Incredibles 2 Review


It’s time to look at the second Incredibles film. It’s naturally been a long time since the first one so the question was really whether this sequel would go for nostalgia or just pick up where the first one left off. I think it did a good job of getting some nice nostalgia in the opening scene and then just going for the plot. Of course, you can do both and nostalgia is often a good thing, but with this method it’ll make watching both of them back to back very easy.

After the Incredibles save the day once more we find out that times have changed. Heroes are now illegal so helping save the day is considered a crime. It’s related to the whole vigilante argument. The heroes come in and save the day but usually with a lot of property damage of which they aren’t exactly held liable. Heroes must go underground or be arrested. Mr Incredible doesn’t like this and wants to keep on being a hero while Elastigirl believes that they have to follow the law.

Fortunately their debate is postponed when a rich guy named Winston shows up and declares that he will make heroes legal again. Of course, it’s going to be tricky to do so. First he thinks Elastigirl is the key as she can stop minor crimes and do so with no actual damage. He’ll even give her a camera so that the public can see how heroic she is. A new villain even shows up which is convenient for her. Maybe…too convenient. Is this guy hiding something?

With the way the plot is set up you can probably guess right away that something is shifty here. Still, while you may guess part of how this will go down, it may be difficult to guess it completely, at least for a little while. It’s a good plot set up so it definitely works well. I do think the film did a good job of making Winston fairly likable. He’s a rich guy who is actually using his profits for good. He’s a slick business man but one with morals. That’s always nice to see. His sister Evelyn is a genius and is the other half of how the two became so rich. She does tend to bring up how Mr Incredible used to overshadow Elastigirl quite a lot though even when the heroine tries to debunk it. I’m glad that Elastigirl didn’t fall for the bait each time.

Going back to the opening scene, it was definitely a solid way to start the film. Seeing the situation from this random kid’s perspective was pretty hype and worked to make the opening a little more suspenseful. It was also great to see the memory manipulator as it not only destroyed a possible romance plot before it even got started, but it felt like a homage to Men in Black. That’s definitely what you want to see.

Meanwhile the animation still looks pretty nice as always. The character costumes are cool and the battles are fun. I don’t really think the first film had any big fights since there were no other heroes so it was cool to see them here. Lucius did a good job in the house where it was basically just him against a bunch of opponents. His ice abilities are very useful for such confrontations and I think he could have easily claimed a full win if he had just been a little more careful in the matchup. The soundtrack is less impressive as I can’t recall any really memorable tunes, but it wasn’t bad.

Mr Incredible is good for the most part even if he does get pretty jealous of Elastigirl almost immediately. I would have thought he would be a better sport about the whole thing. I did agree with him on the moral debate of following a law though. They can’t just follow every law the way Elastigirl was saying they should. If a law is bad then it’s bad. You can’t quite follow it at that point. Still, Incredible did his best to look after the kids and did a good job there. He may not have done very well in the climax at times, (Losing in a battle of super strength to a random hero) but at the end of the day he did what he had to.

Meanwhile Elastigirl was good. She used her powers very strategically throughout the film. This is particularly evident when she has to stop a train as that is pretty tough for someone with her powers, but she is able to maneuver very well. Her fight scene against the guy with the mask was also pretty solid. I like how he would throw in cheap shots while they were running. It’s the kind of thing you would expect a villain to do.

Violet and Dash aren’t quite as solid. Considering that Violet knows about the memory manipulation I feel like she should have realized what was happening a lot sooner. It would have made more sense if she didn’t know that the heroes ever did that. Her barriers are handy though so I’d like to see her get in more fights. She just happened to fight someone that was a bad matchup for her. Portals are hard to defend against. Dash is still too young to be of much help in a fight which is a shame since his power is probably the best of the bunch. No way you should lose when you have super speed.

As expected, Jack Jack doesn’t add much to the plot as he is just a baby. Still, he could have been worse. At least he doesn’t get too many scenes to himself. Meanwhile, Lucius continues to excel and is certainly the best character in the film. He does a good job during the house fight where it was 1 vs around 6 and shows a lot of natural leadership skills. He’s definitely the kind of ally that you want on your team. He seems more skilled and competent than Mr Incredible if we’re being honest.

I do have some questions about the superheroes becoming illegal bit though. How are the heroes able to hide in plain sight so easily? Is this one of those laws that the government doesn’t really care about? Sort of a “look the other way” kind of deal because that’s the only way I can see them not arresting the heroes by now. Especially with how active they are. Maybe they would get fined the next time or something. It is taken to the extreme for humor of course like showing how they would rather the heroes not even try to stop the villains, but of course some media try to seriously make that case as well. The bottom line is that the citizens and government in these things don’t usually appreciate the danger of a super villain. It’s only once they blow up a city or something that they see why heroes are needed.

Overall, Incredibles 2 is definitely a fun sequel. It brings back everything you enjoyed about the first film and even manages to improve upon that. This is certainly a success in my book. While Mr Incredible himself may not be quite as impressive as he was in the first film, he’s still a fun lead at the very least. Hopefully by the third film he’ll be back to being the heroic lead that we’re used to seeing. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d say that it’s time to change that.

Overall 7/10

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A League of Their Own Review


It’s time to look at a sports film based on true events. It’s essentially a real event but replacing the characters with film versions so it’s fictionalized enough where I can write a review for it. It’s a pretty fun film even if one of the characters really is a little too exaggerated. It’s probably not the first sports flick I would recommend to someone, but it gets the job done and I can finally add another Baseball film to my collection.

The film starts off with Dottie as a senior citizen remembering the good ole days. The rest of the film is the flashback. World War II is at hand so everyone is being drafted into the army. Many jobs are now empty and so the women are picking up the slack. There are many documentaries about this period in time where the world saw for the first time that men weren’t the only ones capable of handling all these jobs. One such occupation was Baseball! The committee has decided that the game must go on so scouts are sent across the country looking for fine candidates. They come across the two main characters, Dottie and Kit. Dottie isn’t interested in joining, but Kit is desperate for a chance to show her mettle and the scout won’t take her without the lead. Dottie ends up going, but will her skills be enough to help her team win the World Series?

Dottie is definitely a pretty solid main character. She’s a natural leader and quickly takes command of the team when their coach isn’t quite up to task. She is also a very good baseball player and appears to be the best in the league. Catching the baseball during the initial tryouts was a good way to protect her friends from the bullies as well. Things nearly got dicey there so it was good that she could back up her tough talk. I do think Dottie starts to falter towards the second half of the film. She’s very quick to leave the team near the climax. There is never any indication that her husband would have been opposed to her playing the last games. It seemed like she was making an issue out of nothing.

The ending of the film is also pretty unsatisfying and ends up not working out very well for Dottie. The film leaves it up to your interpretation on if she held back or not. I like to think that she didn’t hold back because it would not have been the ending that either character in the situation would have wanted. Furthermore it feels like a betrayal to the rest of the team. Honestly if I were the rest of the team I’d be pretty upset by this point. Dottie wasn’t around fro the first 6 games so maybe she shouldn’t have even been put in for the final one. It just wasn’t the ending I was hoping for.

Meanwhile Kit is the other big character, but she can get a bit annoying. She has a bad habit of blaming Dottie for everything. Dottie is supportive throughout the film, but when things go badly for Kit she turns on the lead. Kit’s a pretty good pitcher and Dottie gave her the opportunity to play in the league. That being said, if she can’t hold on to enough stamina to finish the game then that’s on her. Dottie has nothing to do with that. Then that led to the trade disagreement which either way worked out pretty well for Kit. Ultimately, Kit just didn’t have much of a character arc and so I felt like she got a little too rewarded for not really doing much of anything. It’s not that Kit is a bad character, she would likely grow out of the blame game. The problem is that Dottie is the one who really deserved the win here. If not her, then certainly her teammates.

The supporting cast in the group isn’t bad. It’ll likely be very hard for you to memorize all of the names though as there are quite a few supporting characters. The former dancer had the most personality I’d say. She definitely didn’t want to go back to her old life and so she supported the baseball league as much as she could. She may have had the strongest drive of them all. While the girls started off as just fellow players on the same team by the end they’re all a close knit team. One of the players was even taught how to read by the others. That’s true camaraderie.

Then we have the coach. Jimmy does not want to be here. He used to be a big player in his own right before he injured his knee and was forced into early retirement. As a result he seems rather resentful for a large chunk of the movie. It takes a while for him to finally get invested. (Although in the scene where he tries to steal control of the team from Dottie the player did a poor job. She absolutely should have stuck by Dottie) Once he is with the team he’s a better character. It’s a character arc that you see a mile away, the problem is that the film overplayed its hand during the first half. Jimmy just doesn’t show any class. He spits on people, discourages everyone, and just seems kind of gross. The scenes with him and the caretaker of the team are really bad as well. It’s an example at the film’s attempt at comedy which ends up failing quite miserably. It’s also really hard for him to climb back from ripping one of the girl’s cards in half. That card was really important to her and it’s not like he ever apologized on screen either. I think he was too far gone by the end.

This movie excels when the baseball games are being played. However, the parts away from the game are a bit weaker. For example, the scene of the characters heading to a bar to mess around was pretty forced. I don’t think the scene was needed and it definitely dragged on. It was a bit cringy and while some of the romances there may have stuck around, it all could have occurred under better circumstances. The writing isn’t great, but it is good enough for the majority of the film. It was cool seeing the guy from Independence Day show up for a quick cameo near the end. That was neat even if the character himself seemed rather annoying.

While accurate, the film also makes the baseball committee look really bad. They only care about the money and are ready to ditch the whole league at a moments notice. They force the main characters to wear costumes that certainly aren’t very practical to try and appeal to the audience. The gimmicks they have to do to boost ratings is pretty sad. I think we could have done without all of that. As the audience you know that the crowd in the film is pretty depraved. We don’t need to acknowledge it any further than that.

Overall, A League of Their Own is a good film. The ending, that one bar scene, and Jimmy hold it back a little but at the end of the day I’ll give it a thumbs up. I think the film could have probably been further improved if the length was chopped down a bit, but it did avoid giving up the big play so to speak. It may have had some weak moments but it didn’t have any downright bad ones where I thought, “this film just fell under” If you enjoy Baseball films and want to see a nice version of how this team got going then this is a good one to check out. See what you think of the ending.

Overall 5/10

Hunter X Hunter Phantom Rouge Review


It’s time to look at the first big Hunter X Hunter film. From the poster and the name you’d expect it to be all about Kurapika, but instead he shares it 50/50 with Killua. That works for me since Killua’s always pretty hype even if this might not be his best appearance. It’s a pretty solid movie that delivers a fun plot and some good action scenes. It’s a good all around title.

The film opens with a quick recap of what Hunter X Hunter is and then a Killua flashback. In the present Kurapika meets a kid he used to know from his clan. The problem is that his whole clan was murdered so how can the kid still be here? The answer is pretty clear, he can’t be. The kid steals Kurapika’s eyes and then escapes. Gon and Killua are quickly called in to find the kid and recover the eyes. The problem is that they can’t really fight so how can they get the eyes back without engaging the enemy? They’re going to have to count on the kindness of strangers/enemies this time.

I do think the opening scene with Illumi was pretty unnecessary. We know that Killua had a tough childhood and was probably put on many assassination missions like the one we saw here. Still, I don’t think we needed to see those kids die like that. It’s a dark element that could have been cut out or implied a little more than shown and that would have gotten the message across. It does show a little more into how brutal this world is though, nobody’s going to be around to save you if you can’t fight. That’s part of why being a hunter is so appealing in this series.

As for the main plot, it’s pretty interesting. HXH always has a good story to tell. I think you’ll likely get where the film is going with the mysterious kid from Kurapika’s clan from the start though. The film isn’t too subtle about it, especially as we are introduced to a new character named Retsu who controls puppets. Puppets you say? Hmmmmmm. They look pretty life like too. Retsu isn’t bad I suppose, but there’s not a whole lot to her character. There is a twist where you find out that the character is a girl, but if her disguise was meant to make you think otherwise then I can’t really say that it worked. Still, she means well I suppose even if the way her character arc ends doesn’t feel like it needed to have been played out that way. She didn’t plan things out too well.

A big part of the film is how Killua is intimidated by this new character since she became friends with Gon so fast. It’s pretty out of character and is really only here to create conflict. I think Killua working through the fear Illumi put into him was handled better as he resisted his urge to escape when Uvogin showed up. He did fight with Gon for as long as possible and did a good job there. It’s just a shame that he isn’t particularly strong at this point in the series. You’ll notice that throughout the movie they are unable to fight back against any of the villains. As a result they do a lot of running, but after a while you may get a little annoyed at that. Fortunately this shouldn’t be an issue in the next film. Although they are still fairly outmatched by most of the big villains in the current manga, they have closed the gap to the point where they can at least try to fight now.

Gon looks pretty good here. He may be a bit trusting as always prior to the Chimera Ant arc but that’s how you’d expect him to be. It’s not like he ever tries to ditch Killua or anything that would hurt him like that. He does a good job of just trying to be there for everyone. Meanwhile, while Kurapika is sidelined until the climax he does get to look pretty good there. His Emperor Time ability is definitely very handy. Since he can only use it against a spider we don’t get to see him use this ability much so it was nice that he got a reason to use it here since the villain was an old spider.

Speaking of the old villain, Omokage isn’t all that great. The guy definitely didn’t take being booted off the Spiders too well. There are some twists and all so it isn’t that straight forward but he’s not exactly the “calm and collected” type of villain. He’s more the panic type and it shows. He can still fight to an extent, but take away his puppets and it’s game over. I’d take just about any of the real spiders against him. Still, his powers are perfect for a movie like this one since he can bring back all of the old characters. It was nice to see them show up.

Meanwhile, the animation is pretty solid as always. I’d say that the movie feels like a 2 part episode or like some kind of special. The animation isn’t necessarily any better than the show which gives it that feel. As the show already operates at a high level that isn’t really a problem. Based on the looks of the second film that will change though as it gets kicked into the next gear. The soundtrack is solid. The show always had cool themes. It was also pretty neat to hear the ending song during the climax. You usually hear it only for a few seconds, but this time we get to finally hear the whole song.

Overall, Phantom Rouge is a solid action film. It pretty much checks off all the boxes for what you would expect in a classic Shonen Jump film. It has good fight scenes and you get to see all of your favorite characters. While it isn’t quite as off the rails hype as the more recent Shonen films like Resurrection F, the SAO film, or Boruto, there aren’t any real problems with the film. Barring the intro scene which still wasn’t that bad, I can’t think of any negatives for the film. The heroes being unable to fight is frustrating but not really a negative. It was also cool seeing the Spiders fight a bit since that’s so rare. If the manga keeps on going on hiatus eventually we may just need a big movie to wrap things up and I think that could end up working just fine.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon The Power of Us Review


It’s time to look at the latest Pokemon film. This one is the follow up to the last adventure which was a reboot of the series. That one was the worst Pokemon film to date though which limited my excitement for this one. Furthering that was the fact that the promotion for this film was about how it would be an ensemble cast this time so it wouldn’t just be Ash stealing the show. That’s definitely not what I was hoping to hear at this point. It is unfortunately another weak Pokemon installment, but still an improvement over the last one. Put it this way, as a film it is decently good, it’s just not up to the usual Pokemon standard.

The film revolves around a few characters as I mentioned. One of the main ones is a girl named Risa. She doesn’t have any Pokemon, but is asked to catch one by her sickly brother. Heroically Risa decides to go catch one, but she gets bad advice from the local liar Callahan which causes her to waste a lot of time. Fortunately she runs into Ash who just finished saving a little girl named Margo. Ash shows her how to catch the Pokemon, but now they have bigger problems. The flame lighting the village has disappeared and without it Lugia won’t know to show up and save the village with another year of wind. Ash and friends must unite to fix this situation but can they do it?

Right away you’ll feel a little bad for the village here since it must be rough living on the edge like this every year. If Lugia doesn’t show up even once then it seems like everyone in the village will die. That just doesn’t seem like the most enjoyable living situation. You’d think Lugia could improve the town a bit or maybe give them wind for multiple years at a time. It’s also been so many years that you’d think he could find the village from memory. Ah well, either way Ash and the others have got this.

The film goes out of its way to show you how mean the villagers are early on though. For example, we have the bullies who try beating up Margo. They would have seriously attacked her if Ash hadn’t stepped in which is pretty crazy. Then you have the old lady who doesn’t like Pokemon and is constantly trying to shoo them away. She has a backstory which explains this of course, but it doesn’t help her current disposition all that much. The backstory was also a little too dark. No reason a Pokemon had to die there. It’s like the film is trying to bump off a Pokemon in each of the new films. As we are only two installments into the series it is hard to tell so far though. We’ll know more as the series goes on. Needless to say, the old lady wasn’t all that good.

Then we have Callahan. His whole gimmick is that he’s always lying which is pretty dicey. A lot of fun characters have been invented this way of course, but to effectively pull off this cliche the character has to be quick on his/her feet. Look at Hercule or King. Both characters work so well because they do a good job of hiding their lies. This guy doesn’t even try. Part of the reason for this of course is that we need to wrap up the plot before the end of the movie so it has to go wrong almost immediately as opposed to dragging it out for the entire series. Ultimately Callahan does end up getting past his lying ways, but he sure put a lot of people in danger in the meantime.

Then we have the scientist. His problem is that the film makes him way too timid. Not only does he have a hard time speaking in public, he can’t even talk to an old lady without shaking in fear and crumpling to the ground. The former is realistic while the latter is just trying too hard to be funny. Even during his big speech at the end where he finally mans up the character ends up getting scared. That’s not how you finish a character arc. That just cements the fact that the character’s arc didn’t have a good ending. He finished as he started. The worst part for him was when he put in the wrong tape during the presentation though. At the very least he should be good with the technology. That should be the one area where he is confident and knows what to do even if he panics for the rest. Otherwise he really doesn’t have any business being one of the professionals.

So those supporting characters didn’t work so well. Lets talk about the ones that were good. I did like Risa. She did a good job of helping out and taking charge when necessary. She got past her leg injury to help in the climax as well. Even after being tricked by Callahan she was nice enough not to rat him out. Then we’ve got the new Pokemon Zeraora. He’s a pretty cool electric type. He reminds me a bit of Manectric. This guy is pretty strong and fast. It is a bit dicey with how he just starts trying to fight Ash and co. at the end though. I feel like the situation should have been pretty obvious to him by that point. Nearly destroying a bunch of innocent Pokemon in the process would have been quite a blow s well.

He does give us a great fight scene/2 where he shows off his speed. Speed is very important for a fighter and Zeraora uses it quite well. It’s a shame that he is weakened for most of the film though so we can’t see his upper limits. I’d say that he seems to be a match for the Pesudo legendaries but based on this he probably wouldn’t beat the main ones. Still, I like the design and I look forward to seeing him in Pokemon Go at some point.

Ash looks great here. This is easily one of his best appearances to date. His opening scene has him catch a projectile that almost hit a kid. He then stops some poachers from getting another Pokemon. While this version of Ash may be early on his journey he carries himself as a seasoned veteran. Truly this is the Ash that you want to see in a film like this. He’s basically perfect and this is one of his best appearances to date. He steals any scene that he is in. You also get the feeling that there are very few who can beat him in a Pokemon battle in this universe.

The animation looks pretty good. It’s much better than the art direction we got for Sun and Moon, but not nearly as good as Kalos so it’s somewhere in the middle there. It seems to be trying to look more mainstream if I had to try and put the look into words. It does excel when the fight scenes start though. The battles with Zeraora are quite excellent. That’s why it’s a shame that we don’t get much action in this film. There are only a few quick skirmishes. The rest of the film is more about the dialogue which is fine, but the characters aren’t quite interesting enough to make that as exciting as a good fight. The soundtrack is also not that inspired for the most part. We get a good song or two, but most of the ost is a bit flat.

There’s also one scene where everyone looks bad. It’s borderline a plot hole. After Ash stops the poachers they decide to run and the mayor says to just let them get away. Why? These guys are breaking the law and if you let them gt away they’ll hunt more and more Pokemon. I didn’t agree with the decision at all. The worst part is that the poachers do not appear again so they really did get off without any repercussions. It just wasn’t a well written scene at all.

Overall, The Power of Us is an ambitious concept but one that did not work. I think if you want to do a big ensemble cast like this then they have to all be new characters. Don’t have Ash in it at all. Make it a very unique Pokemon spinoff that takes place as its own thing. Alternately, they should all be characters we are familiar with like Misty and Dawn. You can’t mix and match like this because then the new characters just seem like they are stealing away Ash’s screen time and that’s one thing that you don’t want to see happen. All in all, I’d still recommend this film but only if you’ve already seen the others. If not, I’d suggest checking out the original movie or Destiny Deoxys instead. Those really help define what a Pokemon movie should be.

Overall 6/10

The Ghost of Frankenstein Review


It’s time to look at another Frankenstein film. This one brings back the classic monster for another round. It’s a pretty uninspired sequel that doesn’t have much going for it, but I suppose it wasn’t quite as terrible as some of the other Frankenstein films. It would have probably worked a lot better if there was actually a ghost rather than Frankenstein;s monster just showing up like normal once again. After all, it’s just like any other Return of Frankenstein type film in this scenario.

The film starts with the villagers still living in fear after the reign of Frankestein. They tell the mayor that he needs to let them burn down the old house so they can be rid of his curse once and for all. He gives them permission but the explosions and fire help wake the monster from his slumber. Ygor manages to help him escape and decides that it is finally time for revenge. To this end he locates a scientist by the name of Ludwig and blackmails him into co-operating. Are the villagers about to go through another dark age? (Well, Frankenstein’s monster isn’t quite that tough so this may be a little overly dramatic.

It’s a little hard to know who to root for here since all of the characters are a bit iffy. While at first Ludwig seems a little reasonable, his mad scientist nature starts to overpower him by the end as he makes some dicey decisions. Even considering dissecting the monster shows that he is not on the heroic side here. His assistant is no better and may be even more corrupt. Then you have Ygor who wants the monster’s power for himself so he can destroy the townsfolk. Even Frankenstein the creator shows up as a ghost to suggest brain transplants. Basically, the monster is just a means to an end for most of these characters. They barely care what happens to him, they just want to achieve their own goals.

That could have ended up being an interesting plot point. Maybe try to get us to sympathize with the monster more than the townspeople that he was supposedly terrorizing. After all, they seemed to be the actual corrupt ones most of the time. In almost every situation in the movie they were in the wrong. Take the early scene where some kids are picking on a little girl. The monster steps in to break it up and also gets her a balloon. The problem is that the townspeople were afraid of him and so they try to stop him. One even comes close to shooting the monster while he was holding the girl. Even if he didn’t hit her directly, the fall would have certainly finished her off. The other people tried to wrestle him to the ground and again…this wouldn’t bode well for the kid. They’re on top of a roof after all.

Naturally the monster doesn’t handle this well and destroys the humans but they put him into a lot of bad spots. Then even once they promised not to hurt him they beat him up as soon as the girl was away. It’s just a very rough film for the monster. Then he ends up effectively being mind controlled by the end. The film gave him a pretty bad hand and it’s just hard to figure out how much of that was intentional. I think it’s fair to say that we aren’t supposed to like Ludwig and the other scientists. The whole town though? It gets tricky.

Ygor also makes for a pretty annoying main villain. He stands out so much, how do the people not realize that he is one of the villains on the outside encouraging the monster the whole time? He has the blackmail on Ludwig, but I feel like the scientist should have been able to turn the tables on him very quickly. Why should anyone believe such a crazed man? That would have been Ludwig’s defense and I think it would have worked.

There’s a lot of story here and yet there isn’t a whole lot of compelling elements. What we do get is pretty by the books without anything to really help it into the next level. There are just no characters to root for and that’s the problem. Even if Frankenstein’s monster isn’t evil like the others, he isn’t particularly interesting either. As a result you end up being by the sidelines as opposed to actually choosing a side.

Overall, I’d give this film a pass. In general I tend to say that for all of the Frankenstein movies. They all suffer from the same issues. Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t have enough going for him to make for a good villain and doesn’t have enough character to be a good hero. The supporting cast are typically pretty annoying and the whole thing ends up being unfair for the monster. It’s not like he can even defend himself in most versions vocally since he can’t speak. As a result, every character can lie or gang up against him and he never even has a chance to prove his innocence. That’s the worst part of this whole arrangement. What helps this film a bit is that it isn’t quite as violent as the early Frankenstein titles. There isn’t really any action until after the court scene and by then you’re around halfway through the film. That actually works in its favor and the first half of the film does beat the second. Still, it ends up falling through the usual Frankenstein plots.

Overall 3/10

Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree Review


It’s time to look at the next Equestria Girls film. The first ones were pretty solid so I was confident that this one would be more of the same. It’s definitely another good installment. While I still miss the real Twilight, I suppose this version of the character is still reasonable. This movie has less action and intensity than the previous ones, but is able to focus more on the writing and emotional aspect of the characters. With quality writing throughout there really isn’t much to dislike here.

The film starts with Twilight and the gang heading to a forest for summer camp. They’re all eager to participate in the various activities. They can finally feel like normal people again after their crazy magical adventures in the previous films. Unfortunately Twilight is having a tough time relaxing because her evil alter ego is determined not to let her succeed. At this point, she is out of options and starts to think that she may be doomed to plummet into the darkness. Sunset decides to help her, but meanwhile the Mane 6 are being wrecked by their own powers. Can Sunset help these poor teens or will they have to learn to fend for themselves?

One interesting part of the Equestria Girls section has always been how Sunset took over the leadership role. The rest of the Mane 6 appear to be lost without her and tend to panic quite a lot. I suppose they have less magical experience than their pony counterparts so this makes sense, but they really tend to pale in comparison to the others. Without Sunset and Twilight they would have given up many times over. None of them get particularly large roles here as it’s all about the 2 leaders, but they’re still around of course. I am glad we got to see their super forms again as that’s always pretty cool.

As always Sunset is pretty great here. She doesn’t jump to conclusions even when the facts appear to be self evident and she makes sure everyone calms down so nobody does anything crazy. Sunset also acts as the veteran of the group and constantly gives everyone sound advice. She also doesn’t mince words or beat around the bush. You can see how she is clearly the best member here. Sunset just gives the whole group a lot of focus and determination that they wouldn’t otherwise have. That’s not a skill you can just learn.

Meanwhile, this is one of Twilight’s weaker appearances I’m afraid. She spends most of the film being scared of her inner darkness. It’s a plot point that is as old as time and it’s certainly not bad to be afraid. That being said, she just gets less time to really look good as a result. At least this film does mainly dodge the romance angle that plagued the last few films. Trust me, that’s a subplot that you will be glad is gone. It didn’t actually add anything to the story. Granted, we did get some minor tricky moments with Timber, but fortunately they weren’t occurring often.

I’ll give the film credit for giving us a proper climax. The main antagonist actually gets super powers which I was not expecting to see. That was pretty cool. We also did get a bit of a fight towards the end or at least you could call it a skirmish. Having everyone transform into their powered up forms was just what I was hoping to see. It was a nice way to end the film and completed the experience. It makes all the difference.

There were two new characters for this movie so lets quickly talk about them. One of these is Gloriosa. She runs the camp and is very enthusiastic about making it a good time for everyone. She seems nice enough and since it’s a lot of work it is good that she has a cheerful disposition. I’d say she made for a fun new character. Unfortunately, Timber is not nearly as good. The guy can be pretty annoying at times and gets too much screen time. Ultimately you never feel like he has a handle on the situation.

The animation is pretty consistent as always. If you liked the animation for the previous installments then you will certainly enjoy this one as well. It’s flash style so the colors all look pretty good even if the designs don’t have that 3D depth to them. I certainly wouldn’t give the graphics a thumbs down. What is a little surprising is that this movie doesn’t have as many songs as you would expect. They are noticeably absent. I suppose MLP doesn’t always have to break out the songs but you’ll have come to expect them after a while. The soundtrack isn’t bad, but you just feel like you are missing something without them.

Overall, This is a pretty good Equestria Girls installment. The change of locale is pretty fun. A forest is about as different from a school as you can get right? The movie plays out like an extended episode would and it works smoothly. You have your main story, problem, and then resolution. It all ties together pretty well. There may not be a lot of stakes this time around, but the references to the previous film do remind you that the supernatural enemies could be around any corner. I’d recommend checking this film out. The writing is on point and it’s an enjoyable experience. I do hope that down the road we can see the Mane 6 contribute a bit more though. Don’t get me wrong, Sunset can handle her own movies just fine, but the old guard should at least get something to do other than watch during all of the crucial moments.

Overall 7/10

Gremlins Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old film which has become really well known. You’ll likely have heard of the Gremlins even if you haven’t seen the film before. Going into it you may think that this is going to be a pretty intense horror film, but it actually blends together some comedic aspects along with being part parody. It manages the blend fairly well which automatically makes it better than most horror films. It’s so convincing at being a horror movie that it’ll probably take you a while to really establish any kind of opinion on it, but by the end you’ll have to give it some thought. I doubt we’ll see another film blend two genres like this so smoothly again in the near future.

The film starts off with the best character, Randall trying to sell his crazy inventions to more people. The main problem he is having is that aside from none of his inventions working, the buyers just don’t seem interested. That’s when he finds a rare animal that is being kept in a shady shop in China Town. He buys it and brings the creature home. There are only 3 rules that must be kept with the creature. He must not make contact with water, he must not be fed after midnight, and he must not be exposed to bright lights or the sun as that can cause the monster to die. He gives Billy this bundle of responsibility, but can the kid handle it?

As I mentioned, Randall steals the show. He’s a perfect example of a comic relief character who is actually handled well. His humor scenes work quite well and he’s just a nice guy. Randall means well even if his actions don’t always lead to the positive outcomes that he was hoping for. Stuff happens right? He’s part of why the film was able to establish such a good balance. He keeps it from getting too dark or serious. The only downside is that in comparison the main characters just aren’t very good. Before that, we have the other parent who also looks great. Lynn ends up having to defend her house from multiple gremlins and she does a good job of it. She blends one, smashes another, and is basically taking names the whole time. This is where the parody elements really help the film. Typically you’d expect her to just be screaming and running away rather than fighting back. Here, Lynn isn’t playing around. She’s defending her house and doing a great job of it. She’s another scene stealer.

Then we have the actual lead, Billy. Billy can barely hold his own against one Gremlin so right away you know that he is pretty much doomed. He doesn’t do a good job of looking after Gizmo either. He constantly lets things happen to him. How can you mess up not letting Gizmo getting wet or keeping him near bright lights? Billy makes every mistake possible. Part of it can be blamed on his friend Pete who is super annoying the whole time, but you gotta be more responsible when you own mythical creatures like this.

Meanwhile you have Gizmo who is the most heroic of the gremlins, but naturally he is the weakest as well. It’s always an unfortunate trope as you’d like the heroic one to be able to defend himself right? Well, that just wasn’t the case this time. He’s not a bad character but I do admit that he would have been better if he had gotten to fight a little more. Mostly all he does he sit around and watch everyone else. Then we have the heroine, Kate who may not be quite as skilled as Lynn or Randall, but she does all right for herself. Choosing to serve the gremlins was definitely a smart move to extend her life. I didn’t get her whole blowing up at Christmas scene. I’m assuming it has to do with some kind of sob story so I’m glad the film didn’t really elaborate on it.

On that note, the romance with her and Billy was very weak. It doesn’t really have anything to do with anything and just felt rather tacked on. I think the film didn’t need it. What also hurts the film a bit is how the Gremlins go after the dog and Billy doesn’t do anything about it. It’s obvious who the culprit is as the film goes on but he doesn’t put the pieces together. I mean, the old lady is a slight suspect, but how could she pull this off without making a sound? Honestly, it should have been impossible for the Gremlins as well. It’s a pretty bad scene all in all, but at least the dog lived and made it through this film which helps a lot. That saved the film from getting a horrible score.

While the writing is fairly reasonable for the most part, I do think the film dropped the ball with the conspiracy guy. These kind of films love to have one guy who believes in aliens or monsters and is constantly acting crazy. You’d expect him to be prepared when the enemies finally show up since he called it from the start right? Instead he ends up panicking and dies in one of the worst ways possible. It’s a “funny” scene that ends up falling flat. They didn’t need to do him like that. The character could have contributed a lot. The soundtrack is definitely really good though. We get a lot of classic Christmas songs which is always what you want to listen to here. The classics have aged well and giving this film a Christmas backdrop is nice. It helps to make the film more memorable and gives it a nice backdrop.

Overall, Gremlins is an interesting film. It’s certainly not the kind of film you might expect going in. It’s just a very unique blend of horror and comedy. It works reasonably well but there are still enough weak points to probably keep you from coming back to this one. If you really want to see what this blend is like then it’s not a bad film to check out. Otherwise I’d suggest you watch something with a bit more flair and hype like RWBY. That one can pull off any genre and perfect it.

Overall 5/10

Pinocchio’s Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a fresh take on Pinocchio. This one is by the Rankin/Bass guys and doubles as both an origin as well as a Christmas special. It’s an interesting version for sure, but it’s fairly short and once again this feels like it ends too soon. I also think the film didn’t work hard enough to make Pinocchio a sympathetic character and by the end you’ll be left unsatisfied with the whole thing.

The film starts with Geppetto looking to get Pinocchio a present. He decides to get the one thing he’s sure the kid always wanted, an arithmetic book. From the start you can tell that Geppetto means well but he is seriously out of touch. Pinocchio immediately sells the book and looks to buy something for his old friend. That’s when his other friends Fox and Cat show up. They tell Pinocchio about magical seeds he can buy. After suckering Pinocchio out of his money he becomes desperate for more options. He joins a travelling circus and even gets kidnapped at one point. What’s a puppet to do?

The problem with Pinocchio is that he’s never particularly sorry about what he does. The lies come very naturally to him here, even more than in other versions. Of course by the end he basically gets over his lying ways, but it took a lot of effort. He even chased out Jiminy cricket early on. Also, Pinocchio is extremely gullible in this version. Fox and Cat trick him numerous times yet he somehow doesn’t ever find out that they aren’t his friends. You’d think that after a while he would put the pieces together, but it would seem that he is simply too trusting. It becomes annoying by the end though as you’d like those characters to have met some kind of justice.

Geppetto also doesn’t look good here. When Pinocchio is lost he starts looking around town, but can’t even recognize Pinocchio through a simple disguise. So much for their strong bond right? He is very old so I guess his eyesight is going a bit, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that he should still be able to do a little better than this. Cat makes for a terrible villain with how she keeps sabotaging Fox, but Fox was reasonable. I think the voice actor had a lot of fun with this role. He was pretty over the top but in an intentional way that just worked well. If you gotta have a villain to mess with Pinocchio, you want someone like this.

As always, I do have to say that the animation style isn’t quite my thing. It’s not terrible but not as smooth as the traditional hand drawn animation we’ve all come to love. I’m also pretty mixed on Pinocchio’s design. It just doesn’t look right as I’m so used to the old one. It’s not a bad design though, it’ll just take some time getting used to it and the special isn’t really long enough for that to happen. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but the writing is decent. Nothing special, but nothing bad. It’s just around.

Overall, Pinocchio’s Christmas is a decent special, but I wouldn’t call it the most interesting or enjoyable. It’s not a bad time and I don’t think you’ll regret the 40 minutes it took to watch this one, but it just feels bland. The writers grabbed the story of Pinocchio but didn’t actually do anything with it. Switch around the characters with other iconic figures and the plot really wouldn’t change almost at all. That’s always a bad sign. Still, if you want to watch some adventures it’s a reasonable flick to check out. Otherwise, I’d stick to the classic tale. At least in the full movie him turning into a donkey was pure hype.

Overall 5/10

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus Review


It’s time to look at a classic short about the origin of Santa Claus. It involves cosmic beings and a debate on if mortals should become immortals. It’s a pretty fun special but one where the length works against it to an extent as it ends so quickly. The plot appears to be on turbo mode the whole time so you’ll stay entertained, but Santa doesn’t get to properly prove himself. By the end of the special you’ll be on the fence about making him an immortal. If anything you may want to give him the thumbs down.

The short has a time jump near the beginning but essentially when Santa was a boy he was raised by a tiger. After that he was stolen by a fairy god and taken to the realm of the gods. They showed him how to live and eventually showed him how sad Earth was in comparison. Still, Santa decided that he needed to go there and help those who couldn’t help themselves. He was given a few holy beings to help him as well as some sprites. At last he could make the world a better place for those who didn’t have enough. He would make Christmas fun for everyone. Unfortunately, some cave trolls don’t like this and decide that they will rob all of Santa’s presents for themselves. Can Santa stop them or will he needs the gods to save him?

Naturally you’ll hope that it’s the former right? Unfortunately, Santa is able to do very little against these guys. He barely even tries to come up with a good plan and just does the same things over and over again. He insists on just walking through this dangerous valley over and over again to no avail. Santa is a nice guy of course, but he just doesn’t seem all that capable. Without all of the magical beings helping him I feel like he would have been absolutely doomed. The guy wouldn’t have even known how to live on his own since he was raised in a world where food is unlimited.

I will admit that the scene where the gods show up to fight the trolls was hype though. In particular, the Great Ak (The main god) shows up and basically tells the trolls to surrender or die. They choose the latter option and that’s it for them. In stories like this the high above beings usually just watch from afar and do absolutely nothing. I’m glad that this wasn’t the case here as they should be willing to come and help Santa out. They were his friends for a while after all and want him to succeed. Maybe they should have prepared him a little more before sending him to Earth.

Also, why should Earth have all of these supernatural beings anyway? You’d think that the gods would have wiped them out or established some rules as otherwise the normal humans are basically doomed from the start. These are all world building questions though and the special is way too short to deal with all of that. These aren’t really negatives, just observations. At the end of the day I thought this special was pretty fun. It had a little more action than I had expected and the premise is pretty interesting. It’s really not what you’d think of at all when you picture a movie about Santa Claus’ origin.

I’m still not a big fan of the animation style, but what else is new right? You either like it or you don’t by this point, but it won’t really hurt the film. It does limit how good it can be from the get go, but the movie stays in the positive area. I think if it had been just a little longer it could have possibly earned an extra star, but as it stands the movie ends up losing to most of the big Santa Claus titles or the more iconic Rankin/Bass productions. There’s a reason this one isn’t very well known.

Overall, This film will certainly teach you a very interesting way to look at Santa’s origin. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re curious. You certainly aren’t very likely to see the story play out like this again. It’s not their best production but it gets the job done and since it is fairly short it’s not like it’ll take a whole lot of time out of your day to check it out. Maybe one day we’ll get another Santa origin and it’ll draw inspiration from this one.

Overall 6/10

Family For Christmas Review


It’s time for another Hallmark film! This one misses the mark a little more than previous films and I would say that it’s the weakest entry. Mainly this is because I disagreed with the film’s moral and Santa ends up looking like a bad guy here. It definitely gets a little dicey at times, but at the end of the day the film still handles itself pretty well otherwise.

Picture this, you are Hannah a world famous reporter. You’re making a 6 digit salary and have just aced another story. You are so impressive that the higher ups have decided to give you a promotion along with a new job in New York. Everything is going perfectly, but then you get a Facebook invite from an old flame. Your boss wisely tells you to ignore this request. Block the guy before he tries to steal your money. You heed the advice to the extent that you don’t approve the message and run to your office. Unfortunately Santa breaks in and throws you into an alternate reality. In this reality you married the guy from your past named Ben and have 2 kids. You don’t have a job anymore and are just barely scraping by on paycheck to paycheck. Santa also refuses to let you go home until you’ve learned to enjoy this new life so it could be a while.

You just can’t help but feel bad for Hannah the whole time. She’s clearly worked hard to make it where she is right now so for Santa to just take it all away is pretty extreme. Especially since he’s claiming that it’s her fault that this happened when he very clearly changed things up himself. She should certainly be upset and with good reason. The problem is that the film plays it out that this alternate reality is the better one. The film basically says that she should have turned down the career opportunity at the beginning so she could let Ben support her instead and become a stay at home Mom. It’s a very dicey alternate reality. If you ask just about anyone I’m sure they would agree that Hannah made the right choice. Now, why didn’t Ben go with her? If he was serious then he should have gone, but we learn in the alternate reality that he really loves his old home so he wouldn’t want to move. In that case they both made their respective choices and Hannah simply won out in the end.

The alternate reality is also pretty annoying as we find out that Hannah didn’t even stay true to herself. We have a small scene where some Moms are complaining about the soccer coach having the players try out and it’s implied that the Hannah of this world would have agreed with them. While she is still a real go getter here, she has lost any kind of competitive edge and is content to just stay at home and wait for Ben. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but to say that it is better than being the rich CEO with connections that Hannah was is a big stretch to say the least. What makes it worse is that Hannah was perfectly happy in her position. It’s not as if she was depressed or something like that, Hannah was absolutely balling.

So, Hannah is a pretty good lead. You just have to ignore the ending to an extent as it gets pretty cheesy since Hannah is bullied into making the wrong calls. Unfortunately, Ben is not a particularly likable character. I think we can blame a good chunk of this on the fact that the film makes it impossible to like him. He is at least indirectly responsible for what has happened to Hanna and since he isn’t understanding of her plight at all then it’s hard to sympathize with him. The guy’s just not very reasonable.

The best character in the film is actually Hannah’s boss. The guy’s very pragmatic and keeps things real. Unlike 99% of main guys who would have panicked when Hannah announced that she was leaving, he didn’t care. He wished her well and stayed professional throughout the ceremony. Now that’s a true boss/friend. Sure, he may have given up on the romance real quick as well, but if it meant staying professional then he would do it. The guy’s a quick talker and always has an angle. You can see why he rose to the top so quickly. The guy was born to be the big boss.

So, the whole premise/plot is a bit out of whack which is unfortunate. Still, the writing is good beyond that I suppose. The basic concept of trying to live out someone else’s life is always interesting. It’s the basic principle of why Your Name did so well in theaters. It’s a nice concept even if it’s one that has been done many times before. I don’t think this film did it as well as others, but at least it’s interesting. I do think Hannah could have been quicker on the uptake though. She slips up so many times that it starts to stretch your disbelief a bit. The worst part of this would be having to live out the romance which is why I guess it’s lucky for Hannah that she used to like the guy. Still makes for a terrible romance though so I have to give the film a thumbs down there. Body switching romance type plots just don’t work. You’re effectively making the guy cheat on his version of the character even if they are the same individual.

Overall, Family for Christmas is the first Hallmark title where I can’t give it the full 7. I have to at least dock one point for this plot just not being particularly good. Wrecking Hannah’s perfect life and forcing her to live this one for a few days is just way too brutal. The film would have been way better if we had stayed in the real world. Also, this Santa should have faced some kind of repercussions for what he did. Furthermore, the 2 kids in that version also weren’t particularly likable. They lost their patience with Hannah real quick and weren’t very supportive. I think Hannah should have just came out and told them that she wasn’t their real mother but in a less misleading way. Since they’re kids maybe they would buy into the Santa miracle. If not? Well, no harm done with trying. Hannah should have also doubled down with Ben a little more. Regardless, it is what it is. If you can get around the premise then this is still a good Christmas film to check out, but otherwise all of the others are certainly superior.

Overall 6/10