A Late Top 10 Films of 2019 List.

2019 was an amazing year for film, delivering some of the decade’s best movies.
It is certainly a step up from 2018, where I only gave one film a five star rating, that being Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
As for 2019 itself, I gave eight films that came out then five stars, making it a much more successful year.
The only downside to how many amazing films there were is that not all of them could make the list.
Dr Sleep, John Wick Chapter 3: Parrabellum, Weathering With You, Toy Story 4, and many more almost made the list but, at the end of the day, I had to narrow it down to 10.
And, here they are.

10. Rocketman.

Rocketman Edgerton

Taron Edgerton should have got an Oscar nomination for his performance as Elton John in Rocketman.
He just absolutely transforms into the singer, lifting the film up to a higher standard.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the biopic follows the life of the singer from his highest highs to his lowest lows with a new spin on the genre.
This spin being that the whole film plays out like one big fantasy with musical numbers and theatrical moments that make it seem like we are watching a play rather than a film, and I obviously mean that as praise.
As well as Edgerton, the rest of the cast is great, especially Richard Madden in his sleazy portrayal of John Reid.
The musical numbers are also really good, helped greatly by Edgerton’s singing that provides a new take to the old Elton John songs that will get you singing along with the film.
All in all, Rocketman is a stellar biopic that provides a new take on the genre, separating it from the standard ones like the previous year’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

9. Uncut Gems.

Sandler

Uncut Gems was the last film from 2019 I watched before I started making the list.
I knew with all the praise it was getting that I had to watch it before I did it.
Another thing that peaked my interest was the Oscar buzz Adam Sandler was getting because he is generally the last person you would expect to get nominated for one.
However, after watching the movie, I can clearly say that, like Edgerton, Sandler also got snubbed.
Directed by the Safdie brothers, Uncut Gems tells the story of Sandler’s Howard Ratner, a jeweler and gambler, whose life spirals out of control when he buys a rare opal.
Howard is an engaging character in every sense of the word as I routed for him and simultaneously wanted to strangle him because of his decision making.
Only Sandler could make this unlikable character so likeable.
The film feels like an adrenaline rush and the realism of certain scenes grounds the story, making the intensity of the film stand out all the more.
Uncut Gems is a movie that makes you feel the same rush as its main character, putting you in his oh, so questionable decision making shoes.

8. Marriage Story.

adam and scarlett

Directed by Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story is the first film on this list that I gave five stars to.
The movie details the divorce of its two lead characters, Charlie, played by Adam Driver, and Nicole, played by Scarlett Johansson, and how this affects their young son.
Both Driver and Johansson are phenomenal in this film, playing equally flawed people, which makes you unsure of whose side you want to take as the movie goes on.
Adam Driver is the standout though, especially during a scene where he sings while out with some friends,
Along with him and Johansson, Laura Dern is another standout in the cast who deserved her win for Best Supporting Actress as the lawyer who inevitably makes things worse.
Another thing I can praise Marriage Story for is its cinematography and editing, which create some truly standout moments, along with the acting.
Baumbach crafted a fantastic film with Marriage Story that, even if you have never been divorced or been in a situation involving a divorce (which I haven’t), you can still relate to the story and characters.

7. Knives Out.

donuts inside of donuts inside of donuts inside of donuts inside of donuts inside of donuts inside of another donut

I will never look at a donut the same way again after watching Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. 
In all seriousness, while I do think I made a mistake in including Johnson’s highly flawed, yet still enjoyable, Star Wars: The Last Jedi on my Top 10 Films of 2018 list, I do not think I am making the same mistake here.
Knives Out is a fantastic throwback to the detective murder mysteries of old, with Daniel Craig being wittingly over the top as the eccentric Benoit Blanc.
Equally as good is Ana de Armas, whose character is surprisingly more of a main character than Blanc.
Then there is Chris Evans who goes against type playing a snobby rich boy, a role that he is clearly enjoying.
The rest of the cast is also stellar but that is not surprising considering the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and many more are involved.
The cinematography and symbolism are great as well, with the final shot of the film being so purposefully on the nose that me and the audience I was watching the film with laughed.
Knives Out is a great, new take on the detective, murder mystery genre and, with a sequel announced, I cannot wait to see more adventures for Benoit Blanc.

6. Avengers: Endgame.

I am Ironman

“And I… am… Iron Man.”
Directed by the Russo Brother’s, Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame may not be as well cinematically crafted as Knives Out or Marriage Story but, in terms of enjoyment factor, it is a film I will be returning to for years.
This is despite the film’s three hour runtime, which it more than earns, unlike other movies that came out in 2019 (cough, cough, The Irishman, cough, cough).
Following the devastating event of Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War, the Avengers must come together once more in a desperate bid to undo the damage and put an end to Josh Brolin’s mad Titan once and for all.
The massive ensemble cast do a great job here, especially Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans who are most likely playing their characters for the last time with them getting amazing send offs.
The CGI is phenomenal, making the cataclysm of the third act’s final battle all the more thrilling.
What’s more, the film is also incredibly emotional, resulting in me tearing up more than once.
Even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not end with this, I can still say that Avengers: Endgame was the emotional end to a story that had been going on for more than ten years.

5. Jojo Rabbit.

Jojo Rabbitty

Taika Waititi had to walk on a thin tightrope when making Jojo Rabbit. 
This satire that declares war on hatred could have so easily become a film that was in bad taste what with its story but it didn’t.
In his first movie role, Roman Griffin Davis stars as Jojo Betzler, a boy living in World War Two Germany who is infatuated with Adolf Hitler to the point that the dictator is his imaginary friend, played by Waititi himself.
But, when Jojo discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johannsson) is harboring a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), everything he thought about the Third Reich begins to change.
Jojo Rabbit is easily my favourite Taika Waititi film because it perfectly blurs the lines between being a drama and a comedy.
I was laughing one moment at the absurdity of the Nazis and horrified by their actions the next.
This culminates in probably the most shocking film scene of the year that had my jaw on the floor for a solid minute.
All of the cast do an amazing job and the slow switch from Jojo’s childlike perception of the Nazis to how horrible they were in real life is perfectly illustrated through the change in Waititi’s performance.
Funny, tragic, and heartwarming, Jojo Rabbit is a great film that only Taika Waitit could have pulled off.

4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywoob

Quentin Tarintino is one of the greatest directors of all time and he created another hit with his film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star as has-been actor Rick Dalton and his stuntman Clint Booth who live through the daily struggle of 1960s Hollywood.
Both actors are amazing in their roles, as is the rest of the cast in a film that shows a lot of love and respect for the film industry of this time.
Some of my favourite scenes are the ones where Rick is acting in a Western TV Show and when Sharon Tate (Margo Robbie) goes to watch one of her own movies.
However, while our main characters thrive or struggle in the Hollywood landscape, the Manson family looms as a deadly shadow, ready to strike.
This results in a dark, yet unexpectedly hilarious, final act that had me and the rest of the theater laughing out loud, which definitely made me question if we were all really messed up for a moment.
It was the perfect ending for the film, with a bittersweet final scene paying more respect to Sharon Tate’s memory that the awful and morally bankrupt The Haunting of Sharon Tate ever could.
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to the Hollywood of old and, as someone who loves movies, I can say it is one of my favourites of his.

3. Joker.

dance joker dance

Joker is one of the most talked about movies of 2019 but not for the reasons it should be.
The Todd Phillips directed film was bashed by many journalists who were saying the film would motivate people to commit horrible crimes.
You know what ended up happening?
Nothing!
Because Joker was never about motivating violence against the rich, which its main character unintentionally achieves through his criminal actions.
Instead, the film is about the dangers of not taking mental illness seriously and discusses class differences, especially in relation to poverty.
These messages just happen to be in a comic book film about an insane clown who murders people.
Joaquin Phoenix plays that clown, Arthur Fleck, as life kicks him down again and again, with every opportunity for help turning away from him before he finally snaps.
Phoenix is incredible in the film, being more than deserving of his Oscar win.
Likewise, Hildur Guðnadóttir also deserved her Oscar, with her score being the best of the year and a character in its own right.
Then there is the cinematography, which is perfectly handled, as can be seen by how Arthur is framed whenever he is on stairs.
All of this combines to create a deeply uncomfortable film with a great message at its dark, dead heart.
Go watch it, and don’t believe what the journalists said.

2. Parasite.

parasite bloody

I wish I had watched Parasite before it won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Being a fan on Bong Joon-ho’s films, I am kind of ashamed it took me so long to watch it.
But, when I finally did, boy, did it live up to the hype.
Although it is not my favourite film of the year, I can say with no doubt that Parasite definitely deserved Best Picture, along with all of the other awards it won.
All of the cast do a great job with Song Kang-ho being especially fantastic as the father of a poor family who scams their way into a wealthy family’s employment.
Bong has crafted a masterful film that starts of as a comedy drama, until a certain event happens that switches the story into high gear right up until its depressing end.
And what an ending it is, as it felt like I had been punched in the gut upon seeing it.
Before this ending though, there are many standout scenes, from a comical montage involving a scheme Song’s character Kim Ki-taek plays, to the turning point about half way through the movie.
Like Joker, Parasite does an incredible job of bring across its message about class with the film not just being accessible to a South Korean audience but a worldwide one as well.
I would say that Parasite is my second favourite Bong Joon-ho film, coming behind Memories of Murder, making it a masterpiece in its own right.
Hopefully, its Oscar wins will make the Academy consider more non-English speaking films going forward.

1. 1917.

1917

It took a couple days for me to decide what was my favourite film of 2019, with me constantly switching between Joker, Parasite and 1917.
The Sam Mendes film eventually won out though because of its excellent story, cinematography, acting, special effects and score, all of which combined to create my favourite movie of the year.
1917 follows two soldiers in World War One, Lance Corporals William Schofield (George MaKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), who are tasked with delivering a message to call off an oncoming attack that will result in the deaths of 1,600 men.
The film is gloriously shot, with it all being made to look like one tracking shot.
If Roger Deakins hadn’t won for Best Cinematography then the world would certainly have gone mad.
This film style lead to many adrenaline rush fueled scenes that had me gripping the arm rests of my movie seat as if my life depended on it.
The rush through the seemingly abandoned German trenches, the scene in the destroyed town, and the final mad dash are scenes that I will remember for years to come.
I jumped, I cringed, and I very nearly cried by the end.
1917 made me feel all kinds of emotions and reminded me why films about this awful time of war need to be made.
I would go as far to say that 1917 is not just my favourite film of 2019 but also up there with Saving Private Ryan as one of the best war films of all time.
Be sure to watch this film in theaters for one hell of a great experience.

My Hero Academia Season Four, Episode Eighteen School Festival Review: A Gentle Episode.

4 stars
After battling an evil mastermind, his successor, a hero killer, and a crime boss, My Hero Academia season four, episode 18 introduces the next big threat our heroes will have to face… YouTubers!
While that line I just used is certainly an overplayed joke, it is more than warranted here with the introduction of the new villains for this arc, Gentle and La Brava.
I am sure many people are confused about how the series went from a dark villain like Overhaul to lighthearted ones but the role they to play in the story going forward is great.
Along with this, their introduction also perfectly sets up both characters with an element of humor.
It’s actually quite funny how when you first see Gentle’s face on video while the UA students are celebrating the Cultural Festival he looks threatening, only to be shown the full video later in the episode where he is revealed to be a fame seeker.
The scene with him accidentally splashing his tea on himself and La Brava also gets a laugh.
Right from the beginning of “School Festival” the humor is present from Deku and Aoyama’s awful dance skills, to Tsuyu stringing Mineta up, to Iida’s reaction to everyone’s ideas for the festival, and to Sato imagining Todoroki and Bakugo taking part in a dance tournament.
Honestly, the only part of the episode with any dark undertones, like those seen in the previous arc, is the one where Eri reveals that she doesn’t know how to smile.
I just wanted to give her the biggest hug during this moment.
However, the scene is still humorous because of Mirio’s interactions with her, and the smile plot line will lead to one of the most heartwarming moments of the series.
Another big highlight of the episode is Jirou because this episode makes it clear why she is so prevalent in the OP.
We see the beginning of her arc in “School Festival” as she deals with insecurities about her music and how it involves her hero work, but she eventually resolves to keep on rockin’ by leading Class 1-A’s band performance for the festival.
Episode 18 saw the beginning for a lot of fantastic character arcs like Jirou’s, Eri’s and, of course, Gentle and La Brava’s.
It works as a great foundation episode and it is also pretty funny to boot.

Uncut Gems Review: Wait, Adam Sandler is Actually Fantastic Here?

4 and a half stars
“God damn it, Howard!”
I lost count of how many times I screamed this at my laptop screen as I watched the character of Howard Ratner, who is played brilliantly by Adam Sandler, screw himself over time and time again in the Safdie brothers’ film, Uncut Gems.
What’s that, you ask?
“Adam Sandler actually delivers a brilliant performance in this film?”
Why yes, he does.
I know it sounds hard to believe; after all Sandler’s performances and movies mostly earn collective eye rolls these days but not in this movie.
Uncut Gems follows Howard, jewelry store owner and problem gambler, whose addiction to making bets and making them big causes his life to spiral out of control.
If I could describe the film in two words it would be an adrenaline rush because that both perfectly encapsulates the ride Uncut Gems takes you on and also how the movie firmly puts you in the mindset of Sandler’s character.
Sandler lifts this movie up to another level with his performance, making you understand and even sympathize with Howard, even though in hindsight he is not a very likeable person.

Sandler got snubbed
Sandler definitely got snubbed at the Oscars. His performance is one of the best of the year, alongside Joaquin Phoenix in Joker and Adam Driver in Marriage Story.

He is not the only one giving a great performance, though, as Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Eric Bogosian, Keith Williams Richards, and even Kevin Garnett all do amazing jobs.
The film is also very well shot and conversations feel natural and hectic, applying to the adrenaline rush of the film.
A rush that culminates in an ending that literally made me shout out in shock.
This ending was perfect for the film and it also blew me away with how realistic it all felt.
Uncut Gems is another fantastic movie from 2019 that will hopefully begin a return to quality with the films Adam Sandler is in.

Parasite Review: Who is The True Parasite?

5 stars
Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite made history at the Oscars by being the first non-English film to win Best Picture.
I remember thinking that 1917 would win the award but then Bong won Best Director and that made me do a double take and wonder if it could win.
Lo and behold, Parasite was awarded Best Picture and I was thrilled, even though I hadn’t watched the movie yet.
The reason for this is because the academia has almost always awarded only English films and the fact that a South Korean film won Best Picture could open the door for more foreign films being nominated in other categories.
I have my fingers crossed that the day will come when anime gets the recognition it deserves in the Best Animated Film category.
Back to Parasite, after it won the award, I knew I could no longer sit on it and had to watch the film.
Coming into it, I had no idea what to expect other than I would almost certainly find it fantastic; this is Bong Joon-ho we’re talking about, after all.
I have watched a lot of his films over the years from The Host, to Snowpiercer, to Okja, but my favorite film of his is definitely Memories of Murder, which is a deeply disturbing masterpiece.
And, while I do not think the film is quite as good as Memories of Murder, I can state with absolute certainty that Parasite is a masterpiece too and more than deserving of the Best Picture award.
Is it my favorite film of 2019?
Well, as of this moment, I am unsure if I enjoyed it more than 1917 and Joker but it is definitely up there.
The film follows two families, the Kims and the Parks, who live in two very different worlds.
While the Parks are wealthy and live the good life, the Kims are impoverished and live in a half-basement where they struggle to support themselves.

the Kims
The dire situation of the Kims is made perfectly clear in the opening scene, making you understand their parasitic scheme to infiltrate the Parks’ house.

After the son of the family, Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), manages to scam his way into the Parks’ house as a tutor, the entire family eventually scams their way in as well, until all are employed by the Parks who believe they are not respected experts in their fields.
What happens next, I will not spoil, but the movie takes a turn at a certain point that raises the tension to another level and keeps you guessing as to what will happen.
Not only was I constantly trying to guess where the movie would go (and wrongly at that) but I was also constantly wondering who the real parasite of the movie is, the Kims, the Parks, or both?

symbolism
Parasite is jam-packed with symbolism and themes that really get you thinking about class.

And then there is the ending, which is absolutely perfect and hit me like a train.
This gripping story is supported by the fantastic cast of Choi, Song Kang-ho, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, Lee Sun-kyun, and Cho Yeo-jeong, who all give amazing performances.
And, with Bong Joon-ho directing, the end result is a masterpiece of a film that will keep you riveted right up until the very end.
Bong does, indeed, deserve to “drink until the next morning.”

My Hero Academia Season Four Episode 17, Relief for Licence Trainees Review: Surprisingly Great.

4 stars
I felt that, after the average sixteenth episode of the fourth season of My Hero Academia, the seventeenth episode would be about the same.
So, imagine my surprise when I found that episode 17, “Relief for Licence Trainees ”, was actually pretty great.
I have read the manga and I don’t remember being particularly engaged during this section of it but something about the way it was adapted in the anime made me invested.
Starting off, the beginning moments of Todoroki, Bakugo, Inasa and Camie trying to win over the children ends great with the aspiring heroes using their quirks to create a playground to entertain them.
This resulted in some fantastic animation that really surprised me.
I would say that, while “Infinite 100%” has the best animation of the season so far by a wide margin, “Relief for Licence Trainees ” has the second best animation.
The use of Camie’s quirk to create illusions, along with Todoroki’s ice slide make for a beautiful visual.
Another thing that I greatly appreciated is how they kept an important piece of Bakugo’s development.
Last episode, one of these moments was cut, so it was great to see Bakugo grab the lead kid’s hand and tell them not to look down on others or they will never realize their own flaws.
This shows just how Bakugo has changed from the arrogant bully of the first season, even if he is still incredibly aggressive in his actions.
Meeting outside the building, we then get a continuation of the beginning of Endeavor’s redemption.
In a scene that visually resembles Deku and All Might’s conversation in episode four, Endeavor tries to make up with Todoroki, telling his son that he is proud of him and will now try to work towards being a hero that he can be proud of.
The change in the pro-hero even seems to spark Inasa into action because, after punching himself in the face, he tells Endeavor that he will be cheering him on.
This moment both shows great changes in the character of Endeavor and Inasa and also provides brilliant humor, which can also be seen through Camie’s illusion of Todoroki and how Bakugo reacts to it at the beginning of the episode.
But it is with Aoyama’s weird behavior that the true humor of this episode lies because he starts trying to befriend Deku in what are pretty creepy, yet funny, ways.
From his feeding Deku cheese when he is not expecting it, to sneaking by Deku’s dorm room and leaving a cheese message for him.
The horror music during this second event really sells the impression that Aoyama has some kind of sinister intent, which is what I felt when reading the manga because, back then, I though this was Horikoshi hinting that Aoyama was the traitor.
Thankfully, this was all just Aoyama’s unique way of trying to become friends with Deku because he found them to be similar because they both have trouble controlling their quirks.
So, all in all, “Relief for Licence Trainees ” is an episode that surprised me because of how enjoyable I found it to be.
With fantastic animation, some great growth for Endeavor and Aoyama and some hilarious moments, it definitely left more of an impression than I thought it would going in.

1917 Review: An Epic War Film That is One of The Year’s Best Films.

5 stars
I only have a few more films to watch and review before I make my top 10 films of 2019 list and, until yesterday, Sam Mendes’ 1917 was one of them.
Coming into the film, I expected it to be great from what I had heard, but I was curious to see if it could dethrone my current film of the year, Joker. 
Well, after seeing 1917, I can honestly say that it is an incredibly close call to say which of them is better.
Both are fantastic movies for very different reasons.
Set in the titular year of 1917, the film follows two soldiers, Lance Corporals William Schofield (George McKay) and Thomas Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) who are sent on a dangerous mission to call off an oncoming attack on the enemy, which is actually a trap.
If they fail, 1,600 men will be killed, including Blake’s brother.
And so begins the two soldiers’ journey in an epic war film that is a feast for the eyes, with the entire movie being made to look like one shot, from the unnatural beauty of a burning building, to the disturbing no man’s land where countless men lie dead.
If Roger Deakins does not get an Oscar for his cinematography for this film, then it will be one of the biggest snubs in Oscar history.

burning
Give Roger Deakins the Oscar for 1917. Enough said. 

Another thing that impressed me about this film was how attached I became to both Schofield and Blake, even though we know only a few things about them.
This reminded me a lot of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.
My one issue with Dunkirk is that I initially found it very difficult to care for the characters because we knew virtually nothing about them.
However, 1917 found a way to keep Schofield and Blake’s backgrounds vague enough, while revealing enough information about them for us to care at the beginning, and then allowing our admiration for them to grow through their actions.

blake and schofield
McKay and Chapman do great jobs as Schofield and Blake on their desperate mission to save 1,600 lives.

This all culminates in various intense war scenes that had me clenching the arm of the movie seat I was in like crazy.
Two particular scenes, one of them in a destroyed town and the climax of the film, will stick in my head for a while because of how intense they are.
I even came close to crying at a few points but managed to persevere.
My family, who I went to see the movie with, on the other hand, could not hold it in, which tells you how emotionally investing this film is.

run boy run
1917 may very well get the tears rolling because of its numerous, hard hitting scenes.

1917 is easily one of the best films of the year.
It has been getting a lot of Best Picture Oscar buzz and I can definitely see why.
I’m still considering if I like it more than Joker but, even if I decide I like that film more, you can expect to see 1917 high up when I eventually do my Top 10 Films of 2019 list.

My Hero Academia, Season Four, Episode Sixteen, Win Those Kids’ Hearts Review: The Beginning of Endeavor’s Rise.

3 stars
In the sixteenth episode of My Hero Academia’s fourth season, Todoroki, Bakugo, Inasa and Cammie began their provisional licence course and came up against the most dangerous, manipulative and evil foe they have had to face yet… children!
In all seriousness though, “Win Those Kid’s Hearts” is an average episode of My Hero Academia because it serves as a clear example of when the manga is better than the anime.
This is evident through a lot of the humor, which were much funnier in the manga, like when Gang Orca throws Todoroki, Bakugo and Inasa away while screaming, “disciplinary action!”
On top of this, the character development is not as good as the manga because a minor flashback that helps Bakugo grow is left out entirely.
And then, there are the kids whose hearts they are trying to win over.
While their oddly very good psychological manipulation is very funny, the episode acting like they are some kind of big threat with intimidating music is very cringey.
The saving grace of “Win Those Kid’s Hearts” is definitely the humor and Endeavor.
Now, while I did say that the humor is a downgrade from the manga, a lot of it is still pretty funny and will honestly be hilarious for anime only viewers.
And then there is Endeavor, who has excitingly begun the character arc that has made him one of the manga’s best characters.
When I made my Top 10 My Hero Academia Characters list, Endeavor barely missed out but, with all that’s happened in the manga since then and looking back on prior chapters, he is clearly a better character than I gave him credit for and should have been on the list.
If you are an anime only, you may be confused about this since Endeavor is an abuser and are probably wondering how any character arc could make him likeable.
Well, to you, I say wait until the end of the season and then you will understand.
As for the current episode, Endeavor’s scenes are definitely the best because we get insight into his character, and already see how he has started to grow through seeking All Might’s help by asking him what it means to be the symbol of peace.
Endeavor asking All Might for advice is something he would never have done when he was first introduced, showing the pressure he is now under now with his new title as the number one hero.
This growth makes him the most interesting character of the episode.
Also, him constantly shouting “SSSSHHHOOOOOTTTOOOO!!!!!” is just really funny.
Overall, “With Those Kid’s Hearts” is an average episode of My Hero Academia.
It is definitely down there with “The Scoop on UA Class 1-A” as one of the weakest episodes of the season.
Still, it is a good episode what with the humor and Endeavor’s character development.

Attack on Titan Chapter 126, Pride Review: A Rare Disappointment.

2 and a half stars
The past 15 chapters of Attack on Titan have been incredible, god tier levels of writing.
So, I was both surprised and saddened to find that I did not like Chapter 126, “Pride.”
Although there are some good things about the chapter, the majority of it feels rushed and there is one plot point that is a complete waste of time.
This plot point is, of course, the whole Connie trying to feed Falco to his mother situation.
Before actually reading this chapter, I was very excited to see how this storyline would pan out because I was certain it would lead to the return of Historia.
Now, I will admit that I did let my expectations get in the way, so that not happening is a big reason for my disappointment.
However, even if my opinion was not influenced by that theory, I am certain that I would still find this subplot pointless.
Absolutely nothing came out of this storyline.
The only interesting part was Armin’s attempted suicide, which I found intense for the brief second that it happened.
The rest of it is a waste because it is entirely predictable, with Falco being saved, and ultimately adds nothing to the main plot.
Seriously, how does Connie trying to bring back his mother tie into the Rumbling in any way?
It feels like a pointless side quest and should have been removed entirely.
If it had, then it would have given Isayama enough time to expand on Hange, Levi and the rest of the Scouts teaming up with the Warriors, which was sorely needed.
At the end of the last chapter, the two came across Pieck and Magath and this lead me to believe that much of Chapter 126 would be their conversation as they slowly and organically came to the conclusion that they should work together.
But, nope; instead Hange suggests working together immediately, despite the fact that they had all been trying to kill each other not two hours ago.
This rushed alliance is also evident with Annie, who Armin and Connie run into after their whole pointless subplot.
They find Annie eating a pie, which Connie makes an actually funny joke about.
However, while I did like the joke, it did not fit the situation at all as things should have been way more tense between the three.
Not only this but Annie deciding to team up with them is left entirely off screen and explained in a letter she leaves to Hitch.
Talk about disappointing.
On a completely unrelated note, Pieck’s last name is revealed to be Finger this chapter, which I hope is a mistranslation because that is just too funny to take seriously.
Another disappointing thing about the chapter is how some characters feel, well, out of character.
The most obvious of these is Mikasa who is unusually cruel to a dying Louise, who she retrieves her scarf from.
The girl who admired Mikasa is literally dying before her eyes and Mikasa just takes the scarf and leaves her to die without a goodbye.
This made her incredibly unlikable this chapter.
Some have speculated that the reason Mikasa was so cold to Louise is because she reminded her of a part of herself she has come to hate but, if that is the case, then it should have been explained way better.
And then there is Falco whose character is also treated badly through how he reacts to his brother Colt’s death.
There is literally only two panels of him reacting to the news and then he is shown to be completely fine throughout the rest of the chapter.
He even appears to be joking with Gabi when they run into Annie.
The kid just accidentally killed his brother and you wouldn’t even know it had affected him at all by the end of the chapter.
My disappointment in this chapter does not appear to be just me, though, as many other people are also criticizing it online as well about problems like this.
However, what people seem to be criticizing the most is the end of the chapter where Reiner is kicked awake by Annie and sees the Scouts and Warriors are now working together, with Connie telling him they are going “to save the world.”
Many people find this line to be cringy, however, this is one of the few things people say is a problem with “Pride” that I actually think is alright.
This is because of how it ties into Reiner’s arc.
Back in the Marley Arc, it is revealed that Reiner was obsessed with saving the world, which is one of the reasons why he destroyed the walls, kicking off the story.
Now, he has an opportunity for redemption by completing the goal he always hoped to as a child.
This is one of the few moments in the chapter that had any thematic weight so, despite its cringyness, I give it a pass.
Along with this, there are some parts of the chapter that I actually really liked.
The best moment of the chapter is definitely the rescue of Yelena and Onyankopon, with him and Jean being the standout characters of “Pride.”
Onyankopon continues to grow on me as he points out the Yeagerists’ hypocrisy in condemning others to death when they were the targets of this nine years ago.
As for Jean, his line that if he hadn’t rescued them, “the bones turned to ashes wouldn’t forgive me for that” is very moving because it shows he still remembers Marco.
Also, the moment when he splashes water in Onyankopon’s face is really funny.
There are a lot of funny moments in this chapter, even if the scenes they are in are not very good, like  Connie’s ridiculous excuse to Falco about why he brought him to see the Titan, Connie laughing at Annie for stuffing her face, and Annie kicking Reiner to wake him up.
Another detail I liked was Hange crying at the beginning of the chapter when she guns down the two Yeagerists, which was very touching.
There is also some intrigue building around set up plot points like why Magath wanted Yelena to be rescued and who the mysterious figure who saw Armin, Annie, Mikasa and the others escape, is.
My money is on either Zeke or Keith.
So, despite all of its problems, “Pride” does have some good moments that keep it from completing failing.
Back to the criticism surrounding it, a lot of people are taking one bad chapter to mean that the ending of the series is going to go downhill from here.
We have had 15 incredible, mind blowing chapters before this point and now we have one bad chapter and everyone assumes the series is doomed.
People need to calm down because there could be a number of reasons why this chapter is so flawed.
Hajime Isayama could have been rushed like with Chapter 119 or decided to bypass this stuff quickly to get to the good stuff.
We really don’t know and we should at least see a few more chapters before saying that Attack on Titan is in danger of having a bad ending.

BoJack Horseman Final Season Part Two Review: You do the Hokey Pokey and you Turn Yourself Around.

4 and a half stars
And so one of the greatest animated series of all time has come to an end.
What a wild, depressing, existential ride it has been.
Why Netflix decided to pull the pin on BoJack Horseman I will never understand but I am at least thankful that they gave creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and the other writers enough time to end the show right.
And end it did, with the second half of season six bringing an end to the character arcs of BoJack (Will Arnett), Diane (Alison Brie), Todd (Aaron Paul), Princess Carolyn (Amy Seradis), and Mr Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tomkins) amazingly.
All five of these characters get great sendoffs that fit their storylines well.
As set up in the first half of the final season, many of BoJack’s past misdeeds catch up with him, especially the death of Sarah Lynn.
One thing I believed coming into this second half was that BoJack would have truly changed for the better and try to make amends for all he had done.
Well, now I can see that I clearly overestimated BoJack because he is still the painfully flawed, yet somehow still sympathetic, character he has always been.
We even learn some disturbing facts about some of the things he did that honestly made me feel a little guilty for sympathizing with him.

downer moment
Only BoJack could give horses a bad name while still being sympathetic.

But the way his story ends is perfect for him and can even be viewed as a punishment of sorts.
Then there is Diane and Princess Carolyn who both get fantastic endings as well that left me very touched.
As for Todd, he continued to be as insightfully wacky as ever in the conclusion of his story, making the simple nursery rhyme of the Hockey Pokey  inspirational.
The last of the main cast in Mr Peanutbutter, who I was honestly concerned about in the first half of the season.
I thought they were backtracking on his character arc but, thankfully, they follow through on it in this half, giving him a satisfying conclusion as well.
Then there is Hollyhock, with the way her relationship with BoJack developed in the wake of her learning about his horrible actions being realistic, yet heartbreaking.

pete repeat
BoJack and Hollyhock’s relationship does not really have a resolution but that’s the tragic point.

As well as the characters, many of the episodes are incredible as well, especially the last two.
The fifteenth episode, “The View From Halfway Down” is actually pretty horrifying at times and is easily one of the show’s best episodes.
And then there is the finale, the perfectly titled “Nice While It Lasted”, which wraps up all the character arcs and ends on a note that hits you right in the feels.

halfway down
The last two episodes of BoJack Horseman are haunting and conclusive.

There is a lot to love about the second half of the final season.
However, sadly, it is not perfect.
I, for one, was disappointed about how various characters got sidelined.
This is most obvious with Gina who it felt like the show was hyping up to be one of the people who exposed BoJack.
However, she and the trauma she suffered from her experience are never brought up again apart from a blink and you’ll miss it moment.
But, even though I was disappointed by this aspect, there is still so many amazing things about this final season and BoJack Horseman as a whole.
In fact, I think there is only one thing that I can say that will sum up my feelings about the show having ended.
BoJack Horseman is gone and everything is worse now.

 

My Hero Academia Season Four, Episode Fifteenth, Smoldering Flames Review: Is This Attack on Titan?

3 and a half stars
With the Overhaul Arc officially over, “Smoldering Flames”, the fifteenth episode of My Hero Academia’s fourth season, kicked off the next arc by introducing an important villain.
As Gran Torino and Tsukauchi succeed in capturing the warp villain Kurogiri, they unwittingly stumble across All For One’s most faithful servant, Gigantomachia.
I’m sure a lot of people got Attack on Titan vibes, due to the naked giant with a radio around his neck having a striking resemblance to that series’ Titans.
Along with this, I am also sure that a lot of people would have recognized Gigantomachia because this is not the first time we have seen him before.
There was a brief tease of him around the end of season two when the new members of the League of Villains were being introduced, and he was seen more prominently in Kirishima’s flashback during the “Red Riot” episode this season.
Although, many people may be expecting Gigantomachia to have a big role given this introduction, I’m afraid to say that this was yet another tease because there are still a few arcs to go before the massive villain becomes important to the story.
Next to Gigantomachia, the second most exciting thing about “Smoldering Flames” is the new OP “Star Maker” and ED “Shout Baby”.
I would say that both of these OP’s are way better than the ones for the Overhaul Arc with both of them having great examples of symbolism and foreshadowing for future events.
My one criticism of the OP is that I wish we had seen more of Gentle and La Brava, who will be the two big villains (although not-so sinister ones) of this arc.
Back to the episode, the rest of it is pretty standard with a few good laughs.
The best of these comes when Iida orders the rest of Class 1-A to leave Deku and the others alone, until Deku says they are fine, which Iida uses an excuse to scream that he was so worried about them while shaking Deku.
We also get the beginning of Bakugo and Todoroki retaking the provisional licence, along with Inasa and Cammie, who is definitely not Toga this time.
There is also Present Mic who provides some good laughs like always, with his repeated jabbing of Baukgo’s head and deciding to grab some coffee to get away from All Might and Endeavor’s conversation, which will happen next episode.
The one bit of the episode that I feel drags things down a bit is the repeated showing of events that we have already seen.
For example, there is an entire scene where Deku basically reflects on everything that happened in the Overhaul arc, and we are shown the whole thing in a quick flashback, as if the director thinks we did not watch the last 15 episodes.
Overall though, “Smoldering Flames” is another good episode of My Hero Academia that may start off tense but ends on a light hearted note that the rest of the season will most likely follow up on.
Unless, of course, we actually get the Pro-Hero Arc this season as well.
We are shown images from that arc in the OP so here’s to hoping it is not a tease for season five and we will actually see this storyline at the end of the season.