Tokyo Mew Mew Olé! Review


It’s time to talk about an absolutely brutal manga that is just awful on so many levels. Man this one was bad and I had a bad feeling about it right from the jump. The original Tokyo Mew Mews may not have been fantastic manga but they at least had a lot of fun moments and cool things happening at all times. This one? It’s trying its very best to be a nonstop reverse harem at all costs while destroying all of the characters in the process. Even having some serious fights was not enough to save this one.

So the plot starts out rather similar to the main series but in reverse. Shibuya is a rather shy guy who keeps to himself. Some think he’s cool in an aloof way while others just think he’s a jerk but he doesn’t care. Unfortunately, a mad scientist (The mother of his crush Anzu) ends up firing off a powerful energy blast that transforms 5 teenage guys into cat warriors. Shibuya is now the leader of this Mew Mew group and he has to try and hide this from the world or he will be a laughing stock.

The only way to get rid of these powers is to find a bunch of “Mew Aqua” crystals. Along the way he will also have to fight off powerful Chimera monsters and a villain group led by Deep Blue who seem to want to destroy the planet. Along the way Shibuya must now try to confess his feelings for Anzu. The tough part is that the other 4 guys are in love with her as well and the same is true for the 3 big villains. Anzu loves the attention from the 8 guys but the problem is that she is slowly falling for all of them as well. Can she choose…must she choose? She will have to handle this carefully.

The original Mew Mew series was a classy affair. The cat gimmick may have been a bit much but hey it was a classic magical girl show about fighting monsters. You had a wholesome romance with the nice guy and the “bad boy” trying his best to get the lead’s attention. The romance itself may have been super weak but the show as a whole was just classic. This series just feels desperate right off the jump. The whole series is about getting in as much shipping as possible and it’s absolutely nonstop.

The plot even curves around this for no reason. Let me give you an example here real quick. One aspect of this is how the Mew Mew formula not only turns you into a cat but it also affects your personality this time. Shibuya is forced to yell stuff like “Pleased to be of service”! and every time he tries to gag himself but it’s too late. By the end of the series he stops resisting but apparently it’s something that happens to all of the characters. Part of the transformation is a mental suggestion that forces you to strike up different poses and say crazy catchphrases. This is obviously not serving any point except to try and make the characters as embarrassed as possible. It’s not a good look.

Then there is the romance which is awful. As mentioned in the intro, everybody likes Anzu. They just can’t stop thinking about her and while it’s obvious that she will choose Shibuya in the end, did we need everyone to fall for her like this? It’s just really excessive but the absolute worst part of it is that Anzu gets her own feelings confused as well. If she was just being very stoic about it the whole time or patronizing that would help but when she actually starts to think that she likes the other guys as well then it becomes an issue.

The series could have easily tried to make Anzu better by being decisive but this was just here for the drama. At the end of the day the whole series is just here for a lot of shipping. You even have the guys showing off so much that they all start to be in awe at times. At one point they’re stranded at the desert and have to make some desperate crazy calls. The plot takes a backseat all of the time and so this ends up being a horrible manga. Every single moment is weaker than its original incarnation but not by a little, it’s by a lot. There is no reason to actually read this manga in the end. There’s just no replay value here and it feels like the worst possible way to continue the franchise. I’m glad the original show got a reboot so people can check that out instead.

So as you can see, I didn’t like Anzu as the main heroine. She’s just not decisive enough and gets kidnapped a whole lot. Anzu may have been brave to enter the villain base on her own at one point but she’s captured so effortlessly that it just makes the whole decision look bad. Shibuya is also bad as the main guy because he is way too timid. He also has no control over his cat form so he will suddenly get real serious and possessive, then back to normal. These massive mood swings don’t help his character in the slightest or help you see how Anzu could have fallen for him in the first place.

Yoyogi is the smart member of the group so expect him to be talking down to everyone all the time. It isn’t very impressive though considering that his abilities aren’t even above the others and intelligence barely matters in this series. You either land your attack and destroy the enemy or you don’t. There’s no room for big fancy plans or any of that stuff. This guy’s annoying all the way through and you know he has no shot at the romance either way. While you can’t have a team without a bunch of team members, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point to this guy. There’s nothing interesting or endearing about him.

Ryusei is the youngest one of the group and he’s very headstrong as a result. Usually I like that kind of character but of course it’s more to show him as the naïve character who gets some feelings for Anzu but isn’t able to express himself. He can be really wild in his cat form as well and is often a liability. I think he could have been a decent character if handled right but of course the series was not going to handle anything right like that so it was game over right from the start.

Ayato is the rich member of the group who tries to be the mature guy who keeps everyone in line. Of course that doesn’t prevent him from falling for Anzu as well. He mainly tries to stay out of the race at least so he doesn’t complicate matters but of course it would have been even better if he could have just been a mentor figure. At least he can pull his weight more than some of the other characters and actually seems to understand the stakes. I can give him some reasonable props next to the other characters but wouldn’t say that I liked him much at all.

Finally we have Taichi who is the worst member by far. It’s not even close, the guy whines a lot and is super weak so it gets to his head and he starts to think about the dark side. C’mon now, you can’t be switching up this quickly. It’s a really bad look for him and he never really rebounds from this. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to make a comeback from that because once you’re a traitor then you’ve crossed a line that must not be crossed. Getting back from that is incredibly difficult to the point of being nearly impossible. This guy got off really easy if you ask me.

Then for the 3 Wiseman group: Latte, Chai, and Mocha, none of them were all that good. Latte was another guy obsessed with Anzu the whole time and he wanted her to love him but of course that wasn’t possible. It’s an awful motivation for a character as well. Then you have Chai and Mocha whose motivations were weak enough where they were also ready to quickly jump in and help the heroes out when things got rough. If you were a villain with a lot of convictions then that surely wouldn’t happen right? I like the title since the 3 Wisemen sounds impressive but there’s nothing particularly wise about them.

Additionally, they could have murdered the heroes so many times but kept choosing not to which was a big mistake. They’re so much stronger than the Mew Mew fighters that it’s scary. They would often win in a single blow but just let the heroes live because they can. That certainly came back to bite them later on. Then you have Dark Blue who has no conviction of her own here either.

She wants to effectively reset the world as humans have messed everything up. Okay that’s great but then all it takes is a few words for her to rethink everything? That felt way too fast if you ask me, there was just no compelling points brought up beyond the obvious. So that shouldn’t have been enough to turn Dark Blue. Not at all, it just serves to show us that she really didn’t have much drive before now.

This series probably has the most reverse fanservice I’ve seen in a minute as well. One look at the costumes and you can see how they aren’t practical at all. I’ve always said that a bad costume isn’t necessarily fanservice on its own. It’s all in how the camera zooms in or how the manga panels are meant to draw your attention. Well, here they are obviously meant to be fanservice bait. It’s a little hard to take seriously compared to traditional fanservice but I’ll still dock points in the same way because it’s yet another element that is taking priority over the plot.

When you stop to think about it, there is barely a plot here. None of the characters actively work to remove their powers after the opening chapters. The 3 Wisemen want to change the planet so they send one shot monsters out once in a while but don’t do much about that until the very ending either. Even the whole environmental theme is mostly removed from the original series. The villains own a company where they talk about going green as a front which was interesting but it’s ditched almost immediately. Going more into that could have been interesting but ultimately it didn’t happen. This series just feels like a waste all the way through.

The series works to have a bit of a body count by the end and a lot of emotional scenes but they ring hollow as you don’t like any of the characters by this point. The only consolation I can give the series is that the art was actually fairly good. There is a lot of detail put into each of the pages so I can appreciate that but at the same time a series cannot survive on art alone. A bad story will be just as bad even if the art is excellent. So the fight scenes look good at least but don’t do much to salvage the overall product.

At the end of the day, if the series wanted to be anywhere close to the original then it should have grabbed the stronger elements from the first title and built upon them. For example, the main girls there were all friends by the end and had solid banter. These guys? Well, they’re all jealous of each other because of Anzu so there’s a lot of fighting but it’s more personal and not as bantery like with the old cast. You don’t really have any scenes of the characters getting to know each other and having a good time because they have one track minds. The characters don’t have great development and again there are no big story beats or deeper themes to keep track of. It’s like the series just grabbed the concept but didn’t actually read the original series.

Overall, Tokyo Mew Mew Olé! is a really awful series. The romance here is probably some of the worst that I’ve seen since Black Bird and that one was historically bad. The whole series is really focused on the romance as everyone tries for Anzu but at the end of the day there isn’t any substance here for it. The series tries to bring you back every month with the shipping but it’s just not enough. I mean that’s probably one of the worst ways you can try to promote a series. By the time things get serious in the final chapters it is way too late. This is really a series that never needed to be made. The concept itself isn’t awful automatically of making the guys the magical fighters for a change but it feels like the series never intended to take its own premise seriously and that’s the most disappointing thing here. Definitely skip this series if you can, it’s not worth checking out.

Overall 1/10

Clannad Review


Clannad is one of those romance anime that you had to have heard of at some point. It got really big back in its day after all as one of those shows that would get really emotional. Well I’ve finally gotten to check it out and it’s definitely a solid title. From the big 3 I would say it beats Air but loses out to Kanon. Ultimately the ending is probably the most satisfying out of all 3 but Kanon executed the mystery elements and ominous snow the best. You always felt like something crazy could happen at any moment and it did have someone fighting off monsters so it wasn’t afraid to get supernatural. This one gets supernatural as well but in a different way.

The show starts off by introducing us to Tomoya who is your average student just trying to enjoy his life to the fullest. He suffered an injury which prevents him from playing Basketball though and this has caused a big rift with his father who was seemingly at fault for this. So Tomoya is still bitter at this whole circumstance but tries to bury this beneath his carefree personality. His best friend Sunohara is even more carefree so the two of them get along just fine. As the show goes on Tomoya befriends 5 girls at the school and helps them deal with their own personal challenges and trials. Perhaps in helping them he will be able to get past his own issues as well.

So at its core this is a bit of a slice of life. Each story arc will focus on one girl in particular as Tomoya gives her his full attention. There are overarching plots throughout these arcs though and it’s not like the girls vanish. The main story is really about helping Nagisa get the drama club up and running. It’s tough though since the Student Council is all powerful and there aren’t enough members. That’s the general focus. So there’s always a lot going on but you can clearly tell who is the focus at any given point even while the main plot is going on. I would also consider this to be part harem as well since inevitably everyone seems to like Tomoya and you have to guess which girl he ends up with. It’s done in a classy way though where they’re not all trying to seduce him or anything like that. Plus the show is very tame with the fanservice.

I would say the amount of fanservice here is close to 0. Perhaps not at absolute 0, the ultimate technique of the Cygnus, but it’s close enough. That’s definitely a good thing, the show is going for a very mature vibe where the characters actually have real interactions with them and the drama isn’t forced. The show never has to try getting really edgy or flashy to keep the audience’s attention either which helps out quite a bit. In general this is what I expected though because this company is always good with that. I also appreciate that the series isn’t quite as depressing as something like Air which would absolutely have hurt the score here. Instead while not everyone gets a happy ending, nobody gets a terrible one either.

So lets go through each character and I’ll touch on their story beats. First we should start with Tomoya. His plot is ongoing as he talks to everyone else but perhaps because of this, his plot feels the most rushed and the one that doesn’t really get to end. Of course he doesn’t get along with his father which is a big plot point but surprisingly this doesn’t really get resolved. The final scenes with them give you the hope that things will start to change but it’s not really confirmed.

We don’t really see enough to truly get why Tomoya is so upset with the father though. Not being able to play Basketball ever again is definitely rough but was the father actually a vicious person back then, was it more or less an accident? You can make some good guesses based on how we see that he’s a full alcoholic now but it doesn’t seem like Tomoya really tried to help either. My interpretation was the show used this to tell us that Tomoya was actually the unreasonable one here. The contrast would be that he’s always ready to help everyone else out and be a super nice guy but he was too bitter to solve his own issue.

It’s an interesting angle and every scene we get in the show is the father trying to reach out and rekindle their relationship while Tomoya acts out. I just wish this could have gotten more closure. It’s the only part of the show that isn’t very satisfying. It didn’t need to show more of the flashback but just give more of a final conversation between the two of them. They didn’t even have to get along, having Tomoya decide that he just can’t do it would still work. Just something more than what we got.

As a character Tomoya is otherwise very solid though. While I didn’t agree with how he handled his personal issues, he was really helpful to everyone else. Tomoya was always willing to stick his neck out and try to improve a situation. He saved a lot of lives in that way and he was also quick on the uptake and always ready with some banter. The only times he would go too far with his teasing was with Fuko. He definitely should have eased up on messing with her while she was zoned out and it felt more mean spirited than funny. So as a main character he probably loses to the other two big KEY protagonists but there are more positives to his character than negative.

His friend Sunohara is a good character to talk about next because he doesn’t get much of a character arc. He’s the comic relief character of the group so as you can imagine things tend to be rather dicey for him. Unfortunately he’s the kind of character who is obsessed with girls the whole time and so most of his scenes fall flat. He’s easily got to be the worst character here and I think he should have just been cut out. I know a lot of times you need a second guy around so all of the characters can compare him to the lead and make their choice but this guy just isn’t needed.

At best he has a bit of a character focus in that he doesn’t like when characters make up excuses not to try so hard. He takes it extremely personal and uses that as extra motivation during the Basketball game. At his core he’s not a bad person as most of his scenes are just for laughs but even then I just wouldn’t say that I was a big fan. His sister Mei also doesn’t have a lot to do here and comes across as one of the more random characters. I guess she’s nice enough but since Sunohara already doesn’t have much of an important role here, you can probably guess that her role is really small as well.

First up is Kyou and she’s probably the most selfless of the heroines. She likes Tomoya but basically buries her feelings because her sister Ryou likes him. As a result she does her best to try and ship them together at every point. Unfortunately Ryou just isn’t able to capitalize on this and I’ll get into that more on her section. Kyou is easily one of the standout characters of the series and kept on fighting with Tomoyo (Not to be confused with Tomoya) as the best character in the series. She doesn’t really have a big character arc compared to the other girls. At most you could say that she had to come to terms with her feelings more directly as the series went on but she had no inner demons to conquer.

This is part of why she is such a great character. While everyone else was dealing with things, she was just putting others first and intentionally staying in the background. She’s also a very high energy character who is always acting really confident and getting the ball rolling. Kyou adds a lot to the dynamic in every scene and so you always appreciate having her around.

Now her sister Ryou just isn’t as solid. Of course you probably know that I’m not really big on the very shy characters. They just aren’t as entertaining and Kyou basically set her up with the bases loaded several times and Ryou messed it up every time. Even if Ryou is super shy, you’d think that she would at least honor Kyou’s constant sacrifices and try to talk to Tomoyo right? This is the main reason why I could never root for her. You’ve just got to give me at least an inch here. If Ryou isn’t willing to work towards her goal at all then it’s game over.

Just about any scene with Ryou is one where she is getting saved by Kyou. So I give Kyou full credit and top marks here but I have to give Ryou the big 0 if this was a test. She’s easily the least interesting of the heroines as well because there isn’t anything more to her than being timid. You could have her missing from an episode and I wouldn’t even notice.

Back to the high quality characters though, next up is Tomoyo and she aspires to be the student council president. She will help make a difference in the school and the current school council isn’t very good anyway so they really need to be bumped out. She’s a straight A student and top of her class but unfortunately her association with Tomoya may start affecting her reputation. She doesn’t care though and still brings in her best effort to not just be a guiding light to the best students but to the worst ones as well.

I liked her drive and she definitely went the extra mile. I think part of what makes her a good character is that she wasn’t just helping Tomoya because she liked him. I think she would have done the same thing for a number of other characters. I also appreciated her putting Sunohara in his place time and time again. That guy was definitely asking for it. She also gets more of a backstory than the others as she used to be a school delinquent which is where she learned to fight. This reputation has followed Tomoyo around to the point where it is hurting her future prospects as well.

So she has to try and get away from her past. The tough part is choosing between following her ideals or worrying about her self image. Of course she’s also got the romance plot to consider as well. I thought the show did a good job of making her a very well rounded character and someone that you could root for. She doesn’t hang out with the rest of the cast quite as much so in terms of full screen time she may have a bit less than the others but she does get a full epilogue episode in the what if scenario so that’s impressive.

Yes, past the final episode there is a what if episode about a different timeline and she’s one of the main characters there. That has to be fun for the fans since it seems rare that you would actually go far enough to check out another route like that. I’d say she earned it though, like I said she was always in the mix for being the best character here.

Another really good character was Kotomi. She probably has the toughest backstory to get around. Basically she was a child genius but the problem is that her parents were geniuses too and always had to balance a very difficult career. They were never home and so she was often neglected. One day they died in a plane crash and it really stunted her emotional growth to the point where she can’t really talk to people normally. That’s Tomoya’s queue to step in and talk to her. Gradually she learns to open up more and also confronts her past which she had been intentionally avoiding.

Now as a kid she did make some pretty big mistakes like a certain burning scene but as she was a kid it’s hard to blame her too much there. The oblivious character type isn’t often my favorite but the show doesn’t go too far with it. There’s also a twist about her knowing Tomoya back in the day which didn’t really help her recovery either. It’s easy to sympathize with Kotomi which is part of what helps her be a strong character her. I’d also say that being oblivious also helps a bit in the romance sense as she isn’t really trying for Tomoya. You can still sense the romantic undertones but it was nice to have someone who was really more of a friend the whole time.

Then there is Fuko who feels younger the whole time so it’s hard to see her as a romantic rival either way. Now she’s close to being dead so in a way you could say that she had it hard as well but living in a spirit body isn’t so bad. I’d say that the show doesn’t play this up as a super sad affair the whole time and the emotional parts are really about people not remembering her at times. It makes a case for being the saddest arc in the series. To counter that, Fuko is also the most cheerful member of the cast. Her arc is all about getting starfish to people and that gets tricky.

See, people don’t tend to remember her after a while. The rules of the supernatural follow the same ones as in Noragami where you need to constantly be around or have a powerful tie to the world or you will be forgotten. This arc definitely does get emotional with that because in a way you feel like there’s no way she can win in the end. In fact, the arc is even sadder in hindsight as the show goes on and the characters actually do forget her.

Again, the show doesn’t dwell on this so it’s not played up as a big tearjerker moment whenever she’s around but it’s definitely sad when you think about it. Until her real body wakes up, she is doomed to just wander the town for eternity with nobody recognizing or acknowledging her in any way. Only once a while when she charges up enough energy can she quickly catch someone’s attention but it’s always a very fleeting moment. It was always fun to see her although I think the show could have done a little more with her cameos down the road.

I wouldn’t say the show completely dropped the ball but there’s a lot of fun they could have had with this but all of her scenes basically end up being filler each time. That’s part of the gag but I think having a good heart to heart moment or something would have been nice there. Or maybe have the show end with her showing up and saying hey to the cast in her real body. Perhaps it would have taken some of the focus away but it would be worth it since I’d say that she earned her moment.

Finally we have the main heroine Nagisa. Now there’s a lot of pressure on being the main heroine. I’d say that goes without saying and it’s definitely the case here. Nagisa is a good character even if I would only put her 4th among the 6 girls. Nagisa really wants to be in a drama club but as for why that is, the show takes a little bit to build up to it. She can be a bit spacey and really likes the big Dango family. It tends to distract her and of course Tomoya is always distracted in helping the other girls so I guess they have that in common.

As the show goes on we naturally get a big backstory for Nagisa and it’s a sad one although not as sad as Kotomi or Fuko’s. Nagisa always feels like she did something wrong back in the day and as a result she is always acting very cautiously. Nagisa thinks her parents are hiding this so she never really confronts them. (They are hiding some secrets but nothing that they blame Nagisa for) So you’ve got a little drama there. Ultimately this works as a big trial for Nagisa but I would say it’s a bit harder to connect with it. She takes the situation rather hard but I just didn’t find it nearly as emotional.

Nagisa tends to fall for a lot of Tomoya’s gags the whole time but always means well. She tries to defend him when things get tricky and she fights hard to get her own club. So there isn’t anything really bad to say about her. She does well as the main heroine and gets her moments to shine. I can’t say I’m super on board with the romance angle but it’s not bad either and I’ll go more into that later on. I think something that could have helped her here would be to have had some kind of big moment outside of her arc. Mostly Tomoya did the heavy lifting in each arc and that makes sense as the main character but maybe having Nagisa come in with a clutch assist in one of them would have been good. Something to put her ahead of the pack.

Akio and Sanae did well as the parents. Now this is a subplot that the show really executed well as they initially start out as very gimmicky side characters but their plot actually gets rather serious. We learn more about their past and see why they are so protective. I also like how close they are even after being married for so long. You could make the very strong case that they have the healthiest relationship in the whole show. Akio may end up saying the wrong thing a lot and getting himself into hot water but he is always looking out for Sanae. He also has a very critical moment in Nagisa’s character arc.

It’s rare to see the parents actually getting a quality role like this so I was all for it. They also got to show Tomoya what a healthy family dynamic looks like which helped him in his own character arc as well. Sanae should probably start baking more to improve her cooking skills but low key I think she likes the attention since it gets Akio to chase after her. Again, it’s just a fun dynamic and even more so if you think she’s trolling him a bit there. He certainly likes trolling Tomoya a lot so it just runs in the family.

Now there is one plot that I found to be really pointless though. So at the beginning of every episode we start with a dystopian future where a girl is talking to a little robot she created. See, this kid had the power to create life but only once and so she created a robot but now he’s lonely and she’s sad too. The two of them are doomed to live forever in a world without life which is kind of depressing. The story feels like a very vague meta commentary on something and you’re just trying to figure it out. By the end of the series it makes sense but I just didn’t think it added to anything. It was just a bit boring and the only part of the series where I could even say that. Remove this and just keep the series on the main characters. That would be for the best.

The animation is pretty good. There isn’t much time to show off because this isn’t an action anime or anything like that but we do get a few action scenes with Tomoyo once in a while. The show never looks sloppy or off model so that alone is enough to fit the bill. It’s good enough for the title. The soundtrack is a bit more on the forgettable side though. The opening is one of the weakest ones I’ve heard in a long time. It’s just way too soft. This may be an emotional series but I feel like you could still add a little more energy to it. It’s one of those openings you probably would never re watch. Then the ending is even weaker. I appreciate the dedication to the Dango gag but this isn’t the place for it!

At the end of the day Clannad really succeeds because it’s really good at every genre that it tackles. It’s a really good slice of life title as you actually have time to see the characters hanging out and just relaxing in all kinds of settings. It’s a good way to build up some character development and the characters can hold their own so it doesn’t get boring. On the drama front the show manages to build up a lot of emotional scenes and get things sad for everyone without overdoing it and making the whole thing try hard. It never gets to be too traumatic or gritty while still keeping the emotions high.

Then for the romance, well that’s always a little trickier but I will say that on average it did the romance better than most. One of the key staples to a good romance is that it needs to take place over a long while. Any romance that is instant will be a weak one guaranteed. Likewise you don’t want rebound romances and that’s one advantage that harem titles actually have. Usually the lead doesn’t pick anyone until the end and all of the girls liked him from the start so there is no rebound. Some of the less classy ones would mess this up but not Clannad. The show cheats a bit by showing an alternate route but since it is expressly an “alternate” path it did choose one girl in the end so I’ll give it props there.

I won’t say which girl wins out but it’s probably pretty clear from the start. Some shows can actually keep you guessing right to the end like Lull of the Sea, but this is one where you can just tell based on who gets the focus and everything. The show isn’t trying to be very secretive about this at all. The main romance takes place over a long time and develops naturally so yeah I’d be able to confidently say that it’s one of the better romances. That’s a good thing because the show is part romance after all. I still didn’t ship the characters but if it happens then I guess I’m cool with it. I did like some of the other characters better than this heroine though.

During the show there is one Basketball game and it kind of made me wish we could have gotten some more sports. The game itself was very interesting because of course Tomoya can’t really lift his arm to play the way that he used to. So he’s at a disadvantage the whole time and has to try and win with pure strategy alone. I think making that a full episode would have been a blast even if it may not have really flowed with the rest of the show. Hey, sports and tactics are always a great mix and the show got me invested so it’s definitely a complement. I wonder how bad the injury was that Tomoya doesn’t feel like he can ever rehabilitate it though. The show doesn’t go into specifics and surely there’s a way to rebound. At least I figure there would be.

Overall, Clannad is a title that I could safely recommend to just about any anime fan as long as you aren’t looking for an action title. It’s just a well written title all around with a lot of strengths. Perhaps it isn’t as funny as it wishes it could be but there are still scenes that will make you smile here and there. Perhaps not laugh out loud funny but I did like a lot of Tomoya’s witty comebacks from time to time. It also never hurts to see Sunohara get beat up. The voice actor does a good job with the reactions.

Overall 7/10

Grease 2 Review


Sometimes a movie will at least start out good and you see the potential slowly get squandered away but this time you could really say that the movie was no good right from the start. It immediately feels very weak and is just ripping ideas off of the first one. It’s not subtle about doing this either and so it’s just weaker than the first film in every way along with a historically bad song thrown into the mix. You’ll definitely want to skip that one as quickly as possible.

The film starts off with everyone heading back to school and a lot of singing has taken place. It’s been a while since the events of the first film but things are more or less the same with how you have the gang of guys and the gang of girls who are all supposed to pair up. Well, Stephanie is through with this and breaks up with her counterpart. She wants to be with someone dashing, someone who is like a true mystery man. That seems like it’ll be difficult though and then a new transfer student named Michael appears.

He’s a nice guy who he doesn’t quite fit in with the gangsters. The thing is that he likes Stephanie and wants to find some way to get her to appreciate him. She doesn’t give him a chance normally so then he decides to become a superhero. The cool rider of her dreams. All it takes is a leather jacket and a helmet to cover his face. Now Stephanie can’t get enough of him. Should he keep up the deception so that they can get married or will he have to come clean and risk it all?

There’s not a ton of plot here though as that setup is interrupted a whole lot by a ton of random songs and characters messing around. There’s almost no focus here and as I mentioned earlier, a lot of the gags and such are directly ripped from the first film. This one doesn’t have any real originality and it shows. The songs are also much weaker. In particular the reproduction song has to stand out as one of the worst songs of all time. I don’t recall hearing a song in any movie that was quite this bad.

The scene goes on forever too and goes well beyond the point of the teachers appearing to look incompetent. This guy should have been fired right out of the gate. The principal also doesn’t really get any big hype moments the way that she did in the sequel. She is around for this movie but doesn’t do a whole lot beyond just glaring and standing around. Feels like a true waste of her character in the meantime. Of course that’s basically the case for anyone here. Frankie returns but her role is so small that she may as well not have returned. She really doesn’t add anything to the story.

Right off the bat the romance is really bad here. Stephanie is super mean to Michael throughout the entirety of the film because he’s just too nice and she wants someone who’s a delinquent. It’s quite telling that she fell for Michael in his alter ego form immediately. That’s because the romance is super shallow. She’s not falling in love with the person but the ideal/mask behind the guy. Nah that’s not a good look for her at all. So by the end you definitely aren’t rooting for them to get together.

I think the film could have done something good with her character but it was squandered. She just comes across as too mean. Also, one of the big drama moments here is that she is given an ultimatum that if she won’t date one of the other gang members then she has to stop wearing the gang clothes. She seems sad about this…but just toss it? It should be a no brainer since she has already decided that she doesn’t like any of those guys. Being in the gang never seemed too important to her either so the whole thing was a bit odd.

As for Michael, well I’ll give him some props for being determined but should he really want to try to date someone who can’t stand him? The level of aggression here was really something so even if he can trick her into liking a different form of his, it doesn’t really seem like a good deal at all. He would always have to be on guard and even if later on she liked the normal form as well, you may have doubts on if she really likes him or just the superhero form.

There’s just a lot of reasons not to care for the romance. I suppose at least you will care more about them than the side characters who really have nothing to do here. It seems like after the main characters left in the first film, the gangs have gotten extremely weak now. It’s actually played for laughs how they now get picked on by a rival gang. Come on, that’s disgraceful. So they’re getting picked on while in their own home turf and they are still more determined to stop the cool rider than the other gang? That’s why they will never be in first place, their priorities are all mixed up.

Michael certainly learned fast too since he was able to easily out speed both gangs and pull off incredible jumps. This guy was a living legend after only a day or two. At least this will buy the rest of the gang some time to finally get good but it’s not like any of them are likable enough to root for anyway. Then in the girl gang the only one with a big role is one character who wants people to stop treating her like a kid. In a better movie this could have led to a lot of very emotional moments and big character beats but in this movie it was just there as fluff. It ultimately doesn’t get all that important as the movie just dashes to the end.

If you take away the musical aspect then this could be better but unlike the first film I wouldn’t even say there is a whole lot of potential here. At least the first film had quality dialogue, an interesting setup, and just a lot of promise. This one wasn’t trying hard to make a plot right from the start so even if you take away the awful songs, it’s not like it would be positive. I would still take that as a consolation though.

Overall, Grease 2 is one of those ultimately lazy films that figures it can strike lightning twice without having to actually do anything. It’s just an extremely weak movie all around and it’s probably for the best that they hadn’t made a third one right after this. I would say to stay far away from this one. Even if you’ve seen the original and liked it, you’ll want to avoid Grease 2. It’s possible that liking the original would actually make this one feel even weaker since you’ll have seen what it could have been like.

Overall 2/10

Grease Review


After all these years I have finally seen Grease. This one is known as a fairly iconic film so it’s about time that I got to really see what it was about. I wouldn’t actually put it in as one of the better comedy films for me as it does have a number of weak points. The weaknesses of the musical genre are always right around the corner after all.

The movie starts by showing us how Danny and Sandy became good friends by spending a summer together. It was all fun and all for them but eventually they had to go back to school. When Sandy bumps into him there she is thrilled at first but it quickly becomes apparent that he is going to pretend that he doesn’t really know her. Danny desperately wants to fit in with the local tough guys and so now he may even choose them over her. Will this romance pull through or was it doomed right from the start?

At the very least it should have been doomed with Danny giving Sandy the cold shoulder like that. He put her in quite the spot and it takes almost all of the film until he’s finally ready to stand up for her in public. That’s way too long and she went through a lot before that period. I would say that Sandy could have stuck up for herself much. Basically her gimmick is that she’s the super nice, but a bit naïve character who doesn’t break the rules and doesn’t really notice when others are making fun of her.

This gets a bit tricky since everyone at school tends to be rather mean. Eventually Sandy gets the hang of this but I would say she didn’t really need to change. Just break out of those friendship groups if the others are just going to be so harsh the whole time and keep it moving. I wasn’t crazy about how this plot ended for her even if it does make for a fairly good twist near the end of the film. I can’t say that I really saw it coming so the movie managed to be a bit unexpected there.

I’m going to be a lot harsher on Danny though because you could argue that most of everything that happened here was his fault. He could have absolutely just been nice to Sandy when she showed up. The whole school custom of his clique only being allowed to date members of the other clique just feels outdated anyway. Danny has enough pull within the group too where I really don’t think they would have pulled anything if he had gone that route. Even if they did, he needs to be able to choose Sandy over anyone else. If he doesn’t then how strong can the romance be?

The romance in Grease is really weak and that’s one big element that huts the movie since romance is one of the main genres. It’s hard to really root for any of the characters to get together. Instead it might be better for them to break things off if the romance itself isn’t their top priority. There are also some backup romances for the side characters and I wouldn’t say any of theirs are all that good either.

Rizzo gets a full sub plot where she thinks that she is pregnant and it changes things. She went from basically being the mean leader of her gang to everyone talking behind her back. The film tries to turn this into a very sympathetic plot but it doesn’t work perfectly well due to how much she was messing around. It’s not like issues in other films where they weren’t very preventable or the main character had no way of dodging them. This problem she basically caused all on her own so that’s not a good look.

She was also just way too mean to Sandy the whole time so it’s not even like she was generally nice. The only character who was actually fair to Sandy the whole time was Frenchy. Frenchy isn’t a very interesting character or anything but at least she wasn’t a bully so I’ll give her props there. All of Danny’s friends were fairly judgmental and not too smart. It’s great that they all get along but if they were really good friends then Danny shouldn’t have felt so pressured to act behind their backs.

I did like the principal though. She made sure to run a very tight ship and wasn’t going to just let these guys run all over her. In fact the bullies pretty much don’t dare to talk back to her. It’s clear that she works hard in establishing dicipline here and manages to pull it off so big kudos to her. Her assistant isn’t very smart and tends to hold her back but I suppose you can’t win them all.

There are a lot of songs here as this is a musical but for the most part I wouldn’t say they’re really my style. There was a song where the characters are jumping on cars and running around that was fairly decent though. This does continue the tradition though where musicals tend to have songs that don’t hold up against films that just happen to have songs. It’s like when you build a film around the concept then the writers run out of good songs or something.

Grease is really at its best when it’s focusing on the comedy aspect of things. A character seeing a ghost in the sky for example was a much more effective scene than any of the romance ones. I suppose I liked seeing Danny try to join different clubs. That made for a fun subplot and the gym teacher was really impressive. Somehow he was able to balance being knowledgeable about every sport while still having time to walk the main character around. Now that’s what I call impressive.

There are also small visual jokes that tend to be fun like the characters all combing their hair in unison. The writing is good for the most part and the movie never drags on. It can be entertaining but does so amidst an unlikable cast of characters and a very weak set of romances. If the film had focused on the story a bit more and cut out the musical element then this probably would have jumped up a bit more. I can’t say that there is real replay value to be had here. There are definitely a lot of moments with potential and the film can be entertaining but it never stays that way quite long enough for me to call this a good film.

Overall, I can now say that I’ve seen one of the all time greats even if I didn’t quite like it as much as most. I’ll have a review for the sequel up shortly though so be ready for that. Often times a sequel can have a hard time living up to the original but in this case since I wasn’t a big fan of it, things could be a bit different. At least that’s what I figured but I won’t spoil the surprise. After all that review will be published on the same day as this review. If you really like romance movies and musicals then you’ll probably enjoy it but otherwise you can do a lot better.

Overall 4/10

Topper Review


Topper is one of those films where everyone acts rather crazy so it becomes a bit of a surreal kind of comedy title. It’s got its share of humorous moments without a doubt but I wouldn’t say the character cast is quite as solid as some of the other comedy films. That keeps it from getting to the next level but the movie is still fun enough so I would recommend it to people looking for a fun time.

The movie starts off by introducing George and Marion who believe in just having a good time no matter how inconvenient it is for everyone else. In particular George seems to like messing with his company and driving every meeting off the rails for no reason. Well, one day he takes the corner a little too quickly when driving so George and Marion are instantly destroyed. They then awaken as ghosts and seem to be stuck on the planet. Marion figures that they have to do a good deed in order to move on and their best bet is to help out old man Topper.

Topper is a married man who hasn’t gotten to have a whole lot of fun so far. His wife prohibits anything that she deems to be without class such as owning a cool car or doing anything outside of her planning for the year. As a result Topper isn’t a very happy camper. George figures he may as well go along with this but he isn’t really happy about the prospect. He’d rather have fun on his own than help someone else out. Will they really be able to help Topper or is their idea of “Help” actually going to hurt him?

Naturally there is no concrete evidence given to the main two that doing a good deed will help out at all so they’re really taking a swing in the dark here. They also have to hope that it’s a package deal because George is not helpful during the movie at all. He follows Marion’s lead but for the most part is just the same guy that he always was. He keeps on drinking and messing around but now that he’s invisible he can mess with more people. You could almost call him an antagonist if you really think about it.

I guess he’s not actively hurting anyone but at the same time he is just making a mess of things. That makes for an entertaining character. As for Marion, well she likes to do things at her own pace but is trying to help Topper at least. Her flirting and teasing of him can go a bit far though. She is still married to George after all and Topper doesn’t have the strongest will so trying to lead him onto the wrong path isn’t a good idea. In fact I would say that’s the weakest part of the film as he does actually seem to get tempted. His marriage may be no fun at the moment but he would still needs to end things before starting something new.

This hurts Topper as well in my book. At the end of the day it feels like he could have solved all of his problems if he could just talk more directly and not simply taker things as they happen. Why not have more of a candid talk with Clara as opposed to just feeling sorry for himself? The guy just needed to have more backbone and he’s whiny enough where he doesn’t really work as the lead.

The movie is good in spite of the characters rather than because of them. The cast is just very weak in the end which is unfortunate. You could easily have made this premise a lot more effective with a solid cast of main characters. The rules of being a ghost are also rather interesting as for once they can fully interact with everything. In fact the ghosts can even allow people to see them if they want to. It takes up ectoplasm which seems to regenerate over time a bit so for the most part they stay invisible but they are absolutely around.

Here’s the interesting thing, if they can’t move on right now, they could have just pretended that they survived. Think about it, they’re fully physical and are always around. What’s to stop them from just going back to the house and living it large? They can still eat and drink as well so there is no real difference from being alive except that they can turn invisible. It actually could be interesting as an alternate premise here, like just going all in with that story instead.

Of course that would be totally different but it’s nice to think about. We do have a good climax with the cops trying to take the two ghosts down but of course they aren’t quite strong enough to pull that off. Just being invisible is such a huge benefit that a single person probably could escape a whole army for a long while. Particularly back in these days before we had a lot of great technology at the ready.

By the end of the film it feels like the main two have been very lucky too in that they actually did guess correctly that they needed to do a good deed and that they actually succeeded. Because you can make a decent argument for them not doing a good deed at all. They were really just messing around with Topper the whole time and things could have easily gone sideways. I suppose the restriction cared more about the results than the method. That or they may have triggered some other condition to moving on that was totally unrelated. It’s not like there is any way to know since it was all assumptions by the main characters.

Overall, Topper is a decent comedy film with some laughs. I liked the premise more than the execution but if you’re looking for a light hearted title then this should still fit the bill for you. It flows by very quickly and it’s not like I had any major issues with it. It would be interesting to see if the sequel can match the original. In theory it very well could but it may be a while before I check that one out.

Overall 6/10

Killer’s Kiss Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 4/10

Belle Review


It’s always nice to have an anime movie to watch. Typically I watch all of the big Shonen type movies but then you’ve got the emotional types like this one which are still fun too. They may not compete visually or in an action sense with the others but you can see how they are used to beat the classics like how this one beats Beauty and the Beast by improving upon the core story.

The story starts by introducing us to Suzu who used to like singing and having a good time but then she was traumatized when her mother died after trying to save a kid who was drowning. It didn’t help that people criticized her mother for doing this and playing hero (Which came across as a little forced tbh since the kid was saved in the end) so Suzu fell further into despair. She pretty much cut off ties to everyone and even has a hard time talking to her father or her childhood friend Shinobu. One day she discovers an app that lets you into a virtual world. It’s the Metaverse if that app/concept was actually a lot more interesting.

Now she has an alter ego named Belle and can sing to her heart’s content there. Suzu uses this as a complete escape from the real world and wouldn’t mind staying there forever. Still, even this area has its share of issues. There is a mysterious user named the Beast who goes around causing a lot of mayhem and interrupting Suzu’s contest. She senses that there is more to him than the chaos but at the same time she doesn’t know what to do about it. What can she do? Meanwhile the “Justice League” type police officers want to put the Beast down for good. If Suzu isn’t quick on deciding what to do, she could lose everything.

The idea of retreating into a virtual world is certainly a classic one and always an interesting idea. Who wouldn’t want to be trapped in a world like Sword Art Online right? The idea of a fresh take on life has spawned tons of stories and if you ask people IRL, there are many who would love the chance to do this and others who of course would not want to. For me personally, it sounds pretty awesome but if it’s an action game, not something like the world in Belle because it’s still just like real life.

For Suzu it works because she can actually sing here and she’s really good at it too. That alone makes the world worth it and of course flying and stuff is fun too. The visuals in the world are interesting and the CG’s not bad. It reminds you of the old days of the computer so it’s a bit of a nostalgic boost. The animation for the human scenes is good too but a little below average next to what you’d see nowadays. It’s what I call the mainstream anime movie effect where it’s aimed more at a general audience so the colors aren’t as bright and splashy.

Turn on the TV to almost any modern anime right now and it’s going to look a lot better which is a bit ironic since this is a movie. Still, you don’t need to compare this to the rest and on its own the animation is still good. There isn’t a lot of action here anyway but the combos with the Beast in the cyberworld are fun. I wouldn’t mind if the fights got extended just a bit.

At its core this is more of an emotional story though and it succeeds at that. I would say it’s suitably sad without trying too hard or overstaying its welcome. Towards the end of the story we even get a bit of a dark twist. You’ll probably have figured out what’s going on during an early scene when the Beast’s wounds are glowing but if not, the film makes sure not to make it too obvious. I didn’t even realize the symbols on the Beast’s back were wounds until they said it. Either way it’s pretty intense when it happens and works for the story but I’m glad it doesn’t go any further than the quick scene or two. This is the right amount of getting you to understand the stakes without just making the whole thing really edgy.

I’m thinking it was a stylistic choice to not make it obvious as even one guy who drew artwork of injuries still looked like flowers to me. It’s a good choice from an animation level I’d say since it lets the movie be more creative. The soundtrack isn’t too memorable for the most part but the lyrical songs are fun. There’s always a lot of fun special effects during the songs as well and in particular I liked the large venue that was set up for the main song. That place was absolutely massive and is definitely the kind of place you want to be when giving a performance.

As for Suzu as a main character, I wouldn’t say that she was great. Of course you can see what character arc the movie is going for but she’s just a little too timid the whole time. Suzu doesn’t really act upon her feelings and when she does towards the end, it’s not always with a great plan. The climax could have had her take an extra 2 seconds to bring someone along and that would have been a really good idea. Of course it’s also bad on the other characters for not just jumping in.

This is the kind of story where Suzu would certainly be a lot better in a sequel, but I doubt we’ll be getting one. Her best friend Hiroka was really good though. She would sometimes badmouth other characters without meeting them which is a bit petty but at least she always had Suzu’s back. She was around to support her at all times and also did a lot of the legwork in setting up the alter ego. Something tells me Suzu would have been found out right away without someone like Hiroka to cover her tracks. I appreciate that Suzu wasn’t totally on her own here. I mean she had the drama club members as well but you want someone your own age to talk too. So in this way Suzu wasn’t completely alone.

I also liked Kamishin, the sports guy who is really serious about competing. His romance scenes can be a little cringe but as a character he always means well. He works well as the subtle comic relief here and a little break from the main plot. Ruka was also good and didn’t fall into the trap of being the mean popular girl. Instead she is someone who excels but doesn’t have to play dirty or take the low road. I appreciated that since it would have just been too cliché if she was a villain for some reason. As a supporting character she was good.

Then we have Shinobu who was the best from the main characters. He did his best to protect Suzu from behind the scenes and wanted to even be more open about it but she was always running away. While the other characters hesitate on how to advise Suzu, he just comes out with the right answer right away. Ultimately there wasn’t a whole lot he could do at many points of the film with how he was shut out from the context but he never gave up. His detective skills were also on point as he figured some things out right away with no real help.

Ultimately I would say that the romance in this film is definitely more on the weak side though. Focusing more on Suzu’s quest to regain her confidence would be the better play because there just isn’t a whole lot of time for romance. It’s there for some quick moments but doesn’t really enhance the film in any way. At least for me I would have cut it out here and kept the characters as just friends.

Now for the Beast, he was an interesting character and had a very memorable first appearance. His stats are definitely very impressive and when you look at his scenes within the context of the cyber world, it’s easy to see why he was always running off and shaking away Belle’s embraces. Starting a romance in an online game when you aren’t sure who the other person is can be a bit risky and she was a bit clingy from the start. You don’t have many scenes of them just standing around and talking.

In general, I think that’s one thing the film could have used some more of. Belle and Beast actually talking in the cyber world. They barely ever have time to interact beyond quick moments here and there. I think a quick talk could have done well to help set up the scenes in the climax and add some more context that both characters could use. Like memorable lines that would help piece things together later on. Either way the Beast is very solid though and he has very valid reasons for acting the way that he does.

He is one of the better characters here. The so called heroes of the cyberworld look pretty bad though. They’re super unreasonable the whole time and jump to threats right away. I understand going after the Beast because he does act like a villain at times but getting innocent civilians involved like Belle too? That’s where they cross the line and as the film goes on they really just seem to be in it for the clout instead of justice.

At least they gave us good action scenes which is always appreciated. They aren’t long but they’re fun to look at. The film’s humor scenes don’t tend to land as they get dragged out a little too much. I would say a weakness the film has is partially to do with pacing where some scenes go on too long. It tends to have a lingering effect where every moment is just a few beats too long. Sometimes a lot of beats like with Kamishin running out of the train station and being dragged back in by Suzu multiple times. Well, the film definitely goes for a lot of different vibes and so maybe they weren’t sure how long to linger on each moment. One plot I probably would have gotten rid of though was the friction between Suzu and her father. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me based on the origin story. If anything I would think that would cause Suzu and him to get even closer. At the very least, I don’t see how it would make her be unable to even have a conversation with him and avoid everyone. It just felt rather random and didn’t help Suzu’s character any.

As a final note, I definitely liked the mystery angle that was going on for a while. Basically Suzu and Hiroka were trying to figure out who the Beast’s secret identity was. So we get to meet various characters who have some connection to him and you have to decide who the Beast is. I wouldn’t say it would be very easy to guess at all but I do think the film gives enough material where you could have a go at it. I can’t say that I guessed myself though or at least even got the general area of which character it was. At least one of the suspects actually turned out to be a pretty solid guy. I can’t really say the same for the other suspects though.

Overall, Belle is a pretty good movie. There are some things that don’t work so well like the romance, some neighbors talking bad about Suzu’s mom sacrificing her life to save a child, and the general climax doesn’t make any rational sense. The film could have ended very badly if things went as it realistically would. The positives outweigh the negatives though with a generally solid script, good plot, and some fun songs. You can see how the whole thing can be improved without a doubt but it’s ultimately still a movie with a good amount of replay value that you could check out again. I’d recommend giving it a watch.

Overall 7/10

Kiss of Death Review


With a title like this you probably won’t be surprised that this is a Noir movie. It’s certainly got that vibe from the start and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s a solid film about the dangers of getting into the criminal racket. Once you go in, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out easy and Nick learns that the hard way. It’s a satisfying adventure but one that didn’t play out the way that I thought it would.

The movie starts with Nick getting caught after his latest heist and taken to jail. The time for this one is going to potentially be 20 years so the DA, A’Angelo tries to strike a deal but Nick declines. He figures that the other crooks will look out for him. Unfortunately they don’t and his wife ends up dead with no money to her name. Nick decides to do the deal now but 3 years have passed and the opportunity is not the same. He has one shot to get back at the crooks which is to be a stoolie for the cops. He’ll find out info and bring it back to D’Angelo but of course this is a very dangerous job. The villains have a lot of pull and the crazy guy named Tommy on their side. One wrong move will not only destroy Nick, but his rebound girlfriend and his kids.

You can probably guess right off the bat that I was not a fan of the romance here. Look, Nick’s whole reason for revenge and making a deal is because his wife was effectively murdered due to the other crooks not watching out for her. She wasn’t given any money or safety. So then why he is suddenly going out with Nettie? What’s worse is that Nettie and her had a big fight shortly before her death and Nettie basically admits that she has wanted Nick for a while now. Nick’s cool with all of this?

With the title of the film I fully expected Nettie to be the big villain here. There would be a twist about how she’s actually the one who murdered the wife or something like that. It wasn’t a suicide but a frame up. It would have made a lot of sense but the film actually plays it straight which is just as bad if not worse. It’s bad for both parties but in particular it’s a bad look for Nick.

He should not be looking for another wife right now. It’s just way too soon after he’s out of jail. The romance is one of the weakest ones that I’ve seen in a while. He does well beyond that but it’s a big thing to sidestep. The movie is solid in spite of Nick, not because of him. I thought D’Angelo did a good job of giving Nick a lot of chances initially and then explaining that the offer wasn’t forever.

3 years later it makes sense that he would feel a bit sour, especially with how Nick treated him. I wouldn’t say D’Angelo did a good job of protecting him at all though. I can see why Nick didn’t trust him to keep them safe because the guy’s track record was just awful the whole time. Anyone could get past him and that’s absolutely not what you want to hear when there is a big mass murderer after you. Nah, escaping him was the right option here.

Tommy is the big villain and he certainly makes his presence known. He doesn’t like squealers at all and definitely doesn’t take any disrespect. It’s clear that beating him won’t be easy and the guy has a lot of experience. You get the feeling that being his friend is also pretty dangerous since he’s such a spontaneous guy. You may be friends with him one moment and then enemies the next. If you’re an enemy then you’re really out of luck.

I would say that Nick’s plan was extremely risky though and had a near 0% chance of working. There are so many ways it could have gone wrong. I suppose he didn’t have many other options at this point but even so, I wouldn’t say it was a good plan. It’s hard to picture it ever working again even if the scenario was played 100 times. When you’ve got nothing to lose you might as well give it a try, but that’s the only time to play this card.

The movie captures the sense of dread and danger that Nick feels when Tommy is on the loose. These old school Noir titles always knew how to build up a good atmosphere and this one is no exception. Nick knows that as far as he gets, he’ll never be safe. I do think it’s probably worth taking the odds and hopping on a train out of the state though. In theory back then the info networks weren’t quite as advanced so get out of the country and try to survive. Of course there are a significant amount of risks to that and he may be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life but I would wager that the odds are better than trying to settle the score personally. It’s a gamble either way of course.

The writing is also very solid. I like the dialogue exchanges here and it may seem like a small thing but a lot of newer films can’t always hold their own in this same respect. It’s all different eras of course and modern films have their good writing as well but sometimes you just want this classic way of speaking. That false politeness between the heroes and villains, the subtle digs thrown into each sentence. It’s difficult to replicate that.

Overall, Kiss of Death is a good Noir film but I do think it’s held back by some of the choices in the story. I just have a really hard time getting past the whole romance angle. It just feels so crazy considering how the whole plot was about getting past her death. What’s the thought process behind throwing this in? If it was solely because the movie needed some romance then that’s just pretty sad. Making Nettie the villain just made so much sense that I’m still shocked the movie didn’t go that route.

Overall 7/10

Viva Las Vegas Review


It’s time for another Elvis adventure. I thought this one was quite a bit better than the last one as it embraces the humor and good cheer that you would want out of a musical film like this. There are a lot of good tunes here throughout and you won’t be disappointed. The romance may be a bit weak but as it’s played for laughs most of the time it doesn’t end up dragging anything down.

The movie starts with Lucky and Elmo getting ready for the big race. This is the ultimate grand prix and you could say that they’re rivals of sorts. Elmo is rich and has the better car so he invites Lucky to race for him but Lucky is eager to win this on his own. Nobody’s going to stop him! Well it’s a nice idea but it won’t be so easy. See, Lucky meets up with a lady named Rusty that he falls for and so he wastes an entire day running through every club with Elmo to find her. He finally locates her at the swimming pool but after his flirting attempts fail quite massively, he drops his money in the pool and it’s gone. He’ll have to get money quickly in order to get an engine for the race. Can he pull this off?

One thing that works really well in the film from start to finish is the humor. This is a film that will live or die on how funny it is after all and fortunately this lands. The best sequence is definitely when Rusty decides to go on a revenge date with Elmo so Lucky takes it upon himself to mess this up. He does this by making sure that he is the waiter assigned to them and messes up all of the dishes and keeps causing a lot of noise. Lucky isn’t subtle about this either. He just runs in and starts causing general mayhem the whole time.

Elmo tries to politely tell him off but it never works. As for Rusty, since she was only doing this to get back at Lucky anyway, she seemed happy enough to just get out of there. So in a way Elmo was just being used the whole time but in a way I think he knew this. He was just desperate enough to play along the whole time. See, Elmo and Lucky were rivals for Rusty but she only ever had eyes for Lucky. Elmo was out of the game before it ever started.

It was almost surprising that the two of them stayed friends throughout all of this but I suppose at the end of the day they weren’t taking it all very seriously. Their friendship wasn’t about to be broken so easily! It’s a nice change of pace from how fragile these things usually are. In the end Elmo was a decent character. He may have been too much of a flirt like Lucky but at least he was a fun guy.

Meanwhile Lucky is okay but definitely not the loyal type. He seems to instantly fall for any girl that he sees so if I’m Rusty I’d be very weary here. He also doesn’t take a hint too quickly like when he was singing the song to Rusty but getting shot down the whole time. Ultimately he doesn’t plan things out too well in advance either like with the whole money situation. Why let the engine be an issue so close to the actual race? If he had ended up missing it then that would have been very bad for him.

The actual race is only a very small part of the film though so you will need to be watching this for the comedy and romance instead. That takes up almost the entire film after all. There are also a lot of songs I suppose. They’re all reasonably catchy. You’ve got that classic Elvis feel to each of the tunes. I wouldn’t say any of them are home run hits but they do the job. There are a lot of songs here after all and so it’s good that they’re fun. Boring songs would have been a really bad idea here since you want to keep up the full momentum the whole time.

Then for Rusty, she’s a good heroine but should have stuck to her guns. Initially she wanted nothing to do with Lucky but ultimately falls for him anyway and then starts to get jealous a lot. Her character flaw here is that she wants him to stop racing since she thinks its dangerous and wants to be the focus point of his life. It makes her come across as rather selfish the whole time. She knew what she was getting into here so why change it up at the last second like this? It didn’t make a lot of sense and ultimately you know she’s just going to have to get used to it because Lucky was not going to leave the race.

Their banter was good while they were rivals and I think they should have kept it that way. Would have been a much better way to go about it if you ask me. They were really going at it too. Like their battle at the competition, it was nice to see them both trying so hard to win it all. You don’t get that same energy once they’re together. It’s also just cheesy in general because of how quickly everything moves. Slow the roll a bit and the film would work better for it.

Overall, Viva Las Vegas is a solid all around film. The plot is good and a lot of the gags in the movie really work well. The movie knows how to get a good laugh out of you. The main guy and his rival definitely get too distracted by girls though. At least Elmo doesn’t scam them because he’s too nice for that but the same isn’t said for Lucky. You will have a hard time rooting for Lucky the whole time since Elmo just seems like a better person in every way. You still know how it’s all going to play out either way though. That’s just how it goes.

Overall 7/10

How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life Review


This is a pretty interesting title right off the bat because you’d think that saving the marriage would be the right thing to do right? It all becomes clear once the film starts and the characters definitely could have handled this a little better and it would have resulted in less shenanigans. That said, it’s an entertaining movie. It may overstay its welcome at times as the movie does feel a bit long but you’ll be entertained from start to finish.

So the movie starts with Harry admitting to his friend David that he’s cheating on his wife with someone. David knows this is a bad idea and tells Harry straight up but the guy isn’t listening. He figures that the mistress is just too good and his home life has been rocky for a while now. David realizes that the only way to save his friend is to quickly make a play for the mistress and prove that she isn’t very dependable. Through a series of misunderstandings he figures that the mistress is a fellow co-worker named Carol so he starts going out with her and will stop once he convinces Harry. What will Carol think about all of this?

Of course the actual mistress is Carol’s neighbor Muriel so the whole thing gets really complicated. Right off the bat the real issue with the film is that we already don’t like Harry. He’s cheating on his wife so he’s one of the antagonists here. We don’t want anything good to happen to him and any scene with the guy is annoying. He made his choice and now he’s got to live with it but having fun on the side is just an awful idea. I don’t know how he’s still friend with David at this point. I think it’s time for the lead to break it off.

We see the guy’s wife in a few scenes and sure she doesn’t seem very nice but if the film is expecting that to be a good excuse then I must inform you that it doesn’t work. She’s not evil or anything and regardless Harry would need to break things off before starting another affair. I forget if Muriel actually knows if she is the side piece or not. I feel like it is generally understood but I’m not positive. She gives some decent advice to Carol at least and tries to be a good friend to her.

Muriel tends to get swept away by Carol’s friends but at the end of the day it’s nice to have someone to lean on. Now for David, the big issue with him is that his plan wasn’t the best from the start. Trying to show Harry the error of his ways by starting an affair of his own is just not a good idea. David’s single right now so at least he’s not cheating on anyone but it’s still such a roundabout way of going about his plans. It’s not the route you should take and he should have just kept on lecturing Harry directly. Instead he’s getting someone’s hopes up for no reason. Lets say he was with the right person and she liked him, well even if she is an antagonist who is cheating, it’s still not very nice.

David is just being too clever for his own good and he really pays for it. Carol does not take this too well and so suddenly David is spending massive amounts of money to keep her happy. I’m afraid that the romance was particularly weak here. Carol goes too far with her revenge antics throughout the movie so how could a romance possibly bloom like this? Once you start parting a man with his money, it feels like there is no way around that. Carol would order catering and waste money intentionally. Of course a lot of this is played for humor and all but it’s still a rather serious thing to do.

As for Carol, well she does well in resisting the advances of the random guys around the job so naturally she is thrilled when she finally meets someone who seems all right. The whole thing comes as a crushing blow once she finds out what was going on but does not take the high road at all. A good portion of the film involves her revenge here as I mentioned earlier. I do think she has a good right to be upset and break things off but afterwards you can’t just back pedal on this. That’s on both of them and that’s why the romance doesn’t work. It was just too far gone at this point.

The two would barely get along after the big fight and then they’re happy? I dunno about that. Carol was even trying to draft up some contracts so every marriage can be a full transaction now. She was even trying to convince the other two neighbors not to have any future romances without this but then this is out the window by the ending. I think the film could have been handled better with more back and forth during the battles. Cut out the romance at the end as well and now you’ve got the makings of a really solid title.

The reason I would say that the movie is still good is because there are still a lot of fun scenes here. Carol putting up signs to shame David was good and there was a lot of fun dialogue as David was trying to save Harry. You would not mistake this for some low budget production. A lot of work was put into it and the comedy side is absolutely on point. It’s just the romance which falters and even then it’s nothing that completely destroys the movie.

Overall, You’ll enjoy this movie well enough. I suspect it will lose to most of the other old school romance titles that you watch but it’s still worth watching all the way through at least once. It reminds you to be careful when meddling in someone else’s business and also to not jump to conclusions as you may come to the wrong answer. It’s very hard to back pedal at that point so you could find yourself stuck before long. I suppose the other moral here is to be careful who you’re friends with.

Overall 6/10