How the West Was Won Review

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It’s time for a perfect example of why only some films deserve to be 3 hours. Granted, you can chop off around 30 minutes or maybe even more if you take out the credits and the intermission, but it’s still way too long. This has got to be one of the most boring, uneventful films I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s right up there with The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. If you are even a little sleepy when you start this film, you’ll be knocked out in minutes. When you mix all of the sad elements this film has: Wild West setting, Boring Main Characters, Old Gender roles, Slow Pacing, Long Filler scenes, it results in a plain bad film all around. It’s just not my cup of tea and while the film could have probably earned an extra star or 2 if it was an hour shorter…it wasn’t so it’s a moot point.

The film tries to play itself out as a really low budget documentary for the most part. It starts off with some early settlers who head to the Wild West. It isn’t really developed yet so they have to plot their own land and such. Lets ignore the fact that there already are a bunch of people here though like the guys who sucker the heroes and steal their stuff, but fortunately the villains are shot before this can end badly. Did you understand that really convoluted sentence? Okay, lets start again. A longer walks into a village and the country girl tells him that she wants to show him someone they captured. He agrees because he’s hoping to score, but she throws him into a pit and runs off. The guy…gets out of the pit and shoots them all dead. During this part, the people who suckered him were trying to sucker the main settlers next and then the shooting battle starts. It’s one of the only action scenes you’ll see until the very, very end so savor it now.

We get a pretty big jump later on as someone’s Dad dies and two sons get back to the farm. One wants to work the land and the other doesn’t. I was wondering what the point of this all was, but apparently the characters were the grown up forms of two characters from near the beginning of the film. Well, good to see everyone returning with all of the time jumps happening, but this is exactly why 99% of the film felt like filler. The problem is that you can only talk about building America before it turns into memes and repetition. Honestly, you’ll be thinking of memes constantly during the film.

The only semi exciting part would be the final act. A retired sheriff is enjoying life with his family, but then notices that some fierce outlaws are back in town. The current cops claim that they have gone over a new leaf and aren’t planning to steal the large gold train that’s about to leave town. The ex-Sheriff doesn’t believe this hogwash for a second and goes after them. Not to mention that the outlaws were basically harassing him earlier and threatened his family. He can’t let them walk away after that. A shootout happens and the Sheriff is victorious. He was right about those rascals and showed them what’s up. Hopefully the cops will remember to actually carry guns next time they protect a train and to hire better security. They must not care about their gold if it’s so loosely protected eh?

The film also had one of the worst romances. So, one of the girls became a successful singer, but then gets a message that someone died and she can inherit a gold mill. She drops everything (big mistake) to go there. Since these were the olden days, it takes a long time to get there. Along the way she meets an old lady who flirts with everyone and a guy who just wants her for her money. (And she knows it) She still falls for the guy and then they get to the mill. The problem is that the gold ran out and the workers paid themselves first so there was no money left. The girl heads back to her dancing career while the guy continues his successful gambling. It all works out and they get together…booooooo. It’s pretty cheesy and just not all that interesting. It was something to see the girl get old and sell all of her stuff though. Just goes to show that nothing goes with you to the grave. From there is transformed into the ex-sheriff story. It’s pretty surreal to have the characters start the film off as little kids and then be quite old by the time the film ends. It could have been great if it was handled delicately like DBZ with big fights happening constantly to keep you engaged. Wrong kind of film though.

There’s not much of a soundtrack here although I trust that you wouldn’t expect one. Also, the visuals are never any fun. The characters head to a civilized kind of city once which is where all the singing/dancing is, but for the most part they’re in the wild west. That doesn’t make for a fun backdrop. The film also feels really ancient. I get that this film is from the 60s, but it plays out more like a film from the 50s with how poor the sound quality can be at times and how old everything looks. The oldness is probably just the Wild West effect I suppose though.

Overall, How The West Was Won is not a story that we ever needed to know. It’s rather obvious and self explanatory after all as everyone knows the story. The Americans rode in, murdered everybody, and then “Discovered” the land and made it our own. We then used good ole American muscle power to build all of the buildings and establishments that we have today. It’s a story of determination and good work ethic, but one that doesn’t make for an entertaining film in the slightest. There’s nothing to smile about or anything to keep your interest in the film. Now imagine that going on for almost 3 hours. I dare say that the first act was the worst as well so it started the film out on a less than optimal note. I can’t decide on what the worst part there was. The father insisting that the daughter sing to entertain some random blokes, or another daughter wanting to run away with a random guy who flirts with everyone and then saying no once he finally says yes because she likes the country life. We definitely got a lot of drama here….just not the good kind. Wait…there’s a good kind? It’s in your best interest to avoid this film.

Overall 2/10

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Twister Review

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It’s time for a fairly old film. Twister may have come out in the late 90s, but for some reason it always feels a whole lot older than that. I dunno, maybe it’s just me but since it’s so iconic it just feels like it has to be ancient. Well, I’ve seen this film twice and it’s fairly solid. Some parts of the story are a bit iffy involving good ole Bill, but chasing the Twister is always fun. If only the characters realized how outmatched they were.

Bill used to be a storm chaser. He’d find a Twister and drive after it to collect more data. His team had even started to create a machine to stop it, but then Bill had enough of this life. He tried to get a divorce from his wife Jo and went off to find a new lady. Well, he found her so now he’s back to make the divorce official. Unfortunately, Jo seems reluctant to do so and convinces him to go on “One Last Ride” to stop a current Twister and prove that their invention will revolutionize early warning systems as we know it. Bill is skeptical, but once his old rival Jonas pops up, he realizes that he has to finish this.

Here’s my problem with Bill, it’s hard to sympathize with him at all. We never really get much reason for why he split up with Jo. They definitely seem to have some disagreements, but nothing major. It also comes across as rather fake because he found someone else so quickly. He got together with her and even planned to get married before the divorce was finalized. It was all very rush rush on his part and I just can’t like a main character like that. As you’d expect, he also ends up going back to Jo by the end of the film. He was dumped first, but he sure made it easy on his new fiance since he jumped back into the fold so easily. At least one good thing about Bill is how he’s always ready to jump into a fight. When he notices that Jonas has stolen his invention, Bill quickly steps in. After all, now it’s personal! It was nice to see that side of him, but it’s not enough to make this ex professional a good character.

Jo is a decent heroine I suppose. I’d probably take a while to fill out the divorce papers too just to mess with everyone. She takes everything in stride and pretends to be oblivious to what everyone else is thinking. Jo can come across as a little selfish at times and the whole 3 way romance plot is still tricky for all of the characters involved. At least Jo is more down to Earth though and prepared to go anywhere to stop the Tornado. Unlike Bill who quit, she stuck with the project the whole time so that definitely deserves some credit.

Meanwhile, we have good ole Jonas. I actually liked this guy. Sure, he stole the idea to give himself some credit and is not heroic by any stretch of the imagination. That’s what makes him such a good antagonist. He’s not trying to destroy the world or anything, he just wants to spite his old pal Bill and get rich. At least he’ll be stopping tornadoes along the way. Unfortunately, he does underestimate the tornadoes at the end and proves the heroes right when they thought that he just didn’t have the right knack for the job. The guy was good at working the crowd, but that simply wasn’t enough. I did miss having him around though as he had most of the good banter.

There were a few other supporting cast that hung around during the film. After all, Jo had a whole crew with her. Unfortunately, these guys weren’t great. There was one guy who whined a lot and really liked cookies, but I can’t say I was crazy about his gimmick. He wasn’t very smart and that was basically his whole character arc. The rest of the staff are all right, but they don’t actually do anything. Bill’s new fiance is all right as well. She’s pretty reasonable considering what she has to put up with during the film. The movie does make her exaggerated at one point though as she doesn’t want to eat with everyone at the table. It wasn’t even dirty and the staff weren’t eating like pigs. She just didn’t like that everyone was passing the food around like in those movies where the table is too big. Honestly, I thought everyone was doing well all things considered so that was clearly just to make us want Bill to change his mind. It felt out of character for her. She probably made the right move in breaking things off at the end though. Nobody wants to play second fiddle and it’s clear that Bill had been starting to waver.

I also have to give the film some props for not self destructing in the opening minutes. In Jo’s origin story, her dog nearly doesn’t make it to the shelter in time because her father was getting ready to close the hatch. Fortunately, the dog did make it though and then the father was taken away in the tornado. That’s an ending that I can live with and if the dog had died this review would be very different. The mother has a tough time overall though as she gets a pretty rough turnaround in the present as well. Still, animal violence would have been a huge no no.

The effects for the Tornado look pretty good as well. A giant black tower of destruction is exactly what you would expect from one. The driving around the country side could have been boring, but the writing/script were solid enough to keep the pace up. I was entertained at the very least and I have to give Jonas some credit for this again. He certainly kept the stakes high since he meant that the heroes would have to keep going fast. They’re also lucky that Bill did stick around since his 6th sense saved them quite a few times. They would have been in the wrong direction otherwise.

Overall, Twister is a good film. The characters aren’t really a strong suit though. They are reasonably charismatic I guess, but when you actually think about the characters they get a little tricky. I did like the rival though and the banter between the characters is good. At its core, the light tone and bond between the characters is what makes it fun. As much as Bill keeps claiming that he isn’t here to stay, the members of the group don’t believe him for an instant. It’s fun to just see them all having fun and referencing the good ole times even if we don’t actually get to see them. Don’t get the wrong idea though, I’m not proposing a prequel film. A “Twister” film without the twister could be dangerous. The writing is pretty solid and the Twister scenes are pretty fun. If you haven’t watched the film yet, you should since it is one of the original Disaster films. There aren’t too many destruction scenes so prepare for a lot of down time where the characters eat and have fun, but those scenes are handled pretty well. I could definitely see a remake of this doing well since the core plot is interesting as it is. They’ll just have to make a few adjustments since modern times have changed the situation a bit.

Overall 7/10

Charlotte’s Web Review


It’s time for a classic film which touched upon some pretty tricky themes like death and how we all grow up. The film is rather somber and the first time I saw it I apparently gave the film a score of 2/10. Watching it again, the film is better than I remembered it to be. Sure, the film probably would have gotten a 2 if Fern had not stopped her father in time. Luckily, she saved Wilbur as well as the film in one shot. That was definitely pretty impressive of her. I suspect you must have heard of this film over the years, but if not, here’s the story.

Wilbur is a small pig and as such, he has a hard time getting any food during the day. His owner decides that they should eat Wilbur as soon as possible since it has been a while since he had any meat. Fortunately, his daughter Fern saves him. Wilbur then meets a spider named Charlotte who decides to help ensure Wilbur’s permanent safety. She uses her web skills to write words down and gives Wilbur all the credit. This saves Wilbur from imminent destruction and allows him to have time to grow naturally. Now Wilbur is a hero, but Charlotte starts to get sick. Will she live long enough to see him get the glory?

I don’t think spoilers really exist for this film since it’s such a classic, but I’ll give you time to leave. I did mention the whole death theme and all..but pretend you didn’t hear that. All right, well the tragic part of the story is that Charlotte dies. It’s a shame since she was probably the best character here by a landslide. Not saying the other characters weren’t good of course, but she stole the show. She definitely saved Wilbur’s bacon with her web tricks and was pivotal in the film. She also doesn’t put up with any wisecracks and nearly murders the rat, Templeton.

Templeton is a fairly likable character as well. His personality is the polar opposite though as he’s not a very nice guy and only helps out when there is something in it for him. He’s not sympathetic to anyone’s cause and just looks for his next meal. He’s a pragmatic guy I suppose, but also a downer. He’s more charismatic than Wilbur though. Despite being the main character, it’s hard to like the Pig. He actually faints from shock on more than once occasion. I’ll admit that I actually forgot that part so it was intriguing to see first hand. Wilbur doesn’t take any of his trials well and just keeps on fainting and taking more losses. He also does make a lot of noise for his animal neighbors so I can see why they were getting upset as well. He’d cry all night long and run around like crazy during the day. Certainly a realistic neighbor I’d say.

Fern is the only human character to actually get a role and she doesn’t appear much after the opening act. It was cool that she let Wilbur live in the house for a while, but a shame that he was kicked out before long. Trust me, the other human characters were absolutely terrible the whole time. It’s just impossible to like them and they seem to get worse and worse with every scene. Fortunately, the reporters weren’t as nosy as usual and nobody tried to stay at the farm after hours. They would have learned the deadly secret of Charlotte’s above average intellect. Having a short life while living on the farm is probably a good thing.

The animation is pretty good and probably a little nostalgic as well. You can tell that the animation is a little old of course, but it holds up well. Perhaps not quite as well as the Snow White film despite that one being older, but it hits enough of the right notes. I have no real complaints with the animation except possibly for the various liquids. The water and such just don’t look right for some reason, but I couldn’t quite identify why. It’s a super minor thing though.

I’m typically not a big fan of films taking place on farms. I prefer city landscapes on principle and I also just get wary when animals are all around. It just doesn’t bode well for a movie most of the time. This film did a good job of dodging that issue so that was a good thing. It’s an enjoyable ride and is probably did one of the best jobs of showcasing death for an animal without getting gritty or unnecessary. Naturally I would have preferred if Charlotte had lived, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

Overall, Charlotte’s Web is a good film. It might not be the most fun one out there because of all the somber scenes throughout, but it’s definitely not bad. There’s a good amount of replay value here, especially considering that I’ve seen it quite a few times. The writing is good as well and I always have to take a double look at the pancakes during the beginning of the film. They look mighty crispy and I could use a few myself right now. It’s been even longer since I saw the sequel so I can’t really comment on how that one holds up, but this is a film that you shouldn’t miss.

Overall 7/10

Patterns Review

Patterns
It’s time for an old film about corporate business. You see large businesses like Wal-Mart messing with people all the time, but nobody is ever able to stop them. They’re too powerful and even control politics. Well, this film is about one such incident where a small town guy ends up being hired by a big company. The problem is that it’s all very overwhelming and he notices Ramsey (the boss) picking on his supervisor, Mr. Briggs. Will Fred do something about it or will he quietly wait so he can get the promotion. He has to decide and quickly before a murder occurs!

One of the ways that you can tell this is an old film is how there’s a lot of background noise. It’s like the home videos we create at home where the wind sounds extremely fierce over the loud speaker. There were times in the film where it would almost drown out what the characters were saying. I felt like the film improved on that once the first act was over, but it was definitely pretty interesting to see. The black and white color scheme can definitely help for this kind of flick. It gives the film a more intense backdrop.

The cast is relatively small here so you can just focus on the inter office politics going on. I’d say that Fred did a pretty good job for the most part. He did stick up for Mr. Briggs in the final office and also tried to set the matter straight that Briggs helped him. It’s definitely tough to talk back to the boss in this kind of setting, but that’s why you’ve gotta be bold. I like to think that I won’t take anything from a boss. Naturally they get the last word in and can ultimately fire you, but a good polite, but stern comeback can always go a long way.

Now, a big part of whether you like Fred or not will probably come down to his decision at the end and whether you agree with it or not. It’s definitely one of those decisions that will make you wonder and for what it’s worth, I probably would have gone with his plan. It makes sense to do what he did because then you’ve still got a fighting chance at making the company better from the inside. The giant pay increase doesn’t hurt matters either. It’s definitely a busy business and one with people who really want it to grow. Someone’s got to keep them in check.

Naturally, Ramsey was the big villain of the film. He’s definitely a mean guy who doesn’t give much thought to the people around him unless they are working perfectly. He just wants to make the business as great as can be and will do anything to see that happen. He makes for a good antagonist and is the kind of guy that you’d want as a correspondent when meeting other companies. You need a tough guy who won’t back down to the rivals. That being said, the negative consequences of this on your own staff are obvious which is why you would have to let him go. When he rises up to become the big boss, that’s when things get tricky. There’s always the question of whether you should help people at the expense of your business or growing to new heights and potentially helping more people in the long run, but messing with people in the short run. Spoiler alert, the first option is always best. Keep trying to improve and raise revenue, but it can’t be at the expense of your workers or environment. That’s just a sign that you have to come up with a new idea. As a consumer it’s great to see such low prices at Wal-Mart, but you know that they come at a big price which is unfortunate.

Mr. Briggs is essentially the only person watching out for the little guy until Fred came along. As such, he is thrown under the bus quite a lot. At his level the company can’t really fire him which means they have to try and bully him until he quits. I’m always mocking social norms and this is exactly why. The company can’t fire him because of their image which means that as long as he doesn’t care about the insults, Briggs can just keep collecting his check. News flash, that’s exactly what I would do. I know there’s nothing they can do about it so I’d just show up to work with a smile every day and let the insults roll over me. Whenever the insults start to get personal, I’d just look at my bank account and smile again. If they do decide to fire me, I receive a very generous severance package so we take those. Unfortunately for Briggs he has a heart condition which starts to get fatal so he couldn’t engage in the benefits, but he had a good attitude about the whole thing as he vowed to never quit.

There were a few other supporting characters who showed up once in a while. Briggs had a kid named Peter who was around to make him feel more guilty about the job. Fred’s wife also popped up to make the situation a lot tougher for him and to guilt trip him into doing the wrong thing. Finally we had the secretary who was pretty good at her job, but ultimately didn’t make many moves to stop the corruption. She simply focused on staying alive in the job. As you can tell, I thought the main cast was a whole lot stronger than the backups.

One area that I thought the film did a really good job in was not making Mr. Briggs petty. I was fully expecting him to be really jealous of Fred since the main character was hired to replace him. Even knowing this, Briggs never acted mean to Fred. Sure, he may have slyly tried to seat Fred a little further down the table once, but they got along right away. The world turned against Briggs, but he stayed as a nice guy right up til the end.

Of course, one thing that didn’t help his heart was the fact that Briggs ran to the beer when things get tough. Most of the characters in this film had a “It’s Miller Time!” moment when the situation kept on deteriorating. That’s definitely a bad habit and hopefully one that they can break. That was the one line that the film was missing as the writing was quite solid otherwise. The script was on point and all of the characters were pretty realistic. I would have liked to have had one more ally in the board room, but it is true that most people suddenly begin to look out for themselves in that case so I could see everyone staying quiet.

Overall, Patterns is a solid film. While it may have been satisfying for Fred to have landed a hit on Ramsey at the end and been arrested or fired, having him around to insult the guy with back and forth banter for the next few years is still pretty interesting. The moral of the story is that you want to be in a union or a top executive so you can’t be fired and then you don’t have to take anything from your bosses. If you have a tough boss or enjoy seeing films like this, I’d definitely recommend checking this film out asap. It’s definitely aged pretty well and this is something that still happens nowadays so the film isn’t dated in that sense. The only thing that can take some getting used to is the odd static sound in the background, but you’ll be able to tune it out before long.

Overall 7/10

It Could Happen To You Review

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Whenever I watch movies that are supposedly based on true stories I laugh. When I watch films that do their best to say that they weren’t inspired by true stories, I also laugh. The key point is that you should never believe a film unless it’s being straight with you. This one basically admits that they grabbed the premise from a real event and then added their own story to it which is pretty believable. This is actually what I imagine that most movies do. It’s handled pretty well and definitely has a fun premise as well.

So, Charlie is a cop, but not just any cop. He’s known as the greatest cop around as he’s friends with everyone and always gets the job done. You can count on good ole Charlie is what everyone’s always thinking and they tend to be right. He’s just a good guy who always helps the community out. One day he goes to a restaurant, but he doesn’t have enough money for a tip so he makes a deal to split his lottery ticket winnings with the lady. She agrees to the terms and then Charlie happens to win a few million on it. He honors the agreement, but his wife isn’t pleased. With both of them slowly drifting apart and rebounds beginning to happen…what will they do!?

It’s a classic story of how getting rich can drive people apart. Of course in this case Charlie and Muriel already didn’t get along very well. This just sped things up. Charlie loves giving things away and after literally giving away half of his winnings, he also makes massive donations to the local Police fund and to the beggars on the street. Muriel gets triggered by this and starts throwing money around by redecorating the house and getting into the stock market. Both of them keep trying to one up the other in terms of throwing money around. Finally, Muriel decides to go for the “Divorce to Claim Assets” combo and quickly destroys Charlie. Fortunately, Charlie doesn’t care about the money.

All right, so there are quite a few things you can have fun mocking here, but it’s an enjoyable film. Lets start with Charlie. I actually don’t really care for Charlie. Sure, he’s a nice guy and he did the right thing in keeping his word about splitting the lottery ticket. He really shouldn’t have made that deal since the stakes were so high and could have just brought a tip the next day. Once he said it though, going through with it was the right call. Now, I can understand Muriel’s frustrations with him though. Imagine waking up one morning to discover that your friend has won 4 million dollars. You’re then hit with the bombshell that it is only going to be 2 million. Then you find out that he also donated one hundred thousand to the Police…then he bought his friend season tickets and a new hat…then he gave money to everyone who asked for it outside (That line will never end) etc. I know that Charlie doesn’t care about the money as he mentions this many, many times. He needs to be a little more considerate of his wife.

Finally, the main thing holding him back is his romance with Yvonne. Even if he wasn’t getting along with Muriel, they weren’t actually divorced yet so he shouldn’t be having any kind of affair. You wait until the paperwork is complete and it’s all over before going for the rebound. It’s like the people who dash into the subway as you’re trying to get off and then the yelling starts from everyone. The fact that he was already attracted to someone else was also pretty dicey. He started with the fake “Lets just be friends” line of course as they hung out every day, but we all know how that ends. I can’t say that I ever trust the “We’ll just be friends” pitch even if I do believe that it should be possible to just be friends. People always have an angle and if you haven’t figured one out yet, then that means you haven’t looked hard enough.

Don’t take this as me saying that I felt bad for Muriel though. She’s a very exaggerated villain in this film so the movie clearly doesn’t want you to take her side. She’s mean to everyone and only cares about being rich and famous. She also wastes her money on Pyramid Schemes and plastic surgery. She constantly insults her husband behind his back and her friends give her pretty bad advice like splitting from Charlie or just cheating on him. She flirts with this really old guy for no reason, but the film gives her a sad ending to counter this. Seriously, the ending is almost humorous as everyone who got in Charlie and Yvonne’s way end up bankrupt, dead, or just plain unhappy. The people who helped him out get a happy ending like the Cop who got his season tickets. The basic moral is that you better have been on Charlie’s side or you’re doomed.

The ending is a little cheesy though since a ton of people send the main character’s money. Nah, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I can see a lot of people sending them Karma on Reddit or making some snappy one liners, but the money is a stretch. Not saying that people don’t donate money to good causes as the Reddit “Build a Potato” got thousands of dollars, but it’s still a pretty rare thing and I don’t think their story would move people quite enough.

Finally we have Yvonne. She’s a nice enough character I suppose, but she is hanging out with a married man as I already stated so that gets us into very murky waters. I also feel like the two of them are going to be bankrupt very quickly as the film ends with them renting a hot air balloon and throwing a ton of paper (It better not be money!) down to a park for kicks. Sure, it may look good for a few minutes, but that’s a huge waste of money and an even bigger mess for the environment. They do realize that custodial is going to have to clean that up in the morning right?

I know that I said “Finally” but I have one more at the ready. Finally, Charlie does a terrible job in the courtroom and when the lawyers are meeting up. I know they’re trying to present him as a “Holier than thou” kind of character, but they forgot to incorporate the common sense angle. After allowing Muriel to take all of his money since Charlie is a nice guy, she also decides to take Yvonne’s money as well. Charlie will at least fight for her right? No, he’s still too nice of a guy to get in anybody’s way so he doesn’t put up a fight for her. He just lets it all go since he doesn’t care about the money. He cares about living right? Because it’s pretty hard to live when you have no money. Those scenes were just annoying to watch because being a nice guy doesn’t mean that you have to be a pushover. Charlie lets everyone walk right over him because he just doesn’t want to be mean. I felt bad for his lawyer since he was clearly wishing he hadn’t taken this task by the end.

Overall, This is a fun film though. While I focused on the annoying bits and the stretches in logic, the main reason why I enjoyed the film was the quick pacing and the fairly decent writing. The writing isn’t amazing, but it’s goo enough. Charlie may be annoying and has some dubious choices, but he was a good cop. He did a good job of ending the gunfight in the deli by showing up and taking names. He did make the good choice with the lottery ticket as well. Hopefully he will learn from this experience and get a little tougher along the way. That would really seal the deal on his character arc. Beyond that, just enjoy the ride and think about what you would do with 2 million dollars. It’s not as much of a big deal nowadays since we have so many millionaires running around, but I’d instantly throw half of it into savings and I’d use another chunk to buy a bunch of video games and maybe a small pizza store so I could walk in and get free slices whenever I wanted. It’s a tough call since they are so many variables, but it would be a good problem.

Overall 7/10

Escaflowne Review

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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