Sword Art Online – Re: Aincrad


It’s really nostalgic to be seeing the good ole Aincrad adventures one more time! This was definitely Sword Art Online at its peak and I’ve got really high hopes for this one. We’ll see if it delivers and of course I will have a review up as soon as the series is over. More Kirito action is always good!

Overall /10

One Piece: Episode of Chopper Plus: Bloom in Winter, Miracle Sakura Review


One Piece has the next arc remake with this movie tackling the Tony Tony Chopper arc. While this arc is not considered to be one of the stronger ones and tends to pale in comparison to the new ones, it’s always nostalgic to see the old team. I’d say the crew also learned from the last movie remake and made sure that this one had longer fights and a longer length in general so it felt more like a complete experience. It’s still hard to do a whole arc in one movie but I’d say they did a good job with this one.

The movie starts with the gang on the ship as usual but then Nami gets seriously ill with some kind of virus. She is fading fast and so the heroes stop by a local island to find a doctor. Unfortunately all of the doctors are gone except for one who is regarded as a witch named Dr. Kureha. She lives alone atop a giant mountain so Luffy will have to try and carry Nami there. The main obstacles in his way are: The terrain which is naturally dangerous, Nami’s health which is fragile right now so Luffy can’t fight or make too many sudden movements, and the Wapol pirates who hav e returned to retake the island. Can Luffy save Nami in time or is it too late?

While the whole crew it here, Luffy does most of the work. Zoro and Franky get to beat up some minions and Sanji fights some of the animals but for the most part the rest of the crew is written out. The way they got Sanji out of the big fights was the most awkward though as he injures his back somehow and can’t fight anymore. That scene was really hard to buy. Sanji’s back gave out just like that? I’d have preferred him to lose to one of the pirates instead since at least he would have gone down fighting.

As for the villains, there are two main ones here. First up is Wapol who was in the original arc as well. The guy may not have been super powerful but he does his best with the chomp chomp fruit. He gets a rather big powered up form at the end which may not have been enough to save him but it looked cool enough. Then he has a brother named Musshuru who was made up for this version. He looks rather skilled as he is able to trade blows with Luffy and keep at it for a while. I can’t say he was a very interesting villain but I’m always up for some good fights.

After all, that’s part of the fun in this movie. The characters get to see a lot of action this time. Also, the animation style is very distinct. It’s going for a bit more of an abstract feeling at times with a different color set than usual. I wouldn’t say it beats the classic style but it does help the film stand out which is an important thing in a movie. You want it to feel extra special and this is one way to go about that.

The soundtrack has your typical One Piece themes. Nothing very new and different but they always sound good so I didn’t have a problem with that. The music tunes are fitting for the scenes that they’re in. You can feel Luffy’s determination as he climbs the mountain while the music is going and why he’s a solid lead. The film has its share of emotional moments after all and the soundtrack balances them pretty well.

There are two main doctors here, the one from the flashbacks and the one in the present. In the present we have Dr. Kureha who has done well to continue practicing medicine even when she sees all of her colleagues “vanishing” or being directly captured by the villains. It’s a risky line of work but she doesn’t falter and definitely ends up being a really solid character. She’s the kind of character who has a tough time actually voicing her true feelings but will always help silently.

Dr. Hiriluk is the other character but I did not like him. His personality type is that he’s a really nice guy who is chasing a dream that is nearly impossible to achieve. He wants to make the Sakura blossoms bloom in this winter land despite everyone telling him that this is crazy. Along the way he meets up with Tony Tony Chopper and the two of them become close friends. It’s all good so far but then Hiriluk realizes that he will be dying soon from an incurable disease.

He then makes the wrong choice by shooting at Chopper to make him go away and to get some distance between them. Chopper had been traumatized by guns before so this felt like a really cheap move by the Doctor. I also think he should have just been upfront with Chopper about this. Tell him that death is near and then they can at least enjoy some happy days together at the end. It is much better than trying to destroy your reputation and friendships. So I lost a lot of respect for the Doctor at that point.

Finally we have Tony Tony Chopper who is a nice enough guy. He was never my favorite member of the Strawhats as the guy isn’t much of a fighter and I don’t think his comedy scenes work as well as some of the others but he still does have his moments where he helps out. Ultimately Luffy and friends are able to get him to a better spot but he gets outshined by all of them here.

Overall, Episode of Chopper is a fun adventure. If this is your first way of seeing the arc then you should still be fine. This movie does a good job of recapping things. Some of the events are a little different like we have some members of the team who shouldn’t be around yet. That might confuse you a little when you go back to the show and see them introduced but I want to say that it’s a very small amount of people who would have actually started the series with the movie recaps instead of watching the show. The movie is a good action adventure film in the end. It’s not trying to be much more than that and doesn’t need to be. Whether you like the franchise or not, you should have a good time with this one.

Overall 7/10

Gaslight (1944) Review


Time for the next adaption of Gaslight. I was certainly not all that impressed with the first one and this title is only marginally better. Many of the same negatives from the first film reappear in this one. I’ll give this title credit for having what’s effectively a 30-40 minute prologue added in before we see the first scene of the original film readapted here. It adds some more context but also backfires. More on that later on.

Paula’s aunt was murdered one day which frightened everyone and so Paula was sent away for a while. We cut to the present where she has met up with a guy named Gregory and intends to marry him. It’s all going well until he says that he wants to move to London, the exact area where the aunt was murdered. Paula has done her best to get over this incident for many years and so she figures that she is ready to handle this. Unfortunately things begin to get misplaced and Gregory is always attacking her now that they are married. Will she be able to escape or will she fall for every trick over and over again?

So here’s why the whole extended origin fails here. We actually see how Paula’s life was quite happy and how she met Gregory. Right from the jump she should have said no to moving to the London squares…but fine she says that she’s over it so we can roll with that. Here’s where things get dicey. When she finds the letter with a mysterious name on it, Gregory snaps at her and immediately starts yelling and acting like the main villain. We’re still in the prologue here so the old film hasn’t started yet.

Right away Paula needed to have called him out here. She can’t just take that and let a bad precedence start. Then in the next scene we have Gregory casually mentioning that Paula tends to be a very forgetful person. Paula just accepts this for some reason when she should have quickly said no. The gaslighting here is so obvious and tactless that you’ll be shaking your head the whole time. It all happens so fast and since we’re actually seeing it this time, you have a hard time believing any of it. It just doesn’t make any kind of sense.

Paula isn’t nearly as broken as the first character by this point but it’s like her personality does a 180 as she was so confident and self assured but suddenly becomes extremely timid. It’s disappointing because she could have done so well and is instead faltering immediately. The rest of the movie gets worse and worse for her as Gregory just keeps on manipulating and humiliating her in front of everyone. If only she had signed the documents saying that she keeps all of the money because then she could have dashed out or something.

Regardless it would have been nice if she had gone outside more to talk to people and figure out what is going on. She’s rich to an extent and should easily be able to think of some things that can help. Hire some detectives or do something pro active to find out about the letter and why Gregory has changed so suddenly. She should have helped hire the maids and if anything she should have fired Nancy once she sensed how much antagonism was there.

One of the biggest problems with the film is that Paula’s barely a character. She just stands there and takes everything that Gregory throws at her. You wish she would do anything but instead she always ends up disappointing you. Finally there’s one area where she is worse than in the previous version. It’s near the end of the film when Brian is around to help her but everyone dashes off as Gregory shows up. In the first film she seems to actually think that it might have been a dream and starts to crack. In this one it seems like she panics at the thought of Gregory being against her and so she quickly tried to throw the other maid under the bus. I thought that was an extremely petty moment and it definitely made her look bad. That’s the kind of mistake that you can’t afford to make.

Of course Gregory’s a pretty awful villain too. The guy isn’t exactly subtle with all the noise he makes when trying to find the jewels. I wouldn’t even say that he’s a very smart villain because the whole plan revolves around Paula being easily manipulated and not able to do anything for herself. If Paula had talked to the nice next door neighbor or anyone then this could have all been avoided. Any scene with Gregory in it tends to be annoying for sure.

Nancy is also not a very nice maid. You’d think she would respect Paula as the head mistress more but unfortunately she is quickly able to sense the heroine’s weakness and pounces. The other maid was nice enough though and at least tried to look out for Paula. Then you have Brian who is doing his best to solve this case as soon as possible. The guy is dedicated and I’ll give him points for making a real effort here. In the end the guy took a very long time but he still helped save the day. The result is really what counts here.

The suspense for disbelief is just too much though. I like my main characters to be confident and self assured. Even if you are going to be a wallflower then I expect you to trust your own judgment and step up when the going gets tough. If Paula had gotten tough even once then that would have helped the film a great deal. The extended run time gives her more character but it almost doesn’t matter since it doesn’t change her actions later on. She still falls into all of the same holes so that whole intro may as well have not even happened at all.

Overall, Gaslight is a film that I have to give a full thumbs down too. The character cast isn’t quite interesting enough to counter all of the suspense for disbelief you have to go through. The old lady seemed nice enough but in the end she barely got to appear at all so I’m not even sure what the point of her character was. This adaption certainly added a whole lot of elements but since they didn’t change anything, they may as well have kept it the same. The movie beats the original but as I said earlier, it doesn’t do enough to make this a good movie. It’s still one that I would give a thumbs down to in the end. You’ll want to avoid this one for sure.

Overall 3/10

One Piece The Movie: Episode of Alabasta: The Desert Princess and the Pirates Review


Alabasta’s definitely one of the most well known One Piece arcs. For those who don’t answer with Arlong Park, this is the arc where people would say One Piece really got good. We got the first big villain group with a ton of memorable fighters and everyone got some action. I do think it’s an arc that has aged well but one that has been long since surpassed by adventures like Water Seven, Marineford, and Wano. Still, it’ a pretty solid adventure although I would say it’s weaker than the show version in just about every way so that’s the version that you would want to watch instead.

The film starts off with Princess Vivi as a child riding Pell throughout the kingdom of Alabasta. Things were really good back then. She then wakes up in the present aboard the Going Merry. She is with a band of pirates known as the Strawhats and a mysterious guy appears who can assume the form of anyone he has shapeshifted into before. He can add new people by touching their face. One of the faces he used was of King Cobra, Vivi’s father. She is worried that Alabasta is in danger so the crew sets a course for the kingdom immediately. She as not wrong, the terrorist known as Crocodile has set his sights on the land. Can the Strawhats stop him?

Now from the jump you’re assuming that the movie can’t possibly adapt a whole arc in one movie so some concessions are going to have to be made. That’s normal but at the same time it feels like the fights are what loses out most of the time. Some of the fights are practically off screen or we just see the end of them. Take the iconic Zoro vs Mr. 1 fight. It’s so short here that you’re barely able to get into it. I think the film could have focused on more of that and instead cut out the Robin flashback and some of the Alabasta flashbacks. If you’re reliving the arc then odds are that you’re doing so for the fights right?

Each fight just feels so short and you wish they could have been extended more. Even the Luffy vs Crocodile fights are pretty short when you really think about it. Of course they do get a bit more length to them compared to the others though. Things move at a very fast pace at least, you certainly can’t say that the story was dragging or anything like that. While I wish the fights were longer, it is still impressive that the movie went all the way to the end though.

There’s just no reason to choose this over actually watching the anime itself unless you desperately need to save a ton of time. In that sense this could be better as a rewatch or refresher for fans but if you’re a big enough fan to be revisiting an arc then you’ll probably just be watching the episodes again. Considering that this is a movie I kind of expected the animation to be better but I wouldn’t even say that is very impressive. Maybe it’s slightly better than the show?….I may not even go that far.

The animation style seems a bit different like it’s going for the more stretchy style like in Naruto vs Pain except that was stretchy so you could have terrifically fast fight scenes with a lot of energy. You didn’t really have that here so then if the fight’s going to be slower you may as well go with a more detailed style and that would be for the best. I did like the sound effects used when punching the sand though. That part did feel grander than usual.

I feel as though the film just wasn’t particularly high budget though. Maybe that’s why they had to rely on some extra CGI shots and a ton of still shots like this was a manga. Unfortunately those are also reused which ends up hurting the visual experience. So….the visuals didn’t quite live up to what this could have been which is what I’m getting at here. The soundtrack is fun enough though, has that classic One Piece feel to it for sure.

For newcomers it is probably less friendly to jump into than films like One Piece Gold or Strong World but I guess you just have to get on board and try to follow along with what’s going on. The story of Alabasta still hits right. It was a smart plan of Crocodile’s to use shapeshifting to get the country to fight amongst themselves. It certainly would have worked really easily if not for Luffy and the gang stepping in. For once I can’t even blame the civilians because the plan was quite thorough even including whole camps and villages being completely wiped out.

Crocodile works as a very solid villain. He’s smart enough to know when someone is trying to betray him and is also powerful enough to put a stop to that right away. Even now he is one of the more impressive fighters and the ability to turn into sand is really good. Of course haki would eventually wipe out that advantage but at this point in the story it really made him someone who could not go down very easily. His fights with Luffy were definitely a blast.

His group really gets no time to develop though. You won’t find any of them to be particularly memorable as they are taken down in short order. Bon Clay has the biggest role by far since he is the one who really jump starts the adventure by showing up and using his shapeshifting. It’s a good ability to have but mostly in non combat scenarios. Once you’re in a fight though then you need to have something else. Fortunately he does have his kicking abilities which are apparently good enough to even give Sanji a run for his money.

As for the crew, well they show up to take names. Zoro even looks like the Captain when the film first starts as he is in the front and all. He looks very capable throughout the movie and wins his fight with dignity so I’m reminded why he is my favorite Strawhat. Sanji definitely takes his share of Ls here like letting Bon Clay manipulate him during the fight but ultimately comes through for the team. Usopp has one of his best roles here since there’s not a lot of time for his comedic moments with how fast everything is moving. As a result he gets to tank one of the more painful looking hits and keeps on going.

You get the feeling that Usopp isn’t quite as powerful as some of the others but he certainly looks brave here. He came through when it counted. Chopper doesn’t get to do much but seems like a nice support. Nami even wins her fight 1 on 1 which was really critical. She’s not usually someone you have on the front lines so that was really impressive. As for Luffy, well he definitely loses quite a bit here even when everyone’s hopes are resting on him but he comes through in the end which is what counts. It was fun to see the film keep cutting away to everyone saying how Luffy was going to win while he was getting absolutely demolished in the fight.

Robin gets some foreshadowing here as we see a bit of her past but the film doesn’t really end up finishing that plot. Of course that’s what happens when your film just adapts one story arc in the middle of an ongoing. To be fair, it wouldn’t feel like a cliffhanger or anything with how the film ends. On that I can at least say that the film does have a true ending here.

Overall, Episode of Alabasta is a good film, but a weak adaption. I don’t think it’s impossible to adapt the arc into a movie effectively but you need to change up the pacing a bit. The fights absolutely needed to be longer to have really done the story justice. I also think that as a movie this film should have looked a lot better. Mainly the film’s only weaknesses are from when you compare it to the show though. If I saw this as a big One Piece movie in a universe where Alabasta did not exist in the manga, that would probably help it. It’s why I still say it’s a pretty good movie. You’ll have fun with it and it’s a nice way to see the adventure from another angle but of course you’re better off watching the show version so you get all the details.

Overall 7/10

Ben Hur (2003)


It’s definitely been many years since I saw this film so it was time to give it the re watch. The story of Ben Hur is always a classic and this retelling was really solid. It definitely feels nostalgic with how long it’s been and the animation holds up quite well. It tells the story in a really streamlined way so you get the key parts while still keeping the runtime fairly short.

The movie starts off with Ben’s old friend Messala finally coming back to town. It’s been several years so Ben is thrilled to see him, but unfortunately Messala has changed quite a lot. The guy now works for the roman empire and will even cheat at little things like a race. Fortunately Ben sees this coming and was able to win anyway. I was glad about that because losing to a cheater like that would have been quite sad. Throughout the intro Messala keeps on bragging and trying to get Ben to join him.

The film leaves no doubt from the start that Messala will be the big villain here. He even takes Ben into custody on false charges where Ben has to work for years of hard labor. With his family gone and his wealth/power stripped away, Ben will now have to really look deep within himself to find out the next steps. Should he look for revenge? Live in peace? Try to find his family? Ben has a lot of options here but will have to choose very carefully.

Fortunately Ben was blessed to meet with a lot of reasonable people throughout his journey. He got to live in a rather good environment after being washed ashore which ended up happening as a direct result of Ben refusing to kill and being a loyal ally through and through. Ben always gives everyone a fair shake and it works out here. He’s just a nice guy who follows the rules and ultimately does well during crunch time. Only at one time is he tempted for revenge by joining the army and ultimately doesn’t go through with it.

Not to say that joining the army would be bad of course but it’s clear that at that point he was quite upset and needed to calm down. Ben had been through quite a lot by this point. Fortunately he was able to meet up with Jesus Christ on two occasions who showed him the true meaning of compassion. From then on Ben had a renewed energy about himself. His journey certainly would not have had a happy ending without this faith.

Esther is the main heroine here and while she means well, I do think she made the wrong call in lying to Ben about his family being dead. Even though it was a direct order from them, it’s still not the kind of thing you should do there. A lie even with good intentions ultimately has a way of bouncing back and causing all sorts of trouble. It’s why you also shouldn’t pressure someone to lie on your behalf since it places a big burden on them. The burden of information can be a heavy one and so just because you know something doesn’t mean that you should automatically spread it around so much.

At least once the truth was out in the open then they could all be a family again. Ben’s family also did well in enduring their hardships for as long as they did without any complaints. They really didn’t want Ben to worry. While Messala was the main villain here, we also had the corrupt kind. I think the film may have gone a little too far with making him sound so whiny though. I know it’s to show that this villain wouldn’t last long and was outmatched but I think you should still make them sound tough so that you can sense the danger they’re in.

That’s why I enjoyed Messala. Ultimately he got what was coming to him but in the meantime he was portrayed as a serious threat. First he tried to get Ben on his side and then after that he did everything that he could to tear him down. You could tell Messala was evil to the core here and so he was not going to hold back. Anything he could do to put Ben in a bad spot was something he was going to do right away. He had no doubts on that.

This film also directly has Jesus Christ appear which is cool. A lot of times you don’t see films actually go this far as to have the characters witness the true events of the Bible. I can understand why many would be hesitant of course. You don’t want to do anything that directly alters the timeline or changes events but if you do it like in this film then there’s no real risk. It’s not like Ben is suddenly giving speeches to the masses or having a lengthy conversation with Jesus. This is a nice way to just have him see what’s happening though. It’s also something that would be good to normalize as a main character in a movie witnessing any historical event.

Ben also learned a lot from these experiences. He would have died had Jesus not come to his aid in the first meeting and then later on he got to learn more about the Bible and really become a Christian. It was a good way to connect everything together and to also directly have those Christian elements in the film. Ben Hur is a film that was not beating around the bush and that’s a very good thing. It ultimately adds some extra depth to the film. It takes a lot more courage to make this up front than to be subtle after all and what’s more up front than having Jesus appear in the flesh?

Overall, Ben Hur was a solid title. I dare say that I even preferred it to the live action version. The film effectively streamlines everything so you get the main points and nothing drags on. It’s also a bit more of a toned down version so you can really enjoy the horse races more. In general I prefer not to see animals in the mix at all but this film does all right there. I liked the animation and even the occasional CGI shift like when the boats are approaching. It felt like something out of a video game in a nostalgic way. If you’re looking for a solid film with a good main character that you can respect, this is the title to check out. Ben Hur’s the kind of character that can serve as a role model to anyone because he goes through so much and never falters. He ultimately uses this as a chance to get closer to God and so that made all of the trials worth it.

Dune (2021) Review


I really did not like the first Dune film so I certainly went into this one with a lot of reservations. Fortunately it is an improvement in every area. When you watch this version you can see how people could have the franchise up to be the next Star Wars. While I don’t think anything will be the next Star Wars, this one has a solid story and builds up a good universe. Throw in the fact that we should be getting the sequel pretty soon and this title has a whole lot of momentum. Ultimately if you like Sci-Fi then you should like this film.

The movie starts by introducing us to the setup of the world. The Emperor rules just about all of the solar systems and there are houses that are under him. Each house has its own ruler, army, and population. The main character Paul is the prince of the Atreides house and they’ve done rather well for themselves. Unfortunately they are suddenly given a mission by the Emperor to go and take control of Arrakis as the Baron will be pulling his people out. The kingdom isn’t thrilled about this since Arrakis is a desert wasteland that is hard to survive in. Additionally their house has never gotten along with the Baron’s house so this seems to be a trap.

Meanwhile, Paul is not sure if he even wants to be king. Making this more complicated is the fact that he has been having a lot of dreams about Arrakis and a girl on that planet. The dreams range from her staring at him to seemingly stabbing him. He is also involved in some shady prophecy from his mother’s side of the family that he will be the chosen one. This will likely put him under an even greater spotlight which could make the emperor go against him. It’s going to be a difficult journey for Paul.

There’s a ton of world building here so that’s really just scratching the surface. I will say, the quicker you learn the names for each of the planets and houses, the quicker you will be able to not only understand the plot but really get into it. Memorizing the names is crucial here. The effects are pretty solid and definitely help for the fight scenes. It’s cool to see the barriers that the suit emits as they are quite unique. You can stop most projectiles but close range attacks get more dangerous.

The training fights Paul has to go through really show this effectively. Now I wouldn’t say the film is super action packed as I would call it more of an adventure but you do have the occasional battle. Duncan easily gets the best battle near the end of the film. He really shows off his skills and proves himself to be the best fighter in the army without a doubt. I wouldn’t say any of the musical themes stuck with me but as you go through the scenes there aren’t any distracting moments either.

As a main character Paul is decent. He can definitely panic a bit with the burden that he is given but for the most part he takes things well. He’s not as tough as he acts at times but his skills should keep on improving so that by the sequel he will be ready to engage anyone in combat. As it stands he is already powerful enough to beat many fighters in a 1 on 1 situation.

As for his mother Jessica, she was quite impressive here. She has mastered “the voice” which is an ability that lets you mind control someone just by talking. It’s very handy to have and she can also fight hand to hand as well. The scene where she and Paul take on some fighters near the end was a really good showing there. Her pact involving the prophecy could certainly end up being troublesome so we’ll see what choices she makes going forward.

Paul’s father Leto is also solid here. I thought he did well at leading his kingdom and it’s hard to blame him for how things turned out. I don’t feel like he had a realistic option of turning down the Emperor’s order. It was going to happen whether he made it easy or not. Then for the invasion, well every factor was against him and it’s hard to win like that. Leto seemed like a good man and at the end of the day that’s all you can really ask for.

Duncan’s the best character in the film by far though. He is a true adventurer through and through. He keeps up a fun attitude throughout the story and takes a lot of the risks. Duncan doesn’t back down from a fight and serves as a great role model for Paul. Gurney is another good character here. He’s tough like Duncan and is always willing to speak his mind. I’d have liked to have seen some more action from him since I bet this guy can fight at a high level as well.

If the film has a main weak point it’s that none of the villains are particularly interesting. We don’t really see the Emperor yet and the guy Arrakis really exists to get wrecked by Paul. The Baron is someone who will have a big role but he just isn’t my kind of character. The guy doesn’t participate in the action unless his opponent can’t move. Baron needs to have the absolute advantage in every encounter which doesn’t speak well to his confidence. His son Glossu could be a fun enforcer but he hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot yet.

As for the main heroine Chani, she doesn’t even get to appear outside of dreams until the end so there isn’t much to say about her yet. Based on the dreams Paul has been having, he should definitely be careful around her. I could do without the constant dreams though. That’s one area where I feel the film could have shown the dreams once and we’d be good. It’s not like you will forget the dreams over the course of the movie so there’s no reason to show it again.

Some aspects of surviving on this desert planet can also be a bit gross like the whole recycled water bit. It reminds me why I prefer to be in more city type environments. That said, even in the film none of the characters want to be here so that tracks. Since the emperor seemingly set them up to fail, you wish that the heroes would have fought back instead of simply complying. They were likely doomed either way but better to turn and fight while you can then to slowly die out right? Ultimately the villains had really good execution on their plan though so it was definitely going to be tough to thwart them.

Overall, Dune sets the stage pretty well. In a lot of ways it does feel like the whole movie was the opening act so all of the events were set up well. The characters are interesting and the plot moves at a good pace. Both things that you would have a hard time saying about the first film. I can safely say this was a lot better than I had been expecting and of course you will get to see the sand worms with the updated graphics here so they look quite impressive. Once Paul masters all of his abilities we should be in for some more fun fights coming up.

Overall 7/10

One Piece: Vivi’s Adventure Review


One Piece has been getting quite a lot of different one shots and specials to celebrate the 1000th episode coming up. It’s definitely fun to see a series get so much content and last for so long. One Piece has lived through many powerful Jump titles and continues to tell its tale. I thought it slowed down quite a bit after the timeskip because you can’t really compare masterpiece arcs like Water 7 and Marineford to Punk Hazard or Fishman Island. I thought Whole Cake Island was fun though and while Wano started out slow, we’re definitely in the payoff part now. So things are on the up and up all around. This special chapter rewrites Vivi’s iconic farewell with a new art style. It’s a fun revisit although personally I would have picked more of an action chapter here.

Since this is just one chapter stretched out to more of a monthly sized one, there isn’t a whole lot that happens. The chapter opens up with Vivi being forced to make a tough call. She can ride out with the Strawhats and officially become one of them or she can stay home and rule her land as a Princess. Her land would be devastated without her, but on the other hand if she doesn’t join now then she may never see the Strawhats again. What is the right decision? She only has 8 hours to decide at which point Luffy and the gang have to skip town.

Vivi was a fun character back in the day and everyone thought she had a fairly strong chance to join the crew. Ultimately she did not but perhaps one day when she reappears she will still be considered as one of Luffy’s mega crew. Sort of an extension of the main crewmates at least. Vivi’s still in the arc that is happening off screen so everyone’s looking forward to seeing how that plays out. Vivi would have made a good addition to the crew as she has a nice personality that would bounce off of the others pretty well. I would definitely take her over Franky or Brook in a heartbeat after all. She would need to learn a few more fighting moves though. Ultimately if I were her I would have chosen to leave but I won’t fault her for deciding to stay home.

As for Luffy and the gang, it definitely feels weird to see them being overwhelmed by normal enemies. Random marines with iron spears are absolutely decimating the ship and there’s just nothing the heroes can do about it. Effectively it is the weakness of not being able to fight much at sea. The gang of pirates are always at their best when fighting on land which can be ironic but that’s just the way it is. Zoro and Sanji at least don’t have devil fruits so they would be able to swim around and fight but it’s still hard to out maneuver whole ships in the meantime.

There are some pretty strong friendship messages in this chapter like Luffy and the gang arguing with Mr. 2 but as soon as they explain they are staying here for a friend he is quick to jump on their side. After all, risking your life for a friend is definitely fair game. Luffy and the others also take it pretty well when Vivi decides to stay. There wasn’t a lot of yelling for her to come aboard or anything, they just rolled with it and hoped for the best and had the iconic X pose.

It’s a very self contained chapter so it works really well as a one shot. Of course, I would like to have added a final scene at the end showing modern Vivi or something like that as a stinger into the future. Maybe show her entering the Reverie or something. It would be a pretty good way to build hype if you ask me, but I’m definitely ready to see what’s next on the One Piece spinoff list. This one as drawn by the artist of Nisekoi and it was impressive since I wouldn’t have otherwise recognized the art style if I didn’t already know about it. Granted, I haven’t read Nisekoi in a little while which probably would have helped a bit.

Overall, Vivi’s Adventure is a pretty good story. The good thing about choosing this chapter is that it works very well even if you don’t know much about One Piece. You can still understand what is going on with the story. The large scale context doesn’t matter much as the main story is really just about the emotional choice between friends and your family duty. In that sense you can immediately understand the stakes and what is going on here. So definitely give this one a read and as it’s only 1 chapter long you’ll have it completed really quickly.

Overall 7/10

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