Klaus Review

It’s time for a Santa Claus origin story. You’ve probably seen some of these around and Santa always makes for a fun character to watch. Well, this one takes a bit of a different look at the classic tale and switches some things up. It’s a fun way to readapt the legend and you should have a good time with this movie. It’s a classic feel good film.

The movie starts with Jesper failing at being a mail man. He just can’t seem to do anything right but his father is wise to this and realizes that Jesper is failing on purpose so he can go back home to slack off. His family is rich after all so being at home just sounds more fun. Well now his father has sent him off to the coldest, smallest village out in the middle of nowhere. Jesper needs to have sent out 6000 letters if he ever wants to leave and that will be difficult. For starts the village is in the middle of a civil war and a lot of the kids don’t know how to write a letter anyway. It may take some Christmas magic to get this mission completed.

Jesper goes through a fairly classic character arc here where at first he’s spoiled and mean but gradually learns how to be a better person. He stays in the mean phase for quite a long time though so if anything holds you back from liking him it would be that you may feel the arc took him a little too long. Even by the end he is being mean to one girl because she doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t want to take the time to understand her. For a while he is only focused on the letters so since she wasn’t going to help him get closer to his goal, he had no time for her. It was rather a cruel moment on his part.

He also makes some big mistakes near the end. Inevitably you know there will be a moment where he has to decide to stay in the village or leave with his father and it plays out pretty much the same way in every film but for once you’d like him to just say straight up that he’s not leaving. There are a whole lot of ways that he could have gotten himself out of the sticky situation but he didn’t go with them.

So he definitely has his share of issues. That said, Jesper does give us a lot of the fun comedic moments in the film so you wouldn’t want to miss out on that. He may not be my favorite character but the character arc is still a big staple of the film. The village absolutely needed someone to help out and even if his motives weren’t the best, he did get the job done. It’s like when you see someone doing a good deed online for clout. Yeah they may not have the best reason for helping out but if they actually are helping someone then I can overlook the motive.

Alva is one character who ended up being helped out a lot thanks to Jesper’s selfish actions. She had grown quite disillusioned with the world but when the kids started being eager to learn then she was finally able to find her purpose. Likewise Klaus wasn’t in a great spot in his life and this whole adventure helped to snap him out of it. Jesper definitely did help a lot of people even without meaning too. There was a really solid scene in the movie where we see exactly how much the village has changed. It was worlds different from back when they were always fighting.

The village really couldn’t get much worse from how it was when Jesper first got there. It’s hard to imagine just how sad the place would have been to live in for all of those years but at least now there is no need to worry about any of that. The film has a lot of good musical themes to help back the scenes up as well. Some fun modern titles and then more classic Christmas songs. It all helps to keep a lot of energy within the film and the fast pacing is one of its strengths.

The humor style here is usually about quick wit. Characters talk really quickly as they get the jokes in and usually they’ll already be telling another one while the first is ending. That’s the kind of humor style I like because nothing is dragged out. You either get the joke or you don’t. There are also a good amount of visual gags as well. The animation style here is fairly unique. The characters are all off model but in a stylistic way which is usually used to amp up the humor as the designs are actually referenced once or twice like when Jesper meets Klaus. It may not be a style that you would want to overuse but it’s always tough to look unique in this day and age so props for pulling that off.

I dare say the film almost didn’t need any antagonists. We do have two villain groups here (The ones always fighting) and they continue to get involved all the way to the end but I don’t think they added much. Yes they create a little drama at the end but it’s fairly brief. You could cut that part out and get the same effect by having Klaus or the main heroine walk into his officer and see his notes about getting the letters and leaving. It would have the same effect and I dare say that it would work a bit smoother. The villains were okay but just a bit forced.

Klaus has a good ending so things really work out quite nicely. The ending is important for all movies of course but it’s massively important for a feel good film like this one. You need to feel good or it’s just not going to go over well and would spoil the whole thing. So the ending here is very satisfying and caps off a very nice experience. This is a high quality film that is a lot of fun. I don’t expect you would have any significant issues with the film. It’s got a nice amount of polish and it’s the perfect time to watch this one.

Overall, Klaus is a fresh take on a classic tale. It’s a good amount of fun from start to finish with good character arcs and a fun cast. Jesper may take a little long to get with the program but the important thing is that he does by the end. The movie has a lot of humor throughout and it’s all executed really well. Seeing how the film incorporates each bit of the Santa mythos by the end is always fun. It tackles the Reindeers, the cookies, the naughty list, etc. It was really quite clever at smoothly incorporating them in. You would understand the references each time but it never felt forced.

Overall 7/10

Annabelle: Creation Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the movie. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Annabelle was so big that she got an origin story which is impressive since that doesn’t seem to happen very often unless you’re a really big character. I guess that fits the bill for her at this point though, she has earned that reputation. The film pretty much plays out as you would expect but in this case almost all of the characters are kids so there isn’t a whole lot that they can do against Annabelle. The film could have used a few more grown-ups to try and make the fights more interesting.

The movie starts with Samuel and Esther losing their kid Annabelle in a tragic hit by a car. Many years later they’ve decided to open up their home as a shelter for a bunch of kids who are homeless after the orphanage was removed. This group is led by Sister Charlotte and the place is quite large so they’re happy here. Samuel is rather withdrawn and his wife Esther never allows them to see or talk to her but…well it’s a place to live. The main problem is that strange things begin to happen here.

The main kid is Janice and she has a tough time walking due to illness so she has to use a cane everywhere. Naturally since you’re watching a horror film you know this puts her at a big disadvantage right out of the gate. She is told that the whole house is good to walk through except for one closed door. You are not to go in there under any circumstances but of course Janice does go in there and opens up the door which had been locking out the evil demon for a long time now. Annabelle is now on the loose and she wants to take over Janice’s body. Can this kid stop the demon or is it game over?

That’s the question which limits the film’s potential a bit when you think about it. Of course the kids can’t do anything against Annabelle. Even the adults are usually rather helpless against such a threat but with the kids it just feels a little too one sided. In general kids are rarely very interesting characters in film so I prefer when they take a back seat. Having them here 24/7 as the leads wasn’t the best idea if you ask me.

Most of the kids are also just annoying. You have the classic bullies who are mean to Janice because she can’t walk properly like they can. Janice only has one true friend in Linda but the others are as petty as possible and you can expect that they won’t be doing very well against Annabelle either. I at least liked Linda who had Janice’s back from the start. Her best moment is definitely when she decided to take charge and ran outside with the doll in order to throw it into the pit of no return. It was a brave thing for a kid to do and took a lot of guts considering the powers it had. Things almost got dicey for Linda since she sure was taking her time closing the lid but that was a good moment.

As for Sister Charlotte, she did well in what was a pretty lousy situation all around. There’s only so much she could do with the orphanage being destroyed and I’m sure it was a lot of work to find a suitable house that would work for everyone. The owners may not have been the best people around but at least they did have a place for the group. Charlotte also did her best to keep the kids in line, they just didn’t make it easy on her.

Samuel has to be one of the worst characters here and of course the same is true of Esther. They absolutely knew about the demon and yet they decided to open this place as a shelter? I don’t care if it was purified several times, the demon was still around which is why the door was closed. Allowing the kids into the building was negligent. If you absolutely wanted to atone and do good by the world, at least find a way to get the priests to completely destroy the building or the demon within the doll. Sealing it away isn’t actually removing the problem.

Then Samuel is also completely oblivious to what’s going on. I feel like it’s intentional but when Janice and the others start talking about weird things happening, he doesn’t seem to care. “Samuel, your wife visited us in the middle of the night!” “Gee, I don’t think so, she’s still in her room….” Samuel knows well and good that she was in the room which means that it was the demon or some kind of supernatural thing going on. By the time he’s actually ready to help it’s way too late. I also thought he was rather cold to the kids for no reason. If he’s still torn up about the past then perhaps inviting the orphanage was not a good idea.

Likewise, Esther is just hiding out in her room the whole time. You have to at least meet the kids, this just makes the experience a little creepy for them. The doll mask seemed to cover her face rather well so just use that and meet up with everyone. Otherwise she really isn’t doing anything to help the cause and is just holding the experience back. That said, I still wasn’t expecting her end to be quite so violent, Annabelle was not holding back here.

In general I wouldn’t say the film is super violent though. Moments of Annabelle shredding everyone is typically rare and the film has a ton of build up. Things don’t really start happening until it’s nearly time to end. We do get one barfing moment from the villain which is always a rather crude way to take possession. I prefer going with the smoke method personally or something like that.

We do get to connect this to the first ending in a way similar to Rogue One so that was interesting. Of course you feel bad for the new characters even if you do know what is going to ultimately happen to them. It’s the kind of twist ending you’re expecting though and even if you haven’t seen the first film it would work in that sense. I did like that we got to see more of Annabelle’s true demon form here though. It certainly looks intense and could probably hold its own movie in that form as well. Now that’s a figure that you wouldn’t want to have to fight.

The special effects in the film are pretty solid. There’s a lot going on and it’s always visually interesting. More so than the movie at times but that’s how it goes. It’s definitely one of those futile movies where the characters never have any shot at directly stopping the villain and just have to try and survive. I think the movie would be more interesting if the characters could be aged up so they could at least try thinking of plans. That’s a staple of the big horror movies even if the plans usually don’t work out. You at least want to see the characters trying some options but that doesn’t really happen here.

Overall, I thought this was a little better than the average horror film and the kids could have been worse. Linda gets a lot of props for actually trying to help out and take Annabelle down. Janice gets considerably less points here because it felt like she kept on adding to the trouble by going where she wasn’t supposed to and all that. You do feel bad for her since she can’t just run and escape the way most main characters could though. The film’s a slow burn but with kids as the focus it’s not as engaging as it could have been. I’d say this is a safe skip.

Overall 4/10

Megaman the Comic Review

This is a very short comic with only 4 pages so there isn’t much to say but I’ll quickly run you through what goes on here. It’s a classic origin story for Megaman as we see Dr. Light turn him into a fighting machine. The comic starts with them seeing on the news that many robots have been going crazy. Megaman is determined to put this right and quickly because he’s just a nice guy. Light figures that the only way this will work is to give Megaman a transformation from a peaceful robot into a combat one. The procedure is apparently quite painful and even seems to turn Megaman’s hair white (Although that could just be the electricity). Megaman has now been born and is ready to take down evil!

That’s about it. There’s only so much you can really do in a short amount of time like that. I appreciate seeing a look at Megaman’s origin but I absolutely think this should have been a few pages longer so we could have seen some action. Maybe have Megaman go up against a squad of powerful villains or something like that even if they’re just minions. It would put a nice cap on the adventure and really give you hope that Megaman could save us all. If you do that, then the adventure immediately becomes a lot more memorable and hype.

At least you can quickly get a feel for all of the characters’ personalities. Roll is shown to be very cautious so naturally she gets worried when Megaman decides to embark on this adventure. He may not make it back alive after all. You have Dr. Light who halfheartedly protests but has the equipment on hand so he turns Megaman into the hero right away. It didn’t feel like he was as reluctant as you’d expect. The danger was rapidly taking out the town so he made the hard calls here.

Finally you’ve got Megaman who will be taking all of the actual risks. He did well to volunteer for such a dangerous role right away. You can sense his heroic spirit here and it’s easy to see how he would end up becoming the ultimate champion of Earth. He was willing to take all of the risks and never looked back. Ultimately he would lead the land to an era of peace.

The art is good here. The character proportions are all right and it’s easy to follow along with what’s happening. The colors are vibrant and so I had no issues on that front. The writing/dialogue is also good so the comic really made the most of its 4 pages. It would work well as the pilot to a true ongoing but I think you could also make the origin a lot longer and that would be cool. There’s a lot to explore there.

Overall, This was a very short review but at only 4 pages I would have to really stretch things out to talk about it longer. It’s a fun little comic and I would definitely check it out if you’ve got a minute to spare. I’m always glad to see Megaman content of any kind. It feels like the franchise just hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention lately outside of X Dive with regards to new content so I’d like to see Capcom step up there. At least the fans are quite dedicated and keep translating so many of the older works though. It all helps to keep the brand alive.

Overall 5/10

Superman: Man of Tomorrow Review

This is really the Superman film I’ve been waiting for. Red Son had a very brief time as the best Superman film for me but I always had a feeling this one could rise to the top. Not only was it bringing in two of my favorite villains in Parasite and Lobo, but it just looked like a pretty good retro Superman story. It definitely has a solid old school feeling while still incorporating some modern elements. I could certainly see this being a modern reboot that could work to set up a solid universe. The origin story also goes pretty fast so we can focus on the more interesting part of his first days as Superman instead of him growing up.

The movie starts with Clark Kent covering a big rocket launch by Lex Luthor. He’s an intern and not quite a reporter yet but is ready to move on up. Right away he’s introduced as a nice guy who makes friends with the janitor and does his best to try and get a scoop without cutting corners. The launch doesn’t go well and Lois is able to prove Lex’s guilt so he is thrown into prison. This is their first meeting so now Clark has seen what the ultimate reporter can do. While the fame doesn’t go to Lois Lane’s head, she is definitely one of the more antagonistic characters in the film so she won’t be making friends anytime soon.

Clark still wants to leave a positive impression but he has other problems to worry about. A space bounty hunter by the name of Lobo has arrived and wants to take Superman down. He claims that Clark is a Kryptonian. Then you’ve also got a mysterious stranger who follows Clark around a lot and even heads to his home in Smallville. Finally, you have the Parasite, a being of incredible power who may very well destroy this entire planet. Superman will have to stop these foes while also establishing himself as a hero for peace and not someone who needs to be feared.

There’s just a lot to like here right from the start. For starters it was nice to see more of Clark Kent. It seems like there isn’t often a lot of time to see the human side for Superman outside of fighting crime so that is always fun. I also like that this is a version of Clark where he is a top notch reporter and this is getting set up by the end of the film. He is ready to one up Lois when needed and he also visits Smallville pretty often. As he mentioned, it’s just a 10 minute trip for him (And that’s probably a cautious estimate) so he can really go and hang out at any time. The Kents also look good and these scenes really help develop the characters.

Then you have the Superman scenes which are a blast of course. I would say the stand out fight is the first battle with Superman and Lobo. While the animation may not be quite as colorful as the mainline DC films from the 52 era, the smooth animation does help with showing a lot of great choreography the whole time. There’s a lot of good back and forth with each character getting some good hits in but I would say it’s clear that Lobo has the edge here. Superman is still growing into his powers of course so he isn’t quite as powerful as he would usually be in later years of his career.

Admittedly when the final boss went the route of going for a giant monster as the final boss I did have to shake my head a bit. It seems like the ole giant enemy approach is inevitable nowadays but you just can’t get any great choreography out of that. Outside of Fate Grand Order where you could really feel the immense impact of the big enemy that the show was going for, I wouldn’t say it tends to be all that impressive. You can have multiple giant foes fighting each other but someone like Superman going up against a giant monster? I don’t think that’ll work out.

Still, it was less about the fight and more about showing off how Superman can use peace to solve some of his fights so that was handled pretty well. It was also a chance to get everyone involved in the fight. I would say Lobo seemed a little nerfed in this one since I think he could have done a lot better but you can’t win every fight right? I half expected Lex to put on his suit but I suppose it might be too early to bring that one out. As it stands, he is definitely not someone you can trust at all here. He is very quick to blast you in the back. It’s not really his most impressive appearance but he’s never all that worried so you feel like he’s got some other plans in the works.

For Lois, as I mentioned she is definitely very tough on everyone here, but she is a fun character. Her power moves were definitely fun and she has an air of absolute confidence about her. She may have lost this final round against Superman but I’m sure she won’t give up. She is always ready to go into dangerous situations to get the scoop after all. I’m sure she and Clark will have a good rivalry going forward if he starts trying to take all the bylines like in the DCAU.

Lobo of course is a fun wild card character to have around. I definitely was not expecting any kind of team up with him so that was pretty intense. He’s one of those characters who really tends to overwhelm the screen while he’s appearing so you never forget the guy. Then you have the stranger who was following Superman around. That guy was definitely a pretty intense figure. I liked how it gave the film an extra element of being a mystery or part thriller. His fight in the night and showing up at the Kent’s place was intense. I do think Superman should have been a little quicker to break things up to be honest but he still did make it before things got too tricky so that’s the important thing.

The film does like its fake outs with death though. Two different characters seemingly die only to return later on. I admit that while I didn’t buy the second one for a minute, the first would have been interesting. I can see why they wouldn’t let it stick since that would start Superman’s career off on a rather depressing note and he might not be able to be quite as cheerful after that. It does work as a dramatic moment though even if you feel like Superman should have stepped in with someone being murdered right in front of him. No matter how weak he was feeling, that’s the time to dash in.

Overall, Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a great way to bring Superman back into the spotlight. It’s a good origin story that introduces him as a great hero who will certainly do a good job. He’s very likable and now even has a bit of a supporting cast for when we start the Justice League saga. Batman was also set up so it may be time for another Batman vs Superman adventure soon. That would definitely be fun. If you haven’t seen this film yet, then you should definitely do so. It really encompasses what a complete Superman film is expected to be. You have Clark digging up clues on his end, Superman saving the day sometimes with power and other times with deductive reasoning. There’s a lot going on here so the whole time you’re just hoping the film can keep on going. If a whole continuity does come out of this film, I look forward to seeing Superman return and have more adventures. There’s always a ton of potential with a fresh slate.

Overall 8/10

Rurouni Kenshin Secret Chapter To Rule Flame Review

All right, it is time to check out the prequel manga that came out for Kenshin a while back thanks to Mangastream’s hard work as they even translated the cover! This volume is about Shishio, the fan favorite villain who did end up being one of the better Kenshin antagonists. It’s a fairly good volume. We don’t get to see the heroes almost at all, which is a little unfortunate, but it’s good to have the universe back. I’m still not done with the original series myself, but I’m in the final volumes. Keep in mind that this review will have spoilers for the volume since it’s so short and hard to avoid such things.

Well, it’s an origin story so Shishio is naturally one of the main characters. He heads into a town with his right hand man and he awaits the rest of his 10 swords. It is almost time to make his big move so now he simply needs to bide his time. He stays at an inn where the hostess is legendarily tough to buy. Either way, Shishio doesn’t care for such things, but then the lady decides to buy his strength to save her friends. Shishio will need some kind of payment for this and the lady will have to think of something.

Well, the story definitely deals with some things that you don’t see all that often (For good reason) in a manga. The main heroine is actually a prostitute although she has essentially decided to stop in that practice as she allows no one to buy her anymore. Alas, in this time, women had fewer rights so a rich person decides to buy her anyway. The lady resigns herself to this fate, but her friends mistakenly find out about the rich guy’s evil plans so he decides to destroy them all. That is why the heroine has to ask Shishio for help. Shishio is reluctant, but she helps him realize that dying alone is not a happy fate so he accepts her help on the condition that her life is now his. When Shishio is about to die, he will destroy her as well. These are satisfactory conditions for the heroine and that’s essentially the origin of Shishio.

Luckily, the manga doesn’t put too much emphasis on the prostitution part. You know that it’s happening in the city, but we never see anything even close to that, which is certainly a smart move on the manga’s part. The ending is also a lot happier than I had figured although I suppose that it is in a morbid sort of way. Shishio acknowledges that he is ultimately going to hell, but he simply isn’t fighting it. He almost doesn’t care as he still wants to be evil and he will just bring as many people as he can with him. That certainly solidifies Shishio as a villain.

At least he is a cool villain though. He’s not one of those guys who will just make you wince and groan as you read the chapter. If this had been about a lesser villain or an insane one, then it would likely not have been nearly as good. As it stands, Shishio does ultimately help against the villains so that will make the story a lot more bearable. After all, if you’re teaming up with a villain who’s as skilled as Shishio, you should have nothing to worry about.

The villain for this story gets a lot of hype at first, but then it all fades away. I think the author just forgot about it or something because the actual battle is very anticlimactic. It’s essentially over in a slash, which is sad. Based off of the imagination battle that they had earlier, I would have expected a very good fight. The Kenshin series had plenty of excellent fights so another one would have been a lot of fun. I suppose that fighting was not the main draw for this spinoff, but it still would have been a lot of fun.

The artwork is solid as can be expected. The original series had some of the best art in Jump and evidently, that has not changed in the years that have went by. It’s easy to see what’s going on and the characters all look good. The brief action scenes that we do get are very impressive and make you miss the lack of action even more. Alas, you can’t have it all right?

The volume also does a good job of getting you interested in watching the main series again. It’s an interesting story from start to finish and we even have a big group moment where all of the villains get to use their big attacks. They certainly were an impressive group and it’s good that Kenshin had so many skilled allies or this would have been a very difficult fight to win. In the final page, we get to quickly see a little of Kenshin’s fight against Shishio, but that’s more of a homage than anything else.

The villain from the final arc of the Kenshin series also gets a cameo. He tries to talk tough, but we all know that he would be crushed if he ever tried to fight Shishio. Shishio is simply too powerful for him and the other villain only lasted so long because of trickery and his many minions. Shishio doesn’t need any tricks to fight well.

So, the story is a little dark, but it’s handled well. The only negative could actually be the prostitution part of the plot as it is a little much when you actually think about it. The main characters were nearly sold away after all, but at least most of them get a happy ending or a sudden sad one so things went well. The villains were also permanently stopped so that wins the manga back its points. I’d prefer that these things really aren’t even included as there’s not much of a reason to tackle these issues in an origin story, but it certainly could have been a lot worse.

Overall, This Secret Chapter was fun. It’s certainly great to be back in the Kenshin world and I wouldn’t mind more spinoffs in the future. A sequel series would also be a lot of fun with some new villains and more power ups to help the heroes rise up the tier list. If you read the main Kenshin series, then this is a must read. If you just want to read a one shot with a villain who helps out when it furthers his interests, it’ll also work out for you. The one shot is serious and deals with serious themes, but the ending is satisfying and the art is quite good. There’s a good reason why Kenshin is known as one of the elite manga titles and this one shot lives up to that reputation. I guess we’ll see if anymore one shots come out in the future.

Overall 7/10