Maze Runner: The Death Cure Review

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It’s been quite a while since I saw the Scorch Trials but I knew that someday I would finish this series. That time is now and the Death Cure actually isn’t a bad film. For the most part it’s actually pretty solid but ends up losing a lot of steam by the time it reaches the ending. There really isn’t much of humanity left to save either.

The film starts with an almost humorous action scene where the main characters steal an entire train, knock out all of the guards and then fly out of there. They are lucky that the guards can’t shoot straight or that they had no cameras active to see the obvious traps that were set out for them. This sort of plot hax will be around for a while so now is a good time to get used to it. The characters have now freed over 100 kids and are ready to sail off to a better tomorrow. The problem is that one of their friends from the first film is still captured. Thomas, Newt, and Frypan head off to find him before also being joined by Jorge and Brenda. They will have to break into the enemy stronghold to free him and will have to risk everything one last time. Can they do it?

There is certainly a lot of action here. We have constant gun fights and miscellaneous explosions occurring off screen. There is even a hand to hand fight near the end. Naturally these kids aren’t exactly master martial arts so it’s really just both sides throwing a lot of punches as opposed to a lot of crispy choreography. The climax is really just one large war zone as the characters try to make it out in one piece.

The pacing isn’t bad either as things tend to move quickly. The heroes are rarely given a chance to rest and so the film is moving a lot as well. I can’t say the writing was all that good though as characters constantly sound like they are in a horror movie with all the needless yelling. The character cast also isn’t amazing and I had some issues with the ending. To explain why the ending is no ot that good without spoilers is a little tricky, but here goes. The whole film series is really about choosing a side. Is the government right for sacrificing around 50 kids to save the human population or should the kids simply escape but also soon humanity along with them? Well the choice was taken out of your hands early on as the government is unnecessarily cruel the whole time. They even go so far as to attempt to destroy one of the kids when harnessing his blood slowly would have been safer and could have saved more people. It’s also worth noting that their cures keep failing so they are gambling the kids lives on just a hunch. Then in the ending we basically realize that all hope is lost. Unless there is yet another lost city in the middle of nowhere but that would be super convenient. It means that the whole trilogy was ultimately pointless for most of the human race.

As I mentioned earlier there is also quite a lot of plot hax to be found here. The villains constantly seem to be on the losing side when they should have this in the bag. The amount of times they yell “freeze” is almost funny because the heroes absolutely never listen and it always results in the villains losing once again. The scene where the bus is surrounded is the worst part as they just watch one of the characters clip it to a construction crane and lift the bus out of there. They probably should have fired their guns.

Thomas is the main character and he is definitely no good. He is said to be a very forgiving character multiple times in the film to the point where he is ready to quickly forgive Teresa after she betrayed the heroes and took a role in torturing one of his friends. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that he forgives everyone but Thomas isn’t consistent about that. We’ve also got a kid who was mind controlled and forced into destroying another kid. The guy seemingly died but now he has returned and Thomas absolutely won’t forgive him. So really, it’s not that he is a forgiving person by nature, he just likes Teresa so he is willing to overlook her faults. He doesn’t handle the romance situation very well either and tends to not make very good commands as the leader. He’s just not a guy that you would want to follow into battle. Especially since he is always admitting that he has no idea what they are even doing.

Then we have Teresa who does not regret turning evil. That should mean she will be portrayed as a villain right? Well surprisingly the film actually tries to make her a little sympathetic with the classic the Ends Justify the Means line of thinking. That didn’t fly back in the day and it still doesn’t. She is on the wrong side and the film did a poor job of trying to show her switch sides or even making her cause look legitimate. As such the character was just pretty bad the whole time. The same goes for her Boss who spends the first two films capturing the kids and putting them in painful experiments. Now she is finally having second thoughts and it’s just way too late for that.

The only good villain is the main chief of security, Janson. He is sticking to his guns literally in this film as he shots quite a few characters and also knows how to fight. I mean, he’s not a great fighter as he can barely go even with Thomas but I suppose it’s a start at the very least. Janson also knows when it’s time to pull back and just win with a gun instead. His demise seems a little hard to buy since he would have known the room better than anyone and what it would take to break the glass though.

Newt was a solid character. He always does his best to support Thomas while also calling him out when the lead starts to act fishy. He has been infected for a while but manages to keep it quiet so as not to distract from the mission. Newt does have his typical blow up moment at Thomas which comes off as rather forced but that’s really his only iffy scene. Then we have the ex bully who still calls Thomas greeny. Honestly I barely remember the character at all so he may as well be a new character in this one. He is the commander of the resistance (How’d that happen?) aside from one old man who is consulted at times. He doesn’t tend to panic as much as the others and saves the leads quite a few times so at the very least he was really good in this film. More prepared than the others at the very least.

One scene that will really stick with you is when the main characters walk into a dark tunnel and are basically unarmed. Even if there wasn’t an army of zombies down there, what could they have possibly done against the villains in such a state? You have to bring a ton of ammo at the very least or some kind of plan. The heroes had neither and would have been doomed several times if they hadn’t kept getting saved. The whole film you are reminded of this as the heroes are just out of their depth for the majority of the movie.

Overall, The Death Cure isn’t a bad action film. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and the series ends on a fairly good note. The ending is a little more hopeless than I would have liked and a certain death didn’t really need to happen since things were so bad already. It also didn’t help Thomas much either since at the very end he writes someone’s name down which basically proves his allegiance once more. If you want to see a film with a lot of action scenes then this is the place to go, but don’t expect it to be the kind of film that you will never forget.

Overall 6/10

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20 Million Miles to Earth Review

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It’s time to look at a really old creature feature film. Unfortunately this isn’t one of the better ones and is in fact a particularly weak one. It resorts to bottom of the barrel tropes like animal violence and so the film quickly goes downhill. from there. You just can’t add in animal violence and expect to do well. Also, it doesn’t help that the monster didn’t really have a great design. He looked sort of like the gill man when he should have gone for a more authentic Godzilla design. I suppose you can’t win them all though.

The basic plot is that a group of local fishers are having a good time when they notice a rocket crash land into the water. They quickly head on over to investigate it and they are able to save one of the people inside. The others all died to a plague from Venus, but they still did take the time to take one of the animals over from there. Unfortunately a local boy named Pepe stole the animal and sold him (Keep in mind that the animal is till in egg form) to a local scientist for a pair of fake guns. The army doesn’t know this and is intent on finding the animal quickly. Turns out that they won’t have to look far though as the oxygen on Earth is having a peculiar effect on the creature and it is now growing very rapidly. If it keeps on going at this pace then thousands may perish. (Seems like hyperbole but one of the characters said so.)

It’s very by the books as far as the plot is concerned. The creature goes on a rampage and starts breaking stuff so the heroes have to put an end to it. The humans are all consumed by greed though and so they keep letting the creature get away. They want to contain it rather than destroy the beast because it can be useful for scientific study. This continues even when the monster is murdering people. One guy is literally getting bit to death while they just watch because they don’t want to hurt the monster. The big irony here is that bullets don’t work on the creature anyway so they were worried for nothing. It still makes you wonder about their principles though. The Italian government were the ones in the right here as the Americans just looked pretty bad the whole time. Even once they captured the beast to keep zapping him the whole time they let him break out and then a bunch of other people perished. So much for that eh?

Pepe is also a very annoying kid. In fact, he’s pretty much exactly what you expect whenever a kid shows up. They just tend to be rather annoying the whole time as they hide things from the grownups and keep trying for more and more money. He just holds everyone back. I’d say that the main fisher was probably the best character. He’s the only one who actually wanted to help the people from the crash while everyone else was too busy trying to escape. Certainly not the bravest thing to do in the middle of that. Of course, these characters aren’t here to be likable and they typically aren’t all that smart either.

Take Marisa, the doctor in training. She is in charge of looking after the 2 people from the crash, but one of them is unfortunately dying. The first guy, Calder quickly tries to wake up the second one to get answers, but she keeps telling him to leave the guy alone. Decent advice I guess, but since the guy is dying it isn’t like there is actually going to be a later. Then it makes sense to get all of the answers right away. She goes back and forth with Calder on this quite a lot until a random romance pops up and you wonder why once again romance was forced into a film for no real reason. It certainly didn’t add anything to the film and aside from a few very brief scenes it never actually goes anywhere. It’s just around for kicks.

The actual doctor isn’t very intelligent either. First he leaves the moving egg by itself as he goes to take a nap. Then after putting it in the cage he goes to sleep again and the monster has almost grown too large for his cage. What he does next is leave once again to go talk to Pepe and then decides to take a long trip to Rome. Did he really think that the monster would simply stop growing or that it would peacefully let them take it to Rome? Clearly this guy must be a self proclaimed doctor since I would expect him to be a lot smarter if his degree was actually legitimate.

The writing isn’t terrible, but it’s just nothing inspired. You could take some of the dialogue here and place it into almost any other monster film. It will work just fine because of how generic it is. Anyway, all of that could have been forgiven if not for the animal violence. As if once wasn’t bad enough they decide to go through with this twice. Perhaps it is the only way to show what a threat this monster is supposed to be, but picking on the humans would have been a better way of getting that across if you ask me.

Overall, I have to give this film a hard thumbs down. The creature isn’t very interesting and the characters are nothing special. Not only are they not quite as on the ball as a classic lead from other films, but their priorities are completely misplaced. The fact that they are okay with a bunch of people dying if it means that they get to study the monster just shows that these guys have no scruples. The whole situation makes it hard to root for the heroes, but you can’t root for the monster either so then what is there to do? Not much except to quickly shut off the movie. I’d certainly advise you to stick away from this one unless you want to get bored. If you need to see a film about a monster, go watch one of the Godzilla films. Those tend to deliver on the action front which this one could not. Also, who thought it would be a god idea to make the monster look really old and weak by giving him a mustache?

Overall 2/10

Dark Angel Review

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It’s time to look at a PS2 movie tie-in to a TV series that I never actually got around to watching. It seems like a cool premise though. It’s basically Maximum Ride but taking place in a futuristic setting. I can get behind that. The actual game mixes stealth with the beat em up genre for interesting results. Honestly I think it would have certainly been sufficient to have just been a beat em up, but I suppose the stealth aspects make sense with the actual plot of the game.

So the story follows Max (You won’t be able to forget her name since it is mentioned a few times for every single level) as she wants to rescue the other people who was kidnapped by the I-Corporation and experimented on. Among those were her sisters. Max broke out (In the show I’m guessing) but now she must head back to face her fears once more. Logan helps her from the sidelines as he tries to shut off some security cameras here and there. He’s basically tech support and I suppose he does go into the field once in a while. Can Max really save her family?

One thing to note here is that in the future the government fell apart thanks to some kind of nuclear situation so now corporations run the world. I-Corp is one of those along with a second one that I’m forgetting. Both sides are evil and do experimentation so you have to decide who to root for. In this case we are going after I-Corp, but apparently Max destroyed a good chunk of the other side prior to the game so she has done a good job of taking out any corporation that stands against her.

The gameplay is very straight forward when it comes to combat. You can punch, kick, and throw. Jumping is also useful even if the jump isn’t very high. You can run and then jump+kick to unleash a devastating tackle that will knock any opponent over. This is really useful for when a bunch of enemies are after you as they have no real counter to this. If you don’t mind taking a little while you can bear all of the enemies this way. To prevent you from cheesing the game for each level though, some will have a time limit for which you can beat the enemies. Just keep mixing up your punches and kicks to resist enemy throws and you’ll be okay. Whenever possible I would ignore the stealth option and just barrel into groups of enemies. Some groups I just barely beat with 1 second left, but that’s the kind of intensity that you want to see. Also, I didn’t quite understand the stealth part for a little while since the game never explains it.

Basically if you crouch from behind an enemy and attempt to throw them it will result in a one hit KO. This is really useful if there are a bunch of enemies. You can take them all out one at a time this way. Otherwise if you just attack one then every enemy in the room will rush at you which can be around 6 and they can take a lot of health out of you if you aren’t careful. 2 of the last levels mix this formula up a bit though as stealth isn’t optional. If you are spotted then you are sent back to the very beginning. These levels can be a little on the long side so I can definitely confirm that it’s in your best interest to proceed with caution. A good technique for mixing the enemies up is just randomly jumping and then running off to hide. It will change their current pattern into one that may be easier. Of course it could get harder so proceed with caution.

To help in your stealth missions you are given some stealth gun ammo. This is a one hit KO to any opponent so it’s a good way to cheese these stealth missions. It is a tactical gamble though as you don’t get a whole lot of ammo. I believe you get around 20 shots for the duration of the game or something like that. Use your ammo wisely. I had already spent all of mine before the last big stealth mission, but I’d say that I did a good job of making it last when you consider how many levels there are. You also have other gadgets like a walkie talkie to lure the enemies closer and health packs which are self explanatory. As with many stealth games you just want to make these items really count.

As far as the characters go, we have a good cast here. Max is definitely a great main character. All of her dialogue is basically mocking all of the minions as she beats them up. She certainly isn’t above hitting someone who’s down as we even see that in a cutscene near the end so it isn’t just gameplay mechanics. She’s had a tough past but has definitely gotten past it and turned into a good hero. Logan is all right. I’m not a fan, but I guess he is useful. I can’t say much about the sisters as they don’t appear until near the end, but Beka was cool. She’s probably the best character after Max. She can certainly fight pretty well too.

The graphics look pretty sharp. A good amount of budget probably went into the cutscenes as they are full cinematics so no text cop outs. I mean, you get a text cutscene at the beginning of each level as well, but so long as you get both that isn’t an issue. The visuals are quite nice and I just wish we could have gotten more outdoor levels as towards the end they all feel a little cramped. The game had reasonable variety though. The soundtrack is definitely pretty solid. A little on the generic side, but nonetheless the combat themes were quite fast and really suck you into the moment. It makes the battles more fun.

There is no real replay value here though. There’s no level select and no collectibles to acquire. Basically once you complete the game that is it for your adventure. You have no more reason to play at all. With 22 levels I’d say that this game should last you around 4-5 hours. It will depend on how long some of the tougher levels take you as one took me around an hour before I finally had it beat. It’s no walk in the park and the game’s difficulty is pretty fair. It’s just enough to make you try but not too crazy either.

Overall, Dark Angel is definitely a fun game. The TV show definitely sounds pretty interesting if it’s like that. Max is basically a super soldier after all so that should make for some good action scenes. Hopefully the special effects were on point for that. Considering that I got the game for a few bucks I would say that this was a bargain. If you are looking for a quality action game to get for cheap then this is definitely the one for you. It’s just such a solid action game. Who knows, maybe it’ll get a sequel someday.

Overall 7/10

Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers Review

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It’s time to look at a really old alien film. This is the kind of flick that will remind you why aliens are so scary in the first place. They can’t be reasoned with and just want to take over every planet that gets in their way. You don’t want to mess with these guys and the humans have to desperately scramble to stop them. It’s an entertaining film that may not have the best lead, but still hits most of the right notes.

The film starts off with Russell sending another rocket into space. It’s been a futile mission as so far each missile has been sent right back down to Earth. At this point he is just wasting money and a general tells him this, but the lead refuses to listen. He will keep on sending the missiles into space and nobody can stop him! As he drives away with Carol, a UFO shows up which changes things a bit. They are now readying their invasion force to take over the Earth. Russell will have to build a super laser to shut them down, but can he really invent such a thing or is he already doomed?

As you can tell I thought Russell was rather slow on the uptake. If a bunch of missiles keep losing contact as soon as they are sent out, why would you send more without actually fixing anything about them? The main characters finally decide to add a camera to the last one so they can find out what is happening, but shouldn’t a camera have been there right from the start? It seems to me that for a mission of such importance you would want to document everything at all times.

Russell’s big slip up was in meeting up with the aliens privately. Carol and the army guy do manage to catch him so they all end up being threatened by the aliens as a team. I’ll give the army guy some credit for actually firing at the aliens while in the ship. They might as well go down swinging right? Russell is the one who puts the group in danger constantly. For example, he knew that a little energy orb had been spying on him for the last few weeks and that random lights would show up in the sky, but he thought nothing of them. It seems like nothing would cause him to show even a little bit of the usual alarm that you would expect from a reasonable main character. He may get to run the victory lap at the end, but he certainly put the Earth in quite the predicament.

Meanwhile I can’t say that I was a big fan of Carol. Mainly because she was quick to rat out Russell when he was trying to escape the base. Whether she agreed with him or not, such a call would probably have him arrested and it’s not like she had a better idea. When you make a call to betray someone like that, it’s a big decision. The characters forget about this pretty quick, but that could have been a very damaging moment for them.

I do have to give the army some props for shooting the aliens right away. Obviously that isn’t usually a good idea since the aliens hadn’t actually done anything yet, but we weren’t going to be pushed around this time. Usually when the army shoots first it turns out that the aliens were actually good guys so this was a good way of flipping that around real quick. Too bad their tech was so much better than ours as otherwise it could have been a pretty even fight. We didn’t hesitate to fire off our rockets and heavy armaments either so the world was ready.

There is some plot hax in the climax though. As I mentioned the aliens do have the superior tech here including ships that can run rings around ours. Their speed is so great that they can appear from nowhere to disintegrate us and then vanish again. How is it that they didn’t notice the humans plotting against them? At the very least you would expect them to have the main characters under surveillance until the invention was built. Leaving the humans alone (Even after they broke the alien spy probe) was just not a smart idea. Even once they knew that the humans were turning violent they sent in one robot instead of blasting the place to smithereens. The humans got lucky and they know it.

We do get some decent action sequences at the end though as we shoot down all of their UFOs. You’ll end up feeling bad for the landmarks though as the aliens make sure to crash into them every time one ship is shot down. By the end of the fight I feel like the city will look a whole lot different. I suppose some damage is expected when saving the world though. I also like to think that the aliens made sure to intentionally hit these spots just to at least get a little petty consolation victory. If only they had just tried destroying us all when they had the chance!

Overall, This was a fun movie. It’s a classic Alien Invasion story filled with suspense and action. The writing for the movie is certainly on point even if the main characters are annoying. The characters you will be rooting for the most will be the government agents. They don’t plan to go down without a fight and talk tough whenever they are on screen. That’s exactly what I like to see and even the Aliens admitted that in a battle for the Earth we would keep fighting til the last man. Humanity got its props here.

Overall 7/10

Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman Review

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It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes case! This is definitely one of the better ones as we see Holmes match wits against a new adversary. Interestingly enough, he knows who the culprit is right away so the main objective in the film is gathering evidence. Whether you would consider this as more of a thriller than a mystery or not will be up to you. Nonetheless, I’m always up for seeing a villain walk right up to Holmes to make threats and that ended up being pretty entertaining.

The film starts with Holmes deciding to retire from the criminal business. He has been having headaches as of late and so he won’t be of much use to the Police. Watson protests this, but then Holmes accidentally murders himself by falling into the water. Watson mourns, but then Holmes shows up and lets Watson know that it was all part of the plan. Watson isn’t thrilled about being used like this, but he has no time to pout since the Pajama murders are still going strong. Holmes figures that the best way to get in contact with the murderer is to go undercover as someone who is down on his luck. He will have to be careful not to go too far into this disguise though or it could cost him his life!

The villainous Adrea makes for a fun villain with over confidence and smug personality throughout the film. Saving people from despair only to murder them after they get life insurance is certainly a clever play. She also isn’t afraid of anyone and that includes Sherlock Holmes. She sees through disguise pretty quick. It’s not even that it was a bad disguise but she is naturally wary of anyone who shows up and does what she can to prove whether the person is legit or not.

What really legitimized Adrea as a big threat was when she went to Sherlock Holmes’ office to file a missing report for the guy Holmes was pretending to be. It was a nice, subtle way to threaten him while Holmes fired back. Watson doesn’t seem to pick up on any of this, but he was busy reading so I guess it is to be expected. Adrea certainly wins this round as she gets her nephew to throw a poison wrapper into the fireplace which nearly finishes off Holmes and Watson. Admittedly I was a little surprised that Holmes didn’t see this coming. After all, a villain wouldn’t just go to his base to gloat right? Well, some might I suppose but with how suspicious the kid was I was certainly expecting something to happen. This just goes to show how important it is not to litter as getting the kid to throw the wrapper in the trash would have prevented this from occurring.

Even at the end she managed to outwit Holmes as she pretended to leave an opening which allows Holmes to follow her into a trap. He tries to save face by pointing out that if he didn’t take the bait she would have gotten away, but it just shows that she got him into an impossible situation. It’s only luck that allows Holmes to ultimately keep his life. Adrea was definitely the standout character here and while Holmes is still my favorite, she gives Moriarty some competition as far as the villains are concerned.

Holmes is still a fun lead as always. Once again he does appear to be on the losing side when it comes to fighting another genius. Perhaps even though Holmes is the most intelligent hero he still isn’t quite as smart as the villains. Granted, villains always have the edge in these battles since they get to make a move whenever they want while the heroes end up playing catch up at first. Holmes deciding to have a sudden retirement would have hurt his character but as long as it was just a ruse then it’s okay. I doubt he could resist the allure of a good mystery for very long.

Watson is a mixed bag as you would expect. He has some nice moments like when he gets some clever burns in or when he believes that a man is actually Sherlock Holmes. On the other hand, he is still a little too weak and bad at his job considering how long he has been with Holmes. Allowing the villain to knock the gun out of his hand was quite unfortunate since the heroes really had the upper hand there. I just don’t see how you can lose your gun so easily.

As a minor villain I also liked the fake Spider expert. He did a good job of pretending to be the genuine article and at least he had a gun at the ready. The little slip ups that he made while talking were fairly small ones so at least it wasn’t something that you could really blame him for. He got his revenge for losing to Holmes later on as well so this wasn’t your average 2 bit criminal. The rest of the usual supporting characters like Lestrade were around as well and looked about as good as you would expect. He’s always a fun guy to have tagging along.

Overall, This was definitely a fun Holmes adventure. I want to say that it’s Top 3 for sure. Once I finish the 14 films in the series perhaps I will do some kind of official rankings for all of them. Nonetheless, this is definitely a film that you will want to check if you are a Holmes fan or just like a good film with a lot of suspense. The writing is on point as always and the pacing is really good. The film is very short, but still manages to give a good amount of development to all of the characters involved. It doesn’t feel rushed which is important. It’s going to be tough for the next film to beat this one.

Overall 8/10

Sherlock Holmes in Washington Review

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It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes film. This time he gets to take in the sights of America so that’s always cool. The movie made a point to show New York so I like to think that this was foreshadowing for a future film. That would definitely be a lot of fun. The Sherlock Holmes film series seems to be pretty consistent so far which is certainly a good thing. It’s an enjoyable film although one that also seems a tad darker than the last few Holmes titles as the heroes struggle to really protect anyone.

The film starts off with London sending in two agents to head to Washington in order to give a sensitive document to the Americans. Naturally they decided to be quite clever about this and so they didn’t bring any bodyguards in. Big mistake if you ask me. Well, there was a mole within the London ranks as always so they figure out which agent is actually holding the documents and murder him. Fortunately the agent saw that his end was at hand and gave the documents to another lady aboard the train without her even realizing it. Now Sherlock Holmes must find this lady before the villains do, but his opponent is fairly smart himself.

I always have to wonder why people would just casually go with the villains to their car. Lets be honest with ourselves, if a group of guys with guns ask you to come with them, it’s not going to end well. At the very least they will almost certainly murder you. The reason you are going with them in the first place is because you are worried that they will shoot you otherwise, but your fate will be the same either way so you may as well make a scene. They won’t have much time to mess with you in this situation so they’ll be forced to shoot you right there and then. A far less painful death than otherwise. Alas, characters in these films never quite understand this.

Sherlock Holmes looks very smart as always. He is definitely one step ahead of the villains most of the time. Once in a while he will trip up and make a questionable move like hiding behind the soda, but since he didn’t know where the secret door was it’s not something you can blame him on too much. He did call in for backup as well which was definitely a good move. I also like how Holmes makes sure to rub it in against the villains on how he was right. He may as well since they’re gonna be locked up for a very long time and this is his only chance to make them feel even worse about it. No sympathy for these murderers.

Watson unfortunately looks worse than usual here. I dare say that this was probably his worst appearance from any of the Holmes films and that is really saying something. I don’t know what was up with this, but he kept trying to talk about sports and such while everyone else was talking about the implications this kidnapping could have on the war. In the other films Watson may not have always realized the gravity of the situation right away, but he wouldn’t joke around about it either. It was a little forced, but at least Watson still destroyed one of the villains so he was still useful.

The supporting cast don’t get to do much. We have the American cop who tries to talk tough, but his team can’t seem to do anything right. They were holding the train car as evidence yet the place was broken into by the villains without them even realizing. I don’t see how this was possible unless the Americans actually didn’t think to guard the main exhibition of an active murder case. Not their best moment.

As for the main villain, he is all right. Definitely a big step down from Moriarty, but I’d say that he is better than the average crook. The film did make sure to point out several times that he is very intelligent and even Holmes knew of his reputation. That also speaks to how smart the dead agent was since his microfilm strategy was air tight enough that a villainous genius couldn’t guess it. Even Holmes would not have been able to reach this conclusion without consulting the witnesses of the event.

There is one part to this mystery that was a little too convenient though. At the very beginning the villains pull off the kidnapping by turning off the lights, knocking the guy out, and then kidnapping him into a car on the train until it departed. From there they forced him into pretending that he was with them. (Still should have ran once they were outside) How did the employees not know that the culprits were the guys who turned the lights off? I don’t really see how the villains pulled this off without completely tipping their hand. It would also be obvious if the staff quickly checked on the guy’s room to see if he was okay. Definitely some plot convenience here, but the rest of the film played it pretty straight.

Overall, It was nice to see Holmes get to work in America. To be honest, it’s not as if the scenery looks all that different in this film, but it’s still good to see him moving to a different place for a change. I also like how naturally the villains own a fake antique shop as nobody in America realized that they were buying fakes. Considering that the villain’s whole angle was built around him being the most trust worthy and reputable person in Washington I have to question why he took such a risk. If it was discovered that his whole store was full of fakes that would have really hurt his credibility don’t you think? I guess this guy just likes walking on the edge. If you haven’t seen a Sherlock Holmes film yet then I definitely would say that this is a fair jumping on point. It’s still in the WW II tie-in days so it’s not your standard Holmes case, but it’s a mystery nonetheless.

Overall 7/10

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon Review

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It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes installment! Once again he is busy trying to help the world during World War II. As with the last film this one isn’t a traditional mystery as a result and plays out more like a thriller. You aren’t going to be given a list of suspects and then watch Holmes try to nab the culprit. The mystery here is simply finding out what Moriarty plans to do and why Tobel is so unintelligent despite being touted as a genius.

The film starts off with this Tobel character deciding to give his new invention to Britain. It is a new kind of bomb which is highly effective for Air Strikes. Over 10x better than the current option so naturally the government can’t wait to get it. The problem is that someone is after his life so Sherlock Holmes is in charge of guarding him. Making this even more difficult is the fact that Tobel isn’t keen on co-operating. In fact, he’s come to the country just to troll Britain as he won’t let them learn anything about the weapon. Tensions run high and Holmes might have to accept that he is being played once again.

I do have to say that this film did a better job of handling the rivalry with Holmes and Moriarty than the last time. For starters, it’s more of an even battle this time. Moriarty wins round 1 by getting to Tobel first and also securing the first 3 inventors. Holmes then strikes back in round 2 by cracking the final puzzle first and also for locating Moriarty’s stronghold twice. Holmes certainly has some very solid costumes up his sleeve. Of course Moriarty is able to figure them out, but he is a genius so it’s not like they were ever supposed to fool him. They just gave Holmes a good way to buy some time. The banter between the two characters is definitely on point as always.

Holmes never loses his confidence, but I do have to say that his plans are mighty risky. Quite a few of them revolve around waiting for other characters to come to his rescue. Watson can be reasonably trust worthy, but with the stakes this high I’m not sure I would gamble on him. Still, Holmes definitely lives up to his reputation in this film. Moriarty also still looked good. He may not have won the mental battle quite as well as the last time, but keeping it even with Holmes is still really good.

Meanwhile, Watson looks pretty solid so you feel bad for him when he messes up. In the beginning of the film he is quite ready when the two villains break in and even has his gun out. Unfortunately it just turned out to be Holmes in a disguise. Watson talks back to everybody in this film. The only scene where he really did look bad was when he fell asleep and allowed Tobel to escape. I can’t really make any excuses for him there. He was critical to saving Holmes twice though so he deserves some credit for that. His rivalry with the Police Chief is also a nice mirror to Holmes and Moriarty. All told, Watson definitely fulfills his role as the fighter quite well.

The Police Chief is quite good as I mentioned. He is supremely confident in his task force and while he defers to Holmes on the criminal matters, he keeps his dignity while doing so. Then there is Tobel who is the worst character in the film. His plan doesn’t make any sense at all. Holmes is guarding him free of charge, but then he breaks away to head home and write a letter telling Holmes the secret location of the 4 scientists? Why not tell Holmes in person? If he couldn’t trust Holmes, then why send the letter to him afterwards? I suppose he was desperate by that point, but there wasn’t even much of a point to keeping the invention a secret. It felt like he was playing cat and mouse with the government. The guy seemed like he just wanted to feel high and mighty compared to the others and there was nothing likable about him. If he had simply been a little nicer he would have spared himself a great deal of pain and time.

As expected the writing is very good here. All of the characters sound like they know what they are doing and certainly are smarter than the average underlings. Even Holmes has to back off after one of them takes out a knife, but fortunately Holmes had one as well. The film also has some nice humor moments as characters make sarcastic one liners. The quick pacing of the humor is really what sells it as opposed to dragging a joke out forever. The pacing is quite good, but that’s not really a surprise when you consider that this film is barely over an hour. The Holmes titles so far have definitely been quite short, but they always manage to cram in a good amount of story. I’d expect nothing less.

Overall, this was definitely a fun Sherlock Holmes adventure. It certainly beat the last one and the ending is a lot more satisfying. Leaving a certain trap in operation is just the kind of thing I’d expect from Holmes here since he is not the kind of character who takes prisoners. It may not be the standard mystery story, but Holmes is hardly a standard detective. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out if you haven’t already. I can’t see any reason why you won’t enjoy it if you like a good thriller or are a fan of Sherlock Holmes in general.

Overall 8/10

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Review

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It’s time to look at another Sherlock Holmes film. This one definitely takes a very different approach as it deals with taking down the Nazi’s as opposed to the average crook. It is still a mystery adventure as always but one with the highest of stakes. Should Holmes fail to win the day all of England will fall. Considering that this film came out during World War II it definitely makes sense to have it tie in. While it’s a good movie, this one does feel like a step down from the last adventure.

So there is a mysterious voice which goes on the air once a week to boast about how the Germans keep destroying secret British agents and supply trains. Many civilians perish as well. After the government has had enough of this they call in Sherlock Holmes. Naturally the high council isn’t thrilled as they mock Holmes quite a bit and state that a detective can’t stop such a threat. Holmes didn’t take the case to make friends so he doesn’t care about their chilly attitude all that much but he is determined to crack this case. To that end he will need to get the aid of the underground but will these criminals really band together to help him?

Seeing Holmes talk tough to all of the high ranking officials was definitely amusing. He is portrayed as being absolutely fearless here and that’s really the way that it should be. You don’t get to be the best detective in the world by playing it safe or beating around the bush so naturally he has learned to defend himself. This version of Holmes is a fighter and even at gunpoint he keeps his cool. He’s definitely the highlight of the film although his character doesn’t work quite as well for the emotional scenes.

The scene of him recruiting one of his old underworld contacts, Kitty dragged on quite a bit. We got long zoom ins of her reacting to the news and him trying to look sincere. That being said, the film probably just should have stuck to its guns with the serious mystery and some humor as the other emotional moment also doesn’t sail. We get a long speech from Kitty to the crooks where she attempts to mock them a lot which would theoretically make them want to help. Eventually they took the bait but the speech was a little cheesy.

While it may sound like Kitty just wasn’t a good character, these moments were the exception. She is actually the most important character in the film as she did all of the brain work while Holmes ironically did the leg work. Without Kitty finding out all of the important information off screen, Holmes would have been in quite the pickle. Honestly he didn’t do a whole lot of sleuthing in comparison to the average film. That’s why the conclusion to the film is rather disappointing. It comes across as rather unnecessary as there is no reason why Kitty couldn’t have a happy ending like everyone else. The heroes don’t even mourn much at all as they halfheartedly give one line in remembrance of her and go right back to cracking jokes and having a grand time.

This is especially mean spirited since Holmes is the one who gave her the very unreasonably dangerous job in the first place. He had her allow herself to be kidnapped and then she would be a mole from the inside. There are so many reasons why this could fail but at the very least she should be given an escape plan. At the very least don’t let Kitty be around for the final confrontation but what happened there was mostly just overconfidence on the part of the heroes.

I will say that the villain was pretty interesting. I’m talking about the true culprit who is revealed at the end. I like his smug demeanor and his plan was certainly long term. Waiting 10 years to actually make a move certainly takes a considerable amount of patience. The main underling isn’t quite as interesting. All things considered the guy is pretty generic. You won’t remember him much by the time you finish the film.

As always the writing is pretty good. The banter between the characters is always fun and it’s easy to root for either Watson or Holmes. While Watson may not be as smart as Holmes, he always sticks up for the lead. He is portrayed as more competent than usual here at the very least. Holmes does the talking and Watson always takes his gun out and stays prepared. They have a lot of teamwork here and it’s easy to see why the pair has lasted so long.

As for the council, they are the main suspects in this film. I mean, you could make the assumption that none of them are the villain, but then there wouldn’t be much of a mystery right? Always suspect every character in a Sherlock Holmes film. I feel like the film didn’t really leave any clues as to who the culprit was til near the end but one story was certainly more suspicious than the rest so I guess that is enough to go on. I enjoyed the council though. Sure, they were all fairly stuck up and really seemed to be out of their league all the time, but that always makes for good banter. Holmes definitely had the edge here right from the start though, but the council did their best.

Overall, This is definitely a unique take on Sherlock Holmes and it isn’t a bad one. The ending does slightly sour the experience though. Fortunately the writing is sound and the characters are interesting so there is still a decent amount of replay value here. The film is also quite short as well. If you want to check out a Holmes film for the first time then this isn’t the one to pick. However, this is still a solid film for fans who just want to enjoy a good thriller and for longtime Holmes fans to see him in a different environment.

Overall 7/10

The Hound of the Baskervilles Review

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It’s time to look at a really retro Sherlock Holmes film. The franchise has always been rather enjoyable since I do like a good mystery. I also like it when the detective is incredibly smart and tends to know what is going to happen at all times. It’s why Detective Conan is so good since he is always the smartest guy in the room. The same can be said for Sherlock Holmes who typically knows the guilty party right away and is only slowed down by a lack of evidence.

The film starts with Holmes trying to make Watson feel bad as per usual by showing him a cane and asking the assistant to try and glean some information from it. Watson does learn some information and seems rather proud of himself, but Holmes quickly points out that Watson was sloppy once again. That’s when Mortimer shows up and tells Holmes about a demon dog who has been going around murdering a family for generations. The next victim will be Henry who is inheiriting the estate. Holmes had actually figured that Henry was going to die, but didn’t particularly care. Now that it is an official case he has to make sure to see it through though. Can Holmes solve this supernatural case or will this mark the beginning of the end for the famous sleuth?

Naturally I was rather worried about having a dog be the main villain. It’s why this story has never sounded quite as interesting as some of the others. It was inevitable that the heroes would have to fight the dog after all. Fortunately the dog only really shows up once, but naturally the scene is pretty tragic. Especially since it wasn’t the dog’s fault that he was an antagonist, it was all the owner’s fault. The film definitely lost some points on account of the animal violence even if it was a solid film otherwise. It’s just hard to fully make a comeback after such a plot.

Beyond that, it’s a sound mystery. Holmes decides to stay in London, but as you may expect this doesn’t mean that he is gone for good. His disguise in the film is actually rather genius. He plays the role perfectly and is certainly the best character in the film. The person he was pretending to be had been my favorite prior to the reveal so it just makes sense that Holmes earned the top spot. His detective work is flawless as always. If anything you may find it a little suspect how he was tricked so easily into falling down to the basement, but I suppose you could maybe try and argue that it was all part of the plan. He still made it back quickly enough to help the characters who were less intelligent.

While Watson may not be as smart as Holmes, at least he tries hard. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy since he is insulted quite a bit, but that’s because being around Holmes all the time just sets a rather high bar for him to top. At least he was armed and ready for a majority of the film and never seemed like he would be an easy mark for the villain. Watson can either be a fun character or an annoying one throughout the various adaptions and fortunately this was in the former category.

Then you have Henry who is not smart in the slightest. He knows that people are out to murder him, but he doesn’t care one bit. He is too interested in romance for any of that and even heads to the swamp when nobody is around. There’s no point to this other than to try and taunt the villains by showing that he isn’t afraid of them. I’m sure the culprit would have been thrilled since Henry would have just fallen into the quick sand and died if not for a timely rescue by one of the neighbors. Henry nearly gets shot in the opening scene and doesn’t even realize it either. It’s hard to find this character likable in the slightest since he is so slow on the uptake the whole time. This character would have benefited quite a lot from a little more intelligence or common sense. Even accepting a drink at the end was rather sketchy on his part.

Then we have the suspects. First there is Mortimer who is the first character to show up. He puts Holmes on the case, but then seemingly lies about owning a large dog as his cane has big teeth marks. The guy says that it was just a small dog that he used to own. Is Holmes wrong for once or does this guy have something to hide? Then there is the Butler. What more needs to be said about this guy? The butler is always prowling around the corridors at night and naturally has quite a lot of good excuses at the ready in case anyone asks him why he is there. It’s simply his job. Then there is the butler’s wife who is a psychic. She doesn’t like to talk to the ghosts but always has a change of heart off screen. Is it all part of her plans? There are also the 3 neighbors. The sister who is romantically entangled with Henry. Is she simply trying to get him to lower his guard? There’s her brother who is super glad to have Henry show up so perhaps he is overcompensating so that he won’t seem suspicious? Finally we have an old man who seems to know things about all of the cast. Perhaps these secrets include some financial ones about the estate so he will need Henry out of the picture. Of course we also can’t forget the dangerous guy running around the moor trying to flatten everyone with rocks.

Definitely a lot to think about as you try to solve the mystery before Holmes does. The pacing is rather good so something is always happening on screen. The film doesn’t feel long either and we should also give some credit to the writing for that as well since the script was sound. Sherlock Holmes certainly earned its rep as a solid book series and this was a good film to start the retro movies out on in that sense. A shame about the dog scene, but since that likely wouldn’t return for future movies, it’s still a good sign for the film series as a whole.

Overall, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a solid mystery film so long as you can get past the dog scene. If you can see the dog as simply an antagonistic monster then maybe it won’t hurt quite so much. The Sherlock Holmes and Watson dynamic is always fun, especially when Holmes whips out his violin and begins to troll his assistant. Of course, they aren’t together for most of the film since they used a divide and conquer strategy this time. We’ll see how the team goes about it next time.

Overall 4/10

Spiral Alive Review

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It’s time to look at a prequel to one of the best mystery manga on the block, Spiral Alive. A long time ago I had read most of the series but then the last chapters took a few years to get scanned. I decided to re read the series from the beginning since there were quite a few gaps in my memory. This was definitely a good move since I forgot about 95% of the plot. It’s definitely a great series that I’d recommend as the cast is solid and the art is really good. Those are the solid foundations you need for a good series.

The series starts off as a typical school drama. Imari has been trying to get Shirou to notice her but it’s tough goings as she has to work up the nerve and whenever she does something happens which gets in her way. Months pass and she finally has a chance when a mysterious girl known as Yukine lets her know where he is. Unfortunately this girl is currently his girlfriend so Shirou has to turn Imari down. Imari is pretty upset of course since she was trolled so thoroughly but finding Yukine will be difficult since the girl is the lead suspect of a string of murders that have begun to occur. Shirou vows to stop her, but he will be in a race against time with the police as well as the world’s greatest detective Kiyotaka. There are also a bunch of third parties who aim to get involved as well. The series definitely changes quite a bit from the happy beginning.

Naturally as this is a prequel there are quite a few characters from the main series who show up. The main character even makes a cameo in the final chapter and the heroine also appears as a guest star two or three times. Most of them don’t get too large of a role except for a handful of the blade children who are always popping up. For reference, there exists a group of teenagers known as the Blade Children. They are all around the same age since that is when the period of experimentation was until it was stopped. Kiyotaka and the special ops have a list of all the Blade Children to ensure that they keep tabs on them. The sad fact of life for these children is that once they turn a certain age a trigger is unlocked which turns them into murder weapons. Effectively they are all sleeper agents and they know this, but are unable to stop it. One group seeks to destroy all of them before this happens, another group aims to save them and finally we have Kiyotaka’s group which just observes and steps in when things get messy. Given that he knows all about them anyway, a good number of the Blade Children work for Kiyotaka in exchange for safety.

There’s a lot more to all of this, but you get the general idea. Imari is the main character of the first bit of the series, but then the role switches to Kousuke. All of the characters are after Yukine because she holds within her the information on the missing Blade Children. There are a few who actually managed to keep their names out of the official database which is a huge concern for the government since just 2-3 would be enough to take down a whole country from the inside. (Yeah, I feel like this is hyperbole, but maybe they become that dangerous?) Kiyotaka is determined to get the list and this begins his long game of cat and mouse with Yukine. Yukine will have to stay sharp throughout though because Kiyotaka has yet to ever be defeated in a game of wits.

By this point you may be wondering who to root for. Well, it’s a tough call because none of the sides are objectively all that good. I suppose Shirou is probably the least shady and Imari is shady, but in a comical way to you can root for her. It’s hard to particularly root for Yukine or Kiyotaka. Lets get into some of the tough issues the manga presents and where I stand. Hint, I don’t side with Kiyotaka on anything.

One of the big situations that happened in the past is a Blade Child took Shirou hostage. She murdered a bunch of other people as well, but seemed sad about it. Shirou tried to help her and things were looking all right, but then Kiyotaka granted her permission to destroy herself so the girl did and Shirou held a grudge about it ever since. He wants to find his own answer so that he can tell Kiyotaka what other option there was that day. Unfortunately, the manga ends with Shirou seemingly believing that Kiyotaka may have made the right choice after all. Kiyotaka’s reasoning was that the girl was going to be destroyed as soon as she left the building anyway or would have done the same act at a later point so he simply let her go out peacefully.

Definitely a lot of justifying going on there, but I definitely couldn’t roll with it. Encouraging the girl to destroy herself there is never the right answer. The lives of the Blade Children may be tragic since they have a short life span and lose control of themselves, but as long as they live there is always a chance for a cure. Dying prematurely like that just destroys any possible hope that was left. As you can guess, Kiyotaka could never bounce back from this.
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Either way he was never going to though as the guy just isn’t likable. He knows everything and is always a step ahead of the rest, but always likes to act as if he isn’t very smart anyway. He jokes around a lot and likes to dress up as various animals. It’s heavily implied that he just does all of this because he is supremely bored from being right all the time so he may as well amuse himself. The series does go all out in trying to show that this guy is barely even human with how effectively he plays everyone. He starts his plans years in advance and they still turn out all right. The guy’s annoying and definitely not the kind of genius that you want on your side. Even the cops get fed up with him since the guy always does as he pleases.

You’ll feel bad for the other characters as well since they all try to out think him. Almost all of the Blade Children also possess above average intellect and so they make thorough plans of their own, but it always seems as if Kiyotaka is still in their heads somehow. From the Blade Children, the worst character is probably Kousuke. That’s not to say that he is a bad character, but he’s just a little more bland than the others. He is sent in as Kiyotaka’s right hand man (Totally not why I’m not a fan of the character of course) and he is dealing with his self esteem as the guy is always getting played. He also wants to get along with Ryoko but can’t stop himself from insulting her every time. I can’t say that I have too much sympathy for that kind of character so I was rooting for the inevitable friend zone. Kousuke can fight to a reasonable extent but even then the final fight is rather cheesy.

As for Ryoko, she is definitely a lot more reasonable than Kousuke. She has led a normal life so far despite being a blade child which is admirable since it appears like she was the only one able to do so. Her role wasn’t all that large, but she was a reasonable character. She did her best to foil Kiyotaka’s plans and seemed more heroic than the others. At the very least she wasn’t as interested in fighting as the others. Kanone was her polar opposite as he thoroughly enjoys taking down the human oppressors. He takes on a whole base on his own. His role here is strictly limited to a handful of cameos, but as he gets a big role in the main series that makes sense.

Now it’s time to look at the actual main character of the series. Imari almost feels out of place here with how energetic she is. Imari doesn’t care about thinking things through of all this Blade Children stuff. She just wants to defame Yukine so she can have Shirou all to herself. She goes to rather extreme measures for this like challenging Yukine to a death match and constantly trying to get Shirou to two time Yukine. While this could have been a little dicey if it was played more seriously, Imari’s comedic subplot ends up working really well. When she shows up at the end of the series it’s a pretty intense moment since she had been gone for a while. It would have been nice if she could have put up a better fight but technically she is only human so I guess this was accurate. Definitely a unique main character.

Shirou is also one of the main characters although his quest seems to get less screen time than the others. He wants to save Yukine and has the brains to achieve this plan but isn’t very strong. There are a few similarities to the main character of the other Spiral series here. Shirou is typically a little annoying though since he relies on others quite a lot considering that he makes a bunch of speeches about being a total loner. He is willing to lose himself in his journey and acknowledges that dying is a real threat, but takes no steps to protect himself. Even when some guys break in and hold him hostage the guy doesn’t really react. He’s rather bland in general so I’m definitely fine with him getting the shaft for the most part. I will give him some credit for staying loyal to Yukine though.

We can’t forget about her of course since the whole series really revolves around her and her quest. Yukine has begun murdering everyone yet leaving a lot of clues so she is playing the game both ways. Some of her actions are rather hard to rationalize, but the in universe reason seems to be that she was hoping someone would stop her which makes a little more sense than usual since the blade persona within her also has some control. Her backstory is certainly tragic and explains her quest for revenge pretty well. Naturally I was rooting for her in this case. Arresting the villain is the best move of course, but since all of the “heroes” were trying to protect the guy then I have to go with the vigilante. That’s another reason why the heroes are pretty annoying half the time since they aren’t actually interested in stopping the villains. Too much politics between the 3 groups so they all have diplomatic immunity, but just putting them all behind bars would be effective if you ask me.

Regardless of her reasons, Yukine is still firmly an antagonist of course. 2 wrongs don’t make a right and even if you root for the character trying for revenge of course they aren’t actually in the right. Yukine is definitely a compelling character though and I do like how she intentionally trolls Imari the whole time. She just makes life hard on the lead for no particular reason and admits that it is just for amusement. It’s nice to have the villain get a sense of humor.

Madoka is another one of the Blade Children and she gets along with Kiyotaka more than the others. They are actually friends and maybe that is because she seems to be the smartest of the group. She is seen as one of the best fighters as well and is a good all around character. Madoka tends to have a bit of a rivalry with Imari so their banter is fun. I’d say that Imari always has the edge though. Then we have Imari’s friend Moeki. (Possibly spelled as Moiki but the scanlation made the letter hard to see) Imari technically has another friend but that person never actually did anything so there’s no need to talk about her. Moeki didn’t do much either, but was always fun in her brief screen time. She was definitely the smart member of the trio and did a good job of keeping Imari in line. If any of the normal characters could keep up with the blade ones it would be her. Still, her role is very minor so don’t expect the character to do much. She’s just a low key hype character.

Finally we have Professor Sheffield who talks a good game, but seems out of his depth the entire time. Kiyotaka is always one step ahead of him and I believe you could even say the same for Yukine. His plan in the past backfired just as horribly as in the present. He does a lot of panicking and I can’t say that he was ever a likable character. He may not be threatening, but he does give the series a real villain to oppose so I guess that’s good.

The art is really good as you would expect from this series. A lot of thought and detail clearly went into it. The fight scenes are great as well when they show up. Naturally this is a series that is more about the dialogue and story than the fights, but we still do get a few of them. The art does a good job of keeping the exposition interesting and it’s never hard to follow. The writing is also quite solid so there is really nothing to hold this series back. There are no real negatives to be had here. Even the tragic backstory isn’t really gritty or anything as it’s mostly off screen and just handled as business per usual kind of thing. At most I do have an issue with nobody destroying arresting Kiyotaka or at least pointing out that his reasoning was wrong. In the end everyone basically agrees with him and it’s heavily implied that he got the last laugh. A shame, but of course the big villain couldn’t lose in the prequel.
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Overall, Spiral Alive is definitely a fun series. It’s certainly got a very intense plot that will keep you guessing all the way through. It does a good job of mixing together the light Imari plot with the more serious Yukine one. Everything here is high quality from the art to the writing and you’ll breeze through the volumes. It’s definitely best to read the main series first since this one spoils some things, but if you read this one first you’ll still understand what is happening. One day I’ll be sure to review the main series as it’s been a very long time since I’ve read that one.

Overall 8/10