Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Little Pony: Rainbow Roadtrip Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Pokemon: I Choose You Review


Pokemon’s definitely been through a lot over the years. It first had to deal with the pressure of being the greatest video game series of all time and then it started one of the longest running anime of all time. What other challenges could await it from there? Well, there’s the manga industry but Pokemon Adventures pretty much has that covered. As a result the movie based manga usually don’t really try to do anything super special except to keep on with business as usual. I didn’t care much for the movie this manga is based on which limits its potential, but ultimately I guess I would say it’s a little better. It’s pretty much a straight adaption though.

The manga starts with Ash getting ready to start his Pokemon journey. Unfortunately, he overslept and all 3 of the starters have already been taken. He’s forced to start off with good ole Pikachu. The two don’t get along at first, but gradually they become pals. Ash then runs into Verity and Sorrel along the way as they all wanted to catch Entei. It doesn’t go well and the 3 of them are forced to bond over cave stories as they wait for the rain to stop. The adventure will test their bonds and Ash will have to find out if he really has what it takes to be a Pokemon Master.

Right away you will have to remind yourself that this is a pretty inexperienced Ash. It’ll make the adventure less painful as he takes a lot of Ls left and right. Part of why reboots like this are tough is that you don’t really want Ash to be a beginner yet again. The wounds are still fresh from when he lost every other league. For the most part Ash is still solid here though. I definitely didn’t care for the scene where he loses to Cross though. Ash was probably going in a little too hard during the fight, but how do you really know when to stop? Typically in a Pokemon battle you go on until one of them is knocked out but I guess if they look weakened enough then you should pull them out first? That part always seemed a little inconsistent to me, but I guess we’ll roll with that.

Ash was being manipulated by Marshadow later on, but it was still a bit iffy how quickly he was ready to ditch his Pokemon. He’s just not nearly as tough or confident as his TV show persona and I think that does play into why this movie/manga was just not quite as solid. Meanwhile his two partners also aren’t all that great. Sorrel doesn’t really want to be a Pokemon fighter, he just wants to research and meet all of the legendaries. He gets an origin story that is pretty dark. It ends pretty quickly in the manga, but it’s still something that you really don’t need in a Pokemon manga. The Pokemon should lose fights now and then of course, but dying for no reason is definitely iffy. Pokemon are very strong so to just lose to natural causes is a bit iffy.

Meanwhile you have Verity who is sort of like a nicer rival to Ash although they don’t get to fight much. She’s a pretty fun character, but ultimately she doesn’t get a whole lot to do. I’d have liked her to have gotten some more of the focus and maybe an extra fight or two. I don’t think she would have been able to defeat Cross, but if she had that would have been pretty neat as well. As for Cross, there’s definitely no way I was going to like him. He’s like Paul in that he doesn’t care about Pokemon and is willing to hurt the ones that he has. A good rival still has respect for his Pokemon like Gary. Gary may not have been the most pleasant person to be around, but he always treated Pokemon with respect. Cross has a character arc by the end, but it’s so sudden and a complete 360 that you can’t take him seriously.

As for Marshadow, I always liked the design of this Pokemon. He’s not the most interesting villain though even if he basically did wreck Ho-Oh. I feel like Ho-Oh is probably the strongest Pokemon who has yet to look good in one of these things. The legendary birds in general seem to take a lot of Ls when they appear. At least we got some decent fights though. None of the fights are all that long here (The longest felt like it was Cross vs Ash round 1) but the art is excellent so the battles that we do get look pretty good. Art plays a big part in a manga of course and there was clearly a good amount of effort put in here.

I think one of the problems with the story is that it’s going through all of the motions, but there isn’t anything particularly memorable about this adventure. There’s no hook nor is there any reason to re-read this. It feels like an average episode with Ash and since it’s not even the version of Ash that we’re used to there isn’t much to it. Still, it almost sounds like it would get a negative review from what I’ve written so far so let me just point out that it is still a good manga. Just because it can’t match up to the other titles doesn’t mean that it is downright bad. At the end of the day it still has good action scenes and a reasonable cast. The artwork is solid and that’s really all you need. It’s not great or even very good, but it gets the job done.

Overall, This is definitely not my favorite Pokemon adventure and it’s a relatively weak one as far as the movie tie-ins go. Still, it’s not a bad one and I do feel like it’s a little better than the movie version. Maybe that’s because when reading through it the iffy scenes don’t last as long as in the movie. Maybe there were subtle differences here that made the whole thing feel more intense. Whatever the case may be, I’d recommend experiencing this story in manga format instead of going for the movie version. Still, I look forward to the day when the movies are with Ash and friends in the present again instead of these alternate universe titles. It was a cool concept, but the execution just hasn’t been there thus far. We’re in the age of nostalgia right now so give us a big movie with the return of Gary. Maybe hype it up as the big tournament where Ash finally wins. There’s a lot of ways you can make a satisfying Pokemon movie after all, the company just needs to go for it.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Julie Review


It’s time to look at another film with an annoying main character. This one’s not the worst lead or anything, but she does seem to be incredibly naive and not one of the smartest leads out there. Still, when it was crunch time Julie did her best to stand up to the danger. This is a pretty good thriller that builds up to a nice climax. You will need to suspend a lot of disbelief of course, but that’s to be expected.

The film starts with Julie running to her car after her husband Lyle had another public episode of getting upset over her. He gets violently dangerous whenever a guy even talks to Julie. She gets in the car and warns Lyle that maybe they can’t be together anymore. He responds by forcing her to drive the car at max speed for a while and they nearly fall off a cliff. He then warns her that it was an accident and he’s sorry about it. Another way to think of it is that these accidents will occur more and more unless she stops talking to other men. Julie is surprisingly fine with this so then her friend Cliff shows up and reminds Julie that Lyle is a dangerous murderer. Lyle murdered her first husband and will stop at nothing to claim her. Julie must now escape from Lyle and try to establish a new identity, but Lyle seems to be around every corner. Can she possibly shake such a skilled stalker or is this the end for her?

A situation like this is always pretty tough to escape from and Julie’s first actions don’t help matters. See, you’ve usually got just one shot to get out because after that the guy will suspect something. So Julie tries to leave first thing in the morning, but Lyle is already up so she has to make a ton of excuses to leave. He doesn’t buy any of them but decides to pretend to leave to see what she’ll do. Here’s where Lyle slipped up since he damages her car but goes so far away that she is able to run to town. (Thanks in part to hitch hiking) From there the film is mainly about Julie running from place to place and trying to stay ahead of him.

This is where it’s a little hard to buy that Lyle is following her everywhere. He finds out what state she is in, which hotel, etc. The film does try to give reasons for how he finds these things out like by asking operators for her place or just deducing which state she would likely flee to. At the same time, you still can’t help but feel a little skeptical at times. Julie used a pseudonym for these journeys and there are still a lot of hotels in each state. Just knowing what state Julie is in wouldn’t be enough for Lyle to find her so easily. The whole time I figured that Cliff was a traitor leaking info to Lyle or just a villain who wanted Julie for himself. It’s good that Julie did actually have an ally, but at the same time it did mean that it was harder to buy into the Lyle scenes.

Meanwhile, while Julie may not have been the best character, you could still root for her. As far as villains go Lyle definitely wasn’t anything special. He’s one of those petty villains who just wants Julie at any cost. You really can’t even like him as a villain because his motivations aren’t solid and there’s nothing interesting about him. Also, since Julie was 100% fooled if he had just played the part of the nice guy they could have actually been together. When the villain creates his own problems then that just makes him even worse.

As for Cliff, he is a good guy. His arc really didn’t go as I expected it to, but at the end of the day I can’t hold that against him. He probably could have handled some of the early situations a little better though. He was being pretty obvious with Julie in front of Lyle, but at the same time it was imperative that he convince her of the truth right away so in that sense his plan worked. He also did at least try to escape when he was held hostage although I dare say that going for the gun is always the best move in that situation. I dare say that it’s best to make a final lunge and attack the guy with the gun rather than getting in the car. Once you’re in the car your chances of survival are close to 0 unless you’re in an action film. So, even if you might die during the charge your odds are better. Trust me, getting in the car is never the right move.

Unfortunately the film does end on a bit of a whimper. It probably has one of the worst climaxes that I’ve seen in a very long time. Nothing happens for a long period of time and what should have been a very thrilling plane sequence ends up feeling rather dull. You’re just sort of waiting for the film to get on with it. Whatever the idea was for the ending it simply should have gone with a different option. I did like the tension on the plane before this, but it all doesn’t play out as you’d hope. I also felt bad for the pilot who was doing a good job the whole time, but faltered at the very end.

Overall, the script is pretty solid and the film will definitely keep you engaged all the way through. It’s a pretty classic thriller and definitely one that holds up. It actually grabs a lot of the beats that you might see in a modern film even if the effects don’t allow for it to go all the way with big car chases or anything like that. Of course, how much you enjoy the film will probably depend on how the first half affects you. Julie is just a very tough lead since she isn’t very sharp which can make it a whole lot harder to root for her. Still, I think you’ll be fine and while it’s not a great thriller, it’s a solid one nonetheless.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Detective Pikachu Review


It’s time to look at the new Detective Pikachu film. It is still an odd decision not to have gone with a traditional Pokemon film, but just having them on the big screen in some form is really cool either way. It’s a pretty solid film all around. I do think some scenes drag on a bit and the human characters are definitely on the weak side, but the movie has a good premise and the action scenes that we do get are definitely solid.

The film starts off by establishing how Tim isn’t a Pokemon trainer. He wants nothing to do with them and that’s because his Dad chose his job and Pokemon over Tim a while back. Well, Tim gets a call one day that his father has been murdered so Tim heads over to get some closure. What he doesn’t expect is that this will lead him to Pikachu and the ultimate mystery. He has to find out who axed his father and finish what the detective started. It won’t be easy, but he’s got this.

They say a film is only as good as its cast and that’s why it’s good that we’ve got Pikachu on board. He’s definitely the highlight here and his quick wit is definitely entertaining. It is a bit annoying that he doesn’t do any real fighting for the most part since he has amnesia as well, but I know the film was trying to avoid being an action title so to that end it makes sense to get Pikachu out of the equation. After all, he could easily wreck most of the cast if he was at full power. Pikachu also shows that he doesn’t need to be able to fight in order to be a quality character. I like his bravado even when outmatched.

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same for Tim. He’s not my kind of character by a longshot. He spends most of the first half complaining and it’s hard to be all that sympathetic after a while. He doesn’t even have any interest in finding his father or solving the mystery for a while because he’s still sore about the past. Considering that the father isn’t evil or anything, I think he should be able to put that aside to save him at least temporarily. He also saw the poison gas so it’s not like he has no clue that this is going to be pretty serious. If you ask me he should have gotten with the program a lot sooner.

Also, his romance subplot definitely isn’t all that great. It’s pretty much shoehorned into the film for no real reason and naturally he fumbles this quite a bit as well. Lucy’s a good heroine though and she’s definitely a lot more proactive than Tim. Staking out the father’s place was a longshot at best and she must have been waiting up on the stairs for a very long time. That’s the kind of dedication you need if you want to be an expert reporter so she did a really good job. It’d be handy if she had a more powerful Pokemon than Psyduck though but he came in handy when it counted.

I don’t have much to say about the villain. I think it’s pretty obvious who the evil one is from the start just because it would have been too straightforward otherwise. He’s pretty generic and there’s not much to him though. He serves his purpose well enough, but I think Charizard made for the more imposing villain. It was definitely nice to see him get some action even if the battle was definitely very one sided.

As for the effects, they’re definitely quite good. Whether you like the realistic style or not, the Pokemon definitely all look like their game counterparts mostly. I thought Machamp and Mewtwo in particular came out really good. I think the only one I was skeptical of was Tauros since he looked more like a normal bison than the iconic Pokemon, but on the whole the film did a great job of giving them all live action designs. I think it would make for pretty excellent fight scenes and we got a tease of what that could be like early on. If we do get a spinoff or a sequel I definitely want to see some trainers get involved.

The soundtrack is pretty decent. You’ll notice some homages but for the most part the film is going for original tunes. There is a singalong with one of the best songs in the franchise though so that was pretty neat. I would have liked for the trailer theme to show up during the climax though. “I need a Hero” would have been really epic to hear in the theater.

Now if you were hoping that the cops would look good here, then I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Maybe there’s more to this that the games would have explained, but it seems to be like they did a really halfhearted job of looking into this mystery. Lets say Tim and Pikachu never got involved. The cops would have been absolutely doomed since they didn’t even suspect a thing. None of them thought to slow down the footage or investigate where the detective had been driving from. As the film goes on we learn that the villains don’t even bother to cover their tracks so the cops must have done absolutely no legwork. I was thinking maybe the main chief was in on it or just evil as well. Maybe he is……or maybe he’s just really bad at his job.

A big part of the film involves some smoke and while I won’t elaborate, at first I thought I was going to have to stretch some disbelief on why Pikachu was unaffected. By the end of the film I’d say it clears this up in a way that makes sense though so no issues there. On the whole the logic in the film was pretty sound. Sure, if you think about some things for too long then they start to break down (Like kids trying to catch Pokemon that can lethally injure them. That Cubone came really close with his retaliation explosion) but the film did good with the power scaling and with making the city make sense. Since there are no trainers here and the Pokemon are inherently good it makes sense how they could co-exist.

I think the main parts that can drag at times are when the film is throwing us exposition (like showing Mewtwo’s origin a bunch of times from different angles) and the heroes running across the mountain. It’s technically more of an action scene as the giant pokemon wake up, but it wasn’t all that exciting. There are bits and pieces like that around, but on the whole the film isn’t all that long so these moments aren’t that frequent.

Overall, Detective Pikachu is definitely a solid film that I would recommend. It’s far from perfect, but it does a good job of showing the Pokemon world and giving us some nice action scenes. The actual story is also good even if it’s held back a little by Tim. Even by the end I wasn’t sold on his character. It’ll be interesting to see where the films go from here assuming that it makes back enough money for them to roll the dice on another installment. If they do I’ll certainly be there.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Valley of The Dragons Review


It’s time to look at an old film with a pretty misleading title. The beginning had a good premise but once the time travel occurred it quickly fell out the window. Now, I do like time travel but I prefer to go forward in time rather than backwards. If you ask me it’s just a lot more fun that way. There’s not much in the past that interests me, at least not when you get into the caveman era.

The film starts with two guys about to have a duel to the death. Apparently, they seem to like the same maiden and naturally one of them has to die for this. They ready their guns and move a few paces to take their shot but that’s when an earthquake occurs and scatters them to the winds. When they get back up they appear to be on a new planet. They’ve done their first dimension jump and are in the distant past where “dragons” currently roam. Now, you can make the case that it’s past Earth or another planet but it doesn’t really matter. There’s a scene where they notice that the stars don’t match so it’s probably a new world. They each end up going to different cave factions that have been warring with each other for eons. Can they help the two teams make peace or will they all die against the monsters?

As far as the dragons are concerned you shouldn’t get your hopes too high. Their appearances are few and far between. If we’re being honest the big one doesn’t appear til the end. Most of the little creatures running around are the kimono dragons which are basically just lizards. They aren’t exactly all that scary. The big one is fun enough but definitely pretty mindless and lets the heroes attack him over and over again until they eventually take him down. If he had done just about anything else then he could have won. The monster still did rack up a decent body count I suppose.

One weakness with the film is definitely the whole caveman element. I’ve never cared much for the trope of having the main guy try to teach English to these guys. For one thing, Hector isn’t all that understanding and gets frustrated pretty quick. Does he really expect them to learn English overnight? His voice can also be a bit annoying but that part’s not bad as it fits the character. He’s supposed to be annoying.

The other guy (Michael) is a lot more patient with the cave people and becomes the leader real quick. I suppose I would probably say that he is the better character of the two as he had more personality. He also became a leader real quick and did most of the hard work in the climax. I wouldn’t say either character was all that great, but he got the job done.

The writing was reasonably solid I suppose. The scenes with the ancient people weren’t that good but the banter with the two leads was pretty decent. It’s always god to have a dynamic where the two characters initially want to destroy each other but are then forced to work together. It is a bit clichéd I’ll admit but as this was back in the 60s it pulls this off unironically.

Then it almost goes without saying that the romance element is very weak here. The cave women basically throw themselves at the main two guys since they dominate the pack so easily but it’s all so fast and doesn’t feel real. We even get jealousy plots and also see why the two factions are warring from the start. Without the main two guys keeping them in line it is pretty clear that the two factions can’t control themselves and would be picking fights constantly. Having one “strong but not smart” character is enough for most films, make that the majority of the cast and then the movie has really got a big problem to deal with.

I can’t really say that the pacing was all that good either. While it almost goes without saying that a boring plot will drag on, this one really goes as slowly as possible. One scene in particular that really takes forever is when the heroes are trying to stab the giant monster. It’s the same action over and over again for at least 10-20 minutes with no variation. After a point it just comes across as having no real meaning and the scenes are complete filler. The action isn’t filler, but redoing it over and over certainly is. You could tell that the writers had run out of material by the end.

Overall, Valley of the Dragons is a film that was pretty decent for the most part but the actual plot holds it back quite a bit. It should have been a film about the leads getting trapped in some kind of vicious world for sure, but not one this far back in the past. If it was more modern we could have gotten around all of the scenes of them trying to teach the people everything and more banter instead. Of course by this point I am describing an entirely different film, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. If you don’t mind the past element then I think you’ll reasonably like this movie since it’s the main thing holding it back. Just don’t go in expecting a lot of actual dragons.

Overall 4/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

It Happened One Night Review


It’s time to look at an old romance comedy that I hadn’t heard of, but is apparently a pretty big deal. It’s definitely a fun film so it is a title where the reputation is certainly deserved. I’ve always said that the best romance films are the ones that are part comedy and this seems to reinforce that. The romance does still get a little dicey, but on the whole this is definitely a movie that I can recommend.

The film starts with Ellen having another argument with her father. He does not approve of the man that Ellen has chosen to marry. It’s hard to blame him as it sounds like she barely even knew the guy before they married. To clarify, they are already married although the father does not accept this. He has decided to take steps to annul the marriage and so Ellen decides to rebel by jumping off the ship. She is now determined to make it to New York where she can be safely united with her husband. Unfortunately this will be difficult since her father is so powerful that he controls the whole media as well as the police and a private task force. The only way she will be able to make it to New York in one piece is to team up with Peter.

Meanwhile, Peter is a reporter who hasn’t had a great string of lucky breaks lately. In fact, his luck has run out and he is fired. The guy gets drunk and decides to hop on a bus to put some distance between him and the old place. It just so happens that Ellen is on that bus. They bicker a bit, but before long he figures out her secret identity. Peter decides to help her get to New York in exchange for an exclusive story on her experience. Their personalities completely clash, but Peter is determined to make it all the way. Unfortunately, this sparks a forbidden romance between both characters and Peter must continuously remind himself that she is already married. No matter how their feelings may be, to do anything would be wrong so he must stay strong. Hopefully the film writers can control themselves here.

That does get to the heart of the issue here. No matter how much you may enjoy the romance here, Ellen is already married. That’s game set and match right there. It’s not like the Hallmark movies where it’s just a fiance. I mean, that’s still pretty dicey, but it hasn’t been set in stone yet. Here, she already made her choice so what if this is a “The grass is always greener” moment and she’s just running on instinct? How does Peter know this won’t happen again? Part of this goes back to the fact that she seemingly ran into King (the guy Ellen married) in a car and just decided to marry right away. This was partially to contest her father and so maybe her feelings for him were never all that deep. Throughout the movie Peter asks her several times why she likes King and Ellen evades the question every single time.

To their credit though, they don’t make a move until after the marriage has been annulled. At least that’s good so the cheating didn’t actually happen, but since it was premeditated that’s almost as bad. So I can’t get behind the romance. Honestly the film would have been amazing if they had stuck to being friends instead. It’s often been a debate on if two grown ups can manage to stay friends without wanting something more. If you listen to films then that’s basically impossible. It almost always leads to romance. Honestly, the only exception I can think of off the top of my head is Black Widow and Hawkeye who have a great bond but as allies and nothing more. Hawkeye went on to marry someone else and Widow is married to her job. Even that is different though as the films are usually ensemble casts. I’m talking about a 1 on 1 film like this one where the ending doesn’t suddenly lead into a romance. The romance here could have been worse, but I think this was a missed opportunity.

Ah well, both of them are solid leads. Ellen is definitely used to living the rich life so she needs some time to adapt, but she does manage to adapt right away. I was surprised at her eagerness to persevere and she didn’t really do any complaining. From the first scene you get the impression that she would be very spoiled, but I didn’t get that vibe during the actual adventure even if Peter says otherwise. After the initial good night’s sleep Ellen is almost like a completely different character as well. She’s super chipper and helpful throughout. I think she was just trying to make the best of it and if so that’s another credit to her character. There are some misunderstandings by the end of the film which lead to extra drama, but I’d actually place the blame on that with Peter and not Ellen.

As for Peter, he’s pretty solid but not as good as Ellen. For the positives, he’s always ready with the banter and has a lot of confidence. His first scene may even be his best one. His remarks are always pretty humorous and while he tries to keep up a tough act he is always looking out for Ellen. It’s not as if he likes her from the start either so at first he’s just being a nice guy in general. Where he weakens is once he actually starts to like her. He has some sudden outbursts, one of which was particularly out of line where he threatened her life. Even if he never actually meant it, it’s not something you can take back so easily. He’s a bit too controlling at times and so Peter definitely has a lot more weaknesses than Ellen does.

We’re also never given any reason to root against King so for all we know he might be the better character. The film hints that he isn’t super attracted to Ellen but it’s said by her father who has a grudge against the guy. There are no impartial accounts for him so it’s hardly a level playing field. Peter is also 100% responsible for the last misunderstanding they have as a simple note or something would have solved the whole issue. Honestly, he probably should have taken her along for where he was going or told her the plan up front. He was just being overconfident at that point as she hadn’t even said “Yes” yet as he hadn’t asked a question at that point.

The writing is solid as expected here. I’ve said it many times and I’ll probably say it many more times in the future, but I really like how the characters used to talk back in these olden days. Everyone is so professional and formal in their day to day language. It makes the whole experience more sophisticated. Aside from the main two I also liked the supporting characters. You’ve got the fast talking blackmail guy, the train officer who always likes talking back to the others, you’ve got Peter’s boss, and more. Even the cab driver who turned out to be a bit shady was fun. It’s just a colorful cast of characters.

Now, the film is quite long so there are a few pacing issues here that you might not see in the average film from back in the day. In particular the second half starts to drag on a bit. I much prefer the opening half before the characters have really bonded as it leads to a lot of the film’s main humor. Once they are getting along then we head into more drama territory with the misunderstandings and such. I think the last one could have been avoided as it’ll just make you feel bad for King if anything. The way in which things end for him is definitely last second. You know how the film is going to end as soon as it begins so nothing is particularly surprising, but I think speeding things along a little more probably would have been a good idea.

Overall, It Happened One Night is a pretty solid film. I do think it stretches on a little too long with some scenes being longer than necessary, but at its core it’s a movie with a solid premise and execution. The characters are written well and it won’t fail to keep your attention as it goes on. The romance holds it back to a degree, but it’s definitely handled a lot better than I imagine it would be in a more modern title. If you like rom-com films then this is a pretty good one to check out. There really aren’t any big negatives here so you’re in for a fun time.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

An American Tail Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Ralph Breaks the Internet Review


Looks like Ralph is back and ready to rumble! The first film was definitely solid and I’ve seen it more than once so I was definitely ready to see what the second one had in store. This one was going to deal with the internet instead of following up on video games which was a risky choice at the time, but in the end the games still do appear. It’s a solid sequel that comes close to matching the first one but does slightly suffer from a weak climax.

Ralph Breaks The Internet starts off with him and Vanellope hanging out and enjoying their newfound freedom. Life is pretty much perfect for them right now. Unfortunately that all changes when a kid breaks the steering wheel to Sugar Rush and the game is now going to be terminated since there are no more wheels. That gives Ralph the idea to go to the internet and buy the last remaining one from EBay. It’s really pricey though so he and Vanellope will have to earn a bunch of money. After experiencing HD 1080P graphics will the girl really want to go back to her arcade game?

If you’re here for the video game aspect then the early scenes will likely be your favorite. We do see all of the old arcade characters one last time even if they aren’t too important to the plot by this point. Sonic gets some lines which is always cool. Then you’ve got the online games like Fortnite which makes a cameo. Since it was in the top 10 Buzztube videos I was hoping Ralph was actually gonna play it for a second. “Where we dropping boyz?” would have been a nice reference. There is also one game that is very important to the plot and fortunately it’s a very fun game. It’s the kind of title that I’d enjoy playing IRL. It’s called Slaughter Race and it’s a very gritty racing game that takes place in an apocalyptic setting. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t really end as you just go around causing mayhem and blowing up other cars. At the same time there is a secret challenge in the game that’s so hard it is worth 40000 dollars in the real world. You have to try and steal Shank’s car away from her. That’s what Ralph needs to do since he and Vanellope need the money but it proves to be quite difficult.

Vanellope is still a champion racer like in the first movie so she does give us a great racing scene. As always she has a very confident attitude and the skills to back it up. It’s probably also the first time she has had any serious competition so you can definitely see why she’s excited. Between the game’s graphics and the fast nature of the game it’s definitely a very fun scene. I do think that with her glitching super power coupled with her driving skills Vanellope should have aced this though.

Only problem with having the best scene in the film this early on is that the climax had no shot of conquering it. It involves a giant opponent who is a King Kong reference and naturally that means we don’t get any kind of really fast fight scene or race. The ending has a good moral and everything but it’s just not quite a exciting as it could have been. I think having Vanellope race inside of the Slaughter Race game again would have been a better ending. It would have been a moment of truth kind of scene as she proves why the game fits her so well.

Meanwhile Ralph’s character does regress a bit here. He’s apparently become very dependent on Vanellope to the point where it’s hard for him to function without her. It’s great that they’re good friends and all, but he certainly does cross some lines when he tries to keep it that way. The virus part just felt a little out of character, it was a little more excessive than I would have expected. It’s too bad since he was really solid in the first film, but I’d have to give him a firm thumbs down this time. Felix and the Resident Evil homage character don’t really appear much here so there’s nothing to say about those guys. It would have been nice to see more of them I guess, but their romance plot seems like it would get very old very fast so maybe this is for the best.

Meanwhile Vanellope is still the best character in the film. She was looking out for Ralph which is why she was trying to break the news in a gentle way. Too bad she didn’t realize her phone was off. Reminds me of the recent apple glitch where someone could call your phone through face time and hear you even if you had your phone off. If not for that then most of the trouble probably wouldn’t have been quite so bad. So it’s not her fault, it’s just the tech to blame. (And Ralph) The main new character here is Shank and naturally she does have a lot of scene stealing moments. She makes for a great rival/mentor character to Vanellope and that aids their scenes in being so great. You can’t race yourself after all. I was actually a bit surprised that she didn’t really get to do anything in the climax, but maybe they didn’t want her to steal the show.

The writing is definitely very good here with all of the references that are thrown in. I’m happy to report that I can basically recognize all of the references in this one involving the internet. Then you throw in the witty banter and you’re all set. The animation is pretty consistent with the first one. I wouldn’t really say that the animation has improved or gotten worse and as I enjoyed how the first film looked I definitely like this one as well. There were no corners cut in this movie’s production.

Make sure you stay after the credits since we do get two extra moments. The first one’s kind of “eh” but the second one’s definitely real solid. Get ready for a blast from the past that you won’t soon forget. It’s easy to see why this certain reference has stayed popular for so long. It’s just dynamite and that’s why it shall never go away.

Overall, Ralph Breaks The Internet is definitely a very solid follow up to the original. I do prefer the classic, but there’s not a lot separating these two. They’re pretty much equal in terms of quality and that’s good since it shows that there was clearly some quality effort put behind this film. I’d certainly recommend checking it out. One thing to keep in mind is that they do play a short clip of “Let It Go” which instantly elevates the movie as well. If they ever do come up with a third film I’ll definitely be hyped to see it. I do think this one should spend more time in the actual games though. The best parts of the film are always when they’re inside some kind of game.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Wreck-It Ralph Review


It’s time to look at a Disney film that came out a while ago. 2012 feels pretty recent at times, but it has been 7 years since then so I think we can say that this film is starting to get old. Still, it’s a title that definitely holds up quite well on the re-watch. There’s only one aspect of the film that’s a bit weak and I’ll touch on that near the end. Otherwise it manages to hit all the right notes and naturally it’s fun to have so many cool cameos.

The plot follows a guy named Ralph. He’s the main villain in the Fix It Felix arcade game that people go to the arcade to play. It turns out that all of the arcade games actually have real characters in them and they all hang out after the arcade closes. The problem here is the fact that nobody likes Ralph. They don’t realize that without him there would be no game. Ralph’s a nice guy and tries to get along with the others, but they just won’t have it. They tell him to go get a medal and then they’ll finally treat him with respect. Ralph agrees to these terms and heads off, but getting a medal may be tougher than it seems.

You’ll definitely feel bad for Ralph since the whole thing is definitely pretty unfair. He’s got to follow the game script after all and that’s how Felix is able to fix his way to the end. it’s definitely petty that nobody tries to help Ralph out. Even Felix certainly isn’t heroic with how he completely ignores Ralph’s plight. Even by the end it’s hard to take him seriously as a hero, but I suppose he learned his lesson.

One really solid part of the film is naturally the fact that they were able to get a bunch of video game icons to show up here. We don’t get Mario, but pretty much everyone else from Sonic to Pac-Man is in this one which is pretty cool. Keep in mind that these are just cameos so don’t start getting your hopes up for them to get a bunch of lines or anything like that. That’s not the point of the movie although I admit it would have been awesome if that did happen. The film would have instantly risen even higher had that been the case.

Another reason why the film is solid is the fast paced nature of the title. A lot happens during the adventure so the film never stagnates. Ralph’s quest is always evolving as he tries to get the medal and everyone stands in his way. He’s also a pretty solid lead who can hold his own feature. He’s certainly sympathetic and for the most part Ralph makes the right calls. I do think he was way too quick to bust up her vehicle though. That definitely wasn’t a cool move on his part even if he thought it was for the right reasons. Then we have his counterpart Felix who isn’t a good character. Felix may believe that he is a true hero, but as he never risks his life for the others I just can’t call him that. He doesn’t keep his head in the game either as he gets distracted by Tamora real quick.

That leads us to the only weak point of the film. Naturally I’m talking about the rushed romance between Tamora and Felix. That plot really didn’t need to happen and it’s a shame because Tamora had been so solid before that. It just seemed like a waste for her development as it also made her move on from the original wedding too soon. Ignoring the Felix stuff though she was definitely good. Tamora took down quite a lot of the bugs and showed why she is a capable leader. Then rounding off the main supporting cast we have Vanellope who is the best character in the film. It’s easy to see why she is a fan favorite as the girl never gives up. She is always ready to try again until she is able to achieve her dream of getting in the big race. Her quick wit also makes for a lot of fun dialogue.

In general the writing for the film was definitely on point. We have a lot of good one liners and solid banter between the characters. We also have good foreshadowing for the final boss of the film. It was definitely good to see this character show up and it’s still a very satisfying twist when you already know about it. It just makes this character get even better. While Wreck-It Ralph isn’t an action film we do get a final fight with the villain and Ralph. Lets just say that strength isn’t always enough to overcome an opponent.

It’s a short sequence, but I’d say my favorite part of the film is the action level in a Hero’s Duty. I think a whole film could easily take place here and it would work really well. The setting and plot are perfect for an epic adventure. It’s like Halo meets Metroid. It’s too bad that Ralph wasn’t quite ready for this one, but coming from a very tame Nintendo type adventure it makes sense that he wouldn’t be able to immediately run in and start blasting aliens. I think he’d do better in the sequel if he gets in the same situation.

The animation here is pretty solid. They did a good job of keeping the video game aesthetic for the characters. In particular Sonic stands out, but I also really liked the effects for the Hero’s Duty game. It definitely felt very intense and was a nice contrast to the Sugar Rush game that most of the film took place in. The film’s definitely got no complaints from me in that regard. Again, the only real weak point of the film was the romance. Additionally, maybe I’d say that there was some forced drama at the end with Ralph getting tricked by the villains. I think he could have talked things over with Vanellope a little bit better.

Overall, This was and still is a pretty fun film. I’d recommend checking it out. It’s definitely quite a bit different from the average animated film and you’ll enjoy it whether you’re a big video game fan or not. The games here are so iconic that you’ll likely have heard of them whether you’ve actually been to an arcade or not. It’ll be interesting to see how the sequel goes. I feel like it won’t be able to beat the first film, but I really don’t know almost anything about the sequel so it’s hard to say. I’ll be seeing it very soon so you can expect a review for that one within the next few days.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review


It’s time to look at the second Fantastic Beasts film. I’m really still not sold on this series. Try as it might, this title just isn’t nearly as fun or interesting as Harry Potter. I can’t think of a single way in which it matches up. The title doesn’t even make any big mistakes like animal violence or being super violent. There isn’t even any fanservice to speak of. The main problem with Fantastic Beasts is just the fact that there currently aren’t any real likable characters. Everyone’s just fairly annoying and so without anyone to root for the film becomes less engaging than it should be.

The film starts off with a flashback as Grindlewald escapes confinement along with one of his henchman and begins to amass his army of followers. We cut to the present where Newt refuses to join the Wizarding army and has his VISA denied. He makes contact with Dumbledore who tells the kid that he must do one of two things. He needs to either take down Grindlewald (HA!) or he can find Credence and prevent him from turning to the dark side. Newt agrees to do this, but quickly gets sidetracked by a romance plot involving Jacob and Queenie which takes up a large chunk of the film. Meanwhile Grindlewald has to get Credence to he can destroy Dumbledore. To accomplish this he prepares to unleash some spectacles on the world which will wow the people with low will power to his side.

Quickly we’re gonna jump way out of order and talk about the ending. The film had the perfect chance to salvage the whole 2 hour experience with a single line. Grindlewald is explaining to one character what his true name. The final line of the film should have been “I now dub you…VOLDEMORT!!!” and then have the film end with an extremely loud guitar solo followed by some fast paced rock music. The revelation would have shocked everyone to the core because of how little sense it would make but it would have been absolutely amazing. I would have gained so much respect for the film. It would have finally tied into Harry Potter.

See, that’s one of the big problems here. This spinoff is like Attack of Titan Before The Fall. It really has almost nothing to do with the real series. Sure, Dumbledore is here and Nagini finally gets to appear, but their roles are pretty small so far and it’s not like they were huge characters in the main series. I want to see Harry or Snape! Too bad the prequel takes place so far in the past right? So, really the prequels need to try and develop their own series so they can be a solid entry in their own right without tying into the present. the problem is that the story’s just not interesting.

It’s a shame because at the same time I do appreciate the ambitious nature of the film. It may sound contradictory, but I think the overall plan for the film wasn’t bad, it’s just that the execution was painful. This film is clearly trying to throw in a bunch of plot threads which will all get wrapped up in the future. It can work out really well like in the old Spider-Man comics where at one point you had almost 10 different subplots going on in the background. When handled right it makes each issue a whole lot more exciting or in this case it would help the future films. There would be so many characters running around in the background that it would keep you really hyped. The problem is that this only works if you really enjoy the characters or find the plots engaging which is what the film fails to do. It’s more focused on the plot than the characters and you gotta have both. I do think huge fans of the Harry Potter lore may still be excited about all this, but it really wasn’t doing much for me.

The Ministry of Magic is really stuffy and antiquated. There’s no reason to root for them because their rules aren’t very sound. They are determined to keep the magic and human worlds separated to keep the balance so it’s no wonder why people are betraying them. They are trying to rule over everyone and that never goes well. All they do is hold each other back like when they shackled Dumbledore. The cabinet leader admitted that the principal was the only one who stood a chance against Grindlewald and even then he did this. The group makes no sense so I agree with Newt on not joining them. Still, they are the lesser of two evils so lets keep that in mind.

Then we have DUMBledore. All right, maybe not all of this is his fault, but we can blame him for quite a lot. That bloodpact he made a long time ago is really causing him trouble here. Even if he can’t attack Grindlewald directly he can still attack his troops. After all, Grindlewald has absolutely had no problems attacking Newt and every other hero here. Seems to me like Dumbledore is hiding when everyone was counting on him the most. He gets a tremendous amount of hype here, but he has yet to do anything of note. All he does is teleport and run around a lot. He also needed help getting the cuffs off. At this point in his career Gandalf had done more to prove himself so Dumbledore better shape up.

As for Newt, I still don’t like the guy. He’s constantly acting petty and being a downer in every single situation. He never explains himself and always has a sulking expression on his face. The guy’s too timid to be the lead and his magic skills don’t seem terribly advanced. He seems like a nice enough guy, but someone who should really be a member of the supporting cast and not trying to be Harry’s successor. Tina is the main heroine (Well, debateably. In the first film it was unquestionably her, but her role is reduced here) and she is a lot more interesting. At least she is actually being very pro active in trying to stop the villains even if her progress is quite slow like the others.

Then you have Jacob who gets mind controlled in his first scene. Don’t worry, he’s not being used as a hostage or anything, but he might as well be since he was nearly forced into marriage. By the time the spell breaks he tries to recover, but I think he could have been a little stricter with Queenie about not doing that again. He’s just not safe as she can dominate his mind at any point. Meanwhile, Queenie makes no sense here. Why show up at Newt’s place when he would obviously know that a spell was active? She should have gotten married first if she actually wanted to get away with the plan. She also has low will power and makes all of the worst decisions in the film. She definitely had a very different character arc than what I was expecting. It’s handled pretty well, but there’s no way I’ll be a fan of hers after this.

Then we have another plot with Credence and Nagini. Credence is one of those characters that everyone is hunting for different reasons. That can go down an interesting path of course as it’s always interesting seeing what side the character will choose. Unfortunately Credence has about as much agency as a pawn in Chess and just goes where the flashy colors are. In this case they belonged to Grindlewald so that’s it for him. He seems like the type of character who will be manipulated with ease. Nagini’s certainly a lot more interesting although I can see this being the start point for her descent into darkness.

Then we have the main villain Grindlewald himself. The film sets him up as being the big villain right away as even children aren’t safe from his terrors. He’s certainly got big goals, but is taking his time in going about them. Since he’s apparently the strongest sorcerer out there I’d like to see him make some more direct moves soon. I know that with magic there are a lot of convoluted reasons on why they must wait, but he needs to take the stage more. Just look at the climax. He murdered a bunch of spell casters with ease just with a single spell. He nearly took down all of Paris! If it’s that easy he should just keep blasting away. I get the feeling that he’s going to have some pretty big fights coming up.

The effects here definitely look really good. The magic spells are on point and the aerial fight with the lightning bolts coming down was definitely handled really well. More fights like that and the film definitely would have went up. The movie is at its best when we’re getting magical battles like that. Unfortunately they are few and far between. It does show the potential of the series though as we could potentially get more moments like that which would be very cool. It’s definitely jumped up visually from the last film. That’s a good thing since the average scenery in this film isn’t all that fun to look at. It does take place in the 1970s I believe though so that’s likely intentional. The effects are what you’ll be looking forward to.

Overall, I would have liked the film to have had some court scenes given that the title is literally referencing Grindelwald’s crimes. Instead he doesn’t do a whole lot after he escapes. The big climax at the end is pretty great and certainly the best part of the film. The characters all have to make a choice and it does set the stage for the third film to be the big payoff moment for a lot of characters. At the same time, this title really dragged its feet the whole time and still hasn’t given us a reason to root for most of the cast. I dare say that most of the Harry Potter characters had more personality after 1 film than these guys have after 2. I’ll stop comparing the two titles now, but Fantastic Beasts really needs to step it up. The review probably sounds pretty negative, but I’d still give this one a positive score. It just feels like empty world building right now and so there’s very low replay value. It still makes for a good initial watch though. I’d recommend checking it out if you like fantasy titles or are a big Harry Potter fan. That’ll let you really get the most enjoyment out of this title.

Overall 6/10