Beauty and the Beast Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the old Disney films. Seeing as how it just got a live action remake with as goat version of the Beast, this was the perfect opportunity to look at the original. It’s a solid film all around with no real weaknesses to drag it down. While it may not be the greatest of the classics, it may have the best pacing and most engaging plot. I’ll have to think on that one a bit before giving a definitive answer, but there really wasn’t much to slow it down.

Belle is stuck in a very old town. She is the only lady who reads and the town is scared of her as a result. How can they hope to stack up against someone who doesn’t go to the local bar and get drunk with the rest of them? The people’s champion, Gaston shows up to set things right, but he is rejected. Unfortunately, Belle’s crazy father runs into the woods and gets kidnapped by the Beast. Belle is forced to take his place as a prisoner while her father gets himself into more trouble and gives Gaston a legal opportunity to try and steal Belle away. Can she enlist the help of the Beast or is all hope lost?

I imagine that everyone already knows the plot to this film, but I just put that up as a formality. As you can probably tell, I don’t like the Dad. He just gets the family into more and more trouble the whole time. He’s pretty scatter brained and even once Belle is taken as a prisoner he is slow to act. It takes him forever to actually do anything about the situation. You’d think that he would have a lot more urgency about the whole thing when you consider the circumstances. The cast is pretty small so he’s one of the only supporting characters with a role. The other would be Gaston along with his follower. The follower spends the whole film getting beat up and knocked around. It’s safe to say that he had to endure a lot of pain in this adventure as the characters just wouldn’t let up for a second.

Gaston’s naturally not a likable character since he spends the whole film flirting. I do like his grandiose nature and excessive bragging, but it would be great if he could be more productive about it. Stealing candy from a baby, dining and dashing, those are the feats that I would have been expecting him to perform. He’s not totally full of hot air though as he actually does put up a good fight against the Beast. He lands a lot of devastating hits in their battle and while the majority of them were cheap shots…we take those. I could definitely take him more seriously than some of the other classic villains like Jafar.

The Beast wasn’t likable though. I couldn’t sympathize with him at all. Especially when he just tried to act friendly so Belle would fall in love with him. It seemed like he earned his fate as a Beast as well so I just never got to be on his side. He didn’t make things easy for Belle and actively sabotaged his chances every opportunity that he got. It’s why the goat design in the new film suits him even if it makes him look even more evil and nonredeemable. It’s just the table that he has set for himself. Now he has to live in it. He had a few minions who would help him out like a candle stick, an alarm clock, and a tea kettle. The best member was easily the Alarm Clock as he kept it real the whole time and did his best not to get in trouble. The Candle Stick seemed to purposely seek out trouble while the Tea Pot had the best manners. They were decent enough and never got to be too annoying.

Finally, we have Belle. It’s safe to say that she is the best character here by a long shot. She doesn’t really have any flaws as she’s a nice person who always does the right thing and helps others out. She volunteers to be a prisoner to save her father and also doesn’t succumb to peer pressure when the “cool” crowd approaches her. She did fall for the cheesy romance parts at the end, but that’s hardly a negative so much as it’s a “shakes head” moment.

The film has quite a few songs of course since the films back in these days were part musical. They go over pretty well and the music is catchy. While the lyrics weren’t memorable enough for me to remember the names, I believe Bell’s opening song was the best one with Gaston’s probably being the worst. Still, it was a good soundtrack and lyrical songs can definitely be good when handled well. That’s something that 2010’s and beyond have struggled with in some cases. Luckily we still have Frozen to save us and the animated films have mostly been immune. It’s just that in the 90’s, even live action films could have good lyrical themes if they tried. I could diverge into how music was a little better back in the day than currently when it comes to mainstream (So not counting anime ost and video game soundtracks) but that’s neither here nor there.

The animation looks good and is consistent as you would expect. The characters stand out and the designs are really colorful. The action scenes are pretty fluid and while the characters may literally punch each other out of proportion at times, it’s done in a cool way. It’s intentional as opposed to a Dragon Ball Super scene where they just forgot to do some drawing. It holds up really well and the animation wouldn’t look out of place next to a more modern film.

If there’s any real negative here, it’s naturally the wolf scene. It was handled fairly well as this kind of thing goes and the Wolves really took it to the beast so that was good. I was rooting for them to really knock him around. His near lethal injuries show that the wolves weren’t playing around. It’s enough to warrant a mention and is the kind of thing that can also solidify the film’s 7 ranking as opposed to trying for an 8. If this is the worst mistake that the film made, then at least you can be sure that it was mostly good.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a good film. It’s something that you can recommend to anyone since it’s just a nice story. The romance is very cheesy and unbelievable so that can be a bit of a weakness, but it’s not as if you expected it to be anything else. The film will fly by in an instant and there aren’t any painfully drawn out scenes to make you look at the wrist watch. The new film seems like it’s pretty faithful to the old film so hopefully that’ll be good as well. So long as they don’t add extra character development to drag characters down in its attempt to be super deep or extend the wolf scene and make it more realistic to drag it down a few stars…I’d expect it to be of comparable quality. Hopefully that will be the case and if you’ve never seen this version you should hurry. You want to know what everyone’s going on about when they compare this to the remake since that inevitably happens. I’ll be doing a bunch of comparisons myself when I watch it.

Overall 7/10

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The Exorcist Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be even more negative…literally.
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It’s time to tackle one of the most well known horror films of all time. I’ve never liked horror films and watching the classics hasn’t worked out so well thus far. I had pretty low expectations heading into this film, but The Exorcist managed to surprise me. It delivered a product that was so below expectations that I was slightly taken aback, but quickly realized how I had to respond. This film is one that you’ll want to avoid at all costs and will remind you that shock value isn’t as good as jump scares.

Chris is a popular actress and everything is going right for her at the moment. Life can’t get much better than it already is at the moment. Unfortunately, that changes when her daughter Regan is possessed by a vengeful spirit. It claims to be Lucifer himself and she has been unable to break free. Chris goes to many experts, but they are all unsuccessful in their attempts. Finally, she is forced to call in a pastor/psychologist to try and perform an exorcism, but he has yet to break his drinking/smoking habits. The Church realizes that this guy is out of his league so they bring in another priest who is experienced, but already very exhausted from another exorcism that he performed. Can the two save the day or will the body count continue to rise?

Some films like this one are a little overwhelming as it’s hard to know where to start. I suppose there are so many negatives that I should start with the positives first. The soundtrack isn’t bad. The iconic theme is definitely fun even if it only shows up for a few seconds. It actually felt like a remix since I’m used to a more battle ready version of the song. Still, it’s definitely withstood the test of time. The visuals are pretty advanced for their time as well although they typically go for grotesque imagery as opposed to cool sci-fi elements. Poltergeist III has definitely got it beat in this area. The film puts out a lot of effort….yeah now lets go to the negatives.

The film paints a pretty bleak picture on our struggle against demons. First of all, I’d like to give it props for giving the Church some credibility and having them go up against the demon. However…it acts as if the demons are far more powerful than any of our counters. Our Exorcism (This film’s old, but just in case I’ll give out a warning. Spoilers ahead, spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own peril!) fails miserably as the demon just overpowers the two pastors. The two pastors/priests give it their all as they use a lot of verses from the Bible, Holy Water, A Cross, and more. None of it is effective as the demon breaks one of the guys anyway and then possesses the other as it knocks him off. The spirit is then free to go and possess someone else.

There is no happy ending here at all. The demon won and murdered quite a few people in the process. It also vandalized the Church in the process with no repercussions. It’s a pretty sad message from the film in the end. Evil’s not supposed to conquer all. Now, demons are certainly real and they are powerful. That’s certainly true, but they still cannot ultimately resist when called out in the name of Jesus and God. The counter argument could be that the priests simply weren’t skilled or didn’t have enough faith, but at least one of them was supposed to be the best of the best. It’s hard to say whether or not Regan was a Christian or not in the film. She was still pretty young, but maybe she had put the Cross under her pillow since nobody could figure out how it got there. I don’t believe a Christian can be possessed. One could get tempted or put through trials and tribulations like Job, but I believe that we are given an immunity. Playing with the Ouja board wasn’t a smart idea, but it’s not as if playing with a thing like that can suddenly make you free domain. Especially since Regan clearly didn’t really know the ramifications of that thing.

She definitely got the short end of the stick here as the rest of the film’s pretty painful for her. It’s a really violent horror film and while you could clearly tell where the film cut away in the TV version, there was enough where you can tell that this was an intense experience. Regan got a lot of injuries and had to go through many operations during this period. Quite a few people were murdered as well. The film also goes for gross moments like having characters vomit and have to use the bathroom in public. Those moments certainly didn’t help the film at all either. In case you couldn’t tell, this film’s getting a pretty easy 0.

The only reasonable characters here are the Expert Priest and Chris. Chris can be annoying though like when she went to the various doctors and put Regan through a bunch of experiments. She should have known that it’d do no good since it clearly wasn’t a mental issue. The Expert Priest was good, it’s a shame that he couldn’t win. The main priest, Damien was pretty weak willed. He fell for the mind games rather easily and his subplot didn’t add anything to the film. It added more dark themes and grit of course, but the film was so full of that already that you wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. There was a police chief who liked to subtly imply that various people were murderers and did his best to solve the case. It was naturally futile though since it wasn’t a human opponent who he was up against. I suppose he did his best, but bribery definitely isn’t a very legitimate tactic. There weren’t a whole lot of other characters in the film as it was a pretty small cast. We have the demon of course, but it’s only character is that it is a demon. It’s pretty clever as it makes the ordeal or proving that it’s a demon very tricky for the heroes.

Overall, This isn’t exactly a “Feel good” film. You’re not going to be laughing and taking shots of Pepsi and Doritos during this film as you discuss the current state of the movie industry and Twinkie flavors. It’s very somber from start to finish and you’ll be ready for it to end after 15-20 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s a very long film so that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the whole film had just been about Chris and her acting career, I have a feeling that it would certainly be a lot more enjoyable. Even just removing all of the cuts and slashes on Regan would help the film at least be watchable. You’re averting your gaze for most of the film otherwise since it’s pretty distasteful to have a kid be so violently injured for such a long time after all. Better to just look at the ceiling in the film and wonder when it was last painted. If you want a quality horror film, check out Poltergeist III as it’s one of the only good horror films out there. I can see why this one earned its reputation as it is pretty gritty, but that’s all the more reason why you should stay away from it. It’s just not worth it!

Overall 0/10

Children Who Chase Lost Voices Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

Kong: Skull Island Review

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It’s time to take a look at the new King Kong film. I’m not a King Kong fan nor will I ever be at this rate, but this film got a lot of hype since it’s in the same continuity as Godzilla. Maybe the latter’s quality would rub off on King Kong and elevate the series to new heights. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It’s still the same old King Kong with a fresh layer of paint. It makes the same mistakes although at least it doesn’t force any random romance plots into the film. Still, you can’t help but wish that the film had chosen a very different path.

The film is about two scientists convincing the government that they should head to Kaiju island to see what’s there. They are escorted by Preston and his team of commandos along with James, a skilled mercenary. They decide to bomb the island to scare everyone into submission, but this wakes up the mighty King Kong. The majority of the “heroes” are destroyed in the initial confrontation and the survivors have to find a way off the island. That’ll be tough since there are many monsters aside from King Kong. Preston also wants revenge on the big gorilla and he has some guns at the ready. Can he win this round?

One thing about King Kong is that a lot of people don’t find him to be all that scary. Why would they when falling off of a building is enough to destroy him? This version is a little bigger than most of the old film versions so that helps his case a little, but he is still injured by bullets here. A well placed fire blast does a lot of damage as well so I’m going to feel bad for him if he ever has to fight Godzilla. If ordinary fire can do that, imagine what ATOMIC breath will do to him. The poor guy would be incinerated in an instant. The only sad part is that King Kong is the heavy under dog in the fight so I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins as a result. Anyone remember Batman V Superman? The Godzilla angle is the main reason why you guys are watching this film so you should start to consider this angle. I am hyped for the big crossover even if it isn’t happening for quite a while. It’ll certainly be worth the wait. There is an after credits scene in this film so stick around.

Now, why am I disliking this film so much? There are a few reasons, but lets start with the obvious one. The animal violence is a problem here. We get a whole scene where we see Preston blow up a bird’s head. He’s the villain here so it’s to show us how mean he is, but it’s not helping the film’s case at all. There is a very thin line between monsters and animals and this film opted to have them be closer to animals than monsters. Bad move because the violence is a lot worse this way. It’s also sad when you consider that the humans are picking this fight. The monsters were just fine on their own until their island started to get blown up. They were simply defending themselves even if the film tries to get you to root for the humans. Not me, I was on the creatures side from day 1. It doesn’t help that all of the humans are just annoying the whole time. They weren’t all bad though, just not likable enough to be excused.

Preston was certainly not likable at all. The film gave him a ton of hype though so that was amusing. He is so out classed here so I couldn’t take that angle seriously. James is another hype character, but he never gets to do all that much. He has his big scene at the beginning, but he seems to panic just as much as the others and didn’t seem as tough and gritty as you’d expect. His “confrontation” with Mason on the bottom of the ship wasn’t as hype as the film thought it would be. They both talk tough and call each other’s bluff, but neither one actually gets anywhere. They were essentially fueling each other’s ego. James essentially never got any real character and the scene where he grabs a sword was just incredibly random. It also wasn’t a good scene since he was slashing a bunch of bats. Mason wasn’t a bad character either, but she really had no character either. At least she tried to help one of the monsters which was nice. She beats her counterpart from the earlier films. The rest of the cast were basically comic relief and didn’t do anything. A common trend here is that most of the characters weren’t bad, they just weren’t that interesting or likable either.

King Kong’s fight against the Skullcrawler was pretty good. The mini ones were pretty outmatched so they went down quickly, but I’ll definitely take that over the usual T Rex fight. These guys certainly had a better design after all and then the big one made for a nice villain as well. I was actually expecting a plot twist about these guys being the original Godzillas and the final one would return after the credits in his new Godzilla form. Maybe it’s for the best that it didn’t happen, but that would have been interesting. The King Kong vs human scenes are what you’d expect as they just get stomped the whole time. Preston puts up a fight of course, but once the gimmicks are gone, he doesn’t last all that long.

The film had some nice cuts like the spider claw stabbing a poor guy and King Kong rising up above the Sun. Those were probably the highlight as far as the visuals are concerned. I would still take Godzilla 2014 over this though with the awesome energy blasts and the fight against Muto was a lot more fun. What King Kong needs is his own energy blast or an opponent who has one. Of course, then King Kong would probably lose if it’s the latter so maybe he can get his own special attack in the sequel. This film probably took its special effects a little to seriously in some scenes as you’d see the characters load their guns rapid style. A Scooby Doo film used the same trick a while back and I actually don’t care for it. The sounds are distracting if anything and the visuals weren’t cool to look at. Maybe do it for something with a little more pop like a cool lightning blast or something. King Kong doesn’t have much options for that though so the technique is just wasted here.

None of the themes really stood out to me. It’s your standard action film stuff, but without the one stand out theme that is usually around. The end credits really pressed the point as they were eerily silent the whole time. The tune they picked for it really did not work. I’ll give the film some props for having the characters on the island the whole time. The film did start rather quickly and the action never stopped once they were on board. This was a double edged sword with all of the animal violence of course, but in theory it was a good move. I doubt the film would have been much better without the island anyway, maybe it could have scored a 6, but it would have been rather uneventful. You’d be taking the Skull Island out of Kong: Skull Island. New York City is a far superior backdrop, but I guess we can’t have every film take place there. Hopefully the crossover does though as that will really help with the visuals and intensity of the film.

The writing for this film wasn’t terrible. There isn’t constant panic with expletives this time around although they do artificially force the worst word in once just to get the crowd going. With the review just about done, lets briefly talk about what could be cool to see in a sequel. To make the sequel better, we need to have King Kong come to NYC. That’s step 1. Next would be to give King Kong a cool robot suit or a transformation where he grows wings and does battle with a true Kaiju. Next, ensure that the main humans are all red shirts so they can all die in the crossfire without any humans getting too much hype. We don’t want another fire damages King Kong scene after all. Throw in a cool techno theme and we’ll have the makings of a great movie.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island didn’t do it for me, but the odds of me liking the film were never great. You can’t take place on a retro island like this one that’s filled with animals and expect to be good. The odds of animal violence are simply too high and King Kong doesn’t have a great track record either. Also, it’s not like the film was subtle with the animal violence…a bird’s head was blown up…I’m not getting over that one. I don’t care much for apes and monkeys either so it would be very hard for me to really like Kong as a character. He did a good job of protecting his turf of course so I can respect that, but he’s still not all that “cool.” I’m excited for seeing where the cinematic universe goes from here though. We should be getting a lot of hype battles in the near future. Still, you don’t need to see this film to understand that though so I’d recommend checking out Pacific Rim or Godzilla (2014) instead. Both of those films do a better job of tackling the giant monster concept and have far better scenery and backdrops to grab your attention when the monsters aren’t around.

Overall 4/10

Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review

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It’s time for an Attack on Titan prequel OVA. This one adapts a side story from the manga so it’s fairly short. The OVA does manage to pad itself out a little with a brief recap on the state of things though so it’s not extremely short. It’s around the length of the average episode which is a pretty decent length for an OVA. It’s fairly interesting, but I can’t say that it’s actually good as it suffers from the usual Attack on Titan issues.

The main character of this story is Hange (Or Hanji depending on which name you’re more used too) and she really wants to experiment on a Titan. As she has no conscience to weigh her down, she has always been the perfect person to lead the scientist division. She may creep the rest of her comrades out, but that’s just a side effect of being insane. You’re basically rooting for the Titans here since you don’t want them to be enslaved so Hange can stab them forever. Things aren’t moving quickly enough for Hange so she decides to go rogue and head after a Titan. Along the way she learns that there was once a Titan who could talk. What does this mean?

The Notebook/Journal that the heroes find is the main item of importance in this story. It’s another tragic tale, but that’s to be expected here. Ilse was running through the woods when a Titan spotted her. The rest of her comrades had already been taken down for the count so she had no backup. Surprisingly, the Titan didn’t destroy her right away as it prolonged the experience by stretching its face and trying to let her know about the war going on and how the series was all a lie. Ilse didn’t handle this too well and panicked so she was quickly eaten. It’s meant to be pretty important since it shows that Titans have some level of intelligence even if it’s been buried pretty deep. At the same time her death in the end made the whole thing suspect anyway. Maybe she was just delusional. The heroes don’t seem to think much of it either as they just use this as an excuse to go on the hunt once more.

Humor has never been a strong point of the series and that continues here. A running gag is that Hange is super unhinged so she chokes one of her comrades and nearly murders him. She loses her cool constantly and I don’t know how she still has her job. Well, the government is corrupt so I guess that fits. It doesn’t make me like any of her comrades though since they don’t speak up about this and just keep on enduring it. Levi and the others seem to turn a blind eye as well. At least he’s one of the few people along with Erwin who doesn’t fear Hange, but if he’s not going to do anything about it, then it doesn’t really matter all that much.

Attack on Titan never fails to deliver on the technical side though. The soundtrack is pretty good as we got an awesome techno theme at the beginning of the OVA. It played when the series was giving a recap of the situation and it made for some fun visuals as well. If the whole OVA was like that, then I wouldn’t have had any problems. The strategic part of the series is when its typically at its best. The graphics are also pretty sharp as it looks and feels very modern. The character designs are on point and the OVA had fun using Sunset effects for when it was getting late, but not quite night time yet. It all looked good and at least that helps the OVA speed along even if it can’t totally nullify the negatives.

In the end, the OVA was still a little too violent and dark by the end. The novels pointed out that Titans don’t bleed so we technically shouldn’t be getting any blood when they’re slashed. The anime has always chosen to ignore that though and either way we have the Titans eating humans as well so that doesn’t help. The scene of the Titan trying to rearrange his face came across as completely unnecessary and eating Ilse at the end wasn’t a great ending either. Following the novels more closely would absolutely help Titan in all of its future products.

Overall, Ilse’s Notebook is fairly standard Attack on Titan fare. If you like the show then odds are that you’ll like the OVA. Eren and the other main characters may not be in it, but the rest of the OVA feels like it could easily be a normal episode. I still say that the show is too violent and melodramatic the whole time and Hange is a pretty terrible main character so she holds it down. To make it more interesting, I wouldn’t have minded some time travel thrown in so Eren could be around to yell a bit. It’s not exactly the feel good film of the year, but if you really want to make sure that you’re an expert on Attack on Titan lore, then you’ll want to check it out. For the rest of you, just go prepare yourself for Season 2 instead. It is certainly drawing closer and closer with every passing day.

Overall 4/10

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown Review

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It’s time for the third Charlie Brown special in a row. The main plot in this one isn’t that bad and may be the most entertaining, but we also got the worst subplot of the trio. Yes, Linus actually got the worst plot for a change and it was a little surprising since you’d expect his story to be pretty interesting most of the time. I suppose it just wasn’t to be, but at least we got to see Snoopy pranking people and just making the day more fun in general.

It’s Valentine’s Day and Charlie is hoping that he’ll actually get one for a change. The problem is that the system is rigged against him as it involves students each writing Valentine’s to the other kids and then someone hands them out later. Since Charlie has no friends to send him Valentine’s, this means that he has to sit around and wait as they slowly show him all of the letters that are for everyone else. I’m surprised that Charlie was surprised at this result, but I guess you have to be in a state of denial sometimes or the school will overwhelm you. The main plot sees Charlie get down about this, but he must hang in there. Surely someone will give him a card before the day is over…right?

As for the Linus subplot, he buys a chocolate for his teacher. The problem is that she’s always dashing around so he can’t find an opportunity to give it to her. Can he make it in time or will he have to start looking for a refund. I’d say that it was an emotional trip, but it really wasn’t. The subplot didn’t really add anything to the special except for an opportunity to see Sally chase after him for the chocolate. I’m definitely in the mood for such a large quantity myself. It looked pretty filling although assorted chocolates usually don’t end up taking away your hunger all that much. The pieces are just too small.

The end of the special has a pretty tough choice. Would you accept a used valentine? That’s the question that you’ve gotta ask yourself. I’d definitely say “Lol no” but maybe I’d say that I appreciate the sentiment if I didn’t feel like it was intended as an insult. It just seems like you’d be better off with no card than to get a fake one. I guess Charlie was pretty desperate at the end though. Once again, his imagination takes off with him though as he starts to believe that he is actually really popular all of a sudden. It’s a little hard to take seriously, but everyone has to start somewhere right? Maybe Charlie’s time has finally arrived.

A decent interlude during all of this was Snoopy’s live puppet show. It really reminds you just how intense the dog could be. He deliberately used the play as a ruse so he could attack Lucy and laugh about it. Charlie didn’t seem to mind much so I guess Snoopy already had him on the payroll. The scene wasn’t too long which prevented it from dragging on or getting obnoxious. It’s always good to have a change of pace as long as it is handled well.

The animation is consistent as always. The chocolate box looked pretty good and all of the character models were on point. It’s nothing to write home about, but there are no real flaws either. It’s a tried and true recipe to success. This special didn’t really have any songs though and it feels like the specials just ditched the concept of a soundtrack all of a sudden. Where’d all the music go? I always like to have some music as it makes the whole special more endearing.

Overall, The special was decently good. The Linus part could have been left out, but Charlie’s plot had the right mix of tragedy and comedy. You never felt too bad for him because this was probably one of the most minor sad events to ever happen to him. Seriously, it’s usually a lot worse. Not getting a Valentine on Valentine’s Day is like not getting a turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s sad, but you’ll live so long as you have Mash and a bowl of Macaroni and Cheese. I’m not sure when I’ll see my next Charlie Brown special, but there are always more out there so they shall return. In the meantime, prepare for some more intense reviews coming up.

Overall 6/10

You’re in Love, Charlie Brown Review

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This Charlie Brown special was definitely a lot more true to what the series is all about. It’s another story of Charlie Brown trying to win the red haired girl’s attention, but getting embarrassed along the way. However, it’s certainly not as personal as in the last one. Everyone is mean to him, but that’s to be expected at this point. It was just more enjoyable and this special was even older so it makes sense. Peppermint Patty has her first real role here since the Chuck gimmick happens for the first time based on Charlie’s reaction and it just feels retro.

Charlie tries to impress the red haired girl quite a few times or to at least stand out, but it keeps backfiring. You can appreciate his effort as he was able to write some really cool equations on the whiteboard, but it turned out that he didn’t know how he got there. It was still impressive that he knew them in the first place though. Hiding under a paper bag when the girl approached was a little harder to sympathize with though as it showed that he lacked the nerve when it counted.

The ending is a little on the cheesy side to be honest and I like to think that the letter was written by one of Charlie’s friends so he wouldn’t be moping during the entire summer vacation. If it was real then at least Charlie got some attention for once and hopefully she wouldn’t forget him over the summer vacation. Charlie will also have to stay on his best behavior since he’s now on the school’s naughty list for yelling at a teacher. It’s definitely not something that you’d expect from Charlie, but he was wound pretty tight by this point. Eventually he was definitely going to crack after all of the pressure.

Peppermint Patty and Linus are really the only two people that Charlie can count on. The former may have let him down with her plan to meet on the baseball mound, but at least her heart was in the right place. Linus also offers words of encouragement even if they turn into subtle insults at times. He certainly made things worse by telling Lucy and the others about the red haired girl. Snoopy is around as well although he doesn’t do much. His shenanigans are always cool though and help the special pass by. It was another romance centered one, but the special was still layered. We got to see the whole cast and the comedy was handled well. It was just far more entertaining than the last one.

The animation is as consistent as ever. This special is even older so it’s all the more impressive to see how it’s held up over the years. That really speaks to how good the overall style is. You can easily glance at the special and immediately recognize all of the characters and what’s happening. It’s changed a little over the years, but by and large it is the same style that we all know.

Overall, I’m one step closer to watching all of the Charlie Brown specials. I can definitely see their appeal as it’s easy to watch these. They’re just nice, light hearted fun. Now, whether a happy ending makes up for a sad beginning and middle for Charlie is another question altogether. In this case, I’d say that it sort of does since Charlie doesn’t take it personally and the stakes were a lot lower. It really depends on how it’s handled since this kind of thing can easily turn mean spirited if the writers aren’t careful. It has already happened a few times after all, but by and large the franchise has always been good with that. This one is winning as of now, but next up is the final special that I’ve seen at the moment. Can the special with Valentine’s Day in its title take the win or will it fall into the trap of the former? Time to find out!

Overall 6/10

It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown Review

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This is one of the more tragic Charlie Brown specials. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy as he’s framed and suffers from serious memory loss all in the span of 20 minutes. He got to have some fun though and at least has a happy ending for a change. I certainly wouldn’t say that it’s one of my favorite specials, but I suppose it gets the job done.

The plot involves Charlie being framed by Lucy for losing the team’s big football game. It was a little on the mean spirited side, but the series doesn’t mind going there when it suits the franchise. I’ll never forget how the bullies humiliated the heroes in the racing challenge. I’m still a little sore about that one. When you consider the high stakes of this game, it also shows you that Lucy has her priorities completely mixed up. Nevertheless, Charlie must try to get past this because he has been assigned to be the little red haired girl’s escort in a big party. Can he steel his nerves and get through this without fainting?

You can tell that this is one of the older specials right off the bat because the graphics are a little more dated. It’s nothing too drastic though and the special still looks good overall. It’s not like you can stop the passage of time right? There isn’t much in the way of music here or sub plots. It’s really just one straight adventure to the end so at least there aren’t a whole lot of filler scenes.

By the same token there isn’t a whole lot to talk about here. One thing that I have to say is that the red haired girl was given a fairly throwaway design for some reason. She resembled a non playable character more than you would have expected. She also had no real personality, but I suppose that is to be expected since she never really got to talk back in the day. I was surprised to actually see her since it’s a running gag that she never appears.

While the party was apparently pretty exciting, it doesn’t really amount to much since it was all off screen. There also wasn’t enough Snoopy action for my liking. He’s always the life of the party so you gotta have him in a starring role. If the whole special had been the Football game and Charlie had gotten to win it in the end, the special would have certainly been verrrrrrry different.

Overall, This was a reasonable special. It did have some noticeable issues though like the Football game. You can’t help but feel bad for Charlie there and the rest of the kids need to start wearing glasses. Charlie fainting at the end was also pretty sad and makes the whole situation even worse for him. Also, a special can’t really last for the full length with just a romance plot. The football scenes were meant to help with this…but we know how that turned out. If you’re going to watch a Charlie Brown special then you can certainly do a lot better than this one. That being said, it’s still not a bad special. It went by really fast so I’d say that it actually has a reasonable amount of replay value. It’d just be too depressing to watch again without some kind of break. I recently saw two of the other romance specials so we’ll see how they stack up. At the very least, I can confirm that the other two aren’t as tragic.

Overall 5/10

Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale Review

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March has been off to a pretty intense start. Between my birthday and the release of Legend of Zelda Breath and the Wild, things were already going well. This got even better when I won free tickets to the big U.S. premiere of Ordinal Scale. Special Shoutout to Anime Girls NYC for letting me know about the contest in the first place. Winning it was pretty hype although it was still a tough call because it was on at the same time as a class I was supposed to be at. I thought long and hard about it, but missing out on this big event with free tickets would have been a shame so I played hooky and just skipped it. Characters do that on TV all the time right so missing one day shouldn’t be bad…hopefully! Well enough of that, time to talk about the film. It was great as expected and I dare say that it did a better job of getting the concept of virtual gaming better than the show did. Arc 1 of the first season is still the absolute greatest, but this movie has no second half to weigh it down.

This movie takes place after the first two seasons of the show. A new augmented reality game has launched called Ordinal Scale. After the tragic events of Sword Art Online and Gun Gale Online, people are fed up with virtual reality games. This new company took the opportunity to launch their augmented reality game since it is very different. I won’t go into how these genres are different since you can just Google that, but think Pokemon Go, but the more intricate version. You use the new system in every day life to get free coupons and to increase your score. The major boosts are obtained through boss fights and taking down minions. Kirito is sore that nobody is playing his favorite games anymore though so he pouts about it for the first chunk of the movie.

Kirito is so sore about this that he even takes the time to tell his friends that they’re playing games too much nowadays. After all, if you’re not playing his favorite games then you shouldn’t be playing at all. Kirito was such a jerk during the first part of the movie that it was actually pretty funny. He comes across as hypocritical and lying to his future wife’s face for super minor stuff also makes you shake your head. Now you may think that I’m not a Kirito fan based on this, but he’s actually my favorite character and I’m a big fan. His attitude and negative demeanor is part of what makes him endearing. Anyway, Kirito is forced to get on board when the game begins to get dangerous. Asuna is attacked and her memories of Sword Art Online are stolen. On a more minor note, the villain also broke Klein’s arm and injured a group of people, but Kirito’s more concerned about the Asuna situation. He must now get stronger in this game so he can beat up the villains and force them to return her memories. He may be a legend in the video game world, but can he do so well in the human realm? Time to find out!

Part of what makes this a little more challenging is the fact that Ordinal Scale is still in the real world. The illusions don’t change the fact that you have to physically move around and Kirito is supposedly out of shape. The film keeps on saying that, but he always looks like he’s in shape so Kirito’s just that good. He has a quick training montage and reminds us why he is the hero. It was great to see hardcore Kirito return for a little bit as he finally decided to go all out on the villains. It’s something that you don’t see from him quite as much now that he’s gotten a bit more mellow, but in his defense, the stakes have never been as high as they were in SAO. I’m sure the third season should change that once we finally adapt the next big arc.

The soundtrack in the film is easily 5 stars. There are a ton of great themes and I’ve already listened to the soundtrack on Youtube quite a few times. As I always say in my reviews, a good soundtrack can take a film to the next level. It’s safe to say that the film wouldn’t have been quite as exciting with a more laid back set of tunes. We get remixes from the show and even some tunes that seem to be grabbed directly from it. Coupled with the new tunes, it makes for a pretty unforgettable experience.

As always, the graphics are also excellent. The fight scenes really stand out and the choreography for the hand to hand fights are excellent. The best fight is naturally Kirito vs Eiji, but there were great moments all around. All of the fights were a blast with the colorful visuals and great sound effects. You could really hear every slice and clang and that’s part of what will always make going to the theater such fun. It’ll still be around at home of course, but your neighbors never let you turn the volume up quite as much as you would like. The solution is to live in a house of course, but I don’t think I’ll be moving anytime soon. Besides which, I’m just a city kid at heart anyway.

There are some plot elements I have to mention because they don’t make much sense. I’m not gonna go into too much detail on this, but Ordinal Scale just doesn’t work in practice. At least not the way that the film presented it. As one person pointed out on Youtube, one scene has a car turn into a bunch of barrels and later on we see the barrels get thrown around. That means that a car just got totaled and the poor owner is going to sue the game or a player bumped into the car and probably broke his back if we assume that it wasn’t enough to throw the car. There are many scenes like this throughout the film where you try and remember what the real world looked like the whole time. In a sense it almost feels like Boss Baby where the characters feel like they’re doing something intense, but it’s actually a lot less wide scale and epic than you are led to believe.

This may be true to an extent, but the line is heavily blurred. The characters are also immersed to the point where the whole landscape changes and they no longer know where they’re going. Also, their fake weapons seem to have an impact when they have their glasses on, but then it fades once they take it off. I guess you can just attribute this to the AR being that realistic, but it was also a little hard to swallow. Likewise, Eiji’s abilities were also a little intriguing. By the end we can basically just assume that the tech gave him super speed in real life which is pretty neat, but it should be extremely obvious to everyone in real time. At first it was treated like getting level ups in the game just gave you special abilities, but that wouldn’t make sense in context. What I’m trying to say in all of this is to not look at the context too hard as it falls apart under scrutiny.

The film’s around 2 hours, but definitely doesn’t feel like it. The adventure zips by in a snap which is obviously a good thing. It never drags on and it just a fun adventure from start to finish. I don’t have any real negatives here. I was worried that the film would have some fanservice since the show had a big problem with that, but it actually strayed away from that for the most part. There was definitely quite a bit of romance, but that usually goes hand in hand with the series. At least everyone wasn’t trying to get Kirito’s attention for once since he’s made it clear so many times that he’s taken.

I already talked about Kirito. He may not have sounded great, but he really is an excellent character. He’s a little petty at first, but every character has an off day. This was one of Asuna’s better depictions as she got really good at the game and it’s easy to see how she’s more comfortable in this real world setting than Kirito. He was never much of a people person after all. I would have been disappointed if Asuna had decided not to jump into the fray by the end and luckily the film didn’t go that route. She’s a fighter at heart so not including her in the climax would have been a mistake.

The rest of the group members are also around like Lisbeth, Klein, Leafa, and the others. They get decent roles and are around to try and get Kirito to enjoy the game more. They all pitch in and help when necessary. Sinon probably did the most noticeable damage to the boss which was nice since she is more powerful than the others. The fact that she is a long range fighter does make her a little vulnerable to the tougher bosses though. I still think it was a little odd how nobody really cared about what happened to Klein and why he didn’t tell them that Eiji could not be trusted. He didn’t lose his memory of being attacked after all so that was a little fishy. Ah well, that’s why he’s not the main character. As for the new characters in the film, they were all fairly decent. I can’t say that I cared much for the scientist, but I typically don’t care much for scientist characters anyway. At the very least, I could sympathize with his goal. He wanted to bring his daughter back even if it meant destroying the memories of many players and ultimately destroying them as well if necessary. Clearly he’s evil no matter what the justification is, but it’s certainly a better motive than just being psychotic. I’m always more on board with a plan to bring someone back to life because someone who’s special to you should mean more than the rest of the world. If you have to put the world in danger to save someone, then so be it.

The players also made it rather easy. The theater was laughing quite a lot when one of Klein’s friends noticed arrows that led to a dark alley. It’s basically the scenario that you hear about all the time on Reddit, but this guy walked in anyway because he saw a rare item. Lets just say that it did not end well for him. When are these guys going to learn that you shouldn’t go into a dark alley no matter what the reason? I can’t say that I liked Klein’s group at all though as they came off as desperate the whole time. I was rooting for the Sword Art Online monsters to take them down.

The pop idol Yuna is another one of the new characters. Her arc never really went anywhere though. She showed some interest in things beyond her programming which could have been interesting, but I guess the film didn’t have time to delve into it. She seemed like a nice enough person although I wonder if she knew that people were getting injured to deliver the crystals to her. She may not have been as innocent as she looked, but she can definitely sing. Finally, we have the main villain, Eiji. Eiji’s a classic arrogant villain who’s really confident in his abilities and loves picking on the weak. At first it seemed like he was just beating everyone up so he could get the crystals and it wasn’t anything personal, but this facade broke down a few times. Eiji definitely loves being the villain and his design was solid. The scenes with him and Kirito were definitely handled well and I’m glad that Kirito didn’t back down even when he was outmatched. That’s just not how Kirito rolls. I feel like Eiji should have put up more of a fight in his final scene, but I guess he was just too broken by then.

The surprise final boss was also great. I would have liked for that fight to be extended if anything, but they definitely fit in a bunch of action. Every character got to have a big moment in the end and there were a bunch of homages to the TV show. It was great to briefly see everyone and the movie really did do a good job of wrapping up everything from the shows. It was a good way to bridge the gap between this part and the next saga. This review was a little all over the place, but for a movie this hype it’s hard not to just start rambling as I move from section to section. It had a lot of powerful moments full of intensity and then also emotional moments as well. Kirito’s montage was excellent as I mentioned earlier and since it was personal now, I’m glad he threw everything at the mission. He even called in his favors with the government to get to the bottom of this.
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Overall, Ordinal Scale is definitely an excellent film. There was never a question about its greatness, only whether it gets an 8 or a 9. As I mentioned there aren’t any real negatives so that makes an 8 the minimum. At the same time, there are some stretches of time with no real action scenes so I’m trying to consider how a re watch of the film would go down. Honestly it is good enough for me to re watch it already so it definitely has a lot of replay value. The theater audience was also very lively which was a blast. The animation and soundtrack are top notch and the plot is good. The dialogue scenes were also solid since I do like the characters. I don’t want to take shots at Naruto too often, but it’s amazing just how much more enjoyable the cast of Sword Art Online is. Seeing them hang out at the mall is more interesting than seeing the Naruto characters fight at times which should be impossible. Of course, good directing does go a long way. Well, in the end I think the film is good enough to pull it off. It’ll join the great crowd of Resurrection F, Yugioh Dark Side of Dimensions, and more. After all, the film’s going to be even more awesome when I get to see the dubbed version of it! I look forward to seeing the series return someday and until then I may get around to reading the light novels. I highly recommend the film and keep your eye out for the Pac-Man scene. It was definitely a highlight moment as Sword Art Online acknowledges that people will still be playing the game no matter how high tech the industry gets. Pac-Man is timeless.

Overall 9/10

Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On Review

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It looks like Kino is back on the job with this prequel OVA. We’re back in the days of her youth before she became devoid of personality but still after the tragedy of the original Kino. At less than 30 minutes long, this OVA is fairly short, but it’s not bad. We get to see more crazy customs and a lot of pondering by the cast. In a way, you could say that Kino’s Journey is like a grim Charlie Brown…just think about it.

So, Kino wants to find the village where the original Kino used to live. After all, she may have taken his name, but she feels like she can’t properly use it until she wraps up these loose ends. Her master allows her to go, but gives Kino a gun just in case. Kino may run into all kinds of dangers and having some form of self defense has never hurt before. What could have happened to change Kino from the happy girl that she used to be into the emotionless person that she would transform into? It is all explained in this special.

We may as well get down to business right off the bat. The series likes to show a lot of odd superstitions and customs from the various places that Kino visits and this one is no exception. The villagers have decided that anyone beyond their village is someone who cannot be bound by their laws. As such, they decide not to do anything while an old lady murders all travelers who come by so that she can avenge her son. Many travelers meet an ill timed fate at her hands until Kino shows up one day and puts an end to it. Kino ultimately puts her gun skills to use and the taking of a life took its toll as she immediately became a different person. I suppose it’s hard not to get jaded after that, but Kino should have suspected something.

I figured that the old lady was approaching nut bar factor 6 once the animation gave her a red tint and she started glaring at Kino. Kino didn’t quite realize this even after she started to tell the lady about how her son was murdered by Kino’s parents. Probably not the best way to go about this although the lady was going to take her down anyway. Remember, never accept a tea from a stranger or it’s probably going to be spiked. I suppose the old lady was almost a decent antagonist, but I’d like to see another gun pro as the main villain at some point. It would give Kino more of a challenge.

I can’t say that I’m crazy about Kino’s animation. It’s not really my style as it goes for a more retro, grainy look. I suppose making it look older can help make the atmosphere a little more mysterious, but I’m sure you could do this with modern animation as well. There’s not much of a soundtrack since this is a rather quiet show, but it was neat to hear the classic sound effects from the show.

While this special was good, there is one area where the franchise could improve a lot and it would help future titles. The main cast needs a serious revamp. As it stands, there aren’t really any likable characters at all. I liked Kino until she reverted to her TV show form in the end, but nobody else stands out. The Motorcycle is a pretty bland character and the master didn’t seem to have a personality. The main villain probably stood out the most and she’s totally insane. Adding in good characters can definitely make a difference and it’s probably what separates this from Twilight Zone as the two have a very similar concept. This show just doesn’t have the cool alien episodes or supernatural adventures and prefers to stay old school. Not a bad decision per say, but it does limit its opportunities.

Overall, Life Goes On is a good way to continue Kino’s Journey. I clearly did enjoy it more than the show as this kind of series is definitely a case by case basis. If the story is good then we’ll have a winner, but if the traditions are too dicey then it won’t have the same effect. This special was interesting enough and the time went by at a good speed. If you enjoy adventures where you get to see different lands and situations then this should be up your ally. It’s a special that easily stands on its own so you don’t need to have seen the show to get what’s happening. It’s not the most exciting thing out there, but it’s good enough to warrant a watch.

Overall 6/10