Strobe Edge

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It’s time for a new Shojo series. I have only read the first volume so far, but it’s off to a reasonable start. The main character is handling the romance drama at school remarkably well so far and making all of the right choices. We’ll see how long that can last though. On the flip side, the art is quite bad so hopefully that improves. I’ll have a review up for the series when I have completed it.

Overall 6/10

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Princess Tutu Review

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It’s time for a pretty unique anime that I had never really heard of until I began watching it. The Magical girl genre has always been pretty good, at least for the titles that I’ve seen. Madoka Magica is one of the greatest anime ever and Sailor Moon/Cardcaptor Sakura were also pretty fun back in the day. Princess Tutu is the first one I’ve seen in a while and it’s pretty solid. There is always an air of mystery with the series and not everything is as it seems.

The first arc starts off with a Duck being turned into a human. Duck had always wanted to be a human so she could cheer up Mytho (Pronounced Muto) since the guy always seemed sad. This was her big chance and she is now enrolled in a dance school. She quickly makes two friends once she’s there. Duck then discovers that Mytho is actually missing all the pieces of his heart and it’s up to her to find them. Duck can transform into the hero known as Princess Tutu in order to complete this task, but she will have to deal with many objects that have gained sentience. Whether it be solving puzzles or giving them a pep talk, Tutu must stand strong.

Of course, it’s easy enough when there is no big antagonist, but that doesn’t last for long. The big villain behind the scenes is Drosselmeyer. He’s an old story writer who died and went to the spirit realm so he could become all powerful. Whatever he writes becomes reality so he is a dangerous opponent. We also have the evil Princess Kraehe who doesn’t want Mytho to regain his heart pieces and stands in Tutu’s way. Mytho’s best friend Fakir has the same objective although he is at odds with Kraehe. Tutu will have to overpower all of them to help Mytho out.

Arc 2 continues the plotline of gathering the heart pieces, but the game has changed quite a bit. For starters, Kraehe gets a bigger presence in the story as we find out that she is working for the Raven King. He wants Mytho to get his heart back to he can take over his body and destroy the world. Drosselmeyer is still around as well and Tutu has doubts on if she can get all of the heart pieces back and even if it’s the right thing to do at this point.

Throughout the show, the town is very cloudy. It’s still light outside, but this effect makes everything a little more mysterious than it would b otherwise. You always wonder if something sinister is about to happen. It’s a pretty nice atmosphere effect to make scenes a little more tense even when they’re happy moments. It helps you feel like someone may be in control in the background.

The show even hints at the final plot twist early on as Duck will wake up one morning to randomly find that they have an animal for a classmate or a cat for a teacher. Humans randomly change, but everyone acts as if they’ve always been there. The whole town can be strangely isolated at times with people only being around when it’s inconvenient. Yet, the humans still appear enough to cement their roles in the town. Very mysterious.

Princess Tutu is first and foremost a dancing show. Tutu beats all of her opponents by convincing them to dance with her and the bond they develop as a result gets the villain to turn good. Most of the villains aren’t evil after all, they just went down the wrong path to ruin. It’s handled pretty well and I wouldn’t call it cheesy. It’s outlandish, but as none of the villains were super evil it was pretty believable. A few of them did try attempted murder so the water’s a little murky but it’s a nice gimmick.

The soundtrack may not be the most exciting as a result, but you’ll get to hear a lot of classic songs. Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and other iconic songs from ballet. It’s a very soft soundtrack that lets you focus on the dancing. I think a quick electronic/fast paced rock song would have fit in well enough, but I suppose I can see why they didn’t go that route. The animation is pretty good. It’s nothing amazing, but the show has aged well for its time. The character designs are on point and the action scenes are good when they appear. At first I wasn’t expecting too many fights but about midway through Arc 1 we slowly started to get more and more of them which was certainly a good thing. I love a good fight scene even if the villains always seem to have the edge in raw power. That’s why you also need some dancing to slow them down.
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Duck is our main heroine and she’s a fun character. She can run low on confidence at times, but always does her best to do the right thing. The fact that she can transform from human to duck and vice versa is certainly very useful. It’s also interesting how she gets a different personality as Tutu, but still does seem to be in control and keeps her memories. I suppose it’s just a really big confidence boost inside of the power up that happens automatically. Either way, I definitely had no qualms with Duck. She made the hard calls and never deserted her friends.

Mytho is an interesting case since he was missing his heart for quite a while. Without it, he let everyone push him around for a while. He had no emotions so he was fine with betraying everybody and just doing what he wanted. It was definitely hard to sympathize with the guy. In arc 2 he made for a good villain as he turned evil thanks to the Raven’s blood. I suppose we can’t blame him here either, but it is tempting since it shows a lack of willpower. It was probably his best string of appearances. We finally see the real Mytho in the final episode so that’s something. He finally becomes the hero he has always wanted to be. I guess Mytho was an okay hero, but a good villain. All in all that makes him a good character, but he serves as more of a plot device for the cast to fight over than anything else.

Fakir starts off as a rather antagonistic person who slaps Mytho and threatens Duck’s life. We eventually learn that he only became a villain to keep Mytho safe. See, it goes back to how the characters are all puppets who are being manipulated by Drosselmeyer. The whole town is essentially one giant page and the author has full control. However, Drosselmeyer’s plan can only continue if Mytho gets his heart back so Fakir has decided to prevent this from happening. He isn’t able to stop Duck though and that’s why he goes down the dark path. Eventually he comes around though and after realizing that it is futile to try and stop Tutu, he does his best to protect Mytho. By Arc 2 he is finally a full fledged hero who helps in saving the day. It’s definitely hard to forget how over the top he was at the start, but I suppose all of the characters either started out evil or turned evil at some point. Duck is the only one who was a hero throughout. Fakir also gave us some fun action scenes which was neat since he had a sword.

Rue is the best character in the show and one of the main supporting characters. She agreed with Fakir that Mytho shouldn’t get his heart back but didn’t change her mind quite as quickly as he did. She wants Mytho to stay with her, but if he regains his memories then he will likely ditch her right away. Her character’s destiny from the story is to be despised by all and then to die. Again, it makes for an interesting dynamic since they all know that they’re merely puppets in a story. Rue shows some glimpses of possibly returning to the good side, but then her father the Raven King shows up and makes that impossible. Rue still does her best to spare some humans that she comes across and ultimately doesn’t want to be a villain, but has a hard time getting out of her predicament. Arc 2 as a whole was pretty tough on her, but at least she got a happy ending. Rue made for a very good rival to Tutu and the show basically said that she is even stronger. Rue has quite a lot of special abilities at her disposal aside from dancing. Tutu got some plant abilities to counter them, but I’d still give Rue the edge.

Raven King is the big villain in Arc 2, but 90% of his screen time is just him on the throne. He only throws one body slam near the end or attempts too, but that’s the only action that he gets. He is pretty huge and technically powerful, but he just isn’t fast enough to hit the heroes. Maybe he shot some energy blasts, but I can’t recall if that was really him or I’m just mixing up an effect. Either way, he had a nice voice, but was also very repetitive. His role was to keep reminding Rue that she was doomed to be forever alone. He’s not a very nice guy to say the least.

Drosselmeyer is the actual main villain, but I never liked him. He’s not nearly as intimidating as the other antagonists. He panics quite a bit and while he talks a good game, there’s nothing interesting about him. He’s pretty OP since he can do anything from the mirror world but he rarely goes to the human world since he is supposed to be dead. The heroes can’t really do anything to him either so he’s just around. I suppose it can be entertaining to see him running back and forth all the time.

Edel was a pretty shady character from the start and I had a feeling that you couldn’t trust her. I never liked the character since she always just spoke in riddles that went around and around. Maybe that could have worked, but it didn’t this time. Everytime Duck would ask something Edel would just dodge the question. Uzura was slightly better as she was a kid version of Edel who was always yelling. She also didn’t add much, but at least the yelling and drum playing she always did must have been real annoying in real life so I like thinking about how the villain has to put up with that.

Autor is a character who shows up near the end of the series and he was pretty cool. He actually knows the truth behind the town and is working to get past it. Unfortunately, he is not the chosen one so there isn’t much he can do, but he acts as a mentor to Fakir. He even has a pretty cool moment where he takes down the guys with the axes. They certainly went off the deep end and had some of the worst plans possible so I was glad Autor won. I was expecting him to be a villain for a while so it was cool to see him as more of a rival. He was one of the more low key great characters in the show.

Pike and Lillie were Duck’s two friends from school. I didn’t care for Lillie as she always pretended to be Duck’s friend but would then backstab her constantly and try to get her into trouble. She would try to chip away at Duck’s self esteem and was just mean the whole time. We never even got a character moment to explain that so it was just odd. At least Pike was always trying to be helpful and supported Duck in what she did. Then we also have Mr. Cat who is the dance instructor. He’s pretty annoying and is constantly asking people to marry him and sweating bullets when they refuse. The gag shows up in every episode that he is in and got old the minute it happened. He’s definitely the worst character in the show.

The main cast was really good or at least very interesting the whole time while the supporting cast was quite a bit weaker. Still, there were always enough good characters to keep the ball rolling. The writing was pretty good throughout. Everyone moved with purpose and they all had their own motivations. The show didn’t have any real fanservice as even the transformation scenes and the tricky Duck turning into a human moments were handled really well. It’s a pretty safe anime that I could recommend to anyone.

If I have any problems with the show, it’s that I’m not a big fan of some aspects of the final twist. I’m fine with them all essentially being stuck inside a fake town that is all a story. I think it was maybe a little too far when they were all literally puppets being forced to move around. Even if Fakir is now the one with the controls, it takes away from their free will. Based on Fakir’s struggle to write a happy ending, they do have some limits and it’s all based on will power, but they still do control an awful lot. The characters really have to wonder about everything they do now and if it is really what they wanted to do. I think just take away the strings and have it so the authors can write new characters and events into the mix, but they can’t actually control the characters. That would work a little better. I ultimately don’t get why Drosselmeyer didn’t just write a new ending after the bookmen stole it, but I’ll assume that he just didn’t have enough willpower left.

I suppose that the romance was handled pretty well. Mytho had a tough time making up his mind and the first choice couldn’t work out for some characters, but it’s just another tough call to make. Duck made the hero call and just did what was best for the team so that was definitely nice of her. Anyway, being a duck isn’t so bad. It sounds pretty fun if you ask me although I would definitely stay in human form for the most part. It’s still the best way to play.

Finally, a neat visual effect was the little clocks that would zoom in on various characters whenever Drosselmeyer checked in on them. Since he was essentially the grand author in charge of this production he needed to keep an eye on them somehow right? I would have liked to have seen more of how he used those to affect the real world though. I guess we couldn’t see too much or he’d truly be OP but there must be some limits to it. How is he even this strong? He brings up the most questions in the series for sure and I suppose we just have to roll with them.
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Overall, Princess Tutu is a pretty fun show that I’d definitely recommend checking out. I’d say that it’s probably a little closer to Madoka than Sailor Moon in how serious it is, but is pretty well placed in the middle. It has a lot of Sailor Moon’s happy scenes and monster of the week moments at first, but also has the increased stakes and mystery of Madoka. There is also quite a bit of drama since Duck wants to bring Rue back to the side of the heroes, but this proves to be a really difficult task. It’s also hard to say which arc was actually better. Arc 2 got off to a faster start since the characters were already introduced but Arc 1 did have the better climax. I’ll probably say that Arc 2 takes the narrow win here. It’s just a very balanced show that did a good job of playing to its strengths.

Overall 7/10

A Silent Voice Review

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It’s time for one of the most mean spirited manga titles that I’ve ever read. Deadman Wonderland probably still takes the cake for being the meanest one around, but this one really tries to surpass it. Volumes 1-6 are all pretty dark/tragic and even half of 7 is still like that. We get a sort of happy ending, but the question you’ll be thinking the whole time is…was it all worth it? I’m afraid not so lets dive into this manga!

The manga follows the adventures of a bully named Shoya. He enjoyed his days as a delinquent and is upset when a deaf girl named Shoko is transferred to his class. Shoya decides to make her life as miserable as possible and the rest of the class including the teacher get in on the action. After enduring all of this bullying and even having Shoya rip her ear, Shoko is transferred out and fortunately her mother also threatened the school with legal action. This means that they need a scape goat so all of Shoya’s “friends” decide to turn on him. Likewise with the teacher of course so they beat him up a lot and even try to convince him to commit suicide.

Fast forward a few years. Shoya decides he’ll commit suicide after finally meeting up with Shoko again and apologizing. She has apparently forgiven him and he decides to keep on living so he’ll be her friend. The problem is that he still has a pretty bad image and Shoko hasn’t gotten over the incident as much as she claims. Her Mother naturally dislikes Shoya as well. Shoya’s old friends have mostly gotten over it but they know about his past and Shoya fears that they’ll tell his new friends about it. A lot of drama happens and by the end of it, you’ll be shaking your head.

Okay, the manga’s whole problem really just stems into the meanness of it all. You see the classic theme of someone doing something really mean or evil and then receiving a judgment just as brutal which is supposed to make you feel good. The problem is that two wrongs don’t equal a right so it just makes the whole thing feel dark. A good example of course is Sword Art Online Fairy Dance. (You can use SAO for just about any hypothetical if I’m being honest) After the main villain was messing around with Asuna and tormenting Kirito, you’re supposed to cheer when Kirito decides to very slowly and painfully execute him one piece at a time. The problem is that you’re not cheering because it is still super painful. You don’t feel bad for the villain, but you didn’t want the hero to stoop to the same level. (Attack on Titan has this same problem) You want a quick resolution. Unfortunately, this manga’s whole message is about how “You’ll get yours!” and the villains all get some intense payback at some point or other. That is, unless they’re being used for another message like how they’re misunderstood.

The series starts with Shoya thinking about ending himself and then moving on to Shoko. Finally once all of the characters are broken and have been publicly humiliated, then they can all move on. Honestly, Shoko’s depression is probably where the series really jumped the ship although the beginning was incredibly rough as well. It’s impossible to like Shoya after the start. He just went way too far in the bullying phase to the point where you absolutely cannot buy into his redemption arc. The ear rip felt especially painful and he does physically punch Shoko. That’s one of the big lines that you don’t cross and he went through with it almost immediately. Shoya also seems to make the wrong move in just about every scenario, every time. He’s just incredibly annoying and the fact that he is the main character certainly doesn’t help matters either. If he’s not blowing up at his friends or having a martyr complex then he’s typically having confidence issues or being in a coma.

Shoko is a decent heroine except for the fact that she is way too forgiving of everyone. She basically gets along with Shoya immediately and puts the whole thing behind her. Honestly she should have told him to get lost when he showed up again. Otherwise, it’s nice of her to forgive him, but then to move on to being best friends and then more than that almost immediately? No, no I can’t see that happening. It was an incredibly poor romance that I just couldn’t take from start to finish.

Naoka is the other heroine. She actually liked being a bully and is mean to everyone throughout the series. She decides to change her ways because of Shoya, but never actually changes. She still talks bad about everyone and while it is supposed to be endearing, you have to wonder how much she has actually changed. She is quick to hit everyone and definitely causes a lot of drama. The one quality she has that is quite good is how she gets over everything pretty quick. The rest of the characters are constantly making mountains of molehills while she just forgets about it all the next day and is back to normal. It may be a little iffy as she’ll just stir up more chaos, but it beats the alternative.

Miki is a character that I think the author didn’t know what to do with. She was one of the big bullies in the first volume, but always denies this and blames others. She purposely tells everyone that Shoya was the big bully and gets everyone to retreat from him again. (He helped quite a lot though) She lies to everyone and is generally very fake throughout the whole series. The issue is that nobody calls her out on this and she effectively gets away with everything by the end. I’m glad the series didn’t go overboard with the payback on her, but she didn’t even get a slap on the wrist. She got away completely scot free and since I didn’t like her at all, that was annoying. If the author never meant for her to be one of the main villains, then he/she should read the series again.

Miyoka was the only character who was nice to Shoko at the start. Unfortunately, since she is the nice character she is also the timid one and a single insult caused her to stop coming to classes. She now wants to be a model but is very self conscious of her looks. Naturally the others are ready with the insults. She can be a little annoying as well and while it’s great that she got along with Shoko as well, I’d be a little sore with how quickly she ran off. She’s not a dependable friend that you can count on.

Yuzuru is probably the only real good character. She made it her mission to beat up the bullies who messed with Shoko back in the day, but unfortunately she was too young to really track them all down. Still, she managed to grow up as a tom boy to protect her sister as best she could and even took up whole hobbies like taking pictures of dead things to try and get Shoko to distance herself away from thoughts of suicide. Her only iffy moment is probably not stepping in to help Shoko when she was getting beaten up by Naoka. I can see why she was upset since Shoko tried to jump off a roof, but you still can’t let one of the old bullies beat your sister up. Isn’t that the whole reason for why she got strong in the first place?

Tomohiro is Shoya’s first friend at the new school. He’s a nice guy and all. He may not have any friends and pretends that he does all the time, but he gives Shoya someone to talk too. He has his iffy moments for sure but the series would have been a lot darker without him. I’d say that he’s really here just to lighten the mood. I’m not so much a fan of him as he just beats most of the other cast by default. His movie gets tragically panned though which was another moment where the manga decided to just be really depressing again. I mean really..was it necessary to also have the critics mock each and every one of them for the movie? The heroes quickly acted as if they didn’t care, but couldn’t they have had at least one happy ending as a team? It’s like the author didn’t want any of them to have something nice happen for a change.

Satoshi is the final main character and he’s the anti bully guy who shows up to subtly threaten Shoya the whole series. It’s actually portrayed as a bad thing that he’s against bullies. The scene were he throws away everyone’s backpacks honestly didn’t seem like a big deal to me since those actually were bullies. Him throwing water at the teachers and going overboard after that was a bit much though. Again, it’s a little hard to have him come back into the fold so easily again. It’s great to be against bullies, but he came off as a rather violent guy himself and I didn’t get the whole subplot about how he loves kids. This character should honestly have just not shown up.

Shoko’s Mom is another character who should have been good, but they went overboard with how mean she is. Are you honestly telling me that she would have an objection with Shoko using sign language at the table? She wants Shoko to be tough so I understand the haircut. That was fine since Shoko was clearly not defending herself so the Mom had to do it for her, but breaking her confidence at home as well was just random. I give her some props for deciding to beat up the bully who was attacking Shoko though. That was easily her best scene.

The art was below average. It tries for a very gritty down to earth feel which sets the vibe in rather quickly. In a sense that’s a good thing as the art is atmospheric but since it’s a dark and gloomy atmosphere it doesn’t really help matters. I just couldn’t get into the art and while it’s clearly not the worst I’ve seen, it’s quite low in the charts. Since this is a “realistic” manga there is also an unfortunate amount of language. This will always depend on who is translating it of course, but unfortunately the original one decided to add quite a bit. It’s just another unnecessary addition.

At the end of the day, the manga’s issue is that it’s just very moody and depressing the whole time. It’s not fun to read. You’ll keep reading until the end and you’ll be reasonably invested, but then every volume has another tragic scene within it. The amount of times someone is beaten up or bullies is uncanny in this series. If the series wanted to be good, the first volume should have been shorter and the bullying should have been less intense. We shouldn’t have had Shoko suddenly break down by the end and we certainly shouldn’t have had to have Shoko get beaten up yet again.

Also, why did the blond kid just randomly show up a few times? Considering that he beat up Shoya, stole his shoes, and bullies him quite extensively for a while…why does Shoya have to patch things up? I don’t get how nobody acts like the other kid did anything wrong. He was just as bad as Shoya and also got away scot free. The most annoying thing is that he’s apparently still friends with some of Shoya’s old contacts so while I guess they are cool with Shoya now, they’re not sorry enough to actually regret it.

I’m trying to think of some positives for the series…but it’s hard. When a series leaves such a bad taste in your mouth, it sours the whole experience. The scenes were they’re all having fun can be good except that they instantly go sideways and you always know that something is going to happen. It’s just inevitable but I suppose you should savor those scenes while you can.

Overall, This series was pretty brutal. It started out on a really low note, got semi decent for a bit and then crashed again. I also didn’t like the ending, but what else is new right? It’s essentially inevitable after a while because if you don’t like the characters and aren’t engaged by them, then there’s not much that the ending can do to change that. You’re just way too annoyed by everyone by that point. Manga should always be fun and enjoyable to read throughout. They can go through rough patches and have serious themes of course as just about all of them do, but it should still be a pleasant experience. You can’t use that phrase to describe this manga. I’d highly advise checking something else out instead. If you want a good realistic manga title to read, how about Zodiac P.I.? It has some supernatural elements, but is mostly down to Earth and is up beat despite some rather serious cases.

Overall 3/10

Dreamgirls Review

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It’s time for the first musical that I’ve seen in quite a while. I don’t think it’ll ever get old seeing people debate and fire comebacks through song instead of talking about it. It’s just an interesting way to make your comeback you know? It’s definitely not my kind of film and suffers from the usual problems that come with being a musical, but the film gave it a good effort and I suppose that’s what counts.

Effie, Deena, and a third girl have been trying to make it big for a long time now. They just haven’t gotten the chance to show that their singing abilities are the real deal. This changes when a slick car dealsman named Curtis tells them that he can get them a gig as Jimmy’s backup singers. Effie is worried that they’ll stay backup forever, but Curtis knows a way to shove Jimmy out of the picture at some point. Soon he gets them their own gig, but decides to slowly phase Effie out. Eventually he phases the third girl out as well and makes it all about Deena. Thing is….will Curtis also phase her out once Deena starts to decline in popularity? She’s going to have to do something and fast!

Usually this is where you’d chat with your friends to try and think about what you should do next. The problem is that all of the main characters are too busy keeping secrets from each other and playing the rebound game. There’s a lot to keep up with as Jimmy tries to use the moves on the main characters. 2 of them don’t fall for it, but then Curtis gets together with Effie. After he’s had his fun, Curtis moves on to Deena and while all of the characters know about this merry go round, none of them really care since they all think that they’re the special one. It leads to quite a lot of drama the whole time and so I can’t say that the romance was handled well. It felt really fake on all sides. Lets face it, if someone is cheating to be with you, then they’re also probably cheating on you. It’s an iron clad rule that has been around for generations and it doesn’t just go away in a flash. It was also hard to sympathize with any of the characters when they were betrayed because it was just so expected. They were all a little too easy as well as they basically skipped the dating phase.

As a result, none of the characters are all that good. Jimmy was bad from the start as he immediately tried to fool around with the main characters. He ended up getting into drugs and hitting the Game Over moment in life. Curtis may have been a fast talker, but you always knew that about him. It helped the audience not get tricked by his shenanigans and it was just annoying that none of the others could figure it out. He went from being manipulative to totally being a villain by the end. Deena was an all right main character as she stuck up for Effie for a while, but got pretty naive by the end. It turned out to be true that she was cheating with Curtis for a while so that’s certainly not very heroic of her. Curtis even admitted at one point that he had always loved her and not Effie so that should have rang some warning bells since he still stuck around long enough to have a kid. Deena made the right move in the end, but it took her a little too long.

Effie was also not so good. She wasn’t exactly blameless in this affair as she didn’t take moving to the back row very well instead of being happy for her friend. It’s also pretty understandable that a replacement would be hired for her during the Vegas New Year’s Celebration since she abruptly vanished and skipped all of the rehearsals. You can see why she was bitter, but surely she can see how the others had to move on. She was causing a bunch of problems. The song recorder that helped the gang was all right I suppose. He was a little slow on the draw as well, but ended up pretty well off. He didn’t agree with how his music was used at times, but he did get the money. Deena’s Mom was pretty fun considering that she didn’t appear much. I wouldn’t have minded her as more of a main character since she seemed to suspect that something was off from the start.

This isn’t usually much of a problem outside of some old black and white films, but I had a tough time telling each character apart once in a while. They all kept switching their wigs and then the film would constantly jump into the future by a few months or even years at time. It just made it hard to keep them all straight and that’s why I never even learned the third girl’s name. She technically had a reasonably sized role, but the characters never said it all that much since the focus was on the other two. This is why instead of coordinated costumes where everyone wears the same thing, you should always have something different.

There are a lot of songs as you’d expect. The beet for them is usually pretty catchy, but I can’t say that the lyrics were very good. They aren’t exactly something I’d play while at home. I’m not really a big music person to be honest, but when I play music it’s typically extremely epic anime/video game songs. If I play the occasional lyrical song, it’s typically one from those mediums. Instrumental is still the best bet as you get the cool beats without having to worry about the lyrics, but both sides can be good. I think this soundtrack could have been a little better considering that it was a musical, but ironically the fact that it was a musical meant that the music was very mainstream and not quite as epic as it could have been. Look up the Attack on Titan themes and you’ll see what I mean.

I also can’t say that I care much for the competitive/professional dancing that usually accompanies the music. If anything it just makes the music feel more objectionable as they’re trying to hook the audience on them rather than the music. It doesn’t feel quite as legitimite which is why I never bought into music videos. The audience certainly ate it up, but that’s also why you’ll attract a specific crowd based on what you sing and how you sing it.

Overall, Dreamgirls may have tried its best to be an intense musical with a lot of drama, but it didn’t work too well for me. Without likable characters or a stronger plot, you just can’t sing your way out of the tough situations. I do like how the characters banter with songs though as it was extended more than in most films and they had whole conversations. It just wasn’t enough to block out all of the drama and rebounds. I can’t really say that I’ve ever loved a live action musical film though so it’s possibly just a really hard genre to succeed in. Hopefully they can pull it off someday. They just need to take some cues from Frozen. Get some better songs, cut out the dances, and build a better plot. If you can get those aspects of the film together, then I think you’ll end up with a winner on your hands. By the way, if you’re wondering who the standout character of the film was, it was certainly the lawyer. I like how he just showed up out of nowhere and took down the main villain. He probably cost a lot of money, but it was well worth it since a lawyer can save you millions!

Overall 3/10

Bonnie and Clyde

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It’s time for another film based on true events. For once, it’s not about a moment of great importance in history or even about a heroic protagonist who helped reshape the rules and standards of life as we know it. Instead, this film is about two outlaws who were not heroic in any sense of the words and got their thrills out of robbing and committing other crimes. As such, you can imagine that it was not really my kind of film as I never care for villains as the protagonists.

Bonnie was originally a waitress who wasn’t involved in a life of crime. That changed when she met Clyde who tried to rob her mother. Bonnie was intrigued and decided to join in. While the pair initially committed small crimes that didn’t involve murder, they eventually grew bolder and bolder. Once they crossed the final line for the first time, it was relatively easy to keep going as they grew worse and worse. Ultimately this would be their undoing as they made too many enemies and got caught in a trap. You couldn’t feel any sympathy for them at this point since they were completely evil and it was a good way to remind the audience that crime never pays. You end up paying for the crimes..with your life!

I’m sure that the film is fairly faithful to how the pair acted back in the old days. Neither character is likable in the slightest. You just feel bad for their victims like the guy who was shot in the face. It’s why working in a bank isn’t exactly my favorite job in the world. It’s tough to deal with robbers and you never know how it’ll turn out. The film puts a lot of emphasis on how sketchy the two main characters are. Aside from breaking the law and all, they also smoke, drink, and do everything you’d expect two villains to do. The “romance” if you can call it that is fairly prevalent as well. The leads have all the wrong priorities the whole time.

The film certainly was on the gritty side. It had that old grainy look to it that most early color films had. It automatically helps a film appear to be more gritty and especially if that’s how the film is trying to be. You can especially see this in horror films and it’s why the modern ones are usually more chuckle worthy than anything. It’s the one time Indie can try to shine as their films are usually low budget and can still attain that grainy feeling. It’s not as if I’ll like a horror film anyway, whether it be grainy or clear, but definitely something to think about. Of course, an old grainy wild west film with two villains as leads…that was never going to end well.

I mostly don’t take too many shots at historical/documentary films like this one since they’re usually uplifting stories with good morals. As long as the adaption is on point, it’s all good. This one’s a bit of an exception since their are no good morals or stories to take from this one and I don’t even see why this story had to be adapted. Why should we honor criminals with their own film? I definitely don’t understand it and so even if this film is fairly accurate to how they would have acted, I can’t say that I’m a fan. This just wasn’t my kind of film.

As a side note, it’s always interesting to see the old style of cars that everyone uses here. I sort of like the design, but at the same time the colors always seemed faded. It’s like colors just didn’t stand out back in the day, but I don’t see why that would be. Had we not developed shiny colors at this point in history? It seems like something that would be fairly easy to do. I can see not having bullet proof windows and all of that fancy stuff, but shiny colors had to have been one of those easy inventions that just hit someone like a bolt of lightning someday. It just seems like walking around in those days with faded out colors made everything else seem fake as well. In theory all of the colors should still be sharp so maybe we had sharp colors and films just couldn’t properly see them? Like I said..it’s something to think about and you should think about it during the film since it’s more interesting than the actual movie.

Overall, You should avoid this Bonnie and Clyde film. I don’t see how any film could manage to make them likable anyway since the story is just about how they’re evil and kept on shooting people and stealing money. Switch out the names and you just have two very generic criminals in the olden times. There were many criminals in the Wild West as you can see from any old film. True, this might not be quite the same Wild West as it wasn’t that old and uncivilized compared to other eras, but it’s old enough where I just generalize and call it that. If you really want to learn more about Bonnie and Clyde, then this is probably a decent way to do so. At the same time, you could probably just watch a documentary instead and in this case it may work better. We don’t need to learn all that much about their friends and personal life. A documentary will just stick to the facts and probably be more concise about the whole thing.

What Lies Beneath Review

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It’s time to look at a horror/thriller film. This one’s about what you would expect. It’s not very good with a bunch of plot twists that don’t help its case. I’ll give the trailer some props for being incredibly misleading with a plot twist. It’s a clever misdirect. Of course, if you were excited for that plot line, it also means that you could be in for a disappointment when you watch the film. Needless to say, I didn’t mind that plot line being cut, but the actual plot in the film wasn’t any better.

Claire and Norman have been married for a long time. Norman can be a little too attached to his job at times, but he’s been a good person. Unfortunately, mysterious things begin to happen. Claire hears voices, she sees things move, her computer even starts typing MEF as much as possible. Norman thinks that she’s just being silly and tells her to cut it out. He’s never very understanding of the whole thing. Then Claire sees her neighbors acting suspiciously. They always seem to fight and the wife was crying about being terrified of something. Claire then becomes confident that she is murdered by the other neighbor and seeks to prove it. A lot of things are happening, but is Claire just making hasty conclusions?

Well, lets talk about some of the twists. We’re entering heavy spoiler land with this review so prepare for that. It’s an old movie so it’s all fair game, but I figure that I’d warn you in advance. One plot twist is that the neighbor’s wife just gets terrified and emotional whenever her husband is away. She has panic attacks, yells, and cries every time he leaves and she just doesn’t want anyone to know which is why she cries in the backyard and then runs if anyone notices her. It’s a very strange explanation and not one that you are very likely to believe. It was a red herring of course, but it’s like the writers couldn’t figure out how to add one in so they just made a very fake one. Not a great move.

You’ll be glad to know that the supernatural part of the film is real and isn’t just a hoax. That being said, it’s one of the weakest spirits in horror movie history. It figures that the one time the ghost is basically a good guy it happens to be weak. I can’t imagine the Grudge or the Ring looking like this. It can’t destroy a single person which is kind of sad. The invisible Ghost want to take him down for the count, but it seems like she needs a lot of help. It also forgets who the main target is at times and just goes wild on everyone. I can appreciate the determination on that, but it just feels very random for the sake of being a red herring once again.

So, one of the big twists revolves around Norman. Apparently he cheated on Claire and then murdered the person to save his own career. This naturally led to her turning into a ghost and vowing to destroy him. Norman also turns on Claire and tries to take her down for the count as well. It’s a very cliche’d route and one that has never worked. Norman also isn’t very thorough as picking another method would have allowed him to have destroyed her a lot quicker. Good thing he likes theatrics.

Claire is an okay character at best. Even as she puts the pieces together, she doesn’t give herself any kind of insurance in case the villain is near. To her defense, it would be hard to guess that Norman is actually evil, but she had cracked a decent amount of the puzzle so she should have thought about it more. Beyond that, Claire also gets possessed rather easily by the ghost or just suffered a nervous breakdown as she helps him relive the moment. It’s another scene that has no purpose in the film.

Lets face it, the romance in the film was poorly handled. The scenes drag on and are mostly just Norman saying “That’s too rough” over and over again during the scene. We get it, Claire’s not acting like herself, no need to keep repeating it. That possession scene was just so random. The film also has an obsession with the bathtub as we get really long scenes of the characters in there. Since Claire is nearly drowned in the bathtub while she is paralyzed, the film uses that as an excuse to keep the scene going. I don’t care for bathtub scenes in any context so that didn’t work for me. Especially not as a climax. We do have some driving at the end as well though and the ghost finally gets to make a move. Better late than never.

The film only works in the first place because of a ton of convenient elements. Claire suffers from intense memory loss because she was so traumatized that she blocked the memories out of something. If not for this, she would have known most of what happened right from the start, but then we’d have no movie. Naturally the cops never figured out the connection between Norman and the girl who went missing either. I like to think that someone would have known what was going on. The ghost was also really weak and couldn’t even help that much before the climax. She could have finished off Norman so easily in many different scenes.

Overall, What Lies Beneath is a thriller that cheats. It doesn’t have much foreshadowing for the events and makes characters act out of character when it suits its purpose. The film should have just played it straight with a vengeful spirit trying to destroy them all. We didn’t need Norman to crack and for the bathtub to be used multiple times as the weapon to destroy them all. There’s nothing really nice to say about the film. The romance is terrible and the film ends on a whimper. None of the characters are likable or even realistic. There’s not much of a soundtrack although I won’t call it bad either. The tunes that were there were likely okay. I can’t recall something sounding out of place at any rate. The film avoided all animal violence and wasn’t that violent in general so that’s a consolation. Still, if you want a good horror film, watch something like The original Mummy film instead. At least it had that retro feel and good writing to back it up.

Overall 3/10

Nisekoi Review

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It’s time to review a very different manga series. Seriously, it’s not one that you’d have expected me to read. It’s my first complete harem manga. There are some titles that can act a bit like a harem at times like Sword Art Online, but this is a full blown one with comedy hi-jinx around every corner and a lot of situations that will make you suspend your disbelief. So I can’t say that I had high hopes for this series at all. Luckily it plays up the comedy angle first and foremost. There isn’t a great deal of fanservice here as it’s pretty mild for the most part. There are some tricky moments though and it’s certainly not perfect, but it’s likely the best adaptation of this genre. I can’t imagine another one handling it quite as well.

The protagonist is Raku and he is the heir to a local Yakuza organization. He doesn’t want to lead the group though as his passion is to be a civil servant who lives in a very fair and balanced way. It’s an honorable aspiration and the gang members don’t mind this as they figure that he’ll grow bored and decide to lead the gang in the end anyway. His life changes forever when a girl named Chitoge moves into town. She is in a very similar situation and her gang does not get along with Raku’s at all. The two gangs decide to form a peace treaty by convincing Chitoge and Raku to pretend to be dating. Only the top executive of each gang knows that it is fake so the rest believe that it is legitimate and do their best not to get into fights. Naturally, this has serious social repercussions for both characters since they have to keep the act going 24/7. Raku was hoping to live a normal high school life and Chitoge wanted a great start to her school year, but neither were to be.

Quite a few more complications would enter the fray though. The main characters are all in the same class and it just so happens that most of them know Raku in some way or other from the past. Onodera was one of Raku’s best friends back in the day and Raku secretly admires her. Unfortunately for him, the Chitoge situation has shut the door on any hopes for him since he is officially taken and Chitoge has to find a way around that as well. Her best friend Ruri has decided that overcoming your rivals is necessary in a case like this and tries to push the two of them together. Meanwhile, Chitoge has a bodyguard named Tsugami who is forced to come to class as well to protect her mistress. She believes that Raku is not fit to protect Chitoge but gradually realizes that he is tougher than he looks. A rich transfer student also shows up who is a pre-arranged fiance for Raku. This hurts his reputation even more and she is the most overt with her constant advances towards Raku. Not to be out done, a transfer teacher also shows up named Yui. She grew up with Raku as she learned how to be an effective mob boss and then went her own way. Well, now she is also back to claim Raku. Finally, we also have Onodera’s younger sister. She doesn’t want to get in Onodera’s way but that becomes more difficult as her friend tries to push her into some tricky situations.

So, we’ve got quite the cast and you can see how this is clearly a harem title. There are 6 different girls going after Raku and he has to try to stop all of their advances while he chooses one over the others. While the reverse harem title Gentleman’s Alliance (I believe that’s the right name) did a cop-out by having the heroine choose 2 guys to alternate with, I can safely say that there is none here. The series wraps up with each girl getting her own story arc and one by one Raku completely rejects them tournament style. It’s pretty interesting and at least he was direct about the whole thing. Of course, the series is 25 volumes long and those arcs don’t really start til around volume 19. The first 18 are for good ole comedy shenanigans along with a plot about Raku’s pendant. See, he has this pendent which can only be opened by a girl that he promised to marry when he was a kid. The problem is that from the 7 girls, 4-5 of them have their own keys. They can’t try them out either since Raku conveniently breaks his pendent. Oh well, they’ve got a lot of time to figure it out right?
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For a story like this, the two most important aspects are the characters and the writing. Those two things are handled pretty well and the art also helps a lot. You may notice that all of the pictures in this review are from the same fight. That’s because the art for this fight was just so good and it came out of nowhere. This was the only serious fight in the whole series or at least the only one that was of a decent length. It shows what the series could have been like if the author had decided to pursue Nisekoi as an action series. It would have had quite a lot of potential. The art is consistently good throughout and I’d consider it to be fairly high end even counting all other manga titles.

If there’s any part of the art that’s weak, it’s that parts of it can seem recycled. So that’s not a quality thing, but just a byproduct of the genre. It’s something that you tend to see in comedy titles a lot since the characters always have exaggerated expressions. You’ll see what I mean if you flip through a volume. The characters make the same faces constantly. You can’t go through a single chapter without someone yelling or panicking. At least not until you’re in the climax of the series. The overreactions can definitely get old pretty quick.

All right, lets talk about the characters. First off is Raku, our lead. He’s a nice guy who wants to help everyone out, but just has a lot of natural charm so everyone wants to hang out with him. Raku does his best not to lead anyone on and is pretty oblivious to the situation as you probably would expect. I can’t say that I’m really a fan of Raku though. While he handles most of the situations fairly well, he can also make them worse at times. Other times he’s a little slow on the uptake and tends to insult other characters at inopportune times. He calls Chitoge a gorilla as a joke while she calls him a bean sprout, but often times Raku will use this insult quite randomly and it makes you wonder what he was thinking.

Chitoge is the main heroine and one of the better characters. She’s probably my second favorite behind Tsugami. Chitoge is outgoing and does her best to make a lot of friends during her school days. She helped to bring the whole gang together and is always ready to help the others out like Raku. She’s pretty selfless as well and tries not to get in the way of the other character’s goals. Chitoge can also fight to a mild extent which helps quite a bit as well. Next up is Onodera, one of the other major characters of the series. Unfortunately, I was never a fan of hers. She’s a really shy character who has a hard time talking to Raku and her friends often have to push her into action. She means well though and is also a very nice character, but the shy character type has never been my favorite. Just about all of my favorite characters are outgoing or have generally tough personalities. I feel like it makes the character more interesting.

Next up is the worst character in the series, Shu. This character had no point being in the series and it feels like he is just here to make Raku look even better. After all, Raku is heroic, noble, and treats everyone with respect. Shu flirts with everyone and is always thinking very sketchy thoughts as he tries to get everyone into sticky situations. His romance plot was also the worst since it basically exonerated everything he does. The series ends with him refusing to change his ways and his partner just deciding that she can live with that. It’s just terrible all around and I’d wince whenever he was on screen. Bad things were always sure to follow.
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Ruri is Onodera’s friend so she never really counted as one of the people interested in Raku. Things get tricky for a second, but her bond with Onodera is a lot stronger and another guy ends up appearing for her. Ruri was a pretty decent character until her romance plot started wrapping up. The series kept hinting at it whenever she would appear, but I just hoped that the title wouldn’t go down that route. Unfortunately it did and Ruri got the worst pairing possible. Anyway, she’s a nice friend who helped Onodera a lot, but the latter was just too timid to really make use of the assistance.

Another supporting character is Claude. He doesn’t like Raku and constantly makes plans to humiliate the kid or get some dirt on him that could be used as blackmail. Naturally he’ll never find any dirt on the perfect main character though and most of his plans backfire because his subordinate Tsugami breaks it by mistake. Claude gets a pretty decent action scene towards the end and he is one of the best characters. While he is really bias against Raku, he does ultimately mean well since he just wants to protect Chitoge. He makes his share of mistakes, but I can sympathize with this guy.

Back to the main characters, we have Chitoge’s bodyguard up next. Tsugami was the best character by a long shot as she’s a great fighter and makes all of the right choices. She puts her feelings behind Chitoge’s happiness and safety consistently. She can be a little too naive at times to be honest and the series really exaggerates this character trait of hers, but when it comes to being a bodyguard she is prepared for every contingency. She saves the day on multiple occasions and Raku definitely wouldn’t have lasted so long without her. She gave the series quite a few of its best scenes so it’s safe to say that the manga as a whole would have dropped without her as well.

Tachibana’s personality is one that you probably wouldn’t assume would work well but she’s actually one of the better characters. She’s the most direct and upfront about her plans for the future and she lets Raku know about this constantly. It’s a little refreshing when you compare her to everyone else who constantly ducks the questions with the classic “Don’t get the wrong idea!” lines. Her story is probably the most tragic of the bunch, but it has a fairly happy ending. Tachibana also did have the absolute best arc of the series so that was pretty cool. She also came out to help in the last part of the final arc. I’d place her as the third best character and she definitely made the series a whole lot livelier.

Honda is Tachibana’s bodyguard. She isn’t quite as skilled as Tsugami, but she comes close. The images that I’ve attached in the review are of her fighting Tsugami so you can see how she put up a really good fight. That being said, I definitely don’t like Honda. She is the opposite of Tsugami who knows when to disobey an order and where her priorities lie. Honda follows the orders no matter what and is very strict when it comes to the rules. This leads to her making a lot of the wrong choices throughout.

Haru is Onodera’s sister. She wasn’t a bad character, but I can’t say that she really added anything to the series either. You could cut her out and nothing would really change. Haru starts out as the most antagonistic character to Raku, but gradually warms up to him since he’s such a nice guy. She knows that Onodera is trying for him though and steps aside which is pretty self less of her. She wants to be a pro baker but goes through many adversities along the way. I was glad for that subplot though because I do like seeing snacks. I could use a good Chocolate Chip Cookie myself right about now.
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Finally we have Yui. She is the leader of a gang and used to live at Raku’s gang base when she was a kid. She doesn’t have any family left so she looks to Raku as a brother. We get a pretty iffy subplot where her admiration morphs into something else, but by the end they agree that this would be a mistake so they keep the status quo as it is. It’s certainly a weird dynamic when you have her as the teacher though. Fortunately she got out of the arranged marriage thing so now she has time to rethink about what she wants to do. She was also a little unnecessary to the series and didn’t bring much to the table. I think I prefer Haru so the question is who was the worst heroine….her or Onodera? I’m probably going to give Onodera the slight edge here, but it’s reasonably close.

There are a few other supporting characters of course. Chitoge’s Mom shows up a few times during the series and she’s a good character. She lets her business get in the way of family time for a while, but Raku shows her how to balance it so she can hang out with Onodera more. The gang leaders show up a few times like Raku’s Dad, but they never really do much. There are ninja, classmates, friends of friends, and more characters but we covered all of the major ones.

This goes without saying, but one of the negatives of the series is the fanservice. It’s not all that excessive or frequent, but it is around enough where it still needs to be addressed. It’s an issue that most titles just can’t seem to get away from completely. Another issue is naturally the constant romance. As I mentioned earlier, the series is at its best during the normal adventures where the characters are just having fun and hanging out. The cast is actually better than some of the Shonen action casts. Perhaps it’s because we see them hang out more so getting used to the characters happens a lot quicker than when they are fighting and we don’t get to see the development for a while. Titles like DBZ throw that theory out of the water though.
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The romance is handled well for what it is. I’d say that it’s probably better than most main stream films in that regard. The characters don’t immediately get to the next level for no reason and it’s not like a CW show where you’re rebounding from one character to the next. Since Raku is unsure about what to do for most of the series, he makes sure not to actually get together with anybody. Of course, he has to pretend to be with Chitoge, but he keeps it in pretend mode.

Since a great deal of chapters are standalone, it also stands to reason that for all of the hits there are some misses as well. For example, pretty much any chapter where all of the heroines drink a love potion and decide to chase Raku are fairly weak. On the other side, pretty much any athletic competition…or simply any competition at all are typically a lot of fun. Since the series is so long, the cast gets to go on quite a lot of adventures so pretty much every kind of situation happens. We get haunted houses, School against School competitions, trips to other states, island survival tests, etc.

I read most of the series in batches of 2-4 volumes so I can also safely say that the series is a page turner. It never gets remotely boring and I think that can be accredited equally to the interesting cast and the exceptional art. Both really help to complement each other for any series really. If a series has bad art, then it’ll be hard to marathon no matter how engaging the plot is. It was just fortunate to have both factors in its favor.

I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, but what else is new? Manga rarely have satisfying endings for me and this one had a big time skip as per usual. My main issue with it was the heroine’s final decision after being selected by the main character. It’s a choice that seems to happen a little more often now and I still don’t really get the logic behind it. It dampens what is otherwise a happy ending. There are also a few random pairings that I’m pretty iffy at, but the ending certainly could have been a whole lot worse.

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Overall, Nisekoi is a pretty fun series. If I were to rate the series based just on how enjoyable it is, it would easily get an 8. However, just being fun isn’t enough to get a high ranking since I still do have to count the negatives. It’s in the same boat as Medaka Box although less extreme in both the positives and negatives. The author definitely did a really good job of mixing up the various arcs by the end and giving each character time to shine. All of the main characters got a lot of development through the series. I can safely say that Nisekoi was a lot better than I had anticipated. At least now if anyone asks me to recommend a good romance series I can bring this one up. Tsubasa is probably still my go to example though since it was pretty much perfect, but this one can definitely be seen as more of a traditional romance. Now I can only hope that it really does get a battle spinoff manga someday.

Overall 6/10

It Could Happen To You Review

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Whenever I watch movies that are supposedly based on true stories I laugh. When I watch films that do their best to say that they weren’t inspired by true stories, I also laugh. The key point is that you should never believe a film unless it’s being straight with you. This one basically admits that they grabbed the premise from a real event and then added their own story to it which is pretty believable. This is actually what I imagine that most movies do. It’s handled pretty well and definitely has a fun premise as well.

So, Charlie is a cop, but not just any cop. He’s known as the greatest cop around as he’s friends with everyone and always gets the job done. You can count on good ole Charlie is what everyone’s always thinking and they tend to be right. He’s just a good guy who always helps the community out. One day he goes to a restaurant, but he doesn’t have enough money for a tip so he makes a deal to split his lottery ticket winnings with the lady. She agrees to the terms and then Charlie happens to win a few million on it. He honors the agreement, but his wife isn’t pleased. With both of them slowly drifting apart and rebounds beginning to happen…what will they do!?

It’s a classic story of how getting rich can drive people apart. Of course in this case Charlie and Muriel already didn’t get along very well. This just sped things up. Charlie loves giving things away and after literally giving away half of his winnings, he also makes massive donations to the local Police fund and to the beggars on the street. Muriel gets triggered by this and starts throwing money around by redecorating the house and getting into the stock market. Both of them keep trying to one up the other in terms of throwing money around. Finally, Muriel decides to go for the “Divorce to Claim Assets” combo and quickly destroys Charlie. Fortunately, Charlie doesn’t care about the money.

All right, so there are quite a few things you can have fun mocking here, but it’s an enjoyable film. Lets start with Charlie. I actually don’t really care for Charlie. Sure, he’s a nice guy and he did the right thing in keeping his word about splitting the lottery ticket. He really shouldn’t have made that deal since the stakes were so high and could have just brought a tip the next day. Once he said it though, going through with it was the right call. Now, I can understand Muriel’s frustrations with him though. Imagine waking up one morning to discover that your friend has won 4 million dollars. You’re then hit with the bombshell that it is only going to be 2 million. Then you find out that he also donated one hundred thousand to the Police…then he bought his friend season tickets and a new hat…then he gave money to everyone who asked for it outside (That line will never end) etc. I know that Charlie doesn’t care about the money as he mentions this many, many times. He needs to be a little more considerate of his wife.

Finally, the main thing holding him back is his romance with Yvonne. Even if he wasn’t getting along with Muriel, they weren’t actually divorced yet so he shouldn’t be having any kind of affair. You wait until the paperwork is complete and it’s all over before going for the rebound. It’s like the people who dash into the subway as you’re trying to get off and then the yelling starts from everyone. The fact that he was already attracted to someone else was also pretty dicey. He started with the fake “Lets just be friends” line of course as they hung out every day, but we all know how that ends. I can’t say that I ever trust the “We’ll just be friends” pitch even if I do believe that it should be possible to just be friends. People always have an angle and if you haven’t figured one out yet, then that means you haven’t looked hard enough.

Don’t take this as me saying that I felt bad for Muriel though. She’s a very exaggerated villain in this film so the movie clearly doesn’t want you to take her side. She’s mean to everyone and only cares about being rich and famous. She also wastes her money on Pyramid Schemes and plastic surgery. She constantly insults her husband behind his back and her friends give her pretty bad advice like splitting from Charlie or just cheating on him. She flirts with this really old guy for no reason, but the film gives her a sad ending to counter this. Seriously, the ending is almost humorous as everyone who got in Charlie and Yvonne’s way end up bankrupt, dead, or just plain unhappy. The people who helped him out get a happy ending like the Cop who got his season tickets. The basic moral is that you better have been on Charlie’s side or you’re doomed.

The ending is a little cheesy though since a ton of people send the main character’s money. Nah, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I can see a lot of people sending them Karma on Reddit or making some snappy one liners, but the money is a stretch. Not saying that people don’t donate money to good causes as the Reddit “Build a Potato” got thousands of dollars, but it’s still a pretty rare thing and I don’t think their story would move people quite enough.

Finally we have Yvonne. She’s a nice enough character I suppose, but she is hanging out with a married man as I already stated so that gets us into very murky waters. I also feel like the two of them are going to be bankrupt very quickly as the film ends with them renting a hot air balloon and throwing a ton of paper (It better not be money!) down to a park for kicks. Sure, it may look good for a few minutes, but that’s a huge waste of money and an even bigger mess for the environment. They do realize that custodial is going to have to clean that up in the morning right?

I know that I said “Finally” but I have one more at the ready. Finally, Charlie does a terrible job in the courtroom and when the lawyers are meeting up. I know they’re trying to present him as a “Holier than thou” kind of character, but they forgot to incorporate the common sense angle. After allowing Muriel to take all of his money since Charlie is a nice guy, she also decides to take Yvonne’s money as well. Charlie will at least fight for her right? No, he’s still too nice of a guy to get in anybody’s way so he doesn’t put up a fight for her. He just lets it all go since he doesn’t care about the money. He cares about living right? Because it’s pretty hard to live when you have no money. Those scenes were just annoying to watch because being a nice guy doesn’t mean that you have to be a pushover. Charlie lets everyone walk right over him because he just doesn’t want to be mean. I felt bad for his lawyer since he was clearly wishing he hadn’t taken this task by the end.

Overall, This is a fun film though. While I focused on the annoying bits and the stretches in logic, the main reason why I enjoyed the film was the quick pacing and the fairly decent writing. The writing isn’t amazing, but it’s goo enough. Charlie may be annoying and has some dubious choices, but he was a good cop. He did a good job of ending the gunfight in the deli by showing up and taking names. He did make the good choice with the lottery ticket as well. Hopefully he will learn from this experience and get a little tougher along the way. That would really seal the deal on his character arc. Beyond that, just enjoy the ride and think about what you would do with 2 million dollars. It’s not as much of a big deal nowadays since we have so many millionaires running around, but I’d instantly throw half of it into savings and I’d use another chunk to buy a bunch of video games and maybe a small pizza store so I could walk in and get free slices whenever I wanted. It’s a tough call since they are so many variables, but it would be a good problem.

Overall 7/10

The Tender Trap Review

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Whenever someone yells “It’s a Trap!” you typically want to listen. In this case, Julie knows deep down that Charlie is not a good person and getting together with him isn’t a good idea…but she ignores this feeling. What happens next is what you would expect, drama and tragedy. What holds this film back is how unlikable Charlie is and the fact that you can’t believe him when he tries to show how much he has changed. He gives us too many fakeouts during the film for this to even be somewhat believable. It’s too bad, Julie could have chosen someone a lot more noble.

The film starts with Charlie’s old friend Joe shows up to live with him for a while. He basically showed up unannounced except for a letter informing Charlie of the new situation. Charlie’s fine with this arrangement, but Joe quickly grows jealous. Joe may be married and have 2 kids already, but he’s greedy and wants to be able to play the field again. He gives in to the temptations of the big city and quickly becomes a terrible character. Meanwhile, Charlie is using everyone that he can, but one day a girl by the name of Julie refuses to get together with him. Charlie takes it personal and decides that he’s going to change her mind.

As you can already see here, one of the tricky parts of the film is that Charlie revels in his life style. He cheats on all of his girl friends. It’s played for laughs, but that will immediately cause you to dislike him. There is really just no going back from this point on. Even after he proposes to someone else, he quickly does the same with Julie and is quickly found out. Julie may be extremely gullible and not all that smart, but even she is able to piece the puzzle together once it becomes plain as day. It was just too late for Charlie to change things.

Another plot line in the film is about the corruption of the big city. Joe was happy with his life until he fell for the “Grass is always greener” trick and began to date someone even though he’s already married. That was the first red flag. After that, he even gets ready to propose to someone and goes to call his wife to explain why they can’t be together anymore. He is shut down by the person that he proposes to (Sylvia) so he ends up keeping the marriage but it makes you wonder how real it is. The wife will never know what a backstabber Joe is which is unfortunate.

I can’t say that Sylvia or any of the other people who hung out with Charlie were any good. The argument that Sylvia made is that they had no prospects left so they didn’t mind being the 2nd or 3rd choices, but that’s a really low standard to set for yourself. It makes it less personal when Charlie cheats on them I suppose, but it doesn’t help their cause. Julie is the only one with real personality and backbone, but the plot just doesn’t go well for her. At first, she does a good job of explaining why she shouldn’t bother eating out with people she’s not serious about. That’s an argument that I can buy into. Next, she explains that she has a very specific plan which even has a deadline on when she has to be married. That’s when she lost me.

Julie has planned out the rest of her life which includes how many kids she’ll have, what schools they’ll go too, when she’ll be married, etc. She has to follow her plan by the book and it doesn’t allow for any debate or alterations. The obvious downside of this is that she’ll have to rush and find someone if the deadline is close, even if it’s not the ideal person. The plan is essentially what makes her choose Charlie and it’s not the greatest way to pick a husband. After he tricked and cheated on her multiple times, I was kind of hoping that she would do something about it. Like you know…..breaking the whole thing off? Instead she apologizes for getting in the way of affairs and decides to settle for being one of them. They break up again after Charlie does more of this, but they get back together again so you have to wonder what the point of it all was.

The film is fairly well written, but that’s not enough to save it. You can have the best writing in the world, but if the characters are unlikable, then it is all for naught. Of course, you can make the case that a well written film would automatically make the characters likable, which is valid I suppose. It could have been better, but the script wasn’t that bad. The themes were just the main part that I could not agree with. I differed with the film quite consistently. Otherwise, the film didn’t do much wrong. It had a few humor moments scattered in and the living room setting gave the film a retro Odd Couple sort of feeling. It made the film more personal and laid back. It’s no thriller of course, but that would have just meant that the director had mixed up the genres.

There are a few songs in this film since Frank Sinatra is in it, but they don’t play as much of a role as you might expect. The tunes definitely weren’t bad, they weren’t the greatest, but they’ll do in a pinch. A little music can go a long way as long as it’s quality and the actual songs are certainly better than what you may hear nowadays. I could go on a tangent about the state of the music industry, but this isn’t really the time or place for that debate.

Overall, The Tender Affair is a pretty misleading title. There’s nothing tender about this one as you could call it something more appropriate with ease. “The Rebound Affair” “The Artificial Affair” “The Planned Affair” etc. There wasn’t anything tender about it, both Julie and Charlie needed the affair for personal reasons. They weren’t very noble either. Julie let her idealistic version of romance cloud her judgment and Charlie had been through many affairs before. He just likes the attention. If you want a real romance film…then I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head. If you want a film about the bonds of friendship and making the tough calls, watch Madoka Magica Rebellion. That’s a film that you won’t regret checking out!

Overall 4/10

Beauty and the Beast Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the old Disney films. Seeing as how it just got a live action remake with as goat version of the Beast, this was the perfect opportunity to look at the original. It’s a solid film all around with no real weaknesses to drag it down. While it may not be the greatest of the classics, it may have the best pacing and most engaging plot. I’ll have to think on that one a bit before giving a definitive answer, but there really wasn’t much to slow it down.

Belle is stuck in a very old town. She is the only lady who reads and the town is scared of her as a result. How can they hope to stack up against someone who doesn’t go to the local bar and get drunk with the rest of them? The people’s champion, Gaston shows up to set things right, but he is rejected. Unfortunately, Belle’s crazy father runs into the woods and gets kidnapped by the Beast. Belle is forced to take his place as a prisoner while her father gets himself into more trouble and gives Gaston a legal opportunity to try and steal Belle away. Can she enlist the help of the Beast or is all hope lost?

I imagine that everyone already knows the plot to this film, but I just put that up as a formality. As you can probably tell, I don’t like the Dad. He just gets the family into more and more trouble the whole time. He’s pretty scatter brained and even once Belle is taken as a prisoner he is slow to act. It takes him forever to actually do anything about the situation. You’d think that he would have a lot more urgency about the whole thing when you consider the circumstances. The cast is pretty small so he’s one of the only supporting characters with a role. The other would be Gaston along with his follower. The follower spends the whole film getting beat up and knocked around. It’s safe to say that he had to endure a lot of pain in this adventure as the characters just wouldn’t let up for a second.

Gaston’s naturally not a likable character since he spends the whole film flirting. I do like his grandiose nature and excessive bragging, but it would be great if he could be more productive about it. Stealing candy from a baby, dining and dashing, those are the feats that I would have been expecting him to perform. He’s not totally full of hot air though as he actually does put up a good fight against the Beast. He lands a lot of devastating hits in their battle and while the majority of them were cheap shots…we take those. I could definitely take him more seriously than some of the other classic villains like Jafar.

The Beast wasn’t likable though. I couldn’t sympathize with him at all. Especially when he just tried to act friendly so Belle would fall in love with him. It seemed like he earned his fate as a Beast as well so I just never got to be on his side. He didn’t make things easy for Belle and actively sabotaged his chances every opportunity that he got. It’s why the goat design in the new film suits him even if it makes him look even more evil and nonredeemable. It’s just the table that he has set for himself. Now he has to live in it. He had a few minions who would help him out like a candle stick, an alarm clock, and a tea kettle. The best member was easily the Alarm Clock as he kept it real the whole time and did his best not to get in trouble. The Candle Stick seemed to purposely seek out trouble while the Tea Pot had the best manners. They were decent enough and never got to be too annoying.

Finally, we have Belle. It’s safe to say that she is the best character here by a long shot. She doesn’t really have any flaws as she’s a nice person who always does the right thing and helps others out. She volunteers to be a prisoner to save her father and also doesn’t succumb to peer pressure when the “cool” crowd approaches her. She did fall for the cheesy romance parts at the end, but that’s hardly a negative so much as it’s a “shakes head” moment.

The film has quite a few songs of course since the films back in these days were part musical. They go over pretty well and the music is catchy. While the lyrics weren’t memorable enough for me to remember the names, I believe Bell’s opening song was the best one with Gaston’s probably being the worst. Still, it was a good soundtrack and lyrical songs can definitely be good when handled well. That’s something that 2010’s and beyond have struggled with in some cases. Luckily we still have Frozen to save us and the animated films have mostly been immune. It’s just that in the 90’s, even live action films could have good lyrical themes if they tried. I could diverge into how music was a little better back in the day than currently when it comes to mainstream (So not counting anime ost and video game soundtracks) but that’s neither here nor there.

The animation looks good and is consistent as you would expect. The characters stand out and the designs are really colorful. The action scenes are pretty fluid and while the characters may literally punch each other out of proportion at times, it’s done in a cool way. It’s intentional as opposed to a Dragon Ball Super scene where they just forgot to do some drawing. It holds up really well and the animation wouldn’t look out of place next to a more modern film.

If there’s any real negative here, it’s naturally the wolf scene. It was handled fairly well as this kind of thing goes and the Wolves really took it to the beast so that was good. I was rooting for them to really knock him around. His near lethal injuries show that the wolves weren’t playing around. It’s enough to warrant a mention and is the kind of thing that can also solidify the film’s 7 ranking as opposed to trying for an 8. If this is the worst mistake that the film made, then at least you can be sure that it was mostly good.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a good film. It’s something that you can recommend to anyone since it’s just a nice story. The romance is very cheesy and unbelievable so that can be a bit of a weakness, but it’s not as if you expected it to be anything else. The film will fly by in an instant and there aren’t any painfully drawn out scenes to make you look at the wrist watch. The new film seems like it’s pretty faithful to the old film so hopefully that’ll be good as well. So long as they don’t add extra character development to drag characters down in its attempt to be super deep or extend the wolf scene and make it more realistic to drag it down a few stars…I’d expect it to be of comparable quality. Hopefully that will be the case and if you’ve never seen this version you should hurry. You want to know what everyone’s going on about when they compare this to the remake since that inevitably happens. I’ll be doing a bunch of comparisons myself when I watch it.

Overall 7/10