Toy Story of Terror! Review


Time for a spooky story with the Toy Story special. It’s pretty impressive that the franchise got a special which effectively works as a true mini movie. It looks just like the actual movies and with the voices back, you could stick this in as a subplot during one of the movies and it would work quite well. It’s a solid self contained story and at less than 30 minutes long, it really goes by in a flash.

The special starts with the owner’s car getting a flat tire so they are forced to stop at a motel. The toys are dropped off and this should all be fine except one by one the toy start vanishing. Jessie warns everyone to stay together but they just can’t help but dash off. Soon Jessie is the only one left. She bumps into a toy named Combat Carl who warns her to stay put. Still, her friends might need her. Can Jessie overcome her claustrophobia and fear of being alone or will this be game over?

Most of the special takes place at night which is cool since it helps establish the atmosphere right away. Same with the Motel itself as it appears to be quite ominous. In a way I feel bad for Motels because in every movie/show I’ve ever seen they always appear to be really shady. I imagine motel owners would like to clean up that image at some point but maybe it’s just too late at this point in time so they’ve all given up.

Jessie works well as the main character since she’s one of the more interesting Toy Story characters. Additionally her fear of being boxed in and of being alone works well in a setting where everyone is being taken out. It works as a solid character arc here and she had to be brave to get past the mysterious monster. At the end of the day the toys would have been toast without her.

The mysterious monster turned out to be a pet named Mr. Jones who worked for the villainous Ron. I was glad to have some antagonists here, it made for a fun little climax since it gave the heroes a real obstacle that they had to overcome as opposed to this being all fun and games. For example, Jones is rather fast so it makes sense that avoiding him wouldn’t be easy. All it takes is one charge/lunge and that’s game over as well. Jones also means well since he knows that he will get his snacks for finding the toys.

Then you have Ron who is really looking to make a quick buck. I’d like to see the story behind this guy because he has to be truly desperate to be stealing toys from little children. I mean, if you’re going to be a criminal you figure there should be more efficient ways to earn money. Why has this guy taken such a path? By the end of the movie you know that he is completely doomed and in a way he just makes it worse for himself by running. It did end up being a fun way to end the special but Ron really didn’t handle the situation well. He’s a fun villain and good at making money but he really took the wrong path in life.

As for the toys, Combat Carl gets a big role here as he gives Jessie the inspirational speech to keep on going on matter what. Without him she may not have ultimately been able to gather her strength in time. In some ways he reminds me of Buzz since they’re both so confident. Buzz and Woody don’t get much to do here but I suppose they have the films for that. Pricklepants gets a big role here but I wasn’t crazy about it. Basically Prickle keeps reminding us about horror movie tropes and how the heroes are nearly doomed. I think this joke got worn a bit thin by the end of the special since that was the entire subplot. You can also blame a lot of this adventure on Mr. Potato Head since he was the first one to run off.

As mentioned, the animation is quite impressive considering that this wouldn’t have gotten the same kind of budget as one of the films. It maintains the art style well. It may not be something that looks as streamlined as a traditional hand drawn title but it does the job. The toys are on point and scenes where the toys have to try and execute complex maneuvers is fun to see since they are constrained by how the toy works. As a result they have a whole lot of difficulty with a paper clip in one scene.

Overall, This is a short special so there isn’t much more to say about it. It’s a fun story and should keep you entertained from start to finish. It’s an adventure with a full beginning, middle, and end that has a good amount of replay value. The writing is on point and the characters are likable so there really isn’t anything to dislike here. It’ll really be over before you know it and you aren’t likely to forget the antagonists any time soon.

Overall 7/10

Toy Story 2 Review


The sequel has arrived. Toy Story 2 is one of those films where I remembered the villain quite well but not some of the other elements as much. It’s definitely a solid title and for the big question of whether or not it defeats the original, I’d say that it does. It’s a pretty solid follow up to the classic and we get to actually have Buzz confront his ultimate villain. What’s not to love right?

Picking up where the first film left off, Andy is now growing older. He has to make certain decisions on which toys he wants to play with. Unfortunately for Woody, he has been ditched again after injuring his arm. We get the iconic scene where Andy drops Woody and runs off. Woody makes a daring rescue to save another toy but in his weakened condition he is unable to escape the powers of the chicken man employee who steals Woody and decides to make some huge profits.

Buzz and friends are naturally on the job to save Woody but it’ll be difficult. Buzz is used to these grand adventures but the rest of the toys are just normal house toys and don’t really know what to do in these situations. Buzz will really have to carry them here. Meanwhile for Woody, he starts having some doubts on if he really wants to go back home to Andy. If he stays with the kidnapper, Woody will be on display at a museum for many years to come and will effectively be immortalized. Additionally, if he leaves then the rest of the Woody collection set (Jessie, Bullseye, and Stinky Pete) will be thrown back into a dark box never to come out again. The stakes are a lot higher than they’ve ever been before.

In a sense there’s two main plots here so lets talk about Woody’s first. Once he is trapped by the collector it’s more of a low key plot where he has to decide what the right thing to do here is. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea to stay with the other toys if that’s what he really wants to do but he should at least let the others know that he will be gone. It’s a long journey but he would need to make it first. Additionally, I feel like he would end up regretting it eventually. The toys apparently don’t die of old age so he would be trapped inside glass at the museum for centuries with absolutely nothing to do. I don’t see a whole lot of fates being worse than that so it just doesn’t seem like it would be a good idea.

His new friends can also be a bit temperamental. Particularly Jessie who starts off dancing and singing about how glad she is to see him, to wishing he would go away and insulting him, to going back to dancing. She takes every bit of news really hard and the old man doesn’t seem to have a great opinion of Woody with his subtle digs. Considering these may be the only people he can talk to for the rest of his life…that’s going to be tricky.

So I think Woody could have thought about this a little more. His plan to ultimately offer to take them with him was always the best one. The climax would have played out a whole lot differently if he had led off with that, that’s for sure. It was an intense climax though with some solid action so that was a good way to end things.

Meanwhile you had the Buzz plot with the rest of the classic toys. They were good as expected. The pig is still nice and tough with the rest of the toys being there for backup. Buzz really gets a lot to do here as you would expect. He has to fight another version of himself and Zurg even shows up. It was a pretty intense confrontation to say the least.

I remembered Zurg’s role being a lot bigger personally but it’s been a while since I saw the movie so I suppose I just added extra scenes in my head. That kind of thing may happen once in a while after all. Still, he makes the most of every scene he’s in. While his battle with Buzz is ultimately played for laughs, it’s fun since it finally completes his character arc even if it was a different version. I’m just a little sad that we didn’t get to see the main Buzz fight him.

Both of them have the same core personality though so I guess that works out. Their fight was cool and it was nice for Buzz to finally have a worthy opponent. If you want a serious fight between them, then you have the opening scene of the movie which is played 100% seriously. It’s not quite real but you do get a cool what if of how things would go if both characters did have their respective abilities. As always Buzz is a blast in this film throughout.

The new characters were good too. Jessie can be a bit rough on Woody but she did have to endure a long time in pitch darkness so that sounds pretty rough. I think she probably should have just tried to escape now that Woody is here instead of banking on the museum idea. She can fight which is always good. The dog is hype and then you’ve got the leader of the Woody team who plays quite a big role by the end of it. He makes for a very intimidating presence and added a lot to the story so you definitely won’t forget him. In the end he had an even bigger role than Zurg.

As with the first film the writing is very solid. The characters are good and the story will keep you engaged throughout. The animation has improved from the first one so you can tell that it is quite a bit newer. It’s cool how the actual universe ages along with the films so Andy is quite a bit older than he was in the first film. He’s still more of a non character as he doesn’t do much but he is important to the story itself as a plot element.

Overall, Toy Story 2 is a very solid all around title. It improves on everything that made the first film good and never looks back. The humor is always good when it arrives and the film really feels like it ends in a flash. It’s a title I would definitely recommend to anyone that just wants to enjoy a pretty fun film. You can watch this one at any time and have a good experience.

Overall 7/10

Toy Story Review


Toy Story is certainly a classic movie that is extremely well known. It’s rare for Pixar to turn one movie into 4 like this but Toy Story has proven time and time again to be a big draw. It’s been ages since I saw the original and I never reviewed it so now was the time. It holds up quite well to this day with a strong story and quality characters. You can see how it ended up being a winner.

The movie begins with introducing us to Woody and his friends. On this planet, all toys are sentient creatures who simply live by a code not to let humans know that they are real. They’re quite good at playing dead to the point where it seems like an innate ability. One day, their owner Andy gets a new toy and that throws everything into a different perspective. His name is Buzz Lightyear and he doesn’t believe that he is a toy. The guy thinks he is legitimately a galactic agent and despite this, all of Woody’s friends are hanging out with him now. Woody makes a desperate attempt to take Buzz out once and for all, but this leads to both of them getting stranded away from home. Can they possibly return or will they die against the bully next door?

Since they are all toys here, even crossing a small distance can be difficult. After all for a decent part of the film they’re only a few blocks away but it’s still quite the journey. The toughest part of their journey was when they were only 1 block away so it gives you a good sense of scale here. Doing just about anything can be tricky for them.

The animation’s pretty solid. It’s fun how they make the toys move while keeping them looking fairly realistic. The Buzz figure for example is something I could definitely see myself having fun with many years ago. It’s quite high quality and had a lot of gadgets. Back in my day the action figures didn’t have voice acting like this. Aside from Andy the only humans we see are usually antagonists and are drawn to look rather ugly like the characters in Finding Nemo. Get ready for the main bully who even blows up toys.

Now if you think about it, the fact that toys are all alive can get rather dark for them. Still, when they enter their toy state they are able to block out pain and such fairly well so hopefully that helps when being blown to smithereens. It should help…right? It might also help with memory like Buzz thinking he’s real even while being played with the whole time. You can probably assume that he’s just in deep cover since he knows he couldn’t fight the humans or he’s a bit slow on the uptake. That’s one of the main comedic plots here so I suppose you just don’t want to look into it too much.

Buzz was the best character either way though. I liked his confidence and he’s definitely a lot more pro active than the rest of the characters. If he wants to do something then he’s just going to go ahead and do it. He doesn’t need any complicated plans or anything like that. Buzz is also quick to assume the best and help the others out which is why he fell for Woody’s trap. Woody may have thrown a lot of insults his way but Buzz didn’t take any of them too seriously. He was also beating Woody when they had their fight.

I think it’s fair to say that Woody was still the main character here though. His character arc here is really coming to terms with the fact that Andy wants to spend more time with Buzz. Woody had been so used to being in first place all the time that anything lower just didn’t sit right with him. In a way he probably can’t understand how the other toys feel as a result since they were never number 1. Gradually he realizes that he’s being better and starts being a nicer toy.

It’s a solid character arc from start to finish. Naturally there are a bunch of other main supporting toys but Woody and Buzz got the biggest roles. The pig was good for a lot of his one liners. He seems a lot more jaded than the rest and loves throwing out insults whenever he can. You’ve got the Potato Head who is reasonably tough. He’s a little less vocal than the others but is always around. Then you have the dog who can really stretch.

I’m not really sure what the point of that toy would be though. Do you play with it just by pulling it around? Dunno, it doesn’t have a whole lot of appeal but as a character he’s cool. The dog is useful in a lot of situations. Bo Peep was a nice enough character who gives Woody encouragement from time to time. She doesn’t appear as much as the main crew though and just comes in to save the day at times. Finally there’s Rex the dinosaur who may not be the toughest dino around but Buzz gives him some nice pointers.

A film like Toy Story will really live or die by the writing. You could say that for any film I suppose but particularly it’s true for films that aren’t big action thrillers or films with big emotional highs like a sport title. This is really a slice of life title about toys realizing what it means to be a toy. If the writing was lackluster or boring then the film would reflect that real quick.

Instead the film stays interesting throughout because the characters are all fun and the dialogue is good. The film also feels incredibly short though. It’s really over before you know it. Animated movies do tend to be on the shorter side but maybe it felt extra short because it was so good. It tells a complete story from the character introductions to the big climax at the end. The toys finally have a sense of unity to them so now they’re ready for the second film.

I wouldn’t say I have any complaints here. There wasn’t any part of the film I found weak. It’s a very unique concept and the movie had a lot of fun showing how crazy the whole thing was. The characters have to constantly run and hide not to mention how they live in fear of every Birthday party. It’s a stressful life being a toy but someone’s got to live it. I would say they should probably just hide somewhere so they’re never found and can just wander around all day but it seems like being played with is a toy’s greatest desire so that wouldn’t appeal to them. It’s interesting since the movie effectively built a bunch of rules around being a toy so that’s pretty neat.

Overall, Toy Story is a solid film. It’s definitely one of the stronger Pixar titles and has a lot of replay value. The gags all work well and the characters are likable which is all you really need to have a good hit. We’ll see if the sequels are able to match or even surpass the original or if it’s all downhill from here. Sequels always have a lot of pressure on them after all.

Overall 7/10

Wall -E Review


Wall E is a very well known film that I hadn’t gotten around to seeing yet. It always looked like a lot of fun and after seeing it I can certainly say that this is a quality film. Wall E has a good amount of drama and heartfelt moments. I also liked the little moments of danger we got near the end. Despite the apocalyptic backgrounds this isn’t an action film so don’t expect any big confrontations. This is more of a story about why you can’t get too dependent on technology or you are going to be in pretty big trouble.

The movie starts out by introducing us to a desolate Earth. Humans have already fled the planet so Wall E is really the only bot left. He goes around cleaning up the litter but it does get boring after a while. Fortunately another bot named Eve shows up one day which makes things more fun for Wall E. He finally has a friend even if she is deadly serious about her business. They stick together during the tough times when she has technical difficulties but their calm life can’t last forever. Eventually she has to go back to where the humans are to report that it’s safe to return to Earth again. The issue is….what if someone doesn’t want them to go back to Earth?

Now it’s hard to really tell where to end the plot summary as even what I have put there feels like it goes pretty deep into the film. Still, I feel like that’s a fair dropping off point since that’s where the first real conflict begins. It’s from that point where we can really get the characters in some danger. The first half of the film manages to get by without a lot of dialogue which is impressive since the backgrounds and aesthetic have to really speak for themselves here.

The animation is definitely solid though and it holds up well to this day. The opening backgrounds with the destroyed cities reminded me of Advent Children to an extent. Wall E’s design is also fun and looks a whole lot like ROB the Robot. The laser blasts from Eve are also on point. Then you have the soundtrack which is good. It may not be too extensive or anything like that but the tunes are memorable and work well. The film has a lot of energy throughout.

The pacing is also on point and the writing is good so you have all the fundamentals for a solid film. As a main character Wall E is also fun to follow on his journey for friendship. He may not be able to talk a lot but he’s a nice guy and always means well. Whenever he thinks Eve is in trouble, Wall E jumps in to help and save the day. Meanwhile Eve is a solid heroine. She is definitely packing heat with her energy blaster which really comes in handy. She has to be one of the strongest characters in the film although unfortunately her reaction times aren’t always on point so enemies get close enough to turn her off more than once. That’s definitely something she would have to work on for a sequel.

Then you have the antagonist who is pretty solid. I won’t say his name but when he steps in you know that things are about to get dangerous for the heroes. He’s a pretty fun villain who always seems to be able to get the upper hand. I liked the design and you can tell that he’s based off of a popular villain from another sci-fi film. Finally you have the Captain who does well in the end. He may not have made all of the right decisions for a while but ultimately he stepped up when he had too and that’s what counts. You know that the Earth will be safe under his command.

The movie definitely paints a dangerous picture of how the humans won’t be doing so well if they slack off. It’s pretty crazy to see that the humans have given up to the point where they can barely even move or survive on their own. Definitely not their best appearance. I like to think that at least somebody would have stayed strong and resisted the temptations everywhere but I suppose there were no heroes in this era. If anything it’s impressive that they’re still alive at all since most of them barely appear to be functioning anymore. The robots definitely had all of the power here.

Something tells me this film probably won’t get a sequel at this point but there’s definitely a lot you could do with a future storyline. Have an evil robot show up to conquer the planet or maybe half of the humans decide to revolt and try to go back to where they were. It’s fun to think about at least. There isn’t a whole lot more to talk about for this title due to the nature of the film. A lot of the film is really just about enjoying the landscapes and Wall E’s heartfelt journey. It’s all very effective and it’s a unique approach. It’s definitely a style that has to be handled carefully as with weaker writing it could just end up being rather dull and boring like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Fortunately Wall E was up to the task.

Overall, Wall E is a fun film. I wouldn’t say it ultimately rises up to be one of Pixar’s best movies, but it certainly does the job of being a quality watch. There’s a lot to enjoy here from the characters to the solid animation. Once the humans do get involved it’s nice to see them. They may not have stayed very alert but at least they’re all pretty nice people who are ready to help. It shows that this community managed to stay pretty well connected. If you haven’t see Wall E yet then I’d recommend it. It’s a pleasant film that really goes by in a flash.

Overall 7/10

Brave Review


Video games based on movies always have a certain reputation that comes along with them. People just expect these games to not be very good and this is warranted by the multitude of games that came out in the early 2000s…..or did they? See, a lot of games based on movies did come out in that era, but I’d argue that a lot of them were really good. The Matrix, Spider-Man 1-3, X-Men 3, etc. These games were actually a lot of fun and then you’ve got titles like The Incredibles or Superman Shadow of Apokolips (Based on a show at least) which were also solid. Now there have been some terrible ones like Finding Nemo, but I’d argue it balances out well. Brave is a solid game in its own right and I’d recommend checking it out.

The plot seems to cover what the movie did in abridged form although I have not watched the movie yet so I can’t say that with 100% confidence. Basically the main character’s Mom is turned into a bear so now she must find a way to turn her back. Meanwhile there is an evil bear who is spreading evil throughout the world and corrupting everybody. If he isn’t stopped soon then there will be no going back. The lead has to learn that bravery is something that comes from within and the way to save her Mother may have something to do with this. The only thing left to do now is fight!

The gameplay is fairly standard. You start out at the Ring of Stones which is effectively the hub world although I hesitate to say that because there is nothing to do here. It’s a blank field you can run around in and it leads you to the 9 levels. Each time you clear one level then the gateway to the next one opens up which allows you to challenge it. There’s not really much more than that to do here so maybe lets just call it the hub. Once inside of the level the goal is to get to the end. This is done by running and jumping through the obstacles. You’ll have to beat a lot of the levels as it is part beat em up. When you beat all of the enemies the force field will leave and you can proceed forward. The levels are fairly quick and you can knock out the full game in a few hours. I don’t know exactly how long it took me, but it was between 4-6 hours I’d say.

In combat you have two weapons. The first is the sword which the game seems to think is your main weapon but don’t let that fool you. It’s nice and you can slice enemies up pretty quickly but there’s no reason to use it. The reason for that is you have a bow which fires unlimited arrows machine gun style. While the damage is slightly lower it compensates well with how many arrows you’re shooting. You can also run at full speed while shooting which is rare for any game. As a result there is no downside to constantly shooting as you are running. Not a bad idea right? I went with the arrows for the whole game and it was worth it. I didn’t die at all throughout my whole playthrough (until the final boss) which yeah that isn’t too impressive considering what game it is, but it still felt pretty good.

As you play through the game you will find upgrades for your sword and arrows as well as other costumes and tapestries which increase your base stats. You can also buy other upgrades at each save point which are pretty handy. They aren’t hidden all that far away from the main path so I was actually able to get almost all of them despite focusing on just clearing the game the whole time. It’s really not much of a time sink to quickly turn around and grab them so I’d recommend doing so. Additionally if you aim to get the Platinum trophy you’ll need to do this at some point anyway so what better time than the present right?

The graphics are fairly decent. It does look more like a PS2 game than PS3, but it’s not like the character models are blocky or anything. You’re always still sure of what’s happening next and there are a good amount of cinematics here to give you that movie feel. There isn’t really a soundtrack unfortunately so that does keep this from feeling like a higher budget title. I’d say that the main giveaways to this not being a big AAA game is how there are some re-used cutscenes and how simple the controls are. I don’t think simple controls is inherently a bad thing though. With good level design and a solid gameplay option you can really make this work out. Just look at the old Sonic or Mega Man games. There weren’t a bunch of controls but they were still a lot of fun.

If anything holds this game back it’s the length, but you can buy this game for cheap nowadays so I don’t think you’ll feel too badly about it. There is also the replay value thanks to the trophies which keeps this from being too short as well. Brave is just a fun game and it feels like a nice relic of the past. You don’t really see quick cash-in games like this anymore and it’s a shame. It’s not the kind of game you’d buy for 60, but it’s one that is always fun to stumble upon in Gamestop. It’s easily worth the price nowadays.

Overall, Brave is a very good game. I’m not saying it’s great and it’s not going for game of the year awards, but there’s really nothing bad to say about it. The ability to shoot endless arrows is admittedly very cheesy, but it does help this feel more like an arcade game. You can just dive into the game and take down as many enemies as you can. You can even turn it into a minigame with yourself to see how long you can go without getting hit. Some of the last levels will give you a nice challenge there and as I mentioned I did die a few times during the final boss. That one throws enemy after enemy at you so taking them all down isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It’s good reaction time practice since if you jump at the right time you should be able to dodge any attack.

Overall 7/10

Monsters, Inc. Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

The Nightmare before Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a manga adaption of the popular film that came out a long time ago. It’s always interesting to see a manga adaption of a film. They tend to play it pretty straight, but it’s a chance to see how the artist draws the characters and if any liberties are taken. Due to time constraints you can expect some scenes to be cut here and there. It’s a fun enough adaption and makes for a good read although it’s admittedly not terribly interesting. It’s still a good read.

The plot follows Jack who is the king of horror. Every Halloween he gives everyone a good scare but now he is ready for something more. In this world every season has their own country so he sneaks into Christmasland and decides to take a page from their book. Their land will have a Christmas this time and he gets the whole town in on it. Sally doesn’t think that this is a good idea due to a vision that she had, but she can’t really prove it so her case doesn’t end up being very strong. Can she find a way to stop Jack?

The manga isn’t really able to show why this is a bad idea quite as much as in the film. We do have a few pages showing that Jack is a bit sad and the Christmas spirit isn’t really working, but there’s no time to really go into it. Mostly we see the down side of this is just because Jack is ruining Christmas for all the kids in the outside world by giving them terrible presents. Santa is fortunately around to fix this by the end. Jack’s plan doesn’t seem bad otherwise as doing the same thing year after year must be boring. The town was already planning the next Halloween the day after it ended which shows how little the town does.

This town also seems pretty shady. Sally’s creator for example seems to be incredibly possessive to the point where she has to poison him several times to escape. How he falls for the same poisoned soup trick over and over is another story. It’s a rather odd subplot that fits the creepy tone of the manga, but ultimately feels pretty unnecessary. I suppose with only Jack’s plot the story would have been over a little too quickly though.

You’ve also got the villain Oogie Boogie who shows up to strike fear into the characters. Jack seems to know that he’s a bad guy as he warns the kids to stay away, but I guess maybe there’s not much that the town can do about him? They seem awfully resigned to their fate so I guess that’s just how it is sometimes. The whole town is suspect so I suppose that’s just the least of their problems. The final fight is fairly short but at least we do get a bit of an action scene.

The art is pretty solid. It does a good job of recreating the movie’s vibe and everything’s pretty clear. It’s got a good amount of detail which is always important. You’ll be blasting through the manga. The pacing is definitely very fast so there is never a feeling of the story slowing down. As I mentioned earlier, the only issue is that you just won’t get very invested in the characters. You won’t really care what happens to them in the end and there isn’t a real sense of danger until the very end of the volume. This isn’t really that kind of series of course, but either you have a really engaging plot or you have big action scenes. If you have neither then you’re sort of stuck.

The manga makes no mistakes though. For obvious reasons there is no fanservice here or any excessive violence. It’s a manga you could recommend to anyone at least based on content. The title plays it very safe but I still think it could have tried to be more interesting. I think there can be an interesting debate on how far you should diverge on something if the base material isn’t interesting enough. After all, the author/artist probably had little creative input on changing things. Still, I feel you gotta still review the thing in front of you the same way you would if it wasn’t an adaption.

Overall, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a decent story. It’s about as good as a manga as it is in film. The film may have the slight edge but it really is the same story so it’s not like they are very different. If you liked the movie then you’ll like the manga. If you haven’t seen the film but are in the mood for a fun little story about Halloween characters trying to understand Christmas then you’ll enjoy this one as well. It’s only one volume so it’s not like it’s a big time investment either. What do you have to lose right?

Overall 6/10

Ralph Breaks the Internet Review


Looks like Ralph is back and ready to rumble! The first film was definitely solid and I’ve seen it more than once so I was definitely ready to see what the second one had in store. This one was going to deal with the internet instead of following up on video games which was a risky choice at the time, but in the end the games still do appear. It’s a solid sequel that comes close to matching the first one but does slightly suffer from a weak climax.

Ralph Breaks The Internet starts off with him and Vanellope hanging out and enjoying their newfound freedom. Life is pretty much perfect for them right now. Unfortunately that all changes when a kid breaks the steering wheel to Sugar Rush and the game is now going to be terminated since there are no more wheels. That gives Ralph the idea to go to the internet and buy the last remaining one from EBay. It’s really pricey though so he and Vanellope will have to earn a bunch of money. After experiencing HD 1080P graphics will the girl really want to go back to her arcade game?

If you’re here for the video game aspect then the early scenes will likely be your favorite. We do see all of the old arcade characters one last time even if they aren’t too important to the plot by this point. Sonic gets some lines which is always cool. Then you’ve got the online games like Fortnite which makes a cameo. Since it was in the top 10 Buzztube videos I was hoping Ralph was actually gonna play it for a second. “Where we dropping boyz?” would have been a nice reference. There is also one game that is very important to the plot and fortunately it’s a very fun game. It’s the kind of title that I’d enjoy playing IRL. It’s called Slaughter Race and it’s a very gritty racing game that takes place in an apocalyptic setting. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t really end as you just go around causing mayhem and blowing up other cars. At the same time there is a secret challenge in the game that’s so hard it is worth 40000 dollars in the real world. You have to try and steal Shank’s car away from her. That’s what Ralph needs to do since he and Vanellope need the money but it proves to be quite difficult.

Vanellope is still a champion racer like in the first movie so she does give us a great racing scene. As always she has a very confident attitude and the skills to back it up. It’s probably also the first time she has had any serious competition so you can definitely see why she’s excited. Between the game’s graphics and the fast nature of the game it’s definitely a very fun scene. I do think that with her glitching super power coupled with her driving skills Vanellope should have aced this though.

Only problem with having the best scene in the film this early on is that the climax had no shot of conquering it. It involves a giant opponent who is a King Kong reference and naturally that means we don’t get any kind of really fast fight scene or race. The ending has a good moral and everything but it’s just not quite a exciting as it could have been. I think having Vanellope race inside of the Slaughter Race game again would have been a better ending. It would have been a moment of truth kind of scene as she proves why the game fits her so well.

Meanwhile Ralph’s character does regress a bit here. He’s apparently become very dependent on Vanellope to the point where it’s hard for him to function without her. It’s great that they’re good friends and all, but he certainly does cross some lines when he tries to keep it that way. The virus part just felt a little out of character, it was a little more excessive than I would have expected. It’s too bad since he was really solid in the first film, but I’d have to give him a firm thumbs down this time. Felix and the Resident Evil homage character don’t really appear much here so there’s nothing to say about those guys. It would have been nice to see more of them I guess, but their romance plot seems like it would get very old very fast so maybe this is for the best.

Meanwhile Vanellope is still the best character in the film. She was looking out for Ralph which is why she was trying to break the news in a gentle way. Too bad she didn’t realize her phone was off. Reminds me of the recent apple glitch where someone could call your phone through face time and hear you even if you had your phone off. If not for that then most of the trouble probably wouldn’t have been quite so bad. So it’s not her fault, it’s just the tech to blame. (And Ralph) The main new character here is Shank and naturally she does have a lot of scene stealing moments. She makes for a great rival/mentor character to Vanellope and that aids their scenes in being so great. You can’t race yourself after all. I was actually a bit surprised that she didn’t really get to do anything in the climax, but maybe they didn’t want her to steal the show.

The writing is definitely very good here with all of the references that are thrown in. I’m happy to report that I can basically recognize all of the references in this one involving the internet. Then you throw in the witty banter and you’re all set. The animation is pretty consistent with the first one. I wouldn’t really say that the animation has improved or gotten worse and as I enjoyed how the first film looked I definitely like this one as well. There were no corners cut in this movie’s production.

Make sure you stay after the credits since we do get two extra moments. The first one’s kind of “eh” but the second one’s definitely real solid. Get ready for a blast from the past that you won’t soon forget. It’s easy to see why this certain reference has stayed popular for so long. It’s just dynamite and that’s why it shall never go away.

Overall, Ralph Breaks The Internet is definitely a very solid follow up to the original. I do prefer the classic, but there’s not a lot separating these two. They’re pretty much equal in terms of quality and that’s good since it shows that there was clearly some quality effort put behind this film. I’d certainly recommend checking it out. One thing to keep in mind is that they do play a short clip of “Let It Go” which instantly elevates the movie as well. If they ever do come up with a third film I’ll definitely be hyped to see it. I do think this one should spend more time in the actual games though. The best parts of the film are always when they’re inside some kind of game.

Overall 7/10

Incredibles 2 Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

A Bug’s Life Review


Lets look at a Bug’s Life. The film itself is nothing all that special compared to some of the other big animated films of the last decade, but it’s still a quality film. It doesn’t really do anything wrong and will keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s a fun adventure with good pacing, but you will get the feeling that it’s just lacking something. That extra impact to raise the film from a solid 7 to a great 8. I don’t know what that something is though so maybe the film would bring it for a sequel.

The plot starts by introducing us to the Ant pack. These guys are very strong in number, but they are rather passive. They aren’t even confident about going around a leaf without being told how to do it by one of the elders. Their own insecurities have led them to be tamed by the Grasshoppers even though the Ants badly outnumber them. Flik decides that Ants shouldn’t be working for grasshoppers like this and has begun making inventions to help make their lives easier. Unfortunately his inventions often backfire so he is convinced to leave the tribe under the pretense of recruiting powerful allies. That’s when Flik discovers a circus of powerful creatures and realizes that this is his chance. Will the performers want to help? Even if they do, can they possibly win against trained Grasshoppers?

It’s a fun enough plot. Naturally when a film is based around animals this can get pretty dicey but the film never goes that route which is fortunate. You wouldn’t really expect animal violence in this film anyway but it’s always good to have confirmation. The Grasshoppers make for pretty good villains. Some of them are even pretty vicious like the leader, Hopper or the one who is always foaming at the mouth. It makes for intense visuals and you do realize that the Ants are doomed in one on one fights. Even as a team they better have really good combos because otherwise they would be wiped out. The leader of the Grasshoppers is also the kind of villain who doesn’t give up easily. Even at the end Hopper was trying to reclaim his dominance at the top of the food chain. Unfortunately he ran into the best character of the film and one doesn’t often walk away from such an encounter. It was actually a rather vicious end for the guy.

If the film has a weak point, it would be that most of the characters aren’t all that engaging. I didn’t really care for anyone from the circus. The Ladybug who talks tough never actually acts tough when it’s climax time so he’s out. The others didn’t even try fighting at the end even though some of them look like they should be able to put up a good fight. They were also quick to walk away with the circus owner although I won’t put too much blame on them since the Ants did not want them. That brings me over to the Ants. The Ant Princess is definitely not a quality character and her plans are no good. Even after she figures out the main character’s deception, why send the circus troupe back? They definitely don’t have enough time to meet the Grasshoppers’ demands now so making do with these guys was her only option. Instead she just puts the Ants in a position to be ganged up on and eliminated. As the leader she needed to make a better call. The ex leader, aka the Queen wasn’t great either. She didn’t really do anything the whole time and was content to be on the sidelines. That’s not leadership material either.

As mentioned before, this doesn’t apply to the villains though. The Grasshoppers are certainly quite intimidating and the leader knows how to control his pack. If they dare cross him then they must take a punishment. He’s also bold enough to be surrounded by Ants and not care. If only the Ants were as brave. I haven’t talked much about the main character, but I’m afraid that he’s not very good so he fits in with the Ants. Even when the villain threatens to destroy one of the kids Flik backs up and decides to keep the peace. That’s definitely not something that any true main character would do. If you won’t stick up for your friends then you can’t be a hero.

The graphics aren’t bad. All of the character models appear to be on point. It definitely has more jungle type landscapes than the average film since most of it takes place in a grassy environment. There isn’t really much of a soundtrack though so don’t expect any great tunes to jam to. The writing is pretty good with a sound script. None of the characters seem over the top, at most they are just very naive like the average Ant. It’s almost hard to root for those guys since the Grasshoppers just seem a lot smarter and more strategic. The Ants have every possible advantage if they would just use it.

Overall, A Bug’s Life is a good film. It reminds you of the strength in numbers tactic and that you can’t submit to another species without a fight. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would recommend checking it out. It’s a solid adventure film with a bit of action which makes for a pretty solid combo. Maybe one day these characters will show up in Kingdom Hearts. The movie doesn’t really leave any cliffhangers as it’s a complete ending but you could easily follow up on it by having another species decide to move in when they hear that the Grasshoppers have fallen. There are a lot of possibilities there.

Overall 6/10