The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Review


It’s time for the remake to the film I just reviewed. When you watch both of these films back to back you can really compare their strengths and see which one comes out on top. Ultimately I would say this one definitely beat the original. Both of them are solid and so I wouldn’t say the gap is big or anything but I was really able to get behind the remake. I felt like the main characters were stronger and with the added time you could do a lot more. Although ironically the villains have almost 0 development.

The film starts with Ben and Jo on vacation with their son Hank. They’ve had a pretty fun time of it so far and have a few more stops left. They nearly get into a fight with someone on the bus though when Hank steals something from a lady. They are saved by the intervention of a guy named Louis who is eager to know everything he can about Ben. He asks a ton of questions and every time Jo tries to ask him something the guy ignores or and asks Ben some more questions. Ben loves talking about himself so this is a fine set up for him. After telling Louis where they are staying, how long they will be staying and where they will go next, Louis leaves.

Jo warns Ben that he’s making some big mistakes with giving all the info away but Ben’s confident he’ll be okay. Louis ends up getting murdered but quickly tosses Ben a note. Ben thinks about telling the police but then he gets a call warning him not to tell them anything or Hank will die. Turns out that they swiped Hank away under the guise of a nice neighbor taking him home. Ben tries to gently break the news to Jo but she doesn’t take it very well. The two of them are going to need to try and track Hank down but it’ll be difficult since they aren’t exactly used to dealing with the underground. All they’ve got as a clue is a location from the note.

Like in the first film we get the return of the Church led by one of the villains. This time they aren’t worshipping the Sun though so it’s not quite as outlandish. It’s interesting because this could have been game set and match for the villains if there was any way to leave the Church without being noticed. Unfortunately for the heroes that isn’t exactly possible. In a small setting like that, everyone notices when you get up and the villains have a plan for everything. It was fun to see the various stare downs in there as well.

This time around we don’t get a big shootout climax. In fact, the climax is very low key with things happening quickly but quietly. The ending just sort of happens as we cut away from what would have presumably been the full climax. It’s a solid ending but I do think the first movie has the edge in that area. I was glad Ben went for the shove at one point since it’s always something I feel more heroes should do. Look, if you are being held at gun point and the guy is at your side instead of behind you, just quickly shove into him.

At that angle he can’t hit you in the head and a heart shot is unlikely. So now you’ve got him on the ground and even if you’re wounded perhaps you can hold him down until someone arrives to help. At the very least Hank is safe no matter what so you’ve accomplished your main objective. It’s certainly a whole lot better than just accepting your inevitable death. Because if you follow this guy into a car or a dark alley that’s all that awaits you. At least this way you have a chance.

Hank doesn’t do a whole lot in this film. He’s just a kid after all so he gets kidnapped and tricked but that’s about it. Jo’s a solid main heroine. I wish she wouldn’t panic quite as much when she learns about Hank going missing but after that initial scene she handles the rest of it pretty well. She was key in helping out at the opera as well as executing the big plan at the end involving her songs. She took a fairly large role in getting Hank to safety.

The same can be said for Ben who does his best to take on this criminal enterprise. He may not have experience but he’s got determination which is important. In this version of the film he’s with Jo a lot more while in the first film he was teaming up with the older fellow. The change makes sense since this way both parents get a sizable role here.

As mentioned before, the villains aren’t very memorable though. You have the old lady who starts to think that maybe she’s on the wrong side here. It’s way too late if you ask me though. She was completely fine with kidnapping the child and it was obvious what would happen to Hank in the end. Getting cold feet now doesn’t make her more heroic. The other villains are mainly just here as part of the story but don’t have a lot of character. At best you have the friend of the prime minister who had an interesting personality. He certainly doesn’t excuse failure a whole lot but as a political head he can’t go around shooting people either so he’s in a bit of a bind.

Overall, This was a pretty solid remake. The writing was very good as expected and I thought the characters were an improvement over the first film except that the villains were not memorable. The film had a little more humor than the first film and it all landed pretty well. One of the better gags was the main characters having to rush out all the time to the confusion of their friends and family who had gone over to have some fun with them. It wasn’t quite the house party they had in mind that’s for sure. I’d recommend checking this one out. Unless you want to compare both titles directly and just want to watch one, I would say this is the definitive version of the movie to check out.

Overall 7/10

Dumbo (2019) Review


Dumbo is certainly a classic from the old days of Disney. I’m sure just about everyone is familiar at least with the concept of the character so a remake definitely had the deck stacked against it. Ultimately it’s a fun remake and it is quite different from the original which helps it stand out. That being said, it doesn’t quite have the charm of the original as it cuts out all of the more fantastical elements to make this a more grounded experience.

The movie starts with things looking hopeless for the heroes as Holt arrives back home from being in the army only to find that things are in disarray. His wife died and the circus they belong to has fallen under tough times. Holt lost an arm and his kids are also not doing so well as they have stopped enjoying their youth. Then the owner of the circus, Max ended up buying an Elephant with a kid but the kid has huge ears and is the iconic Dumbo. There are no refunds but Dumbo wows the audience with his flying. Are things finally on the up and up for the heroes or is the powerful Mr. Vandevere about to put an end to this?

Dumbo is a fairly light hearted film at its core but it does get serious at times like in the intro. Most of the characters outside of the main ones aren’t the nicest folks as seen with how they treat Dumbo and the others. They tend to meet rather intense ends though which was good to see since picking on Dumbo is quite mean spirited.

Dumbo is a fun character although he is always very nervous. You’d like to see Dumbo take charge and just start running around the place after a little bit but it’s not really until the film is ending that he finally gets brave. If we ever get a sequel then I like to think he will be able to use his new experience flying to become a true hero to the rest of the elephants. In a way he can be their champion.

As the main character, Holt does well. He struggles with some self doubt at times but for the most part I thought he handled the situations in stride. It’s not as if it’s easy to adjust to only having one arm but you won’t see him complain about it even once during the film. The most difficult part is really connecting with his two kids and that’s not something he is really able to do for most of the film. He doesn’t have quite as strong an attachment to Dumbo and mostly he’s focused on just trying to learn a new act.

So I liked him well enough but the only time I got a little nervous was when the film introduced Colette and started dancing around making that a potential romance subplot. That would have been horrible considering that his wife just died so this would be moving on way too quickly. Fortunately the film never really goes in that direction and so I like to think they remained as good friends. I’ll give the film a lot of credit for showing some restraint here since that can be pretty rare in these things.

Colette was a fun heroine as well. Initially when she appears in a crazy getup with Vandevere you sort of figure she’s going to be an antagonist as well. One of those villains who is quite smug about being rich but her character ends up being a lot more complex than that which was appreciated. She had a good arc and did try her best performing along with Dumbo. It was an unexpected character change after the initial scenes but a welcome one to be sure. They even had a team up near the end against Vandevere.

Vandevere certainly works as the main villain as well. The guy just wants as much money as possible and will do whatever he can to accomplish this goal. Max was a little naive to really think that partnering with this guy would be such a good idea. Particularly since the circus had been doing well. Vandevere certainly panics a lot towards the end so you can definitely say that plot line was resolved in a satisfying way.

As for the two kids Joe and Milly, I wouldn’t say they were all that good here. Even if they helped give a positive connotation to the word “Dumbo” I’m not sure about calling the elephant that. Seems like it would just be traumatic right? They (Milly in particular) do a good job of training Dumbo at least and are the ones who form a good bond with him but if anything I think that role could have been given to Holt. The issue with the kids is that they aren’t really ready to take on opponents like Vandevere.

They mean well but they don’t know how to banter yet and tend to say things at the wrong time which puts the other characters in a pickle. Finally you have Max who made for a fun captain. He brings in a lot of the humor type scenes and is fairly over the top as you would expect. The guy always wants to be on the winning side so if something earns money then he loves it. If not then don’t expect him to be a happy camper. At the end of the day he does step up though.

So by and large it’s a fun story. It’s one that feels considerably different from the original Dumbo movie but the story is solid all the same. The effects look nice enough but what really stands out here is the soundtrack. The movie has a lot of themes like something out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films or even Spider-Man 3. The themes have a very epic feel to them which may not always match the scenes but sound epic under any context. It was very surprising to see this film have such a great soundtrack but it absolutely amped up the experience. Dumbo’s writing was also good so that helps round things out nicely as well.

Overall, Dumbo is a good remake of the original. It really hits on the important aspects of the movie such as having a solid cast of characters and flowing pretty well. You won’t be bored here and while Dumbo gets bullied, the film doesn’t take it too far which is good. It would be annoying if Dumbo had to go through a lot. Like for instance there is one scene where it looks like the clowns are going to throw water on Dumbo which would have been awful but fortunately they didn’t do that as it was a different act. It’s little things like that which help the film from going too far. Mix in the great soundtrack and you’ve got a pretty solid movie here.

Overall 7/10

Lunar Legend Review


Lunar Legend is one of those games that has been buried in my backlog for many years. As I finally approach only having 20 games left though, it was time for this one to come out and have some fun. Lunar Legend is a solid RPG even if it feels like it’s running on speed mode half the time. While it isn’t quite able to match up against a lot of the bigger RPG titles, it’s a fun game.

The basic plot starts out with Alex still looking up to the old heroes of legend. There used to be a Dragonmaster who tamed the 4 dragons and saved the world. While it seems like the age of heroes has long passed, things change once Alex and Luna make it to a nearby town. See, the Evil King Ghaleon has risen and he quickly murders the 4 dragons. The only way to stop him is for Alex to become a Dragonmaster. To do so he will have to pass the 4 dragons’ tests even though they are already dead. Will that be enough to stop this new evil?

Lunar Legend is shorter than most RPGs as it is a few hours under 20. Typically you expect an RPG to be at least 20 hours although of course that isn’t always the case. This one just feels like it’s abridged though. You’ll be spending a large chunk of the game running around with Nash until they mention the Dragonmaster bit. Suddenly you beat all 4 dragons within an hour or two and are running through the climax. You can’t say the game drags on though that’s for sure. I do like the brisk pace of the game but I think it could have used a few more hours to feel like we went through all of the plot points.

Additionally, the characters are a bit weaker than most. Take Alex, he has to be one of the blandest RPG heroes I’ve seen in a bit. He has some good moments near the end of the game but for the most part there isn’t much to him. The same goes for the main heroine Luna. The two allies who do stand out are Nash and Jessica though. Both of them talk a lot tougher than the other characters and don’t mind throwing around the insults. Nash believes himself to be an elite so he always has that air of arrogance although his skills don’t back it up. Jessica’s more of a fighter so she backs up her tough talk more but together they have a solid dynamic.

Kyle gets most of the back and forth with Jessica though as they tend to bicker about everything. I can’t say he is one of the better characters though. Finally there’s Mia who is a lot quieter than the others and always tries to be super polite. She’s a nice person but not very interesting. The big villain Ghaleon was cool though. I liked his evil king persona and the guy just did a good job of taking everyone down. His plan was quite sound.

So on the whole the character cast could have been better and that is probably a factor in why this RPG didn’t manage to break through to the next level. It’s all relative though because in a vacuum this game is still quite good. The gameplay is your classic turn based system filled with special attacks, items, and physical moves. You will want to get some good level ups to deal with the final bosses. The game can be challenging but never overwhelmingly so. The game has a good balance at all times which is important.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of replay value after the main game has concluded so no big post game to talk about but the main campaign is long enough where that’s fine. The graphics are solid as well. I’m glad we got some illustrations at least even if there weren’t any cutscenes around this time. The soundtrack is decent too, nothing to write home about but it gets the job done.

For gameplay tips I would just say that your physical attacks are sometimes better than the special ones. Yeah it’s a bit odd but sometimes throwing out a normal move is just way stronger than the special attacks. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps they don’t scale up when you increase your level? Maybe it’s also that critical hits are just really good here so that helps to make up the difference. Take your average 3 hit combo. If you get no lucky hits you may deal 150 damage while the super attack deals out 170. Well, if you get a lucky hit that does around 80, then you’ve just beat out the super attack by 10 points. If you get more than 1 lucky blow, then you can see how the special attack easily gets left out.

Don’t even get me started on the final smash attacks. Those are surprisingly very weak. At one point I decided to use it for kicks and it didn’t do much damage at all to the boss. Those are best used for fighting minions since they deal damage to all units at once. It’s a good way to fight those skirmishes but I would say not to bother for bosses. Passive supers like restoring everyone’s health is always good though so that’s one I would keep at the ready. The single best passive super in the game is the one that makes your team invincible for 3 turns.

While I said the game was not crazy difficult or anything, the final boss was pretty insane. For a little while there I thought I was going to have a big issue with him but fortunately the attack of making you invincible for 3 turns was just what I needed. It allowed me just enough time to win. It was a close one but that just shows why this ability is absolutely critical so don’t waste it on minions since it takes a long time to recharge.

Overall, Lunar Legend is a solid game. It might speed through the interesting parts of the game a little too quickly but you do feel like the characters are being proactive about shutting down the villains so it explains why everything is moving so quickly. I already have the prequel DS game so I’ll be reviewing that soon but I can safely say right now that it is a big downgrade from this one. Lunar Legend played it very safe and got a solid score while the other one took some big risks but unfortunately none of them paid off in the slightest. Ah well, hopefully the Lunar series returns some day with a proper next installment.

Overall 7/10

Star Ocean: Second Evolution Review


This game has been on the backburner for quite a while. It’s one of the last PSP games I hadn’t played yet so this was cool to knock out. Mixing the classic RPG setup with some Sci-Fi is always fun. The game has a good story and the fact that all of your partners are basically optional is pretty interesting. Apparently the game has over 80 variations of endings depending on how you use your team which is also cool. The game gets pretty difficult towards the end and there’s even a trick you can do to make the final boss even more difficult. You must be a master of the game to even attempt that I would imagine because otherwise that sounds pretty crazy. I was in the mid 80s for my level when I beat the game and while the last two bosses were quite easy thanks to this, taking down some of the earlier Wisemen was brutal with how they would petrify each member.

The game starts off with Claude and his father working on a spaceship. Claude has always wanted to follow in his Dad’s footsteps by becoming a pilot himself one day but unfortunately this isn’t to be. On one of their expeditions he gets a little too close to an artifact and is teleported to a primitive planet on another star system. He now has no way of getting back home. He decides to pretend he is around there. Claude meets a girl named Rena who explains that he is likely the fabled Hero of Light here to save them all. Calamity is approaching after all. More and more monsters have been appearing in the land and nobody is able to stand up to them. Well, Claude will do his best to help out until the crew can find him but does he even want to go back now?

The monsters are the main plot for most of the game but then towards the end we get a full villain group known as the Ten Wise Men. These guys are interesting because the game is definitely trying to go for something with their names here. You’ve got Zadkiel, Lucifer, Michael, and Gabriel all on the same team. Effectively the Angels and Demons have all decided to team up to destroy the universe. Why? Well, to be honest while usually I’d say I couldn’t tell you for spoiler reasons, they don’t really have any reason in particular. They want to either rule the universe or destroy it just because they can. They make for a pretty fun group I have to say. Their inclusion was a little last second but it definitely did help to increase the stakes here. I also tend to like villain groups in general.

As for the main characters, Claude is decent but not quite as good as the average RPG main character. He gets really jealous whenever Rena talks to her old friend Diaz which can get a little iffy. This often makes Claude act rather petty around her which isn’t a good look. I also think he should have come clean with the group about being from another star system a lot earlier in the game. It would have helped a lot particularly since he knew that the aliens were using high tech items as well. A little heads up could have gone a long way to saving more lives.

The death count in this game is absolutely massive. The villains just have more abilities and tech than the heroes so stopping them is really a difficult task. In any head to head confrontation you can really assume that the heroes are about to get wrecked. There are quite a number of fights in the game that you have to lose in order to progress the story. It’s a fun concept for sure but the only dicey thing is you may end up wasting a lot of potions and revives in this fight since you think you have a shot here.

Star Ocean ends rather abruptly without much of an after-ending so don’t expect a lot of closure for the characters. In particular I was expecting one of the old characters to show up again but I guess their premonition that they would never see him again was correct. You get the feeling that this game was left rather open ended for a sequel at some point. You could end the series with this game and it still works but there is definitely enough material for that third game. It’s definitely a satisfying story. I liked the way things turned out and the end of the game got to give Claude a good rage mode so he was more intense at the climax than he was for most of the game. You like to see it because he needed some more intensity the whole time.

As for Rena, she’s a solid heroine. Rena has her own story in the game and I’m sure that would give her even more backstory and personality like exploring her scenes with Diaz and all. She does well and keeps up with Claude the whole time. They have their share of disagreements but Rena is always reasonable about the whole thing. She’s a fun character to have around and has more of a presence than the other characters. Due to the optional nature of the rest of the party they don’t appear in any of the animated cutscenes. Even in the text ones their characters can be interchangeable. For example, I lost one fight with the Wisemen a lot to I had to keep seeing the cutscene over and over again and the side characters would take turns on who would talk to him but with the same dialogue each time. It was pretty interesting to see.

The best of the side characters would definitely be the travelling thief though. Her backstory got more time to shine than the others and since she was with the team near the beginning we at least got to see a lot of her. Some of the guys near the end came in rather late to the point where I intentionally left one of the kids back at base since he would just slow us down. I did like the rival Diaz quite a lot though. His skill with the sword was really impressive. Even by the end it’s hard to say if Claude had truly surpassed him or not. The tournament was a nice little event to show the gap in their abilities.

Not surprisingly the graphics here are really good. The fact that there are cutscenes which are completely animated at different points in the game was also very impressive. You definitely don’t see that every day I can tell you that much. The in game graphics are also on point. Not totally graphics related but I do think the game could have made the animations a little shorter though. Whenever the characters use a super attack there is a long unskippable cutscene that draws out the battles just a bit. Considering that you are going to need to grind out a lot of battles this can add up quite a lot.

As for the soundtrack, that was pretty good. It’s not quite at Tales of tier where each game has a super standout track but it still works out pretty well. There’s a lot of depth to the game so in addition to the 25-30 hours it takes to beat the game you’ve got a ton of replay value. You can beat the game again as Rena or work to get all of the other endings. It’ll definitely take a lot of time to do this so this game will last you an extremely long amount of time. It’s part of why RPGs tend to be some of the best games, you’ll almost always be very attached to what is going on by the end.

Overall, Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a great game. The plot is excellent and the characters are fun to root for. The anime cutscenes help to make this game feel high budget and the whole climax with the Ten Wise Men showing up was really good and kept a high energy approach the whole time. I liked the way you could allocate your abilities into skills as you leveled up since it made you have to decide on what to upgrade first. Strategy plays a huge role in this game. Star Ocean the series is off to a good start so I look forward to checking out more games in the series at some point. Either way if you have a PSP then I highly recommend picking this game up.

Overall 8/10

A Star is Born (2018) Review

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

A Star Is Born has certainly had a lot of versions right? So far none of them have managed to grab a positive score. The first two both got a 5 while the third one got a 3. Can this film finally manage to get the movie into the right position for a win? Well, unfortunately that was not possible. It’s better than the third adaption to be sure but this one’s still just such a bad film through and through. I’m convinced that the premise just can’t work. If a film can’t win after 4 tries then I’d say that means it is time to give up.

The film introduces us to a famous singer named Jack. He’s really made a name for himself. The guy may be a huge alcoholic who has serious issues but so far he has not let it crush his career. He is determined to continue to go about things as always. One day Jack decides he really needs a drink and that’s when he bumps into Ally. She is convinced that she doesn’t look good enough to be famous but Jack eventually gets her on stage and she is a hit. The issue now is that she is quickly growing more popular than him and she doesn’t have the various off the field issues that he has like the alcohol and general mishaps. Can Jack manage to keep Ally down so he stays ahead or will he end up derailing both of their careers.

If you’ve seen any of the previous films then you basically know how this one will end. After all it’s really a remake through and through so it’s not trying to trick you or anything like that. It’s going for pure fundamentals here and telling the story with a modern style. It’s not going for quite as edgy a feel as the last one which I appreciate but still has a ton of scenes that drag on. Jack’s also still a completely unlikable character for me. He just ultimately doesn’t turn the corner to make me root for the guy. By the time he starts to clean up his act the film is basically over so that really hurts his chances of finally being good. The story of his life here is really too little too late.

Granted, Jack is not nearly as bad as in some other versions. Cheating with some random lady midway through the film, landing a blow on the heroine (Albeit accidentally) and things like that don’t happen here as it’s toned down. He still has a variation of the famous Oscars scene of course and most of the usual story moments like insulting Ally and constantly trying to undermine her though. So while he isn’t as bad as he could have been, I still didn’t like him in the slightest. It’s hard to sympathize with him because he should have been so proud of Ally when she got big. His ego proved to be bigger than how much he cared for her which is no good. Of course the addictions aren’t easy to get over so I’ll give him points for going to rehab but it still doesn’t excuse how he tries to hurt Ally’s legacy.

Then of course we have the usual ending for him which is no good. No matter how hopeless things get, taking that way out is never the move. It’s more of an escape to the current dilemmas than dealing with it. I don’t care what Ally’s producer was saying, Jack could have absolutely talked things out with Ally and I think they would have come out at a good space. Instead he took the decision out of both their hands and ultimately it’ll now be a life scarring moment for Ally.

As for Ally, she’s not bad. She does her best to be successful and also tries her best to support Jack as well. She doesn’t let the fame go to her head and at least at first wasn’t quick to just drop everything to take a plane with some guy she barely knew. I wouldn’t say she stands out a whole lot but she has a full character arc with a solid amount of depth. Ally also shows a lot of skill in being able to sing different genres of music.

In general I wouldn’t say any of the songs really stood out to me here. They were all fairly solid I suppose so I wouldn’t call it a bad soundtrack. For a concert film like this you absolutely need to have a strong assortment of songs in order to succeed and these were good enough to work out. The final song is suitably emotional to end the film with. The pacing is also fairly good as I wouldn’t say the film dragged on.

I would have to say the romance wasn’t all that good though. It still feels very rushed no matter how you slice it. Ally doesn’t exactly meet Jack under the greatest of circumstances and he asks her out so quickly that there’s no way to really believe this would last. Naturally he ends up not being quite the person she thought he would be for a while. While he does start to shift at the end, it’s one of those romances that just had a lot of red flags from the start. It all moves far too quickly.

There are a few more supporting characters here than in previous versions. First off we have Ally’s best friend. He’s a supportive guy who helps her out a lot throughout the film. I would say his role is ultimately minor but he really does come through for her whenever she is feeling down. Then you have her father who is a lot of fun. He often talks about how much singing talent he had in his prime and you like to see his confidence. He’s also quite proud of Ally and is always talking her up to his friends. He seems like a great guy and it was nice that Ally had some positive influences around her as opposed to having to deal with everything on her own.

Overall, This version of A Star Is Born is better than the last one but I still wouldn’t call it a good film. The ending isn’t all that great and changing the formula a bit there would have been cool. Additionally the romance is weak and I just didn’t like Jack as a main character. Even Ally is only okay (Great compared to Jack) so the character cast doesn’t do wonders for me either. The film doesn’t drag on but the first half does feel like it gives us more of the origin than we need as the main focus of the film is once the music gets going. At this point I don’t think we’ll be getting a definitive version of the story but I suppose the next version can still give it a good ole try. I would recommend watching one of the first two versions instead of this one though.

Overall 4/10

The Lion King (2019) Review


Time to look at the modern remake to the original Lion King. The original is definitely a classic with one of the most impactful deaths at the time. I don’t think anyone ever truly forgets Mufasa. Well, this remake is mostly beat for beat although it does add a new subplot of sorts which I liked. In the end it isn’t able to do anything as effectively as the original though and does lose the head to head. As a stand alone film it is good though.

The movie starts with Simba finally being born. His father Mufasa is the strongest Lion in the land and resides as a King who was restored order to the world. The Hyenas don’t like this but everyone else enjoys the planet as it is. Animal Land would likely point out that this happiness cannot be sustained as even Simba points out that they have to eat their friends at times since the Lions are meat eaters. Mufasa explains they try not too eat too often like that though. Well, Mufasa’s brother Scar is not happy about this. He wants to be King and it’s implied he even liked the Queen but lost out. Well, he quickly murders Mufasa and tricks Simba into running away. Can Simba return to reclaim the throne or is it game over for him?

I suppose Mufasa’s role is rather small in the grand scheme of things but he’s always a fun character. One thing I really like about him is the amount of raw power he has at his disposal. He takes on a whole squad of Hyenas and is always ready. It’s a shame that he had to die here since the land had a bright future under him. I would enjoy an alternate reality path where we see what would happen if he stayed as King. That said, I do think he was a little too lenient on Scar the whole time. Ignoring obvious threats and such. I think at the very least he should have warned Simba a little more.

A good chunk of the film is the journey as Simba finds out what it is like to live in the wild. Pumbaa and Timon help him with this even if their advice isn’t always very helpful. They believe that life is meaningless which is…rather a depressing outlook when you think about it. They have a lot of fun scenes though and do have Simba’s back. Simba may have started out as being rather gullible and such but by the end of the film he’s definitely improved. I can see him being a fun character in the second film. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan in this one.

The best character in this film has to be Zazu. You really feel for the guy the whole time because he’s trying his best to uphold the rules and keep everyone on the straight and narrow. At the end of the day the issue is that everyone rebels against him. Additionally Zazu’s really just a little bird when you think about it so it’s not like he can fight. That makes him even more brave. Especially when you have someone like Scar around. Scar’s a solid villain as well. He’s got a plan and knows how to execute it. The whole thing is handled really well as shown by how easily he took over without firing a shot. Scar has charisma even if he lacks brute power.

Then you have Nala who is Simba’s best friend. She didn’t get a big role in the original after finding Simba so that’s why I liked the inclusion of a Hyene leader with an actual personality. They got to go at it during the climax of the film and of course I won’t turn down an extra fight. It was a nice way to wrap things up. Nala’s also a solid character since she was pro actively trying to save the Lions the whole time. In general the climax is a lot of fun with solid action and a dramatic backdrop. It’s hard to really top that.

One thing I couldn’t help but think about though was why there weren’t really any other Male lions in the pack. Part of why Scar took over so easily is because there was nobody to resist him but why was that the case? If there had even been a handful of guys there they should have been able to take down Scar and his obvious rebellion. In fact, based on how few lions were around it seems to be like the Hyenas should have easily invaded long ago. Their numbers are far greater than the Lions and they could just pick them off at any time. there is a strength gap of course but nothing too crazy there either. I dunno, but it felt noticeable.

The graphics are definitely top notch. You could really think that this was live action at times which is really impressive. In terms of realism it’s hard to really say that any film can top this one. It helps that there are no humans around of course but it’s super impressive no matter how you slice it. Unfortunately it’s still not able to beat the original film in this category which came out over a decade ago. The reason being that realism will usually be crushed by an animation style that just goes all in. The original film has more color and life to it. I still remember the comparison videos popping up everywhere and it is true that the original just feels a lot more exciting and looks sharper. It’s to be expected since it was hand drawn but if you don’t compare this to the original then you should still be able to appreciate the look.

I wouldn’t say any of the songs in particular stand out to me but they’re solid enough. The songs have a nice up beat flavor to them and there’s always something happening in the background to pay attention to. As for the fact that the film revolves around animals fighting each other, the film had a good amount of restraint with not letting this go too far. You can still expect some of course and we even have a scene where Scar is eating an animal while subtly threatening the lions which is pretty intense. That was probably the most noteworthy scene to me. In part because you can totally cut it out and nothing changes. So this aspect doesn’t hurt the film as much as it potentially could have but I think it could have jumped another star otherwise.

Overall, The Lion King (2019) is a good remake. It’s fairly similar to the original one with the extra fight at the end being the only big change I would say. Even then calling it a “big” change is probably an exaggeration to be honest since it’s not like it affects a whole lot. If you haven’t seen the original or you saw it a long time ago and want a fresh version then this is a good one to check out. Otherwise there just isn’t any reason to recommend this over the original so I would say to just go and watch that one instead. It’s always the risk with remakes. If the original one was better then you may as well just watch it again instead of seeing the new version.

Overall 6/10

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 43h

Bowser’s Inside Story

Battles 242
Enemies Defeated 570
Battles Fled 34
Excellent Ratings 971
Badges Used 40
Blocks 49%
Beans 20%
Music 79%

Character Levels

Mario 33
Luigi 33
Bowser 30

Bowser Jr’s Journey

Allies 90% Complete
Enemies 100% Complete
Challenges 73% Complete
Formations 100% Complete
Quests Cleared 197
Battles Won 616
Enemies Defeated 5205
Excellent Ratings 1236
Minions Recruited 398

Character Levels

Bowser Jr 43
Kamek 44
Koopa 47
Boo 47
Parakoopa 45
Hammer Bro 46
Spiny 45
Spike Top 45
Lemmy 28
Morton 34
Roy 33
Captain Koopa 31
Captain Goomba 31
Big Tail Goomba 37
Goomba Tower 37
Iggy 25
Wendy 31
Larry 28
Ludwig 25

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen (2020) Review


It’s time to look at the 2020 remake of the classic Orphen story. This one takes a far different approach than the last one though which was pretty interesting. Azalie plays a much bigger role here which I was happy to see. It definitely ended up completely surpassing the original series. This one is a blast and a half from start to finish with excellent animation and story beats. If you want a solid action anime to check out then this is definitely the one that you will want to have at the ready.

The show starts by introducing us to Orphen. He used to be a member of the Tower of Fang but left to pursue Azalie since he disagreed with the Tower’s approach. Most of this is cloaked in mystery and explained as the story goes on so I’ll leave it there. He’s now a renegade mage trying to make ends meet until he can find her. He takes on an apprentice named Majic who really wants to be a great mage but Orphen doesn’t take him too seriously. A rich girl named Cleao also ends up joining the party so now this trio have to try not to hold Orphen back as they tag along. Orphen will have to go up against assassins, the Tower of Fang, and of course Azalie. Are his skills as a stabber and inheritor of the Razor’s Edge going to be enough for this?

The show starts off quite fast paced and it has to in order to cover all of this in only 13 episodes. The show does a great job of making you feel like a lot is happening. We get to see Orphen in a lot of different fights and scenarios. I’d say that the first arc of the series is naturally finding Azalie and then the second half is sort of about finding her again. We get mini arcs throughout of course so there’s always more than one plot going on. For example, one plot has the heroes head to an isolated village of people who can’t stand sorcerers. Naturally they aren’t too happy to see Orphen and pals so the heroes have to end up fighting them off.

Another mini arc and my personal favorite in the series is when a fake Orphen appears and stars murdering Tower of Fang members. Naturally this puts Orphen in a bad light especially as this clone looks like how Orphen was back when he was a member. Orphen has to try and take this guy out but the problem is that the Fake Orphen appears to be as powerful as Orphen was at his peak. Unfortunately the Orphen, he has actually grown weaker over the years because he is not able to actively train like he used to and so his skills have naturally deteriorated. It’s a pretty intense arc for sure.

Finally the last arc involves some more assassins. These guys want a book that the Tower of Fang currently possesses and they will do whatever they have to in order to get it. Once they start targeting Orphen’s friends he takes it personally and decides to remove them. He is a stabber after all and isn’t opposed to destroying his enemies when necessary. They went after Cleao and Leticia (Tish) so at this point Orphen needs to make sure they don’t go after anyone else.

The season ends with a nice cliffhanger setting up the next season pretty well. Once again Orphen and the gang are going to be heading to a place that isn’t exactly known for being nice for mages. Should make for a pretty tense second season. We already know Azalie can protect herself so the question is if Orphen’s up to the task. He never backs down from a challenge so I expect he will do just fine here. He’s ready for whatever they throw at him and is pretty good at using underhanded tactics in a fight to make up the power gap as well. He’s not the kind of guy who will just give up.

All of this is to say that Orphen is a pretty great main character. He has confidence and ability, two traits that you absolutely need to have.
His fight against the Fake Orphen is a good example of that. He was completely outmatched in terms of physical and magical ability so he had to win with his pure intelligence. Otherwise he had no real shot to pull this off. Same as when he fought with Azalie. He knew that he couldn’t take her down in a fair fight so he had to have some good equipment at the ready. It’s not really uncommon in this series for Orphen to be outmatched so it’s good that he’s so cunning. He is the inheritor to the Razor’s Edge which the show loves to bring up every episode and used to be the strongest but he no longer holds that title. Even so, I feel like he is second only to Azalie in terms of ability from Tower of Fang members. I wouldn’t be surprised if people outside of the tower would be able to take him on though. He didn’t exactly do well against the Elder Dragon.

Then we have the main heroine Cleao who is a fun character. She may not be much of a fighter but she’s a good morale booster and is always here to raise everyone’s spirits. She also has her pet dragon Lucky who can fight really well. At least this gives her something in the way of defense and she can land a surprise blow when needed. She definitely will always try to contribute when needed. Her role isn’t huge and it doesn’t look like she will ever be going into more of a full combat role but as it stands she does add to the dynamic.

Unfortunately Orphen’s other partner Majic is not nearly as good. He’s just around to hold the team back. He’s the hapless trainee whose abilities aren’t improving at nearly the rate he was hoping for. Usually that could be an inspirational character as you root for his success but he ruined that in his first appearance when he betrays Cleao’s confidence and only stops because he is caught. His character never recovered from this peeping incident and for the rest of the series I was rooting against him. Clearly Majic doesn’t have the discipline needed to improve his magical abilities.

You’ve also got the pair of comic relief characters Volcan and Dortin who follow the heroes around. Their roles have been greatly reduced compared to the original show though. They show up a few times as they sell out Orphen over and over again but that’s about it. They’re pretty fun though and it’s a comic relief kind of style that has aged pretty well. I dare say that it’s about as funny now as it ever was. Keeping it in short doses is probably a good thing though so we can really focus on the actual plot going on.

Azalie was always a great character in the original show and the same is true here. She makes for a very good wild card. I would certainly not call her a hero but as a loner she doesn’t mind helping the heroes out once in a while. Her abilities are still formidable and she only loses one fight in the series due to a good magical item. Otherwise she looked pretty much invincible. She definitely enjoys being quite mischievous and pranking Orphan all the time. It makes for a very fun dynamic and she really is the heard of the series. The whole thing revolves around her so much that you couldn’t have the show without her.

Then we have Childman who is a pretty interesting character. He certainly looks after Azalie like how Orphan does although in his own way. He doesn’t have a huge role in the series but gets a lot of respect in his own right. He’s certainly a powerful opponent and a pretty reasonable guy in general. At least he’s someone that you can count on when the going gets tough and that’s always important. We’ve also got Leticia who’s another high ranking member of the group. Her abilities are fairly decent although I wouldn’t say I was too impressed. Her first big fight doesn’t really go all that well. In a fair fight I’d take her over most of the opponents though. When you’re outnumbered it’s hard to really do much.

The other members of the Tower of Fang like Heartia or Forte are around but don’t do quite as much. The final character I’d single out here is the Fake Orphen who really steals the show. Naturally there’s a twist about his true identity. His episodes were really the peak of the series with how fantastic they were. This guy would really keep you on your toes the whole time and I loved his absolute confidence. He’s definitely one of the strongest characters in the series without a doubt. Unfortunately he will likely never appear again so you will need to have enjoyed these scenes as much as possible.

As mentioned, the animation is quite solid here. It’s definitely bright with a lot of good color contrasts. The energy fights are good and the same goes for the hand to hand choreography which is quite impressive. I think this goes a long way into helping shape the series into the great title it is. When you’re following a show that just looks really good in addition to its good writing and solid soundtrack then you’ve got a solid combo. The soundtrack may not be an all star or anything like that but I thought it sounded really good for the scenes that were there. You’ll hear the themes a lot over the course of the series. The opening theme is also pretty catchy for sure.

Another thing that separates this show from the average title is that it was even able to make the flashback scenes interesting. In most shows I definitely don’t look forward to flashbacks at best and normally I dread them. It’s the perfect way to absolutely destroy a show’s pacing and give us extra info we didn’t need to know. 9 times out of 10 we don’t need a sob story for the characters. Fortunately the flashbacks are actually pretty interesting this time though. I think they could even make a whole show about Orphen’s days at the academy. It’s always rare to see a main character who was stronger as a child than when he was grown up. The idea that he had to fight while always holding back at the Tower was a pretty interesting one that they could run with. The writing here is just exceptional and it’s why the show is so much fun and so interesting throughout.

Overall, Orphen is definitely a great anime. As a reboot it’s very easy for anyone to just pick up and watch as well. You don’t need to go back to the old shows and can just start here. The animation is very smooth and the writing is on point. The show really has no weaknesses and had no bad episodes. It just does a superb job of showing what you can do in 13 episodes. It set a high bar for the next season but I look forward to seeing what other adventures we get. This was definitely one of the more fun self contained shows I’ve seen in quite a bit. It really took all of the strengths of the first show and expanded on them.

Overall 8/10

Little Women (1949) Review


It’s time to look at the next adaption of the classic Little Women story. While it will feel very familiar to the last one as they mainly tackle the same events, I’d say that it is executed better. Personally I found this one to be quite a bit more enjoyable than the last version. Some of the plots still aren’t the best and the final romance feels rushed but at least the film tries to address this since there are technically a few time skips. I’ll give the film some points for effort there even if ultimately it didn’t work.

The film follows a group of sisters who are currently having fun times. Their father has went off to war and so the family isn’t doing particularly well financially but they have each other which has always been enough for them. Jo is the main character and she is an aspiring writer. One day she aims to be featured in the papers and to have her books published. In the meantime she writes plays for the family to perform. One day a boy moves in next day and they hit it off but Jo is determined to stay as friends. She believes that none of the main characters should fall in love because then the dynamic will change. She’s not wrong, but can you actually say no to romance in a movie?

Jo’s idea isn’t all that bad. The idea of having a friend is a good one. You shouldn’t always feel pressured to take that to the next step. It’s not really her place to hold any of the other sisters back though. It may be a shame that the dynamic has to change but ultimately that was bound to happen one way or the other. Time is not stagnant and so eventually every dynamic ends up crumbling. You either adapt with it or you’ll spend your time relying too much on your memories of the past. The film’s pretty predictable on if Jo ends up succumbing to romance or not so be prepared for that.

There are quite a few subplot though as each sister gets her own plot. They meet people, one of them grows sick, etc. The film isn’t afraid to tackle some tough themes as well with one character dying. Each character has their own burden to bear whether it be physical or emotional. Part of what hurt in the previous version was that it was really hard to care much about the story. It was all just way too old and the writing came across as rather sluggish. This one does a better job with the writing and streamlining the plot. There also appeared to be a significant age gap in the final romance in the last film which is corrected here. It’s hard to see an age gap of more than 10 which I tend to consider as the cut off. Even that is already on the wider side.

Jo’s definitely the most entertaining character of the group. She’s got a lot of energy and tends to dismiss formalities and just be herself. It’s something that was quite rare back in the day so it really makes her stand out from the rest. Meg, Amy, and Beth are reasonable characters as well although there is less notable about them. While Beth is a lot younger than the others she always composes herself well with solid dignity. Meg and Amy mainly follow the standard path of falling in love right away. They’re solid characters even if one of them does end up rebounding with someone who liked Jo at one point which is a bit sketchy. You’d think that if someone likes the sister you would definitely not start a relationship there. It seems a bit like a betrayal even if the relationship was over. I just don’t think that’s something you should ever do.

There’s not a whole lot more to say that I didn’t already say in the first film. It’s pretty much the same movie only this one is newer. Due to the nature of the movie it’s also not like a whole lot happens. The runtime is fairly long though. I’d say that the writing is fine. It may not be winning any awards anytime soon, but it does the job and everyone feels like a real character which is important. It’s all fairly realistic for its time. That’s why I’d like the next Little Women adaption to get a little more out there. Have it take place in the future or something. I think that would end up being quite excellent as a change of scenery would end up helping quite a lot. It’s exactly the surge of new energy that the film could use and I think it would end up taking it quite far.

Overall, Little Women seems to be pretty faithful to the book based on how similar it is to the last one. It’s a classic slice of life story and if anything may be one of the most fitting installments in the genre. This is exactly what you would expect out of a slice of life if you ask me. There may not be any danger or villains but you do get to see the characters live out their lives and change as time goes on. It’s all quite dramatic in a social way. If this kind of plot really interests you then you should check it out. Personally I think slice of life films need a bit more comedy to really hit it home for me. If you play it too serious then it becomes a bit too close to real life and so I don’t really see the point of the film. A good film needs to be highly entertaining. This film isn’t, but it’s not boring either which is why I place it squarely in the middle. It’s not a bad film but I couldn’t imagine watching it a second time.

Overall 5/10