Shokugeki no Sanji Review

One Piece is one of those titles that’s so huge you’d expect there to be more spinoffs than there actually are. Still, it was about time that Sanji got his own and with a full 6 chapters, that ended up being a fairly decent run. We get to see a day in the life of Sanji across several different arcs and fans of his character will be thrilled about all of his extra screen time. It helps that he looks pretty great in all of the stories. You can definitely expect him to come out on top with his expert cooking skills. Each story is stand alone so it’s an easy one to just pick up at any time.

The first chapter is fairly straight forward to introduce Sanji to the general audience. A world class food critic appears on the restaurant ship and she threatens to shut the place down with her reviews if the food isn’t top notch. She seems to have a lot of contempt for the place so Sanji is eager to change her mind with his top tier cooking. We get to see how bold Sanji can be when it comes to the food and he isn’t going to back down here. Sanji lives by a lot of rules of honor regarding food which is that it must not be wasted and he will feed anyone, even if that person is a villain.

Of course his food turns out great and she ends up being conquered by the excellent taste. The chapter really goes into detail showing us just how good the food looks and all of the preparation involved. This artist’s really detailed style definitely works well for that. I feel like it must take a lot longer than usual to draw like this but either way you have to give the artist a ton of credit here. Give a bunch of people any amount of time and they could not possibly match this style. It’s just super impressive.

The second chapter actually has the Strawhats be around a little more. A guy shows up with a super hard animal to cook, some kind of advanced eel. It’s so tricky that no ordinary blade will do so Sanji is forced to ask Zoro for help by borrowing his blades. I thought it was a nice teamwork moment and also showed that Zoro would help him out. At the end of the day they may be rivals but they are still on the same side and Zoro hypes him up a lot. It’s a very wholesome chapter for that reason and Zoro even says that Sanji’s a good cook. I also thought it was nice how Zoro endured the food explosion so his clothes didn’t blow up the way that everyone else’s always does. That’s why Zoro is the power hitter of the group. The stakes aren’t as high as the other chapters but it was just a nice chapter.

In the following chapter, Sanji and friends are preparing for their big banquet after stopping Crocodile but some petty bandits prevent the supplies from getting there in time. Ultimately the cooks are kind of doomed so Sanji steps in to save the day because he’s a true trooper. He is able to make the best use of the rations in order to make some great dishes and doesn’t even ask for thanks. It’s one of those times where Sanji is just being a really good guy and that’s reward enough for him. Again, you can see why I like Sanji here because he’s just one of those ultimate heroes who helps everybody out.

The 4th chapter is definitely one of the more crazy ones. Sanji is stuck on the island with Ivankov’s gang and the only way to get out is to get a bunch of recipes. If they catch him then it’s game over so he has to try and make the best recipes possible. It’s difficult but not impossible for someone like him. So the big challenge this time is trying to make recipes on the go while constantly moving. It’s got to be the toughest battle in this mini series and also the highest stakes because losing would be really rough for the guy. It’s not nearly as solid as the other chapters in the end. The villains aren’t really my kind of characters.

Then we have the 5th chapter where Sanji heads to Wano. Unfortunately there is a ramen villain who is cheating everyone with his ramen and not letting other people make their own. Sanji challenges him to put this guy out of business but the deck is stacked against him so it won’t be easy. It’s always nice to see Wano show up. This chapter was fun because we finally had one of those corrupt villains to beat up. Perhaps not physically but we get to see Sanji humiliate him in a food contest and that’s just as good. Never mess with an honest chef! Yeah this was a satisfying read.

In the final chapter, we get to go back in time to Sanji’s origin. The first time he was able to make a dish for a customer. Basically some ladies thought he was a really nice guy and asked if they could eat something he prepared personally. He’s thrilled to do this but his colleagues aren’t as happy and decide to sabotage him by hiding the ingredients. Will Sanji still be able to make it or is this game over for him? I feel like those guys got off really light here because messing with food like that is a huge taboo. Especially since they would be costing this place a lot of money.

Fortunately Sanji is a pro no matter what dish you get him. He never gives up and is always thinking of ways to get by. It’s clear that he earned his way to being the top chef on merit and he takes it all very seriously. This spinoff manga really got to let him shine because his usual vice of being obsessed with the ladies doesn’t get to be much of a factor here. Instead his cooking skills are played up which is good because that’s the best part of his character. It’s exactly what you want to focus on.

Now the manga isn’t perfect on this, we still do have some fanservice issues. You’ll probably have expected that since this is by the Food Wars guy but at least one time per chapter you have someone’s clothes exploding because the food was so good. It’s definitely not needed and if you take that away it would be a good thing for the manga. It’s not too excessive at least but it would have kept on adding up if the series kept going. Once a chapter may not sound like a lot but to have it show up every time like clockwork is a bit much. It doesn’t add anything to the story after all.

If you take out the fanservice then the manga is really the perfect Sanji experience. Of course battle manga are always the best but sometimes it’s nice to see what I would call a laidback experience for the hero. Put him in a setting where he is the strongest and just has to handle more day to day stuff. That’s the appeal of a title like this or Zero’s Tea Time and it works really well. The hero should be allowed to have some downtime once in a while right? As opposed to just being in battle against battle getting dealt painful injuries all the time with no moment to savor the fact that you’ve gotten really strong. This at least gets to show Sanji having a lot of fun all the time and just being the people’s hero. None of these kingdoms will forget how Sanji saved them.

Overall, This was a fun manga experience. I would like it if everyone could have their own spinoff manga. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few chapters like this one and that’s all that you need. Plus each chapter was fairly long so it still felt like a lot happened here. Seeing Sanji just get to do his own thing is nice because you get to really see how he acts as a character. I’m really not the biggest Sanji fan at all but at least in this chapter he’s pretty cool. He has an answer for everything and is just so skilled at cooking that he can turn anything into a meal. Now that’s talent.

Overall 7/10

Deadpool: Samurai Review

This manga is definitely a pretty unique one that really takes advantage of how crazy Deadpool is. It breaks the fourth wall consistently and we even have some guest stars show up like All Might. It’s a fun read all the way through and it’s also neat to try and see if you can catch all of the references. It’s fairly short but is a fun and memorable ride all the way through. I guarantee that you won’t be forgetting this one anytime soon which shows that the series definitely did something right there.

The series starts with Deadpool being recruited by Iron Man into the Avengers. Now keep in mind that Tony was against this but Captain America felt that it was necessary. Apparently the crime rate across the entire planet has gotten super high and so there aren’t enough heroes to deal with it. That leads to the tough choice of putting a known murderer like Deadpool in on the action. Keep in mind that in this version Deadpool is murdering people on screen while the Avengers debate about recruiting him. It’s all really bonkers the whole time but I guess it shows how desperate they are. They are willing to take him no matter what.

Deadpool’s not really a team player but his services can be bought out so that’s an option there. The main villain of the story is Loki. He’s assembled a team of all star villains that are going to unite their talents to take over the world. Deadpool will need to be the one to stop them along with his Samurai Force but it won’t be easy. Deadpool recruits two girls for the task, Sakura and Neiro. Can the 3 of them really make the difference and save the world?

Right off the bat the series is already throwing in a bunch of references and such as early as chapter 1 so it sets the tone early. I like how Deadpool even mentions how long it can take to draw a page while readers go through it in an instant. It’s true, I can finish a chapter really quick even when it’s very detailed with the artwork. That’s just the way it goes even if it can be a little tragic there.

The humor lands really well which is important. I think a series like this would absolutely fail if the humor was no good but fortunately it never gets annoying or anything like that. I would say instead the manga just feels surreal the whole time and in a very good way. Perhaps if there were a lot of manga like this then it would get old but it feels very unique which is part of the charm. I can’t say I remember another manga that goes as far out as this one.

It can be quite violent but all the scenes tend to be played for laughs. I wouldn’t say that makes the violence itself nonexistent as it can still be extensive but thanks to the context it doesn’t feel as bad as it could have been. It helps that Deadpool is fully immortal as well so no matter how many times he get sliced, the guy just keeps on coming back. He jokes about this a lot as well of course. It’s also interesting having a villain like Deadpool as the main character because he certainly murders a ton of people in his way. He may be working for the heroes but he hasn’t changed his standards at all. He still does what he wants whenever he wants.

Deadpool’s art is also very strong here. The character designs are on point and every character is on model. The style works for both the action and humor scenes. Whoever drew this series put in a ton of effort. It holds up a lot better than you may expect and isn’t some simple franchise-tie in. The art is legitimately great.

As for the characters, I’ve already talked about Deadpool a bit. If you liked him in the comics then you’ll like him here. He’s always very confident and likes to throw jokes around 24/7. It’s fair to say that he never gets serious here. Even when he is trying to play the part, you know that he’s faking deep down. Things just don’t phase him the way that they do for everyone else and I figure it’s a side effect of being an immortal.

Then you have Sakura who is the first hero recruited to the cause. Her hero name is Sakura Spider and she’s a fun character. Sakura is super optimistic and always really happy so she tries to help make Deadpool a real hero as well. Of course that doesn’t work but it’s a nice attempt. Her humor scenes work really well too and she’s a nice foil to Deadpool who is a lot more jaded which is partially why he jokes around a lot. Having a true hero like her on board is a nice way to keep him honest.

Then you have Neiro as the final member of the big 3. She is the current Venom host and is a popular idol on the side. She and the symbiote have a very good partnership going. She feeds him snacks and he eats up any bad people that approach her. Neiro doesn’t care about murder so much but wants to make sure the symbiote doesn’t eat too many fans so that at least keeps him from eating a bunch. Her role never gets as big as Sakura’s and she ends up missing the climax but I had fun with her. The series did good with the two original characters for the series since they were both fun. The writer was really solid here.

As for Captain America, he’s definitely quite naïve here as that part of him is played up a whole lot. It’s part of the humor of course but his choosing Deadpool was not a smart move if you look at just about any aspect of it. It could also hurt the Avengers’ reputation. Iron Man’s role is smaller but he does get to land a petty attack on Deadpool near the end and openly voices how he doesn’t like the guy. So I like how bold Iron Man is, he speaks his mind and doesn’t care what the others think.

As for the villains, the only real big one is Loki. Sure he summons a bunch of others but they’re basically mindless minions. Deadpool and friends make quick work out of them. For Loki it was fun to find out the true reason behind why he’s causing so much chaos. In true Deadpool fashion the reason will come out of nowhere and be a little crazy. You can count on that. Loki does his best to be really serious the whole time so I’ll give him props there. Deadpool is always trying to psyche him out but it doesn’t work.

While his role is fairly small, Thanos shows up too which is fun. It leads to his famous battle against All Might which was a big thing back then. It’s probably the most memorable scene in the whole manga because of how out of the blue it was. I’m glad to see All Might getting his props here. It also showed just how much effort the series was putting in to really make it break the fourth wall all the time. Thanos and All Might fans should be pleased at how it all turns out.

We also get double Deadpool action later on and even a reference to the Wolverine prequel. That was pretty neat. I can still remember how everyone was outraged at his role there. Look, the design was definitely not very good but at least his abilities were impressive and he worked as the final boss kind of threat. I suppose at this point he will always be known as the worst incarnation of the character though.

If we do get more Marvel manga, I hope they can take place in the same continuity. Build up some kind of mega Marvel multiverse for the manga. That would be a lot of fun. Whether you’re here for the action or comedy you’ll want to check this one out. I dare say it’s one of the funnier manga I’ve read as of late along with Mieruko-Chan. Humor is something that can always be hard to land so I have to give the manga a good shout-out for pulling it off. It ain’t easy!

Then the action scenes are legitimately cool. Even while Deadpool is joking around, you have solid choreography and the fights aren’t too short. You have time for the characters to really trade blows and go all out. It also goes back to how the art here is really good. I’m still surprised at the level of detail that went to it. Choosing Loki as the main villain may have been a little overdone since the guy is constantly the main villain everywhere but he works out well enough. His powerset always makes him a good choice as the villain.

Overall, Deadpool: Samurai is a lot of fun. It’s a shame that so many series end early like this, I think this had potential to be a really solid, long running series. Certainly there are more things they could have done with this premise instead of just ending it all. Give us more references, fights, and all the hype. Hopefully they continue making more Marvel manga in the future. There are so many heroes and stories you could tell in this format. Either way I would definitely recommend this one. It can get a little violent but as long as you read it in a comedy context you should be good.

Overall 7/10

Star Wars Rebels Review

Star Wars has returned for a quick manga adaption of the Rebels show. It didn’t end up making it that far but is a fun little read. Ideally this will get you interested in watching the show which was probably the objective from the start. It’s a classic space type adventure and you can see how this premise could be turned into a long running show as needed. The Star Wars universe is vast after all so you could definitely do a lot in there and that’s why spinoffs to the franchise can really be unlimited as needed.

The series starts off by introducing us to Ezra who is a kid that runs around stealing and doing whatever he has to in order to survive. He lives in a rough district and there aren’t exactly a lot of options for him right now. One day he bumps into the Jedi known as Kanon and that ends up being a rough twist of fate for the kid since he can’t hope to beat this guy. He eventually finds out that Kanon isn’t so bad though and reluctantly joins his group along with Hera, Zeb, and Sabine. The group of them help the poor and restore justice to the world but they do so in a very low key way. You could sort of call them scavengers or bounty hunter types. They have to be careful though because Darth Vader and the Inquisitor would like nothing more than to find and shut these guys down.

This takes place after Order 66 went out so most of the Jedi are long since dead. Kanon was able to survive but that could easily change. He has pretty much stopped being a Jedi in all respects as while he still uses the lightsaber, he isn’t going around training or any of that. To an extent he’s just too nervous now and the series delves into this more later on. This is a good era for storytelling since a lot should have happened in this period. I still find it odd how all the Jedi got wrecked by Troopers so I wouldn’t mind a retcon one day where they were all beaten by Sith Lords or Inquisitors. Would make a lot more sense.

The series is fairly short with 15 chapters but that’s still enough time to get in some quality adventures here. I’d say the most impactful one is when Kanon takes Ezra over to meet his former master Luminara. Unfortunately it turns out that she was already murdered and this was a trap laid by the Inquisitor. It works really well as a big mission here by really introducing us to the villain and also helping Kanon get over his doubts. Before then he was constantly deflecting Ezra’s requests to train by saying that Luminara would do it.

Ezra didn’t want her to train him, he wanted Kanon since that’s the guy he looks up to as his teacher. This was a tough concept for Kanon to grasp for a while but this adventure at least gave him his confidence back. The action scene here was also really good as the Inquisitor could absolutely fight with the best of them. His lightsaber style was very good and I would like to see him more in future stories.

While the art can sometimes be a bit on the “Tie-In” side where it doesn’t feel great, the artist does know how to handle the dramatic scenes really well. You’ll suddenly get a lot of ink for important moments that makes the villains look absolutely fierce. Darth Vader’s appearance at the end for example is a great example of this. You certainly won’t forget that scene for quite a while. It really pops out at you and reminds you why he’s going to be a big threat if he ever catches up to the heroes.

Hera, Zeb, and Sabine don’t get a whole lot to do here before the series ends but they all seem like fun members of the crew. I think the ship has a nice dynamic with all of these characters running around. They may not have Jedi abilities but they can still use their blasters and help out that way. With more time I’m sure they all would have gotten their own mini arcs at some point or another.

Ezra was a solid character right from the start. I liked that he was fairly tough and could look out for himself. He didn’t need anyone to protect him and surviving like that took a lot of skill. In a way you’ll probably miss this part of his character once he is a part of the crew but once he’s with the team he’s still fun. He’s slowly learning how to use more of the Force and his lightsaber so after the time skip he’s probably really strong. The series ends real quick at that point so we don’t really get to see what he can do yet. Perhaps a sequel will come out some day.

Kanon doesn’t look great at first due to those confidence issues that I mentioned but by the end he’s good. Once he has finally embraced his calling as a Jedi and a teacher then he is ready for the big leagues. I am also glad that the heroes have at least one Jedi Master on board because I can say that a big reason as to why Star Wars is cool is due to the lightsaber battles. If your whole cast couldn’t really fight all that much then that would have been disappointing.

As for the Inquisitor, he makes for a very imposing villain. I like how determined he is to destroy the heroes and really doesn’t give up no matter how far away they get. His trap using the dead master was a very smart one as well. He reminds me a bit of Darth Maul with his design. I assume this guy is probably not ready to go up against Sith Lords like that but his skills are still good enough to be worthy of fear. You don’t want to mess with this guy unless you have to.

There is a mini arc here about Teebo, an alien who knows what happened to Ezra’s family. It’s definitely one of the most emotional parts of the series because of course Ezra blames Teebo for running off. The characters all try to help him get past this and even he knows that it’s unreasonable, he just has a hard time getting around that anyway. Realistically Teebo couldn’t have done anything, it’s not like he’s a fighter. I wouldn’t say I was a fan of Teebo myself but you still couldn’t blame him for this.

It does help lead to the rest of Ezra’s character development though from being a loner who wasn’t very forgiving of others to someone who can lead the whole team like a capable leader. I wouldn’t be surprised if he totally took over as leader eventually because it comes naturally to him. So I did like Ezra quite a bit here, he’s a fun main character.

The series ends in one of those ways where the adventures continue and you can imagine how it all plays out. We still got a good amount of adventures on our end to have fun with in the meantime. The emotional stuff is handled well and works to make the action even better. If the show is really like this then I can see why it was a hit. Usually I see more fans of the Clone Wars but there are a good amount of Rebels supporters too. I never really see people talking bad about it at least. I’m sure the show would have more time to really show off the characters too since the manga didn’t have too much time for that.

In a way I would say the whole manga version really works as an origin story for Ezra. It’s not really going too much farther beyond that and this succeeds well as an origin since there was a good amount of action. It’s not one of those slow boils where you’re waiting for the main character to step up to the plate. Of course you have to assume these guys ultimately get bumped off or something since we don’t see them in the main films but that’s what also helps to enhance the stakes here. They could die at any moment so every mission suddenly becomes a lot more dire.

Overall, Star Wars Rebels is a pretty good manga. You’ll have a fun time with it. It’s well balanced with the action and adventure while also just being fun to read. It may not be super memorable at the end of the day but it’s a good story and makes for a fun read. At the end of the day the objective of any title is to be enjoyable and this one fits the bill. It never drags on and it’s just a good story for any time with a lot of replay value. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a good sci-fi action.

Overall 7/10

King of Fighters Gaiden: Origin of the Flame Review

King of Fighters seems to get a whole lot of manga titles. I haven’t been able to finish most of them yet though so interestingly one of our starters gets to be a time travel story. You can’t really go wrong with that though and it’s a fun adventure. I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of the main character but we’ve got a good story here with some action and adventure before it all ends.

The series starts with Shingo still being really weak and wishing that he could compete with the big shots like Kyo and Iori. His family is a big mixed on his chances but he knows that one day he will be the best. Unfortunately he falls into a portal that leads him into the distant path in the days of Orochi and the original ancestors of Kyo and Iori. Now Shingo realizes this is a unique opportunity to learn from them but unfortunately nobody trusts him. When the villains start to make their move, Shingo will need to step up or all hope is lost.

It is an interesting way to have Shingo get stronger by fighting people who are just like the ones he aspires to be like. I can see why they’re all a bit suspicious too since Shingo isn’t great at actually conveying all of this. He’s a bit slow on the uptake in regards to his having travelled back in time but eventually he gets it. This feels like a classic Isekai adventure because now he’s in the wilderness with mysterious creatures/monsters and it all takes place in the old times. Of course I do prefer a more modern backdrop but it works out well enough.

The series is only 10 chapters long, however some chapters are split into 3 parts so you could say that this is closer to about 25 chapters. It’s enough time to quickly get Shingo some skills and then throw him back out. I wouldn’t say this one feels rushed or anything like that which is good. The story is balanced all the way through and the art is really solid. At least, the art for the fight scenes is great. I like how the flames are handled and the action scenes have a lot of weight to them. That’s important because there is a lot of hand to hand here so if the animation wasn’t up to par then that would be really bad.

My only issue is that some characters look way too similar. In particular Yasakani and Kusanagi are almost identical at times. They have almost the same uniform and hairstyle as well. The only difference is usually that Kusanagi tends to be smiling while the other guy is always frowning. With the context in the show you’ll usually be able to tell them apart but it’s a little close for comfort if you ask me. So the artist could have done a little better there.

As the main character, I never thought Shingo really rose up for me. I do want to underscore that he’s not really bad or anything like that but at the end of the day he’s a comic relief character trying to quickly transition into being a full fledged hero which is a tough road. It’s not something you can just say that you’ll do and then it’ll be accomplished. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. When he has his serious moments, I can’t always take them seriously and usually he doesn’t either as he’ll go back to yelling after that.

In a power levels sense it also hurts the final fight just a bit because you have a hard time believing that Shingo could pull this off. This is probably the only area where being so short hurts the series because there wasn’t enough time to properly show him getting stronger. We do have a little montage where he remembers the opponent’s skills and starts to adapt to them but it’s a little rushed. Particularly since he was fighting someone with Orochi abilities. I feel like Shingo should have gotten wrecked there.

Kusanagi was a lot more interesting. He’s a guy who likes to fight and protects the villages as best he can. His role grows bigger in the second half once Yasakani is kidnapped and he has to fight off the Orochi opponents. The guy has a lot of confidence and style, both things that I appreciate out of my main characters. His skills were the real deal and he didn’t have to act as gruff as Yasakani the whole time. He just went with the flow.

Yasakani is a good character who is actually a nice guy even if he can’t show it. My only issue with him is that it ultimately feels like he goes down real quick and he doesn’t have a ton of willpower. The way his plot ends was also rather unexpected if you ask me. I didn’t think it had to go that way. He basically decides that he can’t defeat the power within him and runs off in a complete retreat. This dooms everyone to go through the cycle of violence which lasts through to the present. Why not fight against that and control the darkness? Sure, that may be easier said than done but you have to at least try.

Kaya is Yasakani’s wife and she has a solid role here as she can see into the future. Unfortunately this also makes her act rather complacent about the future since she thinks that it can’t be changed but it’s not as egregious as Yasakani because she can’t really fight. Her two opponents would have been too much for her either way. She helps to give Shingo more confidence which is always appreciated though and I would say that she was a good character.

Finally we have the main villain Yakumo. He gets quite a lot to do near the end with all of his scheming. The guy can fight too beyond just being a mastermind which is really good. You always want someone who can do a little of both. Ultimately he doesn’t even let defeat get him down and I appreciated that he took everything with a lot of dignity. To the end he was still really amused and he also helped to raise the stakes of the series as soon as he appeared. Now that’s a good way to make an entrance.

There are two other fighters who appear that are controlled by Orochi but they are almost literally dead bodies that are reanimated with his power. They have some character but appear super briefly. It does remind you that seeing Orochi bring together 8 warriors would have been really awesome but it just wasn’t in the cards this time. I guess the series wouldn’t have been quite long enough for all of that but it would have been a great battle.

I would say the biggest strength of the series is that it’s engaging all the way through. Even though the past isn’t always my thing, the series had a good plot right from the jump. The small character cast allowed everyone to be built up really quick and you could expect a fight in virtually every chapter. Some of them would be training fights of course but the hand to hand was always good. While Shingo wasn’t my favorite lead, I did like that he always had a positive attitude about things.

This was a short series that always felt like it was going to be short so it wraps everything up and does have a very definitive beginning, middle, and end. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not I think you would be able to appreciate the series on this basis. It’s just good storytelling even if again, Shingo probably should have gotten wrecked in the final fight.

Overall, This is a solid King of Fighters title and worth checking out. The story itself may feel random but that’s the fun thing about spinoffs. You can pick a character and just drop them into any setting or situation that you want. I imagine Shingo fans in particular would get an extra kick out of this. Why not go all out if you’re going to make a story right? I feel like that’s what this series did and it worked really well. I look forward to finishing some of the other KoF titles as well.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard Gaiden: Shining Swordsman Review

Cardfight Vanguard is a massive franchise at this point with lots of shows, video games, manga, and more. It’s good to see it excel because I’d consider it to be a true rival to Yugioh. It absolutely holds its own in the comparison and now this would be a manga to focus on the card world which is always a fun angle. The series is really short at 2 volumes though and feels a bit incomplete. It’s almost like taking a glimpse into the world but not really seeing the beginning or ending. Still a fun journey but I hope we get a sequel series at some point.

The series starts with Prince Alfred deciding to surprise his troops by showing up during a normal battle. His top warrior Ahmes isn’t thrilled about this as he points out that Alfred is a ruler and shouldn’t be throwing himself into reckless danger like this. Alfred shrugs it off but then wounded soldiers begin turning into giant monsters. In an instant the clan is surrounded and their fighters across the kingdom are being assaulted by this mysterious force. Nobody knows how these creatures started appearing or what triggers them but they must be removed at once. The heroes may even need to rely on some experimental weapons in order to fight back but the risk may be greater than the actual enemies.

The enemy creatures may not have elaborate designs but they do the trick. You understand right away that these are mindless monsters that want nothing but destruction. It means that negotiation is off the table right away and the heroes must just try to survive. The villains do a lot of damage though particularly because they appear out of nowhere and have the element of surprise on their side. Additionally their defenses are quite good, only a handful of fighters seem to be able to go up against them.

The stakes are high here too as the series isn’t afraid to throw in a body count. So many characters are blown away and it can get surprisingly intense as they are ripped in half. Ultimately it’s easy to see why the extra power from the risky swords would be tempting but most characters can’t hold this power for long. In the end I would say there are 4 really important characters here among the crowd.

First is the creator of the swords, Blastid. This guy appears shady from the start but his swords are the real deal. They can cut through just about anything but if they don’t like their wielder, they will cut through him first. Blastid is protected all the while as the swords cannot harm him. I do think the heroes didn’t take him seriously enough as a threat though. When his swords murder one of their comrades he’s locked up but Blastid just breaks free and arrives later on to talk to the heroes about using another one.

They don’t seem to react to the fact that he’s no longer in jail and just take it in stride. I guess during a war you can be distracted but I was expecting some kind of reaction. “You can’t be here!” or something like that. I mean this guy appears to just be a villain flat out so go take him back to jail right? It may be hard to hold him but this guy is clearly shifty. Towards the end we get a twist about him so he’ll be back if we ever get a sequel.

Then we have Junos who is one of Alfred’s top soldiers and you feel bad for the guy. He trained all his life but was ultimately never able to match Ahmes in term of skill. Now with the swords he feels like he can finally contribute. Unfortunately he is given 0 support as Ahmes believes Junos won’t be ready and tries to talk him down. It’s sad because Junos was handling the power well enough at first but after the questioning started then he began to falter. That seemed to just suck the confidence right out of him. Ultimately Junos still has his big moment but I think Ahmes is to blame there because Junos may have done all right otherwise. Now it’s too late for him.

Ahmes is a very down to business character and outside of the Junos situation I thought he handled everything else pretty well. At the end of the day he is here to guard Prince Alfred and that guy makes it really hard on him. I don’t blame him for wanting Alfred to stay in the rear because it’s a lot easier to protect someone who isn’t constantly in battle. You figure from the start that he will become Blaster Blade so this works as a good origin story for him. He did well and earns his rep as the top guard.

Finally you have Prince Alfred. I think he’s a good character but I wish he was a little stronger. It’s a good morale boost for the soldiers to see your prince out on the battlefield but you need to be fairly powerful to ensure you don’t die. In any series when the king steps on the battlefield, it’s because he is a true fighter. It seems like Alfred never trained all that much so it comes off as a bit of an arrogant move on his part to think he could just walk in here and deal damage. It doesn’t quite work like that and so he is mainly ineffective for the whole adventure.

His father the King could at least fight well as we see in a bonus chapter at the end of the volume. Back in the day he was a lot like Alfred in that he would travel around looking for fights to help the kingdom. The difference there is that he was already known as a well regarded fighter who could look after himself. He clearly put in the work and that’s key for fulfilling that kind of role. I’d say it’s something that you have to do in order to be a ruler.

The series ends with a lot of open plot lines like the start of the Blaster Dark group, where did the monsters even come from, and what about those mysterious swords? It seems like an intentional cliffhanger to set up the status quo in the original series but I would be up for a sequel to show things in more depth. It was also a little convenient how the monsters all just decided to flee. Otherwise things were looking bad for the heroes. Potentially with the new sword Blaster Blade could have taken them all down but I wonder about that. The sheer numbers were going to be difficult to deal with either way.

As for the artwork, it is a little unrefined but looks good. I would put it more at tie-in level than a full fledged manga personally. It can be a little hard to follow the action scenes and it just rough around the edges. It does have its good moments during the action scenes too but I wouldn’t consider this a real strength to the series so it could improve a bit there.

At the end of the day I would say this series just lacks a hook to take it to the next level. The adventure is fun and all but it doesn’t feel like there is a ton of substance to the adventure. Like I said earlier, it feels like we’re jumping into the story midway through and leaving before the ending so it’s like a sneak preview. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but in the end it feels like a fairly standard adventure that you won’t remember much in the end. There also weren’t any true standout characters to help elevate this to the next level either.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard Gaiden is a fun look into the world of Kray and how dangerous it can be. The heroes really have to go all out in order to stand a chance against the monsters. If every threat appears as suddenly as this one, I dare say that the heroes can never afford to rest in peace. If you’re a Cardfight fan then I’d say to check this one out. If you’re a standard fantasy fan then this one probably won’t impress you but it’s still not bad by any means. You’ll get your share of action and adventure. It’s also such a quick read that it’s definitely worth checking out.

Overall 6/10

The Legend of Zelda Review

After all these years I’ve finally played through the original Legend of Zelda thanks to the Switch Online. I don’t tend to be a big fan of the original games because a lot of them don’t hold up for me but LoZ wasn’t bad. I would put it in the middle. I can’t imagine playing it without today’s modern features though because it seems like it would be an extremely long process without a lot of quality of life features. With the Switch Online enhancements it does help the game to an extent but I certainly am glad that the modern titles have added a lot to the experience.

The general plot is that it’s dangerous to go alone so Link grabs his sword. He has to stop the demon king and save the princess so he’s in for a busy day. To do this he will have to find all of the pieces of the legendary Triforce and only then will he be able to save the world. Don’t underestimate a hero that is on a journey! Link will never give up and never surrender until he has his day. That is why he’s so legendary.

The gameplay style uses the overhead format. For the most part you slice the enemies that get in your way but additionally you can also get other weapons later on like a laser blaster, arrows, and bombs. For the most part you don’t want to waste ammo so you’ll stick to the sword but the laser is an exception as the ammo is limitless. Using your gadgets wisely is the only way you can come out on top here because if you squander them then you will be easy pickings for the monsters. You have to be very careful because you take heavy damage just for bumping into them.

Also it’s easy to miss an item and have to backtrack a lot so watch out for that. This is definitely a puzzle game first and foremost, not to mention that it’s also an unforgiving one. If you don’t watch your step then that’ll be curtains for your time. It definitely took me several hours to beat this game because I would get lost a whole lot. I don’t know how you would be able to navigate the final dungeon straight through. That one is extremely long and filled with shortcuts. There’s no visual indicator of any kind on which walls can be blown up so I just had to try on all of them. Each room had at least 3 corners to try and there could be over 20 rooms so that was a lot of options. I should mention that you can only carry 8 bombs unless you find a secret upgrade so without rewinding to replenish your stock…that would have been absolutely brutal.

The actual combat can be fun but expect to get hit a whole lot. At times the game turns into a bullet hell title where everyone is blasting you at the speed of sound. There’s one particular enemy that is super tough to deal with because he emits a full barrier with a lot of little attack nodes that are super hard to dodge. If any of them hit you then they will deal an incredible amount of damage. I would avoid them when possible but a lot of times you would have to fight in order to move forward.

If I were to take a stab at trying to improve the game it would really boil down to one thing. I would add some kind of indicator that a shortcut was nearby like a crack in the wall or something. That takes the guesswork out which I think is a good thing. Why should you be wasting bombs everywhere when you can just place them tactically? There is a sort of map on the top right of the screen but it’s an empty void that only shows your location. I would put in landmarks and such so you at least know where you’ve been. It’ll be like Link was filling out the map along the way.

These quality of life updates are what I would add to the mix and I think it would work really well. Then you can focus more on the actual combat and just taking out the villains. I’d also say maybe they shouldn’t let you exit a dungeon without taking every key item there. It would help prevent issues like not taking the raft in world 4 and then having to search every dungeon until you find it. That’s definitely no fun because you never want to have to go back. It just isn’t fulfilling. The only time I really enjoyed backtracking is when there is a power up system so you get stronger or the levels are super convenient. Like going back in Shantae is fun enough because you get the ability to fly and do other kinds of things that makes the old levels a breeze. If you’re about the same level of strength then it’s just not quite the same.

The soundtrack really holds up quite nicely though. You hear a lot of classic LoZ themes that are still used to this day. Nintendo really never held back in this area and the graphics also look pretty good for the NES. It’s clear that a solid budget was put into the game for back in its day and it shows. Good effort never goes to waste after all and they can look back on that and be proud. We’ll see if the next Link game can match it in that respect.

Overall, Legend of Zelda ended up becoming a big thing so clearly the game succeeded. I can see the appeal back in the day in that there was so much to do so you could easily spend months playing this game and figuring everything out. That would definitely be a rewarding experience but I wouldn’t say it holds up quite as well nowadays. It can really toe the line between being annoying or being fun at times. Still, you can’t go wrong playing it for free on the Switch Online though. Give it a whirl and see what you think. Either way you get to experience one of Nintendo’s most historic titles so that alone should be an incentive to give it a whirl. That said, if you take the nostalgia goggles off, I would argue that Skyward Sword still leaves this one in the dust.

Overall 5/10

The Fate of the Furious Review

The series rocks on with another big installment. Of course this time there would be no Brian which is a shame since he was a solid member of the crew. That may even be what makes the film a bit weaker because otherwise he would have had a massive role here based on the plot. This is still a really solid film to be sure but does trail behind the last two. Ultimately that’s not saying much since those were so great though and this series continues to be consistently great.

The movie starts with Dom taking down a street racer and redeeming the guy in the process. Now he runs a clean ship and Dom is proud of how things have turned out. He’s out of the biz now and just wants a normal life. Unfortunately that is not in the cards at the moment. A lady named Cipher appears and shows him something on her phone before confirming that he will now betray his family and work for her. Surprisingly Dom agrees to the terms so whatever she has on him must be massive. When he starts stealing nukes and EMPs, the crew is forced to assemble once more but can they really take out their former leader? Their only shot is to team up with Nobody, Hobbs, and Shaw. With every hype character in one room surely they can beat him!

That alone shows how much cache Dom has though. If you need the entire cast to even stand a chance against him then there was no doubt on who the big boss was. Personally, Hobbs and Shaw have both proven themselves to be a match so you’d figure that this would be easy but I suppose it’s more difficult in a race than a fight. Dom does have the best driving skills of the cast, I think that’s fair to say so it’s hard to actually catch him at that point. Still, the gang will give it their all.

One of the early scenes that really stood out was when Shaw breaks out of jail so he and Hobbs have a big chase throughout the compound. It was a really good action sequence where we got a lot of different combos and attacks. You feel bad for the guards who are ultimately at the wrong place at the wrong time. They really didn’t stand much of a chance here and particularly Shaw was making sure to destroy his opponents. You get the feeling that a few may have died against Dom too with how hard he was hitting.

This is something that you can’t help but remember when we start to go through the redemption arc for Shaw. I mean it’s pretty cool to see him fighting with the team and he’s a great character either way but I feel like the characters themselves would be super mixed about the whole thing. Ultimately it feels like there is a ton that he will have to atone for even if he is directly helping the heroes.

Then for Hobbs, he gets a lot more to do in this film which is good. The banter between him and Shaw is hype as always and Hobbs always knows how to pick the strongest looking car in the lot. He also did give Dom a few chances to surrender before going all in so I thought he handled the situation as well as he could have.

The rest of the crew is always around for their moments to shine as well even if they can’t keep up quite as well. You have Roman who is still the comic relief here but he actually does get a pretty big moment to help balance that for once like when he shoots a bunch of villains who were approaching him. Perhaps the only reason he hasn’t been dominating is because there haven’t been enough gun fights? Tej and Ramsey have a good dynamic as they each think of plans to help out. I did find it funny how the God’s Eye was already surpassed though, that definitely didn’t take long considering how much hype it got. That was the ultimate global hacking machine after all and it was taken down so quickly.

As an aside, the scene where they bust in and take out the entire cast was great though. Here you have all these big heavyweight fighters who can theoretically take down an entire army and they all get served up by a concussion grenade. I guess you really don’t want to mess with those things. It was a great way to give the villains some hype though and also felt like a scene out of a comic book movie. Even the layout of the area reminded me of Agents of Shield.

Letty doesn’t get as much to do as I would have expected here with the whole Dom going rogue angle. She does have her big moment where she grabs the briefcase and buys a bit of time but we don’t get the whole “Now it’s personal!” dynamic that you might have expected. Usually that would probably have been some kind of big fight and a lot of back and forth. Still, Letty and the crew never started doubting Dom which was important.

Nobody returns and he looks great here again. The guy is still just a lot of fun at all times and he gets results. He’s someone that even the main characters won’t want to cross. Then we’re introduced to his junior coworker in this film who tries hard but can’t get that same level of respect. And it’s not even close, that guy gets insulted throughout the movie. I thought he was rather decent myself but he does go in a little too hard on playing by the rules which doesn’t work out too well when you’re surrounded by this unit.

As for the main villain Cipher, she is quite a bit weaker than the last few villains. Her plans are wide scale but ultimately there’s not a ton to her. Cipher is really lucky that she is in possession of something to keep Dom off of her because otherwise she just wouldn’t last here. Anyone can be tough with a bit of blackmail, it’s the really strong villains who don’t need it.

Her right hand man Connor felt doomed from the start. He tries to talk tough to Dom but right from their opening scene you knew that he wouldn’t be able to back it up. These two are just in different tiers of power and Dom was absolutely not going to go down with family on the line. Once fighting was an option that was going to always be game over for the guy.

One older character appears here for a big role but I won’t say who since you could probably guess a lot from that. It was nice to see her return but unfortunately her role didn’t allow for any big moments. So she didn’t look bad because there wasn’t much that she could have possibly done but I wouldn’t say that she looked very good either. She was just fighting a losing battle here.

Finally we have Dom and of course the big question would be, was the blackmail enough to justify him going rogue and nearly murdering everybody? I mean just by working with the villain he nearly took everyone out. I always tend to be very skeptical of the hero in a scenario like this and I wouldn’t say Dom is exempt from that. His options were limited but I feel like he could have clued the team in somehow, especially since he had a lot of time. As long as he could trust them not to say anything then it would be easier to plan something out. Unfortunately it didn’t go that way so I think for once he was the one who didn’t believe in family hard enough.

Ultimately he still gets to take names and look hardcore as always though. At one point he basically has to go up against the entire team which was a lot of fun. I always like seeing a group vs 1 fight like that and it’s not like these are scrubs. Technically they’re very skilled too…just not skilled enough in this instance. Better luck next time and all of that.

Overall, Fate of the Furious is another great installment. It may not beat the others but it still has a lot of epic moments all throughout the film. It may even be the darkest one since some of the originals. I still say that loosely of course since I wouldn’t consider this film dark by any stretch but it has its moments and is certainly going for more of an emotional feel to it. We’ll see if 9 is able to top this one but ultimately I think that will be difficult. In a way it’s always tough for a sequel to beat a film that’s an 8 or up because that’s a lot to live up to.

Overall 8/10

Furious 7 Review

The Fast & The Furious is back! The series may have had a shaky start with the first 4 films but since then it’s really been firing on all cylinders! I can see why it became such a global hit and this title keeps up that same energy. It follows up on the cliffhanger ending from the last film and really sets things up to be a high tier bout of excitement from start to finish. This is one title that you don’t want to miss!

The movie starts off with a bang as Hobbs breaks into a hospital and murders just about everyone as he vows to avenge his brother who is in serious condition after being taken out by the heroes in the last film. He then breaks into Hobbs’ base in order to get info on Dom and the crew. He’s now determined to take them all out one at a time. Dom isn’t hiding and has no intention of waiting though. He’s just as eager to take Shaw down to avenge his friend Han and so the battle is set. Tracking Shaw won’t be easy though so they are going to need the power of the God’s Eye, a super hacking device that can track anyone in moments. The only way to get this is to save Ramsey, the creator of the program who is being held by Jakande and a bunch of terrorists. This won’t be easy.

You always want to start a film off with a dynamic beginning and that’s exactly what this film does. It was also nice to see it all tie in together with Tokyo Drift and the previous films. You could see how this was meant to be the really big film. Of course I’m glad that the series kept on going but it will be difficult for them to match 7. I don’t think any future film will be able to defeat it but we’ll see. There’s always a chance.

Really the only issue with the film is that it can still be a bit indulgent with the fanservice. You always have the characters heading to a beach or an area like that with a lot of slow-mo and zoom ins that don’t add anything to the plot and just make you shake your head. That may be a staple in the franchise at this point but it’s one that we can definitely just ditch and the films are better off for it. Fortunately it’s usually just a scene or two to check that box off and then we’re back to the action.

Now the fight scenes are a big part of why the films are so big. Hobbs vs Shaw is one of the big match-ups here and that was a good way to start the film off. The battle is very evenly matched so the whole time you’re interested in seeing how it’s going to end out. Later on we also have Dom vs Shaw in another really solid fight. The choreography is always really good and you can feel the blows. It’s a bit ironic that all of the best scenes don’t involve the cars but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

The car scenes are still a lot of fun as always though. Who doesn’t like a big car chase right? Then you’ve also got the heroes fighting off planes as well and a lot of great jumps and falling stunts. You may not buy that all of this can happen but the important thing is that they do happen. So it makes for a lot of fun scenes and with Shaw constantly on Dom’s tail, there is always a sense of danger going on here.

I’d also say the soundtrack is really good. The movie always picks a solid song that fits the location they’re at. It makes for a lot of variety and that’s something you always remember from the films. Tokyo Drift in particular had a really strong soundtrack since it took place in Japan but all of them have been really solid so far.

As for the characters, Dom is a great main character as always. He fights for his family and never gives up. You can always count on him to have your back no matter how tough things get. Dom’s also a great fighter and likes to battle with honor so he’s not going to go for the cheap shots or anything like that. He has a lot of great dialogue throughout the film. One thing the films always take advantage of is making sure to give everyone their hype so each character feels like they’re some kind of champion. Eventually you have several characters in the same room who are all talking tough and it’s extremely entertaining.

Hobbs is still the strong rival here but unfortunately he is gone for most of the movie. It’s a shame that he had to be written out early but at least he got his big fight scene first. He also gets some good moments near the climax. So his role is a bit on the smaller side but it’s impactful and you’ll enjoy all of the moments. Of course Dom’s crew is around as always for some backup. Roman is still yelling constantly and gets in a little over his head but still helps out as best he can. You feel bad for the guy with how everybody keeps on throwing shade at him but he never lets it get to him.

Tej mainly likes to be the one ribbing Roman but ultimately they’re good friends. Letty is still struggling with her memory loss but fights alongside Dom in the meantime and hopes to eventually get them back. She’s still got her skills from the old days. There’s a new character in Ramsey which now means that the team has two geniuses. She’s a fun character who gets the hang of things quick so I was glad about that. When characters are slow on the uptake it usually means that the pacing has to slow down so people can explain things.

Brian gets a fun role here as you would expect. He has a rivalry going with one of the villains so they fight two times and next to Dom he’s definitely the most capable fighter on the crew. He also isn’t tricked as easily as the others and made sure that Dom didn’t leave him behind. He’s a character who will definitely be missed in the future installments because he really did add a whole lot to the dynamic. This movie gave him a solid final role at least.

Then we have the mysterious Mr. Nobody. I liked his inclusion as well as the group that’s basically SHIELD. With the films getting crazier and more out there it makes sense to eventually add in a group like this. Nobody also doesn’t feel like your average government lackey and instead has a lot of charisma. He has a lot of confidence in himself and you need that when talking to these guys. Nobody never backs down and always has a plan so it’s hard to go against that. I look forward to seeing more of the guy.

Naturally Shaw is a great villain as well. He gets a lot of hype and really gets down to business. No matter who he’s fighting, the guy goes in hard. He has to be the most powerful villain in the series and I don’t see that changing. Of course if we count Hobbs then that’s a different story but even in the first film he was still an officer trying to bring in wanted criminals so he was more of an antagonist. Shaw is a lot of fun here and really enhances the film.

We’ve also got another villain in Jakande and that helped to keep the crew busy in the B plot. He’s a solid leader. We don’t really get to see him fight in hand to hand but with his guns he does keep everyone busy. His group was an interesting third party that showed up to mess with everyone. The more factions the better I always say so that worked out.

There isn’t much of an update to the standings of the franchise as a whole with this one because it’s pretty easily divided. The first 4 films were below average and not very good while films 5 and up are a blast. You can really see how the films started to focus more on the action which was a really good idea. There is never a dull moment in these films, you can absolutely be sure of that. They’re long but because of that you can cram a lot of battles into that. Typically each film has 1 race too but that’s usually not the focus here. The heroes have bigger things to do.

Overall, Fast 7 is a great film that I would absolutely recommend. It’s got a lot of nonstop action and excitement all the way through. The soundtrack and visuals are really good and most importantly, the character cast is excellent. The series has really built a ton of super memorable characters by this point who all bring a lot to the table. The continuity here is also taking advantage of the previous films to throw in a lot of callbacks and easter eggs. If you’re an action fan then this is a movie that you don’t want to miss out on.

Overall 8/10

The Adventures of Tintin Review

I saw this movie a little while back so the review’s been in the works for a while. I remember reading a whole lot of the Tintin comics back in the day. They were a lot of fun and you could always bet that you would be having a good time there. The film takes things in a bit of a different direction than what I was used to. I think a straight adaption from the comics would have ended up making it better but ultimately this was still a pretty good film. I’d say that the risks it took did pay off by and large.

The movie starts out with Tintin buying a toy ship for a fairly cheap price but immediately afterwards he is heavily encouraged to sell it by some shady characters. They are offering a lot of money but Tintin is a reporter who is always looking for a good scoop and so you can bet that he definitely won’t be selling it now. The decision is taken out of his hands though as he is kidnapped shortly and brought aboard a ship led by Sakharine who wants some secret hidden within the toy ships for some devious purpose. Tintin’s only chance at getting out ahead of this guy is Captain Haddock whose ancestors were actually on the ship. The trouble is that the captain is a big drunk at this point who has none of his predecessors bravery.

Right off the bat the film does do a good job of getting that classic adventure feel across. The film moves quickly and the heroes do go to various locations so it’s not like they’re stuck in any one place. They have to keep moving at all times and each area is very different which works out well. There are some real action scenes here too as Tintin uses a gun and Haddock actually lands some punches on the opponent. There was more action than I was expecting and I definitely say that as a good thing.

Tintin wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the villains in the comics after all. The animation style here is quite different and while a classic style that looked more like the comics would have been better, I would still say this one was good. It’s really detailed but doesn’t go too far into looking like a live action film or anything like that. The style won’t be for everyone though which is why I would call this a fairly big risk but one that worked out well enough. This is a film that will still look very distinct 5-10 years from now.

Now, one big mistake that the film did make was in wrecking Haddock. He may get drunk a lot but he’s never been the type of character to be a coward and that’s where the film messed up big time. He whines a lot during the first half, is scared of everything and constantly makes excuses. He felt like Haddock in name only and that was disappointing because I consider him to be the best character in the series ordinarily. I wasn’t a fan of his here. Sure, he does man up by the very end of the film but it’s too little too late to save him here. For a sequel at least it seems like he would do good.

It’s not a good way to introduce people to him though and even as an origin story it just feels really messy. This was not the right approach if you ask me. Tintin is at least in character even if he gets beat up a lot. He does tend to get saved by his dog Snowy a lot and loses a bunch of fights but at least he also has a lot of high points to make up for that. Downing a plane with a single bullet was really solid for example and he is brave in the face of danger. You can see why he was considered as an ace reporter.

Snowy is definitely the MVP here with how much he contributed against the villains. The movie did a good job of showing their solid bond here and Snowy got his due respect which was really good. The dynamic between the 3 characters is what you always want to see in a Tintin film and that’s certainly intact.

As for the villain Sakharine, well he’s more on the generic side. He’s okay but you won’t remember him all that much and I would say that his motivations are on the weaker side. Once we find out why he’s doing all of this, I wouldn’t say it helps him or anything. If anything he probably just needs to let go of the past and just do his own thing.

Then there’s a subplot with Thomson and Thompson but it is really filler. It doesn’t tie into the main plot for just about the whole movie and it’s just there for some humor. It’s a bit on the forced side though so that would be the weakest part of the movie. In general I wouldn’t say that it ever gets downright boring or anything like that but you will have a hard time figuring out why they even decided to put that in. It just doesn’t add much to anything. Surely there could have been a way to add the Thompson twins to the main plot instead.

It’s fair to say that a sequel looks unlikely at this point but I would definitely be on board with it. The action/fight scenes alone would have me interested in a sequel. Beyond that I’m sure the writing and core adventure would be good like in this film. We could probably drop the Assassin’s Creed style mind meld where Haddock can look into the past though. It’s not a bad idea in theory but I want Haddock to really be focused on the present and steal the show the way he should have stolen this one.

Overall, The Adventures of Tintin is a pretty solid film. To an extent you can call it a basic action/adventure film. There isn’t any area where is really excels to a high degree but it doesn’t make many mistakes and keeps you engaged the whole time. The animation does really stand out so as long as you like it then that will be a nice positive as well. We can always use more adventure films and so I would certainly be able to recommend this to anyone. It’s a well balanced movie.

Overall 7/10

Killer’s Kiss Review

So this movie mixes in boxing with romance which seems like a pair of themes that make sense but it’s rather short so there’s not much time for the boxing. The film has that odd vibe that is harder to get in a lot of newer films where it’s hard to say what the tone or style is as you’re watching it. At any moment you don’t know what’s going to happen. Are the characters going to die, is a serious fight coming up, is Davey gonna run away? You’re always left guessing which is good, but on the other hand I wouldn’t say that the cast is very likable at all.

The movie starts by introducing us to Davey who is a boxer that is really down on his luck. I mean he’s not even close to having a good time right now. He gets trounced by everybody and his family encourages him to retire. One day he sees the neighbor in the building across from him being attacked so he saves her and they decide to become a couple. Davey can’t tell if Gloria really likes him though or if this is just gratitude or a way to stay safe. Either way he doesn’t care because he finally has his special someone. Thing is, the guy who attacked her was her boss Vincent and he may not be done yet. Will Davey be able to protect her?

Usually making bad decisions is something that you would expect to see out of horror movies but the characters make quite a few of them here. First off, they decide Gloria should go get her final paycheck from Vincent as she quits…by herself. Why doesn’t Davey just go in with her? Lets think about this logically, it will be a lot safer if he’s around right? I mean he’d probably get bounced but you like to think that the odds are still better than just her going in.

It doesn’t make any sense to split up. Then after seeing that Vincent is still acting crazy…she goes back in for a second time when his lackeys say that the guy is sorry? Nah that’s a bit much there. Don’t put yourself in a situation like that, it’s just not the smartest course of action. Meanwhile Davey lets his guard down and has to chase some street punks so his boss ends up getting whacked for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thing is, he makes a big mistake as well.

So the two thugs show up and this is a fairly crowded street. The best thing to do would be to yell for help and make as much noise as possible. Instead he silently runs into the dark alley where they follow him and take the guy out. First rule of street fights like this is that if you want to survive, don’t go to a second location. Yours odds of survival are a lot lower at that point. It’s better to make a break for it immediately and if you die, then you die but at least it’s quick. Going somewhere secluded will rarely work out for you. Seeing him go somewhere where nobody was around just seemed like such a bad decision right from the jump. You can’t afford to do that.

Back to the main characters though, Davey also looks so weak. I get that he’s a bad boxer but he should be able to do something right? Instead he barely holds his own against Vincent and has some of the slowest reaction times out there. He should have had an easy time of winning this, particularly as he had the element of surprise early on during the fight. Unfortunately he doesn’t trust his fists enough to go for the knockout blow. Even worse is when he has the villains at gunpoint. There’s no way he should lose there but of course he lets his guard down and that’s it.

There were 3 of them there so they basically startle him and then overwhelm the guy. Look, that should still be no problem when you have a gun but if it is, shoot the legs or something. Honestly it’s life or death so you can also bump off two of them to make things easier. At this point it’s all self defense since you are in such a critical situation. Know your limits and act accordingly but getting knocked out when you’re the one with the gun? That’s not going to fly over very well.

As for Gloria, well like Davey she made a lot of dicey decisions throughout the film. By the end it was also hard to trust her with how she tried going back to Vincent. Her life was at stake so you understand why she made the move and she might not have meant it but afterwards it’s really hard to trust her at all. So the end of the film doesn’t come across as wholesome at all and instead it makes you shake your head a bit. What is truth and what is fiction? It’s just hard to know and you don’t feel like these two are going to have a good ending.

Of course the villain Vincent is awful. Villains with that motivation where they just want the girl never turn out to be good. They just come across as whiny and annoying the whole time. He can’t take rejection at all and wants to take it out on her. It’s a bad look no matter how you slice it. That’s why the cast here is on the weak side. I didn’t end up liking anybody here. Everyone was annoying and made the worst choices consistently. If they did things logically then there might have been no problems or at the very least the problems would have been resolved a lot quicker.

On the positive side, the film is quick with solid pacing so it never drags on. I thought the writing was fairly good as well. The script was solid at least even if the decision making was not on point. I actually think the film would have benefited from Davey not being a boxer because it would be easier to see how he was getting rocked at every corner. There ultimately isn’t any real reason to check this one out though. You could watch almost any other one of the big boxing movies and have a better time. This just doesn’t add much to the equation.

Overall, Killer’s Kiss is a movie that I would consider to be below average. I wouldn’t recommend watching it. There are just way better movies to watch and all of the characters will annoy you here. For once the heroes should have the advantage throughout the movie and squander it each time. Look, just leave without the check and call the cops to go and collect or forget about it entirely. Fire the gun right away and there’s no issue and whatever you do, don’t run into a dark alley when you’re being chased by thugs. If any of those elements were removed then the villains would have been doomed. Really makes you think.

Overall 4/10