Bad Times at the El Royale Review: A Priest, a Singer and a Cult Leader Walk into a Hotel.

4 and a half stars
Drew Goddard is a fantastic writer, having many film credits to his name but only one directorial credit, this being The Cabin in the Woods.
Well, now he has two to his name as his latest film Bad Times at the El Royale has been released.
Upon seeing the trailer for this film I was very intrigued by it, although I will admit it showed too much.
Even coming in knowing a few things that were going to happen, however, I still had a blast with this movie.
The basic plot is that a bunch of wacky characters consisting of a priest, a singer, a salesman, a hippie, a psychopathic girl, a guilt ridden hotel employee and a sadistic cult leader all stay for the night in the dying out El Royale Hotel.
Each of them have their own secrets, some not being who they claim they are.
What follows is a series of choices between California and Nevada, good and evil and red and black that results in numerous intense twists and turns.
The acting across the board for this film is stellar with many of the actors including Jeff Bridges, Lewis Pullman and Chris Hemsworth (for the brief time he is in the film) giving knockout performances.
The real standout of the film though is Cynthia Erivo in her film debut as Darlene Sweet, the singer who gets roped in on Bridges’ Father Flynn’s secret plans.
Ervio not only provides great acting but a great voice as well with her singing being of importance to the film, even going on to provide a very tense scene.

Darlene Sweet
Cynthia Erivo does a fantastic job as Darlene Sweet, owning every scene she is in.

Along with the acting, the cinematography is amazing and created tension between characters and added new meaning to scenes.
About half-way through Bad Times at the El Royale I remembered the odd way the first shot of the film was composed and the meaning behind it, which was brilliant.
Seamus McGarvey did an amazing job with the film’s cinematography.
A lot of people are comparing this film to Quentin Tarantino’s work, which I can definitely see because this film reminded me a lot of The Hateful Eight.
However, even though it is reminiscent of Tarantino’s films, it is not dependent on them and stands alone as its own individual film.
The one issue I had was the flashbacks, which were sometimes very jarring.
This is especially apparent in the final act when one of these flashbacks interrupts an action sequence and it took a few minutes for me to adjust as things were explained.

Chris Hemsworth.jpg
The final act, initiated by the arrival of Chris Hemsworth’s charismatic cult leader Billy Lee, is interrupted by a flashback that briefly kills the momentum.

Still, this did not completely put me off as I was still enthralled with the arcs these flashbacks presented for the characters.
Overall, Bad Times at the El Royale was a fantastic film from Goddard that I had a ball with.
That being said the film will not be everyone’s taste with its slow pace, which I think it earns but others may not.
Either way, I still recommend you check it out to see if you like it or not.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 Delay Shows Big Communication Problem.

For weeks I have been hearing rumors that Attack on Titan would be going on a break after the Uprising Arc wrapped up.
I did not want to believes these rumors but, as time went on, the evidence just kept piling up.
Sadly this evidence was correct because it has been announced that the second half of season three will be released in April of 2019.
While I do find this disappointing, I cannot fault the creators for the delay because they are clearly putting a lot of effort into the anime and I believe they would not be taking a break unless it was absolutely necessary.
What I do fault them for, however, is their absolutely terrible communication with the Attack on Titan fan base.
Had they announced season three would take a break half-way through before the third season started airing I would not have had a problem with this.
Many shows I watch take breaks, like The Walking Dead, and I do not have a problem with those shows.
However, this is because we know going into the show that there will be a break.
When watching The Walking Dead I know I am going to get eight episodes and then a break before the final eight episodes air.
For Attack on Titan season three, however, there was no such notification other than the rumors until the very last minute.
I came into season three expecting to get all the episodes so it is incredibly disappointing to suddenly realise we are not going to get anymore for about six months.
Had they just announced the break earlier, I would have been okay with this but they only released recently.
This shows a massive communication problem with the anime towards the show’s fan base that needs to be fixed.
To be clear though, I am not mad about this, just disappointed as I believe fans of the anime deserve better.
There is another reason I am disappointed about this break though but I do not fault the creators for this one.
I am also disappointed because of how long this break is, coming in at six months.
With this amount of  time the break takes up I will inevitably be spoiled by future events in Attack on Titan because I am terrible at avoiding these spoilers.
As a result, I have decided to read the manga so this will not happen any further, meaning I will see the rest of the series so far before it is animated.
While I would prefer to see the story told in anime format first, I prefer seeing things for myself more.
So you can expect to see my reviews for manga volumes from where the Attack on Titan anime left off.
As I stated earlier though, the timing of the announcement concerning the break for Attack on Titan season three part two shows a real communication problem with its fan base.
This break should have been announced earlier and hopefully the creators can learn from this.

Attack on Titan Season 3, Episode 12, Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall Review: Emotion, Laughs and One Hell of a Mid-Credits Scene.

4 and a half stars

Spoiler Free Review:

The Uprising Arc of Attack on Titan officially concluded with the twelfth episode of the third season, “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall”, and what an episode to end it on.
This is because the episode serves as the perfect transition point between this arc and the next, which from what I have heard is one of if not the series’ best.
“Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” pulled many emotions out of me from anticipation to dread as it went on.
Despite the episode’s constant upbeat feel, there was an overlaying feeling of dread hidden throughout that reared its ugly head during the end credits.
Seriously, you NEED to sit through the end credits when watching this episode.
Remember when I said “Friends” had the best cliffhanger for Attack on Titan?
Well, “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” put that cliffhanger to shame, with a startling and, honestly terrifying mid-credits scene that left most of the characters’ fates up in the air.
However, along with containing the most worrying scenes of the series, this episode also contained some of the funniest.
There is a dinner scene in this episode that had me laughing constantly in the span of about five minutes.
There were also a lot of great character moments, especially from Erwin and Levi who both grew as characters.
The soundtrack was also a standout with numerous OSTs returning, including one of my favourites “Call of Silence”.
One of the few issues I had with the episode though was that we did not get to see any of Historia and, since this is the episode that wraps up this arc, which was primarily about her, it is kind of a misstep not to have her.
Otherwise “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” was another fantastic Attack on Titan episode that concluded the Uprising Arc brilliantly.
If I had to rank this arc I would say it is my second favourite, right behind the Clash of the Titans Arc from season two.

Spoiler Review:

“Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” kicks off with what is probably its biggest set-up since the reveal that the basement was important, this being the Titan serum given to Levi by Kenny.
The various leaders of the military convene to decide what to do with it and in the end entrust it to Levi.
This has massive implications for the series because it opens up the possibility for another Titan Shifter in the near future.
I think I already have an idea on who this will be because of spoilers but I will not give it away for people who are anime only so if you want to see who I think it is then check out the predictions section below.
Along with Levi being entrusted with the Titan serum, we also got some substantial development from both him and Erwin.
We saw that Erwin was willing to acknowledge that he finds his desire to learn the truth, generated by his father’s death, is more important to him than humanity.
Along with this, we saw Levi’s growth through his close connection with Erwin and how this eventually lead to him listen to Eren, Armin and Mikasa as they talked about the outside world.
Speaking of Mikasa, she finally got some development this episode.
I said in my review of “Bystander” I talked about how I was getting annoyed by her lack of development so I am glad to see she is getting some, even if it is only minor.
Eren and Jean get into a fight for around the tenth time only instead of saving Eren, like she always would, Mikasa says he will be fine and watches him with a smile.
This small moment from her showed a supreme level of growth because she has learned to not worry about Eren as much, although I do think a better job could have been done of showing where this development came from.
However, just because Mikasa did not interfere that does not mean Levi did the same thing because he beat up the two and then demanded someone clean up the puke Jean threw up.
This was one of many moments during this dinner sequence that had me in fits of laughter.
Sasha going crazy over the meat and having to be tied up, her biting Jean’s hand like a rabid dog and various other scouts fighting over the food were some of the many things that made me laugh during this sequence.
This all builds to the triumphant final scene where the Survey Corps goes to plug up Wall Maria, only to be meet by an enthusiastic crowd for the first time ever.
This leads to a cheer inducing, yet hilarious, scene where Erwin roars in triumph with the citizens and then leading the Scouts to Wall Maria with his signature shout of “ADVANCE!”
However, this triumphant feeling is quickly undermined with a feeling of dread provided by a shot of Reiner and Bertholdt waiting at Shiganshina and the explosive mid-credits scene.
This scene was a genuine shock the first time I saw it because its static opening made me believe my laptop was broken.
This initial belief was quickly thrown out the window as the scene continued, however, with numerous quick cuts of old and new footage.
This all culminates in a brief yet terrifying scene where a bloodied Levi tells Eren and Mikasa in Shiganshina, with a burnt corpse beside them, “do you have the faintest damn clue… what you’re doing!?”
This leads him to attack Eren, which causes a tearful Mikasa to attack Levi and prepare to slit his throat before the scene cuts back to the credits.
This ends the Uprising Arc on a terrifying high note that has dire suggestions about the next arc that I cannot wait to see.

Predictions:

  1. In regards to the mid-credits scene, there were numerous shots that offer up suggestions for what could happen in the second half of season three. There are numerous shots from previous episodes like Grisha preparing to inject Eren, the key, and even shots from the season two outro, which is said to explain the history of Attack on Titan‘s world. However, there are also many new shots as well like the shot of a mysterious woman, a shoe in the grass, someone holding a seashell and Titan skeletons in a field. What these images mean is anyone’s guess but it is the scene we get after these quick shots that offers the real meat in terms of predictions. For example, who is the burnt corpse on the roof with Eren, Mikasa and Levi? It should be noted that Erwin is missing during this scene so I wonder if this is him. Although if it is then this does not explain why Mikasa is crying, why Levi attacks Eren and why Mikasa then tries to kill Levi. These are many unanswered questions that I look forward to being answered in the Beast Titan Arc.
  2. WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!! I am pretty sure I know who Levi is going to use the Titan serum on and that character is Armin. I got spoiled that Bertholdt dies and Armin becomes the Colossal Titan and the only real way for this to happen would be if Armin became a Titan and ate Bertholdt. So it is almost certainly Armin that Levi will inject with the serum Kenny gave him. This also has huge implications for the series since Armin becoming the Colossal Titan will be a shocking turn of events because even though I know it is going to happen I do not know how.

Whatever the case, I am looking forward to seeing another episode of Attack on Titan next week… wait, it’s not coming back until April, 2019… WHAT!?

 

BoJack Horseman Season Two: What is Happiness?

4 stars
“What does it mean to be truly happy?”
This is what I found asking myself after watching the second season of BoJack Horseman.
Picking up where the first season left off, this one sees BoJack acting in the role he has been pursuing for years, that of Secretariat.
However, even though this is what he always wanted, BoJack still struggles with the meaning of happiness and how to get it, resulting in often disastrous consequences.
The second season picks up brilliantly from the thought provoking cliffhanger of the fist one with BoJack’s struggles, which made him even more sympathetic.
One feature I particularly liked was how the relationship between BoJack and his mother was portrayed and the effect this had on BoJack.
It was this portrayal that allowed me to understand many of the actions BoJack took, even the reprehensible ones.
I was shocked that, even after he committed an absolutely disgusting breach of trust in episode 11, I still found myself feeling sorry for him, which shows just how great his characterization is.

Bojack and Charlotte
BoJack’s breach of trust in episode 11 is reprehensible but somehow, even after this, the show managed to make me feel sorry for him.

BoJack is not the only great character this season though, as many of the other main characters grew exponentially making me care for them a lot more.
This was achieved through the portrayal of relationships.
Mr Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins) and Diane’s relationship was done a lot better than in the first season and one of their final scenes together had me grinning from ear to ear.
As for Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), her growth through her relationship with a workmate had me cheering for her by the end.
Finally there was Todd (Aaron Paul) whose friendship with BoJack not only made him grow as a character but also helped BoJack be more sympathetic and relatable.
Even the side characters shined this season with me coming to care for many of them like Kelsey (Maria Bamford).
Even background characters who barely speak stand out on occasion.

It Gets Easier
“It gets easier” this character who is often seen in the background tells an exhausted BoJack, providing a double meaning about happiness that shows the importance of even background characters in this show. 

The humor this season is also good but not as good as the first, with the series’ main selling point being its complex characters and relationships that speak volumes about what it is to be happy and the dangers of celebrity status.
One criticism I do have though is how the Secretariat storyline played out, which kind of went off the rails half-way through the season.
It was set-up that this storyline was where BoJack would pursue his happiness throughout the season but it got pushed to the side by the end only to suddenly reappear.
All in all though, this was another great season of BoJack Horseman that brought up complex questions about happiness.

The Walking Dead, Season 9, Episode one A New Beginning Review: A Return to Form?

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Coming into The Walking Dead season nine, I have felt like this was the season that would return the show to its former glory or doom it forever.
The series has been in a slow decline ever since season six that it all culminated in the disastrous decision to kill off Carl.
However, season nine opens on the A New Beginning story arc, which gave the comics a new and fresh feel to it that made the already great comic even better.
So, even with Andrew Lincoln, and possibly Lauren Cohan, leaving the show, season nine could pull The Walking Dead out of the drain it has slowly been circling.
For this season they even changed showrunners, moving Scott Gimple over to Fear The Walking Dead and, given how terrible that show has become since he started working there, I think it is good he no longer holds that position for the main show.
Angela Kang has replaced Scott Gimple as showrunner for season nine and if episode one, “A New Beginning”, is any indication then she was definitely the right choice.
Written by Kang and directed by Greg Nicotero, “A New Beginning” felt incredibly different from the last two seasons in the best of ways.
It had great writing, acting and pacing, which, looking back on season seven and eight, were features that were sorely lacking.
It even had a new title sequence, which was well done and different compared to what we have seen previously.
If the other episodes of season nine play out like this then this season may be a return to form for the series that gets me fully invested in it again.
There are no guarantees though, especially with two of the main characters leaving this season, but I remain optimistic based on this episode.
“A New Beginning” was a great start to the season that has me intrigued for what the rest of it holds.

Spoiler Review:

Now to get into the specifics.
“A New Beginning” starts off with a time jump, being a few years after the war ended Rick and the communities are working together to help get the Sanctuary back on its feet.
Numerous things are revealed in this opening half hour, like many of the Saviours still want Negan to return, Daryl has taken over Dwight’s comic storyline by being leader of the Sanctuary, and Carol and Ezekiel have got together.
This leads to a both sweet and humorous scene where Ezekiel proposes to Carol after a close call.
This close call was at a museum where Anne (Jadis’ real name) remembered there was gear that could help the Saviours with their crops.
There were many interesting character interactions and events during this mission, including Siddiq being attacked by a Walker.
I loved this moment because it made Walkers scary again, which was once again something that has been lacking in the past few seasons.
The threat the Walkers pose is truly established when, in a freak accident, one of them bites and kills a survivor from the Hilltop named Ken.
We just met Ken this episode so his death does not really mean anything on an emotional level.
Rather, it is the impact of his death that truly delivers, both emotionally and for the story.
We get to see his parents’ reaction to his death and both actors playing these characters do a tremendous job of getting their grief across, which really made me feel for them.
Story wise, Ken’s death also has huge implications because it leads to Gregory manipulating the boy’s father to try and kill Maggie.
I was very surprised by this turn of events because Gregory’s attempt on Maggie’s life does not come until much later in the comics, but it was a nice surprise.
This lead to Gregory’s comic book death when is hanged for his crimes on Maggie’s orders, showing Rick that she is planning on doing things differently and subtly shaming him for sparing Negan.
This was a great continuation on the weak cliffhanger from season eight that hinted at Maggie, Daryl and Jesus going against Rick because its set up numerous debates and conflicts that were not present at this stage in the comics.
Along with all this, I liked what the episode did with its characters, primarily Daryl.
For the past three seasons I feel that Daryl has been a very weak character with little to no character development and because of this, when it was announced that Rick would be killed off, I had no confidence in Daryl taking over as the lead.
After this episode, however, I can say that, if he continues on this track, Daryl may actually be able to take over from Rick.
Daryl got development in this episode that made me like him a lot more.
On top of this, the dialogue and acting during these character development scenes was much better than seasons seven and eight, along with the pacing.
“A New Beginning” is, in my opinion, miles better than what we got in season seven and eight, and if the show continues like this then it may actually redeem itself.

 

Predictions:

  1. Ezekiel and Carol’s interactions have me worried because Carol seems to be taking the path comic Michonne did by leaving Ezekiel. All of this points towards (Warning: Potential Spoilers!) Ezekiel being killed by the Whisperers, just like he was in the comics, and Carol regretting leaving him.
  2. It looks like we will see Negan in his prison next episode, which I am very interested in. While I am disappointed we will not get to see him interact with Carl again, it will be interesting to see how he and Rick’s conversations play out.

The Walking Dead Issue 184, Eugene Tinkers Review: Good Overall but Weak Cliffhanger.

3 and a half stars
Just as I predicted in last month’s issue of The Walking Dead, in this one Eugene begins his plans to set up a train between the Commonwealth and Rick’s communities, hence the title “Eugene Tinkers.”
This was a very good issue overall, that primarily dealt with Rick and Dwight’s reaction to the Commonwealth, the aftermath of the Anthony Keith situation, and Eugene’s plan.
All of these plots were handled fairly well, especially when they intersected with Rick getting a sense of the Commonwealth through Michonne and her involvement in the case of Anthony Keith’s death.
This moment provided my favourite panel of this issue with Michonne wondering if she has sold her soul to keep peace in the Commonwealth.
Michonne states with fear, “I’m afraid I already have” and her face is covered entirely in darkness, which is a great use of symbolism in regards to her getting involved in the darker aspects of the new community.
She also seems to have got the soldiers who killed Keith off the hook for now so it will be interesting to see how the public react to this given the intense ending of the riot at the beginning of the issue.
Though the way Rick handled things in the aftermath of this did seem to bring a lot of people over to his side as evidenced by the two Commonwealth citizens who seem interested in moving to his community.
Pamela was obviously concerned about this because, in an earlier scene, she helped Rick clean up the mess of the riot just so she could look though.
Her son Sebastian, however, was not having it and continues to be a total jerk in any given situation.
Other interesting events of the issue include the trial Michonne speaks at, which shows how the Commonwealth’s court system works and the revelation that Princess and Mercer are in a relationship.
I honestly laughed when I saw this because I felt like her kissing him a few issues back was just a joke so it was kind of funny to see that Kirkman actually intended that to be the building blocks for their relationship.
That is not to say I think this is poorly done because I will have to wait to see how their relationship progresses and their characters grow before I know if the two work together or if this is a misfire.
Of course the big moment of the issue is Eugene’s plan to reconstruct a railroad between communities, which has huge world building implications for the series.
However, the issue was not all good because the cliffhanger is very weak.
Dwight basically confronts Rick about helping the Commonwealth through getting their own leader there.
Rick refuses and Dwight gets angry, then it is on to the letter hacks.
I felt like this cliffhanger was very weak because it is almost certainly a fake one, which will be immediately resolved at the beginning of the next issue.
If not, then this will only add more to the pointless Rick vs Dwight subplot, that is honestly making me really dislike Dwight, which is a shame because he was a real standout in the Whisperer War arc.
Overall though, “Eugene Tinkers” was a good issue that had plenty of interesting moments and set up plenty of interactions between Rick and the Commonwealth community.

Attack on Titan: Season 3, Episode 11, Bystander Review – The Mystery of Grisha Jaeger.

3 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

After a week’s delay because of a typhoon, the eleventh episode from season three of Attack on Titan, “Bystander”, has been released.
Overall, I would say this episode is the weakest of season three so far.
This is not me saying that it was a bad episode, it was good, but in comparison with the fantastic episodes we were delivered previously this one is a bit of a slow burn.
The main purpose of “Bystander” is to make sense of prior events in the series, although I will admit, it does do this with a very good use of character development for two of its characters.
By far the most intriguing part of this episode though, was the backstory of Grisha Jaeger, Eren’s father.
I am much more interested to learn about who he really was than when I watched the first season because of what has been revealed about him, not only in this episode but in other ones like “Sin” as well.
Grisha was not the only character who got development though because we also got some insight into Keith Sadies, the commandant of the training corps and the titular “Bystander.”
We also got to see some old faces in this episode, which was nice, and saw a few interesting uses for Eren’s new Titan ability gained in previous episodes.
Although, I will say that it was hard not to giggle when they described Eren’s attempts at perfecting his Titan powers as “hardening experiments.”
Like I said, this episode is good but there is just nothing that really sticks out to me like in the previous episodes of season three.
I will not deny “Bystander’s” necessity to the story because it does help give context to certain scenes.
However, take away the mystery about Grisha and there is not much to this episode.

Spoiler Review:

Just like I predicted last episode, the “Bystander” of this episode was none other than Keith Sadies, who goes on to reveal the backstory of when Grisha was living inside the walls.
Suffering from memory loss, Grisha was discovered by Keith outside the walls and went to become a life saving doctor in Shiganshina, where he eventually married Carla and had Eren.
Learning about Grisha’s life in Shiganshina makes him a much more interesting character and I cannot wait to learn what his motivations were.
It was also nice that we got to see some old characters in this flashback, like Hannes, and, as stated earlier, Carla.
Keith’s development for this episode was also good but made him come across as more unlikable to me than sympathetic, with what appeared to be him damaging Eren’s equipment from the third episode of the series out of spite.
Although he did change his mind about this, it paints Keith in a very negative light.
Along with this flashback, “Bystander” also had a time jump, picking up two months after Historia became queen.
Numerous events have happened since then, like Historia providing a home for numerous orphans, Marlo joining the Survey Corps and Eren using his “hardening experiments” (I still cannot take that seriously) to provide new means of killing Titans without losing any soldiers.
These were all very nice revelations, especially Historia’s because it continued her arc of wanting to help those in need, which was set up in “Outside the Walls of Orvud District.”
Another thing I liked about these scenes before Keith’s flashback was that is seemed to suggest that they are keeping Connie’s Titan mother alive.
I am glad this is being brought up again because it has the potential to result in some more development for Connie who has not had much screen time this season.
One funny scene in “Bystander” came when Mikasa got jealous over Eren and Historia.
The glare she sent there way was nothing short of creepy.
However, while this was funny, Mikasa’s scenes in this episode highlight a problem I have been having with her character recently.
In my “Top 10 Favorite Attack on Titan Characters” list I made after watching season two, Mikasa came in as my second favorite character next to Armin.
However, after re-watching the first two seasons and seeing how Mikasa has been portrayed in this season as well, I find her to be a lot less interesting than I first thought.
Mikasa has had almost no development for a very long time and yet she is one of the main characters, which is a problem.
This lack of development causes only her fighting skills and borderline yandere obsession with Eren to shine through, which I am not a fan of.
There have been multiple moments to give Mikasa development this season, like the reveal that Levi and Kenny are related to her, but there has been nothing but the usual “Eren this, Eren that” from her.
Hopefully she will get more development because she is really starting to go further down on my list of favorite characters at this point.
Just like my problem with missing characters I mentioned in my previous review though, I do not fault the episode for this but rather the series itself.
Overall, “Bystander” was the weakest episode of season three so far.
Not bad but nothing special.

Predictions:

  1. Grisha is revealed to have lost his memories when he first entered the Walls but if he found the Reiss family, passed on his Titan power to Eren and put something in the basement that means he must have regained those memories. I wonder when this happened and if it will be important to the story.
  2. The reveal that Connie’s mother’s Titan may still be alive has some interesting implications. If they ever discover a cure for the Titans then Connie may be able to bring her back.

Venom: Had Potential but the Pacing and Tone Ruin it.

two-and-a-half-stars
When talking with people about Venom, most of them call it “a turd in the wind” a quote from the movie.
But is the film really that terrible?
Well, no… but it is still bad.
Venom never gets terrible, however, it does get pretty cringe-worthy at times and the pacing and tone really takes the film’s potential and throws it away.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, the Venom stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, a washed up journalist who, after trying to get dirt on CEO of the Life Foundation Carlton Drake, played by Rhiz Ahmed, ends up with the symbiote Venom taking control of his body.
This results in Drake trying to retrieve his “property” and Eddie and Venom having to work together to survive.
For what is worth, the film does start off pretty promising with great set-up for the symbiotes and Eddie’s backstory.

venom opening scene
The opening scene sets Venom up well, with a gripping look at what certain symbiotes can do.

However, the problems of the film quickly become apparent with its tone and pacing.
The film sporadically changes from a comedic film to a horrifying film.
These two tones do not mix well at all and the jokes can get pretty cringe inducing.
One of these “jokes” provides probably the most uncomfortable kissing scene I have ever seen put to film.
But I will admit, even though the comedy sections do not work at all, the horror sections are actually done well and do a good job at creeping you out.
The real thing that brings this film down is its pacing issues.
Scenes go by way too fast, making it very hard to get any emotion out of them.
There were numerous instances where I saw a chance for an emotional moment only the scene went by so fast I did not feel anything.
It felt like scenes with certain characters should have been cut all together to make these scenes go longer.
Chief among these characters is Drake, who is the most boring and cliche villain since Steppenwolf from Justice League.
I will say though that some of the actions scenes, excluding the ending one, and the interactions between Venom and Eddie are good.
However, this is once again brought down by the pacing because, although their interactions were fun, Venom and Eddie’s friendship progresses way too fast and I never bought Venom’s reasoning for helping Eddie.

Venom and Eddie.
Venom and Eddie have great interactions but, given the fact that the main story of the film takes place in a little over two days, the progression of their friendship does not feel realistic or earned.

The thing that drove the nail in the coffin for deciding this was a bad movie and not an average one was the ending action sequence.
This was an absolute mess of a scene with horrible CGI and direction, resulting in me not being able to tell what was going on.
All of this is a real shame because I can definitely see the potential Venom has.
It starts off strong, the interactions between Venom and Eddie are fun and some of the action scenes are enjoyable.
However, numerous things like the pacing, tonal inconsistencies, terrible villain and ending action sequence drag this down.
At the end of the day Venom is a bad film but not the worst thing I have seen this year.

The Dragon Prince Season One: Enjoyable but also Frustrating.

3 and a half stars
Watching The Dragon Prince was a frustrating experience for me.
I find it disappointing whenever I watch a show that has the potential to be something great but there are just too many things holding it back from achieving that greatness.
This was how I felt when watching The Dragon Prince.
Created by Aaron Ehaz, one of the head writers of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Justin Richmond, the series is set in a fantasy world where elves and humans are at war, after humans were kicked out of elven lands for committing dark magic.
Years later, the humans have killed the Dragon King and supposedly the Dragon Prince, which results in moonshadow elf assassins being sent to kill king of the humans King Harrow (voiced by Luc Roderique) and his son Prince Ezran (Sasha Rojen).
However, one of these elves, Rayla (Paula Burrows), Ezran and his step-brother Callum (Jack De Sena) discover the Dragon Prince is still alive in its egg so set out on a quest to return it and stop the war.
I will get my positives out of the way first.
The strongest parts of The Dragon Prince were by far the world it sets up and its characters.
During the first two episodes the story does seem like the fantasy world it is set in is fairly generic, however, this quickly changes after these episodes.
From episode three onwards, the show develops a complex and interesting world of magic that I really appreciated.

Moonshadow Elf
In episode three we get our first look at what the moonshadow elves are capable of and its nothing short of amazing.

As I said, the characters were another standout.
The three leads are all very likeable, with my favourite of the bunch being Rayla who grew on me rather quickly.
Callum and Ezran are also very likeable and Ezran’s pet glow toad Bait is a fun character as well.
Even better, the side characters manage to stand out too.
My favourites of these side characters were definitley Claudia (Racquel Belmonte) and Amaya.
Claudia, although technically being a villain, was incredibly likeable and funny, and Amaya is a tough but easy to like character who is actually deaf.
Avatar: The Last Airbender are clearly great at giving us empowered disabled characters.
First there was Toph in Avatar, now there is Amaya in The Dragon Prince.

Amaya
Amaya is an example of how to do diversity right.

Another thing I loved about The Dragon Prince was how often it brought up more adult themes for an animated show aimed at a younger audience.
It really challenges its viewers and sets up interesting questions.
However, while this is all great, as I stated there were numerous things that held this series back for me.
I will start with the problem everyone is talking about and that is the animation.
The animation style suits this show perfectly, in my opinion, but the problem is they clearly did not have the budget for it.
The frame rate in some of these scenes are abysmal, especially the moments where not much action is happening.
For the most part the action scenes were all animated well but when it came to character interaction I got pulled out of the moment so many times because of how choppy it all looked.
The first two episodes are especially awful when it comes to their animation, but fortunately the animation does get better as the show goes on and there is the rare case of a truly magnificent shot.
Despite The Dragon Prince’s animation problems, it does look like the creators want to fix this issue in future seasons, based off interviews, which is good.
But, I also had problems with the story as well.
The story could get pretty predictable with what was going to happen at times.
For example, there is a very obvious twist that has not been revealed yet but I am 99% sure I have already guessed.

King Harrow
I do not want to potentially spoil anyone about this obvious twist so I will put what I am certain it is at the bottom of the review.

Then there is the problem with the structure of certain narratives.
One episode consists of Callum wondering if he can trust Raylah but this should have been addressed much earlier because we had already seen them work together quite well, making the conflict pointless.
Finally, there were certain plot points in the final episode that rubbed me the wrong way.
One major plot is resolved in a deus ex machina that felt kind of lazy since it was never set-up and a character is revealed to have a certain ability that comes literally out of nowhere.
This all led to The Dragon Prince being a very enjoyable but highly frustrating first season for me.
There were so many amazing things about the show but there were also numerous problems with it.
I will say though that I am looking forward to the next season because I really like the characters and story.
Here’s to hoping they can fix the issues with the show when it gets its second season.

 

 

 

WARNING! Potential Spoilers: I think the obvious twist that was set-up is that King Harrow got turned into his bird. I may be wrong about this but, if I am not, I wish they had revealed it in the first season because it was very easy to guess.

BoJack Horseman Season One Presents an Unlikable yet Surprisingly Sympathetic Main Character.

4 stars
I have heard a lot of good things about BoJack Horseman over the years in terms of its emotional power.
The main thing I hear people talking about when they reference this show is not its comedy or animation but its heart and, after watching season one, I can definitely see why.
Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, BoJack Horseman is set in a world where animals are just as evolved as humans and thus live side by side with them.
The titular protagonist of the series is BoJack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett), a has-been actor who, after his popular sitcom Horsin’ Around, quickly descended into a spiral of narcissism, self hatred, and loneliness.
BoJack has been hoping for his big break into Hollywood again so is trying to write a book about himself but, when he proves to lazy to do so, the company publishing his book hires Diane (voiced by Alison Brie) to be his ghostwriter.
What follows is both a funny and very emotional story about the effects stardom can have on a person… or horse in this case.

Bojack drunk.jpg
Season one details the effects stardom has had on BoJack in a very interesting way.

What I especially liked about Bojack Horseman was how the main character himself was portrayed.
BoJack is an unlikable character because of his selfish and sometimes cruel actions but the thing is you are not supposed to like him.
So many shows like Family Guy present unlikable characters and expect you to root for them after their horrible actions.
BoJack Horseman, however, does not do this.
The audience is supposed to dislike BoJack and this allowed the writers to branch off from this unlikable nature to show BoJack’s vices is affecting.
This allowed BoJack to, once again not be likeable, but sympathetic, even after all he did throughout that first season.
The final two episodes of the season  highlighted this very well, with the season finale leaving me feeling immensely reflective.
These episodes are by far the best of the season.

Bojack Horseman final episodes 1
The endings to the last episodes of the season “Downer Ending” and “Later” really got to me on an emotional level.

The series also does a great job of highlighting real world issues and topics that may not be as relevant anymore but were big problems in the old days of Hollywood.
The other characters, aside from BoJack, are handled just as well as him and serve to highlight the show’s themes and BoJack’s arc as well.
Another thing I liked about the show was its humor.
While  I did find a few of the jokes to be hit or miss, whenever the show made a joke about the animals that live in this world as people it was often comedic gold.
The one big problem I have with the show is its first few episodes because this is before we are given insight into BoJack as a character so all we see of him is his selfish and cruel nature, which does not offer much investment.
Since so much of this show revolves around BoJack’s arc this makes these first few episodes kind of a drag to sit through but, once it starts getting into why BoJack is the way he is, the show gets a lot better.
Overall, the first season of BoJack Horseman was a great start that has me intrigued about the other seasons.
It turned an unlikable main character sympathetic and I love that because it is not an easy thing to do, but this show achieved it.