Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a manga that ended pretty recently. The Promised Neverland is a very different Shonen Jump title. It’s a lot darker than most and is going for a full horror vibe. Don’t expect to find big super forms or hyper fights running around in this title. It’s more of a slow burner with the heroes trying to escape the demons, at least for most of the series. The series peaked rather early on with the final arcs getting to be a bit much with the plot armor. It’s an interesting series but one that I’m not really a fan of.

The plot starts by introducing us to Emma and the other kids who currently live at an orphanage. They have to take many tests each year which gives them various scores. The 3 smartest kids by far are Emma, Norman, and Ray. They are geniuses at this point. Unfortunately their lives are turned upside down when they find out that one of the kids has been murdered. It turns out that their home is actually a breeding ground for demons and they murder all of the kids. Emma now needs to find a way to save everyone but that will naturally be a difficult task. Can she accomplish this mission along with Norman and Ray?

You can already see how this series will be pretty dark. The heroes literally live on a farm where they are the meals. You also have to live with the knowledge that there are other farms out there with kids who won’t be quite as fortunate as the main characters. We get some pretty interesting mental battles between Norman and Ray during this arc which are typically the highlight. They’re definitely the smartest characters in the series after all. Norman is definitely a bit smarter than Ray though and tends to come out on top.

The second arc changes things up a bit as they finally escape the place. They manage to make it to another farm where Lord Bayon has trapped a bunch of other kids. The rules of this farm are different as it is a pure survival game. Everyone already knows that they are the prey in this case. Every day a few more kids are lost. Emma decides to help their commanders Oliver and Lucas take down the demons. The heroes are through with running and this time they’ll be taking the fight to the villains. Can mere human kids really take these guys down though?

We get quite a bit of solid action here and the heroes learn how to fight back against the demons. It’s definitely the best arc in the series. Granted, this is also where the power levels initially start to get a bit wonky. So the demons have a weakpoint that can be shot. It’s good since that lets the heroes do something but half the time they only win because the demons barely move. There’s no way they could hope to defeat these demons in a straight fight even with a weakpoint. The battle with Leuvis was great for sure, but it’s one that he definitely should have won. That was one reason why it was fun to throw the adults in here, you can definitely see them doing a bit better.

I’d say the third arc is probably protecting the base but it’s almost more of a transition arc. I’d say this could basically lead us to the final arc. We’re introduced to the concept of metahumans who have been developed to stop the demons. The problem is that they are still outnumbered. If they can murder the Demon Queen then this long fight will finally be over. The problem is that Emma doesn’t really want to murder the demons. She wants a world of peace and her inaction threatens to jeopardize the heroes. Will they have to take her down to ensure a better tomorrow?

This final arc definitely added quite a bit of new elements to the series. One of those things was an alien/god who would show up and it all got very meta. It’s an interesting angle even if it doesn’t feel like it’s from the series. A positive element was the metahumans. These guys have actual powers in the form of strength and speed so now this was a group I could see actually taking down the demons. I also liked that Norman’s group was taking a more active approach. They were shutting down farms left and right in what was a very effective campaign during the war between humans and demons. They were really doing just fine on their own so the whole time it felt like they absolutely did not need the main group. If anything it felt like Emma and Ray were holding them back. If they had stuck to just the metahumans running around and fighting I think it would have helped with the power levels.

Lets talk about Emma. She’s a character who changes quite a lot as the series goes on. Unlike the other kids she is not willing to make any sacrifices. She wants to save everyone without a doubt. It’s a noble cause even if the others give her grief about it. She’s a little more unhinged than most leads and the manga does a good job of showing this with the various zoom ins. The art really knows how to get very dynamic. That said, her resolve starts to get a little shaky in the final arc. Suddenly she doesn’t want to destroy any of the demons either? At some points it’s really a decision of whether you save the kids or the demons but you couldn’t possibly do both. This request is a bit more unreasonable on her part. I can’t fault it morally because it’s good to be able to save everyone but it does ruin all of the plans. Without plot armor her decisions would have definitely destroyed the rest of the group.

It just seems like a very different perspective on her part. The demons ruined everything for the heroes and they all couldn’t stand them. A big part of what changed Emma were the two nice demons who helped her out but even so, it was pretty surprising to see. Her final decision was also pretty selfless although it definitely did totally go against what everyone else would have wanted. A selfish choice to help out others, that’s one I can agree with. So Emma’s a good character, but a little too extreme at times. Of course all of the main characters tend to be extreme in some way or another.

Norman gets a really big role in the series. At his core he’s more merciless like Ray but he always tries to help Emma out as much as he can. He’s the brains of the group and does a good job of making sure Emma succeeds in whatever she wants to do. He looks pretty great throughout the series. If anything, if Emma hadn’t shown up I feel like he probably had everything under control. I can also see why his subordinates were pretty upset at the change of character. Then we have Ray who is the best member of the 3 if you ask me. He’s definitely got solid ambition. He’s easily the most rational of the 3 even if Norman is the smartest. Ray always goes for the highest chance of success even if it means sacrificing some people. Ray still does his best to be heroic though and Emma helps change him on that. He has no problems eliminating the demons though.

Then you have Isabella who is the first big villain we see. After all, she’s looking after the children and getting them set up to be eaten. She’s rotten to the core. So you can probably guess how her character arc will go during the series and all I can say is that it isn’t really earned. She did break Emma’s bone intentionally and that’s not even counting the people she actively delivered. While she can make for a good villain, it’s hard to see her as a sympathetic one. Then we have Krone who shows up early in the series. She’s pretty intimidating and also has some good tactics up her sleeve. She can’t compete with Isabella in terms of wit but does a good job regardless.

After the main 3 kids, most of the others weren’t particularly solid at least from the first house. Don and Gilda always felt like they were just getting in the way. They would ignore the wise advice from the main 3 to go ahead and do their own thing. Just because it works out doesn’t mean it was the right move. They’re always a few steps behind. Phil is another kid who gets a roll although he’s one of the youngest so he’s not exactly out in the field. Mostly his character was fun out of universe as there were many theories about him. None of them ever actually happened though so his role is extremely small. It makes sense though since having him fight would be odd.

Mujika is one of the two special demons that meets up with the main characters. She’s not much of a fighter as she is typically known as more of an intelligent demon. She tries to stay ahead of things in that sense so that she won’t even need to fight with the others. Her partner Sonju is the main fighter. Sonju is able to take down several demons at once. The guy’s pretty shady and doesn’t mind murdering humans either. He comes awful close to taking down the kids at one point. He’s not as bad as the rest though so that’s definitely a start. I thought he was one of the more interesting demons and a solid rival to have around. It would have been cool if he could have gotten a few more fights.

Then you have Leuvis who is a solid villain. he likes to have a good fight and I always like that about a villain. He’s willing to let the kids get prepared or whatever they need to make things interesting. It does make for a lot of plot armor on the heroes’ side but that’s to be expected. Regardless it was probably one of the better fights in the series. That arc also introduced us to some new kids and even two adult characters who would go on to be some of the best characters in the series. It reminds me that if the series was based around the adults it probably would have been quite a bit better.

First off is Yugo who initially doesn’t like the kids but gradually gets used to working with them. While he eventually mellows out I can’t say that he starts as anything less than a full villain. He actively did try to murder one of them after all. His fight scenes with Lucas against the government were quite solid. One thing’s for sure, Yugo was never the kind of guy to go down swinging. He went full blast from the jump. Lucas is just as solid if not more so. He never gave up the fight and kept on going the whole way. He’s not quite as skilled as Yugo, but it’s close and he definitely is very good at planning.

Then we have Oliver who is probably the most experienced member of the new kids. He’s a solid fighter and is also a bit older than the others which helps him stay ready for what’s about to come. He’s not on the same level as the metahumans who pop up but that’s okay. He’s strong enough. For the metahumans who appear we’ve got 5 main ones. First up is Vincent who is all about following the plans. He does whatever Norman says. After all, it tends to work out. He’s not really a fighter but he makes sure that all of the characters are in the right spot. I suppose it makes him a little redundant since Norman is smarter but it’s always good to have a backup.

Cislo is pretty fun. There’s not a whole lot to him but he loves murdering demons just like the others. He’s pretty strong and a capable guy to have around. Same for Barbara only she is even more zealous about this. She just loves destroying demons to the point where she eats them. I thought she was definitely the best member of the group. She was always right there on the front lines and could put up a great fight. Finally there’s Zazie who is also strong although he’s a bit more on the mindless side. The powers came at a huge price for him which was pretty unfortunate. He definitely made sure to come through when it counted though.

Ayshe had a sad backstory where she was raised by wolves and definitely does not like Norman or the metahumans. She doesn’t really care for demons either though so she doesn’t really have any friends. She’s a solid fighter though. Ayshe probably gets a smaller role than most of the other characters but the scenes she is in are quite solid. Finally we have the Queen who is of course the strongest demon. She gets a few super forms and looks good. Unfortunately she is way too powerful for this series though. The instant she appears you know that there is no way the kids will be able to do much of anything here. There is no realistic way they could hope to take her down so the final battle gets a little interesting. Either way I did like her as a final boss though. She did a good job of leading the demons even if she should have stepped in sooner to crush the humans.

The art for the series is pretty good. There’s quite a lot of detail in all of the shots. As mentioned earlier, the author did an especially good job of drawing Emma. For some reason Emma became less and less sinister as the series went on though. I don’t think she got any “evil” shots after arc 2. It seems like the author maybe had a different plan for her but ultimately decided to make her more of a hero in the end. I liked the more morally dubious Emma who was willing to blow everyone up to make a point. It did make her look a bit sketchy but that was the point. I can’t be the only one who feels like the Emma in the final arc is a completely different character right? Emma not dishing out veiled threats to people just doesn’t feel right.

Neverland can get pretty dark though so definitely keep that in mind if you start the series. Not only is there a considerable bodycount here but a lot of the people who die are kids. That’s ultimately what holds this series back. When people die it’s pretty fine if they’re main combatants. Context is key of course, but in general having a kid die is a pretty tricky element. Especially a series based around that whole fact. The whole farming thing is about as grim as it gets. You’re unlikely to find another series quite so dark. Attack on Titan’s up there though. It’s in a different way but I would say that it’s pretty comparable.

The series definitely stays pretty interesting throughout. There’s quite a lot of suspense built into it with twists at every corner. As with most mysteries you’ll have to see what you preferred, the build up to it or the payoff. A lot of times the best part of a mystery is the opening act because it’s fun to not know anything. I wouldn’t say any of the twists are bad though. I would have gone in a very different direction with the ending though and added 1 more arc but I suppose the series definitely didn’t want to drag itself out. At least like this people can point to it as a series that’s complete so you can now marathon it from start to finish.

Overall, The Promised Neverland delivers on being a very different kind of manga title. It’ll probably go down as the definitive horror title in Shonen Jump. That said, as horror is already not my genre it’s not surprising that it lagged behind the other manga titles. I’d be down for a sequel series that’s more of a sci-fi thriller with everyone trying to move forward in the new world. I think that could be pretty interesting. That said it’s not like the franchise needs to continue. The ending ties everything up. There are open plots that could be continued but if they don’t you can easily assume what happened on your own. So if you like horror titles then check this one out, otherwise I’d say to go and check out another modern Shonen Jump title like One Piece.

Overall 3/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Kurozakuro Review


It’s time to look at a manga that I had definitely never heard of before. It seems pretty obscure to me, but it lasted for around 7 volumes so I suppose it must have had a fanbase back when it existed. It’s pretty fun and it’s a bit of a shame that it ended so soon. The series had enough going for it where it could have been a few volumes longer. That said, at least we still did get all of the big fights in the end. The series really picked up once the lead character got his act together. This is a pretty traditional action series that will give you a good amount of fun. I’d recommend it.

The series starts with introducing us to Mikito, a pretty ordinary guy. He is definitely a bit of a pacifist and really prefers not to fight but the guy gets bullied quite a bit. The heroine at school encourages him to stick up for himself. Well, one day Mikito does just that and beats the bullies up quite violently. His power seemed greater than a normal human’s and this is actually the case. The legendary being known as Zakuro has implanted himself inside of Mikito. He lives in the character’s psyche and once Zakuro’s powers have completely returned he aims to take control of the world once more. Mikito is now a danger to himself as well as the rest of the world. This sinks in when a monster comes close to murdering his sister. Mikito decides to run away from home while he is still in control of himself but aside from the villains who want to murder him, the various monster hunters are also after his head. Can Mikito keep them all away or is this the end for him.

When it comes to the idea of a demon residing within the main character pretty much every character has taken a shot at it. To an extent this is pretty much mandatory for the main character because it ensures he will always be very powerful. Naruto, Ichigo, Yusuke, Toriko, pretty much all of the big characters have it. Then the leads who don’t like Goku, Gon, Kenshin, have a darker persona within themselves that can grant them extra power when needed. It’s always a pretty nice idea. That said, Zakuro himself is considerably less interesting than most of the monsters and to me he is one of the weakest (not physically but as a character) characters in the series.

At first I wasn’t a big fan of Mikito but he did really improve as the series went on. For starters, his decision to leave home early enough was pretty solid. A lot of characters seem to hesitate about that kind of thing but it is the safest way to ensure his family stays safe. Mikito’s monster genes seem to attract monsters and they certainly attract the hunters as well so he does need to put some distance. The brief scenes of him working for the hunters right under their noses was pretty fun though. It was an interesting dynamic to be sure. Around halfway through the series Mikito finally starts to talk with Zakuro more. Once they’re on the same page Mikito gets more confident in his abilities and that’s when he’s at his best. He dons a cloak and starts to be one of the heavy hitters. I’d have liked the series to go on longer in part because we could have seen him more.

Zakuro never really went up though. He has an interesting backstory and he gets a lot of character development but I just never found him all that cool or entertaining. He got overshadowed by the rest of the cast and villains for sure. The guy can fight though which is always good. Kugai is one of the main characters here and the first hunter we meet. The guy’s a pretty sharp fighter and he’s managed to stay totally human instead of becoming a hybrid. As a result his power definitely does have its limits to be sure, but he isn’t planning on surviving this either way. He does a good job of being the mentor in the series who grudgingly helps out Mikito most of the time. Kugai is pretty solid and definitely one of the better supporting characters.

Gogyo is one of the elite squad members and gets a pretty great entrance. The guy can really fight and is the best hero if you ask me. The guy comes in clutch on many occasions. Ultimately by the end of the series the power levels get too high for anyone who isn’t named Mikito to help but Gogyo manages to keep up with the heroes better than most. He was also a lot more reasonable than the other hunters who would just follow orders no matter what. Thinking for yourself is a critical ability to have.

Then we have Hagi who is another government higher up. This guy is definitely more about following orders until he doesn’t. His scenes near the end of the series are a bit interesting in that respect as he defies orders to try and make a grab for extra power. It’s hard to say what his motivations are most of the time but I would consider him to be a villain. He willingly uses people as sacrifices to get his way so no matter what nice things he tries to do by the end you just can’t buy into it. This guy’s only looking after himself. He is a solid fighter though and holds his own against Gogyo. He made for an interesting villain to have around.

Suguri is one of the first big villains that the heroes fight. You can think of him as a super ogre that is stronger than most. Most ogres are fairly mindless and all they have going for them is a bit of super strength. The Super Ogres have all of their stats amped up further while keeping their human intelligence in check. Then they continue to eat more and more monsters to grow stronger. As with most series this was part of the turning point. By introducing this elite level ogres it ensured that the characters would need power ups to deal with them and that was fun. As far as the villain group goes, Suguri is definitely one of the most memorable members.

Seri didn’t get to do much next to the other White Claw members but he got at least one big fight which is still solid in a 7 volume series. He’s the classic kind of character who really likes to fight and puts his life on the line in each battle due to how risky his combat style is. It all just works out quite well. Azami is one of the members who gets a much bigger role. The others always treat her like a kid and give her little weapons that won’t hurt her as much as the stronger ones. She resents this and is determined to get everyone to really see her true abilities. She is decently skilled but not to the point where their worry isn’t unwarranted. When Azami does manage to fight she tends to get herself in trouble. She did a good job with the sword at the end though so I’ll give her some points there. She was quick to turn on Mikito though even if I suppose everyone was at the time. She wasn’t bad, I think Azami’s final battle helped to solidify her as a solid character.

The rest of the villains in the series are pretty solid. In general I don’t think that any of the super Ogres were bad. They each got a quality fight against the heroes and had interesting ideas. Quen ends up being the final boss and he gets a super form so that’s always cool. He wants to destroy the world and gives them all a hard time. I’d definitely give him a passing grade as far as villains go and the group was pretty neat. I would also call the White Claw (Government group) villains as well with how eager they were to destroy everyone. Especially with the twist of who the leader was since it all ends up throwing you into a loop. It was a pretty cool twist though.

The art is pretty solid. It can be a little rough at first but the art improves rather quickly and by volume 3 or 4 it’s definitely holding its own with the rest. The action scenes here are pretty solid as well. The villains have a lot of creative abilities and they’re all pretty different. It never gets too chaotic on the page either so you can always tell what is going on. That’s always important for any series. The writing is on point as well with each character being pretty reasonable. The story is also engaging and some of the concepts are pretty original even if the general story is basic.

The hunters all use weapons that slowly destroy themselves every time they use it. This is a pretty heavy cost and it shows how desperate they are to beat the villains. It feels like a losing battle for the humans the whole way through because as their numbers continue to shrink and the hunters grow weaker, the villains keep on getting stronger. By the end of the series we learn a lot about all of this and it’s supposed to be a balance, but I think the odds are stacked in the villains favor. They can keep expanding their ranks at any time with the hollow monsters and they’re all pretty powerful which doesn’t bode well for the heroes. Without Mikito they would be totally doomed so it can be annoying when some of the hunters are so insistent on murdering him. It’s not like D-Grayman or Seraph of the End where the humans are completely doomed either way. In this series the humans have a shot if they team up with the main character but that’s really their only chance.

Overall, Kurozakuro is a pretty fun series. It’s a tale about demons and demon hunters so you sort of expect it to be pretty good right away. There are a lot of different plots which is always good and the cast is surprisingly strong. The series may be short but it still gets to use quite a few different backgrounds and settings. They’re all pretty enjoyable and even the school days were pretty good too. The writing in general is solid and I think that ends up helping the series in all areas. It’s a quick read and I definitely recommend checking the series out. It’d be pretty cool if this ever got an anime someday. I think there’s certainly a lot you can do here and the premise would be easy enough to market to the general audience.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness Review


It’s time to look at a pretty big RPG that I’ve had on the backburner for quite a while. Disgaea always looked like a blast and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Most RPGs tend to languish for a while though as I focus on the shorter games, but it was time to finally just jump in and this game was worth the wait. The game definitely takes a lot of strategy and grinding levels to get through but it always feels like you are making good progress here.

The game follows the demon prince Laharl. His dad died when choking on a pretzel and Laharl nearly got assasinated in his sleep, but the assassin messed up and didn’t give him enough poison. Laharl is now determined to prove that he is the Overlord as the rightful son of the former king, but he will have to earn this respect by beating up all of the other demons. An angel named Flonne is sent to assassinate him but she can’t go through with it because it doesn’t seem like a holy thing to do. She is determined to prove that even demons can experience love and other emotions so she tags along with Laharl.

There’s a lot of plot in the game, but needless to say it involves a lot of big battles with the humans of Earth, the Angels of Celestia, and even other Demons. Along the way Laharl, Flonne, and Etna gradually become more like actual friends and we meet other party members as well. Can Laharl ensure Flonne’s safety through all of this or will he see this emotion as weakness and ultimately leave her on her own? He’ll have to face his many insecurities along the way in this journey.

The story’s definitely solid here. The game has a lot of fun with the various accents that the characters have. The Dark Adonis (Or Mid-Boss as the characters call him) definitely has the best voice. He’s a very quirky character but one that works quite well. A lot of his scenes are pretty fun. I like how he laughs with such confidence and you can always count on him showing up in various chapters. He’s also one of the most deadly bosses as losing to him will cause you to go all the way back to level 1 and have to replay the whole game. Just reset the console at this point, resetting the game is not worth it if you ask me. There isn’t really any benefit to going through multiple cycles.

The Defender of Earth, Gordon is also pretty fun. He has that very over the top hero voice that most shows use as a parody nowadays. He may not be very smart but his heart is in the right place. Some of his decisions towards the end of the game are questionable though and do hurt his character. Jennifer was fun, she’s definitely the real brains behind his team. She certainly likes to mess with Laharl a lot though. The only weak part of their trio and one of the weakest characters in the game is Thursday. He’s not nearly as entertaining although he has one or two good lines. He just takes way too long to get to the punchlines.

There are a solid array of villains here. I really don’t get the Seraph’s plan though. I can’t talk about the ending much so as not to give spoilers here, but the test wasn’t very good. It’s all a bit convoluted on his end and you can’t really justify any of it. The game has multiple endings so things will change a bit based on how you play the game. I got the standard ending which is definitely pretty emotional. I wasn’t expecting such a sad ending considering that there are a few sequels. So far they don’t seem to tie into this one very much though. It was a good emotional ending.

One side character that is a lot of fun is Kurtis. He doesn’t get a huge role but whenever he appears you know that something hype is about to go down. In general the game really turned up during this part of the game although all of the chapters were pretty fun. From the main 3 characters Flonne is the weakest one although she’s still reasonable. She’s definitely a bit on the naive side and can be quite pushy but she’s a nice friend to have. While I didn’t have a proper mage she was still reasonable for healing a bit at times.

Etna was another main character and she’s a blast. She narrates the next episode previews for most of them and likes trolling everyone. She’s completely unhinged so you never know if she will help out or stab you in the back. I suppose that makes sense for a demon though and Laharl always seems proud of her for that reason. She’s pretty entertaining and a good example of how to properly make a crazy character. Finally we have Laharl. He’s a bit whiny and self conscious because nobody ever pays him any respect but I liked him overall. He’s definitely quite powerful even if there are some enemies who are clearly above him in power. He may be the Overlord but that doesn’t make him the strongest. He gets a lot of development as the game goes on and we also get glimpses into his tragic past.

The gameplay is quite smooth. The levels can take a little while because of the nature of the game though. You command up to 10 characters at a time and levels can have up to 15 enemies. That’s 25 character turns you have to watch each time with unskippable animations for their attacks. It’s not as long as it sounds but that’s part of why you will be playing the game for around 30-40 hours. The game is quite long and there’s a huge post game to consider as well. This game can really last you just about forever if you stick around.

The level cap is 1000 which gives you a good indication of what to expect. One thing to note here is that equipment is more important than levels. Your top priority is absolutely getting the best gear you can. If you get stuck for a while on the final boss as I did then I recommend capturing some enemies and selling their equipment. It’s a great way to earn cash. There’s a lot of features I haven’t even touched on here like the Dark Assembly where you bribe senators. There’s a ton of things to do in this game but there are a lot of tutorials to help you out. It’s easily the most complex game I’ve played in a while and the best part about that is you really have a ton of freedom to play it however you like.

The graphics are pretty solid here. The animations are really good and some of the attacks get quite out there. It’s like you’re watching DBZ at times. Then the soundtrack is pretty catchy too. You’ll know the themes quite well by the end of the game but that doesn’t make them any less exciting. This is really a very well balanced game. There are no weak links to be had and it’s part of why I jumped right into the sequel. I’ll have a review for that one up as soon as I complete it.

Overall, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was really a great start to the franchise. It’s a pretty long RPG so you really have time to get used to all of the characters and master your Xcom skills. This kind of strategic gameplay is really satisfying to get through. You do need to really enjoy the gameplay to really get the most out of this game because replaying levels is effectively mandatory here. There’s no way you can beat the game without getting some good level ups and equipment. I probably spent almost half of my play time replaying levels and the final boss was still a real challenge. How difficult the game is will depend on how you build your team though. The best part of Disgaea is that you can play it hundreds of different ways with some loadouts being better than others. My mistake was not having a mage on my side which I made sure not to repeat in the sequel.

Overall 8/10

1 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Exorcist II: The Heretic 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 a lot more negative.

Who here remembers the dumpster fire that was the Exorcist? Well it ended up getting a sequel. That’s pretty unfortunate in and of itself but then this film is so scattered and nonsensical that you have to wonder how it ever made it past the production phase. This film certainly didn’t do much right, but then again what would you expect? Lets take a look at the Heretic.

The film starts with Lamont getting ready for a new mission. The church wants him to check up on Regan to see what the situation is. However, they don’t want to be bothered with the specifics so if there’s anything wrong with her then Lamont needs to ignore that and give them the okay. Essentially sending him is just a formality and they want him to be aware of this. Lamont isn’t okay with this, but then demons possess him and tell him to destroy Regan. He can’t resist their influences. Can anyone live through this?

Well, one big issue here is a similar one from the first film. The priests look super weak here. The demons seem to have all of the power at their disposal while the heroes can’t do anything. If even the priest is getting mind controlled with ease then what hope do the other characters have? None, that’s what. The demons basically just toy with the main characters a lot until they grow bored and allow themselves to be destroyed. It doesn’t make for a particularly engaging synopsis I must say.

Regan actually seems to be doing a much better job of resisting the demons than the people who came in to help her. She only gets possessed when the heroes put her in the telepathy machine which allows her to see the past. How such an invention even came into being is quite suspect on its own so lets pretend that we didn’t see that. The scenes of them mind melding are pretty boring and every time the characters use this ability it ends up backfiring anyway. Why would they want to open a portal for the demons to come through?

Then you’ve got the annoying subplot where Lamont is going crazy. He starts losing his grip on reality such as when he imagines a scientist to be an old monk with some interesting powers. Naturally he dies by getting stabbed in this vision. Then he gets to ride through Africa where a swarm of locusts destroy everyone. That was in the past and it ends up tying into the film by the climax, but at that point you’ll have seen the same clip so many times that you will be bored out of your mind. If it’s one thing that this film loves, it’s stock motion. You’ll see the same recycled clips many, many times over.

The film shouldn’t have tried to keep going back to the past to explain the present. There’s just no point to it. Then you’ve got Regan’s psychiatrist who tries her best to help the kid, but naturally a demon is a little above her pay grade. Unfortunately she is travelling with an assistant who is highly susceptible to the demon mind control. Although as already pointed out the demons can mind control whoever they please so things wouldn’t have changed a whole lot otherwise. She was effectively just the fall person this time. Still makes for an annoying character though.

As you can probably expect the film is pretty violent as well. It’s not quite as gruesome as the first film where it was just hard to look at any of the characters, but this one’s still no good. You’d want to avoid it on this alone, much less everything else. None of the characters are any good with the exception of Regan who isn’t great either since she can be rather vague and scattered. It’s hard to trust her because of how she acts even if she does mean well.

Then we have the villain Pazuzu who isn’t particularly memorable. He’s basically just a very generic demon who is willing to do anything to get the last laugh even if it means degrading himself. There’s nothing interesting about him at all. The demon has absolutely no character and is basically just a waste of time. Couldn’t the writers have at least given him some kind of interesting sub-plot or character motivations? Nah…I guess I can’t say that I was surprised.

Overall, what I can glean from this movie is that it didn’t need to be made. There was no reason for an Exorcist sequel and the movie writers knew it. That’s why there is barely a plot here as the demon just wants to rise and fight but doesn’t even know why. All it does is try to make the Church look bad with how the cross and spells never work on the demons. They always just end up laughing. The film could have gone for an interesting Venom route where the original demon has grown attached to Regan and wants to protect her from other demons, but that’s too clever for this series. We also don’t need to humanize demons like that anyway so it may not have worked either way. That’s just more evidence that in general this film just should have been a reboot or something instead. Give the franchise a clean slate and maybe even improve on the original. It’s certainly possible and I think that would have been the optimal route. So, if you want to see a good horror film I’d suggest checking out something like Ghost Busters instead even if it’s basically more of a comedy film.

Overall 1/10

Live Action Movies

The Exorcism of Emily Rose


It’s time for a film based on a controversial case in Germany. Essentially there was a girl who was having visions and started acting crazy. Some believed she was possessed by a demon while others believed that she had psychosis and needed medication. She decided to go with the exorcism strategy instead, but it failed and so she ended up dying. The film focused on the court case which followed this while relying on flashbacks to fill in the gaps of the past.

It’s definitely not my kind of movie. Well, to address the case, I’m going to assume that she was simply very sick and not possessed. The topic of possession is always very complicated. I’m personally of the opinion that Christians cannot get possessed. At least not in the current age. It’s possible in the past that a Christian could get possessed as a test of faith or a way to illustrate God’s power to others. A child was possessed in the old testament after all, but there are two reasonings for it that wouldn’t necessarily go against my theory. One is that as she was a child, she had not yet become a born again Christian. As such she did not have any protection yet. Of course, even if she died while being possessed that wouldn’t doom her to Hell as another belief I have is that if you have not yet been given a chance to become a Christian before your death, then you still may if you would have become one. Since God knows the future, it’s conceivable (And probable) that he takes this into account. After all, it wouldn’t be very fair if you died in a bombing when you were 3 years old and must now go to Hell. It’s an exception depending on how you look at it or just simply a case of God knowing where you should be going and sending you there.

The other way the child could have been possessed is simply because Jesus had not yet died and so we weren’t given the Holy Spirit. I believe that our protection is a lot stronger now since through Jesus death on the cross we all received the Holy Spirit. Before that, times were certainly tougher even though you shouldn’t worry about the tribulations since it will all be worth it in the long run.

The girl was stated to be a devout Christian who was a Catholic. In this case that means she still believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also believes the Pope and the Church to have greater power than the average person and can be a way to salvation. That gets a little murky since Jesus is the one and only way to Christ, but I’m not here to debate Catholic vs Christian beliefs and haven’t studied up on it enough to ensure I wouldn’t make mistakes. I’ll just say that all of this gives me plenty of reason to doubt that she was possessed. I personally think she was just suffering from psychosis and had a lot of bad hallucinations that caused her to believe this. The mind is pretty powerful so hallucinations can absolutely seem real to the individual who is being affected by them.

It’s definitely a sad story and a pretty awful way to go. I suppose the film does a good job of showing how bad the whole situation is. Naturally the flashbacks go for the “demon is real” route since if it went too ambiguous it wouldn’t be much of a movie and this can also make the scenes more intense. The dream of sacrificing yourself to help others see the light doesn’t really seem like something the Virgin Mary would say. I also don’t remember her becoming an angel…..but it made for an intriguing scene. I believe that self sacrifice and suffering is a big part of the Catholic religion but hopefully that doesn’t fall into the being saved by works as opposed to repentance but again I’m starting to digress. Lets move on from that.

Back to the film. The court scenes are handled pretty well with the lawyers getting sarcastic and the Judge being fed up with both of them. It leads to a lot of back and forth even if some of the witnesses do seem kind of eccentric themselves. I just like court room scenes and whether the witnesses bring up valid points or not, I just like the atmosphere. If the whole film had been the court scenes then I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more.

Overall, This film is based on a real event enough so that I won’t give it an actual score. If you want to learn more about the case I’d recommend watching a documentary or following along through online. After all, if you watch the film you’re simply getting a very dramatized enactment of the story where you can’t trust the facts quite as much. I suppose the theatrical visuals will make it more entertaining but if you really want to learn about the topic, odds are that you’ll want to go straight to the source. 90% of the time that’s the best way to go about it. It’s not a super violent film or anything, but it does go into detail and again, it is trying for shock value and gritty realism so bear that in mind. As for me, I’ll just keep being thankful that my court case wasn’t too graphic. It was kind of rigged…but that’s a story for another day.

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Exorcist 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 even more negative…literally.

It’s time to tackle one of the most well known horror films of all time. I’ve never liked horror films and watching the classics hasn’t worked out so well thus far. I had pretty low expectations heading into this film, but The Exorcist managed to surprise me. It delivered a product that was so below expectations that I was slightly taken aback, but quickly realized how I had to respond. This film is one that you’ll want to avoid at all costs and will remind you that shock value isn’t as good as jump scares.

Chris is a popular actress and everything is going right for her at the moment. Life can’t get much better than it already is at the moment. Unfortunately, that changes when her daughter Regan is possessed by a vengeful spirit. It claims to be Lucifer himself and she has been unable to break free. Chris goes to many experts, but they are all unsuccessful in their attempts. Finally, she is forced to call in a pastor/psychologist to try and perform an exorcism, but he has yet to break his drinking/smoking habits. The Church realizes that this guy is out of his league so they bring in another priest who is experienced, but already very exhausted from another exorcism that he performed. Can the two save the day or will the body count continue to rise?

Some films like this one are a little overwhelming as it’s hard to know where to start. I suppose there are so many negatives that I should start with the positives first. The soundtrack isn’t bad. The iconic theme is definitely fun even if it only shows up for a few seconds. It actually felt like a remix since I’m used to a more battle ready version of the song. Still, it’s definitely withstood the test of time. The visuals are pretty advanced for their time as well although they typically go for grotesque imagery as opposed to cool sci-fi elements. Poltergeist III has definitely got it beat in this area. The film puts out a lot of effort….yeah now lets go to the negatives.

The film paints a pretty bleak picture on our struggle against demons. First of all, I’d like to give it props for giving the Church some credibility and having them go up against the demon. However…it acts as if the demons are far more powerful than any of our counters. Our Exorcism (This film’s old, but just in case I’ll give out a warning. Spoilers ahead, spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own peril!) fails miserably as the demon just overpowers the two pastors. The two pastors/priests give it their all as they use a lot of verses from the Bible, Holy Water, A Cross, and more. None of it is effective as the demon breaks one of the guys anyway and then possesses the other as it knocks him off. The spirit is then free to go and possess someone else.

There is no happy ending here at all. The demon won and murdered quite a few people in the process. It also vandalized the Church in the process with no repercussions. It’s a pretty sad message from the film in the end. Evil’s not supposed to conquer all. Now, demons are certainly real and they are powerful. That’s certainly true, but they still cannot ultimately resist when called out in the name of Jesus and God. The counter argument could be that the priests simply weren’t skilled or didn’t have enough faith, but at least one of them was supposed to be the best of the best. It’s hard to say whether or not Regan was a Christian or not in the film. She was still pretty young, but maybe she had put the Cross under her pillow since nobody could figure out how it got there. I don’t believe a Christian can be possessed. One could get tempted or put through trials and tribulations like Job, but I believe that we are given an immunity. Playing with the Ouja board wasn’t a smart idea, but it’s not as if playing with a thing like that can suddenly make you free domain. Especially since Regan clearly didn’t really know the ramifications of that thing.

She definitely got the short end of the stick here as the rest of the film’s pretty painful for her. It’s a really violent horror film and while you could clearly tell where the film cut away in the TV version, there was enough where you can tell that this was an intense experience. Regan got a lot of injuries and had to go through many operations during this period. Quite a few people were murdered as well. The film also goes for gross moments like having characters vomit and have to use the bathroom in public. Those moments certainly didn’t help the film at all either. In case you couldn’t tell, this film’s getting a pretty easy 0.

The only reasonable characters here are the Expert Priest and Chris. Chris can be annoying though like when she went to the various doctors and put Regan through a bunch of experiments. She should have known that it’d do no good since it clearly wasn’t a mental issue. The Expert Priest was good, it’s a shame that he couldn’t win. The main priest, Damien was pretty weak willed. He fell for the mind games rather easily and his subplot didn’t add anything to the film. It added more dark themes and grit of course, but the film was so full of that already that you wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. There was a police chief who liked to subtly imply that various people were murderers and did his best to solve the case. It was naturally futile though since it wasn’t a human opponent who he was up against. I suppose he did his best, but bribery definitely isn’t a very legitimate tactic. There weren’t a whole lot of other characters in the film as it was a pretty small cast. We have the demon of course, but it’s only character is that it is a demon. It’s pretty clever as it makes the ordeal or proving that it’s a demon very tricky for the heroes.

Overall, This isn’t exactly a “Feel good” film. You’re not going to be laughing and taking shots of Pepsi and Doritos during this film as you discuss the current state of the movie industry and Twinkie flavors. It’s very somber from start to finish and you’ll be ready for it to end after 15-20 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s a very long film so that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the whole film had just been about Chris and her acting career, I have a feeling that it would certainly be a lot more enjoyable. Even just removing all of the cuts and slashes on Regan would help the film at least be watchable. You’re averting your gaze for most of the film otherwise since it’s pretty distasteful to have a kid be so violently injured for such a long time after all. Better to just look at the ceiling in the film and wonder when it was last painted. If you want a quality horror film, check out Poltergeist III as it’s one of the only good horror films out there. I can see why this one earned its reputation as it is pretty gritty, but that’s all the more reason why you should stay away from it. It’s just not worth it!

Overall 0/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

X-Men Inferno Volume 1 Review

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Time for a fairly large comic collection. This bundle brings together a lot of the Inferno arc related comics, but ultimately ends up being more of a prelude than anything else. Most of the X-Men don’t even appear for very long or get any real fights. This one focuses on the New Mutants and the Power Pack. Unfortunately they cannot hold their own this time which makes for a rather lackluster collection. It has its good moments, but ultimately never gets all that exciting.

Where to even start with this plot. It’s a huge collection so a lot happens…and yet there aren’t a lot of stories. It’s all fairly connected in one way or another. The basic premise is that a demonic invasion is approaching. The demons from Limbo want to take over Earth once and for all. Fear feeds them and with all of the fearful humans running around, it makes the army very potent. To ensure that the invasion goes well, they also lure Magik and her New Warriors back to Limbo. We can call this Plot A. In Plot B, the Power Pack are dealing with the effects of the Demons in the human world. It’s tough because they also have to evade Nanny, a robot who kidnaps kids. The villain actually comes in handy and saved some of the kids at one point, but it’s only a temporary reprieve. The X-Men get in on the investigation, but then they get distracted by the Morlock troubles and a bunch of other random circumstances. In Plot C, Sinister is making a move and things are all seemingly going according to plan for him. His Jean Grey clone is starting to head to the dark side and it is revealed in a plot twist that she is actually commanding all of the Demons. It’s all been a part of her plan from the start to get revenge on Cyclops for ditching her. (A truly out of character moment that still boggles my mind)

There are a lot of other things happening in the meantime, like the government being shady again, but you get the gist of it. Most of the horror moments are in the human world, but you can probably imagine that Magik’s plot deals with this as well. It was interesting to see a continuation of her story because it wasn’t all that long ago that I read her original saga. It was very dark, but also interesting. As a small child, she fell into Limbo and so the X-Men attempted a rescue mission. It didn’t go well and they all died. Magik was forced to learn Dark Magic and then she escaped to a parallel universe where the X-Men once again tried to save her. They succeeded…except that she fell back in. At least Magik became Queen and joined up with the X-Men again, but she left Limbo in a state of chaos with her old enemy S’ym in charge. Well, this comic shows how he’s controlled the place with an iron grip and has turned the tables on Magik. She is no longer strong enough to beat him and if the X-Men were powerless last time, you can imagine how outclassed the New Mutants are. They are completely out of their depth here. It’s definitely the most interesting part of the comic.

Lets launch right into why this comic was not a success. The big problem here is that the actual X-Men don’t get to appear almost at all. They show up very briefly to help the Morlocks face off against the Mutant Killers and manage to send the group packing, but then they vanish again. Inferno is one of those large graphic novels that manages to collect all of the tie-ins. Usually this is a good thing, but I believe it is ultimately what weakened it this time around. There were so many tie ins with the Power Pack that they took priority. I’m assuming that volume 2 would probably feature the X-Men more, but it’s hard to say for sure. They can’t appear any less I suppose. Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if the Power Pack and the New Mutants were interesting…but they usually weren’t. It took quite a few issues to get to one that would be fun.

Also, a “fun” comic was hard to find since most of the issues were just very dark. It was going for a Poltergeist kind of feel as there is a sinister chill in the air the whole time and the villains can be behind any nook and cranny. The humans could see the demons sometimes and sometimes they couldn’t. It was just like a horror film and I’ll give the comic some credit for actually creating that atmosphere. In a world of superheroes, it can be very hard to create a menacing horror backdrop since a hero can just show up and save the day at any time. It works though because they are all busy dealing with the main alien threat. The Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Defenders (If they’re around) and all of the loners won’t be coming to help. This means that the ordinary humans are left to fend for themselves. This comic probably has more horror undertones than any other comic that I’ve read with the possible exception of some Swamp Thing comics. Those put up a pretty good fight.

However, it’s also a bad thing as the humans have no shot. We have many issues where the demons just show up and start ripping the humans to shreds. It’s never all that violent although some people are literally crushed, but it’s just all so hopeless and sad. There’s no way that the humans can even land any damage on these creatures and for every death that you actually see, there are dozens of others off screen. Most of them go in rather grim circumstances. The whole thing was just so dark and gritty and it went on for far too long if you ask me. We even had some cheating going on as Angel decided to go for a quick one night fling with someone who was technically still married and then decides to continue with this. I never cared all that much for Angel, but this certainly won’t be doing him any favors. In the end, it just didn’t feel like an X-Men comic at all and that was a problem.

One subplot that was handled well was when the Power Pack was finally forced to reveal their true identities to their parents. The parents didn’t overreact, run away, yell, or panic. They took it in stride and said that they wanted to talk about it, but weren’t upset or anything like that. They realized that a demon was still around and that they should finish the fight instead of bickering. Even after that, the parents were okay with the whole thing. This is really how this kind of plot should always play out. Having powers shouldn’t suddenly make the parents back out of a bond that they’ve shared with their kids their whole lives. This also means that the villains can’t blackmail the Power Pack anymore, which is certainly a good thing. The parents even did a good job of dealing with their haunted house.

Yes, there was a haunted house here to further the notion that this was a horror comic in disguise. The demons would take control of all the equipment. They took over the water supply and would make inanimate objects turn to life. Considering that they had no actual hero experience, the parents did all right. They smashed up most of the evil objects and kept on fighting back. They also did their best to protect the kids when they didn’t know about their secret powers. More horror protagonists should be proactive like this. The parents decided to get out ASAP.

As for the rest of the characters, I’m still not much of a fan of the Power Pack or the New Mutants. I like Magik a lot and she’s definitely earned her way into the main X-Men team. Everyone else? I don’t think they’ll be getting past the B ranks anytime soon. They can’t really hold their own issues, at least not in this context. The Power Pack are good for their fun little adventures, but they feel out of place in issues where the whole planet is at stake. The villains aren’t all that interesting either although I’ve always thought S’ym makes for a very intense villain. His super strength and durability are pretty unbelievable. Dark Beast shows up as well, but he’s just annoying and certainly not cool.

Also, the art was solid as expected. The style makes it look a lot older than it actually is, but helps to add that retro effect. Everything is very clear to read and understand. All of the character designs are on point although they aren’t as colorful as the 90’s. I wouldn’t say that the writing is bad either. It works well enough for what the comic is going for. It just should have taken another direction. The comic isn’t quite as engaging as most though. You won’t be on the edge of your seat here and some of the comics actually do drag on quite a bit.

I do think that the next volume will probably be an improvement though. This whole saga was basically the prelude as the fake Jean Grey essentially announces that the Inferno is coming. The X-Men aren’t even at the scene yet. I guess they’ll end up missing most of the demon invasion although I hope it is at least referenced. It was a rather huge deal so the big heroes should still be aware of what happened. While this comic may not have been my favorite, it did do a great job of adding a lot of context to what’s happening. Reading it weekly, I probably would have been more upset about the slow pace, but it does make this saga feel more like an event. Some of the modern day events feel a lot shorter because they’re over so quickly. That’s definitely not an issue that this event will have…for better or worse.

Overall, This is probably the strangest X-Men comic that I’ve ever read. The concept of a demon invasion is definitely interesting and these guys are more menacing than aliens. Demons almost feel a little out of place in Marvel, especially such realistic ones, but they have technically always been around. It just so happens that it’s in an X-Men comic instead of Ghost Rider. Honestly, the comic just needed more action and some bigger heroes to help things out. That would have done wonders since they could have actually saved some of the humans instead of just watching them all die. If not, they could have gone for a total horror angle although that may have been even more risky. If the idea of a horror/action comic sounds good to you than this could be up your alley. It’s probably the closest merge of the two genres that I’ve seen so far. If not, then you should check out the other X-Men comic that I just reviewed. This isn’t a bad comic, it’s just different. You’ll just have to check out for yourself whether it’s different in a good or bad way.

Overall 5/10

Manga

Twin Star Exorcists

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Well, I’ve started another new series! This one comes off as a little generic at times, but the action scenes are good and the main character has his moments. I am slightly worried that this series will be one of those titles where the main characters are completely outranked throughout the entire series, but maybe their power ups are close. I’ll have a review for the series when it’s done.

Overall 7/10

2 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Constantine Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version. All thoughts below should be read as such as a review of the unedited version would be even more negative.
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Well well, it’s time to look at a horror film that also happens to be a comic book film. I’m not sure about this combo and it certainly didn’t work out this time. Constantine ends up being a very weak title which contradicts its own message and spends a lot of time wondering just where the plot went. One thing’s for sure, this isn’t the sleeper hit of 2005 and it even makes the recent Ghost Rider film look good.

The film’s about a guy named Constantine who exorcises demons. He wants to be allowed into Heaven since he has done a good job of keeping the demons away, but the angel Gabriel reminds him that one cannot enter into Heaven on good works alone. Constantine shows his contempt for this by slamming a Bible on the ground, insulting and berating a lady who is trying to save her sister, and then torturing a spider that he found in his house. Yeah….I wonder why they aren’t letting this guy into Heaven….It’s impossible to root for Constantine from this point on, but one thing leads to another and he’s the only guy standing in the way of a mad quest for power with human lives in the balance. Looks like it’s time to fight again!

It’s hard to know where to start on how bad this film is. We may as well get the ball rolling with Constantine since I’ve already started taking shots at him. He’s just a horrendous main character. Constantine doesn’t seem to even pretend to follow the Bible’s teachings. He spends the entire film being mean to just about everyone and his opening scene where we’re supposed to be impressed with how he handles the exorcist just makes him look bad. He’s not even that good at his job and barely manages to scratch out wins. Constantine loves smoking as well and even after he gets lung cancer, he decides to keep on smoking anyway. Once he gets a sidekick, Constantine tries to be a little more heroic when he’s not pulling guns at demons at a bar where there’s a truce, but it’s too little too late. I’ll never forget the spider incident. Sure, he had a bad day, but taking it out on another living creature is way past crossing the line.

There’s also this subplot in the desert where a guy finds a spear which mind controls him and forces the guy to come over to the city. Not only does this plot go nowhere until the very end of the film, but it is immensely boring and just slows the film’s pacing down even more. The film never really gets good or exciting so it may not matter all that much while you’re watching, but it doesn’t help matters.

The film can also be pretty violent at times and also just grotesque with the various demons running around. Supernatural films like this one love going for those crazy visuals. There were some good ones here like when Constantine went into hell. I liked how the place looked and the film had potential with some of the fight scenes and other special effects. It was one of the few positives that this title had to offer.

Back to the negatives, the film decides to make God (Yes, the film actually decided to go with the real God in this film. Big mistake considering that they decided to make him look terrible) look incredibly unintelligent and he spends the entire film getting tricked by everyone around him. Part of the premise in this film is that God and the Devil are having a chess game with humans being the pawns in it. Neither one of them can affect the humans directly, but they can tempt them. The Devil tempts them to do wrong things with his demon hybrids while God has the half angels. Full fledged Demons and Angels are forbidden from interfering. Aside from the moral ambiguity of this game, you’d think that God would ensure that the match is fair right? Nope, he doesn’t realize it, but the Devil has rigged the match from the start.

He’s not even subtle as he just summons a bunch of Demons to Earth and directly attacks people. His allies even go to bars and start indiscriminately murdering people. They also murder one of Constantine’s allies and an angel can do nothing but watch since he’s heavily outnumbered. Of course, the fact that the angel was watching and doing nothing the entire time is another negative. It gets even worse as one of the higher ranked Angels turns out to be crazy and evil. God appointed him as one of the 4 big Angels so you’d think that the interview process would have been more rigid. The Angel believes that he’s still a good guy and that genocide will help the human race turn to God before they die. He believes that suffering always has this effect, but you can see how crazy he is.

Also, the Devil is portrayed as incredibly strong and while God won’t set foot on Earth, he has no qualms about it. He shows up and wrecks everybody. The final straw is the fact that he can mess with Heaven as well. So, remember the part where Constantine can’t earn his way into Heaven with actions? Yeah…the film forgot about that. By being heroic and helping someone out, he was able to earn his way into Heaven, but the Devil can’t have that. He literally reaches up and just pulls Constantine back to Earth. Wow…..I can’t even….

So…yeah, this movie had a very warped idea of how Heaven and Hell works. It’s always nice to see a film actually bring Christianity to the forefront and tackle these concepts, but it was done so horrendously that it backfired completely. I don’t believe we even got any lines where the characters remind Constantine that he can only get into Heaven through Jesus Christ. It seemed to completely revolve around being a nice person instead, which is 100% false. No matter how many good deeds you do or how nice you are as a person, it will never be enough to get you into Heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. The whole point of faith in Christianity is that you know that you can’t make it to Heaven on your own. You need Jesus, but this film decides to go around that. Also, the concept of an Angel being evil is pretty terrible. Lucifer was an angel once and there are other Fallen Angels, but they are fallen. There aren’t any evil Angels still lurking or anything like that. That’s just Hollywood trying for an epic plot twist, but there isn’t any to be found in Heaven. I don’t think for one minute that any bad guy can trick God into letting him in.

As for the rest of the supporting characters, the main heroine was decent. Angela was certainly a big improvement over Constantine and she goes through a lot of trials in order to help her sister out. Her sister committed suicide, but Angela knows that she would never do such a thing and it finally helps her to believe in the supernatural. This brings another negative to light which I almost forgot about. All right, stay with me here since the film decides to use its crazy logic again.

So, a demon possessed Isabel and forced her to destroy herself. That wasn’t her own free will so she surely wouldn’t be penalized for it would she? Nope…she actually is. See, as part of the match, this falls into the whole “Satan influencing people” part so it’s actually a legitimate victory for him with Isabel now being doomed to Hell for eternity. Now you can see how this whole game is so rigged right? Luckily, Isabel ends up having a happy ending, but once again, the Devil was just portrayed as way too powerful here. Essentially, he was the one with power over Heaven and Hell in this version given how he can influence the game to such a degree.

So, Angela’s a good character. I also liked Chas, who’s the comic relief character of the film. He did a good job in the role and helped out as best he could. Things didn’t go too well for him, but he does get a big plot twist in the post credits scene…which may or may not be canon as I also read that it was an alternate ending. I’m pretty sure that it is canon though, but I don’t really care enough about the film to do any searching. If you see the film you can stick around past the credits and tell me if it’s there. None of the villains were particularly likable and the demons didn’t have great designs. The final fights were pretty decent, but Constantine was so far out of his league that it was scary. He’s a human with a gun….there’s only so much he can do against a very fast/powerful demon. Plot hax is really his only weapon at this point.

Overall, Constantine is pretty terrible to be honest. I’d stick far away from this film if I were you. The film defies its own logic and the logic is already super flawed and fake from the get go. You won’t learn anything from this film because there is nothing to learn and the actual movie isn’t well made anyway. Constantine is a very unlikable main character and even the edited version can’t save the film’s writing and the excessive violence that shows up at times. All of Constantine’s allies (One of which is a priest who likes to drink a lot. Gee….the film had to fit that in didn’t it?) are doomed to painful and unfortunate ends at the hands of the demons and since the heroes never had a shot from the beginning…what’s the point? If you want a better comic book film, I recommend Batman V Superman, the original theater version. That film has it all, hype, action, and an epic soundtrack!

Overall 2/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Slayers Try Review

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It has been a while, but I am finally back with a review for the third Slayers series! I enjoyed the first series and then the second upped the ante in just about every way. Slayers Next will likely be remembered as the pinnacle of the Slayers franchise, but there is still more to come. Slayers Try…tries a little too hard to be a mix of Slayers and Slayers Next by adding some powerful threats, but also trying to go back to the days of random adventures like in the first series. It is a mix that backfires quite a bit like GT, but still ends up being a good show.

Lina Inverse and her gang of heroic crooks are fairly happy about how their latest victory went. They decided to split up for a while and maybe they would bump into each other at some point in the future. Well, this happens sooner than they may have expected! Aside from Sylphiel, the gang meets up with Zelgadis who is still trying to learn the secret of how to transform himself. He’ll never accomplish this goal, but at least he is still trying. Zelgadis decides to stay with Lina and pals after they meet a mysterious figure who goes by the name, Filia.

Filia tells the heroes that they are destined to save the world! Lina refuses, but Filia explains that the heroes are her last hope as all of the best heroes don’t want to do this task. Lina and the gang are forced into accepting the quest under threat of imminent destruction (Lina’s sister is too powerful for them) and they must now….stop this threat. The problem is that they have no idea how to stop the danger that is approaching since the heroes don’t even know what kind of trouble to expect. They only have Filia’s guesses and intuition to guide them! I may as well say that the threat is caused by Overworlder’s (gods) who seek to change the status quo and unleash ultimate darkness across the world!

Typically, it only takes me one paragraph to describe the plot, but a lot has happened so two was necessary here. The lack of plot can be a little eerie, but it works into Try’s gameplan. It want to be episodic like the first series, but with serious stakes like the second one. This is still a dicey mix to achieve and I should explain why it doesn’t work out. The classic way to handle this would be to have the episodic parts for the first half and then to throw in a plot. This has worked in many shows like Trigun, Cardfight Vanguard, Digimon Savers, etc. The problem is that Try threw in the plot as early in as episode 1 and then ditches it towards the middle of the show. We get 6-15 filler episodes in the show.

All right, let’s not guess here. A quick Wikipedia search tells me that we have 7 “filler” episodes. The quotations are necessary as they technically have canon elements. We have a 2 part episode involving a holy grail weapon, which shows us that dark magic can be destroyed for the first time in the series. It is what inspires Lina’s final attack on the monster in the final episodes. 2-3 of the other filler episodes involve finding the characters after they failed in the fake climax, but I would still count them. That’s also not counting the episodes that were 15-18 minutes of filler with a plot heavy beginning/ending.
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So, this really disrupted the pacing. The episodes where the heroes were on the boat were easily the worst ones. Slayers has always been a roller coaster series of ups and downs, but it has typically been more steady than this one. Try’s best episodes rank up there with the best of Next while the worst ones are some of the worst in the franchise. Not really because of anything relating to content, but they simply felt boring and unnecessary. Case in point, the two part episode about getting 2 Kingdoms to make peace with each other. I feel like we’ve seen this plot so many times already and I really didn’t understand what the point of it all was. It destroys whatever tension you had thanks to the villains showing up.

Luckily, that’s where the good episodes come into play. For just about the whole series, I was positive that this show was going to get a 6. Then we got the good climax, which made this more of a real battle. The fights in this series could take up a whole episode at times, which was great. The final batch of episodes is really one big fight that keeps on restarting and it is good to see the feats from both the heroes and the villains. There is no shortage of action and excitement in the climax of the series and we also got a nice batch of fights during the middle of the series as well. During these two high points, you would never be able to tell that this was the same series that we had started with.

Lina Inverse is the main character and she is once again leading the charges against those who would stand in her way. As a human, Lina is essentially the enemy of all other races so she needs to have a strong personality to combat these threats. Lina has also grown more powerful over the course of these adventures. While she used to not be able to deal any real damage to the big threats, now she has two aces up her sleeve. The Ragna Blade and the Giga Slave. These two attacks have been shown to work on almost any opponent with virtually no exceptions. It likely couldn’t completely KO a Dark Lord (The Blade anyway) but these attacks have allowed Lina to stay on the offensive. Her speed is not increased and I’ll mention that a little more towards the end of the review, but this is still a great improvement. Now, she can back up her tough talk!

Lina’s endearing personality is what makes her a great lead. She certainly won’t take any insults from someone without a fight. Whether it is an ally or an enemy, she will quickly unleash her full power. Lina is still not your average hero as she will occasionally blow up villages and mountains by mistake, but she does end up saving the world so hopefully it all balances out. Slayers wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without her in the lead.

Gourry is Lina’s partner and he’s always been a very interesting character to watch even if he is very unlikable. It is a bit of a tricky puzzle eh? The first episodes of this show continue to prove why he will never be likable, but at least he does provide the show with a lot of its humor. He never understands the gravity of a situation, but that doesn’t stop him from trying his best. Gourry always has his game face on and with his Sword of Light, he can deal some heavy damage to just about anyone. He did go up against Valgaav after all! He’s about the same from the past two series, which is good. If they made him likable, then that would be even better.

Amelia’s role here is certainly smaller than in the first two series. She is still a member of royalty, but she doesn’t get her own adventures this time. She’s simply tagging along for the ride like Zelgadis. She’s still a nice character and she gets her hits in at times. It’s hard to say who the weak link of the team is at this point as it is between her and Zelgadis. It is very close, but she tries her best and fills the team with optimism. They certainly need at least one hero on the team right?

Zelgadis continues to lose more and more of his dignity. I’d bet dollars to donuts that the writers for Try did not like him as a character. He is literally used as bait, an anchor, and simply tossed around when it is time for jokes. He may have been a decent character in the original series and almost decent in Next, but now he’s just a really bad character. I find it almost impossible to like him. It is too bad since he gets a lot of scenes that are supposed to make you say “Snap, this guy’s cool!” That is not my reaction to the scenes and I can’t think of a single moment where Zelgadis actually did a critical thing here. Not a single scene……his fans will not be pleased.
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Filia is the new addition to the group and she ends up replacing Sylphiel. She is a gold dragon and her powers are impressive during her first appearance. As a gold dragon, her speed was so great that none of the main characters could land a hit on her. (An accurate depiction of speed…impossible!) Unfortunately, that’s where the buck stops as she is not really useful against any other opponents for the rest of the series. She evidently has some useful abilities like super strength and her spells, but the enemies are always one step ahead of her. It’s too bad as the exact same thing happened to Sylphiel.

As far as personality goes, she has a little Amelia in her. Filia thinks of herself as a bit of a hero so she is always dismayed when the heroes engage in criminal activities. She also does a lot of soul searching as the series goes on because of what her fellow golden dragons did. Perhaps she takes this a little too personally as she had nothing to do with most of their evil deeds. It is regrettable, but she doesn’t need to lose all hope over it. She nearly jeopardizes the final battle as she proved to be indecisive. Her rivalry with Xellos is fun though and while she is no match for him in a fight, perhaps she can defeat him in the battle of burns. (Burns=Insulting an opponent so well that you metaphysically burned them) As far as the main cast goes, it is: Lina>>Amelia>>Filia>>Sylphiel>>Zelgadis>>Gourry>>>>>>>Xellos. So, Filia’s rank isn’t all that bad. She could certainly better, but her personality fits in well with the team and doesn’t get old quite as quickly as Zelgadis’ gimmick. It’s also good to have a little more muscle power on the team.

Ah…now it’s time to talk about Xellos. A seriously disliked him from his very first appearance. While he will likely never look quite as bad as in Next, he’s still not my kind of character. For starters, he is constantly betraying the heroes to advance on his own goals. He is a monster through and through so he does remind the heroes that they should never trust him. Just because he makes that clear from the start, doesn’t make it any less sad when he betrays them again. Xellos has physically attacked the team during their scuffles and while he typically holds back so they aren’t very injured, he has come close to destroying the world. The heroes really need to treat him like a total enemy and stop pulling their punches. The sad thing is that Xellos could easily destroy the heroes in an instant if he so desires. He is really just toying with them and that can’t help the egos of the heroes all that much. As a villain, it can be fun to see Xellos act so smug and insult all of the other villains, but I wish that the show would totally keep him on the villain side. It would make him much more bearable. Still, it we’re just talking about this series, he is not that bad. I’ll never consider him as a villain though. How would the rankings change if we just counted this series? I suppose that he would jump over Gourry and Zelgadis. It’s possible that he could also pass Sylphiel, but it would be close.

All right, it is time to talk about the best villain in the show. He is also potentially the best character in the series as well. I’m talking about Valgaav! Valgaav is a mix of monster and dragon so his abilities are quite formidable. He is one of the only opponents to be on the winning side against Xellos and he takes on a good portion of the cast at once. That is before the final power up that he gets, which made him virtually unstoppable. He is a villain who had a tragic past and he loves jumping into peril. He’s simply my kind of villain and he acts like other all stars. (Grimmjow comes to mind) All of his fights are interesting and I’m glad that he didn’t decide to listen to Almayce like the average pawn. If Valgaav wanted to do something, then he would just go and do it! He had a nice blend of emotional moments as well as intense ones. Really, when it all boils down to it, Valgaav is probably the best character in the franchise. I thought about it for a bit and there is really no better character. It is a shame since he will likely never appear again, but at least he got a grand role in this series. Thanks to his final power up, you can definitely make the claim that he is the strongest character in the series. The Lord of Nightmares may contest that though. Valgaav got to prove that he was stronger than the other three villains, which is a good enough start for me! Maybe we’ll get a spinoff/prequel about him someday..maybe. (His origin isn’t exactly something that I’m very interested in though so I’d want it to take place right before Try) Valgaav also gave us the very first, big fight of Try so his debut was a very memorable one.

Almayce is the big villain for most of the series, but it is safe to say that he overestimated his power. He’s actually weaker than the other three big villains of the series although it seems like he could potentially still defeat Xellos. So, maybe he also outranks two of the other opponents, but it is hard to say. His design is great and he looked like a very menacing villain for a while. The problem is that he doesn’t know where he stands. On one hand, he is certainly a villain as he is constantly hurting people and endangering lives. On the other hand, he is trying to save the planet while getting rid of Dark Star…..I’ll just count him as a villain.

Because he is constantly switching sides, Almayce loses sight of what is happening and that’s when the villains make their move. Almayce went down rather easily even though he should have been expecting someone to destroy him. He was causing trouble for both the heroes and the other villains. It would have been cool to have seen him fight more, but he still made for a fun boss to oppose the heroes.
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Erulogs joins the fray towards the end of the series along with Sirius. It was odd to see him join in as the series was already heading to a close, but the more villains the better right? I liked him more than Sirius, less than Valgaav, and slightly more than Almayce. His abilities were very impressive as the heroes could not hold a candle to his power. He felt like the average DBZ villain and that is always a good thing. It is too bad that he didn’t get more of a role.

It was still bigger than the role of Sirius though. Sirius is the more rational of the two villains and he wants to learn as much as he can. He also doesn’t mind sparing the Earth as long as it won’t hurt his chances of survival. He is a villain that the heroes can work with and his abilities are still impressive. He doesn’t seem to be as tough as Erulogs, but he is still tough enough to keep the heroes back. While his design was not too good, his personality made him a decent villain.

It is worth mentioning the Dragon King Elder because he is so terrible that it becomes laughable towards the end. Not literally as this guy did single handily bring two different species of dragons to their extinction. (Filia may be the only dragon in existence anymore. Certainly the only Gold one left and the ancient ones are gone as well) The Elder wants the gold dragons to rule over all, but his life comes first and foremost. He is defiant to the end as he dies while explaining that he regrets nothing and he would do it all over again. He betrays his heroes to the villains and doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of common sense. It is regrettable that he became the leader of the Golden Dragons since he definitely did not have their best interests at heart.

Dark Star is the big villain for this series and he lives up to the hype. It is always fun to meet another Dark Lord from the tree of power. Shabranigdo is still the most impressive beast, but Dark Star is no slouch in the power department. Simply by flapping his wings, he can bring the heroes to the verge of death and he can shoot a variety of energy blasts. Dark Star’s flight speed is incredible and he’s a known planet destroyer. Everything about this villain is cool and hie design is actually like the symbiote from Marvel. At least the face resembles Venom. Dark Star is virtually unstoppable and his only weakness are the legendary weapons of light. Without them, you can essentially confirm the destruction of your planet. Spells don’t hurt him because Dark Star’s soul is in another plane of existence so physical attacks are the only way to challenge him. Dark Star made for a great end boss to the series and he’s probably the second best monster villain behind Shabranigdo.

Aside from the serious villains, we also got some low ranking ones to mention. Jillas was mostly played for laughs, but he actually got a serious subplot towards and the end and it hit you right in the feels. (Feels=Emotions. So, if something hits you in the feels, it’s like metaphysically hitting your sad or happy emotion and triggering that feeling inside of you. That’s how I’ve always thought of it anyway.) He has to leave his family at the end to help defend the planet and he also decides to finally move away from his thoughts of revenge. While most of the characters in the series have magical abilities, Jillas is stuck with his sheer intelligence. He is good at making bombs, but that certainly won’t carry him very far against the kinds of villains that are present here. He was fairly likable though at times and he was much better than his partner.

Gravos is an ogre type of demon and he never becomes likable. The writers don’t even try to make him sympathetic aside from an incredibly brief origin story. He means well I suppose as he is just following orders, but he isn’t nearly as interesting as Jillas. At least Jillas has his motivations and desires to keep him going, but Gravos is more of a two dimensional villain. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t exactly help me like his character either.

While the series is typically very light toned, there are a few moments of violence that clash with the rest of the series. The battle between Xellos and Valgaav was pretty brutal and likewise for the origin stories of Jillas and Gravos. This happened in the previous two Slayers series as well as everything would be very chipper until a sudden violent scene makes you take a double look. It’s nothing over the top though and it is typically quick so you don’t need to dwell on it, but the violence is certainly around. The dragons get extinct…twice, and they certainly don’t go down without a fight. Xellos vs Valgaav is still the one that will stick out the most simply because the show still plays Xellos off as a hero of sorts and this is certainly not heroic behavior. He is a monster and he is technically a villain, but the heroes barely treat him as such.

It is also about time for me to quickly address the plot hax that is present here. Now, this is a problem is virtually all forms of media and in almost all titles. Still, the plot hax is especially prevalent here as Lina and her friends are a group of humans who are trying to stop extremely powerful forces. No matter how many great spells they get like the Ragna Blade, there is no way that Lina and friends should last a minute against such powerful foes. Almost all of the high level monsters and gods are shown to move at hyper speeds. Lina is still a human and can’t run much faster than a normal one. At most, she is Captain America level in speed and power. She should still get speedblitzed at the beginning of every match.

The Slayers verse seems to place a lot of emphasis on physical power and none on speed, which is a little misguided. Raw power does not matter if you cannot hit the opponent and that’s my main problem with the title. Lina should be way too slow for any of her attacks to be useful here and she still manages to get in some good hits at times. It’s just a little odd and certainly unbelievable, but it is simply the route that the show has gone. Perhaps the writers feel that Lina and her pals would be less relatable if they had special powers aside from their spells. It’s their choice I suppose.

The animation is a step down from Next, but it still looks good. I’m assuming that the budget was likely reduced, but the series still has enough juice in it for some epic action scenes. The rest of the series is just a little more pale and dated than the vibrantly colorful Next. The fights are the important part though and the long action scenes are as good as you could have hoped for here. The heroes give it their all now that they can finally fight a little more: Gourry with his improved Sword of Light mastery, Lina with her Ragna Blade, Zelgadis with his sword, etc.

There’s not much to say about the soundtrack since it is the same as in the previous two shows. As for the theme song, it is all right, but it could be better. It is just not as exciting and moving as it could have been, but it is not a bad theme song either. Perhaps the end themes of the Slayers movies have simply spoiled me as they would certainly work better as a theme song than what we got here. The theme song is also a little misleading. As the overall soundtrack has not changed, Slayers Try sounds just as good as the first two installments.
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Overall, Slayers Try is a good series. I was hesitant to give it the full 7 as it did have its share of issues with the pacing and just not being quite as fun as the first two series, but it comes very close to reaching that mark. The soundtrack has not changed and the animation has only dipped a little. The main team of Lina and Gourry is still one of the driving forces of the show. The ending certainly feels like it could have been the end of the franchise, but it still would have been a sad one as I disagreed with Gourry’s decision. We got to meet some more powerful beasts from the Slayers verse and I look forward to eventually seeing an ultimate confrontation between the humans, dragons, monsters, and gods. My money is certainly on the monsters, but it would be a good fight. The balance between humor and action can be awkward, especially when mixed. Xellos being defeated by a song towards the end was a little random, but I’ll assume that he is just trolling as per usual. Jumping from serious moments to comedy ones is a delicate art that is hard to master. Slayers Next probably did the best job, but Slayers Try gave it a fair effort. I recommend checking this series out if you want a good fantasy title and while you don’t need to watch the first two series first, I would still recommend doing so. At least, Slayers Next, since one of the main villains wants to destroy the heroes because of what happened there.

Overall 6/10