Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

QQ Sweeper Review


It’s time to take a look at a manga about cleaning. That’s definitely a first for me and it’s an interesting concept. I don’t think it’s something you can keep up for long, but the it’s up to the writing and characters to hold the story. Unfortunately the main cast here is fairly weak so they do have a very tough time holding this adventure. It’s only 3 volumes and I can see why it ended so quickly. It feels like it was cancelled with how rushed it is, but a sequel series started almost immediately so maybe it was always part of the plan. It’s not a bad series, but it’s definitely not the most exciting one out there.

The manga introduces us to a girl named Fumi. She has had a tough time of it because everyone has always told her that she is cursed. Fumi believes this as well because bad things seem to happen when she is around. As a result she tries to distance herself from people ansd does her best to ignore the bullying. One day she meets up with a sweeper named Kyutaro. He makes the school clean, but it turns out that he does more than that. He is able to clean the minds of others and destroys the parasites that plague the human world. Fumi is eager to help out and becomes a junior sweeper. Can she help make the world a better place and ultimately use her skills to clean her curse?

As always the classmates and school are all pretty mean here. THey’re very quick to turn on Fumi so I’m glad that Fumi has some friends here. There are two in particular who stick with her throughout the whole adventure even when the class turns against her. There is a bugmaster who is orchestrating this and manipulating the school, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that a lot of these classmates are gullible. You have 2-3 guys who talk against the bullies, but all they do is talk so it doesn’t help a whole lot. I’d like one of them to have been a little more pro-active.

Fumi is a good lead although I feel like she didn’t get a whole lot of character. We see her toughness with how she comes prepared for the bullying without breaking down or attacking everyone. She isn’t super uqick to forgive the bullies either which is realistic because then they’ll just walk all over you. At the end of the day she does want to be the best sweeper she can be and does pretty well in the role. She has some connection to the queen and other vague things, but those plots don’t get to wrap up here. I suppose that will be in the sequel. The manga also hints that she was someone else a while back before losing her memory. It’s likely all connected to this big plot.

Kyutaro doesn’t get along with people at all and that works out in his favor a few times as he helps get Fumi away from the bullies. He acts as if it’s because he needs to clean which drives them away and then he consoles her. He is haunted by the disappearance of another girl he knew a while back so he is determined to protect Fumi. One thing that holds Kyutaro back is how he mixes the two up and gets delirious at times. Obviously this is to lead up to a romance at some point, but it’s not nearly as well developed as it could be and so I don’t think it’s going to end up working very well here.

Koichi is the leader of the Sweepers and along with the lady who can transform into a bird they are the most experienced. Naturally they don’t tell Fumi and Kyutaro much until it’s too late which can always be a bit annoying for those characters. I didn’t really care for Koichi. He can be helpful at times, but not often and does have a tendency to snap at the other characters. The lady is fine, but I do hope that she can fight and isn’t relegated to purely being a guide.

Ataru is the main villain in the series but he’s definitely not one that you will remember for long. His goals are fairly vague aside from causing anarchy. I guess he just wants to mentally destroy Fumi and bring out the queen within her. Of course, the queen can do whatever she wants to this plan seems incredibly risky to the bug faction. Why put such a powerful piece into play when there’s a good chance that she won’t be on your side? He’s also one of those sketchy villains who loses sight of his goals just to go for power plays and humiliation tactics. There’s just nothing likable about this guy and he drags the main cast down further.

All of the themes in this manga have just been done better in other titles. The cleaning angle does at least change things up compared to other titles, but it’s ultimately not that important when you think about it. They clean the area to help make the infected feel better but mostly this is done through talking and the cleaning happens in the background. Take the cleaning angle away and the series really wouldn’t change all that much. I’m glad it’s there since it’s one of the better parts of the series though.

QQ Sweeper’s biggest problem is just that it’s a little boring. I’ve already talked at length about how the character cast isn’t all that good and it’s always hard to make a manga great without them. Especially since this isn’t an action series then the character interactions are very important. You need a good story and characters to proceed and this title has neither. I will grant you that the manga has some promise with some of the story directions they are going in. If the appearance of the queen turns this into more of an action series then the sequel will be hype. The series just has to show me this first and of course it would be helping the sequel, not this one.

The art isn’t bad, but it can be a little convoluted. It certainly isn’t as clear as a lot of other titles that I’ve read. You’ll be able to read it without any real issues, but that does mean it probably won’t be able to keep up with most titles there. It’s only 3 volumes so it’s not like the artist had a ton of time to improve during the series though. We’ll see if in the sequel the art looks clearer or not.

Overall, QQ Sweeper sets up some interesting ideas and the premise is good. The execution just isn’t quite there. You’re never really given a reason to root for the characters beyond being the leads because they just aren’t very interesting. The villain is a flop as well and so that doesn’t make for an amazing dynamic within the cast. There are a ton of plotlines still ongoing which also works well for the sequel, but when you think about it nothing really happened in these 3 volumes. We got to see Fumi help some people but none of the important questions have been answered as of yet. I’d also like to see the Sweepers actually take the fight to the bug users instead of thinking about them as myths. The latter means that the bug guys have been doing whatever they wanted for years now which doesn’t sound all that responsible on the part of the heroes. In the end the series isn’t bad, but it’s not really good either. Check it out if you think the premise sounds fun and then just wait for the sequel.

Overall 5/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Goosebumps Review


I definitely had a good time reading these books back in the day. The series was a fun little horror title with a good amount of twists and turns. The series peaked with the 12 book crossover event where various villains and leads met up and ultimately ended up fighting it out. The movie brings together a lot of the most iconic villains together and ends up being a solid experience.

We start off by seeing Zach and his Mom heading to a new house. Zach isn’t particularly happy about this but perks up when he meets their next door neighbor. Hannah tells Zach that the only fun thing to do around here is sneak into the abandoned amusement park at night and climb the Ferris Wheel. Ah well, he’ll make it work. Unfortunately her father isn’t quite as welcoming and threatens Zach not to go near her. Zach doesn’t really want to obey this and when he accidentally frees the most powerful Goosebump monsters it forces a most reluctant team up. Zach and Stine put aside their differences to save the town, but can they really defeat the powerful Slappy?

The film is at its best when the monsters are running around causing havoc. The Garden Gnomes do a pretty good job of getting the danger levels up right away. Admittedly I can’t take them all that seriously compared to the bigger monsters but they do have the numbers advantage which is always important. They can also regenerate in this film which is extremely handy and was unexpected. Then of course you have Slappy who is the best villain of the bunch. He is possibly a little too powerful here though. He has the ability to teleport and can also teleport objects that he is not in contact with. Then Slappy can create bright flashes of light which stun his opponents for a second. As you can imagine there isn’t really a way that he can lose here. He probably could have ended the main characters within a few minutes of first appearing. Still, the guy likes to put on a good show and is pretty theatrical about the situation.

The least impressive monsters were probably the Gel monster and the Yeti. The Gel one can’t even talk after all and the Yeti isn’t all that fierce. Some monsters/enemies that looked cool but didn’t get to do much were the aliens and the Kaiju. There are a lot of Goosebump enemies though so it’s hard to grab them all. I’m a little surprised we didn’t see the camera though, that’s still one of the best books.

Zach is a reasonable main character. As far as leads moving to a new house go, he actually takes it fairly well. The whole romance plot happens really quickly though. In context they’ve only known each other for around 2-3 days so that’s not much at all. There’s not much else to say against Zach though. He seems like a nice enough kid and one of his first instincts was to call the cops which is good. The guy is pro-active which is important in a main character. He is someone you can count on.

Then you have the friend who is definitely the annoying character of the group. He’s out of his depth from the start and constantly tries to run away. He also gets a very quick romance plot with one of those endings that probably will make you cringe. It feels a little too easy there and it may have been slightly better if the friend had any good scenes before trying to bite a monster. Otherwise you just can’t take this guy seriously.

The heroine is pretty reasonable here. Hannah probably could have saved them all some time earlier on though by either sending Zach a signal or realizing that the heroes may head for the books. I suppose Stine told her to hide while he talked to the cops and from there on maybe she actually obeyed his orders to keep to herself. I suppose Stine had to keep her hidden so the cops wouldn’t find out one of the twists but that definitely ended up making the situation pretty complicated for all of them. Stine isn’t nearly as solid as Hannah or Zach. He’s definitely more on the selfish side and you can’t really call him heroic. He’ll do what’s best for him and that’s it. The guy probably should have burned the books earlier to be honest.

There aren’t many supporting characters here, but I did like the cops. You’ve got the over eager newbie and the experienced guy who has seen it all. They may not be the most competent cops, but at least they mean well. You’ll probably be wishing they could have put up a better fight against the aliens, but in their defense it is a one hit KO scenario. If you don’t get the first hit then that’s game over.

Goosebumps is a fun film at its core though. It’s got a nice set of monsters to work with and the effects are pretty good. There is a proper sense of danger here as well. I’d say that the film’s main two weak points are the romance and some crude humor. The latter doesn’t happen much, possibly just a scene or two. It’s still pretty gross though. As for the romance, I’d say that both the main romance and the quick one with the friend don’t work well. You could also throw in Stine’s little thing at the very end. None of them feel natural and they’re all just forced in to have some romance thrown in. It really feels like the movie is just ticking a box with this.

I gotta give the movie some props for the ending as well. The ending is really 2 fold here. The first half is expected, but also narrative. If Stine didn’t make one last book it would have made absolutely no sense and the fact that Zach didn’t even think about this does reflect poorly on his character. If this was not a part of the ending I dare say that it could have cost the film a star. Then you’ve got the twist ending which is common for a horror film, but I admit that I wasn’t really sure Goosebumps would do it. Well, the film does add the twist here and I was really glad they did. It may not be a big thing, but personally it just rounds out the experience pretty well.

Overall, Goosebumps is a solid movie and one that is definitely worth seeing. It’s pretty nostalgic to see the monsters return for some action. It’s a nice adaption and it’ll be tough for the sequel to match this one. Not saying it isn’t possible of course, but it’ll need to be firing off on all cylinders to pull it off. If you are on the fence on watching this one or not I would say to just take the plunge. I believe you’ll be glad you did and you may even be surprised at how tough some of these monsters are.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade Review


The gang is back in another adventure. This time it’s more of a full fledged movie so everyone can really contribute and we have a longer plot. I would give the first film the edge overall, but this is a good follow up. It’s on the same level and while it does have some more weaknesses it doesn’t do anything bad either. Diana also gets to look good here as she performs some really high level spells so I definitely can’t take issue with that.

The annual witch festival is coming up and Atsuko has been put in charge of the ceremony for this year as a punishment. Why is this a punishment? Well, the festival is basically just an excuse for the humans to mock the witches as they torment them with a bunch of games. Atsuko realizes how ludicrous this is and decides to put on a happy festival instead. Tension quickly begins to build between her, Lotte, and Sucy though as Atsuko begins to get a little obsessive. Fortunately she meets up with some other kids in the group who might be new friends to replace the older ones. Atsuko has to tread carefully here. Even if she can get this parade working, can she really repair the relationships between humans and witches?

I have to say that the whole premise further reinforces why Shiny Chariot was really good for the Witches. People actually liked her quite a bit. If anything the fact that witches didn’t like her probably just made the various relationships a whole lot worse. The school is partially to blame here for allowing such a parade though. From the screens they showed of the previous years it was totally at the witches expense. That’s not a good way to run such a big event, especially in front of impressionable kids.

This special does introduce some more concepts such as the fact that the witches are basically powerless away from their energy source at the castle. This is a bit alarming as they can barely even take on a bunch of school kids without their powers. I know this isn’t an action series so they don’t have to worry about invasions or anything, but I do think this weakness is a bit extreme. Hopefully as they grow older they will be able to store larger amounts of magic power to at least be able to defend themselves with. Otherwise it’s definitely going to be a rough road for the witches.

The two annoying parts of the film are Lotte and the kids. There’s a subplot where the kids represent the rest of the humans in how they don’t like the witches. They steal the power source and engage the witches in a fight near the beginning. The kids are just very annoying. Sure, they’re young so they don’t totally know what they’re doing, but it’s still painful to watch since the heroes can’t do much about it. How can you attack a kid right? By the end they end up helping out, but the problem was because of them in the first place so I can’t give them too many brownie points for that.

Then we have Lotte who is pretty unlikable here. She has valid reason to be upset with Atsuko for breaking her music book, but beyond that she just wasn’t very co-operative throughout the adventure. This was a pretty big deal for the lead so I think Lotte should have been more amiable. Susy took things a lot better and ultimately works as a person in the middle to get the others talking again. Atsuko is still quite solid even if she did let the festival get to her during different parts of the film. Fortunately Diana was there to give a pep talk. While Diana doesn’t get as much combat here, she still shows her expertise during different parts of the film. Easily the best character like last time. As I mentioned we did get a few new kids. The main important one is Amanda who is a solid addition. While she isn’t as much of a prodigy as Diana, she has skills of her own. She actually does stick by Atsuko’s side the whole time which is great and is quick to help out in the fight with the kids. She did the best in that battle for sure.

The animation is definitely pretty sharp as with last time. I’m not sure if I’d say it’s better but it’s at least on the same level. There aren’t any real action scenes beyond the climax, but the energy effects still look good. There’s still not much of a soundtrack. I don’t know how long the gap was between this film and the first, but it does a good job of feeling like it took place pretty quickly afterwards. If you watch both films back to back they look almost identical which was probably nostalgic depending on how much later it was.

Like with the first film, the real strength here is in how likable the characters are and the fun setting. There’s a reason why school films and shows are so popular. It’s just a fun setting for the characters to interact and to quickly throw in a lot of fun scenarios. Something as simple as planning out a parade can easily be a full movie plot whether or not the main characters have super powers or not. At this point it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of movie series this is trying to be. A school days type plot or more of a fantasy adventure. Perhaps it will change from adventure to adventure but so long as the writing stays strong I don’t imagine it will falter at all.

Overall, The Enchanted Parade is a good follow-up to the original. It’s nice to have a feature length film for the gang. In order to get that film experience the film added more characters and a longer plot, but I don’t think all of it was necessary. Cutting out the kids would have gone a good way, but I think it would have been even cooler if the film had higher stakes like the original one. Having the witches go on a field trip somewhere would be a pretty cool plot. Regardless, I’d recommend checking this one out. If you have to choose a side, I recommend picking team Witch.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Little Witch Academia Review


It’s time to look at the fairly well known Little Witch Academia special. I remember seeing this one mentioned online a lot and always wondered if it was made as some kind of rival to My Hero Academia. The timing was just coincidental I’m thinking though because the two aren’t very similar at all. It’s a pretty fun fantasy story and feels like like Spirited Away or the other big anime films that can also make it as a Pixar type film. It’s a good movie that can appeal to just about anyone. It introduces the characters right away and gives us a good debut adventure.

The story starts by introducing us to Shiny Chariot. She is pretty well known to the humans and serves as a shining example to how Witches are. Atsuko has always wanted to be a witch and thanks to Chariot’s grand display Atsuko reaffirms her wish to join the school. She has now made it and must aim to do well in her classes. It’ll be difficult as she didn’t grow up with magic the way that most of the others did. She is a quick study though and makes it to the team phase with two other girls named Lotte and Sucy. The 3 of them must climb a tower and find some items in a scavenger hunt, but when a dragon shows up the danger becomes very real.

You’ll get some Harry Potter and RWBY vibes here as well. It’s an all girls school since it’s for witches so that part is like RWBY (Yes, there are some guys in RWBY, but rarely are they important) but it’s less action based and more of an adventure/fantasy like Potter. The characters even have wands and such to use their spells. I think starting off with this tower exploration was the right move since it feels like a video game mission and lets the characters interact with each other in a fun environment. Now lets take a look at the cast.

Atsuko is our lead and she’s a good main character. Her determination and youthful energy are what you would expect upon seeing her and she does not disappoint. Wherever there is action you’ll find her at the center. Atsuko isn’t irresponsible though and stays determined even when the others don’t take her seriously. None of the other characters like Shiny Chariot, but Atsuko doesn’t take it too hard. Then she comes in clutch during the climax with the legendary scepter weapon and manages to save the day. I definitely look forward to seeing more of her. Her teammates Lotte and Sucy are less impressive. Sucy’s fine, she’s fairly aloof and doesn’t talk all that much. It’s hard to get much of a gauge on her character beyond that but her spells are quite potent. I can easily see her being the secret weapon on the team. Lotte is more of a book worm and fairly timid. She’s not my kind of character but I wouldn’t say that she is bad.

Shiny Chariot is the legendary witch that humans like, but ironically witches don’t. She seems nice enough so I have to disagree with the witches here. They don’t like her theatrics, but as we learn in the next movie, humans and witches don’t get along very well. Isn’t it good that she is bridging the gap? While it’s not outright stated, it’s heavily implied that she was forced into early retirement and now works as a teacher in the school. Her teacher persona is basically like Clark Kent. She can’t act very tough in this one, but it works well enough since it isn’t the real her. I do hope we get to see Chariot fight again soon though.

Finally we have Diana who is the rival character in the series. She is a prodigy and typically can master any spell with ease. The tower is pretty much a cakewalk for her. What I like about Diana is that she’s portrayed as a tough character, but she never becomes petty. A lot of times the bullies will show up to make fun of the main character for no real reason and quickly get jealous. Here Diana does get into it with Atsuko, but only in passing and it never becomes a priority. Diana isn’t suddenly switching life goals just because Atsuko is here. She also does her best to help against the dragon at the end. Diana is easily my favorite character and I look forward to seeing her return. She’s definitely a dependable ally that you can count on to always see the bigger picture.

The animation definitely looks really good. There aren’t a lot of flashy scenes to really let the animators show off, but the make the most of each moment. The opening scene with the monster and Chariot looks good and likewise for the climax. The rest of the film is smooth as well. You definitely can’t take away any points on this one. The soundtrack is fairly standard so that part doesn’t really stand out. What you’re really here for is the quality writing and pacing which is on point. The characters are all pretty realistic and the film doesn’t have any real negatives. It’s just a pleasant experience and one that will have a lot of replay value.

Overall, Little Witch Academia is a title that I would recommend. It’s pretty short as it skirts the line between a mini movie and an episode, but it does a good job of setting up the universe and characters right away. By the end of the film you’ll have a good understanding of the world and what’s going on. I’ve already seen the next film so I’ll have a review up for that one as well pretty soon. So stay tuned since the Little Witch adventures are not over yet.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Monsters, Inc. Review


Time to look at a title where the main characters’ mission is to scare people. As you can imagine this is a pretty tricky business since people will eventually not feel fear quite the same way. In this world, the monsters go through doors to little kids’ rooms and quickly scare them. The fear energy is captured in a tube which is then used like electricity. So the kids were actually right all along about monsters being under their beds and such.

The main characters are Sully and Mike. These two have been the reigning fear champs for a long time. It’s a team effort and things would have continued as normal except one day a little kids manages to escape the human world and bumps into Sully. Sully decides to get Boo back into her door before anyone figures this out, but the door is gone so he will have to do a lot of searching to find it. In the meanwhile they will have to watch out for Randall. It’s Randall’s fault that she escaped in the first place and if he finds her then there is going to be a lot of trouble. He’s not quite as heroic as the other monsters.

It’s definitely a very interesting setup. You may wonder why it’s such a big deal for the others to find out that a human is around, but effectively it would be like if a monster showed up in your house. People in this world are afraid of the other and vice versa. The government in the monster world is also prone to using lethal force to stop outsiders. One monster was completely shaved just for letting a sock make contact with him. The monster takes germs very seriously and so you can see why Sully wants to avoid all of that. It would definitely be pretty traumatic for Boo. Meanwhile Mike is definitely less about the heroics of this and just doesn’t want to get into trouble. Still, he does help out at the end of the day even if it is very reluctantly.

Randall is a petty sinister villain and works well as the antagonist here. He’s definitely a credible threat and with his invisibility it is hard to deal with him. He’s not nearly as tough as Sully and can’t win in a straight fight, but does use his abilities creatively. He comes awful close to stopping Sully once and for all. That’s really it for the main cast, but a few others show up along the way. I can’t say that Boo was as interesting as any of the other main characters though. I think she’s just too young to have a compelling character arc.

This manga isn’t afraid to show you how brutal the world can be though. Even ignoring the monster getting skinned or Sully being choked, there’s one scene where the humans decide to fight back. This involves Randall’s epilogue and things definitely don’t go so well for him. Keep in mind that the monsters are scary for the adults, but they definitely aren’t going to be doing much against adults. They aren’t super powerful like that and Randall isn’t much of a fighter as it is. I’m afraid that the scene was likely game over for him.

The art style is very basic for this one. It uses big panels and there isn’t a lot of detail on any of the characters to make for easy reading. I think this manga is aiming a lot younger than the others that I’ve read which is why I’m surprised that it has more danger than A Nightmare Before Christmas. The main aspect this hurts is the scare factor as it’s hard to see anyone being scared of Sully when he looks like a teddy bear. Kids do scare easy I suppose so it’s not like it’s a huge stretch either way. The art does serve its purpose of making the volume easy to read as well.

Overall, Monsters Inc is a reasonable volume. If you aren’t able to watch the movie then it’s a pretty good substitute. It’s certainly like watching an abridged version, but it keeps in as many of the big scenes as it can. The concept still holds up well today and it would be interesting to have more titles in this continuity. I still haven’t watched the movie sequel, but maybe that one also got a manga. So if you’re looking for a decent fantasy manga then this is one to check out. If you’re looking to buy one though, I’d probably sooner recommend something like Dragon Drive or Legend of Zelda though.

Overall 6/10

8 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Aladdin Review


It’s time to take a look at the remake that came out recently. The original film was one of the weaker Disney classics for me so I was ready to see if the remake could fix that. Fortunately it was up for the challenge. I’d actually put Aladdin as one of the best remakes and holds its own/even beats other heavyweights like the recent Maleficent film which I was impressed with. Aladdin’s a very high energy film and it paid off.

The film starts with a guy telling his kids a story about the olden days. We cut to what is a normal day for Aladdin as he slips through the streets grabbing whatever he can. He’s a thief who needs such things to scare by as his country isn’t exactly one of the more luxurious ones. One day he notices a lady having some trouble so he helps her get out of the jam. Unfortunately due to a misunderstanding with his monkey stealing her pendent she dashes off. Aladdin tried to repair the damage but he is soon captured by the Jafar and forced to enter a dangerous cave. He secures the lamp and will now get 3 wishes, of course Jafar won’t forget about his wishes for power anytime soon. Can Aladdin impress Jasmine and stop the kingdom from being plunged into chaos?

Right away the film got off to a really strong start here. The chase scenes with Aladdin right from the beginning are great. The scenes have a lot of energy and with the song it all flows together nicely. It’s always risky to have the best scene show up this early on in the film, but I think it’s good because first impressions are important. It’s just nice how casually Aladdin is basically taking on a full platoon of troops and singing about it. He also does a good job of directing Jasmine as well and showing how well he has mastered the city and all its alleyways. He’s basically a genius.

Aladdin definitely makes for a really solid lead even if he does weaken a bit towards the end of the film. He gets corrupted awfully quick when he becomes a prince and I feel like there were a lot of ways he could have gotten himself out of the situation earlier. If he was going to lie anyway, why not just admit that he was pretending to be a prince to impress Jasmine later on? I think she probably would have been impressed as to how he could pull that off since he had such a large troop of fighters behind him. I’d also argue that Jafar even deciding to mess with Aladdin is super risky because if those troops were real than Agrabah would have been doomed from the start.

Jasmine’s a fun heroine and definitely a character who has also been very improved from the original. She’s very determined to become the next sultan and also stands up to Jafar and the others. Jasmine gets a fun song towards the end about how she won’t be quiet anymore and gets to quickly exhibit her time stop powers until the song ends and you realize it never really happened. The thought is what counts though. She may not have grown up in the streets like Aladdin, but she’s definitely got that toughness about her.

Then you have Genie who steals the show as expected. It was a tall order to try and top Robin Williams from the original so I think adding in Will Smith was the perfect option. His style of humor is very different, but ultimately very charismatic and fast which works really well. His powers are still impressive although the way that his powers work is still awfully loose. At the end of the day he can still do whatever he wants and is just pretending to have to work on the rules. It seems to me like he just can’t go against his owner, but otherwise he can do what he wants. If I were Aladdin I’d be tempted to ask for a wish back, but at the same time he is still alive so being grateful is more important in this scenario. Genie is definitely here to look out for Aladdin and does a great job of looking after him. Without Genie Aladdin would have been doomed.

The film does a good job of mixing in a lot of good humor to supplement the action and adventure. The jokes land and the film is just written really well. They certainly didn’t phone it in here which is key. It would have been easy for the movie to just try and borrow all the original jokes and such but coming up with a completely new script is always good. The film’s still a direct remake and all, but it brings its own unique flavor to the mix.

Then you’ve got Jafar who is a much better villain than he was in the original. In that film he felt more focused on the marriage to Jasmine than his actual aspirations. Here it is flipped and he really just wants power to capture everyone else. He’s the kind of villain who while not relateable is just very interesting. It makes sense why he would have a bit of a power complex here since he started at the bottom of the social totem pole and now wants to go to the very top. I also thought his character had more layers here since he actually kept his thief skills and is a legitimate threat to the other characters. The scene of him pick pocketing Aladdin was handled very well.

There’s the Sultan but there’s not much to say about him. He gets mind controlled the whole time as expected. Abu doesn’t get to do a whole lot and mainly just gets Aladdin into trouble. He does save the lad from making a critical mistake in the cave of wonders though so I’ll give him some props, but he basically nullifies this after that by actually falling for the trap.

Iago doesn’t get the witty dialogue that you’ll remember from the original which is unfortunate. I think the film could have gone all the way with him if it really wanted to. At least he did get the super form though so that was neat. Then you’ve got the character made for the film called Dalia. She’s basically Jasmine’s best friend and just like how Genie supports Aladdin she helps Jasmine in this journey. I’m not sure about the random plot with her and Genie though. That romance was a bit weak, but for the character Dalia was definitely a standout. She’s definitely the kind of character that you want to have by your side. Dalia is very loyal and supportive.

Then you’ve got Hakim who also gets a bit of a big role here. He is quick to change sides though and while the characters gets his redemption arc it doesn’t work all that well. It just seems a little too late in the game for him by this point. He’s not really my kind of character but I’ll still give him some credit for making the right call even if it was late.

The first half of the film is definitely more dynamic than the second half, but I wouldn’t say there is any part of the film where it totally loses steam or anything like that. The dance scene with Aladdin being manipulated was also pretty fun. I don’t think that the back flip was overdoing it to be honest, but he definitely did show everyone up. All of the songs are also a blast. It seems like the film is using some kind of auto tune or audio adjustment to give everyone a certain kind of voice though so I wonder if the characters actually sound like that. It’s a sound that works well though so no complaints here.

Aladdin doesn’t hold back on the special effects either. I think part of what makes the film work so well is that it just looks great. The musical numbers feel grand as a result and especially the “You’ve never had a friend like me” song is awesome as a result. The special effects are really akin to that of a big blockbuster movie (Which this film basically is) and I dare say that this may be the best musical out there. I don’t really know how you would go about topping this one.

Overall, Aladdin was definitely a success. It’s a very fun film that has a lot of replay value. I think a good bit of credit here goes to the great script/writing. There are a lot of clever moments and even some callbacks to the songs. One good scene is when Genie points out that Aladdin’s never had a friend like him as opposed to vice versa. The only annoying part here is really how quick Aladdin was to betray Genie. It’s definitely something that will be annoying on a re-watch and all since Genie was so helpful the whole time. Still, if you’re looking for a great film to watch then this is the one to check out.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Hunter X Hunter: The Last Mission Review


It’s time to look at the final HXH movie. The first one was definitely pretty fun and it was nice to see Killua take the lead. This one has a more traditional plot and more action and does pass the first film for me. I do think there are some missed opportunities here but the teasing for fights that don’t end up happening is pretty accurate to the show I suppose.

The film starts with Gon and Killua heading to the battle tower to cheer on their friend Zushi as he prepares to fight his way to the top. They meet up with Biscuit and Zushi’s trainer and the fights have apparently attracted a lot of top players as well. The royalty that Kurapika has been assigned to protect is also in the audience so naturally he has accompanied her and even Hisoka and Netero have decided to come and watch. Everything appears to be going well and nobody would dare attack with so many big shots but Leorio finds out that this is not the case. On his way to the tower he is taken down by a group of villains and then they take control of the tower. Netero is being restrained on the top floor and everyone else is being held hostage. Gon, Killua, and Kurapika are the tower’s last hope now.

Right away this movie definitely feels more on the high budget side than the last one. I think the animators definitely enjoyed the first scene of Gon dashing around and grabbing the balloon. It seemed like an animation showcase kind of moment and the colors are definitely extra bright. As a result of the smooth animation Gon and Killua also look a bit younger than usual, but they are kids so this does make sense. I definitely enjoyed the animation here and it really does stick out for the fight scenes. They’re nice and fast which is always a good thing to have.
There may not be as many fight scenes as I would like but Gon and Killua’s teamup was excellently done and the climax with the main villain was also pretty solid. It’s a clash of energy for the most part and seeing Gon in a movie exclusive form was neat as well. The villains are fortunate that this wasn’t late Chimera arc or Killua could have definitely ended them all with his Godspeed.

There aren’t really any themes here that didn’t show up in the show at some point. The show themes work pretty well though and we get to see multiple endings too. The themes work well for the scenes and are definitely solid. The film goes by pretty quick and the pacing is definitely solid. It does lead me to the film’s only weakness though and that is how the film ends before a lot of the characters actually get to do anything.

Now, this may be intentional as the series is known for teasing the fans, but the movie brings a lot of characters here to not actually do anything. Hisoka, Biscuit, and Zushi’s teacher are big examples of this. Hisoka shows up to make a lot of threats and talk tough, but by the end he is having fun just being a coach of sorts and decides not to take any direct action. Surely the film could have added one more member of the group whose purpose was to get eliminated by him right? Biscuit and the teacher can also fight so it was a bit iffy to see them just stay as hostages and not do anything. They fight some random minions at the end, but that doesn’t really count for anything. It’s not the kind of thing that ultimately hurts the film’s score, but I think the film would have been even better if they could have done something.

Meanwhile, at this point in the game Killua and Gon are way ahead of Kurapika and Leorio and I’d say that the film does acknowledge this. Kurapika’s abilities are pretty versatile, but because of the conditions he has placed he is only really deadly against the spiders. The bulk of his abilities don’t work on other enemies so at that point he has to rely on his pure hand to hand skills. He does a good job all things considered and healing is important as well, but he wouldn’t have a chance against the stronger villains. Tactics are still his strongest suit though and it was good to see him figure out to get to the control room right away. That being said, his strength against Uvogin was pretty good and I believe that wasn’t part of the chains so if he still has that level of ability I think he could have done better in the fight.

Leorio definitely doesn’t look great here. At first when he mentions his nen I thought we were going to see him actually fight, but in the end all he gets to do is block. He still helped out in his own way, but I was waiting for him to do more. He still looked better than Netero though. Netero’s fans should not be pleased as he gets caught in a really basic trap and spends the whole film being helpless. Even when he finally gets ready to fight all he can manage is a stand still. I think he was pretty nerfed in this adventure if I’m being honest and I was expecting more out of him. For all his tough talk you’d think that Gon surpassed him here.

Meanwhile Gon is definitely still pretty obsessive like in the Ant arc. He gets pretty intense about never forgiving the villains once they attack Netero and fights with a vengeance the whole time. He’s quick to embrace the darkness to try and save the others. His quick determination to do whatever it takes is good and it’s something he embodies more than a lot of the other Shonen leads. At the same time he’s also a lot more selfish and once he gets a goal he is fine with ditching his friends to accomplish it. Turning over to the darkness should have destroyed him if he was anyone but the main character. While I don’t think he thought all of this over too well, he definitely did good in a fight.

Killua is the true star as expected though. While Gon surpassed him temporarily with his real conditions mode, Killua has always been a step ahead for the most part and the film does a good job of showing this. While Gon is definitely stronger, Killua does have the speed advantage which is really useful in a fight. I felt like he could have beaten the villain pretty quickly if not for the location and the fact that the villain was only fighting with Gon for the most part. He was basically ignoring Killua the whole time. Killua is definitely the perfect ally to have around as well since he’ll do his best to protect everyone the whole time.

As for the villains, they’re not a bad bunch. While the film does give them an origin story it was pretty brief. The main villain Jed is definitely the best one. His dark powers are cool and he had a pretty solid plan. The fact that he can fight Netero on even ground is definitely not something to be taken lightly and he was holding the heroes at bay pretty well. The kid who dies early on didn’t really get to do anything so I can’t say much about her.

The other villain who got the most development here would be Geki. He likes a good fight and is one of the more honorable villains. He’s definitely got legitimate strength and does a good job hanging in there during his big fight. Zushi definitely didn’t stand a chance against this guy even without his fancy powers. Shura is more of a tactical villain, but he definitely has some moves as well. While not as cool as Geki he does round out the villain group pretty well.

Overall, The Last Mission is definitely a solid HXH film. It definitely feels a lot more like a classic Shonen Jump film than the last one. Getting everyone together and then bringing in the big fights is all you really need to have a quality experience. I do think the film should have given the characters more to do though. I’m also extremely skeptical that all of the floor masters would lose to these guys, dart or no dart. They should all have crazy nen abilities of their own and part of the point of Hunter X Hunter is that you never know what to expect before you fight. At least one of them should have had an ability that would have won the battle. While you might have to suspend some disbelief for the power levels, I’d argue that this is the case for most anime films. It’s a fun ride through and through so I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 8/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Masters of the Universe Review


It’s time to take a look at the really old He Man film. It’s definitely one of those movies where you may wonder a bit why they went the route that it did. Surely the movie could have done something else like stay in his world the whole time right? Well, it was definitely an interesting experiment even if it didn’t fully pan out. It’s engaging in its own way at times, but one of those movies that doe shave some moments where it drags.

The film starts off with Skeletor and his minions finally conquering the world. It’s all thanks to a new world hopping device that he got thanks to a little gremlin. One wrinkle in his plans is the fabled hero He Man. Now, “fabled” may not be accurate, but we’re never given a good reason why he wasn’t there from the start. He’s pretty nonchalant with his friends when they find him randomly running around in the dessert. From the intro it sounds like he’s been gone for along time so the whole thing doesn’t make sense. Still, the odds are too great even for He Man so he heads to Earth to make a new device to bring him back. He’ll have to protect two teenagers by the names of Julie and Charlie though as they have the device and Skeletor’s minions are now after him. It won’t be easy but He Man can do it!

If I may be so bold, part of the problem here is the fact that the earthlings are pretty annoying. They are slow on the uptake and all they do is hold He Man back. Think about it, some of the best scenes were the ones from the beginning. We got a lot of cool gun fights and jumped right into the thick of the action. It’s like a war was going on and we got to see the climax of it. It may have been a little weird to see He Man pull out the gun, but I guess even he knows when he needs the extra firepower. The villains look like Stormtroopers and the whole thing could have been like a scene out of Star Wars. Trust me, if the whole film had been like this then it would have been very awesome indeed. It’s the He Man film that we needed.

Also, the fight scenes do hold up pretty well. It’s nice to see He Man just throwing everyone around and dominating the cast of villains. He is basically Superman after all so he should be cleaning shop. He Man’s definitely a solid main character even if he is a bit insensitive. There’s one scene where Julie has just been through a traumatic experience but He Man and the other characters all laugh when the troll drives in on his crazy car. The movie definitely does not always know how to time its comedic moments, I’ll grant you that.

Back to the humans though, I can’t say that Julie is the most engaging character. Her relationship with Charlie is also a bit odd as the first scene sort of implies that they are on the verge of breaking up. She wants distance from him and can’t wait to leave, but that plot flies out the window once the villains attack. She’s also incredibly gullible and naive as there is a certain scene where her mother appears that will make you roll your eyes. It’s one of those moments where you just gotta shake your head. Then you’ve got Charlie who definitely doesn’t seem like the most helpful guy around. He ditches Julie to get some info on how to get rich and after that he spends most of the film complaining about the current situation. The only human who pulls his weight around here is Lubic.

He’s the classic detective who is on a power trip. He wants the device for himself and has no idea on what is going on so he calls the cops and gets ready to take everyone down. He won’t listen to you about who is on the right side so he just blasts everyone who gets in his way. It’s not necessarily a bad outlook if you want to come out on top, but as a detective you’d want him to do a little more due diligence. I do like these parody type characters though so I was definitely rooting for him. He’s just a fun guy to have around.

As for Skeletor, he was handled pretty faithfully I must say. The design is on point and he was given a lot of respect as the villain. He did manage to capture He Man’s planet and that’s no small feat. He probably should have sent all the armies to Earth to fight He Man right from the start though. Finishing him off should be top priority since I doubt anyone else can fight all that well. Instead he insists on the villains taking He Man in alive for some reason. Skeletor never was the smartest villain though.

The ending is definitely emotional I suppose. In general if you ignore all of the scenes with the troll then the film did a decent job of taking itself seriously and giving us good action scenes. The writing actually isn’t all that bad either. Really the only scenes that drag are when the humans show up or when the troll steps in. For the most part the film manages to keep itself on the right track and that’s good. The scene of the heroes fighting while inside the electronics store is pretty surreal for sure.

Overall, Masters of The Universe is a pretty reasonable film. It’s not going to win any awards, but I wouldn’t call it a bad film either. It’s definitely on the cheesy side and the effects may not hold up to the newer titles, but the film doesn’t have any game breaking negatives. It’s a fun little fantasy story that I could still recommend to fans of He Man or just to people that want an exciting little adventure. Aside from one scene where someone takes a pretty hard hit to the face and bleeds more than you’d expect, the movie is also pretty tame. I do think a modern remake of He Man will likely blow this one out of the water, but in the end I’d say that it may have even been slightly better than I had expected it to be.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Monster Tamer Girls Review


It’s time to look at a very obscure manga. I’d definitely not heard of this one before and as it was only 2 volumes it’s definitely not one that you will likely see in stores much. It’s definitely an interesting take on the monster genre. It’s sort of a mix between Yotsuba and Go Go Monster. While I can’t say that this manga was all that interesting there was certainly nothing wrong with it either. It’s a good way to spend some time, but at the end of the day it’s a manga I would recommend reading for free at the library as opposed to buying it.

The manga takes place in a world where Kaiju are now commonplace. They are numerous and run around across the planet. Fortunately they are all basically mindless but the bad side of this is that they cause trouble without meaning to. As a result the world has started opening up schools for kids to train on how to tame these creatures. The Tamers will take the Kaiju to safe spaces where they can relax without disturbing people. That’s the way it’s always been and how it must remain in order to build a stable society. The manga follows the adventures of 2 girls who are tamers in training. They’ll soon learn that this job is easier than it looks.

There’s not really much of a plot once you get beyond the initial synopsis which I dare say is a problem. So many cool things you can do with a Kaiju defense force! Most of the manga is introducing you to the cast and then by that point the series is basically over. There are several main humans, but only one main Kaiju who is around for the whole adventure. His name is Blue and he’s a huge Kaiju who just wants a friend. The Monster tamers are fortunate to have him as he helps give them a boost when needed. He definitely makes travelling a lot more convenient for sure.

There are 4 main characters with 2 supporting ones thrown in there. One of these characters is Koto. She is a professional but doesn’t care much for the monsters. She thinks they’re all mindless and the job seems to bore her, but by the end she learns that the monsters have a little heart at least. Then there is Sora who is the co-main character along with Ion. Sora likes messing around and hitting people with the water horse while Ion is just focused on being the best tamer she can be. Tsukiko is the quiet one who doesn’t like to admit that she likes the Kaiju. She has a reputation to uphold after all and she’s always been proud of it. Still, pride comes before a fall and eventually she learns to play nice with the monsters.

None of the characters are bad, however there isn’t much to any of them. They’re all just going through the motions and enjoying their daily adventures, but nothing really comes of this. They get some basic character development like Tsukiko learning to be more open, but that’s about it. There’s really no time for anything else. Length isn’t an issue as you can have a great series in 2 volumes, but I think this is one title that could have used a bit more time. As it stands it is over before you can properly identify with any of the characters and that’s a bit of a problem.

The art is pretty solid, but the problem that the artist has is how similar all of the characters look. It’s easy to mix up Sora and Ion as well as Koto and another one of the characters. Some characters share the same hairstyles and others share the same personalities. Their ages are all pretty close as well so after a while you’ll just find yourself mixing them up. I had to dig up one of the volumes just to remind myself of their names.

I think one thing that could have added some more interesting elements to the story would have been to have some actual monster action in the series. I don’t think that would be unreasonable as surely some of the monsters would try attacking the planet right? The series hints at this and develops a world that should have many interesting elements, but we are stuck at the school with the nice monsters the whole time. You’ll very quickly find yourself wishing to see the outside world. The closest thing we get to these discussions is one kick from Blue to another Kaiju, a flashback where there’s some kind of battle going on and a Kaiju saves someone from a burning window, and a ghost. Beyond that the series is mainly just the kids learning how to feed animals and have fun.

Overall, Monster Tamer Girls isn’t exactly for me. I dare say that Yotsuba has a little more depth and excitement contained within. You really need some sort of gimmick to take the manga to the next level. A slice of life series can live on for quite some time with a good character cast, but you need them to have real personalities. You don’t really get that vibe from this series and even the monster designs aren’t all that great. This doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of options and as a result I’ve got to give this one a middle grade. I wouldn’t say to stick away from it, but I would hardly recommend it either. It’s a manga where you’ll finish it and not have much of an opinion on it. The series isn’t hurting anyone, but you could always find something else to read.

Overall 5/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Valley of The Dragons Review


It’s time to look at an old film with a pretty misleading title. The beginning had a good premise but once the time travel occurred it quickly fell out the window. Now, I do like time travel but I prefer to go forward in time rather than backwards. If you ask me it’s just a lot more fun that way. There’s not much in the past that interests me, at least not when you get into the caveman era.

The film starts with two guys about to have a duel to the death. Apparently, they seem to like the same maiden and naturally one of them has to die for this. They ready their guns and move a few paces to take their shot but that’s when an earthquake occurs and scatters them to the winds. When they get back up they appear to be on a new planet. They’ve done their first dimension jump and are in the distant past where “dragons” currently roam. Now, you can make the case that it’s past Earth or another planet but it doesn’t really matter. There’s a scene where they notice that the stars don’t match so it’s probably a new world. They each end up going to different cave factions that have been warring with each other for eons. Can they help the two teams make peace or will they all die against the monsters?

As far as the dragons are concerned you shouldn’t get your hopes too high. Their appearances are few and far between. If we’re being honest the big one doesn’t appear til the end. Most of the little creatures running around are the kimono dragons which are basically just lizards. They aren’t exactly all that scary. The big one is fun enough but definitely pretty mindless and lets the heroes attack him over and over again until they eventually take him down. If he had done just about anything else then he could have won. The monster still did rack up a decent body count I suppose.

One weakness with the film is definitely the whole caveman element. I’ve never cared much for the trope of having the main guy try to teach English to these guys. For one thing, Hector isn’t all that understanding and gets frustrated pretty quick. Does he really expect them to learn English overnight? His voice can also be a bit annoying but that part’s not bad as it fits the character. He’s supposed to be annoying.

The other guy (Michael) is a lot more patient with the cave people and becomes the leader real quick. I suppose I would probably say that he is the better character of the two as he had more personality. He also became a leader real quick and did most of the hard work in the climax. I wouldn’t say either character was all that great, but he got the job done.

The writing was reasonably solid I suppose. The scenes with the ancient people weren’t that good but the banter with the two leads was pretty decent. It’s always god to have a dynamic where the two characters initially want to destroy each other but are then forced to work together. It is a bit clichéd I’ll admit but as this was back in the 60s it pulls this off unironically.

Then it almost goes without saying that the romance element is very weak here. The cave women basically throw themselves at the main two guys since they dominate the pack so easily but it’s all so fast and doesn’t feel real. We even get jealousy plots and also see why the two factions are warring from the start. Without the main two guys keeping them in line it is pretty clear that the two factions can’t control themselves and would be picking fights constantly. Having one “strong but not smart” character is enough for most films, make that the majority of the cast and then the movie has really got a big problem to deal with.

I can’t really say that the pacing was all that good either. While it almost goes without saying that a boring plot will drag on, this one really goes as slowly as possible. One scene in particular that really takes forever is when the heroes are trying to stab the giant monster. It’s the same action over and over again for at least 10-20 minutes with no variation. After a point it just comes across as having no real meaning and the scenes are complete filler. The action isn’t filler, but redoing it over and over certainly is. You could tell that the writers had run out of material by the end.

Overall, Valley of the Dragons is a film that was pretty decent for the most part but the actual plot holds it back quite a bit. It should have been a film about the leads getting trapped in some kind of vicious world for sure, but not one this far back in the past. If it was more modern we could have gotten around all of the scenes of them trying to teach the people everything and more banter instead. Of course by this point I am describing an entirely different film, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. If you don’t mind the past element then I think you’ll reasonably like this movie since it’s the main thing holding it back. Just don’t go in expecting a lot of actual dragons.

Overall 4/10