Lucien’s Review: Kingdom Hearts II.8: The Final Chapter Prologue

Kingdom Hearts 2.8Alright, time to dole out some tough love.  Because this is a game that has some good parts, but some horrific and glaring flaws that REALLY need to be pointed out and analyzed.  It’s nice to have a final act to the plot as it’s understood now, however, the cruel truth is that for all the positive elements in this game there are some truly unpleasant realities about this three-pack that I think need to be accepted.  Let’s get down into this.

As with all the other culmination packs, this game is three games wrapped up into one.  Well, two games, really.  Actually, not even that.  One game, a piece of what should have been free demo DLC, and a long-ass cutscene.  That what it is.  Let’s break them down, one-by-one.

For anyone who says that Hideo Kojima has written some convoluted narratives, you don’t know what Kingdom Hearts’ story has become.  The first game is Dream Drop Distance.  In it, we have Sora and Riku taking a mastery exam to become true Keyblade masters.  They enter a dream world where they have to open seven keys that will unlock seven sleeping worlds.  In doing so, they will somehow prove that they are masters of the keyblade or some shit.  Yeah, the narrative is bunk.  This was a cash-grab game.  And as cash-grabs so…it’s pretty standard.

We have our two iconic characters reprising their roles.  We even have a ton of the extra case reprising their roles from the other games.  Really hoping that we get to have Axel’s iconic voice and tagline in Kingdom Hearts III.  Got it memorized?  Though, it seems that Hayden Penettiere didn’t want to reprise her role as Kairi.  Bummer.  I was really hoping that would work out.  Jesse Carter comes back as Roxas, which I love.  Dying to see him come back as Ventus in the last game.

Which brings us to the gameplay.  Anyone who has played Birth By Sleep will get this combat sequence pretty quick.  It’s not hard to follow.  We get these little spirit creatures that you can create who mix things up, but it really isn’t any different from Birth By Sleep.  Add to that more worlds that are so damn empty.  Why are all the worlds in these games devoid of npcs?  It’s so weird to me that in 2017, with limited level space, we have so little happening.  If that’s the case in the third game, I’m strangling a bitch.  This game widened out the areas a lot more, which just made it that much more noticeable how there is no one in these places but the main characters and villains.  Weird to watch Quasimodo at the center of the Festival of Fools and have it be nothing but empty space.

However, when the plot of this game rears its ugly head, it drags its ass so hard.  Granted, I am happy to see old chums from previous games coming together to kick ass.  Seeing Axel fighting against his old comrades is pretty sweet.  However, it’s not worth the painful exposition-dumping that this game has all over itself.  But the worst offense – the parts that shine of brilliance and go nowhere.

For example – anyone remember what I said would make for an awesome Kingdom Hearts III?  I said that there should be a world like Fantasia, where it’s nothing but music, without dialogue, and you get to just take in the visuals and gameplay with it.  They did it!  They fucking did it!  And I was in love!  Each of the areas themed after the areas in Fantasia were awesome!  For those scenes, I was enraptured.  But it’s so short!  Give me some Rite of Spring!  Give me some stuff from Fantasia 2000!  Go nuts!  Or even worse, you go to the world of Tron Legacy.  And they have one of the most fun segments in any of these games – light-cycle fights!  You alternate from the awesome energy ribbons to laser guns.  That was amazing!  More of that!  But then it’s done, and you can’t even play it like a racing game later!  What the hell?!

This game had a ton of potential, and there are a few moments that truly do realize it.  Then others that go fucking nowhere.  It’s such a shame.

Speaking of, let’s talk about Birth By Sleep 0.2, the second “game” in this collection.  Although, I am going to come right out with it – this isn’t a game.  It’s just not.  It’s a tech demo for how the third game will play.  And just on those merits, it is actually a lot of fun.  No joke, I had a hell of a time just going around and getting a wow out of the crazy awesome visuals in the game.

The plot goes that Aqua has been wandering the Realm of Darkness ever since Terra was taken over and Ventus’ heart was lost to the darkness.  Now she is trying to find her way to her friends, but time has no meaning in this place.  She’s been wandering for almost ten years, and it’s worn her down.  You can clearly see that she is tired of this endless drifting through shadow, and wants to go back home with her friends.  However, when the darkness beckons, and destiny comes into play, we get to see Aqua do random shit that goes nowhere.

As I said, it’s a tech demo.  A very pretty tech demo.  On visual and gameplay merits, it actually is a lot of fun.  If this is what to expect in the third game, then color me impressed.  However, the cruel reality is that this game clocks in at under 3 hours long, and the plot is weak as fuck.  This game should have been DLC for $5, or a free demo for the third game.

Which brings us to the final part of this game – Back Cover.  A cutscene that decides to fill us in on the events which led up to the original destruction of the world and the Keyblade War.  As well-voiced and beautiful as this digital film is, the cruel and honest truth is that it isn’t a game, and I could have watched this shit on YouTube.  Hell, most people will do that.

I am trying to be nice here.  I really wanted to like this.  However, the unfortunate truth is that this collection was INSANELY over-priced and not even remotely worth what they are asking for.  If you want, wait for the price to go down if you are truly a die-hard Kingdom Hearts fan.  For the rest of you, just skip it.  A YouTube synopsis will get you caught up the rest of the way if you have gotten this far.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Dear ZacharyHaven’t done any documentary films on this site, have I?  A shame, because there are a lot of truly great ones.  Will do a list someday of my top 10 favorite ones. I have a new film to add to this list – Dear Zachary.  This is probably the most emotionally-powerful film I have ever seen.  I guarantee you, no matter who you are, this film will make you cry.  I’m a complete asshole with a general divorce from the human condition, and even I got all teary-eyed at points.  This is such a depressing movie, yet it is so amazing to watch.  This is one of those rare movies that comes along and sets the tone of what great film can be.  But this is not the film for people who want sunshine and rainbows all the time.  If you can’t handle the hard stuff, you won’t like this movie. And if you plan on eating something as you watch it, you won’t be able to finish.  Let’s talk about it.

The film is told by a man who was an old filmmaker friend of a man named Andrew Bagby.  After he is murdered, this guy decides to go around the country and collect the memories of this man and make them into a movie.  But the quest takes on a new light, when it is revealed that the woman who killed him is carrying his child, and is in Canada awaiting extradition.  The film tells the story of the parents of Andrew, who go to Canada so they can get custody of the only grandchild they are ever going to have, and this man Kurt as he goes to the places that Andrew lived and compiles these memories, to make into a letter to Zachary.  Yeah, doesn’t this sounds like lollipops?

What I want to talk about first is the how well this film is put together.  There are some truly fantastic scenes where the cinematography is done so well.  A scene where Andrew’s dad is at a press conference and the juxtaposition between that scene and previous scenes, along with Kurt on his own mission, is one of the greatest scenes in any movie that I’ve ever seen.  I could watch that a thousand times over.  The guy who made this may have been amateur, but he clearly has a knack for doing incredible work.  All with a digital camera and an old-timey one.  Bravo, good sir.

The other thing I really love is how this movie has great uses of silence.  Just having quiet moments, either to take in something that happened, or to let tension build for an explosion.  There was one scene in-particular where you find out something horrible that happens, and for just a few seconds, they just silently sit on the news headline.  It makes when everything blows up so intense and emotionally powerful.  Quiet is an under-appreciated art form in this day and age, but this movie uses it to great effect.

But the thing that truly makes this film great is the people.  Every one.  The way they staggered this movie, cutting between the sad stuff to uplifting stuff just makes every character seem so much better.  For such a depressing story, there are a lot of scenes that genuinely have you smiling and wishing that you could have gotten to know Andrew.  He sounded like a neat guy.  I would have a beer with him.  Well, not a beer, since I don’t like beer, but a drink.  He could have beer and I’d have a screwdriver or rum and coke.  Whatever.  I’d still have a drink with him.

Then you have the two stars of this movie – Andrew’s parents.  These two are probably the strongest people I have ever seen in any movie ever.  I can’t even imagine how awful what happened was like.  What they went through to get the only grandson they would ever have into their lives.  How they gave so much up and lost so much, yet still kept pushing forward.  But they weren’t always strong.  They talked about some of their weak moments, and it makes them human and relatable.  Only when we see them at their very worst can we truly understand the strength they have by pushing through the pain and doing what was right.  Even at the very worst, these two didn’t stop.

However, the guy making this film, Kurt, is also a neat character.  He set off on this documentary to answer a question.  He wanted to know what he viewed as the reason that he was making this.  And as the story unfolds, his reasons become more and more conflicted.  Yet he does eventually find his answers, and while I won’t say that it was perfectly cathartic, it was an answer that I think we all could understand.

As I said before, this is a film that is hard to watch.  I guarantee that you are going to cry.  But if you can look past that, and want to see a movie about some amazing people and the sad tale of their lives, then you will find a movie about so much of the best and worst that humanity has to offer, which may make you feel things you hadn’t felt before.  And maybe you’ll find your own questions to ask, not knowing what the answer will be.  I have never seen a documentary that touched me this much.  This movie has set the standard at the very peak.  Do with this whatever you will.

Final Verdict
10 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Episode 5

Life is Strange: Episode 5So this is it.  After all these months of building, this is the episode that finishes this game off.  Unless, of course, Dontnod decides that they are going to continue the series.  Please don’t.  I honestly can’t think of a way that this could be improved.  It can only be made worse.  Because the truth is that I have mixed feelings about all of this.  If I had been doing reviews around the time that Mass Effect 3 had come out, I would have ripped that game a new asshole for how bad the ending was.  This game has an ending that is not very good, but there’s something stopping me from tearing it apart.  Maybe it’s a sense of disappointment, more than anger.  Because there was so much emotional lead-up to it, then it all just crumbled and didn’t go anyway that felt even remotely cathartic.  At least in Mass Effect 3, it is implied that everyone lives at the shitty endings.  Here, it’s either all or nothing.  Which sucks, because I have so many unanswered questions, and now I feel…less for the experience.  Let’s talk about it.

I’m about to go into spoiler territory, so you’ve been warned.  After the events of the previous Episode, Max has found out the truth.  Now she’s stuck in Mr. Jefferson’s Dark Room.  Everything that the game was building to leads here.  You have to figure out a way out of the room, then to get save Chloe, and finally, to face the storm that, as you find out, is on you.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I actually called it on that one.  What the tornado is, I mean.  What you find when you get to that end point is…the end.  I have to explain more.

There is one major problem that I have with this episode.  It has some really cathartic moments, and it has some moments that aren’t actively terrible, they are just so hollow that I am left feeling empty.  There was a weird mix in this episode of plot and character drive to the story, and it just feels…strange.  I can’t talk about my problems with this episode without getting into spoilers, because my Final Verdict is truly dependent on how I feel about this.  I guess you’ve all been warned, because here we go.

I said in my previous review on Episode 4 that if this game pulled a Mass Effect 3, I would rip it a new asshole.  And in a lot of ways, it did.  There is no other way that this could have turned out.  Your choices affect the conversation options that happen, but as far as I’ve seen, there is no way for it to turn out differently.  Unless I just set up a game so well that I got everything done right.  I don’t know.  In any case, the end of this game takes all the agency away from your choices.  There is some truly phenomenal build-up here!  Like I said, some of what happens is cathartic.  Like when you finally make amends with Warren.  Or when you save Chloe’s life and you get to hash things out. Though that is one of the problems I have with the episode.  Nowhere do Max and Chloe admit how they feel.  I guess it’s all supposed to be in subtext, but there are times that that got to me in a big way.  Like, can we just please acknowledge out loud how you two feel?!  When I got to the ending, there was no way to tell how either of them felt.  Like, is Chloe mad that chose her instead of the entire fucking town?  Let her mom and everyone die?

Which is another thing – the final choice in this game is bullshit!  Total bullshit!  Either you let Chloe die, or every other person in Arcadia Bay dies.  What the fuck kind of choice is that?!  Though, I guess you don’t actually know if they all died, since there is NO epilogue.  Part of me thinks that this is sequel-baiting.  If so, I am going to be SO pissed.  There was no reason why they couldn’t have brought some closure to this.  Some indication that maybe someone survived.  I refuse to believe that not one person was able to make it out alive.  Guess not, since the entire town is leveled at the end.

That reminds me – what the fuck is this power that Max had?  Episode 4 really wrapped up the vast majority of the plot.  I figured that this episode would finally answer that question – what is Max’s power?  Where does it come from?  Why did it choose her?  I was half-expecting there to be some kind of meet-up with her and Rachel Amber.  Like the whole idea that it was her that brought this all about was actually onto something.  Maybe Rachel had found a way to give that power to Max, to get revenge for what happened to her.  This power has no rhyme or reason, even within the context of its own universe, so how the hell did it all come about?

Okay, back to Max and Chloe, what the fuck?!  This game even plays with you if you worked to develop that relationship.  Could we have at least gotten them to admit that they love each other?  I don’t get this!  Ugh!  It’s cool to fuck with the player, and then have no payoff?!

That’s how this episode feels, on the whole.  So much build-up, with no payoff.  That’s not to say that it didn’t have moments.  Like when you get trapped in time.  That part was excellent!  Exploring the recesses of both Max’s psyche and the timelines that she messed with.  For that entire bit, I felt my nerves both on fire and my mind all over the place.  It was visually cool as well.  This was the first episode that released and was glitch-free!  I gotta give Dontnod credit for that.  Then there was finally the conversation between Max and Chloe about what happened with her in the alternate timeline.  That was wonderful!  Everything I could have asked for and more.  Still, I left this episode feeling hollow.  It built and built, then never came together.  It was just the two girls riding off into the sunset.  I don’t hate this episode.  I just…feel let down.  Now that’s how I feel about the entire series.

In my last review, I said that I would review the game as a whole, once this episode came out.  So here it is – so much build-up, with little payoff.  Mass Effect 3 enraged me.  This hurt me.  I mean, come on!  Just three little words and at least I would finally know if what I built up to led to something!  I put time and effort into building these two’s relationship!  Three little words and I wouldn’t be nearly as mad.  Especially before making the last choice!  Talk about a way to really give the situation weight!  For Max to tell Chloe that she loves her.  Did that occur to NO ONE in your writing staff?!  Or maybe make that last drive out where the two admit how they feel.  If that is sequel-bait, Dontnod, I am going to rip you a new one.  Do NOT play with me like that!  And that’s all I can say about this.  Sorry to not be more objective with the review, but this is my site, and I just don’t have anything objectively to say.

*Update* So, it seems that I was wrong about how the relationship between Max and Chloe ends!  They do admit how they feel, but only if you let Chloe die.  That is bullshit!  Why?  Because I guess the developers thought it was “insensitive” to have them show love when they are watching Arcadia Bay get leveled.  Fuck that!  I did everything right, and I fail anyway because of a development choice!  Fuck Dontnod!  You bastards!  Fuck you up your assholes!  Now I feel like I wasted my time.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Retro Review: Jumanji

JumanjiFor those who didn’t know, the years 1983-1995 were awesome years for movies when you were a kid.  They were also the years when people like Robin Williams was at the top of his game.  The early-mid 90s were awesome for this man.  In my opinion, they were the years when he was at the top of his game.  The day that he passed was a sad day indeed, especially given how his acting career had taken something of a nose-dive in the early late 90’s.  For whatever reason, he just kept being in terrible movies.  When I think of the films that Robin Williams was at his best in, one of the first the comes to mind is this movie.  One of the most exciting and eerie kids movies ever made – Jumanji.  A film about a board game that can REALLY mess up your day.

The great thing about this movie is how it comes right out of the gate building suspense.  The best things about the first act are how this movie keeps building and building as you go along.  You have two boys looking to bury a box with an unknown piece of cargo.  You don’t know what exactly it is, but you know that they are terrified of it, and eager to be rid of it.  The mystery of this strange box is made all the more potent when the drums start playing.  The sound clearly is meant to be something to fear, and this movie makes sure you understand that.  Fast-forward 100 years later, and a boy named Alan finds the game.  Him and his lady-friend decide to play, which ends in him being sucked into the game, and the girl fleeing in terror.  Fast-forward again 26 years later and you have the house the family owned being bought by someone else. It’s a woman who is caring for her late brother’s two children.  The drums come back again as the game calls out to the children to play.  Now, the children are forced to finish a game started almost 26 years ago, and there are more than a few surprises.

What to talk about first.  Let me just say that I love this films use of minimal effects to get tension across.  The way that you know to fear the game is due to the sound of the drums.  This movie establishes that sound as threatening the moment you hear it.  That’s awesome!  Then you have the way that you know what new threat is coming – by looking at the center of the game.  The way that the text is displayed, with that eerie music that always gets played with it.  That is brilliant!

Then there’s the effects.  Now, the CG in this film is REALLY dated.  However, this film treats it like it knows that,  It knows that the CG doesn’t look great.  But they have a nice way of getting around that – by having a lot of practical effects integrated!  If only modern movies could remember that.  It goes a lot further than you think.  Some of the practical effects are just awesome.  And some of them are downright creepy.  The spider scene still freaks me out.  When the effects are silly, they are REALLY silly.  But the practical stuff is beyond impressive.  At the time this movie came out, CG was still very new.  So most directors were mixing practical effects at the time, and it helps in a big way.

But the thing that stands out the most are the characters.  There was no reason that this movie should have been anything other than stupid.  It was made based on a very short book that had some amazing illustrations. In fact, a lot of the designs of the animals kept to that.  Though this film took it up more than a few notches.  For something that had this amount of simplicity, it is beyond me how they ended up telling a rather engaging story about a board game and the people who played it.  You have all these characters, and the town itself has some character.  After he was sucked into the game, Alan’s father ended up falling apart.  The shoe factory, which was the town’s chief industry, died out.  Now the town died out with it.  This movie tells a rather grim and slightly depressing story about how a town died, and these people playing the game.  There was also a lot of quiet time in this movie.  Man, it’s so weird watching films like this now, when I think of how loud and unending the loudness is in movies nowadays.

Naturally, Robin Williams stole the show here.  I’m so glad that the director of this movie knew that the best way to have Williams in a film is to let him breathe a little.  Longer shots that gave not only some time to develop atmosphere, but let Williams show his stuff.  But the rest of the cast ain’t too bad.  Kirsten Dunst plays the older of the two kids, Judy.  Some of her endless lies are pretty fun to listen to.  The younger brother is a little coward, but he still gets some time to shine.  Then there was Alan’s friend Sarah, who is all grown up being forced to play the game again.  Every role in this movie had character.  Again, so odd, considering that this movie could have so easily been total garbage.

Which is really the best point to make about this movie.  The idea is vaguely interesting.  A magical board game that can make a jungle come to life.  But thanks to some great acting and cool effects, this turned into a movie that was about interesting characters and the insanity that comes from this demented game.  So remember, whenever you hear tribal drums in the middle of nowhere, that’s probably a good sign to run.  Unless you’re insane like me and want to see what kind of mischief you could get up to in this game.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers Age of UltronSo this is it.  The sequel to a superhero movie that set a new standard of quality.  I heard a ton of stuff about this film from people.  Namely that it wasn’t as good as its predecessor.  That didn’t particularly shock me.  Like I said, the previous film set a standard.  It’s hard to compete with that.  But I finally got around to seeing it.  A film that, by the way, Disney considers to be a financial failure.  That’s right, a movie that grossed $1.4 billion worldwide is a financial failure.  Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Disney is REALLY evil?  I’ve finally seen it, and…I don’t know.  Let’s talk about it.

For the one person who hasn’t seen it…okay, never mind.  I don’t need to summarize the plot.  Everyone’s seen this movie.  You know the plot.  Tony Stark decides to be an idiot and create a system that can act independently around the world.  It comes to life as Ultron.  Then it’s the Avengers vs. Ultron.  Yeah, no ones doesn’t know that.  But that isn’t what I want to talk about.

I could complain that this film is just as misleading as the G.I. Joe movie.  Yeah, it sure was an age for Ultron, wasn’t it?  What’s that?  He is dead by the end of the film?  I’d say spoiler alert, but you’ve already seen this movie.  So yeah.  This entire movie had some fantastic build-up, only for it to go…where?  Oh, that’s right – nowhere.  It just ends with everybody winning, someone that nobody really cared about dying, and nothing of importance happening.  This movie had so little impact that I honestly think that it might as well not have happened at all.  Ultron, the film that this movie was building up to be some kind of real threat, was a nobody.  James Spader’s great voice acting was wasted on this character.  He had all the Spader charm, and we’ll never get to see it again.  Great.

But all of this is just part of what is my issue with this movie.  I’m getting tired of superhero movies, people.  They are becoming so hard to distinguish from one-another.  All of these movies are so upbeat and non-confrontational that it makes the whole experience boring.  I can predict everything that is going to happen from start to finish.

But Lucien, you were all over Guardians of the Galaxy!  That movie is the peak of predictable!

I won’t argue with that.  It’s true.  But the difference is that in that film, as predictable as it was felt, it was all in the execution.  You had these fun characters and comedic factors happening.  The movie didn’t take itself too seriously, and was willing to enjoy itself.  That’s what gets me so excited for the new Deadpool film.  That also looks ridiculous.  Though, that film has the added bonus of being violent as fuck.  That’s a perk.  A predictable film needs to at least have something to offer me.

This movie didn’t.  I’ve seen these characters before.  Their witty banter was fun to listen to, but now I don’t feel like it means anything.  Plus, this film never felt like there was tension.  Ultron never felt like a threat.  He was like this weird plus-one at the Avengers party.  I get that kids like that sort of thing.  Maybe I am too far removed from this demographic to like that kind of entertainment.  I know, gasp away.  I basically called all of Tumblr and their obsession with the past immature.  It is.  My inner child wants more from movies.  Plus, I refuse to believe that kids are too stupid to be able to accept a story that can be a little dark and not treat them like they can’t handle serious stuff.  That’s why I liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier as much as I did.  Sure, the hero won in the end, but he won knowing that he had lost something.  He got someone from his past back, but that person just reminded me of how much he had lost and how alone he was.  It was a well-done movie that made a character who isn’t especially deep into something more.  That was great to watch!

Objectively, there is nothing wrong with this movie.  It looks just fine.  The fight sequences were cool.  Watching the Hulkbuster armor in action was cool.  As much as I think that his talents were wasted in this role, James Spader was still fun to watch.  The only fun I had with this movie.  But I just didn’t like this movie.  It felt like I was just watching the first movie over again, only this time with robots instead of aliens.  But it didn’t have to be this way.

For example – there is a clear schism that has been developing between the members of the Avengers.  Something that I figure is going to play out in the next Captain America film, which focuses on the Civil War arc.  I still wonder how they are going to fit all that into one arc, but hey, it’s the same people who made the last Captain America movie.  Those guys know their stuff.  Maybe they can inject some darkness into this cinematic universe.  Some stakes.  There we go!  That’s what this film lacked – stakes.  They REALLY need to up their game with these Avengers movies.  Or at least make it feel like there is something to fear.  You have, at the end, Thanos saying that he is done letting other people do his dirty work.  Okay, good!  How about we have him in the next Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy films?  Have him bust his way into Thor’s world and take the Infinite Gem there.  Maybe watch him beat the ever-loving fuck out of Thor.  Or better yet – have him kill him.  Then you can have him fuck up the Guardians of the Galaxy’s business.  We need some feeling that there is real fear.

This movie lacked that.  Nobody dies.  Everybody is saved.  The heroes win.  “Yay!”  Boring.  I was bored watching this movie.  It was like watching the sequel to Tron.  Cool ideas, great visuals, boring movie.  But I also think that I’m getting tired of these predictable superhero films.  Take a cue from the guys who directed the second Captain America movie.  Make these heroes feel human.  Make all of this not feel like we’re just counting down to when everyone wins.  That’s my review.  If you loved this movie, you probably hate this review.  Sorry.  But maybe you can see where I’m coming from?  Or maybe not.  Who knows?  As far as the Verdict goes, this film isn’t objectively bad, so I can’t hate it.  I just don’t find it all that great.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. FoxPart of me is so glad that Wes Anderson’s movies are becoming more accepted by the mainstream, because this man has a gift.  His comedy is absurd, and the acting in his movies even moreso.  It’s like this strange mix of cute and awkward.  Everything is strange, in every movie he’s ever made.  But as strange as it all is, it’s still adorable.  This man can’t make a normal movie to save his life, but bless him, he’s got a gift where it matters most.  I honestly can’t think of another director who can do it as well as Wes Anderson, whatever you call his style.  This movie is no exception.  Perhaps it’s fitting that he has adapted a book by Roald Dahl.  That man couldn’t tell a normal story to save his life either.  These two were made for each other.

In true Wes Anderson fashion, the plot of this is ridiculous.  A fox named Mr. Fox is a master thief.  He’s spent the better part of his years steaming chickens, turkeys, pidgeons and other things from the local farmers.  However, when his girlfriend at the time tells him that she’s pregnant, he has to give up the criminal life and settle in to something more domestic.  Several fox years later (yes, that’s a thing in this movie), Mr. Fox is now living in a hole in the ground, but he dreams of better things.  After using his badger lawyer (yes, that’s a thing in this movie) to get into some prime real estate, he is too tempted by the potential for thieving to stay in retirement.  Thus begins an utterly absurd plot that goes all over the place for no reason at all, only to end in a place that you think to yourself – why?  Just…why?

This movie is absurd, in every way.  But while it makes no sense at all, this movie bleeds style.  It’s done in claymation, which fits.  But while the animation is old-school, this movie moves fast!  I mean really fast!  I’m not talking about plot.  I mean the animation.  Some of the one-take shots are just amazing.  Anderson has a style where he likes to move laterally in his films.  Nowhere is that more on display than right here.  Part of what makes the comedy in this film work is just how fast it moves.  But the visual style is all this films own, and it makes how absurd it is work just great.

Which brings me to the acting.  Wes Anderson has a gift at bringing out this strange ability for people in his movies to be both engaged and detached at the same time.  That’s the only way I can think to describe it.  It makes pretty much every character really interesting.  I’m trying to think of a word for the acting style in Anderson’s movies.  Awkward-confident?  I don’t really know.  But it’s a style that only Anderson can master.  The best role is, of course, Mr Fox.  George Clooney brings that role to light in such a fantastic way.  For whatever strange reason, the lead member of every cast that Anderson puts together is always perfect for the role.

But the best thing about this movie is the comedy.  Unlike modern American comedy films, this movie is drowning in visual comedy.  It is such a lost art.  There is also this strange aspect of the film.  Like it’s modern, but not.  Part of the strange universe that the film makes.  It makes for some great juxtaposition between elements of this movie.  But if you are going to enjoy this kind of comedy, you have to have a LOT of patience for things that make no sense at all.  Things that will leave you wondering – why?  Just…why?  Random moments that come right the hell out of nowhere, and are never addressed again.  Or if they are addressed, it’s in a strange way.  At no point does anything about this movie feel ordinary.

It’s hard to really give a good review of a Wes Anderson film.  How do you describe something that never makes any sense?  I will say that this is a very funny movie.  A lot of the comedic elements take old films standards and mix them with an almost British style, yet with an American twist of comedic acting.  Visual, awkward, and character driven.  That’s how I can describe it!  It’s Wes Anderson doing what he does best.  Take it for what you will.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: King of Thorn

King of ThornSomething to know – modern anime kind of sucks.  And by kind of, I mean a lot.  When I first heard about Attack on Titan, I heard that it was going to be a gory, action-packed mind-fuck, with blood and guts and insane levels of violent awesomeness meld together to form a thrill ride.  And sure, the action is awesome, and I do like the series, but I acknowledge that it doesn’t live up to the hype.  However, I could forgive all that.  Really, I could.  I could forgive all of that if it wasn’t indicative of what so much modern anime is like nowadays!  Whether it be Terror in Resonance or Riddle Story of Devil, there are a shit-ton of anime that I am watching lately that all have really cool ideas that go where?  Nowhere, that’s where!  I hate this!  Why?  Because when I see a story that has a neat idea, then watch the creators fail to commit to it, then I am basically watching something that wasted my time.  And that can really piss me off, especially when it’s fucking everywhere these days!  This movie is no exception.

Wanna know the good ideas this film had?  Let me tell you the premise, and maybe you’ll figure it out.  The story goes that there is an outbreak of a disease called Medousa.  It is turning the human race into stone, and there seems to be no cure.  Out of nowhere, a company develops a special method of sealing people in cryotubes, until a cure can be found.  The lot of those sealed away wake up, but all is not as it seems.  There hideaway is now filled with thorns, and there is more.  Monsters that have come out to kill them as well.  What happened?  How long were they sealed away?  Is there a cure for the ailment killing them?  Well, because this movie wants to basically suck, it’ll force-feed you the answers and then offer no satisfactory resolution.  There, I saved you 100 minutes of boredom.  You’re welcome.

For real, this movie starts out on such a high note.  You have the world being overcome with an illness.  Neat.  Then you have the US government thinking that there is some kind of human element behind the madness.  That this illness was man-made.  They think that it is something to do with the company who made the cryogenic technology.  So, they make a plan to invade, and…?!  It goes nowhere.  That’s right, we never see thing one about it.  It’s never addressed.  The monsters?  Oh yeah, that’s wrapped up in five seconds.  The disease?  A few lines of dialogue.

So what is the rest of this movie filled with?  Well, it’s filled with action!  Boring, boring action.  You sure do see a fair amount of blood?  But all the carnage?  Nope!  This movie was advertised on the fact that there is guts and gore!  Where is it?  Nowhere to be found!  Because then this movie might actually be committing to something.  Can’t have that.

You know what the worst part about this and the rest of these anime that I am getting so pissed about lately is?  The fact that they’re animated well!  I remember a time when at least the fact that there was so much garbage, you could tell by how shoddy the animation was.  Here, some of this animation is fucking awesome!  Granted, they use some terrible CG integration, but this had a budget!  So did Riddle Story of Devil, and I fucking hate that series!  So did Terror in Resonance, and same deal!  What is it with so many studios making products that have real production values, but end up sucking so bad?!  I really need to know, because this needs to stop.  What is the deal?  Why is it so hard to make good anime anymore?

This movie should have been amazing.  It damn well could have been.  This could have been one of the most gruesome and hardcore movies ever done.  But it isn’t.  Like so many films these days, it is falling short so bad.  I legitimately don’t know why the Rebuild of Evangelion films are so good.  Maybe it’s because the series biggest failing was in that the budget went to shit.  They fixed that, and now it’s great.  Go figure.  Still, this movie is so much garbage.  But it doesn’t suck in terms of sheer quality.  So the Final Verdict on this movie has to reflect that.  But don’t get me wrong, on a totally subjective level, this film is just a symptom of a much larger problem – that modern anime shows and films are so fucking gutless.  They have total cowards making them.  People who can’t just let the audience decide how good they are.  Anime is becoming like Call of Duty.

For as much shit as those games take, you can’t deny that they are polished games.  They are polished to a mirror shine, and it can be impressive.  They get Hollywood talent to make those games.  That’s what anime these days is – polished, beautiful, boring, repetitive garbage.  That’s the nicest thing that I can say about this movie.  Objectively, it looks great and if you are able to turn off your brain, you’ll find something you’re looking for.  For the rest, we have been given another piece of shlock that just makes me appreciate the series that I grew up with even more.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick