Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special Review


It’s time to look at the classic He-Man Christmas special. This one is definitely pretty well known as a solid special from back in the day, but I hadn’t gotten to check it out til now. I can safely say that it does hold up remarkably well. You really don’t even need to know much about He-Man outside of the general premise and you’ll be fine here. It’s got a good dose of action and wit which makes for an enjoyable experience. It definitely reminds me of how much I miss the classic show.

The special starts off with Orko getting into a spaceship that he wasn’t supposed to enter and being blasted away. He-Man and She-Ra find out about this afterwards, but by then the mage is already all the way on Earth. Fortunately for him he bumps into two kids and they explain to him what Christmas is. By this point the heroes made a teleportation beam which takes them home, but Skeletor shows up and kidnaps the kids. The heroes will have to hurry and save them before CHristmas passes them by, but can the kids show Skeletor what it means to be a nice guy in the meantime?

This special wastes no time as it throws you right into an action scene. We get to see why He-Man is such a confident guy as he completely wrecks his opponents. He would have actually lost despite his impressive showing if not for She-Ra stepping in. They really do make quite the team as they cover each other’s back from sneak attacks. When they are together it’s hard to picture any opponent stopping them. The character cast is incredibly strong which is part of why the special is so good. He-Man’s always got a good one liner for everything. The puns and witty dialogue just don’t stop and I haven’t seen a film with writing this good in an extremely long time.

Meanwhile She-Ra has a very catchy theme song which plays almost every time she is on screen. It’s got a really great beat to it and it’s something you can listen to for a while. Surprisingly He-Man didn’t have a tune of his own, but I’ll assume that in the show he had one. Both of them have good transformation scenes where they say their catchphrases though. There are a few other heroes but other than Orko none of them are that important. Orko also doesn’t contribute nearly as much as the main two so he is pretty forgettable. His magical abilities seem to be quite weak as just saying a phrase can deactivate them. No wonder he is always getting into trouble.

Then we’ve got an ensemble of villains. The one that everyone should be familiar with by this point is Skeletor. He’s got a really iconic design and he’s strong enough to put fear into any opponent he goes up against. Even He-Man should be a little wary of taking him on one on one. His voice really seals the deal for the character as well. Now, his scenes with the kids may be a bit cheesy but he does need to take them in alive so making them coats made sense. I also do like that he grumbles about everything even if he ends up helping out at the end. A good villain isn’t afraid to help people out if it’ll further his goals and this tells me that Skeletor has a lot of confidence. Just look at Darth Vader, Garou, or Shego. They’re villains to the core, but they did step up to help someone out when the time was right. It’s just something that a quality villain will do. I’ve always liked Skeletor and I was pleased with his portrayal here.

There are other villains though like She-Ra’s main antagonist Hordak. I’m not really familiar with him, but he does have a pretty cool design as well. He seems like a second rate Skeletor, but one who could probably hold his own. He may have lost to the robots, but he still seemed like a pretty cool villain. Then you have Horde Prime who doesn’t actually get to appear but he does have an intimidating voice. I really didn’t know anything about this guy so it would be cool to see him show up at some point. The He-Man universe is definitely filled with a lot of interesting characters. Finally we can’t forget about the Monstroids. These guys had cool designs and were really having their way with the heroes. They were definitely surprise hits and I won’t be forgetting them anytime soon.

The animation here is really good and feels like peak 80s-90s animation. You’ll get a Cybertron vibe from the Monstroids planet as well. The fight scenes hold up and it’s always good to see He-Man and She-Ra just wrecking their opponents. It’s easy to see how they could keep up with the Justice League when they’ve fought each other over the years. A good special should be accessible to new viewers while also being fun for long-time fans and I’d say that this one really managed to satisfy this. It certainly got me more interested to take a look at the TV show from back in the day. I suspect it would be a whole lot of fun and would probably even beat out the various competitors from back in the day except possibly for Transformers.

Overall, This He-Man special is one that I highly recommend watching for Christmas. I don’t care if you’re familiar with the series or not, it’s just good wholesome fun. This style of writing you don’t see much anymore and it’s a shame. I liked the unbounded heroism and confidence that you see in the heroes here. They’re not self aware or parodying themselves, they just know that they are strong enough to keep the peace and stop the villains. It’s why they are symbols of hope in the universe. Hopefully we get a new He-Man film at some point because I’d love to see what these two could do with some modern effects as well.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

How the Toys Saved Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a film that was either a very quick knockoff of Toy Story or they just happened to think up a fairly similar plot. Granted I haven’t seen Toy Story in a while so long-time fans could probably make the case that the plots aren’t too similar. They’re both about talking toys though so that’s good enough for me. The film’s reasonably enjoyable, but it’s just not all that exciting. The villain really helps to carry the experience though.

The film starts off with Santa’s helper Granny Rose getting sick right as Christmas is fast approaching. This would be bad, but fortunately the new helper Mr. Grimm has just arrived. He will make sure all the toys get to the right place…..or will he? Turns out that Mr. Grimm is a crook and he’s make a ton of money by selling the toys. This guy’s definitely not feeling the Christmas spirit. Well, the toys can’t have that so they dash off and try to deliver themselves to the proper kids, but it’s difficult since they don’t really know where to go. Additionally, they have to test these kids to make sure they’re worthy.

There’s also a subplot where a kid named Christopher is trying to get a train. Unfortunately this is a pretty rough town and a pair of bullies decide to use this kid to break into Granny’s place to grab some money. I’ll give Chris some props though, he does quickly call for the police once he is inside which is super logical. I feel like most of the time when the villains tell the hero to go inside somewhere to unlock the door, they should do something like this. If you open the door it’s game over. Where Christopher messes up is that he starts banging on the door like a mad man so the police assume he is a villain as well. The interrogation scenes are fun even if they ultimately get taken down by Granny. I’m not sure that blackmailing the police is the best way to prove someone’s innocence, but Granny pulls it off I suppose.

Christopher gets a pretty reasonable role during the film as this plot plays out at the same time as the toys. I just figured I’d tackle it first. The toy plot won thanks to Mr. Grimm, but this wasn’t a bad subplot. As mentioned, Chris is more fun to watch than the average kid which is important. All right, time for the toys! Whenever you’ve got a group like this you’ve gotta expect a traitor and that character always sinks quite far for me. In this case, the weak willed toy was the merlin figure. The guy was definitely a sucker and is really lucky that Grimm didn’t finish him off. Whenever you trust a villain it’s a one way trip to defeat.

The best toy was definitely Jingles and the Skipper. Skipper was pretty hype for the duration of the film, but he didn’t look so good towards the end. Unfortunately he got paired with the wrong kid and so he almost lost his whole identity. I always feel like the toy should just escape at that point, if the kid doesn’t know how to properly play with the toy then that’s on them. You can’t really blame the toy for running away. As for Jingles, he was just a good dog from the start. He was always willing to jump into the line of fire to protect the other toys and had a much harder ride to the happy ending than the rest. He had to take a few hits from Grimm, shiver in the cold, etc. Jingles never gave up though!

Meanwhile you’ve got Mr. Grimm and that guy was just a lot of fun. For starters he wasn’t afraid to actually fight with the toys. He takes the whole “These guys are alive!” thing in stride although to be fair that seems to be the case for just about everyone here. He may take a lot of hits, but his plan wasn’t so bad. He got the granny out of the picture really easily and was also poised to get away for the money if not for tripping so quick. Just because Grimm’s plan ultimately failed does not mean that it was a bad one. You can’t win them all and as long as the plan was sound I don’t think we can really fault him here. It is what it is after all right?

The animation’s pretty reasonable. The colors are smooth and the character models are on point. It may not be quite as solid as you would expect from the 90s, but I certainly wouldn’t say that the animation was bad either. It holds up and you won’t really have any complaints. Likewise the writing is passable. The characters are pretty polite and seem to act realistically. Even if they may not be all that interesting there were no bad characters except for the magician. That guy could never quite win back the respect he lost by surrendering to Grimm like that.

Overall, How the Toys Saved Christmas is a reasonable film. It’s not like it really makes any mistakes. I just didn’t feel a whole lot of passion or heart behind the film. It felt like long periods of time would go by without anything really happening. I think part of the issue here is that the main cast just weren’t all that exciting. Take away Mr. Grimm and you’d really have an issue. It’s still a nice wholesome film to watch for Christmas though. It’s not all that long and you’ll probably appreciate it even more if you’ve ever wanted to get a toy but watched as a scalper got it and then sold it back for 10x the price. You’ll feel the danger of why they can’t let Mr. Grimm win here.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight! Review


It’s time to look at a pretty obscure Marvel film. I didn’t really know about this one although in my defense I lost touch with the animated adventures during this time period. They didn’t really get a lot of promotion and would just appear out of nowhere. It really feels like a quick two part event from the Avengers show so it’s reasonably fun. That being said, it’s naturally not going to be remembered as a great title or anything. You likely won’t remember it for very long and that is probably the intention anyway. It’s not really a problem, it’s just trying to give us a good Christmas adventure and succeeds in that.

Loki and Ymir have decided to team up to freeze the world with the casket of infinite winters. The Avengers foil their plans so they decide to seek out Santa Claus. It turns out that Santa is actually an incredibly powerful being so if they can absorb his abilities they will be unstoppable. Loki puts a huge bounty on Santa so he can find out where the guy is and begins searching. Meanwhile not all of the Avengers believe that this is a serious threat. Captain America is really the only one taking it seriously, but Iron Man decides to go along just to rain on the parade. Captain Marvel and Reptil go as well so now the team is ready for action. The locals may not be too thrilled to have these heroes running around though. Meanwhile Rocket and Groot are after the bounty on Santa so they are heading here as well. Are they ready to try and bag such a powerful entity?

Right away you do have to keep in mind that the special is only taking itself half seriously. Ymir gets beat up by ice attacks and the heroes can barely stop bickering long enough to do anything. They have difficulty with random Elves and the fact that Ymir is taking hits from Thor, Hulk, and Ms. Marvel but getting hurt by Captain America should tell you all you need to know about the power scaling here. It is nonexistent so there are a ton of power level issues here throughout the special. It would be hard to not notice them so just be aware that they are around the whole time.

The main concern here is just whether or not the special is fun. I’d say that it is. We do get some reasonable action scenes. The whole thing is a little lower budget than the average adventure with stills and less animation in general, but there are fun fights anyway. I liked Loki’s super speed blitz against the Avengers as he just totally wrecked them. The fight with Ymir isn’t bad either even if he doesn’t score any hits so it’s like the heroes are battling with an immovable object. Santa went down like a chump though so that was a little unfortunate for his fans.

Unfortunately this special continues the trope of having Hulk one up Thor the whole time. Even when the Black Hole goes up they all have to grab onto Hulk to stay on the ground. They all resisted this of course, but it did make Hulk look like the strongest once again. His subplot with Thor about pretending to be Santa was okay at best, but not nearly as enjoyable as the main plot. I feel bad for all the kids who wanted a present, but had to watch Hulk chuck it into the ocean. Why is his aim so bad?

As for the main plot, the Elves are incredibly stubborn about wanting to do things on their own. Even after losing over and over again they keep trying to attack the Avengers and miss the entire point of trying to protect Santa. All they’re doing by fighting the heroes is thinning out their own ranks. It’s not like they’re going to win this fight and by this point they already knew about Loki and Ymir. Surely they have better things to do than picking more fights right? It can be endearing in a way, but still hard not to shake your head whenever they start talking tough again.

Iron Man is at his best here with how obviously anti-Santa he is. His origin story of why he doesn’t believe in the guy was also suitably emotional. In the real world he would be right about Santa not being real, but in a world where aliens and giant monsters show up every week I feel like Santa’s not a huge stretch. Bringing up the common dilemam of how he could visit every kid in a single night is a good counter though. Him bringing that up right away was a good move. Meanwhile Cap didn’t necessarily believe, but he knew that Loki did so he wanted to be there. Cap’s plan was logical, but man those two don’t get along here at all. There are constant insults and subtle burns thrown at each other. It makes for a fun dynamic even if the team doesn’t have their usual unity.

As for Reptil, he’s really just here so we can have a newbie on the team. He’s constantly getting shown up by the others and really can’t keep up. The whole thing about him believing in Santa so the elves trust him is nice, but that’s all Reptil’s got going for him. I like that he has Pit’s voice actor, but otherwise I’d be fine if he was cut from the special. Captain Marvel’s role is also small, but at least she can fight. She gets in good energy blasts during all of the fights although she does seem a little nerfed here since she isn’t treated as one of the big guns.

Overall, Frost Fight is a reasonable special. It goes through the motions and pretty much delivers on everything you would expect from a special like this. I’d have liked for there to have been more action, but what we got was reasonable. The music isn’t bad and I’d be up for more specials like this. Hopefully next time the villain won’t be quite as broken as Loki though so we can get a nice back and forth fight without the power levels going crazy. With that speed Loki should have completely crushed everyone. If you like the Avengers then I’d recommend watching this special. If you haven’t seen the Avengers yet then I’d recommend starting with Ultimate Avengers instead.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans Review


It’s time to look at the most recent Teen Titans Go! movie. This one brings back the classic Teen Titans for a quick crossover event. While the film doesn’t manage to be quite as fun as the first Titans Go movie it’s definitely still a quality film in its own right. You’ve got action, comedy, and a final boss. What else would you even need right? One thing to watch out for is the opening credits makes the interesting decision of spoiling the entire film. It literally goes section by section from start to finish and shows all of the big scenes. It’s a very odd choice.

The movie starts off by showing us that the Teen Titans have still got it as they beat the Gentleman Ghost. People may doubt their abilities, but they shouldn’t because these kids are the real deal. Things get a little hectic when a portal appears and they’re all kidnapped. It turns out that the Master of Games is kidnapping Teen Titans from various universes to make them fight. The Go Titans are eager to start the battle while the modern ones just want to find a way to save their world. It looks like both of them may have to team up, but can the two groups possibly learn to work with each other in time?

Going forward I’m going to call the original Titans the Gen 1 crew and the others will just be referred to normally since they are the main characters here. The Titans act about as well as you’d expect them to. They’re still treated like comic relief because even they acknowledge that they aren’t serious the way that the Gen 1 guys are. They can’t help but constantly be at the center of the gags. The only one who tries to be serious is Robin and even then he is constantly overshadowed by his Gen 1 version. I’ll give him points for effort though and he’s the only Titan who really understands the gravity of the situation. He needs the portal device and he needed a win to secure the team’s confidence. It’s just a shame that he isn’t able to fight quite as well as the others. The other Titans are all on point except for the fact that Starfire was not taking this seriously enough. None of them were all that serious, but at least they tried in the tournament. Starfire was too busy trying to make friends to do much of anything which was disappointing.

As for the Gen 1 crew, it was fun to see them again. Robin and Raven probably get the most to do here. Raven has a lot of experience with the demonic realm so she coaches the kid version on this. Meanwhile Robin is ready to lead the team and he definitely does not like the baby titans. He’s constantly belittling them and when they don’t listen to reason he is quick to put them down. Gen 1 Robin certainly enjoys being the leader and makes sure to stretch things out when possible. After all this is his chance to lead two different teams to victory so you can bet that he is going to milk this as much as he can. It’s just an opportunity that he cannot miss.

The movie moves pretty quickly through the different phases to the climax so it never drags on. I didn’t feel like any of the humor was all that bad either. I would consider this to be one of the stronger Teen Titans Go episodes if it was on TV. The return of Santa Claus was also a lot of fun. It’s always great to see him as an antagonist and he is one of their tougher opponents. Of course taking on a group this large would be difficult even for the greatest of villains.

Then we’ve got more crossover appeal towards the end of the film. If you managed not to see who was included already then I won’t spoil it for you. Needless to say it’s a pretty solid lineup. I would have liked to have seen them all a little more to be honest, but what we got was pretty neat. Imagine if the whole film was the tournament though and we got to see a lot of different verses duke it out. That would have been really cool and then this probably would have beaten the original film. The animation here does look pretty good, but more standard than the first movie. The colors are a little brighter and there is extra detail either way. There’s no super catchy theme like we got in the first film, but I guess it’s hard for Lightning to strike twice.

Where the film really shines is in how absurd the whole thing is. The Go characters are in full parody mode and they just don’t care what the Gen 1 group thinks. They’re here to have fun and nobody’s going to stop them. That straight forward goal really keeps the film going and it’s why you don’t even need the crossover aspect for this to be a success. The group can hold their own as is. If anything I’m just glad that the Gen 1 group weren’t too obnoxious in trying to question the Go characters at every turn. They quickly learned that the Go characters weren’t going to change and just rolled with it.

Overall, Teen Titans Go vs Teen Titans is a fun film. While it’s a versus title there isn’t a lot of action between the two teams. A good chunk of the action scene is just comedy, but to an extent that is to be expected with these guys. It’s probably the only vs title I would give a pass to because of that. Whether you’ll enjoy this film or not is completely dependent on whether or not you enjoy the Go series. If you like the TV show then you’ll like the film and if you don’t like the show then the movie won’t be for you. This basically feels like an extended few episodes and it’s really a movie for the fans. It brings all the best qualities of the show together.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Equestria Girls: Holidays Unwrapped Review


Time to look at the final Equestria Girls short and potentially the final animated media in the entire Friendship is Magic part of the franchise. It’s a reasonable way to end things even if I’m not the biggest fan of anthology setups. It means each story is too short to properly get a lot of development, but as this series isn’t very plot heavy in the first place it works out pretty well for itself. There are 6 shorts here and since the special is about 45 minutes that gets us to about 8 minutes each.

In the first special the Mane 7 are trying to cram for a test. Unfortunately they are not prepared for this one except for Twilight. Rainbow suggests that they get the school to cancel the test by pretending that it is snowing outside. Honestly this isn’t a bad plan at all. It’s definitely quite sneaky though but it comes very close to working. Unfortunately for them the professor was pretty sharp and not as easy to fool as Celestia. If anything the Mane 7 doomed themselves by attempting to fool the school since they had less time for the actual studying. The moral here is definitely that deception does not pay.

The second special definitely amps up the intensity as we get a snowball fight. Pinkie Pie is trying to deliver a souffle to Rarity because every year it ends up deflating before they meet. She is determined to change that this time, but the snowfall is making that difficult. Sunset Shimmer knows what it’s like to not make it somewhere in time so she makes it her mission to defeat the snowball fighters and pave the way for Pinkie to make it. It’s a very dramatic special and it’s nice to see the team all working together here. Sunset was the MVP as expected and this was definitely my favorite short.

Next up is the Apple Family getting ready for their big apple cider party. Unfortunately Flim and Flam always end up breaking in and messing everything up which puts a damper on things. Twilight Sparkle has concocted a plan to stop them this year. It’s really a good thing she showed up because Applejack would have been completely doomed otherwise. Twilight’s really good at staying one step ahead. To Flim and Flam’s credit, they actually did put up a good amount of resistance. They also had a lot of foresight and predicted some of the things that were about to happen. They just weren’t quite as smart as Twilight.

Following that up is a story where Sunset left her keys at school. Unfortunately it is a weekend so nobody is there. Each member of the group tries to figure out a way to break into the school but Twilight keeps shutting their ideas down. She doesn’t want to do anything that will be considered breaking and entering. I see her point, but the group had a lot of fun ideas. The best one is probably Applejack’s, but they all have some merits to them. Fortunately for the group Twilight has an idea of her own. It may not be as flashy as the others but it does get the job done.

Then we have a special where Rainbow Dash forgot to buy a gift for Fluttershy. It’s a good thing she has super speed, but even with that she is cutting things close. She wants to get Fluttershy a gift that feels authentic even if it is rushed. You can feel the pressure here because this is also why I always find those mystery grab bags to be tough. It’s hard enough to pick gifts normally but when you draw from a hat and have to try to find a gift for someone in particular the stakes get high. Rainbow can still be blamed for most of this since she totally forgot, but it is a hard task under any circumstance.

Finally we have a special about Applejack’s family tradition to take a photo at the end of the year. The rest of the gang don’t really feel like it, but the see how excited Applejack is and figure they should be supportive. This leads to some pretty crazy costumes and then a plot twist by Applejack at the end which definitely stings. It’s a pretty wholesome special and a nice way to end things off. It may not be as action packed as some of the first segments, but it’s always good to see the team trying to help out a friend.

As mentioned these specials are very quick so they go by in a second. Some of these segments could have easily been expanded to be their own full specials. I think the best way to handle this is to just incorporate them all into a big plot. Still, it is what it is and Holiday Unwrapped is a solid special. Equestria Girls has been a great spinoff to the main series and it definitely won’t be forgotten anytime soon. I’ll miss the characters having actual super powers in the human world. It’s a really nice dynamic and who knows, maybe Equestria Girls isn’t quite done yet. I just get the feeling that maybe we still will get another special or two down the road.

The animation is pretty solid. At this point you’ll be pretty used to the style. The animators always do a good job of staying consistent. Their action parody parts feel smooth and the same can be said about all the other aspects. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent here with no chance to add big songs, but I still say that the intro here is better than the main series one. It’s got a lot of energy and really starts things off with a nice pop. That’s exactly how you want to start a film.

Overall, This is a special that I’d definitely recommend. How could you not enjoy a pleasant special like this right? It’s not the next big thing in the franchise, but it’s not really going for that anyway. Think of it as a fun little Christmas special that gives you an excuse to see the characters having fun opening gifts and such. I always like Christmas episodes in any franchise, they’re just a lot of fun and in this way MLP got to have one last adventure. We’ll see where the franchise goes from here.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

One Piece: Stampede Review


Time to look at the latest One Piece film. This one was definitely getting a lot of hype before it came out because it was bringing together a ton of One Piece characters. Pretty much every big pirate who is currently alive in the series is returning for this film. Naturally since the film is under 2 hours you can’t expect all 60+ of these guys to get a big role, but the movie does a good job of at least allowing them all to get their special attacks in. Then you’ve got the second wave of characters who are big enough to get their own fights. It’s definitely an amazing One Piece experience for fans and anyone who enjoys a good action film is sure to have a blast as well.

The film starts by taking us back to the famous Blackbeard prison breakout from a while back. It turns out that there was one pirate who was far too powerful for Blackbeard to let him join. This guy’s name is Bullet and he once served aboard the Pirate King’s crew. Well, now he is back in a big pirate festival. Festa has organized this thing in order to bring together the Marines, Pirates, and Revolutionaries so they can all be destroyed in one fell swoop. He doesn’t really care who wins so long as everyone gets crushed in the end. Strawhat Luffy and friends have arrived here as well even though they figure it’s probably a trap. That’s because the prize is a treasure from the Pirate King and nobody can resist such a tempting offer. Can Luffy protect his crew and secure the prize before Bullet destroys them all? It’ll be a hard battle for sure.

Right away you have to acknowledge that Bullet is going to be an incredibly powerful villain. He has to be in order to take on pretty much the whole cast of One Piece. The film does not disappoint with his abilities. The guy is pretty much on the level of the 4 empires with how easily he is able to dispatch his opponents. The best fight in the film for me is definitely when he takes on “The worst Generation” (Which is basically a bunch of the hype characters) and defeats them all with ease. They can barely land any decent shots on him which shows just how unbelievable he is. Bullet’s speed and power are off the charts to the point where it’s like seeing All Might bump off the League of Villain lackeys back in season 1. Luffy and the gang are completely outmatched.

Bullet’s also just a fun villain. His goal is to be the strongest and stop the Buster Call. A Buster Call is when the army sends in their admirals and a fleet of ships to sink an island. To date nobody has ever really been able to stop a buster call on their own. Sure, a bunch of characters escaped in Marineford but that wasn’t technically a buster call and they did manage to stop the main threats the government wanted to end. For Bullet to defeat such a thing would be very impressive. He also likes a good fight and seems to have a reasonable honor code. He’s defeating his opponents at the top of their game and doesn’t use any cheap tricks.

Festa is the only other important new character and he’s a fun enough villain. The guy definitely holds onto his grudges and really wants to wreck havoc on the world. It’s for a surprisingly petty reason though. The guy has a great seat but you do have to wonder how nobody noticed him the whole time. I guess he’s so weak that the heroes don’t need to bother prioritizing him. They’d probably just finish him off afterwards which works well enough.

The animation is definitely top notch. It’s all very smooth and vibrant which is great. The fight I mentioned from earlier is very impressive and like something out of DBZ. There are also a bunch of other fights throughout that have great cuts as well like Zoro vs Fujitora and pretty much any scene with Sabo. It’s all very consistent for the duration of the film. We also get some CGI which looks good enough. I think CG is at the point where it should always look good so long as you splash it in a lot of colors. That’s where CGI is at its best. It may not be enough to make giant things exciting, but it tries its best. As for the soundtrack you’ll recognize some tunes from the show. The main new theme was Bullet’s theme and it’s the best piece of music in the whole film. Whenever it appears you know that things are going to get tricky for the heroes. It’s just great all around.

This film also completely avoids the occasional fanservice issue that the series has at times and even Brook doesn’t have time to do anything iffy. The film managed to avoid having any real issues and that’s the first step to being a great film. The next step is to actually have great moments and this move has them in spades. There are a ton of homages and nice little scenes for fans. All of the characters get quick moments where they look good and they all get a ton of hype. That being said, keeping up everyone’s hype does come at a bit of a price.

Pretty much every fight in the film is a tie. That’s something that tends to happen when you bring in a bunch of old characters who still have a lot of fans and Stampede wasn’t able to get around it. Unlike some titles like DBZ where there are big power gaps between everyone, a lot of characters in One Piece are still very close. There are characters from the opening arcs who can hold their own against the current villains. That’s because the characters get stronger very gradually and the old characters keep training as well. The matches are still hype, but this does dampen the excitement for them a little since you know that the battles can’t end. This happens over and over as everyone gets a skirmish and then backs down. Unless you’re fighting Bullet then your battle won’t end.

This film is trying to be Marineford 2.0 with how every character is around and that arc also had the same issue at times. Naturally nobody can die this time around, but all things considered the film did do a good job of keeping that same energy throughout. Once the action starts near the beginning of the film is really never dies down. That’s always important for a big movie like this one since it helps for replay value. Stampede definitely has a lot of that at its disposal.

Then the only other part of the film that could have been improved was Bullet’s final form. When he started to transform I admit that it was a little disappointing. That’s because he went from being an awesome DBZ villain to suddenly being a skyscraper who can barely move. Naturally this is where the CGI starts to come into play. No matter how neat a design the giant form might be, it’s just not going to be able to make for really fun fights the way that his first round was. When one fighter can’t fight back then it’s no longer a real fight. Since Bullet’s giant form can’t do much it just barely counts as an actual match. Bullet does manage to bring back his human form near the end of the film for a quick fight as well though so we did get a true climax.

Luffy is definitely at his best here. He may not look too good against Bullet for a while, but not being strong enough to win isn’t a bad thing in itself. The important thing is that he was trying to win right from the start and was quick to try and help Usopp. Helping his crew out has always been Luffy’s main objective and it’s good to see that hold true here. The rest of the gang aside from Brook look good as well. Zoro and Sanji definitely contribute the most, but Franky and Nami are also very useful. Then for the other pirates it was nice to see Sabo since it’s always rare to see his adult form. It’s a little surprising how calmly Luffy and Sabo exchanged a casual greeting here and then just didn’t talk again. I guess it wasn’t really the time or place to really have a long dialogue but a team up would have been good.

Stampede did a good job of choosing the all star team at the end. Hancock is one of Luffy’s most dependable allies at this point while Law is practically a strawhat now. Smoker may not always be able to compete against some of these guys but his ability is really neat and he has been improving quite a lot. The fact that he can still give these guys a fun for their money is pretty good. Mihawk also shows up to flex real quick and the heroes are lucky that he didn’t stick around since the guy still appears to be way out of their league. He’s definitely Emperor level or at least that’s the way he appears to me.

Overall, Stampede is definitely a great film. I like this new trend of the fight starting early on and then continuing for basically the entire film. Dragon Ball Broly did that to great success and now the same is true for Stampede. I definitely preferred it to Gold and Strong World. I haven’t seen the rest so I can’t comment on that, but that would put this as the best One Piece film right now. There are really no serious complaints I had with it and the movie definitely has a ton of replay value. Naturally as a fan you will get extra enjoyment out of it since it’s a reunion type film, but I dare say that casuals who haven’t seen the series before will enjoy it as well. There’s something here for everyone.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Scooby Doo Return To Zombie Island Review


It’s time for the Scooby gang to return to a rather familiar location. Zombie Island is known as one of the best Scooby Doo movies and I can confirm that it was quite excellent. This one is trying to play on nostalgia to sell, but does it actually have the quality to back it up? Unfortunately it feels like Zombie Island in name only. I wasn’t really expecting anything more than that, but it would have been nice if the plot had actually been a bit more relevant. Maybe that was hoping for a bit much to be honest, but it would have been nice. As it stands this is still a reasonable Scooby Doo adventure.

The gang has just finished solving a bunch of mysteries. They then sold the Mystery Van (For money I guess? The movie never really goes into detail on exactly why they had to sell the thing, but I assume they were low on cash) so now they are wondering what to do. Shaggy and Scooby pounce on their momentary weakness and force the gang to sign a promise that they will stop investigating mysteries. Shaggy then wins a vacation for the gang so they all head to an island. Interestingly it looks just like Zombie Island, but the gang is determined not to find any mysteries here. The creepy instances continue to add up though and they may be forced to break their promise this time. Can the gang stay strong?

Of course the place they went to is Zombie Island. The film does a good job of at least giving us a good narrative reason as to why they would return. They were basically suckered and the mastermind behind this had a good reason for doing this. The big twist here is on the fun side. It may not be exactly what you were expecting, but it does make sense without messing with the first film. You’ll be glad to know that the film doesn’t retcon the first one. That would have definitely been pretty annoying. It’s really just a completely separate adventure that happens to take place after the first one. There will be some continuity issues here like how the gang is younger now than they were in the original. This movie tries to hand wave that as a summer job, but we all know the truth.

The animation is pretty good and it looks a lot like a DC film with the backgrounds. The opening scene can easily be mistaken for one at first before the characters show up. It isn’t super detailed or anything, but I’ve always thought that this part has been pretty consistent over the years. Scooby Doo looks good and if the films continue with this style I’m certainly satisfied. The music is a bit more of a miss though. It’s trying to go for some kind of pop/scary theme and you can’t really pull both off at the same time. It’s an admirable attempt to be sure, but not one that really works.

As far as pacing goes, the movies have no problem with that. If anything it feels like this movie ends really quickly. By the time we find out the first twist the movie is basically halfway over. Then we get to the second half and it’s done. These movies end so fast that half of the time it’s hard to even pick someone as a suspect because the mystery is all wrapped up. I suppose it feels like that here as well since for most of the movie the gang is trying not to solve anything. If they were actually trying then this would be over very quickly. It’s a complement to the film’s writing though since any time a film ends so quickly that means they did something right. The humor with Shaggy and Scooby may not work too well, but the others are good. Scooby Doo is the kind of movie that will take a good gag and run it into the ground so you do have to be prepared to see the same jokes used a lot. They’re harmless fun though.

The cast is basically the same as you would usually expect. Fred is still the best member as he takes charge and solves all the cases. He does miss the van a lot, but you really can’t blame him for that. The van was a true member of the team and losing a squad mate is never easy. I also do respect the fact that he and the rest of the gang were determined to keep their promise to Shaggy and Scooby. Even when things got tough they didn’t cave. Shaggy and Scooby forgetting about the promise entirely just hurts them even more.

No worries we do get at least one supernatural element in the film. The movie intentionally doesn’t bother finishing this plot so it can just leave it out there. I appreciate having it, but it does basically amount to being a pointless addition in the end. Take this part of the plot away and nothing changes. I wouldn’t say it’s objectively bad to do that because everything within media is subjective, but it’s still an odd choice. You rarely see something like that nowadays.

Overall, Return to Zombie Island can’t beat the original but I don’t think very many of us ever assumed that it would. The first Zombie Island was great because the creatures were real and there was a lot of danger and suspense. You won’t be seeing that in a newer Scooby Doo film because the films go for a much lighter tone nowadays. It’s more comedy than horror while the original tried for a more 50/50 split. I do think it’s interesting how the animation looks worse than the original in many respects but one day we’ll catch up. The animation here is good as I mentioned earlier, it just doesn’t feel quite as detailed and fleshed out. If you haven’t seen this movie yet then you should check it out as long as you’re still a fan of the franchise. It gives you the experience you’d expect. It’s just a fun film and if we’re dipping into nostalgia I’d like to see a crossover with the other continuities in a film someday. Something like Spiderverse for Scooby Doo fans. Now that’d be ambitious and a blast!

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Hercules Review


It’s time to watch another big Disney classic. This time we are thrown into the world of myths and heroes with Hercules. This is definitely one of the more action packed titles and it holds up quite well to this day. While the songs aren’t quite as memorable as some of the other films, we do get one of the best Disney villains in Hades. The guy has a lot of charisma and steals all of the scenes he is in.

The film starts off with Hercules being born and Zeus has a big party to celebrate this. He invites all of the other gods of course and it’s a perfect day. This changes when Hades shows up and hatches a plan to prevent this. He turns Hercules into a mere mortal and Zeus is forced to banish him to Earth. The only way for Zeus to re-obtain his godhood is to become a true hero by performing many feats. It’s not as easy as saving people though, he has to do something truly heroic for noble reasons. Can Hercules become a god again before Hades conquers both of the worlds.

Lets quickly just talk about some things here that are a bit iffy, but in character when you look at the myths. One thing is how Zeus can’t let Hercules stay once he is mortal. Zeus is the highest ranked god in this universe right? Why does he have to obey a law when he is the one making them? Most people who create laws rarely end up following them and Zeus is always shown to be a pretty selfish guy. I guess this one’s just too heroic for that, but it’s still a bit iffy. He’s also super oblivious like how he didn’t notice that Hades tried to stab baby Hercules. How he didn’t realize that Hades would be a bit upset after being banished to the Underworld is also interesting. I do like Zeus a lot to be fair. He’s just a lot of fun which is rare for most portrayals of his character. That being said, he’s not very smart of strong. In the climax he looks pretty terrible to be honest.

I also have to question how there is a potion that can take away your godhood so easily. Can’t Hades just trick the other gods into drinking it too and then he would rule the world? If the film mentioned that it only worked because Hercules is half human then I’ll have to retract this issue. Both of these are extremely minor observations that don’t effect my enjoyment of the film or the score, but were worth noting. I was definitely thinking about this as I watched the film.

Hercules is definitely a good lead. He reminds me of early Superman when he would work on the farm using his super abilities. Hercules doesn’t have a secret identity to worry about so he just works hard and does his best at all times. The townspeople are annoyed by him which is unfortunate. While Hercules can be a bit sloppy, he really seems like an earnest chap. He does fall for Megara pretty easily and doesn’t listen to Phil as much as he should, but all in all Hercules can easily hold his own film. He already seems more powerful than most of the gods which is also quite impressive.

Phil was always fun in the Kingdom Heart games and is good here as well. He definitely flirts a lot though so I have to doubt his concentration as a coach, but once he actually gets his hat on straight then he’s ready to work. He probably could have done a better job of explaining to Hercules what was up though. As for Megara, she’s a tough heroine. Megara is the kind of character who always tries to get the last word in and is pretty jaded on romance in general. This does result in what I would say was a pretty quick 180 with Hercules but I suppose he is basically a god so I imagine he was impressive in person. I do think it would have been a good dynamic to have had them stay friends though.

As mentioned earlier Hades is definitely the big character here. He is proactive compared to the rest of the gods and characters. While they sit back and eat he is always planning. His plan was pretty much fool proof and while his lackeys aren’t too helpful (They don’t really add to the film and could have been cut out) Hades is prepared for that as well. He probably should have just hurried a little more near the end so Hercules wouldn’t arrive in time. His abilities aren’t tough enough to actually fight head-on with Hercules and Zeus, but it would have been interesting to have seen him fight a little more. Most of the gods lost effortlessly to the Titans though so those guys got quite a lot of hype.

I did like that in the ending Hercules quickly went to the underworld to save Megara. In any story where the underworld is a place you can visit it feels mandatory that the characters should head on over. Hercules was able to win on his turf so he should at least believe that he can win here as well. That’s the level of determination you need in order to be a good main character. What would have made the ending perfect would have been if Zeus said that Hercules and Megara could both come to their world and they could just go back between Earth and the realm of the gods whenever they pleased. It’s the last the gods could do since they’d be dead otherwise.

The scene with Hades talking to the fates are interesting dialogue-wise but the whole eyeball thing was more gross than creepy. I could have gone without that scene to be honest. As for the songs, we do get some catchy songs from the fates, but none of them quite have the same heart that you would see in Aladdin or Frozen. I already can’t say that I remember the lyrics to any of the songs. They have that classic Disney auto tune (Not auto tune, but a voice modification thing that makes them all sound the same) effect which works well and I’m glad they had these songs as opposed to not having any, but it’s not the strength of the film.

The writing is really where the film shines and the pacing is tight. Then we’ve got the solid animation which is as sharp and colorful as you’ll remember. It holds up to any and all of the other Disney films. We also get some fun fight scenes which is great like Hercules vs the Titan or the first bull creature. I was surprised that Hercules didn’t win his first fight with more ease though. Even if he didn’t know how to fight yet, I figured that his super strength would make any fight an easy win. I guess it’s good that he’s not too OP yet, but then it does make you wonder how strong the gods are. It is reasonable to say that the humans could possibly win a fight with them in a few hundred years once they got gun powder.

Overall, Hercules is a very good movie. It’s definitely the definitive version of the story and I’d be down with Disney making a sequel someday. They’ve been doing a lot of remakes lately but not a bunch of sequels. A crossover of all their 90s classics would also be a blast. That’d be very ambitious, but it would make for an excellent watch. I was long overdue to watch this film and it lived up to the wait. If you haven’t seen this movie yet then I recommend changing that and watching it as soon as possible.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade Review


The gang is back in another adventure. This time it’s more of a full fledged movie so everyone can really contribute and we have a longer plot. I would give the first film the edge overall, but this is a good follow up. It’s on the same level and while it does have some more weaknesses it doesn’t do anything bad either. Diana also gets to look good here as she performs some really high level spells so I definitely can’t take issue with that.

The annual witch festival is coming up and Atsuko has been put in charge of the ceremony for this year as a punishment. Why is this a punishment? Well, the festival is basically just an excuse for the humans to mock the witches as they torment them with a bunch of games. Atsuko realizes how ludicrous this is and decides to put on a happy festival instead. Tension quickly begins to build between her, Lotte, and Sucy though as Atsuko begins to get a little obsessive. Fortunately she meets up with some other kids in the group who might be new friends to replace the older ones. Atsuko has to tread carefully here. Even if she can get this parade working, can she really repair the relationships between humans and witches?

I have to say that the whole premise further reinforces why Shiny Chariot was really good for the Witches. People actually liked her quite a bit. If anything the fact that witches didn’t like her probably just made the various relationships a whole lot worse. The school is partially to blame here for allowing such a parade though. From the screens they showed of the previous years it was totally at the witches expense. That’s not a good way to run such a big event, especially in front of impressionable kids.

This special does introduce some more concepts such as the fact that the witches are basically powerless away from their energy source at the castle. This is a bit alarming as they can barely even take on a bunch of school kids without their powers. I know this isn’t an action series so they don’t have to worry about invasions or anything, but I do think this weakness is a bit extreme. Hopefully as they grow older they will be able to store larger amounts of magic power to at least be able to defend themselves with. Otherwise it’s definitely going to be a rough road for the witches.

The two annoying parts of the film are Lotte and the kids. There’s a subplot where the kids represent the rest of the humans in how they don’t like the witches. They steal the power source and engage the witches in a fight near the beginning. The kids are just very annoying. Sure, they’re young so they don’t totally know what they’re doing, but it’s still painful to watch since the heroes can’t do much about it. How can you attack a kid right? By the end they end up helping out, but the problem was because of them in the first place so I can’t give them too many brownie points for that.

Then we have Lotte who is pretty unlikable here. She has valid reason to be upset with Atsuko for breaking her music book, but beyond that she just wasn’t very co-operative throughout the adventure. This was a pretty big deal for the lead so I think Lotte should have been more amiable. Susy took things a lot better and ultimately works as a person in the middle to get the others talking again. Atsuko is still quite solid even if she did let the festival get to her during different parts of the film. Fortunately Diana was there to give a pep talk. While Diana doesn’t get as much combat here, she still shows her expertise during different parts of the film. Easily the best character like last time. As I mentioned we did get a few new kids. The main important one is Amanda who is a solid addition. While she isn’t as much of a prodigy as Diana, she has skills of her own. She actually does stick by Atsuko’s side the whole time which is great and is quick to help out in the fight with the kids. She did the best in that battle for sure.

The animation is definitely pretty sharp as with last time. I’m not sure if I’d say it’s better but it’s at least on the same level. There aren’t any real action scenes beyond the climax, but the energy effects still look good. There’s still not much of a soundtrack. I don’t know how long the gap was between this film and the first, but it does a good job of feeling like it took place pretty quickly afterwards. If you watch both films back to back they look almost identical which was probably nostalgic depending on how much later it was.

Like with the first film, the real strength here is in how likable the characters are and the fun setting. There’s a reason why school films and shows are so popular. It’s just a fun setting for the characters to interact and to quickly throw in a lot of fun scenarios. Something as simple as planning out a parade can easily be a full movie plot whether or not the main characters have super powers or not. At this point it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of movie series this is trying to be. A school days type plot or more of a fantasy adventure. Perhaps it will change from adventure to adventure but so long as the writing stays strong I don’t imagine it will falter at all.

Overall, The Enchanted Parade is a good follow-up to the original. It’s nice to have a feature length film for the gang. In order to get that film experience the film added more characters and a longer plot, but I don’t think all of it was necessary. Cutting out the kids would have gone a good way, but I think it would have been even cooler if the film had higher stakes like the original one. Having the witches go on a field trip somewhere would be a pretty cool plot. Regardless, I’d recommend checking this one out. If you have to choose a side, I recommend picking team Witch.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Little Witch Academia Review


It’s time to look at the fairly well known Little Witch Academia special. I remember seeing this one mentioned online a lot and always wondered if it was made as some kind of rival to My Hero Academia. The timing was just coincidental I’m thinking though because the two aren’t very similar at all. It’s a pretty fun fantasy story and feels like like Spirited Away or the other big anime films that can also make it as a Pixar type film. It’s a good movie that can appeal to just about anyone. It introduces the characters right away and gives us a good debut adventure.

The story starts by introducing us to Shiny Chariot. She is pretty well known to the humans and serves as a shining example to how Witches are. Atsuko has always wanted to be a witch and thanks to Chariot’s grand display Atsuko reaffirms her wish to join the school. She has now made it and must aim to do well in her classes. It’ll be difficult as she didn’t grow up with magic the way that most of the others did. She is a quick study though and makes it to the team phase with two other girls named Lotte and Sucy. The 3 of them must climb a tower and find some items in a scavenger hunt, but when a dragon shows up the danger becomes very real.

You’ll get some Harry Potter and RWBY vibes here as well. It’s an all girls school since it’s for witches so that part is like RWBY (Yes, there are some guys in RWBY, but rarely are they important) but it’s less action based and more of an adventure/fantasy like Potter. The characters even have wands and such to use their spells. I think starting off with this tower exploration was the right move since it feels like a video game mission and lets the characters interact with each other in a fun environment. Now lets take a look at the cast.

Atsuko is our lead and she’s a good main character. Her determination and youthful energy are what you would expect upon seeing her and she does not disappoint. Wherever there is action you’ll find her at the center. Atsuko isn’t irresponsible though and stays determined even when the others don’t take her seriously. None of the other characters like Shiny Chariot, but Atsuko doesn’t take it too hard. Then she comes in clutch during the climax with the legendary scepter weapon and manages to save the day. I definitely look forward to seeing more of her. Her teammates Lotte and Sucy are less impressive. Sucy’s fine, she’s fairly aloof and doesn’t talk all that much. It’s hard to get much of a gauge on her character beyond that but her spells are quite potent. I can easily see her being the secret weapon on the team. Lotte is more of a book worm and fairly timid. She’s not my kind of character but I wouldn’t say that she is bad.

Shiny Chariot is the legendary witch that humans like, but ironically witches don’t. She seems nice enough so I have to disagree with the witches here. They don’t like her theatrics, but as we learn in the next movie, humans and witches don’t get along very well. Isn’t it good that she is bridging the gap? While it’s not outright stated, it’s heavily implied that she was forced into early retirement and now works as a teacher in the school. Her teacher persona is basically like Clark Kent. She can’t act very tough in this one, but it works well enough since it isn’t the real her. I do hope we get to see Chariot fight again soon though.

Finally we have Diana who is the rival character in the series. She is a prodigy and typically can master any spell with ease. The tower is pretty much a cakewalk for her. What I like about Diana is that she’s portrayed as a tough character, but she never becomes petty. A lot of times the bullies will show up to make fun of the main character for no real reason and quickly get jealous. Here Diana does get into it with Atsuko, but only in passing and it never becomes a priority. Diana isn’t suddenly switching life goals just because Atsuko is here. She also does her best to help against the dragon at the end. Diana is easily my favorite character and I look forward to seeing her return. She’s definitely a dependable ally that you can count on to always see the bigger picture.

The animation definitely looks really good. There aren’t a lot of flashy scenes to really let the animators show off, but the make the most of each moment. The opening scene with the monster and Chariot looks good and likewise for the climax. The rest of the film is smooth as well. You definitely can’t take away any points on this one. The soundtrack is fairly standard so that part doesn’t really stand out. What you’re really here for is the quality writing and pacing which is on point. The characters are all pretty realistic and the film doesn’t have any real negatives. It’s just a pleasant experience and one that will have a lot of replay value.

Overall, Little Witch Academia is a title that I would recommend. It’s pretty short as it skirts the line between a mini movie and an episode, but it does a good job of setting up the universe and characters right away. By the end of the film you’ll have a good understanding of the world and what’s going on. I’ve already seen the next film so I’ll have a review up for that one as well pretty soon. So stay tuned since the Little Witch adventures are not over yet.

Overall 7/10