Batman and Harley Quinn Review

MV5BNTQzM2JkYTAtY2ExNi00N2ZhLWE5NDctMDQyMWU5ZjcwZDEwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjM5NDQzNTk@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_
It’s time to look at a fairly recent DC film. The DCAU was one of the best things to ever happen to comics in general so it’s good to see it make a comeback with this film. Unfortunately its comeback is on a rather low note here as the film makes too many mistakes but if this leads to a new Justice League installment or maybe even a Superman film then I’ll be up for it. It definitely got a good retro vibe going for it.

The film starts off with Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man deciding to form an alliance and turn the world into plants. Batman and Nightwing figure that they won’t be able stop this threat on their own so they enlist the help of Harley Quinn. She agrees to help but is determined to make the heroes regret bringing her along. Will this team be able to keep it together long enough to save the world or do they just need to hope that the villains make a mistake somewhere along the line? The time is ticking!

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film does a good job of recreating the classic sound effects from the DCAU. One thing that always stood out back then was how hard each blow sounded. Every movement had power behind it and it’s likely also due to the animation style. This film recreated it quite well and then throwing in the familiar voices made the experience even more authentic. On a technical level the film certainly didn’t disappoint. The hand to hand fights are also quite solid like Nightwing vs Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy vs Harley. Both fights were nice and long. It does bring up a mild question though of how Poison Ivy is so good at martial arts. I can understand Harley being really good, although I think she should not be able to do so well against Nightwing, but then how can Poison Ivy hold her own against such an opponent? It seems like everyone is apparently a martial arts master at this point.

Batman is a solid main character as always. While I think he was rather quick to throw in the towel by asking Harley to come along I guess time was of the essence here. The villains plan was actually pretty quick and well thought out for a change. It’s certainly a fairly unique threat. Batman is also upfront with the constant insults to the government so it’s nice to see that he is still feared by villains and heroes alike. I mean, the henchmen at the bar didn’t fear him, but they were quickly taught that lesson afterwards.

Lets talk about where the film went wrong now. For starters, it definitely is trying quite a bit to be edgier than the old days. Not in a cool well written way like Batman V Superman as that’s dark, but not edgy. Here we have Harley Quinn throwing in swear words just to remind us that she’s one of the villains from time to time. The script never gets too crazy, but each moment feels forced. Then we have random comments thrown in to show us that everyone is rather terrible in Gotham. The government agent guy is cheating for some reason and the normal citizens are all James Bond and Captain Kirk types.

The film also includes quite a bit of fanservice with Harley Quinn. As with Suicide Squad all it does it help defeat the point of trying to make her a strong character. The scene with her and Nightwing takes the cake of being the worst scene in the film though. It’s no surprise to see Harley Quinn back on the rebound, but Nightwing should have had the will power to stay true to the mission and refuse her. He looked terrible in that scene and this leads to a lot of painful lines later on as it keeps being brought up. On second thought, the writing was actually rather bad in this film. We even get crude humor thrown in.

So, Batman is the only good hero in this film. Nightwing was completely destroyed by this scene and just couldn’t make it back up the charts. There’s no way to take him seriously by this point. Then Harley Quinn is also beyond saving because her character is just no good. It’s great that she doesn’t want to be a villain anymore and she tries to earn sympathy points by showing how rough it is for an ex-con in Gotham, but she certainly doesn’t make it any easier on herself. She gets a happy ending at least so hopefully she doesn’t mess it up this time.

The villains are a lot more interesting and they’re better handled. The Floronic Man is the completely evil member of the duo and he can’t wait to destroy the humans. He’s a villain who has never gotten the spotlight before so it was cool to see him here. The guy seems like a reasonable villain. He may not be much of a threat, but can still put up a fairly good fight. Then we have Poison Ivy who was always good in the DCAU. She isn’t as insane as the average villain and ultimately at least has a good reason for being evil. I do think it was a bit iffy how Floronic Man was basically the leader of their partnership though since he is basically made out of plants. I think Ivy should be able to defeat him rather easily, but of course walking within punching distance wouldn’t be wise. These two villains are probably the 2nd and 3rd best characters in the film.

There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but we hear a really solid remix near the end of the film and overall it was rather fast paced. I wasn’t crazy about the lyrical songs though so I guess they roughly cancel out in the end. This film isn’t too long and the pacing is good so at least it doesn’t end up dragging on. I do have to question why the film plays up a certain death near the end like it’s a big deal though. It was a character that nobody cared about and it’s not as if he died in a particularly brutal way or anything. I guess the heroes are heroic enough to care though so I can’t fault them for that.

Overall, Batman and Harley Quinn wasn’t a good movie but I think anyone probably could have guessed that based on the title. Whenever there is a film based around Harley Quinn you know that it’s not going to work out very well. This film pretty much made every mistake that it could here. At least it wasn’t all that violent so it dodged that. Still, excessive fanservice and bad writing is enough to bring a film down. Also the quick case of animal violence as a mouse blows up. That scene is so incredibly unnecessary that you have to wonder what the film was thinking. I would recommend passing on this film as there are plenty of other, better DC films to watch instead.

Overall 4/10

Advertisements

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash Review

91Ay255rj8L._SL1500_
It’s time to look at one of the newest Lego films around! DC has had a pretty good track record with their Lego adventures and are certainly leading the pack. This is because their specials actually have some pretty solid action scenes to go along with the good one liners. I dare say that DC has taken Legos to the peak of where they can reach and this one continues their roll. It still has some competition ahead of it for being the best DC specials, but I would put this one up there as probably top 3. Flash makes for a great main character and always makes the right moves.

The story starts with the Justice League trying to fend off an attack from the Joker. Unfortunately for them they are getting creamed. Flash should have been there to help, but he was busy enjoying a donut with a milkshake. Truly that is an underrated combo if you ask me. Still, he manages to save the day anyway, but then a mysterious being known as the Reverse Flash shows up. Flash chases him, but finds himself back to the start of the day. This keeps on happening and it seems like Flash is stuck in a time loop. In order to get out he will have to move even faster, but what if doing this ends up wrecking reality itself!? Only one way to find out!

I’m always up for a good time travel story. Nowadays this usually goes hand in hand with the Flash and his story arcs. Flashpoint is probably the most well known Flash event of all time and then the TV show also likes to casually mess around with the past and the future. It makes for good story arcs that open up a lot of moral questions like should you change the past or simply ignore it. Typically they go for the worst possible moral though and that is that the past shouldn’t be altered. Fortunately, it’s safe to say that this special doesn’t really go there at all. The trope can be especially annoying when the villain changed the past first and the hero still isn’t able to go back and correct it. A bit off topic though so lets get back to the adventure.

I do like how Flash handled the situation though. He kept on going after the Reverse Flash because he knew that one day he would surpass his limits. Even though Batman kept telling him to wait Flash would go anyway. The montage showed that he probably tries this at least 50 times. Imagine living through the same day that many times and not going crazy. Flash really kept it together and in the end he made the right move since Batman’s great advice was simply to say “Run faster.” That’s really the best advice that Batman’s got? Flash was able to do it of course, but after Batman’s constant “Wait” moments I was expecting something else. Still, Flash was easily the best character here and that’s not easy to do in a special where Batman and Superman are present.

In the other plot we have Reverse Flash proving to the world that he is a better hero than the normal Flash. Instead of trying to join the League or anything like that he spends his time trying to prove that they aren’t needed anymore. With the speed at which he solves crimes it may even appear to be true. If he were a legitimate hero then he would have a mild point, but of course he would run out of energy at some point so the league would have to step in again. It’s fun how he makes everyone look pretty petty at times like when the League was caught eaves dropping on him. Batman saved the situation from being a tragedy, but it still was not their greatest moment. Ah well, they did their best.

As far as the Justice League goes, they were all in character. Batman and Superman were a great contrast to each other as you would expect. Superman was super cheerful and would try being nice to Flash while Batman would just give him the tough facts. Wonder Woman was more of a mediator and Cyborg was busy messing everything up like usual. Likewise with Plasticman but to a greater extent. The new member of the group who got a lot of screen time was the Atom. If they wanted him to look terrible than they succeeded.

Considering that he is a new recruit the guy seems to have a considerable ego. He complains quite a lot and you have to repeatedly wonder how he actually got on the team. The guy definitely doesn’t seem like he belongs, but I guess that’s just one of those mysteries that you have to think about for a little while. He gets a subplot of his own where he tries to contact the league while he’s tiny and it’s a treacherous journey for him. I’d like to say that it helped him get likable by the end but not really. At this rate the new recruits are all going to keep on losing out.

I will say that the first half of the special does beat the latter though. I enjoyed the Groundhog shenanigans from the beginning as Flash kept trying to stop his evil doppelganger. His route to the trouble involving all of the food and villain arrests were fun as well. The movie accurately shows just how overpowered the Flash should be and since it’s part comedy they are actually able to pull this off instead of totally nerfing him. That’s not to say that the second half is bad, but Dr. Fate singalongs just don’t have the same appeal you know? It was definitely a radically different take on him, but at least it had personality. Dr. Fate usually doesn’t actually do much except get in everyone’s way. I do feel bad for Zatanna though since her training seems like it will take a very long time to actually get anywhere.

There’s not much to say about the animation that hasn’t been said before. It’s Lego animation so it’s pretty much the same every time. I’m not a huge fan of it, but it looks well enough and at this point it’s pretty polished. The action scenes are still solid as I mentioned earlier and they did a good job with the speed animations. As far as I’m concerned, they put in the proper amount of effort there. There isn’t much of a noticeable soundtrack here so it’s a few steps behind some of the others, but the sound effects are good and what music we do get tends to be solid as well.

The writing is on point which is always very important for a film like this one. The humor is actually good as opposed to just being obnoxious or annoying. Well, those two things are kind of the same I guess. Either way, the writing really understands the characters here. Cyborg and Atom are annoying, but it’s not necessarily the humor that makes them annoying, but the characters and I wouldn’t hold that against the writing since I’m pretty sure that it’s intentional. It may not be laugh out loud funny (Almost nothing is) but it works pretty well and the sarcastic wit from the heroes is part of the charm behind the Legos.

Overall, The Flash is a solid movie and one that I would certainly recommend. Whether you are a fan of Lego adventures or comic book films this is one title that you don’t want to miss. It really pulls out all of the stops and each act of the film feels like a complete film. Honestly the first act alone could have worked as the whole movie and I would have been satisfied. It’s a long 70ish minutes, but not in a bad way. They manage to squeeze a lot of content in there so I’d say that it’s actually very fast paced. There really isn’t anything majorly negative to say about the film and that’s how you know that it’s quite solid.

Overall 8/10

Lady and the Tramp Review

512GVCKZ9YL._SY445_
It’s time to take a look at the Lady and the Tramp. It’s definitely a well known film that I’m sure a lot of us have heard of. It’s about two dogs so what could go wrong….uh oh. There’s no real animal violence here as the film stays classy in that regard but unfortunately the movie is just really mean spirited which ultimately holds it back quite a bit.

The film starts with two jerks deciding to get a dog. They buy Lady and right away Mr. Jerk decides that the dog will have to sleep in a dark room by herself as he closes the door. Lady keeps trying to break out and keep them up until finally they reluctantly relent and let her on the bed. Jerk complains about all of this nonstop and is just a terrible character in case you haven’t noticed. Well, one things leads to another and Heartless decides to have a baby. Jerk and Heartless decide that they don’t even want to have Lady around anymore and completely ignore her every action. It’s as if she isn’t even around anymore at this point.

Then the baby is born and the irresponsible parents decide they’ve had enough of the responsibility and leave the country for a few days. They decide to have Aunt Harriett watch over the baby. As the aunt is allergic to dogs and owns two cats, it is reasonable to assume that they told her to just watch over the baby and to ignore the dog. Lady does her best to watch over the baby, goldfish, and the bird but then she is kicked out of the house and given a muzzle. She meets up with a dog named Tramp who agrees to help her and aims to elfurther show that living as a free dog is preferable to being leashed. Will Lady agree?

It’s not a bad premise if these were human characters that we were talking about since nobody cares about those guys quite as much. When it comes to a film about dogs though, the film can’t be this mean spirited. It’s just hard to watch the film during the majority of these scenes as the owners are just so terrible. I’m not even sure if you’re supposed to actively dislike Jerk and Heartless or if you are supposed to simply feel bad for Lady but either way I did both. The owners do far too much for you to simply forgive and forget as the film wants you to by the end. You can’t even play the whole “It was a misunderstanding” card since they were very intentional with how they would ignore her.

Then you’ve also got the Aunt who would have murdered the other pets by proxy if not for Lady and she gets absolutely no punishment for any of this. In fact, she sends dog food at the end so I guess they are all suddenly friends now right? Ignorance is bliss or so they say so I guess the parents here should be on cloud 9 all the time. It’s not even as if the scenes are all that long, but they are certainly long enough for me to really dislike everybody involved from the humans. There actually aren’t any good human characters now that I think about it.

The good parts of the film are when Tramp is showing Lady around with his elaborate setup. In those moments it actually feels like the fun movie you would have expected going into it. Tramp has a lot of fine dining spots and everyone seems to like the guy. It also shows that not all of the humans are really bad people in this area, just most of them. Tramp even goes out of his way to help out other dogs in need so while he is a solo act, Tramp does try to help the community around him.

The scenes at the Pound can be a bit much though. Seeing the dogs get led out where we never see them again was rather dark. I was hoping for a slight fake out as we then see a happy family walking off with the dog, showing that they were being rescued, but the dogs just didn’t know about it. Still, on its own the pound stuff wouldn’t be enough to hurt the film all that much but all of this just begins to add up.

As far as the supporting characters go, I liked the dog with the scottish accent. He was always ready for a fight and did his best to watch over Lady along with the ex fugitive hunter dog. The old dog’s ramblings could drag on a little, but he was still a decent character for the most part. He helped out quite a bit and the film handled the ending well as the film almost lost another star with how his plot would have concluded. As it stands, the ending was pretty good. In general, the film got a lot better once we entered the climax of the movie. It couldn’t quite save the first half of the film, but at least it gives us some hope for the sequel.

The animation is pretty good as you would expect. All of the character designs are on point and the animation in general is very smooth. We also get some nice action scenes thrown in for good measure like Tramp against 3 dogs or Tramp against the Rat. I wasn’t expecting any action scenes so that was a welcome surprise. They were also handled very well as they managed not to even fall into the unfortunate animal violence trap. Another reason why it’s always best to be animated rather than live action for these as it is tougher to pull off there. The rat put up a much better fight against the dog than I was expecting to be honest, but we all knew who would come out on top in the end. Winning a 3 on 1 fight early on was the really impressive moment. If not for Tramp’s iffy backstory that was completely glossed over, he would easily be the best character in the film.

Overall, The Lady and the Tramp is a bad movie. I was definitely triggered while watching it and Lady deserved better owners. They really overdid it with how mean the owners were as there was just no turning back for them by the end. The animation is solid and we got some fun fight scenes with snappy dialogue but it is all erased by the pesky humans. Maybe the sequel will end up being better since the humans theoretically shouldn’t regress with their character development. Anyway, you are better off watching Air Bud or Underdog than this film. Those have more heart and don’t get quite as tragic.

Overall 4/10

Coco Review

81FZFvGhSVL._SY550_
It’s time to look at one of Pixar’s newest films! It’s definitely been a pretty big hit and the film has a lot of heart. While it may not be the greatest Pixar film of them all, it is definitely quite solid. The music selection is probably Pixar’s best since and Mexican music in general is something you don’t hear too often. If I ever became a ghost I would certainly expect everyone to leave me a lot of Macaroni and Cheese. I didn’t see any cheese products in the film from what everyone was leaving for the ghosts so I felt like this had to be pointed out.

The film stars a kid named Miguel who is having a hard time fitting in with his family. They really can’t stand music because a long time ago their great ancestor left the family to become a world famous musician. Miguel believes like Gon Freecs that maybe this was justified and still wants to be a music master. The family forces his hand and which causes Miguel to break into a shrine and steal the legendary guitar. The problem is that he is now stuck in the world of the dead and must find the famous musician to be able to get him back to the real world.

Naturally there are a few twists and turns in the film and my plot summary is rather general and cuts out quite a bit. While you will likely see the final plot twist coming about the musician, it doesn’t take away from the character. Ernesto makes for a pretty hype villain and the guy certainly knows how to put up a pretty good front. Nobody dares mess with this guy in either world and he has a strong cult to back him up. The scene where he embraces the song while still trying to get the picture away from the heroes showed that the guy was quick on the uptake and he had no hesitation. This villain wasn’t going to start doubting himself after coming this far or do anything drastic like turning good. Ernesto always knew to seize his moment and never forgot this.

As for Miguel, he’s a reasonable main character I suppose. He’s not great, but kids rarely are. At the very least he showed that he was pretty good with a guitar. I think the movie would have worked even better if the main character had been someone like Ernesto, but a lot of the plot would likely have to be retooled if that was the case. Pixar did a good job of keeping him from being too annoying at the very least and I also wouldn’t have accepted going back to the human world with the conditions that were imposed on him from the family. That would have definitely been a little too much if you ask me.

Hector, pronounced Ector is another one of the big characters. Again, you’ll probably see his plot coming from his first appearance, but that doesn’t hurt him…the rest of the film does that just fine. I just couldn’t bring myself to be a fan of this guy. Not only did he actually leave everyone for music, but then he couldn’t even see his dream through to the end. In the dream world he is basically a running joke to everyone around him and it’s just hard to sympathize. He was naive to the end and not noticing what he was drinking was a rookie mistake. Perhaps if he had won a fight I would have gained more respect for him, but at this point I think it was all over for him. Don’t think he’s a terrible character, but he is probably the worst character in the film now that I think about it.

Despite the film being called Coco, the character doesn’t get much of a role. She seems like a nice enough person I guess, but her memory could use a bit of work. I wish she could talk a little more so she could actually stand up to the others. Miguel’s Aunt/Grandma character seemed reasonable. She was good at throwing her shoes around and keeping Miguel in line even if it didn’t work too well. On the whole Miguel’s family seemed nice. They really just had one rule, don’t associate with music. For everything else they were perfectly reasonable. It’s just a shame that Miguel had to find the one taboo and quickly shatter it.

I do have one relatively big issue with the film. It’s the dog’s design. Lately it seems to be an in thing to make the animals look rather ugly at times. Remember how disturbing kid Dorry was in the Finding Nemo sequel? This is even worse as the dog’s tongue is always hanging out as if he is panting and it makes the character hard to look at. That honestly just looks painful and I felt bad for the dog the whole time. He never actually served a purpose in the film and should have been cut out. Whoever did the character design for the dog also should have been fired on the spot or told to axe the design instantly. It’s just so unfathomably terrible and it was distracting whenever he was on screen.

That aside, I didn’t really have any problems with the film. As I mentioned earlier the soundtrack was quite good. It probably wouldn’t hold up as well if I could understand all of the lyrics since I got most of them and the songs weren’t exactly my style. The beat of the music is good though which is certainly important. They are all very fast tempo which is exactly what you want to see with good music. Slow songs work once in a while, but I have to stress that these are very rare times and usually a fast tempo is the safe option.

The whole ghost dynamic was pretty fun as well. It’s definitely interesting to have a whole system set up, but it does make you feel bad for the people running the scanning program. That was my first thought at the cashier wished the ghosts a happy time on this special once a year day. That’s because the people working the desks wouldn’t be able to enjoy the day themselves. It’s definitely pretty realistic as many people have to work holidays here as well, but I just felt bad for those people. Hopefully they got triple pay.

Overall, Coco is a pretty fun movie. Aside from the distracting dog it’s hard to find any real issues with it. I suppose the cast wasn’t great, but we got some solid musical themes and a lot of action pieces so that worked well enough for me. I’d be up for a sequel, but the movie has a really complete beginning and ending so I suppose it’s not like it actually needs one. Pixar continues to impress with consistently good movies so it’ll be fun to see what they have planned for next time. If you haven’t seen Coco yet then I definitely recommend that you fix that!

Overall 7/10

Monsters, Inc. Review

poster-monsters-inc
It’s time to look at a retro Pixar film. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this one, possibly even over 10 years at this point. I enjoyed the Dodgeball game that they made for the Gamecube so it was about time that I gave the film a revisit. It’s definitely aged really well and I’d consider it to be one of Pixar’s better films. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of rankings for it so I’m going to have a list near the end. I’m not sure why this film needed a prequel when a sequel makes more sense, but that’s an adventure for another time. Lets dive into the plot.

There exists a world filled with monsters who sneak into kids’ rooms at night in order to scare them. This is because their world runs on scream energy so they scare the kids and then dash back. They have to be careful because if a kid makes contact with them they will die from the poison. As such they can’t even touch anything that has been in touch with a kid. Sully is the best Monster Scarer in the business and is getting ready to break another record. The big hitch in this plan is that a kid manages to sneak out of her door and grab onto Sully. He must now find a way to return her to the human world without anyone noticing. His reputation is at stake, but he quickly finds out that kids may not be as dangerous as he was told. Will he make the right decision and help her out or follow corporate and not ask any questions?

Pixar has definitely come up with another very interesting world here. Doors that lead you to other worlds really sounds like something out of Kingdom Hearts. A whole society being born out of it is also very interesting. There’s definitely a lot you could do with the concept. If only Watermoose had adapted to the plot twist that laughter works just as well, he could have really been raking in the money. It’s sad because he seems like a decent guy for the majority of the film. I suppose they usually do seem nice at first though. He shows his true colors by the end though and the cops had the last laugh. Still a fun antagonist though and he can fight which is pretty impressive.

The writing is pretty solid for the film and that quickly makes the main characters pretty likable. Monster, Inc. has good pacing as well so it never really drags on. The film goes by in a snap with no real weak points. Even the brief Yeti part of the film had the potential to drag on, but the characters didn’t stay there for very long so I’d say that it wasn’t bad. The door hopping shenanigans at the end of the film do raise some questions though. They would jump in one door and escape through another. This is because Boo powered up all of the doors, but then can’t Randall do the same? I mean, if he is still alive anyway. If he isn’t, then there was no reason to break the door either though. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry though.

The animation is pretty consistent with Pixar’s usual style. The character designs for the monsters and the humans are classic at this point. We even get a quick fight scene which looks good even if you’ll wonder how Randall can be so much more skilled than Sully. You’d expect the main character to put up a better fight considering how much raw power he has right? I guess he just wasn’t ready for invisibility and I suppose it can take you by surprise. There isn’t much of a soundtrack here, but maybe next time.

Sully is a good main character. He never let the fame go to his head even when he was the fear champ. He looks out for his friends and while he didn’t plan for Boo to be around, he still takes her appearance in stride and then aims to protect her. He’s just a nice guy who always makes the right call. There’s nothing really bad to say about him. He has no real negative qualities unless you count his poor combat showing, but that really can’t be held against his personality.

Mike provides a nice contrast to Sully. He is interested in the records and getting onto the covers of various magazines. He has bad luck with a stamp always canceling out his face, but always looks on the bright side of things. He talks a good game and doesn’t really fear anyone. His only downside is the romance plot. It’s one of those romance plots that is rather small, but still cringe-worthy and doesn’t add anything to the film. It’s just there so the film can say that it had a romance plot, but we didn’t need one of those. Mike and Sully may bicker at times as they disagree on what to do with Boo, but at the end of the day they’ll always be friends.

Boo is the little kid who tags along with the crew and she can be rather annoying. She can’t talk and keeps on trying to get the heroes in trouble. Not a very nice thing to do if you ask me and she does seem to know what she is doing. Boo is young enough where it’s hard to pin the blame on her, but that’s why I still prefer for kids to not be main characters. She’s more of a plot device than a character here I suppose, but her only role is to make things tougher on the heroes. I’m guessing she’ll be a
better character in a sequel since she’ll be older and more experienced. At least she can fight though which is really good since self defense is a must.

While Watermoose is the head honcho of the villains, Randall is still the main antagonist. He really wants to be the scare king and will do anything to get the title. He gets rather drastic by the end and is willing to attack the heroes to get what he wants. Of course, his skills don’t matter much against full fledged adults as we see by the end of the film. He’s a solid villain who is nice to have in the film. Whether he is acting as a rival or a pure villain, he’s definitely a lot of fun. Randall is able to be charismatic while also being a threat.

There is a group of workers who try to keep the place sanitary and they are definitely some of the best characters in the film. One of them goes for a full body slam on an unsuspecting citizen. They are certainly over the top with their methods of keeping the germs at bay, but you can never be too safe. There will definitely be no contagion event in this film since they have the place under lock and key. They may not be appreciated by the monsters, but their duty and service is the only thing keeping monster world together.

All right, it’s time to take a rough look at how all the Pixar films stack up. Here we go! Cars, Cars 3, Inside Out, Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Cars 2, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Up, Ratatouille. At the very least this is how I’d rank them at the moment. There are quite a few close ones in there but there can be no ties so I had to make the tough calls. We’ll see how Toy Story ranks once I finally check that one out. I’ve heard pretty good things about that series.

Overall, Monsters, Inc. is a good film that has definitely aged well. It’s the kind of movie that has quite a lot of replay value so you could watch it multiple times because of how fast it moves. It’s just a charming film with a lot of heart and an upbeat tone all the way through. The ending gives it a nice boost as well since it’s the perfect way to wrap things up. Ending another way would have just been needlessly sad. If you haven’t seen it yet then I’d definitely recommend giving this film a whirl. It’s a fun premise and doesn’t go too far in making the monsters appear cowardly either. The writing is solid enough to keep the film balanced. Hopefully the prequel is as good although it’ll certainly be tough.

Overall 7/10

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Forgotten Friendship Review

Photo_of_the_Mane_Seven_for_yearbook_EGFF
After all these years it is time to finally review my first Equestria Girls special. Ironically it’s the final one (so far) but the special gives a quick recap at the beginning which makes it easy to get most of the context here. It’s a fun special although it does go out of its way to make Twilight Sparkle look bad which is a little odd. I can see why this side of the series has a lot of fans as well since it’s a pretty fun cast, but the Pony world will likely keep its spot at the top.

The end of the school year is rapidly approaching so Sunset Shimmer is preparing all of the pictures. To help with this, Twilight has made a selfie machine and they are all going to meet at the Beach to use it. Unfortunately, when Sunset arrives there the next day, the Mane Clique doesn’t remember her and they actually go out of their way to make her feel bad. Sunset decides to go to Equestria to get to the bottom of this memory mishap, but the true source of trouble may be closer to home then she suspects. Could it be the new student???

I definitely enjoyed the fun intro. See, if you’re going to do a recap then there are 2 key things you need to do. 1. The recap has to be quick. If it’s too long then it defeats the purpose. 2. A song helps. Now, you can play it lazy straight and simply reuse the scenes but spreading them all out and adding a lyrical song to the mix makes it feel a lot more fresh. It has been a while since the last specials as well so a recap isn’t a bad thing. Since the special is under an hour, the plot starts very quickly. The pacing is always pretty good.

The special is a little obvious with the culprit though. Let’s face it, the instant this new transfer student showed up you knew she was trouble. Technically Wallflower has been at the school the entire time, but she’s never appeared before so that’s definitely suspicious. Many other titles have done this before including even the recent Dark Dimensions. The important thing is just making the character likable even if you know she is evil. Wallflower isn’t a bad antagonist if you look at her purely as a villain, but if you try to sympathize with her goals than it may not work so well. She really dug her own grave on this one. I actually disagreed with the moral in this film. Not the actual message but I don’t think it applies here.

As her name suggests, Wallflower hid in the background the whole time and nobody ever noticed her. Apparently this includes Sunset Shimmer and the gang so at the end they learn that they should have been nice to everybody. Not being mean isn’t good enough, you have to be actively nice. Thing is, we never have any scenes where Sunset isn’t being nice. There’s no real indication that this moral should apply to her. The only ground you have to stand on here is that Sunset and the others are being rude for not remembering her. If you’re in the same class as someone for years then you should probably know their name.

However, we find out at the end that Wallflower was actively erasing everyone’s memories of her so why should she hold them accountable? I’m sure the main characters did know about Wallflower and probably were nice to her, but then they had their memories wiped. This means that now Wallflower’s argument has no weight and neither does the moral. All that being said, there is nothing wrong with being even nicer so it’s still not a bad ending.

The music is certainly handled really well. The opening song was a lot of fun and the villain’s song was also very good. It was nice and fast paced while also being pretty emotional. The franchise has always been known for its songs but seems to really bring out the big guns for the films. It certainly helps the movie be even better. The film’s animation is also pretty solid. It doesn’t really seem to be any better than the normal shorts, but I suppose this special is more about getting the cast back for another adventure than it is about stunning everyone with the animation. I’d say it works well enough although I’m also used to it at this point.

As I mentioned earlier, surprisingly the Equestria plot isn’t all that great as Twilight looks absolutely terrible. Now this may just be a running gag in the films as she didn’t look very good in the main one either but her role is completely out of character here. She is overly expressive and out of control here. Sparkle is actually afraid of Celestia and doesn’t do a good job of defending Sunset. I understand Twilight being nervous in season 1, but she’s already seen many times that Celestia always forgives her underlings. Celestia is still rather rude and unlikable as always here, but not to such an extent. Then we get to the library and that’s where Twilight’s panicking gets even worse. I’m guessing this is all just to make Sunset look even better in comparison but there’s no reason to make her look this bad right? If I didn’t know any better I would have assumed that she was the comic relief character of the series.

Sunset looks really good though and has a bit more of an edge than the other ponies. She isn’t afraid to make threats of violence towards the villain and just comes across as tougher than the others. She has a leather jacket on after all and a previous rep as a villain so everyone still respects her. Sunset can still get emotional when her friends are involved, but at least she’s not nearly as mean about it as the others. She’s a solid main character and I certainly wouldn’t mind if she became the lead in the other show although her pony design doesn’t work as well as the human one. She basically has to save the day on her own although one other person was helpful.

Trixie was never a great character as a pony, but in this world she seems to be one of the better characters. Unlike the other characters who were content to mock Sunset she actually did try to help. Trixie also stood up to her when Sunset was making threats and has some legitimite magic power. She also serves as the self aware character of the film as she fast forwarded through the villain’s song and mocked its length. The film was surprisingly poking fun at itself in several other moments like where the characters cut human Twilight off before she can talk about friendship. It’s handled pretty well if you ask me. Trixie is definitely the 2nd best character in the film and maybe this will translate well into future appearances in the main series as well.

Unfortunately the Main 6 look really bad here. Their human forms just aren’t good. They may not remember Sunset, but it doesn’t excuse them being so mean and confrontational to her. They are completely judging her from their past memories even though she obviously didn’t come here looking for a fight. Maybe she has some kind of sinister plan, but I thought these heroes were all about looking on the positive side? They insult Sunset and deliberately try to hurt her feelings. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think they were the bullies of the series or the kind of “friends” you’d see in Ultimate Spider-Man where they make fun of the lead with and without their memories. You have to agree with Sunset when she admits that her friends losing their memories isn’t terrible since she still has Trixie. Trixie is certainly less stuck up than the others and seems like a true friend.

Of course, the characters are so mean to continue the plot so I guess I won’t hold it against them in other specials, but it’s not a great first appearance for those girls. The setting for the special also isn’t my favorite since its the cliche beach episode. I guess even My Little Pony can’t avoid that trope although naturally it handles the episode in a classy fashion unlike 99% of other titles. It’s just there for the scenery as opposed to anything else, but give me the city backdrop any day. The writing for the special is pretty strong for the most part. The obvious exceptions are any scene with Twilight Sparkle and to an extent, any scene with the human ponies unless they are intentionally meant to look really mean.

Towards the end of the film we get to see them transform and unleash their energy blasts though which is pretty cool. I’m glad they still have some level of abilities left within them here since that opens the door to a serious Tirek arc in this world. Trying to obliterate Wallflower may have been a bit much, but I suppose they really didn’t want to lose their memories anymore. Then we have made it to the ending. I have to say that the human versions of the ponies may actually be stronger than their normal counterparts with the exception of Twilight and Rainbow Dash as they can possibly use their energy blasts at will. It’s why we need a fighting crossover. As far as how I’d rank the human characters, Rainbow Dash is still the best with Applejack being a close second so that’s basically the same as always. The others are basically tied as they just weren’t any good, but I’ll give a proper ranking for all of them once I watch the first movie. This special was also a nice break from Equestria as it’s good to get some new backdrops. In general the human world will typically always beat a fantasy one although both have their perks. It’s just that the city leads to a lot of good environmental effects depending on what’s happening at the moment. The Beach is an exception but a lot of the special took pace within the school anyway.

Overall, Forgotten Friendship is a fun special. I think it would have been better if they had just cut out the Pony subplot entirely, but it’s not as if it was bad. It was just really unexpected. This special is still a quality adventure and shows that the Pony universe is still going strong. I’m still in the middle of season 2 of the main show so it’ll be a while before I’m truly caught up, but at least this means I still have many more Pony adventures in store. I’ll probably still wait a while before catching up on the older Equestria Girl specials, but I’m looking forward to seeing Sunset as a villain. I do think that the first film likely won’t be the best one anyway, but I’ll go in with an open mind. Now I just want a true crossover adventure where the ponies and humans have to fight alongside each other. There’s definitely a lot of potential there. If you are a fan of the MLP franchise then you definitely need to watch it. If you like a good slice of life school adventure then this is also a good pick as it is a story that stands on its own pretty well without any real context. The magic stuff may seem out of the blue, but you’ll be able to roll with it since the story is still pretty straight forward.

Overall 7/10

A Charlie Brown Valentine Review

tt0283987
It’s time to look at a Charlie Brown Valentine’s special. It’s been a little while since I have seen one so it’s cool to go back to the franchise. It’s a fun enough special but not really one of the strongest ones due to the Valentine’s plot with Charlie seeming a little recycled from previous specials.

So, it’s a few days before Valentine’s. Charlie Brown is determined to finally give the little red haired girl a Valentine this year and hopefully they can be friends. The problem is that Brown hasn’t gotten any braver over the years so he will need Linus to act as the middle man. Meanwhile, the annual dance is coming up and Marcie intends to ask Charlie Brown to it. The problem is that he has been having trouble with his hearing lately so this can be tricky.

All of the different story arcs are related to Valentine’s in one way or another. That being said, the bullies don’t take a day off for the holidays and they decide to pick on the Little Red Haired Girl. She’s usually so mysterious that nobody dares to mess with her so this was certainly a change. In fact, she appears quite a bit more here than she usually does. We get to see Linus break out the whip once more which was pretty cool. He’s still one of the best characters in the series for sure. You feel bad for him because he just wants to be friends while someone is constantly trying to stop him from this goal.

Lucy still has her knowledge booth where she helps with your problems for a nickel. It’s not even a bad deal if we’re being honest since that’s rather cheap. Her items for purchase do take a few days but at least she doesn’t ask for cash up front. This way it’s hard to actually call it a scam since you end up keeping your money in the end.

Snoopy’s role here is rather small. He gets invited to the dance and shows the whole school who the best dog is. Beyond that, he doesn’t get to fight with the Red Baron or hang out with his bird pal. I guess there isn’t much they could do to celebrate Valentine’s, but at least show them eating some chocolate or something. I’m always ready to see more quality Snoopy screentime.

Charlie Brown looks pretty bad as per usual. His worst scene is probably when he just watches as the little red haired girl gets bullied. It’s no wonder that she ignores him since Charlie won’t even help when she is in a pinch. So much for counting on classmates right? Charlie even throws away his lunch which was pretty unfortunate since I’m sure a lot of effort was put into that. It didn’t look particularly appetizing if we’re being honest, but I’m sure Charlie didn’t mind or he would have given Linus a speech about it.

The animation is consistent as always. It does look a little cleaner than the older specials but unless you see them side to side you probably won’t notice much of a change. It’s a style that still works so I suppose that’s good enough. It’d be nice to see how the series looks with a modern hand drawn style but I have no real complaints with it here. You’ll hear some of the familiar tunes as well. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but what is there works fairly well. The pacing is pretty good so the special flows well. There aren’t any boring subplots to drag it down or anything like that. It would have been nice if we could have gotten some kind of competition in this special since those are usually the best segments in the series. I guess it may have felt rather tacked on though.

Overall, This is a fun Charlie Brown special. The characters are iconic at his point and the special is so quick that he pacing is really good. None of the plots overstay their welcome either. While Valentine’s doesn’t lead to plots that are quite as engaging as other holidays, it does its best with what it has. I’d recommend checking this out if you’re a Charlie Brown fan. Otherwise this probably isn’t the ideal special to start out with but you’ll enjoy it all the same. It’s a fun story with good characters. What more could you ask for?

Overall 6/10

Cars 3 Review

cars-3-poster-10
It’s time to take a look at the end of the trilogy. Cars had a good run as there aren’t too many Pixar films that have gotten two sequels. That being said, while the final installment is pretty solid, I’d still say that the original Cars is the best one. This film just had one thing that went against it, but it was a fairly big thing, the ending.

The film starts off with Lightning McQueen in a big race. He is at the head of the pack as per usual but then he is passed by Storm, a new kid on the block. The kid claims that he used to look up to Lightning, but that the main character is just too old to compete nowadays. He throws a lot of age related burns Lightning’s way and the lead pushes himself too hard as he tries to catch up and ends up getting into an accident. This leads him to stay out of the races for a few months, but nothing can keep Lightning down for very long. He decides to get back into the races and to do that he will have to use the latest training tech. His sponsors were bought out by a millionaire who loves the high tech stuff, but he may not be quite as nice as the older guys. At the end of the day, Lightning is going to have to prove that he has what it takes to get back on the track and claim victory.

The theme of the main character getting old and being surpassed by new talent is certainly a tried and true one. Rocky is certainly well known for doing it. We even get a lot of training for Lightning as he tries to get better although the film fumbles this part a little. Lightning’s personal trainer, Cruz decides to follow him and she doesn’t believe that he has what it takes to go all the way. As such, Lightning spends most of his time helping her out instead of actually training. He doesn’t get much faster than he was so in a way old and actually ended up winning this time. Lightning looks good during the final race but he doesn’t end up winning so that’s too bad. It’s not like he got a clean win in the first film either but at least it was obvious he was going to win and the crowd reinforced this. In this film Lightning was only projected to make it to the top 10 before he tagged in Cruz. To be clear, the point of this part of the film is that Lightning couldn’t train as much as he wanted too so that was the film’s intention. I just say they fumbled the ball because the plot took a different turn than I had been hoping for. I wanted the hype comeback story where Lightning wins and then I’d be fine with him retiring. Having him put it all on the line one last time would have been exciting. Maybe Lightning would have been able to take 1st or maybe not. We’ll just never know. As the ending played I thought that Lightning and the trainer would both be competing but under different teams. That would have been neat.

The animation is as solid as ever. The film’s definitely does a great job with all of the car designs and I still crack up at their facial expressions. Throw in the grins and you are constantly entertained. The racing scenes look really nice and the music is also pretty good. The film has an actual soundtrack which is nice. Cars 3 definitely did a good job on all the technical levels. Even the way everyone says “Lightning McQueen” is a lot of fun. I don’t know why but they always seem to taking a jab at him with the way they stretch out his name but maybe I am overthinking it.

As expected the writing is also really good and is a considerable upgrade from the last film. It is just really great to have Lightning back as the lead. He does a great job of looking like the seasoned veteran you would expect him to be at this point. The mind games don’t really work on him at this point and he doesn’t take his training for granted. Even his depression phase was quite small and he snapped out of it very quickly. I do think it makes the initial teaser very misleading as the crash wasn’t nearly as bad as it implied, but it was a good misdirect. After all, the crash still did happen so it certainly wasn’t false advertising. It’s probably safe to say at this point that Lightning is one of Pixar’s best leads.

The supporting cast is solid as well. They brought back Lightning’s rival from the first film and he definitely does not like Lightning any more than he used to. In fact I’d say his aggression has only increased with age and he takes numerous shots at McQueen whenever he is on the air. His segments are definitely a lot of fun and certainly is a highlight of the film. What you have to respect the most about this guy is that he isn’t trying to put on some kind of act. He is straight forward about how he doesn’t like Lightning and I dare say that he is the most enjoyable character in the film. It just doesn’t get better than this guy.

The new villain is also pretty solid. Storm thinks that the younger cars are the ones who should be on top of the circuit and is always throwing insults at Lightning based on his age. He has a great design and his speed is certainly the real deal. The scene where he is training and passes a hologram of Lightning is a lot of fun as well. Jackson is arrogant and extremely confident. Those are definitely qualities that you always want in a villain and he pulls them off very well. We have yet to have a bad enemy racer for Lightning which is pretty impressive. All 3 opponents were fun villains. At least this one doesn’t play dirty til the end so he did win all of his races with skill.

Finally we have Cruz. I’m afraid that her character was a bit of a miss since the movie tries to portray her as a prodigy with the oblivious nature of Mater. This isn’t a good combo for many reasons, one of which is that these character traits really clash. You can’t be someone who really knows what to do on the track and also not have any real common sense for new roads. When she heads to the beach for the first time she has absolutely no idea how to drive. Cruz can’t turn and falls in every puddle. She is exaggeratedly bad at being a racer despite earlier scenes making a point of showing that she was great at the simulator. Then she is supposed to be a great trainer who is great at helping any car get to the next level. She individualized the training for each car based on which obstacles they had which prevented them from getting to the next level. Yet, she could not do the same for Lightning and instead seems to be trying to sabotage his chances of being ready for the race. Perhaps the angle that the film was going for was that she was such a big fan of Lightning that she really did think he was too old and didn’t want him to tarnish his legacy. That theory is a bit of a stretch though and either way it doesn’t really help her case. The part of her character that had the most potential was her dream of driving but even that is a little murky.

When this plot was first introduced I figured that they were going to say that Sue wasn’t able to be a racer because girls weren’t allowed at the time or in her district. It would have been very disappointing for her and would have been a legitimate reason for her to have hung up the tires in place of being a coach. Instead, she was simply intimidated by the cars and quickly gave up. It’s hard to be sympathetic to her plight because it sounds like she never even gave it a second go. She couldn’t have been all that excited to be a racer if she gave up on her goal so quickly. At least for me, this twist weakened her story.

I should wrap up this section or it’ll start to be as long as the rest of the review! This is just my explanation for why her character was ruined out of the gate. Her personality and what we knew of the character completely clash with each other. She appears to be smart and competent in some scenes and not so much in others. You’d think that the film switched writers midway or at least made some big changes to he character. As for the other supporting characters, they were okay. We got a group of older cars who help Lightning get ready for the race with some motivation and a track for him to ride on. They don’t appear too much of get much of a role, but they seemed like solid characters. The other cars back home got their cameos in as well.

The only relatively weak part of the film is when the gang heads over to the underground racing arena where they fight a Magic School Bus homage. It’s not so much that this is a bad scene but it basically feels like filler and I didn’t care for any of the characters there. This was also during the phase where Cruz was pretty annoying. I suppose it was a good way of showing that Lightning is proficient in all kinds of races, but that probably could have been handled better.

Overall, Cars 3 is a good way to end the trilogy. If the story does end here, it’s not such a bad way to end off. Lightning still should have won the race and that would have solidified this as a great film and the best in the trilogy, but I suppose you can’t win them all. If you’re looking for a fun racing film with a good lead then you have come to the right place. What really makes Cars 3 so solid is the fact that the writing is certainly on point. It’s an enjoyable film even when not much is happening because the dialogue is good. That being said, the pacing is pretty quick for the most part. I would definitely recommend this film. It’s an all around solid movie.

Overall 7/10

Cars 2 Review

Cars_2-_2011
Cars 2 is definitely a sequel that never hit home with the fans the way that the first did. There are quite a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that Lightning McQueen has been dethroned as the main character in favor of his comic relief sidekick, Mater. This is a huge downgrade and while Lightning still has a fairly big role, his scenes mainly remind you how great the film would have been if it had stuck to that.

The film starts off with Lightning McQueen finally coming back home in order to relax for a bit before the races start up again. He hangs out with the gang and looks forward to a good time. Unfortunately, Mater notices a car named Francesco mocking Lightning on a radio show and tries to defend him. Mater does such a terrible job that Lightning has to defend Mater and it forces to step back on the track in order to prove himself. Mater may have gotten Lightning into this, but it’s up to our favorite race car to get himself out. The only problem is that Mater is sacrificing Lightning’s chances to win at every turn. Can McQueen still pull out one last win?

As I mentioned, the film is quite good when Lightning is on screen. He has certainly kept his development from the first film and doesn’t regress in any way. He is now the experienced veteran that you would expect him to be and he even won 3 World Championships off screen. McQueen coming back to visit for a while instead of entering more races also shows what a quality character he is. When Lightning is forced to go up against Francesco, it is a very tense race because both of them are champions in their own right. It’s also a fun all star race because there are a bunch of other cars who are known from various other countries and are competing in this race. While it’s clear that the main two racers are far above the others, it’s a good way for the film to raise the stakes. It’s a natural continuation of the first film’s plot and Lightning is already established as a good enough character where you definitely want to root for him. While he’s not an all powerful race car on the track and Francesco is actually faster when going straight, Lightning pulls out everything he learned from racing in the town and that gives him a really good edge by the end. Then Mater’s bad advice makes Lightning lose the race and we’re reminded that this epic plot is only the subplot.

The main plot actually follows Mater as he helps out two secret agents known as Holley and Finn. They have to stop someone from blowing up all of the cars in the Grand Prix. The two agents think that Mater is actually someone else since the actual agent put his tracker on Mater in a last ditch effort to keep the intel from the villains. The problem is that Mater isn’t very smart and the agent still did end up dying. It’s a rather brutal scene and it’s definitely a big contrast to the rest of the film. The whole movie is so light hearted otherwise and you’re not supposed to give the poor agent a second thought, but it still is quite sad. Mater could have saved him if he was a little smarter.

Again, this is where Mater will likely lose you. You’re supposed to root for the guy since he means well and by the end of the film he realizes that he has to get a little smarter. That would be fine, but the problem is that he is a little too over the top for you to actually buy into it. The film does wipe away his biggest mistake of making a mess all over the carpet with a plot twist, but he’s still just a really bad character. He certainly isn’t someone you can root for, that’s for sure. The plot is rather predictable as the characters naturally find out the truth about him at the end, but by then it’s too late. Mater is easily the worst character in this film and I took it personally right when he sabotaged Lightning’s first race.

The two agents aren’t bad though. Holley is doing her best to complete this first assignment as a field agent, but is having a hard time since Mater just thinks she wants to be with him and nobody is taking her seriously. It’s a pretty rough time for her, but she does her best to keep her composure and still
save the day with her gadgets. Finn is the other agent and he’s a veteran who has been in his share of fights. He definitely knows how to use hand to hand combat even though he is a car and while he is completely fooled by Mater’s act even more than the rest of the characters, he also ultimately decides to be Mater’s friend anyway.

The action scenes are fun and the homages to James Bond work well. See, the film’s humor isn’t all that awful. In fact, when Mater isn’t around it can actually be pretty enjoyable. It has a nice blend of quick lines and situational humor. It’s just that Mater makes everything dial it up to a 9. This wouldn’t even be a bad thing if he didn’t have to end up saving the day at the end. That’s really what makes the whole thing cheesy. A good example of an exaggeratedly unintelligent character is Knuckles from Sonic Boom. He pulls off the role because it’s not like he’s actually some kind of excellent secret agent or anything like that. In fact, things with him don’t even end up panning out all that well most of the time. It makes the whole plot feel a lot more natural and wholesome. Mater is just given way too much credit.

As far as rivals go, Francesco is rather generic. He’s really just here to fill in the role of the mean rival car. He doesn’t actually do anything past the role, but he doesn’t do anything wrong either. I definitely didn’t mind having him around and seeing more of him would have probably been fun. It’s just a shame that Lightning’s supporting cast is always around to embarrass him and hurt his arguments. Even Sally looks really bad in this film so I can see why Lightning just takes the pit crew with him and leaves his other friends behind. They’re not exactly morale boosters.

Some of the situations also seem a little forced for the plot. Lightning would certainly know better than to get off the road when Mater tells him too. This is for 2 reasons. One, Lightning can see that it’s a straight path ahead and since he knows that you should never turn in such a situation he should have just ignored the advice. The bigger reason is that prior to this Mater had already been rambling into the intercom as he chased after Holley so Lightning could easily put two and two together to know that Mater likely still wasn’t talking about him. There’s no way he should have actually ended up losing that race. Lightning McQueen had that in the bag.

Well, as expected the animation is still pretty sharp. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it looks better than the first film as to me they basically seemed equivalent, but they’re both of really good quality which is the important part. Pixar doesn’t hold back here and the character models for the cars are good. As we finally got some action scenes here as well, we got to see how Pixar would handle them. I’d say that they worked out pretty well. On the technical side of things this film certainly aged pretty well.

Overall, Cars 2 is a decently fun sequel to the original Cars, but it is definitely not quite as good. You can certainly tell that they chopped the quality down a few notches for this one and I don’t know what they were thinking with Mater. If the main character had been Lightning and his plot was the focus then this film would have been a lot more fun. Even the ending keeps the film from going strong as Holley’s personality flies out the window as she likes Mater for no reason (Again, the film is giving Mater too much credit even though most of this situation is his fault) and Lightning doesn’t even beast Francesco in the end. Was a clear cut victory too bold for the writers to pull off? Those mistakes are definitely regrettable, but at the end of the day you should still enjoy this film. It’s a fun enough movie to watch and the pacing is good so it flies by. It has a good amount of replay value and at least I thought the set up and presentation for the big tournament was great. Whenever the subplot is happening, the film is at its height.

Overall 6/10

The Iron Giant Review

61sVgu-aIaL._SY550_
It’s time for another classic animated film. I think many of us have heard of the Iron Giant before. He got the iconic fight scene against the army and in general we don’t get too many animated films about a giant robot. At least not in America. It’s a really solid film with only one scene holding it back. The film is just a fun ride from start to finish with startlingly good animation backing it up.

The film starts out with the main character heading to the diner where his Mom works. He is trying once more for his Mom to accept the wild animal he has caught so they can all be a family. Unfortunately it escapes the cage and wrecks the cafe. As our lead is apparently known for this kind of behavior and making up stories, it doesn’t help his cred. As such, when he finds a giant robot in the forest, nobody believes him. He quickly realizes that this is a good thing though since people would probably panic and try to shoot the robot. No, he will have to be very careful about how he handles this. Unfortunately, one of the local drunks calls in the army because he thinks he saw something so they send in their best private eye. He’s got his sights set on the main character so can the boy mislead him or is the robot doomed?

Right off the bat I need to give the government agent some major credit. He’s one of the best antagonists I’ve seen in a Western animated film and any scene with him is a guaranteed hit. “Big things happen in big places.” is probably the best line in the whole film. Still, he quickly finds out that there really might be something to this little town and decides to get to the bottom of it. His detective skills aren’t bad and the sad part is that he probably is the government’s best agent so it’s a shame that he isn’t heroic. Even when his boss tells him to give up the case, he doesn’t. Mansley instead decides to get close to the kid by renting out the spare room so he can follow him around. He had a bunch of synonyms for the word “pal” as well so he never ends up having to repeat himself. Trust me, this is one character you absolutely want to have in your corner. At the end of the day, he just wants to get famous though so it’s inevitable that he wouldn’t be in your side someday.

The animation also deserves some credit for Manzley’s excellent character. The designs are really eye catching with how they pop out. Manzley’s grin is so wide that it practically stretches into the next scene and the voice completes it. As with all films, The Iron Giant is good because various aspects of it are good. Mix them all together and you have a great product on your hands. It’s yet another reminder for me that hand drawn animation will always destroy CGI. You just can’t make computer animation that is quite as expressive as what we get in this film. It’s not even that new at this point and it still really stands out.

The Iron Giant is also a reasonably good character considering that I don’t usually care for the trope too much. It’s because the film doesn’t really focus on the whole “Robot doesn’t know Earth customs so it’s funny” moments and instead focuses on how the Robot decides to be a good guy. This is where Baymax from Big Hero 6 failed. He never became a cool robot as he just stuck to the naive trope and his berserk mode wasn’t even half as cool as the Giant’s. In many respects you can say that Baymax tried to rip off the Iron Giant but simply didn’t do it all that well. This Iron Giant is a true hero. Even when the kid tries to destroy this by calling him by the name of a villainous Robot and pointing a toy gun at him, The Iron Giant doesn’t give up. Granted, the climax would have been over a lot quicker and with less drama if the Giant had remembered that he had lasers and missiles on deck but I suppose in the heat of the moment we can assume that it slipped his mind.

There is really only one bad scene in the whole film. It is unfortunately an animal violence moment as we find a dead animal in the forest. While this teaches the Giant about guns and violence the film could have gone about it in a different way if you ask me. Just have someone shoot a beer bottle and when it shatters explain the concept of breaking when it comes to humans. That would be a nice out. As I always say, there is never an excuse for animal violence. It’s a real shame but at least the film didn’t make the scene too violent or grim by having it shot or dying while they watched.

The Mom is a nice enough character. She’s definitely pretty patient with the kid considering that he seems to be well known as a troublemaker. Even her inevitable “blowup” moment is very mild compared to most films and I thought it was handled well. She has a tough personality with the outside world so nobody is going to push her around either. When the customers start to get smart she shows them the sign and can throw them out if necessary. I have to say that working at a 24 hour diner sounds rough though. Apparently she wasn’t even home for the whole night near the climax which worked out well for our esteemed government agent.

There is also the junk dealer who is a cool character. He’s quick to leap to the kid’s defense when he gets attacked or otherwise in trouble. He even defends an old man who is getting mocked by everyone. Granted, the mockers had some clever lines and had good reason not to believe the guy. This is why you shouldn’t be known as a constant drunk. It definitely hurts your credibility. When the going gets tough, this guy always manages to make the right call. He may not always be the first to help someone out if he’s not sure it’s the right move but once he is, the guy jumps into action.

The film really had a solid cast backing it up. Since the writing was also good, it definitely helped make the film complete. You know the writing is good when even the kid is bearable for the most part. He really wasn’t half bad. The kid was able to wield the gun and was fairly brave to be going out into the forest at night. He had some slip ups like letting a squirrel lose in his Mom’s cafe and pointing a gun at the Giant, but for the most part he meant well. Some annoying aspects of a kid he can’t avoid but the film does a good job of getting past that.

Overall, The Iron Giant is a great film. It’s definitely even better than I had anticipated and the movie just does a good job of being above average in all areas. The only thing that could have kept it from an 8 was the animal scene but it was just mild enough to barely not take that star away. This is one robot film that I would definitely recommend checking out. Even the ending is perfect as it could have gone one of two different ways at the very last minute and went the right way. The wrong way would have definitely ensured that it didn’t earn that extra star. Now I am ready for a sequel someday. In theory that one should definitely have a bunch of action since other robots may come as they wonder why Earth still exists. The plot would probably be rather similar to the beginning of DBZ.

Overall 8/10