Tall Story Review


All right, it’s time for a Basketball movie of sorts. It’s not the main focus per say but it does play a part in what’s going on. This is a movie where I would say the first half beats the second as the comedic parts are good but once the film gets serious it starts to trip up a bit. Ultimately the moral here is that you need to stick to your studies!

The movie starts with Professor Leo getting ready for his first day of school. He’s going to be an ethics professor and he’s looking forward to getting these kids academically prepared for success. He’s given the school tour by Professor Charles who lets Leo know that this school is very dedicated to its Basketball program. This is to such a point that there is a huge statute in honor of the sport and it is the only thing that the papers care to publish.

Well, Leo can make ethics work into that. Then the professors are knocked over by the new student June. She lets them know that she is only attending this college to secure Ray’s hand in marriage. To do this she will have to get him to stop focusing all of his time on school and so she asks for their help in arranging this. She is steadfast in this goal but will Ray ultimately choose to go with her or will she end up being disappointed?

It’s also worth noting that a big part of the film’s drama is also about the Russian team coming over to do battle with the school. This team has defeated every school in their tracks under mysterious circumstances at times but the principal and teachers are confident that they can win as long as they have Ray. Ray’s never lost a battle and doesn’t intend to start now. Hopefully the romance doesn’t get in the way of this eh?

Most of the humor here is in how up front June is about all of this. She doesn’t mind anyone knowing about her plans aside from Ray. She isn’t beating around the bush either and systematically starts tearing down all of Ray’s barriers. You feel like the guy is doomed from the start with how he can barely resist her. By the time they’re babysitting together it’s all over. I will have more to say about that when I talk about him.

But for June, she gets a positive score here. She saw an opportunity and she seized it. You have to appreciate the hustle and June was also able to support Ray as best she could during the climax. There was a lot of planning from her end so she also gets top marks in strategy. As a main character she does her part in making sure that the movie is entertaining from start to finish.

Now for Ray, I was not a fan of his. First off, he lets the romance impact his play on the field. Whenever someone is playing a sport or doing any activity you don’t want to see any excuses. Ray starts stinking it up on the field and doesn’t seem to care because he is having such fun. The tournament is coming up so he needs his head in the game. Then when he gets his groove back, he gets a package of money from the Russians telling him to throw the game.

There’s a lot of ways to handle this like immediately giving it to the police, the Basketball coach, the teachers, etc. Instead he just holds onto it initially which is not a good idea since it’ll make him more suspicious down the road. Additionally he decides to flunk a test so he will miss the game but that will just ensure that the college loses. He kept on making the wrong choices over and over again when this really wasn’t that hard. Hand the money over to the cops and it all would have been squared away rather easily.

So while June had a strong will, I thought Ray’s was rather weak. The main antagonist Leo can also be dicey at times. I enjoyed most of his earlier scenes as Leo tries to make sense of this crazy situation but towards the end he seemed a bit exaggerated. Once he learned the truth about the whole thing he should have just let Ray go back on the team. If he wanted to do a make up exam then that’s fine as well but just give it instead of intentionally dragging out each question.

After a while it just seemed like he was being stubborn just to be stubborn. There was also no reason for him to out June near the end as it served no purpose other than to put her in trouble. So Leo really used up any good fortune he had earned up by then. I appreciate him sticking to his guns before learning the truth and keeping Ray in a failed state. That’s fine and as an Ethics professor it makes sense. After that though? There’s no real excuse there. Additionally giving a makeup exam doesn’t seem too far fetched.

Everyone was putting pressure on Leo including the principal. If the team had lost the game I have a feeling that Leo would have been fired on the spot. The principal doesn’t get a huge role here but whenever he appears the guy takes over the stage. You can tell that he is serious about the team winning this one. Charles is a solid professor as well and a lot more reasonable than Leo. He has a very laidback attitude and is just able to roll with all of the punches rather than making a big deal about everything. That’s the kind of guy you want to have on your side.

As the Basketball coach you can probably guess whose side Sandy was on. This is a game that especially means a lot to him and he made good on his word to put in as much pressure as possible. I definitely liked that guy. Finally there’s Myra who is June’s mother and she is also more reasonable than Leo. She even has a bit of a competitive side to her as she jumps in on the sport betting behind Leo’s back. You can see where June gets her personality from. Myra usually won’t go into the spotlight to throw in her support but she is always on the right side.

The film’s fairly quick and really breezes by. The only weak point I would say tends to come from the romance side of things. I won’t say that the romance between June and Ray is bad, it’s actually fairly decent for this kind of school story. No, it’s the inclusion of another couple who own a trailer that can be a bit much. They’re the kind of fake friends who won’t actually help you at all despite talking a great deal. I didn’t like that Ray and June actually bought the trailer because it feels like they were fleeced. The whole sequence of scenes were also the only parts that really felt like they dragged out.

This other couple wasn’t funny and the idea of moving in there and wasting so much money rather than getting a proper place just doesn’t make any sense. Ultimately it was Ray’s money so I’m going to have to give him another big L for even thinking about this. June also takes part of the blame for being excited about it so they’ll both take a hit there.

Overall, I would have liked to have seen more of the actual Basketball game but in the end this was a decently solid title. It’s a pleasant enough romantic comedy which hits the right notes on both angles. Hopefully Leo learned his lesson and will be a more reasonable person going forward. At the very least that’s what you would hope. If you’re looking for an old school title to watch then I’d recommend checking this one out.

Overall 6/10

Happy Death Day 2U Review


The sequel is now upon us. The first film had a cool concept but I didn’t think it lived up to the potential it had. This one does a much better job of handling the adventure. It may have mostly thrown away the horror elements from the first film but you’ve still got the various murders, there’s just much more things happening in this film. Maybe too many since one plot just vanishes.

The movie picks up right where the first film left off. Tree has escaped the loop and is finally together with Carter. Ryan isn’t thrilled about this since that means his room is still off limits but he heads to his lab to finish working on the time travel machine. Unfortunately the teacher doesn’t like this and shuts the project down. Ryan is promptly murdered by a guy in a baby mask and ends up going back to the start of the day. Looks like he is trapped in a time loop now and the only one who can possible help him here would be Tree since she has a lot of experience with this.

I would say that the decision to make Ryan the main character is an awful one since he was such a terrible character in the first movie but this title actually has a good fake out about this. So don’t worry Tree is still the main character here. Plus she still keeps the character development from the first film so she’s a much better character through and through. This time around she actually acts like a lead and does a good job of taking down the enemies.

The story goes in a few different directions from the plot I outlined above so get ready for some twists. In a way the movie has to try and make the scenario a bit harder on Tree because otherwise she would solo this experience on her second playthrough. She takes down one of the villains within minutes and with her gun she takes another one down rather quickly. It’s nice to see her just jumping into action here.

At the same time, I also feel like the movie doesn’t take that far enough. At one point the characters need to use a bunch of time loops to try different theories and suggest that Tree just destroys herself a bunch of times at the end of the day since it’ll be less painful than getting murdered. I was against this plan from the start. It’s used as a comedic montage where she keeps dying over and over again but half of those deaths seem just as painful if not more so than actually getting murdered. (Jumping into a tree shredder is such a gruesome way to die)

Jumping out of a plane is probably the easiest death but why do that when you can still just take down the murderer? So we need the machine to work in order to stop the time loop but at the same time, why not take the chance to try and take the murderer down a few more times? Alternately, shoot yourself with the gun since it would be instant but I think just using each attempt to take the murderer down would be more satisfying. Presumably Tree still has to die to reset the loop but if she’s wrong then this will help the timeline more.

Now there is a bit of a subplot where there’s a doppelganger of another character from a different dimension who is trying to murder Ryan. It feels the most random because nothing comes of it and that whole plot just vanishes early on in the movie. I think the movie probably should have just skipped this plot entirely and it would have not changed anything. The idea of multiple universes is explored in detail later on anyway and there are a lot of ways you could set up the machine being broken like the principal throwing something at it.

There is a scene after the credits though which sets up things for the next film. If the 3rd film actually follows this plot then things are about to go in a really different direction. I got some Dreamscape vibes from it with how large scale this may end up being. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes. in that case this would probably be a complete sci-fi thriller as opposed to any remnants of horror sticking around but we’ll see how that goes.

This time I thought the writing was greatly improved from the first film. Maybe it’s because the film is leaning more into being a full comedy this time but I’d also say that it’s really because the characters are more likable. I already spoke about Tree but it’s true for the rest as well. This time Ryan isn’t completely one note the way that he was in the first film. He actually gets some development this time around which is good. I’m still not a big fan but this is a world of difference.

His two assistants are okay, there’s not much to them but they have some okay banter. Carter still seems way too easy with how he has a girlfriend but is ready to have affairs with other people. So while Tree has gone away from her cheating habits, they seem to still be strong with Carter. Even Danielle ends up appearing as a much more reasonable character this time around. She ends up helping the team when it counts and is also more understanding of Tree with regards to missing meetings and such. She’s nice enough where you will feel bad for her by the end.

Lori also gets a brief appearance which may not make her look all that great morally but it’s still some extra development. The heroes and villains all get more to do this time around and that’s one of the benefits of being a sequel since you can go over events quicker with no intro to slow things down. Someone like Tombs is still just a crazy killer with no character but he’s more of a plot device than a character anyway. Even Gregory’s wife gets to do some things this time around, her character certainly went in a different direction than I had expected that’s for sure.

So with the writing being my main issue from the first film, this was an immediate jump. I also just like Tree taking a more active approach here and really taking it to the villains. Speed running through the loop scene from the first film was also nice. It’s almost nostalgic seeing some scenes from the old film before everything appears distorted. There aren’t really any memorable tracks here but you can’t win them all.

Overall, Happy Death Day 2U is a very different film from the first film and in all of the best ways. If you came for the horror then you’re out of luck because that is really gone. You only get horror vibes for maybe the first 15 minutes of the film when it’s giving you the fake plot. This is done really well though with the proper amount of scares and tension. I haven’t seen the trailers, but I think it would be a missed opportunity if they showed much footage beyond that. The idea of having Ryan as the main character is a scary one but it would make the whole story changing that much more effective. I feel confident in saying that the real movie here beats the fake out version from the intro. As more of a sci-fi fan I was cool with the changes here. We even have a lot of big emotional moments as well which can always be a bit hard to take seriously when you’re already filled to the brim with comedic, thriller, and sci-fi moments but the movie has a little of everything and makes for a good watch.

Overall 6/10

Happy Death Day Review


I remember seeing a lot of promotion for this film back when it came out. Everyone was talking about it and the idea of a time loop in a horror film is quite original. You definitely have to give the film a lot of credit there. That said, while the premise is a lot of fun I wouldn’t say the execution is great. The writing tends to be sub par and since many scenes get repeated over and over, get ready for some particularly cringe lines to happen over and over again.

The movie starts by introducing us to Tree who is one of the meanest girls on campus. She is basically speed running how fast she can make enemies out of everyone. The girls’ just a bully who gets drunk constantly and doesn’t like having any responsibility. Well, one night on her birthday, Tree is murdered by someone in a mask. The thing is, she wakes up back at the start of the day and this keeps on happening every time she is murdered. So what should she do now? To break the cycle she needs to figure out a way to not die but no matter where she goes or what she does, the masked man seems to still find her.

So as I said that’s a fun dynamic. You’d figure that if you have unlimited lives to find a way to live that it should be easy. There are a few catches to it though such as Tree keeping remnants of her injuries from the deaths as well as the fact that they all still hurt quite a lot. It’s not like these deaths are easy after all. Tree gets stabbed, drowned, etc. This kind of plot also makes it very easy to backseat drive though. Like why would Tree go down the same dark alley in the second playthrough? She didn’t go all the way through which is good but if the murderer is still around then she’s still given him a good indication of where she is.

She plays the 2nd playthrough way too close to the first but this seems to be a common thing in these kinds of films. She does get a lot more creative after that. The best plan was probably just driving out of town. I absolutely would have tried that because living is the most important thing right now. That would be the way to escape. Also, Tree does have a bad habit of landing a blow on the villain and then turning to run instead of winning the fight. She could have won several times otherwise.

That part reminded me a lot of Scream where the heroine always lands the first blow in. Now where the film falters greatly is that it feels like there was no real effort put into the writing or the characters. Often times it’s just trying to be as crude or crass as possible. The way the characters all talk can be rather obnoxious in a 2000s high school setting kind of way. As mentioned, Tree’s just a pretty bad main character. She’s completely unlikable and while that’s part of her character arc, it doesn’t make her scenes any better. Tree’s unnecessarily mean to everyone and doesn’t feel like a main character. Usually she would have definitely been the antagonist in a different movie.

Aside from the issues with her character, the script is also just bad. All of the students seem rather crude like the roommate who barges in on her every morning. Quite a lot of the characters are cheating on other people, Tree has affairs with multiple guys, etc. It’s hard to find a single character in the film who has a good moral compass. Keep in mind that even Carter who is portrayed as the nicest guy here was still ready to have an affair with a drunk person that he only just met at an iffy club. Even the teacher is in on the action.

You really just can’t trust anyone at this school. It certainly makes it more difficult to choose who the murderer is but at the expense of actually finding any of the characters to be likable. You can also probably guess but this extends to the mystery of who the murderer is. This may even be part of the comedy to an extent but no matter who the murderer is, you have a sneaking suspicion that this just won’t work out. The murderer is around every corner and moves like lightning. Nobody ever notices this person show up and the ones that are attacked go down like a broken trampoline.

You’d figure that they could do something but that’s just never the case. The film isn’t very long so since there are a ton of suspects that means that a lot of them don’t get a whole lot of development or anything. They typically just get their one scene aside from Carter not counting if they are the murderer of course. You’ve got the teacher Gregory who is cheating on his wife with Tree and of course his motive for murder could be to make sure that nobody finds out about this affair.

You have Lori who bakes Tree a cupcake but it’s usually thrown into the trash. She may have taken that very personally. There’s her ex who keeps asking why she won’t return the calls and maybe that’s turned him into a bitter murderer. There’s the head of the sorority or at least self proclaimed head who is mad at Tree for having affairs with all the guys that she likes. That could be another reason for murder. You’ve got Carter who may be upset that she’s usually very dismissive of him, etc.

The film has no shortage of suspects. That’s not even accounting for the girl that Tree intentionally doesn’t say hi too, the girl handing out flyers, etc. It probably goes back to why the film wanted to make Tree super unlikable which is really a contrast to how the main character tends to be in these things. The problem is that the film should have left everyone else as being likable rather than breaking them down too. I don’t see a benefit to making everyone else unlikable since they would already have a decent motive if they were nice people on the outside.

Also, there’s a missed opportunity of having Tree just really crack in one timeline and try to kidnap everyone to ensure that nobody’s the murderer. That would have been an interesting loop. Maybe just cut out the girl on the steps and the ex to make room for this extra loop. After all, we’re all really here for the fun time loops right? Adding in the fact that Tree keeps in part of the injuries is a good way to add in some tension since it means that she can’t just continue to do this infinitely.

Happy Death Day does do a good job on the tone though. It does properly balance the slasher elements with comedy. This is because both sides are played straight. The slasher elements wouldn’t be out of place in something like a Michael Myers film while the rest has a more Bring It On kind of vibe going for it. The movie’s not very violent compared to most slashers either so it does well on that account. Not all of the humor lands (That roommate’s still the worst character here and his scene did not need to be replayed over and over) but for the most part it’s good. Cut out the unnecessary scenes in the film like the ex’s dark secret and you’d have a much more streamlined experience.

As a final note, the film makes it a point to say that Tree doesn’t care for birthdays much. There’s some context to this involving her past and there’s a whole subplot with her father but it’s complete filler so I haven’t mentioned it previously. (That’s another subplot that could probably be cut) So why would Tree have a ringtone that loudly declares that it’s her Birthday? That seemed out of character and I found it odd that in none of the time loops did she ever decide to take the call. Try everything to get out of the loop right?

Overall, Happy Death Day is a fun experiment but I wish it was handled a bit better. I’ll give it some kudos like going more for stylized violence so it isn’t that gritty and I love time travel. It just loses those same points on the writing and very dicey script. If you’re in the mood for a horror that has some fun with itself then this is probably one to check out since there aren’t a whole lot of them like this. There are even two high energy songs that pop up out of nowhere and at one point we got a montage that felt like something out of Scooby Doo. That said, you can still do better so avoid this one for now.

Overall 3/10

The Alphabet Murders Review


Time for a very different kind of Poirot film. Throw away everything you knew about the character beforehand as this one goes as far as to act like a parody the whole time. The movie even starts off with the lead breaking the third wall which is certainly something else. While I do like the film and will go into it in a second, I will say that the breaking the third wall gag felt flat as it often does. In very rare circumstances will I say that such a scene is good. It really just serves to take you out of the story in the same way as seeing the main character in the present talking about how he barely survived the events that we’re about to see. Fortunately the film didn’t go that far here.

So the movie starts with a poor clown getting murdered. He seemed to be shot by a mysterious woman. Then another victim takes their final dive and so Poirot will have to be the man to put a stop to this. Surely the world’s greatest detective can stop this criminal right? The only clue that the heroes have is that this villainous seems to be murdering people according to the alphabet. The first victim’s first and last names began with A, the second B, etc. Well, Poirot won’t have to search as hard as all that since the villainess confronts him straight up. She talks about how she doesn’t want to murder but that she must and other vague things as she beats the stuffing out of him and runs off

Prepare to see Poirot get beaten quite a bit in this film. He’s really not prepared for the kind of opponents that he is dealing with as this version is fairly weak and also not very intelligent. He has to rely on luck and physical ability in order to complete this case and I wouldn’t say that he is the toughest guy on the block either. Mix all of these things together and it doesn’t bode very well for him. The opening scene where he is getting choked by Amanda is also pretty odd. Perhaps intentionally and perhaps not but for me it didn’t even seem like she was seriously trying to murder him.

Or at least it was very half hearted with how they were tussling around. Poirot was calling for help the whole time but everyone would either misunderstand him or promptly get knocked out. It was crazy but I would say this was the best scene in the film partially because of how insane it all was. It can also be spooky, imagine calling out for help the whole time but nobody steps in because they think you’re all right? Now that will keep you up at night if you almost got choked to death. Poirot believes it was the lady’s way of asking for his help after it’s all over.

While Poirot is beaten and outsmarted throughout the film, he is a fun character. He does have some decent plans like pretending to choke himself to get Hastings to lower his guard. Poirot spends half the film trying to defeat the other good guys as opposed to going after the villains which is also meta in a sense. Fortunately for the heroes the villains don’t go around murdering too many people because they would have been in no position to stop these guys.

The hero is arrested and captured more than once. He’s not very good at being self aware like when he was chasing the girl. You’re actually rooting for the civilians to stop him since without context the whole thing that appear to be really crazy. It shows that these people aren’t just going to stand for this. The other main hero in the film is Hastings and he’s basically this film’s version of Watson. Hastings isn’t very smart and often gets outsmarted by Poirot but he means well.

What the man lacks in skill and bravery he makes up for in loyalty. You can always count on him to have your back and that’s a powerful thing. He even attempts to provide assistance during some of the more dangerous moments even if it doesn’t end up working out most of the time. I gained some respect for him when Poirot wasn’t able to outsmart him for once near the end of the film. It was almost like character development of sorts.

As for Amanda, well she’s a decent villain I guess. I think the whole plan was way more convoluted than it needs to be but granted, that could be due to the adaption. After all, in most cases it would be tough to murder Poirot or outsmart him so you can see villains coming up with all kinds of crazy plans to throw him off the scent. In this one though, well it would be extremely easy to bump him off. Poirot was being overpowered in the steam room after all and he was also chasing Amanda in the darkness with ease. Just set a trap for him at any time and I’m sure he would fall right into it. That’s absolutely the game plan the villains should have had without having to go with this whole ABC angle.

Amanda did a good job of completely tricking Poirot though so I have to give her some props there. All in all, the writing is good. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest but you’ll get a good amount of witty dialogue. Some of the visual humor is nice too like when each character is snapping their finger at the other to grab a hat and other things. They had good coordination there and it made for a peaceful scene.

Ms. Marple also gets a little cameo here which was neat. It’s always good to establish a crossover continuity here and it also is a good way to show where Poirot ranks in comparison with Marple. In her one scene she was able to easily crack the case but presumably the cops didn’t believe her. Meanwhile Poirot “solves” the case by the very end and it took everything he had.

Overall, The Alphabet Murders is pretty good. It’s a shame that we didn’t get some kind of sequel. Who knows, maybe it’s better as a one off, but there’s a whole lot you can do with this concept. The bumbling detective and his witless sidekick is not something that’s done very often at all. I’d also have liked a full crossover with Ms. Marple. From what we saw of her, she would likely have the advantage in a fight but with both characters having such a strong ego, I’m sure this would be a lot of fun. This film goes by pretty fast and ultimately how much you enjoy it will be directly related to how funny you find the characters to be. Does the dialogue feel naturally comedic or does it all feel forced? This is the question that will determine it all.

Overall 7/10

Fun with Dick and Jane Review


All right, who here remembers the classic books? It’s nice that the film effectively pays homage to them while telling a new story. This is a fun film that balances the criminal life while also showing us just how Dick and Jane got to such a state where they would become true robbers. The comedy is on point and the film really breezes by.

The movie starts with Dick & Jane enjoying their normal life. They have a great house, nice kids, nice neighbors, etc. Everything is going super well, but then that all changes when Dick’s fired from his job. Not because he was doing a bad job or anything but just because it was downsizing time and it went by seniority instead of by quality. The main characters have a very expensive lifestyle which eats through their funds quick and neither one is able to hold a job. Perhaps…it’s time for a life of crime?

Naturally with a plot like this it can go in a few different ways. If it was played seriously then naturally you’re rooting for the main characters to fail at every turn as you hope the cops catch them. In this case it’s a much more light hearted adventure. I noticed that the film made sure they failed every time they tried to take on a ma and pa shop or rob an old man and only let them rob from corporations, hotels, and professional places that have insurance.

I suspect this is a subtle way to allow you to have fun watching the characters without actively rooting against them. Now, naturally I was rooting for them to be stopped aside from the last case even with this. After all, they may have rough circumstances but who doesn’t right? There’s always another way outside of crime and when you see that the main characters still have a full time maid, a babysitter, a huge house, etc….well you get the picture.

The humor is effective as we see them slowly start to get used to the life of crime though. Dick in particular has a rough time of it. That first robbery attempt will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. It’s definitely a moment where you were rooting for the old man though so that worked out really nicely. Dick’s adventures around the unemployment line were also cool as well.

The agency really doesn’t play around in this instance and it was impressive that they could recognize him even in disguise. Dick was not about to pull a fast one on these guys, that’s for sure. The script is good and the same goes for the writing so it is able to pull this adventure off rather easily. The character roster is also solid here.

Dick makes for a solid main character. He may be on the wrong path despite the good intentions but he has a lot of fun moments. He is doing his best to make sure that the family has enough resources and didn’t enter the life of crime lightly. Additionally his plan at the end with Jane works rather well in the climax. It was well thought out and even the villain had to respect it.

Meanwhile Jane did well on her side too. She was the first one to start budgeting since it was clear that they couldn’t live quite as lavishly as they did before. Additionally she was quick to get the hang of being a crook to the point where you could definitely say that she was better at it than Dick. She was more compassionate though so they each had different weak points in that arena.

One of the best parts of the film has to be the montage where they’re robbing everyone. Robbing the phone company for example was a great scene as everyone even cheered them on and opened the door for their escape. That’s quite a lot of team unity against the company. We don’t see them for long but from the brief dialogue we did get, it seems like the company was corrupt.

Likewise the main characters stopped a corrupt evangelist which was a good move on their part. Finally you have the main villain Charlie. Well, the film doesn’t hold back here. He’s got every trait you would expect in a corrupt CEO. He loves getting drunk, wastefully manages the company, accepts and gives out brides, flirts with married women, etc. So when the heroes decide to rob him you have to raise an eyebrow because this guy certainly isn’t doing a good job with his funds at the moment.

Hmmm, it makes you think. So that’s a good climax and we even get a brief confrontation with Dick & Jane vs Charlie. Yeah this film had a lot going for it, that’s for sure. There are also some fun supporting characters like the insurance agent who came over to inspect the place. The kids are mostly off screen which is good. They’re not bad and don’t have enough screen time to affect anything. It was a good decision because I think they would have ended up taking away from the general dynamic.

I’d also say that most of it seems pretty realistic. I imagine it was really hard to stop shoplifters back in the day because there weren’t a lot of security cameras or anything like that. Especially with how the main characters would rob a place and then dash out. No chance to grab their license plates or anything like that. The only one that may be tough to buy is their breaking into the safe. I understand they got better as they did more and more jobs but could they get so sophisticated as to break into a safe in one of the richest buildings in the city? It has to be a top line safe so it shouldn’t be very easy to pick. Still, there are ways to explain it and I can live with them.

Overall, This was a pretty good film. The writers did well in managing to balance the main characters being criminals with not doing anything malicious enough where you’d be turned off at their being the leads. There’s a lot of good banter here and it just makes for a fun film that really ends as soon as it begins. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a nice lighthearted film.

Overall 7/10

Cocktail Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

All right, it’s time for a romance drama film. Usually romance pairs better with comedy than drama so this one was already starting on a tricky note and unfortunately it gets weaker as the film goes on. The main cast is just unlikable and by the end you’re certainly not rooting for the lead. When that happens, usually that means the film has lost you.

So the movie starts with Brian deciding that he wants to be rich some day. His uncle owns a bar and offers Brian a job but being a bartender is off the menu. Unfortunately Brian bombs out at every job he applies to since he doesn’t have a college degree and ultimately the only place he can find is work as a bartender in another location. The head bartender here is a guy called Doug and he quickly starts to train Brian on how to serve up the drinks while also making a show of it. Brian quickly learns the ropes and figures if he can do this much right now, maybe they should just open up a big bar in Jamaica and get rich. Will the two be able to get along once big money is involved?

There’s a lot of issues here but it’s safe to say that the weakest angle here is the romance. Mainly because Brian proves himself to be the kind of guy who goes on a lot of affairs. Early on in the film he has a one night stand with a girl from the bar and thinks it’s serious until Doug points out that she isn’t loyal and has his own stand. Doug then finds a girl names Jordan who who is nice enough but cheats on her with another random girl from the bar. He also starts cheating with another person in the climax but just barely breaks it off and runs back.

The issue here is that you know the film is going to bring Brian and Jordan back together but she should want nothing to do with him. No matter how often you see Brian apologize, you don’t buy into it. He betrayed her for $50 bucks which is just awful. Jordan’s father is right the whole time when he says that Brian’s no good and to just move on. Brian makes a big show on saying it’s not about the money or anything but of course at this point he knows Jordan’s rich so do you actually believe him?

Clearly the film wants us to believe that this is all genuine but I have a hard time buying it. I don’t see the relationship lasting because Brian’s track record is just too extensive. The next time someone makes him a bet or someone flirts at the bar room you feel like it’ll all be over. Jordan effectively will need to keep tabs on him at all times which will be really exhausting.

If Brian had not cheated at all then maybe this could work but as it stands there’s no way you can root for him. Jordan’s father appears as an antagonist but I’d definitely see him on the hero’s side here. The whole climax is really just not satisfying at all.

I also didn’t like Doug. The guy has a lot of confidence but he is always giving Brian the worst advice possible. Ultimately he is one of those guys who makes it seem like he has all of the answers but in the end he’s struggling just to stay afloat. Brian isn’t going to learn much from him and the way the guy goes out is brutal. To waste that much money is insanity and shows just what kind of guy he is. I was expecting better from Doug.

As for Jordan, she ultimately has to lose some points for sticking by Doug as well. The romance just moves too fast and ultimately that’s why you need to take it slow so you can see if the other person is actually good. Now there were presumably some time skips thrown in since we got a montage and all so it’s hard to say exactly how long the time frame was, but clearly it should have been even longer.

It’s a shame too because if you take that second half out then the film actually had some promise. The first half is really where all of the fun is had. You have Brian and Doug showing off while serving drinks which is pretty cool. It looks very difficult to flip the drinks the way that they did and they made it look easy. The actual bartending gig is the most interesting part of the movie and yet it gets ditched so quickly.

You could say that the film goes off the rocks when the gang breaks up and Brian heads to Jamaica. Early on there was so much potential like when the two were working at the more glitzy bar and Brian had to drum up some business. The actual rhyming may have been a little cringe but the story felt very focused. Then Brian leaves for a year and Doug returns to sabotage the whole operation. If Brian’s ego were not so big he might have made it past the provocations but ultimately he was not able to stay strong and sunk.

What we needed were more scenes showing Brian trying to achieve his real dream of being in marketing and things like that. I enjoyed the scene of him at school after all although he was quite thorough in burning all of his bridges there. It definitely did not help him find a non bar position that’s for sure. There just isn’t a lot more development for Brian’s character there even though you were expecting some kind of character arc where he’s no longer a hot head.

Overall, There isn’t a ton to say about Cocktail because there isn’t a lot happening. It’s a film that doesn’t have a whole lot of plot going for it so after the first half it vanishes entirely and we get a full romantic adventure. It’s just an issue that the romance itself isn’t very good. The writing is only okay. You have some good banter between Brian and Doug whenever they aren’t drinking but that’s about it. The fun dialogue can be good but when the film tries to get serious is when it falters. Ultimately the main character looks too bad to be redeemed at the end. If you want to check out a romance film, you can skip this one and look elsewhere.

Overall 4/10

Tom & Jerry Review


Tom & Jerry have returned at long last. It feels like a while since they got a big film, certainly since they’ve gotten a big budget production like this. It is nostalgic to see the old duo back in action although ironically, I was more invested in the human plot. I’ll go into detail on that later on but ultimately this is a pretty fun show and I would recommend checking it out. It’s not soaring into the next dimension or anything like that but it’s a well rounded product.

The movie starts with Tom finally becoming a master pianist and really excelling in Central Park. Jerry can’t have that though so first he humiliates Tom by immediately surpassing him and then breaking the guy’s piano. Jerry breaks into a legendary hotel while Tom is stuck out in the back. It looks like Tom has finally been defeated once and for all and even has to watch his back as the alley cats are quite fierce.

Meanwhile we cut away to the main human character named Kayla. She desperately needs a job and manages to steal someone’s resume so she can be hired at this fancy hotel. Kayla figures she can fake it until she makes it and the timing is fortunate since a super fancy wedding is about to happen between Preeta and Ben. If she can help plan this to perfection then she will be good. The only obstacle in her path is Jerry. The little guy is making a mockery of the establishment as he lives in total bliss. Kayla will need to team up with Tom to stop him but will their combined efforts be enough?

Now I’ve always been on Team Tom. He is typically on the losing side but if anything that makes it easier to root for him because who doesn’t appreciate an underdog? I’d also argue that Tom has been shown to be far more compassionate over the years as he expresses real sadness when Jerry is seemingly dead while the reverse is almost never true. They each have their moments of course but 9 times out of 10 I’d be banking on Tom to take the high road. Like in this film where he was really minding his own business until Jerry stepped in.

Maybe Jerry just wants to be friends and doesn’t know how to express himself but either way it’s tough for Tom. Tom & Jerry are consistent with how they usually appear and it’s nostalgic to see them fight. I would say the reason it just doesn’t totally capture me is because it all seems a little played out. I feel like a lot of specific instances here were grabbed from the old cartoons. I don’t think the slapstick itself is just over the hill though as there are ways to make it work but this one was not able to pull it off. They aren’t bad scenes but I guess they feel like filler as you wait on the human side.

On the flip side, the human sides are strong enough where you could see this as being more of a strength to that section as opposed to being a weakness on the other. Kayla may be taking some rather radical shortcuts like when she suckered the actual interviewee but that was also a good demonstration of her people skills. The interviewee was also shown to immediately be antagonistic and rather stuck up to make it harder to feel bad for her. Seriously this lady was getting ready to interview for a job…isn’t that the worst time to be getting an attitude since staff could be watching?

Once she’s in, Kayla does a good job of quickly getting into the swing of things. She has some good ideas and if not for the fact that Jerry is supremely powerful (even able to break out of a sealed, chained up box in an instant since he was already behind Tom before it finished moving) Kayla probably would have been able to claim victory here. There isn’t a lot more to her personality beyond just being a good worker and earnest so don’t expect a big character arc or anything but she makes for a good main character.

Then you have the two people who are to be married and I can’t say that I was a big fan of either to be honest. Ben was definitely the weaker of the two though as his whole character arc is that he wants to impress Preeta’s father even at the expense of Preeta not getting the wedding that she wanted. Yes, she could have spoken up more but at the end of the day it’s really his fault for not picking up on any of the obvious signs. He just got too obsessed to the point where he allowed this to cost him everything.

As for Preeta, she was unhappy the whole time but wouldn’t speak up. Instead she effectively blows up at the end of the film but if she had confronted Ben more at the start then this could have been avoided. She takes less of the blame here but I found that trait to be annoying, particularly as they are about to be married in which case they should certainly be close enough to have a conversation of this level. How will they handle more difficult topics if this one poses such a challenge?

Terence is really the main villain here and I would absolutely say that he gets off too easily. Keep in mind that the entire reputation of the hotel is riding on this wedding and that it has cost a small fortune. Keep that closely in mind whenever this guy is on screen. Now, as an antagonist he is great though. The guy has a lot of solid lines and was the only one to suspect Kayla at the beginning. He doesn’t even seem like he was always going to go down the villain route as he is a tough boss but one who does get along well enough with the staff.

There don’t seem to have been any complaints previously so that is worth keeping in mind. He just gets progressively more and more obsessed as the film goes on until he has totally lost his mind. Meanwhile Cameron is way more of a laidback kind of character who serves as a contrast to Terence. He’s just having a good time serving the drinks and cheering Kayla on. He doesn’t ultimately get a ton to do, but I think the humor there is mainly supposed to be in how calm he is while everyone’s panicking. I like this addition because I do think some people would take this whole situation in stride.

Joy is the comic relief character who does not work. Her thing is she’s very socially awkward and takes forever to get to the point. I understand the character trait and what the movie is going for but it just doesn’t work. None of her scenes are entertaining at all and just end up falling flat.

Dubros is the boss of the hotel and I liked this guy. He’s very open minded like when he allowed Tom to work at the hotel and does a good job of running the business. He’s not too controlling and just makes sure that things are working on a macro level. You can see why the hotel is as well known as it is. There are a few other characters around like Spike who is still portrayed as the strongest animal in the film but that’s about it for the main cast. Ultimately it’s a fun group of characters.

I’d give the writing a thumbs up here. There are enough well written scenes to make you smile and have a good time. It’s really the definition of what I would call a pretty good film. It’s playing it very safe and not doing a whole lot of things outside of the box but at the same time that means it’s also not trying too hard to be the next big thing. Whether or not you’re a big fan of the Tom & Jerry aspects, I’d say there is a lot you can get out of this.

Overall, Tom & Jerry is worth checking out. It’s not the kind of film that would really be amplified in a theatrical experience so you could certainly just went it or catch it on TV when it’s around. It’ll be nice if they could continue to make more films in the series but it is crucial that the human aspect stays rather solid or they find some way to make the Tom & Jerry parts a little more creative. I do think there is a whole lot more you could do with that dynamic after all like maybe a full fledged team up. Not a small one for a small part of the climax but I mean a full cinematic adventure where they team up. Maybe someone kidnaps that little friend/cousin Jerry used to hang out with in the TV show so he asks Tom for help. That could make for a great story.

Overall 7/10

Candy Flurry Review


Candy Flurry is a fairly recent Jump title that never managed to get out from the bottom of the rankings. While its cancellation always appeared imminent, it seemed to have a pretty cool gimmick going. Who doesn’t like sweets? In many ways it was going after the One Piece angle of eating a food that gives you special powers while still being different in its own right. It’s a solid series but I think its attempts at humor were ultimately its undoing.

The series begins by explaining the general lore of the series which is that Tokyo was destroyed by a bunch of giant lollipops that rained down from the sky. 5 years later nobody has actually started rebuilding yet but people are still trying to raise funds to do so. A toy company had come out with 100 snacks which gave people super powers. Each candy is unique so no two people will have the same power. As a result the government put together a special unit known as the Recette to track down these 100 power users.

Each user needs to either register with the government or be arrested. You are not allowed to use your powers against non power users and that is true even for government agents unless you’re taking down a criminal. Nobody knows much more than that about the company that released these snacks and so the world is still going ahead as normal but now there are many people who no longer like snacks.

We’re then introduced to our main character Tsumugi. She has the ability to use Lollipops in combat but is not the one who attacked the system. This is dangerous because as the world knows, no two people can have the same power. So nobody will believe her if she tries to say anything and since she knows this is a lie, is it also a lie that there are only 100 power users out there? She aims to find the true culprit and live a normal life in the meantime but it’s difficult with criminals running everywhere.

Her life is changed forever when she meets a guy named Misaki. He’s a young member of the Recette who is determined to be a great agent but lacks real ability. She saves him from a punk so now he is the only one who knows her identity. Together they must catch the criminals while making sure she isn’t detected but that will be difficult. Can Tsumugi pull this off?

At its core this is a classic Shonen Jump title. It’s a very light hearted adventure that is part school comedy and part action. It reminds me a bit of the opening act for Seraph of the End but without the violent beginning. This doesn’t really seem like the kind of series that will go that far. It’s early on of course but definitely happier than most titles and you can get a feel for that from the art style as well. Perhaps World Trigger would be the best comparison.

One of the strongest positives for the series is the artwork. It’s way clearer than you would expect from a new series. Unlike the Ghostwriter, I don’t believe this is from an already established artist either which only serves to increase how impressive this is. The powers are very clear when they’re in use and the fights are on point. The action scenes are always pretty fast though with Tsumugi typically defeating her opponents in a single shot.

I’d like some longer fights but I’m sure the author was trying to cover as much ground as possible so I can see why the pacing is so fast. The fights are good and I do like the overall atmosphere. The school combat routine lends itself well to these kinds of adventures. Many memorable titles started out like this such as Bleach, Buzo Renkin, Seraph of the End and more. There are so many different ways you could take this and there is a lot of groundwork laid out for a lot of extra lore.

You’ve got different classes of fighters and a whole government structure. The toy group will clearly have a nefarious agenda and with 100 power users, that may not sound like a lot but it’s still enough to last for a few arcs until we get more villains. Presumably the Recette isn’t completely useless so lets say they’ve already apprehended about 30 power users. The government probably employs around 30 agents so when you throw in Tsumugi then there should be at least 30+ on the loose. If they’re all strong then that will work out well.

You’ve also got the steroid pills that anyone can use so you can have human villains as well. I do think it was a mistake to show us some of the most powerful government workers this early though. Irie and Amanai are both members of the top 5 agents in the whole government and they are struggling against the villain group right away. That’s why you usually keep the strongest fighters hidden until later. Jujutsu Kaisen pulled it off by showing Gojo right away…but he wasn’t struggling in his first fights. That would be anti climactic and so Candy Flurry should have made these guys maybe Top 30 or Top 20. Going straight to Top 5 is too fast.

Still, it’s all good so far so where does the series struggle? Personally I think the writing is the biggest problem that Candy Flurry has. It’s not nearly as funny as it seems to think it is. One of Tsumugi’s gimmicks is commenting on how cute she is so the guys will always buy her snacks and be nice to her. That’s a rather…narcissistic trait for a main character. I was rather taken aback when she talked like that. We learn that she has been asked out like 30 times or so which I guess has bolstered her confidence every time she declines.

Then she accuses one of the villains of sexual harassment when he pointed out that his gum might get stuck in her hair when he’s shooting his attacks (He has gum powers) so maybe she should cut it. That’s….a very big stretch on her part. It just makes Tsumugi a little more unlikable than anything else because that’s a very out of place line and destroys any chance at bantering.

I like Tsumugi’s confidence when in battle but as a character I actually didn’t like her all that much. She has her share of comedic moments that are solid and she is serious in battle but her personality just doesn’t mesh well with the character. If anything you just feel bad for Misaki when Tsumugi is using him or framing him to higher expectations than he can ever hope to achieve. He is rather slow on the uptake though so a lot of it is his fault.

Not to pile onto her character too much but she also has some of the worst comebacks to the villains. One of them mentions how he wants to make everyone a power user so he can be the strongest with his lollipops at which point Tsumugi says that sweets are for eating not fighting. Keep in mind that she’s saying this after smashing people in the head with her Lollipop and defeating numerous opponents. Her speech about how anything connected to a stick can be a lollipop also felt incredibly random.

So, Tsumugi has her charms but I think the writing hurts her character. Ideally as the series went on she would get a lot better though. Not every character is amazing out of the gate like Bam, Yoh, or Yugi but if a series goes on long enough usually you will improve. So I don’t doubt that she would get better. One step to doing that would be to stop holding back even when you’re about to die but that’s mostly on the series being abruptly ended so I think she wasn’t meant to be as powerful as she was in the final chapter.

Continuing on the writing angle though, it’s not like this only hurts Tsumugi. Irie is another character in the series and one of the Top 5 fighters that I mentioned. She has some of the same iffy dialogue. She accuses another villain of harassment and what I did like is that he calls her out on it. He asks why she has a double standard between him and another villain who’s traditionally more good looking and she struggles for a response. When she accuses him a second time he flat out denies it and she admits that she made a mistake.

This in no way makes Irie even slightly likable. Now, she was stalling for time in the second instance so you could say this was to that end, but it has to be one of the worst ways to stall for time. Additionally she is very one note. Her personality is that she can be really smart at times and really dumb at other moments. She’ll make a great deduction and then fall for the simplest trick in the book. Or she’ll land a great combat technique and then remember that she left her books at home.

Thing is, this happens in every single one of her appearances. This goes back to Candy Flurry trying to move really fast even to its own detriment. Each character has a gimmick and the author wants you to remember this so it is brought up every time. Irie has her forgetfulness, Misaki always follows the rules, Amanai is a tough coach, Tsumugi’s teammate is super in love with Irie and always crying, etc.

Now I get that there is pressure to move fast or you’ll be cancelled but this does end up hurting Flurry a bit. I think to a large extent the series was trying to also be a commentary on Shonen Jump titles like Medaka Box but doesn’t have nearly the same level of writing ability. You have Tsumugi criticizing the trope of just jumping into battle without a plan, a villain getting insulted for wearing a uniform that just so happens to have an image that looks like him, etc. The dialogue can feel really meta a lot of the time but it’s just not executed very well.

You know how when meta dialogue is very well done you don’t think twice and just grin because of how true the critique is? That’s not the case here as you’ll just pause and think, would the characters actually say that? It’s entertaining though even if not very realistic. To underscore, the series is still a lot of fun. There are plenty of humor moments that do land like the dialogue with the Popcorn user and Tsumugi. The debates about which candy is best can be good as well. What truly counts as a Lollipop and what doesn’t. Things like that are interesting and I also like that the characters don’t have exaggerated reactions to the humor. They take things personally and keep joking around while trying to hurt the other one. The moments like this are really good so I think the series is at its best when the humor is being direct like that. So it has its flaws but I do want to underscore that you should still get some good chuckles out of this.

Lets talk about the rest of the characters now. I already talked about Tsumugi quite a bit and also started on Irie. Not much more to say about her but Irie’s ice cream ability seems like it would be really useful. It’s just a shame that she isn’t immune to her own power and can only fight for 3 minutes after activation which is a huge weakness. I also found it a little funny how she disregards Tsumugi as a suspect for being too weak since Irie was stomping her and nearly murdered the heroine but later on we find out that Tsumugi was holding back and is actually way stronger than Irie….

Misaki is the main guy here and while he may be powerless, he has a heart of justice. It would be nice if he were a bit stronger though as he loses to random minions on the street. Additionally, he gets beaten up by the bullies because he refuses to harm a civilian. Sorry but this is taking things wayyyy too far. If someone’s beating you up then you better defend yourself. There’s nothing heroic about being pounded into the dirt so that hurts him quite a lot.

As for Amanai, he doesn’t appear nearly long enough to get much of a read on him. They’re definitely going for an Eraser feel for him as the guy has a similar costume, is sleepy/bored all the time but gets really serious about the rules. He doesn’t get to have a proper fight though as it is interrupted by the main villain and he’s sidelined real quickly. I could see him being a fun character if the series had kept going though.

Umino is the son of the boss of the Recette so he’s a fairly big shot but his opening appearance is him crying a lot. Now, this is a character I can maybe get behind. If you can get around the fact that he is constantly trying to impress Irie even if it means dying in the process and his lack of confidence, and you’ve got a good character. He has enough power to defeat several fighters at once after all and even gives the Popcorn user a good piece of advice.

I dare say that he is probably my favorite hero in the series. I’d have to think about it some more but off the top I’d say that’s true. I also think there were a lot of things he would probably do in the future. My actual favorite character is the pop corn user. What’s his name? Well, this is a slight nitpick for the series but they rarely use names so that makes it difficult to find them. Even for Umino, they only say his name once in his debut appearance chapters on a little tablet when you’re looking at the tournament bracket. Otherwise you just don’t know who he is. Seriously, in the first three chapters where this guy appears they don’t say his name once so I’m just going to have to call him the Popcorn guy.

But yeah Popcorn guy is pretty great. He’s clearly modeled off of Bakugo’s character design to the point where one panel almost seems ripped straight out of MHA. Same costume from that angle and the same pose. I like that this guy is your classic “Really wants to fight” character while also having some original traits. When Tsumugi calls him a loser he refuses to tell her anything about the villains which is reasonable. A lot of times you see the villain still tell everything but he took that insult rather personally.

In fact, he takes every insult she dishes out (And there are a lot) personally and even tries to change himself as a result. Umino points out that this would actually make him a loser if he changes upon request so you feel bad for the guy because everyone is taking shots at him. Still, as a villain he has a lot of personality and just really sticks out. Which I quickly skimmed through the chapters and it looks like none of the villain members aside from the leader gets a power so they’re just off handily referred to my their snacks. I guess like a hero name? Hmmm…..well I’ll go with that for the review too then.

Another villain member is Gum and he’s another good villain. He’s the one who called out Irie’s double standard and he is fairly creative with his ability. Even once the gum is frozen he is able to quickly figure out how to fight with it. The guy is even crying during the battle because of how hurt he is. Candy Flurry really loves its emotional characters that’s for sure. It works well for this guy.

Then you have Gummy who is one of those villains that acts like a hero the whole time. He doesn’t believe in cheap shots and just wants to have a clean fight. He doesn’t like hostages either. Yet…he does use cheap shots and take hostages so the guy is absolutely all talk. He seems to want to help Misaki keep his secret identity though. It’s hard to get a read on him so ultimately I’d say he’s just insane or heavily misguided. We have a quick flashback where all of the villains actually wanted to be heroes the whole time but it never worked out due to off screen events we’ll never know about.

I think it’s an interesting idea to have a villain who feels like he’s a hero. You can do a lot with that but this guy betrays his ideals within the span of a chapter so I can’t take him seriously. Meanwhile there are about 4-5 other members who show up briefly in the third last chapter but they’re all taken out off screen and only appear in one more panel. I guess they were about to have some big fights before the author was told that the series was about to be abruptly ended. They looked like they had potential but we don’t know a whole lot about them at this point. The third member would be cookie I think but he didn’t even get a line so there’s not much to say about him.

It is uncanny how each member of the villain group looks so similar to other characters. You have Bakugo from MHA, Yuji and Megumi from JJK, Zora from Black Clover, etc. I suppose it’s tough to come up with new character designs after a while but with so many characters it’s hard not to notice.

Finally you have the main villain Amato. This guy took out an entire city so he’s definitely a threat and he does take out most of the heroes really quickly. His goal of turning everyone into power users is a pretty interesting one although we don’t know how he would go about doing this yet. I do like that he’s very loyal to the rest of his group though and even sets out to save them.

Based on the flashback we see that he’s a rather caring guy as well. I definitely expect he would be turning good at some point since the series already laid the seeds for that along with the rest of the group. Ultimately he only gets to fight for 2 chapters at which point the series ends but he was impressive. I liked his personality and abilities so he could have gone far.

The snacks lend itself well to the fight scenes because of how much variety they had. They were very different from your average fights and I imagine the creativity would have only continued to increase if the series was given more time. The giant robot at the end felt extremely random to the point where it became a bit of a meme but I think that only happened because the series was cancelled. Otherwise it makes no sense because no matter how Tsumugi tries to explain it…that robot was not a Lollipop in any shape or form.

I did appreciate the twist that Tsumugi was actually the most powerful sweets user around and was just holding back the whole time. I’m all up for having an overpowered protagonist and it also explains her absolute confidence the whole time. I do suspect that she was not meant to be this powerful and had to be boosted since she needed to beat the main villain in one chapter but maybe not. It was hinted in one chapter that she was super powerful when she “barely” defeated one villain only to suddenly be at full strength when fighting another. Even the villain commented that she had seemed tired just a moment ago.

As you can see by the size of the review, there was a lot to discuss here. I think that speaks volumes about the potential of the manga. It was only 19 chapters and yet there is so much to talk about. It really was a unique experience even if a lot of the overall fundamentals were on the generic side. After all, a lot of battle Shonens will have similarities and it’s that extra element you add to it that determines if you will be an all star or not. If this could have gone on for many more chapters maybe it could have been the next big thing.

As a final note, here’s what I would have done differently to keep the series from being cancelled. The first thing is to make Tsumugi more of a likable character. Just don’t make her the kind of character who is too into herself and take away the accusations from the villains. It seems like the author wanted to make her a very confident character based on most of her portrayal so just focus on that.

Maybe throw in some bragging about her abilities or trash talking during combat. Give her the kind of lines you would see Yusuke, Ichigo, or Ryoma have since it seems like she should be that kind of protagonist. That’s a quick fix and I think it would be a good one since Tsumugi does have a lot of instances where she is very likable. Just a tiny tweak here and there and you would stick the landing.

Work on improving the writing as well. Get rid of the dialogue that feels extremely out of place. If you want to keep the humor up, keep doing it with the meta dialogue and all but try to make it feel more natural. A key thing to remember here is also that the heroes should be likable so don’t make them create false claims to buy time or give the villains any chance to make it seem like they are the sympathetic ones. With the government being as extreme as they are here and the lab doing live human experiments on kids…it makes it very easy to be rooting for the villains more than you should. Especially when they’re the ones using the power of friendship while the heroes are fighting among themselves.

Beyond that, I’d say just take it slow and keep introducing everyone. There’s a lot of potential for this to have been a really long running series. There’s not much more to say as those are really the only two things I would change. Writing and Tsumugi. With those two areas improved I think you’ll have a real winner here.

Overall, Candy Flurry is a fun title. It’s certainly got its flaws but nothing super drastic. I would still call this a pretty good title through and through. At only 19 chapters this makes for a very quick read. It seems like most cancelled titles tend to get a bonus chapter when the volume comes out as an epilogue of sorts so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that to give it a read when this becomes available. We’ll see if the next cancelled title can keep up with Candy Flurry. At the very least it’ll be tough to top the fights and artwork since both were quite solid. Who knows, maybe in 20 years this will get a sequel or something.

Overall 7/10

Murder Most Foul Review


Marple returns for another adventure in my little marathon but this time she really has a time limit since an innocent man will die if she doesn’t solve the case in time. Unless of course she is mistaken and the cops did grab the right fella in this case. Only time will tell but Marple is also going to have to become an actress for a little while if she is to succeed.

The movie starts out with someone getting attacked and murdered but unfortunately the police officer who was passing by did not notice. A trial is held with the primary suspect who was found near the lady who was murdered. Everyone including the police think it is an open and shut case but fortunately Miss Marple was there as one of the jurors and prevented the case from being concluded. She believes that he has been framed and intends to prove it but the Inspector shows up and reminds her not to interfere with police business. She is going to have to be on her own this time along with some help from Springer.

The first thing she will have to do is join a local acting circuit and while she is initially turned down for being too old, her money has a clear voice and alters the outcome. She must figure out which member of the troupe committed this foul deed and bring him or her to justice. It’ll be difficult though because all of these guys are rather young and fairly quick on their feet. Underestimating them would not be a good idea. Can she crack the case?

Marple is about as solid as always here. She makes sure to have the upper hand against the villains at all times and even reminds us that she has her gun skills at the ready. She isn’t afraid of anyone and takes all kinds of risks in order to get close to the case. Her confidence never wavers and you could go on and on about what a quality character she is. The overall point is that since she can fight as well, that elevates her character since she now has ways to defend herself.

As for the Inspector, well by now he’s starting to play a really central role in these films. He’s also starting to take the whole battle with Marple a lot more personally or at least that’s how I see it. At first he may not have believed her but he didn’t seem upset about it. Now he throws fits and even tries to arrest her. He’s really not happy to see her at all and you’d think he would be since she is always solving cases and putting murderers beyond bars. The Inspector starts to appear very unreasonable but he’s still fun as an antagonist.

He may mean well but since the guy is constantly trying to get in her way it’s hard to call him a protagonist at all. It’s a shame since he does want to be a defender of justice. Springer is helpful here as well as he always gets orders from Marple to head to various places and gather intel. In some ways his missions are very dangerous as well since he’s really going places to find out information that the villains don’t want to get out.

As for the actors/actresses, some of them do seem a bit unhinged so you can definitely see how things would get a bit crazy. One of them tries to strangle another only to say that it was all a joke at the end. Then you have a girl who hears voices and talks about spirits as she loses her mind every night. She comes close to even stabbing Marple which is crazy and shows that there may not be just 1 villain around. The director of the troupe is desperate for money so he at least makes a show of trying to be helpful but you don’t buy it. He’s more obsessed with having a good show than with actually aiding the police which is not a good look for him.

All of the usual musical tracks are here along with the quality writing you would expect from the series. The case is interesting and the characters are good which is all that you need. The suspects may not be the most likable bunch but as they are suspects, this works well enough for me. That said, I would consider this to be the weakest film in the series.

For starters, having the court case be almost completely off screen was disappointing. There’s a lot you could do with Miss Marple in a court setting. It would be an interesting dynamic to have had her solve the case while in the room with the jurors. Maybe it would have been difficult to turn that into a whole movie but I think the idea has potential.

Then you have Marple’s tryout scene which I thought was rather dragged out and not too interesting. It’s easy to see why she was initially denied entry since she just wouldn’t work very well in the play. None of the actual acting scenes were particularly exciting though as you just want to get in on the action. Near the end you have the main plot going on at the same time which works better since there is a point to it. The Inspector’s right hand man looks pretty bad in the process though since he really left his post completely. When you’ve got one task and there are life and death stakes you definitely need to take everything rather seriously if you ask me.

Overall, Murder Most Foul is still another quality title overall. I would have played things out a little differently but at the end it’s a murder mystery that does deliver on both aspects. You shouldn’t have any serious issues with this one as stay engaged with the case. With the inspector even getting a promotion at the end you like to think that maybe he will be a little nicer to Marple going forward and can even help her out in her cases right? Well, we’ll see in the final installment in the series.

Overall 7/10

Megaman Zero Review


Time to look at a manga I started a long time ago. It was time for the full revisit and to finish it off this time. Unfortunately the series still suffers from quite a few issues that end up limiting its overall potential. The Zero games have some of the best storylines in the whole franchise and could have become one of the best Megaman manga titles on the block. Instead this one decided to go for more of a comedy route which was passable in Arc 1 at best but went over the edge in the second half.

The story picks up with a group of kids heading to an abandoned factory where they see a deactivated Zero. It has been many years since the Megaman X series and we learn that there was a civil war that the humans managed to win and so all of the reploids were destroyed. There are some exceptions though and robots still work for the government. Unfortunately, the world is now run by a dictator and as a result there is no peace in the land. The kids accidentally awaken Zero who saved them from a nearby patrol. Unfortunately Zero is suffering from complete amnesia and can only activate his Zero mode once in a while.

He has a complete case of split personality now and in both forms he doesn’t retain his memories of the other. As Zero he is a merciless fighter who is excellent in combat but not all that compassionate. As his human form he is a complete scaredy-cat who gets beat up by the kids and doesn’t want to fight against anyone. He cries a whole lot as well. Will Zero really be able to help the resistance reclaim the world while he is in this state or is it just a lost cause?

Right away you can see how the manga is taking a lot of liberties from the game. Why give Zero amnesia and make him a complete comic relief character? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense and I don’t think it works as a great narrative move either. If I was the author I would have played the game straight and it would have made for a great story.

The tragic part about all of this is that the art is actually extremely good. The fight scenes that we do get are on point and I like the character designs. The humor can really get in your face though as the characters yell and cry a whole lot. Seeing Zero get picked on by Lito (The main kid) is a bit jarring as well. The villains are played seriously though and Ciel was a fun character. There are a number of good elements here but you feel like it all could have just been better

It’s like looking at a distorted view of the actual adventure. Still, this arc was pretty good and if it ended here I would have said that the title was different but still pretty good in the end. We then cut to the second arc which may as well be a completely different series.

So 50 years have passed since the events of the first arc. The main kid is now referred to as grandpa by everyone in the village and he is fairly well respected. Well one day Lito has finally finished rebuilding a brand new Zero to protect the village. This one doesn’t have amnesia of course and his personality is totally different. He’s like a kid and really just wants to impress grandpa. While he starts out as being rather weak, he gradually improved throughout the series. That’s good because the evil Dr. Weil is fast approaching and he wants to find the Dark Elf so that he can do something sinister. His main ally is a robot called Omega who may be the most powerful opponent yet. Can this Zero duplicate really claim victory?

The humor was already high in arc 1 but they double down on it in arc 2. There isn’t a serious Zero anymore to fight for the people and this time the villains aren’t played straight either. All of them are comic relief like Omega being scared of ghosts, getting kidnapped, etc. Even grandpa is a shadow of his former self as he willingly sells off one of the elves to the villains without hesitation. The only reason why he ends up helping is because the villains ended up cheating him on the money but otherwise he was perfectly content with the trade. Not a very heroic kind of guy now is he?

The arc also just doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with the Megaman Zero games. Sure we do have the dark elf but it isn’t really important to the plot. Even by the end we never actually find it and the villain just gets sent packing again as always. It’s really just an excuse to have some more fights which would be fun if they were actually taken seriously. Since they are all comedic moments now, the artist doesn’t get nearly as much to do this time around. The art is still on point whenever something serious is going on but there’s not as much big action as I’d like.

We do get a Christmas chapter though which is fun. It’s nice to see the gang celebrating even if the idea of drunk Zero is definitely pushing it a bit. Getting drunk on cola eh? Seems like a design flaw from Grandpa if you ask me. The final chapter doesn’t even feel like a big finale with how Zero and the gang just beat the villain up again.

We do get a final side story chapter of sorts where we get to see where the real Zero is. It’s a fun way to end things off but it almost makes things more tragic since this is really serious and intense so it makes you wonder why the series couldn’t have been this way the whole time. It’s pretty emotional as Ciel misses Zero the whole time and he’s nearly destroyed but he’s finally able to make it back home. It’s a wholesome way to end this whole we also know that the villains are still around.

The second arc ultimately ends up shaving the series down one star just because it really lost its way. The series went into full comedy land which can work with the right writing but that isn’t really the level of quality you would expect to see in this manga. Ultimately it wasn’t ready for this genre combo and that’s what ended up finishing it off in the end.

As for the characters, well I wasn’t a fan of Zero here. I liked the glimpses we got of him in his serious mode but they were few and far between. That’s effectively only half of the character in this series and the other half drags him down a lot. He has no courage and is always trying to run from his problems. That is really not the Zero that I know.

Then you have the kid who is rather annoying the whole time. Lito is always beating up Zero for every little thing and you feel like he should be giving him a break sometimes. He definitely doesn’t deserve all the hits that he gets. Additionally, the kid got worse as an old man like when he tried to sell the elf. There’s no real going back from that even if it was a gag.

Ciel was a good character though and it’s too bad she couldn’t have appeared more. I liked her personality here as she was quick to start blasting and a little more headstrong than you may have thought. The scene where she tells Zero that he’s in danger when she starts shouting was great. Despite being a central figure in the games you shouldn’t expect to see a lot of her here.

The 4 guardians like Pandora and the others are fun. As mentioned, the series does play them out to be very serious which is nice. I always thought their designs were real solid but then again, designs are an area where the game series really thrived in general. Copy X also gets to show up but that part was a bit anticlimactic. Let’s just say that he ultimately goes down in one hit which I don’t think makes any sense. It feels like more of a cameo than anything especially with how his origin is a lot different here. He shows up out of nowhere.

Arc 2 introduces a few new characters like Craft. Craft starts out as a serious character for 5 seconds before he falls in love with one of the girls in the village. From there he is a changed man as every scene with him is a gag of him stalking her or getting beaten up in one hit by Zero. At first he was shown to be really powerful but after that we knew the truth. This guy wasn’t very powerful at all and would he one of the first to get absolutely crushed in short order. I thought he had potential at first but didn’t like him in the end.

Then you have Omega who is as comic relief as you can get. He is scared of ghosts, cries a lot, and is shown to be much weaker than Zero. He is not even remotely a threat and Zero doesn’t respect the guy so why should the audience?  Ultimately that is what keeps him from being a quality character.

Dr. Weil doesn’t even have much of a personality either. The guy wants the Dark Elf but that’s really all he talks about. He threatens Omega a bit I suppose but I don’t think anyone is really taking that very seriously. This arc could have absolutely used some more quality characters. The reporter is okay I suppose. She is at least trying to get her story the right way and is a fun enough character but doesn’t really get to do much even after she decides to stay at the village. You’ve also got Roze but all he does is show why the village is filled with a bunch of ungrateful guys. They are quick to turn on Zero in an instant which is just awful.

Overall, Megaman Zero is a series that could and should have been great but instead I can only say that it was decently good. It’s a fine read and it’s short so you should blast through it. The comedy can be jarring and the characters aren’t great but the fight scenes are good and occasionally you will see a glimpse of brilliance. This is not how I would have created the series but if you’re a big fan of Megaman then it’s still worth checking this one out real quick.

Overall 6/10