wanted everything to go their way and it is never necessarily pointed out that this is the wrong approach. The kids just seemed very entitled.

Then we have a crossover with a Kung Fu dog that I’ve never heard of. Essentially the gang are being attacked by fire breathing dragons who know Kung Fu. Scooby Doo and the gang are usually prepared for anything, but for once they have met their match. That’s why calling in the dog made sense, but unfortunately he doesn’t know how to fight and the Kung Fu was all a sham. I feel bad for fans of this character. Fortunately Daphne knows how to fight which ultimately helps the team make it through this adventure. It’s a reasonable comic although I can’t say that I’m a big fan of the dog. If he can’t really fight then I don’t see how he will be able to help anyone.

A pretty fun story features a bunch of obscure groups. They solve mysteries under the sea, in space, etc. All of the groups have similar costumes and egos. This one is pretty strong because the group ends up insulting the Mystery Inc’s effectiveness so naturally this starts a rivalry. Even if this should be pretty lopsided in favor of the team that can actually fight I always like to see the Mystery Inc talk tough. Fred certainly doesn’t back down from a challenge. If Shaggy and Scooby weren’t constantly embarrassing the team I’m sure their rep would be even better than it currently is. By the end the group managed to pull their own weight though and it was fun seeing all of the obscure DC teams. They all seemed pretty likable and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them.

Typically in all of these stories the heroes are teaming up with DC fighters who are much stronger and better equipped to handle a situation. This next story is the first exception to that. There are a group of alley cats who are always causing trouble. This time they have pretended to make a ghost to scare off the cops. Fortunately this cop is pretty smart and calls in the main characters. They decide to solve the case which puts the cats in a pretty bad spot. Things get worse when the Real Estate agents show up to make a mess of the situation. It’s pretty nice to see Fred and the gang get to tackle some actual ghosts here since that’s their area of expertise. You could argue that they controlled the pace and tempo of this case.

Then we’ve got a story that takes place in the distant past. It turns out that there was an original Mystery Inc who worked in the Wild West. They were called in to deal with a monster, but there is also a fugitive of the law in this place who is being hunted by Cinnamon and Jonah Hex. The guy seems innocent though so the Mystery Inc may have to step in. It’s certainly interesting to see the group operating in the past even if it may seem like a bit of a stretch. I suppose it’s the only way they could team up with someone like Jonah Hex though so it’ll have to do. I’ve never heard of Cinnamon, but it’s hard to tell if she’s real or fake. I’m personally thinking that it may be the latter.

Plasticman also shows up. His sidekick was tricked by a fortune teller into thinking that his days are numbered so naturally he is spooked. Fred and the gang don’t believe that the magic was real since they don’t believe in the supernatural but as bad things continue to happen Shaggy and Scooby lose their nerve once more. It’s a fun enough story and I suppose it’s good for some of the guest stars to be spooked so it’s not always Shaggy and Scooby making their group look bad. Plasticman’s abilities are also pretty useful when he uses them right which the comic has him do.

The art is pretty good for all of the comics and is part of what makes the collection so fun to read. The art is very streamlined and everyone has their iconic designs. You can glance at a page and instantly know what is happening. The art is very clear and the colors are vibrant. Each issue has good pacing and writing within so that each story is able to be told without feeling rushed. As the collection contains 5-7 comics it’s also a pretty good value. I hope to see many more Scooby Doo Team Up volumes.

Overall, Scooby Doo Team Up is a fun series. It’s a nice crossover series that gets to put the Mystery Inc in a lot of crazy situations. While they may not always be very well equipped to handle a situation you always have to give them credit for trying. These issues could easily work as normal episodes in the show which is probably the whole point. It shows that the comic writers know what they are doing here. If you haven’t checked this volume/series out then I definitely recommend fixing that. Everything is basically on point here.

Overall 7/10

The Odd Couple Review

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It’s time to look at the original Odd Couple film. The TV show was always pretty fun but how would the movie fare in comparison? Naturally you aren’t going to go in expecting it to beat the actual show but if it could still be a fun adventure and work as an episode then that would be a success. I can safely say that this was a pretty fun movie. It’s definitely aged well and the concept is timeless.

The film starts off with Oscar having a card game with his buddies as per their weekly routine. Initially I actually thought that one of the friends was actually Oscar since he was certainly pretty confident in his chair and smoking to boot. They’re all having a good time until they realize that Felix has been out a while and may be trying to destroy himself. Fortunately that guy managed to pull his back so now he was unable to do it and makes it back home. Oscar realizes that Felix can’t be by himself for a while so he suggests that Felix moves in and then they will be roommates. Felix agrees and so their story begins. However, Felix may prove to be a bit more of a handful than Oscar ever could have imagined.

Right away you may be on team Oscar here as he was willing to make a pretty big change in his life just to help Felix. He was perfectly content living by himself and only did this because Felix still seemed to be a bit crazy. He’s also quite patient with Felix’s antics. Felix chases off all of Oscar’s friends, makes him miss the big moment in a Baseball game, is embarrassingly loud at restaurants, cries a lot, etc. Oscar is able to look past this since he does want to be a good friend. Oscar’s not perfect and he’s certainly not the cleanest guy around, but he always seems pretty reasonable.

Then we’ve got Felix. He’s a lot harder to sympathize with since Felix ends up taking everything too seriously and just makes things way too difficult for Oscar. Some things just feel deliberate like his allergies. Even if his method is effective, he just comes across as too socially insensitive. Felix either doesn’t realize that half of the things he does are so extreme or he doesn’t care. Both options don’t really help his case all that much. So when the two characters inevitably fight and Felix thinks about moving out you have to admit that it’s the right call. If the bridge can’t be mended then at the end of the day it is still Oscar’s place and he can make living there pretty uncomfortable for Felix.

The film goes at a pretty good pace. Some scenes may be a little long like the opening where the main characters think that Felix might die though. It went on for such a large chunk that I was wondering if the film’s main story was going to include those friends the whole time. It’s a fun scene all around though so maybe the length was necessary to ensure the writers could throw all of the jokes in there. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the friends really. They seemed decently nice even if they were on the completely opposite side of Oscar in how tolerant they were of Felix. They didn’t even give him a chance.

I’d say that the writing is pretty solid as well. The characters are mostly reasonable and the contrast between Oscar and Felix is depicted well. You can almost instantly see how the dynamic will play out because the two characters’ traits can be guessed as soon as they appear. If there is a weak point in the movie it would have to be the part with the Pigeon sisters. They aren’t all that entertaining and are probably the most exaggerated characters. They laugh at everything and seem like rather odd neighbors for sure. the “romance” angle here is mostly just used for comedy as you know Oscar has no shot as long as Felix is around. While the scene does give Oscar a big reason to finally leave Felix for good it could have been done another way.

The climax is also why Felix certainly couldn’t end up being a good character for me. Timid or not, he totally deserted Oscar there when the main character needed him the most. When you start something you gotta see it through and Felix did not. As a result he basically betrayed Oscar. This gets even worse in the ending where we find out who he ran to while making everyone else worry. Felix is a humorous character so I’ll give him that. The guy has his moments, but when the chips are down he is someone that you absolutely cannot count on. He will let you down every time.

As far as the soundtrack goes there is really one big theme, but it has certainly gotten iconic over the years. The TV show remixed it a bit, but if you’ve seen the show you will still recognize the theme as soon as it shows up. It’s a pretty good slice of life theme and adds some atmosphere to the first scene of the movie. Based on the beginning you actually may get the wrong idea about the genre for a little while which is nice. The film did a good job with the misdirect there which really started the film off on a good note.

Overall, The Odd Couple is a pretty fun film. The jokes are well delivered and the dynamic between the main characters works well for this kind of plot. Oscar is definitely the guy I was rooting for as his more laid back approach just makes him a lot easier to get along with. Still, Felix isn’t as bad as he could have been as with these kinds of films one character usually ends up being super unreasonable. Felix doesn’t falter much until the end of the film. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s just a pretty balanced movie that makes for a good watch.

Overall 7/10

Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks Review

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Looks like it’s time to take a look at the next Equestria Girls film. The first one was pretty fun and it’s always nice to see the Mane 6 in new adventures. I don’t know nearly as much about this human spinoff series as the Pony one, but I am slowly becoming quite knowledgeable on the subject. While this film dials down the stakes and such from the first film, it’s a pretty solid adventure as well. The film’s also quite short, but still manages to give us quite a few songs. I would have liked it to have been a little longer though so we could have seen some of the other teams.

The film starts off with Twilight stopping Sunset Shimmer from destroying the world and the effects are felt even as far as a little cafe on the mainland. There we see 3 villains who realize that magic has now entered the human world. They decide that this is the perfect opportunity to take over the world and so they enter the local school singing competition as transfer students. Sunset Shimmer quickly realizes that this characters have some kind of mysterious ability so she gathers the Mane 6 and even brings in Twilight Sparkle from Ponyville. Can these fighters stop this trio of danger or will their friendships be lost to the wind?

Right away I did like the opening credits/song that was used to start the movie off. Coupled with the opening scene of the villains it made for a pretty nice way to start the film. It felt cinematic and there was a sense of danger. You always want to start a film off like this even if it was a little misleading compared to where the film would go from there. I always think you need to add something extra when you’re making a TV show into a movie. Something that immediately lets you know that you’re watching a feature film like an amazing animation upgrade (DBZ Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan) or a catchy theme. Rainbow Rocks pulled this off.

As expected the soundtrack is top notch as well. The songs are pretty fun although the villains definitely out shined the Mane 6 at least during the concert. Their songs just seemed to be better but the heroes were dealing with a lot of grief that likely held them back. Also you do have to account for the fact that we’ve heard a lot of friendship type songs already so hearing the opposite is always fun. Even in the main MLP movie the villain song ended up being one of the best. There are a bunch of solid songs in the film which are likely the highlight.

The animation’s fairly good. In this respect I don’t think it looks a whole lot different from the show or the Youtube shorts, but the animation isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It gets the job done which is the important thing. The transformation forms of the heroes are still a blast even if they didn’t really get to fight here. The character designs are on point as well.

If the film falters a little, it’s in the climax just as with the last film. We see the villains transform and you prepare for a big fight as the heroes decide to transform as well. Then the power of music beats the villains so we don’t get a proper fight. I wouldn’t call it disappointing since I think a part of you will maybe even find this to be the expected outcome, but it’s still a little unfortunate. I would have liked to have seen the characters throw down. If anything it would probably be a stomp since Sunset and Twilight can really fight well. The others can sit back and watch the experts at work.

Now lets talk about the characters. The three villains are brand new so I’ll start with them. Adagio is the leader of the 3 and typically takes charge. She’s a reasonable villain who tries to stay serious despite one of her lackeys not being particularly competent which always harshes her vibe. Adagio’s plan was well thought out and seemed like it had a great chance at working. I don’t think there were any flaws to her character. Despite this, my favorite member of the villains was Aria. She’s fairly defiant and hints several times that she has ambitions of becoming the leader. She seems to be the most confident as well as the meanest member of the group. I would have liked to have seen her get more of a role.

Unfortunately the third character falls flat. She is Sonata and is the token comic relief character of the group. She can’t really comprehend basic english at times and is always getting upstaged by everyone. She never ultimately helps the group out and I can see why the others would constantly get upset at her. She’s likely here to ensure the villain plot never gets too serious or dark but I think cutting her out of the equation entirely would have probably been a good idea.

Now lets look at the Mane 6. They are all fighting because of the band and tensions are pretty high. Most of it can be directed at Rainbow Dash as she has decided to be a one person show. She goes on random guitar solos and never lets the others have any creative input. While she is definitely going too far, you can’t put all of the blame on her either. It is Rainbow Dash’s band after all and she was probably hurt that her friends were so quick to replace her as the leader with Twilight. There’s no reason she should have to give up the spot right? Also, the friends were forced to stop her from sweeping the floor with the other contestants during the semi’s since she was playing too good. That’s usually not a problem but in this case it would reveal the Mane 6’s true identities to the villains. All in all, Rainbow Dash was still one of the best characters here as always. She just dances to her own beat and everyone else has to try and keep up.

Rarity and Applejack don’t get to do much here but of course they aren’t happy either. Applejack doesn’t like Rarity’s designs and Rarity doesn’t like not having the designs. Pinkie Pie doesn’t do much here aside from constantly complaining that everyone is taking the competition too seriously. If I were the other characters I would agree and then cut Pinkie Pie from the team. Then of course we have Fluttershy who is sad because she’s written a few songs but Rainbow Dash never uses them. I can see why she’s a little upset there, but she should have pressed the issue more. If she mentioned the songs while everyone was around that probably would have forced Rainbow Dash to use them or to at least confront the issue.

Twilight Sparkle looks a lot better here than in the last film. That’s because her terrible romance doesn’t pop up quite as often here. I do have to list that subplot as a negative though. Whenever that guy shows up Twilight seems to go crazy and it’s weird since she is usually above such emotions. Twilight is the hardened Princess of Friendship. She oversees it without getting involved with such things. I’m hoping that for the third film this subplot finally dies out. Beyond that Twilight’s plot is about dealing with the high expectations everyone has of her. She gets past it reasonably well. I do have to call her out for another scene though and I’ll include the rest of the Mane 6.

So of course Sunset is dealing with a lot of apprehension from the other students since she used to be a bully and almost blew up the planet. It makes sense that the students would take a while to warm up to her, but the Mane 6 are past that right? Well, they constantly bring up the fact that Sunset was evil and like bragging about how they crushed her. It happens a number of times from several of the ponies to the point where it becomes a running gag. Sunset has to constantly say that she’s okay with it, but none of the ponies seem to have any social awareness. They put her in a lot of awkward situations. Then when she calls in Twilight to help and the two had made up from the first film…Twilight acts very stern/uncertain with Sunset. Why would she not take Sunset’s hand when she was trying to help her up? The long hesitation felt really forced since they were on good terms.

As for Sunset, she was a great character as expected. She is really the heart of the team. While the Mane 6 are constantly fighting and being meant to each other Sunset tries to be a shining light to them all. She always takes the hero’s route out of a problem and ultimately reminds the team why they are together. Not inviting her to sing with the band was definitely shallow of the team, but Sunset overlooked this for the greater good. I can see why she is generally accepted as the Mane 6’s leader in this part of the franchise. So far she’s done a great job of it and I’d still like to see her fight with the Ponies in the main series at some point.

Naturally there are a bunch of other characters who get to appear for a bit through cameos and guest star roles. The DJ character certainly played a pivotal role at the end. Trixie also got a big role although it certainly wasn’t her most heroic role. I can see why she would be upset though since there was a lot of cheating going on during the competition which almost robbed her of the hard work she had put into it. In general I also liked seeing everyone get competitive over the competition even if it was due to a lot of mind control shenanigans at play. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do right?

Overall, Rainbow Rocks was definitely a solid sequel to the first film. I think it’s hard to say if it beats the first one because I always like seeing the group get together for the first time, but at the end of the day we can’t have ties. I’ll say that Rainbow Rocks was an improvement and I look forward to seeing how the next film goes as well. It’ll be tough for the next movie to have as many quality songs as this one since the plot revolved around music here, but I’m sure that the series will think of a good plot. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I recommend it. It’s a pretty fun story about friendship and music. At the end of the day those things are crucial to a good movie. We even have the trope of the big cosmic characters (Luna and Celestia) looking terrible as the new villain shows them up which is always important.

Overall 7/10

Godzilla 1985 Review

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It’s time to look at one of the older Godzilla movies. This one brought Godzilla back in his most fearsome film yet. It’s easy to see why this new series of Godzilla movies really took off. People liked the originals quite a lot of course, but I think the world was ready for a more serious incarnation of the character. Personally I preferred the cheesier days, but I like the newer films as well. This one is fairly good, but still makes you end up missing having some other giant monsters for Godzilla to deal with. Just having the Big G on his own is not quite as exciting.

The film starts with someone wandering onto a boat and seeing that the whole crew has been murdered. A giant sea creature is responsible, but everyone decides to pin the blame on Godzilla instead. Honestly the big Kaiju was innocent this time around, but Godzilla decides to destroy all of Japan just to clear his name. Japan seems doomed, but that’s when America steps in. They decide that they’ll end the threat of Godzilla once and for all and prove that modern weaponry actually can make a difference in this fight.

I have to admit that the beginning was a lot more atmospheric than I expected it would be. The scene of the guy walking through the ship and encountering the alien like species was intense. It was like something out of a horror film. The scene was a little on the violent side with the corpses though. I think they could have been more subtle with the effects which would also work better with the horror vibe. This subplot never really amounted to much in the dub version either. You would barely even know it was concluded. Apparently it seems like the subplot was still wrapped up according to Wikipedia, but it was shortened to the point where it really just felt like filler.

On the positive side, it is always nice to see Godzilla. He appears for a reasonable amount of time here. It is unfortunate that he is more of a mindless monster here than the cunning Kaiju that we see him to be in other films. It really depends on the movie, but sometimes Godzilla is just a monster who is out for destruction and other times he actually has a will of his own. This movie seemed to be the former although he certainly made the most of it. This Godzilla was happy to crush anyone he could find and even his facial expression seemed a lot meaner than usual. His face was frozen in a glare throughout the entire movie. This was very clearly not a Kaiju that you could mess with.

For the human characters, I guess they were okay. They didn’t have a whole lot of personality, but ultimately were trying to do the right thing. The main character wasn’t particularly good at his job as he tends to talk aloud and spill government secrets. I can only assume that he will improve from here on out though. The heroine doesn’t really do much besides bring papers to the main characters and such while the old professor is busy telling everyone that you can’t beat Godzilla. As the Kaiju was ultimately defeated with ease he ended up looking bad.

The Cold War battles between the U.S. and Russia were pretty interesting here. It was nice to see us shoot their missile out of the sky and save the world. The U.S. ultimately did the most to save the world in this film. Not only did they save Japan from Russia but they also stopped Godzilla by pressuring him into the Volcano. I think it’s safe to say that they were the MVP here and that’s why it’s fun to have them around. There are many Godzilla films where you wonder how much quicker it would have finished if America had stepped up to the plate. Well…not we know.

On that note, I do have another issue with the climax. As mentioned, in this film they portray Godzilla as a mindless monster which allows the heroes to trick him. They play some bird sounds and throw it in the Volcano so Godzilla peers over and then they push him in with controlled explosions. That’s really not a very satisfying way to end that plot and I don’t think Godzilla should have gone down like that. He’s the King of the Monsters! A quick fall into a volcano shouldn’t do much and I don’t think he should have been lured to the edge so easily either. It was a bit iffy, but I guess they had to end the film somehow.

The special effects are pretty decent. The city shots have improved quite a bit compared to the Showa days. The actual suit seems to be about the same but the laser blasts are certainly more colorful. It looks like a strobe light show by the end as explosions of all colors start popping up as Godzilla torches the city. At one point the whole city appears to be in flames which was a nice touch as well. While the soundtrack is less noticeable, I did like the Godzilla roars as always.

There is one comic relief character who decides to rob some restaurants while Godzilla is nearby. Honestly it’s not a bad plan if you’re a villain since everyone evacuated so you’ve got the city to yourself. The problem for this guy is that he’s drunk so everything takes him forever and ultimately he ends up just getting stomped like everyone else. I do think the main characters did seem to surprisingly not care about the guy at all, but at that point all they could think of was surviving.

Overall, Godzilla 1985 isn’t a bad reboot. I think it was an unnecessary one though and the films should have just kept going from the Showa series. Ultimately this era would pick up steam as the monsters were introduced, but it was a bit of a rocky start. It’s a controversial opinion, but I believe Godzilla films are always best when there is another monster for Godzilla to face. When it’s just him then there isn’t as much tension or excitement since it’s not as if the government can do much against him. (Well…they win sometimes, but it’s still not as exciting) Still, the writing was on point and the pacing was good. This film is still worth a watch and if you can’t take Godzilla seriously then you should certainly watch this movie. It’s probably one of the darkest Godzilla films even if you might find it a little hard to take the movie too seriously with the voices. For the record, I enjoy the dubbing, it’s always pretty fun.

Overall 6/10

Magician Mickey Review

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It’s time to look at a very quick Disney short. Now, most of these old shorts were quite…short, but this one really takes the cake. It’s listed as 8 minutes online, but it seemed to only be about 2-3 minutes while watching it. Maybe the special was just that good, but it does seem like the shortest of all the Disney shorts and that is actually pretty impressive. There are really only 2 main characters here, Donald and Mickey. Naturally they are on opposing sides here as you might expect.

The film starts off with Mickey performing some tricks on stage. He is a magician and not simply one who uses parlor tricks to get by. Mickey knows real magic so I assume this is in the same continuity as that other special where Mickey was learning spells under the tutelage of that random magician. Unfortunately Donald isn’t a fan of Mickey’s act and decides to sabotage the mouse. Mickey doesn’t really like confrontation so he avoids Donald for a little while, but eventually he decides to put the duck in his place. Sparks fly and both characters really get into it. There is a winner here though as the special doesn’t end on a cop out.

It’s a fun enough short. I like seeing this more confident version of Mickey. He isn’t about to let Donald just get his way without a fight. Still, Mickey is a professional so he tries to end the situation in a way that is still entertaining to his captive audience. I have to admit that this is one of his best appearances in the various Disney shorts. Then we have Donald who is pretty fun as always. He is definitely the antagonist here, I don’t think there can be any doubt on that fact. Still, while Donald is unreasonable he is still entertaining as you would expect. He’ll definitely give you flashbacks to any hecklers you may have faced in showbiz. They can’t be pleased and they won’t be silenced. All you can do is listen to them and wait for an opening to use your next act. Of course once the heckler gets violent as Donald did then you can be all set to use your skills to wow the crowd and stop this disruption.

The animation looks pretty smooth as always. I like the character designs here and the stage looks pretty nice. There was definitely a lot of care that went into this. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but I suppose you wouldn’t reasonably expect one here. On a technical level this special delivered just as well as it did with the writing and the characters. It’s a solid short from whatever angle you decide to look at it from.

Overall, Magician Mickey is a nice short to watch while you polishing off an afternoon snack. It’s the perfect amount of time for that and it’ll feel pretty nostalgic. There’s nothing wrong with the special and it only takes a few minutes to watch so why wouldn’t you take the plunge? Because it is so short I don’t think it will wind up being one of your favorites or anything like that, but I’ll still give the short some props for doing a good amount in its limited time frame. We’ll see if any upcoming short can hope to match this one.

Overall 7/10

Ridge Racer 7 Review

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It’s time to take a look at a racing game that I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while. Ridge Racer always looked like a lot of fun and to already have 7 games it must be quite successful. As soon as I put the game in I was impressed because the graphics are out of this world. It might not be a stretch to say that this is the best looking racing game that I’ve played although F-Zero is naturally up there as well. It’s a really fun racing game although I think it could have done a better job of explaining the confusing layout of the menu and advanced mechanics.

The main mode here is naturally the Grand Prix. When you step inside a bot gives you your current stats. This happens every time you enter the mode which may be excessive but I do like the fact that the game keeps track of everything. That even includes play time which is nice as I now know that I played this game for about 4 hours. That’s a pretty reasonable amount of time considering that a lot of big games tend to be that length nowadays like Sonic Forces and Black Clover. Of course there is a lot more to do here that will take you over 4 hours. There are 14 Grand Prixs to deal with. Aside from that you also have a bunch of corporate companies who will challenge you to single races and exhibitions. Clear them all to get your completion % to 100%.

Aside from this mode you also have the shop, event mode, and some kind of super event mode. I usually cover replay value at the end, but since I’m talking about content already I may as well address that. This is the kind of racing game that you can play for a very long time. It also has online support to back it up and local multiplayer. Think of any kind of content that a racing game would typically provide and this game has you covered. It’s really quite impressive when you think about it. Now, whether you will have enough driving skills to tackle all of that content is another thing.

That brings me to the cars aspect. I was only able to clear the first 5 GPs in this time frame because of how this part works. So, you have cars for various categories 1-4 and you use them to clear the events. You start with 1 car for each category and gradually work on obtaining more. The problem is that the ways in which you unlock cars are rather vague. Is it from the corporate sponsorships or should I be doing a different mode for that? The layouts aren’t very user friendly so if you want to find the right car you’ll have to cycle through a bunch of them. All of the cars can also have upgrades and modifications done to them but you can’t see how the stats change for the car. I guess you gotta find that out the hard way? It’s little things like this that will make you wonder if it couldn’t have been done a little better. Personally I found it to be a little hard to understand.

Perhaps there is a better way of upgrading your car but I couldn’t find one. Then everything is also super expensive. Buying 2 cars and 2 packs of boost were enough to make my character bankrupt. I guess I would need to keep replaying the old events to get more money or something, but that seems like it would take a lot of time. Towards the second half of the game the cars just got way too fast and my little car just couldn’t keep up. I prefer when the cars don’t change speeds like in F-Zero or Mario Kart. Have the tracks get harder and the A.I. more intricate but don’t mess with the cars. That just seems like an unfair advantage to me. Also, the game quickly started to re-use tracks which I found to be a bit dubious. I think the grand prixs should not reuse tracks unless it’s the final one or an “All Star” cup of sorts. Otherwise the game is just attempting to pad out the time.

As mentioned the graphics are extremely good. The cars look very lifelike and the tracks are polished to perfection. Whether you’re playing a daylight stage or driving through the night the levels are very well made. There’s one level where you drive next to a waterfall which was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. It’s a little limited compared to other racing games but the tracks are very fast paced and filled with energy. It really allows you to cut loose and jump into the fray.

We also can’t forget the actual gameplay of course. This game is all about drifting which makes it a little different from the average car game. There are a lot of turns and the only way to get through them is to drift. To properly drift you have to stop accelerating by either braking or simply letting go of the ignition. Once your car starts to turn then you have to gun it once more to correct your path. It takes practice for sure, but after a few levels you will likely be able to handle it. You’ll need to be self taught though as the game isn’t too helpful in this regard. Beyond the boosting it is a pretty straight forward racing game that isn’t too out there. I’ve always been a big fan of the racing genre so it was definitely a lot of fun. This genre is one that can get old if played for too long though so I do recommend taking a few breaks. Don’t try to clear everything in one shot.

Overall, Ridge Racer 7 was quite good. It lives up to its reputation and I was certainly satisfied with the game. I’m not sure if I’ll be getting any other installments in the near future but if I do it would certainly be the Gamecube spinoff. After all, that one actually has a story mode which is really impressive for a racing game. I don’t think I need to tell you readers that this is quite rare. Need For Speed is really the only big racing series I can think of that has consistent plots at this point. If you like racing games then I definitely recommend picking up Ridge Racer. It’s a very by the books title that polished all of the technicals to a T. Its only failing is that the game can be a little too ambitious without letting you know what is going on so prepare to learn everything on your own.

Overall 7/10

The Conjuring 2 Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be far more negative.
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It’s time to take a look at the next Conjuring film. As far as horror titles go the Conjuring usually gets a lot of praise for being a step above the genre. It avoids having dozens of random jump scares or throwing in random fanservice romances. It’s a horror film that tries to go about its story in a more intellectual way which is nice. While it’s still not an amazing film or anything like that it is reasonably enjoyable and shows that you can craft a pretty decent horror film if you’re willing to give it a try.

The film starts with Lorraine and Ed solving another case. This one was particularly difficult though and now Lorraine has decided that she doesn’t want to do it anymore. She wants to just retire. Ed wants to know why, but she refuses to tell him. The truth is that in one of her visions she saw a mysterious Nun murder Ed. As long as she doesn’t enter the spirit world there is a chance to prevent this, but every time she has a vision it gets closer and closer to happening. This Nun is quite powerful and since the heroes don’t know her true identity it makes defeating this villain quite difficult indeed. Ed is fine with retiring but then a new case comes to their attention and Ed feels that they are obligated to take it.

We then cut to the case in question. Janet, the second eldest of a 4 child family raised by a single mom begins to see an old man in their house. He wants the family to leave and until they do he has decided to start haunting them. At first it is minor things like moving tables around or cutting out the power but he begins to get violent and starts to possess Janet into hurting her family. Leaving the house doesn’t seem to work and the family even tries to live at a neighbor’s place. The problem is that the old man has a partner known as the Crooked Man who is also bent on making the families’ lives as difficult as possible. Just when it seems all hope is lost the main two characters show up. The problem is that the Nun has followed them. Have they only made the problem even worse?

Right off the bat I have to say that the film did a pretty good job of introducing 3 big villains and giving each of them a good amount of screen time. Naturally the one with the biggest role is the old man. He seems pretty unreasonable and evil the whole time, but there is a twist about it. Honestly it’s probably one that you’ll expect. You’ll be hard pressed on whether you should feel bad for the guy or if he should have made a move earlier and really just got what was coming to him. Either way it does make you wonder just how much power you get in this film’s afterlife. The villains seem to be quite powerful but what about all of the heroic ghosts?

Then we have the Crooked Man who gets the smallest role out of the 3. He has a pretty distinct design though and his claws certainly look like they’d make him a threat to any fighter. He’s reasonably quick as well so you definitely don’t want to underestimate this guy. Finally we have the Nun who is naturally the strongest of the 3. This character has been hinted at since the first film so you knew that she was getting ready to make a move. The film repeatedly hints at her past with Ed which will likely be looked at in her prequel film. Unfortunately Ed doesn’t remember her, but fortunately Lorraine is ready. The ending may be a bit of a stretch given how strong the Nun was, but I suppose knowing a ghost’s real name is incredibly powerful here. I liked the Nun’s design. It was sufficiently intimidating without looking gross.

While no horror film’s effects will likely ever look as good as Insidious, The Conjuring certainly holds up. As I mentioned the monsters look pretty good and the film’s always got some dark lighting while you are still able to see what is happening. The music also helps fill out the atmosphere. It’s definitely well made technically and certainly isn’t a cash-in sequel.

As for the main characters they’re still pretty good. You can certainly understand why Lorraine wanted to retire although I think she should have told Ed what she saw. Whether she thinks she can change the future or not, giving him a heads up would certainly be helpful. At the end of the day Lorraine still got involved in the case to ensure no innocents would be hurt so she did a good job there. She ended up doing a large chunk of the work in the climax. Meanwhile Ed is a pretty good character as well. He broke into the house without waiting at the end which was important even if he wasn’t really winning by that point. He did make one big mistake though and I think Lorraine will have to be partially guilty here as well.

So towards the end of the film the main characters decide to leave the family because they think that it was all a ruse. It’s a pretty tough scene to swallow because they already saw mountains of proof that suggests otherwise. Seriously, for Ed and Lorraine to believe for a minute that it was all a hoax is just terrible. The neighbors were a lot more supportive than these guys. It is enough to almost eliminate how nice the duo was before this point. After all, the family could have easily been murdered as soon as Ed and Lorraine had left. It was simply not their best moment in time. The Church also doesn’t look good as once again they are worried about their image. That seems to always be the case in these films.

As for the family who were being attacked by the ghosts I’d say that they were good characters. The kids weren’t overly annoying and at least they were willing to help each other out. While the whole teamwork thing was not as effective as Ed suggested it would be, they didn’t back down. The boy did go in after Janet to see if she was okay even if that almost proved to be fatal. The Mom also did her best to help out and once she believed Janet she did everything she could to stop the spirits. Reaching out to professionals and getting TV coverage definitely couldn’t have been easy since it would hurt her reputation as well. The family ultimately felt like what the average family should be. They weren’t exaggerated for the sake of the movie or anything like that.

Overall, The Conjuring 2 is actually a good movie. The horror elements work pretty well and the film is careful not to cross the line into super edgy territory. I do think that the Nun was pretty much the strongest villain that the series could come up with though so I’m wondering where the series will go from here. A third film will need to do something to make sure it isn’t a rehash of the previous two. Still, the series seems to be doing pretty well so far so I suppose there’s no reason to worry at the moment. I’d recommend checking this film out. The main characters may annoy you a bit but they ultimately make the right decision.

Overall 6/10

Attack on Titan Season 3 Review

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Well, it’s time to quickly talk about season 3 of Attack on Titan. The season isn’t quite over as it’s on the mid-season break but my journey with it likely is. This season finally crossed the TV-14 threshold and Toonami bumped it up to TV-MA. Now, this might not be for all episodes, possibly just one or two here and there, but it was still a pretty solid jumping off point. TV ratings have always been a little all over the place as sometimes shows just keep whatever rating they got for a while even if the individual episodes don’t deserve it. You see this frequently with many shows on Toonami. There’s less effort put into the ratings than if it were a movie as I suppose they think the fans will just keep on watching anyway. If you know that lets say one episode of Black Clover coming up will be TV-14 you might as well give the rating to all of the episodes or a good chunk of them. Sometimes they’ll update the rating other times they won’t. So for Titan it may end up sticking to TV-14 most of the time or once they go to MA they may not bother switching it back for a while. The ratings can be a bit arbitrary but either way I don’t watch any TV-MA episodes on principle. It’s a guideline that I’ve always stuck to. Anyway I doubt I’m missing much since this show was never all that good.

From the few episodes I did see the show was off to a terrible start anyway. The heroes are torturing their prisoners now to get information. Their desperation to come out on top has ultimately made them into the villains they were trying to stop. That’s a common theme within the series as the characters constantly justify their actions or throw themselves a pity party. None of them stay heroic by the end so you probably end up rooting for the ones who are less corrupt than the others. As most of the characters know what the others are doing and still do nothing, there aren’t too many innocents around. It’s a shame but the character cast certainly isn’t going to be holding you on to the hype.

This arc deals with the political struggles within the walls for the majority of the season. The government is trying to regain control while the Survey Corps are starting to wonder if they should be in charge. Then of course you’ve got the Titan shifters who have some kind of plan in mind to recapture Eren once more and of course Kenny has been hired to help get Eren for the government. With nobody to trust and everyone showing up as villains it’s a pretty sticky situation for all parties involved. If you enjoyed the Titan battles of previous seasons then you’ll be disappointed as there isn’t much fighting here. You have the huge oversized titan but that’s barely even a fight. No worries as part 2 of season 3 will bring the action back if you’ve made it that long.

The negatives are basically the same as in all of the other seasons. The violence is still wildly over the top. The series thrives on being as depressing and dark as possible with everyone not wanting to die before they finally do. The characters are constantly whining and collateral damage to the civilians is always to be expected. Whole towns will be used as bait by the “heroes.” I don’t recall as much animal violence here as in season 2 which is nice even if it’s not enough to save the series. Historia’s backstory is definitely pretty dark and it makes her decision to listen to the father seem rather terrible even from the start. Sometimes it really does seem like Eren is the only reasonable character in the series.

I will give the series props for its tight animation and soundtrack as always though. A lot of budget is clearly put into this series and it always delivers time after time. It’s just a shame since the series could do so much more with itself. Put this creative team in front of another big title like a Black Cat reboot and it would be nice to see. On a technical level you just can’t fault this series. I dare say that they increased the speed even more on the zip lining through the city scenes like when Levi tries to escape the government agents. I’m sure those scenes took a lot of work to create.

Naturally this review is a little on the shorter side since I didn’t watch much. The episodes I did see didn’t have much going on so it’s not like there is too much new content to discuss. I do have to say that seeing Eren get kidnapped is always iffy since with his titan powers I’d like to see him be more prepared for these attempts. Summon a little armor at all times or something like that. I think with enough practice he would be able to use such a skill and then he’s really be nice and overpowered. The government agents would stop messing with him at that point.
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Overall, By this point you will likely know if you like Attack on Titan or not. It’s not as if the series has changed since season 1. It’s still the same characters fighting Titans even if their situations have grown more complicated. The writing style has not changed nor has the animation or the soundtrack. It’s a very familiar series that you’ll have nostalgia for as soon as you watch the first episode. Whether good or bad memories surface from this is another question entirely. I fully expect that we will get a season 4 once season 3 ends and the series isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With the manga possibly ending relatively soon (2 years or so) the anime will probably have a finishing point by around season 5 but you really never know. In the meantime I’ll be content with my quality action shows like Dragon Ball Super and RWBY.

Overall 1/10

Leave No Trace Review

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It’s time to look at a survival film which mainly takes place in a large forest. It definitely goes to show why it’s such a tough task to take care of these places since people are always trying to go in there and try to live on the land. The authorities in this film are actually super lenient all things considered as I could easily see the main characters getting jail time for what they try to do. At the very least, that’s what I would picture Will’s fate would be. It’s an interesting film that’s pretty low key and is more of a down to Earth story than many other movies. It can be a bit on the tragic side as well though.

The movie starts with Will and his daughter Tom living in the forest. At first you wonder why they are there. Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Vampires running loose? No. It turns out that Will doesn’t like humanity so he has decided that the only way to enjoy life is to live outside without any other souls around. Even if the characters are alone they can’t live in a house unless it is one that Will found first and no humans have lent him. This is a rough lifestyle for Tom, but she does her best to get by. The cops eventually catch the two and Tom gets a glimpse of what life would be like with a warm bed and food. Still, Will isn’t satisfied so he tells her that they have to evade the cops and head back to the forest. Tom is reluctant to do this. Can they really survive under such a lifestyle? Well, she’s about to find out!

While you might not mind Will for a few minutes, you’ll probably know almost right away that something is off about this scenario. Why are the main characters living in the woods? Before the film reveals that Will is basically crazy you assume that maybe the zombie apocalypse came early or something like that. No, Will just doesn’t like to live like the average person and that’s when the sympathy for his character ends. You’re just waiting for Tom to try and escape him the whole time. It still makes for a pretty mysterious beginning though. I’ve never been a fan of camping so living outside for any prolonged period of time would definitely be pretty rough. It also doesn’t make for the most engaging of films typically but fortunately this movie doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the details. We don’t see them eating insects or anything like that. That’s when the film would have crossed the line.

While I can’t say that I liked Will, Tom’s a good character. She is trying her best to adapt to the situations she is put in and does so without a fuss. She is young enough where it is believable that she is following Will’s bad advice as well. You can’t really fault her for not trying harder to distance herself since that’s not really an option. By the end of the film she also makes the right call. Without Tom doing her best to help Will get used to the new lifestyle the whole thing probably would have been even tougher on the main characters.

It’s also a pretty interesting look at how the rangers prevent people like this from living in the forest. It’s certainly not a job I would envy as it seems extremely difficult so I hope they are compensated well. The forests are huge so you can imagine how tough it is to constantly be surveying it. The guard dog certainly did good as well. I’m not sure if this is how it works in real life with how the organization tries to re-locate these people, but if so then it is a much more generous process then I would have ever imagined. Rather then go to jail they give Will and Tom a fairly nice house and a whole lot of freedom. They have so much freedom in fact that I’m not sure if this is even a good idea. Of course the characters aren’t bad people in this case, but I do think this could have gotten very wrong. Of course it still isn’t enough to make Will happy, but it was a nice attempt by the agency. Even the tests they gave the main characters weren’t invasive in the slightest while still being a little effective. I’m not really sure I buy into how they really think you can understand someone through vague questions, but I know there is some science to it.

The film is certainly a slow burner though so you’ll need to appreciate the landscapes and atmosphere here. A good chunk of the story is the characters walking through the forest and doing their best to come to terms with the elements. The landscapes look pretty nice though and it’s definitely a forest that I would be up for visiting. I’m still more of a “lounge by the hotel” kind of guy, but it’s a good change of pace. Basically all of the human characters who show up are nice which is fortunate for the main characters since the situation could have gone sideways pretty quick. Characters like the truck driver were pretty reasonable and all of the dogs in the film were a blast. Again, pretty much every character aside from Will is solid so that’s definitely a good thing.

Overall, Leave No Trace is a pretty decent film. It can definitely be a little tragic at times as you feel bad for the rescue workers who are just doing their best. Naturally it can also be pretty tough for Tom the whole time. Fortunately the film always stays pretty tame and doesn’t let the situation get too absurdly bad for the main characters. It’s never a film that’s hard to watch. At most you’ll probably just get frustrated with Will the whole time which is intentional on the film’s part. Beyond that, it’s a pretty unique film and one that is probably informative as I imagine it is likely pretty realistic. These kind of films usually have a good basis in fact with the writer doing some research before the film comes out. If you want to see a film about how you could possibly survive in the forest (As long as you have a ton of money. Will is conveniently loaded so he can constantly buy whatever they need) and why it is not as good as just living in a house then this is the one for you.

Overall 6/10