Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Pokemon: I Choose You Review


Pokemon’s definitely been through a lot over the years. It first had to deal with the pressure of being the greatest video game series of all time and then it started one of the longest running anime of all time. What other challenges could await it from there? Well, there’s the manga industry but Pokemon Adventures pretty much has that covered. As a result the movie based manga usually don’t really try to do anything super special except to keep on with business as usual. I didn’t care much for the movie this manga is based on which limits its potential, but ultimately I guess I would say it’s a little better. It’s pretty much a straight adaption though.

The manga starts with Ash getting ready to start his Pokemon journey. Unfortunately, he overslept and all 3 of the starters have already been taken. He’s forced to start off with good ole Pikachu. The two don’t get along at first, but gradually they become pals. Ash then runs into Verity and Sorrel along the way as they all wanted to catch Entei. It doesn’t go well and the 3 of them are forced to bond over cave stories as they wait for the rain to stop. The adventure will test their bonds and Ash will have to find out if he really has what it takes to be a Pokemon Master.

Right away you will have to remind yourself that this is a pretty inexperienced Ash. It’ll make the adventure less painful as he takes a lot of Ls left and right. Part of why reboots like this are tough is that you don’t really want Ash to be a beginner yet again. The wounds are still fresh from when he lost every other league. For the most part Ash is still solid here though. I definitely didn’t care for the scene where he loses to Cross though. Ash was probably going in a little too hard during the fight, but how do you really know when to stop? Typically in a Pokemon battle you go on until one of them is knocked out but I guess if they look weakened enough then you should pull them out first? That part always seemed a little inconsistent to me, but I guess we’ll roll with that.

Ash was being manipulated by Marshadow later on, but it was still a bit iffy how quickly he was ready to ditch his Pokemon. He’s just not nearly as tough or confident as his TV show persona and I think that does play into why this movie/manga was just not quite as solid. Meanwhile his two partners also aren’t all that great. Sorrel doesn’t really want to be a Pokemon fighter, he just wants to research and meet all of the legendaries. He gets an origin story that is pretty dark. It ends pretty quickly in the manga, but it’s still something that you really don’t need in a Pokemon manga. The Pokemon should lose fights now and then of course, but dying for no reason is definitely iffy. Pokemon are very strong so to just lose to natural causes is a bit iffy.

Meanwhile you have Verity who is sort of like a nicer rival to Ash although they don’t get to fight much. She’s a pretty fun character, but ultimately she doesn’t get a whole lot to do. I’d have liked her to have gotten some more of the focus and maybe an extra fight or two. I don’t think she would have been able to defeat Cross, but if she had that would have been pretty neat as well. As for Cross, there’s definitely no way I was going to like him. He’s like Paul in that he doesn’t care about Pokemon and is willing to hurt the ones that he has. A good rival still has respect for his Pokemon like Gary. Gary may not have been the most pleasant person to be around, but he always treated Pokemon with respect. Cross has a character arc by the end, but it’s so sudden and a complete 360 that you can’t take him seriously.

As for Marshadow, I always liked the design of this Pokemon. He’s not the most interesting villain though even if he basically did wreck Ho-Oh. I feel like Ho-Oh is probably the strongest Pokemon who has yet to look good in one of these things. The legendary birds in general seem to take a lot of Ls when they appear. At least we got some decent fights though. None of the fights are all that long here (The longest felt like it was Cross vs Ash round 1) but the art is excellent so the battles that we do get look pretty good. Art plays a big part in a manga of course and there was clearly a good amount of effort put in here.

I think one of the problems with the story is that it’s going through all of the motions, but there isn’t anything particularly memorable about this adventure. There’s no hook nor is there any reason to re-read this. It feels like an average episode with Ash and since it’s not even the version of Ash that we’re used to there isn’t much to it. Still, it almost sounds like it would get a negative review from what I’ve written so far so let me just point out that it is still a good manga. Just because it can’t match up to the other titles doesn’t mean that it is downright bad. At the end of the day it still has good action scenes and a reasonable cast. The artwork is solid and that’s really all you need. It’s not great or even very good, but it gets the job done.

Overall, This is definitely not my favorite Pokemon adventure and it’s a relatively weak one as far as the movie tie-ins go. Still, it’s not a bad one and I do feel like it’s a little better than the movie version. Maybe that’s because when reading through it the iffy scenes don’t last as long as in the movie. Maybe there were subtle differences here that made the whole thing feel more intense. Whatever the case may be, I’d recommend experiencing this story in manga format instead of going for the movie version. Still, I look forward to the day when the movies are with Ash and friends in the present again instead of these alternate universe titles. It was a cool concept, but the execution just hasn’t been there thus far. We’re in the age of nostalgia right now so give us a big movie with the return of Gary. Maybe hype it up as the big tournament where Ash finally wins. There’s a lot of ways you can make a satisfying Pokemon movie after all, the company just needs to go for it.

Overall 6/10

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Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Justice League #0 Review


While at the theater for the Shazam movie they ended up giving out free copies of Shazam’s first appearance in the New 52 so that was pretty cool. It’s been a long while since I’ve read a single issue as I typically read the trades. I remember how Shazam’s new portrayal was always pretty controversial. He’s definitely a lot meaner than in his original days but it works pretty well. At least if you just judge from this issue, he’s pretty solid although he loses some edge once he transforms.

The issue starts with Black Adam beating up the wizard and then dashing out of there. The Wizard feels pretty shaken at this point and then a kid named Billy Batson shows up and threatens to beat the wizard up. While this isn’t the “pure good” person that the wizard was hoping for, he learns that maybe such a person would never appear. He gives Billy his powers and the kid turns into the powerful Shazam. He manages to get Freddy to believe that this is his new identity and then he goes around beating people up. The issue ends with Shazam realizing that he can potentially make a lot of money in his new form.

You can definitely see where the film took some events from while not adapting this 1-1. Shazam is definitely attracted to money pretty easily here, but hopefully he’ll use it to help the neighborhood out. Naturally there isn’t a whole lot that you can cover in a single issue but this does a good job of setting up the characters and events. Personally I thought Billy was pretty solid here. He seems like the kind of guy who protects his neighborhood from the shadows even if he’s not all that nice about it. As Shazam he definitely seems a lot more normal so maybe that’s a subtle effect of the transformation.

The art is definitely solid. While parts of it have that New 52 glimmer, others are a bit more rugged to try and fit the tone of the issue. The end result is a very good looking comic that’s easy to read and looks pretty impressive. It’s definitely very solid. There aren’t any fights yet of course, but once those come it’ll probably look even better. I suppose the weakest part is probably the humans and even that looks pretty good for the most part I’d say.

The New 52 still feels so recent, but I suppose at this point it’s ancient history. I never really kept up with the Shazam series, assuming he ever actually got one. If he was just relegated to side issues and guest star roles then that would be pretty unfortunate. There’s definitely a lot you can do with the character. After all, he’s basically Superman 2.0 so that makes for a good read. Then there’s the fact that Billy doesn’t let anyone mess with him. Makes for a very unique experience I’d say.

Overall, Shazam is a pretty solid first comic. I’d definitely check out the follow up issues. Somehow I don’t think that’ll be happening anytime soon, but next time I’m at the library I’ll definitely stay sharp. If you have never read the new Shazam adventures then I’d recommend changing that. With Black Adam introduced out of the gate and solid artwork throughout, the series is poised to really deliver on the action front in the future.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Godzilla 1985 Review


It’s time to look at one of the older Godzilla movies. This one brought Godzilla back in his most fearsome film yet. It’s easy to see why this new series of Godzilla movies really took off. People liked the originals quite a lot of course, but I think the world was ready for a more serious incarnation of the character. Personally I preferred the cheesier days, but I like the newer films as well. This one is fairly good, but still makes you end up missing having some other giant monsters for Godzilla to deal with. Just having the Big G on his own is not quite as exciting.

The film starts with someone wandering onto a boat and seeing that the whole crew has been murdered. A giant sea creature is responsible, but everyone decides to pin the blame on Godzilla instead. Honestly the big Kaiju was innocent this time around, but Godzilla decides to destroy all of Japan just to clear his name. Japan seems doomed, but that’s when America steps in. They decide that they’ll end the threat of Godzilla once and for all and prove that modern weaponry actually can make a difference in this fight.

I have to admit that the beginning was a lot more atmospheric than I expected it would be. The scene of the guy walking through the ship and encountering the alien like species was intense. It was like something out of a horror film. The scene was a little on the violent side with the corpses though. I think they could have been more subtle with the effects which would also work better with the horror vibe. This subplot never really amounted to much in the dub version either. You would barely even know it was concluded. Apparently it seems like the subplot was still wrapped up according to Wikipedia, but it was shortened to the point where it really just felt like filler.

On the positive side, it is always nice to see Godzilla. He appears for a reasonable amount of time here. It is unfortunate that he is more of a mindless monster here than the cunning Kaiju that we see him to be in other films. It really depends on the movie, but sometimes Godzilla is just a monster who is out for destruction and other times he actually has a will of his own. This movie seemed to be the former although he certainly made the most of it. This Godzilla was happy to crush anyone he could find and even his facial expression seemed a lot meaner than usual. His face was frozen in a glare throughout the entire movie. This was very clearly not a Kaiju that you could mess with.

For the human characters, I guess they were okay. They didn’t have a whole lot of personality, but ultimately were trying to do the right thing. The main character wasn’t particularly good at his job as he tends to talk aloud and spill government secrets. I can only assume that he will improve from here on out though. The heroine doesn’t really do much besides bring papers to the main characters and such while the old professor is busy telling everyone that you can’t beat Godzilla. As the Kaiju was ultimately defeated with ease he ended up looking bad.

The Cold War battles between the U.S. and Russia were pretty interesting here. It was nice to see us shoot their missile out of the sky and save the world. The U.S. ultimately did the most to save the world in this film. Not only did they save Japan from Russia but they also stopped Godzilla by pressuring him into the Volcano. I think it’s safe to say that they were the MVP here and that’s why it’s fun to have them around. There are many Godzilla films where you wonder how much quicker it would have finished if America had stepped up to the plate. Well…not we know.

On that note, I do have another issue with the climax. As mentioned, in this film they portray Godzilla as a mindless monster which allows the heroes to trick him. They play some bird sounds and throw it in the Volcano so Godzilla peers over and then they push him in with controlled explosions. That’s really not a very satisfying way to end that plot and I don’t think Godzilla should have gone down like that. He’s the King of the Monsters! A quick fall into a volcano shouldn’t do much and I don’t think he should have been lured to the edge so easily either. It was a bit iffy, but I guess they had to end the film somehow.

The special effects are pretty decent. The city shots have improved quite a bit compared to the Showa days. The actual suit seems to be about the same but the laser blasts are certainly more colorful. It looks like a strobe light show by the end as explosions of all colors start popping up as Godzilla torches the city. At one point the whole city appears to be in flames which was a nice touch as well. While the soundtrack is less noticeable, I did like the Godzilla roars as always.

There is one comic relief character who decides to rob some restaurants while Godzilla is nearby. Honestly it’s not a bad plan if you’re a villain since everyone evacuated so you’ve got the city to yourself. The problem for this guy is that he’s drunk so everything takes him forever and ultimately he ends up just getting stomped like everyone else. I do think the main characters did seem to surprisingly not care about the guy at all, but at that point all they could think of was surviving.

Overall, Godzilla 1985 isn’t a bad reboot. I think it was an unnecessary one though and the films should have just kept going from the Showa series. Ultimately this era would pick up steam as the monsters were introduced, but it was a bit of a rocky start. It’s a controversial opinion, but I believe Godzilla films are always best when there is another monster for Godzilla to face. When it’s just him then there isn’t as much tension or excitement since it’s not as if the government can do much against him. (Well…they win sometimes, but it’s still not as exciting) Still, the writing was on point and the pacing was good. This film is still worth a watch and if you can’t take Godzilla seriously then you should certainly watch this movie. It’s probably one of the darkest Godzilla films even if you might find it a little hard to take the movie too seriously with the voices. For the record, I enjoy the dubbing, it’s always pretty fun.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Tomb Raider (2018) Review


It’s time to look at the new Tomb Raider film. It had a lot to live up to since the first two movies in the series were quite solid. It would also be starting at a disadvantage since the first two took place when she was a pro while this was a prequel where she was just starting out. Origin stories are never quite as good as the hero’s later adventures but maybe this one would be an exception. The first trailer was pretty solid after all. While the movie isn’t quite as good as it looked, it’s still a decently good movie. It just needed more scenes of Lara actually taking down the villains as opposed to letting her friend do most of the work.

The movie starts off with Lara losing a boxing match against who I assume must be the regional champ. She tries to pull herself together in time to win a race of catch the fox but loses there as well and is brought to the cops. Fortunately her family is rich so she gets to walk out with no repercussions. Her aunt tells her that she needs to sign the power of attorney to give the aunt all of the power within the company. Lara thinks that this is ludicrous. Not because the aunt will effectively be stealing the company away but because she resents the fact that her father died so early and wants to make it on her own. Still, money troubles don’t just go away so she made the tough call to accept the money. Her father left one last message in a puzzle with the will and it shows an island on it. Lara quickly jumps on this and dashes over with the help of a local guide. They have to stop an evil company from destroying the world by bringing back a plague with them. The issue is that Lara is just one person against a private army and her father certainly isn’t going to help. He’s not dead anymore, but his spirit is broken and that’s effectively the same thing.

We get quite a few action scenes here where Lara challenges the main villains in hand to hand combat. As a boxer she certainly does have some moves. While she can’t go up against groups of fighters anymore she can still manage some 1 on 1 fights well enough. The fights are close and there’s nothing fancy about them as it’s simply a fight to the death. The fights can be a little dark so it’s hard to see what’s going on, but they’re all right. A little below average compared to the average action film, but they serve their purpose. Seeing Lara use the bow and arrow briefly will definitely remind you of the Hunger Games.

As for Lara herself, she’s a good lead. At times the accents for some of the main characters including her can make it a little tough to understand them, but it seemed to be a realistic accent I suppose. It’s good that she’s always ready for a fight and is rather headstrong. I don’t really have any complaints about her. Hopefully for the sequel if we get one there will be a time skip just so she can be more powerful to keep up with her confidence. Her father is definitely irredeemable at this point though. Richard is annoying through every scene that he’s in. He leaves behind a tape with a ton of confidential blueprints that will help out the villains immensely and then blames Lara for bringing it along. What else did he actually think she would do? He references that she never likes doing what she is told so that wouldn’t change here. The worst part is that the villain organization already had an inside agent and there was a huge chance that they would have gotten the tape instead of Lara. Richard’s plan was just heavily short sighted from start to finish.

The main villain Mathias was very generic. He’s just another guy who works as a lackey for a richer guy in order to get an early retirement. He tries to have a mild sob story about how he can’t see his kids until the mission is done, but the film doesn’t even try to make him sympathetic. That’s a good thing since it never would have worked. He can’t really fight but has a lot of raw strength so he gives Lara a good match. There just isn’t too much to this guy and you just won’t remember him a few years down the line. He probably should have finished off Lara from the start since she was clearly a threat to his plans.

Finally we have Lu. He has a shaky start as he gave in to his drunk tendencies and doesn’t come across as very brave but mans up when the going gets tough. In the climax he actually does most of the work as he shoots down a bunch of guards and even takes down more fighters once he is out of ammo. The guy definitely seems like the low key MVP here and hopefully he got paid pretty well by Lara afterwards.

There is a cliffhanger at the end to set up the sequel. It’s fairly open ended though so while we know who the villains will be the plot can still revolve around anything. I think a sequel would be pretty solid so I’m game for that to show up soon. In theory we need a good rival for Lara soon though so maybe the corporate villains will hire an adventurer of their own in order to keep up. The film can really do anything at this point although Lara is certainly to blame for the villains getting a better foothold since her decision at the end didn’t really make any logical sense.

Overall, Tomb Raider is a film that’s very by the numbers. The action scenes aren’t all that good and while the main character is fun, she really doesn’t feel like Lara Croft for most of it. Ironically her first scene would have felt the most like her except for the fact that she was getting her boxing gloves handed to her in the fight. It’s based on the newer Tomb Raider game which is the weakest one in the series so it’s most likely due to the game’s influence but since the next movie might go its separate path things might be different. I’d still recommend this movie if you’re looking for a good action title though. You won’t be bored as the pacing is fairly good.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

King Kong (1976) Review


I wasn’t a big fan of the original King Kong film or the recent 2017 one. I’m just not a King Kong fan at all which may seem odd since I’ve always enjoyed Godzilla and Gamera. It all comes down to the fact that he’s a big monkey who seems like a 2nd rate Donkey Kong and he’s more interested in the main heroine than being king of the world. That being said, the first two films still made a name for themselves. The original created the character from the ground up and the 2017 version decided to do a very bold re imagining of the whole thing. This one….is just another King Kong film. It tries to follow the original step for step in a rather soulless fashion and is extremely generic. It has the most unlikable King Kong to date and there’s just nothing good about the film. Ah well, prepare yourself!

The film starts off with Fred wanting to head to an unknown island to grab some oil and get rich. It’s a perfect scheme and he ignores all of the variables and tough weather. Unfortunately for him, a man named Jack has stowed away on the ship and this guy isn’t exactly a pro. He breaks his cover by interrupting a big meeting to point out that the atmosphere is getting crazy and there’s probably a big Ape on the island. After a lot of laughing and everyone putting their game faces on, they decide to let Jack walk free. He’ll help them whether he likes it or not. This works quite well for Jack since he wanted to be on the island anyway. They come across a lady in the ocean named Dwan. Her cruise full of people was destroyed and they all died, but she gets over it in the span of 5 seconds. She’s more interested in being a star who will achieve fame and glory after all. The problem is that she shines too brightly and is kidnapped by the natives on the island and given to King Kong. Jack must save her for purely professional reasons while Fred wants to capture King Kong and bring him to the city. No way anything tricky is going to happen because of that!

Lets run through the negatives right off the bat. The whole scene of King Kong bathing Dwan and drying her off was pretty terrible. Then messing with her clothes before getting interrupted was just as bad. If anything, King Kong should think of her as a pal or someone who needs protecting. The film just did a really bad job here and he should have stuck to being the King Kong who just goes around breaking his opponents. You can never tell if he’s heroic or if he just wants to get on Dwan’s good side. You wouldn’t catch Godzilla making a fool of himself this way. It’s just hard to like anybody here, but these scenes are painfully long and hurt the film.

As this is a King Kong film, we get the obligatory scene of him destroying normal animals like a giant snake. This is one trope that I could certainly live without. You can’t help but feel bad for the snake and while the scene isn’t super violent since it’s so old and low budget, it still qualifies as animal violence. I don’t want to see the snake get ripped in half, I wanted to see him win!

There’s not much to say about Fred. He wants to get rich and that is his character plain and simple. He’s as generic as it gets. I don’t really mind the guy though and he does better than some of the other characters. Jack’s a reasonable main character I guess, but he’s usually content to stay back and watch from the sidelines. We never learn why he is so athletic and manages to elude King Kong when the trained professionals could not, but I guess we’ll just chalk that up to being the main character. He’s not very fun either as he doesn’t get much of a purpose in the film. So, he wants to meet King Kong, but why? I guess it’s for his job since this is like a hobby, but it feels like such a weak motivation. He quickly takes control of every situation so that’s nice for his hype, but he’s just there. I would say the same for Dwan, but it’s a worse situation for her. She’s not generic like the rest, but she’s just a bad character. She lets her guard down constantly and maybe considering that they’re in enemy territory at night, she shouldn’t stay by the water. She was kidnapped without a struggle and she spent most of the film being traded as a prisoner from one group to the next. Once she was finally freed, she didn’t even get to enjoy the city much as King Kong found her and then the reporters soon followed. She never got any peace or quiet and didn’t have a tough enough personality to get everyone to back off. She just let everyone do as they pleased and this doesn’t help her character at all.

Beyond all of this, it’s just a rather boring film. King Kong’s home isn’t very flashy or fun. The tribe acts completely evil as you’d expect and they basically just vanish once the kidnapping is over. It’s like they knew their roles were over and ran off as soon as possible. I also don’t get the concept of building a large wall to keep King Kong out. I mean..he agreed to it for some reason and stays away, but the wall won’t actually do anything. If he wanted to get out, then he could. It also reminds me that King Kong is totally evil here since he accepts the sacrifices every time the tribe brings them out. Not exactly something a nice monster would do. The city climax should have been really hype but since King Kong is incredibly slow and not all that durable it wasn’t entertaining. You were just waiting for the army to shoot him so we could get the whole thing over with. I wouldn’t call King Kong’s mild struggle by waving his arms around a real climax to be honest.

Overall, This King Kong film is about as bad as the rest, likely slightly worse. It had no individuality or creativity in its corner. It was just another King Kong film that completely played everything by the books. It should have been bold and taken some different twists or turns. That likely would have helped a lot. The heroine and King Kong scenes bring the film down along with the animal violence. You could argue that Dwan was used more for fanservice than as an actual character which is just sad. I highly recommend avoiding this film if you possibly can. Watch any other King Kong film instead, you’ll have a better time. At least the new film won’t make many of these mistakes since Godzilla will be fighting King Kong next time. Unless King Kong 2 comes out first, but I hope the crossover is on the top of the priority list. It could make other mistakes, but I want to have hope that King Kong will surprise us with a good film. At the moment, his only good movie is Godzilla vs King Kong and once again it was Godzilla who had to pick up the slack.

Overall 2/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Mummy (2017) Review


It’s time for the first film in the Dark Universe cinematic universe. Unfortunately it starts off with a complete flop. Mummy hits all of the wrong notes throughout the film and negates whatever presence and intensity it may have had. I can respect its reliance on jump scares as it has well over a dozen of them, but none of these moments were actually effective and it just goes to show that relying on horror tropes won’t get the job done. It’s also unsure whether it’s an action or horror film which adds to the confusion. Ah well, this isn’t one for the history books and you should stick to the last Mummy series.

The film’s about a thief named Nick who releases Princess Ahmanet from her prison. He doesn’t believe in Egyptian curses or anything like that and just saw it as a way to get rich very quickly. Unfortunately, this leads Ahmanet to pick him as her chosen vessel who will be possessed by Set and help her rule the world. Nick’s partner is destroyed in the process and becomes a ghost who blames Nick for his death and loses his mind half the time. Seriously, the guy can never decide whether he wants to be friends with Nick again or just destroy the guy. Meanwhile, an archaeologist named Jenny is in danger since Ahmanet doesn’t want Nick to have any friends who could become rivals. Can this human take on the Mummy? There’s also an Illuminati led by Henry that specializes in destroying supernatural forces. Hopefully they can help out a bit…if they’re not evil or super shady.

This movie has a long list of problems so lets start going through them. One of the biggest problems is..you guessed it…animal violence. I had to shake my head here since we start with Crows being tied down and end with masses of them being forced to suicide by the Mummy. I don’t think these scenes added to the movie and were just here as shock value. It’s a shame that it already started the film out on the wrong note, but things continued from there.

Ahmanet’s main attack is that she’ll kiss people to death. Is this what the Mummy has been reduced too? See, this is the problem that Hollywood keeps making. Why does the female Mummy have to attack this way instead of through sand attacks like every other Mummy? She also happens to be a very weak Mummy as she loses to a few stun guns and a net towards the middle. In the climax, she goes down in one hit. Did I mention that the climax is very anticlimactic and there is no actual fight? It’s a shame since the film hinted there was going to be a cool fight with super speed and epic effects but no, the kiss of death was activated. Ah man, a certain action hero better not keep that as his main attack. That’ll be brutal.

Ahmanet’s not a bad character, but she really wasn’t used well. I’m honestly not a big fan of the design myself as I’d prefer a normal look, but that she has the ability to turn to sand at will. Think Sandman or Crocodile. (One Piece) Her sand abilities were fun though so I wish she had gotten to use them more. She’s a total villain despite the film practically begging you to root for her at times. There just aren’t any real heroes in this film.

Another issue I had is that the Illuminati is clearly evil. I expected the movie to go this route, but they went as far as possible with them deciding to punish Ahmanet with a living, very long drawn out process of mummification. Basically they’ll fill her with mercury which sounds like a pretty painful way to die. Henry is also insane as the leader and the film doesn’t hide this at all so I may as well say that he’s the famous Mr. Hyde. If he doesn’t have his drugs constantly, he gains very mild super strength and poorly handled effects. It reminded me of an old film I saw a while back where the main character’s hair changed for when he’s evil. It’s very similar and poorly handled as well. Henry is the worst character in the series. If you have to choose between an evil organization or an evil Mummy, it’s probably best to just choose yourself and fight everybody. I’m on Team Cruise in this case.

The Mummy also couldn’t resist throwing in some poorly handled romance and dialogue. The banter between Nick and Jenny is painfully bad and played out. It’s all dialogue that we’ve seen before and doesn’t add anything to the film. We don’t need to see Ahmanet constantly throwing off her robe or stripping just to make deals or give people dreams of the future. We don’t need the same flashback a million times of her about to stab someone and then get stabbed herself. Murdering the baby once was enough, we don’t need to repeat that. All of the repetition just made each scene worse and worse as if they weren’t poorly handled enough the first time. We should stray away from child violence and baby violence as it is. No need for any of that here. So, to get this straight, Ahmanet was used for romance and fanservice a lot and was fairly weak for a Mummy. Like I said, the character wasn’t used well at all.

Then there’s Nick. He’s not very heroic as he was close to ditching Jenny a few times and he did steal from her after their hotel fling. Nick also decided that riches were more important than stopping the rebels or investigating the area like he was supposed too. Don’t worry though, Jenny tells us that he is a good man at heart so we’re supposed to believe that. His personality was also a little intriguing as he had the classic Cruise wit and fast talk down like you’d expect, but then he’d also get shaken a little easier. His conversation with Henry was just weird in that sense as he started stammering a lot like “Cure me right Doc? I I I’m ready….cure. You’re gonna cure me? Right? Lets do it. Lets do it Doc. Doc?” The lines were just really weird and scrambled during that scene and I thought it was because Set was starting to control him or something, but we learn that he had no influence until Nick was stabbed so…it was just random.

I didn’t care much for Jenny either. She wasn’t much of a fighter and her lines of “Get him off me” when the zombie broke into the car just illustrated that she wasn’t going to do anything about it. It was Nick’s job to get them away and she only “helped” by kicking him in the face for it. She sold Nick out to the evil organization as well and just never became likable. I actually preferred Nick’s partner which is saying something since his whole role was to panic constantly until he died. He was also odd to me as I mentioned before. He seemed to lose his mind when he tried destroying everybody but then he got it back. Somehow he kept his free will I guess after he had settled down, but why? Everyone else was a crazy servant and then he almost got Nick run over by a car. Nick just shouldn’t trust this guy, but it seems like he’ll be sticking around for the long haul….great.

This is a modern movie, but it doesn’t really have a modern soundtrack. There’s not much to it this time so the film fails on that account. The scenery isn’t bad when the characters are in the city. I do like cities for action films like this one and the underwater caverns weren’t bad either. The desert scenes hold it back to an extent though along with the flashbacks. Not to keep grating on this point, but 3 random guards were able to hold the Mummy down after she was given her powers? I dunno about that. Maybe the powers hadn’t sunk in yet, but I would have expected her to win that round.

That’s not to say there were no positives to be found here. The film is reasonably fun. Fun doesn’t go a long way when it comes to the score, but I don’t think you’ll really be bored. Something is usually happening at the very least. While the chase scenes aren’t very inspired, you do get to see Nick take down a bunch of zombies. There are some fun parody moments as well like when Nick tries to approach the Mummy and gets slapped or punched through a few walls. People got a chuckle out of it the first time. The film made sure to use that scene a few more times, but it was met with deafening silence on the re runs. Usually you don’t want to re use a joke more than once. It was good that the film showed the Mummy had super strength…it’s just too bad that it vanished when it counted. I am glad that the film didn’t cop out though and the Mummy had the edge over Jenny. I would have had a hard time believing that she could last very long against the Mummy at all.

Finally, I have to take another shot at Henry’s plan. His big plan…is to give Nick unlimited power and then destroy him before he takes them down. That’s such a flawed plan that it hurts. The instant Nick gets those powers, he could probably use super speed to get away or just activate some mystical ability to blow them all away. It just seems to risky, wouldn’t the better plan be to just destroy the jewel? It’s apparently very delicate as a quick bump can break it. There’s not much that the Mummy or Nick could do without it so that’s the optimal plan. No risk and the day is saved. That’s why if Henry is supposed to be this world’s Nick Fury, then we’re doomed. He’s just not all that intelligent.

Overall, I’m a little worried about the Dark Universe. The premise of it still has a lot of potential. Nick should play a big role and that should be interesting as he is a charismatic guy. That being said, most of the monsters haven’t aged well. I can’t imagine the Werewolf, Frankenstein, or Dracula even being all that interesting. Maybe the films can change my mind but based on how they handled this one, that could be a long shot at best. You should definitely skip this film and stay far, far away. It’s just not a good movie.

Overall 3/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Escaflowne Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Star Fox Zero Review

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Let’s just say that I’m glad that I basically got this game for free since I used a contest prize to pre order this title. This isn’t the Star Fox game that we deserve. Star Fox Zero was supposed to bring this franchise back to life after its sad demise at the hands of Command. Unfortunately, Nintendo dropped the ball on this game in a big way. It’s not even so much that the game is short because length isn’t all that important compared to other aspects…sometimes…but the controls are some of the worst that I’ve ever played. Aside from Wii shovelware titles, this may have the worst controls for any AAA title. It really drains away any enjoyment that you could have taken from this game.

As far as the story goes, the game is essentially a remake/reboot of Star Fox 64 or the original. I forgot which one had this plot actually. Andross wants to destroy Corneria so a galactic war begins. Both sides suffer heavy losses and Team Star Fox is called in. They get the job done and their small group is more powerful than any army. The leader is Fox McCloud, a man who must avenge his father’s death by saving the universe. No task is too much for this young hero and he eagerly rises to the occasion along with his tough crew. Falco is the resident hot head who talks a good game even though he always tends to lose. Slippy doesn’t talk tough and still manages to lose a lot. Finally we’ve also got Peppy, the tough veteran who always ends up losing. Thing is, Fox is the only one who tends to win since the A.I. isn’t good against a villain attack in the gameplay. It’s a shame for them.

All right, let’s start with the positives because there are quite a few negatives here. I did enjoy the visuals. The space fights looked visually appealing and the game certainly looks pretty polished. The character models are not quite as good though and the game is pretty lazy which may have given them more time for the visuals. For example, the game uses the same recycled footage before each level as a mini conversation is had and there is really nothing to be found beyond the levels. More on that later.

The soundtrack is pretty fun. We have some nice remixes from the older Star Fox games and the themes are all very heroic and inspiring. It’s not quite Mario, but the themes never get dull and you’ll appreciate them. This may be the game’s greatest positive now that I think about it. A more mild one would be the fact that the characters are pretty charismatic. It barely counts since they are relying on character development from older games though. Fox and the others don’t really have much of a personality beyond a one line description that can fit each character. You are really just supposed to know who they all are at this point. Still, Fox has always been a cool character and that doesn’t change here. I don’t like Peppy, but Slippy and Falco are cool.

Unfortunately, we get a new character for this game who adds nothing to the story. There used to be a character named Krystal back in the day, but fans were really divided on her and she was axed from the series in this reboot. Instead, we have a new female fox who is naturally pink. I forgot her name, but her only role is to appear for about 5 minutes and flirt with Fox for the entire duration. That’s it…her role is just to flirt with Fox. Nintendo couldn’t have made a more unlikable, 2 dimensional character if they had tried. You could say the same for Andross although for different reasons. He’s also 2 dimensional and unlikable. Partially because of his design and just the fact that he’s not interesting at all. I think Pigma or Wolf would have made for a better final boss. Wolf’s cool as always, a shame that he gets around 2-3 lines here.

All right, let’s tackle the big issue in the room. The motion controls! Why would Nintendo revert back to this tired gimmick that got old a day after the Wii came out? Motion controls never work and they never will work. Sensors will never be accurate enough and it’s a hassle to keep on spinning in your chair to lock on to enemies and fire. As a result, the levels simply aren’t fun to play whenever you have to fight someone. That’s why I avoided enemies whenever possible and just zoomed through them. It is very difficult to aim and boss fights become artificially difficult. With proper controls, I’d say that you could breeze through these guys. As it stands, you’ll have a tough time of it. You can turn it off to an extent, but a slight one. Instead of always being on when moving, it’ll just keep on affecting your aim…which is just as bad. You still have to move the Gamepad in order to hit anything so that’s not much of a help.

It goes without saying that because of this you have to use the Gamepad. It’s a mandatory part of playing Star Fox Zero which is really a shame. I never liked the Gamepad and things like this remind me why that is the case. The instant I played the first level or two and noticed how restrictive the controls were, I knew that the game was going to have it rough. From fairly early on I had a feeling that a 6 was the highest it could go and the rest of the negatives kept it from reaching that spot.

Let’s talk about the game length. The game was nice enough to keep track of how long it took to complete it and I beat the game in 2 hours and 52 minutes. That’s considering that I was stuck on the boss for almost an hour and the fact that I lost to another boss once and in another level once more. This game is incredibly short for 60 dollars to the point where you could and should call it a ripoff. This is not worth 60 dollars and should have only been 30 upon release. You simply can’t justify the price point.

Replay Value is what could save the game from this short length, but there’s not as much as there should be. For starters, there is no multiplayer mode. Yes, there seriously isn’t a multiplayer mode in this game even though it would make perfect sense. Star Fox Assault had a terrific multiplayer mode. So, the only replay value is going back to get all of the medals and I don’t even know what doing that does. Maybe it unlocks a new level or something. There are 70 medals scattered around the 14 levels so that should buy you some time I guess. I definitely wouldn’t want to go after those. Even beating Arcade Mode sounds like a bit of a drag and especially when the only thing you unlock is Sound Test. I can’t verify that Sound Test is the final mode since I’m not going to try and unlock it, but that’s what I’ve heard around the web.

Yes, this game really won’t last you very long and it is easy to see why a lot of people are upset. They should be upset. This game got a lot of hype from Nintendo and it was even delayed a bit to polish up the graphics since it got bashed so hard at E3. Well, the graphics are better, but the controls are downright terrible. There was no quality control in this title and it feels so empty. I don’t think the developers put a lot of heart into this title. Even little things like the fact that the voices come from the Gamepad is annoying. Why do you have to hear the music from the TV on your right and then the voices from the Gamepad speaker below you? It makes no sense and it is like the game is trying to force you to just play with the TV off. Good luck with that.

After you beat the game there is a quick scene, but you won’t really miss anything if you didn’t stick around. I was hoping for an actual cliffhanger or something instead of what we got. Fox’s Dad seems to possibly be alive since he interfered a whole lot for a ghost so maybe that will be a plot in the sequel if the sequel has anything resembling a plot and if one is actually made. I don’t see this game selling all that well at all.

I almost forgot to mention the various gadgets that you have. The Landmaster, The Gyrowing, and the creature form of the Arwing. They’re all pretty bad I’m afraid. The Gyrowing is very slow and it is just around so you can use a Clank ripoff to hack the villain controls. It buys time for the levels. The Landmaster and the robot just suffer from terrible controls. Turning around is a hassle when it shouldn’t be and everything is made much more difficult than it otherwise would be. I suppose that these things wouldn’t be negatives without the motion controls, but that’s simply how the cookie crumbled this time. The controls are simply terrible.

Overall, Star Fox Zero is pretty disappointing and a final reminder for fans around the globe that we don’t want anything even slightly related to motion controls for the upcoming NX. It should be really hard to mess up with this kind of game, but Nintendo went above and beyond expectations on how to destroy hype. Making the motion controls mandatory was the main mistake here. 60 dollars for under 3 hours of story content is also pretty suspect in and of itself. Zero is a cash grab, nothing more and nothing less. Nintendo is hoping that enough loyal fans will buy the game to make a profit instead of trying to make a good game that everyone can buy. I don’t recommend buying this title and if you want to have a good space epic with Fox and the gang, just buy Assault instead. It’s a much better game than Zero in every single way. As sad as it sounds, I played the game for under 3 hours and I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a need to play it again. There is no real reason to go back to it and I actually think Star Fox Guard has a decent chance of being a better game when all is said and done. That’s quite scary. Nintendo, give us a proper Star Fox game or a new F Zero title for the NX. If not, I fear these two franchises may be gone for good.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Cinderella (2015) Review

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Cinderella is a classic film and I actually got a chance to review the original about half a year ago. It’s a pleasant film and you can see why people are so fond of it even if it’s not my cup of tea. That being said, the remake leaves a little to be desired. It tries too hard to be emotional and some characters like Cinderella’s father look pretty bad. I’d also argue that Cinderella herself isn’t a great character here.

I’m sure that you are all aware of the story. Cinderella’s mother died when the girl was still young and then her father decided to marry someone else and then leave home for a few months. He died while overseas and Cinderella went from being a girl of high standing to a slave. She finds magical strength through her fairy god mother and marries the prince so she can regain her social power. The plot limits the film’s potential, but if handled right it could still be good.

First off, I did not like Cinderella’s father at all. He certainly doesn’t come off as being very smart or wise and he is played the entire time. He marries a widow who has two rather mean spirited kids and then leaves Ella to fare for herself. I’ll just stick to calling her Cinderella since it held up I suppose. You just have to wonder how the father did not notice how sinister his new family members were and he was very oblivious. I also felt that he moved on too quickly even considering that there was a time skip. He was a very unlikable character.

Naturally, he was not as bad as the step sisters. They’re bullies who pick on Cinderella the whole time and since the main character doesn’t know how to fight or engage in verbal fisticuffs, she’s easy prey for them. Cinderella’s step mother is also fairly mean to her as she just wants to be rich and doesn’t like Cinderella from the start. Dealing with the three bullies turns out to be too much for the delicate main character.

Even Cinderella ended up being an unlikable character in the end. I like main characters to be nice. It’s a good trait and one that you don’t see as much as I would like. The problem is that Cinderella is a push over and there’s a very fine line there. Keep in mind that the place was still hers, but the step mother asks her to move to the attic and Cinderella allows this. The step mother gives her slave chores to do and slowly takes away all of Cinderella’s possessions. “Did she just walk up slowly and wreck Cinderella’s dress?” Props if you got the meme reference, but Cinderella basically allows herself to be a verbal punching bag for the new recruits.

One scene where you will also be frustrated with the main character is when she allows the cat to almost destroy one of her little mouse friends because the step mother stared her down. Cinderella seriously has no backbone in this film and allowing one of her friends to see his life flash before his eyes was the last straw. You’ll have a tough time finding a weaker willed main character no matter what film you decide to watch. Naturally, the romance was also nothing special and Cinderella was basically just escaping her situation. Falling in love with someone after meeting them for like 4-5 minutes is certainly iffy by any stretch of the imagination.

The prince was decent and I’ll give him kudos for not hunting the animal that he nearly destroyed. Hunting is wrong and now he has learned his lesson for good! His plot had some drama as his father died and there was a traitor in his army, but I actually preferred this plot to the main one. The royal characters were all fairly interesting and it’s always nice to see their social power. The bullies wouldn’t be able to stop these guys so the Prince was able to have his justice at last.

I think you can probably tell that this film is getting under a 5. For the most part, it’s a fairly charming film, but it starts to fall to pieces once the father dies as the bullying starts and drags on for quite a while. Another negative is actually the costume designs. I haven’t actually had to launch a complaint against a live action film for this in quite a while (Since the Charlie’s Angel days) but there is a lot of cleavage and it’s very overdone. The film was simply trying to copy the style from back in the day, but it’s still excessive and just not done in a classy way. The film could have easily used the same style of clothes without making it a different size. It’s a rare negative for live action films, but that just makes this error all the worse. I actually thought this since the trailer for the film first came out and I was sad to see that the film hadn’t changed.

Cinderella’s fairy god mother also didn’t look too good in this film either. For whatever reason (For comedy) she did not know what she was doing and came off as more of a novice than she should have. The original Fairy God Mother is fun because she’s a pro and with enough prep time, she can take down any foe. This one nearly destroyed herself by making a pumpkin too large and her scenes actually managed to drag on quite a bit. This is why changing things from the source material backfires so often. It’s simply not done most of the time and the film needs to recognize and accept this before moving on.

Due to the film taking place back in the olden days, there isn’t a whole lot of colorful scenery to look at. That’s too bad and while it’s not terrible, you could easily pass this film off as a 2005 film rather than 2015 and that’s always a bad thing in my book. Seriously, a 2015 film should look modern and this film already feels dated in some areas.

Overall, Cinderella’s plot simply isn’t for me so a future film will need to really change things up in order to win for me. For starters, Cinderella should be a nice lead, but she shouldn’t just let herself get bullied the whole time. Honestly, writing out the step sisters and all of their cringe worthy dialogue would be a nice step up for the film. They simply aren’t needed and just keeping the step mom around would keep the plot virtually the same. That, or just having one step sister. The film does try to have its comedy moments at times, but they’re pretty uninspired. This film may try to take you for a ride, but sometimes the best thing to do is to simply step off. If you’re looking for a good romance drama, I recommend watching Yugioh Bonds Beyond Time and just remember that a drama without romance can still be a very good film!

Overall 4/10