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Some films have an agreed upon "definitive" Director´s Cut, so always take that option. Others may be part of a bigger franchise, so don´t watch those entries in isolation.
Dune: Part One (2021)
A near masterpiece with major missing pieces
I, first of all, applaud Legendary for allowing the director to do his thing on a budget of 165 million. No fan of the book can be disappointed by the end result but I don´t know if the general audience will see eye to eye as Villeneuve stuck too close to details that matter to him while leaving his audience and even the overall book behind. Dune 2021 is the best adaptation yet but too much of the plot and players were skipped to focus on Paul & Jessica who are the real film. The end result is an accurate depiction of their journey in the world of Herbert but it's debatable if his world & story are fully on-screen. Only Atreides characters are allowed any significant screen time and even their hereditary enemies the Harkonnen are reduced to bit parts. The grandiose and lived-in world is a sight to behold but we see so little of it and are explained even less so viewers might be confused why the film´s technology is so functional and basic. A was especially perplexed by how bare-bones the explanation of the spice is. It is the whole reason for the plot! No guild navigators or space-folding are seen on screen for example. The effects, costumes, score and performances leave little to be desired. The dialogue is easy to follow even if the context is often missing but some iconic book quotes are left behind. It is possible to view this film as your basic hero's journey narrative if one wants to. The way Herbert inverts and criticizes such tales is also all on-screen even if the fruits of these details will only ripen in the second half and hopefully movie 3. Aka Dune Messiah. Our director stated it as his current end goal.
I don´t want to sound too negative and I had a great time with the film and look forward to revisiting it. I simply fear that the lack of mass appeal or rewatchability for casual audiences will leave the story forever unfinished. The film adapts 60% of the story, minus missing political elements & characters that a sequel would need to cover immediately before moving forward with the story. Let's just say that the film goes out of its way to not follow the Chekhov's gun principle. Watch and champion this movie if you are a fan of heady sci-fi and of course the Herbert novel(s) but push the source material, its full-cast audiobook, or its new 3 part Graphic Novel adaptation on the people you recommend the film to as they will need a safety net to appreciate the film and to be hungry for more. Let's hope against hope that someone will dare to adapt Dune 4 one of these days. Maybe the next reboot? 8,5/10
PS: The 3-hour long "Dune (1984) Alternative Edition Redux" (7.5/10) is a solid companion to this film and features backstory and characters that have so far been skipped. Make it your next sci-fi viewing experience.
Getter Robo Ark (2021)
A dead IP breaths for the final time
Studios usually try to make the first 2 episodes look like something but Arc already enters its budget slump from the word Gou and some of the scene transitions are comically bad. This is more importantly an adaptation of part 5 of 5 and none of the other parts were accurately adapted so even people who followed the previous anime adaptations will be lost. I´ll check back at the very end so see how this concludes as the original was unfinished due the mangaka passing away in 2003. Watch the admittedly chaotic 1998/99 Getter Robo: Armageddon OVAs instead. The passion is clearly there and the anime mostly sticks to the manga but This Ain't It, Chief. 5/10?
You know what to expect from Capcom anime
Infinite Darkness has a pointless plot with a forced 3rd act and is the 2nd RE anime in a row that ends with a human villain who mutates into a Tyrant but not all is bad and all this nonsense is Capcom writing to a T. The CG animation is good, the bizarre adherence to military tactics is welcome and the ending kinda reveal-retcons why Leon has been such a dour guy in all his appearances since RE4 and the first anime set in 2005. TRICELL also cameos, lol. We´ll see if RE adaptations will get good one of these days but this was fine. About on the level of the 2nd anime entry. I just hope that female characters can stop being sidelined in the anime/manga. The next film needs to release as just that as Netflix or Capcom clearly sliced a film 4 in parts with this one. 6,5/10.
Army of the Dead (2021)
Old Genre Director, Fresh Meat
DoTD 2004 wasn´t the first use of fast zombies but it is still the best. AotD (not a sequel but it originally was) isn´t the first use of smart zombies or the first movie with zombie romance or all the other stuff but all these tropes bloom here like never before. The film has less zombie action than one would think. Not due to a lack of zombies though and the tensest action scenes are all amazing. Arguably the best in the genre. Or at least the best shot. Snyder himself carried this camera and decided to use the hazy lens. A lot of the tropey seeming characters are fully realized and can keep your attention in the many calm moments. The film is about them and not about lining up headshots or being Ocean's Eleven with the undead. I would argue that the trailer sells a different film altogether by focusing on establishing shots and mostly scenes from the opening montage and an idealized dream sequence. Some say this film is too long but I wouldn´t have minded a 3-hour movie.
The 2022 animated prequel about the barely touched upon outbreak and the clearly teased sequel are full of potential so Netflix bet on the right man by rescuing Snyder from their dead hands of WB. And don´t forget how bleak Snyder´s last zombie film and many of his other works are so set your expectations right. #AllwaysBetOnDead indeed. They're coming to get you, Barbara! 8.5/10.
PS: The way Tig is integrated is unnoticeable. I hope Zack wins an award for how he did that. Ridley Scott did a worse job and he got his cast back to get Christopher Plummer into All the Money in the World.
Feels like an unearthed mid 00s OVA
Yasuke is best viewed as an Onimusha or Afro Samurai reboot so a real retelling of Yasuke´s story continues to elude us. He even feels like a side character in his own show and don´t ask me why this wasn´t produced as a 2-part movie. The plot is a bit all over, almost like a videogame as villains come and go at random. The miniseries most importantly would have been better off without the badly explained sciences fantasy elements (why is The Force in this?) but the overall picture is better than its assorted elements and the anime works well enough as a one and done pulp adventure. The music is what I will remember the most and a lot of the animation is well done for a TV production. Another "Good Enough" production by MAPPA and reminiscent of the ultra-random OVAs we used to get till the late 00s.
Justice League (2017)
Not the movie you are looking for
Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) 9/10 is the real deal. The disgrace on the other hand can only be described as an unfunny parody. WB and writer/director Joss Whedon should be ashamed of what they created. That goes double for the behind-the-scenes abuse and drama. The only thing I like more in this version is the credit song Come Together which was a Snyder and Junkie XL element.
Whedon and producer/ghostwriter Geoff Johns thus brought nothing to the table in 2017. Watch this after you have seen the real movie to learn what can happen if studios and focus groups take over an auteur-driven film but there is nothing here worth seeing for the sake of entertainment alone. I lastly can´t believe how ugly and badly scored this version is and how well those key aspects work in the Snyder version.
#RestoreTheSnyderVerse and wipe this travesty from the DCEU canon WB.
Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
The future has taken root in the present
I have been a fan of Zack since DotD in 2004. I love his 3 previous DC films dearly and fought for years to get this movie released. It finally arrived and Snyder delivered yet again! TSC is another instant classic and a fully different film from the 2017 studio abortion. Up there with TDK, Into the Spider-Verse or the animated DKR movie. A film as wild as it is bold and a true sequel to BvS on top of that. Even the critics who left Zack´s side after Watchmen seem to like this film. Who saw that coming?
The film isn´t as tightly plotted as (UE) BvS or (DC) Watchmen, the film could lose about 10 minutes through smart editing, a few of the musical choices are a tiny bit out there and knowing what Zack wanted to shoot but couldn´t stings slightly. These are all the negatives I have. There rest fires on all cylinders and who knew that Cyborg was prime "league material" all along? His performance shines bright in a movie filled with great acting. The full-frame aspect ratio is perfectly chosen, 98% of the CG effects are godlike, the score is unforgettable and I can say for the first time that the JLA finally got a truly great origin story. Something the team never had in any medium up to now. This is the real deal. The team further comes together as one during the course of the film as opposed to the last version of this film. The R-rating is also a soft one, just like with UE BvS, but the freedom it gives this film is well used. Bury the 2017 cut (3/10) and let's hope that WB or at least WM can see the light at the end of the tunnel and give Snyder his old job back. The one he was born for as this film has more cliffhangers than Return of the King has endings. All these actors need to come back, especially Ray Fisher, and we need parts 4 and 5 to close this quintet. HBO Max? The bell cannot be unrung!
#RestoreTheSnyderVerse, #ReleaseTheAyerCut, #MakeTheBatfleckMovie, etc.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Truth, Justice and the Amazonian Way
The DCEU is hard to evaluate, especially for people like me who think that Snyder and co were on the right track before the studio started to meddle like mad till the brand almost imploded but we early fans are getting a 2nd chance in 2021 and WW finally got her sequel released. Let's begin with my criticisms.
The second sequence in the film, a mall fight, is a badly done Donner homage that comes off as a parody. The magical conceit of the film should have been introduced properly. Superhero films usually have 3rd act problems, this one has 1st act problems despite a killer opening. The film could lose about 15 minutes, the almost laughable amount of instances where children are saved feels like a misguided studio mandate and there are a few rushed CG shots too many despite the film being delayed by a year. I would even argue that a scene that resolves our 2 villains is missing! Those are my negatives.
I can note that the film could have been set in the much more uncertain late 80s and the was an easy way to include young Bruce Wayne (his theme even plays) in the 3rd act and also connect the canon to BvS/JL better which is weirdly decided against at the end despite it centering on a literal deus ex machina but none of that bothered me. DC´s source comics too make little sense canon-wise and miss easy chances to connect it all better. What I liked is everything else.
The plot, the lead performances, the moral, the way the film builds upon the themes of the first film and even the humongous scale and how it all naturally escalates. World ending stakes are being done right in the film. I can´t believe that we end the Trump presidency around the releases of this film but this is a good way to mark that milestone. What we have in the end is a good yet needlessly rough around the edges film that could have been closer to great if it had another pass done but it was already delayed and heavily reshot so maybe not?
Covid19 and other circumstances as Jenkins signing on to 2 other projects cloud the future of this sub-series and even the release of this film but Jenkins, Snyder and Johns deserve to make a final film in the series. Even if it takes 5 more years. All 3 might not see eye to eye on everything but they "get" WW and the proposed Amazons spin-off film produced by them (or just Jenkins and Snyder) sounds like a good way to advance in the meantime before Gal´s story can conclude in a solo picture. She is WW, don´t lose her WB. Next up. Justice League -the real one- with a great take on WW as it´s deuteragonist. #RestoreTheSnyderVerse 7.5/10
The original was nothing special in hindsight and fully ran out of steam after S2 but there was at least a gimmick. This on the other hand is about as tiered as the current Disney remakes. The old VAs even returned and the "new" character designer also did key animation on the last round of adaptions so what´s the point? Am I too stuck in a time loop? There is nothing here to judge. Same anime, different coat of paint. 5/10
Edit: It was revealed when ep 2 aired that this is both a reboot and sequel due to the time loop nature of the IP. It only shows how dry the udder is. Which again raises the main question: Who is this for? Newcomers now have over 60 eps to catch up on before starting with the non-reboot and old fans have to give up on the conclusion(s) they once saw. See you never Higurashi.
The New Mutants (2020)
At least Fox-men didn´t end with Dark Phoenix
I am happy to report that the FoxCU went out with a semi-competent shrug rather than poop in its pants. Dark Phoenix was rough you all. The film´s biggest problem is the lack of villain which you can´t have in a horror (inspired) film. The isn´t much of purpose either outside of a vague Logan tie-in and the scope is smaller than even I thought. The protagonist wakes up in an asylum with other mutants. They get to know each other, a small scale conflict starts, is then resolved and the movie ends. You could easily cut this down to 60 minutes and get a shaky pilot for a Hulu show. Not the best way to bring this X-men spin-off to live but be glad we didn´t get the top to bottom reshoots the studio wanted. This could have easily been a 2nd Fan4stic. It is not. The cast saved the film but f### those accents. The score ain´t bad either. 6/10
The film´s gay romance works fine btw and is an invention for the film. Kinda.
Nihon Chinbotsu 2020 (2020)
I almost cried... from laughter
The anime has an ok pilot and I´ll admit that ep 1, 2 and 10 (of 10) feature perfectly fine animation. Not great, fine. The rest looks embarrassing. The in itself competent soundtrack fails to match what is happening on-screen way too often. The cast has a combined IQ of 10 and even the VAs come off as bland as it´s impossible to deliver the lines given to them. This goes for both the Japanese and English dub. Perfect I say as this makes it a delight to watch them suffer and die. The only ones who will take the gold home in these misery Olympics are the viewers.
The show is best described as Tommy Wiseau: The Anime and the frankly middling and immediately forgotten Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 from 2009 suddenly looks like a slam dunk. I have no interest in reading the 1973 Japan Sinks novel but I am familiar with its many adaptations. They are all mediocre to bad. The fact that Roger Corman got to Americanize the 1973 film adaptation says it all. Not that any of this matters as this latest adaptation manages to even stretch the definition of what a reinterpretation is. It´s not even sci-fi!
Masaaki Yuasa´s all over the place career is nothing new but the severely overworked auteur finally produced what is destined to be the worst work of his career. The real culprit is still Pyeon-Gang Ho. That woman is bad news bears and has no comprehension of concepts like tone and pacing. Her worst and latest anime even failed to debut around the Tokyo Olympics which is a plot point. You can´t make this up. This anime will go down in legend, this is bad even by the low anime stands of Netflix, and we finally have our first So Bad It´s Good anime since 2014´s Pupa by the "legendary" Studio Deen. Misery tourism at it´s finest! A 3/10 earned in blood and of perfect length to watch in one 3,5 hour sitting. Preferably with friends and alcohol.
You know where this is going
It´s another smash hit like the original. As in smashing against a wall at full speed. No lessons were learned, the tech is even more busted, the controls are N64 bad, etc. Hats off. The again bleak story mostly works on the other hand, the music is legit good this time, the VAs give it their all, the setting(s) rock, etc. Patches won´t save the even more extreme technical mess fully but they can´t hurt. Only the original 360 version of game 1 is semi-coherent as a product in your hands when compared to the on paper "improved" ports. The human eye just can´t see at 30 frames. About half is enough. So says Mr Toybox. Don´t just watch the game on YouTube. The full experience involves the somehow downgraded gameplay and not just the story. Even at it´s ugliest. Especially at it´s ugliest. Don´t be surprised if you end up taking notes with this game. That´s how cryptic it can be without a guide once you start the side-quests. It´s as if this game truly came out in 2005... on a Dreamcast.
Was this game worth the decade wait? Not fully. The accidental transphobia is problematic, the story feels like cutscenes are missing (the finale to act 3 is the main culprit) and the game´s overall mystery plot doesn´t feel solved in the same way it was in the original. The plot is even noticeably less engaging that than DP "Origins" but still enjoyable. The game even has a hard point of no return in a game that highly relies on half baked side content. The good news is that the game ends in a way that the "franchise" can continue and hopefully learn from all of this.
I give DP 2 a 6.0/10 due to the abysmal technical state with room for a 6.5 if extensive patches come. Those skating controls are as bad as the fps on the board for example. A port with additional content might work wonders here but who honestly trusts TyoBox after the many disasters they unleashed till now?
PS: Let´s make D5 a thing Swery. D4 is even confirmed canon to this universe.
A soulless and rushed DLC trap
The game is a joyless mess and a DLC trap on top so I can´t say that I have a problem with it being non-canon, with it shattering the otherwise equally mediocre studio after release and it also averaging out between 48% to 52% on MC. Those scores are spot-on. 360 Gears games were fun and looked great. Dito for RE5. This wasn´t and the story/presentation is pure trash. Birkin, Leon, Nemesis and even the zombies were butchered so hard.
The game´s director went on a RE podcast and talker about it for 3 hours in November 2019: Survival Horror Podcast #23 Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City Director Andrew Santos Can´t say that I feel sorry after him endlessly going on how the press rated the game "wrong" as it was equally shrugged off by the overall RE community. It still sold 2.5 mil but Capcom clearly wasn´t happy and this was one of the reasons the outsourcing went away. Good. The interview´s insights into the production's breakdown were interesting. It started off as a sort of remake RE2/3 that was about filling the gaps. Well, it wasn´t. The director also revealed that the mostly DLC character Dee-Ay couldn't be gay due to Capcom coming down on that and he further confirmed that the DLC was cut out of the main and reworked into something worse as the good and bad teams were supposed to come to a head in the finales and they don´t. The game even misses a proper ending. It just stops.
The overall average Revelations 1 and RE6 from around the same time have some good points so I can forgive them to some degree. This I won´t. Overall an incompetent rush-job. A 5/10, if we count all the DLC as part of the game and a 4/10 without it. Especially if played in single-player. No wonder Capcom can´t be bothered with a remaster.
Better than the 2002/3 Birds of Prey show and that´s it
I have been reading DC comics since the mid-90s, actually liked Suicide Squad Extended Edition (it was weirdly comic accurate by the standards of these adaptations) and I love Harley´s new TV-Ma rated cartoon but I had to force myself to pay attention here. The film has little to do with anything, neither the performances nor the visuals stand out and both the direction and writing feel a bit amateurish as they are done by no-name newcomers. I can fully believe that this was a troubled production and I don´t get how any of this cost 85 million to film. Gotham or most of the Marvel shows on Netflix honestly "felt" more expensive.
Don´t ask me where the Golden Tomato on RT came from as I struggled to enjoy myself despite being the target audience. The middling Metascore is way more accurate. I don´t necessarily think that the film derives to flop, which it actually might after the abysmal opening weekend, but I honestly don´t care for a sequel either. WB should have done a Gotham City Sirens starring Harley and a Birds of Prey film starring Batgirl instead with seasoned directors and writers. David Ayer and Jared Leto might get the last laughs here, lol. Good luck James Gunn, you might need it.
All in all the worst DC life action film since Green Lantern and I would have given the film a full point more if it wasn´t burdened by a cringe inducing narration that can´t stop. 5/10
Star Trek into Dumbness - Part II
The Burial of Skywalker is a triumph of production values, music and little else. Many actors did their best to elevate the canon and lore destroying material but only Uncle Palps succeeds from start to finish. Kylo does his best but even a beast as Adam Driver is undone by the abhorred 3rd act. Whoever has to follow this is cursed. JJ gave it his all with EP VII (8,5/10) it is now a bit undone by the followups, Rian made an interesting but meandering non-sequel with EP VIII (8/10) and JJ then came in with a poorly thought out killing blow that was designed to serve all and thus serves none. Only the 4 Clone Era films are (slightly) worse as they fail basic film making criteria. They have better stories though.
What kills me is how many questions I am left with after seeing this film outside of the spotty film making. I keep up with the EU that isn´t exclusively made for children. Always have, always will. I take the good with the bad, I roll with the punches (the Dark Nest) but why did we burn the old EU if THIS is what makes it into the cinemas? I could obviously say screw it and just accept that this was a science fantasy popcorn film made for test audiences but I never left a SW film with basic lore questions even if I disliked it!
This film made SW smaller and is the end result of a parade of fired directors. Thank the Force for the Disney+ shows, some of the upcoming books/comics (the poor Knight of Ren) and the final Clone Wars season. 4,5/10
PS: The back paddling by JJ, the cast and the left in the rain story group has to be seen to be believed. No more cinematic films till at least 2025 and no more this-has-to-come-out-no-matter-what trilogies for at least another decade. And i say this as someone who likes 4/5 Disney film.
The Witcher (2019)
The show drops you right in and remains a watchable mess from start to finish. The astonishing production values make it. Trashy source material (this remixes 3 whole books!) it mostly adheres to but is randomly adapted via time jumps and mediocre acting and somewhat weird direction undo it. I may return for S02E01 to see if there will be a marked improvement but the longer the books go on the worse they get so I am not holding my breath. Those drown in casual rape as character development for the women and this version already got a head start on that in the pilot. Be warned in advance this is Trigger Warning - The Show.
About our anti-hero Henry Cavill. He is sadly miscast and delivers a meh performance that is neither book (he is a bummer who is a side character in his own story) nor game (he is a revelation). Quality actor, wrong show. The whole cast is kind of a mess and misses the point of the source material I would argue. The critic got it right this time. I was considering giving this a very weak 6/10 due to my knowledge of the game/book canon which was the only reason I could follow along but I plainly stopped having any fun by the time the storylines somewhat converged at the end and such a dramatic show shouldn´t leave anyone with apathy. Play the games instead. They start a bit rough but end in greatness and stay away from the books. 5/10
PS: This is obviously better made than the 2001/2 adaptation but that one is at least easy to follow and bothers to explain what a Witcher and Geralt are early through an origin story. Keep Wikia open at all times for this one!
Infinity Ward (mostly) returns to form
Infinity Ward´s CoDs has fallen in quality since MW 2 (the studio heads were fired) but none of their last 2 entries fell off a cliff either. They just existed. Thus I expected another solid, yet forgettable, paint by the numbers entry. What we got is no AW or Black Ops 2 but the studio clearly found their footing again. I can't say that I liked the overly scripted 1st hour, and the overall revenge story is very one-dimensional (John Snow is wasted as a villain), but the extremely bleak tone still ended up being memorable. It's still a shame that the robot partner is the only character with depth, as tragedies need a relatable cast to emotionally resonate. Well integrated set pieces, a more open campaign structure, and varied space battles or flying segment all ended up amounting to a much better game than i first expected. Even if the Veteran difficulty was again reduced to what older shooters would qualify as "normal". The regular multiplayer is exactly would you would expect, so I immediately moved on, but the zombie mode ended up being another surprise. This is the 1st time I enjoyed it, since its introduction. The amusement park map very open and the game mechanics got streamlined a lot too. The competing Titanfall 2 is obviously better but shooter fans should get both. 7,5/10
Gears 5 (2019)
It´s time to pull the plug
Gear 4 wasn´t the shot in the arm Halo 4 was but is still a perfectly fine soft-reboot. Gears 5 is the same mess that Halo 5 is. It equally features bizarro characters and writing that fails even the low standards of the series. Whoever came up with Fahz needs to be stopped! Meandering levels with tons of empty space (the "open world" and the collect-a-thons can go to hell), a bewildering difficulty curve that isn´t balanced for single player and the game again fails to go anywhere or evolve the 13-year-old formula in any way. And then we have the abysmally executed new skill system via the Jack bot that leads to endless menu management in a shooter. Gears needs to either end very soon or move on to a full-blown GoW 2018 style reboot after a half-decade+ hiatus. The multiplayer is the same as usual. It works fine but you don´t need to buy a new game to play the same old stuff. Gears 1 was a generation-defining game. Gears 5 reduced the series to a hollow zombie that is only saved by production values. 6/10
PS: Whoever came up with the idea that you should either grind like mad or pay actual money to unlock the Pride flags and skins that advertise a failed Terminator reboot, I like the film btw, deserves a special place in hell.
Gears of War 4 (2016)
Gears of More
Judgment suffered a somewhat incomprehensible fan backlash, as it was "too same", but I liked the no-nonsense approach to the campaign and story. I love the 1st revolutionary GoW entry. The overall trilogy had great gameplay but the narratives and presentation were utterly cringe-worthy. The Coalition mostly followed Judgment here and they gave me another straightforward campaign with little fluff, besides the last 2 chapters (the game randomly turns into Bayformers). Even the evil lizard people were replaced by other lizard people. Why? Who cares at this point. Another over the top, but less tone deaf, black bro-friend is featured, another barely there romance is present and so on. Halo 4 was a better and way bigger step forward by a new studio, yet the even more radical Halo 5 nearly fell off a cliff thereafter, so I wouldn't mind another "meat and potatoes" follow-up. The more colorful visuals are a noteworthy positive too and the game is actually more beautiful than it first seems. More enemy variety (robots get introduced and then mostly disappear after 1,5 hours) and much better new guns will be needed next time. The multiplayer is lastly exactly what one would think it is. More of the same. 7,5/10
Mugen no jûnin: Immortal (2019)
Liden Films needs to be stopped
The manga speaks for itself at this point. It´s too long, too meandering at times, too fetishistic, etc. but it´s also one of the best chanbara manga of all time. Go and read it now. The new sequel is equally worth your time. The manga already had 2 solid adaptations through the 1 cour anime from the 00s and Takashi Miike´s live-action film. This one has trouble written all over it though due to the involvement of LIDENFILMS. Their last "full adaptation" of a long-running classic Seinen lead to the last gasps of the Berserk Saga Project, aside from the fact that the studio still has to produce even one actually good show. Terra Formars and Arslan Senki equally collapsed despite drowning in material to adapt... sigh. On to my review of ep. 1-3:
The 2008 anime from Bee Train of all people is now officially the best out of the 3 adaptations. Wow, just wow. Ep. 1 of the reboot corresponds to ep. 1-3, ep. 2 mercifully settled on only ep. 4-5 and ep. 3 corresponds to ep. 8-9. You read that right, the reboot already skipped a storyline. Most scenes with the main villain Anotsu are further cut or abbreviated and the backstories of the leads and Makie are rushed like crazy. The eclectic direction and the meager animation budget aren´t helping either. You could argue that last anime changed things around but Liden Films still rushed through 200 pages in 2 eps. and then though another 200 in ep. 3, while skipping 120 pages in-between. Argh. I may stick around as i want to see some of the later stuff come to life but a world of hurt is upon us if I consider that this was their best foot forward. Let´s see if they are mad enough to stuff 30 volumes into 24 eps. All signs point to yes... You've done it again Liden Films! Another classic wasted. Don´t watch this anime if you haven´t read the manga, as its 100% impossible to follow otherwise. 5/10 with room to drop further.
Update: I decided to suffer till the end. They it really condensed the whole 6000 page manga into 24 eps. The original´s quality somewhat shines though here and there but barely. The 2nd half especially is utterly incoherent and barley animated for long stretches. Don´t waste your time but nobody was tricked by this shallow and cheap mess anyway. Epic fail. 4/10.
I wonder how fans of the 60s shows will feel...
Ultraman shows that GitS SAC S03 is in good hands and Kamiyama is clearly back to his usual form after a one-out with Cyborg 009. IG technically adapted 7,5 volumes in 13 eps. but the story underwent occasionally major changes and streamlining, the revamped female lead is now an real character for example, so pacing isn´t a major issue. This is actually an improvement on the solid source manga and most of the CG work is fairly impressive for a TV budget. Extensive mo-cap was used and is clearly noticeable in the very fluid DMC style action scenes. Sign me up for S02 of this Christopher Nolan/Zack Snyder style gritty reboot of a 60s children show (!?!). This ain´t a complete joke btw. as the next manga arc has a 9/11-ish alien attack on NY.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Better than (nearly) all US manga adaptions but still underwhelming
This is almost the best US life action adaptation of manga/anime to date but i was never bored with deliberately trashy Death Note, so it still somehow takes that "crown". Cameron ultimately sunk too much money into this project over 2 decades to do an actual adaption at this point. This film could first of all loose about 30 minutes and don´t get me started on the changes they made to Alita´s adoptive father Ido to make him more relatable. Basically everyone got reduced to a cliche. Gone is the R-rated content, the moral ambiguity, the slow roll out of the lore and so on. Everything is spoon fed and over explained to guarantee that every single market and demographic imaginable can follow along. The endless expositions is rather clunk too. The same goes to the occasionally bewildering sequel/prequel hooks. The strong visuals and some of the performances ultimately save the film, as a lot of passion went into this production. The often complex choreography and the mo-capped facial expression stand out too. The films further managed to nail the manga´s ultra detailed and out there look.
Alita: Battle Angel is obviously twice the film Ghost in the Shell 2017 (the horror) or Fist of the North Star 1995 (shudder) are, so the standards for US adaptation are clearly moving forward but don´t expect anything more than a sub-PG-13 B-movie with a 200 mil budget. The classic manga frankly deserves better and i say that as a fan of the adult targeted Rodriguez films. I will continue to wait for at least a 26 episode anime that adapts the original 9 volumes run. This film is a solid stop gat to that day but i don´t think that anyone will cry out for the full trilogy the producer keeps bringing up. I would watch a less cookie cutter and edgier sequel though. Especially if the bloated budget get´s slashed in half to reduce the bloated scope.
Street Fighter V (2016)
DLC the Videogame
I waited half a year to get the game (from my library), to have actual content on my hands, but the original assessment from the community still stands. This isn't a full price game and this is coming for a 2 decade Street Fighter fan. That you need to unlock the now released returning (!) fighters and stages with actually money, as the amount of in-game currency you get for playing the game soon turns into a joke, is further unacceptable. The now released story mode isn' t good either. I wouldn't usually care, but I need to play something besides survival in the single-player portion. Seriously, it's either that or 2 equally uninteresting story modes! Even the new character designs proved problematic. Cammy's story costume, that consists of a military jacket as the top and panties as the bottom, takes the cake. Get it together C(r)apcom, this isn't DOA.... and DOA 5 is better too. The actual fighting engine is great, but nothing is wrong with one in (Ultra) Street Fighter IV either. Everyone who isn't a hardcore fan should stick with that game and the rest of us will get V once the price becomes low enough for the amount of content to be worth it. Online players will still be the only ones who will stick around for long. Evolve Stage 2 recently showed how this game should look like, so there are no more excuses. The actual gameplay is great but supporting greedy nonsense as this can only harm the franchise in the long run.
Update: 2 years passed and the game was now relaunched as the Arcade Edition. The in-game economy is even worse and most modes don´t give you rewards as basic xp anymore. The story mode from last year sucked completely and the new arcade mode is just alright BUT i can now recommend buying the "Arcade Edition", as it feature enough content to pass as a retail game. SF V is still a lesser release in the series but an additional score point is warranted. 7,5/10
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
2 hours of LSD colors and aggressively pointless nonsense
Thor: Ragnarok is the 2nd worst MCU film after Iron-man 2. Taika Waititi sadly messed up real bad and 2017's other cape comedy Lego Batman -8,5/10- is objectively a more serious film! Which is fine but this self parody has exactly 1 good joke (Loki's reaction to Hulk), among about 300. The CG riven action scenes are utter crap and lack stakes. The licensed songs don't work, especially the twice used Zeppelin one. The drama is nonsensical and continuity with previous films is gleefully disregarded. And don't get me started on how much the film shows the comics the finger. Poor Hela, Skurge and planet Sakaar... The film is thus only held together by high production values and the A-list cast who all clearly had fun chewing the scenery. Long story short, watch it once and forget this 2 hour long music video within minutes.
PS: Dear Disney, please reboot Thor next decade with the classic Walt Simonson run as the inspiration and keep the fantasy roots.
Death Note (2017)
An admirable effort in a sea of bad live action manga adaptations
This is the best life action version of Death Note yet but that wasn't too hard. This American take is so different that new names should have been used but even that would have been problematic. Someone would then have decided to make this a soft-sequel to the event from the manga and all viewers would then ask themselves why they aren't watching the "original story" instead. Having our protagonist Light develop from a milk toast to a psycho over the course of 93 minutes and not just a 2 chapters is actually an improvement on the source material and Nat Wolff showed decent range in the role. His now romantic girlfriend is arguably a step down and the decision to make Misa a classmate instead of an obsessed fan-girl is way too contrived. His nemesis L is very good in the role but behaves like his later apprentice Mello. Willem Dafoe also got to play the role of a lifetime, even if Ryuk is just a sporting role. The cast worked pretty well overall, even if nitpicks can be had, and the film is well directed.
All the problems are with the script, as it crams way too much into 1 single film and this should have been a (still short) miniseries instead. This and the very intriguing cliffhanger ending are the film's major flaws. You don't feel like having seen a complete product in the end and want to start the next film/episode but there isn't one as of now. I would be more critical of the film if we were swamped with great life action adaptation of manga/anime but we instead continue to get unwatchable trash as the Death Note J-Drama or the US Ghost in the Shell so i need to applaud productions that bothered to understand the core of what they were adapting! Adam Wingard's crew certainly tried under challenging circumstances and gave me an entertaining remix of a modern classic, so i look forward to more. It was lastly interring to see all the inventive gore in a story that was originally intended to be read by schoolboys. It fits pretty well. 6,5/10
PS: The first Japanese Death Note film is OK too. Comparing both is actually pretty interesting, as it has the better script while the US version managed to trump all other aspects.