Escaflowne Review

It’s always a sad day when a franchise is brought back from the grave just to shatter our memories. I’ve always been of the opinion that more content for a franchise is always a good thing even if it’s bad. I’m glad Dragon Ball Super exists even if it mocks most of the principles from DBZ. I’m glad Naruto Shippuden exists even if it’s painfully low budget and has some of the worst directing of all time. I’m even glad that we have Teen Titans Go because it has brought some nice episodes and scenes once in a while. These additions to the franchise may not have been amazing, but they did have their share of great moments which is why I love to see them. However, a film like this one or the latest season of Samurai Jack does sometimes make me question this. Ultimately, my stance hasn’t changed, but it’s always sad when we get a modern gritty remake/reboot/sequel that really just takes away everything that made the original good. Escaflowne is a terrible movie and it will make you feel bad for the TV show. It has animal violence and gratuitous violence at the ready so with that in order, lets tackle this film.

Hitomi was a normal suicidal teenager when the film picks up. Her friend makes a joke about wanting to be there when Hitomi jumps, but little does she know that Hitomi is serious, she just feels like she isn’t brave enough to do it yet. Hitomi decides to vent on her friend since it seems like this is what all terrible main characters do. Already we can see that the film is being randomly edgy for no reason. Why is Hitomi suicidal? This isn’t a good plot point nor is it a necessary one. It’s just a jarring change to her character which was unneeded. Well, one thing leads to another and she is warped to Gaea. There she meets up with Van.

Van is the last survivor of his clan and now he just wants bloody vengeance on everyone in his vicinity. He naturally tries to destroy Hitomi as soon as he sees her, but she is saved by the resistance. No worries, she falls for him anyway right away because this is the perfect start to a romance. Van decides to use the mighty Escaflowne robot to save the day, but it’s a little more twisted in this version. Escaflowne is a robotic vampire which feeds on its hosts so in order to use it, you have to let it stab you and suck your blood. Again, this is a random change that has nothing to do with anything, but it’s an excuse for the film to be more violent and dark once again.

As such, we get to see Van stabbed repeatedly every time he enters the machine and just moving causes him to be stabbed as well. How was this film not R? The whole time I was watching the film, I was super perplexed at that. This film is certainly violent enough to justify the rating if you ask me. Anyway, with these weapons at his disposal, Van is ready for revenge and so the big battles start.

The film made some good changes so we’ll start with those. Allen doesn’t have a very rushed romance with Hitomi here. There is little in the way of romantic tension here at all so that’s a good thing. The Mole Man also gets a much smaller role which I was glad to see since he was an annoying character in the first film. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all that I can think of for the film’s positives, at least when it comes to changes. The film cut out the main villain of the show which was a pretty big mistake. Folken was never a very interesting character after all and I wouldn’t say that he’s great here either.

Wait, there is one good change to the film. I just barely remember that the concept was good because it was mostly just used for more bad scenes. The characters with dragon DNA can use The Force to blast people with telekinetic energy. It’s a pretty exclusive list though since only Folken, Van, and Dilandau have dragon DNA. It’s a cool concept and certainly makes these characters way more difficult to defeat. Of course, the film can’t control itself and one character uses it to blow a Horse apart. Noooooo! That was the worst scene in the film and I knew it was only a matter of time before the film pulled something like that. It was such a cool concept, but the film couldn’t let it rest. Folken also blasts Dilandau so hard with it that the guy’s head comes close to exploding, but that was way more mild in comparison.

You can already tell that I didn’t like Hitomi in this film, but at least Allen was decently good. He’s as overconfident as ever and easily defeats Van when they fight. He doesn’t get a robot in this film though so he’s completely useless whenever the villains show up. It feels like an even more lopsided war than in the show since the villains have all of the advantages. All the heroes have at the ready are allies who keep backstabbing each other. Van’s even more blood thirsty than usual in the film. It’s hard to find him likable since he’s willing to destroy a defenseless lady (Hitomi) for basically no reason and never really apologizes for it. He’s certainly a very skilled warrior here, but not an ally that you can trust.

The film also added a new character for the lolz. She can see the future, teleport people, and do all kinds of crazy stuff. She wants to see Folken burn so she follows him around and makes fun of him from time to time. In the end, she decides that dying will be fun as long as it’s with Folken and her whole character arc was rather odd. Folken wasn’t a bad villain I suppose. He didn’t really stand out, but he made all of the threats and did a lot of posturing so at least he performed his roll. Dilandau somehow got a happy ending out of this and developed a loyal cadre of minions. I guess he wasn’t a mean leader or something? I didn’t get that impression from him to be honest, but that’s the way the ball bounces I guess. A wise leader doesn’t slice and dice his own men so I’ll take that a complement to him from the film.

The animation is pretty good. I’m not a fan of the character designs, but if you’re able to see past them, then you can see that the rest of the animation is on point. While violent, the action scenes are very fluid with the hand to hand action being quite good. The mind blasts between the characters are nice and Escaflowne’s berserker mode is also really good. The soundtrack is a little less inspiring. I’d say that it was decent. It wasn’t bad or underwhelming, but it wasn’t really anything to write home about.

It’s another case of a film succeeding on the technical levels while not being able to uphold its integrity for the main course. The excessive violence the whole time was just very forced. I always consider it to be forced because there are many examples of shows and movies that have great fight scenes without being violent. Many of them can be completely bloodless or adding in a smidge at times. Dragon Ball Z, Toriko, Sengoku Basara, Samurai Jack, (Original show) Justice League, Digimon Savers, etc. So when a fight scene is really violent, I can only really say that it is forced. It’s just the only explanation in my eyes. At least the movie didn’t add a bunch of language, that tactic is even more desperate. If it is true that Shin Godzilla is rated TV-MA because of that…that will just be sad. The animal violence and suicidal themes in Escaflowne were just icing on the cake by the end. The film was already not in a good spot in those issues just didn’t help it.

Overall, Escaflowne was a TV show that absolutely did not need a film remake. While it is preferable to a recap film, it should have been more faithful to the TV show. Diverging to such a large extent is a high risk/high reward option, but it typically ends up failing miserably. The movie still has some interesting storylines going on and the action/animation are good, but they don’t succeed in covering up the film’s failings. This almost goes without saying, but I’d highly recommend just going back and watching the original show if you want to delve into the franchise. There’s no reason to check this film out. Lets just let it fade away into our memories.

Overall 3/10


A Monster Calls Review

It’s time for one of those films that makes you take a step back. From the beginning you can tell that it’s going to be bad, but it just keeps on getting worse and worse as it goes on until it hits the dreaded 0 stars. In a sense, it does take talent to mess up on such a grand scale though so we have to give the film some props. Still, you’ll need to break out the Pepsi and Minute Maid for this film as it’ll drag on and on!

The film is about a jerk kid named Conor who’s not a nice guy. He only cares about himself and isn’t interested in the issues that everyone else is facing. His Mom is terminally ill which he uses as his excuse to vandalize his house and beat people up. He begins to have delusions about a monster visiting him and telling him twisted stories where everyone is evil and must be destroyed in the end. Conor agrees with this so he goes to an abandoned house and smashes it apart. Nobody tells him to stop because they all know about his Mother’s situation and don’t want to stress her out. Others just feel like it’s okay for Conor to vent and do whatever he wants in the meantime. It’s a toxic cycle, but who will end it?

This film is just so terrible that you need a breath of fresh air every few minutes or you’ll faint. So, lets start with Conor. There’s no way to feel sympathetic to this guy because he is just so extreme. Towards the end of the film, we learn that he actually wanted his Mom to die just so he wouldn’t have to deal with the tense situation anymore. That’s his big revelation in the film and naturally the Mom loses her will to live at around that point and passes away. Conor’s wish was not only selfish, but just plain despicable. If the film hadn’t already fallen to trash tier by then, this would have sealed the deal. He also gave his Aunt (Or was it the grandmother?) a tough time throughout the movie for no good reason. She was perfectly polite and a decent person, but Conor still destroyed all of her possessions and did his best to be a perfect nuisance the whole time around.

The Dad visited as well a few different times, but Conor decided to vent on him as well. We also get some plot hax at the end as Conor takes down the bully (Who decides not to fight back because…..reasons) and the guy’s henchmen just watch. It’s hard to believe that they’re nervous since it’s 3 on 1 and the fact that Conor is super weak. It’s just another painfully bad scene. The first bullying scene was just as bad though since it was made to be a little more violent and dark than it should have been. Bullying is always a pretty terrible plot to have in a film but the film still tried to go as far as it could there.

The “Monster” is obviously fake from the start and I felt like the film didn’t even try to make him seem real. It was such a clear indie “metaphorical” monster that I face palmed when he first showed up. His design isn’t any good as I just think about Groot when he shows up and he’s not all that powerful either. He’s clearly not a nice guy as he just does whatever he wants and his plot never really goes anywhere either. When all of the characters in a film are either unlikable or super minor, there’s just not much hope for the film at that point.

This film just has no fun scenes at all. There’s not a single happy scene in the whole film which is actually incredible. It’s just incredible in the worst way possible. The special effects were nothing special, nor the backgrounds that the film used. It all just contributes to the gray, hazy background that plagues every scene and destroys the tone of the film. Just as there are Indie games that remind me how they can still be good, Indie films like this one keep reminding me why I’m typically not a fan. You can make the case that this wasn’t an Indie film, but it sure felt and looked like one the whole time.

Part of the story revolves around the 3 imaginary tales that the “monster” tells Conor. Of course in actuality, it’s just Conor looking through his old notebook and telling himself the twisted stories that he created. None of the stories are any good as you’d expect. One of them has two kids die an unfortunate death so to spite the guy who let them die, someone else murders someone and the murders just keep coming. In the first story, everyone basically dies as well with enough plot twists to make you yawn. The stories are also dreadfully low budget as they look like really crude drawings.

If it’s any consolation, the film did avoid the animal violence issue. I was glad about that at the very least. Still, earning a 0 without that or gritty plots ala Sucker Punch shows just how bad this film is. I don’t even know how I’d go about making it a better film. You’d have to completely get rid of the main character and then it’s a different movie. It’s like Ryoma always says “You’ve got a ways to go”

Overall, A Monster Calls is a terrible film, but you could probably guess that from the plot summary. There just wasn’t any hope for the film as it started to show its true colors in the opening minutes. I doubt any of us could have suspected that it would continue to deteriorate as the film went on, but some films are just like that. They get gradually worse as they go on instead of getting better. Fortunately, that means this film would likely never get a sequel. There’d be no reason for one and it would just be rather cringe inducing. I’d recommend staying as far away from this film as possible. Go watch the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood marathon on Twitch if it’s still going or check out Yugioh Arc V instead. These options are huge improvements and also have a lot of content to sift through so they’ll keep you busy for a while.

Overall 0/10

Max Steel Review

It’s time for a superhero film that isn’t a part of the main DC or Marvel comics line. It takes some cues from the classic Spider-Man origin story and the Power Rangers series. By all accounts, this should have led to a film that was leagues above the average film. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be as Max Steel isn’t a great film. It’s a decently good movie, but parts of the plot just end up being unintentionally funny or even cringy.

The film follows a kid named Max. He’s enjoying his day like normal when a robot appears and tells him that he’s gonna die. For some reason, Max has been emitting explosive particles and unless he expels them once in a while via energy blasts…it will consume him. Max doesn’t want that to happen, but he’s not really sure what to do about it. He’s not given much time to think things over as the robot gives him as Iron-Man suit which completely gets Max on board. “Why didn’t you mention that sooner?” is something along the lines of what he’d say. Unfortunately, a privately owned company filled with antagonistic share holders is after him. Run Max!

One of the things that you’ll notice right away is that the film had a bit of a limited budget. Max doesn’t even get to use his suit all that much because of this. There are only a handful of scenes with him in costume. Granted, those are the best parts of the film. Max’s fight against the Evil Max (Can’t spoil who the main villain is right? Hint, he gets the Golden Parachute) was pretty well done and if the whole film was like that, it would have been quite good. I’m always up for a solid hand to hand fight like that. Max’s training montage also wasn’t bad although it had nothing on Rocky.

Where things get tricky is the human side of things. As Max is your stereotypical Hollywood lead, he believes in love at first sight. This causes him to fall for Sofia instantly. The problem is that Max can be…cringy. That word is overused so I rarely use it myself, but it applies a lot here. We’ll get long scenes of Max just staring at Sofia because he’s at a loss for words. He tends to mumble a lot when they talk because he’s nervous. Max even brings back the 80’s trope of not being able to talk when Sodia is around so he starts spouting gibberish. Max then blows her off at least 10 times for the most mundane of reasons when he could easily explain the situation to her.

Sofia is evidently a nice character as she approaches Max most of the time and helps him fit in at school. Without her, things would have been pretty tough for him. Max just never appears all that grateful. He wants to be with her, but not enough to actually tell her much of anything. The only reason why she sticks around is because this is a Hollywood movie. It doesn’t make much sense otherwise. The biggest issue with Max is that he’s constantly running out of the room in a panic attack. See, he gets these visions and moments of disorientation. Instead of telling people, he dashes off. It becomes so much of a running gag that it’s even played for laughs in one scene. I can’t say that it was very funny though. It just made Max look insensitive again.

At the very least, this film isn’t very subtle. You can accurately predict most of the film right away. The main villain is incredibly obvious when he shows up. It’s meant to be a big twist, but there were no other suspects which is actually the problem. If you only have 4 main characters, Max, his Mom, the heroine, and a rich guy who knew Max’s father before his mysterious death…well it all points to one conclusion. The one part of the film that was a little surprising and came out of left field was the twist about the share holders. The whole time, it felt like the guys who were after Max were black ops mercenaries who destroyed anything in their path. Nah, it’s just a bunch of 9-5 guys who work for the share holders. They were also working for the wrong person as the majority shareholder had to step in. The scene made no sense by the way.

So, the Mom controls the company, yet she is out of the loop on everything. She knew about the aliens and everything, but didn’t know that Max would blow up. She kept the secret of how his Dad died from Max because “he wasn’t ready” but didn’t warn him not to go to the company since it wouldn’t bode well for him. I don’t think that the writers really thought this plot through at all. Don’t worry though, they squeezed in some aliens. There are living tornadoes that live among us. Yeah, I was pretty shook by this news as well. The only way to beat them is for Max to…land a hit against them. That’s not too hard, but it doesn’t make for a very thrilling fight. Also, the film didn’t have time for all of the fights so we get a good way of taking them out all at once at the end which will delay them for a bit. The sequel would probably wrap that up, but this film’s not getting a sequel anytime soon.

The villain’s not one of the smarter figures either. Since Max is a pretty inexperienced fighter with terrible plans..he takes advantage of that. See, the villain can absorb energy so Max figures that he’ll give the villain all of his energy. This will overload him right? I get the concept, but it’s a terrible plan. If the villain is trying to get your energy, then he has probably already thought of a way to do it effectively. The villain has the win in the bag, but then decides to bring Max next to his power supply at the end to make things more personal. After all, he wants Max to be back at full power so he can power up a machine. What he didn’t count on was the fact that Max wanted to use his powers on the villain instead of on the machine. The rest is history, but those two decisions were some of the worst ones that I’ve seen a superhero and supervillain make.

Steel is another one of the main characters and he’s the mini robot mascot of the film. He can’t really fight and is also not that intelligent. This isn’t a great combo. He’s always threatening to destroy Max’s friends and is always trying to drain his energy unexpectedly. Steel never really grew on me. I suppose he gets in a lot of burns, but they typically aren’t all that clever. He could have been worse though and maybe he was just overshadowed by Max. Max really is the worst character of the film with his constant panicking and being slow on the uptake for the new developments. He even uses Bing/Yahoo as a search engine if I recall correctly and that’s a rookie mistake. Sure, the freebies are cool, but you end up losing so much time that it’s just not worth it. A few dozen less “epic” zoom ins on Max and less shirtless scenes would have done wonders for the film as well. They’re just around to pad the time and to try and distract you from the plot holes. That strategy’s never been effective though as scenes of filler are the perfect time to think about past scenes and piece the puzzles together. At the very least, that’s what I like to do. Multi tasking and mentally prepping your review are always good things to do in those scenarios.

Overall, Max Steel was a funny film, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s one of the rare examples of a cheesy/campy film in the modern era. That at least earns it some points even if it did completely bomb and I doubt we’ll be seeing a sequel. At least the cartoon series did a little better. The visuals are actually pretty good when they happen so it’s a shame that the film didn’t get a bigger budget. The writers/directors are probably glad that they didn’t spend more money on it though considering how hard it bombed. They would have lost even more money at that point. The main thing that could have improved this film would have been a better human subplot or more action scenes. Either definitely would have sufficed since the core premise of the plot is sound, the execution was just a bit off. Max Steel really played it safe on all accounts which may have limited its options, but also prevented it from falling into any cinematic pot holes. As the saying goes though, you can’t win by playing not to lose. This can suffice for a 6, but if the series wants to get any higher, it’s gonna have to improve. I’d recommend checking it out for a decent laugh and to remind yourself that independent superheroes still exist. That being said, it’s nowhere near as good as the average Marvel or DC film.

Overall 6/10

The Catered Affair Review

It’s time for a slice of life drama. This film started off on a really solid note but then decided to take itself a little too seriously at the end. There’s a lot of crying and over the top reactions for everyone along with a rather unsatisfying ending. It’s still a decent film, but I felt like this Affair could have been a lot better. Lets go into more detail on this.

Agnes and Tom may be married but they don’t get along very well. Tom is a penny pincher and Agnes always looks on the negative side of things. As a result, their daughter Jane has never gotten to do anything special during her life. She’s lived a very normal life up til now, but Jane didn’t mind. Unlike the other two, she’s an optimist. Now she is finally getting married and wants to just have a very small wedding. Unfortunately, she makes the mistake of allowing Agnes to say that her uncle cannot attend. This causes a lot of friction and negative rumors in the town so Agnes decides that Jane will have a wedding whether she likes it or not. Jane’s soon to be husband does not like this at all, but rolls with it. Slowly, the whole town begins to turn against Jane and her parents may go bankrupt from the expensive traditions of marriage. Was this the right call?

To weigh in on the marriage debate, I’d say that a quiet one is the way to go. If I did host a big party, I sure wouldn’t be paying for everyone’s breakfast and travel fare. See, people tend to get caught up in customs like this just because it’s the standard. I’ve never agreed with that, hence why I eat rice and beans with a spoon and not a fork. A fork may be a sign of social acceptance so everyone wants to do it, but a spoon is faster and more efficient so that’s what I use. So, if I held a marriage party, I’d expect my guests to show up and to have had their own meal. If not…too bad. They’re the ones who should be happy to have been invited, otherwise it looks like I’m basically paying them to attend. Of course, I’d probably just go with Jane’s original plan and get married at a Smash Bros local or something so I can keep playing.

Jane’s friends don’t help matters though. Her bride’s maid is more concerned with how others see her than actually helping out at the wedding and puts Jane into a bad situation with no real advanced notice. The groom’s parents decide to invite a ton of people so that the price will go up and Agnes/Tom will be in even worse financial shape. There isn’t a whole lot of sympathy from the others here, but at the same time the main characters don’t handle it too well either. It’s their money so they should lay down the ground rules. Simply don’t accept that many guests and they’ll be fine. This story is really about not letting other people walk all over you. Even Jane crumbled a bit since this would have all been avoided if she had simply stuck to the small wedding plan.

The first half was more of a traditional comedy though so that part was good. The meeting of both pairs of parents was fun even if Agnes kept cutting Tom off and making them look bad. The film also just works a lot better this way than as a tragedy because it’s a whole lot more believable. It helps that the Uncle’s plot didn’t appear as much here. As a character he was okay, but the plot where he meets up with an old neighbor just didn’t work for me. It didn’t actually add anything to the story and in a way it was used to mock the main characters. The Uncle is apparently rich, but since the main characters are always being mean to him, he decides not to help them out.

The reason why the ending isn’t very satisfying is because the characters essentially had the worst of both worlds. They planned out the wedding and made the down payments, but had to cancel it at the last second. Tom decided to drink a bunch of beers so he got a hangover and the parents were late to the wedding or may have missed it entirely. The film ends with them still en route. We never got any scenes to make the Groom likable and he just comes off as a rather inconsiderate person. The parents got the taxi though so that should hopefully make everything okay.

Hmm, this review sounds pretty negative doesn’t it? Well, the writing is pretty solid. It’s an old film so the characters are all on point and sound like actual people. It’s also just a soothing little adventure for a while. Even with the dramatics it never gets unwatchable or too down in the dumps. If the first half was a 7, then the next half would be more like a 4.

Overall, The Catered Affair may have missed out on some opportunities, but it’s still a good film. I definitely wouldn’t be thrilled to pay for a wedding with my entire life savings if I had been doing such a good job of earning money for several years. So, you can sympathize with Tom quite a bit as well. The Wedding salesman also did a pretty good job of scamming the heroes as well. You always gotta make sure that you sell as much as possible if you want to be a good salesman. I’d recommend checking this out if you want to see what happens when you spend too much money on stuff like this or why you shouldn’t listen to random strangers about how you should do things. Once you let go of the peer pressure, then you can really enjoy yourself.

Overall 5/10

Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On Review

It looks like Kino is back on the job with this prequel OVA. We’re back in the days of her youth before she became devoid of personality but still after the tragedy of the original Kino. At less than 30 minutes long, this OVA is fairly short, but it’s not bad. We get to see more crazy customs and a lot of pondering by the cast. In a way, you could say that Kino’s Journey is like a grim Charlie Brown…just think about it.

So, Kino wants to find the village where the original Kino used to live. After all, she may have taken his name, but she feels like she can’t properly use it until she wraps up these loose ends. Her master allows her to go, but gives Kino a gun just in case. Kino may run into all kinds of dangers and having some form of self defense has never hurt before. What could have happened to change Kino from the happy girl that she used to be into the emotionless person that she would transform into? It is all explained in this special.

We may as well get down to business right off the bat. The series likes to show a lot of odd superstitions and customs from the various places that Kino visits and this one is no exception. The villagers have decided that anyone beyond their village is someone who cannot be bound by their laws. As such, they decide not to do anything while an old lady murders all travelers who come by so that she can avenge her son. Many travelers meet an ill timed fate at her hands until Kino shows up one day and puts an end to it. Kino ultimately puts her gun skills to use and the taking of a life took its toll as she immediately became a different person. I suppose it’s hard not to get jaded after that, but Kino should have suspected something.

I figured that the old lady was approaching nut bar factor 6 once the animation gave her a red tint and she started glaring at Kino. Kino didn’t quite realize this even after she started to tell the lady about how her son was murdered by Kino’s parents. Probably not the best way to go about this although the lady was going to take her down anyway. Remember, never accept a tea from a stranger or it’s probably going to be spiked. I suppose the old lady was almost a decent antagonist, but I’d like to see another gun pro as the main villain at some point. It would give Kino more of a challenge.

I can’t say that I’m crazy about Kino’s animation. It’s not really my style as it goes for a more retro, grainy look. I suppose making it look older can help make the atmosphere a little more mysterious, but I’m sure you could do this with modern animation as well. There’s not much of a soundtrack since this is a rather quiet show, but it was neat to hear the classic sound effects from the show.

While this special was good, there is one area where the franchise could improve a lot and it would help future titles. The main cast needs a serious revamp. As it stands, there aren’t really any likable characters at all. I liked Kino until she reverted to her TV show form in the end, but nobody else stands out. The Motorcycle is a pretty bland character and the master didn’t seem to have a personality. The main villain probably stood out the most and she’s totally insane. Adding in good characters can definitely make a difference and it’s probably what separates this from Twilight Zone as the two have a very similar concept. This show just doesn’t have the cool alien episodes or supernatural adventures and prefers to stay old school. Not a bad decision per say, but it does limit its opportunities.

Overall, Life Goes On is a good way to continue Kino’s Journey. I clearly did enjoy it more than the show as this kind of series is definitely a case by case basis. If the story is good then we’ll have a winner, but if the traditions are too dicey then it won’t have the same effect. This special was interesting enough and the time went by at a good speed. If you enjoy adventures where you get to see different lands and situations then this should be up your ally. It’s a special that easily stands on its own so you don’t need to have seen the show to get what’s happening. It’s not the most exciting thing out there, but it’s good enough to warrant a watch.

Overall 6/10

Maximum Ride Review

Maximum Ride may have been a really popular book series back in its hay day, but that doesn’t mean that it was destined to get a big budget film. On the contrary, the film got a really low budget title instead. The effects in this feature look worse than some fan made projects that I’ve seen and I’d expect a lot more out of it. Parts of the film show glimpses of hope and potential, but on the whole it is simply not a great adaption. Ah well, maybe it’s for the best that it ended here since an adaption of the last few books would have been dicey even with a big budget. Hopefully the inevitable Daniel X Netflix pilot gets a higher budget.

The film starts off with Max and the rest of her flock. She is a human who has had wings grafted onto her and the same applies to her friends. They escaped from the villains thanks to the help of a scientist there. It’s been many years and the scientist never returned for them. He is either dead or imprisoned. Max and her flock have been hiding at a hut during this time, but the Erasers (Wolf hybrids that were created by the villains) show up one day and kidnap Angel. (The youngest of the group) Max and Fang (The “tough” rival) decide to go after her while they leave the little kid, the blind one, and the fashion girl to fend for themselves. Is this a wise move? Probably not, but Max has to save Angel as soon as possible. The clock is ticking after all.

This movie definitely doesn’t bother to explain a whole lot to the viewers, but that’s okay. It gave you enough to make piecing the puzzle together pretty easy. It gets right to the plot, but unfortunately it isn’t executed well. Maximum herself is one of the big issues here. Now, the film did do a good job of casting her so that she actually looks like my interpretation of Max as opposed to the manga. (Worst design for Maximum ever) That’s where the positives end for her. She talks a really good game and is constantly making threats, but always ends up losing. She loses in one hit to a minion and then loses to an ordinary guy with a gun. She even loses to Ari when they meet up. It makes her confidence seem very hollow and undeserved. Max is definitely a lot more reasonable than the other characters, but that’s a very small consolation when you are still losing left and right.

The other characters are mostly just around to make bad decisions. Nudge is more interested in fashion than in keeping up with the others. She nearly jeopardizes everyone’s safety over a sweater and also takes the time to browse while Angel is in trouble. I certainly couldn’t sympathize with her at all. Gazzy likes explosives and messing around with them even after being told not too. He’s essentially your average kid and isn’t all that likable as a result. Iggy isn’t a bad character, but being blind is his only personality. Beyond that, he’s just an everyday guy who can talk a decently tough game, but doesn’t do a whole lot beyond that.

Ari is the main villain of this film or at least the guy with the biggest role. He’s a minion who has a personal grudge against Max. He snarls a lot and makes faces to be intimidating, but I can’t say that the act was all that convincing. It was hard to ever respect him as a villain either since he came across as really petty. He just got jealous of Max and that’s why he decided to become a villain. Certainly not the best reason eh? Jeb shows up and acts as shady as possible. I never trusted this guy from the start and I’d advise you to do the same. No matter what his reasons are, he did leave the heroes alone for years and didn’t seem all that broken up about it. Yeah…the guy seems suspect to say the least. I never liked him in the books either though.

Fang was horribly miscast, but ignoring that…he’s just not a good character. His romance feels very artificial and he always gives Max bad advice. Telling her not to help people and to actively just ignore trouble is something you’d expect a villain to say. It’s hard for Fang to get past this and he comes off as very self centered. Finally, there’s Angel. She’s not nearly as shady as in the books (yet) so she’s a good character. I do question how she was captured so easily when mind reading is her own gimmick. I mean… just didn’t make sense. She could even hear the thoughts while she was still far away from the villains. Naturally, the movie cut away so you couldn’t see what happened next since nobody would have believed it otherwise.

I’ll give the film some props for the dynamic opening credits. It sounded like something out of a video game adaption or a Tron kind of movie. Was it totally fitting for this film? No, but it should have been. How I see it, a good novel adaption can be mainstream like Harry Potter or it can be more of a niche product that aims at the hardcore fans. The theme fits the latter and I feel like the film was going for that, the execution just wasn’t there. There wasn’t much of a soundtrack otherwise and the writing is pretty generic.

One noticable issue is the bad special effects. It’s not as if special effects is a huge deal, but they are so painfully bad that you have to wonder who was handling this. I’ve seen fan projects with better effects or at least flashier ones at any rate. Whenever the characters fly around, it looks like they’re just jumping in front of a background as if we’re back in the 60s. It was scary just how unrealistic it all looked. I’m sure the film tried its best, but the result just wasn’t very good. If the effects were gonna be bad anyway, then I would have liked to have had some big fight scenes along the way. Not having any real action in the whole film is a bit of a let down. The film’s not all that bad as a drama adventure I suppose, but it’s hard to take the heroes so seriously when they’re this weak. If they can’t even beat a thug with a gun, then how can they hope to stop this whole organization? You really have to stretch your disbelief with this.

The heroes also take a little long to get to Angel. While she’s being repeatedly zapped, they’re busy getting knocked out, spending time at a hospital, and flirting instead of going full steam. It made them seem a little unemotional when they should have been going full blast constantly. Naturally, Fang kept saying that they should take a break and rest since that’s all he’s good for during the film.

Overall, Maximum Ride isn’t a really good adaption. The heroes are too weak and all of the villains are as generic as can be. Considering how young Angel is, it’s also a little grating to see her getting zapped over and over again as she waits for the heroes. The cliffhanger for the possible sequel is definitely not much of a draw either. The dream came out of nowhere and didn’t really help much. My final pet peeve is the opening scene as well as when it comes in at the end. Max jumps off of a cliff to escape the villains. It’s a dramatic moment and I figured it wouldshow her taking out the wings and flying off. It didn’t happen either times so I’ll assume she just died in the dream world. Maybe the budget ran out, but everything in the scene pointed towards her being ready to fly and it just didn’t happen. It was fitting I suppose.

Overall 4/10

The Invisible Man Returns Review

It’s time to look at another classic film from the old days. The Invisible Man was a decently fun film the first time around, but could it strike once more? An unfortunate hamster scene holds this one back along with the unlikable main character. It’s not a bad film and the writing is pretty solid as expected, but it just can’t live up to the legacy that the first film left. It was a sequel that was simply doomed from the start.

Radcliffe is being sentenced to death for the alleged murder of his brother. He claims not to have done it and Doctor Frank believes him. Frank decides to use the Invisible Man serum to save Radcliffe, but it has some serious side effects. It causes a person to become crazy so Frank won’t really be able to count on Radcliffe after this. Is Radcliffe truly innocent or has Frank just created a super villain?

One thing that you’ll likely find irksome is how everyone has an overreaction at seeing Radcliffe. I don’t think that seeing an invisible person should make you panic or faint. Especially if you know about it beforehand so it’s not as if this should come as a shock. Helen’s the main heroine here and she is easily the most guilty of this. She really gives Radcliffe a hard time with all of the extra drama. She was definitely not a likable character and helped spur on Radcliffe’s descent into madness.

Of course, we can only truly blame the madness on Radcliffe. He fell down the rabbit hole almost instantly as he spent 90% of his screen time laughing like a maniac. He definitely didn’t take to the serum very well, but luckily the craziness also made him very easy to deceive and subdue. Radcliffe actually gets a happy ending this time though so the invisible adventures were worth it. Honestly, I’d love the power of invisibility. I’d make a fortune in magic shows and could pull a lot of pranks on people.

Frank was the scientist, but he wasn’t very good. He decided to experiment on animals which is always a huge no no. Destroying a rat to save a person is not a good idea. Trading a life for a life is as corrupt as it gets and I just had to shake my head at that. I suppose he means well, but his character was dead to me. Detective Sampson tries his best to follow the law even if he is after the wrong man. It’s hard to blame him though since Radcliffe keeps disappearing and acting suspicious. At the very least, the cops should be glad to have a determined officer on the force.

One part of the film that was pretty fun was when the heroes decided to hide out in the middle of nowhere. This old man gave them shelter, but his dog knew what was up so one of the cops came along. What followed was a shouting match for whole minutes as both characters kept bumping into each other as the guy tried to stop the cop. The yells would always get progressively louder as they neared the top of the stairs. It was definitely fun even if it may not have been very plot important in the long run.

As expected, the writing is very on point which helps make the film flow. It never really drags on and the film isn’t all that long anyway. The effects for the Invisible Man are fun as he always has to shed at least 50 layers to escape. The costume certainly stands out and if I were him I’d probably just stay invisible for the long haul. It’d be a little tough in the Winter of course, but you could always hide in a house for naps and nobody would even notice. Being invisible is definitely a very dangerous power which the first film showed quite a bit. This one was more of a mystery/drama so there weren’t too many fights, but Radcliffe did make sure to get in on the action to find out the truth.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the film since the cast is rather limited and the plot is direct. You just see Radcliffe slowly descending into madness as the supporting characters wonder what they need to do. It would have been fun to have seen the mystery angle pushed to the forefront a little more instead of the constant laughing plot, but I suppose it got a good amount of screen time in the end. It just would have helped with the danger part of the film since most of it doesn’t feel like there’s any stakes.

Overall, The Invisible Man Returns is a peaceful film. It’s a nice little adventure with a good ending. A film like this would typically get a 6 or a 7, but we have to factor in the unfortunate Hamster scene. That moment was definitely sad and ensures that I can’t give the film a positive score. If you can get past that, then you should check the film out. If not, then I’d recommend just checking the first film out instead. Honestly, that may be your best move regardless right? The Invisible Man is definitely still a cooler part of Universal than Dracula, Werewolf, or the Mummy so I’m looking forward to the sequel. The Invisible Woman could be a nice film as well if they handle it right. Lets just stick away from the animal experiments.

Overall 5/10

Sleepless in Seattle Review

While better than the last two romance films that I’ve reviewed, Sleepless in Seattle falls into some of the typical romance film traps. While very different than the horror movie tropes, Romance ones can be about as harmful. Here are some of the landmines that this film steps into. Rebound guy/girls ✔ Love at first sight ✔ The bad advice friend ✔ It doesn’t step into other landmines like characters immediately forgetting social etiquette and jumping into bed so I’ll give the film some credit there. As I said, it’s a fairly decent romance film, it’s just that romance is typically not going to get a very high score because the genre ends up limiting itself.

Sam is not in the best of moods because his wife passed away. He’s decided to respect her memory and not move on with his life. Unfortunately, Jonah wants to have a Mom again so he calls a radio station and gets them to give Sam a live interview. Sam tries to decline this, but it’s too late now and he ends up spilling his life story to the rest of the world. One of the people listening was Annie and while she had a steady relationship with Walter to the point where they were very serious, she decides that she wants Sam. The problem is that she needs an excuse to get to New York City to meet him on top of a large building like in her favorite film. Meanwhile, Jonah needs to get Sam up there since he already found a new girlfriend himself. Those radio stations do work quickly don’t they? Can Jonah get the main two characters together or will he respect Sam’s feelings and not put him in another awkward situation?

From the start you can tell that the ending of the film may not be all that satisfactory. I’m an active backer of the friend zone and believe that if a character doesn’t want to move on, Hollywood shouldn’t make him. Sam’s wife died so maybe it isn’t good for him to get a new girlfriend and marry again. Personally, moving on like that just isn’t a very good move if you ask me. Movies try to make it seem normal and make it sound like a good thing that you’re moving on, but it just makes me question the character’s devotion in the first place. If the chosen love of your life dies, I don’t think you should try to find a replacement.

It gets worse when you consider that Jonah pushed him into this by calling that company. The fact that Sam got so many letters is a little alarming since it shows how many desperate people there are out there. The plot gets a little suspect when you realize that one of these letters if from Annie. I mean, I don’t blame Sam for not wanting to go all the way to NYC to meet someone based purely on a letter. That would have been pretty desperate of him as well.

I’ve always been against love at first sight, but is this even more shallow than that? From Annie’s perspective, she has no idea who Sam is or what he looks like. All she has is a radio broadcast to go by and she’s willing to axe her relationship over that and takes a huge gamble with her life. It may be a classic Hollywood ending as everything works out for the best, but you really have to question the whole thing from all sides. I wonder how Annie feels about being the third choice as well. After all, Sam had been dating someone else before he was forced to go to NYC. I guess he’s going to have to awkwardly tell her that he dumped her for someone else that he literally just met. Gee……that’s probably going to be a fun day for her.

Lets not forget about the other guy who was dropped like a sack of potatoes…good ole Walter. He’s a nice guy who just wanted to have a good time. He bought Annie whatever she wanted and his only character flaw was that he is allergic to a lot of things. Beyond that, the film never gives you a reason to root against him. Walter even realizes that Annie is treating him like the rebound guy so he decides to let her go and start his life fresh. It’s great that he was understanding about the whole thing, but it must be rough to suddenly get dumped for a random stranger after being with someone for months. That’s life I guess and when you enter the arena of romance you never know what’s going to happen.

The main cast is relatively small since it’s really about the drama. Sam’s not a great main character since I disconnected with him after he listened to a radio show and immediately got a girl friend. It all happened so fast that you have to wonder how serious any of them were about it. I don’t have much more hopes for this next romance either. Annie is possibly worse since her position was really unreasonable the entire time. I don’t care how charismatic someone sounds over the radio, you don’t make a life altering choice over something like that to just dump someone and get together. Listening to strangers making promises over the internet and asking to meet somewhere is just going to get you in trouble in the real world. Jonah is as annoying as your average kid. He keeps trying to mess with Sam and forcing the guy’s hand by heading over to NYC on his own was very selfish and dangerous. It was the only unrealistic part of the film and Jonah never met any consequences for this. On the contrary, he’s probably pleased with himself for playing the role of matchmaker so efficiently. If I was Sam, I’d probably be a little upset.

All right, this review’s had a pretty negative tone so far so lets talk about the positives. The film has a pretty good soundtrack. The songs are fairly emotional and add some impact to the film. It feels pretty high budget and all of the landscapes really stand out. The writing is pretty solid during the film so you don’t have to worry about the characters getting too crazy. We see some aspects of the film that could have been pretty interesting like Sam’s job, but they don’t get too much screen time to give more of that to the romance. So, the film is fairly reasonable and I’d say that it’s one of the better romance films that I’ve seen.

Overall, Sleepless in Seattle is a film where the premise will throw you for a loop. It’s all about moving on and getting to the next battle, but I’ve always disagreed with that moral. It’s the complete opposite of Madoka Magica Rebellion. Homura never moved on from Madoka’s memory and decided to do something about it. Now, Sam can’t just run into Heaven (If his wife was a Christian) and snatch his wife back like Homura did, but I do think he could have just stayed single and lived a content life until they were reunited. This way he could be ready to have a nice reunion with the wife instead of a very awkward one when he shows up with his new wife and the brief girlfriend comes by to say hello. So, I think the film was barking up the wrong tree here. There was also no time for chemistry or development with the romance since the characters didn’t get to actually meet until the final 3 minutes of the film. (Unless you count a brief hello where they see each other across the street) It’s hard to call that a real romance. It’s very Hollywood and akin to something out of the olden days, but doesn’t work too well in practice. That being said, the film does manage to avoid any real objectionable content since it’s only PG and it’s a relatively mild romance film. If you like romance, then you will enjoy this one. For myself, I couldn’t give it the thumbs up approval in the end because I disagree with the film’s message too strongly. If you want to see a counter argument to this film, then check out Madoka Rebellion to point out why you shouldn’t always move on.

Overall 4/10

A Face in the Crowd Review

It’s time to look at a fairly old political film. It’s a good time to do so as it went back to theaters to “celebrate” the arrival of our new President. It’s a pretty fun film that overstays its welcome a little bit by the end. It went in a different direction than I would have expected, but nonetheless it’s not all that bad. I dare say that it is a little mean spirited though so get ready for everyone to get their just desserts.

Larry was doing time in a prison cell when a reporter showed up. Her name is Marcia and she had a neat radio show where she gets people to sing. Larry agrees to do it in exchange for his freedom and the cops are cool with that. He sings some tunes and Marcia realizes that he is destined for greatness. Larry already knew that, but it was nice to see it confirmed. He rose up from small time radio host to a celebrity so influential that even the President answered to him. Life was going well, but unfortunately, the power corrupted him. Larry began to go after everything money could buy and no longer identified with the average joes of the world. He began to destroy everything so Marcia and the others realized that it was time to put him down for good.

So, the film started out pretty reasonably. It was nice to see Larry slowly grow more and more popular while keeping his ideals in tact. He wouldn’t accept sponsors and liked to do things his way. Little did we know that it wasn’t because he was super noble or anything like that. No, it was just because he likes being his own boss and didn’t want to have to follow someone else’s rules. To an extent, Larry is likable. He’s a very charismatic guy and his yell/laugh hybrid is pretty iconic. He’s definitely a take charge kind of guy and he never would have been such a success if not for his personality. He did earn his spot at the top in this film, which is why it’s a shame that he fell so far. He began to go after every girl like James Bond while still acting as if Marcia was actually important to him. He also became as two faced as the politicians that he had always strove to be against.

He said one thing on TV and then another once the cameras were off. It was definitely a pretty drastic change and you can’t blame anyone but himself for how his career ended. I mean, you have to not be very smart to go on such a rant the instant that the cameras were off. That’s really just asking for trouble. While Larry started out as good character, he wasn’t likable by the end and I suppose that was the point. I can’t say that I cared for Marcia either. She started out as a tough reporter, but by the end she was being used as much as all of the other characters. At least she did make sure to walk away with the money before sabotaging Larry though. That was a smart move, but it didn’t make her any more likable either.

There was a reporter who spent a large part of the film trying to get Marcia to realize that Larry was a bad apple, but it was futile for the most part. He was meant to be a pretty likable character who kept it real and just stuck to the facts, but it felt like he was just talking nonsense half the time. He was trying to be very deep and eloquent with what he was saying, but it just backfired and he didn’t get a good line until the very end of the film. It was a little too late by then.

I thought that the ending was handled well. For a second there, I actually thought they were going to make it really dark and have Larry off himself in the end. While it is left to your interpretation, I like to think that he did not. He was crushed pretty badly, but he definitely seemed like the kind of guy who would keep on trying and that makes the ending a little less intense. If it had flat out had him die in the end, that would have hurt the film quite a bit.

I suppose the film was trying to make a point about how people flock to magnetic personalities even if the individual isn’t all that good. They can be mind controlled via group think, but at the same time, this moral came at the expense of Larry’s character. It’s not as if he was a saint in the beginning. The guy did start off in jail after all. However, he was a likable enough guy and he always made sure to just do whatever he wanted. He just let the job control him in the end and I would have liked the film to have taken a different path, but it’s not as if the film did a bad job with it.

I’d just say that the film wasn’t all that fun during the second half. It became more about Larry betraying Marcia over and over again until she finally betrayed him. The film got to be very somber with every character constantly heading to the bar to collect themselves. It was very dramatic and in stark contrast to the very lighthearted, comedic beginning. You could barely even believe that this was the same film. It was a pretty long movie so it was able to have these two “acts” while ensuring that both got a lot of screen time. I certainly preferred the first half.

Overall, A Face in the Crowd is a decent political movie. I prefer to see more of the actual politics since Larry is more of a middle man, but it was a nice little look at the whole thing. Politicians do get advice from a bunch of people so they can hopefully get elected and make connections along the way. We rarely see this aspect of the whole thing. I would have liked for Larry to have stayed as more of a protagonist and it would have made for a much more enjoyable film, but it just wasn’t in the cards. If you want to see a film that also serves as a warning about not forgetting your roots and losing your identity, then this could be a good film to check out. If you’re already confident that this is not a problem, go watch DBZ: Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan since you can turn your mind off and just enjoy the fights.

Overall 5/10

When Harry Met Sally 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 likely be far more negative.
It’s time to look at a romance film from not so long ago that has two characters over complicate the topic of whether a man and a woman can be friends. The answer is as obvious as it is simple, yes. Still, it gets to be a little harder when you’re the two main characters of a mainstream Hollywood type film and both constantly run through relationship after relationship. Maybe it is then inevitable that the friend zone will start to crack.

The film starts off with Sally and Harry going on a road trip over to New York City. It was convenient for them to share the car and I’m assuming that they both paid half of the gas cost. That’s when Harry brings up the topic that they could never be friends while Sally disagrees. Eventually, she realizes that she won’t be able to convince him otherwise and they part ways upon reaching NY. 5 years later they run into each other at an airport and then continue to see each other briefly after 5 years. Finally, they both run into each other again and decide to hang out. As they are both in relationships, Harry declares that maybe they can be friends again, but only time can tell if he is right.

As the film is all about trying to answer this question seriously, it’s time to bring my insight to the table. It’s actually sad that the film spends so long trying to answer this question only to bring back the incorrect response. Spoiler alert, Sally and Harry get together. Men and Women can absolutely be friends. Unlike what Harry would have you believe, you don’t immediately look at someone and wonder how you can be more than friends. That’s just Hollywood. For myself, I’ve had more female friends than male ones. Now, we can discuss the differences between friends, acquaintances, and co-workers, but getting into all of that will just take a while. Needless to say, the difference isn’t extremely large. Friends are people you’d spend time with outside of work whereas the other two categories have meetings that are exclusive to the location you’re at.

I like to think that I get along with just about everyone. Outside, I tend to attract either the elitist “PC Master Race” crowd from guys or the more business stuffy ones who have no hobbies. I still find topics to talk about though and everyone has a hobby if you dig deep enough. However, I end up talking more with girls because they are the ones who actually end up being big anime or video game fans. With guys I talk about politics and life a lot which is fine, but I certainly prefer to talk about my hobbies. Also, I just don’t have as many opportunities to talk to guys because in my classes it’s usually 80% girls to 20% guys and at work at one point, all of my floor’s co-workers were girls. We finally got some more guys, but for a very long time there were none. I don’t think there’s anything complicated about the whole thing, you can be friends with anyone and that’s why this film’s premise is pretty laughable, but I tried not to hold it against the film too much…

Unlike Hannah and Her Sisters, I can at least say that this film was pretty amusing. It had a far more upbeat nature and didn’t dwell on any really dark plots. It’s not meant to be the kind of film that gets you thinking or wanting to subtly get out of the theater. It’s supposed to give you a few laughs as you go through the adventure. It’s entertaining enough to mask its flaws during the watch. This isn’t a good movie in the end, but as far as romance comedies go, it certainly could have been worse.

Unfortunately, I did not like Harry or Sally. Harry is your standard Captain Kirk esque character who moves on from one person to another very quickly. He is constantly in an affair, but they usually don’t last a week. He actually made it all the way to marriage once, but then he was still dumped. After all of these rebounds didn’t work, Harry finally remembers good ole Sally. Meanwhile, Sally has also gone through a bunch of different guys and has a hard time getting over her multiple ex’s. I don’t get why the two of them have such an issue with that though, you’d think that they wouldn’t really care much after they were broken up. Certainly not enough to have a panic attack in the middle of the night right? Well, I guess they just weren’t ready for the romance game.

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t care much for the ending since it was basically trying to prove that Harry was right all along. That’s the last thing that I wanted to be proven since Sally certainly had the right idea all along. They could and should have been friends rather than just having a one off affair for no reason. Based on who they are, it’s hard to imagine the ending sticking either and she’ll have to look at everything that he says carefully since he was a very iffy person from the get go.

Harry and Sally each have a best friend who they use to communicate with each other behind the other person’s back or just for life advice in general. Naturally, those two get together since nobody can not get together by the end of a film. It was just another sad coincidence for the main characters, but either way I’ve always found blind dates to be rather dubious. It just seems rather desperate if you ask me and if you’re meeting for the first time as a date, then it’s hard for that to be a proper relationship since it seems like both parties don’t care much to learn about each other. They’re just launching right into the date.

Overall, When Harry Met Sally is a very cynical kind of film where you learn to doubt what everyone says at face value and always look for hidden agendas. It’s not a very fun way to live and if you followed Harry’s advice, your life would be pretty miserable. Even if you don’t automatically believe what people say, there’s not much reason to think on it. Just move on from one conversation to the next and it won’t matter too much whether it was true or not. The film isn’t quite as deep and wise as it leads you to believe, but it can be fun to see the heroes over complicate every single issue and act as self proclaimed experts. At the very least, you should have an enjoyable enough time watching the film if you sidestep some of the dicey conversations and just focus on the comedy. If you’re looking for a film with valuable life lessons, check out Magi Madoka Rebellion. It’ll help you debate with yourself whether it is right to save someone without their consent at the expense of other people or to strive for the greater good, but lose your best friend. These are the tough questions that require a long explanation as opposed to this film’s premise which you can answer correctly with one word.

Overall 3/10