Sword Art Online Calibur Review

As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.

The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.

This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.

At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.

Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.

Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.

Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.

Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.

Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.

I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.

Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.

Overall 4/10


Mary Poppins Review

Mary Poppins is definitely a classic film that I’m sure most of us have heard of at some point or another. It’s a light hearted musical/comedy with a punch of supernatural elements to keep things fresh. It’s definitely held up well and can certainly be considered as the definitive musical. I suppose it depends on how literal you take the term since some films are right on the edge of being counted.

The film starts off with yet another Nanny running away from her responsibilities. She simply can’t handle the two rebellious kids and their constant running away. The father is forced to run an advertisement for a new nanny. That’s when the Professional Reality Warper, Mary Poppins shows up for her first attack. She summons a tornado to (fatally?) take down the competition and hires herself. Will she be able to make the kids be more responsible or will this be beyond her abilities?

The father is definitely the best character in the movie. He sets the tone early on when he bursts through the door at exactly 6:01 and bursts into song. Clearly this is a man of culture and finesse. He isn’t one to be trifled with and commands a very strict home. He reminds his wife that a classic British House is run as tightly as the bank. His song has quite a few great lyrics like that and once the kids return from their brief escapade he is firm but not mean. He comes up with an advertisement in the mail that is quite good. While he may be on the back foot against Mary Poppins, he is always quick to recover. He may have cracked by the end and suddenly become a very happy person but even that role he plays with discipline. He is just the perfect character and certainly the one that I was rooting for.

Mary Poppins is an interesting character. Based on the advertisement that the kids left you would assume that she is a very nice person. Well, that actually isn’t the case. She takes everything personally and does seem to hold a grudge. She seems to have a thing against having fun and always has to be goaded into using her abilities. Mary Poppins completely shuts down when anyone asks her a personal question or just anything about her magic and tries to make everyone look bad by denying its existence. It’s hard to get a bead on her and it just seems like she didn’t really want the position at first and only warms up to the kids by the end. Her abilities are definitely as impressive as they ever were though. She has advanced reality warping abilities which are quite handy in any kind of situation.

There are also the two kids but they don’t seem to be very good characters. For starters they make the Dad seem like the bad guy but if we’re being honest they deserve most of the blame. Since numerous baby sitters have run off over the years we have to assume that running away is nothing new for them. They don’t have any good reason for running away either and cleaning their rooms is apparently too much to ask. While they get some character development over the course of the movie I just couldn’t find myself being able to like the kids. They even sabotaged their father’s career by making a big scene at the bank and tackling an old man. Any respect I may have gained for the kids before this was certainly lost during this moment. The kids have to learn to control themselves. Even singing their advertisement was not a good move as the only thing it did was really push the father away from accepting it.

There is also Mary Poppins friend who knows about her powers. If sounds like they have gone on quite a few adventures so I’m assuming that he follows her around. After all, Mary Poppins seems to travel around quite a bit for each of her cases so I doubt she has been in this town before. Since the guy doesn’t even have a classic job, he probably just gets an occupation at whatever destination she goes too next. He’s a good friend for Mary since she takes everything too seriously while he is the opposite. He may make it harder to cure his uncle from the laughing flu since he is always laughing as well, but that’s his one main weakness.

The film’s actual plot is fairly direct and concise so the film does go on some tangents do but time. Fortunately these tangents are actually good do a change. One such scene is with the laughing uncle which I mentioned earlier. I don’t have any sympathy for the Uncle by the way since he can easily stop floating if he really wants too, but it’s fun to see the friend trolling Mary by getting everyone to laugh. Again, the guy is a pretty solid character. There is also a rather long, but fun Looney Tunes esque skit where Mary suckers a few jockeys into letting her win and the characters mess with the animal Olympics. The scenes would probably not be too good if the music was not in point so this is one of those times where the music really amplified the experience.

A musical lives or dies on the music after all and these songs hold up very well. The tempo/beat of the music is always very fast and lively which is a good thing. The lyrics aren’t bad either as the characters talk quickly and get a lot of messages in a short amount of time. You’ll just find yourself paying more attention to the musical sounds than the lyrics and that’s not a bad thing. The made up word in the film certainly got popular as well and has enough syllables to be in a song as well.

Overall, Mary Poppins is a lot of fun. It’s a film you can enjoy at any time. It’s one of those light hearted films that surprisingly doesn’t get serious or dramatic at the end. It stays whimsical all the way through which is quite rare. It has a lot of replay value and being enjoyable is always the first goal of any film so this one really succeeded. The film doesn’t drag on and the music is on point. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you should definitely correct that. It’s a movie that actually does live up to the hype and that is really rare to be honest. Now I’m ready for that sequel coming up but I have my doubts on if it can be as good as this one. Maybe if she has to fight a dark Mary Poppins in a cool CG fight though.

Overall 7/10

Black Clover

Well, I have started the Black Clover anime alongside the Toonami viewers. It had a pretty solid start with the first episode. The animation and music appear to be on point and as the series goes on we should get many more fights and characters added to the mix. It’ll be a while before this series finishes, but I shall have a review up when it does.

Overall 7/10

Seventh Son Review

It’s time to look at your classic fantasy adventure film. The chosen hero of legend who cannot be defeated has arrived to show the world his true power and end the reigning darkness. The story thinks it is a lot more emotional than it actually is and the problem here is that the main characters just don’t make for good leads. Ah well, I suppose the film tried its best, but it certainly won’t be surviving the test of time.

The film starts out with an evil Dragon witch by the name of Malkin wrecking everybody. She destroyed all of the famous knights and now Gregory is the only one left. He defeated her and she lay dormant for many years. Gregory used this time to go to his local bar and get drunk while his apprentice urged others not to fight him. Gregory has a history of murdering his opponents based on his apprentice’s desperation. A swordsman tries to get Gregory to save a little girl who is being possessed, but Gregory wants his beer instead and beats the guy up. It was definitely one of the saddest moments in the film since the guy was just trying to help. Gregory heads over and it turns out that Malkin is back. He defeats her again, but she murders his apprentice so Gregory heads over to a nearby shack and recruits Tom. Tom decides that he has to go since he’s been having dreams about this for a long time now and that means he can ignore logic. He heads out and is ready to take Malkin down.

Thing is, he meets up with another witch named Alice who claims that witches aren’t so bad. Tom agrees since he instantly sees the romantic implications of this and agrees to keep her a secret from Gregory. Knowing that this can’t go wrong and Gregory has been risking Tom’s life needlessly anyway, there’s no harm done. Will they be able to take Malkin and her army of hyped up generals down or is it all for naught? Time to find out!

So, as you can probably tell from the tone of the intro, I don’t like Gregory. He just comes off as a rather mean guy who is only a protagonist because he happens to be a decent fighter. He didn’t care about saving the girl and didn’t seem to care much when his old disciple died as his first line after that was to complain about the time he wasted on the kid. He’s also not very smart of just likes to lie as he constantly gives Tom the wrong advice (Like “Trolls are scared of water and won’t chase you to it”) throughout the movie. He’s also not even that strong as a classic net can beat him and once his scepter is gone he has no power. The guy is just very annoying throughout and also proves to be pretty gullible as he lets his feelings of love get in the way of his fighting. This works against him whenever Malkin shows up.

She likes to flirt with everyone and is quite successful at it. She ensnared Gregory and got his first disciple to lower his guard. Tom was too good for these tricks but since he was getting suckered by Alice the whole time, maybe the writers felt bad for him. I don’t really remember why Alice wants to rule the world, but I supose it’ll make things easier on witches since humans hunt them no matter where they go. She should have won the war pretty easily since the heroes can’t really fight and she can decimate whole cities. Her mistake was to recruit the only fighter capable of beating her as the 2nd in command and then targeting her daughter. I like to think that Malkin was trying to lose at this point. She had a cool costume and a pretty neat dragon form, but certainly lacked tactical awareness when on the battlefield. She should be overocnfident since she was supposed to be way stronger than the others, but I guess she wasn’t quite as powerful as we were all led to believe.

Tom isn’t a good main character. I knew this the second that he abandoned his family to join Gregory for no reason even after learning that all of Gregory’s understudies mysteriously die right after they join. Naturally, his Mom ended up dying after he left. She put up a pretty decent fight though and it was nice to see that she kept up her magical abilities. She actually took out the Kratos lookalike in one shot which was pretty impressive. A pity she couldn’t put up a better fight against the head honcho. Tom’s premonitions aren’t too useful either as they are always very vague and he ends up fainting after them. Even Gregory has to point this out. Tom has some basic skill with a sword, but he can’t hurt the villains with that so it’s all moot. His necklace is pretty handy since it can repel magical attacks and shoot out fire, but he never learns how to wield it. Honestly, he just can’t fight at this point so he’s very fortunate that the villains decide to destroy themselves.

Finally we have Alice, but she’s not a good heroine. Her romance with Tom is pretty bad from the start and despite all her tough bravado, she was almost murdered by random humans in her very first appearance. It wasn’t an impressive way to start out her career. She claimed to have visions as well but we never saw any so I’m not buying it. She is a littkle gullible as well to think that the villains would spare Tom if she asked nicely. She did good in grabbing the pendant back at one point when the villains were distracted, but quite a lot of luck had to be on her side to pull that off.

There were some other supporting characters like a troll that helped the main characters and Malkin’s army of monsters. The monster generals were actually pretty cool and had nice designs, but they were wasted. There was only about 30 minutes left in the film and they still hadn’t gotten to fight. As a result, most of them were effectively one shotted and the others lost to plot hax. One of them was a really powerful dragon hybrid who could use some good weapons, but he was goaded into turning human by Gregory and was then destroyed. Alice’s Mom was a pretty good villain, but the interactions between her and Alice felt weird the whole time. They didn’t interact like parent and child and more like strangers the whole time. The film tries to say that they are pretty close based on their actions and history though so it doesn’t add up. Alice’s Mom certainly came through when it counted though.

The fight scenes are definitely on point and hold up well. That’s one area where the film definitely doesn’t disappoint. I enjoyed Gregory’s fight with the Dragon and the clash of the two dragons as well. Mostly those were the only big fight scenes as the rest were chases and such. The special effects are pretty good. You can tell that the visual style is pretty engaging just from the posters. It’s quite telling that this film looked a whole lot more impressive than other titles like LOTR and World of Warcraft despite those being known as experts at the genre. I can’t say much for the soundtrack as it’s all fairly generic. I would have liked an extra good tune or two.

I think something that would have helped the film a lot would have been if the main characters were more likable. Gregory is consistently shown as borderline evil as he burns opponents alive and without remorse. He believes that you have to be as ruthless as they are to win and in the end he convinces Tom to follow suit. Tom even dresses in all black at the end to signify that he won’t show mercy anymore. It’s certainly not the typical message that you expect to see and it’s a tough world for all of the characters involved. If we ever got a sequel, I’m sure they would have to start reversing that a bit as I just don’t think it was the film’s intention to make Tom seem like a villain at the end. The lore around the film certainly has potential, it just needs to be crafted better.

The biggest negative here is certainly the romance. It’s pretty underdeveloped as expected and the characters just skip first base immediately. Fortunately, the film avoided animal violence, excessive violence/language, and the other tropes that you’d expect in a fantasy film. It did have one gross humor part where the characters eat some kind of squid thing, but it played it by the books for the most part. It’s because this film is more of a happy fantasy with lots of adventure than the more serious and dramatic style that others go for.

There aren’t any real deep messages about saving the environment or Oscar bait moments here. It’s just a classic fantasy adventure that tries to be a little cheesy and action packed throughout. I’d say that it succeeds for the most part. The characters all tend to act like jerks, but the fact that they’re so exaggerated just makes you want to root for the villains even more. It’s interesting how you find yourself rooting for the villains more in a film like this one than in those where the villains are the main characters. Either they’re just more convincing or since the film isn’t too violent, they don’t have a chance to go too far. The main villain destroys maybe 2 characters on screen. The body count isn’t as high as you’d expect despite the epic moment where all of the villains fly across the battlefield and attack Tom’s home. (Not it’s personal) The film just had enough epic moments like that to stay afloat. You can say that the film survives in spite of its characters as opposed to it being the other way around.

Overall, Seventh Son is one of those films that feels like it’s on 2X speed the whole time. The film rapidly goes from place to place and event to event without dwelling on the plot much. It seems like the writers wanted it to be a really long film, but were told they had a limited run time and then crammed everything in. Some scenes could have been explored more and we could have gotten more action scenes. Cutting out some of the romance would have definitely helped a great deal in that regard. The series borrows from pretty much every fantasy cliche in the book, but at least handles most of them reasonably well. It’s certainly an entertaining film as you’ll have fun mocking the characters quite a bit. It’s the kind of film you want to watch with friends to make wisecracks with. It had its faults, but I’d still call it a decently good film. It has a good degree of replay value since it avoided most of the usual negatives.

Overall 6/10

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them Review

It’s time to look at the Harry Potter prequel. While it is a prequel, don’t expect it to connect to the main series at all. There are always 2 kind of prequels. There are the “Episode of Trunks” prequels that heavily relate to the main plot and add more depth to the universe. Then there are the random prequels like Attack on Titan Before The Fall which don’t really add much to the franchise at all except for some padding. This film is the latter and the problem is that it cannot stand on its own at all. Annoying characters mixed in with a random out of nowhere dark subplot and this film is a recipe for disaster.

Newt is one of those guys who likes to defy authority. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really have the power to pull this off so he is apprehended by the magic cops right away. He struggles a bit, but ultimately couldn’t escape. Luckily, they decide to use him to find all of the giant monsters that he let loose. Meanwhile, the magicians also have their hands full trying to stop a kid who has unlimited power. He may prove to be dangerous so they have to contain the threat. So, what’s the focus of the film and why should we care about any of this? Wait til the sequel I suppose.

I can’t stress enough how bad of a character Newt is. He’s extremely annoying and secretive for no reason. He gets triggered rather easily which proves that his comic relief facade isn’t very strong yet. He’s not very skilled as he loses his one and only fight. His attempts at humor are pretty laughable. I’m afraid that the main heroine isn’t much better. She lets Newt get away too easily. While this may not count as a complaint against Tina, her actress also looked shocked during the entire film. It’s as if the character never changed expressions and it was just odd the whole time. That was probably the most interesting thing about Tina. Otherwise she was just around.

The sad thing is that you could say this about the whole cast. The only good character was Graves and a final twist at the end of the film actually hurts his character quite a bit. Why do we need plot twists when you had such a good villain? Aw well, I guess the film couldn’t resist and it ended up hurting the movie. It’s not something that would affect the score at all, it was just unfortunate since he was the best character. One problem that you can probably glean from all of this is that the film just wasn’t exciting in the slightest. With no good characters that you could root for, how can the plot possibly be engaging? It also didn’t even try to be exciting as there is very little action in the whole film. We have a very brief fight scene at the end…that’s it. The rest of the film is just the characters walking, flirting, and talking. It makes for one boring journey.

Still, a boring film can still be decent enough right? Well, this movie decided to throw in a rather dark plot towards the end that had no point in being here. Essentially, the lady in charge of an orphanage was beating up the kids inside. Tina knew about this, but chose not to do something. Perhaps she was not brave enough or there will be a sob story to explain this, but it absolutely did not do her character any favors. If there was any chance of me liking her before that, it was gone at this moment. The lady is destroyed by the end, but the plot just had no point in being here. They could have left her as the conspiracy nut and that would have been good enough. It also didn’t fit with the rest of the movie since it was pretty light themed otherwise.

Another issue here is the ending. In the end, Newt and friends didn’t have enough guts to defy the government. Even though the government was clearly evil and could not be trusted by this point, Newt and friends decided to listen to them. They clearly are not my kind of characters. Did they forget that they were nearly destroyed by the government just for knowing too much? It seems like all of its personnel are just your average “Yes” men who will follow any orders. It’s easy to see why Voldemort took over so quickly.

The characters are just sooooo annoying! One thing that the film did get right was the opening credits and the first 1-2 minutes of the film. The camera work and music made the intro feel like a Marvel movie. The visuals were solid and it got the film off to a good start. It may have crashed and burned after that, but at least it put up a really good effort for the intro. The overall special effects weren’t bad either, it’s just that all of the monster designs were pretty bad. They felt like random animal hybrids that weren’t given a whole lot of thought. I wasn’t expecting anything more though. I didn’t think that this film looked all that interesting even when I saw the first trailer. It just didn’t stand out to me and that’s because there’s not a whole lot to it.

Overall, I can’t say that I recommend this prequel. It’s just not very interesting or exciting. You’ll just notice that it’s dragging on and on even when it’s supposed to be in the “tense” parts. It just never grabs your attention. It doesn’t help that all of the characters are constantly betraying each other. Newt even sells out his friend for some intel even though he claims that he wouldn’t have gone through with the deal. It’s all just very suspect and I’m hoping that the next film is a little more impressive. What it needs to do is actually embrace its magical heritage. Add some actual fights. I mean, what’s the point of having a bunch of sorcerers around if they’re just going to talk through most of their problems? The film is setting up a bunch of plots so hopefully at least one of them will turn out to be a winner. At the very least, hopefully Newt will fix his briefcase. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan then I suppose you’ll need to watch this. Just bring a lot of snacks and a few Harry Potter trivia quizzes with you. They could come in handy.

Overall 4/10

Children Who Chase Lost Voices Review

I definitely didn’t know what to expect when I started this film. I didn’t know anything about it, from the plot to the characters. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t a pleasant surprise and certainly fell way below what I would have expected from it. It’s a shame since the film could have been good if it just had a better all around staff. The end product is just rather boring and aimless. It drags on and on and on.

Asuna is an everyday kid who knows how to take care of herself. She performs all of the chores and keeps her house in order since her Mom is typically out. One day, she witnesses a battle between a mysterious kid and a giant monster. They quickly become friends, but the kid is murdered soon after. Asuna doesn’t know what’s going on, but then the kid’s younger brother Shin shows up. He wants her crystal so one thing leads to another and she jumps through a portal with him to another world. Her substitute teacher, Ryuji, decides to come as well while he lets his comrades murder a poor monster that chose the wrong place to hang out. Despite realizing that Ryuji is a murderer who sold out his comrades and is keeping her prisoner, Asuna doesn’t take it personally. She hopes they can still be friends, but what is she even doing here anymore?

The film’s pretty aimless as I mentioned. Ryuji’s here to bring his wife back to life. If he can murder enough people, maybe he can get into the under world and find her. Of course, it won’t be so easy, but he is ready and willing to sacrifice Asuna to do this. Shin wants to help his corrupt village get their pendent back and is ready to murder everyone to do this as well. Asuna is really just here for the thrills and maybe she can see the dead kid again this way. There are no likable characters here and once again it is a story where you just feel bad for the animals. They didn’t ask for this, but the humans are always picking on them anyway.

What makes Asuna unlikable is the fact that she hangs out with Ryuji after everything he did. She seems completely oblivious to life in general and makes all of the wrong decisions. She is supremely annoying and grating to watch and if she even had a sliver of personality then she would have been a far better character. Even if the personality made her a jerk, at least it’s be something. She’s like a blank slip of paper in this one. Ryuji is evil even if the film doesn’t always try to portray it that way. I couldn’t sympathize with him one bit even if his goal is one that I typically don’t mind for villains. If he wants to do this, then he should go all the way and accept his role as a villain. The fact that the movie portrays him to still be a decent guy otherwise is just annoying and I didn’t buy it.

Shin’s also pretty generic. At least he helped out when it counted, but he’s just soooo weak. How could he let himself get one shotted so many times in one film? It was particularly embarrassing when he tried to stop Ryuji, but couldn’t. The film went out of its way to mock the concept of a child hero as he thought he was a great warrior, but ended up just being a kid in the end. It was easy for Ryuji to take him down. There weren’t any other real characters here aside from random villagers and Asuna’s human friend. They didn’t get to really do anything.

I’d say that the film was just too long. You’ll get bored after a little while and the fantasy elements take too long to really turn into anything tangible. The nightcrawler things were interesting as they suddenly showed up and kidnapped Asuna. More creatures like that could have been fun, but the sad fact is that the majority of them were animals that couldn’t fight and just existed to get slaughtered by the humans. The animal violence is naturally a huge reason why the film was really bad. They gunned down an animal for no good reason and this was the government. It’s all rather vague which is supposed to be interesting, but I wasn’t invested enough to care. Why does the government want this mystical land and how do people know about it? Why have they not sealed off the exits so the fantasy people don’t just come to the human world whenever they want? You can wait for the answers, but they’ll never come. It was always surprising when someone would get slashed and blood would appear. It always felt a little out of place, but it’s not excessive or anything. I wouldn’t really count it as a negative, but the animal part makes that irrelevant anyway.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the animation isn’t all that good. It’s not bad, but it has that soulless look that you may have come to expect from Westernized anime or as I like to call them “General audience” anime. It’s something that can be hard to describe, but it’s just a style. Look at Spirited Away or this film and then look at the latest DBZ or Naruto film. The latter you can instantly tell is an awesome anime film while the former titles look more see through and American. However you describe the difference, I always prefer the latter. It just looks a whole lot better. This film still looks decent by American standards though. We do get some action scenes here and I suppose the animation tries its best, but it certainly doesn’t do much to help the film. Likewise with the soundtrack as there aren’t any interesting themes here. I can’t say that I’m very surprised though. Not too much of a knock on the film, but you wouldn’t expect it to have any cool tunes. That’s just the kind of film it is.

Overall, Children Who Chase Lost Voices was absolutely a flop. Animal Violence + Annoying characters is always going to equal a loss in the end. The film was way too long and just got to be boring by the end. You’d definitely be changing the channel if this ever comes on TV again. None of the monsters were all that impressive when it comes to their power and the ending is like another laugh to the viewers. It seems to be a running gag that the heroine loves to go back to Earth and act like the whole thing never happened in the end. It was fitting for this film though since we’ll all just try to move on from this title. It’s definitely not one that I’d recommend. You should go watch a Dragon Ball Z film instead.

Overall 3/10

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Homura’s Revenge! Review

It’s time to check out another Madoka Magica manga title. I wasn’t crazy about the first two because the art wasn’t so good and the plot wasn’t the best. This one has a much better premise and the artwork has certainly improved, but it feels like the author is worried about doing anything too drastic. The series ends up feeling like a cop-out for several reasons and while the ending is mostly satisfying, there is one element that holds it back. That’s enough foreshadowing though, lets get into the review.

The series starts with Homura failing to save Madoka yet again. She’s been through this point in time on many occasions, but no matter what Homura does differently, it all ends up being futile. This time, she decides to take Madoka back in time with her. This way Madoka will remember everything that is going to happen as well as Homura so their chances to change the future should be drastically increased. Theoretically, this plan should be foolproof right? Unfortunately, Homura made the mistake of also bringing Kyubey into the past so he knows what is going to happen as well. It’ll be a battle of wits between them and being witty has always been one of Kyubey’s strengths.

Honestly I don’t think that Kyubey should have come along for the ride. This is where the cop-out part happens. The whole point of the series is that Homura and Madoka are going to try and change things so that they can save the future this time right? Well, they fail at every turn. Mami is still murdered by the demon, Sayaka is still turned to a witch, etc. They really didn’t change anything except for at the very end with Kyoko. They did beat the monster which at least made the future a bright one, but it wasn’t good enough for Homura or for myself. What’s the point of a what if story where only the ending is changed? I was expecting more drastic changes all around, but the heroes let Kyubey mess with them the whole time.

He was constantly messing with them and tricking all of the side characters. Everyone was unreasonable which ensured that nobody listened to Madoka or Homura. I also find it a little suspect how Mami was beaten twice. Surely she would have kept her guard up after almost being eaten the first time right? Mami is supposed to be super tough and all so she really shouldn’t have lost this battle. The manga even gave her some hype as usual by giving her the edge over Homura. I still say that Homura should be able to defeat her with time hax, but Mami’s abilities are certainly better when in close quarters combat.

The other iffy part was the ending. Homura explained that even though she saved the world and Madoka this time, she would go back in time because Madoka turned into a magical girl. That seems a little extreme since she actually managed to save the day after such a long period of trying. It seems to me like she would have been content to stay this time. Ah well, it was still a good ending though. For a while there is looked like the ending would have been another failed attempt and then Homura would have to head home by her lonesome.

As mentioned earlier, the art is definitely a lot sharper this time around. It feels more like how you’d expect the show to look in manga format. The fight scenes are a lot more engaging and it was fun to see some fights that never happened in the show like Kyoko and Sayaka vs Homura. Both of their battles were pretty fun and their plan actually wasn’t half bad. Overwhelming Homura with speed is the only way to really neutralize her time stop ability and preventing her from leaving is another good strategy. Of course, Homura could have stopped them easily if she was using fatal methods, but she couldn’t since she is technically a hero. The others never gave her much of a chance to explain herself though.

I have to say that Homura and Madoka’s plan wasn’t really well thought out. They should have approached Mami together as allies instead of allowing Mami to see Homura as an enemy. Their reasoning was that they should try to get everything to happen the same way so it’ll be easier to know when to diverge, but this reasoning didn’t make sense. It was an excuse for the author not to go down a very different path. The whole point of this manga is to try and go a different path so the series should have embraced this.

You can probably tell that I was less than pleased with how this was executed. Still, missed opportunities don’t make up the whole story in this adventure. It’s still a well written title on its own and the plot is engaging. It has some pretty good action scenes and the characters are likable enough. At the very least, I’d say that Homura and Kyoko are good. Mami comes across as a little arrogant and Sayaka is just gullible. Madoka isn’t all that helpful either the whole time and Kyubey makes for a good villain with how he pushes everyone around. At only 2 volumes long, the series goes by in a flash. The pacing is never a problem and the series gets from point to point with ease.

I also just enjoy the Madoka universe so seeing the characters was fun. The atmosphere was pretty tense and the characters were all pretty serious. I could definitely see this being turned into an anime or maybe some kind of OVA. I’d take it, even if just to see Homura wreck Kyoko and Sayaka. We really needed that fight in the anime, but there’s only so much you can do in 12 episodes.

After reading the manga, it’s safe to say that the power levels are: Madoka>Homura>Mami>Kyoko>Sayaka. Now, Homura and Mami are debatable I suppose since Mami does have a lot of experience and her abilities are a nice counter to Homura’s, but they only work if she is able to land a hit before time is stopped. I don’t see that happening. Meanwhile, Kyoko’s abilities are just a poor match up for Mami’s to start with and Sayaka is just the weakest by far. She doesn’t have a lot of experience and while her regeneration is great, it does consume energy so she can’t keep it up. Each member is pretty strong in her own way though which is what makes the team so formidable. What I really want is a series where we can see the whole group team up against an enemy. That’s what I need to see and that’s why we need a manga that introduces Dark Magical Girls. The other manga title came close, but didn’t go all the way. (I’m sensing a trend here eh?) Bringing that in could make for a definitive Madoka Magica series someday.
Overall, It’s a clear improvement over the last manga. There aren’t any new characters this time around, but the TV show was already interesting enough where a What If story is certainly welcome. There are many ways that the show could have gone after all even if this one didn’t actually step into any of those paths. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you want to read a nice little action story. If you haven’t watched the TV show then you may not really get what is happening at some points, but you should be able to understand enough. If anything, the added mystery could help make the series more enticing to you. At this point, we just need a season 2 so there will be more material and these spinoffs can think up more adventures for the main cast. It’s been quite a while so there is no excuse not to have a second season by now.

Overall 7/10


I’ve started a new series! Off to a decent start so far. I’m glad that the main character switched partners since the original one was pretty annoying. It’s at the point where the series can go in any direction so I’ll have to wait and see if a tournament starts or if it’s time to go to the demon world Either way, I’ll have a review for it when I finish the series to its completion.

Overall 6/10

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Review

It’s time to look at the sequel that leaves you feeling a little puzzled. Why did the Huntsman get his own film? I don’t fully understand! Anyway, this film does have some really good action scenes and the plot is also more interesting than the first film. That being said, a really forced romance between the two leads holds this film back quite a lot. I dare say that it would have been pretty good without that, but the romance goes on for so long and takes away from so many scenes that I have to lower the score. Regardless, it is certainly better than the last film that I just reviewed.

The film starts off with a flashback to show us Eric’s origin before he was the legendary Huntsman. He grew up under the rule of Queen Freya and was forced to participate in her wars. It was the only life that he knew though so he worked hard and made it to the top of the ranks. Unfortunately, he broke Freya’s most important rule by falling for another warrior named Sara. As Freya realized that any romance was doomed to an untimely end, she decided to destroy them. To their credit, Eric and Sara put up a pretty good fight. They were heavily outnumbered, but took down a majority of the troops. Unfortunately, Sara was eliminated from behind and Eric was forced to beat a hasty retreat.

It made for a pretty epic opening to the film. The fight scenes were well handled and we got a glimpse of Freya’s true power. This whole scene would be very important later on when you keep Ravenna’s illusion magic in mind. The film then jumps quite a few years into the future as the story now takes place after the Snow White film. The Queen has fallen ill thanks to the magic mirror that she stole from the villain and it was sent away. The problem is that the foot soldiers were all killed off and Queen Freya managed to get her hands on it. I have to say that this was pretty sloppy of the heroes. What did they really expect was going to happen when they left to transport the most dangerous weapon in the kingdom? Eric is tasked with going to find it, but a pair of Dwarves tag around to bring the writing down a few pegs. Also, Sara shows up so Eric has to ask himself some tough questions. Did she really die or did he just use that as an excuse to escape with his life?

As mentioned before, the film squanders its positives by including a lot of negatives. The Dwarves are a good example of that. We get 4 of them to appear as main characters and they spend the entire film making fun of each other only to suddenly turn it into a romance at the very end. It’s poorly handled during the entire film and it’s just annoying after a while. I wouldn’t mind the insults so much if it wasn’t obvious that they were going to get together. As it stands, it’s just a little hard to watch. The film didn’t do a good job with the romance in general though. Eric and Sara’s plot is about as bad.

It follows the same formula so the writer must be a fan of it. Sara spends a lot of time insulting Eric for falling for a simple illusion and leaving her to die. She constantly says stuff like “We can’t be together” or “I’m through” only for the two characters to make up 10 minutes later to the point where we can get whole minutes of them making it up to each other. It was terrible and Eric’s overconfidence actually pays off in this case as he suspected they’d be back together.

As for the positives, the film’s action scenes kept getting better and better. Aside from the opening fight, we also got a battle with Ravenna and Freya. It was nice to see Ice vs vague Dark abilities and any fight with one of the Queens wrecking the heroes was cool as well. Ravenna really didn’t think any of this through though as she could have made it to the top if she didn’t insist on attacking Freya’s people. The film does make the villains a little overpowered though and the heroes really shouldn’t stand a chance. By merging with the mirror, Ravenna gained super strength, speed, and even high speed regeneration. Add to this the fact that she can manipulate the shadows to attack everyone around her and you have a fairly unbeatable enemy.

The effects for these action scenes were also very solid. The film definitely seemed to have a reasonably high budget and it’s easy to make fight scenes with large groups boring like in Warcraft, but this film pulled it off. It was actually a lot more interesting than the Snow White film and the core plot here is fairly solid. I would have liked to have seen Snow White show up herself to defend the kingdom, but I suppose she’s busy recovering from the evil mirror she had in her room. Again…that wasn’t a smart play.

Queen Ravenna is a great villain and probably the best character in the film. Her presence captures the room in every scene that she is in. Ravenna has the disposition of a final boss and when she showed up it was rather unexpected so that was great to see. Freya is essentially a more sinister version of Elsa. Her situation and backstory are fairly similar. Freya certainly didn’t take things as well though and became a total villain, but perhaps Elsa would have as well if her sister was evil. Freya did stand up for her wards in the end though and while her goals were a lot more extreme, at least she was trying to protect her people in her own way. She was a good villain as well.

I already talked about how bad the Dwarves were so lets ignore them. Eric isn’t a bad main character I suppose. Overconfidence is a good trait and he’s capable in a fight. He may be a little too dramatic at times, but he’s a solid lead. His one character flaw is the same with Sara’s, the romance angle. It was just unnecessary. Sara is very similar to Eric as she’s also overconfident and talks a good game. Unfortunately, she can’t back it up quite as well as she loses several times in the film. The one time she looked good was a moment where I have to question the power levels. Still, it happened so that was a good moment for her.

Okay, here’s the moment that I’m talking about. Some guys break into a bar to attack Eric. Eric talks pretty big the whole time as he’s forced into the fight and then he loses instantly. Luckily, Sara shows up and takes them all down. Okay…Sara must be way stronger than Eric then right? No, she never looks all that impressive again so you have to wonder what happened. The actual scene was pretty great though and the most epic part of the movie. The power levels may have been a little wacky, but I’ll take the hype.

Overall, The Winter War is a reasonably solid sequel that is held back by the romance and some annoying characters, but what else is new? Hollywood likes to throw in romance and some crude characters to get the ball rolling, but it tends to have to opposite effect. It’s a shame since the fight scenes actually are really good and the effects are top notch. If you check this film out, it’ll definitely be for the action. That being said, I simply can’t recommend it because of the film’s failings. If you want a better action film, check out the latest Tron film. That one has a lot of action and is heavily underrated.

Overall 5/10

Legend Review

It’s time for an old Tom Cruise film. Unfortunately, this is easily his worst and you know that a film is going to be dicey when he isn’t at least an entertaining character. How do you get Tom Cruise wrong? This film is old so it couldn’t have taken notes from Jack Reacher or Mission Impossible, but even so….I don’t know what they were thinking. This is a fantasy film that takes the fun right out of itself and instead plays out like a very low budget drama. Stay away…stay far away!

The plot starts off with Lily going to see Jack. Jack is a wild man who lives among the trees and wilderness like Tarzan. He can talk as we see later in the film, but acts like he cannot. He has virtually 0 listening comprehension and just gazes on with his mouth open for the entirety of the film. He warns Lily that she should pet the Unicorns or bad things might happen. She laughs and pets them, not realizing that as she distracts them, the villains shoot one with a poison dart. The villains take away the Unicorn’s horn, which basically stops time and bring about a snowy end for them all. Jack must stop the incarnation of darkness now before it’s too late.

The story isn’t half bad, but the execution is absolutely terrible. Again, I can’t stress enough just how bad Jack was. He’s one of the worst main characters out there when we only count ones that technically should not be bad. It’s not as if he’s a bully, villain, flirt, or anything like that. It’s just that his Tarzan imitation is taken way too far and it didn’t add anything to the film. Whatever the writers were going for simply didn’t work. It made him very unlikable and he also lost all of his charisma. Considering that Jack is the main focus of the journey, this didn’t bode well for the film.

Lily was also not a likable character. Not only did she disobey Jack’s instructions intentionally, but she just didn’t seem to care. Tossing the ring into the ocean just to see if Jack could get it wasn’t her best move either. While Lily did good in freeing the Unicorn, any seen with her and Darkness was pretty painful. Her lack of will power was certainly exposed here and it didn’t do wonders for the villain’s credibility. He had a pretty nice shadow cloak I suppose. Darkness had a great design, but the actual character could not live up to it. Not only is he too infatuated with romance over actually taking over the world, but you never really get what his goals are. I suppose he just wants to make the world a dark place, but that’s not a goal that you can easily get behind. He’s just there to be the villain, but never does all that much more.

There are other side characters, but they’re all pretty bad. You’ve got Oona the fairy, but she’s pretty annoying. Her only big moment in the film is when she tries to use her illusion magic to get together with Jack, but this luckily failed and she just flew away. There were a bunch of trolls and elves as well, but they didn’t add much to the story. The problem is that this film wanted to be a fun little fantasy adventure that would get a cult following at some point and revisits for years, but this just didn’t happen.

The film hasn’t aged well at all and ends up feeling very dated. It looked old right from the start and I didn’t even have to wait to see the effect. The scenery just looks so bad and while the snow is always fun, the film felt more like an 80’s film than a 90’s one when is comes to effects. If only it could have had the 80’s strong writing and charisma. That would have definitely gone far to help this title out. There just isn’t all that much to say about the film when it comes to positives. There isn’t really anything that the film does right and it only doesn’t get a lower score because it didn’t do anything super wrong that would warrant such a verdict.

Unfortunately, time will only make this film appear to be worse and worse. Some titles only grow stronger as your nostalgia goggles form and your old experiences of watching the film cement it as a legend. Others have the reverse effect. I have a feeling that I’ll still dislike this film just as much in 5 years and maybe more so since I’ll have no positive associations with it. What the film needs to do in order to save itself is get a reboot. Maybe it can’t save the 80’s adaption, but a 2020 remake with updated graphics and a complete script overhaul could change things quite a lot. As I said earlier, it’s not so much the plot that is the problem here, but everything else.

Overall, Legend is one of those films that you can definitely live without. Seeing Tom Cruise in one of his younger roles may make you want to see this film so that you can see if he was always a great actor, but it’s not worth it. It’s better to just keep on wondering if maybe he had a bad film back in the day, than to watch it and dispel any doubt that you had. I doubt that anyone involved with this film ever looked back and decided that it was a great film. It’s just boring and with no likable characters, that’s just not going to end well. If you want a pretty solid film with a lot of adventure and action, check out Final Fantasy: Advent Children. That one’s the ticket!

Overall 3/10