Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Reign of the Supermen Review


It’s time to look at a pretty recent Superman film. This one is the follow up to the big battle with Doomsday that came out a while back. It’s a solid follow up that doesn’t quite match the action and intensity of the earlier film, but does give Superman’s supporting cast more of a role. If the last film was an end of the world type event then this film is the quick breather before things get back to end of the world stakes.

The film starts off by introducing us to the Supermen who have arrived to take over for Superman. One of these guys is Superboy who was created by Lex to show the world that the new Superman is under his leadership. He is fairly strong, but definitely has an ego and doesn’t seem ultra heroic. Then you’ve got Steel who doesn’t have any fancy super powers, but he does have his hammer which is pretty sturdy. You’ve got the Eradicator who is the most merciless of the Supermen and has made it his life
s goal to destroy all of the criminals. Even if the law doesn’t recognize someone as a criminal like Lex Luthor the Eradicator will try to take him down. Finally you’ve got the Cyborg Superman who claims to be the real one. He definitely seems the most compassionate of the 4 and the most powerful as well, but is it too good to be true? Lois must get to the bottom of this and get some closure on the status of Superman.

I’m less familiar with this follow up arc compared to the Doomsday one, but the film seems like a good take on it. Definitely more of a loose adaption since it’s putting this one in the New 52 continuity along with the Justice League. I miss the Blue and Red Supermen since I think they were in the original arc, but it is possible that they came in a little after. Either way, the important thing isn’t so much the adaption, but just how it stands up on its own.

First off the animation is still really good. I like the New 52 style animation, it’s actually decently close to how DC used to look at its peak. It may not be the DCAU, but it’s one of the next best things. It works well for the action scenes as well as the general landscape around the fights. Then the soundtrack is decent although not really memorable. The sounds and such work well during the film which is what counts.

From the 4 Supermen my favorite is still Cyborg Superman. He’s always been one of the better Superman characters so it’s nice to see him here. He may not be one of the most popular Superman villains, but he is still known well enough where people will probably be able to see through him pretty quick. His character arc goes down a pretty different path here as he actually works for someone which is a bit out of character. He does rectify this by the end which is good though. Then we have the Eradicator who is the next best member of the Supermen. It’s pretty interesting to see a Suprman who uses energy blasts instead of his fists. There’s a twist about his identity which works pretty well. It also makes him very versatile since he can really go anywhere.

Superboy is fun enough. He feels like the B grade version of Damian though. He is super confident, but tends to lose the fights he is in. It’s not his fault that he happens to be in a film with guys who are way stronger than him, but you would think that it would tone down his confidence a bit. He also has one critical moment where he just abandons someone to die as well. As I said, he’s just not very heroic. I think he’ll only get better from here on out though. Then you’ve got Steel who is the most out of his league here. He’s got a hammer, but what’s that gonna do against people who are as strong as Kryptonians? They can just shatter the hammer with ease. Steel means well though and he’s definitely a nice guy. He always gives me flashbacks of the old Steel film. I’m sure he’ll continue to be a useful ally as the films go on.

I do think that including the Justice League and the Darkseid plot was a bit of a mistake though. The main issue is that it brings in a lot of extra power level situations that aren’t actually needed here. One big question you’ll have is where are the League and what are they doing about the Superman situation. Well..not much of anything. Wonder Woman mentions that they’re stretched thin and then later on when they show up to help the President none of them actually want to go talk to Cyborg Superman. The way that they are written out of the film is also on the lazy side. You won’t actually be able to buy the scene for a second, not as long as someone like the Flash is there. This subplot does lead into the after credits scene which will likely be one of the best of the new line of DC titles. It still could have happened without the League actually appearing though. Just have the Cyborg Superman plot twist happen at the very end as he’s being defeated which leads to the cliffhanger. Darkseid and the gang are hype, but you know there’s no time for a proper round 2 anyway, that needs its own film.

The writing here is pretty solid. You’ve got an interesting plot that, while it may not have a whole lot of replay value thanks to the minimal amount of fights, makes for a good watch. It’s a fresh story so you’re ready to see where it leads you. The pacing here is good and it’s always interesting to see a world without Superman. The only scene that does drag on quite a bit is when Lois meets up with Wonder Woman. It seemed like a homage to one comic where they met up, but the dialogue was a lot stronger there. This scene mainly feels like it’s trying to buy time and it didn’t seem like it really set anything up either. Good to see that WW and Lois get along, but you could have probably guessed that anyway. I think if that had led up to a cool team up as they infiltrate LexCorp or something then that would be hype. Lois also has to use her charms to try and get some info at LexCorp so in general her plot was definitely one of the weak links here.

The best scenes are all when the Supermen are around and picking fights with each other. I haven’t mentioned Superman himself much yet, but he’s solid as always. He’s not really at full power here or even close to it so you don’t get to see him really taking it to anyone this time around. No worries, I’m sure he’ll get a lot of cool fight scenes in future movies as it is.

Overall, Reign of the Supermen is a fun concept and makes for a solid movie. It won’t go down as one of the more memorable DC titles, but there’s nothing really wrong with it either. It’s more of a low stakes film that focuses on the character development side of things. As Superman hasn’t gotten quite as much time in his Clark Kent form in this continuity I’m sure fans will like seeing how everyone reacts to him being gone. With this film done I’m pretty close to being caught up with the DC titles. Hopefully we get another Superman or Justice League film soon, but in the meanwhile the Wonder Woman one looks like it should be solid and Batman Hush always had an interesting plot.

Overall 7/10

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Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Sunset’s Backstage Pass Review


It’s time to look at the next big Equestria Girls special. This time Sunset takes center stage once more as she tries to enjoy a show despite Pinkie Pie’s best attempts to sabotage the whole thing. Sunset’s a very crafty character though so she definitely has some plans on how to stay ahead this time around. It’s a pretty nice homage to Groundhog Day which makes for a fun plot.

So the special starts off with Sunset and the gang waiting for the event to start. Sunset is hyped and the others are glad to be here even if they aren’t really planning on checking out the show. Only Pinkie Pie also wants to go, but she chooses Churros over everything else and a series of wacky circumstances causes Sunset to miss out. She wishes that she could try again and her wish comes true. Now she has a chance to go to the event. The problem is that the day continues to reset every night so now Sunset has to try and get out of the time loop, but is that even possible?

You definitely feel pretty bad for Sunset here since she is trying her best to accomplish her goals, but Pinkie Pie is here to stop her best attempts at every turn. That’s not the kind of friend that you want to have at your corner. You can maybe make the argument that Pinkie Pie doesn’t know better at first, but in some of the attempts Sunset really tries to explain to Pinkie Pie why she doesn’t want anything to go wrong and Pinkie doesn’t care. She even leaves Sunset alone to fight the villains while she grabs her Churros later on. It’s clear that Pinkie has got her priorities in a pretty iffy order here. She’s really a bad character in this special. Pinkie Pie has always been one of my least favorites as the series went on and she became more annoying than quirky, but this special probably takes the cake.

The rest of the Mane 6 don’t get to do a whole lot. When push comes to shove they do take Pinkie’s side over Sunset’s which is understandable since they are closer friends, but they aren’t particularly useful in this adventure. Twilight in particular may be disappointing for fans because she just restates the obvious and barely even tries to help Sunset. Sunset is truly on her own in this one, but she does a good job all things considered. She continues to learn more each time the day is started over and tries many different ways to get out. Her idea of being nice to Pinkie Pie in one timeline was good even if that surprisingly wasn’t the way out. Then she tracked down the villains who were red herrings.

Make no mistake, there are some villains in this special, but the old ones aren’t actually behind this latest series of events. They are really just around to sing songs and try to make a career. That doesn’t leave too many suspects, but I suppose I still won’t say who the villains are just in case. I didn’t mind the actual villains. They were pretty reasonable even if they didn’t get a lot of screen time. Their goals are a little weaker than the previous antagonists, but I still wouldn’t say they were terrible or anything. At the end of the day the still did manage to go pretty far.

As always the animation isn’t bad. It’s definitely not really my style, but it’s all pretty clear so you always know what is going on. That’s a good thing. There aren’t any real action scenes to test the animators this time, but you can’t win em all. Surprisingly we didn’t get a lot of songs this time. In fact, the mane 6 didn’t get to sing so it was up to the supporting characters this time. The song was actually fairly catchy though. I don’t think you’ll really remember it for very long, but just having a song can definitely go a long way.

As always there is a moral here, but how effective it is will depend on how you tolerate Pinkie Pie. The message is that even if you have to miss an event, being able to hang out with your friends is more important. That’s certainly true, but there’s also a reason why they say you never take a close friend to your favorite cafe. You want to keep your spot separate in case things don’t go well. So since Sunset was really looking forward to the play it may have been safer to go by herself, but these guys usually do everything together so it makes sense to go with Pinkie and the others. I just think that Pinkie should have been a lot more considerate all things considered.

The writing is strong and the pacing is good. I do think this special threw more twists and turns at you than some of the previous ones. At around 25 minutes in Sunset realized that her whole theory was wrong and the characters had to do some backtracking. The kept evolving with their theories and wasn’t very linear which is good. You’ll definitely be engaged with what’s going on and while it’s played for humor, you can also feel Sunset getting more and more desperate since literally re-living an entire day is definitely rough. She was here for weeks which would drive anyone crazy. Sunset managed to keep it together, but I’m sure she’ll be a lot more careful about what she wishes for going forward.

Overall, Sunset’s Backstage Pass is a fun special. It definitely delivers on the usual MLP qualities you would expect here. The characters are nice enough and it’s just a pleasant plot that you could really show anyone. It may not be ground breaking or one of the all time greats for MLP, but it was solid and a pretty good way to end the Equestria Girl movies. Of course I do hope they keep the brand going though. You never want to see something just end like that. If you haven’t checked this one out yet then I’d recommend changing that.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

One Piece Strong World Review


This has definitely been a movie that’s been on the backburner for quite a while. Strong World is known as one of the better One Piece films or at least when it came out it was known as such. After that we got some heavy hitters like Z and Gold which have also forged a name for themselves. Strong World is definitely a fun film but definitely a step under Gold and I get the feeling that Z will win. It’s a good all around adventure, but does have some issues.

The film starts off with the Strawhats scattered once again amidst a bunch of flying islands. We then see that Nami has been captured by the pirate known as Shiki, the strongest man in the world. Luffy and friends will have to hurry if they want to save her and after this we also learn how she was captured in the first place. Shiki has amassed a large pirate army and many other crews have also gathered to help him wipe out the East Blue. The stakes are high and continue to escalate as the terror approaches the home of the Strawhats.

Shiki is definitely established as a powerful villain here since he is untouchable for most of the heroes and even Luffy has to play defense for most of their encounters. The film makes it very clear that Shiki is stronger than Luffy. In a straight fight the hero just has no shot to win here. While not unheard of, it is still rare to see Luffy losing like this. He takes quite a lot of hits throughout the film. Shiki’s ability is to manipulate gravity and that helps him enhance his speed and power as well. Shiki is definitely a powerful enemy, but I can’t say that I cared for him.

He’s super quirky to the point where it is hard to keep thinking of him as a threat. He panics with his subordinates quite a bit after all and has a very short memory span. Nami manages to escape from him several times as well so you do have to doubt his security measures. Being good in a fight is not enough to make you a great enemy. His two lieutenants also aren’t all that good. One is basically King Kong and the other one is decent with a sword, but too busy trying to keep up charades to actually remain as a threat.

As expected the animation is quite good. Surprisingly the film doesn’t lead off with the big high budget scene. Typically the films love to show the environment and the animation in the first shots like in all of the Pokemon films. For the One Piece film it starts off with a Shiki scene first and then cuts away to Luffy which is where the animation goes way up. The visuals for the jungles are definitely quite solid and the whole thing is very smooth. This is one area where it can definitely hold its own against the newer titles.

I also really liked the soundtrack. The tunes are a lot more fun than what is in the actual show. It’s going for a very “nature-esque” array of themes which makes sense since Luffy is in the jungle the whole time. It’s all very fast paced and high energy. The film definitely went all in on a technical level.

So where does the film falter? Well, it does have a fanservice issue. To an extent we can always expect that with One Piece with Nami around, but Gold for example did a good job of restraining itself. Maybe a tiny moment here and there, but Strong World just keeps it coming for quite a bit. It’s enough where it is noticeable. As mentioned, the villains are also a little on the weak side. The ones in Gold had a lot more character. Brook also still exists and so naturally most of his dialogue is terrible.

It is also a bit iffy to see Luffy and the others get wrecked so badly, but that I can roll with since you can’t ask for the strongest villain to fight and then be upset when he clobbers the heroes. At least Luffy and the others put up a fight although Luffy should have gone into Gear 2 as soon as Shiki went after Nami. There’s no real reason to hold back when lives are at stake right? Zoro and Sanji are definitely shown to be out of their league this time, but they do get to contribute a little at least. The scene of the whole team trying to fight Shiki was cool because they almost never get to fight an enemy like that. The only time I can think of off the top of my head is when they all fought Aokji. I love group fights like that and for One Piece I feel like that may never happen again, but the series has a ways to go so hopefully they do get to do that. In the meanwhile the movies help with this since it’s a lot easier to have the whole group assemble here.

A standout character was actually a thunder bird named Billy. At first you expect he’ll just be a fun animal mascot to aid Nami, but the guy can fight. He takes out a ton of giant monsters and without him Luffy wouldn’t have stood a chance against Shiki. Billy’s the kind of movie character you want to have. He doesn’t steal moments from the main cast, but does assist a lot so he doesn’t feel like a filler character either. The guy just wants to help his friends out and you can’t go wrong there.

One key part that the film does right is keeping the adventure very fast paced like all good fantasy films should. There’s rarely a time where the film really slows down so there is a lot of replay value. I may not call this film great, but I did have a fun time and there’s a lot to like here. It’s just a good popcorn fun adventure where you get to see all of the characters unleash their signature abilities and take down some villains. It’s a little contrived that both Sanji and Zoro’s opponents escaped only to have to fight them again though. I’m thinking they wanted to include their second intros, but you do have to wonder how the villains would have escaped in the first place.

Overall, Strong World is definitely a fun film that I’d recommend. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not you’ll definitely enjoy it. There are enough recap nods and such to ensure that even people unfamiliar with the series can get into it. I thought the opening showing off all the members of the crew was handled really well. They all get the name bumpers and a quick scene so you can see what they can do. Nami is the last to be shown, but I think you’ll still be able to tell that Luffy is the main character since his segment is the longest and he just feels like your classic Shonen lead. I’ve always loved character intros like this so One Piece really nailed it here. I look forward to seeing what the next film is like.

Overall 7/10

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Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review


It’s time to look at a crossover that came out pretty recently. I never read the comic although it always looked pretty cool. The film seems to be a pretty straight adaption which is nice and it’s definitely a story that holds up well. I’d consider this to be one of the stronger recent DC films and I’d definitely be up for a sequel since there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end.

The film starts off with a group of FOOT soldiers showing up in Gotham and stealing some kind of experimental tech. Batman decides to look into it and the next target is determined to be Wayne Tech. He prevents them from stealing the device, but is ultimately defeated by their leader, The Shredder. Batman now needs to figure out how to stop this threat and believes there may be a connection with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They’d better give him some details or he’ll be taking them down.

With a crossover you always want a definitive victor and the film did a good job with that. Batman does fight the 4 turtles and he pretty easily takes them down. The fight is also very early on in the film which I think was a good idea. I like build up for a film as well but I feel like this outcome was pretty obvious from the start (no shade to the turtles) so this just made sense. Batman and Shredder also have a fight with an actual outcome which was cool. I definitely won’t say who won of course, but it was a really solid fight and there were no cop outs. I can’t say I agree with the outcome necessarily but I can respect it. It’s a pretty close fight either way and as a crossover it’s nice to see them battle since they’re both considered to be in the top% of hand to hand fighters in their respective universes.

The animation will take a little time to get used to I’d say. The character designs are a bit off and it’s definitely a step down from the mainstream DC films. Still, it’s probably this way to look more like the comic. Donatello is a little too slim but the others are mostly on point. I’d say that Leonardo definitely had the best design from the 4. The fight scenes don’t suffer from this as the characters just get right into the thick of the action and the fight scenes are nice and extended. There is time for both combatants to really get in on the action. Batman’s fight with the Shredder round 1 is the best part of the movie without a doubt.

This film has pretty solid writing to back it up as well. There isn’t really a weak point here and that’s important. At worst you can say that the breaking into Arkham for the 100th time was a bit old by this point. I wouldn’t have minded sticking to the main plot, but that probably would have made the film a little too short. The scene of Batman deciding that the turtles were getting in his way was also a little forced for drama I’d say. Still, these are extremely minor things.

Batman’s definitely the best character in the movie. He really gets to make the most of his experience and hand to hand combat skills. He may not trust the others much, but at the end of the day he’ll make the right call. Sadly this is one of Damian’s weaker appearances. He just isn’t nearly as skilled as he usually is and only puts up a fight against the Turtles in a bit of a comic relief battle. I feel like in a serious fight he should be able to beat them like Batman. Batgirl doesn’t get a huge role, but she is around for the Arkham battles and helps out. She gets to show off her intellect a lot here.

From the Turtle side, Leonardo’s the best one. He gets a lot of action and is certainly shown to be the most skilled of the turtles. He is always the one to help the heroes make a comeback and also manages to keep his emotions in check when it looks like it is curtains for the others. Raphael also looks reasonably good here. He definitely doesn’t get to have any real wins compared to Leonardo, but he is quick to get in on the action. Donatello and Michelangelo definitely can’t compete. Donatello at least has the planning on his side but Michelangelo is mainly just here for the gags. The comic relief character is usually doomed to be one of the weaker ones in the film.

For the villains, Shredder definitely looked good. It’s always nice to see him in his more serious incarnations. His armor was also top quality to hold its own against Batman’s. (Although Batman’s spikes were definitely shown to be sharper) I feel like Shredder was on the losing end of the bargain though since he has to trust Ra’s to keep his end of the bargain. Way I see it, you should never finish your part of the plan before the other guy has a chance to start his. Then there’s no incentive for the other guy to do his part. Meanwhile Ra’s definitely looks good. I don’t think this plan was his most brilliant one, but he does a good job of making sure it succeeds. He also puts in a pretty good fight which is to be expected since he’s a premiere fighter as well.

There are other sub villains, but they don’t get a huge role. Most of the Arkham guys aren’t even in their right minds since they took the serum. It was definitely a unique choice for the fights, but I think it would have been even better if they had stayed in their normal designs. The Arkham stuff was probably the weakest part of the film compared to the other acts, but at the end of the day it was basically nonstop fight scenes so it was still pretty solid. You can’t go wrong with a good action scene. Naturally the film does get a little violent at times, but it’s never nearly as excessive as some of DC’s other titles. A few people get sliced and diced but that’s basically the extent of it.

Overall, Batman vs the Ninja Turtles is a great film. There’s a lot of action here and a steady amount of good dialogue. I was definitely on Team Batman all the way, but the turtles make for good sidekicks. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s always nice to have more crossovers get animated and this was a great pick. I’m hoping we get more such titles at some point. Maybe we can finally get the Superman vs He Man movie at some point.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Little Pony: Rainbow Roadtrip Review


It’s time for the latest look at the MLP series. This special throws in the movie type animation which is a nice twist. It’s a good way to keep the fans satisfied as we await the rest of the final season. It’s a pretty fun special that gives each of the main characters a nice role while reminding us that there is always time for friendship. I would have liked a good fight scene though.

The special starts with the Mane 6 getting ready to leave Ponyville as they have been invited to a Rainbow event and Dash will be the guest of honor. However, when the heroes arrive at this town everything appears to be off. None of the events are as advertised and nobody wants to talk to them. The town has had its color drained away and have lost their happiness. Twilight and the others decide to introduce friendship to this town as they get this festival going. Can they really bring the color back!?

The special is definitely pretty solid so I’ll address the only weak point right off the bat. From the premise you are initially expecting some kind of villain here. After all, it’s not like the color left on its own right? Unfortunately the special does not take that route. There are no action scenes in this special nor is there a real villain. Sure, this series isn’t really about that but throwing in a villain would have been great even if she would have been doomed to turn good by the end. In a lot of ways this special feels like a redo of the Starlight Glimmer episode only without a lot of the best parts. Of course this doesn’t really hurt the score since it’s more of a “what if” than anything else, but it would have been pretty cool to have gotten a little more intensity in here.

All of the Mane 6 look pretty good. I’d say that Applejack and Rainbow Dash were the most dependable members of the crew though. Applejack really got the townsfolk to believe in themselves while Rainbow Dash inspired confidence in her fan club. They actively helped bring the color back into the town which was important. They also took the situation in stride pretty well. Twilight Sparkle tried using her science to secure a win here, but at the end of the day this task proved a little too difficult for her on her own. Together with the others she was ultimately able to succeed though.

Pinkie Pie probably looks the worst from the main characters though. She was almost mean with how she was knocking the old couple’s apricot pies. She has to realize that part of the problem here is that without being able to see color the apricots are all going to look the same. Then you’ve also got the issue with the neighbor being the only one with the good fruits. The resolution here is definitely a little on the cheesy side. It’s a decent subplot, but one where Pinkie Pie didn’t help quite as much as she could have.

Rainbow’s subplot is pretty good. The kids definitely mean well and did a good job of making the unofficial fanclub. It’s really one of the only parts of the town that was actually real even if they were short on members. The main plot involves one of the ponies blaming himself for what happened. I can see why though since he really did mess up here. There is a twist about this though so it’s not 100% his fault. He really just needed more confidence in general.

As I mentioned the animation is definitely pretty good here. The character models are on point and in general this style just makes every pony feel a lot more authentic. This style just fills out the characters a lot better than the old flash style could. Meanwhile we do get a big song at the end which is good. I wouldn’t say that it’s one of the strongest songs in MLP or anything like that but it’s always good to have a song regardless.

There isn’t much to say about the special in general because the whole thing is pretty straight forward, but it’s good at what it does. The writing is on point so even if the whole situation seems rather mild it makes for a pretty interesting special. You’ll definitely be on board right away and there’s no part of the special that drags on which is always important. It’s just a fun experience even if it may not leave much of an impression after you’ve finished it.

Overall, Rainbow Roadtrip is definitely a special that I would recommend to all big MLP fans. It definitely feels like one of the old episodes where you didn’t have to worry about supporting characters so the original 6 get all of the screen time. As good as the supporting characters are, it’s always good to be able to focus on the originals once in a while. There’s nothing to really dislike about the special and I hope to see more like this one in the future.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Review


It’s time to look at the follow up to the original Lego Movie. That one was a pretty big hit and did a good job of being a big Warner Bros crossover. It was a good blend of action and comedy and brought the lego genre over to the general public. Unfortunately this sequel missed the mark on just about everything that made the first film so good. The biggest problem here though is that the film insists on making the human characters a bigger part of the experience and I don’t think this was a good move.

The heroes saved the universe last time, but the world is invaded by new creatures. I’ll quickly mention here that it was neat how quickly these guys attacked. It’s almost like the second Mortal Kombat film in that respect as they really waste absolutely no time. The heroes get wrecked and we get a 5 year timeskip. The Justice League left a while back to put a stop to these guys but they were never seen again. The invaders seem to be after colorful objects so the heroes removed all of them and now live in a very grim apocalyptic world. They’ve all adapted to these tough times except for Emmett. He still wants everyone to be happy but as a result his new house brings the invaders back. They break in and steal the 5 strongest heroes. Emmett must now man up and try to save them along with the help of the mysterious Rex. Can they do it?

Lets jump right into the human part of the movie. The big problem with throwing them into the mix is how it takes away from the actual movie. It worked a bit as a twist in the first movie, but this one should have just ignored the human aspect. Whenever the humans appear the film acknowledges this by showing us how everything happening in the fictional world is just pretend. Even the villain references this quite a lot about how their actions don’t matter since it’s all imagination. The heroes have the ability to slightly move but that’s about it. Also, the human scenes are pretty cringey. Maybe if the owners were adults it would help, but kids? Yeah, that’s not gonna work.

I think that if you’re gonna add human characters then you need to do it like in Toy Story. It works there because it’s acknowledges that the toys actually can move and think. They just pretend to be toys. In these films it’s basically stated that they actually are toys that only have small wills and can’t really do much of anything. It really takes you out of the zone whenever they show up.

If you ignore the humans then it’s still fun enough, but that’s hard to do. Rex makes for a pretty good character here. I dare say that he was probably the best character in the movie. He kept everyone on their toes and did a good job building his space ship and not being afraid of anything. He’s probably one of the only characters here who is actually prepared for an invasion. Even Batman wasn’t quite able to match this guy here. Batman gets his good share of scenes, but then towards the end there’s a bit of a marriage plot that doesn’t help his case. That whole plot….was not very good. I preferred the invasion dynamic. Of course the team-up is inevitable once you see the human plot, but it’s one that we really didn’t need.

Emmett is decent although I dare say he was better in the first film. Like all of the characters say here, the guy just hasn’t adjusted while everyone else has. While he is still a nice guy, those qualities that helped them in the first film are actually holding them back in this one. Every time there is a tense scene he quickly does something with comic relief to try and defuse the tension. It’s likely because he isn’t ready for this level of drama but after a point you want the heroes to put him on the bench so the real fighters can get in on the action.

Wyldstyle looks good as always though. When the first wave showed up she is one of the only ones who is able to put up a fight. She’s still got good fighting moves even if there are less opportunities to show them here. She’s definitely the best hero on the team. From the villains the best member was definitely Mayhem. She can also fight and definitely does a good job of infiltrating the hero base. If the villains had even one more fighter like her then the heroes would have definitely been doomed from the start.

As for the animation, it’s Lego style which still isn’t really my thing. That being said, I do feel like the animation here wasn’t quite as good as in the first film. This one feels more “normal” like any average TV special. The first one went all in with the action scenes and visuals. It could be in part due to the fact that there are less colorful backdrops here though or maybe that there’s less action and more comedy instead so the animators can’t show off. Regardless that part isn’t one of its strengths. The soundtrack is decent. We get a new rendition of Everything is Awesome although it’s not quite as good. I was surprised that the film didn’t opt to go for a whole new song instead but nothing wrong with throwing in a good remix.

One thing I’d like to have seen more here is the heroes manipulating the lego pieces to turn them into vehicles and weapons. That’s always been a pretty cool visual in the Lego films and the first one used it quite a bit. When you can turn anything into a weapon it really makes you a fighter to be feared. Emmett did try this near the beginning when he made a robot suit and while it wasn’t effective, I’d like to see him and the others do more of that. The final battle could have really been a battle of builders if the film had gone that route. It’s definitely the best way to handle the Lego visuals.

Overall, The Lego Movie 2 feels like one of those sequels that was slapped together for no real reason. It doesn’t really do anything original and instead just feels like a much weaker version of the first Lego movie. I think it should have had more screen time from Batman and I dare say that it should have had more fights with the invaders. There are some pretty neat themes here like time travel, but it’s not quite as big a factor as you would expect. I also liked the fake out for the film ending. It had been long enough where if you didn’t know your tropes you may have actually believed it for a second so that was cool, but does lead into the next part. The film’s pretty long and parts of it tend to drag on by the end. If you saw the first film then I suppose you should watch this one so you can say that you saw the full saga, but otherwise you should just stick to the first film. Still, it’s not as if it’s the weakest of the Lego films. There are still enough moments where you will have fun here. Hopefully we do get a proper end to the trilogy at some point though.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

All Dogs Go to Heaven Review


I definitely know this film pretty well from the title, but certainly not the movie. Now I could finally really experience this classic. It’s definitely a pretty fun film although without the ability to come back from Heaven it would be a pretty grim tale for these dogs. Who knew that even dogs have to deal with gang violence and all of these villains trying to mess with the system. This is definitely a quality film that I’d recommend.

The movie starts with Charlie and Itchy escaping from the Pound. This place means business as there are armed guards and a bunch of sirens. The heroes manage to just barely evade this rain of bullets, but their survival is very short lived as Carface shows up and murders Charlie. Charlie never did trust this guy. Well, now that Charlie is in heaven it would seem like his dreams of money are over, but he’s actually got one more chance. See, you can sneak out of Heaven and that’s exactly what Charlie does. He’s now safe from dying as long as he holds onto his watch. He then meets a little girl named Anne-Marie who has the ability to speak to animals. Charlie senses that some money can be made this way so he tricks her into a team up. She’ll get him rich and in exchange Charlie vows to find her parents. The scheme is working well, but can he keep it up or will she eventually see through him?

From that plot you can basically imagine how the rest of the film will go down. Eventually Charlie’s conscience starts to catch up with him and he also realizes that he thinks of Anne as a friend. By then it’s a little hard for him to make a comeback but it’s never too late to help a friend right? The film definitely has its share of emotional moments contained within. It goes for a balance of humor and emotion which I think works out pretty well. This is due in no small part to the fact that the writing is on point here. The character cast is strong and the plot is pretty nice.

As I mentioned earlier, the movie can also get surprisingly intense which is also handled well. One such scene is when the villains do a drive by and start shooting Charlie. If not for his lucky watch that would have been game over. These villains are clearly not messing around and that is actually pretty rare in these films. Usually they are content to just make threats from the sidelines and hide a lot. That’s definitely not how Carface and his team operate. It’s definitely one of those cases where the minions really only serve him out of fear though. Carface makes it obvious that he’ll take them all down when the time is right. He comes very close to sacrificing his general after all.

Charlie’s a solid lead even if he is pretty antagonistic for a while. I also think that he didn’t plan things too well as it should be obvious that Carface would come after him again once Charlie had amassed a lot of money. Why wouldn’t he make a second attempt at the lead’s life? Meanwhile, Itchy is a good second in command. He’s a loyal partner to the end. You can understand his frustration near the climax as well since it looks like he was beaten up quite a lot while Charlie was having fun singing songs. I feel like Charlie may have even forgotten about him completely a some points.

Anne is a nice enough kid even if she is a little on the gullible side. I’m still not a big fan of kids taking center stage in these things, but she could have been a lot worse. I’d prefer it if she didn’t take the whole thing so personally, but again, that is asking an awful lot out of the kid. At least she is trying to make Charlie a better person so that’s always good. Then you’ve got King Gator who is definitely a powerful ally to have. He doesn’t get a lot of scenes, but the ones that he does get are pretty critical. He’s not really my kind of character either, but he gets the job done.

I enjoyed the animation here. It’s definitely pretty sharp and the character designs are on point. It works well for the action scenes and the quick speed of the animations helps it keep up with the pace of the film. We also get some songs here. They aren’t quite on the level of Disney, but they’re catchy. Charlie probably got one of the better songs when he was getting the kids to share their pizza. I don’t blame the pups for being skeptical though, how do you share a single slice of pizza? That’s not going to be enough to fill anyone up.

Overall, All Dogs Go To Heaven is a pretty fun film and I’d definitely recommend it. This feels like a complete movie as it really has everything you’d need in a feature like this. It’s got danger, comedy, and suspense. The writing is good and there are no sections of the film that really drag on. It can be annoying to see Anne falling for all the tricks since you know she’s going to take it hard later on, but even if you know the story beats that are coming up the film doesn’t overplay them. There’s just nothing to really dislike about this movie and the replay value is pretty good. It’s the kind of film you could see a second time and still have a similar experience. I wonder if the sequels will end up being as good.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Hunter X Hunter: The Last Mission Review


It’s time to look at the final HXH movie. The first one was definitely pretty fun and it was nice to see Killua take the lead. This one has a more traditional plot and more action and does pass the first film for me. I do think there are some missed opportunities here but the teasing for fights that don’t end up happening is pretty accurate to the show I suppose.

The film starts with Gon and Killua heading to the battle tower to cheer on their friend Zushi as he prepares to fight his way to the top. They meet up with Biscuit and Zushi’s trainer and the fights have apparently attracted a lot of top players as well. The royalty that Kurapika has been assigned to protect is also in the audience so naturally he has accompanied her and even Hisoka and Netero have decided to come and watch. Everything appears to be going well and nobody would dare attack with so many big shots but Leorio finds out that this is not the case. On his way to the tower he is taken down by a group of villains and then they take control of the tower. Netero is being restrained on the top floor and everyone else is being held hostage. Gon, Killua, and Kurapika are the tower’s last hope now.

Right away this movie definitely feels more on the high budget side than the last one. I think the animators definitely enjoyed the first scene of Gon dashing around and grabbing the balloon. It seemed like an animation showcase kind of moment and the colors are definitely extra bright. As a result of the smooth animation Gon and Killua also look a bit younger than usual, but they are kids so this does make sense. I definitely enjoyed the animation here and it really does stick out for the fight scenes. They’re nice and fast which is always a good thing to have.
There may not be as many fight scenes as I would like but Gon and Killua’s teamup was excellently done and the climax with the main villain was also pretty solid. It’s a clash of energy for the most part and seeing Gon in a movie exclusive form was neat as well. The villains are fortunate that this wasn’t late Chimera arc or Killua could have definitely ended them all with his Godspeed.

There aren’t really any themes here that didn’t show up in the show at some point. The show themes work pretty well though and we get to see multiple endings too. The themes work well for the scenes and are definitely solid. The film goes by pretty quick and the pacing is definitely solid. It does lead me to the film’s only weakness though and that is how the film ends before a lot of the characters actually get to do anything.

Now, this may be intentional as the series is known for teasing the fans, but the movie brings a lot of characters here to not actually do anything. Hisoka, Biscuit, and Zushi’s teacher are big examples of this. Hisoka shows up to make a lot of threats and talk tough, but by the end he is having fun just being a coach of sorts and decides not to take any direct action. Surely the film could have added one more member of the group whose purpose was to get eliminated by him right? Biscuit and the teacher can also fight so it was a bit iffy to see them just stay as hostages and not do anything. They fight some random minions at the end, but that doesn’t really count for anything. It’s not the kind of thing that ultimately hurts the film’s score, but I think the film would have been even better if they could have done something.

Meanwhile, at this point in the game Killua and Gon are way ahead of Kurapika and Leorio and I’d say that the film does acknowledge this. Kurapika’s abilities are pretty versatile, but because of the conditions he has placed he is only really deadly against the spiders. The bulk of his abilities don’t work on other enemies so at that point he has to rely on his pure hand to hand skills. He does a good job all things considered and healing is important as well, but he wouldn’t have a chance against the stronger villains. Tactics are still his strongest suit though and it was good to see him figure out to get to the control room right away. That being said, his strength against Uvogin was pretty good and I believe that wasn’t part of the chains so if he still has that level of ability I think he could have done better in the fight.

Leorio definitely doesn’t look great here. At first when he mentions his nen I thought we were going to see him actually fight, but in the end all he gets to do is block. He still helped out in his own way, but I was waiting for him to do more. He still looked better than Netero though. Netero’s fans should not be pleased as he gets caught in a really basic trap and spends the whole film being helpless. Even when he finally gets ready to fight all he can manage is a stand still. I think he was pretty nerfed in this adventure if I’m being honest and I was expecting more out of him. For all his tough talk you’d think that Gon surpassed him here.

Meanwhile Gon is definitely still pretty obsessive like in the Ant arc. He gets pretty intense about never forgiving the villains once they attack Netero and fights with a vengeance the whole time. He’s quick to embrace the darkness to try and save the others. His quick determination to do whatever it takes is good and it’s something he embodies more than a lot of the other Shonen leads. At the same time he’s also a lot more selfish and once he gets a goal he is fine with ditching his friends to accomplish it. Turning over to the darkness should have destroyed him if he was anyone but the main character. While I don’t think he thought all of this over too well, he definitely did good in a fight.

Killua is the true star as expected though. While Gon surpassed him temporarily with his real conditions mode, Killua has always been a step ahead for the most part and the film does a good job of showing this. While Gon is definitely stronger, Killua does have the speed advantage which is really useful in a fight. I felt like he could have beaten the villain pretty quickly if not for the location and the fact that the villain was only fighting with Gon for the most part. He was basically ignoring Killua the whole time. Killua is definitely the perfect ally to have around as well since he’ll do his best to protect everyone the whole time.

As for the villains, they’re not a bad bunch. While the film does give them an origin story it was pretty brief. The main villain Jed is definitely the best one. His dark powers are cool and he had a pretty solid plan. The fact that he can fight Netero on even ground is definitely not something to be taken lightly and he was holding the heroes at bay pretty well. The kid who dies early on didn’t really get to do anything so I can’t say much about her.

The other villain who got the most development here would be Geki. He likes a good fight and is one of the more honorable villains. He’s definitely got legitimate strength and does a good job hanging in there during his big fight. Zushi definitely didn’t stand a chance against this guy even without his fancy powers. Shura is more of a tactical villain, but he definitely has some moves as well. While not as cool as Geki he does round out the villain group pretty well.

Overall, The Last Mission is definitely a solid HXH film. It definitely feels a lot more like a classic Shonen Jump film than the last one. Getting everyone together and then bringing in the big fights is all you really need to have a quality experience. I do think the film should have given the characters more to do though. I’m also extremely skeptical that all of the floor masters would lose to these guys, dart or no dart. They should all have crazy nen abilities of their own and part of the point of Hunter X Hunter is that you never know what to expect before you fight. At least one of them should have had an ability that would have won the battle. While you might have to suspend some disbelief for the power levels, I’d argue that this is the case for most anime films. It’s a fun ride through and through so I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

An American Tail Review


It’s time to look at an old animated film that you may or may not know. It’s certainly not quite as popular as the average Disney film, but at the same time it has certainly earned a reasonable legacy over the years. It’s a decently good film, but one that doesn’t really stand out. It’s sort of going through the motions and is about as standard as you can get. So I enjoyed it, but I admit that it doesn’t really have any replay value.

The film follows a family of mice who have decided to escape from Russia. The country has become too dangerous with the cats running around at every corner. They figure that America will be a lot safer since supposedly there are no cats there. Unfortunately, Fievel manages to get lost from the group and makes it to America via bottle. He must now find his family and endure a lot of hardships along the way. Maybe America isn’t quite as safe as they had all assumed.

It’s a classic adventure movie in that regard as Fievel meets up with a few allies on his way to his family. Two of these allies are Tony and Bridget. Tony is one of those guys with a lot of street smarts and so he is able to help Fievel find his family. He’s definitely super useful and if anything it’s surprising that Fievel didn’t seem to care much. When they are first kidnapped (This is before FIevel actually knew Tony) Fievel quickly busts out and then runs off without checking to see if anyone was following him. Tony has to track Fievel down on his own. While surprising, I was actually impressed with Fievel’s initiative here. He wasn’t wasting any time in finding his folks. While he does get a little down towards the end, he stays pretty strong for most of the film.

Bridget is a mouse who is asking the others to fight with her against the Cats. She believes that they outnumber their oppressors and as such they should join the good fight to rid the world of the felines. The problem is that the other mice don’t have such confidence so her words fall on deaf ears. She ends up traveling with Fievel and Tony which will aid her goals. There’s also a bird named Henri who is a solid ally. He doesn’t travel with the others since he is busy constructing his statue of liberty but he does help by giving Fievel a lot of moral support at the beginning. Without him FIevel wouldn’t have had the will to search for his folks in the first place.

The animation is pretty smooth here. It will definitely remind you of classic Disney in that sense. The character designs are always on point and the action scenes are solid too. The water is drawn really well and the scene of Fievel getting swept off the ship was definitely intense. It’s totally his fault in every way, but still an intense scene. There’s not really much of a soundtrack though and the songs do pale in comparison to the average animated film. There is one pretty good montage song though. While I wasn’t a big fan of the song itself it was fun to see mice from various countries talk about their own difficult experiences with the cats. They kept trying to top each other with their various origin stories and they were all different. None of them were copy and paste ideas and the writers did a good job of making them all pretty serious with fun references to the local cultures.

While Fievel and his supporting cast were good, the family was pretty annoying the whole time. The sister believed that he was still alive at least and kept telling the others that they should look for him, but meanwhile the parents lose hope almost immediately. I guess the idea of a mouse surviving amidst a huge storm in the middle of the ocean is farfetched, but at least to appease the sister I’d like to see them make an attempt early on.

Meanwhile the only weak part of the film was probably the romance between Tony and Bridget. It doesn’t really make any sense with how rushed it is. They fall for each other almost instantly and considering their hard boiled characters it should take a little more time to thaw out and go for romance. It’s not played up too much I suppose, but it’s enough of a distraction where the film could have used that for more chase scenes or plot developments. Beyond that I’d say the writing is good. It can be a bit annoying to see the characters so close to each other the whole time, but constantly not seeing each other, but I can see that happening in a big city. Fievel should have listened to Tony more though, I think that would have sped up his journey.

Overall, An American Tail is a film that plays it by the books. There aren’t any real wrinkles to this story but nothing bad either. It’s just a classic adventure where you get to see the world from a mouse’s point of view. It doesn’t have the personality of something like Stuart Little but it’s still a film with quality confirmed. If you haven’t checked this movie out yet and want a fun film to check out this one’s a good pick. It’s short and to the point. If you’re wondering whether or not it beat the Little Mermaid though, I gotta say that Mermaid easily defeats this film.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Digimon Adventure Tri: Future Review


We’ve finally made it to the final installment in the Digimon Tri series! There were quite a lot of plot threads still dangling so does this one manage to finish them off? Well, it does end the main plot, but for the most part we still don’t know a whole lot about what was going on in the back end. Perhaps it’s intentional as the Digidestined are also left in the dark for the most part. So, I wouldn’t clal this a rushed ending, but I wouldn’t say it is a super satisfactory one either. It’s ultimately a fun sequel package that will have a good amount of replay value, but I do think the next follow up will likely be far better so long as it goes back to its roots. The film does end with a nice potential cliffhanger. Whichever option it chooses should work out pretty well.

So last time Tai seemingly died when the cliff caved in due to an unnatural earthquake caused by the Digi souls and the rulers. Matt is now the temporary leader and the group decides to head back to the human world once again. They’ve basically been playing ping pong across the two worlds if you think about it. Unfortunately Meicoomon has digivolved once again and is now a cosmic being that seemingly can’t be stopped. The heroes are ready to accept their end, but if they’re going to die anyway they’ll go down fighting. Even if there is a chance for victory it may have to come at the expense of Meicoomon. Is there a way to save her or will they have to sacrifice the one for the many?

One unfortunate part about having Meicoomon be so powerful here is that fact that we can’t get any real fight scenes as a result. Meicoomon’s final form is too large to really take shots at the opponents and at the same time it’s so durable that it doesn’t need to dodge opponent strikes. This leads to a bit of a stalemate where the heroes can talk to it, but don’t do much else. There isn’t really any kind of big fight here so much as we just get a quick strike. It’s too bad since the films usually had such good fights when they did show up. I suppose as the finale the thought battles were the most important part here. So lets talk about those.

Throughout the series one of the subtle debates has been if the heroes should destroy their Digimon partners if they were to ever turn evil. Their bonds of friendship are strong, but apparently not absolute. Well, Meiko has been asking the team to destroy Meicoomon if necessary but they were confident that it wouldn’t come down to that. Well, in this film quite a few of the characters decide to go ahead and do this even while Kairi objects. Kairi’s objection is rather half hearted though as she says she’ll never forgive them, but then follows that up by saying that she won’t try to stop them or anything like that. If you really think it’s wrong then you should do something. Either way it’s not really a good look for the heroes. There wasn’t much of a choice by the end of course and mainly I would blame Meiko for not trying to stop them. For the other heroes they’re basically acknowledging that their bonds to each other are more important than Meiko. Everyone’s got to make a choice and they made theirs. Meicoomon also seemed pretty corrupt from the start so maybe he was all gone but it does feel like the villains got a bit of the last laugh here as a result.

Think about it, by the end the villains managed to murder a bunch of people, they’ve convinced the humans that all Digimon are evil, and then they convinced the heroes to destroy one of their own. Now when the factions ever decide to return, whether it be Homeostasis, The Digi King, or Gennai, they’ll have quite a lot of confidence here. Gennai also gets away with way too much here. He shows up to taunt the heroes quite often and they usually just stand in watch. Case in point, Gennai shows up in this film to reveal that he let Tai and the professor live just so they can choose which one of them gets to escape. None of them even try to attack Gennai as they just get resigned to their fate. The Digidestined seem to have lost most of their fire by the end and if that was part of the villains’ plan then they really did succeed.

With Tri over and the benefit of hindsight, I think the problem here may have been that Tri attempted too many things. The writers clearly had a bunch of ideas they wanted to throw around, but there’s just not enough time for all of them. This would have worked better if it was a full TV show. I also think some parts of the plot are swept to the side, but don’t make sense if you think about them. Think of all the kids who were kidnapped/vanished thanks to the villains? We’re talking dozens to maybe even 100+ and nobody found out? The government was covering for the villains because they’re naturally evil as well, but surely the parents would have said something. The original main characters know the 02 cast as well so it’s even more suspicious that they weren’t able to find anything out. Maybe the government got the parents as well (Can’t recall if they had a cameo) but the more people you kidnap the harder it is to hide that. The 02 cast also never actually get to appear so that’s a shame for their fans.

The animation looks nice as expected. We get some fun visuals with Omnimon’s form at the end. It’s definitely a powerful moment and for most of the film the world is covered in darkness so the colors do tend to pop out. Unfortunately for the soundtrack my favorite theme didn’t show up this time. In general the soundtrack is pretty subdued but it works well enough for the scenes it is present in.

Overall, Digimon Adventure Tri certainly won’t go down as one of my favorite parts of the franchise, it’s probably one of the weakest honestly. Still, it was an interesting experiment into what Digimon could be like if it was trying to be more Slice of Life/Cerebral instead of being more of a classic Shonen. (Honestly it probably holds up even better if you don’t think of it as a Digimon film. Think of it as standalone with no preconceived notions of what kind of fights and action should be in and you’ve got a good plot based anime film) It is a title that’ll make you think and force you to choose sides since there are usually quite a few options to choose from. Typically all you need to know is that Matt is right and Tai is wrong. I still think the first Tri film did a great job in setting up a mysterious premise and re-introducing the characters. Ultimately the follow ups just couldn’t completely cash in on this. The films fortunately do stay away from a romance angle that the various installments were hinting at. Even by the end it’s still lightly hinted at, but at the end of the day there’s a good chance we won’t see Meiko again so there’s nothing to worry about there. This is a good film to check out regardless of whether you’ve seen the other Tri titles or not, but you’ll likely be more than a little confused if you just skip to this one. I’d recommend watching them all in order.

Overall 7/10