Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

House II: The Second Story Review


It’s time to look at the second House film. The first one really did not leave much of an impact because it really didn’t ring any bells for me. I guess that makes sense because the same can be said for the sequel. House II is good and has some really great moments like with the electrician, but it’s not exactly a film that you’ll be talking about for very long. It just doesn’t have that lasting effect on you and a comedy-horror never wants to fall into that. All right, lets dive in!

The film starts off with Jesse and Kate moving into their new house. His family died off so now he gets the place to himself. They’re eager to make the place their own, but unfortunately a pair of third wheels by the name of Charlie and Lana show up. Charlie is basically a free loader and Lana just wants to be rich and famous so the two of them actually work pretty well together. Charlie isn’t going to turn down the opportunity of being rich either so he heads off to his great grand father’s grave so try and find something valuable. He finds a crystal skull which is pretty valuable when you think about it. It brings gramps back to life and he decides to party with the main characters. The one downside is that Slim may be lying in wait to retrieve the skull and murder everyone. Can Jesse stop him?

This is a comedy/horror so there are a lot of parody elements thrown in here as well. One of them is how well everyone takes the fact that Gramps is back to life. The movie takes place during Halloween which is very handy since they can play him off as a costume. Hey, it’s as reasonable an explanation as anything right? At least it gives the party goers something to think about. Unfortunately as is usually the case Gramps is pretty weak. See, the evil zombies who come back to life like Slim are strong, but not the good ones. That always happens. Gramps gets completely wrecked when he tries to go up against Slim.

The other heroes aren’t much better for the most part though. The scene where the Pterodactyl makes off with the skull was particularly sloppy. At least Jesse gets the job done in the end. Charlie really doesn’t help much except to throw in the witty one liners once in a while. He also likes listening to Gramps’ old stories. The real hero here is actually the electrician, Bill. Bill’s appearance comes very suddenly but works extremely well. At first he was just here to fix some cables but then he notices that the cables lead to a portal which can take you to various places like dinosaur world or the wild west. The main characters go in, but they are woefully unprepared so Bill volunteers to help. Being an electrician is just his day job, Bill really excels at being an adventurer as well.

The guy also proves himself as a pro with a blade. He’s not scared of zombies and just goes through the whole scenario with the sacrifice with a cool head. Nothing phases him and he doesn’t even look mildly surprised as he walks in and takes names. I was just sad that he couldn’t stick around for the rest of the film, but I suppose he would probably steal the show very quickly. That’s just the kind of guy that he is. I wonder if he was a guest star or something. Either way that was a parody element handled correctly.

House II’s writing isn’t all that bad. The characters make some bad moves but they feel intentional on the writing’s part since this film isn’t really meant to be taken seriously. The script isn’t that bad and the pacing is decent. Some parts could have been handled a bit better like maybe having Gramps fight a bit. Lana also could have been a bit more realistic as dancing with super loud volume in Kate’s house isn’t the best way to make a good impression. That whole scene was pretty painful to be honest and didn’t actually contribute anything to the story so it could have been cut.

That being said, House II is careful to avoid making any of the big mistakes. It may have a scene here and there that aren’t great like the dancing one, but scores more often than it does not. The cast isn’t amazing, but they can be entertaining enough. The gunfight climax is also handled surprisingly serious with Slim and Jesse. It’s a solid action scene in any context. The ending may be a bit sudden but it works well enough. I wonder if the next film continues from this plot or if we’ll get a new setting once again. I’m cool with either option.

Overall, House II is a solid sequel. I quickly took a peak at my review for the original which did jog some memories. I can’t say that this one was able to match the original. The original one was just funnier and had more to it. I dare say that the character cast was more solid last time. Still, this one does have its humorous moments which is important and the pacing is good. The action scene at the end was solid and I feel like what was ironically missing was probably more scenes in the house. Between the wild west, the past, the portal, and hanging out at the party, it felt like we didn’t get quite as much time just hanging out in the house and experiencing the crazy shenanigans. Still, as long as you don’t mind a film poking fun at the usual tropes this is a good one to check out. Just be on the lookout for Bill, that guy really is the best character here.

Overall 6/10

Advertisements
Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

QQ Sweeper Review


It’s time to take a look at a manga about cleaning. That’s definitely a first for me and it’s an interesting concept. I don’t think it’s something you can keep up for long, but the it’s up to the writing and characters to hold the story. Unfortunately the main cast here is fairly weak so they do have a very tough time holding this adventure. It’s only 3 volumes and I can see why it ended so quickly. It feels like it was cancelled with how rushed it is, but a sequel series started almost immediately so maybe it was always part of the plan. It’s not a bad series, but it’s definitely not the most exciting one out there.

The manga introduces us to a girl named Fumi. She has had a tough time of it because everyone has always told her that she is cursed. Fumi believes this as well because bad things seem to happen when she is around. As a result she tries to distance herself from people ansd does her best to ignore the bullying. One day she meets up with a sweeper named Kyutaro. He makes the school clean, but it turns out that he does more than that. He is able to clean the minds of others and destroys the parasites that plague the human world. Fumi is eager to help out and becomes a junior sweeper. Can she help make the world a better place and ultimately use her skills to clean her curse?

As always the classmates and school are all pretty mean here. THey’re very quick to turn on Fumi so I’m glad that Fumi has some friends here. There are two in particular who stick with her throughout the whole adventure even when the class turns against her. There is a bugmaster who is orchestrating this and manipulating the school, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that a lot of these classmates are gullible. You have 2-3 guys who talk against the bullies, but all they do is talk so it doesn’t help a whole lot. I’d like one of them to have been a little more pro-active.

Fumi is a good lead although I feel like she didn’t get a whole lot of character. We see her toughness with how she comes prepared for the bullying without breaking down or attacking everyone. She isn’t super uqick to forgive the bullies either which is realistic because then they’ll just walk all over you. At the end of the day she does want to be the best sweeper she can be and does pretty well in the role. She has some connection to the queen and other vague things, but those plots don’t get to wrap up here. I suppose that will be in the sequel. The manga also hints that she was someone else a while back before losing her memory. It’s likely all connected to this big plot.

Kyutaro doesn’t get along with people at all and that works out in his favor a few times as he helps get Fumi away from the bullies. He acts as if it’s because he needs to clean which drives them away and then he consoles her. He is haunted by the disappearance of another girl he knew a while back so he is determined to protect Fumi. One thing that holds Kyutaro back is how he mixes the two up and gets delirious at times. Obviously this is to lead up to a romance at some point, but it’s not nearly as well developed as it could be and so I don’t think it’s going to end up working very well here.

Koichi is the leader of the Sweepers and along with the lady who can transform into a bird they are the most experienced. Naturally they don’t tell Fumi and Kyutaro much until it’s too late which can always be a bit annoying for those characters. I didn’t really care for Koichi. He can be helpful at times, but not often and does have a tendency to snap at the other characters. The lady is fine, but I do hope that she can fight and isn’t relegated to purely being a guide.

Ataru is the main villain in the series but he’s definitely not one that you will remember for long. His goals are fairly vague aside from causing anarchy. I guess he just wants to mentally destroy Fumi and bring out the queen within her. Of course, the queen can do whatever she wants to this plan seems incredibly risky to the bug faction. Why put such a powerful piece into play when there’s a good chance that she won’t be on your side? He’s also one of those sketchy villains who loses sight of his goals just to go for power plays and humiliation tactics. There’s just nothing likable about this guy and he drags the main cast down further.

All of the themes in this manga have just been done better in other titles. The cleaning angle does at least change things up compared to other titles, but it’s ultimately not that important when you think about it. They clean the area to help make the infected feel better but mostly this is done through talking and the cleaning happens in the background. Take the cleaning angle away and the series really wouldn’t change all that much. I’m glad it’s there since it’s one of the better parts of the series though.

QQ Sweeper’s biggest problem is just that it’s a little boring. I’ve already talked at length about how the character cast isn’t all that good and it’s always hard to make a manga great without them. Especially since this isn’t an action series then the character interactions are very important. You need a good story and characters to proceed and this title has neither. I will grant you that the manga has some promise with some of the story directions they are going in. If the appearance of the queen turns this into more of an action series then the sequel will be hype. The series just has to show me this first and of course it would be helping the sequel, not this one.

The art isn’t bad, but it can be a little convoluted. It certainly isn’t as clear as a lot of other titles that I’ve read. You’ll be able to read it without any real issues, but that does mean it probably won’t be able to keep up with most titles there. It’s only 3 volumes so it’s not like the artist had a ton of time to improve during the series though. We’ll see if in the sequel the art looks clearer or not.

Overall, QQ Sweeper sets up some interesting ideas and the premise is good. The execution just isn’t quite there. You’re never really given a reason to root for the characters beyond being the leads because they just aren’t very interesting. The villain is a flop as well and so that doesn’t make for an amazing dynamic within the cast. There are a ton of plotlines still ongoing which also works well for the sequel, but when you think about it nothing really happened in these 3 volumes. We got to see Fumi help some people but none of the important questions have been answered as of yet. I’d also like to see the Sweepers actually take the fight to the bug users instead of thinking about them as myths. The latter means that the bug guys have been doing whatever they wanted for years now which doesn’t sound all that responsible on the part of the heroes. In the end the series isn’t bad, but it’s not really good either. Check it out if you think the premise sounds fun and then just wait for the sequel.

Overall 5/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Fruits Basket Review


It’s time to look at the recent Fruits Basket anime. I read the manga many years ago when I was a kid and didn’t really like it all that much. I actually put it down as one of my least favorite Shojo series so it was good to see it in a fresh setting. I actually liked the show so maybe I would like the manga more on a re-read or the show is just directed that well. Either way it’s a title I can definitely recommend. It’s an emotional slice of life title that manages to hit different tones in different episodes, but is careful not to go too far into being tragic.

The show is centered around a girl named Tohru. After her Mom passed away she went to move in with her other relatives, but it wasn’t ideal and so now she lives in the forest. She is found by the popular boy at school (Yuki) and he convinces her to stay at his place instead of the forest. To be exact, it’s Shigure’s place and soon after another kid by the name of Kyo stays there as well. Kyo and Yuki are constantly fighting like cat and mouse (heh) so Tohru quickly becomes the most mature member in the household. Tohru has decided to always have a positive attitude and to do her best to help everyone else out in respect to her mother’s memory.

There are no shortages of situations for her to help out here as everyone in the school has issues. The 3 people she lives with all of things to deal with and then the rest of the family. See, in a larger scale look at the plot there is the Sohma family. They were hit with a curse where if anyone from the opposite gender makes contact with them they turn into an animal. It is from the Chinese Zodiac legend which may be real and of course Kyo is the Cat and Yuki is the mouse so now things make sense. In the legend the rat didn’t send the cat the invite so he was shunned for life. Of course that was ages ago so we’re likely dealing with descendants, but the wound is still fresh.

Tohru is definitely a great main character. I mean she is pretty much portrayed as the perfect heroine. She’s super nice, does well academically, and is always ready to lend a hand. Tohru imparts wisdom whenever she can and even stands by her friends when they literally lose their minds. If Tohru has any issues it is just that she is a little too oblivious when other people are being downright mean to her. It’s great that she turns the other cheek but at least acknowledging this or telling them to stop would be a good idea.

We don’t see Tohru’s Mom much since she dies prior to the series but she appears through flashbacks a few times. She also seems really good and I’m glad that she still knows how to fight even though she is retired. The flashback where she helps Arisa was handled really well since it’s implied that she basically took down an entire gang.

Yuki is one of the main guys so he naturally gets a lot of screen time. He has a tough time showing his emotions except for when he’s upset at Kyo. Gradually Tohru helps get him out of his shell. We haven’t really seen his true origin but there is a lot of foreshadowing for it. From the main 2 I do prefer Kyo, but Yuki is good. He does step in to help Tohru at times and I do believe he would be able to conquer his fears and help even if Akito was involved. I really hope so at least. Yuki still gets hit with fear and isn’t perfect, but he does his best.

Then there is Kyo who is always ready for a fight. I dare say that Yuki picks the fight most of the time but that isn’t always the case. Kyo always tends to lose the fight, but at least he is enthusiastic. Kyo is not great around people but does his best to communicate with Tohru. He’s come a very long way from the first episode to the last one. His character arc already feels pretty complete and that may help in why he is one of if not the best character in the show. He’s probably the only character to not be openly scared of Akito. While part of him wants to be in the main family, I do think this is an advantage of not being there.

Then we have Shigure, but I can’t get behind him. He’s always trolling his editor to the point where he basically puts her job at stake. Then there’s the fact that he flirts a lot and rarely takes things seriously. He may be the adult in the house, but there is a reason why I said that Tohru is the most responsible. Shigure will have a moment or two where he steps up but that’s about it. The show is hinting that he is planning some kind of big revenge on Akito and is pretending to be a friend for now. He claims that he will avenge everyone else, but he’s sure taking his sweet time. Shigure better do something before the tables turn on him, but that is one of the more interesting plots right now.

Arisa is one of Tohru’s friends. She used to be a juvenile delinquent who hanged out with gangs and was generally on a rough path. Her origin is a bit similar to Tohru’s mom in some respects and that’s also why Arisa always wanted to meet her. Arisa was less thrilled to meet Tohru but along the way Tohru got to show her how to properly adapt to school life. Arisa had a tough road, but now she’s in a good place and has a solid group of supporting friends. Arisa is a nice ally to have. While she may not be as entertaining as some of the Sohma characters she is definitely a good character.

Then you have Saki who is Tohru’s other best friend. She has psychic powers which is cool. Mainly she just uses them for comic relief scenes against bullies and there is actually a story reason for this. She gets a backstory where we learn that her abilities nearly ended Saki. Saki’s origin story was definitely one of the toughest ones in the series, maybe the toughest because everyone was against her. I was glad that she had supportive parents who were there for her at least. It’s a reverse of most situations where you have a friend on your side but the family isn’t. Saki is fairly laidback and quiet so she can’t hold her own episodes the way that others can, but as a side character she’s good.

Kagura is a very persistent character and that’s a good thing since otherwise she probably would get pretty hurt with how Kyo is always ignoring her. Deep down she likely realizes that he isn’t interested in her but will keep on trying until he meets someone else. She’s a good side character. I’m also glad that the show didn’t go down the road of making her jealous of Tohru. That always gets old pretty fast and them being friends is a much better development. Momiji is one of my least favorite characters in the show though. He can be pretty annoying with how oblivious he pretends to act. He trolls Kyo and Yuki about Tohru quite a lot. She may be too oblivious to really take notice but it doesn’t do wonders for his character. I’m not even really interested in learning more about his backstory, but maybe it’ll help to make him more likable. Right now he’s just quirky and not really in a good way.

Ayame is also fairly eccentric, but he handles himself well and with style. Ayame throws himself into every situation and you can admire how bold he is. Even in real life it’s always an admirable trait to be so confident. Nothing throws Ayame and even when everyone is hurling insults he keeps his cool. Ayame and Yuki may never properly bond the way he hoped they would because of how different their personalities are, but at least they won’t be as antagonistic as they used to be. Ayame is a handful, but not in a problematic way. I can’t point to anything he did in the show that was downright bad. Perhaps inconvenient for the others, but that’s about it.

Hatori is a character that I definitely had some problems with. For starters he is very submissive to Akito to the point where he allows the guy to wreck his life. Hatori is basically a yes man and even threatens Tohru into meeting him. We learn that he is a nice guy for the most part, but since he is so weak that is barely a consolation since you won’t be able to trust him when it counts. His origin story is sad, but it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him because of how terribly he handles it. He met someone and they were to be together, but then Akito decided that he didn’t like this and throws a fit. Instead of stopping him Hatori lets Akito claim the win and then even erases the girl’s memories. From there on Hatori lost the will to resist, but he never had it to begin with. If he won’t stand up to Akito there then he never will. The whole origin was just really annoying, especially since Akito is so sickly to begin with. How is he going to threaten Hatori and the guy just takes it? I don’t really have any respect for this character.

Hatsuharu is another one of the Sohma and his dual personality is definitely unique among the others. One half of him is very edgy and definitely wants to be close with Yuki. Then the other half is calmer and more polite in comparison. He can shift gears at any moment and as a result tends to get involved in a lot of fights. It’s nice to have another fighter on the team, but it makes it more and more odd why everyone is so scared of Akito. I’ll get into that more later on. Anyway Hatsuharu would be near the middle of the pack. He’s nowhere near the best members but he’s better than someone like Hatori.

Kisa is one of the younger members. She’s a nice enough kid although she hasn’t gotten much of a role yet. I’m not sure if that’ll change or not later on, but so far she’s off to a good start. The same can’t be said for Hiro. That guy’s real petty and a jerk to Tohru for no reason. She overlooks all of it because she’s so nice, but it doesn’t do him any favors. He seems to be over that now so things will be looking up for him, but he’ll have to work hard to fully get past that terrible intro. Then we have Kazuma who was Kyo’s instructor. This guy seems reasonable. He lives on a mountain probably so he can get away from the main family. Forcing Kyo to transform was definitely a pretty iffy strategy since that could have easily backfired and really made life terrible for Kyo. It worked out in the end I suppose, but it’s hard to see them being quite as close after that. Kazuma seems like Hatori, but with more self-confidence.

Then we have the main villain of the series, Akito. He gets a lot of hype throughout as everyone is scared of him. Everyone shudders at the thought of even meeting him and they all freeze in terror. The guy’s super sick though and needs constant attention or he’ll die. How is anyone scared of him? I think this goes more into cultural impact and the fact that the family is so old. Traditions are strong here and maybe everyone is afraid because he would ruin their reputation. Since everyone else is afraid it becomes circular logic where everyone is afraid because of everyone else. All one person needs to do is stand up to him though and then everyone else could. Maybe the next season will go more into depth on this.

Regardless, Akito isn’t a good villain. The guy just seems really petty and self centered the whole time. I’m sure he’ll have a sad origin, but he’s taking it out on everyone else which is never good. Everyone in this series has had a tough background and I mean almost literally everyone. That means it’ll be very hard for Akito to try and stand there with a straight face and explain why he has to be mean to everyone. I just won’t be able to buy that very easily. Seriously, someone just needs to stand up to this guy and then the rest will quickly fall into place.

At the end of the day Fruits Basket is really about moving on from your past. That’s the main theme of the show and Tohru helps the characters come to terms with it and move forward. The origins are all sad and dark in different ways which allows her to give many different kinds of advice. It’s definitely a moving series in that regard and that’s why it’s a fun watch. You should always feel pretty good upon finishing up the episode. It can get heavy at times as well so make sure you are prepared. It’s worth noting that the romance here isn’t terrible so far. I still don’t think any romance should ultimately happen here since Tohru is just too heroic and oblivious to get into that, but it does feel inevitable that it’ll happen soon. We’ll see how the show handles that.

It’s also just plain fun most of the time. The cast can handle themselves pretty well and that’s extremely important for a slice of life show. There aren’t going to be big action scenes here so the show has to hold its own with pure writing and fundamentals. The pacing is on point and the writing is good so it’s all set there. The animation is pretty good as well. I wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly special, but it all looks smooth and vibrant. Then you’ve got a reasonable soundtrack here as well. It may not be the most memorable, but it does get the job done.

Overall, Fruits Basket season 1 is a pretty good show. It’s the kind of all around title that you can easily recommend to someone who doesn’t really watch a lot of anime. That’s because it touches on a lot of themes that a live action show would with regard to the origin stories and characters trying to find reasons to keep on living or to re-experience what it’s like to enjoy their day to day existence. The show can get pretty sad, but there is always a happy ending. I can’t think of any episode that ended on a low note. It’s not a perfect show and I’d say that a drama will always be limited in how high it can ultimately reach. That being said, the execution is basically ideal and we’ll see if season 2 can match it. I don’t know if season 2 intends to cover the rest of the series but you can already see how not everyone can get their perfect ending here. Multiple characters are interested in each other so someone will have to take a back seat. I also better see more people stand up to Akito because that’s the one part of the series that makes no sense so far.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Goosebumps Review


I definitely had a good time reading these books back in the day. The series was a fun little horror title with a good amount of twists and turns. The series peaked with the 12 book crossover event where various villains and leads met up and ultimately ended up fighting it out. The movie brings together a lot of the most iconic villains together and ends up being a solid experience.

We start off by seeing Zach and his Mom heading to a new house. Zach isn’t particularly happy about this but perks up when he meets their next door neighbor. Hannah tells Zach that the only fun thing to do around here is sneak into the abandoned amusement park at night and climb the Ferris Wheel. Ah well, he’ll make it work. Unfortunately her father isn’t quite as welcoming and threatens Zach not to go near her. Zach doesn’t really want to obey this and when he accidentally frees the most powerful Goosebump monsters it forces a most reluctant team up. Zach and Stine put aside their differences to save the town, but can they really defeat the powerful Slappy?

The film is at its best when the monsters are running around causing havoc. The Garden Gnomes do a pretty good job of getting the danger levels up right away. Admittedly I can’t take them all that seriously compared to the bigger monsters but they do have the numbers advantage which is always important. They can also regenerate in this film which is extremely handy and was unexpected. Then of course you have Slappy who is the best villain of the bunch. He is possibly a little too powerful here though. He has the ability to teleport and can also teleport objects that he is not in contact with. Then Slappy can create bright flashes of light which stun his opponents for a second. As you can imagine there isn’t really a way that he can lose here. He probably could have ended the main characters within a few minutes of first appearing. Still, the guy likes to put on a good show and is pretty theatrical about the situation.

The least impressive monsters were probably the Gel monster and the Yeti. The Gel one can’t even talk after all and the Yeti isn’t all that fierce. Some monsters/enemies that looked cool but didn’t get to do much were the aliens and the Kaiju. There are a lot of Goosebump enemies though so it’s hard to grab them all. I’m a little surprised we didn’t see the camera though, that’s still one of the best books.

Zach is a reasonable main character. As far as leads moving to a new house go, he actually takes it fairly well. The whole romance plot happens really quickly though. In context they’ve only known each other for around 2-3 days so that’s not much at all. There’s not much else to say against Zach though. He seems like a nice enough kid and one of his first instincts was to call the cops which is good. The guy is pro-active which is important in a main character. He is someone you can count on.

Then you have the friend who is definitely the annoying character of the group. He’s out of his depth from the start and constantly tries to run away. He also gets a very quick romance plot with one of those endings that probably will make you cringe. It feels a little too easy there and it may have been slightly better if the friend had any good scenes before trying to bite a monster. Otherwise you just can’t take this guy seriously.

The heroine is pretty reasonable here. Hannah probably could have saved them all some time earlier on though by either sending Zach a signal or realizing that the heroes may head for the books. I suppose Stine told her to hide while he talked to the cops and from there on maybe she actually obeyed his orders to keep to herself. I suppose Stine had to keep her hidden so the cops wouldn’t find out one of the twists but that definitely ended up making the situation pretty complicated for all of them. Stine isn’t nearly as solid as Hannah or Zach. He’s definitely more on the selfish side and you can’t really call him heroic. He’ll do what’s best for him and that’s it. The guy probably should have burned the books earlier to be honest.

There aren’t many supporting characters here, but I did like the cops. You’ve got the over eager newbie and the experienced guy who has seen it all. They may not be the most competent cops, but at least they mean well. You’ll probably be wishing they could have put up a better fight against the aliens, but in their defense it is a one hit KO scenario. If you don’t get the first hit then that’s game over.

Goosebumps is a fun film at its core though. It’s got a nice set of monsters to work with and the effects are pretty good. There is a proper sense of danger here as well. I’d say that the film’s main two weak points are the romance and some crude humor. The latter doesn’t happen much, possibly just a scene or two. It’s still pretty gross though. As for the romance, I’d say that both the main romance and the quick one with the friend don’t work well. You could also throw in Stine’s little thing at the very end. None of them feel natural and they’re all just forced in to have some romance thrown in. It really feels like the movie is just ticking a box with this.

I gotta give the movie some props for the ending as well. The ending is really 2 fold here. The first half is expected, but also narrative. If Stine didn’t make one last book it would have made absolutely no sense and the fact that Zach didn’t even think about this does reflect poorly on his character. If this was not a part of the ending I dare say that it could have cost the film a star. Then you’ve got the twist ending which is common for a horror film, but I admit that I wasn’t really sure Goosebumps would do it. Well, the film does add the twist here and I was really glad they did. It may not be a big thing, but personally it just rounds out the experience pretty well.

Overall, Goosebumps is a solid movie and one that is definitely worth seeing. It’s pretty nostalgic to see the monsters return for some action. It’s a nice adaption and it’ll be tough for the sequel to match this one. Not saying it isn’t possible of course, but it’ll need to be firing off on all cylinders to pull it off. If you are on the fence on watching this one or not I would say to just take the plunge. I believe you’ll be glad you did and you may even be surprised at how tough some of these monsters are.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Joyride Review

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

It’s been a while since I saw a classic slasher. This one plays it pretty straight with the villain being everywhere and knowing all the answers as he makes things miserable for the leads. The film also goes out of its way to make the leads as unlikable as possible so in the end everyone loses. It’s a pretty bad film for sure and one of those titles where you feel like the heroes had a lot of chances to get out until they didn’t.

Joyride starts off with Lewis getting a call from his old friend Venna. She doesn’t have a ride anymore after going through a breakup so Lewis quickly buys a car and offers to drive her. Along the way he finds out that his brother has been arrested yet again so he makes a stop to pick the guy up. Fuller figures that he’ll be a third wheel on the drive and since Lewis isn’t direct enough to say otherwise they head out. Fuller quickly gets bored though and wants to live on the edge so he installs a radio in the car and convinces Lewis to play a prank on a driver. The prank is to convince the driver that he is a girl and trick him into going to a hotel room. The prank works a little too well as the driver murders the guy and then decides to get payback on the brothers. He now intends to murder them and Venna but first he wants to humiliate them for a while.

That’s the main plot and there isn’t much to it beyond that. Rusty (The driver) continues to force them to do whatever he says as he terrorizes them with his truck. He also takes Venna’s best friend hostage so the heroes can’t go to the police. The guy has a lot of spare time on his hands as he puts graffiti on a bunch of signs and then finds a way to put a radio in the main character’s car without leaving any evidence of it being tampered with. He had time to track down Venna’s friend and also manages to spy on them the whole time. Don’t think about any of this too much because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The guy is just everywhere and he’s powerful enough to murder everyone who gets in his way. Even in the dark through a big field he is able to go in and swipe one of the characters without the other 2 being able to do much of anything. Even though he uses the prank as the excuse for going on this murder spree it’s obvious that the guy was crazy from the start. He just wanted an excuse and the main characters gave him a pretty easy one. Rusty’s a fairly shallow villain and not a likable one, but at least the truck is decent.

Lewis is unfortunately a terrible lead and a film always tends to suffer a bit when the main characters are really bad. Bailing Fuller from jail is a good thing to do, but he definitely should have told the guy to find his own way out of town. Driving with him all the way was a bad idea especially since Fuller immediately started breaking the law. While Lewis isn’t nearly as bad as Fuller you can’t give him much of a pass simply because he allows everything to go on. You can’t be wishy washy about this kind of thing. Lewis never makes a stand and that goes to the prank as well. Lewis is the one actually pranking Rusty and if he were a better person he never would have even entertained the idea of doing such a thing. He’s just got a ways to go.

Meanwhile Fuller is terrible. Pretty much all of his lines are antagonistic and he gets a kick out of picking fights and generally being a nuisance to everyone. He objectifies Venna almost immediately and then actually tries to have a serious romance later. No matter how much the film tries to make him seem useful or nice towards the end there’s just no way you can buy it. Also, in a life or death situation anyone can try to help someone else, it doesn’t mean that they’ve suddenly changed. This guy was just terrible.

Venna is okay, but also not that good. For starters, the fact that she subtly asked Lewis for such a long inconvenient ride makes it seem like she is manipulating him a bit. She probably knows that he has a crush on her and is cashing in on this. The scene where she hangs out with Fuller later on is also suspect and while no romance goes anywhere in this film, I’m just not sure about her end game here. Without a doubt she is way better than the other two characters though and probably regretted going on the drive with them by the end. It really did not pay off well at all. That’s also why the best friend gets the worst luck here as she had absolutely nothing to do with anything and got roped in anyway.

It almost goes without saying that this film is incredibly violent. Rusty makes sure that each death is as painful as possible and he racks up quite the rap sheet here. By the end of the film everyone is pretty banged up. Then you’ve got the writing which is pretty terrible. The TV version had to air out quite a lot since the characters had quite the potty mouth. The script definitely could have written them out to be jerks while showing a little more restraint here.

Overall, Joyride is one of those films where you have nobody to root for. In general slasher films will never rank all that highly for me because of the inevitable bad script and the over the top violence. The main characters not being even remotely good also isn’t surprising but I dare say that this was the worst main cast in a very long while. The fact of the matter is their prank wasn’t funny in any sense and was also quite dangerous. The driver could have easily walked into a home with a Rusty type character and been in major trouble. Pranks like that shouldn’t even qualify as a joke because they are so mean spirited. I’d advise you to stick away from Joyride. It’s not like it does anything to differentiate itself from the other slasher films anyway and you won’t be missing much of anything by skipping out on it. I have a feeling that the sequels are more of the same. The twist at the end you’ll definitely see coming a mile away, hopefully the characters are smart enough to tell the cops since at least two of them saw Rusty directly and should quickly be able to see through the ruse. Proving it is another matter entirely but the ice truck halves should still be around somewhere.

Overall 1/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

In Dreams Review

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

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film this terrible but we’re finally back down to 0 star territory. Fitting that it would be a horror/psycho type film since that genre tends to churn out the majority of these for me. There really isn’t anything to like in this film from the terrible writing to the mean spirited ending.

The movie starts with a kid getting murdered and Claire has visions of the mass murderer getting more and more victims. Unfortunately her visions are of the future but she doesn’t have a concrete time frame so it is very difficult for her to actually help the cops stop him. Furthermore, the murderer is somehow able to control and enter her dreams making the information even more unreliable. Then there is the fact that he can also possess her and you’ve got a losing battle. That really sums up the film in a nutshell, a losing battle all around.

There are some movies where you go in and you wonder what the point of it all is. Most of the film is about Vivian messing with Claire and completely destroying her psyche. It’s not all that hard considering that he murders everyone close to her and forces her to watch each time. There’s nobody around to help her since it’s all in her head and people don’t believe that her precognitions are real even after she calls multiple deaths down to the very location. It’s particularly surprising when the psyche expert doesn’t believe her but that’s just the nature of the film.

It tries to show how unfair the whole thing is even down to the end when the sharp shooter misses an easy target. So much for experience right? Then even though they both fell and Vivian had more serious injuries he somehow lives? It’s supposed to even out at the end since now she can haunt him, but it’s really not a happy ending at all. Sure, she can mess with him now, but that won’t bring back her family or any of the other victims. From early on in the film you can tell that this is going to be a terrible one.

The whole plot of all these kids being murdered with nobody able to stop Vivian is already terrible. Then you throw in the fact that he has supernatural powers and the film jumps the shark even more. Naturally Claire also has a dog and Vivian makes use of that. Why did the dog go with him in the first place? Why didn’t it bite as we got a weird scene of Vivian taming it. Somehow Vivian is able to be just about everywhere and has time to pull off elaborate pranks to mess with Claire that would have taken a very long time, but he does it almost instantly. Parts of it are in her mind and parts aren’t so you have to decide what is real and what isn’t. The film also gets pretty violent at times and as always the movie goes for the tired old trope of Vivian going crazy at the end as he imagines himself to be a kid again.

The parallel scenes with Claire trying to escape the mental ward while Vivian does the same thing are incredibly dragged out. Then you’ve got the fact that one of the police officers is portrayed as being pretty sleazy just to get her an easy way out. The writing is terrible and relies on all of the characters being sinister to move the plot along. Even the fact that Vivian wants to have a family with Claire and she goes along with it as part of her plan is cringe-worthy. There are no good scenes in the film so it’s a 100+ minute experience that you’ll have to try and endure.

Of course, that’s assuming you don’t just turn the TV off right away. The only way to win this battle is to simply not play right from the start. With no positives to speak of and the film not even being remotely entertaining, there is no incentive to watch this film. You can do almost anything else with this time frame and have a more positive experience. The low effort poster is already a good warning bell to take into consideration before watching this one.

Overall, In Dreams is definitely a stinker and will have to sink into the gutter. It’s a movie where the villain wins in the end and nothing goes right for the innocent people trapped in this awful situation. I can see why I hadn’t heard of this film before and it sounds like people knew not to check this one out. I definitely won’t be seeing this one in my dreams as it’ll quickly retreat into the fog from whence it came. At best this can work as a coaster for your drink.

Overall 0/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Cat’s Eye Review


It’s time to check out a horror anthology from a while back. This one has 3 stories so each one gets around 30 minutes to play around. Anthologies are one of the hardest genres to pull off because with the stories being so different it is more likely that one of them will make a mistake. The second story is definitely the best one but the other two don’t do enough to keep this film in the green. Now lets look at all of the stories in turn.

The first story is about a company that strives to help people get away from their smoking addiction. Morrison heads over to this place after having it be recommended to him by a friend. Unfortunately the place is a lot more extreme than he would have ever guessed. Vinnie is the head there and he informs Morrison that they have a 100% clear rate. Each time Morrison smokes a cigarette something bad will happen to his family. If he makes a mistake one too many times then they will all be destroyed. Vinnie seems to have agents everywhere and Morrison now must end his addiction instantly or it’s game over.

Of course addiction is extremely difficult and one of the toughest things to stop. It’s why around the world we have so many clinics and treatment centers. Many believe that can stop whenever they want to and there are a small subsection who can do it on their own. Fact of the matter is that many need some assistance to stop and that’s why Morrison has a tough time here. He was seeking help in the first place so now that he has to effectively end it on his own it’l be extra hard since he had admitted to himself that he couldn’t do it. All that said, it’s still tough to see him sneaking a smoke when he knows that his wife will be the one paying the price now. When someone else is in trouble I believe that gives you the extra motivation to get through.

Morrison does try to attack Vinnie once and comes close to grabbing the gun. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful and that was really the last attempt he would be able to make. The short has a grim ending since Vinnie effectively wins and now Morrison has directly endangered others by recommending his service. I don’t like how buddy buddy they are by the end. I suppose we can assume that Morrison has resigned himself to his fate and is trying his best to live with this, but there’s no reason why he has to be their friends and chatting like old buddies. There’s a twist at the end, but it shouldn’t have been a twist for Morrison unless he’s one of the most gullible guys around. It’s a tense special but with Vinnie continuing to endanger others with his unnecessarily grim punishments it does end on a sour note.

The second special introduces us to a rich man named Cressner. He finds out that his wife is cheating with a guy named Johnny and decides that both of them have to go. For Johnny he figures that it’s time to mess with the tennis pro first. He tells Johnny that he can survive this if he walks around the building. The exterior of the building has a ledge that is wide enough to walk through, but the building is very high up and there is a lot of wind. One misstep would mean instant death and Cressner is following the whole time from inside the building to make the walk even tougher by splashing water and firing off his gun. Can Johnny make it all the way around and will this give him some time to reflect on why cheating is wrong and will always catch up to you?

This one’s my favorite special as the plot is more fun and at least we get to see Johnny fight. One thing that does hurt right away though is the fact that Johnny was cheating with the guy’s wife. Two wrongs don’t make a right of course, but Johnny is really not in the right here. The guy shouldn’t be going after people who are taken and it ultimately ended up costing her as well. The ending is solid though as Johnny takes them both on and gets a gun at the ready. You can probably imagine how he will plan his comeback against Cressner. Then you’ve got a determined bird who shows up to make the walk even more difficult. It is hard to see why they don’t just try to kick it away sooner, but maybe they were worried that the motion would cause them to lose their balance. It’s probably a good risk though since the pecks would eventually have the same effect.

Then you’ve got the final story. So throughout these 3 stories there has been a cat around. His name is the General and he is trying to find a kid who has been calling to him on the Astral Plane. Her name is Amanda and she is being attacked by a monster under her bed. Naturally the parents don’t believe this and to their defense this monster is pretty smart. He seals the entrance to his world each time and through reality manipulation makes it so that the hole leads to nothing if the parents check. That’s why she needs a specialist. The monster frames General, but the cat isn’t quite ready to let that be the end. Can he stop this monster?

This story isn’t quite as solid. Amanda is too young to really hold her own as a main character here. She does her best to explain the situation, but naturally it doesn’t work too well. The Dad seems to suspect that something isn’t quite right, but he doesn’t speak up most of the time so he may as well not know. Then you have the Mom who really doesn’t like the cat and gets a lot of villainous music. I do feel bad for the bird so I can see why she got upset. Why did the bird have to be taken down like that, he was just an innocent little guy trying to survive day by day. Letting a cat in so close to the bird does feel pretty risky even if General turned out to be good. The monster is pretty intense and gives us as decent an action scene as you can try to have between a cat and a monster. It’s not really my cup of tea though and I’ll take the hand to hand fight from the second special.

Overall, The Cat’s Eye’s 3 stories all vary. If I were ranking the stories I’d give the first one a 3, the second a 6, and the third a 4. The first one’s just a little too grim with that ending and the third one’s mainly based around animals and kids which is not a recipe for success with the cat getting injured and the bird dying. The middle story is fun enough even if Johnny isn’t really a main character that you can reasonably root for. If you like short stories like this then this is a good movie for you to check out. There don’t seem to be many anthologies these days as I suppose TV shows handle that for you. If you want a quick 30 minute experience then you would watch a show. So unless you are a big short story fan then you should probably check out something like the original Ghostbusters instead.

Overall 4/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Last Man on Earth Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old film about vampires, but you could also just call them zombies. It’s a solid slow burner about a guy just trying to survive on his own. It’s surprisingly good and way better than most films in its genre. That being said it does squeeze a dog in for literally no reason which did take away a quick point. Why the film did this is beyond me.

The film starts off by introducing us to Robert. He believes he is the last man on Earth after watching everyone else go down to the plague. This illness was spread through the air and started by infecting all of Europe but eventually spread across the world. The vampires can’t move during the day time at least but at night they go wild. The only way to put them down for good is with a stake or burning them to oblivion. Robert has lived for 3 years by taking them down one at a time during the day and boarding himself in at night. Still, the days are taking their toll on him mentally and he knows that he can’t go on forever. Can he find a cure or finish them off before he loses the will to keep on going?

This is a pretty solid slow burner film. The opening scenes of Robert just walking around and living life are pretty fun. I think I can see why people would like an apocalyptic slice of life film. There’s a nice sense of peace as he just goes about his daily life. I actually would have been fine not even seeing the flashbacks. It’s also nice to just throw us in the middle of this because it gives you a lot to think about as he walked around. I’m sure it must have been a whole lot of work to find out all the rules of how to fight these vampires. He did good to live for 3 years although from how we see him live you’ll be surprised that he lasted so long. He uses quite a lot of garlic for the refills and doesn’t grow his own so the store he gets it from must have had an absolutely massive supply. I wonder if it would have been safer to just live in that factory for the time being.

That being said, the garlic really did not seem all that effective to me. Towards the end the vampires just walk right past it so its effect was either weaker than anticipated or the zombies just had a lot of determination in that scene. They are also very fast since Robert said that he had been trying to find them for 3 years, but never did. Based on how quickly they show up when nightfall is upon him that would suggest that they always make sure to sleep very close by. When searching a whole city for a bunch of zombies it makes sense that this wouldn’t be an easy ordeal but there does seem to be something he is missing. Nonetheless, his strategy of knocking them off during the day each time is pretty smart. It may not be much, but he’ll eventually take them all down.

This is one of those movies where the vampires are incredibly slow to the point where he was able to knock out like 10 on his own. There really isn’t anything to fear except for them potentially getting a lucky shot in. I think his best plan would be to find a gun somewhere so he can just mow them down. That would even allow him to survive pretty well at night since he could easily shoot them before they get close. A sword would also be a good idea. A more pro-active approach like that would definitely do wonders for him. Slow zombies/vampires (I use the terms interchangeably) may be convenient but it does let you have fun imagining scenarios on how you would win. It does leave you a lot of openings for coming through in the clutch when necessary.

Unfortunately there is one scene that the film had to squeeze in for no real reason. A dog shows up. Yes, I sighed when this happened too. There is no purpose for the dog to show up here and even in context it doesn’t make sense that it would have lasted this long. I guess the dog also got immune like Robert somehow, but you know that it’s only showing up to die right from the start. The movie isn’t even being all that subtle about this to be honest. It’s not handled nearly as bad as it could have been in other situations, but it was still enough for me to dock a pair of stars.

This movie does throw in a big twist near the end when Robert finds out that he is not the last person left. Personally I think it would have made sense for a ton of other people to have survived if this was really a virus. Could Robert have been the only one who was bitten by a mosquito and granted immunity? It wasn’t the same situation per say for these guys though. This leads to a bit of a grim end for Robert even if he does take it in a different way than some other characters might. It’s hard to blame Robert for what happened here though since he just never realized that not all of the zombies were the same. As I mentioned his plan was pretty logical.

Robert is a fun character. He certainly was loyal to his science principals and didn’t even want to entertain the idea of the supernatural until it hit him right in the face. He’s the kind of guy who will stay up late cooking up new cures while everyone else has given up. His friend Ben was not nearly as dedicated to his work. While Ben may have had a point, he didn’t do a good job of getting it across. Ultimately all he did was get in the way and slow down the process. At least he became very determined once he was a zombie. The fact that some of the zombies kept parts of their old personalities is also interesting.

Then you have Ruth who isn’t a terribly good character. She wasn’t great at spying on Robert and in general she wasn’t very helpful. I know that wasn’t part of her job, but while she was there she could have at least worked on getting a cure right? Then we have Virginia who is probably the worst character in the film. Even after Robert warns her multiple times not to call the cops because they would burn their daughter, she cracks and does so anyway. It’s easily one of the worst tropes when the character insists on doing the wrong thing and immediately starts crying afterwards acting shocked at how it all went wrong. It’s just way too late by then and that made things tougher on Robert. At the end of the day the only person he could count on was himself.

Overall, the writing is definitely on point here and Robert’s sarcasm and personality really help to carry the film. I enjoy his inner monologue and the movie’s pacing is consistent from start to finish. While I don’t think we needed the flashbacks it is always interesting to see how the town handles it when the zombie infestation first spreads. Resident Evil did something similar with the second last film as we saw a local town’s reaction. Robert may not have ended the zombie infestation, but he came close. It’s hard to say if he could have ultimately survived for the remainder of his days. I feel like he would have a good shot with some weapons and maybe finding a place with 24 hour electricity once he is retired. He would definitely need to thin out the zombie ranks as best he could before then though.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Kingdom of Paradise Review


It’s time to look at a pretty obscure RPG. I don’t think a great many people have played this and I dare say that it’s because of the cover. It just isn’t an interesting one and will do nothing to catch your eye. At the most you may just look at this game and shake your head. Still, if you do end up purchasing the game then you’ll have found a keeper. This one has some pretty tight gameplay and the story isn’t bad. The length is also pretty good. There are some issues which keep me from calling this a great game, but at the end of the day there’s a lot to enjoy here.

The plot follows a warrior named Shinbu who was expelled from his clan a while back for breaking the rules. Well, he’s come to terms with this and is now eager to make himself a better man. He runs into a girl named Sui Lin who is heading back to his old clan with some dire news. He decides to follow her for a while before informing her that he is the one she is seeking. It turns out that their entire clan has been murdered and Shinbu’s parents were destroyed by a pair of orcs. With his life in shambles Shinbu agrees to help Sui Lin warn the other 4 clans. It appears that all 5 are in danger as a new kingdom is quickly approaching. Their ruler has tempted the second in command from all 5 clans to help him conquer the world. Will Shinbu be enough to turn the tides?

The gameplay is that of a 3D beat em up. There are a lot of enemies always crawling out of the woodwork and you have to slam them back inside. There is no rest for the weary and you have to stay sharp at all times. While you don’t always have to fight them, you’ll probably want to as you won’t be strong enough to fight off the bosses otherwise. One thing you’ll want to do is find a room where the enemies are close enough for you to enter battle mode but far enough where you can’t hurt them. Then just spam your energy attacks. See, the way your energy attacks level up in this game is to simply keep using them. Whether you hit the opponent or not doesn’t matter so it’s easiest in a situation like that where you won’t have to move. It can be a little dull since you’re literally standing in one place and using the same attack over and over. Still, that’s how you get the attack to improve its potential. Just keep on doing that for at least one element and you’ll have an attack that will still be relevant even against the final boss. It can one shot all minions up until that point as well.

Without the magic abilities you’ll see what a tough fight the climax can be. I brought along 3 revives and 30 max potions and I had to use up almost my full supply at the end. Money doesn’t come easy but once you enter a long tower near the end of the game that is your chance to grind quite a lot. The room with the 5 bat creatures is your best bet since you can take them all down in one shot with no real effort. Rinse and repeat for a lot of exp and money. I got a ton of level ups that way which was really handy. Your skills and magic attacks all have elements and choosing the right one for each battle also helps a lot. You can switch at any time, but it can be hard to know what element your opponent is so I would usually just stick with fire.

The graphics aren’t bad. I am glad that we get full voice acting and cinematics. The faces don’t move much though which can make for interesting cutscenes where the characters are just staring at each other for a while. It can unintentionally be pretty funny. Some scenes just also seem like they end a little sooner than the developers planned. One such scene is when a confession is made and the other characters just stares in silence for a moment before the screen goes white and you walk away. I suppose you can make a lot of different assumptions about what happened there, but my guess is that he got overwhelmed and just walked away.

There are a lot of twists in the story. We meet two girls of cosmic nature who hold the keys and each of the 5 kingdoms have their own issues. At times it could be difficult to keep all of the names straight since there were just so many characters running around. There were multiple traitors and even mind control going on so not everyone who tried to destroy us was actually evil. It raises a lot of questions but by the end of the game I’d say that they’re all answered. It’s definitely not the happiest ending though as a lot of people didn’t get a happy ending once this had all concluded.

One plot that definitely didn’t go over very well was Shinbu’s parents. So, there’s a twist and one of them survived while the other one was murdered. Why? These Ogres don’t seem that tough so I can’t see how they won in the first place. Then there’s the issue of the survivor being generally emotionless and uncaring about the whole thing. The reunion with Shinbu is laughable as the dialogue amounts to a “hey” and then the characters part ways again. I think a sequel could flesh out some of these characters like the mysterious man in red who has a lot of skills, but chooses to hide all the time anyway. Most of these characters are pretty guilty of not doing anything since they definitely could have stopped the villain’s plans earlier. At the very least they could have slowed the villains down. Ultimately Shinbu has to do everything.

I liked the boss theme. It was pretty atmospheric and let you know that things were getting serious. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t too memorable though. Now for the parts of the game that weren’t great. For one thing, there is a lot of running around in this game. The hub world is huge and you are expected to traverse it multiple times on your way to the end. A lot of times the hint given in your quest menu is fairly vague and you may end up going to the wrong town a lot. From the 13 hours I was playing this game I dare say that 3-4 were just about running to where I needed to go. The boats don’t show up til near the end of the game and even then they don’t take you everywhere.

Then you’ve got the map which isn’t very helpful. Left in game doesn’t mean left on the map which just doesn’t make any kind of sense. The grinding is not handled quite as well as in other games. It’s very slow and the way that the magic levels up just doesn’t make any kind of sense. There are also parts of the game where you might really be in a jam if you don’t have enough magical abilities. I remember getting trapped in the tower room for a while because I didn’t have one of the elements. Fortunately using the sword worked in its place. Really the main drawbacks here are the map and unclear directions. The gameplay is fun though which is always the important thing.

Overall, Kingdom of Paradise is a fun game and one that I would definitely recommend. It brings you the top notch action that you would expect and then some. It’s definitely not super polished and the plot pales next to other RPGs, but it’s got enough fundamentals to keep you going. You will certainly be entertained and it’s always nostalgic going back to the PSP. The games on this console all had a certain feel about them that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Overall 7/10

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Ultraman Review


It’s time to take a look at the original Ultraman show from a while back. Ultraman is a character who is pretty big in Japan but never really got to attain the same success in America. It’s a little odd, but maybe the whole creature feature thing just ends up working better as a movie in getting people’s attention. I will say that the Dub really did its best to make the show more interesting. The DVD we had would randomly shift between sub and dub during the episodes but for the most part the dub worked which was good. There are issues which prevent this from really being a good show but it is something that can be fun in small doses.

The general plot is that on Earth there are so many disturbances thanks to giant monsters that we had to create a whole unit to deal with them. This unit is called the Science Patrol and their duty is to stop these monsters no matter what. Unfortunately they are rarely strong enough to defeat even the weakest of monsters. That’s where Hayata comes in. He has been chosen to be the host of Ultraman, a powerful alien from another realm. Ultraman can only be summoned in Hayata’s place for 5 minutes so he has to try and win quickly. Will this new guardian be enough to save the planet or is Earth already doomed to fall to the monsters’ assault?

The show has close to 40 episodes with the majority of them being stand alone adventures. The formula for each episode is typically that a monster shows up and beats up on the Science Patrol before Ultraman steps in to save the day. It’s a classic formula and it’s like watching an abridged version of a Godzilla film. The only tricky part about having a monster of the week kind of series like this is that you need a strong cast of characters and great writing. This series has neither so that can make it a tough sell when you are effectively seeing the same adventures over and over again. Some titles like Pokemon or Case Closed can pull off the repetition even for hundreds of episodes, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

One issue here is that the Science Patrol doesn’t always seem to be in the right. Often times I was actively rooting against these guys because they seem to be awfully selfish and don’t look at the bigger picture. Most of them just follow orders without question and the ones who think long and hard about it are ultimately reigned in. There’s no sense of unity on the team and Captain Mura is quick to push out any who doubt him. Without good characters to root for that makes the format a little tricky. I’ll go into this more, but lets quickly talk about the main characters. The cast isn’t particularly large.

The main character is Hayata. He can use the pen to shift places with Ultraman but does try to do his best on his own. Hayata is easily the best member of the main group since he does at least talk tough to the villains. Hayata does wait way too long to transform into Ultraman though and makes it clear that he is willing to let tons of people die just to prove a point. He wants humanity to be able to get along with Ultraman and never checks his ego at the door. Watching all of the death and destruction that is all Hayata’s fault is enough to make him sink as a character a bit. Ultraman has his own character, but rarely ever gets to talk or do anything. Skip an episode or two and you would assume that he still is Hayata.

Ultraman is a fun guy to have around even if he does seem to make up super powers on the spot at times. Unfortunately Ultraman isn’t the most heroic character though. He’ll take down any monster even if they are harmless and aren’t making a move to attack. He seems to have a no tolerance policy and just destroys whoever gets in his way. I suppose he is doing his job of protecting the Earth, it would just be nice if that could have also included the monsters who really don’t want to do anything wrong.

Mura is probably the worst character of the bunch. He’s a total Yes Man who will do whatever the government says. He rarely ends up helping out on missions and just gets in everyone else’s way. You want a boss who will stick up for his subordinates and Mura won’t do that. Arashi probably gets the smallest role out of the main characters. He gets a good episode where he defies orders to save some children though. Unfortunately the government didn’t like that and so he is temporarily fired and then reprimanded for saving the day. The whole thing was so crazy that I hopped Arashi would quit in defiance. He really doesn’t need to be taking any of this. He should have gone somewhere where they would have appreciated him more.

Then we have Ide who is the comic relief character of the group. He has a lot of funny dialogue and was a good highlight. At least he actually thinks about the monsters and how they’re feeling at times. I’ll give him some credit for this, but not too much since ultimately he does end up pulling the trigger each time. His inventions are pretty good, but he did have a valid point that Ultraman always does all of the work even if everybody dismissed the notion. Finally we have Fuji. She goes out into the field less than the others as she typically stays with the comms, but she does help out sometimes. Some of Fuji’s scenes can definitely be odd though like when she makes a long speech about why girls love jewels and then when she tried asking one of the monsters to give her some gems. I guess this is probably why she ism’t out on the field as much as the others. She seems nice enough I suppose.

In the first half of the series we see a kid named Hoshino who wants to join the Science Patrol. I’m guessing nobody liked the kid though because he is completely written out during the second half of the series and trust me when I say that this was a really good move. He didn’t add anything to the story and as a kid he really couldn’t keep up with the others either. In general the kids all stopped appearing near the end which was good.

Naturally the monsters showing up is the highlight of each episode. It’s always nice seeing the quick wrestling fights between them and Ultraman. Then throw in the martial arts and you’ve got some quality action. I like a good monster battle and that is really the center of what you need in a monster show like this one. That being said, the show does mess up a bit with the monster vs monster fights. Some of them actually get pretty violent which is surprising and also inconsistent. Most of the time the monsters fall apart like bags of potatoes with no blood inside of them. It’s like they are puppets filled with air which is definitely what you want to see. It also only gets violent when it’s monster against monster which is odd. Hopefully that’s not a trend.

Now lets go back to the Science Patrol being the enemies which is the trickiest part of the series. They are basically a hit squad hired by the government to take down all monsters. They are to do this without question whether the monster is acting hostile or not. There are numerous times where this happens and it’s always very annoying because of course the science patrol has to end up winning here even though they don’t deserve it. One episode where this happens is the ice one. Some kids decide to bully a girl to death so a monster shows up to try and defend her. The Science Patrol quickly puts an end to that. It’s a very somber ending and the Patrol just looks terrible since they were played by a bunch of kids. It doesn’t get worse than that. Another episode involves a peaceful monster from the graveyard dimension who literally doesn’t attack anyone. The government tells the Patrol to destroy him anyway so they just duck their heads and pick a fight. Ultraman beats him up pretty badly before they send him back into space. That was a terrible episode.

With 39 episodes the quality is naturally going to vary. The important thing is of course that you have more good episodes than bad ones and that the bad ones aren’t too bad. The problem is that some of these episodes are just really bad. The 2 that I just mentioned are prime examples of this. The series can just be really mean spirited at times. I think in part how the show plays out is due to the cultural difference here. In Japan following the rules is a very important part of the culture as seen in a bunch of anime and such. In these Ultraman episodes it is seen as a good thing to follow the rules even if the rules themselves are bad. That just hasn’t aged well.

One episode that’s real mean spirited is when a little red monster showed up to help the heroes. He informs them of the incoming alien invasion and the heroes follow him to the site. This little guy’s reward for being so helpful? He is murdered by the enemy kaiju and Hayata could have saved him but chose not to in order to prove a point to Ide. This is another episode where the heroes should have checked their Egos at the door. It’s always especially tragic when a villain tries to turn good and make the hero call but ends up being destroyed anyway. It just goes to show why most informants are worried about blowing the whistle on their alien boss. It’s just extremely risky.

Other episodes are just on the boring side. The first half of the show is affected more by this. One example is definitely the monster who loved the jewels a lot. It’s meant as a comedy episode, but it’s not particularly funny and just ends up dragging on a bit. The best parts of monster films for me are the monster fights so when you have an episode that is centered around the humans you can see how that wouldn’t work quite as well. The Dub really does its best to save some of these episodes but when it goes back to the sub you just don’t feel the energy or witty dialogue.

All right, lets look at some of the more enjoyable episodes. I did like the Baltan aliens. Their laugh is a lot of fun and I like how they troll the humans. They have more personality than any of the other creatures and I’d like to see them get more of a role. We got 2 alien invasions in the last few episodes and I would have liked a 2-3 episode saga with the Baltans trying to take over. Maybe we could have seen more of the other Science Patrols which were mentioned during the series. A large scale episode like that would be cool.

Another fun episode was when the shape shifter alien showed up. He acts like a long lost member of the Science Patrol but is actually working on the enemy side. He is definitely pretty suspicious right from the start. I do like a good shape shifting plot even if it can be tough to watch the heroes get played at times. There is just so much potential whenever it is used as is done well here. Surprisingly I have to say that the best episodes in the series are the ones that involve alien races as opposed to the Kaiju. It may be because the aliens are always evil so you don’t have to worry about rooting for the Science Patrol.

A lot of the other monsters have cool designs as well. There are a bunch of them so you probably won’t remember most of their names, but at least the designs you’ll take to heart. Zetton is a monster with a very memorable design. I like the black/yellow look, it works well for villains and does usually indicate that the character is going to be a real threat. Then you have Jirass who is basically Godzilla. The show doesn’t reuse monsters much so you’ve got 30+ monsters to look forward to. Choosing which one is your favorite won’t be easy. Mine was Baltan of course.

Overall, Ultraman is definitely a pretty unique show. I certainly hadn’t seen anything quite like it before now. As I mentioned, it’s like checking out a bunch of abridged Godzilla movies only with a Power Ranger as one of the main character. I think it might have been even cooler to have had Ultraman literally be Hayata transformed since it wouldn’t really change anything. If you want to see a bunch of cool monsters and action scenes then this is definitely a good show for you to check out. It’s pretty old so of course there aren’t a lot of special effects yet but the monster suits are practical effects so it’s not as if the test of time really affects them. You will have to get past the fact that the main characters are completely unlikable though and that the “villains” end up winning a lot of these fights. The monsters get the short end of the stick and watching this is actually perfect to really understand Garou’s argument in One Punch.

Overall 5/10