Invisible Woman Review

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It’s time to look at an old sequel. Everyone knows about the Invisible Man, but who knows about the Invisible Woman? The film seems to have fallen under the radar although I can see why. It’s not exactly a masterpiece and can be rather forgettable but at the same time I thought it was decently fun. The film goes by quickly and there’s not too much to dislike here. Granted, the characters can be annoying which I guess it fairly major, but they’re not extremely bad or anything like that.

The film starts off with a crazed scientist finally coming up with a good invention. He can now make people invisible. His benefactor, Mr. Russell isn’t too pleased with Gibbs for wasting money on such an experiment but the old man is sure it will work. He writes an ad in the paper but since he isn’t willing to pay the test subject only one letter comes through. Kitty is willing to take the serum as there’s a lot she can do with being invisible. Then scientist agrees, but only barely because he tries to stay away from girls. The experiment is a success but instead of waiting for Russell to come in Kitty decides to get revenge on her boss. A lot of shenanigans occur but then a gang breaks in and they decide to kidnap Gibbs. Can the Invisible Woman save him or are they all doomed?

The gang is honestly very out of place here. The whole film is really a light hearted comedy with Kitty just having fun with her powers. As such, the villains are about as serious as the kidnappers in every Air Bud movie. They aren’t exactly a threat and we even get a long scene where Kitty knocks out every member. Being invisible is honestly an incredible ability to have for every day life and you would be almost unstoppable in many situations. The villains are even driven to tears at times. Given that they are used for comedy I suppose they weren’t that bad, but I was still surprised when they showed up at all. It’s not like they really affected the outcome much at all.

Kitty was a fun lead though even if she was a little too rebellious at times. She makes sure to drink as lot even when keeping a low profile and should probably be a little more harsh with the professor if she wants to stay consistent. She did a decent job of getting back at the boss even if she may have let him off a little easy there. At least he did have a change of heart so she certainly made the working environment a lot better for the rest of the models. It does seem like a pretty bad job though so they should probably just have left a long time ago.

Gibbs may be a scientist but he isn’t very smart. He doesn’t realize when villains are around and holds a grudge even when you save his life. He’s exactly the kind of ingrate you would typically want to avoid to be honest and I never felt sympathetic to him. Sure, Russell doesn’t believe him, but I wouldn’t either since this guy has apparently been wasting money for many years. We can’t forget that little detail and have the guy slip it under the rug. He better product results and until then it makes sense that his funding is cut. Russell went from being rich to apparently having no money now.

Of course, I won’t bring out the violin for him either. Apparently he’s one of those guys who plays the field and goes for a lot of rebounds. A bunch of characters sued him for a bunch of things and apparently they keep winning since he’s losing money. He never seems like a particularly great guy. The banter between him and Kitty is all right at best, but it’s a little generic and doesn’t make him any better. After all, Russell is insulting her looks just so he can goad her into becoming visible again. The film didn’t go for any easy pitfalls like having her appear at inconvenient times at least. That would probably happen if this film were newer so it’s another good reason to stay retro.

When you think about it, not a lot happens in the film though. Act 1 is just Kitty messing with everyone, then the villains arrive and she beats them up. The film is over an hour, but it doesn’t feel like that. Of course, this is a good thing since it means the pacing was on point and the movie never dragged on but at the same time you could also make the argument that most of the film could be cut out and nothing would actually change. That’s just how it goes I guess, at least she didn’t go crazy like the last Invisible Man though. She kept her sanity through and through.

One thing I’d do to improve the film would be to have a few scenes of Kitty messing with Russell. She scares the boss and spooks Russell’s assistant but she never actually gets him. Knocking him out or giving him a startle would at least give her a leg to stand on during their verbal confrontations. Meanwhile, I forgot to mention the butler. I thought he was a well written character and easily the most likable character in the film. He gives Russell some good advice and while he is always retiring you can tell that the guy really wants to be helpful. He does his best to always be there for Russell during the tough times. A fun ending would have for him to have become rich by placing some stocks in the right place or something and then leaving on a high note where Russell and Gibbs wonder where they went wrong. A sequel could then be about them turning to a life of crime with the invisibility serum.

Overall, The film is a little generic and doesn’t do anything noteworthy, but it doesn’t really do anything wrong either. The writing isn’t particularly good and the characters can be one dimensional, but they are still working with a good script. Cutting out the villains may be a good idea, but they didn’t really hurt anything either. If you’re looking for a fun film where the heroine gets to use some super powers and overall look more impressive than the main guy this is a good film to check out. Especially since the guy doesn’t even seem like nice person. Just don’t go in expecting a serious film, that’d be your first mistake.

Overall 6/10

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Magic Kaito

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I’ve finally started the Detective Conan spinoff, Magic Kaito. This series follows the adventures of the mysterious Kaito Kid, except he isn’t as mysterious as he seems. I never cared all that much for him, but he’s actually a pretty bad character here. Still, the art is pretty solid and I’m hoping for some Conan appearances. It’s off to a decent start though and the fact that there are people here with actual powers is interesting. I’ll give it a review when the series finishes.

Overall 7/10

The Powerpuff Girls HIM and Seek Review

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The Powerpuff Girls is one of those franchises that was a little before my time but it certainly looked like a lot of fun. The style of the show also gives the series a lot of potential for games. I’m pretty interested in trying out the GameCube title but I figured I’d settle for the GBA one this time around since the big game slot was already filled for Christmas. The title basically spoils the final twist of the game but I suppose by then you’ve already played through the game so it barely matters right? It’s a decently fun game but one that is extremely short and just couldn’t live up to its full potential.

The game starts with the girls hanging out at school. Their teacher tells the class that they will have a Scavenger Hunt and whoever collects the most items gets a gold trophy. The heroes are hyped about this and begin collecting while thwarting the many thugs who hang around the school. Can the team save the world and their school reputation or have they finally bitten off more than can chew? One thing’s for sure, you’ll find out very quickly.

The game is only about an hour long. You can certainly complete the game in less time than that if you hurry. It took me around an hour, maybe a few minutes longer so I fit into the curve. That’s definitely a very short game by any stretch of the imagination. This is a big part as to why I can’t give the game a full 7 Stars. It’s over in the blink of an eye so no matter how fun it may be, it’s still an issue. I gave Sonic Forces a lot of heat and that game was at least 3 times longer. Sure, this is a gba game but even then you definitely expect a little more to be honest.

So the gameplay is akin to your typical side scroller. Think Teen Titans as opposed to Mario though. You fly around and beat all of the thugs up. You can fly up and down as well as left and right. Just bumping into an object that is in the list will allow you to obtain it. Every area has at least two story objects to find and they typically have collectibles for others as well. Talking to the people around town will get you the rest. The collection aspect is fun enough and as a kid I probably would have tried to 100% this game since is seems like it would take a reasonable amount of time to do. Seeing the characters get the Gold Trophy is sure to be satisfying.

Some of the bosses can provide a reasonable challenge if you just have one Powerpuff Girl left but this is nullified by the fact that you instantly respawn with all 3 members back to start the fight, it makes any battle trivial in the end since you effectively have 3 health bars at this point. I would definitely give the gameplay a pass. It’s pretty easy to pick up and play while still remaining enjoyable. It feels retro and nostalgic in a good way. That’s why it’s a shame that the game is so short. There’s a lot of potential here and you could draw some similarities to the Legacy of Goku series. Of course, that series also has a great level up system and solid transformations so it’s not as if this game was ever going to pass that one. Still, it’s worth thinking about.

The only issue I’d have with the gameplay here is that it was hard to navigate around town at times. There is a map of the various areas but it wasn’t created with a lot of thought behind if and doesn’t even show you the exits that lead to the various places. Even with the NPCs trying to be helpful you are likely going to waste a little time going from place to place. It’s sort of like Breath of the Wild where you can’t run for very long so prepare for a lot of “walking” (slow flight)

The graphics are okay. The Powerpuff Girl designs are on point and they did a good job of recreating the city. It actually holds up pretty well in this regard. Unfortunately the music is less inspired. There aren’t really any memorable tunes. The only music that will really get you going is the game’s opening with is basically the opening from the show, but abridged. I would have liked more cutscenes but at least we did get illustrations for the big bosses so I guess we take those.

Overall, Him & Seek is a fairly decent game. There aren’t a whole lot of scavenger hunt games so it was pretty unique. Nostalgic Powerpuff Girl fans will definitely get a kick out of this game as well. It’s a solid title that I would recommend but you definitely need to be aware of how short the game is before you agree to purchase it. It’s a single hour long so unless you find a great price it’s not worth spending a lot of money on. Even this review was short as a result since there’s not a whole lot to talk about here. There are plenty of other games that you could buy which would give you far more entertainment. That’s why my recommendation is rather half hearted as you could certainly buy other titles that handle the genre more effectively.

Overall 6/10

The Incredible Shrinking Man Review

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It’s time for a classic film that I’m sure everyone has heard of at some point or another. It’s a concept that is always fun to play around with as shrinking makes the world look even bigger. Honestly it’s not a super power that I would ever want to have because it just wouldn’t be as fun as the others. Being able to make snow would be far superior if you ask me and that’s something that I could get behind. Still, it’s not as if the lead asks for this ability in the film but he takes it so poorly that you have to wonder if this character was ever good to begin with. The film plays it off as if this ability slowly makes him grow worse and worse as a person, but really it just brought his true self out into the light.

So, the plot starts with Scott and his wife Louise on a boat. They are on vacation, but Scott is as annoying as always and just wants to get drunk on as many beers as he can handle. Vacation ruined, they prepare to head back home when a UFO whizzes past them and blasts Scott with a bunch of radioactive material. He shrugs it off, but gradually notices that he is getting shorter. At first everyone denies it and cites crazy theories that you just shrink by a noticeable amount during the day so it’s all legit. After this is impossible to deny, the doctors work around the clock to create a cure while Scott decides to take out his frustration out on Louise. Will she trap him in a jar so that he can’t hurt anyone anymore or will the scientists have to give him a fake antidote to buy some time? A lot of tough decisions are on the table.

The premise has potential even if it’s not a whole lot of potential. It could be a reasonably fun comedy like Honey I Shrunk The Kids or something. Instead, this film decides to play it straight and is so serious that it is borderline grim at times. Scott becomes such a villain in the film that he yells at his wife, stabs the cat, and even destroys a spider. If I said he was beyond redemption at this point it would be an understatement. I couldn’t stand his character by the end and he already showed signs of being bad from the start with how he ordered Louise to get him a beer. When she denied this he played it off as a joke but this guy is definitely a bad apple. Did I mention how he also starts getting ready to cheat on Louise with someone from the circus but his plans are dashed when he shrinks again? That’s just the kind of guy he is and it’s unfortunate since Louise is such a good, loyal person. She definitely deserved better than what she got in this film.

Naturally none of these scenes are any fun to watch. Scott is basically acting like a bully only there isn’t anyone around to notice and call him out on it. Louise decides to just take it because she hopes he will be better soon. Although in my head canon I like to think that she purposefully let the cat inside and then shut the door to teach Scott a lesson. I was rooting for the cat by the way. Fortunately the cat doesn’t die or get seriously injured but the film was definitely stressful for those scenes. Still, Scott later murders the spider in graphic detail which sent the film that had already jumped over the shark all the way over the cliff. It was game over. Game Set and Match. There was just no hope left for it. Mixing in animal violence is always a way to sour any recipe and this film is no exception.

There just isn’t anything good about this film. Scott and Louise are basically the only two characters in the film. It feels rather low budget which would explain the small cast. Scott’s brother (in law? I forgot if they mentioned this or not) shows up once or twice to point out that Scott is acting petty and he should try getting some money for this. Scott denies because he just wants to see the world burn and in exchange the brother almost steps on him a few times by the end. The human interactions in these old films are usually the good parts, but it’s just hard to enjoy them. This is what a bad main character can do. He can wreck the rest of the movie just on account of how insufferable he is.

The only positive thing I can say about the film is the ending. Granted, it’s because the ending has Scott get destroyed by his own ego as he shrinks away into nothingness, but I’ll accept that. Scott couldn’t be left alive by the end of the film. A life taken is a life lost after all so since he took down the spider I’m glad that the universe placed the scales back in order. We can’t let reckless villains like Scott do whatever they want. I have higher hopes for another installment in the franchise since Scott would no longer be around.

What another film should play up more is the media angle. I want to see how the rest of the world handles this. There’s a lot of potential there as there always is when something supernatural happens in an otherwise ordinary world. I’d also like to see the main character get adjusted to his new situation and make the best of it. Moping for a little can be all right, but there has to come a time where you just make the best of it. Make a film like that and it could actually end up being quality confirmed. This goes without saying, but no animal violence either of course.

Overall, in case you didn’t guess, I didn’t like Scott. He’s absolutely terrible and the same can be said for this film. He just makes every scene around him worse and I already said that so lets keep it moving. The animal violence didn’t help matters and you’ll just struggle to get through this movie. I highly recommend staying far away from this film. The only thing it’s good at is winning Razzi awards and as much as I would like to vote for this one, I probably couldn’t depending on what the competition is. Either way, if you want a film about someone who shrinks, check out Ant Man. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that movie either, but it’s still considerably better than this one.

Overall 2/10

Elf Review

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It’s time for a Christmas film that I’ve known about for a long time but never got around to watching before. Elf’s premise just isn’t my cup of tea but of course the film can get around that if the execution is good enough. It’s definitely well known and I will definitely admit that the film has its moments. I don’t think I would call it one of the all time Christmas greats or anything but it is decently good all the same. I’d be interested in a prequel about the pony riders who show up near the climax. Those guys were some of the best characters in the film.

So the film is about a human who was taken by Santa accidentally around Christmas. As a result he was brought to the North Pole and tricked into thinking that he was an elf. Buddy never realized the truth which worked very well for the system. However, Buddy was no good at any of the tasks and one day he overheard some gossip that he isn’t a real elf. Buddy decides to go back to New York to find his father. Despite being warned that his father isn’t the nicest guy, Buddy appears to be shocked by this in every scene. What can he do to make everyone nice again?

As you can probably tell, the main annoying thing here is Buddy himself. The guy is just very slow on the uptake and seriously cannot take a hint. His naivety is taken to the maximum possible extreme as you would think he is an alien. He has no manners when eating which leads to a bunch of crude humor. He also has no common sense such as eating dirty gum and arguing with his supervisor over minor things. He is definitely a character who has not heard the phrase, “Don’t Rock The Boat.” Buddy is supposed to be endearing and likable but that part never actually happens. He just stays annoying the whole time. There’s a clear line between the two and it was crossed consistently.

I don’t really care for the trope of the super naive character who just doesn’t understand anything. A character like Drax The Destroyer who takes everything literally is one example or Starfire from Teen Titans. Typically it’s a plot that is used when an alien comes to Earth or when a kid is raised in the jungle all his life and as a result he doesn’t really know anything about human interactions. Yet another example of this trope is when a genius character knows everything except common sense. The irony is supposed to be humorous but that flops as well. Naturally since the whole film is based around Buddy that ends up limiting its potential. At least the supporting cast is good though.

Walter is Buddy’s father and right now he is a very successful business man. Honestly he doesn’t even seem like a terrible guy. He does take some short cuts in his book publishing which is sleazy but no too over the top. In theory it just won’t sell well because word of mouth will let the consumers know not to buy it. It’s not a trick you can get away with twice. Beyond that Walter is just consumed with work and keeps it as top priority. At least he doesn’t seem like he’s mad with power at home. In one scene he says that maybe his wife Jovie should stay home to look after Buddy but she just declines and comes up with another plan. Clearly she is not going to get pushed around by him. Josie isn’t even upset at Walter compared to Jingle All The Way where the main character also took work too seriously but everyone was mad at him for it. There is no bad blood between Walter and Jovie here and it’s a much better dynamic so both of these characters end up being really good. There are times you have to sympathize with Walter, like any moment Buddy is on screen. Buddy was actively sabotaging the job that Walter had worked so hard to obtain so it makes sense why he would be upset. If Buddy has acted even slightly normal then I don’t think Walter would have had a problem with him. It’s just all a matter of not going off the deep end.

Jovie did her best to welcome in Buddy and is a direct contrast to Walter. As explained, I don’t think it makes him a bad character though but she is certainly better equipped to handle the situation. At first you figure that she may get tired of his antics but she plays along and tries to convince Walter that her should help him out so he will lose his elf delusion. She even eats some spaghetti with syrup since Buddy made it so she wouldn’t hurt his feelings. She didn’t have to deal with him as much as Walter but you can be sure the film would have been a little different for Buddy if he had been looking to her for guidance.

Emily is the main heroine. She has been disillusioned with the world due to working retail which is as good a reason as any. She dislikes her job and seemingly isn’t following whatever career path she had hoped to be in. Fortunately for her, Buddy joins her job. Before he is fired, he convinced her to hope again and their really rushed romance kicks off. I can’t say I was a huge fan of her plot line and it doesn’t really make all that much sense. It all happens really fast and considering that Buddy acted completely crazy the whole time, it’s just intriguing at best. She’s not a bad character though although it’d be nice if she was a little happier at work. The boss seemed to enjoy his job so why couldn’t she?

Granted, the boss is the best character in the film so I’m setting the bar rather high here. The tackle he pulled off against the fake Santa was pretty intense and you were reminded that his guy could fight. Not to mention that he was one step ahead of corporate and was ready for their inside agent. He is just a quality character and someone who is not to be trifled with. I would have liked to have seen more screen time from this guy because he was just great. Finally we also have Michael, Buddy’s little brother. He likes being a rebel so when he finds out that Buddy doesn’t mind jumping on beds and messing up stores as well he tags him in. The two get along pretty well as a result and it’s a decent enough subplot. It never gets a lot of screen time or anything but from those scenes Michael seems like a reasonable enough character.

There are a few other characters like Santa Clause and Buddy’s adopted father but they don’t do a whole lot. From the minor characters it is clear that the Pony Riders are the best. They actually know that Santa is real unlike the common masses but actively try to hunt him down and eliminate the old man. You could say that this should power up Santa’s sleigh since it runs in belief but a handful of people won’t really make a big difference compared to the rest of the world not buying into it. I would have liked the film to have given these characters a little more screen time to be honest.

Overall, like all comedies Elf has some jokes that work and some that don’t. It’s an entertaining film from start to finish though and one that doesn’t drag on either. The supporting cast is solid and the film’s very upbeat which makes it a good film for Christmas. At the very least it’s one that will leave you feeling content. Buddy should have been toned down though as that would have made the whole film more enjoyable. He’s just so extreme that you certainly can’t sympathize with him and I feel like the film wasn’t intentionally trying to make him unlikable. If they were…then they succeeded. The romance is rather weak as well, but whenever Walter is on screen you know someone is going to get burned. I’d recommend checking it out at least once so you can add it to your collection of Christmas films that you’ve seen.

Overall 6/10

Black Clover

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Well, I have started the Black Clover anime alongside the Toonami viewers. It had a pretty solid start with the first episode. The animation and music appear to be on point and as the series goes on we should get many more fights and characters added to the mix. It’ll be a while before this series finishes, but I shall have a review up when it does.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon Sun and Moon: Battle for the Z Ring Review

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It’s time to look at the next installment in the Pokémon Sun and Moon season. The first one was a reasonable start to the quasi reboot and this one is actually an improvement as we get our first serious island challenge which is basically just a gym battle. It’s not exactly Kanto just yet but it still makes for a decent volume nonetheless. Hopefully the series can keep up the momentum.

Ash wants to obtain a new Z crystal since his last one broke when he fought the island guardian. The local professor tells him how he can get another one and the answer is that he must beat the human guardian. Ash goes over there to fight but the guardian tells him that he has to solve the island’s rat problem first. A bunch of Pokémon are blocking the way and making a nuisance of themselves so Ash has to go to a cave and defeat some powerful Pokémon so he can team up with them and save the day. Can Ash win all of his matches in this volume?

The local head tries to tell Ash that battling isn’t always the answer and that’s the point of the trial. However, combat was the answer to winning and saving the island so I found that whole part ironic. Perhaps it was intentional but it’s hard to say. What makes this volume better than the last one is definitely all of the battles. Ash has to face off against at least 3 different opponents and he does a good job against all of them. Ash actually uses some strategy and while he seems to be a newbie at life (Forgetting basic Pokémon) at least he is quickly becoming a better trainer. Seeing him defeat the leader and use Pikachu’s new attack was definitely great. The series seems to be hinting that Ash will get a new attack for each type which will be pretty interesting. He will probably pick the thunder move but I personally found this one to be a lot more impressive. It’s essentially quick attack but even faster which will be great for overwhelming opponents. Maybe Ash will choose this one though, that’d be cool. It was also nostalgic seeing Hariyama again since that Pokémon is pretty cool. I love the design and he always struck me as one of the stringer fighting types. I think I’ll always have a lot of nostalgia for the first 3 generations.

Ash is surprisingly on his own for most of the volume as the friends just don’t get much screen time. They appear for a brief instant to remind Ash that he’s being petty about the cat stealing his food and also give him an idea about saving the island. I suppose their role was important after all even if it was so small. Aside from the big battle plot, the first few chapters were about Ash and Litikitty. That was definitely the weaker part of the volume. It wasn’t bad or anything but it definitely wasn’t as exciting as the action part.

Pikachu looks really good which is always a plus in my book. I’ve said this a million times over the years but at this point he should easily be level 100 so I don’t want to see him losing against anyone. Pikachu should be able to claim victory no matter the opponent. That’s just how it should be. Ash will need more Pokémon though as Rowlett just isn’t an amazing backup. He’s not really much of a fighter and constantly falling asleep isn’t doing him any favors either. Once Ash has a team of 6 then he will really be set.

Overall, I’d say that the books are doing a good job of adapting the episodes. The book is quite small so the author does a good job of not overdoing it with the details so we can still cover a lot of ground. These little books are always a good format for such adaptions and while you know that it’s definitely not going to make it all the way, hopefully we get a lot of volumes before it finishes. That’s the dream at any rate. I wonder when the next big Totem Battle (I think that’s the correct term) will be. I stopped following the anime early on so I can’t say that I know much of the specifics aside from big moments like Brock and Misty showing up. As long as we get battles like this every volume, the series should continue to go smoothly.

Overall 7/10

Accel World Review

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Accel World has always been a series with a good premise. A fighting game with total VR is always something that I like to see and the combat designs are on point. However, The main character often holds the series back with how bad he is and that is likely always going to happen no matter the medium. Well, the manga decides to play out like an abridged version of the manga. It adapts a book, skips a book, adapts, etc. I can understand why they would skip an arc that was already animated and all but as a result the manga ends with an arc that doesn’t really have any fights. Ah well, it’s still a decent adaptation.

The series follows a kid named Haruyuki. He is down on his luck as everyone bullies him. He has two friends, Taku and Chiyu. The dynamic between the three of them has grown awkward as the other two got together. Fortunately for Haru it appears that Taku is evil so Haru will now be able to beat him up. Haruyuki also befriends the school club president Kuroyukihime who introduces him to the real vr game known as Brain Burst. Essentially you fight other players to get points and level up. With these points you can stop time in the real world and use it in all sorts of ways to get through life. The downside is that the pain you feel in the game is very real and you may be targeted in the real world by other players. Will Haruyuki be able to get through all of this or is it over for him?

Accel World does a good job of not feeling like a cash in when it comes to the art at least. It looks pretty sharp and the character designs are on point. The fight scenes look good as well so there was definitely some real effort put into it. It’s not even a case of the series starting out rocky and then hitting its stride as the first fights in volume 1 already look good. At most, the humans can look a little chibi at first, but the designs look more like the anime by the end. It naturally can’t look quite as impressive as the anime which really takes advantage of Silver Crow’s flight speed and all of the energy effects going on but the manga does a really good job regardless.

Another thing in the manga’s favor is that it adapted the short story from one of the Accel World novels where Haruyuki gets to meet up with Kirito. Kirito is definitely the fighter that I would put my money on, but Haru does a good job of keeping the fight close. Seeing as how both series are still ongoing I would definitely be up for a full crossover arc that continues across both series. Even if it’s just one novel from each that would make for a pretty epic story. The crossover chapters were certainly very intense and did a good job of giving Kirito his due respect. I think we both know who would win this fight.

One of the negatives for the series is Haruyuki. He’s still as unlikable as ever to the point where you feel it’s intentional. Most main characters just stumble into awkward situations while Haruyuki actually tries for them. He really can’t handle talking to most of the supporting characters and gets intimidated by everyone. He let’s dark power consume him with ease. There aren’t really any redeemable qualities about him and it’s just tough to have a main character like that.

At least the supporting cast is better. While Taku starts off as a very iffy character and it’s hard to go back from that, at least he ends up being an interesting character. A shame that he is stuck in a very slow avatar that basically never gets to win an important fight. Chiyu is another of the main supporting characters and she is good although Chiyu can be iffy at times. She practically states that she only went with Taku so as not to break up the band and once they split she seems to be flirting with Haru at times. It may just be her chipper attitude mixed with Haru always acting in the worst way possible for each exchange but you can’t help but feel that she was never interested in Taku. I didn’t agree with most of her decisions in the arc that was skipped, but since it was skipped it doesn’t even matter all that much.

On that note, it makes sense that the manga would have to skip parts because the pacing can be rather slow. Not in a dragged out way, but the manga really wants to be as detailed as the anime so each chapter won’t adapt a whole lot. This is one of those series that works best when you marathon it in volume format. I can barely believe that it was 8 whole volumes as it just feels a lot shorter, but it has been a very long time since I started the series so I suppose it makes sense. By skipping around, the manga could still adapt later parts while giving the early ones a lot of screen time as well.
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Back to the characters. Kuroyukihime is a solid character and I’d say that she is still the best character in the series. She also happens to be one of the very strongest as she is at Level 9 and just needs one more level up to clear the game. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Her Black Lotus avatar is definitely a really cool one and at the moment she has yet to lose a serious fight although we’ve seen a few opponents who could give her a run for her money. She definitely helps the series out quite a bit.

Scarlet Rain also has a decently large role in the series. She’s a good fighter but when pretending to be Haru’s sister you have to wonder if she could have come up with a better plan. That one is extremely risky and if it was any other character who was a bit smarter it simply would have worked. The strategy probably would have worked just as well if she just cornered him after school and forced him into a battle. She was really just testing his combat abilities after all.

The Chrome Disaster armor/entity is as cool as ever. You definitely have to appreciate the design and since he works like a symbiotic it leaves a lot of potential for future arcs. I’d like to see him use the power more and try to master it since it would be really handy against the stronger villains in the series. It lets you use Override techniques a lot easier and can even heal so it doesn’t get much better than that.

The series does have a few hiccups as it falls into the trap of fan service. It’s not too excessive but present enough to be noted. What the series prefers to focus on is throwing Haruyuki in awkward positions that may not exactly be fan service moments but with his terrible reactions and everyone constantly flirting with him, it can be just as forced and unnecessary. Considering that Haruyuki seems to want to be with Kuroyukihime, you’d think that he could control his thoughts better with the others, but he just isn’t quite that good.

As the manga ends early you can’t help but think that we never really got to get to the “good” part. Not necessarily stuff from the novels but imagining that this manga wasn’t based on anything you would have to assume that these early volumes were building up to the 5 Kings actually appearing and Haruyuki eventually getting to fight them. A high level battle of that caliber would definitely be a blast to watch. There’s just so much left to do when the series ends but at least it’s not as if the title is only 3-4 volumes. 8’s not a bad number to end on and the series certainly still got to do a lot. I’m sure to an extent it’s not like the author had much of a choice on where to end it.

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Overall, Accel World is a good action manga. The fights are good and the art also holds up well. It suffers from some fan service issues and an iffy main character which holds it back from being a considerably better title. It’s not a very long series so you’ll be through it pretty quick but it’ll be a fun read nonetheless. The ending may not feel too epic or climactic but that’s basically because the series had to come to an abrupt end. The author still did a good job of picking a decent place to end for those who don’t like cliffhangers. I would have liked it to end in the middle of a fight with the tag line “Read the book to find out what happens” myself but it is what it is. So I’d lightly recommend the title. I’d certainly be interested in seeing what someone who has not read the novels or seen the anime would think about it. It may feel pretty random but it’s still an action title so as long as you get engaged into the story then you’ll be fine. Who knows, maybe it’ll end up getting another manga series if we ever get another season or the light novels really take off in America.

Overall 7/10

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist Review

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It’s time to check out another Home Alone film. This one is actually the final installment in the franchise which is actually a pretty big milestone if you think about it. The series has come a long way and had its ups and downs in the process. This film’s decently good and I’d probably put it in the middle of the series. I really can’t say exactly where it is as my recollections on the earlier films aren’t great at times, but at the very least it isn’t as tragic or mean spirited as the last film. That one just ended on a really sour note.

So, the film starts off by introducing us to Finn and the gang. He’s a nice enough kid, but is completely hooked on video games and doesn’t like to go through the motions of attending parties just to adjust to social norms. I can roll with him on this one since just playing video games and eating are really some of the most fun things to do on the holidays. His sister Alexis feels the same way, but only because she is in her rebellious phase and doesn’t want to be seen with her parents. She just wants to listen to her music and go to the mall. Their Mom decides to teach them a lesson by…letting them stay home and have a blast while she and her husband go to a very boring party with a bunch of strangers that they don’t know. I think we can all agree who won out here.

In the Mom’s defense, she took Finn’s game controller so he can’t have any fun. He leaves Alexis her phone though so she gets the sweet end of the deal. The plan is wrecked when Finn finds another controller. This is either a huge plot hole as Finn had another controller and didn’t remember or it was actually a present that he opened during his roughhousing. In which case, I can’t blame the Mom for not assuming that he would find that. What are the odds right? Unfortunately, the new house that the kids live in actually houses a priceless artifact worth almost 1 million dollars and a trio of villains have decided to nab it. Alexis gets locked in the basement with the artifact so it’s all up to Finn now. Does he have the skills for this or is he going to have to call in his online gamer friend?

You’ll notice right away that the gadgets and gizmos that Finn invents aren’t quite as out there as some of the earlier ones. I’m not going to say that they’re realistic either, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction. They also aren’t as over the top painful looking as some of the earlier ones either. It’s a pretty nice balance if you ask me. The humor also doesn’t get all that gross or iffy during the movie. We do have Finn throwing rocks at someone in a way that makes the villain think something iffy is happening which is the furthest the film will go in that direction. So, on the whole the film stays fairly classy. Even the characters aren’t too exaggerated…for the most part.

Of the three villains, the worst is easily the Jessica with her relationship issues. Her main plot is that she wants to get back together with a guy who used to be part of the team but decided to leave. She’s always crying about it and while it’s not even supposed to be emotional…it wasn’t emotional. It was one of those plots that you could do without it. The 2nd crook was definitely the best one. The first two hired Hughes from Craig’s List because he has some nice credentials as a safe cracker. The problem is that he isn’t too bright and keeps nearly jeopardizing their mission by eating cookies and doing all kinds of things to blow their cover. Fortunately the main characters aside from Finn never seem to pick up on these things so it’s okay. I’ll also give him credit for doing a good job of making sure that he got paid extra once the ghosts were involved. Jessica had a pretty good line in the second half when she makes a Ghost Busters reference as well. Their team up by the end in forcing the main villain to renegotiate was smartly done.

Sinclair wasn’t all that great though. He has his wooden leg and stays serious throughout, but he just doesn’t have the same personality level as the new hire. That guy really went all out throughout. I suppose he did a good job of doing all that he could to get the painting though. The sob story behind it was interesting to say the least. There’s certainly nothing wrong with him and the guy was pretty passable. He fulfilled the role well enough even if the guy won’t be remembered for very long.

Finn was a good lead and probably one of the better kids. He seems a lot more reasonable than the protagonists before him even if he doesn’t seem to be as much of a genius. One big strike against him though is that he is scared of everything. He’s basically afraid of his own shadow and hides under the bed when trouble arises. You could make the strong case that pretty much the whole film is his fault although of course if he had not been around then the villains would have made off with the painting. It’s one of those cases of making the wrong call at the right time. Once he started applying video game logic to the real world he quickly improved. Finn also had a big line where he admitted that the only thing to fear in the house was himself.

Alexis is decent as well. She’s certainly a much nicer sibling compared to any of the previous ones. She basically let Finn do whatever he wanted when the parents were gone. Any of the older protagonists would have jumped at the opportunity. Of course, Finn wanted her to pay attention to him which was pretty selfish but she stayed firm. She was nice enough to make a deal with him though and was the only one who started to believe him in the middle about the ghosts. She was captured for a while, but did good during the climax.

The cast was just surprisingly solid in this film. Even the writing felt like a step up over some of the others. Home Alone is a film that just works really well when Christmas is around. The only supporting character who really failed aside from the girl crook was the kid next door. His humor was that he accepts whatever anyone else says at face value..which is nice…but I don’t think it works as well as the film seems to think. His snowball trap against the villain was also cheesy…even for this film. I don’t see a grown adult getting knocked out by a bunch of snowballs. Call me crazy, but I’m just not buying it one bit.

The gamer dude was pretty cool though. When he admitted that he was probably only going to be online for another 8-10 years, the statement was both tragic and realistic. If he never gets up from the video games and keeps up his unhealthy eating habits, then of course he isn’t going to last long. Still, he helped give Finn pointers and even got the parents involved when push came to shove. He was willing to go through any inconvenience if it meant helping Finn out. He did the gamer dudes proud and while at first you think he is just going to be an annoying character, he actually ends up being pretty good.

If there is a big scene that stretches disbelief though, it’s when the family comes back home and doesn’t notice that people were inside. Finn placed a sticker on the door that would rip if someone opened it…and it was ripped. You could make the case that it was wind, but since the house was closed that seems unlikely. Finn then points out that 2 Gingerbread Men are missing when they were there before leaving, but the Mom just suspects that he probably ate them in the sneak. Finn really did everything he could to prove that people were there, but even that didn’t work. I don’t know what else to tell him then since his plan was actually the best out of all the main characters. A shame that it didn’t work, but considering that his Dad also begins to get afraid of the dark and is terrified all night, I suppose it was all futile from the start.

On a last note, I should mention that the party in the mountains was just odd. They were going to be stranded there for days? Why was the party on the mountain anyway? The whole situation just seemed rather crazy and the Mom saying that he can fire her if he likes isn’t a great way to start your speech which involved insulting that person. It was definitely a strange state of affairs, but we needed some reason for the parents to be away from home and this works as well as any.

Overall, This Home Alone film was actually pretty good. It may not be amazing or anything like that, but I think it did really well considering the genres and what the film is trying to be. I won’t say that it takes this premise to its peak as you could definitely make it even better, but I was certainly satisfied through and through. The series got to end on a high note and that’s more than you can say for most. Whether you’ve seen the older films or not, I would definitely recommend checking this film out. I think you’ll be quite surprised after finishing it and if not…at least it’ll get you in the mood for Gingerbread cookies since they looked pretty crispy here.

Overall 7/10

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10