Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Allegiant Review


All right, it’s time to finish off this trilogy. Divergent has had a good start, but all good YA movie titles must end at some point and now this one is over. The true finale was cancelled though so it ended a little sooner than expected, but that’s all right. Unfortunately it does end on a bit of a whimper compared to the first two. There are a lot of good moments here so it’s still not a bad movie, but it really does feel like this arc is a bit of a re-tread in a lot of ways. You’ll start to see how futile the main characters’ rebellion is.

Tris and Four have finally stopped Jeanine and brought the world to a more peaceful place. That was the plan at least, but the new leader Evelyn already seems to be as corrupt as Jeanine. She has shut down the borders so everyone is locked in the tower once more and has decided to execute all of the people who were under Jeanine’s regime. Tris decides that she has had enough waiting and along with Four, Caleb, Peter, and Christina they break through the border to the outside world. This world promises to be a utopia, but is it really so perfect?

This is the kind of plot that can be quite frustrating most of the time. For starters, Tris and Four have already been through quite a lot. Whether or not you think the romance has been handled well, you’d expect them to have complete confidence in each other by now. Unfortunately the villains are able to create a bit of a rift between them and sucker Tris throughout the movie. Usually in these situations I would say that both characters deserve 50$ of the blame, but in this case I have to say that it is all Tris. Tris has been shown to be a very smart character in the past two films and doesn’t just believe what she hears.

Instead she falls for every trick in this book. She comes across as very naïve and nearly costs Four his life by walking away with the villain. She doesn’t even seem to consider that he is actually right and we do the whole “No time to talk” part where if she just stopped to listen then the whole thing would be over. This is definitely Tris’ weakest film. Now, even if she had listened to Four there is no guarantee that she could have done a whole lot to stop the villains of course, but at least she would have been in a position to do something. By ignoring all of the issues it just gets worse for everyone else.

Meanwhile, this is Four’s best film yet though. Throughout the series he has been portrayed as one of the best fighters in the series and this one doubles down on that. He takes out a whole plane full of armed guards and tends to beat up everyone who gets in his way. He just leaves a wave of destruction in his wake and it’s pretty satisfying. He figures out the truth about the place very quickly. In part it’s because he didn’t trust them from the beginning, but that is the right outset. Look, you’ve grown up in a dystopian future where everyone’s been lying to you from the start. Why would you go somewhere else and assume that it would be better? I’m sure Four was hoping the place would be great, but he didn’t just suddenly take them all at their word. That was the right call here.

Meanwhile, this is Caleb’s film to try and make a big comeback. He looked really bad in the last film to the point of being borderline irredeemable. In this one he knows that he owes Tris his life several times over and is doing his best to atone. It’s clear right now that he does regret his actions so he looks a lot better here, but I’m still not a fan of the character. Even now he gets a little too absorbed in the data part of what’s going on and loses sight of what’s important. He does come through when it counts though so you do have to give him some credit.

Then you’ve got Peter. He’s been super manipulative throughout the films and has been a fun villain. I don’t think it’s likely that you will like the character, but I do enjoy him as an obstacle for the heroes. He’s consistent with how overconfident and arrogant he is. No matter which side he is helping you can bet that Peter will be doing his best to tick everyone off and play them against each other. You can’t even say that his role here is all that unexpected since he has made it clear in the past that you can’t trust him. It’s a shame that we aren’t getting the next film because they’re definitely setting up for a really big fight between him and Four. As it stands Four would crush him if it’s a fair fight so Peter will have to come up with a plan. Peter’s a jerk, but that’s a trait that works really well for a villain.

Then you’ve got David who is the main villain here. The film kind of toys with the idea of him being an old man who just doesn’t know what is going on, but never really goes for that because almost immediately they make him look shady. The problem is that you can’t really take him all that seriously as a villain because he’s just an old guy who can’t really fight. He has the country in his pocket so he is tough to stop, but that’s about it. As a result his final scene is more humorous than threatening. I dare you not to crack a grin as the film ends because it is definitely going for a very ominous moment that will keep you up at night getting ready for the sequel, but it’s hard to take seriously.

That being said, the heroes really should have no chance in a 4th film if you ask me. What can they possibly do? The heroes are outnumbered by an insane amount and are also outgunned. They have basic guns, but the villains have high tech robots that can do just about anything and even come complete with barriers. Still, having a cliffhanger is better than not having one so even if I couldn’t take David seriously, I do like that the film made the attempt.

Then we have Evelyn and her civil war plot. She may protest quite a lot, but at the end of the day she basically is Jeanine 2.0. She may have different views, but she goes about them in the exact same way so you can’t really say that there are a bunch of differences between them. I do think she is a more interesting villain than Jeanine though and she is pretty serious about her goals. Evelyn does get manipulated a little easier than Jeanine though so if I were comparing the villains in terms of who is better at the role, Jeanine is definitely more successful.

Evelyn somehow manages to blow her lead against the Allegiant so badly that they outnumber her at the end and are about to claim victory. That’s pretty crazy since she should have easily been able to win even without using the gas at her disposal. I feel like it was just an excuse to quickly throw in why the gas was necessary, but it didn’t add up. Maybe something was cut out from the book here.

Going back to why this film was weaker than the others, I really think it’s all about how Tris was handled. She’s one of the highlights of the series and I felt like her character took a few steps back. Right when David started not allowing Four to accompany her she should have known that something was up. She also should have protested and just not met up with David in that case. There are many way she could have handled this better. I’m also not sure about her just sitting back and not even speaking out against the trials near the beginning. Inaction is never a good thing.

Also, as I mentioned it’s like we’re back to square one. The heroes beat one dictator, but now they’re up against another and are outnumbered again. They’re going to be the rebellion yet again only with double the trouble this time. They can handle this plot reasonably I’m sure, but not much would probably happen until the next film. The pacing here is good, but it all just feels futile because you never feel like they’re going to come out on top here. There’s not much they can do as just a city against the rest of the world. Even the random jello scene (Completely unnecessary) at the beginning shows how they could have easily choked all of the heroes right there and it’d be game over. Their tech just doesn’t play fair.

As always the fight scenes are definitely top notch though. Pretty much any scene with Four in it is a great moment. The airplane fight where he uses all of the enemy weapons against themselves is particularly brilliant. Those guys definitely didn’t have a chance. Surprisingly I’d say that the little drones didn’t really make for more enjoyable fight scenes likely due to the fact that the barriers are extremely overpowered against ordinary guys with guns.

Overall, Allegiant continues to build the world and does introduce a lot of new elements into the mix. Unfortunately, they don’t always feel necessary and this is a story that really feels like it wrapped up pretty nicely in the last film. I’m not really sure we needed another civil war to bring the factions back. Of course it is realistic because people never want to ditch the old ways. It probably should have picked one plot (Outside world or civil war) and stuck to that though, have the other plot pick up afterwards. It may not have been the big finale we may have hoped for, but at the same time this trilogy was considerably better than I was expecting so that was good.

Overall 6/10

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Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard (2018) Review


It’s time to take a look at the recent Cardfight Vanguard reboot that came out. The franchise has definitely done pretty well for itself over the years. It’s got numerous seasons, multiple movies, and a solid manga. I suppose it was about time the franchise took a step back to redo the first season to get that nostalgia in. This time they’re adapting the manga adaption of the original season so there are some differences to be sure. This title effectively covers the first 3 seasons of Vanguard in one shot but it’s a very loose adaption since otherwise cramming 3 seasons into 1 would have been pretty crazy.

The show starts by introducing us to a kid named Aichi. He’s a pretty timid guy who has no friends, but one day he is introduced to the world of Vanguard by a kid named Kai. Fast forward a few years and while Aichi is still timid, Vanguard has helped him gain confidence and actually make some good friends. The timing was fortunate since a villain group by the name of Asteroid has shown up and they are twisting the game into something painful. They force the duelists to wear gloves that shock you every time you take a hit and are taking over all of the card shops. Aichi has to stop them while hanging onto his joy of the game.

That’s the first arc and it’s the famous one that introduces Ren. From the various arcs I’d say that this one is the least changed from the original series. The series does a good job of introducing us to the characters and slowly expanding the cast. Aichi is a solid main character as always and I dare say that he gets to be a good character even quicker in this version than in the original. He becomes pretty confident during arc 1 and by the end of it is already known as a world class fighter. Once he obtains Psyqualia he definitely doesn’t back down to anyone and he isn’t afraid to fight it out with Ren.

Ren is still a super solid villain as always. He’s definitely a little insane in the first arc as he tries to act like he’s not the villain at times, but that can only go so far. Even if you plead innocence, you’re a villain if you’re the leader of the group that is terrorizing everyone. You can’t just look the other way and expect it all to fade. Ren’s definitely talented and tends to win most of his duels. The other characters are just seriously outmatched against him and Psyqualia is still as broken an ability as it always was.

Kai is still a cool rival as always. Due in part to the fact that the series has to go through the early arcs pretty quickly there is less time for him to show everyone up. He still gets a lot of wins of course, but I’d say that he isn’t quite as untouchable as he used to be. He also mellows out a little bit faster. He’s still one of the best characters of course, but this time instead of being my favorite character he was actually surpassed by someone. Kai gets a good role in all of the arcs though so I was glad about that.

Misaki gets a big role as well since she is featured in all of the arcs and is a central figure in the high school arc. Her memory method of dueling is still super useful and she saves the day quite a lot. Misaki gets a lot of character development and is definitely one of the more well rounded characters in the series. Kamui gets less of an active role here, but he actually gets to act as a coach for quite a bit of the final arc. His fans will likely still be a little disappointed that he isn’t actually on the front lines dueling, but at least he is still shown to be a great duelist.

Tetsu definitely feels pretty sinister in this series. He’s basically the reason why Asteroid turned evil in the first place so it’s hard to feel all that sympathetic for him when the losses start piling on. The characters let him off the hook for being evil pretty quick so you’re glad that at least someone got to knock him off his high horse. He’s a solid duelist for sure, but he doesn’t have the same passion that the others have. Meanwhile Asaka is still a lot of fun and she has one of the most emotional duels in the series. Her battle against Ren while being mind controlled was definitely intense. She’s certainly the most loyal of the antagonists and while she never really gets to have any big wins she is still quite skilled.

Kyou actually got a much bigger role than I would have expected. He tails Aichi around for a while to learn how to wield Psyqualia and eventually is able to access it even if it is a forced activation. He has a lot of confidence and has a lot of good duels. Once his spirit is broken he still gets to show up at times and does a better job of getting back into the mix than even some of the big characters like Kai. He’ll continue to have a role in the next season.

Alas, characters like Leon don’t get nearly as big a role as they had in the original. That’s partially because of the 3 seasons, season 2 was definitely abridged the most. Most of it simply didn’t end up coming through into the remake so that’s to be expected. Leon still gets a good duel though and while he may not have gotten to make much of an impact in the story, at least he appeared right? Better to show up and not do much than to miss out altogether.

The second half of the show is about the High School arc. Aichi decides to form a Cardfight Club and thanks to help from Naoki is able to assemble a full squad. The squad is Aichi, Kourin, Misaki, Naoki, and Shingo. Together they are ready to enter some big tournaments, but their plans are put on hold when a new villain threatens to destroy Vanguard once more. His name is Takuto and he has the ability to control the soul of anyone he defeats in a match. Likewise anyone he defeats can then go and defeat someone else to continue this cycle. Then you’ve also got Kouji who is going around deleting opponents. When he defeats someone that person is cut off from Vanguard and can never enjoy the game again. Aichi has to stop these guys, but can he do it on his own?

This is really the arc that stands out in the series because it really doesn’t have a whole lot to connect it to the original. There are a lot of elements from the Link Joker arc in here, but it’s handled completely differently. Kouji also throws a lot of wrenches into Takuto’s plans which is always cool. The arc definitely has the highest stakes out of all the arcs and it’s a nice way to get the full cast in on the action. Even in the original series the Link Joker arc was the best. It’s just hard to top because it serves as a final tribute to all of the original characters like Kai and Ren as they get their big battles.

Kourin has always been the best member of the idol trio and that continues here. She actually likes Vanguard and does her best to resist the mind control. She made for a good teammate and was a valuable member of the club. As with the original series she gets a bit of a sad ending here, but at least there is actually hope for her since the next season will be continuing the plotline. I still don’t care for Suiko and think of her as a total villain. She’s more like Tetsu as she is totally on board with these crazy plans and doesn’t even care about being a nice person like Kourin. Rekka is in the same boat. While she doesn’t seem as overtly corrupt as Suiko, you can tell that she’s got her own agenda going on.

Naoki is still one of the better characters in the series and his intro is pretty great. He may be a newcomer to the game, but he does try hard to learn the rules and is quick to help Aichi out. He’s one of the more determined characters in the series and added a nice spark to the main cast. He’s one of the highlights of the final arc and I hope to see him continue to get a big role in the upcoming episodes. In comparison Shingo’s character is still more of a miss for me. There’s not a whole lot to his character’s personality and there’s not much about him to make the guy all that likable. He never gets a big moment where he finally gets to prove himself.

Takuto is the main villain so naturally he gets quite a few moments to shine. He’s definitely a tough duelist to beat and his cards have a lot of crazy super powers. I’d like to have seen Kouji take him on a second time but they did fight once so we already know what the outcome would be like. Takuto makes for a good mastermind behind the shadows so the “Concert Master” title is definitely pretty fitting. He’s definitely a much better character when in his pure evil form.

Finally you’ve got Kouji. He’s easily the best character in the series and I was impressed by just how cool he was. Every scene with him is incredibly intense and he gets some of the best fights in the series. His duels against Kai, Aichi, and Takuto are among my favorite fights in the series. They’re all just incredible and I think part of what makes Kouji work is his absolute confidence. He’s basically just a random guy who walked into a battle between worlds and he took the whole thing in stride. Kouji isn’t worried about what is going on for a minute. He just strolls in and takes names. That’s the kind of villain that you want to have. He’s a chaotic wild card and there aren’t a whole lot of series that can pull this off. He takes down the main villain and the rival. I can’t think of a single other time where something even close to that has happened. He’s like a secret final boss.

As always the animation is definitely quite solid here. The character designs are on point and the colors are sharp. You can really get into the intense cardfight battle animations and it’s all just very bright. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s not quite as off the walls as the original series, but there are several hype themes like Kouji’s delete theme. They help to set the stage for the match and the music properly amplifies the experience. A good soundtrack should always make every scene even better.

This series is just awesome. Once the climax starts in both arcs it’s basically a nonstop roller coaster of intense scenes from start to finish. I’ve always loved card game shows and this one has all of the good qualities involved. The duels have a lot of strategy and it’s nice seeing how many different kinds of decks you can build. The main cast is pretty strong and the writing is on point. Even the episodes that are just for character development end up being entertaining and that’s what makes for a good series. It achieves success in every tone it goes for.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard (2018) is an excellent title. It’s also a nice way of recapping the first 3 seasons if you don’t have time to watch that many episodes. You can watch this one and jump right into Legion Mate without much of a problem. It’ll be interesting to see how far the series goes with this. The next season seems like it’ll be a totally original story at this point. Then we’ll either get a G remake or the series will do something else. As long as the franchise continues to go on I’ll be fine with whatever they decide to do next. So I definitely recommend this series. Whether you jump in as a newcomer or you just want to relive the original days it will definitely satisfy your needs.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Insurgent Review


Time to jump into the sequel to Divergent! As you likely read in my last review, the series is off to a good start so the question is really whether or not the sequel could manage to keep up the momentum. Well, I can safely say that it did. It continues to harness the same level of energy and makes for a pretty fast paced sequel. I do feel like the third film is going to be the one that has a hard time keeping up since this film basically ends the main plot. The third film would be starting a whole new arc and since it’s the last film there isn’t a whole lot of time to finish it.

The second film picks up pretty much right after the first one ended. Jeanine isn’t happy about how things have turned out so she has just made it plain and clear that she is taking over the world. She does so under the guise of justice though so people are pretty cool with it. The only faction that didn’t like her has been wiped out anyway so they don’t care much. Four and Tris are still on the run and decide that they need to meet up with the rest of Dauntless to regroup. Along the way they’ll have to deal with faction-less gangs as well as get past other factions and a peace group to reach their goal. Once they make it they’ll have to then decide how to handle this situation. Do they start a civil war and take Jeanine down or just flee the country and risk seeing what is hidden beyond the borders? I don’t think I mentioned it in my last review, but in Divergent the world is surrounded by a lot of large walls. Supposedly there is nothing beyond those walls except for deserts, but most of the characters don’t believe this.

The film starts up with the characters hiding among a group of peaceful people who don’t want to take a side in the current situation. That’s rarely a choice in these things though so they are just prolonging the inevitable. The heroes can’t stay long though since Peter picks a fight and Tris nearly murders him. It does help them see Peter’s true colors though and the heroes fight their way out and onto a train. This leads to another action scene where they are forced to take on the whole crew. Both of them do a good job of holding their own here. Tris and Four take down a significant amount of enemies, but ultimately are not on the winning side here since they are simply too outnumbered. They would have been in a better spot if Tris’ brother Caleb had actually been helping more, but he was too scared to act. It’s a solid action scene though and definitely gets the film off on the right note. That’s already quite a few fight scenes and the film had only barely started.

Caleb never quite recovers though. I didn’t like him in the first film and he is significantly worse here. Being afraid of the villains isn’t a bad thing, but when you’re so afraid that you’re willing to let them murder your family that’s when things have gone too far. He should definitely be pretty ashamed after that and then he makes all of the wrong calls as the film goes on. By the end of it you just can’t like this character. He quickly sinks to being one of the worst characters in the movie.

Meanwhile Peter gets a bigger role here and he continues trying to be as unlikable as possible too. He antagonizes Tris quite a bit, but since she is such a quality character she shuts that down real quick. Not only does she completely overwhelm him in combat, but she scares him enough where you know he won’t try picking another fair fight with her again. An extra second and he would have been down for the count. Peter comes across as fairly petty though since most of his latter scenes seem to be direct retaliation against her. He never seemed like a trust worthy ally though so it’s not like this is surprising.

If you think about it there are probably more antagonists than heroes in this film. You’ve also got Eric who returns again and is still the villain who appears the most. While he isn’t the best fighter compared to the others, he usually has some kind of advantage to help him. The mind control serums and knock out gas still work as well as ever and he’s always got a gun. His fight with Four goes as you would expect though and was handled really well. It definitely made Four look good. Jeanine is still a solid villain, but she does appear to have lost a lot of her intelligence here. She’s very obvious about how she doesn’t care for her lackeys and that’s not a good idea when you put one of them in charge of your entire security system. At least pretend to be looking out for that guy or just destroy him otherwise. That felt like the beginning of the end for her.

Four and Tris are pretty consistent with their first appearance. Four still makes it clear that he’s here to protect Tris first and save the world second. I’m glad that he doesn’t hesitate in heading over to save Tris and just leaves the compound. He has the right priorities there. While I’m definitely still not with the romance now that it’s already a thing it’s naturally less forced than in the first film. It’s more or less just how things are so it’s not really a matter of questioning its inclusion now. Tris goes for the classic action star haircut here which seems to happen to most protagonists at some point or other. I’ll definitely miss the more Metroid esque look, but it’s not like it changes her personality. She’s still just as tough as always. Just as she was ruthless in combat during the first film she definitely doesn’t hesitate here and continues to be one of the better heroines. She definitely goes through a lot here since her allies keep dying left and right. That’s why it’s tough being the toughest person in the room since its inevitable that you’ll see some allies get taken down along the way.

Christina gets less of a role here than in the first film. She spends a lot of it being fairly upset, but ultimately handles it well. It’s hard to blame her since being directly lied to is never any fun, but at the end of the day she still helped out when necessary and didn’t try to get revenge on Tris or anything like that. I don’t think you could ask for a better reaction to her situation. Four’s parents show up and his Dad is still pretty bad. He’s the kind of character who absolutely can’t be redeemed at this point and I think the film knows it. He half heartedly attempts to bridge the gap to no success. The Mom in comparison doesn’t seem nearly as guilty. Of course leaving Four wasn’t the right call and she should have found a way to take him, but at least she wasn’t actively being a villain. The film is definitely hinting that she is a dangerous character though so it’ll be interesting to see what she does in the third movie.

All of the strengths from the first film carry over to this one. The writing is pretty solid and the core characters are good. We get a lot of nice action scenes which definitely hold up and the pacing is solid. The film doesn’t drag on and it avoids making any big mistakes. It does have more emotional moments than the first film which do slow the film down to an extent, but I don’t think it’s overplayed. You do feel bad for the random dude who shows up to talk to Tris when she’s down though since you know that he’s dead right away. This is the kind of film where you just know that the no names are doomed as soon as they start to talk. Any divergent who isn’t Four or Tris is also typically doomed since none of them are all that smart. If you notice that everyone is acting evil and mind controlled you should probably pretend to be under the spell too instead of wandering around looking confused. One of the kids also doesn’t look good since she disobeys orders, but as she’s a kid you can’t be quite as harsh I suppose.

The dream sequences for the trials are still pretty fun. We get quite a few of them and Tris gets to show her determination each time. Even when there’s one simulation that is obviously not the real world the film handles it pretty well so people who are new to the genre could potentially fall for it. Tris also gets random nightmares throughout the film. These aren’t quite as interesting visually or even in context, but it does show up the events are messing Tris up. In such a hopeless world I imagine that most of the characters are pretty messed up by now. The best of the training sequences is definitely Tris trying to save her mother from a burning building. It depicts her determination pretty well and I still remember seeing that part in a trailer which is what made the series look interesting in the first place.

Of course the best sequence in the movie is also in the dream world. You can call it the final test/sequence, but basically Tris has to fight herself in the simulation. The effects here are awesome and it’s like a fight out of Man of Steel. You can feel the intensity behind every hit and by the end of the match you are definitely fully on board with that being the definitive scene. I’d like to have more fights like that, but realistically it isn’t likely. I’m just glad they were able to put in such a cool fight.

Overall, Insurgent continues to keep the series on track. Again, I do think the third film may have a tough time since I feel like the upcoming plot wouldn’t be as interesting, but there are countless ways the movie can go from here so I suppose I can’t really say that with any confidence. I’ll go into the next movie with an open mind ready to see what they’ve got in store. While you could probably watch this film and understand everything without the first it’s definitely the kind of trilogy where you are meant to watch it in order. More so than most of the other trilogies these 2 films at least feel like one big story that you’ll want to watch almost back to back for the maximum experience.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Kuroko’s Basketball: Extra Game Review


Now that I finished the Kuroko’s Basketball manga it was time to take a look at the quick sequel that came out. As the title suggests, it is about one last game that the main characters were involved in. The plot is definitely basic, but really the ultimate plot for a series like this. It’s a nice excuse to bring back all of the big characters for their ultimate scrimmage against the toughest opponents imaginable. It’s definitely an excellent read that I highly recommend.

The story takes place after the main series. A team from America known as Jabberwock has arrives for a quick scrimmage game against one of the Japanese teams. Jabberwock crushes them pretty badly though and goes out of their way to humiliate the players while also insulting all of Japan. One of the coaches takes this personally and challenges them to a rematch in a week to prove that Japan can hold their own. He says that he’ll destroy himself if they lose. The Jabberwock team is excited to hear this and since they want Japan to feel inferior to America they accept the terms. This is their chance to crush Japan’s spirit and enthusiasm in Basketball in one shot. The coach is forced to call in the full team of the Miracle Generation in order to stop these guys. Can even Japan’s best take down this team?

That’s what I call a hype story. Up til now in the series we never got to see the Miracle Generation really get to team up. It wouldn’t have made sense within the story after all. In this one though it’s the perfect reason to have them join forces. It also solidifies Jabberwock as a true threat since the best players we had seen in the series up til now are also acknowledging that this won’t be an easy fight. The idea of “There’s always someone stronger” is pretty much the foundation for these action titles so it’s the perfect way to do a sequel manga. Naturally as it is only 2 volumes there isn’t a lot of time for much else and the game basically takes up the entire series but that’s fine with me. Everyone gets their moment.

Surprisingly Kuroko and Kagami are pretty quiet in this one. Extra Game is more about the other members of the Miracle Generation and the two heroes already got to have their fun in the main series. Kuroko’s invisible passes are rendered useless almost immediately and Kagami’s jumping and power are surpassed by Silver pretty quickly. Not to say that Kagami and Kuroko are pointless here as they still hold the other members back, but this is definitely not their show anymore.

Kise probably looks the best from the group if you ask me. He’s able to improve his copy ability even further and this continues the subplot of him having the most potential from the Generation members. He had already been improving a lot towards the end of the first series so it was good to see him go even further here. Then Akashi also gets to help out a lot. His eyes are still as deadly as ever and he also gets a bit power up. Gold is sort of like a rival to him so they go at it quite a lot. Akashi was a solid antagonist and also makes for a fun ally.

Then you’ve got Aomine who is clutch as always. His whole thing used to be that he was the best 1 on 1 player so since Gold and Silver seem to outrank him that does hurt his performance a bit. It’s just hard to match their power and hax, but he does his best. Aomine is finally able to use Level 2 of the Zone for the first time so that does help him up his game. He’s still my favorite character regardless and has a lot of hype moments here. While Midorima may not be able to keep up with the others in terms of agility or dribbling his 3 point shots are still super handy. You just can’t block his shots when he is so far back. If someone counts how many points each player scored I wouldn’t be surprised if he came in first. There’s one point in the story where he lands a bunch of 3 point shots back to back.

Murasakbiara probably gets the least amount of hype moments in comparison. He’s the strong guy, but isn’t as strong as Silver which makes things tough for him. Still, he does remember his training and takes his game to the next level. It’s a team effort so taking away any of the members would have made this a losing battle. That’s why at the end of the day Silver and Gold were still so impressive. It was basically just those 2 taking on the whole team from the start. The author goes out of his way to make them as unlikable as possible though. So they make for solid enemies to be defeated, but I wouldn’t call them good characters.

Silver is basically just a walking pile of vices. He loves drinking and is constantly yelling about something. He can’t stand any of the Japanese players and also plays dirty when he is starting to lose. His talents are definitely the real deal, but the guy doesn’t have heart. Then you’ve got Gold who is the villain leader. His stats are nowhere near that of Silver’s but his extra abilities help to make up for that. His eyes for example are pretty overpowered. Being able to see the future and such in a basketball game seems really hard to beat if you ask me.

The art here is definitely still really solid. It’s definitely as good as the main series. It’s got a lot of polish and you feel all of the pivotal moments in the game. This mini series will fly by and I basically read it all in one sitting. It’s just great fun and feels like something that was basically made to be a movie. It’s like the new Broly film or most Shounen films in general. It’s got a quick setup and then a large battle to keep you right in the thick of things. It’s a winning formula and is definitely the ideal way to make a quick sequel. As a result there isn’t a whole lot to say besides talking about what a great game it was. It’s just a great end to what I’d consider to be a great franchise. The games don’t get much more high level than seeing all of the best players duke it out right?


Overall, Extra Game delivers on showing us more of the Miracle Generation. I did mention in the original series that it would have been nice to have seen the full Miracle Generation fight a little more and that’s exactly what we got here so I was definitely a satisfied customer. As I mentioned Kagami and Kuroko didn’t get to do much, but it makes sense. Kuroko’s tactics have already been shown not to work too well on strong opponents. Kagami is a little more surprising since he is basically a Miracle Generation member by the end of the series, but I suppose he still isn’t quite there. Maybe this game is the true passing of the torch moment for him. I definitely recommend checking this series out when you’ve got a chance.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Divergent Review


I remember seeing the trailer to the second film in this series many years ago. It was a pretty solid one and definitely gave the series a more interesting vibe to me than the competitors like Hunger Games. Still, now that I’ve finally seen it, does the movie live up to the hype? I do think it’s a pretty fun movie, but nothing particularly special. There’s enough here to keep you marching towards the sequel.

The film introduces us to a world where people are divided into sub categories based on a test result and then their own choice via blood oath. There are a handful of titles in the world, but the one that looks the most enjoyable to the main character Tris is the battle faction Dauntless. She undergoes the test, but the result gets glitched out and she is told to keep this a secret. Tris doesn’t like the way this is going, but it does mean that she can effectively choose whatever faction she wants. She naturally chooses Dauntless and after a harsh initiation barely manages to get in. She finds out that she is what they call a “Divergent” who is smarter and more emotional than the average human. Unfortunately the government doesn’t seem to like divergents so she will have to keep this under wraps. It’s a lot of pressure but she’ll just have to keep this in mind as she also struggles to stay in Dauntless as the commander decides to keep on weeding out the lowest ranking members.

It’s a pretty interesting future setup. Naturally you’ll have a lot of questions about how humanity arrived at this point, but the past doesn’t have to be explained all that much as you can just take this at face value. Of course you can probably anticipate some of the upcoming twists relating to the world structure as a result. In general I like the world that’s built here. It’s a lot more interesting than both Maze Runner and the Hunger Games since we actually have some future tech here and you can tell that we’re still in the future. I think it defeats the purpose of a future setting to have everything look really old so Divergent doesn’t fall into this trap.

It’s also got a reasonable cast. I like Tris wayyyyyyyy more than Katniss or that guy from Maze Runner. A point in her favor is that she is quick to adapt to what’s going on rather than panicking. In her first moments as Dauntless she is told to jump off a building, jump off a train, climb a tower, and do all kinds of crazy stuff. She just gets it all done without complaint. Now this doesn’t mean that Tris is completely fearless, she admits as much during the film, but she always puts on a brave face which is important. You have to act the part if you want to eventually live it out. Tris calls several characters’ bluffs and steps up to protect her friends when they’re about to get diced. She’s just a great lead and does a good job of carrying the film.

As for the main guy, Four is fairly good. He’s a solid fighter and doesn’t approve of Eric’s harsh methods of teaching the recruits. However, he doesn’t do anything to stop Eric so I can’t give him all that much credit yet. He likes Tris so he coaches her and helps the lead out, but he doesn’t do that for anyone else. Towards the end of the film he gets better at doing his own thing though. One thing that may be a bit overdone is how many times he grabs Tris to turn her around when she’s trying to leave. It’s borderline becoming a running gag by the end of the film and it even carries into the next installment. I guess he really needs eye contact when talking to her. Four’s definitely fairly gruff and mean to everyone who isn’t Tris but he’s still solid overall.

The other characters start to get a little dicey. You’ve got Eric who’s the commander of the Dauntless. He’s obviously corrupt from the start and is happy to murder his fellow comrades. In this grim world where everyone’s mean and thinks about themselves you’d think that someone would have rebelled by now. The guy has quite a lot of control and seems to be pretty much untouchable. Then you’ve got Al who’s pretty nervous the whole film and cracks by the end. He’s definitely a terrible character. Tris’ brother is pretty annoying as well as he is quick to ditch Tris and everyone else for his new job. The guy has a very inflated ego and is brainwashed with ease.

Christina is a good ally at least. She goes out of her way to help make Tris feel welcome in the beginning. She does make some dicey decisions to antagonize Eric and Four without a plan though. It’s played off like she doesn’t know better, but by that point I feel like she should. Then you’ve got the antagonistic Peter. It’s actually pretty hard to get a bead on the guy since sometimes he’ll seem like a friend who just goes a little too far with his jokes while in other scenes he seems downright villainous. He does add some personality to the cast though and is a good addition. Finally you’ve got leader of the government, Jeanine. She makes sure that everyone stays in their lane and definitely has big plans. She’s fairly generic, but handled pretty well. It’s nothing that you haven’t seen well, but the writers did handle her character with care so it’s not like she’s just going through the motions.

I definitely have to give the film a thumbs up for the writing. I’m not going to say that it was exceptional, but it did take shots at something that a lot of films let slide. Lets go back and imagine this scenario. You’ve just been selected to join the meanest, most corrupt squad in the land. You’ve just seen as Four and Eric have yelled, bullied, and beat up anyone who dares challenge them. Are you going to continue to antagonize them? Well, a lot of the characters would say yes to that. In their defense, you usually get away with making sarcastic remarks in most other films. Even the mean characters will just shoot you a glare for doing that. Not so in this film. One character remarks later on in the film that the guns look pretty weak so naturally Eric shoots her to prove that it wasn’t. Another one asks Eric if she can give up even after he told them numerous times not to give up or bad things would happen. He ends up throwing her over a cliff. Another guy says he won’t go pick up his dagger so Eric uses him as live dagger throwing practice.

It feels like these characters just never learn. They come across as extremely slow on the uptake. It’s handled pretty realistically with the consequences for this though as naturally the villains won’t let it slide. A lot of the film is fairly dark and mean spirited like this as being in Dauntless is definitely portrayed as being a life threatening situation. Still, the film never goes too far with it so it doesn’t actually hurt the film.

One weakness the movie does have is the inevitable romance between Tris and Four though. It really is just there to fill in all the usual tropes, but it all happens very fast and there’s no real reason for it. Four basically did save Tris’ life multiple times so it’s not unreasonable that she would fall for him, but at the same time with the stakes so high it’s not really the right time or place for it. It also eats up valuable time that could be used for other aspects of the movie. Most of the movie is well paced, but it gets a little rushed by the ending. I actually thought the film was going to end before the raid on the enemy base, but the movie actually managed to squeeze it in.

So we’re introduced to a whole new group of characters who are part of a resistance and they want to break into the villain stronghold. You would expect that this would be a very long sequence of planning and such, but the heroes basically just walk right in. To put this in perspective, they even get the main villain at gun point. If they shoot her then the whole trilogy is basically over in an instant. For reasons that elude me they decide to spare her. Sure, it’s the hero move, but that isn’t really one of their top priorities most of the time and they’re trying to win a war right? Well, that catches up to them in the sequel. It’s a fun climax that actually is pretty hype, but it all just happens so fast.

While we don’t see them much, Tris’ parents were decent. The dad didn’t get to do a whole lot, but the Mom had some pivotal moments and definitely made a difference. She also reminded Tris to stay strong and the heroine did good when confronted with one of her old allies. You can’t just knock out mind control so easily so she made the right call in ending the fight in a single shot. Naturally going for a non fatal wound would be ideal, but it is definitely tough to aim like that in close quarters. The fight scenes throughout the movie are really solid. The hand to hand is on point and even the blaster battles look good and aren’t dragged out.

Overall, Divergent is a pretty fun film. It’s actually surprising how solid it is, I wasn’t expecting it to be all that good. You may have to suspend some disbelief for how dangerously the Dauntless like to live though. They let Tris ride down a roller coaster where there are at least half a dozen spots where you can die if you don’t move at just the right moment. I feel like a lot of trainees would have died in those spots and there’s really no reason to do such things. There shouldn’t be many people left alive in that faction if they continue like this. Still, it’s a solid way to start the series and it’s just a lot more exciting than you would expect at first. It actually lives up to the thriller genre and at this point it’s looking like the series to beat as far as the YA movies based on books go. I’ll have a review up for the sequel soon.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Golden Sun Review


It’s time to look at a fairly legendary RPG from back in the day. While Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest tend to have most of the popularity right now, Golden Sun used to be pretty big back in its day. It’s only got 3 games, but the series still got quite a lot of fans. I’ve had this game on the back burner for an extremely long time so it’s good to finally be able to jump in and experience the story in all its glory. It reminds me why I love the RPG genre. Fighting games will ultimately still reclaim the top spot, but RPGs are always fun to play with. It’s partially because the idea of grinding your stats up is always a good one and the games last long enough for you to really enjoy the characters.

So in this world there exists a few select people who are called Adepts. They are able to harness elemental powers like fire and water to increase their strength or to be used as projectiles. Some already had these abilities while others are triggered once a meteor storm occurs. There is a group of enemies who want to light all 4 of the lighthouses. Isaac and the other heroes don’t exactly know why they want to do this, but they can’t allow the villains to do as they please. They decide to stop them, but along the journey they end up finding out that there is more to their plan than meets the eye. Is stopping them from lighting the lighthouses really the best move?

The game is fairly long and it took me around 22 hours to beat it. This is partially due to how big the map is, but also how difficult the enemies get. Golden Sun’s no joke and the difficulty really spikes towards the second half of the game. Suddenly the enemies are able to take you out in a few hits and that’s just the minions. The bosses basically one turn KO you so you need to level up a lot if you want to beat them. I got everyone up to Level 30 and that made the battle pretty manageable. I think if you want it to be a little calmer getting up to level 32 would probably be a good bet. Also, a big part of the game revolves around the Djinn so you are going to want to grab those guys.

There are 28 of them in the game and they are like power sources that allow you to summon. There are 4 types and 7 per type. The strongest summon of each type is worth 4 orbs so you can summon 4, 4 level summons in one match and then 4 level 3s. I only got 25/28 of the Djinn, but I can guarantee that without them I would not have been able to beat the final boss. Initially I didn’t go after them and even avoided obtaining them unless they were directly in my way. I figured that they weren’t all that important, but they are crucial. Aside from the summoning just owning the Djinn increases all of your stats as if you got multiple level ups. So once you have 25 you’re way stronger than if you didn’t have them. For example one of my characters went from having 200HP to over 500 with them equipped. I can’t stress enough just how useful these guys are.

Golden Sun is definitely an RPG with a pretty intricate gameplay system. The turn based combat is pretty much the same as always, but then you’ve got the element system. This also ties into the Djinn. Depending on which ones you’ve got equipped and your element ratio, your attacks per character will be different as well. Likewise they will also change depending on if you have your Djinn set or on standby. There’s a whole lot to consider as a result and it does make you have to re-think how you want them arranged on the board for each fight. You’ll want to think over every fight very carefully. Even by the end of the game I can’t say that I really understand the system perfectly. It’s also hard to tell which attacks are best to use since the type advantage system isn’t always obvious. By the end of the game using a normal attack is typically better than using almost any of the magical abilities which is pretty interesting.

The game definitely holds up quite well with the visuals. There’s a lot of nice backgrounds here and the game even gets a nice 3D effect during the credits. The attacks are all a lot of fun to look at and in general everything is pretty bright. Then the game also has a dynamite soundtrack. There are a lot of great themes to listen to here that range from being fairly heroic to setting up a moody atmosphere. It’s all exactly what you want to see here. Golden Sun just holds up well in every area. There is almost nothing to dislike about the game.

While the story may not be quite as exciting as some other RPGs, I did like it overall. You can tell that there’s more to this story than your usual heroes vs villains story. The villains definitely have their own reasons for doing things and don’t seem to be inherently evil. Of course there are many villains who believe they are the hero, but since the heroes don’t know what will happen if the lighthouses are activated, it’s possible that it is the right thing to do. Of course, it would be easy to tell the heroes this, but none of the villains ever feel like talking. The heroes also get lucky quite often as the villains could have easily won on a number of occasions. They just prefer to split up rather than fight as a team.

Isaac doesn’t really have a personality in this game as he is just the player. Garet is a good ally who basically acts as the leader of the team even if he is a bit impulsive. Mia’s a solid medic who joins on later. We don’t get a whole lot of time to develop her personality but she seems nice. Then you’ve got the young mage who seems really nice even if lacking in experience. The childhood friends are all suspect though with how they don’t tell the heroes much. They basically miss the entire game as they just get a few scenes after being kidnapped, but they seem to be taking it in stride. It seems like the villains ultimately start to convert everyone.

The game ends with quite a lot of loose ends for the sequel. While there are probably one or two that you could finish through side quests, there are definitely some that can’t be. There’s a scene after the credits for example which shows that the adventure isn’t quite over yet. It makes sense since there’s a big villain who doesn’t show up in the climax. Also, in general it just doesn’t feel like a conclusive ending because there are more lighthouses left and more villains so the heroes can’t rest easy now. As I already own the sequel you can bet that I’ll be jumping on that one pretty soon.

If there’s anything that’s a bit iffy here, it’s that the game isn’t always clear on where to go next. It actually has a map with town labels on it so that’s a big upgrade from something like Final Fantasy VII, but at the same time there are usually multiple routes to choose so you end up wasting a lot of time looking for the right one. The good news is that it gives you more time to level up though. Once you’ve gotten strong enough then you can also just flee the battles, but it takes quite a while to get to that level. Another thing I do like is that if you die you are taken back to the temple, but don’t lose any data. It costs money to revive your teammates, but that’s a fair price. A lot of little things like that help the game overall because it takes away the irritating nature of a game over. Dying and being forced to restart the area is very fair if you ask me.

Overall, Golden Sun is definitely an excellent RPG and deserves to be known as one of the greats. It’s aged really well and made for a very fun 20+ hour experience. I look forward to seeing how the sequel goes since it should feel pretty similar. I’m also ready for Isaac to talk since that would be awesome, but even if he doesn’t I’m sure the story is going to be really good. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend changing that. It’s just a great all around title with no real weaknesses. You’ll be engaged from start to finish even if you might end up with a slight headache from how complex the gameplay mechanics are. The important thing is that you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment because this is definitely one of the tougher RPG titles out there.

Overall 8/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Kuroko’s Basketball Review


I haven’t read a whole lot of sport titles before now so it’s always good to start a new one. Kuroko’s Basketball was getting a ton of hype back in the day and I can definitely say that it is well deserved. I don’t see this one being surpassed as the definitive Basketball title. That means that for sports we now have definitive titles for Tennis, (Prince of Tennis) Football, (Eyeshield 21) and Basketball. (Kuroko’s Basketball) While I have read titles for other sports I am hesitant to say that any of the others are the definitive versions yet. I think Whistle does have a strong case for Soccer though. Kuroko’s Basketball is definitely an excellent title either way and one that I highly recommend.

The series starts off by introducing us to the concept of the Miracle Generation. This was a legendary group of Basketball players who were seen as invincible throughout middle school. However, they disbanded after that with every member going to a different high school. One such member is named Kuroko and he decides to finally re-enter Basketball. He ends up getting on a team that has been pretty good over the last few years while at the same time not being in the same league as the top high schools. He figures this is a pretty good time to step out of the shadow of the more experienced members and finally prove himself. The other main character is Kagami who comes from America. He doesn’t know much about the Miracle Generation and doesn’t really care anyway. He just wants to be the best and leading this high school to the championship is his chance to test his skills. Can Kuroko and Kagami raise the school to new heights?

Kuroko may be one of the miracle generation but in terms of shooting ability he is easily the weakest member of the team. That’s because his specialty is passing and he focused on this completely to the point where he became the best passer of all time. It’s also an interesting trade off because his vanish passes only work because of his lack of talent. He is able to erase his presence on the court and to everyone else it’s like he appears out of thin air. If he were to get better at the game then he wouldn’t be able to pull this off since people would notice him. The whole plot is actually handled extremely well.

Throughout the series you wonder why he doesn’t just practice more to work on his shooting. Of course getting better isn’t that easy, but he’s got a super supportive team so it makes sense. The answer is pretty obvious, but still delivered well and makes for a good twist. It’s something you know in the back of your head, but it still comes across as a surprise which in my mind means the execution was spot on. It’s a little tough for Kuroko since he is not able to get back at the other members directly, but through Kagami he is able to get wins and that’s the big picture goal anyway.

Kagami is basically sharing the main character status with Kuroko and is a really good lead. He’s more of a classic main character type who is always ready for a game and strives to be the best. He’s super competitive and is filled with confidence. I think he plays a large part in why the manga is so good. In general the cast is pretty strong in this series, but even among them Kagami is one of the standout characters. His duels with Aomine in particular are really solid and I’m also glad that he doesn’t back down even when the villains decide to get physical. One such moment is when he steps up to the main villain and manages to dodge the stab attempt from point blank range. Without Kagami the team would be doomed and he brings the fiery energy that you need on the team.

He also gets quite a few arcs during the series as well. As the best player he naturally has a lot of unique burdens on himself as well. One is that if he is losing the 1 on 1 battle the whole team loses motivation and he knows it. That adds a lot of extra stress. Another part is where it starts to get to his head and he just wants to beat the whole team on his own. I think the tough part there is that there’s some truth to this approach. If he doesn’t take on the whole team then they may lose, but at the same time it stops the other players from growing. There isn’t really an easy answer here. Still, ultimately he recognizes his status as the ace while also being a team player.

Hyuga is one of the main members of the team and effectively he serves as the captain. His deal is that he’s usually nice, but sometimes a switch gets flipped and he becomes super rude which also makes him a better shot. It’s an unique dynamic although I never really became a fan of his. He’s pretty useful since he can land the 3 point shots consistently and keeps the team together. Hyuga is the “mostly” calm mind you need on the team to keep everyone balanced even if it doesn’t allow him to become one of the more exciting characters.

Izuki is the eagle eye of the team who has his eye on the ball at all times. He’s good at landing the steals, but in comparison to the other members I wouldn’t say his role is massive. You do feel his presence though and as most of the characters get a rival on different teams, Izuki does have his big moments. Izuki’s a very balanced member of the team and I’d say that he rounds out the cast pretty well. He’s a fun character.

Kiyoshi joins the cast a little later on, but makes a good difference once he is in. He’s a good bodyguard that the team needed and definitely goes through quite a lot. I dare say that he has the most painful journey from all of the heroes and certainly experienced loss more as well. He’s another solid character and while he never became the all star, he keeps up with Kagami a lot better than anyone else on the team.

Riko is the team coach and has a special ability where she can look at everyone’s stats. It’s a fun enough ability although it never becomes too handy. The reason for this is because even when she knows that their team is outclassed it doesn’t seem to matter much. She just tells them to play harder, but almost never goes into the strategy of it. Her more useful skill is the accelerated healing which allows a player to go back in even after surpassing his limits. That one’s definitely real handy.

Then we have the other members of the miracle generation. First up is Kise who is the copycat of the group. He can learn and stela anyone’s finisher move and use it against them. He’s probably the least intimidating member of the OP players, but by the end of the series he’s definitely top 3. I’d still put Aomine and Akashi above him, but I think he could take down any of the others. He’s easily one of my favorite antagonists and is a good rival character. He seems to have the quickest growth out of the main characters so in a sequel I could see him claiming the top spot.

Midorima is another top member and his big skill is that he can hit 3 point shots from any range with 100% accuracy. In theory I feel like that should make him the most deadly member, but I suppose you need the all around skills to really succeed. The other members just tend to overwhelm him with pure power. Perhaps if this was a 1 on 1 he would have better luck but at the same time the others would probably steal the ball a lot. Midorima is fun, but not nearly as solid as the other big villains.

Aomine is my favorite character in the series and really steals the show in every scene he’s in. He’s the original rival but somehow manages to still be one of the strongest characters in the series. By the end he is arguably the third strongest Basketball player still and I like to think that he could still beat Kagami and Akashi. He really knows how to go into the Zone which basically becomes a mandatory skill by the end of the series. Without his coaching Kagami definitely wouldn’t have been ready for the end. His plot is also the most sympathetic since he got so good that the games became boring and nobody wanted to even play with him. It’s tough being the best and naturally he took that to mean that maybe he should stop practicing. That does make sense to stop growing stronger and the fact that Aomine is still one of the best shows just how dangerously good he is.

Murasakibara probably gets the least amount of screen time from the miracle generation. He’s also got the worst attitude of the group and doesn’t even enjoy Basketball the way that the others do. The gang shows him the light here, but he really only played basketball because he was so good at it. He’s really tall which helps a lot for fundamentals and from there his natural skills just helped him jump to victory. I can’t say that I ever became a fan of his. I was definitely rooting for Akashi when they had their big fight. Murasakibara’s skills are the real deal, but in a series where you have so many great characters he just can’t keep up.

Akashi is the main villain of the series so you can definitely guess that his ability is going to be more OP than the others. For the most part the series tries to stay reasonably realistic. Even the various super powers like the vanish throw try to at least throw some logic into the mix to explain how Kuroko is able to accomplish such a feat. I dare say that the author barely tried with Akashi’s though. He’s got 2 personalities and with a glance he can knock you to the ground. Then he is also able to see through all techniques and is pretty close to unstoppable. He does make for a good villain though and is another figure who was ultimately overcome by the pressure that was placed on him. You definitely need a villain like him around to make the game more exciting even if he isn’t quite as cool as Kise or Aomine. The dual identity thing reminded me of Sensui though and was handled pretty well.

Koganei steps up to the plate towards the end of the series for the main characters. He’s not terribly talented, but he does have a big drive to win. This helps make up for the talent and win or lose he always tries his best. He even went up against the main villain and while you knew he was doomed from the start it was a pretty worthy effort. I also liked the idea of getting him in the mix. Even if you aren’t amazing in general every game is different so being able to do some damage makes sense. I could see him getting more of a role in a sequel.

Takao is a fun character from one of the opposing squads. Similar to how Kuroko has Kagami in his corner, most of the other Miracle Generation fighters have a second in command as well. Takao is good at blocking Kuroko’s surprise passes and is definitely a very competent player in his own right. He may not be on the level of the Miracle Generation, but he can hold his own. Imayoshi is one of the craftier opponents. He’s always got a plan and knows when to take a support role instead of trying to be one of the main characters. This guy helps fill out the team pretty well.

Then you’ve got Himuro who used to be rivals with Kagami back in the day. That made his team pretty unique in that it had two members who were able to keep up with the main guy. That being said, I didn’t like him nearly as much as the other players. I feel like the issue with him is that he loses the mental game the whole time. He blows up at his old coach and throughout his game with Kagami he feels pretty petty. If he was able to bring in a good fight without doing all the extra tricks then that’d be good, but otherwise you just feel like he isn’t quite dedicated enough for this level yet.

Now it’s time to look at the rest of Akashi’s team. Unlike the others every member of his group is a heavy hitter. First up is Reo, an intimidating three point shooter. He doesn’t miss and has a variety of moves which makes it very difficult to block or evade his shots. He’s definitely not one of the more interesting villains, but he makes for a good rival. Then you’ve got Kotaro who is able to dribble very quickly. It’s definitely a less impressive ability than most, but it does mean that stealing the ball from him is really hard. Moreover, he is actually able to even overwhelm Kagami with this ability briefly which is no small feat. Usually the backup members don’t get to mess with Kagami, but this guy welcomed the challenge.

Then you have Nebuya who is the power hitter of the group. He is able to hold his own physically against Kiyoshi and if we’re being honest he is definitely stronger than that guy. In a one on one fight he won’t be losing to him and his raw power also makes it difficult for Kagami to stop him as well. The guy has a lot of pride in his play and is definitely one of the more enjoyable members of the group. Finally you have Mayuzumi. He’s not very interested in Basketball but is manipulated by Akashi into joining the fray anyway. He wants to be a good player in his own right, but Akashi’s plan is for him to effectively be just like Kuroko. The cost of this would be that he can never stand out though so you can see why he wouldn’t want that to be the case.

There are definitely more characters of course, but these are the main standouts so check out the manga to take a look at the ones I skipped. It’s an excellent read from start to finish. One factor that really helps is how good the artwork looks. The artist is really able to illustrate just how intense these games get. All of the characters are drawn consistently and the art only gets better and better as the series goes on. While there are a small handful of characters who look a little too similar the artist does a good job of differentiating the characters otherwise.

One of the best parts of the series is when we’re first introduced to “The Zone” as well as when Kagami is first able to enter it. It’s a pretty great super form that makes the game even more intense. It also has solid limitations like only being able to use it for a few minutes to prevent this from being completely broken. The way it is implemented is pretty fair if you ask me. It’s naturally also veering away from the more realistic aspects of the other series, but that’s fine.

I think another impressive part of the series is just how much time is spent on the court while still developing the characters. The only other series I’ve seen with such an amazing balance would be Prince of Tennis and while that is still my favorite sport title, I would have to admit that this one has the stronger supporting cast. It’s actually fairly tough to make all of the main characters likable. Even titles like Black Clover and DBZ run into some trouble there. You can’t make every character great, but since on the field the main 5 characters will constantly be around it was important that the series made sure they were good.

One thing that I’m sure everyone was waiting to see from the start was how the Miracle Generation used to be. Honestly it would make for a fun prequel, but as it is we did see some of their wins through flashbacks near the end of the series. They are every bit as overwhelming as you would expect and are absolutely merciless. It makes sense that they wanted to split up after that since it’s a lot more fun to fight people on the same level than to just steamroll everyone in your path.

Overall, Kuroko’s Basketball is definitely a great title to read. It works both as an amazing sports title as well as a great story of comradery. The basketball games are pretty long so there’s a lot of time for proper character development and team adaption during the games. There’s a lot to love about this title and there are really no negatives. Whenever the next volume would arrive I’d dash through the whole thing. The series never has any slow moments and if anything it’s all just gone too quickly. I highly recommend checking this title out. You’ll definitely be glad that you took the plunge. Now I’m ready to read the quick sequel, it’ll be fun to see the characters one last time.

Overall 9/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? Review


It’s time to look at an old film that tries to be a thriller/horror title. It’s pretty low key in part due to how old it is, but also because it’s not a jump scare kind of film. It has a very British air about it as the villains are polite and there are always veiled threats. It’s not a particularly good film though and this is probably because the main characters are kids. Kids can’t hold their own movies, they’ve never been able to in the past and they certainly don’t seem to be starting now.

The film starts off with Roo introducing herself as a nice old lady who allows a group of orphans to stay with her every Christmas. The orphanage even makes it into a bit of a competition as only the 10 best kids every year are allowed to go. Two extra kids manage to sneak in this year though and they are Christopher and Katy. Roo decides that this time she’s going to keep a kid and so she tricks Katy into staying behind. Christopher finds out about this, but then he is also trapped. Can Christopher and Katy get away from this crazy old lady or is their time up?

Of course this film only works if all of the characters look the other way. From the start why would the orphanage people leave one of the kids behind? That goes past just being irresponsible, they don’t even know Roo all that well. It’s a pretty iffy moment for all of them. Even after they go home though, it should be obvious that the kids are still in the house. Why didn’t the police come with a warrant right away and tear the place apart? Naturally the orphanage people do seem a bit rude so perhaps they didn’t want to have these kids back, but it’s definitely a bad look for them.

The only characters who do realize what is happening turn out to be crooked as well and get some money out of Roo. This also hurts Roo as an antagonist though as she is tricked and suckered for a good part of the film. She’s pretty crazy to be sure, but you at least want her to be in the captain’s seat. Instead she takes quite a lot of Ls throughout the whole film. You definitely don’t expect to see two little kids outsmarting and outrunning the main villain right?

Still, that doesn’t mean that the kids are great characters though. Katy is a little too young so she doesn’t get what is happening the whole time. She mainly slows them down and Christopher means well, but he’s also too young to be of much help. He has a smart play with the fire, but ultimately the only way they are able to succeed is because Roo makes a ton of mistakes the whole time. If she was more on the ball then they would have absolutely been doomed. She has home field advantage and a big edge in speed and power. There’s no real way to get around that.

It doesn’t make for a very pleasant plot though. Even though the film isn’t played quite as seriously as a modern version would be, it’s basically a villain kidnapping two kids. There’s no time for snappy dialogue or good interactions as a result. The character cast is very limited and most of the scenes are just about Christopher being forced to help Roo out with errands around the house. That’s not very thrilling at all and certainly can’t hold a film for very long. There’s no real fun factor in the film so it just drags on and on.

The ending does its best to not make the kids particularly sympathetic either. I don’t think anyone would blame them for taking down Roo, but by the end they seem to have actually convinced themselves that she was a witch from a fairy tail. Christopher is fairly young, but at the same time he’s old enough where you wouldn’t expect him to still believe in fairy tails. While Roo likely wasn’t going to cook them, she was still clearly evil from all the threats she made and she did tend to wave her weapon around quite a lot. I suppose the cops will never find out how the fire really started.

We also can’t forget that the film had to squeeze in a dead chicken for no reason. It’s one of those sudden scene cuts that I suppose is meant to remind you that the villain means business. Roo isn’t the one doing the chopping, but the same chopping knife is used later on so it’s like foreshadowing. The scene also throws in the unnecessary fact that the guy selling the chickens is getting pretty fresh very quickly. It’s a detail that never gets brought up again and ultimately has no point in the film. You can tell that the writing in a film is suspect when there are pointless filler scenes like this one.

Overall, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo is not a film I’d recommend. It’s not horrible for content or anything, but it’s just very dull and lifeless. There isn’t a whole lot happening in this film. It’s like all of the scenes are just filling out the air time, but there isn’t any personality thrown into the mix. The movie is going through the motions but only because it has to and not because it wants to. There’s no real reason to watch such a film as you can find way better thrillers and horror titles elsewhere. This one is like a slice of horror film since nothing much happens beyond the premise. Check out something with a little more character instead like Jingle All The Way.

Overall 3/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Split Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the next film in the trilogy involving Unbreakable. This film always looked terrible from the first trailer though and as I didn’t even like the first film I knew this was gonna get dicey. Unfortunately the film is even worse than I had imagined and is ultimately a complete waste of your time. If you want to watch a super edgy/gritty story where the villains manage to keep on racking up wins then this is the one to check out. Otherwise you’re better off heading to your local Duane Reade to buy some cookies.

The film definitely doesn’t waste time as it starts with Kevin showing up and kidnapping 3 teenagers who had just finished having a party. He takes them to his lair where he preps them for being eaten by the beast. See, Kevin’s a psychotic who believes he contains 23 different souls inside of him and 3 of them are evil. Naturally the 3 evil ones are stronger than the 20 good ones put together so he’s gone back to his murdering ways. The 3 girls have to find a way to escape. Claire believes they should try to overpower him, Casey thinks they should just wait and see, while Marcia will follow whatever tactic they decide on. Can they escape?

So the film is distastefully bad almost from the start. Naturally Kevin isn’t a classy villain who just wants to destroy the world or anything like that. No, he is only interested in attacking girls and his mind shatters so often that even he doesn’t know who is in control at times. He has a history of such incidents, but isn’t in prison because he keeps pleading insanity. The whole thing is pretty warped and you don’t really buy into his split personalities gimmick. He’s just a guy with an enhancement ability that gives him super strength but at the end of the day that’s it. It’s all too convenient otherwise how all of his souls tend to lose to the evil ones. There’s nothing interesting about his character.

Then you’ve got Casey’s gritty backstory which is also pretty awful and shouldn’t have been included in the film. Not only does it just serve to give her extra trauma, but then in the end we find out that the uncle is still around. So, he murdered (implied) her father and has been taking advantage of her for over 10 years? This is the amount of grit that you only see in terrible films. If you really stretch it then maybe she will tell the cops at the end, but the silence was deafening. Hopefully that plot isn’t brought back for the third film.

Casey’s a good character overall though as she tries to make the best of a tough situation. She hasn’t let her circumstances break her which is good. The other teens were good as well. Claire definitely showed the most spirit out of the 3, but was definitely doomed from the start. Still, without her actually attempting to escape the others would probably have just sat around and waited til the end. Marcia also had a rough time from the start so her confidence was shaken almost right away. While Casey was quick to play along with Kevin’s insanity it’s understandable that the other two weren’t able to adapt so quickly. Casey was used to dealing with crazies.

Karen is Kevin’s psychiatrist, but ultimately she doesn’t serve much of a purpose in the film. She’s slow as molasses in understanding what is happening. Her plot doesn’t make much sense because the whole time she is the only one who actually believed Kevin from the start. Since she actually thought that his personalities were real you’d think that she would have taken the emails a little more seriously. She knew that he was in danger or different versions of him were in trouble so why did she wait so long to act? She also knew that the evil personality was in control so why did she make so many mistakes over and over again? What was the point of going to his lair?

Maybe she was going to call the cops or something, but surely she knew that she wasn’t going to make it out of there. Also, she wasn’t particularly subtle when going into the closet. She should have at least used the secret word to stun Kevin at that point since there shouldn’t be any hesitation. Instead she panicked and then forgot how to say the word by the end. She’s definitely a waste of a character and her plot line ultimately didn’t contribute to the story.

No worries, Split also managed to squeeze in some animal violence to complete the film’s descent into madness. It’s really got every undesirable trait you could ask for in a film. It’s super edgy, it’s got animal violence, it’s got child violence, and a whole lot of things that happen off screen. There’s also quite a bit of fanservice since the villain uses every excuse possible to put the heroines in worse and worse spots. There’s nothing redeemable about the film and allowing the teenagers to be decent characters is just to make the film even darker. You know from the start that this is the kind of film that won’t really have a happy ending. It’s even worse when you consider that all of the villains get away with no ramifications to continue their chaos.
The film drags on and on as the 2 hours go by. There’s no solid writing to back it up either so hopefully you have a lot of snacks.

Overall, Split is definitely a horrible film that I’d recommend staying far away from. It’s the kind that you should just toss aside and never watch. It’s a poor thriller with sub-par writing and plots that are no fun. The film never even tries to be engaging and it’s far too dark to make for an enjoyable watch. Even the final scene has a defeated sense to it as the guest star just takes another drink because he doesn’t want to get back into this mess. Of course, he’ll end up stepping in for the third film which should still be better than this one at least. Split simply couldn’t stitch the scenes together into a complete feature.

Overall 0/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Postman Always Rings Twice Review


It’s time to look at a film where the whole concept is about being the rebound guy. As you can guess that means the romance was doomed from the start. Since this is mainly a romance film that did put this one in a tough spot from the start and it never quite recovered. I was just waiting for the Postman to show up and shock everyone to the core, but it never happens. Turns out that it isn’t one of those literal titles, but it really should have been to be honest.

The film starts off with the district attorney giving Frank a ride. Frank’s been in a tough spot lately and that’s due in part to the fact that he is a free spirit. He loves just going wherever the wind takes him and living life on the edge. Well, he’s finally found a job at a burger joint, but immediately warns the owner, Nick, that he may not stay long. His plans change when Nick’s wife Cora shows up and Frank immediately decides that they should be together. Despite Cora’s half hearted rejections Frank forces the issue and they decide that Nick has to be murdered. Can they really pull off such a feat?

With a plot like this there is nobody to root for. Of course, you would expect to be rooting for Nick but the film goes out of its way to make him hard to root for. He doesn’t pay Cora any attention and is way older than her so that was never going to work out anyway. He’s oblivious to the point where he basically pushes them together and at the end of the day sees Cora as more of a helper than an equal. He doesn’t even consult her when making his big decision at the end of the film. He also gets drunk and in general just doesn’t seem like a good person.

Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right. Frank knows that Cora is married from the start. It’s not as if they were hanging out for a long time before he figured this out, it was made clear as day to him immediately. He pressed on anyway and then cheats on her later on in the film anyway. It’s no surprise though because that’s just the kind of guy he is. Frank does everything half heartedly and never becomes a decent person. By the end of the film he basically goes insane.

Meanwhile Cora is shown to be very manipulative. There are large portions of the film where it doesn’t seem like she actually cares about Frank and is just using him to get to her own goals. It’s pretty easy for her to manipulate him so it’s not like it takes a lot of effort. She’ll go from being overly friendly to him to giving Frank the cold shoulder. None of the characters handle the various situations well but her main failing is that she wants to stay in the burger choice even if that’s where all of the cops will connect the dots. She had a lot of opportunities to simply leave, but never took them. That was simply too big of a mistake to come back from.

Then you’ve got Arthur who helps plead their case in one of the court sessions. He’s actually pretty good even if the guy seems pretty shady. He may not be helping out for the right reasons, but the guy definitely does have talent. He added a little intrigue to the situation. Then you’ve got the D.A., Kyle. He’s definitely not sympathetic to their cause, nor should he be. Even by the end of the film he whips out another trump card and you can see why he has such a strong reputation in the film. He always gets his man.

Of course the film couldn’t help but throw a cat into the mix for no real reason. The scene just comes out of nowhere and he doesn’t live through the scene. I suppose the film was just desperate to lose another star but with the lackluster plot it’s not like the film needed any help. The writing in general is decent, but with none of the characters being particularly intelligent some scenes can seem like bad writing as well. The film also drags on quite a bit. On one hand it is impressive just how far the plot changes from the beginning, but on the other hand it starts to outlive its welcome by the end. It’s around 30 minutes longer than it needs to be, especially since the plot is fairly basic.

I suppose the ending will be happy or sad depending on who you’re rooting for. Considering that the main characters are openly cheating I’d say that the D.A. and the long arm of the law is probably who you’d be rooting for. If you look at the ending with that lens then it does change things quite a bit. On a minor note, at least the burgers did look pretty good. I could definitely use one right about now and if we had more scenes of the characters preparing food for their restaurant perhaps it could have distracted from the weak story. Almost all of the film takes place at their restaurant after all and yet the scenes with real food are scarce and far apart.

Overall, The Postman Always Rings Twice is definitely a film that I’ve got to give a thumbs down. How can you like a film where the main character is so petty? He’s basically a crook the whole time and is super ungrateful considering that Nick was giving him a place to live and a decent salary. Also, even before Frank’s romance was starting he seemed like a rude person. When Cora dropped her lipstick he made her come to him to pick it up rather than just giving it to her. It’s the kind of petty power play that you would expect from someone like Frank. The ending is also completely his fault since he was the one at command. He should have realized that he didn’t have the skills to multi task.

Overall 4/10