Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pokemon: Hoopa and the Clash of the Ages (2015)

Plot: A hundred years ago, the legendary Pokemon named Hoopa appears to a small desert town and boasts about how strong he is and summons other legendary Pokemon to fight him. But in the process, his fights with the other Pokemon start to destroy the town, and so a mysterious man takes away Hoopa's power with a Prison Bottle and saves the town. Cut to the present where the mysterious man's great grandchildren named Baraz and Meray are Hoopa's caretakers. They meet Ash and his companions who agree to help protect Hoopa from the darkness inside his powers. But then Team Rocket steals the Prison Bottle and releases Hoopa's power which turns into its own separate being and wants to make the real Hoopa disappear. So it's up to Ash and his companions to protect Hoopa and make another Prison Bottle to recapture Hoopa's power. 

As the last Pokemon film in this marathon, this was another mixed bag. There are some memorable aspect to it but it not that special at same time.

First of all I give the movie credit for its unique setting. This takes place in a desert with a middle eastern style to it that we never seen it before in a Pokemon film and it definitely makes it unique. Also, I think it was smart to give us these flashbacks that display the relationship between Hoopa Baraz and Meray. And Hoopa himself is a uniquely designed Pokemon ... though maybe too uniquely designed. For me personally, he looks so unique that in my mind I don't believe he's even a Pokemon to begin with. I don't know what's the best way to explain why, but the aspect that he's this genie that can summon Pokemon and shoot lasers with its rings and has this cocky devilish grin... it just makes him look more like a creature from a completely different anime like Digimon or something. But that's just me personally.

With that said, Hoopa as a character is a mixture of both likable and annoying. Like I said before, you get a good idea of what his past is and his goals are and can get behind his his relationship with Baraz and Meray. But he is also kind of a prankster just like Zoura and that can get annoying really fast - especially whenever he says his catchphrase "were you surprised?" which he says way too much. Also slightly similar to Kyurem vs.The Sword of Justice, I feel like he didn't have as much of a connection with Ash and his friends as a group. He has a couple of special moments with Ash who is personally helping him overcome his fear, but his companions hardly have any personal moments with Hoopa. Is a shame that one film ago, we went from the whole gang connecting and becoming buddies with the legendary Pokemon that's the main focus and now Ash gets to be the only person from the show with a specific connection with that Pokemon again. True, Clement, Bonnie and Serena still play a part in the climax as a team which is great, but it doesn't feel like they're doing anything as special as how they befriended and helped Diancie in Diance and the Cocoon of Destruction.

The climax is arguably the most memorable aspect of the movie for one specific reason: it's mostly a big battle between two groups of legendary Pokemon. It's Lugia, Latios, Latias and Rayquaza against Kyogre, Groudon, Palkia, Dialga, Giratina, and Kyurem.That may not sound like much to anyone who isn't a Pokemon fan, but for anyone who is, just saying that sound nothing short of awesome. If they somehow found a way to add a couple more legendary Pokemon like Mewtwo, Darkrai and Lucario (even though the last one isn't a legendary), this climax would be set. But with the Pokemon that they had, this was an epic show down. With that said however, as a Pokemon fan, I would be remiss if I didn't say that I wish Lugia stayed in the fight longer as opposed to only haven taken part of the battle for a few minutes or so. Also, given that the fight takes place in a big city, there are moments where Pokemon like Palkia and Giratina are destroying buildings in the process of trying to catch Ash, Pikachu and Hoopa which - similar to the climax of Man of Steel, opens the question of whether or not people died while Ash is trying to distract the legendary Pokemon and protect Hoopa. But even that is bearable compared to the end of the climax where just like with Destiny Deoxys and Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, the stakes are raised with a conflict that has a forced explanation and exists only to resolve a part of Hoopa's story. And just like those other films, it wasn't even needed. They could have found a way to resolve this specific piece of Hoopa's story with what the third act already had with fighting all of these dangerous, legendary Pokemon. It was dumb when it happened in those other two films, and it's just as dumb here.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Hoopa and the Clash of the Ages. The relationship between Hoopa, Baraz and Meray is solid, Hoopa as a Pokemon is interesting in some areas, and the fight between the legendary Pokemon is enjoyable to watch. But Hoopa has his annoying moments, Ash's companions have no memorable impact in the story again, and the climax contains another forced raising of the stakes. It's has it's memorable moments, but it's nothing special in the end.

So that concludes my movie review marathon of the Pokemon films, and truth be told I'm glad that I did this. When I started this I thought I was going to find so many films that are boring or uninteresting that I wouldn't want to continue reviewing them. But this film franchise exceeded my expectations. Is it a good film series over all? Not really. Even the best films have at least one or two major problems. But even most of the films that are bad still have good things in it. Whether it be moments of world building, interesting characters, special Pokémon abilities or whatever, these movies helped me look at Pokémon in ways that I would never have before. The first movie will always have a close place in my heart, but my top the favorite films apart from that from least to greatest would have to be Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, Pokemon 2000 and Pokemon Heroes. My top three least favorite would have to be Pokemon Giratina and the Sky Warrior, Pokemon Genesect and the Legend Awakened and Pokemon Kyurem and The Sword of Justice. There's actually already a 19th film released in Japan. Will I watch and review it when it gets an English dub? Maybe. It is another film with Ash and the X&Y/XY&Z gang and I wouldn't want to miss any adventures with them. But will I watch any films in the future that are made for the Pokemon: Sun and Moon anime series? Well...that completely depends on how they finish Pokemon: XY&Z. At the present, it is completely up in the air as to how they're going to finish Ash's adventures in Kalos and as to whether or not Serena in particular is going to join him in Aloha. Honestly, my interest in watching the show again began with Serena and it will end with Serena. If they get rid of her for Pokemon: Sun and Moon, they will rid me of any interest in watching the show further. Until then, thank you for reading my Pokemon movie review marathon and I hope you'll stick around for my 675th review.

Rating: 50%

Pokemon Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction (2014)

Plot: In an underground country called "Diamond Domain" lies a powerful Heart Diamond that serves as the kingdom's source of energy. But it's slowly withering away, so the Carbink that live there look to Princess Diancie to create a new one. But Diancie is not powerful enough to do so yet, so she has to go on a journey to find the Life Pokémon named Xerneas to help her create a new Heart Diamond. Along the way, Diancie escapes from her Carbink escort and meets Ash and Pikachu and his companions, Clemont, Bonnie and Serena who also help her find Xerneas while also defending her from Team Rocket and the jewel thieves named Marilyn Flame and Ninja Riot.

Finally we make it to the X&Y films. Oh Kalos sweet Kalos, it's good to see you again. I may have mentioned once or twice already that I've been watching the X&Y and XY&Z series and really enjoy it. Since this takes place in the series, I personally enjoy this movie has a whole. This isn't to say that this is one of the strongest Pokemon films, but there's a lot of improvements in it.

Let's start with the big improvement with both the show and the movie: Ash's companions. I admit that I may be a little biased when I say this, but I really enjoyed Ash's companions in both the X&Y and XY&Z. Clemont is my least favorite member of the group given how he can be annoying with his catchphrase "the future is now thanks to science." But with that said, I still like him to a degree in how he's voice of reason and gives good information about Pokemon. Bonnie you could say is the little girl version of Brock because of how she keeps proposing to women, asking to be Clemont's wife.  This sounds like she's just a diet version of Brock, but I enjoy it. She's a cute character. And then we have Serena. Good golly am I glad that they created Serena. Not only is she the reason why I started watching X&Y and XY&Z in the first place, but she may be one of my favorite characters in all of media. The main reason why is her crush on Ash. I completely support the idea of the two of them getting together. *audience members boo* Yeah I know it seems like I'm betraying a part of my childhood by not supporting the idea of Misty getting together with Ash, but that's honestly how I feel. Serena may be a girly girl a good portion of time (some of which you see in the movie), but at the end of the day she's a character that you can easily grow to really care for her and hope that she will one day confess her feelings for Ash and they will get together. I can go on and on about Serena, so I'll just save that for another post. I have been working on a top 15 Favorite animated female characters list, and she will be on it. So if I get it up, I'll be sure to go into much more detail.

Anyway, another big improvement to me personally is how Ash's companion feel more like a team than any of Ash's companions in the other films. Apart from some cases like Pokemon 3: The Movie or (to a lesser extent) Kyurem and The Sword of Justice, it's rare for Ash's companions to have a purpose in these movies at all let alone act together as a group. But here, not only do they do that but they honestly improve on it. They aren't just summoning their Pokemon to help, they're using their special talents to help Diancie. Clemont uses an invention that doesn't blow up (which is a rarity in the show), Serena uses her skills for Rhyhorn racing and Bonnie...um... provides moral support... okay that doesn't sound like much, but that still makes her more productive than Brock.

Another nice albeit small improvement is how Team Rocket actually had a point in the story. I may have held my tongue at this point,  the main purpose for Team Rocket in almost all of the films between Pokemon 2000 and now is just to be the comedy relief. They almost never even have a personal encounter with Ash and his friends. They just follow Ash secretly and observe the adventure he's having and make jokes. Heck, they don't even appear in Kyurem and The Sword of Justice. Apart from trying to capture Pikachu early into Jirachi: Wish Maker, they haven't really done anything since helping Ash retrieve the last orb in Pokemon 2000. Here we have a scene where they capture Diancie and try to use her to become rich. It may not have been the longest scene in the movie, but it's more than they've ever done in fifteen movies now, so to have them at least capture the main Pokemon characters is quite refreshing.

Diancie as a character was....okay. She does have an important role in the story and has something to overcome, but at the same time she was your typical fish-out-of-water character who is learning new things in this whole new world that she's wanted to see all her life. She also ( in my opinion) brings out the most corny moments in the dialogue. As much as I like to praise both the X&Y and XY&Z series, I will be the first fan to admit that the dialogue has its corny moments. Granted, it's not like the dialogue in the show or other films prior to X&Y or XY&Z had had dialogue that meets the quality of Quentin Tarantino movies. But it stands out more with scenes like Ash, Bonnie, Serena and Clemont helping Diancie learn how it's wrong to steal or what it means to be friends (but hey, at least they handle the latter better than in the last movie.)

The climax is fairly decent. The legendary Pokemon, Yveltal is pretty intimidating and leads to one of the darkest third acts in a Pokemon film. It's kind of like the fake Groudon in Jirachi: Wish maker except you have a better understand that both people and Pokemon are dying at the hands of this dangerous monster. The only real problem I have with the ending is that it gives us a sad moment  with Pikachu that could have worked if they let the moment sink in longer like with what happened to Ash in The First movie. But even then, it probably wouldn't be as effective as we know it's going to come out happy after 17 movies. Also I know I haven't talked about the music to the end credits of the movie since the first movie, but the end credits song Open My Eyes is very enjoyable. Yeah it's not the most stand out song, but it's kind of a memorable song if you're an X&Y and XY&Z fan.

And that's my review for Pokemon Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction. It has its corny dialogue and Diancie as a character is just okay when comparing to other Pokemon from past movies, but for me personally the movie is an enjoyable improvement with likable main characters who play their own parts in the action, the most productive use of Team Rocket since almost the beginning of the film series, and an enjoyable dark climax with Yveltal. I realize that I could be biased seeing as I'm honestly enjoying this current rendition of the show more than anything else from the anime, but I like to think that most of it is justified. It may not fit that standard of Pokemon Heroes or Pokemon 2000, but it's a nice time for the improvements it has.

Rating: 65%

Pokemon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened (2013)

Plot: The Genesect Army escape from the lab that revived them and try to return to their home. But three hundred million years have passed, and their home is no longer habitable. Suddenly, a Mewtwo saves four of the five Genesect from an avalanche and leans what they are looking for. But the Red Genesect who Mewtwo was unable to save attacks it and takes the army to a large city and mistake it for their home. Ash and his friends travel to the city and encounter the Genesect Army who take over  a nature park and plan to use it to build a giant cocoon that threatens the city's power supply. So it's up to Ash and his friends and eventually Mewtwo to try to stop them.

I'm going to be honest here. For a while I actually thought I was going to hate this even more than Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice. And even though it avoided being that bad, it's still another one of the weaker Pokemon films.

I'll start off with the real reason why I thought I was going to hate this more than Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice: Mewtwo. Just the first few minutes of Mewtwo pissed me off for one reason: that they had a voice actress to voice the character. Now let me be exceptionally clear; I have nothing against female voice actors at all. But I started watching this movie thinking this is the same Mewtwo from The First Movie, so the idea that they would all of the sudden cast an actress to voice the part of this character for no reason pissed me off. Thankfully, they do imply that this is a totally different Mewtwo with a slightly similar back story and in retrospect, the way that this particular Mewtwo is designed, it does look a little more feminine than the original Mewtwo. So if you're watching this movie and grew up watching the first film, bear in mind it is a totally different Mewtwo. Though I must say that while I'm all for the idea that there is more than one of every legendary Pokemon like Mewtwo, it is a shame that I'm not seeing a continuation of the story of the Mewtwo I grew up with. But that's just me.

I will also admit that it was a good idea in making the origins of both this other Mewtwo and the Genesect similar. They both were creating a science experiment and had escaped and are looking for a place to belong and that's actually not a bad way for Mewtwo to play a role in what's happening with the Genesect. But it's not done well enough for things to stay interesting. In fact the movie ends with a Mewtwo saying "everyone's a friend" as a way of convincing the Genesect to join her. That kind not just cheesy that's just silly.

I know there's some people who like that we see Mewtwo in action again with its own Mega Evolution and is fighting these other rare Pokemon and everything. Personally, I think it's just...eh. Not that I don't understand why people are saying that, but this Mewtwo is not quite as interesting in battle as the other one. The powers that it has doesn't look all that intimidating or powerful and its particular Mega Evolution design just looks kind of silly to me personally. I know I'm being biased by comparing this Mewtwo to the one in The First Movie, but the fact is I don't have as much of a connection with this Mewtwo as I did with the first one.

The other characters I don't really remember. I don't even remember much of what Ash does in this movie let alone Cilian or Iris or even Pikachu. We even even see that Ash has his Charizard again, and even that was really rushed. He didn't have to have as big of a part as it did in Pokemon 3: The Movie, and I imagine some fans probably would have liked to have seen it in a little more action. I'm sure he has a bigger part in the Black and White series, but he has almost no purpose here.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Genesect and the Legend Awakened. I'm glad that they make it clear that this is a different Mewtwo and I like the idea of how the Genesect could connect with Mewtwo. But the action wasn't very exciting, I barely remember a thing that happens with Ash or his friends, and I personally just couldn't connect with this Mewtwo.

Rating: 15%

Pokemon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice (2012)

Plot: Keldeo is a small horse Pokemon who wishes to become a member of the Swords of Justice alongside the three legendary Pokemon, Virizion, Terrakion, and Cobalion, but is unable to learn the ability Sacred Sword. Unwilling to wait until the as obtained the power, he secretly goes and challenges the mighty legendary dragon Pokemon Kyurem. During the battle, Keldeo's horn is broken and the members of the Swords of Justice are frozen for trying to interfere. Keldeo flees the scene and bumps into Ash, Pikachu, Iris and Cilian who try to heal him while also running away from Kyurem who wants to finish the battle.

So by the time I started writing this review I've already gone ahead and finished watching all the Pokemon movies, and I can easily say that I like Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice the least. There was nothing particularly interesting or even that adventurous about it.

The main problems really focus on the story and the characters. Keldeo is a character that we've seen a hundred times before. He's a cocky, air-headed youth that ignorantly believes that he is good enough to do what he wants when in reality he is far from ready and he ignores his elders and is too stubborn to hear the moral, and believe me, it is as uninteresting as it sounds. And on top of that, the morals that he supposed to learn are things we've heard a million times before. Face your fears, keep an eye on your target, sometimes you learn from your failures, all of them you've probably heard many times already. They may be good morals, but they don't being anything new to the table.

On top of that, the story itself is not interesting. Granted, not everything has to be life-threatening as it has been in most of the Pokemon films. But this feels more like a rehash of an episode from the show were Ash and his companions are trying to help a wild Pokemon earn this specific thing that helps it grow up or complete its goal. Not to say that some of the aspects of past movies aren't in any way similar to stories from the show. Ash and his companions have encountered situations that are life-threatening in the show as well as the films. But when you really think about it, Kyurem is chasing Keldeo just to finish their duel. So this action adventure themed movie is just about a Pokemon battle, and that's just dull. This is a franchise where Pokemon battling each other is a part of life, and the fact that the villain just wants to finish fighting a Pokemon battle makes what Keldeo, Ash and his companions go through not very threatening.  It sounds like they're in danger, but at the same time there are no consequences to the events of the story. You could argue that Lucario and the Mystery of Mew would technically be more dull since I criticized how Ash's journey was just a quest of picking up Pikachu from Mew's hideout. But while the quest in that movie wasn't very dramatic on paper, at least it had a sense of danger given the obstacles the main characters encountered at the Tree of Beginning where life threatening. This is just a big beast chasing a little horse just because we wants to have his little fight. Oh Boo-freaking-hoo. I will grant that Kyurem does having an intimidating presence as an extremely powerful Pokemon, but I think that's the most I can do is give any of the characters credit. There isn't even much in the relationship between the Keldeo and Ash and his friends. It kind of shows honestly that this is only 66 minutes long given that these characters barely have moments the bond before they have to start running away from Kyurem some more. I may not really care about Giratina and the Sky Warrior or the movie that comes right after this one, but at least those films for more interesting than this. This was so dull that honestly I started playing on my DS while watching the movie I cared so little.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice. It's a dull excuse of a Pokemon film with an annoying main Pokemon character and a story that is not very exciting at the end of the day. As far as I'm concerned, this is without a doubt the worst Pokemon movie ever.

Rating: 10%

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pokemon: Black - Victini and Resheram / White - Victini and Zekrom (2011)

Before I talk about the plot of the movie, it's important to understand that this movie has two different versions. They have the same plot with some major and/or minor changes, notably the legendary Pokémon that appear, Reshiram and Zekrom swapping roles.

Plot: Ash and his Black and White companions, Cilan and Iris travel to Eindoak Town where they meet Victini a.k.a. the victory Pokemon. They learn that a thousand years ago, a civil war broke out at the Kindgom of the Vale that threatened the destruction of the world, and in order to stop it the king had to use Victini's power to move his sword-like castle out of the Vale to its current spot in order to contain the Dragon Force energy. This also however traps Victini as it can never leave the outskirts of the town, and so Ash promises Victini that he will find a way to set it free. But one of the townspeople, Damon is in league with Reshiram or Zekrom (depending on what version you are watching) who plans to use Victini's power to restore the valley, killing Victini in the process. So it's up to Ash and his friends to find and awaken the other legendary Pokemon in order to try to stop Damon.

For what it was, this movie was good. Its strength mostly comes from the moral dilemma between right and wrong, which also fits with the main idea of the Black and White series/games.

Reshiram and Zekrom basically represent Yin and Yang in the Pokemon: Black and White video games. I only played the Black version and while I honestly hated it as a Pokemon game, I can't deny its story was intriguing in tackling the moral dilemma of the relationships between people and Pokemon which also ends where the antagonist captures either Reshiram in the White version or Zekrom in the Black version. Is the dilemma as intriguing and complex as something along the lines of the Sukovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War? Of coarse not. It may be interesting, but there's only so much that the makers of the games are willing to dive into with something like Pokemon. But it was still smart in giving gamers a story in a Pokemon game where the conflict isn't entirely...well black and white. The same thing can be said with this movie regardless of which version you are watching. What Damon is doing is wrong, but he's doing it with good intentions. In fact, it's a shame that he's not really an antagonist because he could easily be one of the best villains of the Pokemon films. What he's doing to Victini is especially cruel, but at the same time the film gives you the feeling that he's still a good person. This is a very out there argument that I know is flawed given that he's still hurting an innocent creature, but when you look at what happens in the film from beginning to end, it doesn't seems right to call Damon the antagonist. It's a tough call to say the least. If I had one problem with the idea of two different versions it would be that - to me I feel like there should only be one version; the Black version. The key thing about Reshiram and Zekrom is that Reshiram represents truth which Zekrom represents ideals. So it sounds more fitting that Zekrom would side with Damon because of his ideals while Reshiram sides with Ash because of his sense of truth as opposed to the other way around in the White version. I'm sure there's fans who would make strong, philosophical arguments stating that it works either way, but given the goals and motivations from both Ash and Damon, the Black version's story feels much more solid. But this is a personal opinion.

The other characters that Ash comes across are honestly not very memorable. Damon's mother and sister have almost nothing going for them apart from the fact that they're related to him. Sure, his mother fights Reshiram/Zekrom with her own Pokemon, but her Pokemon kept getting its butt kicked so it was pretty useless. Victini on the other hand was a decent character. He's all cutesy, but I still cared for the fact that it's this poor creature that has been trapped for so many years. If there's any characters that I do hate however - and this goes for the other two Black and White films as well, it would be Ash's companions, Cilan and Iris. Now if you watched the Black and White anime and liked it, then good. I'm glad you had fun. But I only watched the first 13 episodes, and I thought it was a mixture of boring and annoying - the latter coming mostly from these two characters. Cilan is connoisseur, so some of his dialogue is nothing but expressing things like he's describing food and it's really dumb to me. Then you have Iris. *groans* It's not that I hate Iris per say... I just want to smack her really, really hard on the face. I say this with confidence because from what I've seen online, a lot of people hate her. The majority of it all comes down to her relationship with Ash. They keep butting heads and she teases him by constantly calling him a kid. It's worse because most of the time it doesn't even make sense. A) she's a kid too, and B) she usually says it when Ash does something that doesn't warrant calling him a kid. Yeah, he'll act childish now and again, but then he does something like informing his companions that he's not hurt or something and she'll still say "What a kid." or "Ash, you're such a kid." and good gravy is it annoying. Ugh, it's a comfort knowing that I'm in the majority when it comes to this character because she is easily my least favorite of Ash's female companions... *sighs then whispers to himself* just two more movies until Serena, H.A.K., keep it together. 

And that's my review for Pokemon: Black-Victini and Resheram/White - Victini and Zekrom. It's a decent movie that has a dilemma that's complex for the story they're trying to tell. I do think the story is more solid in the Black version, but I think it's a nice time regardless of which version you watch. Just do your best with putting up with Cilian and Iris.

Rating: 70% 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Pokemon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions.

Plot: On the way to a Pokemon sports game, Ash, Pikachu, Dawn and Brock rescue a Zorua from a group of wild Vigoroth. Zorua informs them that he needs to go to Crown City to find its mother, Zoroark. Unknown to Ash and his friends however, an evil businessman named Kodai has captured Zoroark and is taking it to Crown City in order to find a secret portal that he can use to recharge his ability to see the future.

This is another mixed bag Pokemon film. As the last film that takes place in the Sinnoh region, this film has some fairly interesting ideas, but still has some negative aspects that keep it from anything that lead to the type of quality of Pokemon Heroes or Pokemon 2000 for me personally.

I'll start with was most interesting yet twisted part of this movie; the villain, Kodai. This is probably the most fascinating yet confusing villain that I've seen so far in a Pokemon film. He's a rich businessman who can see the future and it is desperate to keep his powers. He doesn't want to take over the world or destroy it or anything. But heck after characters like Zero I'm all for it. Kodai's evil plan however is a little convoluted. If you really think about it, some parts of his plan weren't very necessary in accomplishing his goal. On top of that, some of his actions may be a little too dark. Main example would come from the climax where he is is choking a Celebi. I'm all for dark deeds from the villain, but I can see people finding moments like that to be a little too dark - especially given that this is a Pokemon movie.

Zorua was nothing new as a character aside from being cocky and sinister, but at the same time he was more interesting than Shaymin... at least to the point that I care about him enough that I wanted to see in reunite with his mother. The idea that he uses telepathy to talk is a little forced, but it helps give him little more character, and it makes him more bearable then Zoroark. Now granted, I'm sure the voice actor for Zoroark is doing his best. But most of the voice acting is Zoroark roaring which sounds more like he's trying to clear his throat. Also, I would have liked the more development with the relationship between Zorua and Zoroark, especially since in the beginning the film implies that they may actually not be biologically related. Kodai states that Zoura is not Zoroark's child and it left me wondering if there's a sad backstory behind that. Unfortunately that particular line of dialogue is all we get, and given that their relationship seems so close anyway you can ignore it and just stay they're mother and son plain and simple. Celebi also stars in this movie and he's being cutsy for the sake of being cutesy still, but at the same time he had more of a purpose given his history with the town. Dawn and Brock don't stand out that much which is no different with the last few films but it's still a shame with Dawn in particular. From what little I do know about her from some fanfiction and a few YouTube videos, she seems like a relatively cool character with a fun platonic relationship with Ash. And yet apart from all the moments where she's  she's teaming up with him, I didn't really learn anything about her after watching these past four movies. Guess I got lucky with May and Max.

The climax for the most part was rather clever. I won't give too much away give that a lot of what makes it good are some spoilers, but it has some twists and turns that tricked me pretty well. I think the only real flaw it has is how it gives us another sad moment where you think the ending is going to be bittersweet like in Pokemon Heroes and Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, even though you know it's going to end happy.

And that's my review for Pokemon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions. The villain was interesting if not maybe a little too dark, and the climax delivered with good twists and turns. But while I did care for Zorua and Zoroark on some level, I wasn't into their story in the same way I was into other legendary Pokemon like Mewtwo or Latios and Latias and so on. It's not the worst, but it's another mixed bag to me.

Rating: 50% 

Ghostbusters (2016)

Plot: Erin and Abby are co-authors of a book which posits the existence of ghosts. The two went their separate ways when the book becomes unpopular. But when Erin is requested to investigate a possible paranormal activity, the two of them find a ghost and eventually decide to form a group to capture them. Thus with Abby's engineer, Jillian, and an MTA worker named Patty, the four become - what else? The Ghostbusters.

When this movie was coming out it got a lot of negative feedback. Some of it was warranted to a degree given how the trailers made it look like it wasn't going to be a thing really good. I think I can say that I was more optimistic than most people to a degree. But after it came out, people are either saying it's "eh" or at least a decent flick. For me, I'm in the "eh" group.

Let's start with both the Ghostbusters themselves and the writing because they go hand in hand. People were the most curious about how these actresses for going to carry out these roles given how big of phenomenon the first film was and the fact that it's being done by women instead of men. For my money, I think they did a decent job with what they had to work with. They're having fun with their roles and the chemistry between the four of them works very well, and while I can't think of an example for each of them, I think I can say they each had at least one good joke. To be clear with that statement, there are plenty of moments when the jokes work - mostly with Kate McKinnon who I got the most laughs from. But when the jokes die, it's usually because the writers wrote some bad jokes that the actors are doing their best to pull off. Nowhere is this more true with the jokes revolving Chris Hemsworth's character. I did not have high hopes for him in the trailers, and while he did land one or two good jokes his character was a nuisance. Again, not necessarily his fault it's just the way his character is written.

As bad as some of the jokes were, the worst part of the movie for me was the villain. Granted, I give the movie credit for the idea of having the villain make portals that brings these ghosts to New York as opposed having the villain be an all powerful ghost like the last two films. Points for doing something different. But the fact that the villain is this dweeb who's doing this under his basement at his job was pretty lame to me. They tried to make it seem like he can relate to the Ghostbusters a little before the climax, but I think they needed to do more in order for that to work.

The climax was also a mixed bag. There was some cool moments during the action (again, mostly with Kate KcKinnon) and the designs of the ghosts looked neat. But I feel like they could've done more with both the action and the designs because it feels like most of the interesting stuff was already shown in the trailers. Also without going into too much detail, there's a moment in the climax shortly before the final battle where it looks like they're going to give us a joke with Hemsworth, the CIA agents and the military that's so over-the-top silly that you have no choice but to laugh. But instead they do nothing with the build up until the end credits which by then the moment was passed.

And that's my review for Ghostbusters. It's not a movie worth hating like everyone in the Internet thought it was going to be, but it could have been a lot more. There was effort put into this product which pays off with the performances and chemistry with the four lead characters and there are some good jokes. But in the end, a considerable amount of the jokes die, the creativity with the action and the ghosts aren't as good as I hoped it would be, and the villain on a whole was pretty lame. I'm glad that it has a relatively positive reception given how practically nobody had any hope for this movie, but for me it's a mixed bag. If you want to see this movie, I'd say give it a shot. It's not Ghostbusters II at the very least.

Rating: 55%

The Words (2014)

Plot: Clayton Hammond is a writer who attends a public reading of his new book, The Words. The story is about a writer named Rory who is trying to get his first novel published but is constantly rejected. During his honeymoon, his wife Dora buys him an old briefcase from an antiques store where Rory finds an old but masterfully written manuscript in the briefcase. He becomes so amazed with the story that decided to type it all onto his laptop which leads to Dora believing that the story is his own original writing and convinces him to publish it. Things turn out well until Rory meets an old man who reveals himself to be the true author of the manuscript.  

My family and I found this film a long while back and decided to take a look at it, and we were surprised to find out that it has a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. Neither of us thought this movie was one of the greatest things we have ever seen in our entire life, but 23% that seems like a bit of a stretch because for the most part we had a nice time with it.

What we enjoyed the most about this movie was how it made the concept of writing stories so interesting. The stories that the character tell, or heck even watching them just type their stories page after page just made the idea so exciting to the point that in a way we all wanted to go out and write something after we finish the movie. Heck, I'll go so far as to admit that I actually decided to try to write a story after we finished talking about the film. While we were watching it, there was an idea of a story that was kind of popping in my head for a My Little Pony: Equestria Girls fanfiction story that in the end I decided "screw it" and got started and outlining in writing a story. The story is now long dead and left for scraps for me to polish up and put whatever I have written into a Microsoft Word document along with explaining how the rest of the story was going to go and send to my mom, my future sister-in-law and my brother who were the only people who have read any of it. But if a movie about writing influenced me to do that much with telling my own story, then to some reasonable degree it must have done something right.

The acting does all soap well done. I couldn't help it phrase my eyebrow went right smells said that many critics you this film as a major waste of great talents. Looking back at the film and I didn't see any of that... except maybe arguably Jeremy Irons as the Old Man. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed his performance as much as I enjoyed Bradley Cooper or any other actors in the cast. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided to ask what exactly was his goal or his purpose in the story? In a sense we do know what he's going through and we care about him and we sort of know what he wants but not entirely not enough to feel like we are satisfied or dissatisfied precisely with what is happening with his part of the story.

If I had one more problem with the film, that would be how the ending. not in the sense. It had an interesting idea in how it was suppose to tie in between Clayton and Rory, but the delivery was off to the point that it left me and my family a little confused.

And that's my review for The Words. There are some aspects about it that are confusing, but it still has an intriguing story with and entertaining cast that makes the concept of writing stories so exciting. It's not a terrific film, but if you're looking for a movie that gives you a decent experience, this isn't a bad film to do it.

Rating: 70%

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Jonah: A VeggieTales movie (2002)

Plot: Bob the Tomato is driving Dad Asparagus and a group of Veggie children to to see their favorite pop singer, Twippo in a concert. But Laura brags to Junior that she has a backstage ticket to the concert which leads to Dad Asparagus accidentally causing their van to crash. They walk (or hop in the case of this world) to a nearby seafood restaurant where the group encounter The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything who decide that since Bob and Junior are mad at Dad Asparagus and Laura respectively for the crash they decide to tell them the story of Jonah. For the two of you who don't know, the story is about Jonah trying to run away from God when he commands Jonah to preach in the wicked city of Nineveh.

Being a kid raised in a Christian home during the 90s and the early 2000s, I grew up with Veggie Tales, do a few months ago I decided to go through the majority of the Veggie Tales series. For the most part it was a nice experience of  re-living some memories and seeing some of the good and bad from what Big Idea Productions has made since after I stopped watching it. With that said, how does the first movie hold up after watching it again for the first time in ages? Honestly, I think it's still a nice film, though I do acknowledge how much it is more for kids.

The main reason why I still liked this movie was because it is a part of my childhood. Even years later, I do enjoy a lot of these characters - particularly Larry the Cucumber who was always my favorite from the show. For what they were doing, they tell the story pretty well with characters that a lot of people have grown to love. Archibald was a good Jonah, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything are fun, and it's nice that they have this story with Bob, Dad Asparagus and the Veggie children to go with the story of Jonah so that the majority of the characters that people have grown to love get to play a part in their first big film. We also are introduced to Khalil who I honestly don't think left much of an impact. Nobody I know hates him, but I don't remember anyone really liking him at the same extent that we liked the other characters like Larry or Bob or Mr. Nezzer or whoever else.

Also, even if you know the story of Jonah, chances are this movie will give you an ending that I don't think a lot of the common person knows about. In fact, when I was a kid, the only thing that I didn't like was the ending, partly because I never heard about it. I think the every day person focuses too much on the part where Jonah gets eaten by the whale that they don't know that there's more behind Jonah's story. How they deliver it at the end may be a little abrupt, but now that I'm older and have read the full story for myself, I respect the ending. If you're wondering what I mean but am not interested in seeing this movie, I suggest that you look up the entire book of Jonah.

The music holds up fairly well for me personally.  I'd be lying if I said Message from the Lord and Second Chances still hold up even now I'm an adult. But I still enjoy a lot of the other songs like Billy Joe McGuffrey, Jonah Was A Prophet, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything theme song and even now, I still listen the Newsboys song Belly of A Whale.

And that's my review for Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie. If you didn't grow up with Veggie Tales you're probably not going to get much out of this movie apart from the basic tale of Jonah. But as someone who did grow up with it, I think this movie is still a fun time even if some parts don't hold up for me now that I'm older. It tells the story of Jonah in its own Veggie Tales way that I think makes it a good time only if you're a kid or if you're someone who grew up with the show or watched the show with your kids.

Rating: 60%