Cars Review

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It’s time to look at one of the more well known Pixar films. This film got a bunch of comics, games, several movies, spinoffs, etc. It just got really big and that’s definitely cool for the series since this film is pretty good. It’s a fun adventure with some nice racing scenes and is essentially Barakamon’s plot, but with cars. I can’t say that I’ve really seen a whole lot of car racing films, but I’d definitely put this one very high on the list. I can also admit that I did not miss the humans.

The film starts with Lightning McQueen in the biggest race of his life. He is a rookie, but has ascended through the ranks thanks to his legendary speed. While he doesn’t win the big Grand Prix, he makes it into a 3 way tie for first place. A tiebreaker race is announced, but on the way there Lightning gets lost and lands in an old, abandoned town. Only a few cars live here now, but their businesses are dying thanks to corporate interference. A new highway has been built now and so nobody actually uses this one anymore. I feel bad for them, but if you can save 10 minutes then there really isn’t much of a reason to stop there. Will Lightning learn a few lessons about humility and not always taking the fast track through life or will he escape this town at the first opportunity?

Lightning is essentially like Tony Stark. He starts out the film as a very arrogant guy who only cares about himself. He wants to win at all costs and believes that he can do everything by himself. During the course of the film he learns that teamwork is important and that helping people out can be fun. Naturally I liked his more arrogant self quite a bit, but he’s a well developed character and nice Lightning is still a good character as well. He’s still as fast as ever and now he has a real team behind him. I do think this will make it tough on the sequels since I really wouldn’t want his character to regress. We really shouldn’t have too much drama with him because now he’s learned to be a team player and gets along with everybody. Well, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this in the future installments.

The town is also fairly nice. I do like the fact that they have a court room with lawyers and everything. The court room scene is one of the better parts of the film as Lightning almost gets out instantly but then his plans get ruined by the main heroine of the film. Sally. She convinces the judge that Lightning should pay for the damage that he did to the roads and so the main character is stuck fr a while. He does have the good idea of trying to get out by quickly dashing off, but the town is too clever for this and makes sure not to give him enough gasoline so he runs out in the middle of the desert. These cars turned out to be a lot more clever than Lightning gave them credit for.

There are quite a few characters in the town, but lets talk about the main ones. Sally naturally gets a pretty big role. She has the biggest impact on turning Lightning into a nicer person and gives him a chance. She can race fairly well and apparently is good in the courtroom so she’s a very balanced character. Doc is the judge and an ex racer. He’s a decent character although I do have to question his backstory. He claims that after he was injured people didn’t care about him and it was hard to get back on the track, but couldn’t he simply win his way to the top again? If nobody thought he could do it then it was on him to prove them wrong. As a result I really couldn’t sympathize with this guy. Still, he wasn’t a bad character.

Mater is Lightning’s comic relief sidekick. He is falling apart, but he means well and is a nice guy. There’s nothing really negative about him, but he doesn’t add anything to any of the scenes. He’s really just here to be here. I preferred the truck that drove Lightning around. He seemed like a nice guy and so I’m glad that Lightning stuck with that crew. They may not be rich or anything, but they do seem to care about Lightning and are a group of fun cars to be around. They should get along with the townsfolk based on their personalities.

Of course, Lightning had the two meaner rivals to deal with as well. The King seemed like an all right guy though and his skills are pretty good. He stays at the front of the pack for about 90% of the race and always plays fair. Unfortunately, I guess he expects everyone else to play fair as well since he seemed unprepared for the others to crash into him. He’ll have to improve his skills, but since he’s retired I guess he won’t really need too. The other rival is essentially like Lightning, but a little more extreme and he never got converted. He’s definitely the most serious threat to Lightning and gets a lot of burns in. The film definitely did a good job with the two rivals. It makes the races a lot more fun for sure. Lightning’s visions were also correct since his rival really made the most of the head start while Lightning was busy at the village.

The animation looks pretty solid. I’d say that the movie probably put most of the budget into the first race as it definitely is the most impressive part of the film. The character designs are on point throughout and the final race also looks pretty good. I would have liked more than two races, but I suppose it would have been tough to squeeze more in. As it stands, the two races definitely gave us a good bit of action. Pixar is definitely known for their quality and this film is no exception.

I would have liked to have seen more of Harv though. He never actually appears, but still ends up being one of the most influential characters in the film. The guy knows what he is doing so it’s easy to see why he became an agent. Lightning could learn a thing or two from him since I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. Everything about the ending was good except for one part. In a moment of kindness, Lightning decides not to cross the goal line and instead pushes a crushed car to the end himself. That’s nice of him, but Lightning was right outside the goal line so he should have quickly touched it and then saved the guy. It wouldn’t have even taken a full second and so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Why let the rival win when you don’t need too? It’s supposed to be a powerful scene of Lightning finally realizing that winning isn’t everything, but when you’re that close you’ve really just got to grab the win.

Overall, Cars is a very fun film. It’s a very peaceful movie despite the quick car scenes. Fortunately the dialogue is strong and the cast of characters are interesting. It’s a film that is carried along by the quality of writing. This transforms what could have been a mildly interesting film about a bunch of cars talking into a really enjoyable experience. When you think about it, not much happens for the majority of the film since it’s just Lightning hanging around the town, but the film never ends up dragging on. It just keeps on going slow and steady to the finish line. That’s when you know that a film is good. A good film needs action scenes to keep it on top. A great one can be good with dialogue alone. It’s not as if I’m calling this a great movie, but it’s a very good one. It has a lot of replay value and gets a good mix of action and comedy. The humor here isn’t too forced or out of place. It’s given in nice, small doses that work well. If you haven’t seen this film yet, then I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Hopefully the sequels can be as good.

Overall 7/10

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Up Review

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It’s time to take a look at Up. This film got quite a lot of hype back in the day. It was known as one of Pixar’s most emotional films as well as one of their best. I’m afraid I couldn’t really agree on that. Still, it is a decently good film, just one that is a step behind other hits like Finding Nemo, Inside Out, and Cars. Let’s take a look at why that is.

First, here’s the plot of the film. It starts out with a very timid kid losing his balloon and getting scared out of his mind by his neighbor. He isn’t the bravest kid as you might expect but years pass by and they get married until she dies. Her only wish was to go to Paradise Falls with him so he decides that he will get her there. He plants a bunch of balloons and uses them to lift the house, but a kid has stowed away on the balloon. Now the main character will have to try and land the house in Paradise Falls while keeping the kid alive as well as watching out for a bird hunter who has a pack of trained dog hunters who obey his every command.

This film is definitely trying to go the emotional route. Although it immediately tries for a comedy moment the scene after the heroine dies. That was probably to try and keep the film from getting too dark. What holds this film back is definitely the main characters. The kid who travels with Carl is really annoying from start to finish. Sure, he is desperate to get his final badge, but annoying an old man into relenting to the task barely counts at all. He should have just quickly ran to the retirement home to try someone else or perhaps waited a bit. He doesn’t take the adventure very seriously and also isn’t very smart. He always makes sure to say the wrong thing at the wrong time which can get pretty annoying. There is never a moment where he develops into a good character and the film would have been better off without him. This is exactly why I’m not a huge fan of having kids play a big role in a film.

Carl isn’t a great lead either. It’s partially because you know he is about to soften up and that his tough exterior is just for show. After he was so mean for the first half of the film you can’t buy into his change of heart. He should have either stayed mean, but his actions happened to coincide with the kid’s goals or started out nice. It’s also a big change from when he was a kid since at that point he seemed to be a nice kid who could barely even talk. I didn’t care for that intro to be honest but I suppose it wasn’t too long. The main character going from that to not caring if the bird is captured and trying to evade the animals is a real 180 for his personality.

The villain was definitely interesting. At least he needed to capture the bird alive so he made it clear that he wouldn’t harm him. He also means business as he destroyed all profit seeking travelers who came after him. You’re not going to pull the wool over this guy. I do have to wonder how he was on this rock for so long and never found the bird. This guy may have been an explorer but he certainly isn’t a good tracker.

The animation looks pretty good for Up. It’s the usual Pixar style so you either like it or you don’t. It’s clear enough and their style of character designs are always fun although everyone ends up looking rather chubby. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a soundtrack to complement the animation. Perhaps for a sequel someday that will change, but there isn’t really much they could do in a sequel.

The talking dogs was a fun element in the film. Doug was a reasonable character and while it would have been cool if he was a little smarter like the other dogs, the whole point is that he didn’t really fit in with the others. At least now he has a better home where instead of traversing the wilderness he can sit down and have a snack. The Bird couldn’t talk, but the roars were definitely intense. He did a good job of keeping the main characters on their toes and reminding them of the Peking order.

I guess there is just something about the movie that didn’t click with me that is hard to pinpoint. Perhaps it was too ordinary? The film definitely has less fantastical elements when compared to other big titles like Cars (Talking cars and the society around them) or Inside Out. (Where each person is controlled by other people) Then as a normal slice of life it just isn’t as good as it could have been. Maybe the film just didn’t have enough heart or the plot wasn’t handled the right way. I do think the film would have been a lot better if the two main characters had been the old man and his wife. They would have had a much better dynamic than him and the kid. Finally, maybe it’s that the other plots in the movie seemed to be more interesting. A film about Carl trying to keep his house amidst a changing world could have been pretty interesting or Carl actually making it to the Falls and trying to adapt to life over there. Instead we get a lot of trekking which would be fine…with better characters.

Overall, Up had its fun moments, but including the kid as one of the main characters was probably a bad move. He just doesn’t add anything to the film and comes off as an ingrate who tries to guilt trip the main character. If he could actually fight or do something against the main villains that would be one thing, but since he wants the senior citizen to fight the battles, it’s hard to like the kid. Traveling on a flying house is definitely a cool concept though and the writing wasn’t bad. It’s a fun enough film that I can recommend. Just don’t expect it to be the next big thing.

Overall 6/10

Lego Scooby-Doo! Blowout Beach Bash Review

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It’s time for another Scooby Doo film. LEGO titles are very popular nowadays and it seems like every franchise wants a piece of the pie. It’s still not my favorite format but it tends to work pretty well with Scooby Doo. The characters can really act crazy here and are just as self aware as ever. We don’t get to see Shaggy and Scooby eat since eating is still very hard to do with Legos, but that’s the only real drawback. It’s a very fun Scooby Doo movie that goes by quickly and I would actually consider it to be one of the better movies in the series.

The Mystery Gang has just finished another case and they are excited for another one, but then Daphne and Shaggy drop a bombshell. Fred and Velma just aren’t fun and they act as partypoopers every time the gang tries to have fun. They take this personally so Velma and Fred decide to prove that they are actually a lot of fun. They will do this by being awarded the King and Queen positions at the big Summer Bash going on in the next town over. Unfortunately, a pair of ghosts have been popping up lately and so the bash might be cancelled. Fred and Velma decide not to help since they are too busy dancing so this time Daphne and Shaggy are going to have to try and solve the case. Can they do it or will they have to ask Fred and Velma for some help one last time.

Right off the bat I can definitely confirm that I liked this plot. Velma and Fred always put the mission first so it’s easy to see how they might not seem fun, but it just means that they aren’t slackers. Let’s be honest here, Daphne rarely takes the mission seriously as it is. She often gets distracted or simply doesn’t care. Shaggy is pretty obviously not into the mission in any of the films. As a result, it’s pretty ironic every time they talk about taking things seriously. As Velma points out in the film, Fred and her do the heavy lifting in every single case. Surely the other members can pull their weight for one case right? Unfortunately not so in the end Velma and Fred are called back into action.

In the meantime, they do prove that they know how to have fun. They come up with a cool new dance and even get the old Captains of the Bash to leave since their attitudes aren’t very good. It does seem like they were always like that though so winning the Bash in the first place was a little suspect but with enough money trading hands I suppose it is possible. As per usual I would say that Fred was the best character here. He took everything in stride and even convinced Velma to turn her tumble into a dance. Then he still had enough energy to help save the day.

The only part of the film that wasn’t very satisfying was the ending. Long story short, Fred and Velma decide to relinquish their titles to Shaggy and Daphne out of pity since those two were unable to solve the case and they also weren’t able to become Captains of the Bash legitimately. I feel like Fred and Velma should have kept the crown since they really did put a lot of effort into obtaining it. It just feels very undeserved for the other two members to get the crown after all of that. Still, the other members can’t call Fred a square after this film.

As you can imagine the writing is pretty solid here. The humor is pretty solid and the characters are on point. The character histories are a big reason as to why this film works in the first place is because of the character histories. I’m still not really a fan of the LEGO animation so I wouldn’t list that as a positive or anything but it works well enough I suppose. I’ll give the film credit for using the animation to its advantage by having their heads fly off and make that an actual part of the dance. Now that is how you work with the animation you were given. With hand drawn animation, of course the film would excel even more but no need to look at the hypothetical any more than that.

Now let’s look at the suspects. Naturally we have the previous Captains of the Bash. They seem determined to keep their crowns so cancelling the Bash would be one way of doing that. There are also 2 ghosts so that would make sense. There are also their parents. While they seem to be a nice pair of senior citizens, they do seem to have given up on the Bash rather quickly and are getting ready to sell to corporate. Perhaps they just want the insurance money?

There is also Mr. Corporate himself. Certainly one of the best characters in the film I might add. He has quite a lot of confidence throughout all of his appearances and isn’t afraid to use his money and position against anyone in his path. There are many reasons why he could be guilty if you really think about it. Corporate doesn’t look out for the little guys. Then there is his secretary. She is very timid and shy. She obeys corporate to the letter but always feels bad about it. Perhaps she has some pent up aggression that has led her to a life of crime eh? The secretary does have one scene where she blows up at corporate, but I can’t say I was a fan of that scene. The random blow out never really works and I’d say it just makes the character look bad for putting everyone on the spot. If you’re going to quit, do it in private later on. At least Corporate didn’t take it personally.

Finally we also have the Sheriff and his deputy. They definitely seem to want the Mystery Gang off the island as soon as possible and they are fans of the ghosts. They are hoping that the ghosts scare everyone away so the town will be nice and quiet again. These guys are rather direct which you may think is too obvious but maybe that’s what the film wants you to think.

We definitely have quite a few suspects here so it’s up to you to try and narrow the list down a bit. The newer Scooby Doo films usually have a lot of fun with the unveiling of the crooks and this one is no different. We get a bunch of twists and it’ll remind you to always suspect everyone until proven otherwise. After all, even the tour guide had something to hide. He may not have been the crook but judging from how fast he ran, the guy may have a previous crime on his record.

Overall, This was definitely a fun Scooby Doo film. Even though it’s the LEGO format I would consider this to be one of the better Scooby Doo films. It definitely captures the core of the franchise and it was probably the first time we had the plot revolve around Fred and Velma. We even got a few songs which were handled well. This is probably one of the first Beach films that I could recommend as well. With the proper blend of humor, action, and plot, this is a film I would definitely recommend checking out.

Overall 7/10

Ratatouille Review

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It’s been a long time since I first saw this film. Over 10 years for sure. I still have a tough time spelling out the name to be honest. I also forgot that it was a Pixar film so it’s cool to see their track record get longer and longer. It’s definitely a fun film, although a step down from many of their other titles thanks to the weak cast and poorly handled romance. It is fun seeing the food though and as I’m always hungry, I always enjoy seeing food. I’m hungry even while writing this review, but I must press on!

The film starts off by showing us a famous Chef named Gusteau. His restaurant was known as an amazing 5 Star place, but one day the legendary food critic, Ego showed up. He didn’t like the food so his review took the restaurant down by a star and then Gusteau quickly died from the stress so it dropped another star. The place is under tough times right now, but the new owner, Skinner is making the best of it. He’s selling out the company name to any microwave and frozen food company that will take them. If the restaurant is going to go under soon, they may as well make some money in the meantime. He actually has the right idea here. Unfortunately for him, his plans are put in danger when Gusteau’s secret son shows up and he has the right to inherit the place. Can Skinner keep the kid in the dark until he officially takes ownership of the place or will Linguini figure out the shady plot? Meanwhile there is a Rat named Remy who is a super cook and controls Linguini by pulling on his hair. He is the secret behind the boy’s genius.

While the film does go out of its way to try and make the main Rat hygenienic, I can admit that I probably wouldn’t want him in my kitchen. I’m cool with Dogs running around since it’s not like they’re actually handling the ingredients. Just thinking of a rat grabbing all of the foods and making it is a little tough to swallow though. So, while it’s a cool plot, I wouldn’t want to be one of the people who ate at the restaurant. Imagine your reaction when you found out the truth one day thanks to the newspaper. It would definitely be pretty brutal.

Remy is the main Rat and he is definitely enthusiastic about cooking. He’s a likable enough lead although letting his family pressure him into stealing was definitely a big flaw. I understand it working once, but once it became a regular thing that became a problem. While not as bad as Linguini, Remy also wasn’t a very good character. He definitely needed more will power if he was to succeed here. Skinner is the mean boss who tries to undercut Linguini at every point. He’s definitely a villain and doesn’t play fair. Still, he’s a fun enough character so you can actually root for him throughout the movie. While he is portrayed in a negative light for selling out, it actually does make sense. I think he probably would have gotten the restaurant back to 4 stars at some point, but he would have to learn to stop playing it safe. It sounds like he had yet to come up with a single new recipe which is a problem.

Linguini is a really bad character. He has very low amounts of self confidence right out of the gate which allows everyone to walk all over him. He doesn’t stand up for himself and is totally fine with taking credit for someone else’s achievements. He was willing to drown Remy before realizing that the Rat may have some intelligence. There’s just nothing to like about this guy and naturally his ego takes him over during the second half as well. While I don’t expect all main characters to be very good, I do expect them not to be actively awful. I was actually rooting for Skinner over Linguini the whole time. At least Skinner actually can cook as opposed to letting someone else do it for him. While everyone basically acted like traitors for running out on Linguini, I didn’t mind as much as I would have if he was a good character. Also, having a rat in the kitchen certainly isn’t sanitary so I can see their side of the argument.

Gusteau actually isn’t a good character either. If you think about it, he possibly destroyed himself over a single bad review. He should have just kept on cooking and tried to convince Ego that the restaurant was good. He threw in the towel very quickly so even though this is glossed over I can’t forget it very easily. Colette is a good character until she meets up with Linguini. She’s tough and reminds everyone of this when she’s on screen. She had to earn her spot in the restaurant and it was apparently a very tough road. A prequel about her moving up the ranks would probably be fun. Ego is a good antagonist. He’s apparently not a very bad guy even though he definitely acts the part. Ego just wants to have good food like when he was a kid and I guess nothing can live up to that standard so he has fun destroying careers in the meantime. This works pretty well and I just think they shouldn’t have been to drastic with his character change by the end. It was handled reasonably well though and turning him into an investor was a good move.

As you would expect from Pixar, the animation is pretty good. The characters are clear and the food looks good. To be honest I would have liked to have seen some more food during the movie since we actually didn’t get too many dishes. I suppose food was the setting, but not necessarily the most important part of the film though so it couldn’t be helped. There isn’t much f a soundtrack to go along with the animation though so I guess I can’t say that the package is complete.

The pacing for the film is pretty good. At most, you just won’t care about the rat plots as much as the human ones. Still, they do have some scary scenes like the mice by the window moment. You also get a good look at the Rat lifestyle and can then really appreciate why Remy would want to get out of there so quickly. One aspect where the film wasn’t as strong was in the romance though. It’s very rushed and unfortunately poorly handled. Colette is the tough character of the film and she has sacrificed a lot to get here. There’s no real indication of a romance between the two characters until it just suddenly happens in the back alley. It wasn’t even Linguini’s choice as the rat forced this to start. It just comes out of left field and adds nothing to the film. It’s just here to ensure that the film has some romance when in reality it didn’t need this element. It should have just stayed as a nice cooking movie with a Rat as the Chef. That’s already all the plot that you need.

If you think about it, most of the drama in the film could have been avoided if Linguini was actually intelligent. Constantly taking Remy out in public was just tempting trouble and giving Remy an equal share of the rewards would have been easy. Maybe he couldn’t actually tell the world about Remy, but giving him a bunch of new foods and recipes to try out during the day would have helped. Declining any interviews that weren’t 100% necessary would have also been good. Linguini just needed to stay grateful to Remy and focus on the cooking. That wouldn’t have even been too hard.

Overall, Ratatouille is a good film, but one that adds too many unnecessary elements. The romance just should not have been here. The characters also aren’t that likable. Linguini is quite possibly the weakest Pixar lead that I’ve seen. I can’t think of all the main characters off the top of my head, but from the ones that come to mind he would definitely take the title. Even when he gets braver by the end it isn’t by much. Watch this film for the food, but just do your best to tune out the main character. I’d still recommend checking this film out. It’s not a master piece, but it’s an enjoyable enough film that will keep you entertained. If they ever do a sequel, then I want a Cooking Contest. We don’t get enough of those in films and those are very entertaining. It also forces the cooks to cook at a higher level in order to beat out their rivals.

Overall 6/10

Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold Review

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Batman and Scooby Doo have always made for a very intense pairing. The crossover just writes itself as Batman tends to be a detective series that is very serious while the Mystery Gang prefers to have a lot of fun as they save the day. The groups have very different detective styles and solve crimes in two very different neighborhoods. Still, at the end of the day they are detectives and in this film we shall see them match wits.

The film starts off with Fred and the gang attempting to solve a mystery. Unfortunately this ghost is a formidable opponent and seems to have the upper hand. That’s when Batman himself shows up and he suggests that the Mystery Gang is too young to handle villains in Gotham. This leads Fred to trap Batman while the gang takes down the ghost. They go into their usual explanation about how they knew who it was all the time in a way that is fairly self aware with how exaggerated it is. Batman then shows up and declares that the group passed his initiation and he would like them to join the official Mystery Solvers group which also features Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, Question, Plasticman, and Detective Chimp. The group exists to fight the mysteries that no single detective could. Batman only has one unsolved case in his section so the team decides to focus on that one first. A mysterious voice has been scaring Batman lately and now the Mystery Gang are being framed. It’s all connected but how? The heroes will have to find the answer to this question along with some proof, all while trying to elude the Police, Fellow Heroes, and Supervillains!

This film takes place in the Batman Brave and The Bold continuity. It’s a very good selection for the crossover and I’m glad to see the series be brought back. The two animation styles mix together very well and that’s probably why it was chosen. It’d be hard to mix Beware The Batman with Scooby Doo without switching the animation after all. Scooby Doo’s animation has always been consistent for a very long time now and this one is no exception. The animation is very clear and easy to watch. The backgrounds are detailed and the action is easy to follow. It’s definitely some of the best American Animation currently.

Since most of the film is rather solid I may as well change things up and start with the negatives first. For starters, Fred looks pretty bad here. Why is he obsessing over Black Canary when he should just be psyched to be helping out a team of Elite Detectives? This is Fred Jones, the Leader of Mystery Incorporated. I wanted to see him match wits with the others but he is a little too distracted. Meanwhile Black Canary basically mocks him whenever she appears, but given the circumstances I can’t blame her one bit. The insult almost sounded like too much for this film but then you remember that she’s just making fun of his signature tie style which can easily sound like something else if you are not prepared.

My other negative is how bad all of the heroes who aren’t Batman or Aquaman look. When the Mystery Gang is framed and Batman helps them out he is seen as guilty as well. Sure, Batman keeps running off and doing his own thing, but isn’t that par for the course with the Dark Knight? All of the heroes turn against him so quickly that we finally see them for who they are. They weren’t good friends, their bonds are about as strong as the average Naruto character. They made the hero’s job a whole lot harder.

I always think that when a villain framed a hero it shouldn’t be so easy to convince the friends. Especially when in this case Batman has had a solid track record for so many years. The only one with a decent motive is Detective Chimp since he was humiliated by Velma and likely wants payback. Is that how a hero should act? No, but that’s how I can imagine Detective Chimp acting. He really got roasted here, but I’ve never liked the character so I was personally okay with that.

Martian Manhunter’s cookie gimmick is a nice call back to Justice League International. He is portrayed as an unlikable jerk, but I can’t say I have a problem with that. He is fairly memorable in the movie thanks to this and it also helps you root for Shaggy and Scooby a little more since they are effectively being bullied and can’t do anything about it. By the end of the film Manhunter hasn’t really learned anything, but he’ll likely think twice before crossing the Mystery Inc since they’re heroes now.

Aquaman actually looks pretty good now. He is very determined and keeps on pressing Batman until he is finally let into the secret club. He’s also the only hero who didn’t actually doubt Batman which gets him big points in my book. He was really on point with his entire portrayal so I definitely had no qualms with him. Batman also looks pretty good for the most part. The opening scene may get you worried for a bit, but after the twist it’s okay. Now, he may be a little too nervous with the ghost the whole time, but this way the heroes get to console him that there are no such things as ghosts. Aside from when he’s getting mentally wrecked by the ghost, Batman’s still in character and gets some good burns in. He’s always got a plan after all and is still a solo act at the end of the day.

Aside from Fred, the gang looks about as good as you can expect. Shaggy and Scooby don’t look good, but they never do. At least Shaggy finally gets revenge for all the times Scooby steals his snacks. That was actually pretty satisfying since the Shaggy and Scooby rivalry really should be even. The film has a pretty good amount of action for a Scooby Doo film since the heroes and villains can actually fight here. The fights themselves are rather short so as not to take away from the mystery but it’s pretty cool. The special feels more like a Brave and The Bold episode than a Scooby Doo movie, but it manages to have a good balance.

The climax may start to stretch on a little too long by the end, but I’d say that it’s still executed fairly well. The last time the villain runs back into the warehouse for round 5 may have just been one round too long. A slight missed opportunity is that it would have been awesome to have seen the Mystery Gang fight once they got into costume. That would have really sold me on the final act. At least we did see that happen once in the Brave and The Bold show a while back so I guess that’s why they wanted to go a different route here.

As expected the writing is pretty solid. The film also flows by very quickly and the pacing is on point. It’s definitely pretty surreal to have the characters meet up again and hopefully we’ll get a sequel at some point or have the gang meet up with another version of Batman. Either way, I’m always game for crossovers and since Scooby Doo gets so many films, it’s always a good idea to shake up the formula a bit.

Overall, This film was pretty solid. There really isn’t as much of a mystery compared to the average film since they sort of just stumble into fights as opposed to giving us a bunch of suspects and choosing one, but when Batman’s in town you do have to switch gears a bit. The soundtrack and animation are solid and it’s a very good all around movie. I’d definitely recommend checking it out. The movie was pretty close to getting a solid 8, but I don’t think I can quite justify it. Still, it’s a high 7 and one that has quite a bit of replay value. There’s just a lot to like here.

Overall 7/10

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review

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After all these years it is time for the hype to be realized. Godzilla is an anime film that seemed to be announced 100 years before it came out. It took so long that you would be forgiven for forgetting it completely. Still, it is here at last so it’s time to compare it to the rest. Was Godzilla’s first anime adventure a success? Well, yes in the sense that it is a good film but not really a success for Godzilla as it doesn’t rank too highly in the franchise. There are some issues here which hold it back.

The film starts off with a rebel trying to stop the army from sending a rocket filled with a bunch of old people that are being purged. The airship everyone lives in simply can’t support this many people so some of them need to die. Unfortunately the rebel hesitated because he realized better than anyone that living on a spaceship can be even worse than death. He lets the old people destroy themselves and is arrested. We get a flashback where we see Godzilla and a lot of the classic Kaiju opponents as they decimate the Earth and humanity was forced to retreat off world along with some aliens who were going to conquer Earth but also couldn’t stop Godzilla. Humanity has been looking for an inhabitable planet for around 20 years but nothing would show up so now they are forced to give Earth one more try. Thanks to the ship being slower than molasses they will have to use a teleportation route which will cause 20000 years to pass on Earth.

By the way, 20000 isn’t the number they use at first. It’s actually a plot twist as first it’s 1000 years, then 10000, then 20000. I’m honestly not sure why this even qualifies as a twist and why the film didn’t just say 20000 right off the bat but we’ll roll with it. Unfortunately for the humans, it appears that Godzilla still lives and while he destroyed all of the other Kaiju, there are Winged Godzilla spinoffs flying around. Can humanity retake their planet or are they doomed to be destroyed for their arrogance in thinking they could beat Godzilla?

There are some aspects of a film that you always want to be on point to complement the writing of the movie. Those two aspects are the animation and the soundtrack. Both are absolutely crucial. For the music, this film is actually pretty good. It’s probably in my top 3 Godzilla soundtracks as I can only think of it losing out to Final Wars and maybe Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla. It has some nice, fast anime music thrown in there during one of the flying scenes which was pretty cool. That’s basically the stand out music but a lot of it just works pretty well. The true Godzilla theme is also reasonably solid although probably his weakest theme.

No, what really hurts the film is the terrible animation. I’m not going to mince words here, the animation is embarrassing. Anime that came out 30 years ago look better. TV shows and online productions with no budget look better than this. This is something that you would expect from an indie film that tries to look really bad on purpose just to defy the mainstream. It’s like watching a Fire Emblem cutscene and stretching it to a whole movie. In a video game you don’t expect the cutscenes to look amazing because you want the bulk of the development time to be spent on the gameplay. If you can do both that’s fine, but the game is the priority. For a movie I am certainly expecting you to put the animation as the priority. Writing doesn’t cost anything so I’m not counting that and while good voice actors are important, they need to be able to work with something. You can almost feel the pain of the animators whenever Godzilla tries to move. You hear his skin cracking as if he is a very fragile Godzilla statue who would break with a single punch. The character model is barely even animated at times and just sits there. The animation can’t even convey Godzilla moving so he just sits there and randomly speeds up off screen so he can get where he is supposed to be. I don’t know where the budget went but it clearly wasn’t with the animation. Godzilla’s energy attacks looked good and in general the energy effects were on point, that’s the only good thing I can say about the animation.

The film is very heavy on dialogue but that does seem to be the norm for many Godzilla films. It’s like the writers think that the people who came to see the film about a giant monster don’t actually want to be watching a film about a giant monster. So the main focus is once again on the humans. It’s definitely not the most interesting cast of characters so prepare to roll your eyes at these guys.
The main character is good at least. He wants to bring back human pride since he feels like Godzilla took it away when he blew up Earth and we ran away. He’s not really wrong on that, but of course pride isn’t everything. Sakaki is productive with his time and comes up with a plan so it’s not as if he’s recklessly going into action without one. I think the plan is terrible but I’ll get into that later. Sakaki acts like a captain and overall he does an admirable job of leading the assault. The voice actor does a good job and Sakaki basically spits out every line. He ends every sentence with a violent intensity.

The Religious Alien, Metphies definitely seems like an intriguing character. He talks a good game and always tries to be one step ahead of the heroes but he isn’t quite as cool as he tries to be. If the whole film was just part of the plan for him then that’s pretty cool. I guess even if it isn’t nefarious and Metphies is just being misleadingly cryptic he still does a good job with the council. He has more personality than the other guy who wanted to build a Mecha Godzilla but the plans fell through midway. I’m sure he will do more in the next film but his character was basically just his personality of being a tough guy. He didn’t do anything beyond that.

Now let’s talk Godzilla. This is easily his worst design but that’s probably the animation’s fault. Maybe it looks better in the concept art. This Godzilla also isn’t very smart since the whole plan that the heroes have is getting Godzilla to walk through the path they’ve set up so they can bury him with rocks long enough to blast him. This Godzilla doesn’t have Omni directional lasers to nullify this tactic and he is also too weak to escape the rocks. Am I really supposed to believe that Godzilla was pinned by mere rocks? I can’t buy into that and Godzilla should have been up right away. Then the humans grabbing onto him should have been knocked away when he rose up. Godzilla having a weak point is pretty random and also takes away quite a lot from Godzilla since apparently without the force field his durability is actually pretty bad. I’m glad they kept in then Atomic Breath and having a force field is cool, but even without all of that this is the King of the Monsters right? (hmmm) There are some twists so I can’t be too specific but we can forgive some of the issues here. Not entirely since the monster should have destroyed the humans and shut down the plan, but it isn’t as bad as it could have been. That’s really my main point here. At the end of the film we get a brief glimpse at what should have been happening the whole time. This is why I think the next film has a good chance at being a lot better. If I just saw this film, I can’t say I would be too impressed with Godzilla to be honest.

Even less so with the Rodan ripoffs. They aren’t bullet proof? Really? I just don’t know about that to be honest, seems like a mistake if you ask me. It takes away from them being a threat and it also means that if they give Godzilla any kind of a fight then it weakens the King of the Kaiju as well. It’s a lose-lose situation here. Hopefully the other Kaiju we meet up with are a lot stronger. In theory there should be a bunch of beasts wandering the planet since Earth is pretty huge. I’m guessing their scanners haven’t quite picked up on everything just yet.

The film goes by pretty quick but the length isn’t very long to start with. One thing I have to note is that this movie probably wouldn’t be great for rewatching. Sure, the planning is fun and all the first time, but the second time you’ll just want the film to get on with it. It’s something that’s fairly unavoidable depending how you set up a film. Slow burners will rarely be as good as the initial time you watch it while action blockbusters can be timeless if there is always something happening. So, this film would probably lose a star the next time you watch it and probably settle at that score, if not one lower. I personally can’t picture myself rewatching this one anytime soon. For that I could take a look at one of the older Godzilla films and give it a retro review.

While not a flattering way to secure a high score, Godzilla manages not to make any real mistakes. We don’t have to deal with animal violence, excessive language, random violence, or any slew of negatives that can pop up in a film. My complaints that I listed above are ones that are worth noting but don’t really affect the score much. Combined those issues may just take it down 1 star. It does depend on how you look at it, but basically a film that doesn’t make any real mistakes can get a 7. A 7 means that you’re a fun/good movie. To get higher than that, you have to actually do something really great. To get lower than a 7, you have to make a mistake. A 7 is essentially the starting point for all films. As the credits are rolling it starts out at a 7 and then moves up or down based on what it does. This film doesn’t really do anything and so it manages to stay there. That’s not really a bad thing, it’s just how it is. I can at least watch the full Godzilla film without rolling my eyes or cringing at a poorly made scene. Well, some scenes are poorly made, but at least not in bad taste. I was reasonably interested the whole time. Perhaps not excited, but I was following the story.

Overall, If you’re watching this Godzilla film for Godzilla then you will probably be disappointed. If you are watching it as more of a survival film then you’ll like it a lot more. I hesitate to call it a thriller since a good chunk of the film is just everyone talking but once they land on the planet I would say it qualifies. The film would probably be more impressive if it wasn’t called Godzilla which is a little unfortunate since having a brand should usually just make everything better. I do think that Part 2 should pick up quite a bit since most of the characters are already on Earth. Ideally it will focus on them and not too much on the people who are still in space. At least the wait until the next film shouldn’t be too long. This was my long roundabout way of saying that I’d recommend checking this film out.

Overall 7/10

Rise of the Guardians Review

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Rise of the Guardians is a film that looked like a lot of fun right from the first trailer that I saw of it. The movie looked like it would have a surprising amount of action in it and the idea of a Holiday Mascot crossover had a lot of potential behind it as well. The film turned out to be about as good as I had hoped and it’s definitely got some nice visuals for the action scenes. I can safely say that it is rather underrated considering how obscure it appears to be, at least relative to other big animated films.

The plot starts off with a lonely guy named Jack Frost. He has ice powers but nobody actually knows him. Guys like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have a lot of fans but not poor Jack. Despite trying to help people out and enjoy himself in the process, people just can’t see him and as such it all goes for naught. 300 years pass by and nothing changes. However, a mysterious villain has arisen and is determined to destroy all of the iconic holiday legends. Santa Claus and his team of icons realize that this is one battle that they cannot win. Their leader tells them to enlist the help of Jack Frost. Can this team really be enough to take down this villain or is the battle over before it has even begun?

As I mentioned earlier, the battle scenes are handled really well. The energy effects are vibrant and you can feel the power behind Jack’s blows. The rest of the graphics are fairly standard but solid nonetheless. The character models look good and the screen is always clear. If this was more of an action movie then the film would probably be able to prove itself even more. There isn’t much of a soundtrack so that is regrettable but still, having one of the two big technical components to the film at the ready is a good way to start off.

One slight issue with the film, or at least a concern for when the fight scenes would occur is that Jack appears to be the only power hitter on the team. The rest of the combatants just pale in comparison and they don’t seem to have any really useful special abilities. Jack has complete control over the ice and can fire blasts so concentrated that the they are basically lightning strikes. He is really the only one who puts up a decent fight against the villain while the others are basically just watching. At the very least you would expect Santa to be really powerful but surprisingly this was not the case.

Santa is a twin blades user who strikes with pure power. The problem is that he isn’t very fast nor does he seem to be very smart. He’s a nice enough chap and makes sense as the leader of the team but making him a little stronger would have definitely been a good move for the film if you ask me. They still could have had some reason as to why he couldn’t hear the main villain without simply making him weak.

The Easter Bunny is also weak but he’s not nearly as likable as Santa. He talks a good game but just can’t compete when the chips are down. You can tell what his character is after a single scene with him. The trope of acting super tough when you’re actually weak can make for really good characters but typically the film or show has to at least be a little self aware that the character is all bark and no bite. This one never really gets into that. He still isn’t the worst character though or even the 2ns worst. He can still be somewhat reasonable.

The 2nd worst character is definitely the Tooth Fairy. She can’t fight at all and is a little too obsessed with her teeth gimmick. It wouldn’t even be a problem if there was more to her character but there really isn’t. Her role in the film is so small that you could take her out entirely and I doubt a whole lot would change. The worst member of the team is the Sand Man. He’s one of the most annoying kinds of characters as he is always sleeping but actually ends up being the strongest kind of all. He didn’t have to work to get his strength but in fact he was just born into it. He has a lot of arrogance when fighting but not the cool kind as you’re still just annoyed at the guy. It gets to the point where you already dislike him so much that his potentially good moments don’t even work. As you can tell, I did not like this character and giving him the pivotal moment at the end of the film wasn’t a great move if you ask me. Why couldn’t Jack have gotten the big blow and ended his character arc on a grand note? If you ask me, that would have been perfect.

The villain is pretty solid. His plan to take down everyone who believes in the legend is pretty solid as then they will be too weak to put up much of a resistance. He should have picked them off way before that though instead of focusing on the main goal even when there was just one kid left. At that point you just have to pick off the main characters one by one. In his defense, Jack’s plan was pretty good though and it’s easy to make the kids believe when you actually move stuff around right in front of them and use your supernatural abilities in an obvious manner. The villain made for good fight scenes so I’d definitely say that he did a good job fulfilling the role.

I’ll also give the film kudos for not giving the kids much of a role. Lets face it, they would have had some cheesy scenes and I’m not sure I can buy into the kids as solid characters just yet. Still, since they were crucial to the villain’s plan they needed some screen time. The way the film handled it was pretty solid so that’s another feather in its cap. The writing in general was pretty solid and while the cast of characters may not have been amazing, Jack was likable which is really what counts. He’s a solid lead and I’d be up for a sequel.

Overall Rise of the Guardians is a solid animated film with a good amount of action and heart. It’s a film that I would definitely recommend checking out. Where else are you going to see a film where Jack Frost finally gets to shine and prove himself as one of the big Christmas characters? He really doesn’t get a whole lot of attention compared to the other big characters in most media so this may be the only time to really see him take the starring role. Maybe it’s time I get the game adaption of this movie to see if it holds up well. Getting it for Christmas would have been fitting but that day is already booked with presents so most likely it would be later on if I purchase it.

Overall 7/10

Lego Marvel Superheroes: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat Review

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There have definitely been a lot of LEGO specials over the years. It makes sense as you can never run out of ideas with those little toys. That’s why they’re so popular in the first place. What you build is limited only by your imagination and your budget. The LEGO specials are usually pretty enjoyable and most of them are fairly short as well so it’s not as if they last too long either. This Guardians special is pretty good as well and goes by very fast so I’d say that it holds its own against the other Marvel ones.

The plot is that Thanos wants to create a BLT so he needs to find the Builder Stone which will let him create anything. I would have advised him to just go to Subways but I suppose they may have run out of tomatoes again. The Guardians decide to stop him but first they will have to out fly the Ravagers as well as Ronan. Does the team have what it takes for this mission or are they doomed again?

The LEGO animation is definitely something that you either like or you don’t. I don’t really consider it as good animation as it just seems really easy and nothing particularly stands out visually. As long as the animation isn’t bad it’s not a problem though and I wouldn’t call this bad animation. These specials are more about the dialogue than anything else as the one liners have to try and use the Lego’s advantage of many things being possible to its benefit.

On that note, the writing is pretty solid. I’m not the biggest fan of the Guardians team when it comes to their personalities but the special did a good job of keeping them in check. For example, Drax can overuse his gimmick of taking things literally but I believe they only use that joke once here as opposed to spamming it in every other scene. That was pretty good and seeing him get wrecked by Thanos is a better gag. I think that’s how their fight should always go but I have a nagging feeling that he is going to be able to score the final blow against Thanos in the movie somehow or even defeat him to close his character arc. I’ll give the film extra kudos if they go the LEGO route instead.

The rest of the characters do a good job of being decent as well. Star Lord’s still a fun leader who always has a plan and the voice helps the character out even further. Gamora doesn’t get much of a role in this special but she is certainly in character as she doubts Star Lord the whole time. The team always bets against him and they are probably right to do so since he will come through when it counts but not in any other situation. Ronan and Thanos make for good villains as well. They may be fairly overused in Guardian plots at this point but it’s not as if the team has too many enemies which is why they have to keep showing up. At least it’s not a C rank villain who keeps reappearing or anything like that.

The only bad character as always is Groot. He actively tries to sabotage the team as always and the saying his name not got old years ago. He doesn’t add anything to the dynamic and only serves to take time away from the characters who could use more. At this point I’m unlikely to ever become a fan of his but you never know I suppose. Maybe all he needs is a radical change in character and design although it would basically be a different character at that point.

Overall, this special was pretty fun. It’s the length of a normal episode and has appropriate pacing. There’s never a moment where the film drags on and there aren’t a bunch of subplots to take away from the main adventure. The team fighting Thanos is already enough of a plot to hold its own special after all so it’s not like you need much more than that. Thor has a nice little cameo for his fans as well. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then you should go ahead and do so. It’s only 20 minutes so even if you don’t like it then you won’t be losing much time. The film doesn’t make any big mistakes though so at least for me there wasn’t much chance of not liking it. LEGO specials aren’t always a solid 7 but they are rarely, if ever bad.

Overall 7/10

Your Name Review

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Not to be confused with “Call me by Your Name”, a film that doesn’t look like it has any potential based on the one screen cap I’ve seen of it. It’s time to finally look at the recent anime film that turned a lot of heads. Your Name certainly became a huge hit in both America and Japan and you’re sure to have at least seen the poster somewhere. It’s a body switch, romance adventure so it’s fitting in a lot at once. I’m not really a big romance fan, but if handled right it can work. The romance here isn’t actually a thing til near the end anyway so that’s all good. An underwhelming ending slows this film down, but it’s a good adventure nonetheless.

Mitsuha wakes up one morning and prepares for a normal day. However, everyone around her is acting quite oddly. They explain that it’s Mitsuha who was crazy the other day so they were just wondering how she would act. Mitsuha can’t even remember what happened yesterday, but it can’t have been anything too dramatic. Things change when she wakes up in the body of a teenager named Taki. He is living the Tokyo life that she has always dreamed of. While she believes it to be a dream at first, gradually she realizes that this is very real. Naturally it goes without saying that Taki also randomly wakes up in her body some days. They quickly have to find a way to live around these circumstances and ensure that the other person doesn’t do anything too drastic. Unfortunately, Taki isn’t about to tone down his aggressive nature and Mitsuha will continue to waste all of his money on food which makes for some tricky shenanigans. Can their reputations survive and why is this even happening in the first place?

The first chunk of the film is all about the body swap shenanigans. There is certainly quite a lot that you can do with that concept and I think it could make for a good action series someday. Of course, it’s a concept that you have to handle with the utmost care or it’ll be used for all of the wrong humor. The best chunk of the film is probably each character messing around with the other person’s life, but not even this film can resist going for the low hanging jokes. The second half of the film becomes a more serious drama with lives at stake and both characters constantly fighting their fading memories.

Before we go into the film any further, lets talk about the characters. Taki is the main guy here and unfortunately he is not likable at all. His first instinct when transformed into Mitsuha is to act like a stereotypical anime character and take advantage of being in this body to satisfy his curiosity. He doesn’t just do it once, but it’s a running gag that he messes around with her body every single time he transforms. It was already bad the first time, but as they get to know each other and become friends it just becomes a serious invasion of privacy and takes away any shred of dignity he had left. As a result, you can’t sympathize with the guy at all and it hurts the romance angle a bit. He also knows how to always make the wrong move at the right time like when he ends up leaving a heartfelt message when he was supposed to write his name. If he had done the latter then a chunk of the climax might have changed, but he was too witty to follow the rules there.

Mitsuha is the other main character and she’s a lot more reasonable. She still goes through the same cliches as Taki, but unlike Taki she eventually stops doing the same thing every morning. She also tries to help his social life like when she pairs him up with one of the employees and in general makes his reputation skyrocket. She does actively waste his money and seemingly doesn’t feel bad about it but it’s a start. She also has a much tougher life than Taki as she is stuck in a village with nothing to do. At least Taki is in Tokyo and can do just about anything.

Taki does have the better supporting cast though. His friend with the glasses is pretty reasonable. He helps Taki out when Mitsuha forgot to bring a lunch and also comes along on the quest during the latter part of the film. He may have been just having fun with Miki and not really concentrating but it’s the thought that counts. Miki was also a pretty nice character. She saved Taki (I’ll just use the character’s name no matter who is controlling the body unless it’s important to specify) from a scammer and also proves to be a pretty loyal friend. For Mitsuha’s supporting cast, we had her two friends as well. They were agreeable enough and did help her out in the big master plan at the end even if it sounded crazy. Not quite as interesting as Taki’s friends though. Mitsuha’s grandmother could be fairly annoying. She knows quite a lot, but never really does anything with that knowledge so she may as well not know it then right? The sister was okay, it’s not her fault that Taki was always wrecking Mitsuha’s reputation.

Now the next parts are about an element of the film that may be considered a spoiler so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know about it. 3.2….1… Go. So, the characters are set apart by 3 years with good ole time travel so it helps explain some things like why they couldn’t just call each other right away. That’s good since it would have been too easy otherwise. That being said, it shouldn’t have been a twist as the characters should have known about it instantly. They’re using Cell Phones and laptops during the movie and those always show the year next to the time. They should have instantly known something was wrong. Even more basic than that, a Friday on the 24th this year would be a Friday the 21st 3 years ago. The date should always be different or the day of the week. Leap years could mess with that, but it’s still a pretty big deal. Also, when they’re looking for each other, Taki has to come up with very detailed sketches to find where she was. Couldn’t he have just remembered the name of her school, or town? It may have been easier for Mitsuha than Taki in this case and she actually did track him down so I’ll give her some credit there. I just don’t see how Taki would not have been more observant so he could have found the place easier. To an extent this is all for plot convenience. It’s hard to write a time travel story that doesn’t have some kind of issue, especially when it’s used as a plot twist and all. It’s not something that would actually hurt the film either way, just that you shouldn’t dwell on the specifics too much or you’ll start to pick up on these things.

The animation for the film is pretty sharp. We get some nice visuals for the shooting stars from the poster towards the end. The city landscape looks great and the foods are on point as well. It’s definitely a modern anime film that clearly got a good budget. The character designs are also better than some other modern anime features as they feel more mainstream and less abstract if you will. I also enjoyed the music. We get a number of insert songs throughout and they’re handled well. I’m always up for a lyrical song as long as the lyrics themselves don’t distract from the scene because of how bad they are. If the song’s lyrics are great or understandable, then there’s nothing to worry about and these were good from what I heard. I can’t say that I remember any of the lyrics at the moment, but that’s just how it goes. It takes a few watches for me to get the lyrics unless the song is just that phenomenal.

At the end of the day, the important thing is for the film to be enjoyable. I can definitely say that the film was fun. The setting was nice and the characters were good. It’s an upbeat story that surprisingly hasn’t been done too often before. I actually wouldn’t have minded if the body swap part had effectively been the whole movie and when the comet passes they simply stop seeing each other. It might have not had the same impact for many viewers, but I think it could work well. Of course, I’m sure the film was actively trying to ensure they didn’t wear out the plot as focusing on just that for 100 minutes could have easily backfired. Maybe it’s for the best then.

As you may know from watching films over the years, an ending is always very important. Depending on the film, an ending can shift a film’s score by around 3 stars. Sometimes more and sometimes less. This is one of those films where the ending was extremely ending. If they went a certain amnesia route then it probably would have lost another star. If they’d gone the optimal route then it would have gained a star. It’s an underwhelming ending that lands it squarely in the middle, but doesn’t really damage the film. I’ll be content with that, but I still wasn’t a fan of how it all went down. In any film where memory is an issue and people are asking about each other’s names and such, I always want them to remember. I can’t get much more specific here, but you’ll probably know what I mean by the end. The characters run in circles with their memories for a while and I always think you should finish the race and get the memories as opposed to the alternative. The worst case ending would have involved a few hundred deaths plus total amnesia so I can at least confirm that the ending never goes into that territory. Now that would have been a travesty.

Overall, Your Name is a good film. I’m always up for a good body swap film. It was engaging throughout so the film really sped by. The drama angle in the second half was definitely handled a lot better than it may have been in another film. I’m still not crazy about the ending, but it could have been far worse. Taki’s running gag and one gross scene hold it back from getting that extra star, but it’s still a film that I can recommend. If you want to see a film about Bonds that Transcend Time and don’t want to rewatch Yugioh for the 100th time, this is the film to check out. You can see why took off so much with everyone who viewed it. It’s theoretically a film that can be fun for basically everyone.

Overall 6/10

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! Review

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Pokemon is definitely a big franchise that has had a lot of hype moments and hard landings throughout. On the whole it usually has many more successes than failures though and the anime is one that can be recommended to all. The Pokemon Go game is probably the title that I’ve played the most overall as well and there’s just a lot of variety. Partially to cash in on Pokemon Go and the nostalgia for the original episodes, this film was made instead of a Alola title. That sounded good to me, but now I wish they had gone the other route instead. Not all of the films have been amazing. They range from great to fairly mediocre. However, this one went to a new direction that I hadn’t even thought to be worried about, it decided to get rather dark. This is not the Pokemon film that we had been waiting for.

It’s a reimagining of Ash’s first days as a trainer so it starts with him being late to Professor Oak’s lab. He gets Pikachu and survives a Spearow attack. The first warning bells here is when we suddenly get a massive jump to Erica as Ash wins the gym badge in an instant. The majority of the fight was skipped and what about all of the fights before this one? Sure, they were never going to be able to adapt all of it but why skip that much? Well, Ash meets up with Sorrel and Verity who decide to tag along with him. He comes across an evil Pokemon named Marshadow who wants to corrupt him and plunge the world into darkness. Can Ash stop him and any chance at this adapting more Gym Battles or will he be forced to give up on his quest?

I made sure to sit down and read something before writing this review to calm down a bit first, but the film still didn’t sit any better with me. It’s clear from the get go that the writers had a very different idea on why People liked the original season than I did. I liked the original Pokemon season because of the cool gym battles and Pokemon action throughout. Ash was a great main character and Gary was a fun rival. It could get pretty serious, but was a light hearted adventure all around. The movie went through great pains to destroy every one of those concepts.

First lets talk about how they ruined Ash. He gets corrupted by Marshadow and starts acting mean to everyone. He bad mouths Charmander behind his back for losing and says that he would have won with Pikachu. He tells Pikachu that he wishes he got a different Pokemon and distances himself from everyone. This leads to a scene of him being in a normal school and finally making it back to the real world where he gets over it. Sure, Marshadow was manipulating him, but why is there even such a scene in the first place? If it had to happen, give it to one of Ash’s forgettable partners. Ash’s character shouldn’t be sacrificed for such a small plot that had no actual bearing on anything. Take away those couple of minutes and not a thing changes. Then it’s also annoying how Ash loses to Cross because he didn’t have any strategy. Telling Charmeleon to use the same attack multiple times when it was clearly not working was also very annoying. Then getting suckered by Cross into losing his feather by the end makes you shake your head. Ash just looked terrible at many points throughout this movie and is certainly nowhere near his TV show counterpart. He has his moments, but at the end of the day he’s not the great trainer that you’ll remember from the old days.

As the show is condensing a long season into a movie you at least want the big fights, but we don’t get very many action scenes in the film. Most of the ones that we do get are over in 1-2 hits as Pikachu zaps someone or tackles them away. It was clearly not a priority for the film. The fact that Sorrel never gets to fight at all aside from getting one shotted and likewise for Verity just shows how the fighting was pushed to the side. I wanted actual trainer fights and good battles against the Wild Pokemon. This just never happened and the action in this film is quite limited. It’s something that most of the other films did with a lot more success than this one.

Instead, the show focuses on the dark/somber plots from the anime. Butterfree leaving is one of the plots that they choose to keep. Now, it’s not a bad scene in the anime. Ash still got to spend a lot of time with him and we had about 20 happy episodes before and after it. The film is already short so why are we jumping to such a sad scene already? Keep in mind that the film also keeps in the dark Charmander plot where he is abandoned and nearly dies before Ash saves him. The film clearly wanted to be darker and sadder than Pokemon is supposed to be. Those two scenes were already enough, but then the movie really jumped the shark. This is the scene that really wrecked the film beyond repair and what makes it worse is that this scene was absolutely and completely 100% pointless.

Sorrel reminds the audience why he is such a terrible character as when he was a kid he snuck out in the cold. He then fainted so the family’s loyal dog Pokemon had to follow him. Instead of picking the kid up and going home, roaring so people could come help, zapping the kid awake, or making a fire, the Pokemon dies. It just dies for no reason and it’s a very sad moment for no reason at all. The film just wanted to get grim dark to establish Sorrel’s character, but what did it really establish? It didn’t change him in any real way. It’s just a passing line and then the film goes back to trying to be happy in the next scene. I can’t stress enough how pointless this scene was and just how terrible it was. With Pokemon Alola also apparently bumping off Pokemon, it’s just a sad state of affairs that the movie would pick this scene to include in the film. There was no way Sorrel could save himself from this scene of course. Moreover, he talks a good game about being friends with his Pokemon, but does nothing to try and stop Cross when he shows up. He does nothing throughout the film.

Verity at least has some more personality. I was a little annoyed that her fight with Ash was interupted since we could have had an actual battle Ash should have been able to win that one with the type advantage. Her sob story also doesn’t really have a point as she seemingly had some kind of fight with her Mom but then decides to go home and talk it out. More unnecessary drama, but at least it’s not randomly grim so I’ll take it. The film barely acknowledges it after that one scene so that’s for the best. I’m not the biggest fan of Brock and Misty, but I think I would have taken them over these two. At least I think they would have been more ready to help Ash while these two kids simply watched with astonished looks on their faces the entire movie.

Cross is the mean rival and the film does what it can to make the guy as mean as can be. He kicks Charmander and gets away wit it. He beats up Ash and beats up Charmeleon quite a bit and again gets away scot free. While it’s all build up for Ash eventually winning, even that feels negated as he still knocks Ash away and gets the feather. Then he actually turns good which is more of an insult to the cast than anything else. You can’t really convert a character like that in such a short amount of time. While Sorrel reminds Ash that t hey have to respect this guy’s power, they can also respect the fact that they can take him down and bring him over to the cops for Pokemon abuse. Again, I don’t know what the writers were thinking with this film.

As for some actual positives, the graphics are good. Everything looks pretty shiny and modern. This way you at least have something to look at the whole time. When the Pokemon fights happen they look pretty good. Take a shot of water every time a fight is interrupted or ends off screen though. It’ll be good for you. The character designs are on point except for an annoying old man who pops up out of nowhere to contribute nothing to the story. That guy just didn’t have a purpose in the film.

The soundtrack’s not bad. Most of it’s pretty generic and never comes close to the actual first season. The remix of the opening is pretty good. Not as good as the original of course, but it’s more a case of the singer than the remix. The remix sounded pretty identical to the original to be honest which was good. That’s always been the most iconic Pokemon song for a good reason. The new singer did a fine job as well and it was a good way to kick things off. I would have liked a battle theme to accompany it, but since we didn’t really get many of those, I guess that’s why they didn’t bother.

Marshadow is one of the new Pokemon to show up, but I didn’t like him. He was seemingly portrayed as a villain from the start so it was odd that he wasn’t treated like one from the beginning. Unless he wasn’t actually mind controlling Ash and Ash was actually just being super unlikable, but I’m going to just assume it’s the former. He doesn’t even seem that strong and wouldn’t last very long in a real fight. It was cool seeing all of the Legendary Pokemon show up. I was glad Entei basically wiped the floor with everyone although I think Pikachu could give him a good fight 1 on 1. Entei was just running around too much and Ash couldn’t dodge the fire well enough. If he could, Pikachu would eventually take Entei down for the count. Team Rocket is also in this film by the way but seeing as how they just keep getting blasted away over and over again adding nothing to the film, there’s no need to give them their own section. They’re literally just here as cameos for the fans so the writers didn’t really have to think too hard about how to handle them.

So, as far as Pokemon films go this is definitely one of the weakest. I was hoping that a call back to the original Pokemon films would result in this being one of the better ones, but I suppose that just made the flaws more evident. I don’t often like Elseworld stories so I suppose that overrode the nostalgia. The whole thing just didn’t feel right and honestly it just should have had a completely different cast if the plot was going to be so different otherwise. Rename the main character as Stephen or something and then it’s less annoying. I don’t think the score would be any better since it still has the Pokemon death which is effectively an animal death, but it would certainly be less personal. At any rate, I hope this one doesn’t get a sequel and we just go back to the main Pokemon movies.

For an actual list, from what I remember of each film here is how it all ends up. 1. Genesect, 2. Pokemon Destiny Deoxys, 3. Mewtwo, 4. Entei, 5. 2000, 6. Giratina, 7. Heroes, 8. Darkrai, 9. Kyurem, 10. Black n White, 11. Lucario, 12. Hoopa, 13. Arceus, 14. 4 Ever, 15. Volcanion, 16. Zoroark, 17. Jirachi, 18. Diancie, 19. Ranger, 20. I Choose You. The list is a little rough towards the middle. My recollections of 4Ever, Lucario, Darkrai, Jirachi, and Ranger are spotty at best. The Top 5 are pretty well set by this point and will be rather tough to surpass, but not impossible. It’s probably fitting that Sun and Moon, the weakest season in all of Pokemon contains the weakest Pokemon film. If you count it as an Alola film at all, but it’s in that era at any rate.

I can also see why People didn’t like the climax to this film. It just feels all over the place and not really focused. Mind controlling all of the Pokemon and starting a big fight could be good..if the fight actually happened and we weren’t in the final minutes of the film. Ripping off Ash’s famous statue scene from the first movie is also rather shameless and it’s not even handled all that well. After all, this character hasn’t even been through much at all so it’s not as big a moment as it could have been. You can’t do a scene like that so early. The first movie’s scene was also epic as well as sad while this one is just adding yet another sad scene into the mix.

To save this film, it should have just been an adaption of season 1. Why even give Gary a cameo if he isn’t going to do anything? I was expecting him to show up, but it simply never happened. Why give us the Erika fight and mention the Pokemon League if it’s never going to happen either? I suppose these teases are supposed to be fun as you decide to watch the show again, but it just makes you wish for those moments instead of what you’re actually watching. Following the show and having a bunch of Gym Battles would have been a blast. I’d love to see a Pokemon Kai of sorts that does the first season all over again with new animation and I wouldn’t mind if they cut out the filler episodes so it focuses on the main plot. It could have been a blast. Then we would also get a bunch of cool action scenes as well.

Well, aside from the animation and soundtrack, a positive for the film would be that Pikachu looks good. While he did leave Ash pretty quickly once Ash entered into dark mode, he looked good in all of his fights. You never enter a fight thinking Pikachu will lose since he looks so impressive here. His speed is on point and he definitely is one of my favorite Pokemon at this point. Top 5 for sure and since there are over 700 Pokemon that is definitely an impressive feat. It would have been nice to have seen more of Ash’s Pokemon, but Pikachu is always the really important one anyway. I like to think he really gave Ho-Oh a great fight as well.

Overall, This Pokemon film just didn’t feel like Pokemon. That’s the biggest problem with it. It’s very sad and dramatic throughout. What the writers didn’t understand was that it’s okay, or at least not terrible to have sad and grim scenes in a show because you can have dozens of happy episodes between them. You can have a grim plot if handled right as well. However, in a movie, you have a limited amount of time so adding in even just a few sad scenes can change the tone of the entire movie. By having a very cruel rival, death, and permanent farewells in one movie, there’s no chance for a happy moment. The happy scenes in the film instead feel rather hollow, especially as Ash is sharing them with complete strangers who aren’t even that likable. Verity isn’t a bad character, but not a particularly great one either and Sorrel is just bad. you want a Pokemon film to be a fun one, especially if it’s an anniversary film. Instead, you’ll walk away from this film being pretty upset and I’m sure the feeling would have been even worse if you had seen it in the theater. Take my advice and skip this film, it’s just not worth it. I’ll still look forward to the next film though as I’m sure it’ll catch itself and start climbing up again.

Overall 5/10