Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Die Hard 2 Review

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

It’s time to look at the next installment in the Die Hard series. The first Die Hard was pretty solid and I’m happy to report that the sequel is also pretty good. While it’s not quite as good as the first one I would say that it’s on a similar level. It doesn’t really make any mistakes and is strong in all areas, but it just loses the head to head against the first one each time. Basically anything that Die Hard 2 did, the first one did better. No shame in that of course, the important thing is that the sequel kept it close.

The film starts with John heading to an airport and getting ready to meet up with his wife. Her flight’s taking a while, but John is there early to be ready for it. Unfortunately he notices a few terrorists messing around in the airport. He chases them off, but it looks like this is once again going to be a big conspiracy. These terrorists are trying to free their drug dealer from one of the planes and they intend to destroy everyone if their demands are not met. John has to try and stop them before too many people die, but will he be able to?

It’s always rough for the hero in a case like this because there are just way too many hostages and civilians. It’s really not very practical for him to save everybody and yet it’s hard not to let it affect him either. There’s one scene in particular where a bunch of people die. The film tries to get you to think they have a chance at surviving initially but you just know that they won’t. It would be a little too easy even if it would have been great to see them live. John saves a ton of people ultimately but the body count is definitely very high. This is definitely a large scale attack.

Part of why the situation goes so poorly is because people don’t like John here. The cops are portrayed as being incredibly arrogant and overconfident. In particular I’m talking about the captain. Captain Lorenzo seems to have a big beef with John. I suppose he doesn’t like all the attention McClane got, but he ends up being really petty about it. Keep in mind that lives are at stake and Lorenzo just wants to compare egos and talk a good game. It rarely feels like he has anyone’s best interests at heart and by the time he starts to shape up it’s too late. He isn’t the only one mocking John as the Army Special Forces does the same thing as well.

It’s not intentionally comedic, but it does start to scratch that surface as we get back to back to back scenes of everyone yelling at John. Everyone can’t stand the fact that he is trying to warn them and make plans to stop this situation before it gets out of control. They’re all just doing their best to get in the way. Some of these characters have decent reasons while others have none art all. It’s no wonder why the villains had such an easy time having their way with everyone here.

Ah well, at least John is a solid character as always. No matter how difficult the situation gets he continues to try to save as many people as he can. John has a lot of great plans and in a fight he certainly deals out a lot of damage. He takes out a ton of fighters all by himself and is basically a one man army. He manages to keep the humor up as well which makes sense to keep his spirits up. We don’t get to have as much banter with him on the comms this time though.

The villains are fairly generic. They want a lot of money and that’s really about it. The main villain has good strategy tactics and their competence never comes into question. Ultimately they aren’t all that memorable though. They’re just your average run of the mill villain group that you would expect to see in a movie like this. At least the villains weren’t bad. The standout one was probably the guy who knew karate and fought John. They had a pretty good back and forth fight before John’s brute strength was just enough to take care of business.

The film’s main weakness here is that it sometimes makes the villains look good by making the heroes look terrible in comparison. One big scene that comes to mind is when Lorenzo sends a group of agents over to fight like 3-5 terrorists. It’s a large group but they all walk single file so they just get mowed down. Most of them don’t even react as they get shot to death. How do you just get picked off so easily like that? It made no sense and I never liked the idea of everyone running in single file. That’s definitely the quickest way to get blown up in a situation like this. Everyone who isn’t John on the hero side looks terrible.

The fights in this film are definitely handled well. They’re pretty back and forth which is good since the villains aren’t just getting one punched as if they were nobodies. These are still serious villains who have been training quite a lot so they better have some level of skill right? Die Hard 2’s pacing is good so the scenes never drag on. Even when there is no fight going on the plot is moving forward. There are no points during the movie where it feels like things have come to a halt and that’s always good.

Naturally the film can get a bit violent at times. Most of it isn’t really on screen as you just see the scenes leading up to the grisly deaths. People get sawed to pieces and meet other such fates. One guy gets fatally stabbed on screen though which was a little surprising. That’s probably the most intense scene in the film. While the writing is solid the script can also get a little tricky with everyone developing a bit of a sailor’s mouth. Fortunately the TV version is good at fixing this.

There is one subplot here with the TV reporter from last time and John’s wife. While the reporter was definitely in the wrong last time and just being exploitative, he wasn’t bad here. He was actually one of the more entertaining characters as he tried to find out the truth. He did good in sniffing out the lies that were being reported. He did end up causing some panic with his reporting, but unlike the first case where it was giving out critical intel to the villains, here he is just giving the public a heads up. You kind of feel bad for the guy when he ultimately gets zapped. At least he was doing a better job of getting the news out to people then the government cover up that was going on.

Overall, Die Hard 2 is just a very good thriller movie. We get a lot of good fights and dialogue here. The stakes stay high as the planes get closer and closer while the heroes struggle to think of what to do next. There are certainly quite a few moments where you will have to suspend disbelief though which is common for thriller films and especially terrorist related ones. It feels like the good guys just can’t do anything sometimes and they act less like professionally trained individuals and more like bots. These scenes aren’t too numerous though and either way I recommend checking this out if you want to see a good action movie. It can get a little intense for sure, but it’s handled with a good amount of quality.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Lethal Weapon Review

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

It’s time to take a look at a thriller from back in the day. Lethal Weapon is a pretty popular thriller series and now I can say that I have finally started it. It’s aged pretty well and will definitely give you a solid amount of action. It’s going to be tough for the sequels to top this one and that’s always what you want to see. The first film of a series should always start off on a good note to keep you around for the sequels.

The movie starts off with introducing us to the two lead characters. Martin busts up a drug deal by pretending to be a buyer. This does lead to him almost getting murdered but he manages to get out in one piece. The fact that he takes unnecessary risks when going on these missions allows him to make it through in scenarios like this. Then you have Roger who is nearing retirement and plays things by the books. He’s told that he will now have to work with Martin since the guy is such a risk and nobody wants to work with him. Roger feels the same way, but it’s an order so he’ll get it done. What starts out as a simple drug crime becomes a big conspiracy as more victims are found and the enemies appear to have government issued weapons. Roger may have to take some big risks this time.

Lethal Weapon’s plot is sound even if it’s not the most original. The characters are basically trying to fight off a drug dealer with a few twists and turns thrown in. I don’t think the movie could go for a grander plot in the first movie since a good chunk of it is also developing the characters. This is something the movie will be able to skip in the sequel. These scenes are worth it though because they’re just a lot of fun. The character dynamic here is sound and the writing backs it up. It never feels like the scenes are wasted or that it slows down the movie’s pacing.

Martin is definitely a fun character even when he is going through quite a lot in his personal life. It’s pretty rare to have a main character who actually is suicidal. As a result he isn’t feeling 100% for most of the film and he acts very recklessly. To an extent this works out in his favor on some cases like when he busted a drug deal. Martin doesn’t let it get the best of him when we see the guy in action though. At one point Roger keeps quipping about how Martin seems to murder everyone but all of the deaths we saw in the film weren’t really avoidable. Martin proves that he is a great cop time and time again in the film. Ultimately he ended up being the MVP and Roger would have been doomed without him. It’ll be fun to see Martin in the second film since he should now be at 100%. He definitely contributes to a lot of the humor in the film as well.

Then we have Roger who is inching closer to retirement and has managed to make it through his career without injury. He has a family and considers himself to have had a pretty fortunate life so far.  Being paired up with Martin definitely changes that as now any case could potentially be fatal. Martin may not be able to fight the way his partner can but he does still have good gun skills. He’s just a nice guy to hang around with and always means well.

Finally we have Joshua who may or be the main villain but he has the most personality. He works as a hit man for the villains and was trained in special forces. As a result he makes for a pretty tough villain to beat. He also did come very close to beating Martin so the guy lived up to his hype. The actual main villain is your classic drug dealer. He’s not bad, I like the confidence at least. He just isn’t quite as memorable as his right hand man. The guy also can’t fight so it’s not like he will be mixing it up with the others.

What really makes this film work is the solid humor. The movie has a solid script with a lot of good humor. There is some language but for the most part the film stays strong. It does manage to get that Christmas dinner vibe while also getting serious when needed. It really goes through all of the emotional shifts as the movie progresses. We also get to see why Martin is known as a living weapon by the end as he gets into some fights. The scene of him breaking free from the chains and taking down a bunch of guys was handled well. If anything it made the actual ending feel a bit superfluous. I know we needed to have a fight with him and Joshua but it was a little dragged out and didn’t really impress me. I actually found some of the other battles to be better but this one still did have some nice choreography.

Lethal Weapon also has quite a few different climaxes. One of them is in the desert and we got to see Martin’s shooting skills. Their plan was quite sound there and if anything Roger’s daughter just messed it up. I understand being a little nervous but once you’re in the getaway car that’s your chance. If she had braked, turned, or done anything then the whole film could have been ended much sooner. Roger also deserves some blame there since he didn’t support Martin at all once the shooting started. That was their best chance to end things. They may have ultimately won out, but things could have gotten very dicey by not finishing the villains off in this moment.

Overall, Lethal Weapon is a movie that has aged quite well. It’s just a fun action thriller that has a nice sense of humor. The movie has good pacing and writing so those are all of the elements that you need in order to be a success. Put one way, the film had no real negatives. I could recommend it to anyone who likes a good action film and the sequel is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. Since the characters do return in the sequel that shouldn’t be a tall order though.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Scream Review

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

It’s time to look at one of the most iconic horror franchises of all time. I’m talking about Scream with good ole Ghostface. I think it’s fair to say that you expect a certain kind of film when you watch Scream and it delivers. This is exactly what you would expect in pretty much all aspects. It isn’t my kind of film and the crazy excessive violence dooms it from the start, but at least the film tries to differentiate itself a bit during the journey like with the great soundtrack. It’s not a film I could ever recommend but if you like slashers then this isn’t a bad one to check out.

The movie starts off with Ghostface showing up to someone’s house and murdering her. We then cut to the next day as the whole town is on red alert. School is still on for now, but security has been ramped up. Nobody knows who the killer is, but there’s a good chance he is somewhere in the town. Sidney is particularly distressed because almost a year ago her mother was also murdered in a grisly way. Sidney quickly finds out that she is the next target as Ghostface calls her and makes his intent known. She will need to find some way to stop him before she becomes the star of her own horror movie.

So lets talk about what makes Scream a little different from the average horror movie. For starters we have a great soundtrack here. I dare say that it’s probably the best horror soundtrack I’ve ever heard. It’s certainly the best slasher one I’ve experienced. We get constant rock music and the music doesn’t bother being subtle as it really intensifies during all of the big scenes. I dare say that this was poking fun at the usual horror films as well which is always a good idea if you ask me. The music really takes you to the next level.

Then there is the fact that the film wastes absolutely no time. Ghostface appears almost immediately in the film instead of showing up way later. Horror films are no stranger to having a quick beginning, but it is really rare that the guy shows up in costume so early on. It’s like having a mini movie at the beginning of the actual movie which was clever. Then even when he confronts Sidney that happens a lot sooner than I had thought. The guy shows up quite a lot and takes many attempts at the heroes but it works really well. Even as he loses the guy still makes his presence known.

It’s also nice to see the characters actually putting up a good fight against this guy. They really give him a beating and knock him down several times as the adventure goes on. It’s not something you would typically see in a movie like this one and while they are ultimately doomed it still works out very well. It delays the inevitable but that’s fine. Having a quality fight scene is always a good idea. If anything you will just wonder why the heroes never try finishing this guy off and turn their backs to him. Some of these characters seem like they would win in a fist fight so they just should have pressed the advantage.

Then the film goes into the usual slasher tropes which takes us back to square 1. For starters the film is incredibly violent. Everyone dies as painfully as possible and in particular there is a lot of blood in how they die. I dare say that the film is poking a little fun here too as everyone takes multiple stabs to go down instead of the usual just 1 hit like in most other films. It’s not like they ever really manage to do much between stabs though but with that and the face of the mask I dunno. It feels like a bit of a parody here too even if these are serious scenes.

We also can’t forget the script which isn’t very good as the teenagers all like to yell and panic as much as possible. Most of them seem to love the violence and are borderline rooting for the murderer as they have a lot of fun with the concept. The fact that they wear the costume later on is quite telling as well. Everyone in this town is intense though like the principal as well as he really threatens the students with death for this. You can tell how his character arc is going to end right from the start. The characters are portrayed to be as unlikable as possible which is always unfortunate.

Finally Ghostface himself has motives that are pretty sad all around. The film goes out of its way to make Sidney’s mother’s death as tragic as possible. Why can’t the villain just be a mass murderer and not a super sketchy individual on top of that? Such a character is already completely unlikable, it’s not necessary to go any further than that. Between that and him getting beaten up by just about every character in the book, things don’t look very good for Ghostface.

As for the main character, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of Sidney. Sidney is trying to come to terms with all of these dark events and does a reasonable job of this. Unfortunately the only supportive person in this is Tatum. Everyone else are really just here to make the situation tougher. Unfortunately she caves in to peer pressure with Billy at the end and loses sight of her priorities. It’s really not the best time to completely be messing around…especially when it’s not even her house. She has good confidence even when fighting Ghostface so that’s good. She’s generally very determined and knows how to throw a punch. Sidney may not be amazing, but she gets the job done.

Meanwhile we have Billy who is the super shady, suspect boyfriend. The film makes him look as creepy as possible even to the point where he appears out of nowhere right after Ghostface leaves. You have to decide if this makes him an actual suspect or if this is another trope that the film is mocking. Either way there is no reason to like him as the guy has no respect for anyone else and keeps pressuring Sidney into going further despite her reservations.

The friends are just as bad if not worse aside from Tatum. Tatum is Sidney’s only real friend and is at least a nice person who will stand by her. Tatum really gets the short end of the stick in this film as things never go well for the best friend. You have to give her a lot of credit for really trying to help Sidney and she was always quick on the defense. Tatum also puts up a good fight in her scene.

Then we’ve got Dewey who is a young cop that is trying to be taken seriously in the town. Unfortunately this is not going over very well as everyone keeps on thinking on him as the little kid they once knew. In their defense, Dewey doesn’t do a lot to garner respect as he still enjoys ice cream and gets bossed around by Tatum. When it’s crunch time he ultimately folds and that’s really all you need to know about the character. He also puts romance before the job and that’s never a good thing for a cop or any other position.

Finally there is Gale. She’s a bold reporter who gets on everyone’s bad side, but always manages to get a scoop. She doesn’t get along with Sidney because she believes that the lead tagged the wrong person for the gas chamber. She intends to blast this case wide open and will do whatever it takes towards this goal. It makes for a good subplot but I don’t think the execution was completely on point. Honestly she should have been the one to shoot Ghostface at the end. I’d say that she earned it considering how much work she put in and the fact that she was tracking this case for over 10 years. It just felt like she got the shaft here. Still a fun character though even if she is using her wiles to manipulate Dewey. It’s more his fault for falling for her tactics. She’s just winning.

Overall, Scream will grab your attention and it really does end up being a smarter slasher film than most. It’s not going to win an Oscar or anything like that, but it feels more realistic than some others. There aren’t a lot of moments where you think “The character should have done this instead of that” They actually make logical choices for the most part (Crawling into the garage door was a bad move) but it’s just too late for them anyway. The main takeaway here is that you’ve gotta try and fight off the villain when you have the edge instead of running. This film’s way too violent until you’re of age so be warned. If you do want to see a slasher though, you can’t do much better than this one.

Overall 1/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Eye of the Devil Review


This one is a real obscure film. Eye of the Devil is probably a movie that you could go a whole life time without hearing about.That’s for good reason because this simply isn’t a good film. It’s riding on a terrible premise that only works if all of the characters are downright awful.If you’ve got stronger characters then this plot never gets a chance to move forward.

Catherine and Philippe are heading to an old Wineyard that he owns. Philippe owns a lot of property but unfortunately it has not been producing very well as of late. In fact, it’s been in steady decline for awhile now. Being close by should help, but things continue to get worse. Then Catherine notices that Philippe begins to act rather oddly. He’s angrier and more aggressive to the point where he barely resembles the man that he once was. He is slowly being taken over and Catherine isn’t sure if she can do anything about it.

One of the people who may be affecting him is a lady named Odile. She is a witch who possesses vague hypnotic abilities. She was able to nearly destroy Catherine within a few minutes. Odile intended to have her jump off of the building but Catherine managed to just barely hang on in time. Who knows how much Odile did against Philippe. Of course, Philippe is weak willed as it is so it wouldn’t take a whole lot to overpower him. Odile made for a good villain. She has a very mysterious vibe about her which worked really well and made her feel like a genuine witch. She’s probably the best character here by default.

Her brother Christian is less impressive. This isn’t just because he is constantly shooting animals, but it did not help either. The guy has about as much personality as a piece of cardboard. It’s easy to forget that he works for the main characters because he never acts like it. Of course Philippe is brainwashed by this point so it’s not like he is going to say anything to the contrary.

It almost goes without saying that Philippe is a terrible character. He lets down everyone who was counting on him and makes some of the worst decisions you’ll ever see. The guy has the mind of a pawn in a chess board and allows everyone to do whatever they want with him. That just doesn’t not help his image in any capacity. It doesn’t help that he was corrupted almost instantly as well. I was expecting him to have some kind of epiphany by the end where he realizes that he’s changed, but it never really happens. At least not in a satisfactory way.

Catherine is the voice of reason, but unfortunately she is a weak one. Catherine can’t really do much to help Philippe and she is powerless against the enemies who have mystical powers. As a result all she can really do is talk tough from the end of the room. She does her best to protect her kids and Philippe but there isn’t much she can do. It’s more of a frustrating character arc than anything to be honest. It would almost have been better if she was also brainwashed so she could have at least joined the rest of the crew in their hypnotic trance.

Then we have Pere who is just here to weave his lies into the plot and trick Catherine some more. It does serve as a reminder not to just take people at their word just because they are wearing a robe. They have to actually do something to show that they’re on the level. Pere was just here to help with the sacrifice and doom the characters even more.

As I mentioned, the plot only works because the characters are so bad. How did Philippe seriously allow himself to be brought to the point where he was going to sacrifice himself for the crops? That’s just such a bad idea all around. There’s also this feeling that Catherine and Philippe are on their own for most of the film and yet we can’t forget that the aunt (Aunt or grandma) was there as well as the kids. They just conveniently vanished for large chunks of the film with no real explanation. All it really did was help throw you out of the movie even more. This film really needed some tips on improving the scenario. It’s not like these guys guys could have done much but at least they could have been supporting Catherine the whole time.

The film doesn’t do any favors by having Christian go after the birds the whole time. Did we really need any animal violence to tip the scales? It’s not horribly handled like in other films but everything continues to add up. The birds should have just been spared and Christian’s character completely removed since it was ultimately pointless. At the very least that is definitely what I would have done if I was picked as one of the writers. I’d also throw in some more supernatural elements like ghosts and demons to spice things up. Otherwise there just isn’t much to actually hold your interest here.

Overall, This is a film that you will only enjoy if you really enjoy the setting or something. Otherwise the slow pacing and the poorly thought out plot will destroy the movie. It’s always really hard to root for a character who ends up breaking down for no real reason and gets manipulated so easily. The rest of the characters not being very likable either definitely hurts as well. You need to have some kind of hook to the movie and this one just didn’t have anything. That ended up being the movie’s biggest weakness. That and the terrible ending.

Overall 2/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Carriers Review


It’s time to look at another zombie film. This time it’s less of a sci-fi though as the zombies don’t run around destroying people. It’s definitely an interesting look at the end of the world, but the cast certainly aren’t likable and I dare say that it is intentional. Karma slowly starts to catch up to them as they go through their travels and by the end there really isn’t a happy end for all of them. In fact, depending on how you look at it it’s game over for everyone.

The film starts off by introducing us to the state of the world. A plague infected the planet and almost everyone is now dead. The main characters aren’t the chosen 4 who have survived as there are other survivors, but the human race has been whittled down tremendously. That’s why they came up with some rules. If they come across someone who is infected, then that person is already dead so the heroes won’t try to help. They can’t go near any infected people and they have to disinfect everything that may have been close to an infected. Their goal is to get to a beach since it’s an isolated place and hopefully nobody is there. I don’t know how likely it is that nobody would be there since even though this beach is no longer active…it’s a beach.

One of the problems here is the fact that none of the characters adhere to the rules. One of the big ones naturally is not to get anywhere close to the infected yet they do so all the time. As all of the characters begin to get infected you’ll see the others walk around without their masks. They jump into houses without masks and just run around constantly. They’ll make a big deal of putting on the masks later on, but by then they would already be infected. It’s part of why I believe they all would have ultimately died by the end even without making so many mistakes.

Brian is arguably the main character here. He’s a very rude guy who is always yelling and being aggressive in order to get people to see his way of thinking. Brian does care for his friends, but not for anyone else. He’s used to doing the dirty work to the point where it has become routine. Karma hits him pretty hard and fast though and you can sort of see how his character arc will play out. I do think he should have been a little more careful in the ending though. I suppose a part of him wanted to go out in that way since he wouldn’t have to endure the longer process. None of the characters like the idea of becoming an infected after all.

Then there is Danny who was probably the worst character of the bunch although Kate gives him a run for his money. Danny is the kind of guy who will pressure others to make the hard calls, but offers no help or will even try to make it sound like he would have made the nice move. Either he would end up making everyone infected or he would simply get sore later on since deep down he didn’t want it to go this way. He gets influences pretty easily by Kate and just doesn’t make any good decisions throughout the movie. He isn’t mean like Brian but in a way that may be why he comes across as a little fake at times.

Bobby is probably the most sincere of the 4 characters, but that comes back to bite her. She really did not handle the situation well at all. You can see why she may have acted the way she did with the kid, but she really should have tried to help through the plastic as opposed to taking it off. I don’t blame her for hiding it from the rest of the group after that though. If anything that just helped her prolong the inevitable and it would have been way worse for her if she had spoke up right away.

Finally we have Kate who probably makes the others regret that she was taken along for the ride. She has no real bond with the other characters so that makes it pretty easy for her to constantly tell Danny that they need to bump someone off. She’s that negative voice in his ear always trying to give dicey instructions. By the end of the film she seems pretty satisfied since it seems like things went well for her. While the film doesn’t even imply otherwise, I do think that the characters are already doomed. She was really close to an infected Bobby for quite a while, Danny made contact with Brian a few times post infection and he was also really close to the dead zombie. Then there’s all the times they were all walking around without masks.

I think that Carriers has a hard time deciding just how infectious the virus is. Part of it also depends on the individual’s resistance to being sick as well, but you would still think that the characters would keep the masks on more often. I don’t care if it’s a little uncomfortable, if it’s the only thing keeping me alive then I’ll be wearing it all the time. These characters don’t really tend to think things through though so maybe it’s not too surprising.

Then the film really jumped the shark by introducing a dog in towards the end. Keep in mind that there is seriously no reason to have a dog and the instant he appeared I knew that the film was in trouble. Sure enough that ends up being game over for him as the characters grab the gun and the film was completely destroyed in that moment. It was already not going to be that high, but this moment was a game changer. Then you’ve also got the fact that some random army characters show up later on for forced tension as they want to keep Bobby and Kate for sketchy reasons. This is another plot line that comes out of nowhere and does nothing except show that it’s a cruel world now. We already knew that so why bother? We already had the Dad and his dying kid for that plotline and that was already pretty tragic. That was the death flags moment for Brian by the way. Realistically they couldn’t have helped her but they just shouldn’t have pulled over from the start. Shooting the two old ladies was also crossing a big line since they were putting their lives above everyone else’s.

Overall, Carriers is definitely a miss. The idea of making a quality zombie film could be good, but this one just really missed the mark. It made all of the mistakes it possibly could and even with the classic “Everyone is doomed” ending it can’t really save itself. The writing is very weak and it’s a mean spirited film where everyone loses out. That’s why I do think a main theme here is about how the characters’ selfish choices ultimately doom them all but that could have just been coincidental. After all the ending does try to stay vague to an extent….I just don’t quite buy it. You’ll want to stay far away from this film and if anything you should watch the Vincent Price film about being the Last Man on Earth instead. That one handles all of the themes way better than this film ever could.

Overall 1/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Joyride Review

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

It’s been a while since I saw a classic slasher. This one plays it pretty straight with the villain being everywhere and knowing all the answers as he makes things miserable for the leads. The film also goes out of its way to make the leads as unlikable as possible so in the end everyone loses. It’s a pretty bad film for sure and one of those titles where you feel like the heroes had a lot of chances to get out until they didn’t.

Joyride starts off with Lewis getting a call from his old friend Venna. She doesn’t have a ride anymore after going through a breakup so Lewis quickly buys a car and offers to drive her. Along the way he finds out that his brother has been arrested yet again so he makes a stop to pick the guy up. Fuller figures that he’ll be a third wheel on the drive and since Lewis isn’t direct enough to say otherwise they head out. Fuller quickly gets bored though and wants to live on the edge so he installs a radio in the car and convinces Lewis to play a prank on a driver. The prank is to convince the driver that he is a girl and trick him into going to a hotel room. The prank works a little too well as the driver murders the guy and then decides to get payback on the brothers. He now intends to murder them and Venna but first he wants to humiliate them for a while.

That’s the main plot and there isn’t much to it beyond that. Rusty (The driver) continues to force them to do whatever he says as he terrorizes them with his truck. He also takes Venna’s best friend hostage so the heroes can’t go to the police. The guy has a lot of spare time on his hands as he puts graffiti on a bunch of signs and then finds a way to put a radio in the main character’s car without leaving any evidence of it being tampered with. He had time to track down Venna’s friend and also manages to spy on them the whole time. Don’t think about any of this too much because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The guy is just everywhere and he’s powerful enough to murder everyone who gets in his way. Even in the dark through a big field he is able to go in and swipe one of the characters without the other 2 being able to do much of anything. Even though he uses the prank as the excuse for going on this murder spree it’s obvious that the guy was crazy from the start. He just wanted an excuse and the main characters gave him a pretty easy one. Rusty’s a fairly shallow villain and not a likable one, but at least the truck is decent.

Lewis is unfortunately a terrible lead and a film always tends to suffer a bit when the main characters are really bad. Bailing Fuller from jail is a good thing to do, but he definitely should have told the guy to find his own way out of town. Driving with him all the way was a bad idea especially since Fuller immediately started breaking the law. While Lewis isn’t nearly as bad as Fuller you can’t give him much of a pass simply because he allows everything to go on. You can’t be wishy washy about this kind of thing. Lewis never makes a stand and that goes to the prank as well. Lewis is the one actually pranking Rusty and if he were a better person he never would have even entertained the idea of doing such a thing. He’s just got a ways to go.

Meanwhile Fuller is terrible. Pretty much all of his lines are antagonistic and he gets a kick out of picking fights and generally being a nuisance to everyone. He objectifies Venna almost immediately and then actually tries to have a serious romance later. No matter how much the film tries to make him seem useful or nice towards the end there’s just no way you can buy it. Also, in a life or death situation anyone can try to help someone else, it doesn’t mean that they’ve suddenly changed. This guy was just terrible.

Venna is okay, but also not that good. For starters, the fact that she subtly asked Lewis for such a long inconvenient ride makes it seem like she is manipulating him a bit. She probably knows that he has a crush on her and is cashing in on this. The scene where she hangs out with Fuller later on is also suspect and while no romance goes anywhere in this film, I’m just not sure about her end game here. Without a doubt she is way better than the other two characters though and probably regretted going on the drive with them by the end. It really did not pay off well at all. That’s also why the best friend gets the worst luck here as she had absolutely nothing to do with anything and got roped in anyway.

It almost goes without saying that this film is incredibly violent. Rusty makes sure that each death is as painful as possible and he racks up quite the rap sheet here. By the end of the film everyone is pretty banged up. Then you’ve got the writing which is pretty terrible. The TV version had to air out quite a lot since the characters had quite the potty mouth. The script definitely could have written them out to be jerks while showing a little more restraint here.

Overall, Joyride is one of those films where you have nobody to root for. In general slasher films will never rank all that highly for me because of the inevitable bad script and the over the top violence. The main characters not being even remotely good also isn’t surprising but I dare say that this was the worst main cast in a very long while. The fact of the matter is their prank wasn’t funny in any sense and was also quite dangerous. The driver could have easily walked into a home with a Rusty type character and been in major trouble. Pranks like that shouldn’t even qualify as a joke because they are so mean spirited. I’d advise you to stick away from Joyride. It’s not like it does anything to differentiate itself from the other slasher films anyway and you won’t be missing much of anything by skipping out on it. I have a feeling that the sequels are more of the same. The twist at the end you’ll definitely see coming a mile away, hopefully the characters are smart enough to tell the cops since at least two of them saw Rusty directly and should quickly be able to see through the ruse. Proving it is another matter entirely but the ice truck halves should still be around somewhere.

Overall 1/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

In Dreams Review

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

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film this terrible but we’re finally back down to 0 star territory. Fitting that it would be a horror/psycho type film since that genre tends to churn out the majority of these for me. There really isn’t anything to like in this film from the terrible writing to the mean spirited ending.

The movie starts with a kid getting murdered and Claire has visions of the mass murderer getting more and more victims. Unfortunately her visions are of the future but she doesn’t have a concrete time frame so it is very difficult for her to actually help the cops stop him. Furthermore, the murderer is somehow able to control and enter her dreams making the information even more unreliable. Then there is the fact that he can also possess her and you’ve got a losing battle. That really sums up the film in a nutshell, a losing battle all around.

There are some movies where you go in and you wonder what the point of it all is. Most of the film is about Vivian messing with Claire and completely destroying her psyche. It’s not all that hard considering that he murders everyone close to her and forces her to watch each time. There’s nobody around to help her since it’s all in her head and people don’t believe that her precognitions are real even after she calls multiple deaths down to the very location. It’s particularly surprising when the psyche expert doesn’t believe her but that’s just the nature of the film.

It tries to show how unfair the whole thing is even down to the end when the sharp shooter misses an easy target. So much for experience right? Then even though they both fell and Vivian had more serious injuries he somehow lives? It’s supposed to even out at the end since now she can haunt him, but it’s really not a happy ending at all. Sure, she can mess with him now, but that won’t bring back her family or any of the other victims. From early on in the film you can tell that this is going to be a terrible one.

The whole plot of all these kids being murdered with nobody able to stop Vivian is already terrible. Then you throw in the fact that he has supernatural powers and the film jumps the shark even more. Naturally Claire also has a dog and Vivian makes use of that. Why did the dog go with him in the first place? Why didn’t it bite as we got a weird scene of Vivian taming it. Somehow Vivian is able to be just about everywhere and has time to pull off elaborate pranks to mess with Claire that would have taken a very long time, but he does it almost instantly. Parts of it are in her mind and parts aren’t so you have to decide what is real and what isn’t. The film also gets pretty violent at times and as always the movie goes for the tired old trope of Vivian going crazy at the end as he imagines himself to be a kid again.

The parallel scenes with Claire trying to escape the mental ward while Vivian does the same thing are incredibly dragged out. Then you’ve got the fact that one of the police officers is portrayed as being pretty sleazy just to get her an easy way out. The writing is terrible and relies on all of the characters being sinister to move the plot along. Even the fact that Vivian wants to have a family with Claire and she goes along with it as part of her plan is cringe-worthy. There are no good scenes in the film so it’s a 100+ minute experience that you’ll have to try and endure.

Of course, that’s assuming you don’t just turn the TV off right away. The only way to win this battle is to simply not play right from the start. With no positives to speak of and the film not even being remotely entertaining, there is no incentive to watch this film. You can do almost anything else with this time frame and have a more positive experience. The low effort poster is already a good warning bell to take into consideration before watching this one.

Overall, In Dreams is definitely a stinker and will have to sink into the gutter. It’s a movie where the villain wins in the end and nothing goes right for the innocent people trapped in this awful situation. I can see why I hadn’t heard of this film before and it sounds like people knew not to check this one out. I definitely won’t be seeing this one in my dreams as it’ll quickly retreat into the fog from whence it came. At best this can work as a coaster for your drink.

Overall 0/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Last Man on Earth Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old film about vampires, but you could also just call them zombies. It’s a solid slow burner about a guy just trying to survive on his own. It’s surprisingly good and way better than most films in its genre. That being said it does squeeze a dog in for literally no reason which did take away a quick point. Why the film did this is beyond me.

The film starts off by introducing us to Robert. He believes he is the last man on Earth after watching everyone else go down to the plague. This illness was spread through the air and started by infecting all of Europe but eventually spread across the world. The vampires can’t move during the day time at least but at night they go wild. The only way to put them down for good is with a stake or burning them to oblivion. Robert has lived for 3 years by taking them down one at a time during the day and boarding himself in at night. Still, the days are taking their toll on him mentally and he knows that he can’t go on forever. Can he find a cure or finish them off before he loses the will to keep on going?

This is a pretty solid slow burner film. The opening scenes of Robert just walking around and living life are pretty fun. I think I can see why people would like an apocalyptic slice of life film. There’s a nice sense of peace as he just goes about his daily life. I actually would have been fine not even seeing the flashbacks. It’s also nice to just throw us in the middle of this because it gives you a lot to think about as he walked around. I’m sure it must have been a whole lot of work to find out all the rules of how to fight these vampires. He did good to live for 3 years although from how we see him live you’ll be surprised that he lasted so long. He uses quite a lot of garlic for the refills and doesn’t grow his own so the store he gets it from must have had an absolutely massive supply. I wonder if it would have been safer to just live in that factory for the time being.

That being said, the garlic really did not seem all that effective to me. Towards the end the vampires just walk right past it so its effect was either weaker than anticipated or the zombies just had a lot of determination in that scene. They are also very fast since Robert said that he had been trying to find them for 3 years, but never did. Based on how quickly they show up when nightfall is upon him that would suggest that they always make sure to sleep very close by. When searching a whole city for a bunch of zombies it makes sense that this wouldn’t be an easy ordeal but there does seem to be something he is missing. Nonetheless, his strategy of knocking them off during the day each time is pretty smart. It may not be much, but he’ll eventually take them all down.

This is one of those movies where the vampires are incredibly slow to the point where he was able to knock out like 10 on his own. There really isn’t anything to fear except for them potentially getting a lucky shot in. I think his best plan would be to find a gun somewhere so he can just mow them down. That would even allow him to survive pretty well at night since he could easily shoot them before they get close. A sword would also be a good idea. A more pro-active approach like that would definitely do wonders for him. Slow zombies/vampires (I use the terms interchangeably) may be convenient but it does let you have fun imagining scenarios on how you would win. It does leave you a lot of openings for coming through in the clutch when necessary.

Unfortunately there is one scene that the film had to squeeze in for no real reason. A dog shows up. Yes, I sighed when this happened too. There is no purpose for the dog to show up here and even in context it doesn’t make sense that it would have lasted this long. I guess the dog also got immune like Robert somehow, but you know that it’s only showing up to die right from the start. The movie isn’t even being all that subtle about this to be honest. It’s not handled nearly as bad as it could have been in other situations, but it was still enough for me to dock a pair of stars.

This movie does throw in a big twist near the end when Robert finds out that he is not the last person left. Personally I think it would have made sense for a ton of other people to have survived if this was really a virus. Could Robert have been the only one who was bitten by a mosquito and granted immunity? It wasn’t the same situation per say for these guys though. This leads to a bit of a grim end for Robert even if he does take it in a different way than some other characters might. It’s hard to blame Robert for what happened here though since he just never realized that not all of the zombies were the same. As I mentioned his plan was pretty logical.

Robert is a fun character. He certainly was loyal to his science principals and didn’t even want to entertain the idea of the supernatural until it hit him right in the face. He’s the kind of guy who will stay up late cooking up new cures while everyone else has given up. His friend Ben was not nearly as dedicated to his work. While Ben may have had a point, he didn’t do a good job of getting it across. Ultimately all he did was get in the way and slow down the process. At least he became very determined once he was a zombie. The fact that some of the zombies kept parts of their old personalities is also interesting.

Then you have Ruth who isn’t a terribly good character. She wasn’t great at spying on Robert and in general she wasn’t very helpful. I know that wasn’t part of her job, but while she was there she could have at least worked on getting a cure right? Then we have Virginia who is probably the worst character in the film. Even after Robert warns her multiple times not to call the cops because they would burn their daughter, she cracks and does so anyway. It’s easily one of the worst tropes when the character insists on doing the wrong thing and immediately starts crying afterwards acting shocked at how it all went wrong. It’s just way too late by then and that made things tougher on Robert. At the end of the day the only person he could count on was himself.

Overall, the writing is definitely on point here and Robert’s sarcasm and personality really help to carry the film. I enjoy his inner monologue and the movie’s pacing is consistent from start to finish. While I don’t think we needed the flashbacks it is always interesting to see how the town handles it when the zombie infestation first spreads. Resident Evil did something similar with the second last film as we saw a local town’s reaction. Robert may not have ended the zombie infestation, but he came close. It’s hard to say if he could have ultimately survived for the remainder of his days. I feel like he would have a good shot with some weapons and maybe finding a place with 24 hour electricity once he is retired. He would definitely need to thin out the zombie ranks as best he could before then though.

Overall 6/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 Review


Time to look at the next installment in the Mob Psycho series. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first season due in part to the experimental animation style and Ritsu’s plot line wasn’t all that good. This season improves quite drastically though and even the animation appears to be a big improvement. This is the kind of season 2 you want to see because it takes all of the good parts of season 1 and expands on them. It’s pretty short at 13 episodes but that is a normal length for a show even if you get used to the 26 and 52 episode titles. There’s a lot you can do with 13 and Psycho made the most of it.

Mob has been slowly improving himself physically through the body improvement club and even mentally as he has come to terms with his abilities. He is now almost ready to ask out one of his classmates. Unfortunately there is still a villain group at large which is making it difficult to find the time. He’s also starting to wonder if he should still be working for Reigen now that he knows more about the world and his place in it. He’ll have to find the answers to all of these questions as he fights and hopefully it’ll all just turn out well. He’ll have to be careful though as he may not be the most powerful psychic around anymore.

Mob Psycho and One Punch Man were both created by the same guy and feature a main character who is unstoppable. While that is still true for the latter and likely will always be, Mob does have some limitations. He’s actually a character who can be beaten due in part to the fact that his powers take up a lot of energy so he has to sleep them off and there are enemies who can actually keep up with him. We saw that briefly in season 1 and in this season the big 5 are able to match him for a while. When Mob completely loses control and goes into 999+ mode he is still one of the strongest guys out there though. Either he or Suzuki would be the strongest esper in the world. I wonder if the series will really keep trying to increase the power levels like DBZ or if this was the height of that.

The fights are really why this season is so great though. The action scenes are all top notch and one really great fight is when Shimazaki takes on the whole group of main characters. I always like a good group fight and this one did not disappoint. His teleportation ability is incredibly handy and I’ve always thought that it could be one of the most deadly abilities if used right. Alas, most characters do not use it very well but this guy definitely makes the most of it. A particularly impressive cut is when he smashes Teru through a wall and then through a car window as he teleported mid combo. It’s such a genius idea. I don’t doubt that a lot of writers have thought about doing cool tricks like this but hold back because they either can’t illustrate it well or are worried that the teleporting character would be OP. This guy would be insane in just about any series, but in a title with Espers who can use TK abilities that helps to keep him in check at least to a degree.

One thing I was happy about is Shimazaki doesn’t get nerfed or hit with plot hax. The guy actually improves while he fights and another great scene is when his eyes open and he ascends. No cheesy friendship power victory here folks, they ultimately do need Mob to show up. That would have been an awesome fight, but the resolution that we got was also really satisfying so I can definitely live with it. I talked more about his fights than the character, but Shimazaki is definitely a great character and easily the best villain in the series. He’s really a scene stealer.

That’s not to say that he has all of the best fights in the season though. Suzuki’s fight with Mob is excellent of course and we get a lot of other fights throughout. The last few episodes really focus on the big battles with Claw and ends the season on a high note. It’ll be extremely difficult for a possible season 3 to top this one. It’ll have to be firing on all cylinders, but that’s certainly something that can happen.

Meanwhile Mob has improved a great deal since season 1. He’s not a pushover anymore and he has learned more about the world so people can’t manipulate him as easily. Those are both good things and while it means that we may never get quite the same Reigen and Mob dynamic, their relationship will ultimately be a better one this way. I did get a little worried that Mob’s emotions would nerf him, but it’s a good tradeoff. As I mentioned earlier, Mob isn’t quite unbeatable anymore, but he’s still quite possibly the strongest character in the series. You can actually deal damage to him, but it’s unlikely that you will be able to claim victory. His rage modes in this season are definitely intense. I do feel like he should have been able to see through the fire ploy with his mental abilities but as the show points out, everyone’s mental abilities are different. Mob seems to excel more in defense and offense as opposed to miscellaneous abilities.

Reigen is still an awesome character and my favorite in the series. He goes through a rough patch where he starts to let the fame get to him and doesn’t give Mob the respect that the kid has earned. He takes Mob’s help for granted and learns a valuable lesson from that. It does involve having to get humiliated on a national level but everyone learns through different methods. You just have to find the one that works for you and then roll with it. Reigen also gets to take on one of the big villains here and is always a calm voice amidst a tough situation. He is a little different from characters like King and Hercule in that he may be a poser, but he does have a lot of legitimite skills. If not for half of these villains being crazy psychic powerhouses he would actually be able to really deal quite a lot of damage. I have high respect for how he faces off with these guys all the time without fear.

Then we have Ritsu who has come a long way from his season 1 days. Now he is on the hero side and has become a capable fighter. He may not be on the same level as Mob or Teru but he is strong enough to help out against the members of Claw. His fight with Shimazaki is pretty good. Ritsu’s always looking out for Mob and I do expect that his abilities will continue to grow as well. Another supportive character or characters in this case are the body improvement club. They’re always quick to rush to Mob’s defense even though they are a little outgunned. The fight with Dimple possessing the leader and fighting one of the Claw members was fun. I think what really makes these guys solid is how loyal they are. They really want to help make Mob a better person with no agenda or strings attached.

Dimple is still floating around with goals to eventually possess Mob. It’s at the point where it’s likely all talk though and he seems like one of the heroes. He may not be the most powerful guy around, but he does help out a lot when needed though. Then you have the heroine Tsubomi. She didn’t actually get to appear much in season 1 so it was good to see her get at least part of one episode here. She still has less presence than any other heroine I’ve ever seen, but at least this season gave her a real personality. She seems a bit jaded or perhaps just careful and won’t fall for a scam as easily as some of the other characters. I’m not sure where the series is going with her, but right now she is a solid character.

Teru also returns in this season and is still one of the strongest heroes around. Next to Mob I’d say that he is definitely the strongest although Sho and Ritsu may end up giving him some competition someday. I like Teru’s character. He’s able to keep a cool head under pressure and is one of the more strategic characters. His psychic abilities are versatile and he is able to adapt mid-match very well like when he predicted Shimazaki’s teleportation angles. I see him as a consistent Trunks type character who probably won’t be able to finish off the big opponents but he will always do well against the sub-villains.

As for Sho, he’s a pretty good character. His plan may not have worked, but it is admirable that he was trying to stop Suzuki on his own. We really don’t get to see him in action for very longm, but that’s fine. We get a general sense of his abilities. He was simply out of his league this time. Hatori is one of the Ultimate 5, but the guy gets no real screen time so we can skip past him. Serizawa is one of the more important members of the group. His abilities are quite high as well and he may be the 3rd strongest member behind Suzuki and Shimazaki. He has self confidence issues and gets manipulated a lot. It’s tough for him since Suzuki got to him at a pretty vulnerable time. While he ultimately gets a bit of a redemption arc I would have liked him to have stood up for himself a little sooner. By the time he acted it was pretty late. I can see him being a fun character in the next season. The guy means well after all.

Toshiki has plant abilities that are surprisingly formidable. He gave Mob a reasonable fight with them after all and rage mode or not that is a good feat. The guy did earn his way into the Ultimate 5. He doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but is a quality villain. Then there is Hiroshi who is the power hitter of the group. He isn’t terribly interesting since the guy is just there to punch people out, but he serves his purpose well enough. Then we have Joseph who isn’t actually part of the group. I thought he was a really interesting and fun character.

The series takes a page out of Index III’s book with various groups running around. In this case CLAW had another faction built in thanks to the government and Joseph was the mole. He went around trying to cause a civil war but ultimately it did not impede Suzuki’s plans. It was a good effort though and it’s hard to ever get tired of a good ole villain vs villain throw down. The whole concept of the government having their own Espers is also interesting and I really hope we get to see that plot pursued at some point. Clearly they have some offensive abilities at the ready which is good. That means this government is automatically a lot smarter than most.

Finally we have Suzuki who is the big boss of the organization. He’s a very strategic villain whose plan has been in the makings for around 10 years or so if I recall correctly. His abilities are sort of like All For One’s as he can give people abilities. What he does is he can charge his abilities for years to build it up and can power up other people. Then when he no longer needs to do this he can just re-absorb the abilities back into himself. He’s really a serious threat and there are multiple times during the fight with Mob where he just has the upper hand in raw power. Ultimately Mob proves to have a bit of a higher ceiling, but Suzuki seemed more impressive. Without a 10 year head start Mob definitely wins this, but with the 10 years Suzuki is a total monster. He’s an incredible villain and really ticks all of the right boxes for me. A confident leader who can fight like that makes for a really high quality villain.

Before the whole Claw arc we do get other stories of course which help to develop the characters. In one of them we see an innocent group of spirits and Mob doesn’t want to exorcise them because they weren’t doing anything wrong. This is one episode where Reigen was surprisingly slow on the uptake. I remember thinking that it would have been so easy for him to just pretend that they exorcised the spirits to keep things moving. It’s not like the humans would really know otherwise. Pressuring Mob to destroy them even while knowing the were innocent was pretty out of character. Mob also goes through a lot physically in these episodes like one villain who basically tormented him for years and years in a “what if” future world. That was pretty brutal from what we saw and definitely made for a very dark experience even if it was mostly off screen. Times like that are when you wish Mob had some more mental defenses to fight with. The mind seems to ironically be his weakness.

As I mentioned the animation is a lot better here. When the fights are happening it is near the top of the biz. At times it’s hard to even think that this is the same show. Everything looks so sharp and even from the screenshots I’ve attached you can see how vibrant it looks. Then the soundtrack is also a lot better. In particular Shimazaki has a great battle theme for when he is fighting with the group. There are a lot of familiar themes from season 1 as well and it all comes together for a very well rounded experience.

Overall, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 is definitely a top notch show to check out. It’s got solid action, quality writing, a good cast, etc. You feel more of the One Punch vibes here as the supporting cast is gradually beginning to turn into a very solid cast. The episodes will really fly by and you may even feel like marathoning the last 4-5 episodes so you can really experience all of the fights in one shot. It’ll just be hard to tear yourself away at that point. Definitely watch this show as soon as you can.

Overall 8/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Arisa Review


To think, I started this manga all the way back in 2011. It’s been 9 years and so I decided to re-start the series from scratch and marathoned the series all the way to the end. It’s definitely a very solid mystery thriller as I remembered from my earlier visits. It does sputter a bit during the end though. It was close to getting a solid 8 but I just had to take away a star by the end because the cast were starting to all shoot themselves in the foot by the end. You’ll definitely be glued to each volume as you await the ending though.

The manga starts by introducing us to Tsubasa who is a pretty good fighter. She’s so strong that the guys think of her as one of the gang and the other classmates end up being scared of her. It’s a fun life though and Tsubasa is excited to finally be seeing her twin sister Arisa for the first time in years. After their parents split up Tsubasa stayed with her Dad while Arisa went with the Mom. Tsubasa and Arisa have a great time chatting with each other, but then the next morning Arisa jumps out the window and falls into a coma. Tsubasa decides to impersonate Arisa and find out what was going on at school. The only hint she has is that it has something to do with “King Time.”

King Time is a period every Friday where the class gets together and they all make a wish on their phones. A mysterious being known as the King will then grant one of those wishes. While it started out as harmless fun like granting a good test score or baking a cake, the wishes have become drastically more dangerous since then. With people being bumped off one by one, Tsubasa has to put a stop to this. As you can see there is a lot of plot going on.

Arisa does a good job of throwing a lot of red herrings at you so it’s hard to figure out just who the villain is. I’m thinking you’ll probably have it figured out by volume 4-5 but if you double guess yourself then maybe a little later. There are a lot of credible suspects here after all so you really have to think long and hard about who you want to pick. Part of why I was able to throw myself into the series so fullly and just blast through all of the volumes was because the story is just so good. As I mentioned earlier, it’s just a very engaging series and that’s one of the reasons why this is a terrific series. It’s easily one of the very best Shojo titles that I’ve read.

The art is very clear and the character designs are unique which is always a good thing. The twins look similar but that makes sense of course. There is only one panel in the series where I wasn’t sure exactly who was talking in the final volume. I think it was the mother, but it’s a little hard to say. Hopefully it wasn’t because the scene would make her look pretty bad to be honest. This is definitely top tier art all around though and the author does a good job of keeping the mystery fresh for 12 volumes. I was wondering how it would last all the way to 12 pretty early on because it always felt like the series was pretty close to wrapping up. Granted, the ending volumes did really hurt 2 volumes so they didn’t all get away without injury.

Lets talk about the character cast. First up is Tsubasa who is definitely a very solid main character. Without her determination in finding out what was going on things definitely would have gotten very dicey for the rest of the class. She has to do a lot of the groundwork on her own and in the process she puts her own academic career in jeopardy. Despite these real threats and knowing that she is in personal danger, Tsubasa never wavers. She really just makes one main mistake and the series missed the boat with her on one thing. For her mistake, it’s the fact that Tsubasa falls for Midori and doesn’t try to shut down these feelings for very long.

Keep in mind that Midori is dating her twin sister Arisa. Under no circumstances should she even entertain the thought of getting together with him. Look, you can’t stop yourself from falling for someone entirely if that person is simply your type. What you can do is stop yourself from actually pursuing such a desire though. Just accept that it will always be a one way crush and keep the feelings buried until you get over it. The instant Tsubasa lost sight of this she did in fact betray Arisa and someone even calls her out on this. Tsubasa is sorry for what she did, but it was a massive mistake all the same.

Where the series missed some opportunities here is in the fact that Tsubasa is a good fighter. She’s portrayed as being very strong and yet when it’s crunch time she ends up losing without much of a fight like any other Shojo heroine. She is defeated numerous times in the series and never fights back when it really counts. The series could have dropped the whole storyline of her being a fighter and nothing would really change. I would have liked to have seen her get out of some of these situations on her own without assistance. The only moment this was handled well was against Kudo. It’s not a huge deal, but it is noticeable and does limit Tsubasa’s character. This review is basically spoiler free, but the next paragraph may still hint at things that you would rather not know. If you want to be absolutely sure to avoid spoilers then skip the next 3 paragraphs. Then skip the next 2 paragraphs after that which are total spoilers. So skip 5 paragraphs total or just look for the next image. It’s safe to start reading right after that. I figured that by putting the spoiler warning at the end of this paragraph it would give you time to get out and not hit the spoiler by mistake. You out? Last chance…..here we go!

Then you have Arisa. Now she is a pretty complex character and after thinking about her opening scene again the ending does mesh to an extent. Arisa really has 3 personas. The first is the one we learn about from Tsubasa and through everyone else. She is a very nice character who always does her best to help everyone out. Arisa is nice to a fault to the point where everyone only has nice things to say about her. She just seems like the perfect character. Then you’ve got the Arisa we got to see for one chapter with Tsubasa. She seemed to live up to this image but then we get the scene where she throws herself out of the window to despair while saying that Tsubasa is the one who had the perfect life. This does hint at some resentment since she waited til Tsubasa was around to do this which would mentally mess Tsubasa up for life. Then we have Arisa from when she wakes up.

Arisa is a lot meaner than you may expect. She gives everyone the cold shoulder and sides with the King the whole time. Even after she explains herself later on it doesn’t really excuse her. She is complicit at the very least to putting Tsubasa’s life in danger by making the wish to get rid of her. She makes things very tough on someone who is already dying of a heart condition and is generally an obstacle getting in everyone’s way. I really didn’t like Arisa which was surprising and part of why I didn’t care for the last few volumes. She comes across as short sided and needlessly mean. Arisa doesn’t even have a plan to justify this so Tsubasa is forced to step up once again and fix things. It’s just a shame because Arisa seemed like such a great character in the flashbacks. At the end of each volume is a short story and I read pretty much all of em. In one of them Arisa ends up pretending to be Tsubasa for a day to help her sister’s school rep and saves the day. That’s the Arisa I was expecting to see and she never showed up.

It is clever from a writing standpoint as it does follow the theme of the series. We saw the part of Arisa that everyone else saw and were then hit with the rude awakening of her real personality. Again, part of it is to keep everyone else safe and Arisa is never portrayed as being a total villain, but she just makes a lot of bad decisions. Maybe the old Arisa was never truly real or maybe she was buried after meeting up with Midori. Either way I missed that version of Arisa and if I could change anything about the manga I would just make it so that she didn’t wake up until the final volume. Maybe have a few chapters with her explaining to Tsubasa that she tried to end King Time and after not being able to think of anything figured that by eliminating herself that would stop Midori’s plan. We could have at least salvaged her character that way. I just don’t think Arisa waking up so soon was a good move.

Then we have Midori who I definitely wasn’t a fan of. The guy has a sob story of his own which is pretty sad, but still not an excuse for turning into a total psycho. He wants to free Arisa from her mother since Arisa apparently would confide in him a lot about how she was feeling insecure. It’s too bad that he takes everything to the extreme. In the most zoomed out of lens point of view you can see how he had a good intent to protect her, but then it totally morphed into something evil. He openly manipulated her so I don’t buy any kind of justification that he was trying to help her. Then even if it was part of his plan he does flirt with Tsubasa and cheats on Arisa so you can’t cut him any more slack at that point.

The guy tries to murder people many, many times. There’s just no goodness in him so it’s hard to buy the ending of the series. He should be serving hard time for a very long time and Arisa shouldn’t be so quick to forgive him. It’s great that they can forgive him of course, but it’s easy to do so when they got out okay. What about all of the students who had their lives permanently crushed thanks to him? There were quite a few victims before Tsubasa was able to step in and they don’t have the fortune of being a main character with plot armor.

Along the journey of trying to solve the mystery Tsubasa ends up helping a few other characters through their plots. One such character is Mariko who is supposed to be Arisa’s best friend. It’s hard to imagine how they got together though since Mariko is an incredibly obsessive character who is not very heroic at all. Mariko enjoys tormenting others and I would argue that she goes so far down into villain territory that she never truly returns. I wasn’t able to buy into her redemption arc and just didn’t like her. As a villain you could make the case that she was more sinister than the others. Even in the bonus story that takes place after she was supposedly redeemed she ends up being rather menacing. Fortunately it was to another villain but otherwise things were going to get out of hand again.

Then you have Shizuka who blames Akira for the loss of her legs. Now this is a tragic backstory that I can buy into because she was viciously hazed and nobody helps her. I have to blame Akira and Arisa a lot on this one. This is a case where Arisa seems to be completely complicit in what was happening. Maybe she was also tricked or maybe not, but the fact remains that the outcome really sucked for Shizuka. She had to put up with more pain than anyone else in the series. Sure, she did get tricked but the circumstances were pretty believable compared to the others and I did feel bad for her. Shizuka fortunately gets a happy ending because she’s already been through enough.

Kudo is a transfer student who arrives later on in the series. Unfortunately he is one of the most gullible characters in the series. The guy believes whatever he is told and just obeys orders. I want to like the guy since he has a good character motivation and origin story but he really should have questioned what he was hearing a little more if you ask me. He’s also like Mariko in that he falls into the purely evil territory. The guy knew what he was doing and actually did try directly murdering Tsubasa so that’s that.

Then we have Tsubasa’s supporting characters who don’t get to appear all that much. It’s too bad because they all seemed to be solid characters. In particular Tsubasa’s best friend gets a very small role and I was expecting him to be a major player at some point. The other guys in Tsubasa’s gang are all very loyal and I was glad that she had some friends who could fight. If anything she should have leaned on them a little more to help her through the issues that were going on. We really only get to see them more in the bonus stories.

Then there is Akira who is the main guy here. He’s solid and isn’t a sucker like the rest of the class. He’s at least trying to solve the mystery of the King. He’s not perfect and I do blame him for Shizuka’s fate, but for the most part he makes the right choices. Unlike Tsubasa, he likes Arisa who is already taken but has enough resolve not to actually try and make a move. He ultimately learns to appreciate her as a friend which is the right thing to do. Having Akira along for the ride is really helpful since it makes it more difficult for the King to try and bump Tsubasa off. Akira still does get knocked out pretty easily but he’s probably the only character aside from Tsubasa who actually digs up some clues so that’s good.

While Arisa/Tsubasa’s Mom doesn’t get to appear all that much I have to say that she was a character who was really mis-handled. I always got the impression that she was a pretty nice person even if the manga never outright stated that. I guess the parents did get divorced so they may not have been the best people or they just didn’t mesh well. Still, everything we saw indicated that the parents were good and yet at the end she appears to be pretty defensive and distant. Arisa didn’t have as happy a life as we thought. Then there is one panel where she seems to be downright rude, but that’s a panel where I couldn’t be 100% sure that it was her. Regardless she didn’t believe her daughter when it counted so she loses points there. She’s another character who probably just shouldn’t have appeared at the end if this is how her plot was going to go down.

There’s a lot to talk about with this series and I think that’s due in part to the fact that this is a mystery series. There’s just a lot to unpack as a result. I think a good amount of credit also needs to be given to the writing in the series. It’s just so engaging that you want to talk about what you just read. I’d be down with a sequel series at some point, but this is really the kind of title where it’s really hard to make a sequel. Either it’ll have a new threat that feels a bit redundant or it’ll be more of a classic slice of life. The latter makes more sense and could be a lot of fun just to see the old characters, but I suppose it isn’t really necessary.

Overall, Arisa is a very solid series. I just questioned a lot of the final decisions in the manga. The ending isn’t too satisfying for me, but it’s always hard to make an ending that pleases everyone. You will also have to throw logic out the window to an extent for a lot of the series as the grown ups never find out what is happening or step in to stop the chaos. After a certain point you would just expect some kind of investigation or a way for things to move forward. Well, I’ve seen bigger leaps in logic. Definitely check this series out either way and be prepared for a fun time.

Overall 7/10