Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Little Pony: Best Gift Ever Review

With season 8 all done it seemed like we would be getting a long break with no Pony adventures to watch. Fortunately this was not the case as Hasbro gave us one last special to end the year with. This one is a classic Christmas special with the characters exchanging gifts and remembering that through thick and thin they will always be friends. It’s a pretty solid special that is certainly entertaining. It’s nice to be focused on the Mane 6 once more as opposed to the newer characters. Keep in mind, the newer characters are cool of course, but nothing beats hanging out with the original fighters.

The special starts with Twilight hitting the panic button once again as she can’t seem to get enough time to put up the decorations around the castle and pick out presents for all of her best buds. As always we can blame this on Cadance and Shining Armor. That’s when Applejack decides that they should only give 1 gift this year. Everyone will have a secret pony buddy who they will give the gift too. This will allow them to each have more time to just enjoy the holiday. Twilight thinks that this is a great idea, but now that all of the ponies only need to get one gift, Twilight has to make sure that hers is the best one ever.

Naturally you can probably imagine that this won’t be a particularly easy feat. The ponies aren’t easy characters to buy things for and none of the characters want to actually ask for help. They all get their own plots which is nice and since the special is around 45 minutes there is enough time for all of the various plots to develop and get satisfying conclusions. The music is pretty solid as per usual. We get quite a few songs with the only weak one being Spike’s. It’s always good to have a few lyrical songs to remind us why this series became such a big deal in the first place. The songs are still top notch. As always the animation is consistently good as well. The character models are on point and everything looks very clear and smooth as you would expect. It feels like a 2 part episode which is essentially what this is supposed to be.

First lets look at the Twilight Sparkle plot. Her situation definitely isn’t quite as bad as the others since all of the pressure is just stuff that she is putting on herself, but it doesn’t help that Shining Armor and the others are guilt tripping her about this. They’re completely insensitive to the fact that they are the reason why she is stressed out. I still think they are pretty poor characters compared to the rest of the cast. Twilight doesn’t let all of this get to her though and gradually she solves the issue. The animators had fun with her facial expressions here as they got pretty stretched out at times.

The best plot is certainly the Rainbow Dash and Discord one. Discord may be a little mean at times and he does turn evil on a whim, but you have to give the guy some credit, he knows how to save the day. Without his timely intervention at the end here things may not have gone well. He helped Fluttershy have a fun time. Rainbow Dash was also cool as always and did a great job using her speed to secure the best gift as well. Meanwhile Pinkie Pie ran over to the Yaks for help which was her first mistake. Naturally this plot wasn’t quite as exciting but it’s also super short so don’t think that it’s bad or anything. It’s a good way of including more characters.

Rarity’s plot was pretty good as she made the heroic choice not to take away the hat she ordered from the innocent family. Naturally this whole thing made Derpy look pretty bad though. At least they finally let her talk. I remember there used to be a lot of controversy around the character, but it looks like Hasbro is finally ready to let her move on. Now we just need Derpy to get more of a starring role for an episode at some point. That would be a blast. Unfortunately, Fluttershy also doesn’t look that good here. She gets fooled by some of the oldest tricks in the book. At the end of the day she never even got her money back so she wasted it all in an instant. It’s easy to feel bad for her, but at the same time you just hope that she will use this as a learning experience. Fortunately Applejack doesn’t play around when it comes to lies and she sets the matter straight for the town. She certainly looks pretty good here. Then again, Applejack always looks pretty good in these adventures.

The only plot that wasn’t all that great was Spike’s. As always, his comic relief romance subplot doesn’t go anywhere and it just exists to make Spike look bad at times. He also can’t sing quite as well as the others. Still, it’s not as if the scenes are too painful or anything. Spike aside, the special basically has no weak points. It’s a quality adventure that you can watch anytime and it certainly has a lot of replay value. I think you could even market it as a lost episode for season 1 and nobody would have any problems with that aside from the continuity angle. It’s very well done and hopefully this inspires the team to make more pony specials in the future.

Overall, Best Gift Ever is a really well written special that I could recommend to anyone. You don’t have to be a My Little Pony fan to quickly understand what is going on and get invested into the plot. It’s basic enough for anyone to jump in while also being emotional enough for anyone to cheer along with. Discord was actually the standout character here which shows you how on point the writing was. Now the long wait for season 9 really begins but in the meantime I’ll be gearing up to watch the next Equestria Girls film. I’m certainly expecting big things in that adventure and hopefully it’ll be just as much fun as this special.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

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

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Review

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is a Christmas special that I’ve watched many times in the past. It uses stop motion instead of traditional animation, which can be dicey. That being said, it makes up for this with the classic Rudolph as the main lead. His heartwarming story has inspired millions throughout the ages and who can forget the incredible snowman? The special has its ups and downs, but it is definitely a solid experience.

The plot involves Rudolph and the other Reindeer as they begin to bully him when it is found out that his nose glows. Even Santa Claus wants nothing to do with Rudolph so he runs off to brave the world on his own. Meanwhile, there is an Elf who has the same problem. He doesn’t like making toys and he just wants to be a dentist so the others shun him and he runs off. One thing leads to another and the two of them team up with an experienced gold digger to help save Christmas.

Not everyone shuns Rudolph as one of the does by the name of Clarice tries to be his friend. The special definitely has more romance in this plot than most of the other Christmas specials. The actual subplot isn’t great, but it does help us get to the big battle with the Snowman so it was all ultimately worth the effort. Clarice is definitely more of a likable character than most of the other reindeer as they were all pretty unreasonable with Rudolph.

As for Rudolph, he’s a nice little guy, but he’s not quite as likable as Frosty or dare I say Jack Frost? I probably agree with his decision to leave and save his friends since they were all in a tricky spot, but I think he probably overreacted when Clarice complimented him. That’s not going to help his image with the rest of the reindeer although he was definitely the best flier there. He can get pretty defensive about his nose and it’s a good thing that he found Hermey when he did or it could have been all over for him. At least he got a good hit in on the Snowman.

The Abominable Snowman is a pretty intense Kaiju and I have to say that it definitely does look like some of the old Gamera monsters. It seems to be reasonably tough and it was able to climb its way back to the surface after it fell into the cold depths of the ocean. That takes a lot of guts and it seems to move pretty quickly. It was overwhelming a team of reindeer and that’s no small feat.

Santa’s portrayal is very interesting since he’s very mean throughout the whole film and they never try to make us forgive him. He ends the film in just as bad a mood as he was in during the beginning. It’s intriguing to say the least and I think that the writers may not have even realized this as they were writing the script. He insults the Elf’s song, He does care about the fate of Rudolph’s parents except for his sleigh, etc. Santa Claus really tries to put a damper on things and he makes sure that Rudolph never gets to feel good.

The soundtrack is pretty solid and we get a lot of good songs. Many of them are classic like “Silver and Gold” and naturally…”Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” They’re run to listen too and the music is one of the reasons why the special is so fun. The stop motion has never been my favorite technique, but it works well enough. It definitely has a certain unique feel to it and I suppose that it’s pretty iconic for Rudolph at this point.

One of the better subplots in the film is the meanwhile with the Narrator. He’s a talking Snowman like Frosty and he’s the kind of guy that you can sympathize with. He is telling us Rudolph’s story with such detail that even he gets scared by what he remembers. It’s pretty intense to say the least. He’s probably one of the more likable narrators that I’ve seen in the Christmas specials so far.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re pretty unlikable. They are all pretty unfair to Rudolph about his nose and we never get a real reason about why they act so discriminating against Rudolph because of it. Why don’t they like red noses? There is probably something related to a past tragedy with the nose, but it’s still pretty sad to see. The parents getting into it was also pretty overdone since you would expect them to stand up for Rudolph. It’s pretty depressing until he finally leaves to make a name for himself. Of course, that is why the bravery of Rudolph is so revered.

Overall, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is a pretty solid Christmas special. It’s not quite as intense as some of the other ones and while it has aged pretty well, the romance does drag it down to an extent. Not because of the fact that it is romance per say, but the way that it’s handled can be a little tough to watch. Rudolph just doesn’t handle the whole thing very well. The soundtrack is very good and it’s nice to actually have a mean Santa Claus for once. It’s a pretty big change from the norm and that’s always good. Rudolph is a pretty emotional film that I definitely recommend for the New Year. It has some good themes and it reminds you to know that giant monsters prefer pig meat to deer meat. In case you are ever in a pinch this could help you out! (There is also an action scene in the climax for all you Shonen Jump readers)

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

A Charlie Brown Christmas Review

Charlie Brown is a series that has always been pretty emotional and fun. They’ve adapted several holidays and now I got to see their Christmas special. It’s very well done and the true meaning of Christmas is not lost here. This is definitely a good film to see on Christmas or any other time as a refresher.

Charlie Brown is feeling pretty depressed even though it’s Christmas. It’s hard to blame him since all of his friends speak in monotone, but then we realize that it’s something deeper than that. His friends don’t really understand since they’re having fun getting ready for the play. Charlie Brown manages to become the director and now it’s up to him to get everyone to realize what the true meaning of Christmas is. The only problem is that he has also forgotten so one of the other kids shall have to enlighten him.

A Charlie Brown Christmas does a good job of breaking the 4th wall or at least being a social homage to how Christmas is celebrated nowadays. Snoopy is the classy next door neighbor who is always winning Christmas Celebrations, Being in the cool crowd, and basically getting to do just about everything that he wants to do. Charlie Brown is the well natured guy who likes to think about things a lot and he doesn’t care for how we have commercialized the holiday. It’s a fun contrast and I’m sure that we have all enjoyed getting presents and simply having as much of a blast as we could.

Just look at me…DReager1. I basically spent all Christmas playing video games and watching TV. It is a day to relax and just have a blast. That’s certainly okay as long as you still remember why we celebrate Christmas and giving God time as well. Christmas originated because it was the day when Jesus Christ was born and that is still one of the most monumental moments in history. It’s an event that shall never lose its importance and that is why we celebrate Christmas every year. The world may try to have you forget this by writing xmas and saying Happy Holidays, but we shall never forget what a special day it is. I was in a pretty uneventful part of 2 Chronicles at the time, but lucky Christmas gives me a reason to quickly jump into the New Testament to read how it all started. I definitely recommend doing that every Christmas and you can alternate between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John since this is naturally portrayed with varying levels of detail depending how you read it. I believe that Luke’s account is probably the best, but I will be able to say that more confidently once I am actually up to those books and have read them completely.

This Christmas special is fairly short as it’s only about 35-40 minutes, but it’s certainly a nice experience. There isn’t really a soundtrack here so some of the scenes can be eerily quiet, but it draws more attention to the lines. I still think that everyone sounds rather emotionless and monotone, but that helps the effect that Hollywood/Society has brainwashed them into enjoying Christmas for the presents. Snoopy is naturally the most likable character in the film and you can almost start to believe that he was trying to let Charlie know about the true meaning of Christmas by being such an exaggerated character. It’s a bit of a stretch, but would Snoopy really laugh at Charlie like that? I mostly just know him from screenshots of the PSP game and pictures though so I can’t really comment on if this is his usual personality or not.

As for Charlie Brown himself…well, he would certainly be an interesting friend to have. It’s good that he’s so thoughtful, but I can’t say that I liked him as the director. He wasn’t very patient with the other kids and his demands were pretty unreasonable. It’s no surprise that they answered in kind and basically tried to humiliate him at every point. You feel bad for Charlie Brown, but he could have handled the situation a little better. An example of this is when he chose the small tree. The friend warned him that the others wouldn’t like it, but Charlie didn’t care. He thought that it was the right tree for the job. Sure enough, the tree was brought in and everyone laughed. Charlie should have just explained why it was the right tree, but instead he just agreed with them and fell back into the sadness.

The animation is pretty solid. It’s old of course, but the animation isn’t hard to look at. I don’t really care for the dust kid’s gimmick though since it’s certainly a bit much and I feel bad for the kids around him. Aside from that, everyone looks pretty true to form and you couldn’t ask for much more. It’s fitting for the Christmas special and the tree at the end looks good.

In the future, it would be fun for Snoopy to get some more screen time since he basically stole the show. He’s basically the symbol of the series at this point and you look forward to all of his scenes. Most of the friends were pretty unlikable, but the main one who made Charlie the director was pretty good. At least she was giving him a chance and her professional help did wonders for good ole Charlie. It only cost him a quarter so that was definitely a bargain.

Overall, it’s hard to see a Christmas special like this coming out nowadays. This one doesn’t mince words or beat around the bush. One of the kids clearly tells Charlie about the true origin of Christmas and it’s pretty great to see. This is a film that we can definitely be proud of and I would definitely recommend this title to anyone for Christmas. It’ll be just as relevant in 50 years as it is today since the truth never changes. I recommend this to all of my blog readers, prepare for an enlightening experience!

Overall 8/10