Night of the Living Dead Review


Night of the Living Dead is quite the title right? I imagine that just about everyone has to have heard of this film. The zombies owe a whole lot to this one. It’s a pretty interesting look at the classic horror feeling of knowing that you’re surrounded and there’s no way out. The film does start to go into edgy territory towards the end though trying to be more gritty than necessary. It definitely fumbles the landing and while it will keep your attention, I wouldn’t say this is a good movie. One character in particular also gets pretty annoying very quickly.

The movie starts with Barbra and her brother visiting a grave. He’s trolling her as usual when a guy starts walking towards them. He jokes that the guy is here to murder Barbra and unfortunately he’s right. The brother is able to distract the guy long enough for Barbra to get away but is murdered in the process. She escapes to a house but unfortunately there are a lot of these zombies running around. A man named Ben shows up and he’s also been on the run from these guys. He tells her that they have to make a stand in the house for as long as possible and boards things up. They’re not along though as it turns out that you’ve got Harry, his wife Helen, Tom, and his wife Judy along with an injured kid who got bit by one of the zombies. If you’re familiar with your films on contagions and stuff, being bit is never a good sign. Can the heroes really make a stand here or are there just too many zombies?

The toughest part about these kind of scenarios is that you don’t know how many zombies there are or how long you have to hold out. These questions nag in the back of your mind the whole time. It’s part of what makes titles like The Walking Dead or Resident Evil so popular. It’s easy to get behind a survival story as you try your best to stay alive as long as possible. I’d argue that it’s part of the appeal of Fortnite as well. It’s just fun to test your limits. Where the film goes wrong is in the more shock value type scenes. We actually see the zombies eating people which can be pretty graphic. There are quite a few scenes where you see them chomping on limbs and such. It definitely makes you shake your head because it really wasn’t needed. The atmosphere is enough to really make you feel the fear of the zombies and why they are so intense. You don’t need to throw the violence on top of that, it’s just not necessary.

As for the characters, well Barbra definitely stands out in a bad way. After the opening scene where she does a good job of running for safety and doing what needs to be done, she freezes. Now, the adrenaline has run out by now so I do expect a little crash. The worst part is that the crash lasts for pretty much the entirety of the movie though. She never gets to a point where she is a fighter after that and has no good ideas. It’s a shame but she definitely doesn’t help matters as the main heroine. Then you’ve got Harry who just likes to argue about everything. His idea to stay in the shelter is pretty terrible.

Here’s why it’s an awful decision. When you go down there you have absolutely no exits. It’s blocked by a locked door..and that’s about it. The zombies will eventually punch through and you don’t have a lot of options after that. Ultimately you would have to go back into the house anyway but this way you don’t have any protections and the zombies can be anywhere. It’s obviously a smarter idea to lock up the house and do what you gotta do. If you do have to escape it’s much easier to do when you’re already up and about as opposed to hiding in the basement. So it’s no secret that I was completely against Harry’s plan. It just makes no sense. Then you’ve got Tom who was at least willing to help. It takes Tom a little while to actually pick a side but he ultimately does which is the important thing. He never goes traitor the way that Harry does. Then you have Helen and Judy although their roles aren’t huge. Judy sort of cracks while Helen does well although it takes her a while to make a move.

That leaves us with Ben who’s certainly the most experienced member of the group. He’s been taking down zombies for a while not and knows how to fight them. He’s definitely fed up with everyone right now though and feels like they’re holding him back. They definitely do slow him down quite a bit between Barbra freezing and Harry actively trying to murder Ben. Ben handles the zombies pretty well for most of the film although at the end I’d say that he got a bit sloppy. I suppose there’s not a whole lot he could have known about the situation though so I’ll give him some slack there. It made for a pretty intense ending that’s for sure.

I was glad that we actually got to see the government get involved. It feels like a lot of the time you don’t get to see a whole lot from them here. It makes sense that they would be gearing up to stop the zombies though. The scenes of the professionals discussing things and making plans was nice. It’s always good to see everyone banding together to stop a threat like this and humanity is united rather well. I do feel like they would be able to defeat the zombies rather easily when you think about it. A head shot is all you need and the zombies are incredibly slow. As it stands I feel like the main characters should have been a little less nervous about things at times as you could pick them off pretty easily. Honestly if Ben had one more fighter with him then they probably could have just taken them all down. With two people it’s a lot safer to actually go in and start bashing the opponents. With 1 you gotta be careful since they do have a little super strength so any good hit could turn the tables.

Overall, This is probably still a better film than most zombie titles. It’s not exactly one of the better horror genres if you ask me so for the most part this one was rather decent. If they would just tone down the cannabalism and the violence then this could even be a winner. You even have the horror twist type ending which is always classic. Throw in the brief Sci-Fi angle and the government part and there is definitely a whole lot to enjoy here. I get the feeling that this will end up beating the sequels as well. If you want a suspenseful film about trying to survive in the middle of nowhere then this is probably an appropriate one to check out. Otherwise there’s always the original Home Alone about defending yourself against powerful forces while all on your own.

Overall 3/10

Spellbreak Review


It’s time to look at a new free to play that finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch. It’s effectively Fortnite with magic. Instead of 100 players it seems to be in the 40s per match. Initially I thought maybe there just weren’t enough people logged in but I played 3 battles and it was always around there so I’m thinking that’s just how it was set up. It’s a pretty fun game for sure. In some places you can tell that it’s not super polished with menu layouts and such but the gameplay is on point which is what counts here. You are sure to be in a good spot if you choose this as your next big title. While Fortnite exists I feel like that’ll still be the go to game but this could be a nice change of pace option.

When you enter the game you are thrown into a tutorial on how to learn the moves. It’s not possible to skip this but that’s fine since its fairly short and there are a number of things to take note of here. You have two main attacks, your quick magical spell and your wide range one. Additionally aside from that you’ve also got the ability to fly briefly and can obtain a technique. These techniques range in rarity which determines how often you can use them. I highly recommend using the teleportation technique. It’s incredible handy since you can just vanish a little whiles away and it’s tough for people to catch you. There are a lot of abilities like invisibility, flying, super jump, but teleport is definitely the best if you ask me.

So when the match is first starting you can decide where you want to land. I typically pick somewhere in one of the corners. You are also able to see if anyone else has chosen that spot which is pretty neat. So you can decide to land somewhere where there will be an instant firefight or go somewhere else. Of course people could switch at the last second so that puts you in a tricky spot. You just have to go with your gut and be ready to run and hide or stay and fight. Either way you should be in a pretty decent position if you think about it. Each element has a different set of strengths and weaknesses so choose the one you will be riding with very carefully.

Surprisingly I went with Ice instead of fire this time. Typically I like fire because it makes for a very aggressive style but the summary for ice sounded too good. Effectively you shoot slower but massively powerful strikes at your opponent. If they take a direct hit from an ice move like that then they are going to lose a whole lot of health. It’s far too early for me to say if it really s the best element but at the very least I found it to be highly effective and that’s exactly what I was looking for. You really just can’t go wrong here and that’s what I like to see. Other elements include poison, rock, and thunder.

One worrisome part I would say is that the game’s prices are rather crazy if you plan to spend money here. One of the DLC packs I saw in the Eshop was 120.00 bucks. There’s no way any DLC should be that amount of money right now and you can’t help but feel like it’s a ploy to get people to buy it accidentally. It’s just very slick to me. Spending that much money in one shot would really be something. Hey, if you enjoy the game that much then that’s good but otherwise I just can’t imagine how you would spend so much so quickly. Maybe it’ll go on discount at some point.

The graphics are definitely on point. I would say it looks around early PS3 level which is good for a F2P. The energy effects are good and you can always tell what is going on. The field you’re playing on is quite large so there’s definitely a lot to explore and chests to open. I recommend opening a lot of chests since they help with XP. In this game XP actually effects your abilities to a degree so I highly recommend leveling up when you can. Wins should help with the XP as well although I can’t say that I remember the breakdown.

There’s a solid amount of replay value here of course. That should be no surprise though, free to play games always tend to have a lot of content. It’s how you ultimately stay relevant after all so it’s basically necessary to do this. With the online features and future updates this is one of those games that never really needs to end. It can just keep on going and going for as long as you need it to. I’ll be curious to see what it does to try and stay in the spotlight since it’s brand new and already you don’t see people talking about it all that much. Perhaps it just needs some time for everyone to start finding out about it and getting on board.

Overall, Spellbreak is a pretty fun game. I didn’t play it a whole lot but enough to get the right vibe from it. It’s one of those cases where I doubt you could balance both this one and Fortnite for very long though. That means you will have to make a choice before long. I hope the game does well though because the more battle royale games we have the better. It’s a fun genre and there’s just so much you can do with it. I love the idea of using magic blasts and the other elements to fight through. I did win 2 of my 3 battles also so that definitely feels good. The game is very well balanced and I imagine it’ll continue to add more and more content as it goes on.

Overall 7/10

Boris and the Dark Survival Review


I’ve had this game downloaded for quite a while but it took me a bit to have enough time to really play through it. It’s a pretty fun game and definitely worth a shot if you got it while it’s free. I wouldn’t recommend paying money for it though as the gameplay is a bit on the limited side. It’s good to see Bendy expanding its horizons though and with at least 2 mobile games that’s more than most franchises have. At this point in time I don’t think there’s any reason for a franchise to not have a mobile game. It just makes so much sense to pop out a couple of them in.

The gameplay is effectively an overhead version of the classic Bendy game. You have to move through the rooms of the floor to find 6 objects. After you find around 4 you run the risk of Bendy showing up. Grabbing all 6 guarantees an appearance so you need to run to the elevator as quickly as possible in order to escape. There are a few charge terminals across the floor that you can hide in but they’re pretty much pointless once you have all 6 objects. If you didn’t make it to the elevator in time then there is no way to win. Bendy waits right outside the door for you and you’re basically soft locked out and just need to let him finish you off. Win or lose then you repeat the game from the elevator.

Each time you start the game there seems to be a different room loaded up so that’s pretty neat. There isn’t really much of n ending as far as I can gather as collecting the 6 items just gets you ready for another round. It’s possible that collecting the items of every room will get you some kind of cutscene but I’m not so sure about that because the rooms are generated randomly. Perhaps a room you’ve completed won’t appear anymore but that seems rather sophisticated for a mobile title. So if my gut it right, then the game is really more about seeing how many runs you can do in one shot or something like that. It’s all about beating your previous score.

The gameplay is pretty smooth although moving the character is difficult. This is where it would have been good to have that mobile controller people always talk about or maybe even the PS4 one since it apparently works with a lot of games now. Whenever I would move the control stick it just wouldn’t stick with me so I would end up freezing. The levels are pretty short at least which definitely helps a lot but otherwise that could have been pretty tricky. I think expanding the control stick on the menu would have helped a great deal to make the moving process a bit more smooth.

The graphics are fine. It’s going for a bit of a dark aesthetic so they won’t particularly standout or anything like that. It does a good job of keeping the main game’s look and feel though which is good. It shows that mobile games have really come a long way and you can turn just about anything into a mobile creation if you really want too. The soundtrack is more on the nonexistent side though. You won’t really recall any themes afterwards.

Overall, Boris and the Dark Survival is a fun little game to check out. It’s definitely a bit limited though which is what ultimately holds the score back. You’re just not going to be sticking with this game for very long which is unfortunate. I think throwing us a bone with some story details or a few cutscenes would have really gone a long way. Right now it just feels like there is no real replay value. Still, if you’re a big Bendy fan then it’s probably worth checking it out. I was able to check it out while the game was still free so it was definitely worth it. If you have to pay a price to play the game now then I would definitely double think it a bit. You may just want to wait for the next full Bendy game which should be coming out fairly soon at this point.

Overall 5/10

Arctic Fury Review


It’s time to look at a really old film. While this may not be the oldest film I’ve seen it certainly felt that way. Everything about this film feels incredibly old and unfortunately not in a good way. There isn’t much of a cast so we don’t get to take advantage of the usual high level of dialogue you would expect from an old film. The whole plot involves a lot of animals as well which is a recipe for disaster. In the end this movie was a big miss.

The movie starts by introducing us to one of the world’s greatest doctors. His name is Thomas and he has just arrived home in time for his daughter’s birthday after a long time abroad. He is ready to finally have some fun, but is then alerted to the fact that a village is being hit with a powerful illness. Thomas warns these guys that his plane is in no condition to fly, but they don’t have another option so he takes the flight. Thomas crashes halfway through to the village and must now try to survive in the arctic by himself. Hoping to be rescued is a long shot so he must use all of his medical expertise in order to get past this.

The entire film is Thomas’ journey. In general I can’t really say that survival films are really my thing. They can be interesting and all if handled extremely well, but that isn’t the case here. The arctic makes for a better backdrop than the jungle in some ways, but it’s still no city. You’ll have to try and focus on the landscapes to keep yourself entertained since there isn’t a lot of dialogue. His two pets bears were fun and at least gave the film a little more of an adventure kind of spirit. It was a better move than having Thomas on his own even if it makes the film pretty tense the whole time since you’re worried that something’s going to happen.

The film managed to show some restraint most of the time. Even when the bear got knocked over by the avalanche he ended up surviving which was a key part. Likewise the bear cubs were okay in the end. The only pretty sketchy part was the climax with the dogs. They were all crazed with hunger and then some got trapped in the burning building. Even assuming most or all of them survived the film made it clear that they wouldn’t be alive for long because of how sick they were. It’s definitely a way to try and make the situation a little more depressing but this is the way to destroy your film, not a way to enhance it.

Thomas seemed like a pretty reasonable character. He doesn’t go crazy which is an important first step and getting past the arctic is definitely not something that would be very easy to do. When you consider all of these pieces then he did a perfectly reasonable job here. I had no real qualms with him. He’s not the most interesting lead out there, but he didn’t have an opportunity to really develop his character so you can’t fault him all that much. The other characters didn’t really get a chance to do anything except for his wife who never gave up hope which is important. At least she believed in him while everyone else quickly wrote him off as dead and continued about their business.

This movie is also incredibly short. It’s only about an hour give or take so it should pass by very quickly right? The movie feels a lot longer than it actually is though so I can’t give it much props when it comes to the pacing. Perhaps this is one genre that old films will be put at a disadvantage with since newer ones will be able to give you more detail and interesting backdrops to the survival aspect. I’d need to see more survival films to be sure of this though and in general it is a tough genre to get right no matter what genre you are in. Perhaps we could ditch the narrator as well. A good one can amplify the scenes like in DBZ but you don’t really need one depending on the genre. There was no hype to be built here.

Overall, Arctic Fury is not really my kind of film. I can see some people enjoying this if they really like the concept of having to survive on your own against overwhelming odds. That kind of thing is okay for an episode or two but I just don’t think you can do a whole film with that premise. Maybe if it were two guys stuck since at least you would be able to have banter between them. Otherwise it just doesn’t work for me. Not much happens here and to survive you always have to eat animals which doesn’t do wonders for the movie. Whether it is just fish or not you still realize that the film is racking up Ls.

Overall 3/10

Predator Review

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

It’s time to look at the 80s movie that started it all. I’m not the biggest fan of the Alien series but I always thought the Xenomorphs were cooler than the Predators. Their design just can’t be beat. Still, I hadn’t seen their solo movies before so it was time to change that. It basically plays out like you would expect. It’s a lot classier than Alien 3 but at the end of the day there are unavoidable errors that the film will bump into due to its nature.

The film starts off with Dutch and his group getting called back to base. The commander quickly explains that they have to go into enemy territory and free the hostages that were captured after they wandered past the border. Also, the group has to take local pencil pusher Dillon with them. Dutch isn’t happy about this but orders are orders. Unfortunately as the group gets deeper into the jungle they start to realize that this mission wasn’t what they were expecting and the real enemy may not even be human.

It takes them a long while to actually realize that there is a Predator around and even longer to realize that he is wearing a cloaking suit. While this is annoying it isn’t unreasonable considering how far fetched the whole thing would seem at face value. As a result the heroes don’t really stand a chance for a while there.

The Predator is fast and has a cool cannon, but he isn’t bullet proof so if you can get the shots off quick enough then you’ve still got a chance. Problem is that his cannon is basically automatic so it is hard to fire before he gets his shot. Also at night he absolutely has the advantage since he can see while the others have to fumble around.

The Predator definitely does have more character than I expected. Again, I saw him in the crossover but I don’t remember the Predators laughing there or copying voices. In this one they can do all of that which is pretty neat. In particular the laugh is definitely pretty fun. On the whole I definitely like the Predator more than I did from the crossover. I still prefer the Xenomorphs but these guys are worthy rivals.

Unfortunately the film does step into the unfortunate error of adding in a bit of animal violence. As always it is a very forced scene that should never have made the cut in the first place. The boar didn’t ask for this! It’s not a terribly long scene but it definitely doesn’t help matters. Also holding the film back is naturally how violent it is. With characters getting skinned and being mangled throughout you can expect a whole lot of violence. It’s fairly tame before the Predator shows up but then he starts it all with a bang.

The character cast isn’t too bad though. I definitely did like the main character Dutch. I never knew that the meme of the handshake was from this movie so that was pretty cool. Dutch was a good leader who could think on the fly and kept coming up with new plans over and over. He’s definitely the kind of guy you want to have around as he won’t desert you no matter the situation. It’s easy to see why he is known as one of the in the field. It’s clear that he and the group weren’t gonna lose to the other humans. He doesn’t get to let loose with too many puns and one liners this time around, but the ones that we do get are pretty good.

One of the more annoying characters is definitely the friend from the old days. Dillon definitely become just another government drone you can’t trust by this point. He also isn’t used to recon missions like this one so he is pretty sloppy at times. Even once Dillon finally decides to go for his hero move by the end it is simply too late for him to be likable. Better than nothing I suppose.

Predator definitely gets some respect for developing so many of Dutch’s squad here. Usually in these films you get the main character but then the rest are basically expendables. While Dillon wasn’t very likable he certainly did get his character arc. Likewise, Mac got a lot of screen time as he tries to avenge one of the other members of the group. He definitely did get a little overconfident in the end which cost him big time though. Never underestimate the Predators! Then there’s Billy who knows something isn’t right from the start but doesn’t do enough about it. In his defense, there is only so much you can really do. I do think he handled the ending pretty badly though. I’m thinking his rationale was to fight the Predator one on one without a gun so in close quarters he would have a chance, but that was never going to happen. It’s off screen so we don’t know if the Predator went the honorable route or not, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he just shot the guy.

Also the premise is just a lot of fun. It’s basically like the Hunger Games except it’s one guy against everyone else. You’ve got the numbers advantage but the person doing the chasing always has some advantages of their own. It’s easier to pick people off when they’re in a group. The whole survival aspect will keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s why it is a shame that the film is so violent since you could just keep all the murders off screen and that would help a lot. This could easily be the kind of horror film that actually ends up being really good. Even the writing isn’t as terrible as you’d expect although the TV version does make it look a lot better than it actually is since they block most of the iffy parts.

Overall, Predator makes for a fairly enjoyable watch at times but definitely is still not a film I would recommend. Even edited down for TV the violence is pretty over the top. It’s definitely a very brutal survival film and as long as you can get behind that then you’ll like it. I’m thinking that the next Predators film will probably have a tough time matching up to this one though since this one probably took the franchise as far as it could go. Still, it’s never over til it’s over!

Overall 2/10

Cast Away Review


It’s time to look at a survival film. These are fairly hard to do. There are the easy ones where it’s a group of people stuck on an island inhabited by giant monsters or an enemy clan. Those can work because you’ve got a lot of dynamics at play. Then you’ve got a survival film like this one which is tricky because there is only one character on the island. As a result you run the risk of the film just being boring and unfortunately…that’s exactly what happens here. There is some spoilers for the ending of the movie below so you have been warned.

The film starts off pretty strong as we meet Chuck and see that he is a pretty fierce FedEx mail guy. He is pretty obsessed with his company being able to meet deadlines and wants them to achieve more. His advice seems to be working and so Chuck gets ready to make one last delivery/meeting before going back home for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately the plane he is on crashes and now he is stuck on an island. He’ll have to try and survive for a long while as there is no way to get off this island and people may not find him for a long while. Can Chuck pull this off?

The film has a good beginning and an interesting ending. The problem here is the middle. As soon as the plane went down the movie basically went right along with it. There’s just not much to see or enjoy about Chuck’s isolated vacation on the island. There’s no one for him to talk to and not a whole lot for him to do either. As this is the bulk of the movie you can see how it gets old fast. It’s basically all of the usual survival tropes. He tries to make a fire, tries to make a boat, etc. Each attempt injures him further which makes all of his activities a lot harder than they would be otherwise. His attempts are pretty good for the most part and he’s definitely a creative guy so he is able to make things work out. You can respect that from his character, but again it doesn’t make for interesting viewing.

I’ll give the movie credit for not being nearly as gross as a recent film where a girl is stranded on a rock with a shark nearby, but it still does do some iffy things like having a crab get stabbed and eating raw fish. These scenes did the film no favor. It takes what could have been an easy 7/10 film and drops it a few stars until it’s under the baseline. If you want to do a survival film, you’ve got to have at least 2 characters. Yeah, you run the risk of adding romance to the movie but at least you can have some dialogue and maybe even throw some humor into the mix. With just one person there is no chance of that and it’s pretty much a waste for Tom Hanks since dialogue is his strong suit.

As I mentioned, the beginning of the film is pretty solid. It establishes Chuck as a pretty likable character. It’s a charismatic opening and the film has a lot of fun with the scenes. The writing is solid and a whole film could have been made about Chuck making the delivery times faster. Then once he gets off the island it’s like the film finally restarts. Of course now it isn’t quite as fun since everyone moved on without Chuck. His fiancee is gone and it’s like he has to start life over from scratch. At least he kept his job, losing that would have probably made the ending a little too grim. It speaks well to the company as FedEx just looks really good here. They even throw him a nice party and while part of that is for the PR, the guys in the office just seem like a lot of fun.

The movie does drop the ball with the climax though. As mentioned, the fiancee is with some other guy now and at first the movie is pretty tame here as Chuck accepts this and calmly tells her goodbye and wishes her well. Then she runs out of the house and cheats on her current husband one last (presumably) time. I think that scene didn’t need to be in the movie. She made her choice and now she needs to live with it. She makes it pretty clear that the new guy is just a rebound, but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Also, the fact that the other guy used to know Chuck just makes it worse. The fiancee moved on pretty quick after all since she already has a kid and it’s only been 4 years so that means she probably waited 2 years max. That’s a fairly quick rebound.

At least now Chuck will be able to focus on his job again. He’s definitely a solid employee as he gets right back into the field. The ending shows that he now has a passion for the work again and I expect he’ll be making a lot of deliveries. He also gets to meet the person who indirectly saved his life through the colorful package that he found on the island. I think that person could make for a good friend although I imagine that Chuck won’t be making a rebound anytime soon.

Overall, Cast Away is a film where the actual premise is really what held it back a bit. The characters are fun and all, but it feels like the film hits the pause button early on as we’re stuck on the island for an extremely long amount of time. Cutting part of that time out would have helped the film quite a lot. Being stuck on an island like that just limits the film’s opportunities. If you like films about experiencing nature and such then check this one out. If you’re hoping for a lot of fun dialogue and situations then you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Overall 4/10

Astra Lost in Space Review


It’s time to look at a space exploration manga that is pretty unique compared to the other manga titles I’ve read in the past. I haven’t actually read a classic sci-fi adventure like this one before. It’s a pretty fun premise and I don’t think the series ever overstays its welcome. It’s just a solid series all around. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way, but I don’t believe any of them would hurt the series upon a re-read. If anything you’ll probably just examine all of the interactions even more.

The series starts with a group of kids getting ready to go to camp. It’s a planetary style camp instead of a traditional summer one as this series takes place in the future. The leader of the group is a guy called Kanata. He’s a very outgoing guy who is always filled with confidence and he is determined to make this the best camp experience yet. Everything he planned goes out the window though when a portal appears and swallows everyone up. They all appear millions of light years from their planet and nearly die, but fortunately they put their helmets on first. They manage to get onto a nearby space ship and must now try to make their way back. Unfortunately the ship is low on fuel so they’ll have to make many stops along the way. This will be a very dangerous journey and none of them were exactly prepared for this, but they’ll try their best.

Kanata must lead the group and get them all to team up. On his team he has an airhead, a sullen teen with a bad attitude who has a gun, a super shy girl, a really mean girl, an overconfident genius, a rich guy, and a mild mannered being who transcends human limitations. This would be pretty easy, but Kanata has to keep one more thing in mind which forces him to keep his guard up. The controls to the ship were sabotages which is partially why they have to make so many stops. Someone intentionally caused the portal to send them into space and then someone sabotaged their ship after they got one. Clearly one of the students in the group is a traitor who intends to destroy them all and Kanata has to find out who it is before they’re all space food.

Kanata makes for a pretty good main character. He’s definitely very gung-ho and is always giving the other characters good lessons in life. They may seem obvious at first, but they’re all true and it works as a great morale booster. I think it’s fair to say that without him the crew would have absolutely been doomed. They just wouldn’t be able to make it ahead without his natural leadership skills. At first he and Aries have a gimmick where they mishear things or say something that’s a little off from what they mean, but fortunately this vanishes pretty quick. There’s pretty much nothing not to like about Kanata. If anything he probably forgives people a little too quick which is definitely a quality most leads tend to have.

Aries is a reasonable heroine. Her perfect memory is definitely a good skill to have and comes in handy more than once. Like Kanata she can be a bit of an optimist which sometimes works like a weakness. When the characters are trying to get to the bottom of some truths and plot twists she always tries to stop them so the atmosphere doesn’t get too tense. I can understand that but at the same time this is information that they really need to know sooner than later. She can also get a little upset at Kanata even when the lead didn’t mean to do anything. He just has no time to worry about personal dramas when he’s saving the ship.

Quitterie starts out as the rather mean/arrogant member of the group, but she quickly mellows out. It’s probably just the biggest switch for her going from being a rich girl to suddenly trying to make ends meet in space. It’s like going from a 5 star hotel to a random motel. Still, she’s always a fun character to have around and is one of the better members. Funicia is Quitterie’s younger sister and she’s definitely good. Despite being a kid she’s never actually annoying and tends to be quite wise for her age. She’s patient with the rest of the characters and even when she doesn’t get the approval that she was hoping for from Quitterie, Funicia takes it pretty well.

Then you’ve got Zack who is basically Kanata’s right hand man. As he is able to fix the ship several times the group would have been absolutely doomed without him. On a long term mission like this one you really need an engineer. He makes sure that everything is running correctly and is typically the first to notice when something suspicious is happening. His romance with Quitterie isn’t the best though. I don’t blame her for being rather upset since he constantly acts like she is a nuisance and doesn’t want to be involved with her despite him suddenly claiming obliviousness by the end of the series. No one was buying it.

Luca definitely likes trolling the characters quite a lot due to the fact that he keeps changing gender identities whenever he feels like it. It’s certainly an interesting development. Unlike the others he has already overcome a lot of personal demons and so the twists don’t hit him as hard as they do the others. He probably has the least amount of slumps out of all the characters because he always tries to see the silver linings. Meanwhile Charce is a rich guy who really loves animals and plants. He enjoys travelling on these planets just so he can see all of these new things. He tends to keep to himself more than some of the others, but he’s always ready to run onto the field and help out however he can.

Ulga gets a lot of focus early on in the series. After all, he makes it clear that he doesn’t want to be friends with the others and he has a gun. It’s hard for anyone to trust him and in a small ship like what they have, a gun is a very powerful advantage. As the series goes on Ulga opens up more, but he simply isn’t as chatty as the rest of the characters so he always sticks to himself to an extent. Likewise, the same can be said for Yun as she just doesn’t talk much. She’s very timid and we find out the cause to this through her backstory. Naturally all of the kids have some kind of emotional origin story and the series does a good job of spacing them out. Typically you can expect 1-2 per volume. As such, each volume gets some story developments in the past and the present.

The vast majority of the series is about the kids in space, but occasionally we get a few scenes back on Earth where we follow the adults and see what they think of this. After all, a bunch of kids just vanished off the face of the Earth. You can bet that people are a little panicked back home. It’s always nice to see these meanwhile scenes but they are very rare. I feel like we only got 2 in the whole series. There just wasn’t much time I suppose with only 5 volumes to work with. As I mentioned, we get a bunch of twists during the final two volumes of the series. I’ll admit that at first I thought the series was going to get real crazy. We were going to get some dimension hopping, time travel, aliens, and stuff like that. Instead the series decided to stay pretty realistic so all of the twists have some logic behind them. One involving history will still feel like a big stretch to be honest, but I guess it could work. You just gotta assume that there are a few more things behind the strings as well. At the very least you can’t say that the series was playing it safe with these twists. It was all handled pretty well. I do wish we could have gotten something a bit different from the classic “flash forward to when everyone is an adult” endings though. Especially as the designs just aren’t great. You’d think that the characters would have resisted their fates.

I also thought the humor for the series was handled fairly well. As I mentioned, quite a bit of it involves Kanata’s random fun facts. The scenes can be pretty funny but it isn’t forced. The series is pretty light in general even though it can get serious when necessary. You might rarely feel like the characters are ever in any real danger, but you’ll still be interested from start to finish. It’s a real page turner. This is a good example of a solid manga that didn’t need action to take it to the next level. There are only a small handful of action scenes, the rest is all about adventure. The Godzilla netflix series could have taken a page from this one’s playbook on how to do a proper survival story.

Naturally I won’t say which student is the traitor, but I will say that it was game over for that character. It’s hard for me to regain any respect for that character after pulling such a stunt, especially so late in the game. You just can’t make such a mistake like that and just apologize. The series does a good job of putting the traitor plot in the background though. It’s easy to forget that the plot is even still going towards the end of the series so it makes the whole thing even more unexpected.

Overall, Astra Lost in Space is definitely a fun manga. The premise is good and the execution was on point. The pacing is solid and the characters are enjoyable enough to hold their own stories. There’s really not much to dislike here and it really captures the thrills of a space adventure. It’s a shame that it was so short, but this is the kind of plot where if it goes on too long then it would probably turn into a whole different kind of story. If you haven’t read this manga yet then I would recommend changing that. After all, an anime is coming out soon so you’ll want to be ready for that.

Overall 7/10

Leave No Trace Review


It’s time to look at a survival film which mainly takes place in a large forest. It definitely goes to show why it’s such a tough task to take care of these places since people are always trying to go in there and try to live on the land. The authorities in this film are actually super lenient all things considered as I could easily see the main characters getting jail time for what they try to do. At the very least, that’s what I would picture Will’s fate would be. It’s an interesting film that’s pretty low key and is more of a down to Earth story than many other movies. It can be a bit on the tragic side as well though.

The movie starts with Will and his daughter Tom living in the forest. At first you wonder why they are there. Has there been a zombie apocalypse? Vampires running loose? No. It turns out that Will doesn’t like humanity so he has decided that the only way to enjoy life is to live outside without any other souls around. Even if the characters are alone they can’t live in a house unless it is one that Will found first and no humans have lent him. This is a rough lifestyle for Tom, but she does her best to get by. The cops eventually catch the two and Tom gets a glimpse of what life would be like with a warm bed and food. Still, Will isn’t satisfied so he tells her that they have to evade the cops and head back to the forest. Tom is reluctant to do this. Can they really survive under such a lifestyle? Well, she’s about to find out!

While you might not mind Will for a few minutes, you’ll probably know almost right away that something is off about this scenario. Why are the main characters living in the woods? Before the film reveals that Will is basically crazy you assume that maybe the zombie apocalypse came early or something like that. No, Will just doesn’t like to live like the average person and that’s when the sympathy for his character ends. You’re just waiting for Tom to try and escape him the whole time. It still makes for a pretty mysterious beginning though. I’ve never been a fan of camping so living outside for any prolonged period of time would definitely be pretty rough. It also doesn’t make for the most engaging of films typically but fortunately this movie doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the details. We don’t see them eating insects or anything like that. That’s when the film would have crossed the line.

While I can’t say that I liked Will, Tom’s a good character. She is trying her best to adapt to the situations she is put in and does so without a fuss. She is young enough where it is believable that she is following Will’s bad advice as well. You can’t really fault her for not trying harder to distance herself since that’s not really an option. By the end of the film she also makes the right call. Without Tom doing her best to help Will get used to the new lifestyle the whole thing probably would have been even tougher on the main characters.

It’s also a pretty interesting look at how the rangers prevent people like this from living in the forest. It’s certainly not a job I would envy as it seems extremely difficult so I hope they are compensated well. The forests are huge so you can imagine how tough it is to constantly be surveying it. The guard dog certainly did good as well. I’m not sure if this is how it works in real life with how the organization tries to re-locate these people, but if so then it is a much more generous process then I would have ever imagined. Rather then go to jail they give Will and Tom a fairly nice house and a whole lot of freedom. They have so much freedom in fact that I’m not sure if this is even a good idea. Of course the characters aren’t bad people in this case, but I do think this could have gotten very wrong. Of course it still isn’t enough to make Will happy, but it was a nice attempt by the agency. Even the tests they gave the main characters weren’t invasive in the slightest while still being a little effective. I’m not really sure I buy into how they really think you can understand someone through vague questions, but I know there is some science to it.

The film is certainly a slow burner though so you’ll need to appreciate the landscapes and atmosphere here. A good chunk of the story is the characters walking through the forest and doing their best to come to terms with the elements. The landscapes look pretty nice though and it’s definitely a forest that I would be up for visiting. I’m still more of a “lounge by the hotel” kind of guy, but it’s a good change of pace. Basically all of the human characters who show up are nice which is fortunate for the main characters since the situation could have gone sideways pretty quick. Characters like the truck driver were pretty reasonable and all of the dogs in the film were a blast. Again, pretty much every character aside from Will is solid so that’s definitely a good thing.

Overall, Leave No Trace is a pretty decent film. It can definitely be a little tragic at times as you feel bad for the rescue workers who are just doing their best. Naturally it can also be pretty tough for Tom the whole time. Fortunately the film always stays pretty tame and doesn’t let the situation get too absurdly bad for the main characters. It’s never a film that’s hard to watch. At most you’ll probably just get frustrated with Will the whole time which is intentional on the film’s part. Beyond that, it’s a pretty unique film and one that is probably informative as I imagine it is likely pretty realistic. These kind of films usually have a good basis in fact with the writer doing some research before the film comes out. If you want to see a film about how you could possibly survive in the forest (As long as you have a ton of money. Will is conveniently loaded so he can constantly buy whatever they need) and why it is not as good as just living in a house then this is the one for you.

Overall 6/10