Leave No Trace Review

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It’s time to look at a survival film which mainly takes place in a large forest. It definitely goes to show why it’s such a tough task to take care of these places since people are always trying to go in there and try to live on the land. The authorities in this film are actually super lenient all things considered as I could easily see the main characters getting jail time for what they try to do. At the very least, that’s what I would picture Will’s fate would be. It’s an interesting film that’s pretty low key and is more of a down to Earth story than many other movies. It can be a bit on the tragic side as well though.

The movie starts with Will and his daughter Tom living in the forest. At first you wonder why they are there. Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Vampires running loose? No. It turns out that Will doesn’t like humanity so he has decided that the only way to enjoy life is to live outside without any other souls around. Even if the characters are alone they can’t live in a house unless it is one that Will found first and no humans have lent him. This is a rough lifestyle for Tom, but she does her best to get by. The cops eventually catch the two and Tom gets a glimpse of what life would be like with a warm bed and food. Still, Will isn’t satisfied so he tells her that they have to evade the cops and head back to the forest. Tom is reluctant to do this. Can they really survive under such a lifestyle? Well, she’s about to find out!

While you might not mind Will for a few minutes, you’ll probably know almost right away that something is off about this scenario. Why are the main characters living in the woods? Before the film reveals that Will is basically crazy you assume that maybe the zombie apocalypse came early or something like that. No, Will just doesn’t like to live like the average person and that’s when the sympathy for his character ends. You’re just waiting for Tom to try and escape him the whole time. It still makes for a pretty mysterious beginning though. I’ve never been a fan of camping so living outside for any prolonged period of time would definitely be pretty rough. It also doesn’t make for the most engaging of films typically but fortunately this movie doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the details. We don’t see them eating insects or anything like that. That’s when the film would have crossed the line.

While I can’t say that I liked Will, Tom’s a good character. She is trying her best to adapt to the situations she is put in and does so without a fuss. She is young enough where it is believable that she is following Will’s bad advice as well. You can’t really fault her for not trying harder to distance herself since that’s not really an option. By the end of the film she also makes the right call. Without Tom doing her best to help Will get used to the new lifestyle the whole thing probably would have been even tougher on the main characters.

It’s also a pretty interesting look at how the rangers prevent people like this from living in the forest. It’s certainly not a job I would envy as it seems extremely difficult so I hope they are compensated well. The forests are huge so you can imagine how tough it is to constantly be surveying it. The guard dog certainly did good as well. I’m not sure if this is how it works in real life with how the organization tries to re-locate these people, but if so then it is a much more generous process then I would have ever imagined. Rather then go to jail they give Will and Tom a fairly nice house and a whole lot of freedom. They have so much freedom in fact that I’m not sure if this is even a good idea. Of course the characters aren’t bad people in this case, but I do think this could have gotten very wrong. Of course it still isn’t enough to make Will happy, but it was a nice attempt by the agency. Even the tests they gave the main characters weren’t invasive in the slightest while still being a little effective. I’m not really sure I buy into how they really think you can understand someone through vague questions, but I know there is some science to it.

The film is certainly a slow burner though so you’ll need to appreciate the landscapes and atmosphere here. A good chunk of the story is the characters walking through the forest and doing their best to come to terms with the elements. The landscapes look pretty nice though and it’s definitely a forest that I would be up for visiting. I’m still more of a “lounge by the hotel” kind of guy, but it’s a good change of pace. Basically all of the human characters who show up are nice which is fortunate for the main characters since the situation could have gone sideways pretty quick. Characters like the truck driver were pretty reasonable and all of the dogs in the film were a blast. Again, pretty much every character aside from Will is solid so that’s definitely a good thing.

Overall, Leave No Trace is a pretty decent film. It can definitely be a little tragic at times as you feel bad for the rescue workers who are just doing their best. Naturally it can also be pretty tough for Tom the whole time. Fortunately the film always stays pretty tame and doesn’t let the situation get too absurdly bad for the main characters. It’s never a film that’s hard to watch. At most you’ll probably just get frustrated with Will the whole time which is intentional on the film’s part. Beyond that, it’s a pretty unique film and one that is probably informative as I imagine it is likely pretty realistic. These kind of films usually have a good basis in fact with the writer doing some research before the film comes out. If you want to see a film about how you could possibly survive in the forest (As long as you have a ton of money. Will is conveniently loaded so he can constantly buy whatever they need) and why it is not as good as just living in a house then this is the one for you.

Overall 6/10

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I Can Only Imagine

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It’s time to look at a recent movie about the iconic song “I Can Only Imagine.” It’s definitely a pretty good song so I was up for having a film about how it was created. As you might expect it is also a bit of a tragic tale with a happy ending since it’s based on true events. It’s a good movie with quite a few songs which is good although I would have liked to have seen a few more tunes thrown in.

The movie follows Bart as he grows up in a rough household. He manages to get by, but the situation forces him to try and grow into the image his father wants him to be. He joins the Football team and it goes well for a while until he injures his leg and is forced to retire. I guess extra curricular activities are a necessity in this school so he is transferred to the music class where the teacher forces him to become a singer. Bart enjoys singing but the problem is that he knows Arthur (his father) won’t approve. His suspicions are correct and things boil over until Bart decides to run away from home and join a traveling band. In the process he breaks up with Shannon and prepares for his new life.

This life is tougher than Bart thought it would be though and he starts to have doubts. He tries to run back to Shannon, but that isn’t happening and his vocal skills are being doubted by the professionals. When all hope is lost he finally heads back to his home to confront Arthur who has seemingly been redeemed after becoming a Christian. Bart has to confront this fact by wondering if this is true and also if he will forgive Arthur regardless.

It’s a pretty emotional movie for sure. I think you’ll end up being a lot more invested in the musical scenes then the plot though. Partially this is because Bart just isn’t a very likable main character for the most part. It’s hard to blame him for all of the family stuff since that was pretty traumatic for him, but I’m talking about everything aside from that. First off is his relationship with Shannon. He had absolutely no reason to break up with her in that scene. It just didn’t really make any sense and I feel like it just happened to increase the dramatic tension. Of course it’s hard to say if that’s how it played out in real life as well. Then his attempt at getting back together with her was painful. He went to her house at midnight while pretending to be the police? That’s a prank that went way too far and she shouldn’t have even gone to the front door if you ask me. It’s no surprise that she didn’t go with him.

Then we have the scenes where the critics come to hear his band play. Their agent tells Bart that he’ll handle this and for the crew to wait in the back. They all listen except for Bart who runs to the stage and makes a mess out of everything. The film goes a little too far in making him super head strong and naive as far as the critics process goes. Surely he knows how these things go and that you can’t just yell at the critics to make them change their minds right? He just makes so many mistakes and then just saying that he’ll quit wasn’t very responsible either. Things could have really gone badly for his band mates at that point. Of course that’s when he chooses to take a long leave of absence from the band…great.

Still, if that’s exactly how it played out in real life then it’s good that the film played it straight there. Meanwhile Arthur is one of those characters who is so bad that it’s hard to buy into the redemption arc which is why you can understand Bart’s skepticism even if he doesn’t handle the situation well at all. (Why even show up at the house if you’re just going to guilt trip Arthur the whole time?) It’s definitely good that Arthur saw the light and ultimately found Christ. At the end of the day even if nobody believes that you have been truly redeemed it doesn’t matter. You know if you’ve become a Christian and that’s what counts.

Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a good film. While it can’t really be called a fun film for the most part as it can be pretty dark and dramatic, the songs are fun. It’s a quality movie and one that you’ll definitely want to see if you’re curious about the song’s origins. It’s not quite on the same level as God is Not Dead which is still quite excellent, but this movie doesn’t really make any big mistakes. It does manage to be a pretty realistic film without over embellishing the events.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Review

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Let me preface this review by putting on the record that I’ve always been a fan of having characters turn humanoid. It makes for a great super form since humanoid creatures are better able to fight on a high level because of how maneuverable they are. So, when the Pony franchise decided to have the main characters become humans I was excited. Finally, the Mane 6 could fight even more powerful threats. Unfortunately, I have to say that ultimately that hasn’t seemed to be the case as of yet so I’m thinking that their pony forms are the definitive versions. Still, this was a pretty fun film and definitely one that I could recommend.

The film starts with Twilight Sparkle trying to confront her insecurities about being the new princess of Equestria. She hasn’t been having an easy time of it lately because there is just too much pressure for her. This doesn’t get any easier when Celestia’s original pupil Sunset Shimmer shows up and one shots Twilight. She steals the crown and escapes into the human world. Dazed and confused, Twilight heads into the portal, but she still isn’t ready for a confrontation. Turning into a human seems to have regressed her confidence even further so now she panics and yells constantly while needing more support from her friends. Fortunately the rest of the Mane 6 have alternate versions in this world so she has to find them all and then unite to stop the powerful Sunset Shimmer. Can they really defeat this demonic pony who is bent on destroying all of reality?

It’s a pretty epic plot. Still, I do feel compelled to let you know that this film isn’t all about the action scenes. The final fight is over in around a minute if not sooner and we don’t get to see the pony versions fight either. Honestly, the TV show probably has more fights on average. So, the film took the opposite approach from what you would have expected and used the human world as a way to nerf the ponies and to treat them more like humans. We do get teased with what the fight scenes could be like though as they all get transformation scenes and prepare to fight Sunset. Perhaps in a future film we will get to see them have a real fight if they are able to access their abilities at will.

The bulk of the film is Twilight trying to get the Mane 6 to get along. See, Sunset knew that the ponies could be a threat (Even if Rainbow Dash is the only one who can realistically fight her) so she tricked them all into not being friends anymore. It was quite easy to be honest as she just spun a few lies and convinced them all not to try and talk to each other. Well, Twilight won’t let this stand. She would have solved this puzzle even sooner if not for getting dragged into a romance plot. This is the weakest part of the film. So, Twilight meets some random guy and suddenly she is acting like a random live action heroine. Twilight Sparkle doesn’t do romance. The TV show is all about how Friendship is Magic and that’s all you need. Romance is relegated to the side characters like Big Mac who don’t really have an on screen presence in the first place. The romance naturally doesn’t go anywhere so it really wasn’t needed. It also results in the guy saving Twilight 1-2 times when she should have saved herself.

The animation looks pretty good. It’s basically the TV show, but using human designs for everyone which is fun. As a big supporter of franchises getting as many spinoffs as possible I’m all for it. The Equestria Girl spinoff series has also lasted quite a while which is definitely cool. We also get a lot of songs which is nice since the show hasn’t featured too many of those lately. The songs are pretty emotional and have a lot of heart backing them up. There aren’t enough to be called a musical, but there are certainly enough for them to be noticed.

Now lets talk about the new character Sunset Shimmer. She makes for a pretty good villain and that’s something that the series has needed. A bully type character who can fight back. The character type of an original student turning evil and escaping is a classic one that works really well. Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho was excellent since he was a look at what Yusuke could have been if he had gone down a darker path. Sunset is essentially a dark Twilight who may be even stronger than the princess. Unfortunately we don’t get to see her in action much, but she’s definitely a fun character. That’s why it’s a shame how her character arc ended here. I think keeping her around as a long running villain would have been nice. I’m sure she’ll be a good hero as well of course, but she won’t get to show off her tougher side quite as much. I’ll be interested to see if she punches someone out in the sequel though, that’d be cool.

I’ve already spoken a bit about how Twilight Sparkle is out of character here so I won’t go into too much further detail. I will say that she was just lacking in confidence too much here. This isn’t season 1 Twilight, she’s come a long way since then. Between that and the romance she just wasn’t the main character that I’ve come to root for. I want to see more of her rage mode like against Tirek. From the other members of the Mane 6 they are played pretty straight from the show. The only ones with a big role though are Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. Fluttershy is still getting picked on and letting everyone walk all over her so she doesn’t look very good, but Rainbow Dash steals the show as always. Pretty much all of her lines are talking about how awesome she is which is excellent. I get the feeling that Sunset never tries to bully her since that wouldn’t end well. Honestly, in the end it seems like she only rules the school because the tough characters just don’t care and the rest get bullied into submission. Rainbow Dash probably would have lost in a fight since she had no powers at the time, but it would have been neat to see. The school administration is blind to the truth so the students are on their own.

I don’t think Spike needed to be brought along with Twilight and honestly she would have looked better without him since he’s just around to make her look bad. He does work well as a hostage in the climax though. Again, the climax was pretty exciting even if it did end up being rather anticlimactic at the end. I still appreciate the film giving its all in trying to get the atmosphere down just right. Now, this review may have seemed a little on the negative side as I read through it, but this was a pretty solid film. At the end of the day movies really need to fill two questions with the right answers in order to win the day.

First, “Was the film enjoyable?” This film was definitely fun. The pacing was pretty solid and you’ll be left feeling pretty good about the experience by the time it’s all over. It’s not as if this is an end of the world event. Treat the movie as a slice of life adventure with a little drama and you’re all set. Second, “Did the film make any costly mistakes?” I’m not talking about minor stuff like the Twilight romance. This is more for big things like: Did Twilight get nerfed into the ground? Was their animal violence? Bad script? Stuff like that. Equestria Girls was safe from the start for most meaningful negatives due to its rating so it was almost always guaranteed to be fairly decent. The more realistic negatives it would have to watch out for would be things like crude humor and generally bad characters. The series has always had good writing though so I had a feeling that it wouldn’t go that route. It’s a classy franchise. So, the film may have had some areas where it could have improved, but on the whole it did a good job of being quite solid.

Overall, I’m ready to see what the next film has got up its sleeve. The film did a good job of expanding on the main characters in their new world. Now that Twilight is gone we’ll see how her other self handles all of this. Will she get the memories of this latest adventure or will everyone have to clue her in? Time travel and dimension hopping are always tricky, but I’m sure that the writers have a good idea of where to go from here. I’m still waiting for a big budget crossover movie between the ponies and the humans, but we’ll see if that ever happens. It may not be necessary, but I’d like to see the two teams duke it out before eventually teaming up to take on an iconic villain from the past. We also need to see Sunset and Starlight fight since the two are both prodigies who are likely each stronger than Twilight Sparkle by a wide margin. There are a lot of good potential MLP fights come to think of it. Ah well, they’ll come in time.

Overall 7/10

Digimon Adventure Tri: Confession Review

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It’s time to look at the third film in the Tri series. We have no reached the halfway point folks. This one focuses more on TK as he tries to find a way to make sure Patamon is okay without the rest of the Digidestined getting in his way. It’ll be tough but he’s been through worse. Meanwhile the rest of the team needs to figure out what to do about Meiko and the trouble that the Digital World is facing.

This one picks off where the second ended and everyone is panicking. The infection is spreading rapidly and even the chosen Digimon may not be immune. The heroes may have to pull the plug on the Digital World as a whole to save it, but is it worth saving the planet if everyone has to be wiped away? The Digimon are all data at the end of the day, but they have been shown to be able to generate souls within them so isn’t resetting their data just like destroying them? Hard questions will be asked here.

While the last film focused on Joe and Mimi this one has Izzy and TK be the focus so I’ll concentrate on those two. First is TK and his controversial choice is to keep the fact that Patamon is infected from the other Digidestined since they may try to run experiments on Patamon or even delete him. The “heroes” have discussed this in the past so it’s not too far fetched. TK also does make sure to take Patamon away from the others so he is being careful not to spread the infection. Naturally the characters aren’t thrilled about this, but TK absolutely made the right choice here. I wouldn’t trust the other Digidestined as far as I can throw them. Patamon is TK’s best friend as well so that bond’s more important than letting the others down. Especially since TK and Kairi have crests that work like friendship he should be able to overcome the dark impulses that are plaguing Patamon. So, I’m on TK’s side 100%.

As for Izzy, I’m basically in the opposite boat here. He’s always the character who ends up panicking and cracking under pressure. It’s a trait that is usually associated with the smart member of the group and unfortunately he was no exception. The computer simulations start to get to him so he pushes everyone away and snaps at them. It just doesn’t do his character any favors, especially since he never sincerely apologizes about the whole thing. His mindset is the opposite of TK’s as he would likely not mind sacrificing the one to save the rest while TK sides with his partner. Different methods for trying to do the right thing, but I certainly have my preference.

This film definitely has one of the better fight scenes. I’m not sure that I would put it ahead of the epic Alphamon entrance just yet but it was great to finally see all of the Digidestined team up. It’s the first time since the show at this point and it’s definitely nostalgic. A shame they were all so outgunned though, but it’s really the heroes’ fault for not going into their ultimate forms though. They just refuse to do so and I know that they like a good fight, but the fate of the planet is at stake so they gotta take this just a little more seriously. I definitely enjoyed seeing Meicoomon in action. He is definitely a solid fighter and the design for the Digimon is definitely on point.

The animation continues to look fairly solid. The film got to show off its effects a little more here with the climax and all. The colors in the Digital World are always nice and it’s fun to finally be away from Earth. Naturally the stinger is certainly not quite as epic as the last film’s, but it’s a pretty good reveal for the villain. It’ll be interesting to see what the whole master plan is. Right now we don’t know a whole lot so the motives could be just about anything honestly. World domination, conquest, or just a desire to see everything get wiped out and reset. That seems to be a common cyber goal so I wouldn’t put it past this guy. The soundtrack is essentially the same as the last 2 films so it’s still pretty solid. As always the danger theme in the climax is the best one, but the insert song is also catchy

The writing is solid as you would expect. The mystery continues and all of the characters continue to stress each other out. I feel like Tai is definitely getting closer to regaining his fighting spirit. I think one more good talking to will likely convert him. That’s definitely a good thing because we really need the old Tai back if we want to win. Matt mentions how having the other Mega level Digimon being awakened will help since they may not need Alphamon, but at the end of the day he is still their best weapon. Normal Mega level Digimon aren’t even close to as strong as Alphamon. Also, the heroes never even use their Mega except for at the very end so I doubt we will be seeing them all that much. This film was longer than the first 2 which is good since it was able to fit so much in that way. The pacing is solid all the way through so don’t worry about it dragging on or anything like that.

I would like to see the DigiDestined take a more active role against the government though. So far they just accept everything they are told and aren’t actively trying to fight off the infection. (Aside from Izzy who is trying to find a cure) The heroes should be shaking people down and finding out answers. Starting with the people monitoring them makes sense since the government is currently keeping a whole lot of information from them. I suppose this won’t be an issue going forward since the heroes are finally back in the Digital World. They should have a lot of experience here so I’m looking forward to seeing them really make a dent in the villain’s plans and also figuring out the answers to all of their questions. Also, Tai seriously can’t complain about city destruction now that he’s off Earth right?

Overall, Confession does a good job of continuing the adventure. It makes a good case for possibly topping the first film. Those two are pretty neck and neck at the moment. The first film has an edge in having the single best sequence out of all the films when Alphamon arrives, but the third film got to jump into the plot a lot faster without needing to take time for introductions. It’s a tough call of course and I look forward to the next 3 films making that decision even tougher by keeping up the quality. It’s definitely been nice to have the Adventure cast back for so long with these 6 films and they aren’t going anywhere for a while.

Overall 8/10

Phone Call from a Stranger Review

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It’s time to look at an old film that you may or may not be familiar with. It’s a story with the highest of stakes and the most personal of characters. A fun movie all around even if the mistakes that some of the characters make are too big to be easily overlooked. It’s got a good message at the end though and you’ve always got to hope for the best.

The film starts off with the main character running away from home because his wife cheated on him. She says that it was just a moment of weakness but Trask can’t live with that and takes a train far away. As he heads to the plane he runs into a few other characters dealing with their own hardships. They may be a bit loud or overzealous at times but they make the trip go smoother. That’s when the plane crash occurs and now it’s up to David to finalize everyone’s situations so they can move on. However, will the families want to hear anything that a stranger has to say?

The film is pretty long which is what helps it put in the first half purely so we can learn about the other characters. They’ve all got their own journeys and such going on which the main character learns gradually. You may not even suspect the second half’s plot if you didn’t know it beforehand. It’s a rather drastic change in the direction of the film but the fact that it happens so quickly is what helps it succeed. It’s a little tough to have things occur unexpectedly nowadays but this film pulled it off.

The writing is pretty solid as you would expect. The characters all sound reasonable and that’s part of how the film was able to be as engaging as it was. The pacing is also good so the film doesn’t drag on. The long length was definitely a good thing in this case since it allowed the movie to give us a few scenes with each of the characters before the second act. Had the film been shorter like most old movies, then they would have had to axe most of the first half.

For the characters, it’ll really depend on which ones you sympathize with. I certainly couldn’t root for the doctor as drunk or not, he went way too far off the deep end. Especially if it was a recurring issue with him then he should have not even let himself near a drink. His issue also affected a lot of other people besides himself so even after he apologized it was a little iffy. Better late than never though and at least he did regret it. His son definitely didn’t take any of it well though and was the biggest ingrate in the film.

Then we have the aspiring actress who was good at reading people. Her story was probably the most entertaining despite being tragic as her husband’s mother kept trying to sabotage her at every corner. We even get a flashback from the mother’s point of view where we see a twisted version of the past. I did like the heroic outfit she had on and the over the top theatrics of the scene are part of why it was so fun. If you’re going to show us a make believe story you may as well make it completely crazy to ensure that it’s super amusing. In this case, the husband has to be blamed for most of it since he comes across as incredibly gullible. He just looks so bad here and in the end the mother basically won. She may have been the antagonist with malicious intent, but the husband is still the worse character.

In the final plot we had the flirt who was always laughing. Some of those laughs felt so sudden that you could swear that the channel added them but I don’t suspect that TCM would do such a thing. They’re usually on the up and up to be honest. This guy always jokes around but apparently he is a devoted husband otherwise. Definitely not the best of tropes and I can’t say that I ever liked him. Then we have the wife who was cheating on him until the rebound guy ran away. It’s hard to sympathize with anyone here so it makes sense that their plot was left for last and seemed to be the shortest. If the guy hadn’t ducked out on her then the wife wouldn’t have even gone back to the guy. The guy still flirts behind her back as well so it just seems pretty bad for both parties involved.

As the film ends you’ll keep on waiting for a twist involving the 2 survivors, but it never comes up. I suppose in a way that in itself is a twist. After all, what are the odds that the other two survivors would be anyone important? Technically it makes sense that they would have nothing to do with the movie. I suppose it would have been nice to have seen them, but it certainly wasn’t of any real consequence. It’s not something that will likely hurt your enjoyment of the film at any rate. Only the flip side can possibly do that as some of the characters who die could have been more likable than the ones who lived in which case you, the viewer may not take it as well.

Overall, This was definitely an interesting movie. It had a lot of twists and turns within it. I definitely don’t think I’d be thrilled to have a random stranger show up to give some last words but it’s still a thoughtful gesture regardless. I’d recommend checking this film out. As long as you enjoy a good story I think you’ll like this movie. There aren’t any big explosions or danger in general, but it does a good job of being a drama film without having to rely on anything extra. It’s all about the dialogue and the film does a good job of selling itself.

Overall 7/10

Space Amoeba Review

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It’s time to look at an old Kaiju film that not too many people know about. However, once you see the title you know that this is a film to check out. The monsters are huge which is really what you are looking for at the end of the day. It’s a pretty fun film that may start to lose a little steam as it goes on but manages to be a solid product through and through. Naturally you will be rooting for the monsters of course.

The film starts off with a reporter being mocked for claiming that our satellites aren’t making it into space and are being shot down. He is determined to prove that he isn’t wrong and is given the chance when a lady shows up and asks him to take photos of an island where she is building a resort. His pride won’t let him do such a thing at first but then another guy shows up and explains that giant monsters may have been seen in the area. The lead quickly realizes that it is all linked and jumps into action. Is he in over his head?

One thing you will enjoy right away is the writing for this film. It’s one of those old school scripts where the characters are all having a lot of run right off the bat. Sure, maybe they should be taking this whole thing a little more seriously to be honest, but at the end of the day you have to appreciate the fact that they can still make one liners. The voice acting is on point and the characters are reasonably likable. Kudo may have a little too much pride as he initially doesn’t want to take pictures of landscapes even when paid, but I guess that’s just not his thing. He is quick to jump into action when necessary on the island. We also have the corporate spy who comes in to try and get rich, but things don’t go too well for him. From that point on you already knew he was doomed though. We also have the main heroine who tries to help one of the heroes get away from the mind control that he is under with her yells. I suppose it is fairly effective. You’ve also got the tour guides but some of the locals do tend to panic when the Kaiju come knocking. Never a good move since these monsters are as fast as they are large.

So as you can see I definitely had no problem with the characters. It was a fun enough bunch even if none of them are all that memorable. Now we get to the Kaiju. They were all pretty solid. The best one would probably be the main one. That squid packed a punch and was even able to move on land. I definitely was glad to see him pop up and his scenes were certainly the closest to something out of a Godzilla movie. Then we have the big turtle that was neat. While the ability to stretch out your head isn’t very useful or practical, it was visually interesting so I’ll give it some props there. The monsters were definitely fun so this title earned its creature feature status.

As I mentioned, the film does slow down a bit during the second half though. That’s because the humans start to take up a bit more of a focus at that point so the monsters are secondary. I can tell you now that this is never a good idea since we are all here for the Kaiju of course. The humans are just the added bonus. It never gets boring or anything like that though. I also think the monsters should have maybe been a bit stronger as well since one of them was getting absolutely wrecked by the humans and their guns. If you’re not bullet proof but are huge like these monsters then you’re just going to end up being an easy target.

I do think Kudo’s boss will likely go down as one of the more underrated characters among the Kaiju community though. I like how he doubted Kudo from the start and never changed his mind from that. After all, why should he? When you think about it, Kudo’s story doesn’t make any sense so sending him off on a wild goose chase makes a lot of sense. He’s a one shot character but is a perfect example of this film’s humor that meshes well with the story.

Overall, Space Amoeba is a solid film. It’s definitely a retro Kaiju movie that is worth checking out and you will never look at the giant monsters the same way again. Don’t worry, we’ve also got aliens in the mix which really helps as well since those guys should always be included in such an adventure. Kaiju and Aliens go hand in hand after all. It would be cool to see these monsters go up against Godzilla one day although they would probably be destroyed very quickly. The Amoeba may not be one of the strongest fighters out there, but he’s a fun one.

Overall 7/10

A.I. Artificial Intelligence Review

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It’s time to look at a rather unique Sci-Fi film that balances a bunch of genres, but mainly focuses on the drama aspect. Unfortunately it suffers from being an overly long, melodramatic film that makes quite a few mistakes. It doesn’t make for a particularly engaging watch and the whole time you will just be wondering where Skynet is. When you watch films with humans worrying about the robots becoming a threat, you look forward to seeing the robots take over. Instead the film is mainly just the humans picking on the robots for a long while with no real payoff of any kind.

The film starts with a couple deciding to adopt a robot kid in place of their real son who is in a coma. This definitely didn’t seem like a reasonable move right from the start. At first you think that this might make sense because you presume their son is dead. (Still a terrible decision as the wife even mentions that it’s like trying to replace their original kid since they bought a robot that looks exactly like the son) but when you find out that he’s alive then the whole thing gets real messy. The worst part is that the husband is the one who decided to get him and once the son gets back he immediately turns on the robot. Breeding robotic kids already seems like a super sketchy business to be honest. Well, the family abandons David so he goes on a journey to find out how to return home, but it could be difficult.

In this world robots aren’t able to fight back against their human oppressors so the humans use this as an excuse to beat them up as much as possible. The robots hopefully can’t really feel pain, but it’s still pretty dark and gruesome to be honest, much like the rest of the film. The whole film just comes across as rather disturbing and very dreary. There is never really a moment where the film feels hopeful or even fun. It’s just a very dull experience where the characters are stuck in a dystopia that they can’t hope to escape. You’ll definitely feel bad for David, but the problem is that he isn’t even an enjoyable character.

David may be an A.I. but he still isn’t very smart. Since he was programmed to be a kid that may serve as an explanation for this, but he doesn’t even know his robotic limitations. He He attempts to eat food when dared to which causes him to shut down and then he doesn’t even know common sense. He shouldn’t even be able to lift a pair of scissors since you’d think that it would register as a weapon and his self defense mechanism doesn’t seem very great to be honest. He also comes across as very ungrateful at the end of the film as he is mean to the beings who find him and is always sulky. Kids can’t really hold their own film and I suppose this still applies even when the kid is robotic.

David meets up with another robot who helps him learn the ways of the world, but that guy isn’t great. His character gimmick is that he is a robot who provides pleasure for the Earthlings, but that doesn’t work out well either. Naturally some other humans don’t like this so they frame him for murder and send him to the robot circus where they are all blown up. David doesn’t even feel bad about ditching this guy which tells you all that you need to know about him. There are no good characters in this film, that’s something you’ll learn very quickly. If you count inanimate objects, which you probably should because once you go into robotics the distinction starts to get a little tricky, then the Teddy Bear is reasonable. He’s another rather dark character with a morbid sense of humor but at least he won’t be backstabbing anyone like the other characters. He seems like a really random character at the start, but by the end he fits in well enough.

The end of the film gets really crazy. I won’t go into detail, but the jump does take us 20K years in the future to see how the Earth ultimately turned out. It’s definitely the optimal timeline if you ask me even if it does seem like the inhabitants probably aren’t having too much fun at this point. I guess you can’t win em all right? At least there shouldn’t be much crime at all anymore. It’s not a great ending or anything, but I guess I can appreciate how out there it all is. Throw in some big fight scenes and maybe the film could have been saved.

At the end of the day, this movie could have been better if it wasn’t so disturbing and creepy the whole time. If you’re going to do a story about Androids and what it means to be human, you need to do it in a better way. I don’t think it works very well if the main android is a kid because then it isn’t able to really handle the themes properly. It just doesn’t work at all and the alternative is to have a film like Terminator where the robots decide to take over the world. Having a twist like that during the second half of the film would have been absolutely amazing. A shame that it didn’t go that way right?

Overall, I would not recommend A.I. While it is a step up from complete flops like 2001: A Space Odyssey, it reminds you why the Sci-Fi genre is best when it doesn’t try to hard to be super deep and emotional. Mixing those two genres just doesn’t work very well so you need to focus on the action aspect or just being a light hearted adventure in the future. Emotional films like this one would likely fail either way, with or without the Sci-Fi angle though. If you want to see a film that just tries to be a Debbie Downer at all times then by all means go for it. Otherwise, I’d suggest just watching Terminator Genysis instead and reminding yourself why these robots can be dangerous and will eventually wipe out humanity.

Overall 1/10

The Red Balloon Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly short film. This is one of those movies where you have to really enjoy balloons as otherwise you might not get all that invested in the plot. I don’t use the word “plot” loosely either since there isn’t much to find here. It’s a very short film so I wouldn’t even say that it drags on, but the movie forgets to ever get interesting. As such you’re just watching things happen on screen but without any kind of payoff or punchline.

The film starts with a kid walking with a Red Balloon. This balloon is sentient which is handy for the kid since he would have dropped it ages ago otherwise. The Balloon isn’t allowed in the school so the kid goes on ahead and everything goes well for a while. Things deteriorate when a group of kids decide to pop the balloon. The kid doesn’t want this so he runs, but he’s up against an entire school so he may be a little outgunned here. I sympathize with the kid, but with the numbers advantage so clearly against him there just isn’t much that he can do.

The ending is a little emotional as the Balloon gets wrecked by the kids. It’s hard to feel too sympathetic though since the balloon played the match up horribly. He can fly and yet when the kids came he decided to go low. A low sweep is good when the opponent is expecting an aerial attack, but since the balloon has no legs to kick with it’s a pointless maneuver. Of course they ended up popping him. I guess they were trying to say that the balloon wasn’t very smart, but I could have told you that from the start. It’s also sad for the kid since he wasn’t very smart either, but he was pretty young so I guess I’ll cut him some slack. At the end the other balloons come together in one last act of unity and teamwork. It’s an interesting scene I guess as it does show their true colors. They didn’t come to help until after the threat was passed and the balloon was terminated. Some friends they were!

At its core the problem this film faces is that without dialogue and a plot no film can succeed. You can have a good film without dialogue or a solid one without a plot, but you can’t do both at the same time. You need something to keep the audience engaged. Even the main character wasn’t really a character. What could you tell me about him aside from the fact that he’s a kid? The guy has no real personality and just seeing him cross the street and walk around town is hardly entertaining. Kids can’t really hold their own films. This is something that has been true for decades and I don’t expect it will change anytime soon. I already talked about how I didn’t like the balloon so there were no likable characters in this film.

Also, as most of the film is just the bullies chasing the hero, you’re hoping that he will outwit them at some point or do something. At least head for the adults for backup right? Instead he just runs through a lot of empty alleys until he finally lands in a field where no one can come to help. Fortunately the bullies were only interested in the balloon, but it definitely wasn’t an optimal outcome for the kid. Things went better than they could have, but why did the bullies have to get away for free? When you stop to think about it, they ended up winning which sends the wrong message.

Overall, I can’t really see how you would enjoy this film all that much to be honest. Maybe it will generate a level of nostalgia if you used to have a pet balloon or something. I can’t recommend the film even with the length because there just doesn’t seem to be a point to it. If you just want to see the landscapes just head to Central Park or London’s tower. Sitting down to watch someone just walk around doesn’t strike me as something that would be entertaining to do. If we ever get a sequel hopefully this time it gets a bigger budget so we will have something to watch and be entertained by. In the meantime, you should watch a good cartoon like Arthur instead.

Overall 4/10

A Matter of Life and Death Review

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It’s time to look at a really old British film that hit the big time. You have to keep in mind its origin for the court scenes to make sense at the end since they bring up America quite a bit and you have to remember that the protagonists are not from there. It’s a fun film that may drag a little bit at times, but brings along with it quality writing and suspense. I’m always up for a good court case after all.

The film starts with Peter losing a dog fight against a skilled pilot and crashing to his doom. As he is incredibly high up he takes the time to make one last call to command. There he speaks with a lady named June who tells him to man up and not give in so easily. He rejects her advice and makes a big speech before he crashes. Peter wakes up the next day and realizes that the money he paid for the air cushions was well worth it since he survived. He decides to get together with June, but that’s when the advocates of death arrive. Agent 71 explains that Peter should have died and it was simply an administrative error that caused him to live. Peter sues 71 for negligence and so they decide to take this matter up with the cosmic courts. Can Peter prove that he should be allowed to live for a few more decades or will he be booking a one ticket stop to his doom?

I can’t say that I was a big fan of Peter to be honest. The guy just gave up way too easily and seems to be a glass half empty kind of fellow. He was given days to think about who to represent him in the trial and could choose from literally anyone, but he still can’t decide. He’s rather slow on the uptake and while he was confident at first, by the end he is basically begging for mercy. I don’t know what happened to this guy, but he could have handled this situation a whole lot better.

June is a good heroine even if the romance between her and Peter is incredibly rushed. You never really find it all that believable since they fell for each other before even meeting. That’s a bit of a stretch right? June is willing to make the tough calls in order to help Peter and she also decides not to lie to him at the end so that was good. Frank is the local doctor and he handled the situation pretty well. His sci-fi table that lets him see the whole town was a bit of a stretch and at first I thought he was an inside agent but it shows that he is an unparalleled genius. He did a good job defending Peter in the court.

Naturally I am on Peter’s side in this debate. Even if he only kept his life by accident he now should have the power to live it out. Correcting the mistake by destroying him wouldn’t be the right move. The back and forth was pretty interesting in the court although most of it wasn’t actually about this as it devolved into talking about how America keeps messing with everyone and that nobody likes Britain because they are always attacking people. Seeing them fight with the radio and everything else was definitely pretty fun. The other world does seem rather corrupt though so perhaps in a sequel there would be an uprising if it decided to go in as an action film.

As I mentioned the writing is pretty solid. All of the characters sound reasonable and at least they try to back up their points. For the pacing, I think it may actually be towards the end where it drags on a bit. As I mentioned, they tend to diverge on their talking points in the court and as a result they stay off topic for a long time. It may be because there is only so much you can say about the actual case since it’s a pretty black and white yes or no, but I’m sure there are more nuances that could have been brought up.

Slow burner or not, the plot is definitely pretty unique. It’s definitely a fun Utopia for everyone who died since they basically get to do whatever they want. I have to assume that there aren’t too many things to do during the day though judging by how many people attended the trial. Surely most of these guys wouldn’t actually care about something like that as long as they could play their sports or watch TV right? Maybe I’m underestimating these guys.

Overall, A Matter of Life and Death is a fun movie. The main message we can take from this is that you should not throw in the towel so easily. You always gotta try to make the emergency landing even if the odds don’t look great. Meanwhile, the surgeons looked pretty good at the end and so I don’t mind them believing that they are the reason that Peter is still around. What they did likely aided his chances of victory as well and it would have been ironic if he won the case, but then died if they messed up the surgery. Yeah…that would have been pretty dicey! So, I’d recommend checking this film out if you’re in the mood for a fun court case, just be prepared for it to be a long one with a little less fire than some of the other court cases we are used to.

Overall 7/10

Honey and Clover Review

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There are some series where you immediately start to think that something was off. This is one of them and most of it all boils down to the art. Right from the beginning you can tell that it’s an unconventional art style and one that you automatically associate with a grittier title. It lets you know that this series will probably make some big mistakes and you wouldn’t be wrong. More on the art later.

The series has quite a few characters and plot lines. The general plot though is that there are a group of characters in a town. They all know each other through other people or directly and as such bonds have started to form. Takemoto is known as an average guy all the way through. He’s not bad at anything, but not good at anything either. One day an art prodigy known as Hagu shows up and Takemoto decides that he will be a better man. Then we are introduced to a ton of love triangles which all intersect to the point where everyone has a rival. Can they all end up as friends despite this or will their bonds be shattered?

So lets address the biggest problem right off the bat. Hagu is one of the main characters of interest as Takemoto, Morita, and Shuji all like her. The thing is, the manga always draws her to look like a little girl while everyone else is basically an adult. Takemoto was 19 and the others were older than him I believe. Hagu is around their age as well but never seems like it. I forgot in the series if it was ever stated that there is a reason why she doesn’t grow or if that’s just the art style but then the series goes a step further by making her act like a kid as well. Either way, it makes the romance hard to endure and every time it pops up you’ll end up cringing. Lets face it, it’s hard to do a good roamance at times, but even so it’s possible. This series just absolutely could not pull it off and the art destroyed any chance that it had. Hagu’s design just seems like a mistake and if the author wanted to go with this look, then she should have at least acted more mature.

I also can’t say that I liked Hagu as she made the wrong calls. So, this series also deals quite a lot with romance and the rebounds. Hagu actually does like one of the 3 characters, but she goes with a different one because he gives her the best chance at recovering her career. It’s portrayed as a good option, but that just seems fake then. She’s basically using the guy. We have several characters in the series who are totally fine with that, but it’s still not a quality romance. Even though drawing is her life, Hagu also has many different moments where she is unsure if that’s what she wants to do so I wonder if she has what it takes for the long haul.

Then another bad character is Mayama and his entire subplot. So, he has always liked Rika and has been stalking her for years. He looks through her browser history when she is gone and does a lot of crazy things inside her apartment when she’s not around. It’s all played off for humor, but the series does portray him as a rather warped individual who should be considered as more of an antagonist. Rika does lead him on and gives him one night stands to keep him entertained, but that’s no good either. Rika has a tragic past and just can’t cope with it at times. While she is still to blame, Mayama is just as guilty for ignoring this to his convenience. This was another romance that I could certainly not get behind and the guy was just a terrible character.

Then we have Takemoto who is also annoying. At one point he bails on everyone to drive around the country and re discover himself. Kind of a selfish thing to do if you think about it since he didn’t tell anyone where he was going and is gone for a very long time. When he comes back the first thing he does is confess to someone when he knows that she doesn’t like him. Fortunately she rejects him instead of playing along for a while like some other characters, but it didn’t help Takemoto’s case. Even by the end once she has made her decision he has a tough time letting her go.

The same thing is true for Yamada. She likes Mayama, but he has chosen Rika over her. So, Yamada decides to rebound with Nomiya, but even at the end of the series she can’t get over Mayama. Nomiya is fine with that, but that still means that he will just be the rebound. It’s not a very fun role and even if he doesn’t mind it, once again I can’t call this a quality romance. By the end of the series it felt like every character had to settle for the backup or being forever alone. Takemoto wanted Hagu and ended up with no one. Morita wanted Hagu and got no one. Hagu wanted Takemoto but got Shuji. Yamada wanted Mayama but got Nomiya. I guess Mayama and Shuji got their picks though.

Morita is another bad character. At least he is rather quirky and eccentric as he runs around doing his best to annoy everyone while getting rich. He actually is a genius and knows how to succeed which is good, but then he goes around causing trouble for everyone. Rather then talk to Hagu openly he runs around calling her a creature and doesn’t get serious until the final volume. It’s way too late by then if you think about it. As mentioned earlier Yamada is basically using Nomiya which doesn’t help her case. It’s fine if she can’t get over Mayama, but then just staying by yourself until the feeling has passed is the right choice.

Nomiya’s no good as he approaches Yamada once she is in a vurlnable state which basically just seems like it will help his odds. That’s not the heroic sacrifice play that I would have liked to have seen. At leas stay in the friend zone or something. Rika’s no good since she can’t make up her mind. She clearly likes Shuji more than Mayama, but ultimately needs Mayama for work so she makes compromises. She should have kicked him out once she found out about the shady stuff he was doing. Shuji’s also no good because his romance comes out of nowhere and he seems way too old to be honest. The guy’s been a teacher for a while so no matter how you slice it there is an age gap here.

Going back to the romance themes, one of the issues that the characters keep struggling with is the fact that they can’t get over their initial pick. At the end Takemoto gives a monologue wondering if it was all pointless or if it was a good thing. At the end he decides it was a good thing and finally moves on. He’s the only one who made the sensible choice in the end. See, if you fall for someone who’s taken or who simply doesn’t feel the same way, you don’t just keep pestering the person until they finally give a half hearted okay and get together with you as a last resort. You also don’t just use someone as a rebound while mentally picturing that you’re with the other person. No, the best thing to do is get over it as soon as possible and if that’s not working then create some distance. Eventually you’ll be over it and until then just bluff for a while and put on a tough face. Not letting the other person find out is the right thing to do because that will just put that person in an awkward position. The thing is, most of the cast is too selfish to go along with any of that and they all end up doing their own thing.

As mentioned, one of the reasons why this manga scored so low is due to the art. It just looks utterly terrible and is one of the worst art that I have ever seen for a manga. It’s not dead last, but it’s probably bottom 5. The art looks unfinished and everyone appears to be constantly blushing. That’s something you’d expect more from an anime which also doesn’t work. I’ve already mentioned the Hagu thing to death, but changing that would have certainly helped the score as well. The humor doesn’t work either since the characters are so unlikable. Even though the series is 10 volumes it definitely does drag for quite a bit. The commentary on romance in general was ambitious so I’ll give the series some props there, but it was just incorrect the whole time.
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Overall, Honey and Clover is a series that I highly advise staying away from. It’s just not a good series but you could probably guess that based off of the synopsis. If you like a lot of drama and romance then you may enjoy it, but if you don’t then you’ll know to stay away. I’m not a big fan of those two genres mixing myself so it’s not really a surprise that I didn’t like it. Still, I can certainly say that the series was a little worse than expected. It certainly would have been better as a romance comedy than a drama in this case as it takes itself way too seriously with all of the wrong choices. There is a lot of dialogue, but often times it is about nothing in particular. It’s just characters hanging out, but they aren’t saying anything exciting.

Overall 2/10