Underworld 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

I’ve certainly been aware of the Underworld series for a long time. After all, I saw all of the Resident Evil movies and this has always been its biggest rival. The question is if it could possibly defeat that title. The Resident Evil films typically scored around a 2 so it’s not like that should be a tall order except that vampires tend to be just as bad as zombies if not more so. Ultimately Underworld is about what you would expect and I’d say it’s losing to Resident Evil so far but I am early on in the franchise.

The movie starts with introducing us to the situation on the planet. A war between the Wolves and Vampires has been raging on forever. The vampires have effectively won the war as their numbers greatly overshadow that of the Wolves but they still have to take down the stragglers. The first scene is Selene and a few of the vampire warriors attacking one of the Wolves, but this turns out to be a trap and most of the Vampires are defeated. Selene tells the vampire leader Kraven that they need to take this seriously but he doesn’t care. What can a few Wolves do right?

Meanwhile on the Wolf side, the leader Lucian is planning his big assault to take the Vampires down. His side has been relying on hit and run tactics for a while since they can’t win in a full frontal assault but now he may be able to use a more direct approach. His lead scientist has come up with a special kind of bullet that can destroy a vampire in a single bullet. Mix that in with the vampires’ complacency and now he has a fighting chance. Everything will come down to the human known as Michael. Whichever side obtains him first may end up winning the war as his blood is special.

Selene is the main character here but while you may assume that it means the vampires are the heroes here, the film is quick to remind you that is not the case. Both sides are as corrupt as can be so there are no good guys. Whoever wins, it is still not good for humanity. At least Selene has some sense of justice and duty compared to most but ultimately since she is working for the villains that makes it hard to root for her either. After all, at the end of the day any accomplishments she has will go over to the rest of the group.

As a main character Selene is decently good. I would say she easily beats most of the characters in this film in terms of being likable although since I don’t like most of the characters that may not be saying much. There will likely be a lot of comparisons between her and Alice from Resident Evil as they use similar outfits, weapons, and even their abilities seem similar. They’re both analytical fighters and try to keep up a tough front. Right now Alice is certainly winning in the head to head though as she ultimately doesn’t falter the way Selene doesn’t.

Selene has a scene where she faints after talking tough to Michael which really destroyed her credibility there. Additionally, despite being one of the tough assassins among the vampires, she doesn’t tend to win a lot of fights except against unnamed minions. For example, she was losing against Raze and was unable to take him down in the opening fight. She got a hit on Lucian but was unable to take him out before the guy bit Michael and had to hastily retreat. She was completely no match for Viktor in the end and had to rely on some help.

Now, it’s not as if she is amped up past normal vampire abilities so it makes sense that she wouldn’t be stomping everyone but Alice had a tendency to hit above her weight class. Selene will need to do something similar to move on. All that said, I do like her as a character particularly because of her confidence. She is willing to follow her plans through even if it puts her at odds with the other characters.

Kraven doesn’t make for a good villain though. The guy complains a whole lot and isn’t much of a fighter. He’s only good at sneak attacks and his plans aren’t even that good. Lets say his plan had gone without a hitch, does he really think things would end well for him? The wolves would tear into him at any time. Nothing about his plan made any sense so the guy got real lucky. His obsession with Selene doesn’t help matters either.

Then you have Lucian who does his best to be an interesting villain at least but ultimately the attempt fell apart. The guy just didn’t really stick out and the way he goes down was just sad. Did he not see that coming? His right hand man Raze was a lot more impressive and may have been the best wolf. He looked really good in the opening scene and was really taking down a lot of fighters. He can look back at his achievements proudly.

Michael is the main human here but the guy doesn’t have much of a personality at all. He’s just some guy who gets roped into this and doesn’t really have any feelings about it. The guy is constantly overwhelmed. The romance with him and Selene is also pretty bad, the idea of them getting together so suddenly just doesn’t work and it’s especially a bad idea for him to fall for her. Put it this way, vampires do tend to take prey from time to time and there’s no reason for Michael to assume he would be any different. For all he knew he would just get drained dry so the guy comes off as kind of desperate. Definitely wasn’t a fan of his.

Finally there is Viktor who is one of the Vampire Elders. His strength is immense and it’s easy to see why the vampires had been winning the war with him in charge. This guy is lethal and doesn’t spare any of his opponents. He just goes in and gets the job done without any issues. That’s the kind of guy who commands respect in the end. He’s absolutely twisted and a villain through and through but at least he’s one who can fight.

Ultimately Underworld may have an interesting premise of this war going on but it can’t save the film. I like the idea of introducing two factions and then slowly we see them all converge at the end. It’s good but the massive issues here just tend to come with the genre and style this film is going for. First off, the violence is incredibly over the top. There are a ton of violent moments that will have you shaking your head at how gratuitous they are.

In general that’s part of why Vampire and Werewolf media never really did it for me. Drinking blood and such is just disturbing and the Werewolf bites are always rather graphic. That’s why I was actually on board with both sides using bullets instead. It makes for more stylized fights that don’t tend to be nearly as gritty or violent. If the whole film focused purely on guns then the violence probably would be toned down although it probably wouldn’t matter if they would go in to finish each other off afterwards anyway.

At least the soundtrack is pretty hype though. You’ve got a lot of high intensity beats going on the whole time which helps amp up the battles. The visuals are also on point with the world looking like a normal planet and yet it’s a little extra colorful. The scenery when the heroes are in the town during the opening scene probably had some of the most impressive shots in the film. A rainy backdrop in the city can work quite well when used correctly.

Also aside from the gun fights we did get one true fight in the climax of the film. That was cool since it was like something out of a comic book movie with both characters throwing each other around. This one’s a bit older so you can see how the effects have aged in some instances. Characters sort of float through the air when they’re thrown or hit but it still works well in illustrating that these guys are much more powerful than the average fighter. The whole Speed vs Power match also did a good job of showing how the power could win in the end by tiring out the speedster. Personally I would usually take speed over power but it’s not an absolute.

Overall, The Werewolves seem completely doomed at the moment. They have no senior members that can hope to match up to a Vampire elder and their numbers were already small. I have to assume they have some kind of trump card in order to keep the series going. Otherwise the war will be over as early as the next film. That said, even if the story is interesting, the odds of the series actually working to get better is slim to none. Underworld is content to go for shock value and extra violence over taking the time to construct an excellent story. If you want to check out an interesting story of a war between two sides then you’re better off checking out Captain America: Civil War.

Overall 2/10

Animal Land Review


Animal Land is a very unique series. It’s essentially going for a bit of a Tarzan vibe at first but then throws in time travel, chimeras, world ending threats, magical fruits, and more. By the end of the series it’s clear that it was able to attain a full Shounen feel and is as out there as any other series on the block. Unfortunately due to the nature of the series that means there is a ton of nonstop animal violence. Animals are taken down for the count left and right and it’s even a main part of the plot. The series has some good ideas but ultimately falls far short of its potential due to the premise itself. If this had all been done with robotic animals then things could have been different.

The series begins with a little boy named Taroza being discovered by a Tanuki named Monoko. He decides to bring Taroza into his village and take care of him. Taroza initially starts the series as a little kid which is true for a good chunk of the series until we get a time skip and he becomes more of a classic Shounen hero. He slowly learns how to talk but doesn’t have a big need of it because he can speak through the mind. Taroza has the unique ability of being able to communicate with all animals across the planet. Because of this he can also hear the voices of animals pleading not to be eaten.

Taroza has 2 main goals. The first is to find a mythical fruit which is said to be so good that even meat eaters can enjoy it. He aims to develop this fruit enough so that no animals are ever eaten again. His other goal is to stop the animals from fighting in the meantime and so he continually builds up his army to establish such a set of rules. It goes against animal nature though so this is a very difficult task to accomplish. There are also just so many animals in the world that it’s hard to keep up with all of them. How can he ever hope to meet them all?

You also can’t have a big series without some villains and we have two main villains here. The first one is Jyu and he’s certainly a standout character. He enjoys things the way that they are. The idea of a survival of the fittest concept being front and center here is exactly what he was looking for and he thrives in it. He’s a chaotic wildcard as well since he’ll still prefer to help Taroza and the others over the other villain that shows up. His little computer is also very handy and they make a good team. Jyu certainly set himself up well in this series and it’s all the more impressive because he had no allies who were there to help him aside from one trusted partner.

Then you have Giller who is the true mastermind here. He is a powerful man with science far beyond what anyone thought was possible. As a result he is easily able to cause a whole lot of damage and even builds an army of Chimera. This is one time where you can say he maybe got a little too powerful here. His Chimera are absolutely massive and it’s hard to see the animals really being able to take them down. Taroza links the minds of the animals to coordinate their attacks and it also gives a slight power boost but even then I definitely remain skeptical. Some of those chimera were absolutely huge and had so many special abilities. Giller never quite gives up even in the end and makes for a very memorable character. He was definitely a lot of fun and a really solid villain.

Capri is a human raised by lions. She’s certainly not on board with Taroza’s plan at first but makes for a solid ally when the chips are down. She plays the field a bit initially but as the Lions would have taught her to hunt other animals right away, his plan would have definitely been a foreign concept to her. Caperi is definitely a solid fighter. She doesn’t get power ups like the rest of the humans but does already know how to fight so that’s important. She’s a better fighter than Reimu who is the final main human around. Reimu is from the gorilla tribe but tends to be more of a pacifist by nature. She’s probably one of the first human allies to really help Taroza as much as possible. Reimu’s a decent character although I wouldn’t say she stands out much until the end. Then she gets a pretty big role as she’s quite critical in keeping morale up and supporting Taroza.

Finally we have Taroza and after the time skip he is a pretty solid character. He’s resolute in his goal to save the world to the point where it has definitely been breaking him on the inside. While he was super cheerful as a kid, he barely ever smiles once he is grown up. He’s just seen too many animals suffer over the years and so until his goals are fulfilled he doesn’t seem to find enjoyment in anything anymore. Taroza can’t quite fight physically with these villains anymore but with his telepathic abilities he makes for a great commander at all times. I’d definitely say that he is a solid main character and his goals are certainly good.

Quo is a mysterious character who orchestrated all of this to an extent. You certainly find out a lot of interesting things about him once he appears. The guy makes for a solid character even if he definitely makes quite a few mistakes as time goes by. He has a tendency to lower his guard. His overall master plan is pretty great though. You definitely see why he went to all the trouble of doing this even if it definitely did not work out all that well for him.

One character who showed up near the end is a lady named Elaine. Despite not appearing for very long she is very integral to the plot. Her fire abilities are also incredibly handy and she was a very memorable character as well as a powerful one. She stands out as one of the cooler characters. If she kept her guard up a little longer that would have certainly helped but even without that she was a fighter to be feared no doubt. In effect, being introduced so late into the game helped her in a power sense because she started out as a super powerful fighter and did not need to evolve into one.

Monoko is one of the main supporting characters from the early part of Animal Land even if she wasn’t quite able to keep up with the others later on. She’s a nice character and really helped kick the series off. Without her things could have been very different. Taroza’s other best friend was a cat named Kurogiri. Kuro is a solid fighter and helped Taroza out of a lot of pinches. During the initial volumes of the series he was the strongest ally to have around and came in handy many times. Things definitely would have gotten tricky without him around to help out.

There are a number of other animals that help Tarozo out over the years. You’ve got members of almost every different species helping out and they’re certainly quality characters. Some don’t do much til near the end but their presence is felt. One such character is Dougen. He’s one of the most powerful Lions in the series and he even gets a cool powered up mode near the end. His fight is a very intense one that lasts multiple chapters and the fact that he was fighting one of the Chimera basically 1 on 1 was very impressive. He was a standout character to be sure.

There are quite a few Chimeras here but the most notable ones are the members of the Babel Three. Belheim is one of these guys. He’s a fairly powerful villain with a star shaped head and takes down quite a number of the animals sent out against him. He talks a big game and certainly thrives on being a villain. It’s part of what makes these guys a big deal as a lot of them didn’t have any character prior to this. Clover was another such member who was crazy strong and hard to deal with. Each of the 3 members were pretty hype villains though and some of the best characters in the series.

The best Chimera of the group though is Robin. He’s the final member and easily the most powerful. He likes to have a good fight and has more honor than the rest. He gives what is probably one of the most impressive battles in the series. The final battle with Giller has to be the best one but this fight can really compete. The stakes are high and he’s just a very interesting/engaging villain to go up against. He’s also able to resist his programming to an extent which is always a good sign to me because then he’s no puppet. Same goes for Luke who was an A.I. partner to Giller who realized that things weren’t quite right.

Ultimately as mentioned earlier, what holds the film back is the nonstop animal violence. The series is certainly one of the more violent ones I’ve read with characters really being torn to shreds. It holds nothing back and then when you consider the fact that it’s the animals being crushed, it hits that much harder. It’s not something that you’d expect to have been avoided just considering the name and all, but it is the definition of a series crushing negative. No matter how strong the other aspects could be, this is something that persists in every volume and pretty much every chapter so it continued to drag the series down into the abyss time and time again. If only Taroza could have achieved his dream of world peace sooner so that no animal had to be injured.

It’s impressive how the series started out as a very realistic title and by the end of it we’re completely into planet busting abilities. I’d say the series did a good job of slowly escalating things. At first the big threat was when a fully grown Lion would show up. Later on the characters face off against a villain as tall as a building without blinking an eye. The final boss is around the size of a small city. The amount of escalation here was intense.

That said, it does mean that the power levels are very wonky throughout. No matter how you slice it, there’s no way that ordinary animals can be dealing with these kinds of threats. No matter how much teamwork they use I’m not really able to buy into it. These monsters can even regenerate and move at hyper speeds. So you do have to really just look the other way here and accept that the fights are likely not going to be all that realistic. I think the only way to make this work would be to have given Taroza the ability to turn the animals into chimera’s as well or simply powered them up to a point that would not be possible to reach. His current ability takes them up to 100% of what a body can pull off but you would need to go further than that.

Outside of the power levels the writing was pretty solid though. The characters all have a lot of great dialogue. The villains are well developed and so are the heroes. A lot of the animals also make valid points about why there’s a need for meat eaters and plant eaters. Of course I’m with Taroza on finding a fruit so that no animal ever has to be eaten again. It’s tough to get used to though and there are a lot of quality debates on this throughout the series. Ultimately until an animal is able to hear the true language of another it would always be tough to just hold back but once that bridge is crossed then there is really no limit against a world of peace. Especially as there aren’t many humans left in this world at the moment. Once more of them pop up then I suspect that things will get a lot more chaotic in the world. With regard to the time travel themes I’ll let you read more of that so you can see for yourself the impact of it. The time everyone comes from is a twist to an extent. There are multiple time periods at play and the fact that the humans are each from different eras is important because it does factor into their actions and why they all have different viewpoints.

Animal Land’s art is quite fantastic though. It’s got an incredible amount of detail and that’s absolutely necessary considering just how many big characters are running around. The fights are always intense and awe inspiring with the various zoom ins and big character spreads. You won’t be forgetting the character designs and such anytime soon. I would go as far as to say that this is the manga’s greatest strength even if it does still help to hurt the score by highlighting exactly how badly the animals are being affected. These battles can hold their own against any of the big Jump titles and then some. If you just switched out the animals for humans the whole time then this series could have really jumped up a large number of scores. It wasn’t to be I suppose. Even the character designs themselves and each member’s powered up modes are incredible. You can feel the fear of the characters as the Chimeras get more and more unbelievable with each transformation. By the end of the series you could almost say it’s part horror in some respects.

Overall, Animal Land has a lot of interesting ideas and the art is quite good but it serves as a double edged sword with all of the animal injuries that occur afterwards. If you’re a big animal fan and don’t want to see them being taken out left and right then this is definitely a series that you’ll want to pass on. That aspect of the series is just impossible to overlook and so in a sense you could say this series was doomed from the start. If you want another action series to check out which dodges this pretty well then I would say it’s time to check out Bleach instead. Now that one’s an old classic.

Overall 2/10

All You Need is Kill Review


It’s time to look at a pretty interesting story about time travel. What if you could keep on redoing a day until you had perfected it? It’s an interesting idea for sure and if you could master the concept then I could see why anyone would want to do it. Keep replaying the day where you took a test to get the right answered or entering a tournament until you won. There are no limits to what time travel can help you do and that’s why it has always been such an amazing concept. One difference here compared to most that it isn’t exactly all fun and games for the main character. The time travel is quite serious.

We open up the story by being introduced to a very different world. We have been at war with aliens for decades now. They’ve always been one step ahead of us so no matter how many improvements we make to our mechs they always win. There is only one soldier who has been doing well against them lately and her name is Rita. She is able to take down dozens of attackers with the greatest of ease. The rest of the soldiers just watch in awe. Well our lead here is Keiji and he is promptly murdered as soon as he sets foot on the battlefield. The only issue is that he then wakes up back to the start of the day. He then repeats the day and dies again, which sends him to the beginning of the loop. He can’t find any reason as to why this started or how to get out but he suspects that it has happened for a reason. Can he now find a way to win this war and save humanity?

Of course you gotta take it one fight at a time but winning this battle would be huge. Keiji quickly realizes that every action that he takes a little differently affects quite a lot. The only worrisome part is that the aliens never act the same way so it seems like they are aware of what he is doing. Well, no matter. Keiji still aims to win this fight and he may need Rita’s help for that. It’s effectively Groundhog Day but in the middle of a war so the stakes are pretty high and it’s not like he can just have fun. Of course, living the same day over and over again for too long in any circumstance would get old quickly.

Keiji definitely makes for a good main character. He may not be thrilled at what’s going on but what I liked is that Keiji gets with the program right away. He quickly sees the benefit of this and trains as hard as he can to be the perfect soldier. He’s a very determined main character and doesn’t get distracted so easily. At one point in one of the timelines someone offers to “console” him and Keiji quickly turns down the random 1 night affair. Even though he could have done so and just went back to business the next day he kept his eye on the prize. Keiji wasn’t going to walk away without getting more knowledge on the enemy. It seems like he went through the loop hundreds if not thousands of times and never lost his sanity. For sure it did take an emotional toll as he would look terrible but he always said and did the right things anyway.

When a plan would fail Keiji would try the next best option. I definitely had no issues with him here. He fought til the end. There isn’t really much of a cast here. There are supporting characters of course but the only other important one would be Rita. She’s definitely a very solid character as well. As the ace fighter of the whole army her abilities greatly exceed those of anyone else. The only one who is able to keep up with her later on is Keiji thanks to all of the looping. Rita is a very no nonsense character who is always ready to fight. Even when the aliens try surprise attacks she doesn’t fall to those and just regroups. At the same time, she would like to have someone she could talk too, but just doesn’t see the point. It’s not like anyone can keep up and most are too scared to even talk to her. Her quiet confidence and overwhelming talent makes her quite memorable. If the army did not have her around then even with all the resets in the world I wonder if Keiji would have ever been able to make any real progress here. Perhaps, but it would take such a long time that his psyche would be in even worse shape.

The idea behind the story is just excellent. The idea of being able to keep on trying over and over again until you can solve things is brilliant. The manga also touches on other aspects of this. For example, even if you can figure out how to win that’s not enough. You then have to keep on going until you find a method that can save the most lives. If you assume that you have endless tries then you don’t need to worry as much but that’s also a big assumption. You have to ultimately figure things out as fast as possible so you don’t risk too much. Make the wrong call and it could blow up in your face. The writing will definitely remind you of something like Death Note where you have to consider all the implications that a single action can have.

The artwork is definitely excellent. There’s a lot of detail put into each of the pages. The characters really stand out and the artist does a good job of helping you feel the dread they experience when they get out into the field. This isn’t the kind of series where you can expect everyone to have a happy ending. There’s a war going on after all and the humans are just trying to survive as best they can. The ending is very solid though and you could reasonably continue with a sequel at some point. I would say that there is still as lot more you can do with the concept although I suppose the series was trying not to be redundant. It’s the kind of ending where you can easily picture how things will go either way. Whether the heroes or aliens win the war is up to you.

Overall, All You Need is Kill is definitely one of those titles that you’ll probably need to take a second look at to make sure you read it properly. The grammar might not really make sense but you’ll still get the idea right away. At the end of the day the kill is really the important part to the characters here. This is a very well crafted story with a fun premise that the writer takes advantage of. Everything is executed well and it’s a title I could recommend to anyone. It can get a bit violent as it’s in a war with aliens stabbing people to death but it’s nothing too crazy I’d say. The alien designs were definitely intense and the manga did a good job of showing how fierce they could be while highlighting that there is no room for hesitation there. You either land the first blow or you won’t be around to see the next one.

Overall 7/10

RWBY Volume 7 Song Rankings


It’s time to look at the songs from the new RWBY soundtrack that came out. In particular I am ranking the 9 new lyrical songs and won’t be counting the remixes from previous volumes. I’ll rank them from last to first as we see where they all stack up. The 1st and second place entries are quite easy and then after that is when it’s time for some serious thought. I can definitely say right now that the series continues to have an absolutely stellar soundtrack. You’d be hard pressed to find anything that even comes close to this in another title. This volume’s probably got one of the happiest overall soundtracks compared to the others I suppose reflecting the hope found here. I think the theme of the volume was supposed to be Hope unless I’m thinking of the last one. Either way that makes sense. All of the songs below can be found on Youtube or any other CD as well as for purchase online. I’ve attached a link next to the top ranked song where you can listen to them online.

9. Let’s Get Real

I have to say that the very beginning of this song feels like something out of Megaman. I like the quick techno strum there. After that this song slows down quite a bit though and definitely isn’t really my style. I like the overall aesthetic of the song but it’s not going to stop this one from bringing in the last spot on the list. Speed up the tempo and I think this song will rank a little higher though.

8. Celebrate

Well, we’ve definitely got another party tune showing up here. It’s definitely the kind of song you’d expect to hear at the disco. That said, it’s the kind of song that doesn’t sound as good outside of that context. It will be good for a play or two but next to the songs coming up it definitely can’t stack up well enough. When I’m celebrating I’ll probably be playing a song closer to the top 2 coming up. Still, with the more party feel of this soundtrack that should help for when playing the soundtrack at parties.

7. Brand New Day

This is probably one of the weakest of the group for me. It’s more loud than catchy. It’s going for more of a party feel but one that doesn’t gel as smoothly as the rest of the songs. This is one of the tunes that I wouldn’t really be listening to all that often. Still, it’s not as if it means the song’s that bad. It’s not able to keep up with the others but it’s still a pretty decent song in its own right.

6. Touch The Sky

This is definitely one of the happier songs we’ve got in RWBY. It shows that the team is finally back together and having a good time. That’s good because it’s been a little bit since they were able to just have fun. It’s got a nice beat to it. I don’t see this becoming one of the more popular songs down the road or one that I will have on loop for very long but it’s a solid inspirational song. You don’t want everything to be super rock….well I wouldn’t mind, but most people want some variety and this song does a good job of providing that.

5. Until The End

This is a very somber song. In some ways it may be the most somber one in the series because it never transitions into Rock the way that a lot of the others do. It’s just a song that doesn’t leave the heroes full of hope afterwards as things don’t look like they’re about to get better. Regardless I thought it was executed pretty well. I’m usually more of a fast paced song kind of guy but when it’s a sad song then that can absolutely work without a fast tempo.

4. Trust Love

It’s time for the opening of the Volume. My favorite intro of all time is still the very first one but the series has always been pretty good with these. I’d put this song in the top half of the new ones. It’s definitely very fast and also nostalgic to an extent because I’ve heard the song very often while watching the episodes. This is not one that you want to skip when starting the episodes.

3. Fear

This is definitely a pretty intense theme and one that’s fitting for Salem’s return. She’s only had two themes now but between this and Divide they’re definitely both incredible. It really shows how Salem gets into the heads of her opponents. One line is about “Who will you see in the dark when you’re all alone” and quite a few of the characters likely see Salem. It’s why betraying her would be pretty much unthinkable and why the heroes fear her so greatly. I am looking forward to seeing her live up to the hype in the next volume. At this point you can’t really be satisfied with anything less than her completely overwhelming the heroes. This is the perfect time for her to prove her power once and for all.

2. Hero

This is one song that I think loses a bit of the intensity from the full version. The opening lyrics are going for a very emotional/sad kind of tune. Still, once we get to the good part of the song it rocks on from start to finish. It was a great song and does a good job of depicting the self sacrifice Ironwood was able to go through to accomplish his mission. Being a hero is often a lot harder than it looks and is often not a glamorous task. You gotta be ready to not be very popular at times and it can be very easy to lose perspective and become like the villains you work on stopping.

1. War
Click here for the song
This is easily the best song and it’s not even close. I remember being shell shocked when it shows up in part because it shows up with the greatest fight in the entire series. I do wish we could have kept part of the intro music for that scene but I suppose it’s technically a different part of the OST for that. Either way it’s a powerful song about thinking someone was your friend and trusting them, only to be betrayed in the end. I know hero vs hero fights may get a lot of critiques, but that’s why I love the concept. Unlike a hero vs villain fight where you’re clearly meant to root for one team who is in the right, a matchup like this is interesting because both sides are doing what they believe is the correct decision.

In a logical sense AceOps has some points here. The heroes were already being overrun by a bunch of normal Grimm who were being summoned. Salem is on her way with an army many times larger than that. It seems unlikely that the heroes can last for long and they allegedly don’t have enough time to evacuate everyone either. Thus, their decision to leave and save who they can makes some sense. It also doesn’t help that Team RWBY’s leader burst into tears right when Salem showed up and mentioned her mother. There’s nothing more soul crushing for a team than to have their leader drop out just like that.

Of course Team RWBY is ultimately in the right here because you should never sacrifice anyone. If they die then at least they die together as opposed to just some people managing to survive this round. If you had to throw a lot of people away in order to survive then it’s just not worth it. The song talks about never trusting someone again and after being betrayed like that it would definitely be hard to make new friends. It takes a long time to trust someone but only an instant to lose that for good.

So, that’s definitely my top song and it concludes the rankings for Volume 7. I look forward to seeing what songs we get in the next volume since there are always some real All Stars in every volume. It’s going to be very hard to top this one though. Of course, there’s usually a song in every volume that makes me feel the same way. The series is just always ready to hit the next level.

The Steel Lady Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Warcraft Review


I always like to see a video game adapted into a film…but not like this! It seems like bad luck that films keep trying to adapt games that either shouldn’t be adapted or ones that should be adapted…in 20 years. I get that World of Warcraft is a very popular video game, but I’ve never cared much for it and I don’t think it ever had a whole lot of movie potential. People will inevitably compare it to Lord of the Rings and it’ll fall short since everyone already has the nostalgia goggles on. Then we’ve got Assassin’s Creed….this isn’t the kind of representation of video games that I wanted. Where’s Mega Man, Mario, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Gravity Rush, or the really cool looking video games like that? The films keep on choosing the most realistic ones possible as I guess they feel this is the safe route, but it’s backfiring horribly. Wait…they already tried making a Super Mario Bros film? Nah….you must be mistaken, I’m sure I’d remember Princess Peach making her way to the big screen or that iconic Bowser design if the film had happened. Must have just been a mistake.

Anyway, Warcraft deals with two worlds coming together to avoid calamity. On one side, we have the world of the Trolls. Their world has grown desolate and soon it will be completely unlivable. To combat this, they have decided to invade the human world and eradicate all of the mortals. On the human side, they see that the Trolls are attacking and decide to slay them all. There can be no peace here, only war and destruction. Which side will emerge victorious here?

This film has a lot of problems, but action isn’t one of them. There’s a lot of action throughout as you’ll see people punching and tackling each other. A lot of guys are stabbed and it definitely feels like a war. I don’t care much for war fight scenes and prefer the classic 1 on 1’s. This doesn’t help to change my opinion of that, but considering that War is in the title, I knew what to expect from the get go. The CGI and overall special effects for the film aren’t bad. In the rare scenes where we actually get to see energy attacks and video game techniques, they hold up quite well. We get mythical monsters and fantasy backdrops that also fit in seamlessly.

The rest of the film is where Warcraft stumbles a bit. Lets talk about the characters. Gul’dan is the main villain of the film. He’s the corrupt leader of the Orcs (Trolls) and ensures that there is no peace. After all, you can’t make peace with a nation that’s trying to destroy you right? He rules with fear and is the only Orc to actually have special powers. He can drain your life force by making contact with an opponent and has a good array of energy blasts as well. This makes up for not being the strongest Orc on the battlefield. It’s really impossible for any character to beat him without plot hax and that’s a bit of an issue. The only way the film gets around this is by having the other Orcs pressure Gul’dan into retreating for honor reasons. He never loses and I guess this sets things up for the sequel. He was a pretty imposing villain and I suppose that I didn’t mind him being the big bad. I wish he would just get on with it though and I don’t see why he should even care about the Orcs liking him or not. His whole gimmick is that he rules by fear so if they start rebelling, can’t he just slay them all?

Lothar is the main hero on the human side. His character arc is pretty tragic as he decides to trust Garona and is then betrayed at the very end. He’s a pretty strong warrior and is headstrong. Lothar acts like a main character should for the most part. He can be a little generic and maybe not all that reasonable at other times, but he can handle himself in a fight and the humans wouldn’t have much of a chance without him. Llane is the more reasonable character, but at the same time he goes for the more conventional ideas. He decides on a full scale war against the Orcs and this doesn’t go well at all. He then makes a rather selfless decision to have Garona murder him so she can get out of there alive, but it’s also basically suicide since he’s asking to be murdered. You always got to fight until the bitter end even if the odds are stacked against you. The ending did not help him.

I actually place more of the blame on Garona though. Accepting this option shows that she put more value on her life than on Llane’s. Essentially, she was willing to continue existing at the expense of someone else. Lothar took this as a betrayal since he didn’t know the context, but it may as well have been one even with it. She was tasked with protecting Llane and she failed. Durotan is the main protagonist of the Orcs, but he is forced to work for Gul’dan the whole time. It’s a pretty tough film for Durotan since he doesn’t get the clan any closer to peace and is ultimately murdered in front of everyone. He put up a good fight, but was clearly outmatched thanks to the magic amplifications that Gul’dan had and it felt like his journey was rather pointless. He made some nice speeches, but since he had no control over the clan, it didn’t help much. He did inadvertently save the humans by getting the Orcs to doubt their leader though.

As this is Warcraft, there were other sub plots as well. One of the human’s strongest magicians was actually a traitor and ended up joining the villains. It was either his overconfidence that led the evil magic to slowly corrupting him or he was just a bad seed the entire time. Regardless, it was a huge blow to the humans since they need all of the magicians that they can get. They have another apprentice guy who wants to help out now, but that’s just a consolation. Honestly though, the humans should be doomed in this war. They now only have 1 guy with powers on their side while the Orcs have a few. That being said, the ending shows that there are many other factions of humans who will be helping now. Where were they the whole time? Who knows, I guess it just wasn’t their fight. Ironically the human mage sub plot was probably the most out of place, but also the most interesting part of the film.

The part of the film that will end up leaving a sour taste in your mouth is really the ending. Seeing Garona just accept the life and be accepted back to her people was a rather mean spirited way to end things. Now nobody gets along and tensions are even higher. It also feels like absolutely nothing was accomplished in this film. You should think of it as a promo to encourage you to play the game, but that doesn’t work so well as a large feature film. Especially if you were never interested to play the game in the first place. As the writing is also lackluster, it never really had a chance of getting you interested in playing the game.

There is also some iffy animal violence moments here. It sadly comes with the territory of war films as people ride horses and even birds into battle. It’s not a huge occurrence here, but enough so where it warrants a mention. It’s not as if things could have gotten much worse for the film though right? It was already rather boring and convoluted without a good ending so adding the animal violence is like the cherry on top.

Overall, Warcraft is a very generic fantasy war film. It’s just the same old Humans vs Orc battles that we’ve seen in LOTR and the Hobbit already. This film doesn’t really add anything to that. There’s not much reason to watch this film and since an ending is super important, having a bad one hurts the film all the more. I doubt this film will be getting a sequel anyway so it’s not as if the cliffhangers will be resolved anytime soon. If you’re a big fan of the games then you’re basically obligated to watch this one. If not, then I’d recommend just sticking away from it.

Overall 3/10

Dynasty Warriors Advance Review


I own quite a few Dynasty Warrior games, but I haven’t had a chance to play most of them yet. I have 2,3, and 4 at the ready, but other games have taken priority so far. I hope to get to them soon, but in the meantime we have the Game Boy title to work with. Considering how old this game is, I’d say that it did a fairly good job of capturing the style of the main games. It could use some polish though and certainly shouldn’t be known as a great game. It’s fun to play through, but it’s the kind of game that you won’t find yourself coming back to.

One major gripe that I’ve always had with Dynasty Warriors is that the story is never all that interesting. The characters all start to blend together after a while and likewise with the armies. The plot is always about beating an army somewhere, but you don’t get invested into the plot. The same can be said for most beat em ups like this such as Samurai Warriors and Sengoku Basara. However, I give Basara more credit as at the very least, the Devil Kings spinoff did a good job of adding in a lot more personality to the characters and giving more of a full fledged story. At any rate, the story in Dynasty Warriors Advance is around, but you’ll forget it all as you play. All you need to know is that you’re beating up the villains. (Most of the villains end up joining you as allies anyway. It’s a little cheesy to hear a villain talk about how you must unite the land after you finish giving him lethal injuries, but at least it shows that their hearts were in the right place.

The gameplay is fairly simple and you have two different attacks. You have the standard slashes and power moves. Mix them together to create combos. You also get a final smash where you are completely invincible for a few seconds and can land some really devastating attacks. You can also block although I never bothered with that function. You’ll find that you can beat most levels by just spamming your standard attack. Most of the game is fairly easy except for the final level and one boss. Those guys are pretty crazy so you’ll want to harness your inner Kraft and cheese your way to victory. Just use the A button to fire dash an opponent. It has 5 hits, but you want to run midway through the attack. If you do this right, you’ll be able to zip in and out. This will deal some damage, but also get you to safety so the opponent can’t counter you. It can take a painfully long time to win the stage, but it beats losing and going back to the last save point right? I had to replay a level twice because I hadn’t saved recently. In my defense, I didn’t expect those random difficulty spikes to show up.

The boss was very overpowered as she would freeze you and then just as you would break free…she’d freeze you again. You had to button mash really quickly in order to escape her infinite combo. I don’t know why the difficulty spikes were so erratic, but I suppose they added a level of depth to the game. I believe there is even a hard mode in case you want to really test your skills. You’ll probably want to use the blocking feature a lot more if you choose to do that.

Graphically, the game is rather sub-par. Granted, the Game Boy Advance can’t expect to look like Sonic 2006, but the sprites just seem more compressed than they should be. I think the game definitely could have put in a little more effort if you ask me. I know that even for home console games, graphics are supposedly not as good in beat em ups since they have to process so many enemies at a time, but I still say that Hyrule Warriors had really impressive graphics. It’s probably the most impressive beat em up games although Dynasty Warriors Gundam also looks quite good. There isn’t really a soundtrack in this game as it’s all extremely generic music that will put you to sleep. I actually almost did fall asleep when I was playing this on my way back home from Texas and had to switch back to Professor Layton to wake my brain up.

The game is fairly short as it only has around 5-7 levels in it. Granted, the levels range in how long they are as some are pretty quick and others are long. Unfortunately, the game forces you to watch all of the turns and there are a lot of minions who will approach you so be prepared to fight a lot. I would have liked it to have been free roam like the home console versions, but I understand that this probably would have been impossible for the GBA’s systems to handle.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors Advance is a decent game. My main issue with it is that the game can be very repetitious. You’re basically using the same attack forever and since the story isn’t even engaging…there’s just not much to this title. You’ll complete it, but then it’ll go back on the shelf. I think the game did try to be a little deep as there are a lot of weapons to equip and you get level ups to make the characters stronger, but it rarely mattered all that much. I do recommend always equipping the strongest weapon to save some time though. If you like the series a lot, then you should check this game out. It’s an interesting portable take on the game and while it was only just barely successful, I still wouldn’t call it a bad game. It’s fun when you first start it and the game only starts to be a bit of a chore by the very end due to how repetitious it is. One way to alleviate this would be to play the game in short batches. 1-2 levels at a time is probably a good way to pace yourself.

Overall 6/10

Red Dawn (2012) Review

Red_Dawn_FilmPoster
Looks like it’s time for round 2 for Red Dawn. The original got a reboot and now we can see if America could put up a better fight with the modern technology that we have at our disposal. Spoiler alert….America doesn’t fare all that well. While it’s a decent film for the most part, I can’t say that Red Dawn is really my style and the premise is completely unbelievable, although I’ll get into that in a second.

The main characters are enjoying the city life and having fun when the film starts off. Matt ends up losing his team the game, but he gave it his all and that’s what counts. His brother Jed is finally back from being abroad at war and it’s a good thing that he is. See, Korea and Russia have launched an attack against the US of A and we lost big time. The kids must now form a band called the Wolverines and strike back at the oppressors with their experience in warfare and combat. Can they really liberate the greatest country in the world?

Well, let’s go back to the premise since that’s the part that I can’t buy into. See, America is the greatest country in the world and no one can stop us. We have friendly ties with several countries like France and Great Britain, but even if they wouldn’t help us through such an attack, we’d be okay. Would they help us if we got invaded by Korea? I like to think so since it was an unprovoked attack and they would want to get in on the action and spoils of war before the enemies came after them.

Back to the America is for winners part. Apparently, all it takes is a well placed super EMP to take us out of the picture. Without our tech, America simply isn’t very tough and we were defeated in roughly a day. That’s….embarrassing to be honest. America loves its tech, but we also have the best defenses for it and they can’t be permanantely shut off so easily. Moreover, the enemies have closed circuit technology so that they can communicate…and we don’t? Booooooo. America is prepared for all eventualities and we wouldn’t have lost.

At most, they could maybe take a state or two, not 42. We would quickly win them back, turn our tech back, and then nuke the place. America cannot be defeated and we quickly proved this in World War II. Once America got involved, it was essentially Game Over for the enemies. So, this film really feels like propaganda from the enemy. I had this thought during the original one as well and it makes you wonder how this film got into theaters. Freedom of speech and films of course, but we don’t want the American people to get the wrong idea or for the enemies to take this as a challenge to attack. While not as politically controversial as that comedy film about Korea recently, this one’s still not quite as patriotic as you would hope.

There are still patriotic themes of course as the kids take out quite a few enemy soldiers and continue to blow up their bases. It shows that we will never give up and Americans will always have their freedom, but that should have been applied to the whole country, which is why we shouldn’t have lost. America fights hard and they fight to win. That’s how it’s always been and the only way to take us out is with Global Destruction. A mutual nuclear attack would do the trick and then it would be game over.

Naturally, this film is pretty dark given the serious themes that are at play the whole time. Characters drop off one after the other and the heroes are put in many tricky circumstances with people that they can’t always trust. It’s a film that will keep you interested from start to finish, but not one that is really fun to watch. It is fairly realistic as people go through these situations in other countries and in our past, but that’s part of the reason why it turns out to be a film that you won’t find very enjoyable.

There is a twist at the end to keep things real and all films need a twist of some sort nowadays. It’s expected and it adds more drama for the sequel. The event in question definitely comes suddenly and the film did a good job of not being obvious about it although the foreshadowing did start to get a little iffy as the heroes were having too much of a good time. You have to have nerves of steel at that point since everyone is dying so you learn to be able to get decently happy very quickly since you don’t know how long the peace will last. Still, they should have kept moving.

Jed’s a really good main character and the film does a good job of making him likable. The main gripe with him is just how much beer the guy drinks. It certainly won’t help him when he’s out in a firefight. Luckily, the guy has a lot of experience in the field and he really ends up helping the team a lot. Without him, it’s safe to say that the heroes may have been a little out of their league. Matt is not nearly as good. I really didn’t like his character from start to finish. His first appearance has him crumbling during the end of a football game and it seems like he barely cares. He just heads out to have fun with his girlfriend and really acting like one of those throwaway characters from any film or show. He’s the kind of guy that you just don’t like and the film tries to correct that later on, but it’s too little too late. He abandons the team and disobeys orders when he feels like it without any real remorse.

Most of the other characters are here to remind us that this is serious business and not for the faint of heart. The guy who lacked will power steals the food and betrays the heroes to the enemy. The surest way to tell who isn’t a real American is to find the guy who betrays you to the other country. That’s just sad and I’m pretty sure that the guy didn’t live through the experience. The other characters are typically all right or a little on the not cool side. Matt’s girlfriend certainly did not help him become likable and I thought that she was a bit much the whole time. Jed’s friend was much better as she was more reserved and dedicated to the cause.

The writing seemed to be decent as there was only one piece of unnecessary language that I noticed, but I saw this on TV so they helped the film out a little by covering this area. I don’t know how much or how little they cut, but that’s always nice of them. The film was over in a flash and felt way under 2 hours. That’s probably a good thing as short and sweet has actually been working out quite well lately. If you’re as good as Man of Steel or Avengers, then go for as long as possible. Otherwise, go for a shorter route.

Overall, This Red Dawn is better than the first version. The main character is easily the best person in the film and he puts the other guys to shame. It’s too bad that Matt couldn’t be quite as good. The film is pretty careful in terms of violence and while a lot of things happen to the heroes, it’s never as intense as in the original. That being said, the premise is still as unbelievable as ever. America simply doesn’t lose like that and this is the kind of film that shouldn’t be given a theater release without some kind of propaganda video before it to pump us up. At the very least, we should have had an epilogue about how we ultimately won the war and crushed everyone. It was neat to see the Marines and they actually looked impressive in this version, but they sure tried to be as unlikable as possible at times. If you like war films where the underdogs have to fight against large odds check this out. If you want a lighter film where America owns the world, check out The Avengers! Now that film shows us the determination and skill of The American people!

Overall 4/10