Leave No Trace Review

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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

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Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter Review

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It’s time to look at a Monster Hunter manga. This one made it all the way to 10 volumes and has some cool cover arts so how does it rank? Well, it’s a pretty good premise and I wouldn’t fault its pacing, but the manga does fall short in some areas. Mainly the art and the characters are what brings it down. Salvaging the manga though is the amount of fights we have on deck and the fact that it’s still interesting. It pales in comparison to many other titles but I wouldn’t call it bad either. It just takes a while to get going and by then it’s basically over.

The series starts with Raiga as a kid. He looked up to his local Monster Hunter (A guy who hunts monsters) but unfortunately this guy got scarred after a tough quest and changed into a violent person. He is now bent on getting revenge and ditched Raiga’s village. The hero and some townspeople survived, but Raiga swore that he would find this hunter one day and get payback. He decides to be a hunter and a few years later he has finally attained his goal. The problem is that his bark is bigger than his actual skill. He teams up with Keres, an arrogant archer who panics quite often and Torche, a navigator who isn’t particularly skilled. Can these three heroes become legendary Flash Hunters?

Lets address the elephant in the room. That is to say, the terrible character known as Raiga. It’s obvious what the series is going for from the start. Raiga’s the hot headed main character who jumps into action and thinks about the consequences later. That’s fine, I’d actually consider that to be a positive trait most of the time. A lot of my favorite characters are like that as with Vegeta and Ichigo. The problem is that Raiga never improves enough where he can afford to act this way. All he ends up doing is putting everyone in harm’s way. Time after time he rushes at an enemy and nearly gets the group destroyed. It always works out one way or the other, but always because someone saves him and not because he ends up beating the monster. Raiga doesn’t care about teamwork and will always choose to pursue the monster.

You’d expect some kind of character arc for him somewhere down the line but it never, ever comes up. Even in literally the last volume he makes the same mistake. A monster has been forced back into the ocean and the town is calling in a bunch of hunters. Once there are enough of them then the team will go in to finish the monster. The problem is that Raiga wants to prove that he has surpassed Bexel (The rogue hunter who betrayed his village) and goes in alone. Naturally he gets beat up as always and Bexel is forced to save him. Then the rest of the team arrives and Raiga is saved, but our young hero ends up taking most of the credit. What he did was completely unnecessary. He does something like this in every volume and you can see why Keres kept ditching him. Raiga is a man who puts his own adrenaline needs above the lives of his teammates. Such a character won’t go far.

Raiga was just annoying the entire time and I’m still shocked by how he never got better. Unfortunately his teammate Torche is almost as bad. Her personality quirk is that she’s pretty clutsy and isn’t good at anything besides being a scout. She can pick out monster weak points, but this almost never comes in handy. She defends Raiga a lot which isn’t good either. The worst part is that she never really becomes a fighter. I get that not all team members need to know how to fight, but at least getting better armor and superior weapons would help her case a lot. She just ends up being more of a non character than anything.

Finally we have Keres. He’s a mixed bag because on one hand his constant need to run away is annoying. He gets nervous a lot to the point where he even retires for a while and is forced back into the hunt. On the other hand, he is often right when Raiga is involved. Why go to hunt a monster that isn’t bothering anyone when they can wait for reinforcements? He isn’t constantly addicted to fighting the way Raiga is. Still, he can be annoying in general so since all 3 main characters are annoying you can see why the characters is an angle which holds the manga back.

I also think the art may have something to do with this. The artist isn’t great at drawing facial expressions so everyone tends to have the same grins, frowns, etc. They all look the same after a while. Different character designs, but the same postures and expressions. Then the artist gets completely lost with regard to the fight scenes. You really can’t tell what is happening half of the time because it is too chaotic. Everyone is using a huge attack and the same goes for the monster so all of the action lines intersect to the point where it’s too muddled to make anything out. The art never gets better unfortunately and this would certainly be one of the weakest art that I have seen for a series.

Then we’ve got the main rival character Bexel. You could also call him an antagonist I suppose, but Raiga definitely exaggerates when talking about him. If you think about it, Bexel never actually hurt everyone. He decided to distance himself from everyone, that’s certainly true. At the same time I think it’s a little iffy for Raiga to basically act like he’s a monster. Bexel single handily saves many villages because of how crazy strong he has gotten. He may not be a hero, but he certainly is the best hunter in the series so just let him do his thing. Even by the end of the series nobody is even close to being as strong as he is. That’s pretty impressive.

There are also a few supporting characters, but given the series we are talking about none of them are all that memorable. You have another pair of hunters who do their best to support the main 3, but they aren’t all that powerful. One of them has his big hero moment which is basically Raiga’s fault so when he doesn’t return from his fatal battle we have the lead to thank. Then there is another heroine who shows up from time to time. She’s way better than Torche, but never feels too important. Honestly, nobody feels that important aside from the main 3 and you could basically just call them a distraction if anything.

I will give the manga a lot of credit for how it handles the monsters. This could have easily gone the animal violence route, but the manga is very classy with how it treats the battles. The monsters don’t get all that injured or when they die it isn’t super graphic. So while I do think the title failed in a lot of ways, this was a very important element and it handled this part very well. After all, better a 6/10 then getting the rest right and still dropping to a 4/10 with all of the creatures getting wrecked right?

I still think Bexel didn’t really get a fair shake, but I’ve already spoken a lot about the characters to lets start to wrap this up. Why is this manga still good when everything before this in the review was pretty negative? Well, as I mentioned before the premise of the manga is still good. I like a good adventure title as much as the next guy and the Monster Hunter world has always been pretty interesting. I liked the armors that the characters wore and while the fight scenes could be hard to read at least they were present. They were also rather long the whole time so you can’t say that the manga forgot that part. It does a good job of making the danger feel pretty real to the heroes.

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Overall, Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter could and should have been a lot better than it was. The characters should have been more interesting and likable. I can also dig the concept of the main 3 constantly bickering and all that, but even that isn’t handled well. We also get some random time skips, but the status quo didn’t change much so they ultimately feel pointless. You go from having the whole cast feeling outmatched against one monster to suddenly nothing can stop them in the ending. I’m fine with the main characters being the best since that’s inevitable, but you’re telling me that the whole region is basically out of hunters so without the main 3 they are doomed? How did they all live for so long then? Read this manga if you want a good action/fantasy title but prepare to get a little irritated.

Overall 6/10

The Shallows Review

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It’s time to look at a pretty recent shark film. These films are super risky in general because sharks lead to animal violence which is something that you typically want to avoid in a film. They also tend to take place at a beach which results in a considerable amount of fanservice. It’s a losing combo if I ever saw one and this film was not able to escape. If anything it might be the weakest shark film.

The movie starts out with a teenage girl heading off to a beach by her lonesome. The original plan was to go with her friend but that plan tanked when the friend was a no show. Now Nancy will have to try and have fun alone. It’s going well for her at first until it gets late and the Shark shows up. She manages to escape to a little rock in the middle of the ocean but with the tide coming in soon it won’t be high enough to defend herself for long. If anything it already isn’t and the shark is just ignoring her for some reason except for when she goes back in the water. Nancy will have to think of something because if she doesn’t get back to land to warn the others, who will?

Well, let’s talk about why this film had issues. We’ll get the beach locale out of the way first. The film makes sure to remind you of its target audience by zooming in on the main character quite a lot. The film is certainly not being subtle here and you should always be able to make a good film without fanservice. All it does is distract from the plot which is typically what you do when the plot is no good.

Then the film can also be rather violent. A large chunk of the film is just the main character yelling and being in a lot of pain. The scenes are way too dragged out and most of them could and should have been cut. It also takes away from her battle with the shark if she is barely even strong enough to stand. Finally we have also got the animal violence angle. A Whale dies early on which was pretty tragic. Then we have the main character trying to hitch a ride on his body, scratching him up in the process. Throw in a bird who broke his wing (Going for some obvious connections here with the lead’s injury but the plot was still unnecessary. The bird lived at least which stopped this from being a 0) and the actual shark and you’ve got yourself a proper train wreck.

Unfortunately the main character was also not particularly likable. She comes across as rather naive and makes mountains out of molehills. Nancy’s conversation with her father at the beginning of the film just seems rather odd with the lead trying to pick a fight. It’s hard to judge with no context at that point but since the film didn’t want to go into it all that much I don’t have a real reason to root for the heroine there. Then she also isn’t particularly nice to the bird that is sharing the rock with her. She flicks water at him and also doesn’t offer him any food when given the chance. If anything it seems like she only helps him at the end because she had gotten rather bored. Not the most charitable reason to help. If she was a better character that could have at least helped the film a little bit, as it is there wasn’t much to help it’s case.

As far as special effects go I think the film did a pretty interesting job with how it showed the phone calls and various objects as if they were virtual reality. It’s a pretty strong effect that stands out so hopefully you like it since it will be impossible to avoid. I think it was a good effect and also gave the film something unique to do beyond the usual. The music also isn’t bad. You probably won’t remember it by the end but it fit well with the scenes.

Overall, The Shallows is definitely one of those films that you should avoid. That being said, it does play out just as you would expect it to. This means that you can effectively tell if you will like the film or not from the trailer. I’d certainly say that it is reason enough to skip the film. Shark films just aren’t particularly ready to make a positive name for themselves and until they take place in space with robot sharks I doubt they will be anytime soon.

Overall 1/10

The Steel Lady Review

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The Steel Lady is one of those films where the plot could be just about anything. You can interpret the title in many different ways, the optimal one being a literal translation that could work like a Supergirl film. This isn’t exactly how it all ends up going down but it is a pretty fun retro film. It’s not great and there is a lot of plot has to be found but I will give it some props for throwing in a good fight.

The film starts with the main characters flying around in hopes of finding oil. Unfortunately they are using a really cheap plane in response to budget cuts and as a result they end up crashing in the desert. The nearest town is many miles away and the heroes certainly don’t have enough rations to survive that. Fortunately they find a tank that had been buried and decide to make a gamble. They’ll use the last of their water to fuel the tank and ride the whole way. One of the guys doesn’t like this plan but he is outvoted. Can the heroes make their way to the final in spite of the bandits?

The heroes are definitely lucky. That will be your takeaway as you finish the film. They make a multitude of mistakes throughout and have to rely on the kindness of strangers as well as general incompetence from the villains. Before I even get to that I should quickly discuss how the main team is already rather fractured. There are 4 main characters. One of them is a teen mechanic who is pretty good at cobbling things together. He is pretty reasonable except for the fact that he fell asleep at the job and blew their first chance at being rescued. If he had stayed up then the whole film may have been averted right from the start. He ultimately does help make up for it with his radio and by starting up the tank, but that was a pretty big mistake.

Then you’ve got the leader of the crew who is the tactician. He is the one who comes up with the plans and alternatives while the others sign off on it. He doesn’t take betrayal well and is ready to fight to defend himself. He is the best character here. Then you’ve got the drunk guy who may as well be an antagonist. He puts everyone at risk for some money and just doesn’t care what befalls the rest of the crew compared to him. Naturally this is all building up to a big redemption arc at the end but you just have to wonder if it is simply too late. It’s just hard to like this guy. At least he did have personality though. The final guy is basically just along for the ride and never actually does anything.

There isn’t much scenery to look at of course since the heroes are in the desert the whole time so get used to the sand. It’s hot out there but someone has got to trudge through right? The writing is pretty solid aside from the heroes getting lucky so often. It’s a classic script filled with a lot of verbal shots from all sides. The banter is half the fun here with the other half being the unique plot. Being out of water and supplies isn’t necessarily something new, but it’s not a plot that I’ve seen in action all that much. While the main characters may seem a little ruthless with how they barge into the camp and get ready for a fight, but being prepared is a bare necessity in this neck of the woods.

Back to how lucky the heroes are though, the camp that they bust into is naturally owned by bandits. The bandits then invite them in for a party and the heroes can’t refuse. So, the villains’ plan is to search for the jewels while the heroes sleep. After that they’ll send the heroes off to fight a different tribe while they get away scott free. Terrible plan, but why didn’t they just shoot the heroes? It was absolutely an option that they could have gone for at any time. Once the main characters were out of the tank a quick bullet would have finished them. The heroes went straight into the heart of the enemy camp so there is no way they should have left it alive. Throw in the fact that the heroes were naive enough to actually fall asleep and you have a losing combo.

Even after that the villains manage to surround the heroes. By this point the tank is nearly out of ammo, but more importantly the heroes are out of water. All the villains have to do is watch from afar and they’ve got the match. The problem is that they forget to keep watch so the heroes run in and murder the sentry while also stealing his water. The villains basically helped the heroes out at this point and should feel ashamed. There is also another occasion where a villain gets in the tank and gets to go 1 v 1 against a guy with a broken leg. He still decides to retreat so I can’t imagine how weak these antagonists must be.

Overall, The Steel Lady is a fun film even if the writing doesn’t usually hold up when you think about it. It’s a good movie to look at and wonder how you could have done a better job of it than the heroes. You don’t want to get overconfident of course but it just wouldn’t be that hard with how many mistakes they make. If you want to see an old school survival story about the heroes roughing it in tough terrain then this is the film for you. At the end of the day it’s supposed to be more of an inspirational story and it naturally wouldn’t have had that effect if the villains were clobbering them the whole time.

Overall 7/10

A Quiet Place Review

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A Quiet Place is a film that got a reasonable amount of hype before coming out. After all, it’s premise was fairly original as most of the film is completely silent. The trailers hinted at the monsters but made sure not to show them. Well, I can’t say that it was a good film, but it was a pretty interesting one so I’ll give it that.

The film starts off by putting us at month 3 of the alien invasion. The humans have mainly been wiped out by this point but there are still pockets of survivors in the various cities. The humans have learned that the only way to resist destruction at the hands of these incredibly powerful creatures is not to make a sound. The aliens can’t really see so they only rely on sounds. It’s a good defensive strategy at least but the kids will make this a little tricky. Can the main characters survive until the end?

While you aren’t supposed to overthink these kinds of films because the background can be a bit of a stretch, I have to question multiple things about the setting. A prequel could hopefully address this but in the meantime it seems like a stretch. For starters, the newspapers say that these monsters are basically indestructible and cannot be stopped. This is theoretically what explains how the human race lose to these guys. That’s fine but we learn at the end that a single shotgun blast can take one down, albeit it that the monster opened its mouth because of its terribly impractical design. I don’t see how the humans could have lost to them. Granted, the shotgun is one of the best weapons in Fortnite, but even so I imagine that some other main guns would work as well. Sound aside, the creatures love roaring so getting the shot in wouldn’t be hard.

Meanwhile the main characters also come off as being very selfish. Near the beginning for maximum shock value one of the kids is murdered. This leads to the main characters deciding to have a kid. Naturally the process isn’t always the same amount of time so you could make the case that it was right before this happened rather than after, but either way it’s not a good idea. Why would you want to have a kid who is going to grow up in such a dangerous environment. How are they going to keep him from crying or making a ton of noise? It would be impossible, particularly with how sensitive the monsters are. Having a kid is basically inviting the end for them all. Let’s face it, this plot was just added to give this film a random birth scene to add to the tension but the writers didn’t stop to think if it made any sense or not. It’s definitely one of the more unbelievable moments.

The film does also love reminding you that it’s a horror film with random moments of violence. The scene where the heroine steps on a nail is already a terrible scene in the surface but it gets even worse when you think about how crazy it all is. Put it this way, the main guy crosses these steps all the time. I don’t see how he could not have noticed it. He would definitely have covered it up since stepping on it just once could tip off the monsters. Even if he didn’t expect anyone else to go down there for a while, it just makes sense. Then we also get the obligatory animal death as part of horror film tradition. All I can say is that as soon as I saw the raccoons I had a bad feeling about all of this. It’s definitely not something to help the film.

As a positive, the script isn’t half bad. Since there is very little dialogue throughout the movie this helps it avoid that land mine. It does come at the expense of a good soundtrack as well though since the film is so silent all the time. This film also avoids having any fanservice which is great and in general comes off as a little classier than other horror titles.

Back to the bad though, the kids were quite annoying. They are constantly making noise and getting the main characters in trouble. Whether it be through knocking down lanterns or playing with electronics it is easy to see why the main lead wouldn’t let them into the basement. The main lead did totally give up at the end though which is unfortunate. Leading the monster away from the family is good and all but at least don’t go down without a fight. Why make this even easier for the creature? If he ran then in theory it would also buy some time for the others.

The kids also make everything too dramatic at times. One of them thinks she is to blame for the kid dying so she decides to discourage the main character from trying to contact the rest of the world. I guess giving up is fun and all, but then what will they be doing for the rest of their days? Without a goal to strive towards they would probably just lose their will to live after a while. Even if it’s futile, working on some kind of plan is better than not having a goal. This is why kids don’t do well in survival stories.

At least the ending is pretty solid though. It’s a pretty nice cliffhanger type ending that doesn’t have to lead to a sequel. In your head canon you already know how this could end. It either succeeds or it doesn’t. Either way it makes for a nice visual. I do also have to say that considering she just gave birth, the heroine had quite a lot of energy left. She was certainly ready for this fight.

Overall, A Quiet Place is basically just the same ole horror film but in a new package. While it is slightly better than the average one, (Which is around a 2) it still doesn’t cross the border into becoming a good film. To accelerate to the next level it would need a better cast of characters. The silence gimmick is also unique but not one that really works after a while so that’s better for just part of the film. The monster designs prioritized being spooky over practicality and I can’t say that I liked them. They looked more demented than dangerous instead of it bring the other way around. On a final note, the main character roaring into a waterfall is another move that isn’t very smart as there is no guarantee that the monsters would not hear him and that would have put everyone at risk.

Overall 3/10

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle Review


It’s time to look at the new Godzilla film! While the last Netflix installment wasn’t great, it was still a pretty good film. We got to see a reasonable amount of Godzilla screen time and the action scenes were pretty intense. Unfortunately this one is even more focused on the humans to the point where it can barely be called a Godzilla film. This movie is definitely a mess and I blame most of it on the painfully low budget that this movie seems to be tied down with.

The film starts with Haruo waking up and realizing that humanity has survived after all as a girl tended to his injuries. The Earthlings have fused with Mothra dna to allow themselves to survive the reign of Godzilla. They also use Mecha Godzilla’s armor to create arrows with which to fight back. The problem is that nobody is able to even damage the King of the Monsters. The heroes decide to use the armored city to fight back but can a city which doesn’t even move hope to win this fight?

The sad thing about this film is that most of it would be impossible if this was a different version of Godzilla. A single blast would have done the trick if Godzilla didn’t wait to make a move until days pass by each time. Even when he does finally make a move Godzilla only fires a single shot. Apparently he knows that beams won’t work but in that case he ended up playing himself since we find out that it actually would have been an effective tactic. One blast melted all backup harpoons and various parts of the city. Why would you not fire again?

The film can’t seem to decide whether Godzilla is extremely powerful in this version or if he is actually one of the weaker more brittle versions. Either way he didn’t look impressive. He literally walks into every single trap and shows no signs of real intelligence. The film makes him look like a zombie the whole time. The design wouldn’t be bad either if it wasn’t for the lack of animation which makes him appear to be frozen the entire time.

Another thing that’s tricky about the film is that you don’t really have anyone to root for. The humans certainly aren’t going to win a vote since they are already pretty divided with a lot of factions that would betray each other at the blink of an eye. One group becomes a little more extreme here which is unfortunate since prior to that they had been reasonable. It’s true that the humans severely overreacted with the whole merging with machine thing when it was voluntary, but that shouldn’t have made everyone go off the deep end. There is also a bit of romance here but it’s so forced for extra drama later on that you won’t get emotional about it.

High command doesn’t do much here and they still seem at a loss for answers. They don’t have a choice but to help if you ask me since they are running out of fuel and won’t be able to make it to another planet anyway. Their only chance is Earth so even if it will be tough they should try to make do. It’s not like the world is uninhabitable since the insect people still live and as long as the humans can make more masks they would be okay. Honestly if they weren’t so determined to try and crush Godzilla they probably could have coexisted well enough. It takes him days to wake up from a nap so where is the risk? Just lie low and accept that humans are no longer at the top of the food chain.

I didn’t care much for the animation in the first film and that hasn’t changed here. It looks like a cutscene you would see in a 3DS Fire Emblem game. That may work for small scenes but if you’re making a whole movie then surely you have more budget than the cutscene development crew right? Yet, the animators are afraid to do much of anything so most of the film is just characters talking and walking around in circles. There is very rarely any real movement to speak of and that’s just a shame. It’s not a fun film to look at.

Most of the movie is also rather silent so prepare to focus on the dialogue I guess. The few scenes with music that we do get are quite solid though so it is just a shame hat it couldn’t have happened more often. It had a good sci-fi beat to it that was very fast paced and made you feel like you were suddenly in an energetic film.

As there is one more film in the trilogy we do get an after credits scene. Unfortunately it is also sloppily done and destroys any chance that the scene may have had of actually being really good. The whole thing is recycled footage and several scenes pop up more than once. It was just painfully bad especially since everyone already knew who the name was going to be well before the line since this monster had been rumored/semi confirmed ages ago. The execution just wasn’t there.

While there are a lot of negatives to the film lets at least look at some positives before concluding. When we do get music it’s pretty good so that’s solid. I do like the mech suits that the heroes wear. They feel pretty powerful and do move very quickly. They effectively can’t be hit as long as the heroes don’t make any obvious mistakes. The concept of a Mecha Godzilla city is pretty sound even if it’s not as cool as actually having Mecha Godzilla. It may have even been able to win if the heroes weren’t rushing it so much. Did they really need to force a fight with Godzilla right away? Waiting 2-3 days or more would have ensured their victory and I think that would have been worth it. Since they can communicate with the mother ship they could have come up with a plan.

Overall, This film was definitely very underwhelming. If it wasn’t called a Godzilla film then it would have been a little better but even then I doubt it would have been anything more than average. It technically makes no critical errors like animal violence, fanservice, or anything like that. Yet, the film is just rather boring the whole time and it’s hard to get engaged since the heroes never feel like they have much of a chance. There is no way their plan should have even been close to succeeding if we are being honest. I’d probably advise you to skip this film and watch one of the live action Godzilla films. As a longtime fan I can tell you that this one forgets what a true Godzilla film is. A battle of Kaiju that shakes the planet. That’s why if the directors didn’t want to do this they should have labeled it as a classic sci-fi indie film about overcoming a large monster. It’s just that when you put Godzilla in the title you get a certain set of expectations.

Overall 5/10

Attack on Titan: No Regrets Review

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It’s time to look at another Attack on Titan OVA. I read the manga version of this one a while back so I basically knew what to expect. I definitely considered it to be one of the better spinoffs and it did a good job of making Levi a good character. The main series disregards that of course as it makes everyone compromised by the end, but that’s why prequels can be cool sometimes. The OVA is divided into two episodes with the first one being really good and the second one pretty bad. The mix makes for an outcome that you’d probably expect from the franchise.

The story starts with a girl named Isabel running from shady fellows who are unnecessarily gritty as always. Levi stops them and the guys retreat. Isabel realizes that learning how to fight would be pretty useful here so she joins the group and becomes one of the team. The other member being Furlan. She gets the hang of things rather quickly. Unfortunately, one of Levi’s comrades is taken to a hospital and held as a hostage so he and his team are forced to join the Survey Corps to murder the commander Erwin to help a corrupt politician escape persecution. Can they accomplish the task before they are eaten by titans?

The first episode is pretty fun. It still gritty in some aspects, but there aren’t any titans running around. It’s just Levi and the others trying to survive the slums. Levi’s a pretty stand up guy who looks out for his comrades and he gets a lot of respect around the place. He’s the kind of heroic main character that you’d expect to find in a Shonen. He goes through with the scheme to get Erwin because if he doesn’t his friend will be in trouble. He’s just a great all around lead and he also knows how to fight. His 3D Vertical maneuvering abilities are second to none.

Furlan is a good second in command. He doesn’t have much character except that he is always ready to help Levi and also stands up against injustice. That’s good enough for me. Finally, Isabel is a chipper young cadet who is eager to help out. Her first scene has her protecting a bird which is a great start and it even gets to live which makes the whole thing even better. The dynamic between the three characters is pretty fun and that probably would have made for a pretty fun show on its own. I had no real complaints with the first episode. The animation was sharp and the soundtrack was good. The ending could have even worked as an ending since it shows how he joins the corps.

The second episode is where it all goes downhill. The first half wasn’t bad as we see the characters excel in the Titan hunting practice. Levi may use an unorthadox grip, but it gets the job done. The other members may not like it, but as long as he gets results they can’t do much about it. They still plan to destroy Erwin, but there aren’t really any openings for them to accomplish this. The guy is like a stone wall that blocks everyone off. Finally, they get their chance on a titan hunt when the rain gets extra thick. Levi goes ahead to take Erwin down, but as he leaves a titan murders all of his friends so he murders it as well. In despair, he decides to follow Erwin’s cause so that his life can now have meaning.

Erwin’s not very sympathetic to the whole situation as the show portrays him as a guy who’s been around the block many times. None of this is as a surprise to him anymore and he’s made of sterner stuff. He’s willing to cross any line if it means defeating the Titan so he’s not really a hero. He just aligns himself on the same side as the main characters. He’s not my kind of character, but he’s certainly someone who’s useful to have on your side. At least he saw through Levi’s plan the whole time so he’s fairly cautious. It makes sense to be suspicious when the characters were caught so easily. I like to think Levi would have defeated Erwin in a fair fight.

What hurts the second episode is naturally how super violent and dark it is. The animation uses a detailed style to try and make the deaths as graphic as possible. You see the spine and body parts as their remains are found. It’s definitely super done and likewise with Levi’s fight against the Titan as he keeps on slashing it over and over to take his rage out on it. I would have preferred the light novel approach where Titans just turn to steam and don’t really bleed. Those were the good ole days.

Levi was still a great character of course as avenging his comrades is the first thing he should do and he did abandon the mission to check on their safety right away. It’s like Spider-Man’s origin story as his choice ultimately decided their fate. He couldn’t do everything, but the overall message of the OVA was good. You can’t regret your choices when you don’t know what outcomes they will bring. Some choices lead to positive outcomes and some don’t. As long as the decision itself was good, then you shouldn’t actually have any regrets. Levi’s reasoning for joining Erwin wasn’t bad either. I definitely think part of it was helping to avoid what happened to his friends to anyone else. Who wouldn’t want to stop the Titans after that?

What makes it more painful for him is that he warned his teammates not to come. Their skills aren’t at the same level as his so it makes sense that it would be dangerous for them. Still, it’s not as if he could have stopped them from coming in the end so what’s done is done. It’s a pretty sad ending to the OVA and I would have preferred the first one, but it shows why Levi is so cold to everyone.

As I mentioned earlier, the graphics are really good. All of the character models are really high quality and the fight scenes are smooth. The Survey Corps battle with Levi squad is definitely the best part of the whole thing. The animation and directing did a good job of showcasing their speed without getting distracted or spinning around in an attempt to look good. Some anime try to do that to be clever, but it’s a cop out. The soundtrack is also great as it grabs a lot of the good themes from the anime and plugs them in. The fun techno theme is always a fun addition and I’ll never forget it from the very first Attack on Titan episode. It was a good way to start the series….for an instant.

Overall, No Regrets had a solid beginning, but a weak ending. It’s a little too dark/gritty/tragic at the end which brings down the score considerably. That’s why Attack on Titan will always be limited since it always goes down when the Titans appear, but a series without Titans would be a completely different show. Still, it definitely has an interesting premise and I’d probably recommend checking it out over the main show. If you like the OVA then you should go ahead and watch it. The intro is included here and some quick exposition so you’ll know what’s happening from the get go. I have another OVA coming up and it has the potential to be the best yet as we return to the main cast. It’s hard to say which ending was more tragic and mean spirited, this one or Ilse’s Notebook. I dare say it would be the latter since Ilse was by herself and pretty much defenseless while at least Isabel and Furlan had each other, but it’s close. Hopefully the next one has a happier ending so it can end the OVA on a solid note.

Overall 4/10

Psyren Review

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It’s time for a pretty fun manga that went under the radar and had to hurry to a rushed conclusion. It’s a shame, but I can see how people never gave it a chance. Personally, I always thought it was a manga about competitive hip hop dancing. I don’t know why, but it just looked like one thanks to a screencap on Mangastream. I didn’t learn better until I got to read a few volumes from the library. It’s a series that takes a few different twists compared to your average Shonen and the series was very ambitious. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t last long enough to unleash its full potential.

The main character is Ageha and he’s your average Bully hunter for hire. He takes out the bullies as long as you can pay him. One day he notices Anamiya getting bullied by a few other girls and saves her wallet. She dashes off, but not before asking him for help. The next day she goes missing and the town goes on full alert. Ageha decides to call the number of a mysterious card that he received and solves its puzzle so he can get some answers. The next thing he knows, he is whisked away to a desolate world that is overrun by monsters. Anamiya is here, but with a completely different personality as she is very cold and antagonistic to the rest of the characters. Still, she needs Ageha to help her clear the game. If you die in the game you die in real life!

There are a few rules. One: They just have to live through it. Two: Clear the daily missions. Three: Tell nobody. As long as they follow those 3 rules, they will be allowed to leave the game in peace. Of course, this is difficult since there are monsters everywhere as well as an evil organization that is bent on taking over the Earth through any means necessary. Fortunately, this world amps up everyone’s natural psychic abilities and you can gradually learn how to use it for combat. Along the way, a kid Ageha used to bully, a rockstar, and a random joe are brought to the world as well. Technically, a bunch of people are brought in, but the rest are all slaughtered almost instantly by the monsters. Hey, you can’t save em all right?
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At first the manga plays out like a survival horror. The humans have no business fighting giant monsters and basically just have to run and hide. Anamiya is the only one who can fight them and even she can’t take on too many of them at once. If the series had stayed like this, it could have certainly gone for an Attack on Titan vibe. Honestly, it could have maybe worked, but I’m glad the manga shifted gears into full action instead. Once the characters all got powers and the monsters were phased out in place of humanoid opponents, the manga truly began to excel.

It plays out a lot like Hueco Mundo in Bleach. The heroes get in really large scale battles against the enemies. The series jumps between the present and the future a lot. As you’d probably expect, the future has all of the best scenes and fights. The technology doesn’t really change this time, but everyone is just a lot stronger so the visuals are more spectacular. This series really knew how to draw your attention the whole time. Lets quickly go through a bunch of the characters.

First up is Ageha. He’s a good protagonist even if he definitely doesn’t care about being a hero. Lets move past his childhood where he was apparently a bit of a bully. He does act like your typical main character for a while as he tries to save everyone and does his best to complete the game. What separates him from most is how absolutely ruthless Ageha is. He’s totally on board with destroying any opponent who gets in his way. Some of the villains comment on this as Ageha will go for a kill shot right off the bat. Given the stakes and all, it’s easy to see why, but not something that all main characters will go for. He embraces his dark abilities from the start and never enters into a self doubt phase. All of these elements together make him a very engaging lead. You can draw a lot of similarities to Yusuke Urameshi.

Amamiya is the main heroine and she was always rather odd. We find out the reason why by the end as she has a split personality. One side of her is very shy and timid while the other is aggressive and outgoing. She starts to lose control of her other personality by the end, but eventually gets it back. You could say that the two sides of her made a truce to share the body and each gets a turn now. It’s an intriguing concept anyway. For the most part, the more aggressive one is naturally better although the flirting can be a bit much. I’m glad that Anamiya can fight, but she’s just not a very charismatic heroine.

The same can be said for the big rival of the series. That is Asaga and he is probably the most soulless rival I’ve ever seen in a series. He barely even counts as a rival since he is never in Ageha’s league to begin with. He has a lot of brute strength and that’s how he wields his psychic powers. He just has no real personality though besides possibly liking the main heroine. Ageha’s gravity abilities are both stronger and more versatile. There’s just nothing Asaga can contribute to a fight and he was basically written out of the series for a while as he had some adventures on the alien planet by himself.

Next up is a character whose development never really got to end. Oboro is a famous pop star who got into the game and began to excel. He can heal others which is incredibly useful and his abilities began to morph into disintegration. He can also heal others too well which results in them merging with other monsters and dying. The series was really hinting that he was going to turn evil and he was beginning to fit into the rival role. Then…the series just ended and he never really got to have any closure. I think he barely even got a final fight if he did at all. I did think the character had a lot of promise though and he was probably the best supporting member.

Kirisaki’s essentially the scaredy cat of the group. Every series seems to need one and he fits the bill. His ability is that he can sense the future as long as he is in danger and this allows him to dodge any traps. Think of it like a very good Spider Sense and you get the general idea. This isn’t the kind of character that I’m typically a fan of though so I’ll have to give him a thumbs down.

Now lets talk about some of the villains. Miroku is the big villain in the series and he’s certainly a strong fighter. He doesn’t have a whole lot of personality and can come across as generic, but I’d say that he’s good enough. His design’s not bad. Grana is the strongest member of the main villain group so he’s second only to Miroku for most of the series. He’s sort of like Zaraki from Bleach and I like his personality. He’s always itching for a fight and he can dish it out as well as he takes it. That makes for a pretty good villain if you ask me. Unfortunately, as the story goes with most of these characters, he didn’t get to do a whole lot.

Junas was one of the most impressive villains. He went up against quite a few of the main characters and kept on rolling. His design is on point and he made good use of his abilities. WISE was very fortunate to have him on their side. There’s not much to say about Uranus. He’s another member of the group who puts up a good fight, but doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as Junas. Finally we’re up to a villain who did get a lot to do. Dholaki was probably Ageha’s first real challenge and the guy kept coming back for more. He would train and learn new abilities to stay relevant. He had a good work ethic for a villain. Shiner was another member of the group and he also got a good role. I’d say that he was maybe a little nerfed by the end of the fight, but he did a good job weakening the heroes.

Mithra is basically the real final boss. She’s a very imposing entity and her true form helps increase the stakes of the series. I definitely think just about all big action titles should end with a big cosmic being suddenly showing up. It makes the final battle really feel like a final stand as opposed to just another fight against the bad guys. Mithra didn’t appear all that much, but she is memorable.

Yusaka is technically a pretty minor villain as he doesn’t appear much, but he was a pretty critical traitor against the heroes so he was memorable. He takes down a lot of humans in a rather brutal action scene and proves to be a lethal opponent. He’s not really my kind of villain, but he made for a good fight scene. While his design isn’t as impressive as most of the villains, it makes sense since he is basically just a human.
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There was a group of kids in the future who were the last defenders of humanity. They were a pretty fun bunch and all of them got some good screen time. Frederica is a fire expert who’s extremely confident and she always managed to live up to the hype. I’m not sure I’d call her the strongest member despite her boasts, but she’s definitely fun to have around. She’s effectively the leader of the team. Marie is the nicest member of the team which also happens to mean that she is basically the weakest. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really a fan of hers. She’s not a bad character, but rarely seemed to help out all that much. She did contribute of course, but I would have liked to have seen more action from her.

Kyle looks up to Ageha and pretty much modeled his fighting style after him. Kyle’s a hand to hand specialist who attacks with incredible power. I’d say that he is the most powerful member of the group and he sure did a good job whenever he would appear. He definitely grew a lot from his days as a kid. Shao probably got one of the best fight scenes in the series as he fights with strategy as well as power. He’s about as strong as Kyle and really helps the group have an edge over the villains. Every time you get a strong fighter like that, it really helps everyone’s odds. He’s rather quiet, but it’s not about confidence. It’s simply a choice in his case and he lets his actions speak for him.

Nemesis Q was more annoying than helpful. I still don’t understand what the point was of calling everyone to the game world, but destroying them if they told anyone. By the end of the series we learn that she is basically stuck in a wheelchair and just gets her thrills out of mocking Ageha. She got some kind of origin story, but it still seems like the best plan would just have been to tell the heroes what was going on. They could have changed the past a whole lot easier if they knew the details.

Matsuri was one of the only players who ever got out of the game alive. As such, she knows about it, but isn’t really allowed back. She can still help in the real world though. Her abilities are potent, but not quite as deadly as most of the main characters. She essentially got surpassed by everyone as the series went on, but did well in the mentor role. Kagetora is her friend and essentially a bodyguard who also got some psychic abilities. He handles psychic crime in the real world, but has a tendency to get in a little over his head at times. His regeneration ability at the end is really handy though since it fits in with his constant aggression.

Tatsuo is a friend of Asaga’s who got stuck in the game. In the real world he was super frail, but he was able to excel in this other world as a hybrid monster. At first he is evil from the experience, but gradually learns to accept the situation and becomes a hero. He’s a fairly decent character, but one that still just feels more like a trope than an individual. Asuka is Ageha’s father and he actually shows up to fight by the end of the series. His ability has a lot of drawbacks and can’t be used for too long, but it’s very powerful. He is one of the only characters in the series who is able to use a certain burning/ascendence which amps up all of his stats. The series may not have explained too much about why he knows so much about the psychic wars and all, but it was nice to see him help out. He’s not a very nice guy at times though so that hurts his likability.

So the character cast is fairly decent. I like Ageha and the Actor worked fairly well as a shady rival. I don’t think the author initially planned for that subplot to just end like it did, but you never know. The rest of the heroes were rather weak compared to most titles though, but fortunately the villains held their own. They were all pretty cool for the most part even if I started to mix them up. It’s important that Ageha was good since if the main character had also only been standard, it might have had more of an effect on the series. What helped to compensate for this was the solid artwork throughout. The artist has a nice clear style that works well with the series. It’s also nice since Ageha’s powers could have easily turned into something very wavy and chaotic. With a lesser artist It would have been easy to get lost during the action scenes.

The series could get pretty intense like the massacre inside the government base. You couldn’t help but feel bad for the government the whole time since they were just so out of their league but they kept on trying anyway. At the very least, you have to admire their commitment. We even got the cops involved at one point as they try to arrest Ageha, that was fun. There’s a lot to like in this series which is why it’s a shame that it never hit 20 volumes.
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Overall, Psyren is a fun action series. It won’t go down as an all star like Dragon Ball Z or Kenshin, but I’d say that it did a really good job. The idea of fighting in the future is always a good one. Reborn! probably did the best job with it, but many titles have pulled it off. The action was large in scale and Ageha readily embracing his dark abilities was nice as well. It’s a shame that the series ended so suddenly since it still had quite a lot of potential left in it. Sometimes we just don’t get to see it all though. That’s just the way it goes. I’d definitely recommend checking this manga out. It’s pretty epic and I’m confident you’ll like it if action is your genre of choice.

Overall 8/10

All Is Lost Review

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All is definitely lost all right with this film. Trying to hold a roughly 2 hour film with just one character is not an easy proposition. Nor is it a good idea It’s a bold move and one that I guess you’d expect someone to do for a high school project if you had absolutely no budget and needed to quickly make some money. This film wasn’t exactly in that circumstance though and I can’t award it any sympathy points anyway. This film is not bad in the same way as Sucker Punch, Suicide Squad, or I Know What You Did Last Summer, but it still makes one critical mistake. It’s one of the most boring films that I’ve ever seen in my life. Yes, Mr. Megorium’s Wonder Emporium (Close enough to the title) is actually more interesting. This film gives Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit competition along with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t think being boring on its own is enough to get you a 1, but this film does come close.

So, there’s a guy on a boat. Unfortunately, there’s a heavy wind so his boat starts to drift away. He must now try to stay alive for around 2 hours, but he’ll have to deal with strong winds and rain. I didn’t know anything about the film before watching it so I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt. “That was an extremely slow start, but I’m sure something will happen soon” was what I was thinking at 20 minutes in. 40 minutes in- “All right, this is a little troublesome. The film can’t get a positive score at this point, but maybe we’ll get some pirates or something” 90 minutes in- “Nooooooooooo!”

It’d be hard to have a film that is less eventful than this one. It screams “Indie” in a bad way as it constantly buys for time. We have to watch the guy eat in 10 different scenes or more. We see him stare out the window, drink beer, and the scenes where nothing happens just goes on and on and on. At least a slice of life movie still has dialogue between characters to keep you engaged. There is nothing for your brain to think about with this film except as to when the film is going to end. I have to be honest, films need dialogue. It’s something to sink your teeth into and learn about the characters. If you’re going to make a film with only one character, then we at least need a lot of inner monologue like with Lon Chaney. Choosing to make a modern day silent film without any interactions, villains, plot, or anything else is just a bad idea. There’s just nothing to this film. I could see a fan film on Youtube like the Mega Man one or King of Fighters with more action and story development.

The locale also isn’t very interesting since we’re just seeing some water the whole time. It never really switches so you better be a fan of the place or it’s going to get very old very quickly. There isn’t really a sountrack so mix that in with the no talking part and things get intriguing. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the camera angles needed some work as well. It kept getting hit by the water of being put in a bad angle so you couldn’t see much. This was probably meant to help the realism, but it failed miserably. It’s not as if the guy had a camera with him in the film so there’s no point in acting as if it was with him. We should have gotten crisp camera angles that could have felt like they were in a modern film.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot to say about this film and no need to keep on beating at the same topics right? I think you get the general idea that I really didn’t like the execution of this film or the very concept of just having a one man movie. It’s not a good idea. Films need dialogue, interaction, multiple characters, fights…something to keep you entertained. This film didn’t have any of that which is why I was bored out of my mind. Now, there is a market for this as there are people who follow celebrities on snapchat and other social media sites where you just watch them walk around and hang out. Vine had a similar thing going. If your idea of a good time is just watching someone walk around for 2 hours, then you’ll enjoy this film a lot. It’s not my cup of tea though so I’m going to go back to my classic Dragon Ball Z films where I can relive the good ole days. I watch Super Smash battles for multiple hours at a time and I’m sure that some people would be bored by that so at th every least, All Is Lost can try to get to a niche and isn’t that what most Indie films do anyway? Better luck next time with the one man approach, I’m sure that another film can implement it better. If necessary, throw in a last second character like Matt Damon just showing up out of a containment tube or a Tom Cruise clone walking around an apocalyptic planet. Other films have already solved the problem of how to start off with 1 or 2 characters and then throwing someone else in, All is Lost just needed to have remembered that a little sooner.

Overall 2/10