7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Mask of Zorro Review


It’s time to look at a modern interpretation of a pretty old hero. I’m pretty sure just about everyone knows who Zorro is even if they haven’t actually watched a film with him. I don’t know the character too well aside from the general premise myself but he’s definitely got quite a history under his belt. The movie does a pretty good job of adapting the character. While not perfect you’ll stay entertained throughout the adventure.

The movie starts off with the best scene in the film as Zorro rescues a few people from being executed and takes on a whole army. It’s vintage Zorro as he mocks his opponents and displays his amazing fencing skills. After injuring the leader Rafael, Zorro heads home and decides to retire. His retirement is short lived as Rafael shows up and murders Zorro’s wife before imprisoning Zorro for 20 years. 20 years later Zorro is ready to get revenge but his daughter Elena has been tricked into thinking she is now Rafael’s daughter. Zorro will need to think carefully about how he get his revenge.

Meanwhile we cut to Alejandro who was one of the kids who saved Zorro’s life back in the day. He has spent the last 20 years roaming with his brother and another guy as they rob people and have a jolly old time. One day Alejandro’s two traveling companions are murdered by Harrison, a general working for Rafael. Alejandro wants revenge but he doesn’t have the skills to do so. Zorro decides to train Alejandro so that guy can become the new Zorro and deal with Harrison while Zorro gets his revenge. The two heroes prepare to attack the villains but they are heavily outnumbered. They are going to need to have a proper plan in order to win.

The film is a full 2 hours which is good because it gives us time to get introduced to the various characters. Alejandro gets a pretty good training arc as he goes from not being able to fight to being the best fighter in town. While it may seem a little fast we do get a few minor time skips so I think it took place over the course of a few months or something like that. His first outing as Zorro actually goes really well all things considered. It’s clear that he is not on the same level as the original but he can still hold his own really well.

The fight scenes are all about proper fencing and footwork which is nice to see. You don’t really see a lot of these kinds of fights anymore. It’s certainly not quite as dynamic or striking as a classic sword fight but the footwork is what makes these battles fun to watch. Fencing certainly seems pretty tricky and you have to be quite athletic to pull the fighting style off. Otherwise you are liable to get stabbed or hit with a sucker punch while fighting. A lot of the time Zorro has to fend off numerous opponents at once which is definitely not easy.

The whole chivalrous aspect of fencing can be a bit much though. There are a bunch of times when the heroes could take the win but they choose to give the villain his weapon back so they can have a proper fight. I understand not murdering the guys since they aim to be heroes, but at least disarm him and break the weapon or throw it away. By leaving the villains with their weapons it always comes back to bite the heroes. This happens quite often and so you feel like Zorro will definitely push his luck too far eventually.

Zorro makes for a good main character during the intro. I’d actually say that he’s a far better lead than Alejandro so it was too bad that we didn’t get to see him in his prime for a longer period of time. He’s a decent mentor type character as well but not quite as exciting. I still hold that the opening fight scene was the best moment in the film. Meanwhile Rafael is a solid main villain. He can actually fight really well which is definitely important and his plan is pretty solid. The guy is cunning and very good at manipulating others. He made for a very solid rival to Zorro.

Elena is a solid heroine as well. She is trying to do her best to shun her royal upbringing and defend the common people. This plot isn’t looked at all too closely so we don’t really get to see her do this but at least she is not corrupt unlike the others. Meanwhile she also knows how to fight quite well. While perhaps not on the level as Zorro she is shown to be very good. I’d like to see her fight a little more in the sequel since she has been training ever since she was a kid. The other villain in the film is Harrison. His skills are mainly with a gun although at the end he is also quite good with a rapier. Alejandro is lucky that this guy didn’t want to actually use his gun in the fight because then that would have certainly been game over for the new Zorro. Harrison was a fun villain to have around. I liked his confidence and he did seem to figure out Zorro’s identity pretty quickly.

Finally we have Alejandro who is really the main character of the film. He wants to avenge his brother but is also calm enough to accept training first. He is a good lead who is eager to learn so I can’t really fault him there. The guy means well and by the end he is instrumental in saving the day while the old Zorro was content to be on the sidelines. Alejandro just seems more heroic by the end which is a little surprising. I doubt fans of the original Zorro will be happy about that part.

The weak part of the film is unsurprisingly the romance. It’s all a bit quick and considering how many times Alejandro is forced to put Elena on the spot you can’t see why she would still want to be with him for at least a while. It’s all an act of course but it’s hard to forget being put on the spot in front of such a huge gathering. The scene of Elena fighting Zorro was also suspect. While the actual fight scene was real good Zorro definitely got a little too familiar all things considered. While she didn’t end up having a problem with it that’s another scene that is really stretching things. The film could probably have jumped up another star if we had just left the romance alone.

Overall, I enjoyed the Mask of Zorro. It’s a pretty good revenge story that doesn’t go out of its way to be too gritty. It has a lot of the classic charm you’d expect from the series while still maintaining a good amount of stakes. It’s a good blend of humor and action with the fight scenes holding up quite nicely. If you want a nice old school action film then this is a good one to check out. It hits the right notes and does a nice job of continuing the legacy of Zorro.

Overall 7/10

Manga

Kingdom Hearts III


It’s finally time to take a look at the latest manga adaption of the Kingdom Hearts series. It was definitely a fun game/end to the saga so it should be quite solid as a manga as well. I’ll have a review for this series up once I’ve finished it.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Dragon Quest Monsters+ Review


It’s time to look at my first ever Dragon Quest manga. Dragon Quest is a pretty huge franchise so it’s certainly nice to finally get a glimpse at it. I do own one or two of the games, but I haven’t had a chance to play them yet. The series always looks like a lot of fun with a colorful cast of characters and excellent gameplay. This one does a good job of getting in what appear to be the main mechanics while also introducing a lot of characters. Towards the end the series really starts to change gears before ending quite abruptly. I feel like it must have been cancelled.

The series starts by introducing us to Terry. He is the world’s greatest Monster Master which is effectively what they call heroes nowadays. He conquered evil and became the best, but one day he vanishes. His main monster was Slib who ended up staying behind. This takes us to our new main character, Kleo. Kleo lives in the human world and has always longed for adventure. Well, he gets his chance when a monster summons him to Dragon Quest world. He is quickly given the task of locating Terry and saving the dragon world. It won’t be easy but Kleo will find new monsters along the way and gain new strength. This will be key because if someone was actually able to defeat Terry then this won’t be an easy foe to take down.

First off I’ll say that what Dragon Quest really succeeds in is building a pretty big universe. The series is only 5 volumes long, but there’s a lot of content here. What the series takes advantage of is how big the overall franchise is. It borderline becomes a crossover by the end as you see characters from the various games show up to help. I mentioned earlier that the series changes gears and this is what I mean. At first it is all about Kleo and his quest on being a monster master, but this changes around volume 3. Then the focus shifts more to the old heroes as they fight an evil from the past. We see all of the old leads, get some big hand to hand fights, and it’s all pretty awesome. I gotta admit that I didn’t really miss Kleo at this point.

Kleo gets written out for quite a while but the other heroes handle the story so well that you barely notice. It also feels like a crossover when a hero teams up with Kleo. They may be from the same world but it feels like they’re on completely different dimensions with various rules of combat. If I could compare it to something it would be Tsubasa since that series mixes people from different realities. Had the series kept going then we could have really run with this concept a little more. It would have been a lot of fun, but as it stands at least these 5 volumes are quite memorable.

Unfortunately the series does slip a bit with the ending. There isn’t an ending. Now, I do like a good cliffhanger ending. I actually prefer for a series to end with a hype cliffhanger than to have everything wrapped up because this way there is always room for a sequel and you can rely on your headcanon to fill in the blanks. The problem here is that the ending is just a non ending which is different from a cliffhanger. There was a big rematch/battle that was hyped up all the way from the first volume and it never came to pass. The villain only appears for a panel or two at the end which really feels like a big shame. I can’t help but feel that something was supposed to happen but never did.

We get an epilogue what if story that has more time warps and alternate reality fighters running around, but it’s not nearly as satisfying. It’s similar to how in End Game the Avengers fight a different Thanos. It’s just not the same guy so it’s not as satisfying a victory. I wanted Kleo to have his proper fight and it just didn’t go that way. Perhaps this series will get a sequel some day although I don’t see that being too likely. You never really know I guess and that’s what you have to bank on.

The artwork is pretty solid. It’s got a nice DBZ effect and since some of the designs are made to be like Dragon Ball it works pretty well. The action scenes are on point and these guys feel pretty high tier towards the end. The larger spells are certainly a force to be reckoned with and the villains even get some super forms. You won’t have a problem blasting through the series as everything is pretty clear and never too cluttered.

Unfortunately the series does have a bit of fanservice randomly added in during the end. One character is always teasing Kleo but it never goes very far at all so I wouldn’t even count that. The only bit is naturally a hot springs scene was included and it’s a little more in depth than I would have expected. Fortunately that is really the only time it occurs but it was quite forced and didn’t need to actually occur in the series. Had we gotten more scenes like that then it would have definitely taken a higher toll on the series.

Now lets take a look at the characters. First up is Kleo who is basically your average kid. He’s always wanted to be a hero and now he has gotten his chance. He always wanted to fight monsters mano a mano but that’s just not the way that it works in this world. Gradually he understands how he is expected to fight here and does a pretty good job of it. I don’t expect he will leave a big impression on you but he’s not bad. Kleo does use more and more strategy by the end and his bonds with his monsters are why he is so powerful. I expect had the series gone on longer he would have gotten even better.

Then you have Slib who is never lacking in confidence. It’s a pretty rough road for him since he used to fight with Terry who was the champ so Kleo initially felt like a downgrade to him. Gradually they got used to each other though. While Slib may be a pretty proud monster, he always makes the right decision in the end. His training also made him even more powerful DBZ style as it even came with a humanoid super form. The banter between Kleo and Slib was always fun.

Then there is Terry who was my favorite character in the series although he lost a lot of ground after the big reveal in volume 2. Basically his mind wasn’t strong enough to stay on the light side and so he got persuaded to join the monsters. We never get to see a whole lot from his side so ideally there was more to it than that, but we’ll never really know. It just makes Terry look very weak. It’s not like he’s taking orders from anyone at least. Even by the end Terry seems like the strongest character in the series but I really would have liked for him to have stayed as the ultimate hero. Even if he was defeated it would have been a very powerful moment. The idea of the ultimate hero losing and a new generation having to step in is always a good one. I guess I can’t say that the series dropped the ball here since it’s the whole premise, but I think the series would have been even better had it not gone this route.

Laran is the main hero who appears for a good chunk of the series. There was actually a hero who appeared earlier and also had a good role, but Laran is the one who ends the series off. Interestingly they work under the old rules too so if they die then they re-spawn somewhere else. While that does lower the danger for them, they still don’t want to die because they they’re leaving the town defenseless. The heroes can never lower their guard and Laran ultimately has to team up with a lot of heroes to take down the final villain. I would have been cool with Laran being the main character for the whole series. There was a lot of potential here and he was just fun.

Maruma is a heroine who shows up later in the series. She was on the villain side, but never even really knew why she was. Maruma is eventually shown the light, but she can be a bit too trusting. Since she doesn’t do much until the final volume there isn’t a lot of time for her to get a role, but she’s solid. Maruma is the kind of character where the template is good and you more or less know how her character would go even if we didn’t see it. Her array of monsters was certainly impressive and one of the strongest groups we got to see.

Pazuzu and the Demon Lord were the two big monster villains. Both of them got sizable roles and definitely gave the heroes a run for their money. In the end Pazuzu was the most impressive one though. Like the various heroes Pazuzu was able to keep coming back to life over and over again which takes real skill. He went through a lot of super forms in order to keep testing the heroes limits and had a solid design. Now this was the kind of guy who could strike fear into the heroes and I’d expect no less from the series.


Overall, Dragon Quest Monsters+ is a pretty ambitious manga title. It feels like the big Dragon Quest crossover that I’ve been waiting for. With so many games it makes sense to have a crossover title like Fire Emblem Warriors. I believe Dragon Quest did get its own beat em up like that so now we have a crossover in the games as well as in the manga. Not to worry though, you can read this one with no prior knowledge of Dragon Quest and still understand what is happening. After all, that’s exactly what I did and it worked out quite well I must say. There are a lot of loose ends you’ll notice in the series like various monster hunters appearing and never getting to do much. I stand by my theory that the series was cancelled. Even though the ideas may not have finished being executed, it was still a really solid ride and I’d recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

Manga

Spider-Man: Fake Red


This Spider-Man series is off to a solid start. The general premise of Spider-Man vanishing and someone having to take over for him is pretty interesting. I look forward to seeing where it goes and hopefully the series lasts for a long while. I’ll have a review up for it when the series finishes.

Overall 7/10

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

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 7 Doomed Review


Time for some more team ups with the good ole Mystery Inc and some more DC heroes. The series has done a good job of grabbing so many DC characters. We’re 7 volumes in and still seeing new fighters. While you may be skeptical as to how the Mystery Inc will actually be of help, typically they are really here as distractions. Think of them as extra shields to buy the heroes an extra second. Usually that’s all the extra time that the hero needs.

One of the stories has the heroes head to the swamp where they meet up with another one of Shaggy’s relatives. They’re here to look into the Voodoo Woman so they can put the swamp at ease. They have to stop her meddling, but unfortunately she already has a whole bunch of zombies at her beck and call. The only being who can really help them out of this dilemma is the legendary Swamp Thing, but will he really be able to defend against such a powerful villain? Interestingly this comic also squeezes in Solomon Grundy towards the end although he is definitely way out of his league this time. Typically I would actually pick him to win, but in this comic Swamp Thing had the edge from start to finish. There was never any doubt as to how this would end.

It’s a pretty nice comic. It’s always good to see Swamp Thing getting some time to shine after all. The comic also poked fun as how the heroes have also defeated Swampthing in another issue. The space in between the words is the key to really knowing who you are dealing with. This is an example of an issue where the Scooby gang doesn’t really get to do much though. Mostly they just run away from the Voodoo Woman a lot or they’re in awe of how strong Swamp Thing is.

Another comic features the Doom Patrol and this was actually my favorite issue of the bunch. The team is bickering as usual, but the strange part is there enemy seems to keep changing form. At one point a whole group of enemies show up, but they all seem to be ghosts. This is a case for the Scooby Doo gang. There’s definitely a trick involved and they’ll have to figure it out fast. The Doom Patrol was always a fun X-Men sort of group but with a lot more in-fighting. I also like how their leader has a lot of weapons ready inside of his wheelchair. Honestly it’s just the smart thing to do when you’re the leader of a super hero team. This way at least you can defend yourself right? This story has so much action it feels like a real Doom Patrol story with the Scooby Doo gang just guest starring in it. It’s handled really well.

Another story featured Supergirl as she called the gang in to help her deal with the ghosts of her parents. She was quite serious too as she even told them her secret identity which was a bold move. The heroes know something is wrong because the parents keep calling her Supergirl rather than Kara or her kryptonian name. That seems like a scam and of course the heroes are right. I would have liked a more powerful Supergirl villain to have been the main villain here, but it does help reinforce the mystery element of the issue. Supergirl could have looked better here as she spends most of the issue getting outsmarted, but she did call in the crew to handle the mysteries so in a way she won the fight before it even started.

There’s a subplot with her cat and Scooby not getting along, but it doesn’t hold up as well as the main one. The cat is just annoying and Scooby really isn’t much better so they both end up being guilty in this one. The whole temporary superpowers for a few minutes thing is pretty fun even if the time range isn’t nearly long enough to be all that useful. By the time you are really getting into a rhythm you would be taken down for the count.

In our next adventure we’ve got the return of the Blue Falcon. The issue here is that he has been acting awfully shady the last few days. His dog sidekick asks the Mystery Inc for help on figuring out just what is going wrong. Unfortunately they all fall for one of those classic net traps and find out that the real Blue Falcon was actually taken down by one of his old cronies who is now impersonating him. Can the heroes stop this guy or is it already too late? It goes without saying that Blue Falcon doesn’t look good here. He went down off screen and apparently he is so nondescript that someone can easily change places with him and nobody can tell the difference. He’s clearly got a ways to go before he is known as one of the big leaguers. It’s a good comic, but a little less eventful than some of the others. It was nice to see the characters constantly taking shots at him by saying that he was copying Batman though.

My least favorite issue was the one with all of the apes. Basically it’s an ensemble cast with a bunch of DC monkey themed characters. It’s a pretty impressive bunch as they even got some I didn’t recognize like the guy in a cage who can switch minds with an ape. What hurts this one is that I don’t even like a lot of them. Gorilla Grodd and Detective Chimp just aren’t my cup of tea. I also have to question why the Mystery Inc was really called in. They try explaining that it’s because one of the gorillas is a vampire Nazi so that’s like a ghost, but is it really? If I were the mystery inc I would still be questioning that. This is way out of their power levels. Still a good issue, but it wasn’t quite as strong as the others. Also the ending doesn’t really make sense.

So as I mentioned the main guy can switch minds with a gorilla and it is through his amulet/ring of sorts. He somehow manages to switch places with Titano at one point, but how? Unless his powers work differently than how I had interpreted them he would have needed to get the ring on the other ape and I just don’t see how he could have had time to do that. It would have been too difficult and he was out of range. That part just stuck out at me and I read it twice, but still couldn’t put that chain of events together.

In the next story the heroes are confronted with a bunch of powerful spirits. Dr. Fate sends them to the past so the heroes can find a way to deal with them, but it means that they will have to survive some world war II adventures as they try to find the answers. This means that the old school version of the Justice League shows up. Green Lantern’s weakness to wood is still a huge liability to deal with but the others manage to pick up the slack. The solution to stopping the demons ends up being incredibly simple, but I suppose that’s why it was hard to note it. This was definitely one of the strongest stories. It was nice seeing all of the heroes and everyone got to contribute in some way or form.

Finally we have a team up with Penelope Pitstop. I’m not familiar with her character but her gimmick seems to be that she gets kidnapped a lot. As a result there are a bunch of mini mobsters who look after her as well as a real estate agent of sorts. The Mystery Inc are called in to help her as well but with this many bodyguards nobody is sure who should take point so there is a lot of in-fighting. The Mystery Inc needs to figure out who is planning to kidnap Penelope before it is too late. The clock is ticking.

This is definitely the most mystery focused out of all the stories and I dare say that the Mystery Inc is at their best here. They get to do some old fashioned detective work here and they aren’t out shadowed by the other heroes. This time they can actually hold their own since they are in their own element and it ends up working out quite well for them. Penelope is definitely the most obscure of the characters we’ve seen, but in some ways that helps with the mystery since I wasn’t as familiar with her supporting cast. I definitely won’t be forgetting this adventure anytime soon though so it’ll be fun to see if she appears somewhere else in the near future.

As always the artwork here is pretty solid. The characters all look like themselves and the fights can take themselves seriously when necessary. The colors pop out and it’s clear that the artist was putting a lot of effort into the drawings. It just looks really good and it manages to be colorful/vibrant while keeping the serious tone for the heroes’ side of things. I’ve definitely got to give the comic a thumbs up here.

Overall, Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 7 is yet another strong installment in the series. By this point you should definitely know if you’ll like it or not. It’s a steady formula that the series has going on in these adventures and it’s one that works quite well. The Mystery Inc are here for the humor as they get chased and one upped by all of the villains while the DC Heroes come in with a lot of confidence and save the day. That’s exactly how it should be and this works out quite well. The art is good as always so these volumes just go by in a flash. I look forward to seeing who the heroes get to team up with next.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Love Bug Review


It’s time to look at a film with a car that is actually sentient. I’ve seen a few films with a similar premise but they tend to all be horror titles. This film looks at what would happen if the car was actually quite wholesome. The film definitely hits some bumps in the road, but overall it’s a pretty fun adventure that will grab your attention more than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ever did.

The film starts with our lead Jim losing yet another race. He used to be a big race car driver but is now considered to be washed up. Jim tried to deny this but is slowly losing confidence. That’s when he has a fateful encounter with a car at a very pricey shop. The hero can’t afford this car but it shows up at his door the next day which does lead to the police getting involved. One thing leads to another and Jim uses the car on the track. He is finally winning again but is it his skills or the car’s?

Now the idea of a car being alive is pretty far fetched so you may cut the guy some slack for not believing that he is real…at first. The problem here is that Herbie proves himself many times with airtight maneuvers. Jim is pretty sure of himself with the whole “science can explain anything” routine but Herbie is too over the top for that to be true. I guess Tennessee’s plan backfires here as he should have let Herbie go wild after the upgrade to really prove that there was more to him than meets the eye. Even so, you’d think Jim would notice that the car was controlling the speed and always suddenly breaking records at the last second. Jim was nice to the car at first and then ditched him at the first possible moment.

It definitely makes Jim hard to root for and he goes from being a pretty reasonable main character to practically being an antagonist by the end. It may be a bit much to call him a villain here, but you’ll miss how he looks early on talking tough to corporate. His window shopping scene may have been foreshadowing for his character’s fall though.

The film is pretty long though and you could say that we get two full acts here. The bridge scene actually felt like the climax but really it was just the halfway point. The rest of the film is a very long cross country race as the heroes try to defend their honor and take home the gold. They all look quite terrible here though. For starters they somehow didn’t think to watch the car before the race. By this point they had already been duped and sabotaged several times so what’s the deal here? The villains had time to slash the tires, empty the fuel line, and substitute their extra tank with water. I dare say that the main characters deserved to lose after such a showing.

They basically left Herbie out to dry by not protecting him. We’ve also got the coffee scene where Tennessee allows the villain to walk in and pour a ton of coffee and whip cream into the car. Fortunately it lived through this but there shouldn’t have been this many close calls. If not for the sponsor looking out for them with his crew it really would have been game over at this point.

Herbie also seems to get nerfed towards the end of the film as somehow the main villain’s normal car is able to keep up. Keep in mind that Herbie was cartoon levels of fast in the beginning of the movie and that was part of the whole point of the film. Herbie is alive so he’s the fastest car around. I guess t just goes to show that a modern car can still keep up with a sentient one but I was surprised at how he kept getting passed over and over again during the race. He would get bumped off the road, lose a tire, etc.

I do gotta give the main villain Peter some props here because he’s a very solid character. His plans to get Herbie are really solid and the guy never gives up. He has plan after plan. Ultimately Peter is a businessman and just wants to be rich and famous. What adds an extra layer to his character here is the fact that he is a race car driver. He doesn’t mind getting up close to the action and putting his life on the line to win. Now that’s a solid villain right there.

The heroine Carole is also pretty solid. She doesn’t put up with Jim’s nonsense in the beginning as she turns him down at every corner and also does her best to prove that Herbie is a solid car. She worked hard to build up her professional reputation and wasn’t going to let some random joe get in the way of that. We get quite a few yelling scenes between the two characters and ultimately she definitely shows quite a lot of spirit. Carole’s also a talented mechanic and helps out when Peter tries his sabotage.

The writing is pretty solid here. The banter is great as always with just about all of the characters being extremely confident. Aside from the main hero and villain both constantly having a smirk at the ready and yelling out their sides in the debate, you’ve even got a cop running around with the same energy. He’s extremely sarcastic to the main character right away to the point where you have to assume that they’ve had some previous history. The scene is rather bizarre otherwise.

Overall, The Love Bug is an entertaining film. A talking car will never not be cheesy in this kind of context but it’s nice to have one on your side. It’s a shame that it can’t talk because that would make it a lot easier for the characters to actually establish a dialogue with it but I guess things would be too easy for them that way. If you haven’t seen this film yet then it’s a good one to check out. Watch the villain steal the show here.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Pokemon The Power of Us: Zeraora’s Story Review


Time to look at another Pokemon one shot manga. This one’s a lot more recent than the Giratina one I checked out last time. It’s also a lot thinner as this is basically a mini manga so it goes by in a flash. That being said, it’s actually considerably better and one of the best one shot Pokemon manga that I’ve read. Surprisingly it beats Giratina in every aspect. I also have to give this volume some kudos in the art. The simple style actually ended up working really well for the fights.

The volume starts off with Ash running into town and bumping into the mayor’s daughter. The two of them head over to the nearby lab and put on some VR goggles so they can learn about Zeraora’s origin. It seems like the Pokemon was born out of a thunder storm and then he decided to protect all the nearby Pokemon. Unfortunately poachers show up so Zeraora has to stay sharp and keep on fighting. It feels like people are always trying to fight this guy. You can see how the volume is pretty short though because the whole volume is basically the professor showing them the story and then they go home. Interestingly the manga ends with a preview which basically recaps the first few pages almost word for word but with a few changes.

Back to the volume though, Zeraora is a fun Pokemon. He clearly loves to fight as seen by his smirk after being attacked. I’m also glad to see him actually take a hit and keep on going. It’s always sad when a Legendary Pokemon gets wrecked by random poachers or gets caught in a cage. None of that was happening to Zeraora. He took down all challengers and I dare say that he had the upper hand against Lugia as well. That fight was the highlight of the volume, but admittedly it was Zeraora’s fault. Lugia just came in to get rid of the fire. Zeraora blamed him for not coming sooner, but that’s hardly Lugia’s fault. The Pokemon can’t be everywhere and at least he saved some people.

It would have not been good if Elekid had perished, but fortunately the manga didn’t go down that route. That would have gotten a bit dicey if you ask me. With Elekid safe then we could really enjoy the fight. This is where I have to go back and talk about the art. The fights are very smooth here. It actually seems like a similar style to Bleach where you feel the impact beyond every hit. The characters may look a bit chibi at times, but it’s worth it for the action scenes. It’s really going for the opposite of Pokemon Adventures. That series has a ton of detail and epic fights. It works really well, but the same can be said for the flip side where this one is really focusing on the hits. This doesn’t feel like a cash-in level of art, but that of a real title.

If there are any negatives here it’s just in how short the volume is. Hopefully the going price would be a little lower to compensate. So long as that is the case then there are really no negatives to be found here. The manga has a direct plot and goes about it with no delays or distractions. You don’t need to stretch out the volume just to pad out the pages. This one just gets right down to business and it’s also probably Lugia’s best showing. It may be a little sad that we don’t get to see Ash fight, but he got his match in the actual movie. This is really Zeraora’s time to impress us and he was quite impressive. I’d take him over quite a few Legendaries. He may not be as intimidating as some of them, but his speed and power are still forces to be reckoned with.

Overall, If this had been the plot of the actual movie then things would have been quite different. This would make for an excellent TV special so I hope it is animated in some way or form. If you watched the movie then this is a must read to really see more of Zeraora’s character. He may be a little too quick to jump into a fight and doesn’t have the cool head that you’d want your ally to have, but his heart’s in the right place. At least he’s actively protecting Pokemon from poachers since the Officer Jenny’s of the world don’t seem to be around when you need them. It’s still really something to see how many poachers exist in the Pokemon world. Throw in Team Rocket and all the other teams and the world is actually quite dangerous. Hopefully Ash and friends are ready for them, but with Pikachu at his side I suppose I don’t even need to wonder. I hope that whoever the artist of this was gets another chance at more Pokemon manga in the future.

Overall 8/10

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