Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist Review

This review is of the 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

Wait we’re back to the Exorcist again? Not to be outdone by the third film, this one adds animal violence, nazi’s, and an evil tribe here to cause some trouble. Now I would say that the third film is nothing if not competitive when going to the bottom and still does end up surpassing this one as being worse but Dominion put up a good fight and nobody can take that away from it. There aren’t many exorcisms here at all as we’ve come to expect from the series since that was mainly focused on in the first but we still get a dramatic finish with a lot of yelling.

So the movie starts with the Nazi’s rushing in to terrorize a small village. First they make sure to break father Merrin by having him choose 10 sacrifices and it was all a cruel test to break his spirit and resolve. Merrin changed paths to being a travelling architect as he digs around in ruins that may have some religious ties. Well this time he is accompanied by Father Francis as the group is worried about Merrin. Turns out that they should have been worried about the whole village. See the temple was protecting them from the devil demon and now he’s here to destroy them all. He decides to inhabit Cheche, a guy who can’t really talk much and suffered a grave injury but is healing really quickly. The heroes are going to need to watch out now.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this one. Almost immediately when the film starts up we see a bunch of people torturing an animal to weaken him up for being a sacrifice and it reminds you of what a cruel practice that is. Any cruelty to animals is always awful and so right away you’re not really rooting for the village at all. Merrin and the translator Chuma try to defend the practice but to no avail. It’s definitely something that should be completely outlawed by force if necessary. There are animals dying and being injured throughout the film and that definitely serves to ensure that the film never gains any momentum. It is quickly stripped away whenever that may be close to happening.

There also aren’t many likable characters here at all. The only one who seemed decent was father francis but of course he is powerless to stop the demon. The holy water doesn’t do much and when he tries to read the scriptures he is promptly taken down. You would think that he would have moved faster with the water when the demon was waking up though. Just push his head into the water or something, don’t want and dramatically drop a few driplets on him. I always thought this is something the heroes should do more of, forget the small sprinkling and just chug a gallon of the stuff at him. It would be way more effective in theory.

Unfortunately a big part of the movie is about how the demon’s influence eventually catches up to everyone and that happens here as well. Basically just by existing the demon turns people evil and so the humans start to turn on each other. There’s this whole subplot where the British come in with an army and start shooting the tribe members to enact revenge on them. The divide between the two gets worse as the film goes on and then at one point a tribe member murders a bunch of kids so that they can’t learn from Father Francis anymore.

There aren’t really any winners here. By the end of the film everyone is really broken. There’s the main heroine Rachel who stays strong for a while but then also gets corrupted. One of the worst scenes for Merrin is when she shows up and effortlessly seduces him while he was on the trail of the demon. Not the best time to be tempted and you’d think that he would have held strong here. Well, actually I’m not sure how much confidence I really had in the guy to be honest but he still disappointed me there.

Merrin gets to sort of relive the past thanks to the demon and try some other things out but ultimately there was no easy way to get out of the situation. He definitely shouldn’t have sold the 10 people out though. It was a really bad situation but honestly the best thing to do there is make a play for the gun and hope for the best. Sometimes there are no perfect ways out of a scenario and you just have to try your best. By the end of the film Merrin gets his confidence back at least.

The character you probably feel the most sorry for here is Chuma the whole time. It’s rough being a translator because half the time you are having to translate messages that are no fun for anybody and as a result you’re in the line of fire now. If I was him I definitely would have gotten out of there real fast after a while. Unfortunately there probably aren’t many opportunities in the area so leaving is a risk all on its own but anything surely has to be better than staying there right? At least it feels like that would be the case.

This film does remember that it’s supernatural and isn’t trying to hide it most of the time like in III so we do get some decent visuals at times. The green light as everything got trippy near the end was pretty intense. I also liked the clock that appeared in one scene but I have to admit that the effects were so bad that the scene was unintentionally a bit funny. Just a bit mind you but I was starting to crack up. It just made for a really funny visual even if that was not the intent.

The demon’s final form was also the opposite of intimidating even when his face would turn pale like a true demon’s. It’s just not easy to take him seriously as a great villain but they never are in these films. If the characters would just grab some guns and rock the guy you feel like he would go down. Temporarily I suppose since you can never seem to truly get rid of them.

There just isn’t much to enjoy here as with the other Exorcist films. The whole thing is so dark, dreary, and relentless. The heroes don’t have much of a chance at stopping the demon for a while because they don’t even know that they’re fighting one. By the time they do there are so many dead bodies that the heart of the village is gone.

Overall, This is another film to avoid for sure. An exorcist prequel just didn’t need to exist, much less two of them. At least this one has a decent ending, in fact I would say it easily beats the rest since it’s actually happy if anything. I suppose that’s the benefit of being a prequel since you can’t just bump everyone off or ends things rather grimly. I suppose they could have and suddenly the film wouldn’t be canon but that’s a very risky move at best. In theory it’s all uphill from here but we’ll see if that’s actually the case or not for the series.

Overall 0/10

The Exorcist III Review

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

We’re back into the world of the Exorcist…oh nooooooo! Yeah that means we’re in for quite the ride here as the film mainly drags on endlessly with the villain giving a lot of ramblings about not much at all. You’ll quickly realize that the film’s not going to be a satisfying watch except the knowledge that it’s over. There are no more sequels….yet.

So the film kicks off with introducing us to Kinderman who will be the main character this time. He’s a police lieutenant and he’s seen a lot of things over the years. The world has fallen to ruin and evil seems to run rampant at this time. His friend Dyer tries to help him see that things aren’t so bad but fails completely due to a new serial murderer showing up. He claims to be the original Gemini killer from long ago and he is possessing the body of Damien. Not the same Damian from a certain other horror series but I had fun treating this as a bit of a crossover tbh. Kinderman knows this can’t be Gemini but at the same time how is this guy pulling off all of these murders from his cell? Is he getting someone to let him out at night? It’s time to crack this mystery!

Now if the film wasn’t called “The Exorcist” then you may figure the main character has a chance. Grab all of the clues and just find out whoever the main villain is. Find the method of attack and stop it. This had all the bearings of a cop case like that but because you see the title you know that it’s all a ruse and clearly something supernatural is going on here. Yeah that’s unfortunate because now he has absolutely no chance of claiming victory and you just have to watch a lot of grisly murders with no reason behind them.

Part of the issue with films like the Exorcist is that the heroes have no way of stopping this guy. They’re fighting an immortal demon who can possess anybody at will and will never truly die since he can just fly somewhere else. The whole thing seems incredibly futile and what’s worse is that there is no way to prove that the villain is a demon so at any point he can just hop into another body and frame the heroes. It’s all just so hopeless and that takes a lot of the fun away from the chase. Why bother getting invested here when victory is impossible?

It’s why even in action shows I much prefer when the hero or villain has at least a slim shot of putting up a fight. A one sided massacre on either side can become boring if it carries on for too long. Give me at least a glimmer of hope even if you’re going to yank it away. The reason there is none here is because in every film the heroes start yelling scriptures at the demons and taking out the cross but always die in the end. At best sometimes they can temporarily take the demon down with them but the human stays dead for good while the demon eventually regenerates.

While it’s not the best series, at least Blue Exorcist has clear rules on how you permanently destroy a spirit. Then you have the all stars like Twin Star Exorcists where you just need to destroy a villain with holy weapons and they stay dead. Give me clear rules for engagement and you’re set but otherwise you just turn into another Jeeper’s Creepers where the villain is completely invincible the whole time.

Another reason this film is so bad is because way too much time is spent on Damien’s ramblings. He just goes on and on and on and as the viewer you have absolutely no interest in anything that he has to say. It’s just a serial killer’s crazed ramblings and you’re constantly checking the clock to see if the speech is really as long as you think it is. It doesn’t service the plot because we know it is crazy and all this does is remind us of that. If I wanted to watch some crazed ramblings there are plenty of Youtube videos for it but to sit there and have to listen to that is mind boggling. Any scene with him in the cell is just awful.

It goes without saying that the film is super violent and disturbing the whole time as well. Everyone is getting murdered by this guy and to add some extra edge to the mix he makes sure to at least bump someone off while they are in a church. There is just no protection from the demon inhabiting Damien and as always the dark side seems way more powerful than the light. This is not a film you watch for the heroes to take the lead.

Kinderman is also portrayed as extremely old in this one. I’m not sure if the actor was sick during filming or something but he has a really hard time breathing during the film and it’s noticeable as he has to take a deep breath after every few lines which doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of the villains. Nobody is going to be scared of a guy like this, why should they be? The heroes are on the defensive the whole time and then you also have the doctors who appear corrupt at times. At least one of them was being blackmailed and another was being so unhelpful that she may as well have been in on it.

We do get the classic scene of someone crawling on the ceiling but there’s not much point to it at all. I mean in context I guess the demon is taunting Kinderman but that doesn’t work because the main guy doesn’t notice and all that would have done was alert him to the body hopping earlier. Yeah I’m telling you this is a big skip for sure. It’s not like this even adds all that much to the lore of the verse so skipping it won’t have you missing anything. I mean if you liked the first film than you may like this one as well but there just isn’t much to salvage here at all.

Overall, the only slight positive I can give here is that there was one catchy tune that played earlier. Yeah that’s about it. The film quickly drops off a cliff after that. It may succeed in trying to have a sinister atmosphere that basically feels evil the whole time but as a result there are no fun moments here or times where you can cheer along with the movie. This isn’t that kind of movie and any movie where you don’t smile at least once during it is one that didn’t understand the assignment. A good film should leave you feeling good afterwards and this one is just so cruel and mean spirited that it won’t succeed. It has the rare distinction of hitting rock bottom so you definitely need to avoid it.

Overall 0/10

Kill Bill Volume 2 Review

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

All right, it’s time for the next Kill Bill. It’s pretty similar to the last one but we have a bit less action this time around. The Bride is wrapping up her revenge tour after all and there are only a few targets left. Not to mention that these targets are mainly weaker than the last film’s so the movie has to throw in elements like her getting sloppy and being buried alive to buy time until the end. It does beat the first film because we don’t get anything quite as dreadful as the whole hospital part from the first film. It’s still way excessive on the violence which keeps it from really reaching its potential but any improvement is always good.

So a good chunk of the film is about Bride taking on Budd which lasts longer than you would expect. The guy can’t fight for beans but he does have a gun and she seems to underestimate him which is what makes things tricky. If not for the surprise attack then she would have definitely taken him out pretty quick. I suppose he deserves some credit for that. I’d say the other two big aspects of the film is finally seeing the truth of what happened that day in the chapel when everyone jumped her and then the climax where she finally gets to take on Bill.

The confrontation with Bill is what we’re all here for after all so I’ll leave that for the end. For the intro with the wedding, well it definitely makes Bill look really crazy. It’s clear that he planned to shoot everyone up from the start with the way his gang showed up. We learn that he’s the Bride’s father and yeah it’s really not a good look for him. The guy just seems super petty especially considering that the bride and groom seemed nice enough the whole time. Nobody was antagonizing him or anything. He just is the big villain and sometimes that’s all you need.

Now for the final villains, first up we have Budd and I can’t say that I liked him much at all. I guess he’s got brute strength but that’s about it and he wasn’t very smart in how he handled himself with the boss at his day job. He was almost making the argument that he didn’t need the job by saying that there is nobody around to bounce and I thought it was clever of the boss to bring that up. He really just gets lucky the whole time with the Bride being surprisingly clumsy with her approach and then he lets his guard down with the snake. It was definitely not a very smart move since he should know that all of these villains mean business.

We also have Elle who is sort of like a rival to Bride. She was definitely really jealous of her the whole time. Their skills are fairly close although I do think Bride has the decisive advantage here when you really think about it. She got to learn more from the master and just seems more experienced. Elle is still very good in combat though.

Now she did get a big moment where she takes down the master Pai Mei, but that guy was also an extreme jerk to the point of being a villain. I mean his training was so drastic that he did nearly murder Bride on a few occasions which I always think is way too excessive for any training. Sure, it always works out so you look the other way but you have to think about if it didn’t work out. Then you just murdered a pupil and while Pai Mei wouldn’t be broken up about it, it makes you double think everyone who actually allowed this to happen. It’s just not a smart play and so when Elle murders him you just aren’t too surprised. It seemed inevitable that he would push someone too far.

As in the last film the Bride is good here although she maybe holds back a little too much against Bill in the end. Look, you’ve come this far so I think you need to end him really quick. This isn’t one of those times where you can just talk things out and hope for the best. It worked with the neighbor in the first film because it wasn’t as personal and you still knew she was going to finish the job but with Bill it should have been time to take him out on sight. By waiting she put herself in a whole lot of danger the whole time.

Bill is also a very annoying character in part because I feel like the film isn’t really acknowledging just how evil he is. In a way it’s just part of the absurdness of it all as he just shows up trying to appear as a nice guy and calling Bride’s bluff but she should have just taken him out and then kept moving. I think there are a lot of ways she could have handled that better because this way could have really backfired.

In particular the moment where she falls down and closes her eyes to play dead while Bill is right in front of her. He easily could have gone for the shot for all she knows and then that would have been it. There just wouldn’t be any coming back from that. He also needs to own the fact that he put her in such a terrible position all these years and there is no coming back from that either. The whole climax with Bill was just rather odd and I didn’t think it landed nearly as well as the film thought it did. Mainly because it didn’t land at all. This was a fire and a miss. The climax may not be very satisfying as a whole but at least the very end is good and that’s what you will remember the most in the end.

The film keeps a lot of the fun technical elements that made the first one good like the music and choreography although there are much less chances to show that here since the film isn’t as action heavy. It’s not quite as dark as the first film but it’s still very over the top violent that’s for sure. Everyone is still getting slaughtered on all sides and taking away from the fun fights that you want to get to. It’s still as shocking and gruesome as ever.

Overall, Kill Bill ends here and while it’s a slight improvement over the first film because it doesn’t get as extreme, it’s relative when you think about how extreme it still is the whole time. This is not a fun popcorn film that you plug in and have a good time with. Instead this is a title where you turn it on but have to be ready to wince and shake your head whenever a villain shows up because you know that someone’s about to go down the hard way. You don’t really need a sequel to this but one more to finish the trilogy would be nice and if things keep improving a bit then who knows. Maybe the third will end up being the big one but until then you can stick to other revenge films like One Piece Film: Red or Dragon Ball: Super Broly the Movie.

Overall 2/10

Clannad: After Story Review


Clannad: After Story is one of those shows that will start to stress you out near the end. It starts to go towards an ending that you know would absolutely wreck it and you’re just hoping that it doesn’t go that way but a small part of you knows that it could be possible. Well, it doesn’t happen and so you can breathe a sigh of relief. The show does stick the landing and ultimately it’s a good show. I do think it lags behind the original which managed to balance the drama and comedy a lot better. As the After Story this one is a lot more serious throughout with less time for light hearted humor. As expected from this franchise though the emotional scenes definitely do land and this will be a show where you get emotionally invested.

The show starts off with some final school adventures. Enjoy this part of the show while you can because once they leave the school then that’s it. The first episode is sort of the introduction episode for new fans that you often see for season 2s. It’s a chance to get the whole cast hanging out and having fun. It’s a Baseball episode so you’ve also got the sport bonus. It’s a fun way to start up the season and is probably the happiest episode in the saga. Nothing goes wrong, it’s just everyone having a good time bonding over the game. Definitely one of the best executions of the “intro” episode that I’ve seen.

The first real arc involves Tomoya’s friend Youhei as he finally gets his time to shine. Or falter as is the case this time. His sister Mei is really concerned about him because Youhei is still a big troublemaker and doesn’t seem to have matured at all. A lot of time has passed over the years so she was hoping to see some improvement. Youhei figures that he will need a fake girlfriend to trick Mei into thinking that he can look out for himself. None of his female classmates want to help out with this though so the only candidate left is Nagisa’s mom Sanae who doesn’t mind helping out.

The only tricky part is that Youhei doesn’t actually realize that she is the Mom and actually thinks he has a chance. Meanwhile Mei sees through this fairly quick and is discouraged again so she pretends to be going out with Tomoya to test Youhei’s bond but unfortunately he fails at this one because since he’s Tomoya’s best friend he figures that he will look the other way. Everything pretty much blows up at this point and it doesn’t help that Mei wants Tomoya to help her get Youhei back on the soccer team since everything seemed to go wrong as soon as he was kicked off of that club.

Part of the problem though is that the club is as corrupt as they come. The actual members of the club just aren’t good people so there isn’t much benefit in trying to warm up to them. It would have been better if they didn’t even try to help but of course once Mei says she will go Tomoya has to accompany her because these guys can’t be trusted. We do get a big fight there though and then another fight later on between Tomoya and Youhei.

This arc definitely had a lot of serious moments and a lot of dramatic ones as well. The reason I thought that Youhei didn’t look good though is because all of the plans were just bad. For starters, getting a fake girlfriend to convince Mei that he is mature now is just going to have the opposite effect when she inevitably finds out the truth. Even if he could keep the secret, well now he’s living out a lie. His best bet would be to get an actual girlfriend but of course that wasn’t quite in the cards for him either.

He’s always been the most unintelligent member of the cast and so Tomoya ends up tricking him a whole lot but if there was ever a time to rise above that then this would have been it. Instead Youhei makes the wrong call in not speaking up when he knows Mei is way too young for Tomoya. Honestly if the explanation was that he thought it was another prank that would have been way better than his nonreaction here. I would at least have been able to buy that a bit but otherwise he had to make a stand here and shut this down.

Youhei never really came back from that since he doesn’t get much of a role after this. Ultimately he was a good friend to Tomoya and kept him in check over the years but as the resident punching bag of the series it would have been nice if he could have at least looked really good during his big serious arc. That was his chance and he blew it.

Meanwhile I’d also say Mei didn’t look very good here. She could be a bit too forceful in trying to make sure that Youhei matured. At the end of the day it’s something that he has to do on his own and it’s not like you can really force it to happen. Her decision to get him back on the soccer team just ended up causing a whole lot of issues instead of really helping anything out.

It is unfortunate that Tomoyo and the others don’t get much of a role this time but it does work as the after story. It’s a bold approach for sure but when you think of this as the story taking place after the main story has concluded then it makes sense that most of the old characters would be completely written out. Their time in the sun has ended after all.

That said, we do get an alternate reality saga real quick with Kyou and Ryou. So of course Ryou has always liked Tomoya but was way too timid to actually say anything. Well, this time she does say something and he agrees to go out with her basically because he would agree to go out with any girl who worked up the courage to ask him out. That’s how it seems to be at least given how many alternate paths there are. Thing is…he quickly realizes that he actually likes her twin sister Kyou more which makes things complicated.

Kyou’s always liked Tomoya as well but tries to bury these feelings. Having her twin sister going out with him just makes it even harder to hide. Ultimately she wins out and Ryou gets wrecked again but I feel like having both of these involved in the same alternate path made things a little extra tragic. It would have been better if either Ryou got her own alternate universe episode or didn’t do much here. It just makes Tomoya look bad for jumping around so quickly.

Additionally Kyou owed it to her sister not to make a move in that case. Teasing Tomoya on the bench and messing with him was really just a way to get him to fall for her even if she wouldn’t admit it. It’s only natural that she would defeat Ryou once she got serious because she’s more outgoing and attractive while also being able to hold a normal conversation with Tomoya way more than Ryou ever could. But it’s like the bro code, you have to have the sister code as well where you won’t just steal the man like that.

The instant it happened everything was all over because if Tomoya stayed with Ryou then she’d know it was out of pity so the relationship was destroyed right off the bat. This at least allowed them to get more of a role in the season though. Kyou appears a bit anyway as a teacher in the future but Ryou mainly vanishes. Fuuko also appears a bit in the future but her role is really small and I wouldn’t say that it’s too pivotal. It was mostly just a reason to have her around but I miss her supernatural abilities as a ghost. Surprisingly the ghost never got to appear again but I guess that’s because she was back in the world of the living.

We get a mini arc for Misae who is sort of the dorm mother for a bunch of the kids. She was around a bit in season 1 as well so I suppose this was her chance to finally get some real development. It’s a pretty emotional arc that even has some supernatural elements to it. Basically she likes one guy who already has a boyfriend and then a magic guy named Katsuki likes her but it’s hard for him to confess now since Misae was already crushed.

As you can see this is one of those very dramatic arcs. I do think getting together with Katsuki wouldn’t have really worked because the rebound would have been way too quick there. You need time to get over the first love since things didn’t really work out there. It’s interesting to know more about her past but at the end of the day it’s not like she ever ends up being a main character. Think of it as extra world building. Katsuki did the right thing in not confessing initially though. I would defend that as there are times where you shouldn’t “Shoot your shot” and confessing right after someone had a big break up or was rejected is certainly one of those times.

Yukine gets a mini arc as well and if you don’t remember her that’s fine. Her role was eve smaller in season 1 but basically she is always in a small room in the school with some coffee. It turns out that she works as the resident nurse for a bunch of gangs in the area and patches them up whenever they get hurt. As a result everyone likes her because she doesn’t interfere in the fights. Still, her brother was the only one strong enough to stop the fighting entirely and things are getting dicey without him. This leads our hero Tomoya to have to jump in and try fighting.

There are some fun moments here especially the big moment where the brother seemingly appears. This one is less of an emotional arc I’d say and more of a quick action one. The fight is actually played totally straight and has a good amount of tension. It’s clear that Tomoya won’t be able t win with his busted arm but it’s always impressive just how long he lasts considering what he has to deal with. He does well in every sport and challenge even when he can only use one arm.
Now we enter the big part of the series which is the climax to Tomoya and Nagisa’s plot. Well, she is sick once again which is rough because that means that she will have to miss school once again which could prevent her from graduating. Her condition has always been a bit of a mystery as the doctors could not figure out exactly what was wrong with her. This naturally makes things rather tough on Tomoya who can’t possibly enjoy graduation without her. Also if she has to start a whole new year again then that means she will be all by herself this time. He also has to move on and get a job which is where Yoshino comes in handy.

I always thought Yoshino was a good guy and he really comes in handy when it counts here. The guy does his best to show Tomoya the ropes and has his back at every turn. It’s not every day that you find a good friend like that. Yoshino’s speeches also may be a bit on the cheesy side but he does mean every word of them. I was glad that Tomoya never laughed at them because he does owe this guy a lot.

Akio and Sanae are fun supporting characters here as always. Sanae definitely likes to have fun and act as one of the kids along with the main characters. She’s good at alternating between being a motherly figure and a friend and helps quite a lot of the characters in the show. She really came in clutch with helping Tomoya when he was down in the dumps during the show. He really had a rough stretch and during that period she kept going after him until she was able to get him into the clear. It’s not something most characters could have done.

Akio also helps out a lot too of course both verbally and economically. He wants Tomoya to know that he’s here for him and the message is definitely received. I’d say a good part of why Nagisa is able to remain so hopeful throughout everything going on is because she had such supportive parents. It just wouldn’t have been possible without them.

The show definitely goes farther in the timeline than you’d expect but it’s why around half of the show takes place after school. We get to see Tomoya out in the real world working a job and how each character has went on to pursue their dreams. It does mean that the show takes on a much more serious tone for those moments though. There isn’t a whole lot of comedy after the school part is over and things can even get rather dark. It’s why everything was riding on the ending which ultimately is what keeps the show afloat.

You are super invested in everything going on and it’s all emotional but of course that is also why a bad ending would really doom the whole thing. The animation is solid here as expected. I would say it maybe doesn’t feel quite as high budget as the first season which had some really stylish moments for the occasional fight scenes and Chun Li combos. This one has moments like that as well but they tend to be rare and not quite as flashy. Still, it all looks good enough to me. Then for the soundtrack you’ve got all of the classic tunes. The emotional songs definitely fit in with the scenes really well and help to really amp up the atmosphere. I’d definitely give the full soundtrack a thumbs up for sure.

Now I’m going to dive into the more spoilery aspects of the show so skip the next 5 paragraphs if you haven’t seen the show yet. After all with a big emotional show like this you don’t want to know any of the big events before they happen. It would soften the impact of every scene in a big way since you can only experience them once.

All right so here we go. Nagisa is unable to overcome her illness and ends up dying. It was definitely a real tragic moment because you really thought that she would get better this time. She does end up delivering her baby Ushio first though and asks Tomoya to watch out for him. Unfortunately Tomoya gets super depressed to the point where he can’t even interact with the baby and so for several years Nagisa’s parents take care of him instead. I have to say that this made Tomoya look really awful though. You can’t just shut down like that and he basically became his father even though he swore that he never would.

Well, eventually Sanae tricks Tomoya into spending time with his daughter Ushio and the two of them grow close. Tomoya finally reconnects with all of his old friends and becomes a good father…only for Ushio to get the same illness and die. So now Tomoya has lost everything. See, this is where the show would have immediately gone down the tubes for me if it ended like that. There would just be no coming back from this because it would all be way too mean spirited and empty. It would be like the whole adventure was a waste and it was a cruel twist of fate. Tomoya had a theory that Nagisa and Ushio’s lives were dependent on the town so it being changed was what destroyed them.
Well, that wasn’t quite it. It turns out that instead there is an Earth Prime of sorts with the robot and the girl. By sacrificing her life the girl is able to give everyone a fresh start and resets things to the happy timeline where everyone lives and is happily ever after. Every part from Nagisa dying onwards just didn’t happen. It’s a little rough for the robot since he wanted to have fun with her but in a way he is reincarnated to the human world too. It’s all a bit trippy there for sure bit I was a big fan of this one without a doubt. We needed a happy ending and it finally justified that whole plot so I was glad about it.

Otherwise that arc was quickly becoming a train wreck. Tomoya would have lost all my respect in ditching his daughter like that. It would have been such a horrible look for him. Meanwhile his father committed a crime and went to jail which I thought was unexpected but maybe it would at least remind Tomoya not to make the same mistakes. So seeing him go to the dark side anyway was just really off. Even though the timeline reset it still happened so I can’t forget that but at least he got a shot at a second chance.

Meanwhile Ushio was a good character. She had to live without her father for a very long time but she kept a positive attitude about the whole thing and didn’t hold it against Tomoya. She just rode the waves of life and kept it moving. We don’t get to see her too long since the series was nearly ending by the time she showed up but she made an impact in that time.

I didn’t really talk about Nagisa much but I’d say that she’s a good heroine. It’s certainly not her fault that she gets sick a lot and she tries to stay strong throughout all of the sad things happening to her. Having to repeat a year again for the third time just because she was sick probably felt really unfair. Then she does her best to work and support Tomoya during his tough job as well. She never complains and always tries to do the right thing so there’s nothing to really dislike here.

Meanwhile Tomoya definitely made more mistakes this time around. Even in season 1 he wasn’t perfect as I thought some of his pranks could be a bit on the mean side but at least that was more of a humor plot. Here he tends to make more serious mistakes as the show goes on, ones that are a whole lot harder to just wave away. To in the end I have to say that I didn’t like Tomoya, he erased most of the goodwill around his character.

At least I can say something for this show that I rarely say and it’s that the romance here was actually rather solid. At least for the main pairing since Tomoya and Nagisa got a lot of time to interact and build this romance up. It’s certainly way better than the usual rushed type of romances where you feel like it just happened out of nowhere. In context this one took months to develop and at this point they’ve known each other for well over a year. When a show that is part romance manages to execute the romance well you know that it’s going to be in good shape.

In a way the show benefits from not trying to squeeze in a bunch of side romances. That would ultimately just distract from the main one where you want as much development as possible. Since this is the after story we also don’t have to worry about any of the other heroines trying to make a move because at this point they have all accepted that Nagisa and Tomoya are together. So there’s no funny business. It’s just everyone being good supportive friends as the adventures go on. The show is also long enough where you feel like you’ve known the characters a long while and got to see them on their journey. Not all of the characters get a big conclusion but since it’s from Tomoya’s view it makes sense that he wouldn’t see them all complete their dreams. We do get quick glimpses to see where they are at though.
Overall, Clannad: After Story really lives up to its name as being the post game in a way. The characters get to go through their epilogues while you watch. It’s something you almost never see since usually the end of the story is just that…the end. It’s very rare that you get the cast back for a whole other season like this. Maybe a big movie or something but not a full show. In the end the first show still wins just because it is a lot more fun and the school setting just works better but if you saw the original show then you owe it to yourself to watch this one. Even if just to see how the whole robot plot ends since in season 1 it still felt rather pointless by the end. At least now in this season you really see why it was included.

Overall 6/10

Mob Psycho 100 III Review


It’s time for the end of Mob Psycho. It’s always a pretty big achievement when an anime completes a full adaption of something. No stopping in the middle, detours, or big breaks. This one just went straight through and now you can recommend it to anyone as a complete story. You just love to see a full success like this and season 3 ends on a great note. I would still say that season 2 is the best one and it’s really hard to top that teleporting fighter but this season continues to operate on a high level with excellent animation, music, and characters. So there’s a lot to like here from start to finish.

The show starts off with more of a casual episode to get you used to what’s going on. You see Mob and Reigen on a more standard adventure with exorcising. It works as a good revisit into the characters before we get to the really serious arc. A good chunk of the series is about The Divine Tree and it’s also the best part of the season so we start off strong right off the bat. Initially starting off as a small plant, this thing starts to grow and grow until it’s an absolutely massive tree that dwarfs everything in sight. It’s mind controlling everybody within the city as well, even those with psychic powers. Its reach continues to grow more and more to the point where it may be a threat to the planet. Mob isn’t too concerned initially but once it starts going at the friends then all bets are off.

I think part of what really worked for this arc is just how ominous it was the whole time. The music gets noticeably more serious during all of the episodes with the tree. The animation does a great job with the lighting to make everything look dark as well and so everyone is suspicious. Whenever someone talks to Mob you have to wonder if they are under mind control or if that is what they are really thinking. This was done really well with Reigen at one point where you just don’t know exactly which way to think. Of course if you are not too sure then leaning towards mind control is the best bet.

The best episode cliffhanger was the one when Mob decides to walk into the Tree so go and have a talk with the main villain. The whole time he sort of figures that it is probably Dimple but he just doesn’t want to believe it. They’ve been friends for so long and it just didn’t make sense to him which makes for a solid dynamic.

In a way the setup may have been too good though because there were a few parts of the arc’s resolution that I found to be a little disappointing. For starters my main issue was that Mob tried a little too hard to be diplomatic here. Lets keep in mind that pretty much the whole city is under control at this point so the villain’s gone very far. He’s turned Mob’s closest friends and family against him including his brother Ritsu and his friend Hanazawa. I was hoping we’d get to the point where Mob decides to just take him out with force.

We do get a big fight scene but not with Mob this time. Mob’s determined to just go in with peace. It is of course an interesting angle but I admit that in this case I didn’t want that. The setup was already so masterful with setting up the stage and how everything was so ominous. So you were ready for the big fight which would be extra personal if the leader really was Dimple as opposed to some random guy at the top of the tree.

The possibilities were all just really great. So yeah I wanted a little more than that. Hanazawa had an excellent intro in this arc though as he stormed in to take the villain down. I liked that he didn’t hesitate at all and just dashed in. A lot of times when someone notices a villain around you get some build up and then maybe in an episode or two he makes it, but here he just zoomed over immediately and got into a big fight. That was great.

The climax does have a big fight involving the tree though so I was glad about that. It did save the climax for me because that fight was spectacular. It also led to a really emotional way to end the arc. One character got himself into a rather sticky situation by holding back for so long though. If he hadn’t done that then the climax fight would have been a whole lot easier. Sometimes you can’t afford to be too nice or things definitely get a little tricky.

After that we get into the only weak part of the season. The kids decide to go on a field trip into space to meet some aliens. It’s an emotional story or at least that’s what they’re going for but it was just a bit boring if anything. This is more about character development but it’s focused on side characters that you don’t really care about. Tome is nice and all but she’s never been a huge character in the series and really just gets overshadowed the whole time.

The rest of the club just aren’t very likable. I guess the guy who has actual telepathy was a little better at least. Having actual psychic abilities is always a really big deal and sets him apart from the rest of the characters. I just would have made the aliens evil or something to spice things up. The arc may not have been as original if it did that but it could have been cooler. This one just feels like filler the whole time but without any really fun character moments or at least humor to get you through.

Fortunately after that we’re right back on track with the big climax to the series. Mob has decided to finally confess to Tsubomi because she is moving away and this is effectively his only chance. The tricky part is that the whole school wants to confess to her. He knew that she was a really popular girl but even he probably underestimated just how popular she was. There’s no way to break through the crowds of people and he doesn’t want to be forgotten so he calls her up to have an official meeting place. Now nothing will stop him from meeting up with her and confessing his feelings. Whether it be a tornado or the entire cast of the series going up against him, he will crush them all!

The final arc really lets you get to see pretty much the entire cast one last time so that was cool. There’s also a whole lot of fights here as everyone gives it their all so that was nice. This feels like a final arc in every way whether it be tying things to the beginning by having Tsubomi return or just having everyone basically give their goodbyes during combat. It’s a nice blend of emotional moments and big fights here even if you know that most of them just do not stand even a small chance at victory.

Now I do have a small issue at the trigger to the arc. Lets just say that it involves Mob getting hit by a car/truck and no matter how distracted he is, I don’t see this playing out the way that he did. Psychic abilities are always such a great barrier to have and when we’ve seen him getting thrown through cities and everything is just feels a bit weird to see something like this lay him out. Of course it was a fantastic cliffhanger to end an episode with and the sound of the lights changing worked really well.

The show does know how to land the emotional moments. As expected the animation here is definitely top tier. The fight at the end of the tree arc is the single best looking fight in the season and you can tell a ton of budget went into that. It’s almost like a big sci-fi Gundam fight with all of the lights shooting out everywhere. We also see some really great durability feats and you can feel the increasing amount of despair and dread as the enemies just won’t let up. The rest of the season also has consistently great visuals for the psychic abilities being thrown around.

The soundtrack doesn’t stand out as much as in season 2 but it’s still a well rounded blend of songs. The opening hasn’t grown on me yet but the ost within the episodes is good. The production values here were definitely on point.

As for the characters, Mob is a solid lead as always. He has definitely learned to voice his feelings a lot more than he used to be able to. He may not be talking up a storm like Reigen or anything like that but he’s not super quiet anymore. He’s even able to help talk other characters through their issues a bit which would have been unheard of back in the day. Perhaps he also needs to learn to draw a limit to when the time for talk is over a little more but it’s still a positive trend for him. His abilities are also still easily the strongest in the verse and it’s one of the reasons why the season isn’t trying to introduce a villain who is stronger at this point. It would be a little hard to buy at this point.

Then Reigen is a great character as always. He still loves to swindle people as much as possible for big money but he always gives Mob a fair shake. They have a great dynamic and he’s someone that Mob can trust when the chips are down. Reigen gets a big role as always and he is pivotal in the climax. He tends to be the comedic highlight of the show and he still is, but he really does well in the serious moments as well. It’s why he is just such a great character.

Hanazawa is also someone who has exceled throughout the series and it’s no different here. He’s the first one to go up against the tree and he also moves in quickly in the final arc. He may tend to be outmatched against some of these villains but he is always training and increasing his abilities. Apparently he made a huge jump in power since the last time we saw him and that’s really impressive. I would love to see a spinoff about him and what he was doing in the meantime. Ultimately he has become the ultimate defender of the planet and does his best to save everyone at all times. You have to respect that and he doesn’t have to worry about holding back or anything like that. He’s just around when you need him.

Ritsu also gets his moments to help out and be supportive here as well. He hasn’t really trained his psychic abilities as much since he mainly wants to lead a normal life but you figure as Mob’s brother he will always have a good amount of power at his disposal if he can unlock it. The anime handles this really cleverly when he appears with a bit of a subversion on what’s happening. That was probably Ritsu’s best moment in the entire series. So he ended on a good note.

Unfortunately I have to say that Dimple could not copy this. He actually went way down for me in this arc. Ultimately I thought he made the wrong decisions here and his reasoning for them was even worse. It’s just hard to overlook what he does here even if he has second thoughts later on. He is strong for sure and I was glad that he got a big role to wrap up his character arc but I have to say that it was a lot different than what I was expecting but not really in a good way. He does get some really good moments here but they just weren’t enough to fully redeem him.

Serizawa’s role here is really small and I’d say that’s due in part to just how the show is going about this. If this season was going all in on the action with some final big threats then I think his role would have been big since he is still rather powerful. Since it was more of an emotional journey though, there just wasn’t much room for him. It’s not like he has known the rest of the cast for very long so there weren’t any opportunities for big speeches and moments for him.

Tome at least got her big role for the 2 episode mini arc but that wasn’t really my favorite part of the series as you saw above so it’s a mixed thing. Tome also felt a little petty with making decisions for everyone by herself. By the end she’s okay but she always was overshadowed by other characters. Mezato gets even less to do here and really just makes an appearance to round up the cast. Goda is fun as always. I feel like the body improvement club gets a moment in every season where they come in to help.

They always get absolutely destroyed but they never give up regardless. That’s what I like about them and they are the best friends a guy could ask for. Tsubomi’s role isn’t all that big. In a sense you can say that the events are happening because of her so the role is big in that sense but her screen time isn’t massive. I still like her as a fun heroine though. She’s very unique with her portrayal and it works really well. She isn’t afraid to reject any suitor who comes her way and she has a whole lot of determination. She is the only one who doesn’t fall for the tree’s traps

This was also established in a previous season when she interrogated Reigen. Tsubomi makes up her own mind and doesn’t let anyone try and trick her. So Mob knows that she will give him a straight answer to his confession. Honesty is the best policy and she is cool with giving a very direct answer at any time. She also keeps her promises even when it’s tough like staying on her bench through a full tornado.

Suzuki gets to appear briefly here which was nice since he was one of the most powerful villains in season 2. He’s definitely still got a lot of power but of course he used all of his reserves in the last season so his abilities took a huge hit in this season. It explains why he doesn’t look quite as impressive here since there’s no way he could already regain 40 years so soon. His son Sho also gets to help out though and it’s nice to see them team up. Ultimately they can’t do much more than just delay the inevitable but every minute helps in this kind of thing.

Finally for the two big villains of the arc, the Divine Tree was actually a really good villain. He has a lot of presence throughout and incredible abilities. Against most opponents the Tree would just be way too much to stop. He’s incredibly impressive and his goal is simple but effective. I was impressed at least since I wouldn’t say that my expectations were super high initially.

Then you’ve got the final boss. I’ll call him “Dark” for now. Dark is an interesting figure and he’s powerful as well as good at the mind games. I thought the show handled his introduction well. I can see how he would effectively be born out of the circumstances because things were rough for him for a while there. From his point of view you also see why he wants to be free. Yeah he’s definitely a villain so you don’t lose sight of that but they do a good job of making him a sympathetic kind of villain. As the final boss he made a lot of sense even if again I would have liked some more action there.

The season definitely goes by really quickly. I suppose that’s what 12 episodes will do to you but it’s also because the writing is so good. Yes I would have liked some more action in here since with these powerful fighters you could really have a lot of great visuals. We even got a glimpse of this with the big Divine Tree fight after all. So don’t go in expecting a ton of action but the show still holds its own with the writing.

Overall, I’d be able to recommend Mob Psycho III to anyone. It’s a great show that completes Mob’s big character arc. He’s really grown up now and is a very changed person from how he started. At its core this series was always going to be about his development and it works well. With a solid supporting cast the show was always going to be a really solid one. Of course I’d be down with a big sequel series one of these days. Who knows, maybe that’s coming at some point.

Overall 8/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard will+Dress Review


Cardfight’s dress series is easily one of the greatest success stories in all of anime. It went from being a show that was barely treading water and a few more iffy moments away from being a flat out bad show to going all the way to elite now. It’s absolutely in the conversation with How I Became Reincarnated as a Slime and Mob Psycho as the biggest improvements for a TV show. This one continues to excel the series up to new heights to the point where it can now compete with the top Vanguard seasons although the short length does hold it back somewhat.

The show starts off with a new girl named Urara showing up. She is brand new to the game of Vanguard but thought that it looked rather cool and Yu-Yu shows her the ropes. Before anyone has a chance to catch their breath, a mysterious guy named Zinki shows up and announces that he is hosting a big tournament. This will determine who are more powerful. The professional duelists or the ones who duel off the record like Yu-Yu’s group. There is even a name for these duelists, “Counter Fighters” and professional fighters are known as “Front Fighters”. Yu-Yu and the gang are always up for some fun duels so they accept the invitations but is this really a friendly competition or is there something more going on behind the scenes? It’s really hard to know for sure. Specifically the heroes invited from Team Blackout are Yu-Yu, Tohya, Megumi, Zakusa, and Tomari. Other fighters involved are Mirei and Haruka as well as the new girl Urara. Naturally there will be new fighters here as well like Taizo, Michiru, and Raika. Can Yu-Yu take all these guys down for the count?

One of the big draws of this season is that the entire thing is a tournament. There are no breaks, slice of life eps, or things to distract from the duels. Instead you have a whole lot of fighters all doing their best to rise to the top and prove that they have what it takes. A tournament is always a fantastic idea to try and get your show to the next level and this one definitely pulled it off. The rules were also fun as it was not your standard single elimination tournament. Instead you play in a type of round robin that continues until you have enough wins to move on. The only downside is that a ton of fights had to be off screen since this season is only 13 episodes. If you remove the first episode which takes place before the tournament then you only have 12 episodes to get through a massive tournament. Round robin style is way longer than single elimination after all so you can see how this would be a big one.

So it is regrettable that so many battles were off screen. If they had made this show 24 episodes instead then it would have really gotten a nice boost even more than what it already got. The only advantage I can think of to the show being so short is that you know each on screen duel is massive so you really get to see how things go. Unfortunately that also means the victor is obvious almost every time but you still have to try and savor the battle for your character even if it may be the only one that he or she gets in the season.

Naturally the animation is really sharp here. The visuals are really good at all times and it helps to make sure that the anime is operating on a high level at all times. A great duel will be even more fun when the animation is stunning after all. They go all out with a lot of the battles here and everything is very streamlined. The character designs are memorable and everyone has a nice color scheme that stands out from the pack so they’re all unique. The soundtrack is also an area where this season really stands out.

Each character has their own theme that plays when they are about to win the duel. Yu-Yu is stuck with his old theme so it is easily the weakest one but everyone else has themes that really pop out while they are dueling. The one that stands out the most by far has to be Raika’s though. His Youthberk song really throws a lot of intensity into the moment and you really can’t count him out. This song plays early on in the season in his first duel against Yu-Yu and I’ve had to listen to that song many times after that. It was a powerful way to kick things off.

There was also a very solid lyrical song that played during the first episode when Zinki recruited the heroes and it helped to set the stage. At the end of the day what the series was lacking was a very dramatic tone and atmosphere that I had come to expect from earlier seasons. Season two of the dress series had some fantastic duels and a great climax but any time the characters weren’t dueling it was not nearly as hype. This season fixed that right off the bat with such high stakes. Then there was another great song that played to signal the end of the round robin portion of the tournament. We got to see each fighter get eliminated and what an emotional moment that was for them. Definitely stuff we hadn’t really seen before.

Yu-Yu is a solid main character here. He’s still a bit timid for my liking but he has slowly started to be a bit bolder. At the very least if someone is trash talking he will respond. His resolve is questioned once again but this time Yu-Yu doesn’t take it quite as hard as he once did. He is still shaken up though and I hope by next season that things like this won’t phase him anymore. He’s been through a lot so I want to see Yu-Yu embrace that more. You also can’t help but feel like his skills aren’t as good as some of the other fighters here despite winning a lot. In general he’s still got a ways to go but at least has made strides in his development. His current outfit is also many miles better than the original one so it’s great to see him getting the clothes upgrade here.

As always Tohya is the best character here but he doesn’t get a ton to do this time. We know that he was cruising through the tournament but most of his duels are off screen which is a shame. He’s a character who got a massive amount of character development over the past two seasons and has retained all of it. It’s always a pleasure to see him and of course he is still one of the strongest characters in the series. He fights with a lot of passion and ferocity. I look forward to him hopefully having a bigger role next season.

Then there’s Megumi who may have been the main heroine for a while but in this season she is mainly replaced by Urara. It’s pretty tough for her the whole time because it does seem like she has hit a bit of a wall. She’s a very good duelist but has been unable to catch up to Danji and has been left behind by Yu-Yu. I could see her getting some kind of a bigger character development arc out of this down the road though. She’s a fun fighter and I expect to see more from her as well.

I’m still not really a big fan of Zakusa though. I get that he can be tough when he wants to be but it’s never really convincing since he is comic relief all the time. If he was serious more often then that would really help big time. As it stands he just isn’t strong enough to pull this off. Then there is Tomari who is a fun character and does her best to help out as well. She is a decent duelist as well and certainly talks tough but feels even more doomed than Megumi most of the time. She would really need a new deck to go much further.

Masanori gets a minor role here as a villain in the shadows but the guy has already overstayed his welcome. It’s no longer possible to take him seriously so I hope Zinki holds onto the master villain role instead of sharing it with Masanori. Zinki is already way more interesting than that guy and he hasn’t really gotten to do much of anything yet. You at least know that he’s powerful and can hold his own in a fight though. That’s the kind of villain you want to have overseeing everything.

Danji surprisingly misses out on the whole thing. The show missed an easy opportunity for a massive upset by having him get taken down by the new villains. I suppose this way he keeps his hype for the next season as one of the strongest duelists though. Mirei and Haruka return but it’s safe to say that the power creep has gone right past them as they don’t look very dominant or imposing in this round. They really just get destroyed in most of the rounds although at least Mirei lasted long enough to make it to the last stage. Honestly she should have been more dominant and crushed Urara if you ask me. Her skills were just so good in the last season. She had bad luck in the seeding with fighting Raika so early on though.

Urara is a fun character even if I think her skills were overhyped. She tries her best and learns quickly so she gets to be on the level of the pros almost immediately but it feels like it should take a little longer to get quite so high up. She’s probably a little too sensitive with her empathic abilities since just seeing others play while being upset can mess her up a bit though. She even gets a bit sensitive while dueling if she is taken out of the zone. I expect her to improve on all of this and ultimately be a tough fighter who can really rise up the ranks of Team Blackout. So as a rookie she has come quite far but is still under some of the more senior members for me.

From the 3 big fighters introduced the first would be Taizo. He seems to be a step below the other two but is still great at what he does. He’s a top ranking pro and he has put everything on the line in order to win this tournament. If he loses then he may have to become rich and take over a company instead while feeling unfulfilled so he can’t let that happen. He takes things a lot less personally than the rest of the duelists and just likes to have a good time so I can really respect him there. It’s nice to see someone who is just embracing the game. Of course Taizo is taking is very seriously and trying to win but he’s not being a jerk about it.

Then you have Raika who in many ways is the biggest character here. He looks up to Michiru who is generally considered to be the strongest player out there but is trying to gain ground quickly. Raika believes that winning is everything and you shouldn’t have fun when you lose. It’s a classic character type that we’ve seen before but he can be a bit whiny at times. In fact I’d say that he whines a whole lot. He works well as a villain but it will take me a while to really get used to the guy as a likable character.

His best episode was easily during the fight against Tohya which is naturally a big highlight of the season in general. Tohya is really the only one who can really understand Raika the whole time and so they actually have a pretty good discussion about their way of battling and winning. Of course Raika isn’t able to hold his end of the conversation quite as well so it’s almost like Tohya is talking to a wall half the time. I can’t deny Raika’s skills though, he is a top duelist and that’s why he does work well as a really imposing villain. He’s also got the best theme in the whole show so he’s a lot of fun to see duel but I’d like him to be a little more confident without the whining.

Finally we have Michiru but he’s actually not as impressive as his reputation. Here’s what it boils down to for me. He’s supposed to be the best and all but he’s more of the quiet type of character. He really likes to analyze the plays and try to console the opponent but he doesn’t have any loud confidence. You always feel like he is doomed to be defeated as the tournament goes on and there’s nothing super interesting about his fighting style. I think what we needed was another duel or two for him to really help and flesh out his character. Especially with it appearing that he will miss most of season 3, he didn’t get to do a whole lot. I think he had potential but is just overwhelming as the big power-house.

There are other fighters in the tournament of course but for the most part they are busy getting absolutely destroyed off screen and don’t really get to do anything. Again, that’s the only rough part about the season being so short. Particularly when you’re going for a tournament plot since usually you need a whole lot more episodes for something like that. Still, I couldn’t walk away from the show feeling anything other than a whole lot of satisfaction. For me the show was elite even with the 13 episodes. It all goes by super quickly after all and the fights were absolutely spectacular.

This tournament was a real shot to the arm for the series and gave it the boost that it needed. If the next season can keep up the momentum then it should be really clear sailing from here on out. It’ll be tough to surpass this season without another tournament of course but at least the way the show ends we are continuing that to an extent. I’m actually not positive on exactly what the rules are going forward since it all seems a bit vague but I’m eager for more duels and in theory the opponents will be even more fierce now.

Overall, Cardfight Will + Dress is a fantastic show and the best yet in this part of the series. I would highly recommend checking this one out even if you aren’t familiar with the series. The whole point of this season is just to get the best of the best so that they can all compete. Is it perhaps a little too soon? Maybe, since we don’t have a massive cast yet, but it’s also a good way to kick things into high gear right away. You’ll be satisfied with how things play out and while some matches you will probably feel could be overturned, each battle just has so much energy. This season is a thrill a minute and that’s the kind of thing you always want to see. I can also say for once that the season is great in all areas as opposed to Tohya having to carry it through the tough times. It’s going to be a long wait until the next season.

Overall 9/10

Frozen II Review


The original Frozen was definitely a very fun film with a song that caused a lot of waves around the globe. It’s one of those songs that you don’t really forget because of how catchy it was. The songs here don’t come quite close to topping it but it’s still a good soundtrack and the main singer’s on point. We also get some more action here and so all told this is a sequel that really holds up to the original.

The start of the movie takes us back to when Elsa and Anna were kids. Their parents tell them about how there’s a supernatural forest out there that is very dangerous. It’s asleep right now but if it ever wakes up then they’re all doomed. The parents go die in a boat crash and then we go back to the present where things are going well. Elsa rules the kingdom really well and has a nice handle on her powers while Kristoff is getting ready to propose to Anna. This is all put on ice (Ha!) when the spirits wake up after tricking Elsa into using her powers. The elemental spirits of water, fire, earth, and wind intend to destroy the kingdom and claim their vengeance. Elsa figures that it’s up to her to stop them but doesn’t want to bring Anna along since she’ll be in danger. Anna’s not going to let Elsa go so easily though. Will this all work out for the best?

Throughout the film Elsa is trying to ditch Anna and you can’t really blame her. Anna has done well to keep on fighting and hold her own throughout their previous adventures but at the end of the day Anna doesn’t have powers while Elsa does. So it makes sense not to bring her onto the front lines against these elemental monsters. Even Elsa nearly dies a few times while fighting the formidable water spirit and if she had to protect Anna then she may have lost that battle. I don’t blame Anna for trying to get in either but I’m saying this is not a character flaw on Elsa’s part but is in fact the correct strategic decision.

I liked Elsa’s portrayal here quite a lot. She’s still very mature like in the first film and hasn’t really lost her edge. She is more open to working in a group and hearing everyone out but will make the command decisions when necessary. Her mastery over the ice abilities is also good to see and it’s clear that she has not been slacking off. Elsa has been working to better herself off screen and holds her own in each fight. Having ice abilities would be really cool to have and the film does a great job of illustrating that. Elsa is very determined and never gives up, she’s absolutely still one of the best Disney princesses.

Meanwhile Anna is still a great foil to Elsa’s character. It’s almost like the Batman and Superman dynamic where she has more to prove since she has no powers but always ends up helping out quite a lot. Anna is very creative and can make herself useful in a great number of ways. She may overthink things as she never gives Kristoff a chance to finish his sentences as she runs with whatever the first few words were but it’s because her mind is operating at such high speeds. Anna is quirky but in a fun way and that dynamic between her and Elsa is a big part on why the Frozen films are so much fun. At the end of the day she looks great throughout the movie.

Kristoff also looks really good here and in some ways that’s more impressive than the first two. See, you expect Elsa and Anna to look great the whole time because they are the main heroines. For Kristoff it would be tempting to shelve him for the sequel or just make him comic relief but he’s actually useful the whole time and gets a number of important scenes to himself. He’s never just in the way or slow to catch on but instead he helps out a lot. Whether its herding animals or keeping the townspeople calm, Kristoff does what he can to help. Towards the end he is quick to help Anna with her plan and doesn’t ask questions about it. He just trusts that she is doing the right thing and goes in to help. You can’t ask for much more out of the guy.

Olaf is the comic relief character here and he was good. His song about becoming more mature actually wasn’t as bad as you’d expect. It’s still way weaker than the main songs of course but it was a good song about his character development as he tries to stay brave. Some of his jokes may drag on a bit too long like recapping the first film but it is fun to see if someone who hasn’t seen the first film would be able to understand what happened from his story. Personally I think they would be able to understand because he does still hit the main topics here. Olaf may have a hard time helping out compared to the other characters but he does get some solid emotional scenes. He’s not here purely for the comedy unlike other comic relief characters.

Frozen continues to operate on a higher level than your average musical adventure. Of course a big part of that is because the character cast is on point. This is a much stronger core group of characters than most films would be able to trot out. Additionally having a protagonist with actual super powers is a big deal too since her ice abilities make for a lot of fun visuals. There is a real sense of danger here like with the battle against the water spirit as she actually puts her life on the line. The scene of Elsa being frozen was also intense.

There’s an intensity here that you just don’t see very often from a film like this. You may not care too much about the feud from the past and those people stuck in the forest but you don’t have to be invested on that. At its core this is still an adventure about Elsa and Anna getting through their past and continuing to make the future brighter. It’s a very complete story and you don’t even need a third film. Things are fairly well tied up here although if we did get a third film, I’m fully expecting the parents to return and have a big role. It feels like we are really building up to something like that. And even if it’s not necessary, I definitely want a third film.

It goes without saying but the animation here is also stunning. It’s one of Disney’s best films in that area and the character models are on point. Each of the elements stand out visually and I’ve already talked about how good the ice is. The characters are expressive and so this actually does look like it’s even improved from the first one which should be the standard for any sequel. A lot of detail was put into this movie and it paid off.

Overall, Frozen II is a very fun film. The pacing is good and you’ll have a good time throughout. There are no areas that stall or slow down the pacing in any way. You’ll be invested in the quality characters throughout and the action scenes are played straight as serious moments. I’d be cool with the third film taking on an even more action oriented approach with a ton of big fights but realistically you’ll always have a balance with the Frozen films and this one really nailed that balance. If you haven’t seen this movie yet then you should definitely change that.

Overall 7/10

Space Jam: A New Legacy Review


After revisiting the first Space Jam it was time to take a look at the sequel. In many ways the sequel reminds me of Airplane 2. It’s still a good movie but it’s really just trying to copy the first movie without really trying to stand out on its own. As a result it misses a lot of the soul of the original and instead of being a great movie, it ends up being a solid adventure that will always be overshadowed by the first.

The movie starts with Lebron trying to get his son Dominic to focus on Basketball more but this ends up turning the kid away from the sport. What he really wants to be is a video game developer and at a young age he has already developed a reasonably sophisticated Basketball game. It’s actually rather impressive but the big video game designer camp takes place on the same day as Basketball camp which Dominic had already committed to. Lebron doesn’t wan to let him drop out so Dominic runs away to a server room and the two of them get warped into the digital world. Now Dominic is being held hostage and tricked into teaming up with a villain group known as the Goon Squad. Lebron will have to assemble a powerful team in order to stop them but is there any way to beat such a group? He may have to call in the Looney Tunes.

Unlike the first movie we do have a full act where Lebron goes around recruiting everyone to his cause. Initially he wants characters like Superman and King Kong to be in the group but Bugs tricks him at each corner and ensures that Lebron only gets the classic Looney Tunes. It was nice to see cameos of Superman and the League with the DCAU artstyle and a lot of other quick movies during this period but that’s really it as far as cameos go. None of the heroes really get to leave their respective worlds except you may see them in the background during the game. So this goes back to the classic Space Jam plot of the basketball game.

The biggest issue here is that the game is using Dominic’s custom rules meaning there are special abilities and all kinds of crazy rules. It reminds me of when Mario wrecked the Tennis game series by making the latest entry so gimicky. This basketball game has style point rules so the amount of points you score is completely arbitrary based on how many points the writers need the characters to score. In the first film the villains were up by around 50-100 points at halftime so this time? They’re up by 1000.

The sequel is trying to make everything bigger and bolder but in doing so they did wreck a lot of the tension of the game. The first movie actually had a lot of danger throughout but with this one since the rules are so fake you didn’t really get that. It’s not as fun to see the game when everyone is cheating. It gets so bad that the Algorithm is even able to negate points just because he wants to. That was the biggest moment of cheating by far and went way too far. Like cmon, you’re just going to hack the basketball game and say that points don’t count? Then that means the Algorithm could have been doing that all time or he could have just made their points to go to 0. There’s no reason for him not to cheat further when he can do it so the whole climax doesn’t make sense anymore.

The humor is also not nearly as funny as the original. You don’t have the laugh out loud moments that the original had and in a way the Looney Tunes just don’t have as much personality or enough to do. I’d say the best moment low key was when Bugs reflected Marvin’s laser back at him. That was the kind of hype Bugs moment you’d expect from the guy. I also liked the fakeout with Michael Jordan but how cool would it have been if he actually showed up? That would have been great!

The animation is good but I dare say the original looks better which is a little concerning. It’s been over 20 years since the original after all but no shot compares to when the villains powered up in the original. The characters were just more substantial and of course when they turned into CG at the end they really couldn’t keep up. Even the live action moments felt more movie budget quality in the original. I think that may be at the heart of things here, the sequel just didn’t feel as much like it got a theater budget and was just a fun movie to bring the characters back.

Finally there’s one scene that just feels like it was mishandled in the worst way possible. So the villains have someone with Dame Time, an ability that freezes time for 3 minutes because that’s how fast he can move. So when the villains bring him onto the court, Daffy brings out Road Runner who proceeds to get absolutely destroyed and can’t move at all. Why? It would have been so much better for Dame Time to be wrecking everyone and then Daffy brings in Road Runner for the second round. Say he can move so quickly that even time stop can’t completely stop him. Would have been one of the best moments in the film but instead he gets absolutely devastated in the fight and the old lady has to use some vague Matrix abilities to stop him. Not nearly as satisfying when you think about it.

As you can see, when comparing the film to the original it definitely is doomed in every area. That said, if you look at it as a stand alone film then it isn’t bad. It’s still a lot of fun the whole time and the pacing is on point. The game has a lot of good moments and I do like the visuals. There isn’t an area of the film that I would say is particularly weak when looking at it in a vacuum. The movie can hold its own for as long as it takes even if you see the missed potential of how the film could have been a whole lot better.

The human plot for example isn’t very interesting. Dominic is extremely annoying the whole time. It’s one thing to not want to play Basketball and to be upset at Lebron but he handles everything very immaturely. For example when Lebron tells him that the Algorithm is fooling him and lives are at stake, Dominic refuses to believe him. You’re saying he is going to listen to a computer program he’s known for an hour at best compared to his own father? That was an awful moment. He also tries to make decisions on his own without letting Lebron knows which naturally makes things tricky.

As for Lebron he could be a lot more tactful with how he handles the situation. He did try to play the game before it glitched out though and if Dominic really did already commit to the basketball camp then I can see why he wanted him to go there. Ultimately the drama is mainly Dominic’s fault the whole time but I think they could have done a better job of adding some more interesting elements to this. The Algorithm and the Goon Squad also aren’t particularly interesting. There’s not a whole lot to them. I think the Algorithm at least had some potential but by the end you just wouldn’t have much to say about him. He’s manipulative and knows how to cheat but that’s about it.

Overall, Space Jam 2 has already started to fade away in everyone’s minds so it doesn’t have the lasting presence of the first. Still, if you wanted to see all of your favorite characters again then this is a solid one to pick out. It would have been nice if the characters who made a cameo could have appeared more though. Go all out with the premise and actually have Superman on the basketball team. That would have been a lot of fun and might have even made more sense with the Goon Squad. Everyone could be using their special abilities the whole time and it would have elevated the film to new heights. Maybe they’ll try that for the third game though.

Overall 7/10

It Lives Again 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

Whenever you have a film where the villain is an evil baby you are probably in trouble. There are only so many ways you can try to make that work and to date I don’t think any movie has succeeded. There are some interesting elements to the movie for sure and it almost gets into government conspiracy territory but at the end of the day it’s still just not able to get past the premise and I would advise skipping past this movie asap!

So it turns out that mutant babies are being born all across the country. The government has decided to take them down because of the danger that they pose. There are certain things they can use to detect if a couple is going to have one of these babies. The detection isn’t 100% accurate but it’s close enough so if they get a false reading…well that’s going to be another dead baby. Almost nobody knows about this though except for Frank who figured this out after the events of the first film. He heads over to Jody and Eugene to warn them about this since Jody is currently pregnant with a baby that is slated to be one of these demons. They’re rather skeptical but the government isn’t very subtle which tips their hand early. Can the couple escape with Frank or should they stick with the government. Can they trust either one of them?

This is one of those films where you absolutely do not want to trust anybody though. Think about it, the government is absolutely a group you want to avoid because they are going to murder the baby straightaway. So getting away from them is a top concern even if it means going with Frank and his group but then you probably want to escape from them at some point as well. They’ve got a whole lab set up including a bunch of babies in cages. That’s already rather ominous right? So just keep on moving.

What makes it tough though is that Eugene isn’t even really sure if he wans to keep the kid. He’s a little nervous about the whole thing and you totally get it. The kids look like monsters and if they are true demons then is it really even their kid? The way he and Jody handle the situation is bad though as they keep flip flopping. It makes things very easy for the babies to go around beating them up and claiming more victims. For the most part Jody is really the one who wants the kid and you get it because she still did give birth to him. So she has that strong mother’s instinct in play even when the kid seems rather crazy.

This naturally leads to a lot of fighting between the main two. Meanwhile Eugene is scared out of his wits half the time until she talks him back into it. So he doesn’t get to have a whole lot of fun here. In the end I wasn’t particularly a big fan of any of the characters. Frank did well in finding the characters and trying to save the babies but I didn’t think that the place did a great job of looking after them. Somehow things worked out for a while but you should see how they handle these kids. The doctor just opens the cage when it’s feeding time. Inevitably you know this won’t end well.

It’s hard to know what you should even do with the kids long term. It seems like they can’t be tamed so do you just have to keep them in cages forever? They’ll grow up soon in theory so you’ll need more and more space. It just doesn’t seem sustainable. Of course just murdering them like the government isn’t the answer either. It basically means everyone is just in a really bad situation here and I would have liked for the film to focus on this a little more. Let us really think about the moral implications of what is going on here and let us take sides.

Personally I think you would just need an island for these creatures to live in peace but then you have the logistics of getting the families to agree to this and safe procedures to transport them. All aspects that are much tougher than they sound so it’s not something you can just do 1-2-3. The film isn’t super interested in answering these questions though as the second half just becomes your average horror film. The monster babies go around biting and stabbing everyone and you know that the humans are doomed.

It’s all rather violent and you’re just waiting for the government to show up and clean house. The babies seem to enter rage mode at the drop of a hat so you feel like there is really no hope even early on. The film has an interesting ending that could lead to a sequel or you could take it as more of a “The cycle will continue” but to what end? The way the film ends there are certainly less resources so you can’t directly do what Frank did. It would be difficult to replicate that at least without a lot of finances. Ultimately it feels like the government won this round.

It’s a bit tragic because there are some interesting plots here but they really aren’t able to carry the film for very long. I liked Frank’s entrance at the house when he starts telling the characters about what is going on. The scene of all the cops showing up outside of the hospital was suitably ominous and helped the main characters start to piece things together. The movie knew how to build a rather intense atmosphere and so they really should have stuck to that instead of going the horror route. Having everything be shrouded in mystery and the characters going into hiding would have been interesting. Give us more scenes with the government and what they’re planning. Beyond the demon kids the world seems realistic so what do a lot of the inside agents think about this? It’s still like murdering normal babies so surely there are some who would be against this.

Overall, It Lives Again has the wrong priorities here. I think if you tone down the violence a lot and make the babies a non factor then this could have been interesting. Have the film be a debate about what to do with them as the number of babies continues to expand. We could get some good plans out of that and maybe slowly see the doom approaching the country as every minute of inaction means more people are being taken down. It’s hard to escape the inevitable issue of having to shoot the babies though and the film naturally gets dark as a result. I think there are ways around this but I won’t say that it’s easy. It’s just something you have to try and side step. So switching the premise entirely is the best bet but this is a long winded way of saying that your best bet is to just skip this one.

Overall 2/10

The Cloverfield Paradox Review


The Cloverfield series loves to have movies with pretty much nothing to do with the original. You always get a little stinger at the end and that’s basically it. Unfortunately that is the case here as well as it just isn’t very relevant until the final scene and even then that is more of a tease than a full connection. The series is toying with the fans by this point so it’s best to watch this as a stand alone sci-fi film instead. Even then I would say it’s below average but I suppose it’s not super bad or anything. The logic of the universe just isn’t that great so while it’s trying to be very mysterious and cryptic, it feels like the movie is just cheating instead. There’s definitely one scene in particular that I’d say fits this bill.

So the Earth is in a big energy crisis and they have sent representatives from various countries to find a solution. This group was thrown onto a space station far in the sky and they have to do whatever they can. So they decide to work on a device that should give the Earth unlimited energy but unfortunately this goes sideways and they seem to open up a portal into another world. They have to try and get back to where they used to be but it won’t be easy. They have to fix parts of the spaceship that don’t work anymore and a lot of weird things keep happening on the ship. Are aliens among us?

This movie is dealing with a lot of sci-fi elements but doesn’t really get too out there with creatures and the like. The main dilemma here is really that they have to question everything they knew about physics. Everything’s just scattered and odd happenings start occurring like people phasing through walls and a hand just running around. Where I thought the film messed up was in throwing some clickbait to try and make you think that a bunch of aliens would show up. There’s an odd scene where these cables start choking someone and basically murder him as he gets crushed by a super magnet but you have to question how it happened. It seemed completely sentient the way it was moving but the rest of the film gives no indicat4ion that it was. So yes it’s a strong scene and definitely gets you nervous but it doesn’t make much sense within the context of the rest of the film. It’s more shock value than anything.

Not saying the movie would have been better off with aliens but this scene could have been changed a lot. The idea of trying to help an alternate version of yourself through writing is interesting and the film could have made that something interesting but even that element doesn’t get as much depth as you would expect. So what we have here is a sci-fi film that is only half heartedly jumping into the various concepts that it introduces. This is what keeps it from being the next big thing. Well, at least that’s one of the reasons.

We’ve got a decently big cast here and I wouldn’t even say the members are that bad. First up is Ava who is the main heroine here. She didn’t even want to go on this mission but it was the only way to potentially save her husband since the Earth wouldn’t be surviving much longer. So now that she is in space she has a lot of regrets and the idea of an alternate planet appeals to her. I will say from the jump that I think even being tempted to leave is not a good idea here. An alternate version of you may seem similar but ultimately it’s a complete different person.

So it’s best not to get attached or to distract yourself from the mission. Meanwhile you have Jensen who is a mysterious lady that appears on the ship after things start to get crazy. She reminds me of a lady who showed up late in the game in another sci-fi title called Astra Lost in Space. Jensen is a wild card here as of course the main characters can’t trust her but at the same time it’s not like they have a lot of choices either. At this point you really need all the help that you can get and you just have to hope that it goes well.

Ava’s husband doesn’t get a huge role but in a small subplot he tries to help a kid stay safe. It’s not like there are too many safe areas left but at least helping someone would be good. This plot is definitely going for the more emotional kind of vibes as it’s rather somber. It’s not until the end that this really goes anywhere. At least I did like the ending here though. This was a good cliffhanger and it gets you ready for the next film. Of course as always that seems like it’s probably a longshot but if it were to happen then that would definitely be cool. At least it ends things off on a hype note.

With a lot of drama going on in the ship you feel like this is yet another case where the heroes would do so much better if they weren’t constantly fighting among themselves. Inevitably this starts to become a country vs country thing. Some characters at least try not to get mixed up on this but it’s a very enclosed battleground so it’s not like there are a lot of places to run either. You’re basically stuck here as you just try to stay alive. There are some things that happen where you can’t blame the character for being in a bad spot like the poor guy who started merging with the wall. There wasn’t really a way to avoid that one but other things like creating a gun just amps up the odds of people snapping at each other.

The effects are good though. I thought that the spaceship looked good and it was big enough where you didn’t feel that the crew was too confined. We still got a decent amount of other sceneries throughout. On land everything was in a fairly bad spot early on so this may have been the best location for the movie to take place if you were trying to avoid the monsters for some reason. Meanwhile having the film take place on land would have been the best way to do a proper Cloverfield 2 so even to the end it feels like they are avoiding giving us what we’re really looking forward to and that’s another giant monster movie.

Overall, The Cloverfield Paradox shouldn’t have included the word “Cloverfield” at the end because this movie is barely connected to the franchise at all. They seem to love including this word just to drum up sales and it’s a bad idea. Keeping this as an individual sci-fi film would have been a much better idea. Ultimately it’s not like it would have changed a whole lot about the story itself but you can probably enjoy it more that way as opposed to waiting for the monster to appear each time. I think there are some interesting nuggets here to be sure but ultimately not enough to keep you really invested. This would have worked better as a full TV series as they start to see the differences between the Earths or maybe as a multi film series. As a stand alone you have to cover a lot of ground and so there isn’t time to really have the characters talk about this situation that they’re in. It makes for a bit of an underwhelming experience especially when it feels like the movie isn’t exactly sure of how these things work. Spending more time on the implications of this other world and some good dialogue could have helped it go to the next stage. Instead you will want to wait for the next Cloverfield film.

Overall 4/10