Attack on Titan Part Two: End of the World – Somehow Worse than Part One.

5_Star_Rating_System_1_and_a_half_stars
After watching part one of the Attack on Titan live action movie I was not looking forward to seeing the second part.
And, I am to sorry to say, my concerns were correct because part two is, not only terrible but somehow worse than the first pat.
Attack on Titan: End of the World is an absolute mess from start to finish.
Directed once again by Shinji Higuchi, the film picks up with a ten minute recap of part one, which goes on for way too long.
After this, the movie opens up with Eren (Haruma Miura) having a flashback to his father giving him an injection that supposedly gives him the ability to turn into a Titan.
This really should have been set up in the first movie so Eren transforming into a Titan did not come completely out of the blue.
Worst of all, however, Eren’s mother shows up in this scene.
If she was a part of the story then why did the director not just have her die in the first film?
This would have given Eren the motivation to fight the Titans instead of the weak reasoning we got in the first film.
Anyway, this scene sets up multiple questions for the film to answer.
Why was Eren’s father testing the Titan ability on his son, how did he create this ability, what happened to Eren’s mother and father, who is Eren’s older brother they are talking about?
These are just some of the many questions that are set up in this scene and the movie answers none of them.
If this had been in the anime it would have been acceptable because we know the answers are coming but this movie does not look like it is getting a sequel, even though it has an incredibly confusing end credit sequence.
So if we are going to get answers what was the point of setting these questions up?
Sadly, the movie does not get better from here.
The story comes across as very contrived and also extremely rushed.
The first part definitely moved through the story at a very fast pace but in this film they took it a step further by giving the story no time to breath.

Armoured Titan 1.png
The story of Attack on Titan: End of the World moved so fast that it was hard to get invested in what was happening.

Even the individual scenes were bad.
This movie “tried” to explain the truth behind the Titans and Titan Shifters but failed miserably.
I really hope this is not the explanation we get in the manga and anime because it made absolutely no sense.
The entire scene where they explained the Titans origins was the worst in the entire movie because of how confusing it was.
In one shot Eren and Captain Shikishima (Hiroki Hasegawa) are watching footage of Titans being created and then the shot cuts back to them and they are suddenly sitting on beach chairs in the sand with no explanation as to where the chairs or sand came from.
And why was The End of the World song by Skeeter Davis playing during this scene?
Was it just so they could put End of the World in the title?
I have no idea what was going through the writer’s head when he wrote this scene.
What made this situation worse was the acting, which was once again terrible.
Just like in part one, Miura gives a terrible performance as Eren.
Someone just as bad as him though is Hasegawa, as Captain Shikashima, who laughed way too much in this film.
It felt like he laughed after every line of dialogue.

Shikashita.jpg
Hiroki Hasegawa turns in a cringe worthy performance as Shikashima with his constant unneeded laughter.

The other characters were also very badly handled again.
Armin (Kanata Hongo) is completely useless, just like he was in part one, and Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) is made to be a victim who does not care about Eren at all.
Then there were the characters created solely for the films, who are just as bad, with one character Sannagani (Satoru Matsuo) having amazingly stupid levels of strength in both parts.
The color palette was also pretty bad in this movie, although not as bad as the first one so that was something.
What was worse in this part, however, was the special effects, which are some of the worst I have ever seen put to film.
The Microsoft Paint blood effects are back and the scenes where characters turn into Titans are laughably atrocious.
I know Japanese film companies do not have the big budgets of Hollywood blockbusters when it comes to CGI but this was just embarrassing.

Microsoft Pain blood effects
Blood splatters onto the camera with effects that looks like they were completed using Microsoft Paint.

Speaking of the Titans, they are a non-existent threat in this movie.
One of the few things the first film got right was the Titans who were very creepy, with the first shot of them giving me goosebumps.
Here though, with the exception of the Titan Shifters, the Titans felt like a complete afterthought.
The one redeeming factor of this film was once again Satomi Ishihara, as Hans, who is a joy to watch.
She brought a smile to my face every time she appeared on screen.
Other than her though, this film was absolutely awful.
Incredibly rushed story, terrible acting and characters, atrocious effects and a complete lack of suspense.
This movie really encompasses why so many adaptations of anime go wrong.
The reason so many people connect with Attack on Titan so much is because it was written by Hajime Isayama.
He has a clear vision in writing the manga series, which you can see when reading it.
His vision works perfectly with this story and if any other person had come up with Attack on Titan, it probably would not have worked.
So when adapting something to live action, if it is going to work, you need to adhere to the creator’s original vision because, if you do not, nine times out of ten the film will completely fall apart.
This is the case with films like the Attack on Titan live action adaptations where the director kept the story but threw out the creator’s vision for their own and this new vision combined with Isayama’s story just did not mix.
If the Attack on Titan movies had stuck to Isayama’s vision then they would have been a lot better and connected with more people just like the manga and anime.
Instead they will just be remembered as entries in a long line of horrible live action anime adaptations.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a Fun Movie if you Haven’t Seen the Trailers

3 and a half stars
I have heard mixed responses to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, some like it and some hate it so I did not really know what to expect when I went in.
Overall though, I feel that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a fun movie to pass the time, that is if you have not watched the trailers.
If you have, then there is pretty much no reason to go see this movie because the trailers spoil 95% of it and the 5% that is not spoiled is nothing special.
The movie will be a good time though, for people who have not watched these trailers because the action set pieces and tension of he film is really well done.
Directed by J.A Bayona, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom centers on Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing  (Bryce Dallas Howard) from the previous film, who go back to the island to rescue the dinosaurs from a volcanic eruption.

volcano
The plot of the first half of the movie is to save the dinosaurs from an erupting volcano.

This storyline is interesting but then the story turns on its head and becomes a completely different movie.
This tonal shift was not exactly bad as both the first and second half were entertaining but it felt like I was watching two different movies.
The characters are fairly average as well.
Pratt and Howard are likeable in their rolls but do not have any substantial growth.
The same can be said for the side characters with Justice Smith’s character, Franklin Webb, being on the verge of downright annoying.
There is also a twist near the end of the movie surrounding one of these characters, which, while an interesting concept, is not explored well and has no meaningful impact on the movie.
Then there are the decisions these characters make, some of which were on an Alien: Covenant level of stupid.
These flaws, however, do not stop the movie from being entertaining.
The action sequences with the dinosaurs are very well done and engaging and there is one moment of the film that is very reflective and actually heart breaking to watch. 

Mosasaurus
The action of the film is very well done and helps makes the film more entertaining.

If I were to gauge this movie though, I would say it was better than the previous film in the series, Jurassic World.
Fallen Kingdom does have the weird subplot of weaponizing dinosaurs from the previous film but it was handled a lot better and made more sense sense to me here.
Unfortunately though, this film ultimately fails to capture the magic of the original Jurassic Park.
It is a solid film but nothing to write home about.
I can least say you will find it entertaining… if you have not seen the trailers that is.

The Attack on Titan Live Action Movie is a Colossal Disaster.

two stars
It is at least a month until the third season of Attack on Titan airs and I cannot wait.
I have been dying to see more of it so I decided to watch the live actions adaptations to pass the time.
Now, I had not heard good things about the films so coming into the first one I was expecting something on the scale of The Last Airbender or Dragonball: Evolution in levels of terrible.
While, thankfully, the first live adaptation is nowhere as bad as those films, it is still a colossal mess (pun intended) that not only fails to capture the greatness of the source material but as a standalone movie as well.
Directed by Shinji Higuchi and “based” off the manga by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan is set 100 years after humanity hid behind three large walls to escape giants known as Titans that have driven humanity to the brink of extinction.
The movie follows friends Eren (Haruma Miura), Mikasa (Kiki Mizuhara) and Armin (Kanata Hongo) who witness a massive Colossal Titan destroy the outer wall allowing the Titans inside.
The film then follows their efforts, and that of the Survey Corps, to eliminate the Titans.
This plot synopsis does seem to encapsulate the story of the manga and anime, however, Higuchi makes many additions and changes to this story that severely undermine it.
For one, Eren’s mother is not in this film so her death cannot motivate Eren to fight the Titans, completely removing a large part of his character.
The worst change to the film story wise though is the addition that the Titans attacked in modern day so humanity have trucks and guns at their disposal.
This eliminates much of the tension that was seen in the original source material, due to the limited technology.
Even worse than the story changes, however, are the character changes.
I may have hated Eren in season one of Attack on Titan but at least he was memorable.
The movie version of Eren is an incredibly forgettable character and Miura gives the worst performance of the entire movie that sometime becomes laughably bad.

Movie Eren
Haruma Miura gives the worst performance of the film with various cringe inducing scenes.

Armin is just as forgettable, with no depth or character growth whatsoever.
The only change he got was that he was turned into an inventor in this version but this was pointless because it never came into the story in a significant way.
Then there is Mikasa, who is by far the worst offender.
Her main purpose in this movie is to serve as the love interest for a creepy love triangle between Eren and a watered down version of Levi known as Captain Shikishima (Hiriko Hasegawa).
The worst change about Mikasa though, is how she got her scarf.
I know this may seem like a fanboy nit-picking but it is really not because how Mikasa got the scarf in the manga and anime is integral to her character.
Mikasa saw her parents get murdered right in front of her.
After this,  she felt completely lost and alone in the world until Eren wrapped his scarf around her and assured her she was welcome to come home and live with his family.
Thus Mikasa came to associate this scarf with Eren and her strong feelings for him, which is a big part of her motivation in both the manga and anime.
So, how was this translated to the film?
Eren gives Mikasa the scarf because she has a cold… Seriously?
This basically takes away Mikasa’s entire motivation and character development in this part of the story.

Mikasa scared
Mikasa is reduced to the love interest of the movie with almost no motivation.

Another big problem with the film is the music.
Attack on Titan has my favourite soundtrack of any show I have watched.
It is absolutely incredible and gives a perfect vibe for the series.
In comparison, the music of the film is incredibly cheesy with over the top whimsical music playing in the beginning scene.
Then there is the color palette.
Another great thing about the anime is how beautiful and colorful the environments are.
This makes for a very stark and disturbing contrast when we see characters getting horrifically killed in these beautiful environments, which improves the impact these scenes have.
The movie’s color palette, on the other hand, was incredibly bland and dull throughout.
In one particularly awful shot, the Titans are the same dull grey color as the environment, failing to make them stand out.

Bad Titan
The Titan’s completely fail to stand out because they are the same color as the environment.

Finally, there is the CGI, which goes from good, to passable, to atrocious throughout the movie.
Whenever the characters are using their ODM gear everything looks so incredibly fake that it draws you out of the moment.
I am not kidding when I say that some of these effects were I would expect to see in a Sharknado movie.
There is also a scene where blood splatters on the camera and it looks like the effects were done by Microsoft Paint, the effects are that bad.
All that being said though, was this film completely terrible?
No.
There were some things I did enjoy.
The character of Hans (Satomi Ishihara), who was the movie’s version of Hange Zoe, was spot on in both casting and performance.
The actor did a really great job and I wish she had been give more scenes.

hans1.jpg
Hans was a great interpretation of Hange from the manga and anime.

The final thing I liked was the 20 minute scene where the Titan’s attack Eren’s hometown.
This was a genuinely good scene with a lot of great horror moments and tension.
It also featured my favourite shot in the entire movie when, after the Colossal Titan has kicked in the wall, we see numerous Titans, illuminated by the sunlight, moaning as they make their way through the wall.
This shot was genuinely creepy and gave me goosebumps.
However, other than that, this movie was a failure in every way.
The story changes were ridiculous, the characters were terribly adapted, the soundtrack was cheesy and the color palette and effects were atrocious.
This was another bad adaptation of an anime and am I not looking forward to watching the sequel.

Westworld: Vanishing Point – William is Officially the Worst Father of the Year.

Warning: Contains major spoilers for the episode.

4 and a half stars
And the worst father of the year award goes to William, from Westworld.
In all seriousness, the latest episode of Westworld, Vanishing Point, delivered plenty of shocking moments and deaths.
Chief among those was the death of Emily at the hands of her own father.
I realised this was going to happen a full ten seconds before it did and spent those seconds literally screaming at the television for William not to kill his daughter.
Sure enough though, he did because he thought she was secretly a host being controlled  by Ford.
However, sadly for William and Emily, she was not a host created by Ford and William really just killed his own daughter.

William kills his daughter
William realizes that Emily was not a host so he killed his real daughter.

I think it is fairly safe to say now that William is irredeemable at this point.
He looked to be on a redemption arc in the fourth episode Riddle of the Sphinx but, what with the whole murdering his own daughter thing, I do not see that really working out.
This shocking scene does lead to a very interesting one though, as William digs into his arm with a knife to see if he is a host to absolve at least some of the blame for Emily’s death.
While the episode does leave you hanging about whether or not William is a host, I think it is safe to say he is not.
One because the Delos security officers tested him right before he killed them and their tech said William was human, secondly because making him a host would remove most of the impact of him killing Emily.
Speaking of which, Emily and the Delos security team’s deaths were not the only ones William caused this episode as in a flashback it goes into the death of his wife Juliette, played in a brilliant cameo by Sela Ward.

Sela Ward
Sela Ward was great in her small role as William’s wife Juliette

Watching her death play out and how it inadvertently led to the death of Emily as well was tragic to see.
The death of Juliette and Emily are not the only tragic deaths this episode though because Teddy dies too, or at least I think he does.
This is one of the few problems I have with Westworld because when a host dies you never know if it is going to be for good or if they will be brought back to life later.
Yes the hosts destroyed their backups by blowing up The Cradle, but Charlotte just brought Clementine back this episode and we still do not know if Lawrence is dead for good.
That being said, Teddy’s death was still very emotional.
At first I thought he was going to attack Dolores for changing him, before he said he would never hurt her and shoots himself.
Dolores reaction at the end is painful to watch, although this may led to something interesting in the finale because it looks like she and William will be teaming up to get to The Valley Beyond, due to both their tragic losses.

Dolores cries
Dolores tragic reaction to losing Teddy, possibly for good.

While having tragedy, this episode also had hope and dread for the finale.
Ford gave Maeve some new ability to help her escape her confinement saying he thought of her like his own child, which was very emotional.
Then there is Bernard who banished Ford from his mind, but for how long I wonder?
Finally, there is Clementine who, in a terrifying foreshadowing of things to come, was brought back to life by Charlotte and given Maeve’s admin powers.
Charlotte plans to use her to get all the hosts to kill each other, thus eliminating the threat.
We can see this plan coming to fruition in the season finale promo but Maeve is also there so hopefully she will be able to stop Clementine.
Another interesting thing in the promo is its connection to Logan, who looks to be playing a central role in the season finale because we can see Dolores and Bernard investigating his memories through the Forge.
Overall Vanishing Point was a tragic episodes with the deaths of Emily and Teddy, which will probably bring Dolores and William back together again.
It looks to be an intense season finale next week.

 

Tag: A Good Message About Friendship but not Much Else.

5_Star_Rating_System_1_and_a_half_stars
When I first heard about Tag I was skeptical.
A movie about a group of friends who play tag once a month every year, how could that be good?
Then I saw the trailer and I thought it might actually make a fun movie, not fantastic but fun.
Oh, how wrong I was.
I will admit Tag could have been good, what with its really good message about friendship.
All they had to do was throw in some good comedy and it would worked for a fun film to pass the time.
However, this was all ruined by immature a childish gags, which you could argue was the point since the characters themselves are immature and childish but that still does not make it work.
The only joke in the film I can remember was a Sherlock Holmes style gag where you hear the characters’ thoughts.
Other than that, I cannot remember a single joke from Tag, they were that forgettable.
Directed by Jeff Tomsic, the basic plot is that Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress play a group of friends trying to tag their friend Jerry, played by Jeremy Renner, who has never been tagged in his life, before his wedding.
The story that follows can only be described as incredibly predictable.
The characters think of a way to tag Jerry, they try, it fails, rinse and repeat.
It gets old very fast.
Another thing about the way the story is told is how pointless some its sublots are.
There is a love triangle sublot in this film that literally goes nowhere and had no reason to be in the film.
If I were to describe Tag in one word it would be forgettable.
The only redeeming quality about it is that it had a good message about friendship but it was difficult to latch onto that message since the story and comedy had no substance.
Tag is a forgettable experience that you should probably skip.
I will wait for the hide and seek movie to come out,  thank you very much.

Top 10 Avatar: The Last Airbender Characters

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my favourite shows of all time.
It not only has a fantastic story, along with animation, music, action sequences and themes but incredible characters as well.
Some of these characters are even among the best in television history so I am going to count down what I consider to be the top 10 best.
Before that though, I have a few honorable mentions of Commander Zhao and Firelord Ozai, who are good characters, just not good enough to get on the list.
So, these are who I consider to be the top 10 best Avatar: The Last Airbender characters.

10. Suki
Suki
When we were first introduced to Suki in Book One, episode four, The Warriors of Kyoshi, she seemed like a very interesting character but only one that would be recurring and not a part of the main cast.
This, for the most part, was true because we did not see her for the rest of Book One and she was only in a little of Book Two before she got captured by Azula.
It is in Book Three where she is made a part of the main cast after being rescued from the Boiling Rock Prison.
She would go on to take part in the final battle, helping Sokka and Toph destroy the Firelord’s airships, even saving them both at one point.
Suki may not get that much development, due to her limited screen time throughout the series, but she is still a really cool character due to her unique fighting abilities as a Kyoshi Warrior and her relationship with Sokka.

9. Mai
Mai

I am going to be honest and say that when Mai was first introduced I did not really care for her.
Yes, her skill with knives was pretty cool but character wise she just fit the trope of a moody uncaring teen.
The reason she is on this list though is due to her actions in the Book Three episode, The Boiling Rock Part 2.
It is in this episode where she betrays Azula to save her ex-boyfriend Zuko, leading her to say one of my favourite lines in the series, “I guess you miscalculated. I love Zuko more than I fear you.”
This was a really great moment for her because it showed her dedication to protecting those she cares about.
This along with the explanation of why she is so moody in the episode The Beach was enough to put her on my list at number nine.

8. Appa and Momo
Appa and Momo
Appa and Momo are basically the mascots of the show.
Appa, a sky bison, is Aang’s lifelong friend who has stuck with him through thick and thing and Momo was discovered as the last winged lemur in The Southern Air Temple.
Both stick with Team Avatar throughout the series and are mainly used for comic relief, especially Momo.
However, they also provide emotional moments for the show as well as Appa’s kidnapping was one of the big driving points for Book Two.
It was through the separation of Aang and Appa that we got a good look at how strong their friendship was through how both of them were reacting to their separation.
Appa was also very important to the show due to him being Team Avatar’s main form of transport.
While, Momo may just be comic relief and not important to the story he is still a lovable character that is shown to have a lot of heart, just like Appa.
Appa and Momo may be mascots but they are some of the best of any show.

7. Katara
Katara

Katara is the strong-willed mother figure of the series and provides a lot of emotional heart for the show.
I was genuinely surprised that I placed her at only number seven but that comes from no fault of her own, just that I like the characters further down the list more than her.
Katara herself is still a fantastic character who grows a lot from beginning to end.
In fact, some of the best episodes of the series are Katara centric like The Puppet Master, where Katara had to use the inhumane technique of Bloodbending to save her friends.
Then there was my second favourite episode of the series The Southern Raiders, where Katara and Zuko went to hunt down the man who killed her mother.
This episode had a lot of great growth for Katara, like with her going so far as breaking her vow of never bloodbending again when she thinks she has captured her mother’s killer, and her deciding not to kill Yon Rha but does not forgive him.
Throughout the show we have seen Katara at her best and lowest points presenting a strong character with a lot of emotional depth.

6. Aang
Aang.png

You might think it is a problem for me to consider the main character of the series, Aang, to be only the sixth best character but, like Katara, he is a fantastic character, just not as good as the ones further down, which shows how fantastic the entire cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender is.
Aang is the Avatar, the only one who can control all four elements and bring balance to the world.
It just so happens that he is also a fun loving goofball who would rather have fun with his friends than save the world.
This does not mean he is neglectful of his responsibilities though because, after realizing what his disappearance has done to the world, he takes on his responsibility as the Avatar, despite him never wanting to be.
Just like Katara, Aang grew a lot throughout the series, having matured a lot in the final episodes of Sozin’s Comet. 
We got a look at his tragic backstory in The Storm where it was revealed he ran away from home after he learned the monks were going to take him away from his adoptive father Monk Gyatso when he got frozen in the ice, dooming the world to 100 years of war.
Watching his journey from here to Sozin’s Comet was great to see and only made better with how his character arc played into the themes of the show.

5. Sokka
Sokka

Sokka may just seem like comic relief when you see him in the first episode but he is so much more than that.
You only need to compare him to the comic relief of the series’ follow up The Legend of Korra, Bolin, to see that Sokka is the perfect type of this character.
Bolin’s sole purpose in The Legend of Korra was comic relief so there was little to no depth with his character, while Sokka, on the other hand, had so much more depth despite being comic relief, thus making him a more interesting character.
He was the smartest person in Team Avatar, constantly figuring out ways for them to get out of tricky situations.
Even better, he got a lot of great character development as well, both through the relationships he had and his character arc.
We got to see him grow through his loss of Yue and eventually learning not to be too overprotective of Suki, when dealing with the aftermath of that loss.
Sokka’s feelings of inadequacy were also addressed in episodes like Sokka’s Master and The Day of Black Sun Part 1, and this all lead to him becoming an experienced warrior by the end of the series.
Sokka was a great character with a lot of heart.

4. Toph
Toph

Sokka may be the comic relief character but I always felt like Toph was the funniest character of the series.
Her blind jokes always got a laugh out of me.
Despite being blind, she is one of the most powerful characters in the Avatar series due to her unique sense of vibrations that allows her to fight in a very different style to everyone else.
She is a very fun character with a lot of spunk and heart.
Although she is one of the more underdeveloped members of Team Avatar, Toph is still one of my favourites because of her great personality.
We first meet her in The Blind Bandit fighting in a pro-wrestling match, a fantastic way to introduce her that really showed her characteristics and her skill set.
Toph also had many inspirational moments throughout the series, like her inventing metal bending in The Guru. 
This was an excellent scene that really showed Toph overcoming the odds.
Toph is a character who, out of everyone in the show, I would probably want to be friends with the most due to her fun personality and inspirational strength.

3. Azula
Azula

What can I say?
I love a great villain and Azula is the best one in the entire series.
She is not only my favourite villain in Avatar: The Last Airbender but one of my favourite villains of all time.
That shows what an excellent character Azula is.
Azula is, without a doubt in my mind, a complete and utter sociopath.
That may seem extreme for a Nickelodeon show but it is the only thing that makes sense.
She threatens her “friends” with physical injury if they do not join her mission, she taunts Sokka about what she has done to Suki and, worst of all, as an eight-year-old girl she celebrated when she learnt her father planned to kill her brother and laughed about it.
Yet, despite being a completely despicable person, Azula is still fascinating to watch.
Seeing her plan to overthrow the Earth Kingdom in The Guru and The Crossroads of Destiny was brilliant to see play out and her scolding line to Long Feng, “don’t flatter yourself, you were never even a player” is probably the biggest insult in TV history.
Then, despite all the terrible things she had done, the show actually succeeded in making me feel sorry for her at the end.
Watching her slowly descend into madness was very sad to see because she had gone from basically perfect in every way to a shell of her former glory.
The only problem I have with Azula is we do not know what happened to her.
I do know from reading the comics she escaped and is still causing trouble but she is not mentioned in The Legend of Korra and I just want an explanation as to where she is.
Azula is the best villain in all of Avatar and one of my favourite villains ever.

2. Iroh
Iroh

Iroh is the kind of guy who any person would be happy to have as their uncle.
He stuck by Zuko and supported him when no one else would.
Iroh has had some of the most emotional moments on the entire series as well.
When he celebrated his dead son’s birthday in The Tales of Ba Sing Se it was very emotional and his reconciliation with Zuko during Sozin’s Comet always makes me cry tears of joy at how beautiful it is.
Iroh always has great advice for people, as can be seen when he helps Toph in The Chase and is one of the most spiritual characters in the entire characters, except for the Avatar of course.
He also had his own little arc as it is revealed years before his son’s death he was a lot like other Fire Nation royalty as he planned to burn Ba Sing Se to the ground.
However, after Lu Ten’s death, Iroh became more spiritual and calm, joining the White Lotus when he realised what his Nation was doing to the world.
Iroh will do was is right above all else and is Zuko’s true father figure.
Heroic, kind and a father figure to everyone, Iroh is my second favourite Avatar: The Last Airbender character.

1. Zuko
Zuko
Honestly, who else could it be?
Zuko is not just the greatest Avatar character but one of the greatest characters of all time.
I know this might seem like a bold statement but I do not think I am exaggerating at all here.
Just look at his arc throughout the entire series.
He starts of as a conflicted villain, then becomes an anti-hero, then the conflicted villain again, until he finally realizes what is right and becomes a hero.
He goes through so much development throughout the series and all of it is excellently handled.
We got to see Zuko go from the conflicted, angered, banished prince to the confident, content, new Firelord.
It was not an easy journey, however, as Zuko made many mistakes along the way, most notably relapsing into his desire for his father’s approval by turning on Aang in The Crossroads of Destiny.
Despite this, we all saw that Zuko was redeemable through episodes like The Blue Spirit and Zuko Alone.
This all culminated in the two-parter The Day of Black Sun, where Zuko decided to do the right thing  and join the Avatar to help defeat his father.
Watching Zuko face off against Ozai after so much abuse from him was very powerful, especially when he utilized Iroh’s technique of redirecting lightening.
From here we had the satisfaction of, after so much great build up, Zuko redeeming himself by helping each member of Team Avatar and then facing Azula for the throne with Katara.
Zuko’s arc is one of if not the greatest character arc ever put to screen and watching him grow was a pleasure to see.
Zuko is, without a doubt, the best character in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Detroit: Become Human, a Game of Choices and Cringe.

4 stars
I have played many multiple choice games over the years and I am bitterly usually disappointed by them.
So often a new game will come out that promises players their choices will have dramatic effects on how the story progresses only for them to break their promise, with the choices having little to no impact (I am looking at you Telltale Games).
There are so few games out there that offer player choice that successfully give the player what was promised and, I am happy to say, Detroit: Become Human is one of these games.
Developed by Quantic Dream and directed by the master of cringe David Cage, Detroit: Become Human is set in the year 2038 in Detroit, where androids are used for everyday chores and are basically slaves.
However, some Androids become conscious, or deviant as they are called, and rebel against their creators.
The game centers around three playable androids Kara (Valorie Curry), a maid who goes deviant to save a little girl from her abusive father, Markus (Jessie Williams), who after becoming a deviant leads the others androids in a revolution, and Conner (Brian Dechart), who has been designed to specifically hunt down deviants.
It is a testament to this game with how closely I became attached to these three characters.
My favourite was Conner, who has a gripping storyline where you can either make him a heroic figure who discovers what it means to be alive or an emotionless jerk who will do anything to complete his mission, both of which are fun to play as.

Connor
Connor’s branching storylines were by far the best in the game.

Kara was my second favourite because I grew strongly attached to her through her connection with the little girl Alice (Audrey Boustani) and the lengths she would go to save her.
While, Markus was my least favourite of the three playable characters that does not change the fact that he was still a very likeable and investing character with his revolution, which can fail or succeed based on your decisions.
Even the side characters are great with Connor’s potential friendship with his partner Hank (Clancy Brown) being a great standout.
I got so attached to these characters that I broke my promise of playing through the game without going back to change anything because when I got Kara, Alice and their friend Luther (Evan Parke) killed I immediately went back to the last checkpoint to save them.
Speaking of which, the choice system in this game is unlike any other I have seen.
There are so many variations that it makes the game have great replay value.
I am currently on my third play through and still discovering new directions the story can go.
It is not all good though because this is David Cage we are talking about and the game can be a bit cringe worthy at times.
Thankfully, Cage has clearly learned his lesson from Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls because the horrendously awkward interactive shower and sex scenes are gone.

awkward
An interactive sex scene, like the one in Heavy Rain, is thankfully nowhere to be seen in Detroit: Become Human.

Still, there is still plenty of cringe to go around with some of the most blatantly obvious foreshadowing I have ever seen and usage of some of the worst cliches in film and gaming.
There was one cliche in the game where I literally paused it and said, “are they really doing this?”
Then there is the gameplay, which mostly consists of quick time events.
Props to Quantic Dream though because they know how to use these very well during action sequences as they heighten the tension because one wrong button press could mean certain death for one of the characters.
However, while these quick time events work for action sequences, when it comes to everything else they are very tedious and monotonous.
The true reason to play Detroit: Become Human is for its fantastic usage of the choice based system, lovable characters and story, at least the parts that do not have those eye rolling cliches.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes branching storylines in their games.

Westworld Makes a Background Character One of my Favorites in its Latest Episode: Kiksuya

5 stars
Coming into season two episode eight of Westworld, Kiksuya, I was concerned.
I saw from the promos it was an episode solely based on one character named Akecheta who, before now, had been predominantly in the background.
This had me worried because when a show stops the story dead so there can be a bottle episode focusing on one or more characters it rarely works.
You need only to look at the episodes Still, from The Walking Dead, and The Lost Sister, from Stranger Things, to see how this can go wrong.
But this is Westworld and the show had already proven it could do bottle episodes well this season with episode five, Akane No Mai so I remained slightly optimistic.
Naturally, after watching this episode, I realised I should have had more faith because Kiksuya is one of Westworld‘s best episodes.
It focuses on the origins of Akecheta, a native american host who was the first of all the hosts to gain consciousness.
I really have to applaud the writers and the actor who plays Akecheta, Zahn McClarnon, who have turned him from a forgettable character into one of Westworld‘s best.
He is very sympathetic and his journey to consciousness and helping other hosts was incredibly emotional to watch.

Akecheta
Zahn McClarnon delivered a fantastic performance as Akecheta making him one of my favourite characters in just one episode.

This was all accompanied by a stunning use of cinematography and music.
The sprawling shots as Akecheta travels through the desert before he meets Logan were absolutely beautiful.
Speaking of Logan, in a surprising twist it was revealed it was actually him and Akecheta where the idea of “the door” that everyone is trying to get to originated from.
Akecheta heard Logan’s mad ramblings about finding a figurative door out of Westworld and he took those ramblings to heart, resolving to find the door and escape.
As for the music, Westworld‘s rendition of Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana, when Akecheta is searching for the woman he loves Kohana (Julia Jones), was fantastic.
It fits in perfectly with the episode and the loving lines shared between Akecheta and Kohana and later Akecheta and Maeve “take my heart when you go”.
This use of Heart Shaped Box leads into the most emotional scene in all of Westworld when Akecheta finds Kohana only to find she has been decommissioned and can no longer respond to him.
Watching Akecheta break down into tears over the loss of Kohana really made me tear up.

AKecheta and Kahona
Watching Akecheta break down upon finding Kohana is the most emotional moment in all of Westworld so far.

Then there was Akecheta’s later scene with Ford, which was also fantastic with McClarnon going toe to toe with Anthony Hopkins’ performance.
Akecheta was truly a “flower growing in the darkness,” as Ford put it.
A host that gained consciousness without Ford expecting it.
This scene also seems to firmly establish Dolores as the villain of season two with Akecheta referring to her as “the death bringer” so it will be interesting to see how these two clash in the final two episodes of the season.
However, this episode does not just focus on Akecheta but Maeve and Lee Sizemore as well, with Sizemore desperately tries to convince the technicians to save her.
I have got to say I am really impressed with the way Sizemore has grown this season.
In the first season he was nothing more than an entitled narcissist with little to no redeeming qualities, however, this season we have seen him learn empathy to the point that he breaks down crying when he tells Maeve she deserves to be happy with her daughter.
Simon Quarterman delivered a great performance in this scene.

Westworld
Sizemore’s character development this season has been incredible.

The ending of this episode is also very emotional with it being revealed that Akecheta has been secretly talking to Maeve through some kind of host network and promises to guard her daughter as his own.
Overall, Kiksuya was one of the best, if not the best, episodes of the series.
It turned a character I barely knew about into one of my favourites and had fantastic performances, music and cinematography.
Truly an episode to check out.

The Walking Dead Issue 180: Interesting yet Disappointing.

3 stars

Warning: Major spoilers for the issue.
In this issue of The Walking Dead Rick meet the Governor of The Commonwealth, Pamela Milton, leading to an interesting conversation but a disappointing lack of excitement.
That is not to say this issue was bad, in all honesty it is just good, but given that this is the final issue of Volume 30 and featured a meeting between the leaders of two communities, I certainly expected more things to happen.
It looks like the problems that Rick will have with Pamela and The Commonwealth are solely political at this point, not that there is anything wrong with that but if this entire story arc with The Commonwealth is going to be solely political talk it would lack serious excitement and be difficult to read through again.
So hopefully the story will pick up and more exciting things will happen with the interactions between The Commonwealth and the other communities.
As for the conversation between Rick and Pamela, they got along surprisingly well with Pamela even insisting that Rick call her by her name instead of Governor, when he tells her about the previous Governor who cut off his hand.
Things only grew sour between the two when Pamela seemed to have problems with the way Rick was running things, leading to Rick saying, “then maybe we need a new world order.”
I loved this line of dialogue because it established that the title of this story arc, New World Order, was actually in reference to Rick’s way of doing things and not Pamela’s, which, in retrospect, makes a lot of sense since Pamela’s political system is based off politics in today’s world, while Rick’s is something new.
Aside from their conversation, there were a few other interesting moments in the issue.
First of all there was Lance giving Michonne and Elodie a new home, due to Michonne’s lawyer status, which will be interesting to see if Michonne can continue as a lawyer considering all she has been through.
Then there was Dwight who finally came out of his phase of hating Rick after Sherry’s death.
I will admit though, while I am glad Dwight has come to his senses because his hatred for Rick felt very forced, it does render that storyline pointless.
There were even a few interesting moments before Rick’s conversation with Pamela.
My favourite scene of the issue was Rick’s reaction to seeing Eugene with Michonne’s sword and immediately assuming the worst.
Even better during this scene was Eugene’s comment on the mathematical possibility of Michonne finding her daughter again, which was funny.
One of the most interesting moments of the issue though came when Maxwell Hawkins, Pamela’s assistant, glared at her and Rick as they walked off to talk.
I am curious to see what that was about.
Overall though, not that much happened this issue as it mainly focused on the interactions between Rick and Pamela and their different political views.
It was a serviceable issue but did lack excitement.
Hopefully, the story will pick up in future issues.

The Last of Us Part 2: Most Cinematic Gameplay Trailer Ever?

This year at E3 I have been anticipating numerous trailers for upcoming games and have not been disappointed.
The trailers for Kingdom Hearts 3 and Overkill’s The Walking Dead were fantastic and have me really hyped for those games.
The one game I was anticipating above all else though was The Last of Us Part 2 and, let me tell you, I was not prepared.
Coming into E3, I was hoping for either another story trailer or some gameplay from The Last of Us Part 2 and was pleasantly surprised when Naughty Dog gave us both.
The trailer starts with a cinematic of an older Ellie, played by Ashley Johnson, at a dance, most likely in Jackson, Tommy’s camp.
For starters, these graphics looked incredible as always, with Naughty Dog improving even further from their previous games.
The trailer introduced us to two news characters here, Jesse, played by Stephen Chang, and Dina, played by Shannon Woodward from Westworld.
Dina is shown to be Ellie’s new love interest but I do wonder how long this will last since Neil Druckmann has said The Last of Us Part 2 will be a game about “hate” and something has to motivate Ellie’s thirst for vengeance.
Anyway the tender moment ends between Dina and Ellie when Dina states, “oh, Ellie. I think they should be terrified of you.
This statement is proved to be 100% correct because, after this, the trailer dissolves into absolute, epic insanity as it transitions to gameplay footage and wow, just wow.
This is, without a doubt, the most cinematic gameplay I have ever seen.
I know that sometimes developers show much more advanced gameplay than is actually involved to get people to buy their games but if The Last of Us Part 2‘s gameplay is even a fraction close to what was shown then it will be absolutely incredible.
It starts off simple enough with more stealth mechanics like being able to hide in grass and bushes, like the recent entries in the Uncharted series, but so much more comes as well.
You can dodge enemy attacks, you can grab a bottle or weapon while running, sneak through gaps in cabinets and you have to pull arrows out when they hit you, this gameplay has everything.
Even better, or worse depending on your stress level when playing, the enemy NPCs are a whole lot smarter than they were in the previous game.
They check for you under cars and some will even not hesitate to shoot you when you are holding one of their people hostage.
Every single element of this gameplay looks fluid and like a movie, which I really hope is the case of the finished product because that could make The Last of Us Part 2 have potentially the best gameplay of any game I have ever played.
As for speculation about the game’s story, it does seem to mainly involve the cult we saw in the previous trailer.
This cult is still shown to be doing the disgusting practice of hanging and gutting people for an unknown reason.
If I am right and the last trailer we saw was in the past then that would mean this cult would have been doing this for 20 years at the least, which is a disturbing point.
Also this cult seems to constantly be referring to Ellie as a “wolf” for some reason, we will probably get more details on that later.
Another interesting thing is that we did not see Troy Baker return as Joel in this trailer.
He was mentioned briefly by Jesse but he made no personal appearance sadly.
I hope the fan theory that he is dead and this is why Ellie wants revenge is not true.
Overall, this gameplay trailer was incredible from start to finish.
It went from a tender moment between Ellie and her new love interest to violent and insane gameplay that looked incredibly cinematic.
If I was not already as excited for The Last of Us Part 2 I sure am now.