The Last Unicorn Review

The Last Unicorn is one of those films that sounds pretty intense right off the bat. Kind of reminds me of Pryzm the Dark Unicorn although the circumstances are pretty different. This is definitely a solid film that I would recommend. In general I would say the Unicorns look pretty bad here but I suppose the villains are just that tough. It’s definitely a film that has aged pretty well with the grand songs playing and the intense action sequences. It seems like this is a pretty easy movie to miss when going through all the classics but you’ll definitely owe it to yourself to check it out.

The movie starts with a Unicorn being told that she is the last of her kind. She refuses to believe this at first. After all, how would some random people know that the rest are gone? If anything then wouldn’t they have thought there were none left until they met her? There’s a little butterfly that flies around singing vague stuff so the Unicorn decides to check for herself. Unfortunately she is kidnapped by Fortuna and forced to be in an animal circus for misfits. She is freed by Schmendrick, a magician in training. They eventually add another comrade by the name of Molly. The Unicorn finds out that all of the Unicorns have been captured by King Haggard so she decides to free them. The tough part will be that he is guarded by the Red Bull, a being so powerful that even all of the Unicorns teaming up were unable to do much against him. This Unicorn is unsure that she will do much better either.

For most of the film this character is just known as the Unicorn. She gains a name once she is in her human form but for the review I’ll just stick to “Unicorn”. Unicorn doesn’t look great I have to say and I would not consider her to be one of the best characters here. Her goal is to save the Unicorns but her resolve quickly fades when the Red Bull shows up. She does not even try to fight him and immediately runs. Before she can be destroyed she is saved by Schmendrick but otherwise she would have been doomed right from the start. Not a great showing for a being who is supposed to be so incredibly powerful. Here’s another thing to think about while you’re at it. She was kidnapped by a second rate mage almost immediately. She could not break out of her cage.

So for the whole film I couldn’t buy into the Unicorn’s hype. She’s just not that powerful and it’s easy to see how the rest of her race all lost to a single bull. Then when she is saved at the cost of her immortality she is completely ungrateful. She pouts for a long time and then ultimately forgets her goals and fades even further. Even in her final confrontation she needs quite a lot of help to really push forward. She’s definitely got a full character arc here but it doesn’t really help her all that much. I was just not really a fan of hers and I would have gained a lot more respect if she had stuck to her goal of saving the Unicorns or just put up more of a fight. She basically lost every fight she was a part of.

Schmendrick is the other big character here as he keeps on working at his craft so that he can be a very powerful mage someday. He tries pretty hard and does come through when it counts. It’s pretty rough for him though since the others are always giving him a hard time and he has to do all of the difficult jobs. He’s a nice enough guy though and a decent supporting character. Molly’s another good comrade although her role is quite a bit smaller. She mainly serves as moral support for both the Unicorn and Schmendrick. Without her both of these characters would have given up at some point.

Then you have Lir who immediately falls for Unicorn while she’s in her human form. He means well even if the whole thing seemed futile for the most part. I can’t say I was a big fan of the romance but at least for Lir it’s not like he had a big master plan otherwise. In fact if Unicorn had told him about Haggard’s evil deeds and that he was threatening her I’m sure Lir would have stepped in. His best scene was at the end of the film when he asks for Schmendrick’s help in summoning and the guy says that it’s the hero’s job to help. Rather than point out that a mere human going up against a legendary monster made of fire is crazy, Lir just sucks it up and runs into the fight. He’s promptly taken out but the guy was brave to the end and did his best to protect the Unicorn. He went right into action there.

For the villains we’ve really got two main ones aside from the monster. The first villain to show up was Fortuna whose magical abilities are impressive. She is able to make very convincing illusions and her cages were sturdy enough where these creatures couldn’t break free so that’s not bad. She definitely had a pretty gruesome end though. Then you’ve got King Haggard who’s led a pretty successful criminal empire. He seems like the kind of villain who gets a bit overconfident though. Keep in mind that he could have ended things right away and the only reason the heroes were able to infiltrate so thoroughly was because he wanted to have some fun with them. He could have ended the Unicorn at any time which is saying something. He definitely runs a tight ship otherwise and is a pretty imposing villain.

Then you’ve got Red Bull who is the big monster taking everyone out. It’s a mindless monster that just seems to go after Unicorns automatically so if you shape shift then he’ll lose interest. I do question how he took all of the Unicorns down but if they lack courage the way the main one did then I suppose it may not have been too hard. I liked the design and the sheer ferociousness of the monster. Weakness against water is rough when the villain’s castle is built with a lake on all sides but it’s not like the Bull just disintegrates immediately or anything. If there were less opponents he probably still would have been able to claim the win.

The animation here is pretty smooth. It’s got that classic hand drawn feel which I always enjoy. The colors are sharp and I’d definitely be game with the company using this over the claymation/still motion techniques of the other titles. When in doubt always go with hand drawn and you can’t go wrong. The soundtrack is also on point here. There are quite a number of songs running around. While the quality may vary the best one is easily the Last Unicorn song. It’s pretty emotional and definitely makes the adventure feel pretty grand.

Overall, I would recommend checking out The Last Unicorn. It’s a pretty interesting film with a solid plot. It’s well balanced and has good pacing and writing to match. There’s really nothing bad to say about this film. I think it would have been even better with a different lead though. The Unicorn’s supreme confidence and attitude just wasn’t earned due to how weak she looked throughout the film. She really needed to get some wins or do something in the movie to show why the Unicorns are looked up to so much. We know that she has some magic so maybe just show us some of these offensive spells. Regardless, you do get to see Lir prove himself as a loyal hero always ready to defend the kingdom and his friends from evil.

Overall 7/10

Scooby Doo Return To Zombie Island Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

An American Tail Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Spring Breakdown Review

It’s time to look at the next big Equestria Girls special. One of the big things here was that the gang was finally going to head to Ponyville. Unfortunately this only happens for a few minutes so if you’re here for the crossover aspect then you probably won’t be too satisfied. It’s a solid adventure overall though and continues to show why Equestria Girls has been a solid spinoff. We don’t get any real fights here unfortunately but maybe next time.

The special starts with the gang going on a cruise to celebrate Spring Break. Twilight Sparkle is determined to make it a success, but unfortunately Rainbow Dash is making this difficult as she keeps looking for magical threats to stop. She believes that the main characters are destined to be fighting enemies forever, but the others don’t share this sentiment. Their patience grows thin as Rainbow keeps getting everyone in trouble and their vacation may be ruined at this rate. Still, what if Rainbow Dash is right and there is a threat over the horizon?

That’s the basic synopsis and as the special isn’t all that long you can pretty much glean all of the plot from this. Rainbow Dash’s antics are exaggerated a bit in order to move the plot. Still, I would say that she is the best character here aside from Sunset Shimmer. (Who is always the best anyway) Rainbow at least tries to prove that she is right and heads off for danger by her lonesome. She didn’t need to be so pushy, but at the end of the day that’s just her nature. You’ll feel bad for Twilight Sparkle here though since she’s trying her best to make this a success and it just isn’t working. She’s fairly low on confidence as it is so these events didn’t help.

Fortunately for everyone on board, Sunset Shimmer is on the case. She still isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and even Rainbow Dash gets her feelings hurt by Sunset’s direct nature. Sunset does take Twilight’s side initially but once the tables turn she is quick to help Rainbow out as well. She’s really the team leader here and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Her only dicey leadership move is when the gang heads to Ponyville and they chat with Princess Sparkle. Surely she would have remembered that the rest of the crew were still in danger right? This part is used for humor as the Mane 6 are panicking without their leader and the ship is sinking. It does further reinforce the point of how they’ve become so relient on Sunset to solve all of their problems. I could definitely see that being a plot for a special at some point down the line.

I will admit that Princess Sparkle doesn’t look so good here. As per usual she panics quite a bit even if it isn’t very warranted. Sure, the Storm King was kind of impressive for 5 minutes when he first appeared, but it’s just his leftover magic striking the ship. Since he isn’t there in person it’s hard to say that the gang was in serious trouble. If worst came to worst they could use their powers to do something. At least Rarity’s abilities would come in handy here since she can reflect things. Once they got to the island then they would have a bunch of other options.

For the other subplots, Rarity’s romance one is basically played for laughs so it wasn’t all that bad. Pinkie Pie trying to get her cake doesn’t work so well because she should have been able to snag it. I could do without Applejack getting sick since that tends to get old pretty quick. Fluttershy definitely has a rough time of it since the animals get scared off by Rainbow. It’s easy to see why they all got upset at Dash by the end. The only person Rainbow didn’t mess with was Sunset and you can probably guess why. Nobody messes with SS unless they want to get hurt. All of the plots were pretty entertaining. I could have used a bit more action, but no parts dragged on or anything so I’ll give the special some kudos there.

I think what would have taken this special to the next level would have been to have had Ponyville get more of a role. I’m still waiting for the big crossover battle where the Mane 6 take on the Mane 6 + Sunset. That would make for a fun special. Alas, with this generation coming to a close it is looking less and less likely. I suppose by having Rainbow Dash be obsessed with combat here it was the writers’ way of reminding us that we shouldn’t always go in expecting fights and such. We can dream though.

As always the animation is pretty solid. I can’t say that flash is the best style out there, but if you gotta go with flash then it’s not all that bad. At the very least the animations are always pretty smooth and easy to follow. It doesn’t really lend itself for fight scenes quite as well, but with none in sight here that isn’t exactly an issue. We only really get one song here, but it’s definitely a pretty solid one. It was nostalgic to see the group get back together as a band here.

Overall, Spring Breakdown is a solid special. It’s not nearly as ambitious as the movies, but does achieve what it set out to do with this special. It’s just a good excuse to see the gang again and watch them go on a trip. There may not be a whole lot of danger for the team to overcome, but the writing is on point and the special doesn’t really do anything wrong. I have no complaints so the special definitely ends up being pretty solid. I’d recommend it to all MLP fans as this could be one of the last times they ever get to see the Equestria Girls star in a special.

Overall 7/10

Lady and the Tramp Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 4/10

Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown Review

As you may remember from older Scooby Doo films and episodes, Shaggy has quite a large family. Many of his ancestors are famous for something or other. We deal with another one of them in this film so Shaggy has to man up and do the impossible. More on that in a second. It’s a pretty fun Scooby Doo film as you’d expect. By this point, you either like the format or you don’t. I still get a little irritated at how Shaggy and Scooby never get braver even if that is the point. Still, since this film is about Shaggy getting tough when necessary, it’s less of a problem than usual. If anything, I pin most of the blame on Scooby in this movie.

So, the gang heads to a ranch that is owned by Shaggy’s cousin. Unfortunately, Shaggy himself is given a rather poor reception as everyone either avoids him or gets terrified at the sight of the guy. While it’s true that Shaggy hasn’t shaved his hair in a while, he thinks this is a bit much. It turns out that Shaggy looks just like one of his ancestors who was a big outlaw who looks just like him. The outlaw’s ghost has been showing up around these parts as well to scare tourists. It’s getting out of hand and the ranch may be doomed. They need money and fast. Fortunately, there is a 10K prize pot for staying on a horse the longest. Shaggy figures he can win the money to save the ranch, but can he overcome his fears to do so? Also…what does the ghost have to say about all of this?

The plot twist about Shaggy’s ancestor is a little obvious. It turns out that he wasn’t actually a bad guy and he was just framed by the sheriff. I think that having him actually been evil would have been a pretty nice twist to be honest since they all tend to be good, but while it was pretty expected, that doesn’t make the twist bad. After all, the main part of the plot was in the present after all with Shaggy trying to prove his mettle once and for all.

His reasoning was morally dubious tough. Obviously, getting the money to save his cousin’s business was noble. That being said, he was confident that he could win because Scooby would talk to the horse ahead of time and tell it not to start jumping around. I’m pretty sure that this is totally CHEATING but hey…what do I know about horse racing? Fortunately, Scooby forgot to do this so Shaggy had to earn the win the hard way. He pulled it off though since he knew how large the stakes were. When the going gets tough, Shaggy manages to pull through and that helped him a lot in this film. I can safely say that he was likable here as a result..even if the scenes of him being scared are still a little too much.

As for Scooby, it’s a little hard to recover from this. He had one job, talk to the horse. Instead he decided to encourage a little kid who was scared of horses. It was a nice thing to do, but leaving Shaggy high and dry was not. I’m as a little disappointed in Scooby since you wouldn’t expect him to make a huge mistake like that most of the time. The rest of the Scooby gang didn’t get a particularly huge role this time around. Fred was great as always as he had the net at the ready and continues to be rather self aware. He’s by far the best character in the series. Daphne and Velma have their own sub plot as well as they do some sleuthing and the store owner is only willing to help Daphne. That seems to always happen, but Velma took it reasonably well and I’d say that she was decent here. Daphne was fine as always so Scooby is really the only bad character this time around.

I have to give the film some kudos for its climax. It almost felt like the film was going to be wrapped up a little too easily, but fortunately the film villains decided to make a break for it. Nothing quite as exciting as having the villains decide to run and giving us a nice chase scene. Shaggy actually chasing after the villains is definitely very novel and this really could be the first time where this ever happened. Seriously, for once nobody threatened Shaggy or forced him to do so. It was his own idea since he knew that if the villains got away it would be all over for the ranch. This is probably the most heroic that we’ve seen Shaggy yet. It was a solid way to end the film off.

The soundtrack is fairly decent. It’s mostly free domain stuff so it’s not very unique, but it works well enough for the scenes. The animation looks pretty crisp and Scooby Doo does get noticeably clearer as it goes on. It’s fairly subtle if you look at it film by film, but if you look at a film from a few years ago and skip to this one, then it’s a little more evident. It’s a simple look that is easy to look at and understand what is happening in a flash. I definitely appreciate the style. The series is very consistent when it comes to these technical areas.

If I have any complaints here, it’s that I want them to experiment with the opening credits more. For a while, the series had some really awesome opening credit themes and then they just stopped. I’m not sure why, perhaps fans didn’t like them, but I personally thought they were really fun. The intros used a lot of different animation styles and intense music to work as a backdrop for it. I miss those and hope to see them make a return.

Overall, This is a pretty good Scooby Doo film. It was nice to see Shaggy act tough as we don’t get that very often. Nothing will beat the time he broke into a bar and beat everyone up, but this will rank as one of his best appearances. It was a satisfying way for him to get some character development over the course of the film. Whether you’ve seen the last few Scooby Doo films or not, this is one that you’ll want to check out. It’s a fun film and it’s not even that long. It embraces its mystery/comedy set up without going overboard on each one. I guess you could argue that the actual mystery is less front and center here than usual as it’s more about the horse race and getting the money, but the mystery is still there. I recommend trying to guess who the culprit is after the first 30 minutes since that’s enough time to meet most of the suspects without getting too deep into the film. If you go deep enough, then it usually starts to get clearer and clearer who did the deed so it’s not as legitimate of a guess.

Overall 7/10

Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown Review

It’s time for another one of the Peanut films. This one introduces the bullies into the equation so the stakes are a lot higher than usual for Charlie and the gang. Unfortunately, they are what bring the special down quite a bit. It just doesn’t mesh well with the usual gimmicks like Charlie always losing because losing to a bully is a lot worse than just losing to yourself. It was fun seeing the gang in a new environment though and a change in scenery was definitely a smart move.

So, Charlie and friends head on over to camp to have a good time. Unfortunately, the other kids are all really mean so Charlie must stop them in the big events. He gets the help of the other kids, but it all comes down to the final water race anyway. With no supervision and a multiple day’s journey, it will be tough to stop the bullies. Charlie Brown will have to come up with an idea fast or face total and utter defeat. Ah well, nothing that he is not used to at this point.

Unfortunately, most of Charlie’s friends aren’t all that tough. Linus is the only one who would stand up to the bullies at all. It was definitely nice to see him chase them off with his blanket whip a few times, but the rest of the friends were just annoying. It’s fine when they’re messing with each other since they’re all friends, but it’s not quite as fun when it is t he bullies intimidating them. Charlie Brown and the others just aren’t brave enough for this kind of situation and they aren’t even athletic enough to do much in the competitions. True, the kids were cheating, but the heroes had about 3 days to win anyway while on the raft. Considering that they were up against the bullies, they shouldn’t have left their raft unsupervised either. It was just not a smart move on their part.

The best scene was definitely the climax when Snoopy got involved though. One thing that I miss about the 80’s, 90’s and earlier is that the heroes used to set the villain up for the punch. He/She would lift the chin up with one arm and then punch with the other. It made for a really clean hit with a lot of power behind it. Snoopy needed his revenge since he hadn’t done so well early on and the final punch was definitely epic. There is another gimmick that doesn’t work too well for me to be honest. Snoopy is always very scared at the beginning and only gets brave towards the end. I’d like to see Snoopy clean shop right from the start.

The animation and soundtrack are fairly standard for a Charlie Brown movie. If you like the animation of the others, then you’ll like this one as well. It certainly has a very retro vibe to it and works well enough for this style. I’d like to see a Charlie Brown special done by the animators of One Punch Man someday, but that probably won’t happen anytime soon. Ah well, it’s a fun idea to think about though, it’s got a lot of potential.

The main subplot here involves Peppermint Patty as she tries to get her group to stay democratic the whole time. This naturally gets a little dicey, but Patty has the overriding vote if need be so the rigged system can work to her advantage. It’s a cool subplot to have and I’m always up for adding some political elements to the movie. Patty’s group is forced to swallow their pride and have some of Charlie Brown’s food once things get desperate. Trust me, things are desperate when you have to go to Charlie Brown for help.

Charlie does a pretty good job here for the most part. He helps the team out a lot in the race and doesn’t panic too much when Snoopy is at the wheel. Charlie doesn’t take it very well either, but at least he was willing to get back on the motorcycle the second time. He may never get to win in the end or have a super happy ending, but at least he keeps his friends from being in last. The Peanut specials definitely aren’t the same without good ole Charlie.

Overall, This is still one of the weaker Charlie Brown movies, but it’s not bad. I’d just like to see the cast get a nice confidence boost so they can hold their own a little better. This film went a little overboard since the bullies could get away with excessive cheating the entire time and there was a lot of plot hax as well. They should have won since they had almost a full day’s lead at some point. I guess you could make the case that everyone was going the wrong way for a while though so nobody would really get any farther. Doesn’t make too much sense, but then again, the race doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think about it. This is the final Charlie Brown special that I’ve seen so far so it could be a while before the next one. I look forward to seeing what the gang has in store for me at that point.

Overall 5/10

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Review

The Grinch is a classic tale that many likely grew up with or have at least heard of. I remember singing the songs for Choir and the concept behind the Grinch is decent enough. That being said, I was disappointed upon actually watching the original film. It hasn’t stood the test of time and is easily one of the worst Christmas specials on the block. If the Grinch didn’t have a dog, things would be different, but it’s simply too overdone for the duration of the entire film even if the ending is inspirational.

The Grinch is a creature who lives in a cave, but can never sleep because the aliens who live below are constantly making a ruckus with their loud instruments. They find it enjoyable so it doesn’t matter how loud they play. To punish these creatures, the Grinch decides to destroy their Christmas by stealing all of their presents and Trees, but are gifts really the meaning of Christmas? The Grinch is about to find out that material possessions aren’t enough to cancel such a joyous day.

This special is very short and is only about as long as your average cartoon episode. The Grinch goes around stealing everything until the end of the film where he realizes that it was all meaningless and turns over a new leaf. I have nothing against the actual plot and it wasn’t all that bad. This special was made around 50 years ago and the animation still holds up decently well. The Grinch’s character design is good and I still think that The Mask drew some inspiration from it. That being said, there is one thing that holds the film back.

The Grinch has a dog who is completely terrified of the fiend and is always forced to lead the charge in the Grinch’s wild plans You end up feeling bad for the dog since nothing goes his way and he’s constantly put in danger. If you’ve seen the Angry Birds trailer for the upcoming film, you’ll remember a scene where the main bird kicks another one into the ocean. It’s a very mean spirited way to show off the film and while it’s supposed to be funny, you have to question how you can laugh at such a deed. It just brings down the film and I’ll take crude humor over this nonsense.

The Grinch’s dog completely ruined the film for me. I doubt that the film would have gotten anything more than a 5 or maybe a 6 anyway, but that was not going to happen now. It’s not nearly bad as real animal violence from films like Hunger Games since it is still animated and nothing seriously bad happens to the dog, but the concept behind it is still not good.

Aside from that, the film was decently interesting. I do think that it would have been much better if the film took place on Earth so we could have some human banter from the other characters instead of them all just deciding to sing. We could have gotten a scene like in the Charlie Brown Christmas special where one guy tells the world the true meaning of Christmas and Christ’s birth. I can safely say that such a scene would have helped the film regain some of the ground that it lost thanks to the dog. The aliens aren’t bad, but they just seemed unnecessary and the odd world with its unique inventions were all right as well, but they also didn’t ultimately add anything to the plot. Not a bad thing, but I’d prefer a city like New York to be in the film any day. Since the Grinch is a good guy now, it would be interesting to see how the sequels handle the situation. Maybe he’ll just turn back the leaf and go to his old ways. I wouldn’t put it past the Grinch since he is not someone who should be easily trusted.

Overall, How The Grinch Stole Christmas may be a Christmas classic, but that doesn’t actually mean that it’s a good film. The Grinch is definitely a villain who you can root against, but he’s not a great character and his whole character arc happens very suddenly and not without a whole lot of foreshadowing. It makes you wonder what the point of his endeavor was. The film had a good ending though and at least the moral was sound. I thought that the animation was decent and there wasn’t really a soundtrack, but the film is old so that would have been very tough. I don’t recommend this film and if you want to watch something that’s a little more emotional, then I invite you to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Careful though, it may bring tears to your eyes.

Overall 3/10

Scooby Doo Moon Monster Madness Review

I finally got to check out one of the newest Scooby Doo films the other day. I tend to like most of the films a lot and the worst ones are usually still a little enjoyable. I did not appreciate the terribly animated one or the musical, but the films tend to have a decent amount of quality behind them. That being said, Moon Monster Madness still surpassed my expectations as it ended up being one of the best Scooby Doo films out there! I could not believe just how good it was. We got some great tense scenes and the whole parody of alien plots gimmick that this film had worked out quite well. It doesn’t mean that all of the comedy plots worked out and the film had a plot hole or two as well, but for the most part, Scooby Doo was a complete success!

The gang has been invited to go to space! Some of the world’s most popular figures are going aboard and the Mystery Inc has been invited to represent the average person so everyone could feel like this new space adventure was welcoming. The suspects include a football player, a host for a news program, an astronaut, two older astronauts, and a millionaire who basically funded this whole thing. Naturally, all of them should be suspected immediately and a fun exercise that I do when watching a film like this is that I’ll make everyone choose a suspect right from the get go. I voted for the Football player since he’s kind of the obvious pick, which meant that maybe people wouldn’t want to vote for him so then the film would actually make him the villain. You always have to be 3 steps ahead of the writers, but the problem is that you may stay ahead of them sometimes, which ends up backfiring.

Right off the bat I can mention that Velma was really unlikable in this film. She spent the whole film just being jealous of Daphne and it got old as soon as the plot started. Velma’s a petty character, but she takes it to a whole new level here. Whether it be insulting Ridley or ridiculing Daphne, Velma has no sense of bashfulness or the self-dignity to keep it together without resorting to…insults. She’s easily my least favorite member of the crew and that was true before this film. The adventure did her no favors.

Daphne wasn’t even rude to Velma if you ask me. She was having fun hanging out with her new friend, but she wasn’t actively snubbing Velma or trying to be upset. She’s just oblivious to the fact that Velma is being shunned and while she should stand up for Velma or make a noticeable effort to keep throwing Velma into the conversations, it’s no reason for Velma to get so heated. Instead of being happy for Daphne, Velma is immediately jealous and shows how she obsesses over test scores. Daphne is critical to helping out the heroes at the end of this film as she shows off her true talents. I wouldn’t have minded if a plot twist about the test scores hadn’t happened though, it would have been a nice moment for her.

Fred’s gimmick leads to a bit of a plot hole, but he still proves to be the best member of the gang. He doesn’t know how to turn the speaker on in his suit so he can’t hear others talking. This leads to him repeating what the others are saying or just making random statements when he feels like it. Fred often takes the lead in these adventures and still does think up the game changing plan, but I could have done without the suit plot. It was interesting to see him annoy the old guys over and over again. In a sense, that’s what Velma should have been doing. If she really wanted to hang out with the popular crowd, then she should just pretend not to notice all of the snubs and insults that the other characters are throwing at her. Velma can move past all of that and pretend to be oblivious. It’s a successful strategy as I can verify.

Shaggy and Scooby are pretty true to form as they eat a lot and try to defend themselves from the alien. The chase scene on the Moon is more intense than usual as they even fire a rocket at the creature. That’s not the kind of action that you would usually expect from Scooby Doo, but it works nicely here and shows how powerful the alien is. Scooby and Shaggy keep it together through thick and thin. They’re still not as fun as Fred, but they gave a good role here.

There’s another intense scene in the film where the Football player breaks out into song and gets very emotional. I actually enjoyed the scene and thought that it was handled pretty well. It gave the football player another level of depth and made him one of the more impressive supporting characters. He even tried to fight a little in the big battle against the robot. Uboat was a little rude for no reason at times though so he wasn’t exactly flawless.

The two retired Astronauts weren’t bad. They never took direct shots at Fred even though he constantly irritated them. Their decision to leave Fred and Daphne in cold storage was pretty dangerous, but it all worked out in the end I suppose. The fashion astronaut was essentially the overly nice character. It may be a little tough to buy her act, but for the most part she seems like a good character. One may wonder if she is really oblivious to how Velma keeps getting shut out of the action and I don’t buy that either, but I suppose that you never know. The character is actually pretty interesting though and she’s not one dimensional, which is good.

I can’t say that I really enjoyed the plot between the rich guy and his brother though. So…the brother stayed on the space station by himself for years…just because it was his job? Maybe it was months, but that doesn’t matter, I would have just been clocking in 9-5 and then heading home for the weekends. At the very least, I’d want some Domino’s pizza delivered. It just felt pretty iffy even if the rich guy said that he now understands the true meaning of friendship. That being said, the rich guy wasn’t bad. I like how he came to the launch site with a suit made of money. Now that’s an awesome publicity stunt right there and I hope that someone pulls it off in real life as well.

The news guy flirted with Velma a little too much so I can’t say that he was a great character. It’s a shame since he could have almost fooled you into thinking that he was main character material with his personality. He’s a go getter and isn’t afraid to jump into the fray. It would be neat if he believed in his job a little more though. Ridley was a great character and it was good to see someone who knew how to fight aliens. Her subplot of being able to talk sci-fi with the rich guy’s brother was also poorly timed and written, but that doesn’t happen until the end. Until then, Ridley shows why she is the world’s foremost expert on Xenomorphs. She’s always ready for a fight and the name is iconic.

We even have a robot on board who is pretty interesting. He always tries to keep up with the human customs, but it just doesn’t work. The characters aren’t very sympathetic, but why should they be. The robot actually threatens Scooby and Shaggy in a surprisingly grim scene and there’s a plot twist at the end that makes the whole thing even more intense. I could have done without the twist, but it was certainly interesting.

There are two big villains here aside from the suspect who is guilty of course. One of them is a giant robot, which made someone exclaim “Pac Man!” The similarities to the two characters are uncanny and it’s one of the highlights of the film. The fight scene was fun. Of course, the villain who really stole the show was the alien, which was a homage to a Xenomorph. The creature tanked a missille that was shot and it can move very quickly. This wasn’t your average Scooby Doo villain and it’s a main reason as to why the film was so good. Even without the robot or the monster, the action scenes really have a lot of tension to them and the stakes are pretty life threatening for once. The heroes have to think fast amidst the falling debris and one by one they are picked off.

The animation is as solid as can be expected. Scooby Doo’s never been known for its animation and it’s certainly not something that will knock your hat off, but it’s good enough. Everything can clearly be seen and while the animation doesn’t take any risks, it can handle a talking scene as well as anyone. There’s even a epic soundtrack here as well! Get ready for some surprisingly fast paced themes and epic pieces of music that are fitting for battles of such magnitude.

Overall, This was a great Scooby Doo films and it easily ranks up there as one of the best. I have been debating for a while on whether this really is the best Scooby Doo film or not. Zombie Island, Cyber Chase, The Wrestling one, The Blue Falcon, and even the classic Witch films are all fairly strong contenders. It’s a very deep discussion with a lot of areas to think about, but I’m fairly confident that this one can hold its own. Check it out and you won’t be disappointed.

Overall 7/10

Inside Out Review

Inside Out was a fun animated film. I’d say that it was a bit better than I expected although I did find one of the main characters to be pretty annoying and the moral at the end of the film was pretty iffy. I can’t say that I agreed with it or at least the way that it was handled. Still, Inside Out holds its own here and the writing is solid.

Imagine a world where humans were actually complex machines which had their emotions become tangible beings that can control the person’s actions. Each emotion had a role to play and they worked in harmony to control every decision that you made. If they were to ever have a big disagreement and split up, then the human robot would shut down for a brief amount of time. The film goes into the details of how the human machine works in great detail, which is pretty fun. The actual plot of the film follows Joy as the main character.

Joy is essentially the ideal character. She’s extremely optimistic and always tries to see the positives in a situation. It’s easy to root for her and she does her best to ensure that every day is a good one. Unfortunately, Sadness wants to corrupt everything that she touches and gets Joy into a lot of trouble as the two of them fall away from the control center. They must now make it back to the human robot quickly or the girl’s social life will be ruined. After all, how can a person have a good life without any joy or sadness? The only emotions left are disgust, anger, and stress. Definitely not a good way to live there. Can Joy make it back or will Sadness continue to hold her back?

It’s probably obvious from the summary, but I do not like Sadness. She’s a debbie downer and the kind of person who doesn’t even enjoy Christmas. Essentially every line that she has is a complaint or a sigh where she tries to make everyone feel bad. Not content with just making herself sad, she tries to bring down the mood for everyone else as well. Sadness even goes as far as to corrupt the human’s happy memories and turn them into sad ones. In case you think that this is all just an accident and Sadness doesn’t mean it…think again. She does this on purpose. There are several times when Joy tells Sadness not to touch anything, but she does anyway. She ignores the warnings and causes as much damage as possible. Typically, she’ll do this immediately after being warned, which makes the whole situation even worse.

Joy is the opposite and ends up being a very good character. She’s essentially perfect. A character who’s always determined and likes to do things the right way. I’ve already talked about her so let’s move on to the next character. Disgust probably gets the smallest role out of the emotions and I can’t say that she’s a good character either. I don’t even consider Disgust to be a primary emotion, but I suppose that we were running out of them by this point. She doesn’t help out at all either here so the group would have been better off without her. At least she doesn’t openly try to put the team in jeopardy though.

Nervousness or whatever the emotion is officially called is decent. He’s always stressed out about everything that’s happening in the world so he’s on top of his game. He was even one step ahead of Joy when she asked him to write down a list of the things that can go wrong. Stress always brings his A game and he’s not afraid to go for the win. Finally, we have Anger, who’s another solid character. It’s always fun to see him grab the controls and blow up as he goes for the win. He tends to lose, but he talks a good game and Anger has more character than most of the other emotions. He certainly doesn’t let himself get pushed around although he tends to make the situation worse for his human.

Aside from the emotions, we’ve also got the other humans who have emotions of their own. We typically don’t see the other emotions, but it’s always interesting to see their other views. This even applies to dogs, cats, and just about anything else. The parents get a decently large role here. They’re pretty nice and the whole situation with the house can be a bit dicey, but they weren’t over the top as far as being unreasonable goes so the main character had no reason to be mad at them. It’s all because Joy wasn’t there of course, but you’ll just feel bad for them. That being said, there’s no logical reason why a pizza store wouldn’t have pepperoni. I think that was a bit iffy if you ask me and the scene could have been written better if we needed a situation to give the main character some tension. Bing Bong is an imaginary friend who couldn’t keep up with the opponent which goes by the name of age. I definitely didn’t mind him leaving the film as he was another character that I didn’t like. He nearly destroyed Joy by not thinking about what his secret short cut really was. His rocket was decent, but if you were supposed to cry for Bing Bong at the end..I can safely say that it didn’t happen in my case. He wasn’t the kind of character that you would get very attached too and he was just too much. If only Bing Bong had been cooler as I did like the name.

The film isn’t too short, which is good since it gives us some time to see all of the characters and explore this concept. I like the concept behind the idea that our emotions are actually sentient beings who control the human shells from within. A whole movie can be made about that…and it was! That being said, I didn’t agree with how the moral was presented as mentioned above. Basically, we are supposed to wrap our heads around the fact that our happy memories have sadness with them and that makes them even better. LOL No!

Let me give you an example. Brace yourselves here. I remember a few years back when I managed to acquire pounds and pounds of chocolates to save for my birthday. Dozens of different bags of chocolate chips, cookies, brownies, ice cream, and more were assembled. Seriously, we probably spent over 200 dollars on snacks alone for the Birthday, but it was worth it! I grabbed a huge Turkey container (Think of a big pan for pasta, but deep enough to fill in 3x that) and I stuffed the snacks inside before eating. I ate for hours and hours until my stomach was so full and I was so stuffed that my teeth began to hurt. Do I want to remember my teeth hurting? No, I block that out and just remember how amazingly good the pot of snacks was. My point is that happy memories are epic because they are happy. We don’t need any sadness messing that up.

Sadness does help us develop our character and make us better people, but it doesn’t mean that we have to corrupt our happy memories. That’s exactly the train of thought that makes people so miserable in day to day life. Whenever someone says that they aren’t looking forward to Christmas or always has a pouting expression on their face, I feel like facepalming myself. Enjoy every day folks because that’s the point of life. While we’re living, we may as well be having a blast. So, I feel like Inside Out dropped the ball on that, but it’s fine…we can’t win them all.

The animation is all right. It’s not really my style and I’ve seen animation from a decade ago and even older than that, which looks better. Still, this American Animation is really well liked and gets good reviews, but give me something a little flashier and I’ll be happy. The human characters are drawn in that intriguing CGI style that lets you immediately know that this is an American film. While we are way ahead of Japan in Live Action, they are decades ahead of us in animation. At this point, I’ve accepted the gap as a fact in life, but maybe we can change that someday.

Overall, Inside Out is a good film and it deserves the positive reviews. I had fun watching it and the film does a good job of world building. It’s an interesting film from start to finish and it never drags on. Good films don’t need action scenes to be enjoyable as this one proves, but then the writing has to be on point. Luckily that was the case here. I’m not ready to say that it’s as good as Frozen as the ice themed film still has the edge, but this one is on the same level. It just needed a super catchy song to keep up with Frozen and that didn’t happen. Take Sadness away from the film completely and who knows…maybe it could have won! I don’t think a sequel would be as good though. Certainly not if we had any hintings of romance. The emotions inside of the mom were already pretty iffy and it was an unnecessary scene that they had. The ending helped to stop that, but things could have been dicey. I still want a sequel though, but let’s make it a direct to DVD futuristic robot action adventure story to shake things up.

Overall 7/10