The Walking Dead Season Eight: All Out War or All Out Bore?

3 and a half stars
Warning: Contains major spoilers for this season.

I currently have mixed opinions about The Walking Dead TV show.
I was in denial for the first half of season 8 as, after looking back, I saw the episodes were not as good as I said they were in my reviews because I was just holding them to the expectations of what the show was currently producing.
So I decided to hold back on my reviews until the season ended so I could just gather my overall thoughts on season eight as a whole.
Anyway, after the painfully slow season seven the show finally delivered the All Out Story arc from the comics in season eight… only for the first half to be a disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some great moments in this part of the season, like the episodes The Big Scary U and Time For After but a lot of it was very lackluster.

Negan and Gabriel
The Big Scary U was one of the better episodes of the first half of season eight.

What really brought the first half of season eight down was its scope and the way it filmed action scenes, which made it all seem kind of boring.
Even though this was supposed to be a big explosive war, the battles always felt relatively small and a lot of the time the way the action was shot left me with little investment in what was happening and a little bored.
In the mid-season finale How It’s Gotta Be, Alexandria gets blown up by the Saviours but I just did not care because of the way it was shot and a lack of investment in what was happening.
Then there were the downright stupid decisions they made this season, like killing off Carl, which has to be, without a doubt, the absolute worst deviation they have ever made from the comics.
Carl was the future of The Walking Dead and is very important in the story going forward in the comics.
Who is going to replace him with now, Henry?

carl's death
Carl’s death was a massive mistake, especially since it looks like his role in future storylines will be replaced with a minor character, Henry.

However, I will admit that the second half of this season was significantly better than the first half.
There were only two bad episodes out of eight in the second half and the good episodes felt like The Walking Dead was finally getting back on track.
That does not mean I did not have problems with these episodes but they were still very enjoyable compared to what had come before.
All around I felt the acting from everyone was good, some actors like Chandler Riggs, as Carl, gave great performances in some episodes.
However, even though the performances were good the characters these actors played were very inconstant at times.
For example Negan, (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) kept changing from wanting to send a message to the rebelling communities to just wanting to kill everyone at the drop of a hat.
The main problem with this season though was how drawn-out it was.
It felt like the show should have just dealt with Negan in one season instead of putting the conflict with him into two.
They should have just had the first half of season seven deal with the build up to All Out War and the second half feature the entire war.
That would have allowed the story to be much more streamlined and cohesive.
Overall, season eight was good but it did have quite a few failings, especially in that first half.
Although, the second half did a really good job of redeeming the season.
Despite the fact that I think the Walking Dead has been in a decline of quality even since the season six finale, I believe the show can still go back to its glory days and maybe be even better than that because season nine will feature the New Beginning story arc.

bearded rick
The New Beginning story arc will give the show a chance to get back to its former glory.

This story arc will allow The Walking Dead to have a fresh start and draw in more of an audience, including the ones it lost because of the more recent seasons.
We will just have to wait and see if this happens though.
Season eight was a good season but the show really needs to get a handle on its issues if it even wants to get back to the glory days of seasons four and five.

Attack on Titan: Junior High… Really?

3 and a half stars
So… apparently this is a thing.
Seriously though, of all the things they could have parodied they chose Attack on Titan, really?
I was quite surprised when I first learned about Attack on Titan: Junior High but I decided to give it a watch to see if it could surpass my expectations, and you know what?
It was actually pretty good.
The premise of the show is that all of the Attack on Titan characters, in an over exaggerated form, go to junior high school and must stop the Titans from taking everything they hold dear… that being their lunch.

titan eats lunch
In this parody the Titans eat people’s lunch instead of humans.

The characters are all gloriously over exaggerated to get the most comedy out of the situation.
Eren’s hatred for Titans, Mikasa’s obsession with Eren and Ymir and Reiner’s love for Krista were all hilariously blown out of proportion.
Although they did go some weird directions with some of the characters, like Armin who, for some reason, is always cold so is constantly wearing a futon.
The jokes for this parody are also mostly hit or miss.
The main problem I had with the jokes was that sometimes they just repeated the ones from the anime, only changing the wording to fit a school context, and many of these jokes were very repetitive.
I lost count of how many times Ymir asked Krista to marry her or Oruo bit his tongue.

Ymir and Krista
Ymir asking Krista to marry her is funny the first few times it happens but it gets old after a while.

That being said when the show got a joke right it was excellently done.
One joke in episode nine that referenced the shocking events of episode 31 of the anime, Warrior, had me rolling in a fit of laughter.
Another thing that had me laughing was all the subtle jokes, like characters watching the anime or reading the manga in the background and Mikasa’s blank face to every situation.

Mikasa blank face
Mikasa’s constant blank expression to any situation always gets a laugh.

Animation wise Attack on Titan: Junior High did get some backlash because it did not use the animation of original anime but I do not understand this.
This a parody, not the actual show.
If anything, the way it is animated improves the comedy.
Another interesting thing I found was that there were a few characters who played an important role in some episodes that I have never seen before.
For example, in episode eight there is a brand new character who talks with Krista yet has not appeared in the anime yet.
This makes me wonder if this is a character that was in the manga who will be in future episodes of Attack on Titan.
Overall, Attack on Titan: Junior High was a pretty good parody.
Some of the jokes do not work and can be a bit repetitive but, for every one that falls flat, there will be another that will have you in a fit of laughter.
I would recommend this to any fan of Attack on Titan.

Top 10 Westworld Episodes

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead.

I can remember the first time I saw the trailer for Westworld and being very intrigued by what I saw.
However, nothing I saw could have prepared me for the colossal mind screwer that was this show.
Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and based of the movie by Michael Crichton, Westworld is a non-stop thrill ride of twists and turns from start to finish that never ceases to amaze and has me eagerly anticipating season two, which will air on the 23rd.
So, I decided in anticipation for the second season I would count down all the episodes in season one from weakest to greatest.

10. The Stray – Episode Three
the stray

The weakest episode of the series so far, The Stray is still a great episode that mostly serves as setup for future episodes.
It is in the Stray that we get various hints towards the future reveals of Bernard and The Man in Black.
The main storyline though is centered around two side characters Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) and Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) as they hunt for a stray host, hence the title of the episode.
The scenes between the two are fairly funny, with great banter between them and a comedic tone… at least until the host in question bashes his head in with a rock.
There are many other great scenes this episode, like when Anthony Hopkins’ Robert Ford has a conversation with host Teddy Flood (James Marsden) about how they never bothered to give him a backstory.
This scene also serves to build up Wyatt.
Many other scenes build up future events as well, with the first mention of the Bicameral Mind and the beginning hints of Bernard being based off Arnold.
There is also the scene where Evan Rachel Wood’s Delores first shoots a gun, which is fun to watch because we get to see her break through her code.
Overall, this was a pretty good episodes but the thing that stop it being higher is how a lot of the scenes between the hosts feel slightly receptive due to the loop they are on.

9. Chestnut – Episode Two

Chesnut
The Stray may have had a lot of hints but it was in the episode prior, Chestnut, where I realised how great Westworld was at foreshadowing future events.
Subtle details like the fades to black every time it would cut back to William (Jimmi Simpson) hinted at the multiple timelines being presented and was the start of the whole William is The Man in Black theory that turned out be true.
There are many great scenes to accompany this foreshadowing like Ford’s conversation with Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright).
This particular scene has a great quote with Ford saying, “you can’t play god without being acquainted with the devil.”
The real scene stealer though is Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay.
Maeve is currently my favourite character in Westworld and this is the first episode where she was given time to shine, experiencing creepy flashbacks and then waking up from sleep mode to witness the depraved things that happen to the hosts.
However, even though this episode is very dark it is not without its funny moments.
The scene where Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) lays out his grand plan for a future storyline, only for Ford to just shut him down with a no was hilarious to see.
Chestnut was a great episode that really made me appreciate the subtle hints the show puts forward.

8. The Original – Episode One

The Original
The episode where it all began, The Original really draws the viewer into the series by showing how Westworld works and the horrors that the hosts have to experience on a daily basis.
Right from the opening shot you know this is going to be something, with the fly crawling over a seemingly comatose Delores’ eyes.
From there the episode sets up how Westworld works through Delores and Teddy’s horrifying interaction with the Man in Black (Ed Harris).
After this the loop replays, only events play out differently due to the guests’ interference, once again showing how it all fits together, for example Teddy will just completely forget about Delores in order to give some guests a tour.
Once again, there is humor to be seen here with Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) being shot in the neck before he can deliver Sizemore’s speech.
Finally there are the creepy final minutes of the episode, which sees Ford interrogating Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) only for the tables to turn and the closing shots of the Man In Black leaving on his horse with a scalp and Delores’ swatting a fly on her neck.
It is this final action by Delores that shows the hosts are capable of hurting living things, despite what they claim, and left me shocked.
The Original was a great first episode for the series that succeeded at drawing me and others into Westworld.

7. The Adversary – Episode Six

The Adversary
The Adversary was a great lead up into the fantastic episode seven, which we will see later.
This episode introduced us to Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and her arrival really sets events into motion, with Bernard later discovering Ford’s host family that Arnold built for him.
This later leads into another creepy scene where the kid host Ford tells the real Ford why he killed his dog, showing once again that the hosts are capable of killing things and calling back to a story from Ford’s youth we learnt in episode five.
We also see have the “supposed” death of Elsie this episode, although it remains to be seen if she is really dead.
Another highlight of the episode was the great shootout with Teddy and The Man in Black, where Teddy used a Gatling gun to kill all of the soldiers.
Finally there is one of the best moments in all of Westworld, where Felix Lutz (Leonardo Nam) escorts Maeve through the facility and she sees how Westworld works, how she was created and what is done to her and the other hosts on a regular basis.
This scene was just fantastic with great acting by Newton as Maeve and an excellent soundtrack to go along with it.
The Adversary was an episode that really prepared you for the shocking episode seven.

6. Trace Decay – Episode Eight

Tracey Decay
After the shocking reveal that Bernard is a host in episode seven, we got to see his reaction to killing Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen).
This was a very emotional scene with excellent acting from Wright and more hints from Ford that Bernard and Arnold are one and the same.
There were many other highlights to this episode, like Teddy knocking out the Man in Black after remembering what he did to Delores and the Man in Black then revealing his past and how he discovered The Maze.
This also tied into Maeve’s story arc this episode, with the flashback to her reaction to her daughter’s death at The Man in Black’s hands.
Just like Bernard’s reaction to Theresa’s death, this scene was also very emotional and made me hate Ford and the others for what they were doing to the hosts.
We also got more hints of the William and Man in Black connection, with it being left open ended as to whether William killed the confederate soldier he and Delores came across and when the Man in Black saw the host Angela, who William saw when he first arrived at Westworld.
Overall, Trace Decay was a very emotional episode that made me care for Maeve and Bernard even more and gave some great hints to the future Arnold and Man in Black reveals.

5. Dissonance Theory – Episode Four
Dissonance Theory

It is from this point forward that the episodes have gone from great to excellent.
Dissonance Theory was the first perfect episode of Westworld for me that had some really great standout scenes, the main one being Theresa Cullen and Ford’s conversation.
Watching Theresa slowly begin to realise that Ford has sat them at the exact table she and her parents sat at years ago was truly unnerving, all heightened by Hopkins’ terrific performance as the-man-with-a-god-complex, Ford.
This episode also gave many thrilling sequences like the Man in Black freeing Hector from prison and Hector later robbing Sweet Water again, only this time for Maeve to hold him at gunpoint.
Watching Maeve’s slow realization that she had experienced waking up to the “gods” before was interesting and the payoff was great.
The final moments of the episode with Maeve and Hector retrieving the bullet from her stomach and then being shot off screen was intense to watch and really set up Maeve waking up to talk to Felix at the end of Contrapasso.
Dissonance Theory was the first truly excellent episode of Westworld and it was the first of many to come.

4. Contrapasso – Episode Five
Contrapasso

Before Maeve became my favourite character it was Delores and this episode really highlights why because she has so many great scenes.
There in the very intense and interesting scene between Ford and Delores, in which both Hopkins and Wood give great performances.
What really cemented her as my favourite for the time being after this episode though was the scene where she saved William by shooting the confederate soldiers.
Her line, “I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel”, was absolutely fantastic.
Another standout this episode was the Man in Black as we saw just how ruthless he is, even considering murdering a child host to revive Teddy, before settling on Lawrence.
Then came the scene between the two sociopaths, the Man in Black and Ford, where we really got a sense of how the Man in Black sees himself.
Once again, there were even some somewhat funny, yet creepy moments, like when Elsie blackmails the necrophiliac.
I am really glad they killed that character in the finale, by the way.
Contrapasso is an episode with so many standout moments that it makes it instantly memorable.

3. The Bicameral Mind – Episode Ten
The Bicameral Mind

The season finale of Westworld ended season one with a bang… literally, as Delores shot Ford and various members of the Delos board, after achieving consciousness.
The way this episode was structured was amazing, with it beginning with Delores waking up for the first time and ending with her achieving consciousness.
If you pay attention to the music at the beginning and end of the episode you will notice it is the exact same music Arnold said was his son’s favourite before his death.
This episode also had some great reveals like that the Man in Black had been William the entire time and the events seen with William and Delores were actually in the past.
This reveal had been a huge fan theory for a while so I already knew about it when the reveal happened but I wish I didn’t because it would have been amazing to see that without knowing what was happening.
Still, even though I was pretty certain that William was the Man in Black by the time the reveal happened, it was still really well done.
The Bicameral Mind also had the attempted escape by Maeve from Westworld, where they kill multiple Westworld employees, thankfully including the “creepy necro-perve” as Elsie called him.
However, here we encounter the one problem I have with this episode that stops it from being higher, which is the plot hole of why none of Westworld security shoot Maeve and her allies?
They consider the hosts to not be alive so they would have no problem with shooting them but they just keep screaming “freeze all motor functions” and getting shot.
Other than that though, this episode was fantastic.
Plenty of great reveals, exciting moments and even contemplative moments like when Delores achieves consciousness.
This episode sure has me hyped for what is to come in season two.

2. Trompe L’Oeil – Episode Seven

Trompe L'oeil

Trompe L’Oeil, the seventh episode, had the second best twist of the entire show, we will get to the first in a minute.
The entire reveal that Bernard was a host all along was expertly done, with multiple hints throughout the episode.
The most apparent was Bernard asking, “what door” when Theresa asked him what was behind it.
To those who realised the implication of this question, they would spend a solid tense minute before the actual reveal took place.
What followed was a gripping conversation between Ford and Theresa, with Ford calling back to Charlotte’s recommendation for “a blood sacrifice”.
Theresa’s death at the hands of Bernard, who loved her, was sad to see and what he did would weigh heavily on him in the coming episodes.
The episode also had its fair share of action, with Lawrence blowing up the body of his dead friend and the ensuing chase sequence that followed.
The episode also opens on the hints of Bernard being a host version of Arnold by having Bernard dream about his son.
This raised the question that if Bernard was a host then was the dream real?
There was also various other hints toward the Man in Black twist, where Lawrence told William he has a “knack for killing,” hinting towards his future turn to darkness.
Trompe L’Oeil was an episode of full of hints towards future reveals as well as having its own massive one.
It left me speechless when I first saw it.

 
1. The Well-Tempered Clavier – Episode Nine

The Well-Tempered Clavier

If the twist that Bernard was a host left me speechless, then the twist that Bernard was a host made in the image of Arnold left me speechless and with my jaw on the floor.
True the signs were there and had been since the beginning, but they were expertly hidden and going back to look at these hints makes a second viewing of Westworld a delight.
The twist itself is expertly delivered, with the entire episode building to Bernard’s revelation after his conversation with Maeve.
The scene where Bernard has to let go Charlie’s memory to realise who he is, is a very emotional moment and a great lead up to the reveal.
However, it was not just Bernard that went through a great amount of change this episode but William as well.
This episode was the perfect transition episode for him, making the twist of him turning out to be the Man in Black, in The Bicameral Mind, much more believable.
Just seeing the aftermath of William having killed and quite obviously mutilated the confederate solider hosts is very haunting.
As well as this, The Well-Tempered Clavier had a lot of intense moments as well, like when Maeve convinces Hector to help her and the Man in Black nearly being hanged by a horse.
The Well-Tempered Clavier is my favourite episode of Westworld because of it delivers the best twist in Westworld, has insightful and intense moments and makes re-watching Westworld to check for hints a blast.

 

Westworld is a fantastic show. It is insightful, contemplative and full of explosive twists and turns. I am eagerly anticipating season two, which I will be reviewing every episode of, starting with episode one when it airs on Monday.

A Quiet Place: Set Ups, Payoffs and Jump Scares.

4 and a half stars
A Quiet Place, directed by John Krasinski, feels like a lot like 2018’s version of Get Out.
A smart horror movie with brilliant setup and payoffs.
Set in a post apocalyptic world where monsters that look like the Demogorgon from Stranger Things hunt humans who make any sound.
The Abbott family has learnt to survive by being quiet though, most likely due to the deaf daughter of the family Regan, played by Millicent Simmonds.
Right from the get-go A Quiet Place is filled to the brim with tension.
The fact that the slightest sound could mean certain death for the characters is set up brilliantly in the opening minutes and really sets the stage for the pure, adrenaline fueled terror that is to follow.

john krasinski
The opening really sets the stakes for A Quiet Place and its characters.

This terror is further amplified by how much you come to care for the Abbott family, which is a success in and of itself because they mostly talk through sign language.
The father Lee, played by Krasinski himself, was especially likeable and so was his pregnant wife Evelyn, played by Emily Blunt, who is actually Kransinski’s wife (although why their characters decided to have a baby in a world where any sound means an immanent and painful death is beyond me).
I also liked Regan and the other child Marcus, played by Noah Jupe.
Coming to care about these characters over the course of the film really made it scarier because I feared for their safety.
This was proven for me when I found myself crying near the end of the film, you will know what scene I am talking about when you see it.
However, even though this film was a terrifying and intense ride, its scare factor was dulled by one thing.
The constant use of jump scares.
Jump scares can work for some films, like with IT last year, but A Quiet Place did not need them.
A Quiet Place uses sound brilliantly so it would have sense and been more unsettling had there not been a resounding boom of noise every time one of the monsters appeared.
Even worse, a lot of these were false jump scares where nothing bad was happening.
Jump scares are fine in some instances but false jump scares never are.
No one is impressed by them and I counted at least four instances of them.

QUIET!!!
“Quiet! I hear a false jump scare coming!”

It really is a shame because without the jump scares A Quiet Place would have been a five star film for me.
It is a non-stop, intense thrill ride with likeable characters and brilliant set ups and payoffs.

 

The Walking Dead Issue 178: Sebastian, The Walking Dead’s version of Joffrey?

3 and a half stars
It seems like Game of Thrones may have influenced The Walking Dead in issue 178, or at least that is what everyone else is saying about the character of Sebastian.
This issue really showed how much of a jerk he was and naturally this, combined with his spoiled upbringing, has caused many people to compare him to the hundreds-of-people-praying-for-him-to-die character, Joffrey from Game of Thrones.
Sebastian certainly is an entitled jerk of a character, as can bee seen in the final moments of the issue when he starts a fight by assaulting Yumiko, Magna and Elodie just because Yumiko would not go on a private tour with him (shudder).
This scene did have the best moments of the issue though, with Princess showing off her skills by beating up a bunch of Commonwealth soldiers after they tried to defend Sebastian.
As someone who did not like Princess previously, it was nice to see her fighting those soldiers for her friends because it made her more likeable.
On top of this, the reveal that came afterwards, at the end of the issue, also had a lot of great implications.
I predicted in my review of Issue 176 that The Commonwealth was built on a class system and Elodie’s comment that, “it’s important we know our place,” basically confirmed this prediction.
Despite the fact that Sebastian just assaulted three people he will not get arrested because he is Governor Milton’s son, while Princess probably will be arrested for trying to defend her friends.
This is an interesting turn of events because, as I mentioned in my review of Issue 176, this probably means Governor Milton sees herself as above everyone else and will want to take over Alexandria and the other communities.
These final moments of the Issue were really entertaining and had some great revelations.
Another great moment in the issue was a touching scene between Michonne and Elodie, where Michonne reconnects with her and assures her that, even if Elodie hates her, she will always be there for her.
This was a great part because of Elodie’s constant changing expression across the different panels as Michonne assured her that she would be there.
However, in comparison to these moments the rest of the issue was lacking.
It was revealed in the beginning of the issue that Mercer and George were just letting off steam when Siddiq overheard them talking about overthrowing Milton, which makes the previous cliffhanger feel very misleading.
Then there was the part when Sophia confronted her mother about Dante, which I did not like at all.
It had the potential to be a good scene but it was ruined by how over-the-top Sophia was.
Yes, Sophia did have justifiable reasons to be angry about Maggie and Dante’s relationship but she went too far by calling Maggie a f*#@ing w!*#e .
This over-the-top reaction was made worse when Sophia seemed to be completely over it and jokes about it with Maggie minutes later.
There was also a weird inconsistency this issue with Stephanie.
When she was first introduced in Issue 176, Stephanie was Caucasian but in this issue she is African-American and this was a little odd to see.
Overall though, this issue was still good, despite the weird inconsistency and the over-the-top Sophia scene.
It certainly has me intrigued about what Governor Milton will do when she reaches Alexandria two issues from now.

Ready Player One: Pop Culture References as Far as the Eye Can See.

4 stars
If you were to take a shot every time a pop culture reference appeared in Ready Player One, you would probably die of alcohol poisoning half way through the movie.
Directed by the great Stephen Spielberg, Ready Player One is pop culture reference, after pop culture reference.
Thankfully however, these constant references do not overshadow the movie itself they merely expand upon it.
The film is set in 2045 and there is nowhere left to escape to so everyone spends their time in a massive virtual world, known as The Oasis.
After the death of its creator James Halliday, it is announced he hid an Easter Egg in The Oasis and whoever finds it will become the sole owner of it.
Gamer Wade Watts, known as Parzival in the game (Tye Sheridan), is one of those who sets out to find this Easter Egg, along with his friend Aech (Lena Waithe), his crush Art3mis and others.

Wade WattsReady Player One is definitely a spectacle.
Every time the characters step into the Oasis there is something to grab your eye.
For every pop culture reference you do not understand there will be three that you do.
The Iron Giant, Terminator 2, Godzilla, even Chucky, these are some of the many references left for viewers to spot.
The action sequences that go along with this are also fantastic to watch, helped greatly by the movie’s use of effects.
The CGI in Ready Player One looks like a video game… however, unlike my Justice League review, this is not a criticism.
The Oasis is a video game so it makes sense that the effects look like this and it improves the film.

references
video game effects and constant pop culture references help set up the world of The Oasis.

But spectacle alone does not make a film.
The story and characters also have to be good and Ready Player One, for the most part, certainly delivers on this.
The story mixes well with the visuals and what the movie is trying to say and the characters are all likeable.
However, that being said they do not go through that much character growth.
This is especially apparent when Wade goes through a traumatic loss in one scene and seems to have completely forgotten about it in the very next scene.
Also, while I did believe the relationship between Wade and Art3mis, it did feel very rushed.

Wade and Art3mis
Although this relationship does feel real, it comes across as rushed.

Other than that though, the characters were all very well done and likeable, except of course for the ones you are supposed to hate, like Ben Mendelsohn’s Nolan.
Ready Player One really gives the viewer an appreciation for pop culture.
Above all that though, it is immersive, which given the movie’s setting of The Oasis, is exactly what was needed.

Pacific Rim Uprising: Entertaining Action Sequences but Not a Whole Lot Else

two-and-a-half-stars
Well, Pacific Rim got a sequel and now I wish it did not.
Directed by Stephen S. DeKnight, Pacific Rim Uprising stars John Boyega as Jake Pentecost, the son of Stacker Pentecost, one of the main characters of the first movie, who was played by Idris Elbda.
Pentecost is dragged back into the Jaegar program with teenage girl Amara Namani, played by Cailee Spaeny, who somehow created a Jaegar all by herself, just as a new threat to the world arises, not just from Kaiju.
Pacific Rim Uprising can be entertaining at times but this is only during its action sequences.
The rest of the movie, on the other hand, can be boring and cringe worthy at times, which was not the same in the original.
Credit where it’s due, John Boyega does give the best performance of the movie but he is not enough to save it.

john boyega
John Boyega gives the best performance in Pacific Rim Uprising as main character Jack Pentecost.

The rest of the characters, including Amara, were very boring because they were either incredibly one dimensional or, in Amara’s case, they had a tragic backstory that we had seen done before with another character.
I even did not like what they did with the characters they brought back from the previous movie, especially Charlie Day’s character Newt.
I liked Newt and his rivalry with Herman, played by Burn Gorman, in the first Pacific Rim but in the sequel their relationship feels wrong and the way Newt was utilized was not at all fitting.

newt
Charlie Day’s Newt was not taken in the right direction in the sequel.

The movie tries to keep the scenes where there is no action interesting by inserting comedy but most of these jokes fall flat on their face.
Along with Boyega the one redeeming quality of the movie is the action.
It is fun, explosive and has tonnes of destruction to enjoy.
If you want to watch this movie just to see giant robots and monsters fighting each other then you are going to be entertained, otherwise it will be a bit of a slog.

Tomb Raider: The first good video game movie in a while.

3 and a half stars
What’s this?
A good video game movie?
The world’s gone mad!
Cats are befriending dogs, the space time continuum has imploded, the end is nigh!
In all seriousness though, it is incredibly rare that we get a good video game movie (just look at Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed or any of the Resident Evil movies) so when it happens it is reason to celebrate.
Now, I am not saying that Tomb Raider is a shining example of film making but it is great to see a good video game movie after so many duds.
Directed by Roar Uthaug and based off the popular video game series, Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander as the tomb raider herself, Lara Croft.
This movie serves more as an origin story for Lara and how she becomes the action hero from the video games.
It picks up years after her father’s disappearance, when Lara discovers evidence of where he disappeared to and goes to rescue him, only to have her life threatened by a secret organisation known as Trinity.
The thing that makes Tomb Raider really work is Vikander as Lara Croft.
She really sells the character and gives a great performance, especially in the action scenes, which are excellently shot.

Lara Croft
Alicia Vikander does a great job as Lara Croft.

Every action sequence is exciting and edge of your seat.
Lara is not the only interesting character in the movie though, as her companion Lu Ren, played by Daniel Wu, is also likeable and well acted.
However, the movie does have problems that hold it back.
The biggest problem the movie has is the story.
It follows a lot of the cliches seen in other adventure movies, like Indiana Jones and even the previous Tomb Raider movies, with Angelina Jolie, and does get predictable at times.
Also some of the scenes just felt unnecessary.
The opening scene is of Lara’s father Richard, played by Dominic West, narrating about the figure everyone is searching for, Himiko.
About twenty minutes later, we get a scene of Laura listening to a recording her father made, which is the exact same dialogue we heard in the intro of the movie.
We already know this information but the movie repeats it.
Although these problems do hold the movie back however, they do not doom it.
The likability of  Lara, Vikander’s performance as her and the thrilling action sequences make this a very enjoyable movie to sit through.
It might not be great but it is still enjoyable, which for a video game movie is saying a lot.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Review.

5 stars
Funnily enough, I actually watched the Cowboy Bebop Movie before I saw the TV show.
It was on a trip with a youth group a few years ago when I first saw it and I remember really enjoying the film.
I did not learn about the show the movie was based on until recently.
So, after reviewing that, I decided that it was only natural to review the movie but I wondered if it would still hold up because it had been a few years since I had seen it.
But I was glad to find that the movie was just as great as I found it be when I first watched it two years ago.
The movie apparently takes place sometime in between episodes 22 and 23 and follows bounty hunters Spike, Jet, Faye and Ed as they hunt down a terrorist with a $300 million bounty on him.

cowboy-bebeop-crew
The Bebop crew’s reaction to the $300 million bounty placed on the terrorist.

The film is very well animated and acted by its English dub cast (I have not watched the Japanese version yet), but it is the music by Yoko Kanno that really steals the show with both jazzy and haunting use of music.
One of the more interesting elements that the movie introduces is its new characters.
There is Elektra, a soldier tasked with hunting the terrorist and has a personal connection to him, Lee, a nerdy hacker who has always wanted to try being a terrorist and the terrorist himself, Vincent.
I really liked Vincent as a villain because he was really threatening, had a compelling backstory and not to mention the fact that his voice just sends chills down your spine.
He was certainly a way better villain than Vicious, the main villain of the TV show and Spike’s nemesis.

Vincent
Vincent is both a compelling and creepy villain, who can also be sympathetic at times.

Another thing I really liked about the movie was its action sequences.
Even though they were animated they were well choreographed and a joy to watch.
The fights in the show sometimes felt like they should have gone on for longer but could not because of the short run time of each episode so these extended fights were really great to see.
As for negatives, I suppose the one problem I had was that the character of Jet does not really do much fighting.
He just stands around and gives a few speeches, but that is not a huge flaw that overshadows anything.
Overall, The Cowboy Bebop Movie is fantastic.
I think I even enjoyed the movie more than I did the actual show, not to say the show was not great or anything.
I loved The Cowboy Bebop movie just as much as I did two years ago and any fan of the show should watch it.

Issue 177 of The Walking Dead: Good Issue With a Bad Cliffhanger.

3 and a half stars
In issue 177 of The Walking we got to meet more news characters, saw ones we had not seen in a while and had a few interruptions of intimate moments (wink).
The issue starts off with Rick reading a poem Mikey wrote about the death of his mother.
It was nice to see Rick again, who had been absent for three issues, which is apparently the longest time he has ever been absent in the series.
The scene between Rick and Mikey was very touching because of how Rick reacts to Mikey bringing up Andrea’s death.
Rick comments that he, “wouldn’t even know where to begin,” when writing a poem about her.
I like that Rick is still shown to be grieving Andrea, something that will probably take him many issues to bounce back from.
Although, it should be said that Rick will never be completely the same, considering that he loved her more than Lori.
Next at the Hilltop, we saw Maggie and Dante choose the absolute worst spot to hook up.
Seriously, if Maggie wanted to be discreet about her and Dante’s new relationship why did they choose a weapons shack where anyone could walk in?
Naturally, someone does and after that awkward situation we meet two new important characters named Sebastian and Mercer.
Sebastian is the son of Governor Milton and Mercer is his bodyguard.
Unfortunately for Mercer, Sebastian is a jerk who sees Mercer as below him, even though Mercer just saved him and his girlfriend’s life from multiple zombies.
This, however, did lead to a very funny moment where Sebastian criticized Mercer for not being able to handle two Walkers quickly and in the very next panel it reveals there were actually more than ten of them, which Mercer killed.
Then we finally get the conversation between Michonne and her daughter Elodie that had been built up the past two Issues.

michonne and elodie
Michonne shares a heartfelt moment with her daughter Elodie.

This was one of my favourite moments of Issue 177 because we learnt that Elodie is a real chip off the old block, when she reveals she murdered the men who raped her and murdered her sister.
This was very surprising to me because I thought Elodie would have found The Commonwealth early on and not had to resort to violence previously.
But no, just like Michonne, she has had to kill people to survive and knows exactly how bad things can get.
This may prove to be very interesting as their relationship progresses, with Elodie maybe helping Michonne in battle, instead of Michonne having to constantly protect her.
After this however, we get what I feel is the weakest part of the Issue and that is the cliffhanger.
Mercer meets with another soldier named George and the two discuss overthrowing Governor Milton, only to see Siddiq has overheard this conversation.
cliffhanger
I do not like this cliffhanger for two reasons.
Number one, if Mercer and George were not just blowing off steam and are actually planning to overthrow Governor Milton, then this is happening too quickly.
The group just arrived at The Commonwealth.
It would have been better to have them, and thus the readers, get a better sense of the community before introducing this plot line.
Number two, this cliffhanger seemed way too similar to the scene Issue 89 when Glenn overheard Nicholas conspiring to kill Rick.
However, this might not turn out so bad if Mercer is just blowing off steam and I really hope he is because Mercer seems like a good character.
Overall, Issue 177 was a good Issue.
It introduced us to some interesting characters like Mercer and Sebastian and I really liked where Kirkman took Elodie’s story.
But the scene between Maggie and Dante was kind of dumb considering the loss of logic on Maggie’s part and I did not like the cliffhanger.