Ratchet & Clank Into The Nexus Review

ratchetandclankintothenexusps3boxart
It’s been a while since I really got to enjoy a Ratchet and Clank game. I tried playing All 4 One a while back, but the game kept freezing on me. I suppose it’s bound to happen when you buy as many games as I do, but that one along with Rayman advance not working definitely stung a little. I get the chills just thinking about those games. Into The Nexus was always notable for being very short and I can see why. You really breeze through the game. Considering that I took it down in a few hours while managing to die at least once in every level…it’s very short. I mainly just kept dying because I would forget about certain gimmicks. There were a lot of controls and no manual in the game so if you forgot how to do something…it becomes button mashing time. Still, it is a very solid game despite the length and there is a reasonable amount of replay value to be found here as well.

Ratchet and Clank are serving as escorts for a pair of dangerous villains that need to be brought to jail. Unfortunately, they break free and murder two of Ratchet and Clank’s friends as they head off to destroy the universe. Ratchet decides to disobey orders to retreat back to home base and pursues the villains. This time it’s personal and Ratchet isn’t playing games. He’s armed to the teeth and is ready to make the hard calls. With the whole universe in the balance, Ratchet may learn that sometimes you need to have a backup weapon at the ready. Luckily, Ratchet always has a bunch of guns.

While the gameplay appears to be the same as always on the surface, it’s less polished. You’ll quickly get used to the 3D shooting style as it’s made to be easy to pick up and play. I love 3D games and Ratchet & Clank has always nailed it. That being said, this one is missing a lock-on feature. You can use L1 to “focus” which is like locking on, but it won’t follow the enemy. You always have to manually aim while fighting. It’s not a big deal, but it can be a little inconvenient if you’re used to having a lock-on at the ready. Due to the size of the game, the weapon selection is also a lot more limited. You have less than half of the weapons that an average Ratchet & Clank game has along with half the gadgets. They each only have 3 base levels as well so you’ll max out the weapons quite easily. It seems like there are an extra 3 levels that pop up later on though so that helps. This makes the Platinum Trophy easier I suppose, but it still sounds reasonably difficult.

The weapons that we do get are pretty good though. They’ll all old I believe so don’t expect anything new, but all of the good weapons made it back. All you’ll really need are the bombs and machine gun, but I do recommend buying the missiles and metal discs once you are able to as well. Earning money certainly isn’t hard in this game and just enter a few tournaments if you want some quick cash. It’s definitely worth the trouble. There are 5-6 worlds in the game and each one can be completed in under an hour. The tournament planet was probably the shortest plot-wise, but since there are bonus tournaments, it ends up lasting a little longer.

As always, the graphics were definitely on point here. The animations were very smooth and the character designs were as sharp as you could expect. The energy attacks all look really good and I enjoyed the level designs as well. The game did a good job of grabbing the classic stage traits like a City level and a forest one as well. That’s definitely a good thing since every Ratchet game should have at least one City world. Those always look fantastic. The soundtrack never really stood out to me though and I couldn’t recall a single tune afterwards. Music is probably one of the only areas that isn’t a strength for this series.

As mentioned, there is some decent replay value. Getting all of the trophies will take some time and that helps make the game worth the price. Even without the replay value, I think the game goes for around 10 dollars now. That’s certainly not a lot of money for an AAA title. The plot may not be as grandiose as the others, but it’s still engaging. As far as the platformers go, it destroys most of the competition. Only Jak can really keep up with it consistently and I’d still give Ratchet and Clank the edge.

One thing that I can definitely get behind for this game is that the level up system is so smooth. Aside from your weapons, you can also level Ratchet up. It’s not particularly long or time consuming to power up, but you still don’t have to unless you want too. The bosses are definitely beatable if you want to go straight for them. There are also constant check points so even if you lose, you never have a long way to go. I think the phrase that I’m looking for is “Quality of Life” mechanics for this game. You never get lost for hours and hours like LoZ and you never have to go back through a long area with unskippable cutscenes like Orphen. Into The Nexus is a game that’s made with the gamer’s needs as top priority and it’s something that I’d like to see more games achieve. It’s easy to see why the series is known as one of the all time greats.

Overall, This felt like a little treat for Ratchet & Clank fans to hold them over until the next full installment. I’d think of this as more of a spinoff than a full fledged game. Think of it as the mini adventure to keep you ready for the next big title like what Kingdom Hearts does. Of course, KH spinoffs are still typically at least 20 hours long, but we’ll let that slide for now. It’s short, but that doesn’t mean that Into The Nexus is any less of a good game than you’d expect. While it’s not as polished and complete as the others, I still had a blast playing it. The time really flies when you’re blasting the opponents. I’m definitely looking forward to playing the next game although I hear that it switches up the format a little. Hopefully it keeps in the fun and intensity of this game.

Overall 8/10

Advertisements

Dracula’s Daughter Review

Poster - Dracula's Daughter_06 (1)
Now it’s time for the sequel to Dracula. I’ve never been much of a vampire fan to be honest, but you probably know that by now. Vampires just don’t make for good antagonists and the whole blood sucking thing doesn’t even work well conceptually. Luckily, this film mostly doesn’t bother with that. I mean, people do get drained, but basically off screen as this is more about will power and such. It’s not a bad sequel, but one that could and should have gone a different route.

Van Helsing successfully destroyed Dracula, but before he could escape the scene of the crime he was apprehended by a pair of cops. They arrested him and now Van Helsing is probably going to be found guilty with a punishment of murder unless he can prove that vampires exist. He’s not faring too well on this. Meanwhile, Marya has been cursed by Dracula and must continue to destroy people. She seeks the help of Doctor Jeffrey to help her, but he doesn’t believe in Vampires and is too busy with just about everything else to pay her any heed. Well, Marya doesn’t accept answers like that and quickly gets to work by kidnapping Jeffrey’s friend. Jeffrey better be quick on his feet or it’ll be game over.

The alternate route that I mentioned involves the beginning. We see Helsing dig his own grave deeper and deeper as the court date gets closer and I would have liked a nice little court scene. The trial of Helsing could have even been made the main plot if the writers handled it well. It was still amazing just how annoying and oblivious Helsing was. I probably would have been rooting against him in the court case because of how he was antagonizing everyone. It felt like he was just doing it on purpose after a while and I had to question his intelligence. Maybe Helsing finally just got too old and simply couldn’t take the pressure anymore. If so, it was rather tragic, but luckily the other characters ended up saving him in the end.

One unfortunate part of the film is that the moral at the end is rather negative. Marya does her best to fight her vampire genes as well as Dracula’s telepathy, but in the end she loses. Seriously…she just can’t overcome it despite Jeffrey’s half hearted advice. I was hoping she would be able to just use will power and overcome the curse. I didn’t actually think it would happen since this is a Dracula film though, but it was a little sad that all of her efforts were ultimately futile. I can’t say that Marya is a likable character anyway though. She should have fired her servant a long time ago since he kept egging her on and trying to keep her evil. She should have suspected something long before the end of the film and really sowed the seeds of her own demise.

Jeffrey is the main character and he’s certainly not that good. He’s always running all over the place so he has no time to properly talk with anyone. Not to mention that he is certainly an “Eye for an eye” kind of character who will accept your resignation but then force you back into the job if he needs you. His advice didn’t work anyway and there’s just not much to this guy. He doesn’t even know how to put on a tie despite having to use them for parties and other events for years. He has never really progressed, which is alarming. At least his secretary Janet is fun enough. She trolls Jeffrey by calling him and pretending to be from the Zoo and just generally lies to everyone. Why tell the truth can you can mess with someone? That seems to be her motto and it works pretty well until she runs into the vampires. At that point, she was probably doomed regardless of what tactic she used.

It would have been fun for this film to have added in Dracula in some capacity. I mean, that could have backfired just as easily, but it may have helped the plot a little. After all, most of the film didn’t really have a plot as Marva fought a futile battle against herself and defeated all of the Jims (Red Shirts) in the mean time. The characters who died off weren’t very smart either as one followed a sketchy fellow over to his mansion in the middle of the night. If someone asks you to come home with them for a “modeling job” I’d hope that you would say no. It doesn’t get more suspect and suspicious than that if you ask me. It’s not as if the film is boring for the most part, but I wanted more activity. The main plot with Jeffrey was actually more interesting than the Vampire one because at least the constant trolling back and forth was entertaining. The film should have stuck with that plot or Helsing’s instead of Marva’s.

Overall, Dracula’s Daughter is a decent film. It can move a little slowly at times and the characters aren’t particularly interesting as it is. The film can move a little slowly though and it’s not exactly a thrill a minute. While there is no animal violence to bring it down like The Invisible Man sequel, it is not quite as good as the former. Invisible Man is a lot more fun and the plot is more fast paced. So, if you like a slow burning horror film without too many scary moments then this is a good film for you. It’s more about being atmospheric and slightly unnerving which may or may not work. If you want a film that gets to the point a little quicker, then check out I Frankenstein. It gets right to the point with no delay.

Overall 5/10

The Invisible Man Returns Review

the-invisible-man-returns-movie-poster-1940-1020199777
It’s time to look at another classic film from the old days. The Invisible Man was a decently fun film the first time around, but could it strike once more? An unfortunate hamster scene holds this one back along with the unlikable main character. It’s not a bad film and the writing is pretty solid as expected, but it just can’t live up to the legacy that the first film left. It was a sequel that was simply doomed from the start.

Radcliffe is being sentenced to death for the alleged murder of his brother. He claims not to have done it and Doctor Frank believes him. Frank decides to use the Invisible Man serum to save Radcliffe, but it has some serious side effects. It causes a person to become crazy so Frank won’t really be able to count on Radcliffe after this. Is Radcliffe truly innocent or has Frank just created a super villain?

One thing that you’ll likely find irksome is how everyone has an overreaction at seeing Radcliffe. I don’t think that seeing an invisible person should make you panic or faint. Especially if you know about it beforehand so it’s not as if this should come as a shock. Helen’s the main heroine here and she is easily the most guilty of this. She really gives Radcliffe a hard time with all of the extra drama. She was definitely not a likable character and helped spur on Radcliffe’s descent into madness.

Of course, we can only truly blame the madness on Radcliffe. He fell down the rabbit hole almost instantly as he spent 90% of his screen time laughing like a maniac. He definitely didn’t take to the serum very well, but luckily the craziness also made him very easy to deceive and subdue. Radcliffe actually gets a happy ending this time though so the invisible adventures were worth it. Honestly, I’d love the power of invisibility. I’d make a fortune in magic shows and could pull a lot of pranks on people.

Frank was the scientist, but he wasn’t very good. He decided to experiment on animals which is always a huge no no. Destroying a rat to save a person is not a good idea. Trading a life for a life is as corrupt as it gets and I just had to shake my head at that. I suppose he means well, but his character was dead to me. Detective Sampson tries his best to follow the law even if he is after the wrong man. It’s hard to blame him though since Radcliffe keeps disappearing and acting suspicious. At the very least, the cops should be glad to have a determined officer on the force.

One part of the film that was pretty fun was when the heroes decided to hide out in the middle of nowhere. This old man gave them shelter, but his dog knew what was up so one of the cops came along. What followed was a shouting match for whole minutes as both characters kept bumping into each other as the guy tried to stop the cop. The yells would always get progressively louder as they neared the top of the stairs. It was definitely fun even if it may not have been very plot important in the long run.

As expected, the writing is very on point which helps make the film flow. It never really drags on and the film isn’t all that long anyway. The effects for the Invisible Man are fun as he always has to shed at least 50 layers to escape. The costume certainly stands out and if I were him I’d probably just stay invisible for the long haul. It’d be a little tough in the Winter of course, but you could always hide in a house for naps and nobody would even notice. Being invisible is definitely a very dangerous power which the first film showed quite a bit. This one was more of a mystery/drama so there weren’t too many fights, but Radcliffe did make sure to get in on the action to find out the truth.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the film since the cast is rather limited and the plot is direct. You just see Radcliffe slowly descending into madness as the supporting characters wonder what they need to do. It would have been fun to have seen the mystery angle pushed to the forefront a little more instead of the constant laughing plot, but I suppose it got a good amount of screen time in the end. It just would have helped with the danger part of the film since most of it doesn’t feel like there’s any stakes.

Overall, The Invisible Man Returns is a peaceful film. It’s a nice little adventure with a good ending. A film like this would typically get a 6 or a 7, but we have to factor in the unfortunate Hamster scene. That moment was definitely sad and ensures that I can’t give the film a positive score. If you can get past that, then you should check the film out. If not, then I’d recommend just checking the first film out instead. Honestly, that may be your best move regardless right? The Invisible Man is definitely still a cooler part of Universal than Dracula, Werewolf, or the Mummy so I’m looking forward to the sequel. The Invisible Woman could be a nice film as well if they handle it right. Lets just stick away from the animal experiments.

Overall 5/10

Yugioh: The Dark Side of Dimensions Review

Yu-Gi-Oh-The-Dark-Side-of-Dimensions
It feels good to finally have another Yugioh movie out in the world. The 3D crossover still ranks as the greatest film of all time so I had really high hopes for this one. Spoiler Alert- it doesn’t manage to topple the 3D film, but nothing really can. This film was handled perfectly and I can safely say that it is in my top 5 movies of all time. At the moment I’d put it in 4th. 1st being Bonds Beyond Time 2nd being Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan 3rd being DBZ Resurrection F and Bleach: Hell Verse being right under the Dark Side of Dimensions. It gets a little tricky after that with Boruto, Final Fantasy VII, Madoka Rebellion, and others films fighting it out. Whether you’re a Kaiba fan or not, you should definitely be able to enjoy this adventure.

The film pretty much starts with Kaiba reminding the world why he is the greatest. He manages to finally defeat Yami Yugi. Granted, it was an A.I. version of him, but with Kaiba’s top of the line tech it may as well have been the legendary duelist. Kaiba wants to bring the real deal back though after Yugi and friends sealed the Pharaoh away in the past for all of eternity. To that end he has uncovered the Millenium Puzzle and must put the pieces back together. Things don’t go as planned when an avatar of the Plana shows up. His name is Deva and he can’t allow Yami to come back or else he will lose his special powers. This would ruin his plans for revenge so he attempts to get in Kaiba’s way.

The heroes are thrown into the mix because they are Deva’s targets. Joey is still really into dueling, but Yugi has mostly moved on from such things. He is forced into action once more though when Deva kidnaps Bakura and Joey. It’s personal this time and Yugi is determined to end things once and for all. Can he really hope to win without the help and guidance of Yami though? It may be time for Kaiba to step up as the new hero.

One thing you’ll notice from the start is that Kaiba’s practically the main character of this adventure. He gets the most interesting plot, the best lines, and the best duels. He completely steals the show here and his genius goes to brand new heights. He is able to make just about anything from power inhibitors to space ships. Kaiba even comes up with a solid light duel disc which can repel reality warping. If that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is! Almost every single line from Kaiba is an insult or a way to brag about himself. It wouldn’t work so well if he was always full of hot air, but Kaiba can back up all of his tough talk. He basically doesn’t get to lose in the entire film. He is a master class duelist and as far as I’m concerned, he’s the best. Kaiba has completely surpassed everyone to the point where they can only hope to deal some damage with gimmicks and cheap tricks. Kaiba’s basically a perfect rival and the film reminds me of why he is so awesome. Aside from Jaden, he is definitely the best character in the franchise and one of my all time favorites in media. He even subverts the trope of the rival getting wrecked by the villain in the opening scene. Kaiba really stops every trope that opposes him as seen in his duel with Yugi and the ending as well. Kaiba really wasn’t playing around in this film and shows that you can be obsessed with getting payback while still serving the community and the world in the process. He’s just an upstanding guy.

Deva is the main villain of the film and he is definitely solid. I’d have to say that he is a far superior villain to Paradox. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Pyramid of Light, but I’m inclined to say that he is better than that guy as well. Deva is not quite ready to surpass the big shots like True Bakura and Marik, but I’ll also give him the edge over Pegasus. Deva may have gone off from the heroic path, but I have to give him credit for his determination. He never forgot the identity of the person he had to get revenge against even after many years and he did manipulate his powers well. If he was facing anyone other than Kaiba, he could have really done a lot of damage in the opening acts.

This film really did manage to bring back as many big plots as possible along the way. As I mentioned earlier, the film was basically perfect. To be perfect, it had to bring back a certain character from the manga that I had been hoping would return. Well, it happened and I suppose I won’t say who exactly, but this villain’s a fan favorite. He does quite a lot of damage even if the film didn’t allow him to re obtain his true form. That would have been even more fun and I was actually expecting it to happen for a while there. The film gave him many opportunities, but I suppose it simply wasn’t to be.

Yugi gets a big role as expected. He nearly dies in traffic which would have been a very sad way to go, but he managed to get out in the nick of time. It was a nice contrast to when Kaiba was around. I’m not crazy about Yugi deciding to step away from dueling, but I suppose that was always more Yami’s thing than Yugi’s. Yugi just likes games in general so I guess it was about time for him to move on. He’s a nice enough character as always. While not as tough as Joey, Yugi’s always ready to do the right thing and he is a determined guy. He does his best to search for Bakura and comes through when the stakes are high. He does give up a little too easily on Yami though, but luckily Kaiba called him out on it. It’s interesting to see Yugi in a semi retired state being forced back into action by Kaiba. Especially since he’s barely the main character this time around. It’s a different perspective and one that I definitely enjoyed.

One part of the film that was puzzling was the fact that Joey didn’t get to duel. He talked about dueling quite a lot in the film and it felt like the film was trying to build that up as an actual plot. I was fully expecting him to duel Deva at one point, but I guess maybe it was going to take too long. That, or it was planned for an extra long uncut version which will debut any day now. That would definitely be fun right? Tea and Tristan are also around although they don’t do all that much. Tristan spends most of the film getting choked and messed with while Tea supports the duelists from the stands. She ends up being the first person to ditch the group for good so the status quo is certainly changing. Bakura is fairly important to the film, but I do definitely miss his true self. Normal Bakura just doesn’t work as a character quite as well as when he had that extra edge. Either way, it is fun to see the whole gang back again.

A cool tribute to the classic game of Yugioh is that the film had each duel start at 8000 life points. The manga and anime titles never got to do this all that much because each duel would take too long. Technically, Yugioh should always be played with 8000 life points though as that is the standard. Since this was the big movie and time wasn’t really an issue, Dark Dimensions got to pull it off. I can safely say that I do prefer the 8000 life points set up. It allows each duelist to unveil longer combos without instantly winning through them. Yugioh 5Ds showed us the cons of a 4000 life point duel since you can feasibly beat someone in a single turn so they wouldn’t have a chance to counter. With 8000 life points, that isn’t really an issue.

The theater where I saw this film had a lot of lively Yugioh fans in attendance so that was cool. This also meant that they were paying a lot of attention to the cards and naturally all of them had to subtly call out a moment where Kaiba had a special ability that let him instantly summon a Blue Eyes. Based on the reaction, I’m guessing that the effect was a little sketchy (Does it work like that?) or the card was a super obscure one that nobody has. It was a very cool ability though and Kaiba always makes sure to have the best cards. His preparation is second to none. Considering what a big film this is though, I’m fairly sure that the film played by the rules. Unlike the show where it can get away with breaking the rules sometimes, I doubt the writers would dare here.

For kicks, there is one gimmick style of dueling in this film, Dimension Dueling. Under this style, you can summon whatever cards you want by infusing your cards with your limitless mental energy. Ultimately, there is absolutely no point to this technique and the only reason they probably added it was so you could see Yugi and Kaiba striking DBZ poses as they powered up. As such, it was less annoying than some other gimmicks like Action Cards from Arc V and it was passable. Of course, I was still thrilled that most of the duels in the film where of the standard kind. Why mess with something that’s not broken?

If you’re waiting for Yami, then I’ll just say not to expect too much> This film’s really meant to be more of a Kaiba searching movie similar to Homura’s search for Madoka in Rebellion. Both climaxes are just as satisfying though so while Yami and Madoka didn’t get to appear all that much, the brief moment is hyped to the max. In this case, the rules probably were destroyed since the summon came out of nowhere, but I’m cool with that since the villain basically broke the rules by using a power up in the first place. His unlimited attacks with the cubes were also a little over powered and hard to stop. Anything goes at that point right?

As expected, the animation is absolutely top notch here. The energy effects are great and all of the characters designs are completely on point. You won’t have seen so much blue in just about any other film. Kaiba has made the place so futuristic that you’d think you were in 5Ds or Zexal world at this point. It’s kind of cool that the classic series may finally be more advanced than the sequels. Whether it’s box monsters or a bunch of cool dragons, you’ll feel each and every blow from the monsters. A punch will send debris everywhere and the animation will crisply move on to the next scene. This film even made it easy for TV channels to air it as some scenes will go with a fade out before entering the next moment. Not to be outdone, the soundtrack is also excellent here. I would have liked a good GX tune or two of course, but this is a classic Yugioh movie so it makes sense to stick to its roots. We get a really nifty remix of Kaiba’s Batman theme from the TV show and also a pretty good remix of “Your Move” for the end credits. With the writing also at 5 star quality the whole time, the movie really has everything going for it.

Also to bring it up one more time, the film handled Kaiba’s counter to reality warping perfectly. It really sets the standard for how other characters can handle it. Just activate your high tech gadgets and the villains are forced to respect it. Kaiba’s tech really knows no bounds and coming up for counters to abilities that have never been seen before was another epic moment. It’s easy to see why the crowd cheered for every single Kaiba scene. It was insane. The other characters were lucky to get cheering for half of their scenes.

It was a really good decision to make this movie 2 hours for a change. It allowed the film to fit in a bunch of duels and also made the film more satisfying. It is hard to do quite as much when you only have 30-40 minutes as the duel has to be very short and that leaves no time for hype. Half of this film is really devoted to Kaiba’s hype and it paid off very well. The film never even comes close to dragging on as it’s almost nonstop action from the start. I’ve got to give the film a lot of credit for being this amazing. It really didn’t make any mistakes which is why it’s the optimal classic Yugioh film. I can’t see it being surpassed by another. In fact, even the bullies were defeated by the guy who was being bullied for a change. That was nice to see.
yugioh_the_dark_side_of_dimensions_trailer_seto_kaiba_close-up
Overall, Yugioh The Dark Side of Dimensions is a film that I highly recommend. Whether you’re a Yugioh fan or not, you can appreciate the intensity and amazement that each scene brings to the table. There are a bunch of homages for old time fans, but enough flashbacks to help newcomers along as well. It’s hard to see anyone walk out of the theater and not pick Kaiba as the stand out character, but I suppose I can also see how his overwhelming presence and confidence can be a little intimidating for a lead. He’s certainly not here to make friends and accomplishing his objective is all that matters. At the same time, Kaiba never fell off the wagon so to speak. He never went crazy or power mad as he tried extreme things to bring Yami back. He didn’t even physically threaten anyone this time as he calmly just made sure to get what he wanted. Kaiba manipulates people, but he does so in a professional way that will keep his PR agency happy. As such, the ending of the film is perfect. Naturally, it would have been awesome if the film could have been extended another 20 minutes since Kaiba deserves the win. It would have been highly controversial though so the film may have been wise in playing it safe. It’ll be very hard to top this film to be honest, but if they do another crossover with Yugioh GX, anything is possible. It’s a really good time to be a card game fan with so many titles going on right now. It feels good!

Overall 9/10

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Review

huntsman_ver7
It’s time to look at the sequel that leaves you feeling a little puzzled. Why did the Huntsman get his own film? I don’t fully understand! Anyway, this film does have some really good action scenes and the plot is also more interesting than the first film. That being said, a really forced romance between the two leads holds this film back quite a lot. I dare say that it would have been pretty good without that, but the romance goes on for so long and takes away from so many scenes that I have to lower the score. Regardless, it is certainly better than the last film that I just reviewed.

The film starts off with a flashback to show us Eric’s origin before he was the legendary Huntsman. He grew up under the rule of Queen Freya and was forced to participate in her wars. It was the only life that he knew though so he worked hard and made it to the top of the ranks. Unfortunately, he broke Freya’s most important rule by falling for another warrior named Sara. As Freya realized that any romance was doomed to an untimely end, she decided to destroy them. To their credit, Eric and Sara put up a pretty good fight. They were heavily outnumbered, but took down a majority of the troops. Unfortunately, Sara was eliminated from behind and Eric was forced to beat a hasty retreat.

It made for a pretty epic opening to the film. The fight scenes were well handled and we got a glimpse of Freya’s true power. This whole scene would be very important later on when you keep Ravenna’s illusion magic in mind. The film then jumps quite a few years into the future as the story now takes place after the Snow White film. The Queen has fallen ill thanks to the magic mirror that she stole from the villain and it was sent away. The problem is that the foot soldiers were all killed off and Queen Freya managed to get her hands on it. I have to say that this was pretty sloppy of the heroes. What did they really expect was going to happen when they left to transport the most dangerous weapon in the kingdom? Eric is tasked with going to find it, but a pair of Dwarves tag around to bring the writing down a few pegs. Also, Sara shows up so Eric has to ask himself some tough questions. Did she really die or did he just use that as an excuse to escape with his life?

As mentioned before, the film squanders its positives by including a lot of negatives. The Dwarves are a good example of that. We get 4 of them to appear as main characters and they spend the entire film making fun of each other only to suddenly turn it into a romance at the very end. It’s poorly handled during the entire film and it’s just annoying after a while. I wouldn’t mind the insults so much if it wasn’t obvious that they were going to get together. As it stands, it’s just a little hard to watch. The film didn’t do a good job with the romance in general though. Eric and Sara’s plot is about as bad.

It follows the same formula so the writer must be a fan of it. Sara spends a lot of time insulting Eric for falling for a simple illusion and leaving her to die. She constantly says stuff like “We can’t be together” or “I’m through” only for the two characters to make up 10 minutes later to the point where we can get whole minutes of them making it up to each other. It was terrible and Eric’s overconfidence actually pays off in this case as he suspected they’d be back together.

As for the positives, the film’s action scenes kept getting better and better. Aside from the opening fight, we also got a battle with Ravenna and Freya. It was nice to see Ice vs vague Dark abilities and any fight with one of the Queens wrecking the heroes was cool as well. Ravenna really didn’t think any of this through though as she could have made it to the top if she didn’t insist on attacking Freya’s people. The film does make the villains a little overpowered though and the heroes really shouldn’t stand a chance. By merging with the mirror, Ravenna gained super strength, speed, and even high speed regeneration. Add to this the fact that she can manipulate the shadows to attack everyone around her and you have a fairly unbeatable enemy.

The effects for these action scenes were also very solid. The film definitely seemed to have a reasonably high budget and it’s easy to make fight scenes with large groups boring like in Warcraft, but this film pulled it off. It was actually a lot more interesting than the Snow White film and the core plot here is fairly solid. I would have liked to have seen Snow White show up herself to defend the kingdom, but I suppose she’s busy recovering from the evil mirror she had in her room. Again…that wasn’t a smart play.

Queen Ravenna is a great villain and probably the best character in the film. Her presence captures the room in every scene that she is in. Ravenna has the disposition of a final boss and when she showed up it was rather unexpected so that was great to see. Freya is essentially a more sinister version of Elsa. Her situation and backstory are fairly similar. Freya certainly didn’t take things as well though and became a total villain, but perhaps Elsa would have as well if her sister was evil. Freya did stand up for her wards in the end though and while her goals were a lot more extreme, at least she was trying to protect her people in her own way. She was a good villain as well.

I already talked about how bad the Dwarves were so lets ignore them. Eric isn’t a bad main character I suppose. Overconfidence is a good trait and he’s capable in a fight. He may be a little too dramatic at times, but he’s a solid lead. His one character flaw is the same with Sara’s, the romance angle. It was just unnecessary. Sara is very similar to Eric as she’s also overconfident and talks a good game. Unfortunately, she can’t back it up quite as well as she loses several times in the film. The one time she looked good was a moment where I have to question the power levels. Still, it happened so that was a good moment for her.

Okay, here’s the moment that I’m talking about. Some guys break into a bar to attack Eric. Eric talks pretty big the whole time as he’s forced into the fight and then he loses instantly. Luckily, Sara shows up and takes them all down. Okay…Sara must be way stronger than Eric then right? No, she never looks all that impressive again so you have to wonder what happened. The actual scene was pretty great though and the most epic part of the movie. The power levels may have been a little wacky, but I’ll take the hype.

Overall, The Winter War is a reasonably solid sequel that is held back by the romance and some annoying characters, but what else is new? Hollywood likes to throw in romance and some crude characters to get the ball rolling, but it tends to have to opposite effect. It’s a shame since the fight scenes actually are really good and the effects are top notch. If you check this film out, it’ll definitely be for the action. That being said, I simply can’t recommend it because of the film’s failings. If you want a better action film, check out the latest Tron film. That one has a lot of action and is heavily underrated.

Overall 5/10

Son of Frankenstein Review

Son_of_Frankenstein_movie_poster
After that last Frankenstein film it seemed that things were looking up for the series. Well, they head back down with this film although it is still significantly better than the first film. It’s problem is just that the plot ends up going nowhere and a large portion of the film is spent with boring dialogue and annoying main characters. The writing is good since this is an old film, but the lines just feel pointless at times with no actual plot progression to speak of.

It’s been a while since Frankenstein was taken down for good and now his son has returned to the land to claim his inheritance. I don’t think the timeline was very well thought out though since he meets up with a one armed police chief who was in the first film, but it’s apparently been at least 20-30 years so he shouldn’t be the same age. Also, he claims that his arm was ripped out as a child by the monster, but that can’t be true. So many questions and so few answers. Anyway, Baron wants to revive Frankenstein to prove that his father was correct in creating him, but is this smart?

First off, Baron is an extremely annoying character and having him as the lead can grow quite tiresome. I don’t see how he could possibly want to bring Frankenstein back or how he can really think it is a good idea. I think just about anyone can realize that this is not the smartest move you can make. Everyone in town already despises him and the guy does have a wife and a kid to look after. Putting them all in danger just for the sake of his reputation is quite bad. It also made for a very awkward carriage ride with his wife as he went on a long rant about how his father was right while she just looked confused and nervous. It’s probably a good time to start talking about how the house should be good rather than this. Baron just seems very on edge and shifty for the entire film and was definitely not likable in the slightest. I’d rather just have the normal Frankenstein back.

We’ve got Ygor as the main villain, but I don’t think I can take him seriously. He’s not exactly a character who screams “Main Villain” and he’s never been all that serious before so why start now? Furthermore, Baron should have taken him over to the cops right away after the guy tried to murder him. Not doing so was a rather large error in judgment and one that the Baron would continue to pay for over and over again. The Monster also returns for a rather large role of course, but he just seems like a shell of himself here. It definitely does feel like this film had a completely new staff since he seems to be based more on his legends than on the actual character from the previous two films. He’s back to being his usual unlikable self. While he does have some self control at times, it’s hardly enough to make him interesting in the slightest.

As for Krogh, he was solid. At least he actually gave Baron a chance unlike all of the others who wrote him off just because he was related to Frankenstein. It was certainly not the warmest welcome that the town gave the guy. At first, Krogh appeared to be antagonistic as he kept beating around the bush and talking about his past, but I suppose that was all misdirect or the writers weren’t sure what was happening at the time. It was definitely a tough ordeal for Krogh, but he stayed strong and was nice to have around. The townspeople were interesting as well as they seemed a little more petty than usual. They threw fruits at the main characters and just tried to act as mean as possible the whole time. I don’t think Baron cared as much as he implied though since he was too busy trying to become a mad scientist.

The film’s biggest mistake is certainly the fact that it’s very boring. Now, it’s interesting because you’d think that a horror film that’s mostly slice of life shouldn’t be all that boring right? After all, Nisekoi is a series about a guy trying to remember his days as a kid so he can remember a promise and involves a lot of happy days at school and it is never boring. By all accounts, Frankenstein stories should be more interesting right? I’d say that the issue is you expect Frankenstein to be a little more about horror and less about characters just talking around. If anything, getting rid of the Frankenstein angle could elevate the rest of the film since you’d be going into it with a Andy Griffith kind of expectation. By trying to attempt both genres, Son of Frankenstein ended up succeeding in neither of them.

What’s a real shame here is that the film’s setting had promise. The inside of the mansion that Baron inherited had a pretty interesting architecture and I wouldn’t have minded exploring it a little. The kid wasn’t overly annoying, but luckily he didn’t appear much so that was a good thing. Baron would have been a more compelling character if he either hadn’t believed in the monster or wanted nothing to do with it anyway. Then we could have had Frankenstein appear to avenge himself and they would have had some fights and mind games. It all wasn’t to be though and the film somehow manages to lose all of this potential to the winds. What could have helped was also a plot that made more sense because as I mentioned earlier, it just feels like plot holes are everywhere.

Overall, Son of Frankenstein is a pretty weak third film. It’s not nearly as bad as the first film so that’s a start at least. How I see it, the first film was just bad and super violent. The second film was interesting and had a decent mix of comedy and horror. The third film didn’t have much of a focus and became boring as a result. They all failed and succeeded in different ways so at least you can’t say that the series doesn’t try to experiment a little. If you’re a big fan of Frankenstein then you should probably check this film out just to add it to your collection. Otherwise, I’d advise you to just check out the Bride of Frankenstein instead and to leave this one to the history books. After all, it’s not as if you’ll miss much right?

Overall 3/10

Bride of Frankenstein Review

covers_13534
Looks like it’s time to take a look at the original sequel to Frankenstein. I did not like the first film and I’m not a Frankenstein fan in general. I didn’t walk into this film with high expectations and I was not disappointed. That being said, it is a considerable improvement over the first film. It’s not nearly as violent or grotesque and handles itself rather maturely this time around. It can still be a bit of a tragic film at times even when it tries to be funny so it can be hard to tell when you’re supposed to be laughing or feeling sorry for the characters. I usually voted for the former.

The film starts off in the “real” world as Mary lets everyone know that the story isn’t over yet. We have some really over the top actors who yell about this and everyone gets excited so she tells them what happened. It turns out that Frankenstein’s monster didn’t die because he fell into the river and Frankenstein didn’t die because his body is very durable. This prompts Doctor Pretorius to arrive and tell Frankenstein that he wants to make a female version of the monster. Frankenstein halfheartedly refuses so Pretorius kidnaps his wife. Frankenstein now has to work against time in order to save her, but can he really duplicate the experiment?

The main improvements from the first film all stem from the reduced violence. The first film had a little kid drowned and we saw way too much brains and body parts for my liking. It was pretty distasteful and this one steers clear of all that. Even when they’re creating the bride, it’s never graphic. The film just isn’t violent in general and the victims are far fewer in number. We do have a few people die of course, but they’re casually thrown aside for the most part so it isn’t all that bad.

Frankenstein has changed a lot since the first film. He’s now incredibly timid and fears everyone. He’s always getting picked on and forced into doing things that he doesn’t want to do. However, he reverts back to his mad scientist phase whenever there is work to be done and it’s like he never changed at all. It would have been nice to have seen him have a little more will power. Naturally, he did have to go ahead with the project to save his wife, but he could have done it in a sane way instead of losing his mind once he was back in the lab.

Pretorius takes over Frankenstein’s role from the first film and I do certainly have to admit that he is smart. The first thing he does is to get the monster on his side and that was crucial since his plan would not have worked otherwise. His use of “Miller Time” and Cigars was a very potent combo. He always has the upper hand on the monster as he even drugs the poor guy later on. Pretorius fears nothing and is just very confident from start to finish. He was a pretty good villain and while it never felt as if he had much of a reason to do what he was doing…do mad scientists ever need a reason to do something? They just do whatever they want for kicks.

Minnie is the main comic relief character of the film and she does a good job in the role. She always talks a good game and is one of the only characters to insult Pretorius to his face. She is smart enough to actually run away from the monster and tries to warn the heroes even if they refused to listen to her. She certainly did a fine job if you ask me. As for the Bride, I guess she was fairly reasonable. Her reaction wasn’t all that bad when you consider that the heroes didn’t give her a chance to relax. Plus, who wants to be thrown into an arranged marriage the instant you are born into existence? Nah, the first thing you’d want to do is get out of there!

The Monster is all right I suppose, but he’s still not very smart and the monster noises can be annoying. I was glad that he finally learned how to talk a bit as the film went on. I figure that will make him a much better character in the sequels although it seems like I wasn’t on the same page as the writers. At least the monster tried to live a calm life at one point and was doing just fine with the blind guy in the hut. It’s a shame that the hunters had to wander in at that point and wrecked his one chance at a happy ending. He didn’t get burned this time and while he was captured at one point, he was able to break free pretty quickly. He certainly had a much more enjoyable adventure this time around.

Be warned that the title of this film is pure click bait. The Bride doesn’t appear until the final 5-10 minutes which is pretty disgraceful. She only gets roughly one line before the film has to end so if you were watching the movie to see her in action, prepare to be disappointed. It’s really just Frankenstein V2 as the film takes a lot of similar twists and turns. It seemed like it was meant to be a homage to the original in a lot of ways even though it had just come out. It was just handled far better than the first film and as a result, the film wasn’t half bad. I can’t say that it’s the kind of film that I’d want to watch again, but it wasn’t a chore to watch the way that I would have expected it to be.

Overall, If you’re looking for a horror comedy film, then this could be the right film for you. At the very least, it’s one of the best Frankenstein films that you can hope to see. That being said, it’s still not all that great and it’s short length ensures that the film has to run through the plot. The ending is pretty satisfying though and that’s always a good thing for these kind of films. Scooby Doo may still be your best bet when it comes to horror comedies, but this one gives it its best. Can the third film manage to defeat this one? I somehow doubt it, but we are getting closer to the Werewolf and that could certainly end up being another story.

Overall 5/10

The Curse of the Cat People Review

curse-of-the-cat-people-poster
It looks like I’m finally ready for the sequel to that last film about the Cat People. Don’t mix it up with the Black Cat film that I recently saw though. While this film isn’t as exciting as the Cat People and there is certainly less action/horror, the film makes less slip ups and actually ends up being the better movie. Don’t go in expecting anything other than a slice of life story about a girl and her imaginary friend though. You could be disappointed otherwise.

After getting entangled in affair and letting his wife know that he no longer loved her, Oliver went on to marry Alice. Alice didn’t mind the shady circumstances of this, but grows concerned as Oliver continues to see his old wife in their daughter Amy. Amy claims to have been visited by the dead ex wife several times and Oliver always flies off the handle at this. He can’t seem to get over the past and it’s making things tough for Amy. As Amy drifts off further and further into dream world, Alice needs to figure out a way to make things right. Can she do it?

In case you don’t realize this, I did not like Oliver. For starters, he was a real piece of work in the first film. He went to great lengths to get Irena to forget about the Cat People and to live as a normal person and the ditched her as soon as she had conquered her fears. He even had an affair while he was still married so Irena ultimately murdered someone, but got murdered after that. Despite all of the obvious evidence, Oliver doesn’t believe that Irena could actually turn into a cat and while he can’t get over her himself, he wants Amy to do so. Oliver is rather unfair the whole time and even blames her when the other kids won’t hang out with her. It’s hardly Amy’s fault if the rest of the kids aren’t being nice. He also gives her an ultimatum that she has to lie to his face or get punished. Naturally, Amy makes the right call and tells the truth, but Oliver punishes her anyway. He’s constantly losing his mind over everything and even keeping a picture of Irena after claiming that he would burn them all was rather fishy. It makes sense that Alice wouldn’t react much since she is the one who broke up his last marriage, but it should be a sign to her that Oliver can’t really be trusted.

I don’t like Alice on principle, but she is certainly a lot more reasonable. She is willing to be patient with Amy and never throws things out of proportion. It’s not as if the imaginary friend phase would last all that long anyhow right? Amy’s also a nice enough kid. She does have a problem staying focused as she’ll just forget what she was thinking and go around to play. It’s not her fault if she’s a little scatter brained though and she does consistently try to do the right thing. The circumstances are just always against her. There was really no better ways for Amy to act as she made the right call each time so I was definitely on her side. The family’s butler was rather annoying though and kept adding fuel to the flame. He would let Oliver know that Amy was playing by herself and even when told to escort Amy to a seedy part of town, he couldn’t be bothered since he was cleaning. He gets scared of an old lady and while he is supposed to be the nice character of the film, he just seemed inconsistent. The biggest strike against him was still letting Amy go to the house by herself, that was just inconsiderate.

There was a subplot that felt completely unnecessary to the film, but I suppose it gave us the only element of danger. There was an old lady and her daughter who lived in an abandoned old house in a seedy part of the neighborhood. The old lady believes that her daughter is dead for some reason and is always talking about how her current daughter is an impostor. Unfortunately, the stress of constantly lying to herself every day eventually got to her and she had a fatal heart attack. Her daughter kept trying to convince the Mom that she was real, but it was to no avail. They had the same conversation maybe 4-5 times and afterwards the daughter decided that she’d murder a little kid to get the Mom to notice her. That’s when Amy walks in of course and it gets pretty tense. The camera moves around a bit and we get to see the daughter glare at Amy for a while. Luckily the power of friendship ultimately prevailed and you were left to question once again why the plot was actually there? The tense scenes were handled well I suppose, but the drama with the old lady forgetting her daughter just came out of nowhere. I also didn’t get what the film was going for with her theatrics, maybe it was just proving that she was totally insane? The other unnecessary moment in the film was when a butterfly dies when one of the other kids catches it. This is why I don’t trust kids around animals and while it was meant to show how mean kids can be, it wasn’t needed. As expected, Oliver was on the kid’s side and said that Amy shouldn’t care about butterflies. It goes to show you why he’s not a very good role model and why he is off his rocker the whole time. The guy’s moral priorities are all out of whack.

The main disappointing thing about the film though was that the ghost of Irena wasn’t actually real. That part was underwhelming since I was fully expecting her to be real the whole time. I was anticipating a big fight at the end where she would defeat the Daughter and save Amy instead of just showing up for words of encouragement. She was definitely a good friend for Amy to have and even received a Christmas gift, but the film heavily implies that she really was fake. You could make a case for her being real since Amy even gave her a present and it vanished, but she could have just as easily hid it in the tree. My personal stance is that Irena was made up and Oliver just pretended to see her as part of his agreement to play along with Amy from now on. Better late than never right? It just would have given the film so much more tension and intensity if Irena had really showed up. I was expecting a very different portrayal and appearance from her, but her personality was accurate at least. She never really wanted to hurt anyone and was a very nice character in the first film. It’s good to see that dying didn’t really change any of that.

Overall, The Curse of the Cat People is a very misleading title to what is actually a decent film. There are no curses and there are no Cat People in this film. The movie tries to be intense as Alice says things like “Irena has cursed us!” but there is no real reason for her to feel like that. Oliver hasn’t gotten over her, but that’s because he’s a bad character and it’s certainly no her fault. Maybe it’s just Alice’s guilty conscience reminding her that she indirectly murdered Irena in the last film. In that sense, it’s odd to see her and Oliver get a happy ending since they were basically the villains in the last film. I can’t root for them and it is annoying to see them as the leads, but if you ignore the first film then at least Alice is reasonable enough. Amy was good at any rate and it’s a nice calm film. I don’t really mind slice of life flicks as long as they’re written well and there was nothing wrong with this one. I’d recommend checking it out and the film is fairly short so it’s not as if it’ll drag on or anything. If it ever gets a third film though, I expect to see action of some sort.

Overall 6/10

The Grudge 2 Review

the-grudge-2-usa.30513
This is another one of those films that I was a little surprised wasn’t R. I totally would have guessed that it was the whole time so I’ll give it some props for restraining itself. Unfortunately, that wasn’t nearly enough to turn this into a good film and it’s just as terrible as you would expect. It makes all of the usual horror film mistakes and you will question why this film even exists.

Burning the house in film 1 didn’t really accomplish anything since the Grudge is basically all powerful. Aubrey heads over to the hospital to visit the protagonist from the first film and in this way she gets to say her final goodbyes before the Grudge catches up to them. A reporter by the name of Eason shows up to let Aubrey know what is happening and then they basically acknowledge that they’re also doomed. In another plot, a girl named Allison is thrown into a closet by her classmates and that is where she comes into contact with the Grudge. It quickly takes care of her classmates along with the principal and then finishes off Allison at the end of the film. The third plot involves a little kid who makes the big mistake of getting in the Grudge’s way and is knocked off. The Grudge: 3 Everyone else: 0

To ensure that you don’t really know what is happening, the film’s 3 plots all happen simultaneously although there is around a 2 year gap between two plots and the third is actually a direct sequel, but the film doesn’t let you know that until the very end. It’s not as if it matters all that much though since the Grudge gets everyone in the end. You watch most horror films with the general understanding that the heroes are doomed. Even if they win, they will die in the twist ending or be corrupted. That’s not fine and I dislike just about all horror films, but this one takes it to the extreme as everyone and their families are also taken out. If you even know anyone who knows the Grudge then you’re doomed.

See, it can exert an evil aura which turns people evil. It mind controls one person into murdering someone else and then does the same thing for a bunch of other people. Some victims it decides to let live for a few months or even years in some cases so they can meet other people and expand its sphere of influence. Keep in mind that this is just for fun though as it can just go and destroy someone whenever it wants too. One character was able to live for months only for the Grudge to appear from inside of her sweater and take her to the underworld. It could do so at any time, but just wanted to prolong the whole thing.

It’s rather depressing if you think about it. I haven’t seen the film in a while so I probably can’t even remember how bad it was, but I remember enough for it to get a fairly low score as it is. There is animal violence thanks to the flashback as a cat is murdered. I believe that there is the generic shower scene or at least I do remember one of the characters being in a locker room when the Grudge pays a visit. The film tries to convince you that the Grudge is super scary by having the main characters panic a lot to the point where they can’t control themselves. They’re tormented each and every day and you know there is no escape so it’s pretty dark.

The film has no end to its grit either as the whole film is just really dark. The Grudge forces a family to be destroyed by one of its own and repeats the process twice. It takes out the main character of the first film in a very dramatic way and the list goes on and on. I think the mind control ability is also what really pushes the concept here since I at least like for the main characters to have their free will. If they can’t fight the Grudge and are also forced to be its lackeys….then that’s just pretty sad. The first film was pretty terrible as well, but this one is even worse. It’s not as if there’s much of a difference when you’re this low, but it shows how you can always continue to get worse and worse. It’s tempting to give this film a 0, but it never gets skeevy the way that most 0 films get. A little more animal violence or general violence would have certainly helped get it there though.

If there’s anything positive to say about the film, it’s that the special effects can be pretty good. The Grudge is certainly pretty menacing even if it is a little overpowered. If you ask me, the Grudge should certainly be stronger than the heroes since that’s kind of the point, but I’d like to see them fight back a bit. If not, then I’d like to see the Grudge beat them with cool looking attacks or something instead of always using dozens upon dozens of jump scares and cheesy reality warping abilities. It can basically do anything and that’s a little too much power for any villain.

One last compliment I can give the film is that it can be interesting. Some scenes are just not fun to watch of course, but there are others that can keep you engaged. The good visuals mixed in with the strong villain will ensure that you aren’t bored. The futility of everything will eventually catch up to you though and we can use the classic car crash example. You can’t look away, but at the same time it’s not as if you want to watch it. It’ll hold your attention, but it’s still a bad event. It’s the same with this movie, it’s interesting enough and will keep your attention, but the whole time you will be constantly reminded that it’s a pretty bad film.

Overall, The Grudge 2 is one of those films that you should avoid at all costs. Horror films try their best, but to this day there has only been one good horror film not counting certain subsections like Scooby Doo. The main problem is that horror films rely on all of the wrong tropes that hurt a normal film so when you blend them together it’s clear that the film is not going to do well. Some of these horror films are at least interesting to watch and I guess that’s a start, but what’s the point if the film isn’t going to be good in the end? You should just go and watch something a little more cheerful like Madoka Rebellion or Charlie Brown instead. At least those films will leave you with a sense of fulfillment.

Overall 1-10

Little Battlers eXperience Wars Review

s-l1000
It’s time for the next and final series of LBX or Danball Senki. Whichever title you prefer to use for the series, it can’t be denied that it is one of the best franchises out there. Each season was consistently great and you could compare the franchise to other big names like Yugioh and Cardfight. LBX’s score range is currently 8-9, Yugioh, (8-9 excluding Capsule Monsters) Cardfight, (7-9) and that’s about it for series where I’ve seen a bunch of seasons. I could add Transformers and Slayers, but their scores aren’t quite as impressive. I am tempted to make an anime section where I divide them all by scores, but that’s a bit of a time consuming project so I’ll let it be for now. While this season of LBX doesn’t quite surpass the last one, it’s still absolutely great and I highly recommend it.

The series seems to take place a few years after the last one. The governments of the world decided to place a school on an isolated island. This school is used to fight mock wars in place of real ones where the outcomes of these battles have real world consequences. As such, each country selects the most promising students to represent them. Sena is selected and he is super excited to have gotten into this prestigious institution. He is teamed with Hikaru, Haruki, and the mechanic. They have to do their team justice and win as many battles as possible. Still, it’s a little sad that they have to crush other countries in the process right? The heroes begin to grow doubtful as to whether they are doing the right thing or not…but what can they do about it?

First off, I do have to admit that the premise is completely unbelievable right from the get go. I won’t go as far as to say that it insults our intelligence for the show to insinuate that it’s possible, but it makes every government look completely inept. Lets put this into perspective. Instead of America running into Europe and taking it over, they’ll have their kids attack the European kids in the school through the mock LBX fights. (In case you’re not familiar with the franchise, LBX robots are basically mini machines that can fight through virtual reality controls. They are quite dangerous and fight in a secure containment field as a result, but are still more dangerous than the average rocket launcher. If the main kids win and claim the territory, then the same thing happens over in the real world.

How is this logistically possible? Do soldiers just come in and tell everyone to vacate the premise? Do the countries that lose these fake battles actually accept them? That’s the main problem with the system. Lets say America lost New York in the video game battles, I could see them just laughing and telling the other country to take it by force. Considering that we lost no actual soldiers in the fight, there is no reason to actually honor the deal. There is another thing to consider here…cheating. This actually becomes a big part of the show towards the second half and it’s a possibility that should have been considered when the idea was first brought up.

The main villain is Kreisler and he acts as a terrorist, bringing along a bunch of traitors from the other countries. They just go around blowing everything up and taking over cities. They don’t play by the rules and this tips the scales quite a lot. The virtual equivalent of Russia had been winning throughout the series, but lost about 80% of their forces due to these attacks. How does the real Russia feel about this? Their virtual counterpart is now a lot weaker even though their physical country is still the strongest. This is why the game just had way too many limits and the villain was right about this.

Kreisler’s main objective was to end the mock wars as he believed that they solved nothing. They simply gave off the illusion of peace, but one that could not last. I don’t see how the game lasted this long anyway though. The government even locked the creator inside of the main engine so he could keep it running through his brainwaves indefinitely. Not a very heroic move eh? Following this, which government is in control of this? Throughout the whole series, the teachers and the principals can’t make a move because the “controllers” forbade them to do anything. The problem is that it turns out that these guys were with the villain all along. I don’t know who signed off on this rigged system, but it wasn’t a good move. The villains end up taking the Prime Minister (Or his foreign equivalent) hostage at gunpoint, but this was another odd scene. How did they get past the guards and why did this plot point never show up again? It was rather odd.
Phantom_Dol_Garuda
I could go on for days about how the whole plot of the show makes absolutely no sense, but you get what I’m saying. No need to drone on about it and if you have any theories as to how this could make sense or any input in general, feel free to let me know. As I already mentioned, the show is brilliant overall so lets talk about why it was so good. For starters, the show takes on a very different approach and tone than the first seasons. It feels completely different and plays out a bit more like a shonen than the last few. The new locale actually worked out quite well and I liked the visuals for their new training environment. The team based strategies for the battles were also fun although 1 vs 1 is still the best.

The main cast was interesting from the get go. Haruki may have been a bit bland, but Sena was the typical hard working hero that you can always root for. Hikaru was a champion of LBX tournament fighting so he already had a lot of experience even if he still had a lot to learn. Having all of the countries hang out for lunch break added some intrigue and tension since there could always be traitors or people listening in on your conversations. You even had real currency that you would use for every day activities and if you didn’t budget well, you’d go hungry. Finally, you couldn’t afford to lose your LBX at any time. If it was ever broken, you would instantly be escorted off of the island and would be labeled as dead inside of the game. You could retreat with injuries before being completely destroyed and many characters had to use this.

It comes as no surprise that the show had an excellent animation budget. The visuals were top notch throughout and there was constant action. You could expect a big fight in just about every episode and some fights would go on for quite a while. The power levels did start to be an issue by the end though. The problem is that the show kept trying to make the next villain even stronger over and over again to the point where they just ran out of power scaling. It makes for great visuals since they move so fast that everything becomes a blur, but the side characters shouldn’t be able to do anything by the end if the main characters are as strong as they appear. I think the power levels were better than in W though so they certainly have improved. By the end, the only real contenders for the title of the strongest are Sena, Kreisler, and Itan. The rest get left in the dust by a wide margin.

Accompanying the great graphics are a stellar soundtrack. This show had quite a lot of epic tunes and the music helped to build up hype for future scenes and to also amplify the battle scenes. The openings may have been not quite as epic as W overall, but I really did like one of the theme songs for Wars. I forgot if it was the 2nd or third one, but it was really sharp. On a technical level, LBX certainly did not disappoint and when you add that to the cast and the story, it comes as no surprise that the show was so great.
Wars_36_HQ_84
Sena is a great main character and there’s really no reason not to love him. He’s hot headed and always ready for a fight. While Sena is super eager, he never gets full of himself or arrogant. He’s just a really nice guy who likes LBX battles and he always does what he thinks is the right thing even if it breaks the rules. He’s a friend that you can count on to have your back and you can be sure that he’ll always give it 100%. He doesn’t back down to Hikaru and if anything, the only mistake that Sena makes is not using his special abilities whenever he can. Sena can move his robot at super speed through the same power that Hiro had in W. Only Kreisler and Itan also had this ability and you can see why they were the strongest. Without it, there is literally no way that you can win since you move in slow motion next to them.

Hikaru is the main rival of the series although you can throw Muraku in there as well. While he had great success in the tournaments, apparently it doesn’t always translate well to team battles. I don’t really buy this logic or at least not how it was implemented, but he still did good for the most part. He stayed neck and neck with Sena until the series was almost over and I really liked the design of his LBX. Hikaru was a good character and he definitely went through a lot. The villains sabotaged his capsule which nearly destroyed him and did traumatize him for a few episodes. Hikaru recovered, but it certainly made the game a little scarier than it ever would be for the others.

Muraku starts out as the first major villain, but he’s always been about honor. He gets along pretty well with Sena and while he did destroy many of Sena’s teammates over the years, it’s not as if they’re dead in real life. You should be going all out in the game and I think that’s why Sena didn’t hold it against Muraku at all. Muraku’s very skilled and is certainly one of the best operators in the game, it’s just a shame that he never got the super power. He is heavily outmatched by the end, but his fights with Sena are still some of the best in the series. Muraku’s a solid rival and one of the more interesting figures in the show.

Now let’s talk about the captains of Sena’s army. These captains are: Kaito, Catherine, Rikuya, Gendou, and Haruki. Kaito has a pretty high opinion of himself even if he isn’t that strong. His LBX just never seemed all that special and he never got a big fight to himself. He likes telling the others what they can’t do and stealing the glory whenever possible, but Kaito never earns it. He’s definitely not a very likable platoon leader. Catherine is pretty good and at least she is usually ready for a fight. She’s also not quite as tough as her banter though and desperately needed a power up throughout the series.

Rikuya is pretty important to the plot in the second half as the villains want a program inside of his mech, but he doesn’t do a great job of protecting it. He also keeps to himself a lot more than he should, which gets others to think that he’s a bad guy. He may as well be though as he gets quite a lot of people expelled from school. It was their mission though so I like to think that the government took good care of them. Gendou is a character who got a lot of hype, but ended up not doing a thing either. The show would constantly zoom the camera in on him or have everyone get worried when he’d just stare. Unfortunately, he actually wasn’t that tough or heroic. He quickly said that his group should keep the super lab even though Sena’s team put in the most effort. LBX always loves to have a character get hyped all season to no avail though so I guess it’s to be expected.

Finally, Haruki is one of the leaders and he’s actually a main character so he gets a big role. He once led his squad to complete defeat against Muraku and they were all expelled. This causes him to be a lot more cautious this time around, but that’s not a strategy that Sena and Hikaru are going to follow. They like the direct approach and I can’t really blame them when they are always way stronger than the villains. Without plot hax, a frontal assault should always be the tactic of choice for the heroes. Haruki gradually opens up and helps the heroes more. He’s a good character by the end even if he’s naturally not as charismatic as Sena or Hikaru.

Sakuya is the mechanic and he’s probably the most annoying character of the bunch. He can’t fight so he just watches (The show says that he can fight, but he retired so that’s the end of that) and fixes the mechs between battles. Honestly, that sounds a little boring and I don’t know how Sakuya doesn’t get tired of it. He’s not quite as reasonable as the others and is quick to get upset when the other characters don’t play by the rules. His episodes can’t really hold their own and his romance was also pretty bad. This guy deserves to stay in as a secondary character. Yuno was a heroine who hung out with the main group a lot despite being in another division. She never really did all that much, but she inherited a mech from one of the main characters so that gave her a pretty big power boost. She’s a nice enough character and she did save Sena at one point. Yuno’s a loyal friend at any rate and a good member of the cast. There were a lot of other supporting characters in the show who were around, but not quite enough to be mentioned. Yuno was more prevalent than them, but not quite as much as the main characters so she’s in an interesting position.
Wars_32_HQ_9
Mito is the squad’s teacher and she has a personal stake in all of this. While she teaches by day, she searches for her father by night. She is pretty strict and by the books the whole time so she never gets quite as interesting as the others. Furthermore, she doesn’t handle the situation very well at all once the stakes are high and even faints at one point. I’d expect a little more determination considering that she wants to find her father.

Finally, we’re at the two big villains. Kreisler is the final boss and shows up with his seriously overpowered mech at the end. It basically can’t be damaged and it’s so fast that the mere thought of getting hit is out of the question anyway. He completely outclasses Itan as well as Sena during their fight. This also gives us some more brilliant battles as Itan and Sena even team up at one point while still not being able to claim the win. Kreisler was definitely a very good villain and at least he wasn’t completely loony. I also liked that he had a contingency plan for just about everything. Even while the guards were leading him off the premises when they finally caught him, Kreisler was ready. His submarine appeared out of nowhere with all of his armed troops and that was the end of that. It was really hard to keep this guy down and the show certainly got even more interesting once he showed up.

While Itan was not the final boss, he was certainly a major villain and probably had the biggest role of them all. I always felt bad for his teeth though. He always held onto a lollypop to suck on, but would end up crunching it accidentally when he got some bad news or got too stressed about something. The sudden crunch would always startle you and he would still go for another one. Lollypop aside, Itan was definitely solid. He didn’t give up like the rank and file and even after being betrayed, he vowed revenge. He lasted quite a while as he kept dodging the cops and he did his best to get back at Kreisler. He was an exceptional fighter and the fact that he could fight Sena on equal grounds is quite telling. Almost no other character can say that and he was also fun to root for. He’s probably the second best character in the series behind Sena, although Hikaru is quite close at third. I’d probably have Muraku at 4th and Kreisler at 5th. As I said, it’s a solid cast and they’re all pretty high.

One slight disappointment was that the old characters didn’t get to do anything. The big heroes like Ban/Van are mentioned and acknowledged, but they never get to appear. They get a lot of hype, but I was hoping that they’d show up to stop the main villains. After all, they do work for the government and are LBX experts, you’d think that they would have been called immediately. Jin shows up quite a lot towards the end, but he never joins in on the fights and just watches the whole time. That was a big missed opportunity and I can understand that sometimes writers want the season to stand on its own, but then why add Jin in the first place? It’s like a tease to something that will never occur so it’s better left forgotten.

I also can’t stress enough how impressive it was for the show to have constant action all the time while still introducing more and more villains. The fights started off very grounded, but gradually got as fantastic as you can imagine. Sena also got quite a few excellent rage moments where he utilized his LBX to the fullest and took care of the villains. You’ll get very invested into the show right from the get go and it never falters from there. The writing is always on point and I don’t expect that we’ll ever see another show quite like this one. It’s a shame that LBX had to end. Hopefully another long running mecha show can fill the void for this one someday, but until then at least I have the LBX game to help me remember this. The show isn’t even all that popular as finding images for this review was tough for a while. We need more people to spread the word and it all starts with this review!

Wars_28_HQ
Overall, LBX Wars is definitely one of the best anime out there. The visuals are absolutely amazing and the screen caps can’t do it justice. Its decently long length will ensure that you don’t breeze through it too quickly and also gives it time to develop the characters and have a lot of things happen. There are a lot of big twists even if you’ll figure out some of them way before the characters and there are a lot of enemies to defeat. The show takes quite a lot of turns by the time you’re done with it and you’ll have to decide what you think the heroes should do. Fight and possibly allow the system to control you or stay back in an attempt of defiance, but it could be futile if nobody joins you and the villains may end up achieving their true objective. There are a lot of tough calls to make here, but Sena is always ready. If you haven’t checked this show out yet, then it’s not too late. You can still make your move now before they announce a big Hollywood film that will adapt it all!

Overall 9/10