Pinocchio (2022) Review

Pinocchio is the kind of character who is so well known and respected that he has gotten countless films over the years. They really just keep coming in all sorts of different animation styles and alternate retellings. This one is definitely going for a bit of a creepier feel to it although by no means would I call it downright dark. It’s just not going to be quite as whimsical as some of the other versions and all in all it follows the main story beats that you know. It’s a fresh take which should keep fans entertained.

The movie starts off on a rather somber note as we see Gepetto and his son enjoying a normal day and are setting up decorations in the local church when a bomb hits and the kid dies in the explosion. Geppetto is really shocked into silence and eventually decides to rebuild his son using his skill in puppets. The experiment succeeds and Pinocchio is born. Pinocchio isn’t quite Geppetto’s old son but he’s a nice enough kid. The main problem of course is that he’s made out of wood and so the people in the village don’t really think of him as a real boy. The government wants to use him in warfare and a circus owner wants to use him for money. Whichever side wins, Pinocchio is the one who will lose out here. He needs to find a way to resist all of these plans for his life and just do things his way. Is that even an option though?

The intro is definitely a powerful way to start the film off with because you can definitely see how sad it was for Geppetto to lose his son like that. In mot stories the kid is already dead so we start with Pinocchio being built. Going back just a bit further the way this film did certainly makes the moment hit a lot harder. In general the movie wasn’t afraid to go all out like in showing the war and how a lot of people kept dying in the bombings. The film was certainly ready to have a bit of a deeper look at what was going on during this time period that’s for sure.

Then with the creepy designs as I mentioned, Pinocchio looks like someone that you don’t want to bump into in a dark alley. The opening scenes of him smashing everything as he learns new words would have been absolutely terrifying to see in person. Then you have the fairy which brought him to life and the one in charge of bringing him back every time he dies. Both of them look like rather surreal creatures and ones that you would not want to cross. It’s a fun vibe all around and while the core plot is still the same so this isn’t suddenly turning into a horror film, you could absolutely have seen the film going that way.

While the townsfolk and government are still rather judgmental in seeing him as a potential soldier and threat, at least having him look dangerous does add a little to that rather than everyone just being super unreasonable the whole time. We don’t get the iconic moment of Pinocchio getting drunk and smoking when the bad influences get to him which is probably for the best since it makes him look a bit stronger morally. Pinocchio certainly still makes his mistakes here and gets manipulated but these errors are more about him being naïve than weak willed this time.

Pinocchio’s never going to be my favorite character in the film because of how easily he’s used but ultimately I would say that he’s still a decent character here. He is certainly trying his best the whole time and his nose even gets to be really handy by the end. The end of his character arc here is also a bit different because of the introduction of the immortality clause. Everything couldn’t be quite so smooth this time. So Pinocchio is brought back to life every time after he dies as I mentioned before and a big catch to this is the fact that he has to wait in the realm of the dead longer and longer after each death.

Now granted the ending changes things a bit but you have to wonder what this would do to his psyche over time. Just waiting there like that is intense and especially since there isn’t much to do. At least the death fairy seems really chill so that helps but it’s yet another reason why I wouldn’t want to be immortal. There are just so many catches and outliving everyone seems rather grimm to say the least.

Geppetto was a nice character as always. He went through a lot and never ended up cracking. The guy journeyed quite far to find Pinocchio after the guy was tricked by the circus and never gave up. Meanwhile the head of the circus made for an imposing villain as always. The guy loses a bit of his bite in this version only because you know he can immediately be overruled by the government general at any time. This guy wasn’t te head honcho villain this time around but seeing the government is always fun. It absolutely makes sense that Pinocchio would be seen as a powerful soldier at the ready because of his immortality and robotic parts. In a way he could help ensure that there are no human casualties in any other battle if they could reproduce him. Of course then you run into a lot of moral issues but this army didn’t care about those things.

Now while the animation style may have helped to set up the grimm tone of the movie, ultimately I still would have preferred hand drawn style. Stop motion to me just can never really compete with the more traditional styles no matter how polished it gets eventually. There’s just something about it that is less fluid and as a result you can’t get the same high speed movements. I would say the famous animated version that came out a long time ago still looks better than this one and it all comes down to style. Still it does work well enough.

Overall, Pinocchio is a story that you may have seen many times by now but I do think this adaption approached the story in its own way and as a result it was more memorable than usual. The film has a lot of replay value and it’s one I would enjoy checking out again. It does tackle some of the more serious aspects of what would happen if a doll could come back to life after all and the themes are handled well. It’s also a movie that you could easily recommend to anyone as it’s very accessible.

Overall 7/10

One Missed Call Review

It’s time for a retro horror film and One Missed Call definitely lives up to what you would expect there. It’s a horror film that plays it very by the numbers without a whole lot going for it beyond being…well a classic horror film. This one involves phones and a villain so powerful that it’s like you’re fighting against destiny itself. The film doesn’t have a particularly strong cast or memorable visuals to keep it afloat but at the same time it’s certainly not the worth horror film I’ve seen. I doubt I’ll even remember it too vividly several years from now.

The movie starts with the most intense scene in the film to be honest as a lady walks towards a pond when a giant hand emerges and drags her under. It also grabs the cat so the film decided to start off with an animal death for some bizarre reason. Leaving that aside for a moment though, the scene gave the villain a pretty intense design right off the gate and it was memorable. It reminded me of the Redead hands from the Legend of Zelda games. Unfortunately after this you will not see any memorable designs like that at all. In fact once we see the actual mastermind at the end of the film, the villain looks super unimpressive. Basically normal if you will and that’s no fun.

All right so back to the plot. Everyone is worried about the way the girl died and then another girl gets a voicemail from her number but it’s from a future date and has another girl’s voice. This girl promptly dies at the exact time of the voicemail and this “Phone curse” continues to spread. Each victim receives a call from the last victim with a voicemail dated at the exact time that the next victim will die. In essence the instant you receive this voicemail you are already dead which is a sobering thought unless you can escape destiny. Beth is the main heroine of the movie and she has a little time while all of her friends are bumped off. Once they are gone though then she will be next in the firing line. Oh I should also mention every victim gets a candy that they spit out after they die. Pretty random detail but its so random that it’s actually kind of interesting so I’ll give the film credit there. Of course it is explained later on but even if it wasn’t that’s the kind of randomness that can make the situation even scarier.

Fortunately she has the help of Officer Jack who believes there is something to this. Unfortunately the rest of the police don’t buy this so he’s on his own. Now it’s great that he believes since there is some evidence to support it at least but the guy is super sloppy. So the biggest potential evidence here are the phone calls right? Tangible calls that you could trace to see what is going on. Well…over halfway into the film he remembers that you can do this and looks them up but it was such a basic thing he could have tried from the start that it really stands out. You just think “Cmon man” because it would have been easier if the film just said all records mysteriously weren’t there. Really make this as supernatural as possible.

After all this is supernatural so why would it need to follow conventional rules anyway? Jack mainly does good here but I do have to say that one mistake so many characters make is putting their eye right next to the keyhole. Seriously even in real life you don’t want to do that because the door isn’t very well secured at all. Just being near it is a dangerously bad idea. Trust me on this, you do not want to do that! Just stay away from the door and he was probably doomed anyway but it didn’t help matters.

We do get the tragic backstory leading up to the origin of the curse later on and the film gets fairly dark with the lore as you’d expect. Again all fairly common for this kind of film but it also just feels rather forced. I think the movie should have actually not had a backstory for what was going on here. It’s way spookier for this to be happening for no real reason. Just give us a way to actually fight back and then you’re set. For example, that giant undead creature from the opening was super spooky so that’s all you need on the scares front. Have the team try to figure out a way to defeat it.

I knew the film would be cheating as soon as the Star Wars “Force Choke” scene happened. So one girl named Taylor had a really good idea. She allowed herself to be recruited by a supernatural TV show where they record people being possessed and try to save them. These guys may be crazy or scammers but now she’s surrounded at least right? Well the ghost/demon/mysterious villain shows up anyway and just chokes her using invisible intangible powers. There was nothing Taylor or anyone could do and that’s when I realized how futile this was going to be. The villain was too powerful.

In any horror film you have to try and balance out the villain being really powerful and imposing while also giving the heroes some kind of chance to fight back. There always has to be some hope or else why are you even watching right? If the only option is to wait around for your death then that’s inevitably going to get boring and so the film needed to introduce more of a weakness. Taylor’s death just felt unfair the whole time because unlike the other characters I actually thought her plan was as close to full proof as possible.

I haven’t talked much about Beth and in large part that’s because there isn’t a whole lot to say about her. She really stands for being your average everyday person just trying to get out of this situation but she doesn’t have much character beyond that. You’re hoping that she will get out of this in one piece but that’s definitely not a guarantee in a film like this.

Overall, I can see why One Missed Call wasn’t really a hit. The film wasn’t super balanced and didn’t always seem to know what it wanted to do. It’s a fairly serious film with an intense threat but the world wasn’t very fleshed out and there’s nothing to write home about here. While the film isn’t super violent, you definitely do have some intense deaths here. The dark backstory is also intense of course. I did like some of the spooky visuals like the Centipede and the hand in the opening scene but that was about it. The rest of the film just didn’t land and you should give this one a hard skip.

Overall 3/10

Konga Review

Konga is one of those films that ended up failing because it forgot the very premise it was supposed to execute. Why are you watching a film called Konga? Well…odds are that it’s because based on the title you want to see a really good giant creature film right? that makes the most sense but a super large chunk of this is about a super annoying scientist trying to have an affair with his student and this plot drags the whole film down. We don’t actually get the large Konga until the final minutes and it’s way too late by then.

The movie starts with the legendary researcher Charles finally getting back to the country after being presumed dead for a while. He has been living in the wilderness with a tribe learning more about animals and manipulating DNA. He figures that he finally has a way to turn Gorillas into giant monsters and this has a lot of possibilities for human evolution. His assistant Margaret was hoping he would finally be ready to settle down with her and they could start a family but it looks like that isn’t in the cards anymore. No, instead he is completely obsessed with only two things, his experiments and his student Sandra. Can Margaret put a stop to this guy?

I’ve got so many problems with this film but lets start off with Charles. He’s the main character but he’s such an unlikable villain that you are hoping he will be taken out soon. The guy wants to revolutionize science and yet he sets it back by murdering everyone else who were coming up with similar ideas. He claims to be completely focused on the job but then he tries to get with Sandra and makes that a priority. This guy doesn’t actually seem super serious/focused on his work so he becomes all talk by that point and it’s why you can’t respect him as a character. Even if he was a jerk you could at least understand what was going on if he was serious about his scientific advancements.

The instant he lost sight of that the guy was too far gone. Meanwhile I didn’t care for Margaret as the heroine either. For starters she didn’t jump in to protect Sandra when she was being attacked. Additionally Margaret allows herself to just be verbally attacked and ignored all the time. She likes Charles for some reason but you still have to stand up for yourself. She kept all of his affairs in order while he was gone and the guy never shows any gratitude. Instead he keeps making empty promises about how they will still get married some day and she believes them. She seems very naïve here throughout the movie.

Additionally Sandra is also rather oblivious the whole time. Charles isn’t very subtle about his flirting here and how he keeps trying to get her by herself. At first I figured she noticed and just didn’t mind but by the end we see that she hadn’t really considered this. Instead she thought her friend Bob was just being jealous when he tried to warn her multiple times. I don’t get how nobody sees the red flags on this character.

Bob at least decides to fight Charles and even has the upper hand during their skirmish. You can’t blame him as much for sparing Charles’ life because murdering someone is an absolute last resort and Bob wasn’t trying to go down that dark path. He was just put in a really dicey spot the whole time. He gets props for at least roughing the guy up a bit though. The other students were being too busy making fun of the guy to do anything productive.

All right, so what about Konga then? Well he’s stuck in the cage for over 90% of the film as Charles runs experiments on him and keeps saying how expendable the creature is. Naturally once Konga does break free he quickly makes sure to murder as many people as possible before being shot down but of course the issue here is that at the end of the day he’s an innocent animal being gunned down due to being put in the wrong place at the wrong time. It makes for a very somber ending right there and you really wonder what the point of the film really was. It fails as a creature feature film and the character cast was really weak.

The writing can be okay at times. I do still enjoy the old writing style and everyone sounds very polite and proper but you still can’t help but be annoyed. The film’s pacing is solid so it goes by quickly either way. There is definitely no reason to actually go ahead and watch this movie though. There are way better ones out there and there just isn’t anything in particular that would make this movie a must watch compared to others.

Overall, Konga may be a cool name for a film but this is not going to be the next Godzilla. Konga is a film that will likely be lost to the mysteries of time and that’s for the best. Definitely stay away from this film and remember that the main takeaway is to always be wary of announcing your secret research until it is ready. Otherwise you may get bumped off by a rival like what happened in this film and then that definitely would be a tragic way to go out.

Overall 3/10

Natsume’s Book of Friends Continued Review

It’s time to continue the adventures of Natsume and Nyanko. In season 2 we slowly continue to expand the cast and Natsume gets into more crazy adventures but at its core this is still a classic slice of life kind of adventure. So if you enjoyed season 1 then you will like this as well. I would say the average episode here is also stronger than its counterpart in season 1 so all in all there is quite a lot to enjoy here. The seasons definitely go by really fast.

For this season lets jump into the review on a quick episode by episode basis since we’re already familiar with the characters. The first episode has another Nyanko appear and so Natsume has to figure out what’s going on here and why he has run off with the Book of Friends. Is this an enemy to be scared of or just another Yokai pulling a prank? You never can tell right off the bat after all and the book of friends is quite dangerous in the wrong hands. It works well as a peaceful episode to start off the season. I would not say that the stakes or danger level are as high as in other episodes but usually you always start a season off with a rather calm adventure.

In the next episode we have a spirit get absorbed into a little snow bunny. This means that much like Frosty The Snowman his very existence is in danger when the weather starts to turn warmer. Natsume has to help him find another spirit but also keep this guy at arm’s length in case he’s actually trouble. It’s another fairly calm episode although as a nice touch I did like that Natsume’s mother figure made another quick snow bunny to keep his company. The guardians may not be his real parents but they are always very cheerful people and it’s nice to see them helping out. They do their best to make him feel at home even if Natsume isn’t 100% comfortable yet.

After that we get an episode where Nyanko doesn’t look very good since he allows an enemy Yokai to attack Natsume and nearly finish him off. It’s only thanks to the help of someone whom Natsume had rescued earlier that the hero managed to stay alive. Not a great look for the bodyguard who was supposed to still be on duty right? Nyanko definitely needs to learn how to keep his guard raised a little more if he really wants to protect Natsume when it counts. It was a good episode to show how even the little good deeds you do during the day can come back to help you in a big way. It was also almost nostalgic to see Natsume get knocked to the ground again even if that’s a little sad.

Someone on the blog once told me that it seemed like Natsume was knocked onto his back for over half the show and it does feel like that’s pretty much the case sometimes. He’s constantly knocked to the ground by all of these yokai to the point where it almost starts to get pretty funny. Seriously the guy just can’t catch a break. To an extent part of the issue is that Natsume does have a tendency to let his guard down which Nyanko calls him out on but sometimes there seriously isn’t anything he could have done. You have to keep in mind that most of these yokai are significantly stronger than the average human after all even if Natsume does have a mean right hook. Poor guy can’t even enjoy a day at the hot springs which is what the episode was about initially.

In another episode a mysterious egg appears and when it hatches a monster comes out of it. It’s a nice looking monster though and Natsume has decided to protect it from a mysterious yokai that seeks to have its master eat the thing. Natsume makes the right call here and decides not to sell out the egg. It’s one of the more tense episodes because Natsume isn’t the best liar but he has to keep this yokai at bay by acting as if he hasn’t seen the egg. He doesn’t really know what the monster will turn into either so he has to be careful but one thing’s for sure, giving it to the guy who wants to eat the monster would have been the wrong move so I’m glad that Natsume didn’t do that.

In the 5th episode we have a poor kid who is unable to move on because his name is tied to a tree. His only hope is a super cryptic message about the end of the world so it’s a good thing that Natsume is here to help. One thing I liked about this episode is how this is the realistic ending of how cryptic puzzles would play out. In most shows there are always a bunch of geniuses that solve these puzzles but what if you’re just some normal kid? Well much like this kid you’d probably have no idea what is going on and just be stuck. It shows how selfish it can be to rely on puzzles. Well that may not have been the actual moral of the episode but it’s certainly what I took away from it. It’s less of a danger episode and more of an emotional one but it works well.

Now we get introduced to a new character, Toru. She is a good addition to the main cast and immediately beats most of Natsume’s other friends. One of the reasons why she is good is because she is determined to solve problems on her own and isn’t waiting for help. She just goes on her own to fight a monster and try to come up with ways to win. It’s not easy either since she can’t actually see them normally and has to try and trick a monster into going into her magical circle. Not a very easy thing to do and even once that happens it’s not like she has super strength or anything like that. So as a result she is definitely on the back foot here.

Toru doesn’t give up though and for the rest of the season she is someone who can help out Natsume at times. Definitely the best supporting character as a result. It’s a little frustrating for Jun fans though because she is someone who would also like to help Natsume but for some reason he refuses to be honest with her. As a result she is one of the only people who doesn’t know about Natsume’s abilities and he keeps her at arm’s length. Not the place you really want to be and it also means that there is only so much that she can do to help. Even Kaname gets to help more and the guy barely appears in this season at all. He’s a good guy but he can’t see spirits either so that always puts him at a disadvantage.

After that two part adventure we had a story about a mermaid. Basically mermaids are real in the world of Natsume and their blood can give you immortality but as a result they tend to be jaded with humanity. At this point they just don’t get along and so one is so bitter that she may be about to murder her old friend. Natsume has to try and clear up 100+ years of misunderstandings and quickly before someone ends up dying here. Does he have the skills for that or is it all over for him? It’s a reasonable episode but the mermaid gets off a little easy considering that she really was going to try and murder the friend. Natsume may have changed her mind in the end but it doesn’t change the fact that she was completely willing to pull the trigger.

Next up is a story with a mysterious painting that starts to sprout in Natsume’s room. It can’t be taken off though and it appears to be making Natsume become fatally sick. If he doesn’t remove this soon then he is a goner but what can he possibly do? The odds are against him. There is another yokai that wants the painting but she isn’t able to take it off either. Nyanko could burn it away but Natsume forbids him from doing this since there is a mini monster inside the painting. All this leads up to the realization that this won’t be easy. It’s an interesting episode but a bit annoying with how this doesn’t feel like it should be such a big deal. Can’t they knock out the wall the painting is on and run off like that? At least once Natsume is super sick.

After that we have a yokai decide to get revenge on Reiko. See, way back in the day she destroyed him in combat so now the monster is here to get Natsume. The main character isn’t big on violence and doesn’t like fighting Yokai but this time his family is in trouble so it’s time for him to step up. It’s a pretty good episode to be sure and definitely one of the most intense. After all this time we have a yokai who wants to destroy Natsume. There are no doubts about this and so he is fighting for his life which isn’t always the case here. We also got to see a lot more of Reiko than usual so that was pretty cool.

As we near the end of the season, Natsume gets to meet up with a bunch of other people who can see yokai. For the first time he isn’t quite alone here and can meet likeminded people but it doesn’t go quite as he planned. They may have the same abilities that he does but they don’t really think the same way and so he leaves not feeling particularly fulfilled. This episode sows the seeds that he will soon need to choose between the humans and the yokai but how can he actually manage to pull this off? Also, should he really choose or is that something being pushed onto him? I liked this episode as it expanded the world building for the season and also set up the final two episodes pretty well.

The season ends with Natsume meeting a kid named Kai who was trapped in a chest. Natsume saves him and after some misunderstandings the kid realizes that Natsume is a good person. The one problem here is that Kai is a yokai so Natori has been called in to destroy him. Kai seems nice enough but his goal is to free a bunch of demons which does not sound quite so innocent. If Natsume does nothing then they could end up hurting a lot of people but if he helps Natori directly then Kai will die. It’s not an easy choice but time is against him so Natsume is about to be pushed in a direction one way or the other unless he can do something real quick.

These two episodes were the best ones in the season so it was a great move to end with them. First off we had a lot of action as Kai is easily the most powerful fighter that we have seen in the series. He can move at super speeds and can even fire off powerful energy blasts. That’s not something that just about anyone else here could do. In theory he could have easily beaten the whole cast including Nyanko if he was truly evil so it’s lucky that he wasn’t. Now that would have been a real problem. Fortunately Kai isn’t really a bad guy, just misguided. If not for Natori complicating things I do think that Natsume could have easily talked him down.

The ending also veers away from being tragic and instead it just works really well to wrap things up. I don’t recall Kai ever appearing again in the manga but hopefully I’m forgetting a story since I’d like to see him return. Natsume may have decided to support both the humans and yokai which will be difficult but it does feel like the right decision here. Natori looked real weak which definitely reminds you that in the war of humans vs yokai the humans are definitely on the losing side. If the Yokai ever decided to destroy the Earth humanity would be doomed so it’s fortunate that this isn’t happening. That would have definitely been intense.

As always Natsume is a good main character even if he’s a little bland. I still disagree with him giving some of the characters the run around about his powers though. Sure, some definitely aren’t ready for it and he doesn’t have to tell strangers but someone like Jun who basically knows? I don’t see the harm in telling her. Natsume also does get himself into a lot of dangerous situations which definitely makes things really hard on Nyanko. I think he could dial that back a little while still looking out for the spirits.

Nyanko on the other hand also lets his guard down a lot and often vanishes when Natsume needs him. So the issue is definitely not all on one person here. They get a lot of fun banter and Nyanko does often save Natsume when it counts but all it takes is one of these mistakes and that would be curtains. In theory there will be less yokai after Natsume the more that he gives the names back but in this season we still aren’t given any metrics for how many names are left so it definitely could be a long while.

The animation is pretty decent here. I still wouldn’t say that the show particularly stands out for the animation but at the same time there isn’t much to stand out with since this isn’t a particularly colorful show nor is it an action packed one. It’s a show with very muted colors that is trying to be fairly realistic outside of the whole yokai angle. The closest we get to some true action here is when Kai powers up before styling all over everybody. It never turns into bad animation which is the important part though. Meanwhile the soundtrack is also more on the forgettable side. There aren’t any really sharp themes and while the theme song is okay, it’s not one that will likely get onto your playlist any time soon.

I would say this show does a good job of fulfilling its objectives in what it set out to do. This is a slice of life show first and foremost which may have some danger on occasion but for the most part it’s about Natsume finally opening up and making some friends. That’s where his journey really starts and ends here. He’ll only continue to meet more people as he goes through his adventures and in a way that’s all that he has to do. By the end of the journey he will be able to look back at himself and see how much he has changed. Hopefully Reiko shows up soon. I like to think that she is a yokai that’s haunting someone at the moment. It just doesn’t feel like she is someone who would simply pass away without at least meeting Natsume first.

Overall, Season 2 is a good show and I would say it is better than Season 1. It has more high intensity episodes and it feels like the plot moves more. I would still need a little more out of this show to reach the next stage though. Either focusing more on the story than being episodic or throwing in some more humor here. This show is really easy to plug and play at any time which is a good thing but on the flip side none of the episodes are really the kind that would glue you to your seat. On any given day this would probably be getting defeated by another show airing at the same time. So you should watch this for a fun calming experience but it’s not really a big bingeable show which is what separates the good shows from the great ones.

Overall 6/10

Natsume’s Book of Friends Review

It’s time to delve into the anime version of Natsume’s Book of Friends. I’ve been reading the manga for a long while now and it’s definitely a slow burn type that could go on for a while. It’s more about the adventure and the different situations Natsume comes across than completing the story but I do think it’ll have a satisfying conclusion once it’s all over. Season 1 starts us off on a fun note with the character introductions. Right now the cast is fairly small so you get to have a lot of focus on Natsume. If you’re looking for a calming title to watch then this one should fit the bill. Each story tends to be rather emotional without being too sad so you are able to feel happy by the end.

The series centers around a kid named Natsume who has the ability to see Yokai. This is not an ability that he wants because it alienates him from the other kids. Of course he learned the hard way not to let the other kids or even adults know that he has this power but it can make for some embarrassing situations like when he has to run away from one. His only solace is to make it to a temple in time and the yokai can’t follow but the problem is that this can happen at any time. Still, he has tried to find a decent balance of this and leads a quiet if uneventful life. One day he comes across a demon in a cat statue known as Nyanko Sensei.

He agrees to help in exchange for eventually consuming Natsume’s soul or something. I forget Nyanko’s actual excuse but it’s one of those excuses where you know he’s not really serious. The yokai actually seems kind of lonely so now he has a friend in Natsume and Nyanko is very powerful so demons can’t mess with Natsume quite as much as they used to. Natsume then finds out that the reason why all of the Yokai are after him is because he has a legendary book of names. See, his grandmother stole a bunch of Yokai names into her book which basically bound them as eternal servants to her. Now this has been passed down to Natsume but he has no intention of ordering them around. He now has a goal, Natsume must return every name back over to the Yokai in order to grant them freedom and allow them to pass on. Some Yokai will happily agree while others may hold a grudge but he knows that this is the right thing to do. Can Natsume get those names back?

In a way you already know the end goal to this now but the series is clever in not letting you know how many names are in the book. So there could be 100 names in there or there could be 1000. We just don’t know. On average Natsume will release 1 name per episode but sometimes he’ll miss one and sometimes there will be multiple names. Either way the progress is steady but it’s like attacking a boss in a video game where the health bar is hidden. You just have to make sure to never lose heart and keep attacking but as a result the journey can be long. I would like the series to eventually say how many names are left but I know that is a narrative limiter in a sense since it puts an end date. No series should have to end until the writer wants it too so there’s no rush on this.

As I mentioned this is a very calm series. Each episode usually revolves around some kind of Yokai dispute or some kind of tragic event that happened to one and so the demon needs closure from Natsume before passing on. During the day Natsume still has to balance his school life and not let anybody know that he has these powers. I do think he could have at least let the heroine know since she was interested and clearly wouldn’t be giving him any grief about it. Well, maybe in the future I suppose. Don’t expect any big action scenes or much of an ongoing story here though because this isn’t that kind of title.

I also wouldn’t really call it a comedy. Sure the characters can have their moments but for the most part a slice of life drama sounds the most fitting and even then I would almost remove the drama part because it just has the wrong connotation to it even though I would say that is technically accurate. You’re here just for the adventures and to take in the atmosphere. As a result it’s going to have a lower ceiling than most shows and I would call it good as opposed to very good but it’s also a very safe show. You can’t imagine anything super questionable happening here and so it should never really dip. It’s a very consistent ride with no real bumps in between.

As a main character Natsume is okay. He’s a bit emotionless at the moment and in large part that’s due to what he had to put up with as a kid. Presumably he should be getting more and more expressive as the show goes on. He can throw a solid punch when necessary though and is a quick runner. He shows traces of a real personality at times but for now he’s more of an empty shell. A guy who does the right thing and acts pleasant but it always feels like a bit of an act. Of course as the viewer we know that he really is a nice guy but he just doesn’t know how to really interact with people yet.

Nyanko is the more entertaining part of the dynamic. My only issue with him is that he’s supposed to be a real bigshot among the Yokai and yet he never seems as impressive as he should be. I’d just like to see him dominating the others more but again this isn’t an action series so those moments would be a bit more limited. He likes to cause trouble and make an uproar but as much as Natsume acts annoyed about it, he’s probably glad to have a break from the endless peace and quiet he once had. Nyanko is always having fun and messing around which adds a whole lot of energy and excitement to the dynamic. He makes the show better just by existing.

Reiko doesn’t really appear in the present but she’s a big part of the story since the whole situation with the book started because of her. She clearly had a lot of talent and ability back in the day to trick so many Yokai. It’s hard to say just how nefarious she was. I don’t think she was oblivious at what stealing their names would mean for the Yokai but she also seems like a trickster who likes to mess around. So if she died suddenly which I think is most likely, then she had probably intended to return all the names before she passed. She just didn’t realize that in a way she was gambling with their futures but of course this is conjecture. We just don’t know much about her yet but I do think that she is fun. Hopefully she isn’t actually dead somehow and shows up one day.

Then you have Jun who is effectively the main heroine here. She suspects that something is off about Natsume and that he can see spirits but of course she can’t prove it. This is the only area where I was annoyed with Natsume because this was a perfect chance to share his secret. He already has Tanuma who basically knows. Of course that is because the guy has a bit of a 6th sense to him as well but I just don’t see the harm in telling Jun. She is quite persistent either way and will keep hounding him until she gets a satisfying answer. Not saying he needs to bow to peer pressure like that and tell her right off the bat but I just feel like he was being vague for no real reason.

Jun’s nice enough and hopefully she sticks around. Tanuma is also good. He’s a fairly quiet guy so he gets along with Natsume well enough. Natsume’s still more of a solo act though so the guy doesn’t appear a ton. Near the end we are introduced to Natori who feels like the only really major character beyond Natsume from the human side. This guy is a famous actor and yet he can also see yokai. He has an odd lizard spirit that runs around him all the time and the guy has a certain edge to him. Whenever he’s around you sort of feel like the overarching plot is starting to move a bit. This is a guy I absolutely wouldn’t trust if I was Natsume but at the same time I would try to use him in order to get some answers. This is the best time to pull that off after all and usually you see villains using heroes so why not try the other way around right?

The soundtrack is a bit on the weaker side. There weren’t really any standout tracks that I was tempted to look up afterwards. It’s not surprising as a calm show will have calm tunes but throwing in some kind of electronic theme would have been nice. The animation is also fairly basic but not bad. It shouldn’t be winning any awards in my book but you can always see what is happening and nothing’s off model. It works well enough to supplement the story and have you going smoothly through each episode. On a technical level the series does what it needs to in order to move on.

The 12 episodes go by really quickly. In a way it all feels like pre arc but that’s sort of the series in a nutshell. It’s basically an anthology series so how much you enjoy each season will likely depend on the cases within it. The stories in here are all fairly solid. There is even some danger on occasion like when Natsume leaves while Nyanko isn’t around and gets attacked. 9 times out of 10 it is never smart to leave without Nyanko but sometimes there isn’t a choice as Nyanko will just drift off on his own. Natsume’s punch always does a lot of damage to Yokai which hasn’t really been delved into yet. At least that is a way out for him, it’s an attack option that he can use as a last resort but he prefers not to use violence.

His family is nice enough. They aren’t his real parents but the two people who take care of him have really done their best. Natsume is still a bit traumatized to an extent so he tries not to worry them at all. He probably tries a little too hard so it’s almost like he’s hiding things from them but you understand the reason for this. The only time he really gets mad at Nyanko is when the cat breaks one of their object. You look forward to seeing him level with these two a bit more in the future. I feel like they would be more understanding than everyone else from his childhood just based on their temperament. Even if they didn’t believe him for example I don’t think they would treat him any differently.

Overall, Natsume’s Book of Friends is a good show. The episodes go by quickly and it’s something that you can plug in and play on the TV at any time. Due to the episodic nature of the show it’s not like you’ll have to try hard to recall what was happening last time. You can just jump into each adventure fresh and take it from there. A show like this could use a big plot or some fights to take it to the next level but it’s comfortable where it is at and executes the premise well. It’s a show that’s hard for me to picture being really disliked. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, at most you might find it boring but probably not bad. For season 2 I would just like to see a stronger opening and a more energetic soundtrack but if not I can still count on some fun stories.

Overall 6/10

The Witches Review

While I was not a big fan of the movie, I do think the poster is really sharp for this title. The colors are on point and it’s all vibrant so this really stands out. Definitely the kind of poster that would get you really hyped to see what was going on here and that this was not a title to be taken lightly. I think having an older main character could have really helped here or if you consider the grandma to be the lead then she should have been younger. Then we could have gotten more banter or some fun fights.

The movie starts out with Helga explaining to her grandson that witches are very real and they mean business. She once barely survived an encounter with them as they dealt injuries which will never heal. She scares him about all kinds of witch fun facts but his mom tells her to cut it out. The parents leave and are promptly destroyed so now Luke lives with Helga. Unfortunately Helga got diabetes though so the two head to a hotel which just so happens to be hosting the grand witches event. Every big witch is going to be there and if they recognize Helga then it’s all over. Even if they don’t though, they target any kid that they come into contact with and that would include Luke. Can Luke escape their fury or is he doomed?

I do like that the movie really set up its own lore about the witches and created the rules really quickly during the exposition at the beginning. Witches primarily go after kids and want to destroy them all. Kids literally smell bad to them which may be part of why they want to annihilate them. Beyond that Witches have all the usual spells you might expect but for some reason they don’t have a whole lot of confidence in their own abilities. Even the leader Eva quickly backs away when Helga, a senior citizen is around like when she tried offering Luke some candy at the beginning. I don’t think that one really made any sense because she should be able to easily crush any kid standing in her way. So what was going on here? What was the film cooking?

That’s why we needed different main characters so we could have some fights here. As it stands, Luke can’t do anything but run so he spends a lot of time running. The problem even with this scene is that he somehow outruns a bunch of adults while he jis just a little kid and not moving particularly fast. I thought that was a real stretch the whole time. Luke’s also a bit obnoxious as the main character like bringing his mice around to the hotel.

Mr. Stringer is treated like an antagonist but he is absolutely right that bringing rats to a hotel which specifically does not allow animals is not a good thing. Moreover, Luke actually takes them out of the room under the guise of teaching them new tricks and is completely unrepentant about this. He really gets into as much trouble as he possibly can and it’s hard to follow a main character like that. His immaturity makes him annoying rather than endearing and you know that he has absolutely no shot in a fight against any of the witches.

Most of the film follows him around so of course that limits just how exciting the whole thing can be. Then we have Bruno who Luke meets early on and they become friends. At least he’s more fun because he fully embraces the fact that he’s completely in the way and it makes for a decent dynamic. This guy eats parts of the food in the hotel and drags the reputation further into the mud. He’s every hotel owner’s absolute worst nightmare. He fumbles quite badly in the second half of the film though when Helga brings him to the parents so he can explain that he is a mouse now but the kid is quiet because he was busy eating. The kids can actually talk with their normal voices while being mice so it should be easy to prove their identity but of course he messes up their one chance.

Then you have Helga who means well but is just way too old to do much of anything. She doesn’t really have any fire or passion to her and so we don’t get any cool banter with the witches. Mainly Helga just avoids them until the witches are too small to defend themselves and she can land a winning blow. Of course that is probably how you have to play the matchup if you’re in her shoes but it doesn’t make me enjoy her character any more. She defends Luke even when he’s making the wrong choices and is a loyal grandmother but at the end of the day she is definitely not one of the standout characters here.

Although there were none so it’s a bit of a trick question. I did like Mr. Stringer at least, he was doing his best to run a good hotel and the odds were just against him this time which was unfortunate. He will have his chance one day though. Once the kids and witches are gone he will be able to rebuild. It is impressive just how many witches there were though, clearly this group is good at working under the radar. Considering that they have to wear human suits constantly it’s not an easy task.

Their true designs are definitely really grotesque though. I would have much preferred if they could have looked fierce or intimidating instead. I think good witch designs can absolutely work well and make for a really powerful scene in the audience when they transformed. Instead with this design they seem rather frail like they can be defeated at any moment. They also have a lot of infighting which ends up hurting them a bit as well. Ultimately they probably would have taken out a lot of humans in the short term but down the road they’d likely be stopped and once one of them slips up, it won’t be long before the humans catch the rest of them.

Overall, I think the issue with this film is that it has an interesting plot but one that can’t really be capitalized on with the main characters as they are. You just need better leads and that would instantly enhance the film. On the other hand there isn’t really enough humor to help the film get by as a non action title either. It ends up not being the most interesting watch as it all just feels a bit mismatched. Like the main characters would be more commonly found in some kind of slice of life film instead of dealing with a witch invasion. We do get a wholesome ending at least so there’s that but remake this as more of a full action movie or a mystery thriller and I think you would really have something here. Also you can cut out the whole turning into mice thing and give them a different plan. Lets not include the animals if we can help it since that can always be really dicey. They were mostly all humans here so at times it doesn’t feel as bad and injuries are mostly off screen but the last one was still a bit intense and having them die as humans would work better than dying as mice.

Overall 4/10

The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre Review

It’s time for a very old school supernatural type film that works really well. It’s definitely one of the biggest examples of a slow burner that you will see so I definitely suggest keeping that in mind. That said, if you really enjoy the slow build up and anticipation then this will be right up your alley. Particularly in the first half there is a lot of walking around and examining the backgrounds as the hero has to decide whether or not this adventure is supernatural or not.

The movie opens up with Nelson being hired by a lady named Vivia. Basically her husband believes he is being haunted by a ghost and Vivia needs Nelson to either get rid of the ghost if it is real or prove that it is all in Henry’s imagination. This is right up Nelson’s alley so he agrees but no worries he won’t charge anything if it turns out that the whole thing is a scam. That’s awful generous of him at least. Nelson is incredibly confident but is this confidence really earned or is he about to be in for a rude awakening? Only time will tell here.

I do love how sure of himself Nelson is though. You really do need to have that kind of confidence in this business or you’re going to be in trouble. No mind games are going to work on him, that’s for sure. This guy has been around the block a few times after all. If anything his only weakness is that he can be extremely slow to react to things. Like if a door is closing it will absolutely close all the way before he really notices. Still, he will be ready for a fight and that’s what counts although in his line of work things will rarely get physical. What’s a ghost going to do here right?

The first half of the film is when the movie is at its strongest as we walk through a rather huge crypt and the whole thing seems very spooky. It doesn’t go very well for Vivia as she is seemingly attacked by a ghost and panics but it is hard to deal with the supernatural so I’ll cut her some slack. Vivia is confident in her own right as well like when she declared that she would go back into the room by herself just to prove that she wasn’t scared. It may have backfired but the intent was on point. She’s a very mysterious character as well and the instant she appears a part of you absolutely has to write her down as a suspect. Surely she would be in a good position to be fooling Henry into thinking ghosts were around right?

Then you have the maid who is rather frightening. So much so that even though she works for Vivia, she scares her just by approaching. That scene near the beginning was probably the funniest moment in the whole film because out of context it just seems so crazy. Presumably the lady has been here for a while so why should her appearance startle Vivia so drastically? It’s not like she ran into the room either, she just calmly walked inside. I guess those things just happen sometimes. The maid actually gets a whole origin story taking place in the village with a case that could have been its own movie.

Basically Nelson was there as well on a prior case and the village wanted him to find out what evil sprit was there and to exorcise it. Unfortunately he determined that there was nothing supernatural there and it was a human behind the poisonings and trouble. This didn’t fly very well in the village and so Nelson was considered to be a scammer and the maid certainly felt that way to this day. So Nelson has to work at a slight disadvantage with Henry here since his reputation is partially shot. Unfortunately Henry is also completely convinced that there is some kind of spirit going on here and doesn’t give Nelson a great chance to make his case.

One detail I should add here is that the spirit appears to be Henry’s dead mother so that’s another wrinkle to consider. Why should she want to haunt him? Still there are a lot of things going on that are hard to explain conventionally. He receives calls from the phone installed by the dead mother’s grave and nobody should have the code for this line to work. Additionally the ventilators make sounds and then Vivia seems to get possessed at one point.

Yeah there may be more to this than meets the eye. There is also a lady who randomly shows up at one point and talks with Nelson but she vanishes soon after. I suspect if this series had kept on going as a TV program or a movie series she would have been a recurring character because otherwise that was the most random part in the movie. The writing is on point and the pacing is good so you have all the makings of a solid movie right here.

I would say the film’s only weakness is that after the first half it never captures that same spooky atmosphere that it did in the original. See, at first you’re jumpy like the leads because everything is cloudy and mysterious. Vivia waiting for Nelson in the dead of night while in the middle of the cemetery is spooky in itself because clearly she isn’t nervous about being out that late at night. The cars also get conveniently stranded fairly far out from the estate so if Nelson has to leave at any point then it will be more difficult than expected.

Then in the second half it’s more about the info dumps and while we still get strong dialogue from all the characters, it’s not very spooky. A lot of the scenes are in the daytime now and every character slowly loses their mystique. Maybe this was inevitable as we started to close out the case but I dunno it would have been cool to have kept this going just a little bit longer. Honestly having them get trapped in the crypt during the initial scenes could have been great and you have the whole film take place down there. That would be absolutely terrifying since nobody wants to be trapped in a crypt like that with someone they don’t even know.

Overall, The Ghost of Sierra is a pretty fun film. I do stress that you need to enjoy the slow burn kind of horror film here because it is fair to say that not a whole lot happens for a while. So there are going to be decent stretches of time where you’re sort of just waiting for something to happen and in a way the whole point is that you’re enjoying the atmosphere rather than the events that are going to happen. In that sense I feel like the second half fumbles a bit but it doesn’t lower this from being a pretty solid film either way.

Overall 7/10

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Review

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

Hansel & Gretel is definitely a very classic story that I’m sure just about everyone has heard of at one point or another. Doing a modern action film based on that premise could be a lot of fun. So on one hand they do succeed in adding a ton of action and it has a very Resident Evil/Underworld feel to it. Everyone’s wearing leather jackets and there is a lot of loud music as everyone just starts attacking. I always like the vibe but the film also decides to be quite over the top violent the whole time which ends up weakening it entirely. It’s a shame since otherwise I think this could have ended up being a whole lot of fun but instead it ends up being rather underwhelming.

The movie starts off with the origin story as Hansel and Gretel are abandoned by their father and a witch invites them to her house. For a long while she has them captured but eventually they destroy her and escape. They then decide to become witch hunters and are very good at it. They’ve slain so many over the years it’s almost like they are superhuman or something. Hansel’s one weakness is that he has magical diabetes so he has to take a shot every few hours or else he can’t move. One day they save an innocent civilian from being executed by a bunch of crazy townsfolk and prepare to stop the true enemy Muriel. The tough part about this is that she is one of the strongest witches in existence. Defeating her will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination.

It is hard to picture how the heroes lasted this long against the witches though because they just aren’t very impressive in a fight. Sure they have the gun and the crossbow not to mention that magical bolts don’t affect them directly (Strange isn’t it?) but that’s it. They still only have human level stats so you’d think the witches could overwhelm them with speed or manipulating the environment to choke them or something. They don’t end up doing any of that and every time they are defeated you have to shake your head a bit.

This gets even more drastic once Muriel steps in because she’s much stronger as I mentioned before. She moves so fast that it’s like she is teleporting and her energy blasts have a wide range to them. I get that she can’t use her mind control on the heroes but there are still so many ways to beat them. This is definitely an example of a movie where they made the difference between the heroes and villains way too drastic. You always gotta keep it at least a bit equal or the plot armor starts to show off too much. At least Muriel does make for a decently good villain though. She has a very concrete goal and takes steps to achieve it. Her plan wasn’t even bad so she put in a whole lot of work here.

Then we have Mina as the girl who was nearly executed. She gets a fairly big role in the film but ultimately ends up being very underwhelming. For the first half I actually just thought she was going to be a really powerful villain that the heroes had to worry about but as the film went on you started to realize that this might not be in the cards. She’s a character whose concept is a lot cooler than the execution. You got the feeling that she could end up being really cool but then the climax happens and that was it.

Likewise there is a white witch in the flashback who looks really bad. Basically like in Final Fantasy a white witch has healing powers while the dark witches use your classic attack spells. The problem is that the white witches are such pacifists that they literally refuse to lift up a hand to fight back even when they are being absolutely crushed. Not a good look if you ask me. There has to be a point where you are going to defend yourself because if you just let people murder you like that then I’m not going to like the character. It’s as simple as that.

Now there is a sidekick character named Ben who wants to help the main duo but he’s just annoying. For starters he lost any single shred of decency he might have had when he tries to take advantage of Gretel while she was asleep. I mean that’s case closed in one fell swoop. You just don’t come back from a blow like that, no shot! He mainly just exists to be the comic relief and doesn’t add anything to the film so you could absolutely cut him out and nothing would really change.

The heroes run into a troll named Edward later on who is nice enough. He helps out Gretel quite a bit which is always good and he means well. He may not be the smartest character out there but he knows enough to be of help when it counts. The guy has the physical strength needed to win almost any one on one fight and he seems like he would be a very loyal ally to have around so there’s no problem with him watching your back.

Then we have Hansel who is a good main character. He has quite the grudge against witches but who wouldn’t in his position right? The witch basically ruined his life and he will never be fully better again so after that it is really hard to forget such a moment. He can fight well which is the important part and is always looking out for Gretel. Likewise Gretel has Hansel’s back and they make a good team. She’s very confident and is always ready to press on in the fight. Their sibling dynamic worked well and isn’t one you see very often in the movies so that was fun. It’s why you could cut out Ben and just keep the dynamic duo banter intact.

Of course the film still has to squeeze in some romance which is why Mina steps in. This whole plot is very rushed and there just isn’t time for romance when you’re trying to take down witches. Lives are at stake and they also have to watch out for the corrupt townsfolk who are everywhere. So instead of pairing up and all of that maybe they should be focused on winning the fight ahead of them. That would have made way more sense at least and it could give them time to develop as friends instead. Yeah the romance should have been cut out.

As mentioned earlier the violence also could have been toned down a whole lot. Characters are being blown up and sliced and diced left and right. The film also goes for some downright gross imagery at different points as well like with Muriel forcing some guys to eat a bunch of bugs. Like did we really need to go there? Sure it shows how superior she is as a mage but cmon now. Then the film has to get edgy with all the townsfolk being brutes who go after Gretel at one point. The film is trying to be as extreme as possible at all moments and it works against the film.

Overall, Hansel & Gretel had some nice potential here. I liked some of the twists and the whole action angle was nice. I do think it could have ended up being a good film if it just showed some restraint. Instead it didn’t show any though and that’s what hurts the film a whole lot. There is no real replay value here and you’ll be cringing a whole lot. It’s time for another hard reboot to this series. You can still keep the witch hunter angle but the whole direction just needs to be changed. Hey, if you do that then you could have a winner on your side but in the meantime you should absolutely skip this one. At least the soundtrack is really good though.

Overall 2/10

I Married a Witch Review

With a title like this you can expect some fun and shenanigans. It’s a reasonable comedic romance film but at the same time it also could have been better in some respects. At the end of the day part of the fun in marrying a witch is having fun with the magic and trying to lead a normal life at the same time but the film doesn’t get to go into that much because it’s pursuing a different angle.

So the movie starts off with a rather serious scene as Jennifer and Daniel are taken down for the count for being witches. They get sealed in a tree for countless years but also curse the Wallace family so always marry someone that won’t be very nice. As the years go by this spell is still intact and then one day a bolt of lightning destroys the tree. Jennifer and Daniel are free to do whatever they want. Jennifer decides that she wants to ruin Wallace’s life herself by getting him to cheat on his fiancé with her. I’m not totally sure what the end goal here is after the humiliation period is over but maybe that’s enough. She is immortal right now so she could keep on messing with all of his descendants for the rest of time.

The main guy here is a man named Wallace and his life was pretty much figured out. He would marry his fiancé Estelle and live happily ever after. It’s hard to know what he really sees in her since she is portrayed as being rather mean and standoffish from the start. Perhaps there was just nobody else and he didn’t want to stay single forever? If so that’s definitely a shame because settling will often times be worse than going the journey alone. Settling is just the worst possible path there and leaves you in a very unsatisfying place in life. Still, that’s when there is a big fire and he “saves” Jennifer.

Jennifer isn’t used to having a human body after being away for so long and also seems to have lost some common sense initially as she barely even notices the flames and acts like it’s normal to be in a burning building. Still, now is the time to try and ensnare Daniel. To Daniel’s slight credit he resists a bit but I don’t give him a whole lot beyond that. He really should have just told Estelle the score from the start and gone from there. The more distance he puts between himself and Jennifer the safer he is. You can’t worry about rumors as long as you’re doing the right thing and if Estelle is soon to be his wife then she should be able to believe him when he says that Jennifer is following him around.

Where Wallace falters here is when Jennifer talks to him at night and he stays up just talking about life. Keep in mind that she is never able to give him the love formula so he is just falling for her here while he is still engaged. It’s not a good look for the guy at all so even though her feelings were genuine by the end, you can’t root for them to be together. This was all way too fast and feels like a huge rebound. You also have to account for how desperate she was to get him the whole time. He just looks really flaky because of this. The guy is trying to run for governor, he doesn’t have time for any of this.

Meanwhile Jennifer isn’t the best character here as her goal to start with was really petty. Is she really going to spend all of eternity going after the same family? You also have to consider the fact that the descendants have nothing to do with the original crime so it’s not good to punish innocents like that. She’s a full villain from the start even if she isn’t quite as strict as her father. She doesn’t really have a full redemption arc in the sense that I don’t know if she really learned that what she did was wrong. She just likes Wallace now so she won’t be messing with him anymore and is trying for him for real. The crazy thing is from his point of view he can’t see any difference, she is trying for him in the same ways all film, it’s just that in the first half it was to sabotage him while in the second she likes him. Not that it matter much to him though.

Her magic is also pretty good like with the mass hypnosis she has. Then Daniel is able to burn any building to the ground in an instant. Not too shabby, with abilities like that it’s hard to see the witches being stopped by the humans anytime soon. If anything I’m surprised that they were stopped the first time too. You’d think that they could easily dodge any kind of trap and counter right away. For now I’ll say that they just lowered their guard at the wrong time similar to how Daniel was taken down because of that. When you have great powers then you really have to be careful.

Estelle isn’t likable from the start. You still feel bad that Wallace would jump away so quickly when they were just about to get married though. You assume that he already knew about those qualities of her and still wanted to marry her after all. He just ended up going to the rebound and that’s all there was to it. The romance is just not good as a result but the film holds its own thanks to the fun humor here. It is a movie that goes by very quickly and in a way it is nice to see Wallace talking tough at first even though you know that he’s doomed. Initially he thought she was sent by the political rival which actually tracks but of course he ended up being wrong on that one.

Overall, I Married a Witch is the kind of retro, charming film you would expect it to be. The characters aren’t the most likable but they do have good banter the whole time. You may not appreciate the romance but at least the tough talk and posturing before that is good as Wallace is determined not to fall into this. You may know that he will inevitably fail but the journey is still a fun one. I would say a longer period of time of Jennifer trying to convince Wallace that she is a witch would have been fun though. There is so much you can do with those abilities!

Overall 7/10

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 0/10