It Could Happen To You Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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Escaflowne Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

A Monster Calls Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 0/10

Clock Cleaners Review

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Mickey, Donald, and Goofy have finally found steady jobs as clock cleaners. Unfortunately the clock seems to be alive and doesn’t like to be cleaned. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are systematically attacked and defeated. We all know that they have absolutely no chance of winning here so the question is…how badly will they be pounded? I may as well say that the clock gets in a lot of serious hits. Possibly even lethal ones.

As always, Donald was the most interesting member in the group. He actually defeated his part of the clock until Mickey and Goofy wrecked it. Donald’s soap voice just doesn’t get old. Mickey’s plot isn’t bad as he spends a lot of time getting beat up by a bird. To his defense, it was a pretty tough bird who wasn’t playing around! He wanted his sleep and nothing was gonna stop him.

Goofy’s plot is the weakest as expected. He gets smashed by a few golden hammers and this causes him to go loopy. He keeps almost jumping off the skyscraper so then Mickey has to save him. The effects of the hit certainly lasted a while as well since Goofy stayed that way for the rest of the special. I wanted to be more sympathetic but he didn’t handle the situation very well.

The animation is pretty nice and fluid the whole time. Disney’s style has certainly aged very well over the years which is most impressive. The designs are all iconic and they certainly got famous so the company knew what people wanted to see. The sound effects and music aren’t bad either. The main clock theme is quite catchy.

Now, I suppose the real question you’re all wondering here is who was in the right..Mickey or the bird? You may not be surprised to hear that I was on the bird’s side 100%. He can sleep wherever he wants and we just have to deal with it. Clearly Mickey wasn’t on the same page, but that’s totally on him. I’m glad that the Bird fought for his American rights and never gave up even when the going got tough. There was no tie and the victor was never in doubt. This bird wasn’t playing around!

Overall, it’s another fun Disney special to add to your viewing history and I’d recommend checking it out. The special is very short so it’s not as if it’ll take a whole lot of time to watch and it’s fairly timeless. You can watch it in any year and it’ll be just as fun as you can recall. It’s definitely interesting to see how Mickey and the gang changed over the years.

Overall 7/10

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

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Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time for the sequel to the original Guardians to see if it can live up to the reputation of the first one. Unfortunately, it definitely could not. The film’s own premise hurts it quite a lot as the main characters succeed at all being very unlikable jerks for the most part. That seems to be the point so to the film…You’re welcome! Unfortunately, this just isn’t an angle that they should have pursued. Still, thanks to a key scene and some nice action scenes along the way, the film was able to avoid an unfortunate fate.

Peter and the Guardians start the film out by getting into trouble as per usual. They decide to steal from their employers and are quickly found out. Fortunately, they have the help of Star Lord’s Dad who destroys most of the attacking ships and helps the heroes escape. He wants Peter to come to his planet to hang out so Gamora and Drax go along with him. Rocket and Groot stay behind to watch Nebula, the villain that the heroes picked up so they could get the bounty on her head. Unfortunately, they have a run in with Yondu. Meanwhile, Peter’s Dad may not be what he seems!

This is a pretty big movie so there’s certainly a lot to talk about. Lets start with the worst character in the film, Groot. I don’t know how this guy got to be such a fan favorite character. He was bad in the first film and he’s extraordinarily terrible in this film. He’s nothing but a big bully and he gives the film an extremely rocky start from which I don’t think it ever truly recovered. It can’t really be totally blamed on the opening since the film never really tried to get away from this, but it was a sign of things to come. Groot picks on a pair of creatures for no reason and then tries to eat a poor butterfly. It’s supposed to be a funny scene which shows just how twisted the humor is nowadays.

Now, Groot’s appeal is supposed to be that he’s cute because of how dumb and mean he is. Groot only cares about himself and never moves an inch to help his friends. Any scene with him is incredibly hard to sit through. One scene in particular which drags on a lot has him try to find something during a prison escape scene. He keeps on bringing the wrong things including a severed toe which was just gross and completely unnecessary. We get it, Groot is brainless. We knew that during the first film…why did the film have to shove it in our face the whole time? Groot was just terrible and I agree with critics that he was a scene stealer…just in the absolute worst possible way.

Next is Drax…who somehow found a way to be even worse and more unlikable than in the first film. One running gag as per usual is that he takes everything literally. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also grown even more grotesque and barbaric with his mannerisms. He talks about how his people are proud of talking about rather vile stuff and calls Mantis ugly multiple times. It’s fortunate that she is extremely naive so the insults went over her head. He’s just a very mean person which is why he fits in with the gang quite well. It’s just a shame that he’s such a terrible character. When you have Drax and Groot on the same team…you know that something’s wrong.

Next up is Rocket. Finally, we’ve got a step up from the other two. He’s the same Rocket that you’ll remember from the first film only he’s a lot meaner. Gee…what a surprise Rocket gets the gang into a lot of trouble but the team wouldn’t last long without his gadgets anyway so I suppose it’s a fair tradeoff. He’s surprisingly not very smart at times as Rocket can’t pick up on sarcasm or recognize insults when he hears them. I feel like he’s less intelligent than he was in the first film. Still, that’s fine since he still has his personality fully in tact. Rocket knows how to use his guns and does a good job of annoying Peter. We fortunately don’t dive too far into his origin story either as I got worried for a minute when Yondu started talking. Crisis averted. The winking subplot probably has Rocket’s best moments.

Gamora is my favorite character in this film. She’s still the only member who really knows what she’s doing. Gamora is actually trying to make the world a better place and she also knows all of the members well enough to know when something is wrong. She gives Peter a pep talk, helps Groot most of the time even when he doesn’t deserve it and she comes close to figuring out the sinister planet’s secret. She also does a good job of handling the situation with Nebula. It was a little hard to take Nebula seriously the whole time as a villain since she wasn’t very powerful but the film helps to fix that as well.

Finally, there’s Peter. After watching the TV show for so long, it took a little bit to get used to this version of the character again. At least he is trying to get away from his old flirting tendencies. If he can keep this up, this will really help him as a character. Peter is certainly a much better character than he used to be now that he is just focusing on one person. He does get a little unsympathetic though when he is tricked so easily. Thinking that Gamora is just jealous was pretty silly and I don’t think he was being mentally influenced at the time so it was all him. His reaction after learning a certain plot twist was also on point as well. Instantly blasting away and hitting all of the vitals was the optimal response. No questions like “But why!”, stuttering, going into shock, or any of the other terrible responses. Peter should never have been sucked in so easily prior to this, but at least he rectified the mistake.

There were also a few supporting characters. Yondu gets a fairly large role along with a lot of character development. I’m still not a fan of the character, but I do like his arrow. It’s certainly a potent weapon. Similar to Quicksilver getting a larger version of his scene in Apocalypse compared to Days of Future Past, Yondu gets a larger scale scene to use his arrow in this time. It’s a very good trick and if he was going all out he could likely do well against the cinematic Avengers. I highly doubt it would have an effect on the Hulk and Thor/Vision would be able to endure it as well. The others would be in a pickle and I’d include Iron-Man in that since his suit hasn’t been the most durable as of late. Now, why wasn’t Yondu the character convincing for me? Well, he did just kind of sit there when all of his men were being executed. He was also taken in pretty easily considering he had the really cool arrow and should have done something the instant a mutiny was starting. Take no chances when you’re the Captain! The transporting kids part didn’t do him any wonders either.

The Sovereign people weren’t bad either. I liked their video games and the idea of a virtual army is like something out of World Trigger. You actually feel bad for them to an extent since they held up their end of the bargain while the Guardians broke theirs. Still, we’re supposed to side with the Guardians since they’re the protagonists. I just couldn’t blame the Sovereign for wanting revenge. They just gotta work on their 3D Galaga skills and they’ll be all right for the re match. Their new secret weapon should help as well.

Nebula has probably improved the most since the first film. Her transition into being more of a rival went pretty smoothly. I think there was a little forced emotion when she was reminding the audience of her backstory since I don’t think Nebula cries easy. The whole film was maybe trying a little too hard in that end, but I guess as long as we get the “almost” death of the main character each time than it’s a good tradeoff. They always come so close, but don’t end up kicking the bucket because someone else is there to save them.

Mantis is an alien being who doesn’t know much about anything. She was raised by Ego in exchange for her assistance in getting him to rest every day. Unfortunately, the Guardians are the ones who help her expand her horizons so the lessons that she learns aren’t the greatest ones. She’s a decent character. Mantis’ character tropes aren’t really my style but I guess you can say that she did all that she could with them.

Finally, we have Ego. There’s nothing really likable about him and I can definitely say that the character fell flat. He didn’t do anything for me even if he did have cool abilities. The problem is that he’s way too overpowered. You know ahead of time that the heroes will need some plot hax if they want to come out on top. It delivers as it always comes through in the clutch, but they should have made him a little weaker. At least what wasn’t plot hax was the brief Man of Steel homage fight scene. That was pretty neat as you can instantly see where it took notes on the Zod vs Superman battle. If strength correlated with likability than Ego would be at the top, but it’s just not the case. He works well enough as a villain, but don’t expect to root for him.

As far as the soundtrack goes, the tunes are pretty good again. Most of them aren’t all that memorable, but it’s always nice to hear songs from the 80s. They’re just very catchy and it will remind you of the good ole days. The themes stand out and the best part is that you know the film had a soundtrack. There are a bunch of films that you’ll finish and wonder if they actually had any music to begin with. This film just didn’t have that problem.

The visuals are also pretty sharp for this film. Marvel is still a few years behind DC when it comes to the effects, but they’re getting closer. The brief fight with Peter and Ego was a lot of fun and I liked the Mass Effect Ego design. Peter’s element gun looked a little weaker this time as the blasts were quite small, but as long as it’s a blast I’ll take it anyway. You’ll go into the film expecting the graphics to be good since this is a space film and all so it’s good that you will not be disappointed.

One thing that the film definitely did right was its references. It was fun to be reminded of what we all loved about the 80’s. There’s a certain reference/guest star appearance in particular that worked really well. This iconic figure reminded me that I definitely couldn’t give the film a negative score. It had its issues, but the film reminded me that it could be classy. Moreover, you’ll probably gain some respect for the character who uses this guest star. It was a really exciting moment and the only thing that could have made it even better would have been an extended fight scene where Ego fights the Sm4sh version of this icon.

That was an example of humor done right. Unfortunately, as a whole the film did have an issue with the humor. The problem is that Guardians just isn’t a very funny film. Airplane probably had more laughs in 10 minutes than this film had in its whole generation. I blame it partially on the terrible writing, but it’s also because the film really televises all of its jokes ahead of time. For example, when a guy with a scarred face calls the gold villains. You instantly know what the joke will be and how it will be handled. That’s a bit of a problem because it’s not going to be as funny if you see it coming right? That’s how the film handled most of its jokes. It could have learned a thing or two from the Plane film.

One thing that made that film so funny was how sudden the jokes would occur. When the main character was asked if he wants a smoking or no smoking ticket you didn’t expect a good joke, but then they pull out a ticket that has smoke coming out of it. That was an excellently handled joke. Granted, the film had some bad jokes as well, but the ratio was in its favor and the good jokes wee really good. The best joke in Guardians would have trouble breaking even in Airplane. In this case, I don’t even think we can blame it on the characters all that much since they should still be good at humor.

Also, I’m not saying that the humor is terrible or anything like that. The film still did have a few moments here and there and you can definitely tell that it tried. It’s probably just a writing limitation. Unfortunately, the writing is fairly weak. There’s a lot of language throughout and edgy lines that serve no purpose being here. Some of the dialogues between the characters will make you wince or try to tune them out. Rocket threatening to place something vile on Peter’s bed was just sad and Ego talking about how he built his body was unnecessary. It’s little scenes like that coupled with everything else that begin to add up through the long haul.

Despite all of this, you should be satisfied with the action and explosions here. The film gives you everything you could want in a summer blockbuster. There’s a lot of banter and excitement around most corners. There are points in the film where not much happens, but I still wouldn’t really call these parts boring as the setting and characters are interesting enough. There are two kinds of films. Those that are fun to watch regardless of their quality and those that are not. I can safely say that this one is still enjoyable enough where you can try to overlook the negatives until the film ends. Your opinion of it will then start to deteriorate, but that’s an after effect. I’d also see this any day of the week over many other films.

One thing I’ll hope for in the third film is a longer fight. We had a brief fight with Peter and Quill, but that was the only real fight in the movie. The rest of the action scenes were just general action scenes against giant monsters or massacre fight scenes with the heroes wrecking a lot of flunkies. I’m hoping for more actual fights since the first film had quite a few of those. The Nebula vs Gamora fights here would be a highlight in that regard although again…they were pretty short. I always place fights above action scenes, but naturally having both of them is always a good thing.

There are quite a few post credit scenes 80’s style. They’re filmed like bloopers in a sense, but take place after the film. Some are important and others aren’t. One of them teases a new character who may show up in the 3rd film. Honestly, I wish he had shown up here since a fight with Ego probably would have been a lot of fun. Also, this guy is a personal favorite of mine so I have no doubt that he would have elevated the film. Another scene showed a group of classic characters. I can’t say that I’m super hyped for the group, but I did think that the rocky actor stole the show so it’d be pretty fun to see him return. A certain teenager who appears in one of the scenes is someone that I hope to never see show up. Luckily this wish will likely be granted. It was fun to see various cameos during the film as well. Referencing the rest of the Marvel cosmic mythos is always a good idea. Sadly Thanos didn’t show up this time, but Infinity War is finally getting closer so that’s good.

Overall, Volume 2 had quite a lot of problems. It started out really rough, had a bumpy ride during the middle, and then had a reasonably good climax. It’s still a fairly engaging film, but it tries way too hard to be funny. It’s an unsuccessful attempt. The characters are unlikable which takes you out of the film at times especially in Groot’s case. This is one of those films that I wouldn’t want to watch again at least not for a very, very long while, but for a one time viewing it wasn’t bad. At the very least you can’t say that the film isn’t engaging. There’s a good amount of action and excitement all around with witty dialogue in between all of the “witty” dialogue. I’d make a parallel to films like Suicide Squad, Lucy, Batman vs Robin, and other such films. They’re pretty entertaining while you watch them, but afterwards you still can’t give them a positive It’ll be fun to see the team show up in Infinity War, but beyond that, the Guardians don’t need another film. That or we just need a fresh new take on the Guardians. Get some new writers and we’ll see what they can do. In the meantime, I’m cautiously optimistic about Thor: Ragnarok (Gladiator scenarios don’t have the greatest track record and I can totally imagine some animal violence there, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt) and Spider-Man. (Worst Peter Parker…ever!) With the summer just starting, we’ll see how the rest of the films stack up. King Kong and Guardians may not have led it off to the strongest of starts, but the year is young.

Overall 5/10

Justice League vs Teen Titans Review

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The DC movies continue as I finally got to check out this film. As you may remember, I was pleasantly surprised by how Batman: Bad Blood was and hoped that this one would continue things on track. It’s definitely a solid film and I’d say that it is 2nd only to the former in the post Flashpoint era. I have more issues with it than I did for Bad Blood and it never reached the same level of intensity and animation that the former had, but it is a quality film. So don’t let the cover art scare you, it’s just DC’s way of reducing sales for all of its current films.

A demonic being by the name of Trigon has set his sights on the planet Earth. His ticket there is his daughter Raven, who is currently a member of the Teen Titans. She had trapped him in hell and he is unable to break free so he sends his subordinates to capture her. Can Raven defeat them and keep her friends safe? Meanwhile, Robin completely embarrasses the Justice League in front of the city so Batman demotes him from League member to Teen Titan. Robin doesn’t take it well, but learns that sometimes it is good to protect those who are weaker.

As you hopefully probably guessed, the title is pure clickbait. The Justice League vs Teen Titans fight lasts for only about 2-4 minutes. The rest of the film is mainly about the Titans although the Justice League gets their moments as well. That’s fine, I know that most Vs titles never actually go anywhere. Just look at Batman vs Robin although admittedly, that fight certainly lasted longer than this one. There’s a lot to talk about in this film so lets start with the Justice League.

They’re on the backburner in this film. While it is a sequel to Throne of Atlantis, the world just doesn’t revolve around them this time. Superman looks both good and bad. It was interesting to see him at first because he acts like the protagonist in a B grade horror film. A monster whizzes past, the door slams, and the room is even chilled to the core. Superman’s only reaction is the classic “If this is a joke…then it’s not funny!” and then he even yells in terror as he is taken over. For starters, the whole “Superman has no willpower” thing that the New 52 made popular is total nonsense. Superman doesn’t get taken over and his reaction times are good enough so he wouldn’t be taken in like that. It happens though. There is a lot of plot hax here. Nothing that hurts the film as a whole, but it does make you shake your head.

Superman getting steamrolled by Trigon at the end is another moment where you have to tilt your head. Superman beats guys like that for breakfast. The rest of the League didn’t do much better. Too bad Green Lantern wasn’t here to save the day eh? Superman’s fight against Wonder Woman and Flash was brilliant though. As I’ve always said, Superman is easily the strongest comic book character of all time. It’s not even close. I like how he’s faster than the Flash, Smarter than Batman, and a better warrior than Wonder Woman. It’s part of why he’s a good character, he invalidates the rest of the League with his existence. Effortlessly breaking Flash’s leg and then trapping Wonder Woman with her lasso is something for the record books. It was the best part of the film hands down and should answer any debates as to who would win in a fight. As Flash pointed out, it was a bit of a brutal way to take him down, but it was effective. It was also good to see Flash’s accelerated healing factor be acknowledged for once. I feel like most animated features don’t even remember this. On a final note, Superman’s voice has got to go. It was awful in this film. Maybe the guy was out of practice or something, but it sounded nothing like Superman.

Flash didn’t actually get a role beyond that. He got the shaft from the League members. Batman was good as always. It’s definitely unfortunate for him that Damian always acts out when they’re in public. Still, Batman takes control of the situation as always and even prevents himself from being mind controlled. He handled the whole thing quite well. His plan to have Wonder Woman hide herself and not engaging Superman as well was a little iffy though. Didn’t seem as brave a move as you’d expect. Wonder Woman didn’t hide which is a good thing, but she didn’t pursue either. I would have liked for her to have gone after Superman anyway. Her terribly irrelevant relationship with Superman can drag both characters down if it keeps up so hopefully that goes away soon. I don’t want it to be a main plot though, let it be a one line thing.

One last note on the Justice League, I can’t buy into the whole confrontation that happened later on. They want to take Raven in for questioning and basically arrest her? These aren’t the Avengers. The Justice League don’t randomly shoot civilians or kidnap teenagers for no reason. I can’t picture the heroes doing this. They could have handled the situation with more tact and I also don’t see how they didn’t notice Trigon the whole time. There were some stretches in logic to be sure, but at least it was still good to see the League. They got a bit more of a role than I had expected them too.

Now lets talk about the Teen Titans. As you’d expect, it’ll take a few minutes to get used to their new designs and voices. Starfire’s is an improvement from the start for me as I never liked her “I don’t understand human culture” gimmick. The jokes with it were never that funny so seeing her as a capable team leader was a nice change of pace. I feel like she was a little underpowered here. I do agree with her losing to Wonder Woman of course, but she did absolutely terrible against the Trigon demons to the point where Blue Beetle and Robin were doing far better. I’m just not sure I totally buy that, but it’s not an issue with her character.

Beast Boy was annoying as per usual. He was just a bit much the whole time and I also had to chuckle when I saw his undercover getup. It’s something that you usually see the mysterious heroine wear in an anime. I have a co-worker who has the same get up and she is not a guy. It’s just not something that you really see a guy wearing or maybe it’s just the way that it was animated. Either way, it was funny because that style isn’t for a character like Beast Boy. His personality would make you think that he’d be wearing something a lot brighter or more outlandish.

Raven was great as per usual. I think she did panic a little too quickly with the Trigon situation though. As she explained, he is still trapped in the crystal so it’s not as if he can do anything. All he can do is summon his minions and she can handle those right? Admittedly, she looked a little too weak in the first confrontation until she used her demonic powers, but they shouldn’t be a serious threat. Of course, once the Titans were held hostage, she didn’t really have any other choice. So long as we don’t get any random romance between her and Robin, their friendship is also a good subplot. They definitely do have similar pasts and aren’t good with others. Raven just handles it by keeping to herself while Robin likes to insult everyone. The Titans definitely would be in a jam without Raven’s powers so they’re lucky that she stays as a hero.

Robin was also a very solid character. Yeah, he’s a little meaner here and may have regressed a little in character development, (He still thinks Ra’s is a great man with good ideals? I feel like he should have moved on from that by now considering how crazy the guy was) but I still like his confidence. Robin does well in a fight and saving the Titans was a good way to start. He was also handling Blue Beetle pretty well until the unexpected attack. That’s why you should never let your guard down, even in a sparring session. At first I wasn’t thrilled about DC forcing Damian into every single plot, but now I’m okay with it. I’m still gonna say that Dick Grayson is my favorite Robin, but Damian is better than Nightwing. Nightwing appears for a few minutes here and never really looks good anymore. His era is really done at this point.

Blue Beetle is effectively Cyborg’s replacement on the team. For him, I didn’t have to get used to a new voice, but the new design would take some getting used too. The buzzcut look just didn’t feel quite as right as the Young Justice look. Still, he was a good character. He got less of a role than the others, but that’s probably because the Blue Beetle will get his own film like Raven at some point. There’s certainly a lot they can do with him. I definitely had no problems with him and I’ve always liked the Beetle. It definitely doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone and always goes out swinging. There’s not much to say about Cyborg to be honest. Of course, I had hoped that this film would help him see what team he should really be on. I can’t say that happens, but I can say that Cyborg has always acted more like a Teen Titan than a League member. It’s like how the Beast never quite fit in as an Avenger since he was an X-Man for so long. It’s hard to just switch teams.

I’d say that one thing which holds this film back a little is the writing. It is a lot weaker than the last film and maybe even last few films. It could be the Teen Titans angle I suppose, but a lot of the dialogue is pretty forced. Most of the lines are either from Beast Boy or about Beast Boy. Batman asking Cyborg what happens to the food that he eats was also completely out of left field. Those are just a few examples and the dialogue could be a little distracting at times. It got serious when necessary though and don’t get me wrong. It’s not overwhelming or constantly in your face, but it’s still consistent enough to be noticeable.

The animation for the film is pretty solid. That being said, it is certainly a step under Batman: Bad Blood. You’ll notice that for the hand to hand fight scenes, the camera starts to be a little shaky as to hide the actual animation. I found that to be a little odd, as if the animators weren’t too confident. The energy displays were on point though and the energy that all of the Trigon creations emitted was similar to Bass’ iconic energies or any cool anime villain. It worked quite well and since this film was a lot more supernatural than the last few, it got to use all of these effects quite a lot. I also like the fact that Batman and Robin’s eyes are always glowing through the suit. It does make them look more menacing.

The soundtrack is also a step down, but it’s reasonably good. There aren’t really any battle themes this time around or none that I can recall. That being said, we did get some lyrical songs for the montages. The song that played during Robin and Beast Boy’s duel was pretty catchy. The one for the amusement park adventures was also solid. They easily made up for the lack of battle themes although the best of both worlds would be to include them all. The sound effects for the hits was a little lower which was unfortunate, but I guess it’s tough to get that perfect balance.

I need to give a quick shoutout to Lex and the Legion of Doom for the worst villain plan ever as well. A little hyperbole thrown in there, but what were they thinking? So, Lex, Solomon Grundy, Toyman, Weather Wizard, and Cheetah thought that they could defeat the Justice League? They may have had the element of surprise, but they never had a chance of victory. Each individual fighter was outranked by his/her counterpart. There was just no strategy or gameplan here which was odd. Lex had a great line though. It went along the lines of “You guys are always fighting (Demons, gods, Superheroes, Machines, etc) and I’m just a poor industrialist caught in the middle.” Superman even had to sarcastically admit that Lex had a point there. It was just an awesome line to be honest. Plus, it’s a nice way to think about things and it could give you newfound respect for his predicament. That being said, Lex still needs to up his game. He may have had an after credits scene in a previous film, but apparently the writers decided to ditch that. Ah well, it happens. We’ll see if this post credits scene leads to something more direct. Well..we know it does since the next film is already out.

Overall, Justice League vs Teen Titans continues DC’s path into the light. This marks two films in a row where DC is looking like their old selves. I could definitely recommend this film to anyone. It moves very quickly and there is a lot of action. Superman’s scenes are great and went a long way to ensuring that this film got a solid 8. It was a team effort though with the film just being solid all around. Seeing the Justice League and Teen Titans in a movie together is pretty fun. While I’d like the film to be a little longer, being under 90 minutes does guarantee good pacing. It’s a tradeoff, but one that makes the film a little more accessible to everyone. Next up is Teen Titans: Judas Contract so we’ll see how that goes. I don’t expect it to be quite as good since Terra’s annoying and the whole arc will probably be annoying, but if handled well it could be good. I did like the comic after all and Damian can easily fill in for Grayson’s role since he is so skilled already. Also, it’s time to redeem Deathstroke since he looked completely terrible last time. Here’s to hoping that DC pulls out another winner. If they do manage this, then I think we can officially say that DC animation is back to quality for the forseeable future. Now they just need to fix their DVD covers.

Overall 8/10

Westworld Review

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Peter and his pal John decide to visit the world’s most popular amusement park, Westworld. It is a futuristic life simulator where you get to live your life as a farmer, king, freelancer, etc. It acts as a very expensive vacation which is ultra realistic as androids play the parts of the rest of the town. It is billed as a place where you can do anything without worrying about your conscience or morals. It’s also extremely pricey though and honestly you wouldn’t catch me checking it out even if it was real. You can still have more fun at an arcade with a roll of quarters. Back to the park though. In Westworld, you are able to play as the hero or the villain and by the end of your experience you may even learn a thing or two about yourself. There is only one rule, have fun! Unfortunately, the robots pick up on this message as well. Why let the humans get everything? Why indeed…..

If Westworld is supposed to make you dislike the humans and really root for the robots, then it succeeded quite easily. It goes out of its way to show that all of the humans are fundamentally bad people who will use any excuse to shed their boring 9-5 jobs and become full fledged villains. One guy uses his vacation to cheat on his wife, others use it to murder people and have one night stands with robots, etc. There is nobody to root for except for the robots, but I was probably going to be rooting for them anyway.

Peter is the main character and he’s pretty terrible. He’s portrayed as the average joe, someone you can sit down and have a beer with. He’s in awe of this big amusement park and can’t wait to try it. Once inside, his bad influence of a friend named John shows him how to have fun in all of the wrong ways. Peter quickly picks up on this and becomes just as corrupt. It’s a shame, but the guy had no will power. Also, it was hard to believe that these two were friends since John was basically ignoring Peter the whole time until they actually landed on the island. As bad as Peter was, John could match him step for step. He’s just a terrible collection of the worst tropes for a movie lead and I was anticipating his big duel with the android quite eagerly.

It’s a fairly small cast in this film as those two characters basically get all of the screen time. There’s also a third traveler who is the most corrupt of them all. The robots make sure to deal with him right away though via a stab straight to oblivion. The guy was a terrible fighter though as the android gave him a fighting chance for quite a while. Finally it got tired of the whole thing and just took him down for the count. The main villain was a pretty good robot. He definitely had Peter on the run for quite a while and he’s like an old fashioned terminator. He’s a pretty good shot as well which is useful when you’re in the Wild West setting. None of the other androids got particularly large roles but they were around to help finish the job when necessary.

Unfortunately, the film really stresses the pleasure part of this vacation which drags the film down quite a bit. After all, I think we get the implications of the “You can do whatever you want” message that Westworld gives out. We don’t have to constantly be reminded of it via the two main characters that this means you can have as many fake romances as you want. That’s the element that gets them the most excited along with drinking beer all day and shooting people. It’s certainly not a family friendly destination. It would have been nice if the film could have focused on the fact that you’re essentially living another life for these few days and the thrills of having safe gunfights and old styled competitions.

Also, the concept definitely doesn’t hold up if you actually think about it. The characters are using live ammunition and getting into real fights during their vacation. The guns are set to not work if you target another human, but you can still get hurt during the ballroom brawls. There’s one such fight in this film that lasts for a very long time. The heroes get lucky as they dodge most of the glass cup attacks and don’t get seriously injured, but they could have easily had some broken bones if they missed a step. I guess you may sign a waver or something before entering, but based on John’s reaction to getting bit, it seems that Westworld guarantees you will not be injured. That’s quite the stretch if you ask me.

Also, we see that in real time, a few operators juggle everything around for the various plots to ensure that every guest gets his/her desire. I guess they’ve never had conflicting goals from players since they have a 100% satisfaction rate. Hmmmm, well no need to dwell on that. Lets just say that I wasn’t buying it. The film isn’t super violent or anything. I did assume that Westworld was R to be honest and was surprised that it wasn’t, but I don’t remember any scene in particular being all that gruesome. It was fairly standard action stuff if I remember right. If anything, it’s more the shock of the situation that may get you if you weren’t expecting some big characters to die.

The ending of the film is pretty fitting though. I definitely thought that it was handled well since the humans were already in enemy territory when the androids made their move. The whole thing is pretty realistic even if the engineer who designed the room to only open from the inside should be fired instantly. Poor designs are timeless and we still get them nowadays. I always think doors should open outwards instead of inwards because it’s safer (Infamous factory fires) and more convenient yet people still make it the other way around. It is what it is I suppose.

Overall, I didn’t really care for Westworld. Good (Even if unbelievable) concept, but poor execution. The main problems all can be traced back to Peter and John. They’re just absolutely terrible main characters and the third guy didn’t help their case at all. There’s just too much of a focus on the wrong aspects of Westworld. The special effects were good though and it did have a lot of fun visuals. While I don’t see this ever happening in the real world, we are getting to the point where it could be possible through Virtual Reality. I think it’ll be easy to do such a thing someday, but there will be a ton of risks involved so I certainly wouldn’t be a beta tester. If you want a film where someone gets trapped in a cyber game, check out the new Sword Art Online film. In this case, the game comes to the real world, but it has some similar themes and it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable.

Overall 3/10

Kino’s Journey: Country of Illness -For You Review

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It’s time for another Kino special. I’ve never been much of a Kino fan but the concept isn’t bad. Because the whole series is about watching her go to various lands and experiencing their traditions and customs, it means that there is always the chance you will enjoy the adventure or also dislike it by the same token. Effectively the franchise gets a blank slate each time. I’d say this one was the best yet mainly thanks to the Moped not getting to do much and Kino being a little less deadpan this time around. It’s short so the special doesn’t drag on or anything either.

In this adventure, Kino heads to a futuristic city. The inhabitants are worried about germs because they may prove to be fatal. Their way of society seems rather flipped from the usual norm. The wealthy and influential people live outside in the rugged desert as they make a home and defeat the outside elements. The poor and middle class live in the city where they can do whatever they want thanks to the tech. It seems like a paradise for them and an endurance test for the wealthy, but why is this? Kino becomes friends with a girl who is sick at the hospital and agrees to deliver her letter to a boy who lives on the outside. Is Kino ready for what she may discover there?

It’s not a Kino adventure without a few twists and the adventure should keep you guessing for a little while. You can probably imagine that things didn’t go very well for the boy when the girl explains that she hasn’t seen him in over a year. That’s always a bad sign and when Kino sees how desolate the outside world looks, it brings a few questions to mind as well. People rarely tell the actual truth to outsiders in these things so at least Kino is ready. It’s also fortunate that she always has her gun at the ready as well. You really can’t trust these guys.

While it’s a pretty somber special, it doesn’t go overboard. It’s sad, but not over the top with big time human experimentation or anything. People were effectively sacrificed though and the government looks shady as always. We don’t really get any fights in this special although Kino does get to fire a shot. Her recommendation to the girl to go check the outside world out when she is better is probably not the greatest advice though. The girl is certainly going to be in for a very rude awakening.

As far as Kino herself goes, the character wasn’t all that bad this time. She’s still not very interesting, but at least she tried to keep the girl’s spirits up and didn’t stand by as a bunch of people were murdered for a change. Her “no interference” policy still ensures that she’ll never be a hero though. At best she will always be a person who looks out for herself first and foremost. The Moped still tries to be funny in all of his scenes, but they never really work. I’ll give him some credit for the constant attempts though. He certainly never gives up.

The other characters in the special were okay although none of them got a particularly large role. They’re meant to be background elements as you focus on just taking in the land and how it works. The sick girl was reasonable although it’s unfortunate that she has to go along with all of the tests. I opt out of just about every shot at the doctor because most of them just seem so pointless. That’s definitely what she should have done here. The boy from the flashbacks was all right I guess, but he was a little generic and nothing really happened with his plot. The night guard may have tried to justify his actions with every other line, but they weren’t very convincing. He makes for a decent antagonist though.

One thing Kino’s Journey always does well is keeping everything very quiet. The towns always seem desolate as Kino walks around even when people are there. There’s something about the series that always makes everything seem hollow and fake even if the people are being jolly. It’s that elusive Twilight Zone effect and it certainly gives the series an air of mystery.

The soundtrack is really nothing special as it’s the same tunes that we have been hearing over and over again. I can’t even say that it’s all that memorable. I suppose the laid back feel of the music is supposed to go hand in hand with how mellow the special is in general, but I wouldn’t mind some fast tunes once in a while. The animation isn’t bad either. It’s below average as it definitely hasn’t aged well and much older shows look more impressive. There is no way that you’d guess this film came out in 2007 as it looks like something closer to the 90’s or very late 80’s. However, if you look at it in a vacuum without comparing it to anything else, then Kino’s Journey still looks fine.

Overall, This was the most enjoyable Kino’s Journey feature. It’s still held back by a number of issues like the underwhelming technical aspects and the lackluster main characters. The plot is still interesting though and it doesn’t drag on. At it’s core, Kino’s Journey is like a nice breeze that is fun while it lasts and is then forgotten. There’s nothing there to call it a bad film, but there isn’t much to make it memorable either. It’s a good film because it doesn’t make any mistakes is the best way to think about it. Hopefully the series can get a reboot/sequel nostalgia film which will energize the franchise. I think that’s what it needs the most, some energy. It’ll be difficult balancing that and the eerily quiet scenes, but I’m sure it can manage. I think this is it for the franchise at the moment though so it feels pretty good to be caught up. At least as far as the animated content goes.

Overall 6/10

Max Steel Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

The Tender Trap Review

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Whenever someone yells “It’s a Trap!” you typically want to listen. In this case, Julie knows deep down that Charlie is not a good person and getting together with him isn’t a good idea…but she ignores this feeling. What happens next is what you would expect, drama and tragedy. What holds this film back is how unlikable Charlie is and the fact that you can’t believe him when he tries to show how much he has changed. He gives us too many fakeouts during the film for this to even be somewhat believable. It’s too bad, Julie could have chosen someone a lot more noble.

The film starts with Charlie’s old friend Joe shows up to live with him for a while. He basically showed up unannounced except for a letter informing Charlie of the new situation. Charlie’s fine with this arrangement, but Joe quickly grows jealous. Joe may be married and have 2 kids already, but he’s greedy and wants to be able to play the field again. He gives in to the temptations of the big city and quickly becomes a terrible character. Meanwhile, Charlie is using everyone that he can, but one day a girl by the name of Julie refuses to get together with him. Charlie takes it personal and decides that he’s going to change her mind.

As you can already see here, one of the tricky parts of the film is that Charlie revels in his life style. He cheats on all of his girl friends. It’s played for laughs, but that will immediately cause you to dislike him. There is really just no going back from this point on. Even after he proposes to someone else, he quickly does the same with Julie and is quickly found out. Julie may be extremely gullible and not all that smart, but even she is able to piece the puzzle together once it becomes plain as day. It was just too late for Charlie to change things.

Another plot line in the film is about the corruption of the big city. Joe was happy with his life until he fell for the “Grass is always greener” trick and began to date someone even though he’s already married. That was the first red flag. After that, he even gets ready to propose to someone and goes to call his wife to explain why they can’t be together anymore. He is shut down by the person that he proposes to (Sylvia) so he ends up keeping the marriage but it makes you wonder how real it is. The wife will never know what a backstabber Joe is which is unfortunate.

I can’t say that Sylvia or any of the other people who hung out with Charlie were any good. The argument that Sylvia made is that they had no prospects left so they didn’t mind being the 2nd or 3rd choices, but that’s a really low standard to set for yourself. It makes it less personal when Charlie cheats on them I suppose, but it doesn’t help their cause. Julie is the only one with real personality and backbone, but the plot just doesn’t go well for her. At first, she does a good job of explaining why she shouldn’t bother eating out with people she’s not serious about. That’s an argument that I can buy into. Next, she explains that she has a very specific plan which even has a deadline on when she has to be married. That’s when she lost me.

Julie has planned out the rest of her life which includes how many kids she’ll have, what schools they’ll go too, when she’ll be married, etc. She has to follow her plan by the book and it doesn’t allow for any debate or alterations. The obvious downside of this is that she’ll have to rush and find someone if the deadline is close, even if it’s not the ideal person. The plan is essentially what makes her choose Charlie and it’s not the greatest way to pick a husband. After he tricked and cheated on her multiple times, I was kind of hoping that she would do something about it. Like you know…..breaking the whole thing off? Instead she apologizes for getting in the way of affairs and decides to settle for being one of them. They break up again after Charlie does more of this, but they get back together again so you have to wonder what the point of it all was.

The film is fairly well written, but that’s not enough to save it. You can have the best writing in the world, but if the characters are unlikable, then it is all for naught. Of course, you can make the case that a well written film would automatically make the characters likable, which is valid I suppose. It could have been better, but the script wasn’t that bad. The themes were just the main part that I could not agree with. I differed with the film quite consistently. Otherwise, the film didn’t do much wrong. It had a few humor moments scattered in and the living room setting gave the film a retro Odd Couple sort of feeling. It made the film more personal and laid back. It’s no thriller of course, but that would have just meant that the director had mixed up the genres.

There are a few songs in this film since Frank Sinatra is in it, but they don’t play as much of a role as you might expect. The tunes definitely weren’t bad, they weren’t the greatest, but they’ll do in a pinch. A little music can go a long way as long as it’s quality and the actual songs are certainly better than what you may hear nowadays. I could go on a tangent about the state of the music industry, but this isn’t really the time or place for that debate.

Overall, The Tender Affair is a pretty misleading title. There’s nothing tender about this one as you could call it something more appropriate with ease. “The Rebound Affair” “The Artificial Affair” “The Planned Affair” etc. There wasn’t anything tender about it, both Julie and Charlie needed the affair for personal reasons. They weren’t very noble either. Julie let her idealistic version of romance cloud her judgment and Charlie had been through many affairs before. He just likes the attention. If you want a real romance film…then I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head. If you want a film about the bonds of friendship and making the tough calls, watch Madoka Magica Rebellion. That’s a film that you won’t regret checking out!

Overall 4/10