Final Fantasy II Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 19h 43m
Steps 49366
Gil 372999
Bestiary 68% Complete

Character Levels

Firion

Fist 10
Dagger 1
Sword 6
Staff 1
Axe 1
Spear 1
Bow 1
Shield 9

Maria

Fist 10
Dagger 1
Sword 2
Staff 1
Axe 1
Spear 1
Bow 5
Shield 10

Guy

Fist 10
Dagger 1
Sword 3
Staff 1
Axe 6
Spear 1
Bow 1
Shield 9

Leon

Fist 4
Dagger 5
Sword 8
Staff 6
Axe 10
Spear 7
Bow 4
Shield 5

Final Fantasy II Review


This game has certainly been sitting on the backburner for many years. After beating the original Final Fantasy I tried to get in on the action with the sequel but I just couldn’t pull it off. The gameplay didn’t click. Well, I finally played it from start to finish and I have to say that my view hasn’t changed a whole lot. The story is the strongest part of the game even if it doesn’t touch the newer ones.

The basic plot is that the world is under attack by the Emperor. He has decided to rule over everything just because he can. The heroes are in a rough spot so the queen will now rely on a talented swordsman named Firian, a mage known as Maria, and a strong axe user named Guy. The three of them will need to travel the world and get strong enough to defeat the Emperor. Do they actually have enough strength to do so though? The Emperor has many powerful allies as well as pretty impressive tech at his disposal as well.

This is one of the first games where it took me way longer to complete than the estimated time on the “How long to beat” site. My time nearly doubled it I think at around 20 hours. It’s pretty difficult and that’s due in large part to how the level up system works. See, you don’t have straight level ups like 1, 2, 3. Instead you level up your proficiencies and stats in battle one by one.

Lets say you defeat a minion but you took a hit in the process. You have the potential to increase your max health, speed, defense, and attack power. If you used magic during the battle you may increase that as well. You passively level up your weapon skill as well depending on which kind you have equipped. You can already see how a lot of this is luck based. You increase the chance of increasing your proficiency but it’s not guaranteed. There are a lot of other factors here as well like the strength of your opponents and the duration of the match.

It’s not a very satisfying way to level up though because it’s hard to see when you’re really getting better. You also need to make sure you choose the right spells and weapons or you’ll be wasting your time leveling up something that you’ll never need. Your 4th member of the team also tends to change every other chapter so don’t get too attached. Often times when they leave they will never return so say good bye to any level ups you got.

The weapons also don’t seem very balanced to the point where I discarded them entirely by around the halfway point of the game. Instead I focused on using the barehanded techniques for the climax and honestly they seemed better than weapons anyway. I would always deal heavy damage while the weapons would falter at the worst moments. I have little doubt that the weapons would ultimately be better than bare handed but at least to the point where I was up to this did not seem to be the case.

The final boss was very difficult to defeat like this though. RNG is partially what got me through. See, his attacks were strong enough to not only finish me in a single hit but also replenish almost all of his health. Of course, that was only with physical attacks. On one of my runs I got lucky because he kept spamming magical spells which deal far less damage. I was able to buy just enough time to defeat him before he healed. Even now I think I would have a very hard time trying to defeat him again. It’s rare for things to work out in quite the same way they did here.

I don’t understand why the game went so far as to also make the equipment work against you. Wearing heavier items makes it harder to dodge but you can’t see how heavy something is without going to your character status page and leaving the item screen. Everything just did not feel very intuitive at all. Perhaps there was an easier way and I just didn’t find it. It seems like Final Fantasy II was meant to be very experimental but in this case I felt like it just back fired completely.

FF II’s spawn rate is also extremely high. Enemies are constantly attacking you every few steps. I was able to get in a lot of good reading during every dungeon. I would just keep spamming the attack button as I read through the God of High School chapters. I finished over 100 chapters as I played through this game because the battles took forever and there were so many of them. It was also uniquely useful to multi task in this game since I didn’t need spells and could just use normal attacks for every minion encounter. If I had nothing to distract myself with that would have hurt though.

Final Fantasy II also suffers from being unclear at times. You just don’t know where to go or what to do in order to advance the plot. The worst is when you’re supposed to talk to someone again and forgot to do so. So you go to the next temple but it’s still closed so you have to travel the world again in order to open it. You don’t get to fly until the very end of the game so prepare for a ton of walking. The game doesn’t give you any real shortcuts either so you really feel like an explorer. Just not in a fun way this time.

I could go on, but as you can tell pretty much none of the gameplay elements worked for me. It’s just a title that offered no qualify of life features. The graphics are good though. The character portraits are on point and I did like the minion designs. The game has a very retro sprite look which works well enough. The soundtrack is also very classic Final Fantasy with how each tune sounds. It’s all got a lot of energy and works really well.

As for replay value, by beating the game it seems like you do unlock some kind of new game+. I’m sure that will take you quite a while. Considering that the game is 20 hours long to defeat once, this is probably a 40 hour game or so. I’m not sure what the price is nowadays but it was pretty cheap before so I doubt it would set you back all that much.

Overall, Final Fantasy II is one of the weakest Final Fantasy games for me. In fact, I would have to say it loses to Final Fantasy VII and is my least favorite title. VII has the better gameplay, characters, and stories so II loses around the board to me. Don’t get me wrong, the story is fun and all but it just doesn’t make up for the game’s weaknesses. I don’t really see myself recommending this title to others as well. I’m glad that it helped continue the franchise into its current state but this is an entry you can skip.

Overall 5/10

Black Widow Review


Black Widow is a film that feels like it’s been in the works for ages. After the Avengers 2012 film there was already talk about a potential solo film. I know a lot of people wanted a whole film about Budapest, others wanted a prequel even further back in the red room. Ultimately we would finally get the solo film now, which takes place after Civil War. It’s a pretty good place to put this film in, I would say the only other area that would have worked would have been the multi-year gap between Infinity War and End Game.

The movie starts off with showing Natasha as a child where she grew up with her parents and younger sister. Their life was pleasant for a while but one day they had to suddenly sneak out and head back to base. Her life was thrown upside down and then she went to work as a Soviet agent until eventually she was able to break away into the Avengers. I would say this was the best way to handle her early childhood.

Personally I would say the film starts off slow. It doesn’t really pick up until we go to the present which is precisely why I never wanted a full prequel film about her childhood. It could be interesting to see her as an assassin and you could pull off a film like Salt but in general I’m always a lot more interested in seeing the present. Yes, this isn’t the exact present but it’s not too long ago. This way you still see scenes of her past without having a 2 hour experience about it which seems like a fair balance.

So the movie truly picks up with Widow on the run from the government after Civil War. Aside from Captain America, the rest of her team was already captured. Widow has had enough of this and intends to vanish forever into another life but suddenly gets thrown back into the fray when she is attacked by the Taskmaster. After suffering a complete defeat, she heads over to her sister Yelena for some answers. Turns out that the Red Room is still in operation so Widow is going to have to confront her old ghosts one more time.

The opening action scene with Taskmaster is definitely solid. Taskmaster gets to show off his good hand to hand skills and copy abilities from the comics and Natasha fights well as always although she is definitely out of her league in this battle and goes down quickly. It’s a good way of getting her back into the fold and effectively forcing her into the action. It also showed how she would still make the heroic call in the end such as when she went for the vials even though she had been looking forward to some down time.

Lets start with the film’s strong points. The action and effects are top notch as always. The hand to hand fights are on point and I like how the objects as used in combat. Taskmaster has his shield while Natasha uses whatever items she has on hand. The different locations all look really good and there are a lot of different environments here to be sure.

The soundtrack is also pretty good. We get some Russian opera styled music here during one of the opening montages and some classic action tunes. While I wouldn’t say any might be a complete standout, they work out well for the scenes that they’re in and help to enhance the moment.

Yelena is a great new addition to the universe. Historically I’ve always liked her a lot more than Natasha as the Black Widow. She tends to be more of an antagonist but I’m nowhere near close to being caught up with her character so maybe she is usually a good guy now. Either way she brings in a lot of the witty lines in the film. While it’s clear that Natasha is more skilled, she is also older than Yelena and got a lot of great experience with the Avengers. Give Yelena some time and she can catch up at some point.

Yelena loves poking fun at the other characters and it works really well for the dynamic here. She was definitely the standout character here. I also liked Natasha’s mother Melina. As a strategist she also has a lot of good plans and is integral when helping the other characters out. That said, she did have a really suspect scene involving a pig as well as the implications that this has. While they play the sympathy card a lot, I can’t see her as anything other than a complete villain.

There’s some good setup to the rest of the universe as well although this is squarely a Black Widow film. The after credits scene is pretty low key for the most part but the final part has a lot of solid implications for fights coming up. Lets just say that the person who is about to be hunted should be in a lot of trouble since I think he’s outmatched here. Maybe he’ll surprise me though. I’m not really feeling the new Nick Fury type character yet since I prefer his mysterious approach to the “fake friend” tactic this one likes to try. Still, should make for an interesting confrontation down the road.

Finally, I’ve always liked the concept of the rogue agent who goes back to their roots. It could be someone who used to be evil or just someone who needs to do an impossible task. It’s the very concept of Mission Impossible, but I’m thinking of more solo operations like Salt, Resident Evil, John Wick, and other titles like that. They can get rather intense but the story itself is always very compelling. The same goes for Black Widow as Natasha has to tap into her old skills which may be rusty at this point.

After all, as a kid even before growing up in the Red Room she was a tough fighter and even more so after completing her missions. As an Avenger she had to learn how to fight as a hero which means no lethal moves and as a result she couldn’t go all out anymore. Hawkeye even gave her a straight fight in the first Avengers film which likely wouldn’t happen in her prime. That said, with how easily she handled Yelena, it’s clear that growing rusty is not a problem in her case.

Black Widow is definitely in the top half of the Marvel Cinematic films. There are enough films now where it’s tough to rank them all but it’s squarely under the top tiers like the Avenger films but above all the Phase 1 titles (Not counting Avengers) and others scattered across the phases. It’s a great film and only the 6th 8 star film I’ve seen in 2021. There’s a lot to like here.

Now for the film’s weak points. I thought it went way too far in making the Red Guardian as useless and comedic as possible. Sure, his personality can be fun and some of his humor moments do land, but couldn’t he have looked good at least once? Strength is his whole thing but he fails in his break out scene, gets humiliated by Taskmaster, and ultimately doesn’t win a single battle. I’m not familiar with him in the comics so maybe he always gets wrecked but it felt a little overdone. He deserved at least one quality moment without the rest of the team constantly dunking on him.

I was also underwhelmed by Taskmaster. I wouldn’t say he was a bad villain, but…he’s just not Taskmaster. We’ve seen Marvel do this with several big villains like Mandarin and Ultron where they just don’t feel like their normal selves and this would have to be put into that category. The first red flag is when he doesn’t talk at all during his opening fight. Seems like a robot with no personality. I can get behind the costume being the weakest Taskmaster design yet since it’s passable but this guy just doesn’t feel like Taskmaster. Where’s the bragging, witty dialogue? I’m used to a fairly talkative Taskmaster.

His role is also a lot smaller than you’d expect so he doesn’t the time needed to look particularly impressive. You have 0 doubt that Captain America, Black Panther, Bucky, and a bunch of other hand to hand fighters would crush this version of him with ease. So he was on the disappointing side, good in a vacuum but I think they just should have called him something else and kept the Taskmaster title open for the future. Who knows, maybe there will be a twist and we’ll get another Taskmaster soon.

Now lets talk about Natasha, I was a little quiet about her in this review so far if you’ve noticed. Retroactively this movie really makes her character look shaky at times and downright bad at others. Now, you know a big part of the plot is that the red room is still around, but Natasha was super sure it was gone. So the film goes into why she thinks this is the case…and it makes her look a bit naïve.

She really didn’t do much inspecting to see if this was really the case. She went to extreme lengths in her quest for vengeance as well. Now you can put some blame on Shield and her partner for believing someone who just turned to their side without having someone else watching the situation but at its core this is Natasha’s issue. Characters make mistakes in their past and this was a long time ago…but it’s a rather huge mistake. The film will explain what I’m talking about here with her plan to destroy the red room but I’m keeping any specifics out for spoilers.

Even more egregious is the fact that afterwards she never actually tried to find Yelena or any of the others. This feels a little convenient since that would have also told her that something was going on. A lot of the film is about Natasha trying to correct her past and trying to be a better person now. It’s what she was talking about with her ledger being red a while back in the early Avenger films so we see exactly what she was talking about. I’ve never been a Black Widow fan and this film doesn’t help matters.

It’s part of why I was glad to see Yelena showing up since she’s always been more fun and this film keeps that up. Still, Natasha does do well in the fight scenes and still proves to be the critical character needed to stop the villains. Without her here there’s no way the others would have been okay. She’s started her first step on the redemption journey by finally thanking the guy who gets her all her equipment and tech. I felt bad for him the whole film so at least it’s a start because that guy deserves a lot of gratitude for always coming through.

That’s it for weaknesses. I mean, the main villain is pretty bad but he’s really a non factor here. The guy is just around since we need a head of the red room but that’s the extent of his room. He can’t fight and can only rely on Purple Man type powers to keep himself in the fight. It’s also another chance to make Black Widow look bad since you’d think she could resist this but I guess the powers of science cannot be defeated.

Costume-wise, I preferred Natasha’s outfit here to the usual Black Widow one. Granted, the old version is a lot more fitting to the title but I do like to have a change of pace once in a while so this was a really good way to flip things. Also, it worked well for the snow scenes. I missed the sky fall gunfight scene from the trailer though. I wonder if it was made only for the trailer or if it got so much bad press about the bullet dodging physics that they just scrapped it. I hope it’s the former because it’s still a great concept for a scene and would have worked really well at the end. Maybe just tweak the scene a bit to show her dodging but then we’re good.

Ultimately my favorite action scene in the film was the opening battle with Taskmaster. Part of why it’s so effective is because of how sudden it is. Taskmaster just appears out of nowhere and starts the fight right away. If not for the fact that he can only focus on his objective, Natasha would have been completely finished off there. The match has a lot of tension and the night time background works well since it feels like there is absolutely no backup. If Natasha were to die here, it would be easy to cover up and even the Avengers may be at a loss.

Widow was also caught off guard so it’s not like she had her gear. You really see how tough a hero is when they just have to fight as they are. You think of moments like Steve being attacked at his home by Winter Soldier, Tony’s house being attacked in Iron Man 3, or Catwoman breaking into Bruce Wayne’s house in Dark Knight Rising. Usually the hero is caught flat footed and gets wrecked but when they’re able to put up a good fight you gain a lot of respect for their survival instincts. I’ll give Natasha credit here, she did put up a good fight even with no prep time despite the combat disadvantage.

The writing is really on point as well. While the Red Guardian may be the comic relief character of the film, I thought Yelena had all the best jokes and funny one liners. The conversation about how Natasha is always posing before and during her fights was fun. Yelena even gives it a shot on her own at one point and the fact that the pose is immediately recognizable does support her point there. Whenever she is around you can expect a lot of fun dialogue. You do get a very genuine feeling from the Guardian in his lines too but I don’t believe his talk about Captain America. He would get folded like an old lawn chair if he tried to defeat Steve. The other characters could have probably cut him some slack since he’s been trapped in jail all this time though.

Overall, Black Widow’s definitely a great film. It’s may have the slowest start to an MCU film but really turns up once we get to the present when she’s trying to evade Ross. That’s when the film gets great and then it keeps up that momentum the rest of the way. The action is on point and as always Marvel has a ton of great backgrounds and environments to fight in. The film may be 2 hours long but it really ends in a flash. You won’t even notice the time and it’s a title you can safely recommend even to people who have not seen the other Marvel titles since her story is fairly stand alone.

Overall 8/10

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Review


The Promised Neverland Season 2 was definitely very controversial to say the least. It really did a number on the fans who wanted a faithful adaption and even to non fans who felt it was super rushed and didn’t feel natural. It’s certainly a unique case where it seems like the studio just wanted to wrap it up as soon as possible. At the very least it was fun keeping up with all the theories on why it ended so quickly and all of that but the burning question is…did it change for the better? Well…I have to say that it did. Granted I was never the biggest fan of the manga but the anime effectively toned down some of the darker elements of the story and made it more of a standard adventure which I’m game with.

Last time, the kids had just escaped and were on the run. Now that they were out of the orphanage they could try and either get over to the proper human world or at least survive somewhere safe. Emma has promised that she would go and save the rest of the kids though so no matter what happens, she won’t be leaving without them. Still, it’s a cruel world out there so this environment is going to test all of her abilities.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the animation in the first season and it’s more or less the same here. It’s pretty standard stuff with some giant CG demons running around. The demons have lost their edge compared to season 1 though so don’t expect them to be all that intimidating here. They’re mainly only relevant when they’re getting beat up and need Emma’s help. How the times have changed eh? The CG is fairly minimal though and in a way I guess if you’re going to use it for something, demons make sense since it makes them look that much more crazy.

For the soundtrack, it’s also not too memorable. I couldn’t tell you a single theme here. The new theme song definitely isn’t up to par with the original one either. That one’s fairly iconic at this point while this one just sort of fades away. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it doesn’t leave any kind of impact. On a technical level it felt like this show was sort of just going through the motions.

The pacing and writing were fine though. It’s always interesting learning more about the world and there is certainly a whole lot of dialogue here. You can see how things get sped up at the beginning and ending though. Norman showing up near the beginning of the show felt rather crazy since it was a big deal that he was gone. I still have to say that it feels like a lot of plot hax how he actually survived and escaped though. The demons are clearly awful at their jobs as well as the human guards. How do you let a kid escape like that?

There are a lot of plot convenient things happening here though like an old man who has every answer you can possibly need and the villains getting foiled because of numerous traitors and getting overconfident. It also helps that the villains always miss their shots when they’re firing their guns or don’t fire at all. The kids don’t have guns in this version so they’re even more outmatched.

The final episode can be almost funny though with how things are skipped over. The actual promise with the alien thing? That’s a single camera shot here so if you were watching The Promised Neverland for…the promise, then you’re out of luck. That’s not something you’ll get to see here. The show throws in a few Easter Eggs like the wolf girl appearing in a prison cell and at least a reference to GoldyPond but that’s about it for throwing a bone to the fans who missed some of the skipped content. The ending’s far better than the manga version though so I’ll give you that.

That’s enough on the pacing though, lets talk about the characters and how they ended up shaking out in this version. First up is Emma since she is the main character after all. She’s certainly come a long way since in season 1 she wanted to escape at all costs and would slaughter any demon who got in her way. Things are more complicated in season 2 though since she has now met demons who are not really combatants. It turns out that demons have families and loved ones as well so this puts Emma in a rather difficult place.

It does end up hurting her character though because one thing I don’t like is when a character is opposing the main plan but has no actual solution. It’s something you would see a lot of in Attack on Titan. So Norman’s plan is he’ll poison the water and in that way they will end the entire demon race. The scary thing about the plan is how easy it will be and yet it will still be super effective. The demons won’t stand a chance and humanity will finally be saved at long last.

The problem is that Emma now wants to spare the demons. There are a few problems with that though. For starters, the demons will die if they don’t eat humans are a while anyway. It’ll be the same effect as Norman’s poison water only slower and potentially more painful. Additionally given that they need humans to survive, talking with them is already out of the question.

Feeding them humans is also crazy since that’s how we got here in the first place. Norman does his best to explain this to Emma but she doesn’t really care. Now the show does offer a convenient way out of this predicament but until that solution appears, Emma is rather unreasonable here. There are times where you really have to make a choice. Choosing both sides just puts everyone at risk and it’s not worth it. Emma has a responsibility to the kids she has already saved.

Her lack of determination ultimately holds her back in this season quite a lot. Then you have Norman. I miss his updated manga design though as the guy finally got the big time skip super form that he deserved. In this version he looks pretty similar to how he did in season 1. His plan and motivations are similar enough with trying to end the demons once and for all but it’s all a lot more rushed here. He basically sees a demon with Emma’s name and calls it a day. So much for his determination and will to come out on top no matter what right? At the end of the day he folded like a deck of cards.

I also think he was acting rather rashly by walking into a demon village by himself while his team was busy. He easily could have been taken out by a stray shot and then all of his plans would have been for nothing. Whenever there’s a bad plan like that I have to call it out because while it may have worked, that doesn’t retroactively make it a good idea. In the end Norman was still pretty fun here the whole time though, he certainly still seems to be the smartest character around.

As for Ray, I would say his role here is smaller than in season 1. He used to be the tough member of the 3 who would always play the bad cop role. He would mention the most practical solution while Emma would say the most ideological one. Norman would then try to compromise and find a plan that would save everyone. With Norman gone though, Ray mainly lets Emma call the shots and does his best to assist her. There’s just less character to him as a whole at this point though. He does everything he can to help Emma but doesn’t do much beyond that so he doesn’t feel like the gruff rival anymore.

Don and Gilda still aren’t some of the more likable characters for me though. Gilda gives yet another lecture to Emma about taking too many risks and all that. Maybe Emma wouldn’t have to take so many risks if she actually got some backup once in a while right? That would have certainly helped a lot but Don and Gilda never really do much of anything. I guess they do more than the rest of the kids but that’s almost by default.

Mujika and Sonju get to do a lot more here. As they are demons who can actually converse with the main characters that means there is something different about them. They end up being some of the most important characters in the series due to how their blood works. Without them things would be pretty tough on the heroes. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan though but Sonju does have some fun scenes. The heroes may not want to underestimate him based on some of the things he said earlier on.

Then we have the return of Isabella since you naturally have to bring in this classic villain for the end. She has definitely lost her edge since season 1 though. She acts as a hype person to the kids at times and then makes her move by the end. No matter how you slice it the whole thing is pretty cheesy though. Her character motivations by the end are utterly unbelievable.

If you want a more compelling big villain here then you’ve got Peter Ratri. He’s the mastermind behind everything and is a man who isn’t even afraid of the demons. Now that’s someone to be feared because you never know when he’s going to pop out and start taking names. The guy may be an ordinary human but he is a grown up which means he could technically defeat most of the cast with ease. I was pretty cool with this guy being the final boss, he was a fun enough character.

Finally you have Norman’s new group. These guys were excellent so I’m just sad they couldn’t appear more. First up you have Zazie. He can’t really talk due to how the experiments messed him up but he’s got super strength and is not someone to underestimate. Then you have Vincent who is pretty decent although he doesn’t seem as powerful as the other members. He’s a strategist like Norman although of course he can’t fully match that guy.

For the real stand out characters you have Cislo and Barbara. Cislo is sort of the Captain America of the group. He is a natural born leader who really dislikes the demons but doesn’t show his emotions the same way that the others do. He doesn’t panic and is quickly to call out any member who gets out of line. You’ll enjoy any scene he is in because the guy is just that good.

Finally you have Barbara who goes as far as to even eat the demons she defeats. She really doesn’t hold back and has really been through a lot. It’s why you know that she will never be able to see eye to eye with Emma on this. How could she? She had to live through the worst of the demonic experiments while Emma had a very pleasant life in the orphanage. It’s another reason why it’s really hard to back Emma in her goals throughout the season.

The inclusion of Norman’s group helped transition this into more of an action title since these guys are able to beat demons in large numbers. Since the anime version has no super demons or anything like that, you could actually say the humans were more powerful this time around. That’s kind of crazy to think about but it ended up being the case this time. It’s part of why none of the demons were actually a threat in this one. No matter what they could possibly try, Norman’s group would take them down a few pegs.

This great power does come at a large price though. It’s not sustainable so the characters have to finish this quickly. It should add a layer of tension but at the same time you don’t feel like they’re in too much danger. Norman has already cheated death before, why not do it again now? The guy’s a genius so surely he can think of something.

Ultimately a lot of these things I couldn’t consider to be severe negatives though. The plot hax and sudden character turns always seem awfully convenient but it’s not the kind of thing I dock points for. The show includes some animal hunting for no real reason which can be annoying but the show doesn’t exploit it in nearly the way some other titles would so this one doesn’t sink into the negatives. Ultimately what keeps it from being higher is more due to a lack of positives than an abundance of negatives. At least the series will keep your attention from episode to episode which is important.

Overall, The Promised Neverland may have ended with a rather controversial season but at least it ended. It would have been nice if we could have gotten some more time to have Norman have a proper debate with Emma and Ray though. Surprisingly I wouldn’t say the three of them interact all that much here. Often times they are in different places and so they can’t even debate the whole demon thing much. Norman hands Emma a few Ls and that’s about it for their conversation. The season tackles some pretty interesting themes but with all of the scenes that were cut, there isn’t enough time to try and make the demons all that sympathetic. At the very least the attempt didn’t work this time. If you liked the first season then you should still enjoy this one well enough. The main thing to keep in mind is that the horror genre has been completely removed in favor of more of a classic adventure genre here.

Overall 6/10

Samurai Warriors 3 Review


Playing a beat em up type game on the Wii certainly feels rather odd. It’s not really a Wii kind of game and so I always tend to play these on the PS3/PS4 but that wasn’t an option this time. Well, the game is as great as always. It can take a little time to get used to the controller layout but once you have got that down then the rest of the game is effectively like the others. You shouldn’t have any problems with it.

The story mode is a little different than some of the other titles in that it is centered around a specific character as opposed to the kingdom. So you have a lot of options on who to make the lead and then you get a story tailored to that fighter. It’s a nice touch and I have to assume that it’s a lot more work since way since there are a bunch of stories so kudos to the developers on that. There are 5 story levels for each character.

It took me around 2-2.5 hours to clear the story so the level length is nothing to sneeze at. The final level also gets tricky so you will want to be careful. Of course you can switch the game’s difficulty back down to easy if needed. The final level has a trick to it so it’s hard not to die the first time but then you’re ready for the inevitable rematch. In each of the levels you have a pack of items with you that do things like increase your strength, defense, or just plain healing items.

Personally I always recommend going for the healing pack. It can effectively replenish your health bar 6 times over which is really handy since Samurai Warriors doesn’t have health items just hanging out on the map or anything like that. So the levels are easy initially because you can just heal your way to the goal. Well, the final level changes that up. Suddenly you are unable to use your healing items near the end. You then have to clear a quick gauntlet of bosses.

I can safely say this is where I lost the first time. It’s difficult to beat so many enemies without being able to heal. On the second go around I made sure to use a potion right before they got deactivated but I was still running out of health fast. It was pretty intense but I just had to survive with a single smidge of health left as I challenged a bunch of different opponents. Finally I got a level up which automatically restores all health. I don’t know what I could have done without that. So it’s hard to time but if you’re having trouble on this level just beat a ton of minions until you’re close to a level up before starting the fire which triggers your items not working anymore.

As for the gameplay, it’s your classic beat em up style. You have your standard attacks, power moves, and your super attack. One new thing here is the guard break which you can use at the expense of one energy orb and break through an enemy’s defense. This will actually be the most important move you have in the entire game so make sure you use it a lot. It’s also an absolutely surefire way to stop their ultimate attack midway. There aren’t really any downsides to the shield poke either so why not use it right?

The gameplay is noticeably slower than Dynasty Warriors but that might be intentional. I seem to recall that being the case for the last one as well so maybe it’s a way to make the titles stand out as being different from each other. It’s fair since you don’t want all of the games to be clones after all. Most of the other parts of the game are all as you would remember them. The final smashes can all be blocked by the A.I. and usually are though so I’d like them to get buffed in the sequel. As it stands, it’s often better to use your standard attacks than the final smash which doesn’t make sense.

There’s a side mission here where you have to invade castles with Takamaru. It’s a fun little side mode and does well in adding more replay value to the mix. I completed the first world for now before calling it a day. I like the fact that it effectively turns this into a crossover series right out of the jump. They should bring Takamaru along into one of the games at some point as a fully playable character. Maybe he’s in that Warriors All Stars game.

With each story mode taking around 2 hours you’re talking about around 20 hours of content right out of the gate. Then you have the castle mode which will add some time and even a historical mode. Through in the multiplayer and maxing out the rest of the characters and you’ve got yourself a really long game. It goes for really cheap at the moment so it’s a really good bargain. You definitely can’t go wrong here.

The graphics look really good as you would expect. The character models and stage environments are on point. There are a number of solid looking cutscenes throughout that really help to make this a compelling experience. In some ways you could say it even looks better than the modern Dynasty Warrior titles which is very impressive. The story was more emotional that’s for sure, at least in Yukimura’s story. While the OST may not be super memorable, I would also say it was good. The main theme is catchy and you have a lot of fast paced tunes for while you’re fighting.

Overall, Samurai Warriors 3 is definitely a game I would strongly recommend. It’s really got everything you could want in a beat em up title from lots of content to a satisfying story. The layouts are all very clear and the game has no real weaknesses. I definitely look forward to seeing how 4 plays things out. Will it be just as solid or perhaps even more so? In the meantime you’ll want to pick this game up to prepare yourself.

Overall 8/10

John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

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

Time for the big return of John Wick. It’s been quite a while since I saw the first film. Naturally that one ended up losing pretty badly in the score department since the very concept of the film revolves around a dog death which is no good. You can’t succeed that way. This film doesn’t go in that direction so it ends up being quite a bit better. It still likes to go super extreme in what’s going on but I can safely say that it wins in just about every way.

The movie picks up with Wick murdering the last guys in his way and getting his car back. Now he can officially retire once and for all. Unfortunately it looks like this won’t be so easy. His old ally Santino shows up along with the pact that they made a long time ago. Effectively this means that Wick has to help the guy accomplish one task. If Wick tries to flee or murder Santino this would cause him to be a wanted man by the hotel and would trigger a bounty on his head from around the world. Thus Wick has to accept the task which is to murder Santino’s sister. Santino may be safe now but as soon as the contract is complete, Wick is free to do as he pleases.

The franchise differentiated itself from the start with its solid world building. First of all, I like how the hotel has its rules in place. You can use it as a sanctuary for as long as you like and there is to be no violence there. It’s a true safehouse. Then there are the pacts which cannot be broken or you will be murdered as well. Effectively the world of hitmen actually has some sense and reason here which is nice. Even the villains do well to remember that.

John may not be as personally invested as he was in the first film, however he’s just as intense as ever. The guy takes down dozens and dozens of opponents throughout the film. He is usually known for having the highest body count among the shooters and it shows. He really doesn’t take prisoners and always makes sure his opponent is truly down for the count. He’s a no nonsense main character and his reputation precedes him.

It’s fair to say that he’s just a great main character. Part of the fun with him is the fact that we don’t know a whole lot about his past. I’m actually hoping the films don’t change that later on because the mystery is part of the appeal. He knows everyone and clearly he used to complete a lot of missions on the regular. We don’t need to see those days because it keeps the illusion of him being an invincible shooting machine.

Now he does get injured during the film of course but he always gets back up. With the sheer volume of people he is taking out left and right, he may as well be invincible. The guy is pretty much living out a real life Call of Duty campaign. The film does a great job with showing how he plans things out during the fights as well. Wick is proficient at close quarters hand to hand combat, using a knife, and of course is an expert with a gun. He uses all of those skills depending on the circumstances.

Santiago is the main villain here but he’s never a threat in a fight. The guy’s only chance at winning is that he has a ton of armed minions at the ready. 1 on 1 the series has yet to produce anyone who can take on Wick. The closest is Cassian who has 2 very close battles with Wick. Keep in mind that in both cases John was already weakened but the guy’s talent was still better than most if not all of the other fighters here.

Ares was also a tough fighter. She’s a silent assassin who gives Wick a good fight. You never think she is quite in the same league as Cassian but her skills are real and she was a loyal retainer. Definitely a good bodyguard to have at the ready for all circumstances. There are a ton of other assassins but those two definitely had the biggest role. Beyond that the others exist to get utterly crushed by Wick’s skills.

The soundtrack is pretty solid as well. This is one area where the first film has the edge though as it played some really intense themes particularly when Wick first came out of retirement. This one still has a solid array of action tunes though so anytime there is a gunfight you can expect to hear a lot of good tracks. The action never lets up so even though the film is fairly long you won’t get bored.

The writing is really on point with a lot of solid lines between all of the characters. It’s part of why the cast works so well since a lot of thought went into this picture. The ending also directly leads into film 3 and ends on a rather intense note. It’ll be difficult for any of the other installments to beat this one’s ending since it was really perfect. This is the right way to build up the suspense.

While there is no animal violence, the film definitely does still go all out the whole time. Pretty much every villain is shot in the head and you see all the details to add to the realism. These fights feel like real battles that’s for sure and so there is a ton of blood at all times. It’s less stylized than other titles to really show the impact of the hits. Then you have Wick’s pencil kills which were foreshadowed early in the film so you knew they would show up at some point. It may be the most brutal kill although the film has a lot of those so it’s hard to say. One guy gets slashed in the worst area possible so I was shocked that he was still able to fight before Wick just shot him.

It’s not quite Resident Evil/Underworld levels of violence but it is definitely rather graphic and also nonstop. He probably murders 100 guys by the end of the film and each one just ends up getting shot through. One death that wasn’t through a shot but was still rather violent was a lady who bleeds out in the pool. There’s some context to this one which I won’t say for spoilers but it was the weakest scene in the film. Certainly a unique way to go out, there’s no question on that. But a normal shot or something would have definitely worked a lot better.

I have to say, considering Wick’s reputation I’m surprised that so many random guys want to try and take him out. You’d think that these hitmen would value their lives more and just stay out of his way. Is 7 million really worth throwing your life away? Most of these guys should know that they’re absolutely outmatched and outgunned from the start. They should have just stayed at the hotel if anything. Honestly, if you’ve made enough money to retire that is the safest place in the city. Just stay there forever and enjoy the food while you can. It’s the perfect plan.

Overall, John Wick 2 is a solid improvement from the first title. The action scenes are on point and I like some of the design choices like showing the subtitles in colorful words when the characters talk in Russian or other times in Sign language. The visuals are really solid both in the fights and even just when exploring the city. The opening drive from before the credits was a good example of this. The story is solid and the whole setting is just build up really well. If you could tone down/stylize the violence a bit more this one would even be able to join the great leagues. If you’re up for a ton of nonstop action then this is definitely a title you’ll want to check out.

Overall 5/10

Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy Review


It feels like ages since this show started. It’s already impressive that the original Rescue Bots got a sequel series and even more so that it got 2 seasons. Clearly the series is doing something right and it does feel like we’re back into a renaissance for the franchise. We’ve got a live action film coming up, another TV show, some animated movies, etc. And if you like the Beast War characters then even more so. Now this series is naturally a lot smaller scale than most of the other titles coming up as it’s more of an educational series but it’s fun enough.

The series takes place several years after the original Rescue Bots show. Cody is now a lot older and Heatwave is the main teacher at this academy. The goal of the school is to train a whole new generation of Rescue Bots now that the others are all masters of their craft. It’ll be difficult though because the new kids are ready for action and on its surface, rescuing isn’t quite the same thing. In particular Hot Shot is a global champion in Cube and it’ll be difficult to get him to switch gears. Well, Heatwave and the other bots have their challenge. Now it’s time to watch the journey on getting these recruits to be the best rescue bots ever.

Each episode is around 10 minutes which is definitely a trend in the west. So if you go by that logic then the series has over 100 episodes but I always merge them to be fair so lets say we have 52. That’s still a pretty good run for this show. There’s a lot you can do with that many adventures and a lot of lessons to learn for the kids.

Rescue Bots Academy is a very laid back show so from the start you have to make sure that you’re not expecting big action scenes or anything like that. This is a slice of life adventure that is aimed at a very young crowd after all. Still, it has to stay interesting and have some kind of focus in order to keep a positive score since whether you’re aimed at 1 year olds or 10, there should be a point to the whole thing.

Fortunately Rescue Bots Academy makes for a good watch. I don’t think it’s a title that you will want to marathon a whole lot but each story is very different so that does help. It’s also fun to see the old Transformer characters running about. You could even say that Hot Shot makes for an even better character than Heatwave was back in the day. I do miss the humans a bit here though. Yes, it’s rare but this is one of the few cases where humans help to enhance the experience.

Back to Hot Shot, the reason why he is the best character here is because of his absolute confidence. The guy is a cube champion which you will be reminded of a whole lot. Most of his morals are about learning to trust others and not keeping so many secrets. He’s a hard nut to crack but gradually throughout the show Hot Shot learns what it means to be a true leader. Ultimately he has the clearest character arc out of the whole cast and he never lost his edge. There’s just no way Hot Shot could be anything but the best. Even his transformation ability is the best as he can turn into any kind of vehicle even if he can only do it once a day.

Then we have Whirl who is the second best member of the group. She’s a stickler for the rules so she’s the polar opposite of Hot Shot. She is willing to bend them a whole lot more than Chase though and I suppose that’s why she is a cadet. She’ll probably be much more rigid about it once she grows up. A lot of the times she is the one coming up with plans and as a detective in training you would certainly say she is the brains of the group.

Wedge is the tough guy and in a way tries to be the rival to Hot Shot. He can’t quite keep up but at least he tries right? He has a good amount of power and part of his personality is that he really looks up to Bumblebee. This results in him trying to show off a lot of the time and it ultimately ends up backfiring quite a bit.

Then we get to the final two Rescue Bots who can’t really hold their own with the main 3. Hoist is the most nervous bot of the group and has a lot of self confidence issues. He does his best to get over his fears but that doesn’t really happen until the very end of season 2. Hoist just wasn’t quite able to get into the action like the others for a while which is why for me he was a lot less entertaining. I prefer when the characters just dive in.

As for Medix, I dare say that he’s even more by the book than Whirl. The guy doesn’t really know how to have a good time for the most part. A lot of his morals are about learning how to adapt due to this. It’s always good to have a medical bot on board at least even if nobody ever really gets injured in the show. At best you have Chuck, the indestructible testing bot who gets beat up a ton but the point of his character is that he can’t be injured anyway.

For the humans we have Cody as the main character. Unfortunately you won’t really be seeing Chief Burns or any of the other classic characters beyond a quick cameo or guest star appearance like the mayor. Cody’s a good character but he rarely gets to do much more than say a wise line or two. Cody has a friend named Wes who gets an episode or two to himself. The kid wants to hang out with the Rescue Bots but they’re not the biggest fans of humans yet as they find them to be a bit too weak.

This does lead to one of the cheesiest scenes in the series when Wes actually manages to snag the Cube when it’s tough even for robots to do it. Hmmm, I guess he got his hype though. For the true Autobots, we get a few of them from time to time. Optimus Prime shows up at the beginning and ending of the show to drop some sage advice on the characters. His role is never more than a quick cameo here and there though so don’t expect anything big.

Bumblebee gets a few episodes as we explore what it’s like to be a true scout. Wedge also gets to see his hero in action. We also get to see that he really is faster than Hot Shot when Bumblebee tries to humiliate the little guy. The moral of that episode was about teaching the right way so it was good that he showed Hot Shot what’s up although it would have been fun if Hot Shot had actually won that match. Now that would have put Bee in a rather sticky situation. It was nice to see at least one of the old guard getting to do quite a bit.

Perceptor and Ratchet also get to show up from time to time. Everyone tends to like their classes since they know their stuff and how to make things exciting. Surprisingly we even get Lazerbeak from the Decepticons only the bird has turned over a new leaf now. He’s here to help and support the heroes whenever possible. It’s definitely a pretty emotional sub plot I suppose although his change of heart seemed rather sudden. I suppose he never wanted to be evil and just followed Soundwave around? Hmmm…not sure I buy that one.

From the old Rescue Bots it’s very noticeable that Blades, Boulder, and Chase don’t get a whole lot to do. They may show up for a few episodes here and there but it’s a very rare sight. Especially Blades who is an exceptionally rare guest star. At least we do have Heatwave though and that guy shows up in virtually every episode. It makes sense that he would be the teacher after being the main Rescue Bot. He’s learned a lot of lessons as it is so it’s easier to teach them.

Then we have the Dinobots. Grimlock easily gets the biggest role as he became a Teacher himself which was pretty impressive. Just goes to show that anyone can do it if they put enough effort into the mix. Unfortunately Grimlock was objectively not a good teacher as he would constantly break equipment and even taught the wrong moral by mistake so the kids had to correct him. The guy always tries hard though.

The other Dinobots like Sludge and Snarl don’t do much until the final episodes. They become friends with Hoist which keeps them around as supporting characters since they’re needed for the morals. They’re definitely not the smartest characters which even leads to them being framed. I would say they’re some of the weaker characters personally. Then you have Slash who shows up at the very end of the series. She’s not a fan of humans and seems to be more of a rebel compared to the others.

She’s fun even if she ultimately has to lose her edge really quickly since being a rebel wasn’t going to be tolerated in the academy. Finally you have Scorch who also has a small role but as a rival of sorts to Hot Shot he was a fun character whenever he appeared. Part of why the Cube episodes in the show are the best ones is because I like to see some good competition and for Hot Shot to live up to his hype. To his credit, Hot Shot was not bluffing. He really is a cube master.

While there is never any real action in the show, occasionally we get some moments that at least give you a sense of competition like the Cube episodes and even this one tournament episode that occurred. Hot Shot may not have looked so good there which basically means that humans have built robots that surpass Cybertronians but at least it was cool to see. Who’d have thought this show would have a tournament? It may not be played super seriously but that’s just how it goes.

The writing in the show is good. You clearly see each lesson and moral as the show goes on. It stays interesting enough which is always good. It’s 1 peg below the average title I would say just because it is a little more limited in what it can do. I would sooner pick all of the other Transformer shows which makes sense since they’re allowed to execute on the actual concept of the series which is battles with Decepticons. Naturally this one can’t go quite so far.

As for the animation, I would say it’s fairly below average. You definitely wouldn’t expect to see any cutting edge spectacles here. Shows like Sonic Boom, Kim Possible, and other shows tend to look quite a bit better than this one. I suppose the character designs and environments aren’t bad though. At the very least everything is always clear. Potentially the animation could have gotten a chance to show off if we got some action scenes sort of like My Little Pony, but without those the series just never jumped up like that.

The soundtrack’s a little limited but it’s not bad. Each theme gets across what it was going for in the scene. You have the danger themes, happy ones, etc. It’s all rather by the book but because of that you’re never confused on what the themes are going for.

It would have been fun if the series could have maybe gotten around the no danger rules a bit more though. If the show can’t put anyone in true peril, have some more sport competitions. The fun thing about those is that you’re not in mortal danger but it still ups the stakes because you absolutely don’t want to lose. A mini arc about the Rescue Bots having to put aside their differences to be the best team in the land would have been a lot of fun without a doubt.

Overall, Rescue Bots Academy is a good follow up to the original show. I would say the original one still wins though as it felt like they were able to do a whole lot more. Not only was the cast significantly bigger but they were allowed to have real danger scenes. You had a Decepticon show up once, an evil scientist, characters nearly getting squished, etc. The first show had way more danger than this one so I suppose this one was aiming even younger. Still, if you really like Transformers and don’t mind watching educational type shows then this one makes for a decent watch. There are certainly no real negatives to be found here, it just won’t have any episode that really pops for you.

Overall 6/10

Underworld: Blood Wars Review

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

It’s the end of an era, I have made it to the final Underworld film. Blood Wars wraps things up although there’s enough still going where you could easily have many more sequels. Still, it’s fair to say that one side has basically claimed victory in the war at this point unless the government steps in again. They basically miss this film since to their view they’ve already won.

The movie starts with Selene on the run from a pack of wolves. She may be an elder powered vampire death dealer but she isn’t ready for a pack of normal wolves…..fortunately David steps in and she manages to keep her life. Additionally the villains only wanted to capture her. Selene has no time to dwell on how weak she has become because she’s very defensive at having to be alone again. Eve has been written out of the film and wants nothing to do with Selene anymore so now the heroine really has nobody left to turn too.

Meanwhile the vampires are once again on the brink of extinction. There are only two bases left and one’s very small so nobody cares about it. The other one is fairly powerful so they’re confident that nobody can break in. The issue is that the Lycans have a new leader, Marius. This guy will stop at nothing in order to destroy the vampires and wants Eve to accomplish this goal. Fortunately nobody knows where Eve is but the guy intends to take down Selene in order to find her. David’s father and one member of the cabal convince the council to pardon Selene so she can train their new recruits how to fight. Will this really allow them to claim victory?

It’s a pretty good premise and a nice way to bring the war back. My main issue is with Selene’s character regression. There’s no way someone of her power should be losing to random Lycan. Additionally, I thought the plot point of why she was separated from Eve to be very forced. There’s no logical reason to split up. The only difference is that now if Eve is found then there will be nobody to protect her. Sure, she will end up being the strongest vampire ever but being on your own is always risky regardless.

Underworld has had a very shaky history with power levels as it is though. As it stands you have Humans<Vampires<Lycans<Vampire Elders<Hybrids<Tri-Warriors in terms of overall battle potential. Physical strength-wise a human can never overpower a vampire and likewise as you go through the list. Eve is the only true tri-warrior here as she has everyone’s blood at this point. I would argue that Michael should count as well although the film seems to suggest he only counts as a Hybrid.

Despite this rather clear power structure, it doesn’t always play out like that. Selene’s power level seems to fluctuate the most to the point where she needed another power up in this film. It’s a great upgrade to be sure but it’s almost too good. Here’s the issue. She can now move with incredible speed to the point where even Quicksilver would be proud. Yet a lot of the time she forgets she has it and still takes a lot of hits. The worst part was when she started day dreaming about her times with Michaerl so the villain lands a 16 piece combo on her. He just keeps whacking away at her until she wakes up and ends the fight in an instant.

With her speed she could have taken out every Lycan warrior in an instant and prevented a lot of lives from being shed at the end. Her power was completely broken which is also tricky. You just know that if we get another film she will either be incredibly nerfed or will just get wrecked anyway. Needless to say it wasn’t her best film. In the last film she was resolute with her mission to murder anyone in her path and save Michael while here she seems to have just given up on everything and doesn’t even want to fight anymore.

She even gets punked by Varga, a random vampire with no enhancements. How could she let herself get stabbed like that? Yeah this was a rough film for her. I’d still say she’s a fun lead but one who has seen better days. David gets a fairly big role here as well. Now that he has some of Selene’s blood that means he no longer has to fear the daylight which is a really good power boost for him. He also gets to fight some important battles and is around a lot so he looks pretty good here.

Semira is one of the new villains for the film. One thing I can appreciate a lot about this installment as a final film is that there are just so many characters running around. You have Semira and her traitorous ambitions, the Lycans led by Marius, the corrupt council, and a vampire who is secretly working with Marius. There are so many traitors and subplots here that the film is always keeping you busy with something going on.

Back to Semira though, she worked rather well as a traitor. She had some decent plans even if they were a bit short sighted. With all of the trainees dead, how would she possibly stop the Lycan threat? Even if her plan succeeded that would just mean that the vampires are without their most powerful asset and would quickly be destroyed. Her abilities are impressive though as she was even able to take on an elder like Thomas.

Thomas looked good here. He was at least ready to help David and Selene even if he ultimately didn’t last too long in the 2 v 1. Considering that Semira was amped up I suppose that makes sense but I would have liked to have seen him dominate the two for a while longer. Varga’s more of a weak character though. I can’t take him seriously and the guy is always willing to debase himself when Semira is around. Even by the end it was far too late for him to go up.

Marius doesn’t really get a whole lot to do so I would say he has less character than Lucian. Still, he does make for a good leader as he keeps the Lycans united and reminds them not to quarrel among themselves. He was utterly crushing Selene during their fight though which felt like a bit much. This guy was that much stronger than her once he had Michael’s blood? Well, good show to him I suppose. Once Selene ascended into her godlike abilities by the end though then the tables turned pretty fast.

Finally, shoutout to Lena who looked really good. Considering that she is a normal vampire, her speed is incredible. The movie seemed to treat this part of the clan sort of like the Valkyries. They had mysterious powers and rituals allowing you to bypass death. Now she looks really impressive but it’s another thing that kind of breaks the power balance of the series since nobody should be hitting her with speed like that. Anyone who would try should just be crushed. My head canon is that there’s some kind of super strict time limit that seals your movements.

As a final film I wouldn’t say it’s the strongest one as it loses to films 1 and 4 but it beats films 2 and 3. Ultimately it’s a satisfying way to close things out even if it will leave you with some plot directions that make you shake your head. In the end Underworld has a long history that it can be proud of as getting 5 films isn’t easy. Now you’ve probably been waiting for the inevitable comparison to Resident Evil. Ultimately I would say that series won. Pretty much area by area Resident Evil is the stronger series. It’s fairly close I suppose but Resident Evil really tackled a lot of the same themes but just executed on them in a much stronger way.

As far as negatives for Blood Wars goes…you know the drill. We’ve got the usual super violence everywhere with characters even getting tortured. Fortunately Michael’s was mostly off screen as it definitely looked quite painful. You have a Mortal Kombat finishing move used at the end of the film which was pretty intense to be sure. The film doesn’t really have any romance this time around except for villains manipulating other villains. Those scenes are usually worth a cringe. Underworld has a good enough story where the films could really excel if they just got past these elements.

Of course if you want to make the films truly great you’d also just need to rework the story a bit. Vampires and Werewolves inevitably lead to blood sucking and eating their opponents. To get those elements out you would need to change the structure of the mythos a bit to make that unnecessary. It shouldn’t be all that hard to do though and it’s an easy way to boost the series.

Overall, This is the end for now. Hopefully the series gets more sequels soon since it’s always fun to have more installments. In the meantime though we can just assume that the status quo at the end didn’t change so we finally have a full winner in the war between the Vampires and the Lycan. I certainly had one side I supported from the start just because I’ve always thought them to be a lot stronger in the mythos. Still, both sides got their hits in and of course if they get out of control then the government will probably take them out again.

Overall 2/10

Underworld: Awakening Review

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

This may be the last Underworld review for a little while but it’s been an intense marathon to be sure. Awakening takes the series in a pretty solid direction as I would say it is the best title in the series so far. Now I suppose this is fairly relative as you’ll notice that there really isn’t much of a change in score.

The movie starts with the government finally deciding to step in. Now this is a plot I had definitely been looking forward to because you know that these guys are going to tip the scales. They don’t disappoint either. We learn that they have immediately wiped out virtually all of the Werewolves and even the Vampires are in hiding with only a small handful of bases left. The humans have won once more as always. They even managed to take down Selene and Michael with incredible ease.

12 years have passed and Selene is freed from her deep slumber. She doesn’t know who has freed her and why but now she wants to find Michael before it’s too late. She goes around slaughtering all the humans in her way but is no closer to finding him. She then meets up with a little girl who seems to have mysterious powers and a vampire named David. Together they will locate Michael but they also have to keep Eve (the little girl) safe as she is being hunted.

There’s a lot of action throughout in this film. After all, Selene is now powered by the elders so her power has grown exponentially. She is effectively on par with the hybrids now which is a pretty good power bump. Then you have the fact that she was already one of the most experienced Death Dealers and the villains need to watch out. The war between the vampires and werewolves is over. At this point everyone is scrambling for survival.

I had a feeling that this would be the best film early on. When Selene broke out of the test tube it was like something out of Resident Evil when Alice remembered everything and started a massacre. That’s pretty much how this plays out and it feels like Selene has the highest body count yet. She is not taking any prisoners at all and it’s nice to finally see her using these abilities well. It’s Selene’s best appearance by a longshot.

Fans of Michael from the first two films likely won’t enjoy that he is written out so quickly though. The guy gets less than a minute of screen time here and doesn’t look great. There’s a scene near the end where you have to question what he’s doing. He really didn’t think this one through. Now there is some extra context in the next film that you may feel retcons things to an extent or if not, it’s at the very least a little implausible how this would have went down.

The new main guy is David and he’s pretty solid. He may not be quite as powerful as Michael but he’s determined and does well at defying his vampire community to help Selene out. Then you have Eve who is pretty powerful. She isn’t quite old enough yet to really be able to know what she’s doing like the others but she does take down her share of enemies. Her berserker stage can definitely hold its own with the other characters.

As you can probably guess the fights are on point here. Any time Selene is beating up on the fighters with her twin gun style or just using some hand to hand it’s pretty impressive. I had a bit of a hard time believing that the super wolf at the end could give her so much trouble though. I guess we needed some tension or it would be too easy though. It did make for a great final fight.

At its core this is why the film exceeded the others. It had the best action easily and I would also say the story was the best even if it’s a lot lighter than the others. In terms of scope and mystery then the first film wins but this one was really a good revenge story about her search for Michael. As I mentioned, the army’s involvement was also pretty solid and I like how easily they were able to end this war. It had been raging for hundreds of years among the the two species but the government ended it in 12.

That’s really impressive. It would have been nice to see a bit more of them since they effectively vanish but I think we’re supposed to know that they still have the edge at this point. The vampires need to lie low for a while and the Lycan have been all but exterminated in the meantime. If anything this would have worked rather well as the final Underworld film even with the loose ends that stuck around.

Of course it wouldn’t be Underworld without incredible amounts of gratuitous violence at all times. The series likes to give the fighters as many gruesome injuries as possible before ultimately blowing them up. Because both species have regenerative abilities it allows the films to really go all out in having them get thrown around. If you would just tone down the violence, blood sucking, and biting then this series could have really ended up being close to top notch.

You could probably stand to fix some of the power levels a bit too. After a while Hybrids don’t seem to special if they can be taken out with one hit and how is Selene being overwhelmed by a giant wolf like that? She should still be able to win with pure skill the whole time. The way she defeated the final opponent was quite clever though so it was nice to add some strategy to the mix.

Overall, Underworld: Awakening feels like it has gone back to the roots of the series. We get a lot of excellent visuals and the city is back in the forefront. We get to see the world’s reaction to the beasts which is cool although it would have been even better if they were thrown in a court room or something. Selene’s investigation into what happened to Michael also makes for a great story beat. We’ll see if the series can continue this one’s momentum. While it may be kept as far away from the top as ever, at this point you’re invested in seeing how it all goes down.

Overall 2/10