Rurouni Kenshin Side Story: The Ex-Con Ashitaro Review

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It’s time to take a look at the 2 chapter oneshot sequel to Kenshin that came out. This serves as a set up to the ongoing sequel coming out so you definitely want to check it out to stay current. It’s a pretty fun series and the two chapters really go by quickly. It starts off with two prisoners being released. One guy is named Ashitaro and he was arrested for dining and dashing. The other guy is Aran and I forgot exactly why he was arrested but they got him for years. A mysterious girl shows up when they are released and claims that Ashitaro has her treasure. They used to both work for the same villain organization but Ashitaro ran off. He claims not to know anything, but it could be the sword that he buried a while back. Aran decides to help Ashitaro out in retrieving the sword and living a normal life after prison, but are these two fighters strong enough to take on a villain organization?

Since Ashitaro is the lead here and will likely have a big role in the actual series, it is imperative that he is a likable character. I think he’s pretty good at any rate. He reminds me of Tyson’s counter protagonist in the Beyblade manga. Ashitaro is a pretty good fighter but he’s also rather basic and doesn’t really think about anything. He just likes having a good fight and can dish it out with the rest of uis. Second to none is food for him though. He’ll eat anything and isn’t picky. He’s certainly no Kenshin, but he is the real deal when it comes to using a sword. I’ll definitely be glad to see him return.

His partner Aran is a lot less impressive. For starters, Aran can’t even fight. That brings up a lot of red flags right from the start. I also can’t say I care too much about his half American heritage and hopefully it’s not a big plot line. I guess it could lead to something cool if it turns out that his American relatives want to take him back by force or he’s related to the villains but we don’t really need the human sidekick right now. He could certainly be much more annoying than he actually is though so I’ll stay content with that for now. The writing is sharp as always which really makes a difference for characters like this.

There aren’t really any other big characters at the moment. I suspect that the girl may become a big character at some point, but we’ll see. The one shot villains here are fairly generic, but serve their roles well. I have to give some props to the first villain for still being able to talk even with a sword through his head. That guy definitely has nerves of steel. The other villain with the oil weapon was pretty strong as well, at least when put up against the main characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how much fun the real big villains are.

If you were worried about not seeing Kenshin or the rest of the old cast, don’t worry about it. They show up briefly and Kenshin definitely has a great role. It’s nice to know how much time has passed since the end of the main series and it is mentioned here. It hasn’t been too long of a gap so fortunately everyone should still be able to fight at a high level. The ending shows us that the whole cast is getting ready to go to Hokkaido so that’s sure to be a pretty epic arc. I’m expecting a lot of big things there.

The art is exceptional, but that almost goes without saying. I’ve really missed the Kenshin style. The action has a lot of depth and the speed lines really make it look extra impressive. The action scenes were great and as I mentioned the writing is pretty sharp. I can easily see the sequel being a top tier threat to all of the other manga titles once it actually comes out or is scanned.

While Ashitaro’s sword is cool, I think he’s going to need another one almost immediately. In the story it is bent out of shape and badly burned so unless he makes this some really unique combo starter where the shape actually helps him, I can’t see the big villains being very threatened by the kid. I could also see him getting it repaired and if so, Kenshin’s master needs to appear. He never got much closure so this could definitely help. I wouldn’t mind if the sequel also has a brief timeskip so that we can gloss over that part and also have Aran learn some fighting off screen. Then the series will be set.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. After all these years, we finally have Kenshin back in business. Hopefully the series really lasts for a long while and that it doesn’t jump the shark. Sequels don’t always have the best of reps, but I think this one is going to be one of the best sequels on the block. Hopefully these chapters come out with volume one once the series is licensed so fans don’t have to try and track these chapters down. How I see it, the set up/prequel to the sequel should always be included.

Overall 8/10

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Jak and Daxter The Lost Frontier Review

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The first three Jak and Daxter games were pretty great so I was always looking forward to finally playing the 4th one. Unfortunately it is a noticeable step down in terms of quality and ends up feeling a lot more like a cash-in title than a main game. It’s a little disappointing although the game is still fairly decent. You’ll just keep being reminded of what it could have been.

The first warning bell is the extremely light plot. Jak and Keira are flying around when pirates shoot them down. They are led by Phoenix who apparently knows Keira from way back in the day. She decides to help him and Jak comes along for the ride even though Phoenix is really mean the whole time. One thing leads to another and the fate of the world depends on Jak stopping these other pirates from using Eco to power themselves up and destroying the world. Jak has his mastery over light and dark but his powers are still too strong so he could blow up the world if he tries anything. He’ll have to be satisfied with simply using hand to hand combat. As you can tell, the plot is extremely forgettable so I may have missed a few details and nothing happens.

The game is pretty short so you can beat it in a day or two. That being said, what will help stretch the game out is the terrible map and lack of clear directions. The symbols on the map aren’t labeled so you’ll rarely know where to go. I got lost a bunch of times and wasted quite a bit of effort not actually going anywhere. There are also not many levels, only 4-5 I think so you just keep on going back there over and over again. You can even feel how the game was originally for PSP and not PS2 because the game stops as an unskippable cutscene shows up every time a door opens. This happens for every door which really slows down the pace of the game. If it’s lagging, then you have to wait a little while for the door to open..great.

Technically the gameplay isn’t too bad. It’s the usual 3D shooter/brawler gameplay but with less of a budget than usual. Instead of the really smooth running and running from Ratchet and Clank or the older Jak games, you have a little trouble aiming and switching weapons. You only get 4 weapons I believe and while they’re all decently strong, none are amazing. Some of the enemies sure can last a bit. Fortunately you have ECO abilities like stopping time and can also upgrade everything in the menu. The combat is the game’s most impressive aspect even if it’s not amazing. I can at least get behind it and compared to even lower budgets like the M&Ms or the Ninjabread Man it is actually good.

There is naturally no real replay value to this game because if you beat the game you’ll just want to move on to a better title. If you actually do like the game then I think there are a bunch of collectibles to grab so that’s something. There’s also the Hero Mode that you’ll unlock which should really test your skills. Considering that you can get the game for a pretty cheap price, it’s all pretty reasonable if you ask me.

The graphics also aren’t bad. I’d say they look comparable to the original games. What I really can count as a big positive is the soundtrack. There are quite a few opera themes which are really good and at least make the boss fights feel more grand. It gives you something nice to listen to during some of the tougher segments of the game. Very few bits are legitimately tough as the quick time events are either too extreme or you basically have to die at least once and then allow the checkpoint to give you a quick boost by giving you back all of your health even though you’re further in.

I can’t stress enough how poorly designed some of the interactive moments are. For example, when you jump on the rocket as Daxter, you’ll end up getting shocked a lot even though you’re using L1 and R1. It’s just not good and was probably the most annoying part of the game. The background characters are also annoying with their constant yelling and you have to wonder why they were programmed to have such bad lines.

I think a big part of what hurt the game was how boring the story was. It’s quite telling that I found SpRay’s story to be more engaging. At least this one did have cutscenes though which I suppose should be an instant improvement. At the end of the day, the game is good but just barely. Watch out for the lackluster plot, the bad level designs, the broken compass, and the clunky combat system. As long as you can get past all of that, then you’ll have a good time. Also, try not to jump much since the game clearly did not know how to handle that. Even simple jumps forward end up being a lot tougher than they should be.

Overall, The Lost Frontier got lost for a reason. It’s kind of sad that the Jak series had to end on such a sad note. The first three games were just so good. This game was ambitious in its own way, but it just needed more quality control. The air levels could be fun and were actually better than the ground combat ones. They also weren’t very balanced at times, but they gave it a good attempt. Just play this game slow and steady and you’ll be okay. At least you keep your parts whenever you lose so you’ll have a lot of upgrades to buy when you land. I’d sooner recommend buying the original three, but if you already have them then you should probably buy this one. It’ll at least be good for a few hours of entertainment.

Overall 6/10

Star Wars The Force Unleashed II Review

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It definitely didn’t take too long to get to the big sequel to the original Force Unleashed. I enjoyed the first game quite a bit so I was excited to see what the sequel brings to the table. Ideally a sequel should always be just as good or better in every way. This sequel managed to pull that off in all areas aside from the plot. Is it enough to get that extra star and nab a 9 or will it continue to elude the game? Time to find out!

The game starts with Starkiller waking up in one of Darth Vader’s training rooms. The Sith explains that this Starkiller is the only clone to have been a success and that the original Starkiller is dead. This clone has all of his powers and memories and Vader will make him destroy the Jedi. Clone or not, Starkiller decides to escape instead and manages to find his old resistance teammate, the blind Jedi. The Jedi claims that Vader is lying and Starkiller is the original. Starkiller’s not sure what to think about all of this, but the main heroine is in trouble so he decides to launch a full scale attack on Vader’s base. Ultimately, his origin won’t matter as long as he can save her.

I don’t really mind the game keeping it ambiguous as to whether Starkiller is the genuine article or not. It adds a little tension and who doesn’t want to see some of that in the story. As long as it isn’t overplayed, it works well. Unfortunately, the story still was a step down from the first. It’s still cinematic and feels like a movie, but it’s a movie that doesn’t have much of a plot. It takes a while for Starkiller to decide what to do and by the time he does, the story is over. You could sum up the game’s story in a few sentences. Starkiller returns and meets up with his old pal. The two of them make it to the resistance base, but it was destroyed. They head over to Vader’s base and blow it up as they save the heroine. That’s really all that happens in this game.

Of course, the game was quite short so it was never going to have the same amount of content as the first game. Still, I was expecting a little more. Admittedly, part of the fault is in the fact that I thought the game was more about choosing between good and evil the whole time like in the Shadow The Hedgehog game. It turns out that only the ending matters like in the first game so it’s quite different from what I had assumed. The game is supposed to be roughly 5 hours long and that sounds about right. Hardcore gamers can finish it in one sitting although it took me 2. 5 hours of straight gaming may have been something I did more back in the day, but that is really a long time to be sitting down.

Granted, the ending is quite great just like in the last game. I ended up obtaining the dark ending. I wanted to make the hero call of course, but then the villain started to goad me on and I decided it was time to end him. A pretty shocking moment occurred and honestly it was all handled beautifully. As always the blind Jedi was supremely annoying, but I suppose that couldn’t be helped. Personally I’d say that the Starkiller in this game is a clone. It’s not really a spoiler since I know people have gone either way with this although most see it the way that I do in this case. That being said, he may have been more likable than the first one.

The gameplay is a lot smoother than the first game and I was hoping that would be the case. It’s the same core gameplay as it’s a 3D hack and slash title where you have other abilities at your disposal as well. You can shoot lightning and harness the force to protect yourself. This time you have 2 Lightsabers and you can switch out their crystals to give the weapon other special abilities. I recommend the extra EXP ones since those really add up by the end. The combos are a lot more fluid and the tutorial is fast while also being comprehensive. You’ll really feel like a Jedi Master as you slice through dozens and dozens of opponents.

There are a lot of cubes to find and trophies to collect which should add to the replay value. It has about the same kind of bonus content as the first game so there’s not much new to be on the lookout for. Just grab all of the cubes that you can and level up. It’s considerably easier than the first game as well I might add and that is probably because of how much smoother it is. I died quite a few times in the first game because my lightning wouldn’t lock on, but that’s never an issue here. With the original’s story this would instantly be a 9. As it is, it is a close call. The gameplay is amazing, but the experience is relatively short.

You probably figured this from the first game, but the graphics are still quite great. They have improved from the first title which is saying something. This is definitely pretty high end even for the PS3. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable though. Surprisingly both games didn’t really have any memorable tunes. I guess this game had to have a weakness somewhere right?

Speaking of weaknesses though, I did think that some of the quick time events were a little too hard. Not in terms of timing as that was pretty normal, but the events where you had to press a button really quickly. I just couldn’t push it fast enough and had to keep trying different ways until I finally nailed it. There were around 3 bosses like this and they just didn’t feel fair or balanced. I can’t imagine how a kid would get through these levels. I definitely have to respect their button mashing skills if they pulled it off.

Beyond that, I am still a big QTE fan as always. Personally I think it makes the boss fights more epic. I know some don’t care for it and I can see the negative side (Losing near the end of a long QTE sequence and having to do the whole thing over again) but it’s certainly still a positive in the end. As for the story which I keep taking subtle shots at, I just felt like the writing for Starkiller was a little all over the place. At times he was fairly quiet and treated like an experienced veteran. Then he would suddenly talk and then he wouldn’t stop as he panicked about everything and did a ton of yelling. The former is what I expected of Starkiller while the latter just feels out of character. He’s just a lot more emotional than I would have expected at times although he still makes the rational choices in the end.

I did say that I liked him more than the first Starkiller though and that’s because he’s just a little more intense. He makes the controversial decision to abandon the alliance so he could save the heroine instead, but it’s a move that I can go with. The rebellion is always falling to pieces anyway and they were okay with sacrificing her so naturally that was not okay. Starkiller made the right move. The game’s ending is quite dark no matter which ending you ultimately ended up going for. Naturally mine was incredibly dark but probably the more hype ending. It just seems like Starkiller can’t catch a break. I’d love a sequel to this game, but it seems like it isn’t to be.

Overall, The Force Unleashed II did everything you could ask for from a sequel. It tightened up the already solid gameplay to make it even better. It improved the graphics and still gave us a full cinematic story. There’s also a good amount of replay value here and none of the trophies are too crazy. You’ll have a blast from start to finish. Even if the story isn’t quite as intense as the first game, you’ll still be pretty reasonably hooked during it and the climax ends the game with a bang. Now if only we could get a multiplayer mode.

Overall 9/10

The Brides of Dracula Review

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The Dracula movies have a pretty negative reputation and it is admittedly one that it has earned. They typically just aren’t all that fun and forget to be engaging. This one doesn’t even have Dracula in it. Now that could be a good sign, but it barely even matters since a new Dracula has surfaced in the town. It’s essentially the same story as always, but with a different cast for Van Helsing to deal with. He barely escaped from his last confrontation so does he even have a chance here?

It starts off with Marianne deciding to take a carriage through a forbidden part of town. She is going to become a school teacher and doesn’t want to be late so this is the quickest route. Unfortunately her driver leaves right away so she is forced to spend the night at a bar. The owners don’t want to take her in though and they seem pretty scared so she accepts a shady old lady’s offer to stay at her mansion. There she sees a guy being tied to his room so she frees him and then faints in the road. Van Helsing finds her and takes her to the school, but the vampires aren’t done with her yet. She has released the most powerful one yet and he aims to convert all of the people in the town. Can Helsing put an end to this?

The film’s very convenient a lot of the time and especially in the opening. It seems like the old couple knew something about the vampires or at least that the family couldn’t be trusted. I can understand that, but why were they so vague about it the whole time? Why did it take hours to rent a cot? If they know that the old lady has been kidnapping previous tenants then shouldn’t they tell the cops? The family owns the whole town so that’s a little iffy, but based on how isolated they are the whole time, I like to think that they don’t have complete dominion over the whole place. Ah well, this leads Marianne to go to the castle. Naturally, everyone keeps on lying to her so she decides to just pick one of them to trust and she picks the captive. Turns out that he couldn’t be trusted, but the old lady would have likely murdered Marianne anyway since she had been feeding sacrifices to the vampire anyway.

This is where Van Helsing should come in, but honestly it takes him a real long time to show up. When he finally does pop in he isn’t as impressive as you’d expect. He tends to go into battle unarmed except for a small cross which the vampires always overpower. After that he just looks shocked and dazed as they toss him around. Van Helsing really can’t hold his own against any of the villains and he certainly looks out of his league. Fortunately for him, the vampires basically end up destroying themselves by lighting the castle on fire and being too slow to escape it. One of them basically just falls down and dies. Van Helsing got lucky and this should increase his reputation, but his luck is bound to run out sooner or later.

He can be an annoying hero because it almost feels like he is helping the vampires at some points. For example, after one of the victims has been terminated by the vampires, he knows that she will rise at night. The plan is for him to be there in wait so he can stab her as soon as she wakes up. Unfortunately it seems like he forgot to set the alarm or something so he arrives there 20 minutes to late which gives her time to escape. The same thing happens again later on as another victim appears and Van Helsing decides to make a few stops first. By the time he gets there the situation had already been resolved in the vampire’s favor. You had to wonder what he was doing the whole time? Certainly this should have been his top priority right? He was probably posturing and stroking his ego though so I guess we’ll just have to let it slide.

Marianne isn’t likable because she’s rather gullible and oblivious to everything. That makes it really hard to root for her since she is practically begging to be bitten the whole time. The vampire isn’t any good either as he just seems like a guy who can’t control his own bloodlust. He just wants to drink and he would be your average “It’s Miller Time” Budlight character if he wasn’t a vampire. I did like how he was kidnapped early on though. I guess an old lady can put up more of a fight than Van Helsing sometimes.

The film gives a lot of time to various subplots and characters that are ultimately pointless as well. One really random scene introduces a doctor who likes to smell mystical water and use a lot of pills to keep himself from getting sick. He’s a comic relief character who likes money, but vanishes as soon as he appears. What was the point of the scene? I dunno and I guess you just have to leave that part to your imagination.

Beyond that, the film commits to all of the typical tropes of a Vampire film. They drink people’s blood and keep on building an army. Everyone is too stunned to do anything about it and the vampires take a lot of victims before they finally go down. Blood sucking has always been pretty wince worthy and certainly doesn’t get any better here. None of the villains are likable in the slightest and I didn’t like any of the heroes either. When you have a bad cast there is not much that can ultimately help the film. You need a likable cast.

Overall, This film is just like any other Dracula film. You could watch another version and swear that it was the same film. There is nothing even remotely original here and everyone seems to have a higher opinion of themselves than the reality. To keep things in perspective…Van Helsing lost to an old lady. She rushed him and stole the cross so that the vampires could take him down. That was just plain embarrassing and she was definitely an odd character. I’ll assume that she was mind controlled for most of the film and then got turned into a vampire because most of her behavior just doesn’t make sense otherwise. Unless she was just plain crazy I expect. I advise you to stay far away from this film. You’re better off watching a classic title like Scooby Doo or something. Even Batman vs Dracula is a big step up if you really need to see something with a vampire. This film will just leave you trying to fill in all of the holes in the writing to make the movie more interesting, but all you’ll be left with is pieces of ineligible paper.

Overall 2/10

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 19h 12m
Gold 26731
Boos: 18
Ghost Container 5672W
Gloomy Manor Gems 12/13
Haunted Tower Gems 6/13
Old Clockworks Gems 4/13
Secret Mine Gems 1/13
Treacherous Mansion Gems 3/13

Level Stats Clear Time, Ghosts Captured, Rank

A1 9m 25s 6 2Star
A2 13m 37s 17 2Star
A3 11m 36s 10 2Star
A4 26m 48s 15 1Star
A5 16m 15s 14 2Star
AB 4m 6s 1 2Star
A6 10m 36s 18 2Star
B1 19m 25s 11 1Star
B2 47m 4s 20 1Star
B3 10m 2s 9 2Star
B4 12m 51s 16 2Star
B5 9m 19s 13 2Star
BB 11m 37s 14 3Star
B6 –
C1 11m 11s 10 1Star
C2 11m 21s 16 1Star
C3 15m 12 2Star
C4 10m 35s 6 2Star
C5 31m 59s 22 1Star
CB 13m 20s 31 2Star
C6 –
D1 38m 31s 9 1Star
D2 11m 12s 8 2Star
D3 22m 28s 12 1Star
DB 4m 43s 1 2Star
D4 –
E1 9m 30s 11 2Star
E2 21m 47s 17 1Star
E3 16m 46s 13 2Star
E4 7m 30s 0 1Star
E5 12m 8s 52 2Star
EB 2m 15s 1 3Star
E6 –

Transformers: The Last Knight Review

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If you ignore the fact that Prime looks obviously evil in the poster…it’s hard to disagree with the message. If one planet is going to die then shouldn’t it be Earth? Those guys are always picking on the Autobots and destroying themselves anyway. Even if the Transformer movies have not been all that good historically they do certainly have great posters and trailers. If nothing else, they always do a good job of drawing you in. On that note, I went to the theaters to watch this latest installment, but could it hold its own against the last few and even surpass them? Time to find out!

Well, the film starts off with a prolonged action scene back in the days of the 12 knights. It’s as boring as you’d expect with very generic bombs being thrown and people stabbing each other. Films like this one keep reminding me why action scenes should all take place in the modern day alongside big buildings and cool effects. The drunk Merlin gets the Autobots to help him so they destroy the other side. Merlin is even given the staff of power which has the ability to destroy and recreate whole planets. He literally takes it to the grave.

We cut away to the present day where a girl by the name of Izabella is saving a few kids who broke into a government protected site with killer machines running around. They shoot to kill and that includes kids, but fortunately Cade and his resistance pals like Bumble Bee show up and finish off the government robots. The kids run off, but Izabella stays with Cade since she wants to fight. The two characters trade sob stories while Cade has a beer (The film made sure to show that it was a Budlight) and then Mr. Edmund shows up to tell the heroes that they have to find the scepter of power and stop the incoming invasion. He has also located and brought in a lady named Viviane who is a descendant of Merlin and the only one who can wield it. Naturally Viviane and Cade don’t get along, but none of the characters do. Can they at least stop the invasion or will their not so subtle insults against each other take top priority? Oh yeah, Megatron’s also around.

This is 100% a Michael Bay film. You can tell because it follows all of the classic tropes. The only good one is that we get a ton of explosions. There’s constantly something catching fire and blowing up. Everyone gets to be in an explosion at some point or other and that was interesting. Well, interesting isn’t the right word, but at least it’s something to catch your attention even if you know that it’s just trying to cover up the lack of a plot.

Unfortunately the other cliches are here. Naturally when Viviane is brought to the castle, she decided to bring along a rather inappropriate outfit for business. It’s not as if it would be a huge deal but of course Cade brings it up and they have a pretty sad conversation about it. Keep in mind that these two were enemies at first, but Cade quotes a random philosopher once they’re okay. He shows off his 6 pack once and they are immediately past the friend zone. The flirting and fanservice were pretty sad and while not as bad as in previous films, I had a feeling the film would bring this into the picture.

Then there’s the writing. I don’t want to say it was the worst yet, but there must have been over 50-100 s words in the film. It was used in almost every single sentence. It’s as if the keyboard warriors from reddit and twitch were the main characters in this film. It was incredibly awful and took you out of the film every time. Why does everyone have to use swear words to express every idea that they get? It’s painfully bad and would have doomed the film to a low score even without all of the other negatives.

It’s also hard to know who to root for. The Autobots are anything but likable. They spend the first half of the film doing more damage to each other than the Decepticons possibly could. Bumblebee even destroys one of his fellow Autobots for no good reason. I don’t remember his name but it was one of the minicons, Bumblebee just crushed him without remorse. The others don’t get along either so there’s a ton of threats among them. We get about 20 minutes of the Autobots just yelling at each other and the humans deciding to follow their example. The insults get pretty personal throughout and one guy even brings up the race card to counter Cade. Well, I shouldn’t say “even” that was another guarantee in this film. Viviane doesn’t get along with her parents and relatives either for more drama and they care more about her love life than the alien invasion. Edmund is constantly threatening to destroy his butler and his butler tries to choke Cade to death, but is stopped at the last second. These are our heroes.

Think about that for a second. Our heroes are the ones who keep threatening each other, actually destroy one member, blackmail other members, and basically just live to destroy. They destroy Decepticons not for honor or victory, but just because they like to murder stuff. Optimus Prime isn’t exempt either as his terribly conceived plan to head to Cybertron winds up getting him frozen. Fortunately, he crash lands there and the ice chips off. I think he suffered a severe concussion though because he doesn’t remember that Cybertron was destroyed so he rushes over and attacks the metal lady who’s there because he thinks she destroyed it. She casually beats him in one hit with her lightning and forces him to kneel before her. She then easily mind controls him to turn evil and be her slave. It’s hinted that it’s mind control since he grew a red scar and she did the same to Megatron. Oh yeah, Megatron gets mind controlled so he’s a subordinate yet again.

Prime doesn’t stay evil for long though as a quick “Martha!” sort of line gets him to turn good again. The heroes decide to kick him a few times while he’s down so he learns a lesson though and everyone just stands there and watches it happen. I get the feeling Prime isn’t too popular on Earth sometimes even if the Autobots claim that they look up to him. While Quintessa (The metal lady) was pretty awesome and it was nice to see her wreck everybody, the film forgot about that. Instead of blasting Viviane and ending the film in an instant, she orders Megatron to do it and doesn’t do anything herself. She gets blasted by Bee and that’s basically the end of her story. It’s a sad way to go.

Hot Rod is actually in this film, but you’ll barely care since he’s nothing like his classic self. He’s just a guy with a french accent who likes blasting stuff. His time stop ability is useful, but he rarely ever remembers to use it so he may as well not have it. The Decepticons are all fairly generic. We have a scene inspired by the Suicide Squad where we see him release his favorite cons and they all team up, but half of them die in their first action scene and even Megatron himself isn’t all that impressive. He seems about as durable as your average con and has slightly more firepower. He never really seems like a threat.

Despite the writing being so bad, some of the humans are all right. Izabella is reasonable for a kid. At least she knows what she is doing and managed to survive for so long as the government base. Her robot even looked a lot like Bumblebee and I could have sworn that it was him the whole time. Why do they have the same design? If Bumblebee had died in such a random way like that I’m sure the fanbase would have gone nuts though. I didn’t really care for Viviane much though. She seemed to overreact a lot and the 180 personality shift once she got along with Cade was sad. Cade also wasn’t that great as he drinks too much beer and also takes things too personally. The whole plot with his daughter was made to be way too dramatic.

The government is also bad as always. They decided to turn against all of the Transformers yet again. Sure, they’re all pretty mean, but why pick a fight that you can’t win? Their weapons are finally strong enough….well who are we kidding. Their weapons are always strong enough to beat Transformers. They’ll still lose in the end if they go with a frontal assault so it’s just not a smart move. It’s a rather half baked one. The only good member of the army was the physics guy who kept mocking the heroes for relying on magic. He’d point out that magic wasn’t real and that the team should use physics to win. It didn’t work of course as magic is the whole point of the film, but the guy made some good points and had a lot of excellent burns.

The film relies pretty heavily on being half comedy and action. Unfortunately, the humor doesn’t work very well. The funniest scenes were the unintentional ones like the heroes constantly bickering or Optimus Prime getting frozen just by flying. The actual humor just tends to fall flat like the flirting and all of the characters acting like jerks. I suspect the guy on the telephone trying to be a knight was supposed to be funny as well, but it didn’t really work. Also, how come this guy seems to know everything? I like that he didn’t panic like the others and just decided to hang out at the beach instead of stressing out, but it felt like filler. Of course, over half of the film is basically prolonged to extend the run time. I suppose there could be some charm in seeing the characters all insult each other in a reverse friendship kind of way. Perhaps Bay is going for that as you just enjoy all of the insults, but even that would need better writing. Bad writing holds everything back.

Aside from the opening action sequence, the fight scenes aren’t bad I suppose. They all start to blend together after a while and we don’t really get any prolonged fight though. Most fights end with a few hits. Bumblebee vs Optimus is probably the only really long fight in the movie and that would probably be the best one. The ending was rather anticlimactic though.

This film does have an after credits scene by the way so you should stick around for that. It’s the kind of scene that would be hype in a different series but not for this one. The villain that they’re hyping up is not someone I want to see. I was practically wincing there because I assumed that by grabbing the scepter they had hopefully destroyed this person too. Ah well, at least the cool person who is giving out the intel should be a good villain. Perhaps that is all I can ask for.

Overall, Transformers delivers another blunder. It’s just a bad film that is crammed in with every plot imaginable. The plots could have been good except the writing is terrible. The script is so bad it hurts and the characters are all made out to be villains or unlikable. The romance is as rushed as it ever was since the characters have only known each other for around a day or less. The film can be funny at times but for all the wrong reasons. There’s just no reason to have hope for another film, but they’re going to come out anyway. I like to think that the next film will be better, but it’s hard to even think that at this point. I suppose the films deliver on being mindless action blockbusters where you just try to enjoy the experience and keep it moving, but all of the films feel the same in that regard. They’ll hold your attention but never come close to being a good film. If the next film wants to be better, it should finally make the Autobots heroic, Strengthen the Dinobots a bit so they don’t keep losing, strengthen all of the Transformers so humans aren’t constantly beating them, and make the humans more likable. The films may just be doomed though and your best bet is looking at the original animated series again. At least that one was quality.

Overall 3/10

Return of the Fly Review

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It’s time for the sequel to the original Fly movie. For the most part it’s not bad as the film goes on. The pacing is decent and the plot is fairly good, but the film ends up falling into a massive pot hole with an animal violence scene. Beyond that, it can also be annoying to see the heroes lose so badly to one opponent the whole time. It’s certainly a rather unique film and while you feel bad for the main character, you also can’t help but wish Francois could have said “I told you so” at one point.

Phillipe is in shambles over what happened to his father. After all, how can anyone take the fact that their father turned into an insect and died? Francois warns him not to go down the same path, but Phillipe laughs him off and decides to rebuild the experiments room and do the exact same things his father did. He wants to prove that the concept is sound and his father grew careless. He hires Alan as an assistant and they decide to live in the house of his child hood friend’s house and they’ll work in her basement. She doesn’t seem to mind and even though a romance may be lightly hinted, the film never takes that anywhere. I was pretty impressed although, that’s probably because the main heroine and her mother barely appear at all. They’re in the film, but their role is quite small. You wouldn’t be wrong to say that they were filler characters.

So, lets get the elephant out of the room first since it is of massive importance. What destroys the film is a scene with the rat as he grows human hands and feet. Alan ends up crushing him in a very long, drawn out death scene that is shown to be exceptionally painful to the rat. Animal violence is one thing and animal death is another, but a scene this intense and long is something else altogether. The film was in the grave from this point on in the film and it’s not as if anything could possibly save it. Even if the film was decent otherwise, it was doomed at this point.

Still, lets look at the rest of the film. The Alan subplot felt wildly out of place to be honest. He’s actually an international fugitive who earns money by ripping off inventions and giving them to local crooks. The cops have been after him for years, but the guy is too slippery. Fortunately he got a steady job over here just in time to rip Phillipe off. One of the cops did a good job of finding him, but ended up choking his accomplishment away by getting shot so easily. That was definitely not a great moment for him. It’s too bad since the cops never seem to win in these things. Ah well, at least he tried. Things don’t end well for Alan in this film but he still looked a little too good during the middle. He took down the cop, Francois, and Phillipe back to back to back. It was a little too much hype for one guy, but I can see why he evaded capture for so long.

Phillipe isn’t a very likable main character since he intentionally decides to bring the experiments back. He knows that they were the end of his father so why go through it again? It seems to be more about pride than anything else so it’s hard to say that his soul was really in it from the start. As such, it’s a little hard to sympathize with him at times. I suppose he gets his revenge and a pretty happy ending though so he probably won’t regret it much. On that note, the ending was surprisingly happy. I certainly wasn’t expecting that, but it’s a good thing I’d say.

The film didn’t really have a role for the two heroines or Francois. Francois offered words of advice, but Phillipe ignored them all and then Francois spent the rest of the film getting wrecked and blackmailed. It wasn’t a very flattering appearance for him. The design for the fly monster and the mini fly wasn’t bad. It’s certainly interesting even if it doesn’t make for a downright epic design. I suppose we’ll take it since it’s fairly unique although almost the same as the first film.

Return of the Fly’s main issue aside from the animal violence is pretty much that nothing happens for large chunks of the film. It’s very dialogue based which isn’t a bad thing, but it comes across as more uneventful than deep. We didn’t need more action, but more likable characters. All of the dialogue just doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere and since none of the characters are developed, we don’t need to hear about their childhoods. I also don’t get why Phillipe is so scared of flies when he didn’t actually live through the events of the first film. It would have made more sense if Francois was the one who was scared of them.

Overall, Return of the Fly suffered from one major scene. It’s a bit of a shame for it since it probably could have scored a 5 or a 6 otherwise. It can be a little dull, but the writing was still fine and it didn’t make a bunch of mistakes. It could just be a little annoying to watch Alan trick everyone, but seeing Phillipe connect the dots was fun. That would certainly have helped to an extent. Still, the rat scene was in very bad taste and one of the worst animal death moments I’ve seen in a very long time. That sunk the film all the way to the bottom. One scene can absolutely change a film and this one is living proof of it. I highly advise staying away from this film and never looking back!

Overall 1/10

Samurai Jack (2017) Review

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Samurai Jack is one of the best American cartoons out there. If we don’t count super hero shows like Justice League then it takes the title quite easily. The show had awesome fights and episodes that were nonstop action the entire time. It may have ended rather suddenly with no real ending, but that’s fine since you could always imagine your own ending. Still, everyone was rather hyped when they announced that the series would finally be getting a conclusion. Everyone…except me. From the start this was promoted as a far darker, grittier, more violent take on the classic show to fit in with the modern times. I had a bad feeling that this show was not just going to be bad, but terrible. Unfortunately…my fears turned out to be correct.

This new season was fairly misleading as the first episode was actually really good. We got a nice fight scene and it was against a robot so there wasn’t any blood or anything. I felt like things would maybe be okay. Right after that is where the show went downhill and never recovered. Episodes 2-3 are the most action packed and intense episodes of the show, but are also overflowing with over the top violence. Jack also ends up murdering a few of his opponents who were brainwashed girls who were raised to despise him. The fact that they are rather young is there to increase the grit factor.

Episode 4 was more like a classic Jack episode. It still couldn’t be bothered to avoid some animal violence, but was a big step up from the last two episodes. Episode 5 was the final episode before the show lost its focus. We see the Scotsman have a very pointless return as he gets one shotted by Aku and Jack is tricked into thinking that he murdered a bunch of kids. Honestly, I thought they were dead too so props to the show for not going down that rabbit hole.

Episode 6 is about cameos as Ashi meets up with a bunch of old allies. You can say that it’s filler as it’s just a homage for old fans, but the good news is that this means we didn’t have to see any unnecessary grit. I think this may be the episode with a pretty wince worthy line, but more on that later. Episode 7 leads us back to grit as it’s one of the most violent episodes. Ashi murders a bunch of villains and you’ll just want to fast forward to the next one.

Episode 8 is one of the worst episodes. This time it’s because of the very forced romance and the fact that it doesn’t work at all. Jack’s wayyyyyyy older than Ashi and as people had been pointing out on the sub reddit for weeks, it couldn’t work. The show surely wouldn’t go down that path right? Well, they did even though everyone was hoping for a more father-daughter bond which would have made more sense. Episode 9 still has some of this plot to deal with, but luckily the second half is better as Aku steps in. Episode 10 is extremely rushed with a rather lackluster ending and one of the more anticlimactic final fights. The season ended as it ran….a disappointing and unnecessary final season.

Lets look at the negatives more generally now. First off is obviously the violence. Samurai Jack was originally a kid’s show, but this season decided to get extremely violent and dark. You could barely go a single episode without some kind of animal violence. Whether it be a bird getting stabbed, a dog being slashed to the verge of death, or random bugs squashed there was something always happening here. Animal violence is always a big no-no and having it show up over and over again certainly doesn’t help the show’s case. Naturally, the human fight scenes were just as bad. It gets to the point where you actively hope for an episode with no action and that’s where the show goes to the other extreme of having an episode that’s all about walking and talking. The only good fights are the one against Aku and robots, but those are typically quite brief.

To make the show a little more dark as well, Jack destroys the brainwashed daughters of Aku as I mentioned earlier. They were only added to the show so that Jack could justify his choice to destroy them and so he could stop being such a dramatic hero who saved everyone in his path. This was their only purpose which meant that the writers didn’t even care about their power levels. They started out as being incredibly strong and much quicker than Jack, but ultimately turned into light weights that Jack could defeat with ease.

The show’s writing also drops down quite a few levels. Just to keep up the edge factor the show has Scaramouche use a p word to describe someone’s head and it felt so out of place and unnecessary. It was about as forced as Wolverine’s catchphrase in virtually every X-Men film. The whole romance angle was also written quite poorly. Jack’s sudden lack of confidence and debates with his inner self were just as hard to watch. Aku was really the only character who stayed in character during this season. He was great and definitely a highlight here. Without him, I wonder how the show would have fared.
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To expand on why Jack isn’t a good character here, he has to compromise on his ideals far too often and doesn’t seem to have a shred of will power left. He decides to commit suicide after not being able to save a bunch of kids, but all that will do is doom even more people. He decides not to help a village that is being destroyed because he’s tired of being a hero. By the time he changes his mind and goes there, everyone is already dead. Jack even got a bunch of clever nicknames on Youtube as a result since he certainly seems to have gotten more ruthless over the years. His new (pretty bad) design didn’t help matters either. They really dropped the ball on this.

While Jack may have been butchered as a character, he still got some pretty good lines during the season. “It always seems bad at first, but then I find a way” or “I will give you a new choice. Turn back now or stay and face your destiny.” Those may not be word for word, but they were pretty intense. The latter especially as it comes from the preview for one of the first episodes. It was the most exciting preview and easily one of the best Toonami previews of all time. The music for that one was also pretty awesome and it will make you wish for some good tunes in the actual show.

Ashi is the main heroine and she’s a pretty decent character. She gets the short end of the stick on this show, but it was nice to finally have another supporting character who could fight. It’s a shame that we then had to throw romance into the picture and that we couldn’t see Ashi’s true form appear more. She was a good character and probably the best member in the series. She’s as brutal as Jack thanks to her origin and also mows everyone down during the course of the series. She got significantly weaker after turning good, but that’s to be expected. I like the concept of her character more than the execution, but she definitely wasn’t bad.

Scaramouche was great in the first episode. He made for a really good villain and his tuning fork is a potent weapon. That being said, his character was wasted in the rest of his appearances. The show just didn’t know what to do with him. His voice really helped to sell the character if you ask me. I already talked about how great Aku was so I don’t really need to go into it. He was just on point and while the show made him a little too powerful, (Jack can only win with plot hax) it made for an interesting dynamic. Aku is evil, but he doesn’t seem like a mean guy compared to the other villains. It’s something that I wouldn’t mind more titles playing around with. To an extent, Fairy Tail did this with Zeref for a while, but then he suddenly became full psychotic while trying to convince people that he was a nice guy.

The animation is basically the same as the old Jack show. It’s a little more streamlined and modern as the colors are sharper and the contrast works well. That being said, it’s still not my kind of animation and I wish they’d switch it to something more modern. The show looks very dated and I’ve seen 90’s shows that look a lot sharper. Just check out DBZ or Pokemon. The fight scenes are also a big step down from the old series. That one could have fights that lasted the entire episode and they happened multiple times. All of the fights in the 2nd half of the series are short and the first half felt long and intricate but also super violent and bloody.

There isn’t really much of a soundtrack here. The classic Jack end theme is still around for most of the episodes which was pretty cool. I’m not really a fan of the theme song either. I typically don’t care for narration in my openings as it should just be illustrated through the lyrics and animation. If the show can’t do that, then it just needs to try again until it can pull this off.

The show is only 10 episodes so you’ll be able to get through it in a breeze. I can’t say that there is any real replay value to be found here at all. It may help convince you to re watch the old series again though so that would definitely be a good side effect of watching this one. At the very least, Samurai Jack serves as a cautionary tale to other old cartoons that fans want to get a new season. Odds are that the new season won’t be able to live up to the original episodes and it’ll just throw mud onto your cherished memories.

Before ending this review I should at least come up with one positive fro the show. It’s not a 0 so it’s not as if the show had 0 potential. What it did do well was establish a pretty apocalyptic atmosphere. It’s clear that Aku has won the war when the season picks up. Everything that I say here refers to the first 3 episodes by the way. The rest of the season became a complete trainwreck. The episode with Ashi and Jack teaming up in the factory was the final episode to try and salvage itself. Still, the first 3 episodes were pretty hype. There was a nice level of intensity and flare to each episode and the fights had real stakes. While the daughters of Aku were nerfed, they still felt like a nice threat. Seeing Jack use a variety of weapons instead of his sword was also interesting since he is a master in virtually every form of combat. If the episodes had been handled in the same vein as the original show, I think that these three episodes could have easily reached a solid 9. It wasn’t to be, but at least Jack never got boring during this trilogy. It really should have come out as some kind of 70 minute movie.

To address the ending, I can safely say that it wasn’t satisfying. As mentioned earlier, I wanted a big final fight. Even if we ignore the fact that we got cheated out of that, it’s just pretty mean spirited to Jack. The show basically just got him a companion just so they could take her away at the end so he could die alone. Jack also got over it a little too quickly in that last butterfly scene. I would have much preferred it if Jack had simply gone to the past, defeated Jack in a very long drawn out fight, and then became King. It would have been so much more effective and concise. That or have a big team up with Aku against a new villain, but I somehow feel like fans wouldn’t like that option very much.
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Overall, Samurai Jack deserved another season, but it didn’t need one. This season could have had a lot of potential since you can always make another story arc for Jack since he is immortal and the world is extremely large. Unfortunately this season couldn’t even decide what it wanted to do and half of the season felt like filler. The show could have ended on a more epic note after the first 3 episodes. It would have been a pretty conclusive ending. It even could have adapted episode 10 just without Ashi. Make no mistake, the show wouldn’t have gotten a positive score or anything since that would fix nothing, but you wouldn’t be missing out on anything by cutting the other 6 episodes out. The poorly constructed romance and pointless cameo of the Scotsman could have been left on the shelf. Next time you think about watching this show…don’t.

Overall 3/10