Monday, June 27, 2016

Pokemon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

Plot: Ash and his friends arrive at Michina Town where they witness the resolve of the feud between Giratina and Dialga with the help of a guardian named Sheena. Shortly afterwords, Sheena informs them that the legendary Pokemon named Arceus, who is said to have created the who universe, as arisen from its slumber and intends to destroy mankind for betraying it and keeping it from retrieving the Jewel of Life. Giratina, Dialga and Palkia fight to stop Arceus, but they are no match for it so Dialga sends Ash, Dawn, Brock and Sheena back in time as a hope to stop the catastrophe that has caused Arceus to attack the humans.  

So now we come to the last chapter of the supposed Diamond and Pearl trilogy. And as the final installment of this so-called trilogy, it had a story that was it more interesting than its predecessor, but still had a large amount of flaws.

I'll start with the good stuff. First off the general story is more intriguing then Giritina and the Sky Warrior. I liked how the backstory became less and less simple as the movie progressed. I also like how the characters are going back in time again except this time they're traveling to an age where Pokemon aren't even called Pokemon; they're called magical creatures. This like that add more of the mythos behind the franchise is starting to become one of the main reason why I'm glad that I'm going through these movies. The relationship between Sheena and Damos is in some respect well developed and leads to a fitting climax, and on top of that, the climax itself was exciting.

So how is the film heavily flawed? Well for one thing, it goes way too far with delivering exposition. There is at least three if not four different times where they say the exact same story of Damos and Arceus. The last time in particular only needed to show it some sections of the story instead of literally showing us the entire event. I get how there's more to the story the more times they tell it, but the way that they do that comes out pretty redundant. Also, this movie didn't have a good sense of knowing how time travel works. Now unfortunately, I can't go into a whole lot of detail into that because a lot of it is spoiler related. But if you're familiar with the concept of time travel from something like Doctor Who or Back to the Future, you're likely to watch this movie and find yourself saying "I don't think that's actually how that works." at least a couple of times.

I normally don't make a thing about the voice acting choices for movies or TV, but the voice for the voice of Arceus does not work. I'm sure the voice actor is doing his best, but his performance doesn't fit into the idea of being a being that is caring but vengeful, powerful being. Every time he's yelling sounds like a big whiny brute in a way that's similar to Zero in Giratina and the Sky Warrior. Also, we come across what is easily the worst villain in any Pokemon movie. I won't give it away because this is also in spoiler territory, but the character that plays the villain is so one noted that he makes the Iron Masked Marauder look interesting. The Marauder at least had a design that made him look a little cool and a device that made him dangerous. This character on the other hand is so bland that you can tell from his appearance that he's the villain and can figure out his gimmick super fast.

Also as much as I hate to agree with Il Neige, the concept of this movie being the third installment of a trilogy does not work. It did start off that way when all of the other legendary Pokemon are fighting Arceus, but kind of like with Giratina and the Sky Warrior, the connections to the previous films are almost non-existent. Maybe if you are a big fan of both the game and the anime of Diamond and Pearl, this would feel more like a big epic trilogy, but the only way that these films connect are the legendary Pokemon that appear, and even that doesn't count for much.

Finally, let's address the big elephant in a room; the concept that Arceus is basically a Pokemon version of God. Il Neige made a point that the film does get the sense that this movie should have taken a turn that represents the concept of how the relationship between God and man has fallen apart. I think that's kind of true for reasons that I can't explain because it's spoiler related, but I also think it would be a little much to dive into a concept of a god who created everything in this world. I know he supposedly created everything in this universe and that he can adapt to all the different types of Pokemon. But to me, the movie makes it clear that even though he's a Pokemon that created this entire world, he is still a Pokemon. He lives, he can run out of energy and die, and a Pokemon trainer can capture him just like any of these mythical creatures. So for my money, I think they were right to keep ideas of Arceus out of concepts like that and stick to the fact that's he's still just a legendary pocket monster.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life. I like the story better then the one from the previous film and both the climax and the relationship between Sheena and Damos was done fairly well. But the story is also very flawed just with the time travel aspect alone, the voice for Arceus does not fit, and the villain is by far the worst one in these Pokemon films. It's not as bad as Giratina and the Sky Warrior, but it's still bad.

Rating: 35%

Pokemon Giratina and the Sky Warrior (2008)

Plot: Shortly after the events of The Rise of Darkrai, the hedgehog-like legendary Pokémon, Shaymin is drawn into a battle between Dialga and Giratina, who drags both Shaymin and Dialga into the Reverse World. Shaymin uses her powers to escape through a portal back to the normal world giving Dialga the oppertunity to follow after he disables Giratina's ability to venture to Earth. Shaymin finds itself in a seaside town and comes across Ash and his friends and tells them that she needs to go to the Forest Garden so that it can migrate with the other Shaymin. But things get complicated when Giratina is trying to find a way to capture Shaymin so that it can enter Earth and a mad scientist named Zero appears to have other plans for the Reverse World.

So as I said in my review for Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, I thought that movie was going to be the one that's going to be the first of big dull dud that I come across among the Pokemon films. But it turns out I had to wait two more films before actually found the first big dud. Not to say there aren't some kind of nice things about this movie, but when comparing to any of the other films - even Pokemon 4Ever, it didn't do a thing for me at all.

Let me start off with the minor good stuff about the movie. First off Shaymin was a slightly better character than I thought she would be. When it was getting stuck in the midst of a fight between Dialga and Giratina, I thought she was going to be another innocent cute sea Pokemon like with Celebi, Jirachi and Manaphy. But it turns out that Shaymin it's actually a bit of a pompous, self-centered jerk. When it started talking, it acted like it's the most important thing ever and is completely full of it itself whenever something good happens, claiming it's all her doing. However, it gets boring really fast. It doesn't have much of a relationship with the other characters apart from arguing with Ash but eventually time becoming friends, and sort of favoring Dawn because she's the loving female character, but without the emotional attachment that comes with it like with May and Manaphy.

The fact that this all ties into the last film is actually very interesting. According to Il Neige, this is technically the second part of the Diamond and Peal/Sinnoh trilogy, and the film after this, Arceus and the Jewel of Life, is basically part 3. So I hope they make good use of that when it comes to bringing up Giratina, Dialga and Palkia. That being said however, the events of The Rise of Darkrai are only briefly mentioned, making the movie feel insignificant as a part of a trilogy in the long run.
So how is this film worse than Pokemon 4Ever? Well I think Il Neige put it best that it feels like there's a bunch of random ideas that don't add up well together. For example, I would declare that the villain, Zero feels like he's even worse than the Iron Mask Marauder if he didn't have some interesting quirks. He isn't trying to take over the world so much as he has his crazy belief that he must destroy the world in order to save the Reverse World and it drives him mad. I'll even technically give him points for being the first Pokemon villain to have a passion for committing genocide. But aside from that, there was nothing really unique about him at all. Honestly he sounded more like a mixture of some of the past villains like having a big ship used for capturing Pokemon like Lawrence III or having an evil laugh the Iron Mask Marauder and so on and so forth. Besides, his symbol is literally a zero. I know this is meant for kids and everything, but that's just sounds silly even for Pokmeon. The idea of the reverse world is kind of a neat idea, but it feels like it was there just for the fun of watching characters like Dawn and Ash moon walk in certain areas where there is no gravity.

But the main reason why I like this movie less then Pokemon 4Ever is that I didn't care about what happening. Celebi may be nothing but cuteness, but at some point, even I cared about what was happening compared to Shaymin. Its personality was different like I said, but even with that, I did not care for whether or not it was going to reach its goal. There's also this professor guy who took Zero as his apprentice, and that sounds interesting on paper, but I didn't really care about him either. There's even a random cameo of the legendary Pokemon Regigigas, which... I guess is neat if you're a Diamond and Pearl fan, but even then it didn't really contribute much. Even Giratina who has a unique yet intimidating design, was not as interesting as he could have been. I think what I'm basically trying to say is that this movie does look like something that should spark my interest in the same way as any of the other films regardless of what I thought about them. But it all comes down to whether or not I was interesting in what was happening, and in the end I though it was dull.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior. It has some interesting ideas such as the villain's goal or having a cute Pokemon that's actually a jerk, but its execution is clunky to a point that I didn't care about what was happening in the film even though I had a feeling I should.

Rating: 25%

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Plot: It's been exactly 20 years since the events of the first movie and humanity has used this time to prepare for the possibility of another alien attack. But during the celebration of defeating the aliens, the alien come back with an even bigger and more powerful army. I'd say more, but that's all there really is to know.

I went to see an early screening for this movie with my brother, Johnathan, and honestly we almost had fun. Not in the sense that it was good, but because of how remarkably, unforgivably bad it is. What I thought was going to be a bad yet slightly amusing rehash of the last movie turned out to be such a ginormous mess that it's basically director Roland Emmerich's own personal Transformers: Age of Extinction, but worse. This movie had one or two decent moments in the dialogue, but when you're looking at the movie as a whole, it's a bigger train wreck than what Bay tried to do.

For those of you who didn't read my review for Transformers: Age of Extinction or don't remember, here's my basic thoughts. It had way too many characters and had countless story lines that are good on paper but went nowhere, and as the movie progressed I had little to no idea whatsoever what was happening. Independence Day: Resurgence is basically the same thing but it goes farther. There's so many random stuff shoved into this movie that by the end, you realize that this movie went absolutely nowhere. There's more characters than I can keep track both old and new and all of them added nothing. Some of them may be fighting aliens or figuring out plans, but as Johnathan pointed out when we were walking home from the theater, there were absolutely no consequences. The stakes where high given that the aliens are back and with bigger and more advanced ships, but there is little reaction to the actions that any of the human characters make. One character sacrifices himself with a big bang and admittingly a kind of cool one-liner, and even that didn't really add anything. The funny thing is - again, like Age of Extinction, a lot of these situations that the characters are in are good ideas by themselves. You have pilots who get stuck inside the main alien ship, there's another alien species that wants to help, people are getting telepathic messages from the aliens, and many of these situations would have been interesting on their own had they took the majority of the story. But no, they have to add all of this other crap that's so pointless that I don't even remember what it was. It's really appalling yet funny how the first film had a straight forward story from beginning to end and a simple theme of celebrating the 4th of July, and then we get a sequel that's throwing anything on the wall and trying to make it stick and making no connection to the holiday apart from just one line of dialogue.

Honestly, I'm trying to figure out who among the characters were the most effective to the plot, but I just can't think of anything. Everyone is doing stuff in groups and none of them have anything special about them that's actually helpful for the fight against the aliens. Even Jeff Goldblum's character who in the last film at least had a talent that conveniently helped humanity get the upper hand had absolutely nothing going on for him. So many characters like Goldblum's dad are constantly appearing in this movie with no purpose whatsoever. Like they're only there just so that you have people from the last film or are grown up version of people from the last film. The idea of bringing us grown up versions of characters like Will Smith's stepson or the President's daughter is good, but I barely know a thing about them. The last movie may have had a lot of characters too, but that film knew to take enough time so that you'd remember them in some way. But the development for most of these characters seem to end almost as soon as it started. That's the one thing Age of Extinction did better then this movie; it rushed on so many of its characters, but even Bay had a small group of characters to focus primarily on - that being Cal, his daughter and her boyfriend. They were by no means the right characters to focus on, but it's more than Emmerich did here.

The action also goes completely nowhere. If all you want is random explosions with aliens and humans with sci-fi weapons, you'll get it, but you will have no idea what is happening. A lot of the action is a matter of convenience. Like the alien mother ship as a powerful shield and yet their smaller ships don't, and then the queen alien has her own shield but it's temporarily effective...and that's just the plot holes I remember. By the time we get tot he last 20 minutes of the movie, things were executed so lazily that it stopped being amusing. People are dying, explosions are everywhere, the fate of the world is at stake and in the end none of us cared what was happening.

And that's my review for Independence Day: Resurgence. Some of the plain ideas behind what it happening sounds good on paper if they took more time on them, but what we have instead is a remarkable mess with all concepts of focus and consistency thrown out of the window in terms of story, characters and even action. The last movie was no Die Hard either, but it knew to keep its story simple and to give its main characters an importance to the plot. This movie doesn't even try to make even the original characters stand out for squat. But that's okay, and do you know why? *Bill Putnam voice* Because we're going to move on. We're gonna survive. This year, you shall ignore this movie on your Independence Day! *audience cheers*

Rating: 10%

Independence Day (1996)

Well in a couple of hours from when I start writing this review, I'll be going to an early showing of Independence Day: Resurgence. So it only figure that I should make sure to re-watch and review the first film before that.

Plot: Set two days before the 4th of July, an army of aliens travel to Earth and begin destroying the human race. So it's up to a group of people including a F/A-18 pilot, a computer expert, and the President of the United States to figure out a way to fight back as save the world from annihilation.

As a kid I liked this movie. We never owned it, but it was a nice maybe-if-we-feel-like-it movie to watch on the 4th of July. But as I got older, I started to see how silly it is. There are some things that make it a little entertaining -heck, I'll admit that the idea of this taking place on Independence Day is kind of a charming idea....but in a very silly popcorn movie kind of way. In fact, I think I remember around high school there were people who thought this was a Michael Bay movie that he didn't direct but produced. Now none of that is true, but given the basic premise on top of all the special effects, character stereotypes and the fact that this is about invading aliens, it does kind of feel like Bay took a lot from this movie when he was making the first Transformers film.

Let's start off with the characters...mostly that the majority of them are pretty much stereotypes. Now to be fair, some characters have their own charm, but mostly because of the actors that are playing them; mainly Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and of coarse Will Smith least for me personally. Goldblum is doing his usual "um"s and "ah"s, but I think he's likable enough. I thought Pullman was entertaining as the president, and finally, I figure most people will like Will Smith the most just because he's Will Smith. Even when he's not fighting aliens, he still has a likable charm to him. But aside from that, the majority of the characters are stereotypes. The drunk redneck, the jewish guy, the geeky scientist and so on and so forth.

The most of the explosions look pretty cool even today, but there are a few shots where you can probably tell today that they're fake. Other visual effects like the CGI for the aliens and their ships don't look that great, but I guess you can just say that it's a product of its time. Plus to be fair, it was good enough back then that it did win an Oscar for best visual effects, so while the Oscars aren't always right, I guess that should count for something. The designs of the aliens and their ships do look like your stereotypical aliens with their UFOs, but I think they made them work well enough to still look a little cool.

The dialogue in this movie is cliched in the long run. A lot of it you more than likely have seen many times before. But with that said, some of the lines are portrayed so silly/corny that they are still memorable in their own way. I think none of us who have seen this movie will ever forget Randy Quaid as Russell Casse shouting out "Hello boys, I'm back!" And as silly as Pullman's big speech before the climax is, admit it it sounds kind of awesome. As far goes a big speeches in our B actions films, he says this speech in such a fun yet motivating way that I'd rather hear him inspire the troops then something like  Idris Elba's "cancelling the apocalypse speech in Pacific Rim with - as I said in my review for that film, made me and my brother snicker. 

And that's my review for Independence Day. If you just want to see a silly popcorn movie - particularly to celebrate Independence Day, you'll have fun here. But if you're looking for something more than just action, stereotypes and likable actors like Will Smith, you should give it a pass.

Rating: 50%

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

Plot: Between the dimensions of time and space, the legendary Pokemon, Dialga and Palkia start fighting. Palkia is injured and so flees and secretly hides in the Sinnoh city, Alamos. Meanwhile, Ash, Brock and their Diamond and Peal companion, Dawn travel to Alamos where a mysterious Pokemon named Darkrai is lurking in the shadows and giving people and Pokemon nightmares. The Baron of the city is attempting to capture Darkrai, but with the help their new friends Alice and Tonio, Ash, Brock and Dawn may discover that there's more behind Darkrai then he appears.

So this is the first of the Diamond and Pearl movies and is said to be another one of those films that some people view to be their all time favorite Pokemon movie. So... is it really a crime that I don't share that view? *viewers booing* Yeah, that's what I thought. Honestly, I side with Il Neige that this movie has some really good ideas but they don't take full advantage of them.

Let's start off with Darkrai himself. On the one hand, he is a creepy Pokemon. His design is intimidating, the fact that he gives people nightmares is menacing, and he all around gives this movie a sense of a horror least as much as a Pokemon film can. But aside from that, it feels like there's more that they could have done with him. Without giving too much away, the film gives the idea that Darkrai isn't really a threat. Now how we discover that is interesting, but the same time I feel like we needed more of him having an intimidating presence. When we get the big reveal, it feels more like all the interesting and menacing aspects about him are thrown out the window just for the sake of the plot. On top of that, it feels like he didn't have much of a connection with the characters. It has that small connection with Alice because he knew her grandmother and that's about it.

The film also gives an implication early on that there's going to be a love triangle between Alice, Tonio and Baron Alberto. Not to say that this could have been the most complex or important thing in the movie per say, but I was kind of looking forward to it. I mean come on, we haven't had love triangle in any of these films since technically Pokemon 2000. But it's resolved in a matter of seconds as Alice declares her feelings for Tonio. The relationship between them is interesting enough that I still root for them as movie went on, but their relationship never grows. We find out why Alice has her feelings for him, which is further justified in the climax, and we get the feeling that maybe something happens between the end...but the key word there is maybe. Again I'm not saying that this has to be one of the most important aspect about the movie, but I still get the feeling that I wanted more out of them whether there is a love triangle or not.

Another missed opportunity was more time for Dawn in particular to shine. As I said before, I never watch the Diamond and Pearl series, but from what little I do know about Dawn as a character from seeing a couple of YouTube videos and some Pokemon:X and Y fanfiction, she sounds like she's a relatively cool character with a fun platonic relationship with Ash. Sadly however, there is little to no focus on her. We do get the sense of her having a platonic relationship with Ash during the climax as they are working together to try to save the day, but that's all we get. Here's to better luck hopefully in the other films.

The climax  was in some respects fairly intense. You have this city trapped in between dimensions, it's slowly being destroyed, and the legendary Pokemon are clashing against each other relentlessly. But after watching Il Neige's review and thinking more about it, the battle between Dialga and Palkia and Darkrai was very repetitive. They're just shooting lasers on each other and Darkrai is trying to interfere and then they do the same thing over and over again.

If there's anything that I sincerely enjoyed in his movie, the first thing that comes to mind is that the animation is gorgeous. Maybe this is the case with some other films and I'm only noticing because I saw this in HD, but some of the locations in the colors of the sky and/or the lighting stood out exceptionally well. Every now and then, there would be a shot that made me feel like I was watching a scene from When Marnie Was There. I also liked Alamos and the mythology behind it. The landscape was interesting and the Time and Space towers had a unique look.

And that's my review for Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai. I enjoyed the animation and the design of Alamos, but the film is met with ideas like Darkrai and the romance that I felt they didn't take a whole lot of advantage from. It's another mixed bag to say the least.

Rating: 55%

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2005)

Plot: Ash and his friends befriend a traveling family circus who kindly take them in after suffering from dehydration in the wasteland. While traveling with them, they find out that the family are in possession of a rare Pokemon egg and are helping a Pokemon ranger named Jack Walker who is trying to keep the egg from the hands of the evil pirate known as The Phantom. The egg eventually hatches to reveal the rare Pokemon, Manaphy who believes May to be its mother. So the race is on to take Manaphy to the temple of the sea before The Phantom does.

When I saw the cover for this movie, I thought I wasn't going to like it. Manaphy looked like it was going to be another Pokemon that was cutesy for the sake of being cutesy, leading for this movie to be the first dull dud that's worse than Pokemon 4ever. But surprisingly I rather enjoyed it. Not as much as I enjoyed Pokemon Heroes and there are some problems that I realized after watching the film. But for what it was as the last movie with the advanced generation characters I had a nice time.

The heart of what sold this movie for me surprisingly enough is the relationship between Manaphy and May. Like I said earlier, Manaphy easily could have been used to be cute for the sake of being cute just like with Celebi. But it works here because the cute, baby-like behavior makes sensebecause it actually is a baby. And the mother and child like relationship between Manaphy and May is touching at times. It was touching how they were developing this deep bond even though they would eventually have to be separated which leads to the best emotional moments of the film. The last scene with with them in particular I could help but actually say "Awww!"

The only complaints I could think of slightly comes from Il Neige's review for the movie. He basically thought that by focusing so much on her being the mother figure for Manaphy, the filmmakers kind of threw out her all-around personality from the show. Now as someone who never watched Advanced Generations I can't really confirm that. But thinking a little more about it, I did realize that she did become so devoted to the role that she doesn't really do anything else. In fact, apart from letting out her Squitle so that she could swim through a water tunnel, she never even called out her Pokemon to battle. So if you did watch Advanced Generations and think that this was out of character for May, I'm not going to say that I don't understand at least a tiny bit. But for me personally, I really enjoyed watching her bond with Manaphy.

The story in general is also stronger then in Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. It's basically a treasure hunt in a Indiana Jones sort of way. The climax was also pleasantly enjoyable. We even have a moment of Ash playing as the hero which you can say is a bit of a down given that it's also backs up to the fact that May doesn't do anything when she could have helped out Ash. But I guess the little kid me that still kind of roots for him likes the idea of only him doing this heroir deed. Similar to Latias and Latios is sharing ability I also enjoyed how there was a payoff to that defense power that Manaphy has...especially since it felt like a pointless gimmick early into the film.

If I had any major problems with the movie, they would be The Phantom and surprisingly Jack. The Phantom is another going it's all about greed and is slightly better than the Iron Mask Marauder because he has memorable personality and is sometimes used for laughs. But at the same time, the idea that one of the villains in his Pokemon movie is basically a pirate just sounds stupid to me. Jack in fairness was an interesting character when you put him on paper. It's his job to basically save the day and he doesn't even capture Pokemon so much as temporarily hypnotize them or something in order to travel or fight an enemy. In some respects his job sounds like a more fitting job for Ash because he probably will never become a Pokemon Master. But kind of like with Rayquaza -albeit at a much lesser extent, his purpose in the movie started to dwindle by the time we got to the climax. it feel like he was there just to be the Phantom's nemesis while it's still only May and Manaphy's story.

And that's my review for Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea. The villain was a little too silly for me and Jack's role as a title character was underwhelming, but the story and the relationship between May and Manaphy kept me invested to the point that this is probably my personal favorite of the Advanced Generations films. It's no Pokemon Heroes, but I'm still glad that I saw it for what it was.

Rating: 70%

Pokemon Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

Plot: Centuries ago, an aura-guiding Pokémon named Lucario sensed two armies about to clash at Cameron Palace. He tries to help his master Sir Aaron save the kingdom, but when Lucario finds him, Aaron sealed Lucario in his staff and flees. Sir Aaron's Pidgeot returns to the queen of Camron with the staff as the two armies mysteriously stop fighting and return to their homes. Cut to the present as Ash and his friends come to Cameron to celebrate the life of Sir Aaron who has been declared a hero. Ash wins the Pokemon competition and is rewarded with the privilege to hold Sir Aaron's staff. But because he's dressed like Sir Aaron, Lucario releases itself from the staff and informs the group that Sir Aaron might not be the hero that they think he is. But while that's going on, Pikachu and the other Pokemon encounter the rare Pokemon Mew and after a failed attempt of being captured, Mew teleports itself as well as Pikachu and Team Rocket's Meowth to the Tree of Beginning. So the group has to travel to the Tree of Beginning with the help of Lucario to retrieve Pikachu. 

So this is the one that a lot of people considered to be their favorite of the Pokemon films. And what do I think? It's...okay but nothing spectacular. *viewers booing * Alright alright, let me elaborate. When I say it's not that great, I'm not saying that I don't see why some people view this as their favorite of the Pokemon films. But some of the other elements hurt the film enough that I didn't enjoy it in the same extent that I enjoyed Pokemon 2000 or Pokemon Heroes.

I'll start by talking about what is by far the best part of the movie: Lucario. Lucario is the most awesome and interesting Pokemon in the Pokemon movies since Mewtwo. His design was cool, the fact that uses telepathy to communicate just like Mewtwo is great, he's brooding but still has a sense of honor and a good heart, and he has these cool aura powers. Plus the story about him and Sir Aaron is interesting. You care about  how much Sir Aaron meant to Lucario and how torn he is that Sir Aaron might have betrayed him. Sir Aaron is also an interesting person even though we see little of him. He's practically a Jedi given that he can use aura powers just like Lucario. Also his suit was really cool. I remember whenever I saw Ash wearing it early in the film, I could help but think "wow, I would like to wear that too." The first scene of the movie where we find out what happened between Sir Aaron and Lucario was also enjoyable...if not a shame that we didn't really see much of a the war. In fact Il Neige made a good point that arguably that whole thing with the war could've been its own movie.

So where does the movie fall flat for me? Well to be blunt, it's the plot. Not the parts that have to do with Lucario and finding out why Sir Aaron disappeared - I stand by saying that it's interesting. I'm specifically talking about the quest that Lucario and Ash and his friends are going on. When you really think about what they're doing, you realize that there isn't really anything at stake while they travel to the Tree of Beginning. Yeah, they're worried about Pikachu and Meowth, but you can figure out pretty quickly that they are in no danger whatsoever. The film keeps coming back to the two of them and Mew, and all they're really doing is playing. Granted, the group does come across dangerous obstacles such as the tree's white cells (which I thought it's kind of neat), and coming across Regice, Regirock and Registeel (the latter of the two I thought had pretty cool voices.) But ultimately, their mission is really just retrieving Pikachu who isn't even in any sort of danger. In fact, nothing really dramatic or terrible happens until the climax which unfortunately was just like Destiny Deoxys in that it was a forced raising of the stakes just so that we can have a conclusion of Lucario's story just like with Tori. Granted, this is done slightly better given that the stuff they do for Lucario leads to a well delivered, bittersweet ending. But it's still annoys me that the climax in general came completely out of nowhere with an incredibly forced explanation. On top of that, Mew is kind of a selfish twit. When you really get down to it, all of the danger that the characters go through and all the harm and so on it's completely his fault. People are risking their lives just because Mew brought Pikachu to his home just to have someone to play with. Honestly, I choose to believe that this is a different Mew from the one in Pokemon: The First Movie where I could admire that one for beingplayful but also having a sense of wisdom.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. The fact that Pikachu didn't really need saving and that all the bad stuff is out of Mew's selfishness really bothers me. But when you put that aside, it's still a decent film mostly because of Lucario and his mission to find out more about Sir Aaron if not anything else. It's just an okay film for me, but I can see why people consider it to be their favorite Pokemon film.

Rating: 65%

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pokemon: Destiny Deoxys (2004)

Plot: A mysterious meteorite hurls towards Earth and crashes into the polar zone. In it lies the Pokemon Deoxys who is carrying a green orb but suddenly loses it when the legendary Pokemon Rayquaza attacks it believing it to be an enemy. The battle between them destroys a nearby research site and traumatizing a young boy named Tory who gets scared by a stampede of the Pokemon Spheal, Sealeo, and Walrein. The fight ends with Rayquaza supposedly killing Deoxys and the researchers recover the green orb and bring it to their home for studying. Four years later, Tory has a phobia for Pokemon after the event and his father is still trying to figure out what's in the green orb. He eventually meets Ash and his companions who try to help him overcome his fear, but things take a turn for the worse when Deoxys comes to the city fully regenerated and is cutting off the power and abducting people and their Pokemon.

Part of me looked forward to seeing this movie because apart from recently seeing Deoxys on my Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire game, I've never seen Deoxys in any of the games. I had only seen still shots back when generation 3 was around and I thought it looked pretty cool. He has a fascinating and unique design that made me want to see a little more. So how did it turn out once I saw a movie starring Deoxys? Well there are some aspects of it that were surprisingly really good... and some aspects were not so good.

The most stand-out aspect of the movie than even Deoxys was Tory's phobia of Pokemon. This aspect sounds a little silly when you put it on paper, but it's done reasonably well. When the film cuts to the point of view shot all those Pokemon coming so close to trample him, his fear is totally justified. Heck, even I couldn't help but think "okay...that's a little intimidating." But they were very clever at giving his fear a good balance by stating that he both fears and loves Pokemon. He wants to interact with them and cherish them, but the idea of them going anywhere near him after such a traumatic event at a small age is too much for him. On top of that, you care for him more when you realize it also makes him very lonely given that everyone else in the world is into Pokemon. Every other kid in this world is a Pokemon trainer and he isn't, making him a complete outcast. This makes it more satisfying when he begins to slowly interact with Ash and his friends and their Pokemon.

Deoxys was not only as cool as I hoped it would be, but it was kind of least in its own Pokemon, child-friendly way. It's powers were destructive, it can clone itself and can regenerate, the list goes on. And the sound that makes it so intimidating but cool at the same time. I think like Mewtwo, I would have loved it way more if I saw this as a kid, but I enjoyed watching it well enough as an adult. I did like Rayquaza during the beginning, but he's starting to overstay is welcome as the film went on. It made sense in the beginning because Deoxys was invading its territory. But once the action starts getting to the city, his importance in the climax started to wear out very quickly to the point where it felt like he was there just to be a pompous jerk.

The story is much more interesting than Jirachi because we are mostly left in the dark as to what exactly is happening. We get that this is about Deoxys and its orb, but we don't really understand what it is or what the characters can do about it or what the Deoxys clones are doing to the people  and Pokemon they're capturing and so on. In a way that made Deoxys more fascinating because I didn't know what it was planning to do or why. The fact that it's causing all this mayhem kept me under my seat...somewhat. The story does tend to drag a lot to the point where I was becoming a little annoying that I'm waiting what feels like a long while for the plot to move along. The fact that it takes its time works in some areas of the film, but it felt a little too drawn out as a whole.

The climax is also a mixed bag. Granted, we get more action then the last couple of films, which is especially enjoyable when it is Rayquaza and Deoxys fighting each other. But like I said before, Rayquaza started to have less of a purpose as the movie went on. In fact, there's a moment during the end that was so nice and happy that they should've started to end the movie on that note. But no, Rayquaza has to go and a still cause mayhem. Also, shortly afterwords we come across another conflict that came right out of nowhere and had little to no purpose. I guess you could say it was needed for showing ass the final developments if you will between Tory and these two little Pokemon named Plusle and Minun but you could have easily done that while Deoxys and Rayquaza are fighting.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Destiny Deoxys. It has its pacing problems and both Rayquaza and the climax overstay their welcome. But in the end, the story was interesting, Tory and his phobia were well delivered, and Deoxys was as cool as I hoped he would be. It's not great, but it's a decent flick.

Rating: 65% 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker (2003)

Plot: Ash, Brock and their Pokemon: Advanced Generation companions, May and her brother Max are attending the week long festival revolving around the Millennium comet. During the celebration, they befriend a magician named Butler and his girlfriend Diane who posses a stone that encases the Pokemon Jirachi who can break out of the stone only when the Millennium comet passes by. Once freed from the stone, Jirachi and Max form a close friendship, but it turns out that Butler secretly plans to use Jirachi's power as a means to create Hoenn's legendary Pokemon, Groudon.

While somewhat better than Pokemon 4Ever, this film is nothing special. There are some aspects that I like that I'll talk about more then the bad stuff, but even the good stuff isn't enough to make the film particularly engaging as a whole.

First off Jirachi is a slight improvement from Celebi. He flies around and acts cute, but he does talk which gives him a little more character which helps develop its connection between itself and Max. My only real problem with him is that ironically there isn't a lot of him granting wishes. Aside from two wishes made early into the film, the fact that he grants wishes is almost completely thrown out the window once the evil plot is revealed. There's also more attention with May and Max then I thought there would be. Now keep in mind from here up till roughly when I get to the Pokemon: Black and White films that I did not watch the show around the time of Pokemon: Advanced Generations or Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl. So I have little knowledge about the characters in those particular versions of the show apart from what I do know from reading Pokemon: XY and Z fanfiction. (Yeah I read that, so what? It's fun.) Anyway, May and Max surprisingly have the most development in the film. I may not have watched Pokemon: Advanced Generations, but the makers of the film were kind of smart in making it clear who they are and what is their relationship with each other. They fight a lot as they should be given that they are siblings, but they still care for each other to the point that May does have a maternal side for her little brother. I don't doubt there's much more about them than that, but as far as getting to know May and Max only in these films and not the show, this was a nice introduction. And it especially works here because ultimately this is really Max and Jirachi's story more than anyone else. But even though Ash is not the focus for the first time since the fist movie, he still was still the man of action when he needed to be. Brock and Team Rocket made little to no contribution in the film, but frankly I'm used to it now so it's not that big of a deal for me personally.

Butler is a slight improvement from Annie, Oakley and the Iron Mask Marauder as a villain. He's not doing what he does out of greed, he's doing it out of serving his own ego. That doesn't make make him as complex as Mewtwo or Molly, but it does give him way more dimension than those last three villains. It's also the first time we see a Pokemon story that shows the destructive power of pride, and like with Mewtwo and Molly he's not wholeheartedly evil; there is a sense of good in him. This is backed up by Diane who isn't very complex either, but she keeps the story interesting by establishing that there's more to Butler's character.

The most enjoyable aspect of the movie for me personally was the climax. In a sense, this felt like it was the darkest climax in a Pokemon films since the first movie. It never goes too dark though; it comes back to being a big adventure with Pokemon. But it felt like a Pokemon version of the ending for Princess Mononoke where a forest is turning into a wasteland and people and Pokemon are dying (sort of) and the creature that causes it all has a dark, menacing presence that's not quite as big as Mewtwo, but enough to get into what is happening.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker. It's not the greatest thing I've ever seen Pokemon or otherwise, but I give it credit for having a slightly stronger villain then in the last two films, a considerable amount of attention on Ash's new companions and a enjoyable third act. I realize that I said a few more praises then I meant to give this movie, but a mixed bag is how I honestly felt overall.

Rating: 55%

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Plot: En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse, is a powerful being believed to be the first mutant on Earth. He ruled ancient Egypt until a rebellion resulted in him getting buried alive. But the CIA agent Moira MacTaggert accidentally woke him up in the year 1983 and thus plans to destroy the modern world and remake it in his image with the help of his new four "horsemen", Storm, Psylocke, Angel and Magneto. Thus it's up to Professor X and his students to find a way to stop him. 

As far as X-Men films go this one is...serviceable. It's not great like X-Men 2 or Days of Future Past, but it definitely has some good moments that definitely makes it plenty satisfying compared to X-Men: The Last Stand or Wolverine Origins.

Even if you don't like the movie as a whole, it does have some scenes that just about any X-Men fan will enjoy. The first scene showing the origin of Apocalypse and how he got trapped is freaking awesome. The costumes were cool, the scenery was great and the music - while maybe a little too fast paced for what was happening, was nothing short of epic. It got me so excited that I'm a little tempted to try to find it on iTunes to be frank. There's also another scene where Quicksilver is saving the day with everything else is in slow mo and it's even funnier and when he did it in Days of Future Past. But by far the best moments in the film are the ones with Magneto. Just with the first few scenes with his family, you quickly care for what's happening and the last scene where you see the three of them together is a big right-in-the-feels moment in the movie.

The characters were decent for the most part. Even though you'll probably care for Magneto than anyone else (as that seems how everyone else online is acting) the other characters still keep you invested in what's happening in the story. You have the slowly growing relationship between Gene Simmons and Scott Summers, you have Nightcrawler joining the group, heck, we even have more development of Gene and the professor's relationship than I think we ever did in the earlier films. But I don't know all of the films by heart, so that's just me. Now with Apocalypse I want you to keep in mind that I only know him so much from what I remember from watching the 90's animated series a couple years back before I went to see The Wolverine in theaters. So I would like any big X-Men fan out there reading this review to please take that with a pinch of salt. Anyway, for the most part Apocalypse was good.... not great but good ish. I guess my feeling is that he did what he was menacing and all, but the same time I can kind of see what the critics on Rotten Tomatoes were talking about when they say he was a very clichéd villain. He didn't have too much of a back story apart from the first scene there wasn't that much complexity to him. Maybe there is more in the comics, maybe there isn't. I don't know, again, take my knowledge of Apocalypse with a pinch of salt. Oscar Isaac did a good job making him menacing (man I can't believe that's Poe from The Force Awakens), and his costume was cool. But then I watched Jeremy Jahns' review for the movie and he made a good point that Apocalypse is the smallest person in his group of himself and his "horsemen". In the show, he's pretty much a giant, but here he's shorter than his henchmen and I can see where some fans would be a little displeased about that.

To me however, the film's only real crime is that it kind of drags. Now on the one hand you can understand why given that there's multiple stories that the movie is trying to tell and it's something you can't avoid given that X-Men is a franchise where there's multiple characters for you to focus on. But with that said, it does feel like some story lines get more focus than others. Sometimes, I would almost forget about one or two of them until they brought  up again because they want to focus more on what's happening with things like Jean and Scott's relationship or the professors relationship with Moria and things like that. There's also the story line with Quicksilver that had a poor resolution. He eventually reveals that Quicksilver is Magneto's son and you would think that would lead to something really big at the climax and they almost did but without giving anything away, what they do with it is a let down.

And that's my review for X-Men: Apocalypse. If you're looking for something even bigger and grander than X-Men 2 or Days of Future Past, this movie shows that they're still not there yet. But even with that said, the film does have some entertaining scenes and performances that I'd like to think any X-Men fan would enjoy. Not terrific, but a decent enough time and at least is not X-Men: The Last Stand or Wolverine Origins.

Rating: 65% 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pokémon Heroes (2002)

Plot: In the water-themed Johto city of Alto Mare, Ash comes across and befriends the two legendary Pokemon Latias and Latios who secretly watch over the city. He meets a girl named Bianca and her grandfather Lorenzo who take care of both Pokemon in a hidden garden where the city is protected by an orb called the Soul Dew. But when two members of Team Rocket named Annie and Oakley capture Latios and steal the Soul Dew, Ash and Pikachu have to find a way to stop both members of Team Rocket from using a machine to destroy the town. 

So now we come to the final Pokemon movie that is the last one to appear on the big screen in America and the last one starring Misty. And for what it was, I surprisingly enjoyed it. It's not Hayao Miyazaki great by any means, but for what had in terms of story and character compared to the other Pokemon movies I've seen so far, I was pleasantly impressed.

First of all, I like the story a lot. I know it probably doesn't sound like it's anything that new on the plot paragraph, but that's because I left out some of the specifics that kept me invested in what was happening. The backstory behind Latios and Latias for example I thought was intriguing to say the least. I liked the history behind the city, and especially how Latias and Latios are actually orphans and their father's soul is basically what protects the city. That's a direction I haven't seen before in Pokemon, and I can't help but be intrigued by it. Granted, the backstory is only told to us and never shown unlike the origins for Pokemon like Mewtwo or Entei and the Unown, which is a down. But at the same time I still enjoy it because Lorenzo makes it sound so interesting.

Both legendary Pokemon are also enjoyable to watch. Neither of them talk just like with Celebi. But unlike Celebi where the dialogue is replaced with her flying around and squeaking just for the sake of being cute, Latios and Latias display very defined and likeable personalities; Latios is the older and wiser one while Latias as the younger and friendlier one. The powers are also neat to watch. Latias can transform into a human and both of them have the ability to see what the other sees and show it to Ash, Bianca and Lorenzo, which leads to a nice pay off during the climax. The movie also gives the most odd yet intriguing aspect of the film: Latias has a crush on Ash. As in a Pokemon is romantically interested in a human. I cannot make this up if I tried, and I'm not really giving anything away when I say that. Almost as soon as you first Ash encounter Latias in her human form, you could probably figure out almost right away that she has feelings for him. But as much as I should be disgusted, honestly, I don't find it that big of a thing because with or without the crush the relationship between Latios and Ash is charming. That doesn't mean I approve of Latias trying to get with him (I mean I probably would compared to Ash's Black and White female companion, Iris, but that's another discussion for when I get to the Pokemon: Black and White films), but I still cared for their friendship in a way that helped me stay invested in the plot. But with that said...I may never look at my own Latias on my Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire game the same way again after seeing this one be romantically interested in Ash.

The climax is surprisingly very strong. Again, the movie makes both Latios and Latias so likable that I want to see Ash help them against the antagonists of the film. It's also very interesting and exciting to see Ash go against evil resurrected Pokemon. They only appear once just for one chase scene, but it was still cool to see an evil Aerodactyl and Kabutops chase Ash, Pikachu and Latias. Though at the same time, it's kind of a stretch that this machine that's meant to be a last resort for the sake of the city can also be used to destroy it and resurrect evil Pokemon. The climax also gives us a dramatic and mature moment that Pokemon 4ever should have given us. I won't give it away for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it does give the film a bittersweet happy ending.

Now with all of that said, the film still has some problems. Annie and Oakley turn out to be villains who are just greedy  just like Lawrence III and the Iron Masked Marauder. But to be fair they are slightly better then those other two villains in that they have more personality and at least a small amount of dimension. Also, Brock and Misty have gone from being dead weight in the previous film to almost completely separated from the plot in this one. Apart from having their Pokemon briefly help Ash during the climax and one moment early into the film where it looked like Misty was about to have her own subplot, they barely even appear in the film. Heck, you could say that they almost have less of a point to be in the film then Team Rocket because at least Team Rocket is there to be the comedy relief (not that I thought they were funny in this movie, but I digress.) This is particularly a big deal for some people because this is Misty's last movie. But for me personally I don't mind it too much. Part of is probably because I'm not as attached to the characters as I used to be, but mostly because in the end they're not the focus. The focus is what it's suppose to be; on Ash, Pikachu, Latios and Latias and they're enjoyable on their own. 

And that's my review for Pokemon Heroes. The story is investing, Latios and Latias are likable, Latias crush on Ash is weird but can be seen as charming to a degree because the relationship between them is still likable with or without it. The climax is engaging with a bittersweet ending, and the villains are slightly better then Lawrence III and the Iron Masked Marauder. Overall, I'm glad I saw it. I hear that people list this as one of their favorite Pokemon films, and while I still have many more to see, I can say that I'm on that boat myself. It's definitely my favorite of the Pokemon sequels so far.

Rating: 75%

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pokémon 4ever (2001)

Plot: A boy named Sam adventures through a forest and comes across the legendary Pokemon named Celebi. When a Pokemon hunter tries to capture it, Sam tries to rescue Celebi and in the process, Celebi decides to save both it and Sam by traveling through time. Cut to 40 years later which is apparently present time, as Ash and his friends travel to the same woods and find and befriend Sam and Celebi. But a member of Team Rocket called the Iron Masked Marauder captures Celebi with a Dark Ball which makes it turn evil and he uses it to destroy the forest. Thus it's up to Ash and Sam to find a way to rescue Celebi and save the forest. 

While not the worst thing I have ever seen, this is so far the weakest of the Pokémon films. The setting was interesting enough, but it's story and characters are not as intriguing as the past films.

The main problem with the film is the legendary Pokemon that it focuses on, Celebi. Unlike with Mewtwo, Lugia and Entei, Celebi doesn't talk; its characteristics are displayed visually...which would be okay if it was likeable. As it is, most of what Celebi does throughout the film is just fly and squeak. I'll admit that it kind of looked intimidating when it turned evil, but even then I didn't really care. Its importance and likability (if any) came from how other characters reacted to Celebi and not Celebi itself. While it flies around and squeaks, practically every living thing that isn't the Iron Masker Marauder or Team Rocket would either talk about what an adorable, loving angel Celebi is and that's it.

But Celebi is not the only problem with this film. Apart from Brock using his Onyx during the climax, both he and Misty are pretty much dead weight in this movie. They are mostly there just for occasionally commenting what is going on and/or to see Brock hit on a girl for the thousandth time. Also, after giving it more thought after watching the film, I realized that the Iron Masked Marauder was more bland then Lawrence III. I kind of liked his outfit and the idea of using a Poke ball that turns Pokemon evil is neat, but his goal and personality were as one-dimensional as you can get- right down to having an evil laugh and planning to take over the world.

Finally, the story is not only uninteresting, but one video reviewer on youtube named Il Neige made a good point that it's almost the same as Princess Mononoke. Both have a creature/spirit that's important to the forest, both have a villain who wants to use it for his/her own means - there's probably a couple of other connections that I haven't realized since it's been a couple of years since I've last seen Mononoke, but you get the idea. And the ending tried to do something sad that may work with younger viewers but you can otherwise tell that it's going to end happy.

So is there anything good about this movie? Eh, a couple of things. I do sort of like the friendship between Ash and Sam. In fact, their friendship leads to a twist that I did see a mile away, but at the same time I give it a pass because A) it was foreshadowed in a way that made the story more solid, and B) I appreciate what the twist turned out to be. I probably would have liked it a lot more if I saw this movie around the time it came out, but I like it well enough as an adult. I also liked the action between Brock's Onyx and the Iron Masked Marauder's Pokemon. And while I probably would've like this so much more as a kid, I still thought Sam's steampunk Poke ball was cool.

And that's my review for Pokemon Forever. I like some aspects like Ash and Sam's relationship and the twist that comes with it, but the story wasn't that great, the villain was one-dimensional, Brock and Misty were dead weight and Celebi is the least interesting legendary Pokemon I've seen so far. I don't think I disliked it as much as I think I'm making it sound, but it's currently the weakest one I've looked at. Now Pokemon Heroes on the other hand, I'll get to praising in the next review.

Rating: 35%