The Walking Dead Issue 189: Lines are Drawn, Review: More Mediocrity.

two-and-a-half-stars
Another month, another mediocre The Walking Dead issue.
In all honesty I have grown pretty tired of the Commonwealth story arc.
Sure, there have been some really good things about it like the discovery of Michonne’s daughter Elodie, Dwight’s death, and the political commentary.
However, all of this good stuff is surrounded by features that bog it down.
Elodie is not very important to the Commonwealth story right now, Dwight’s death has failed to have any meaningful, lasting impact, and the political commentary, although interesting, at first, does not have a very interesting story to go along with it.
This has all resulted in a mediocre story arc that has me less and less excited every time I read the next issue.
Sadly, this mediocrity continues with Issue 189, “Lines are Drawn”, which was hyped up by numerous events in the previous installment, but that hype fails to go anywhere.
I will begin by talking about my biggest problem with this issue, and that is the scenes with Eugene and Stephanie.
At the end of the previous issue, the two were about to be surrounded by a Walker herd that had accidentally been drawn into the area.
The consequences of this?
Absolutely nothing, of course!
Eugene and Stephanie just get trapped temporarily in a train before Eugene uses a fire hydrant to help them escape.
There is only one reason that this is even a plot point in this issue and that can be summed up in two words.
“Artificial Tension.”
Robert Kirkman appears to be worried that people will lose interest in his political fueled story arc so he throws in some random action sequences that have no real impact on the story to try and keep his readers entertained.
However, the fact that these scenes have no consequence makes them very boring and hard to get into.
Speaking of people losing interest in the political fueled story though, it would not surprise me if they did, because this issue once again failed to go anywhere exciting.
Laura breaks Mercer out of prison, just like what was hyped up in the cover, only for the issue to end with him deciding to try and put Rick in power to keep the peace.
I was annoyed to read this cliffhanger because it took all of the exciting buildup with Mercer breaking out of prison, and Rick having to escort Pamela and her family out of the Commonwealth for their own safety, and seems to have settled it too easily.
Also, Rick taking over another community is pretty much a cliche at this point.
I would be surprised if Rick is not the king of the world by the end of the story.
In all seriousness, though, this is a disappointing end to an issue that seemed like it was building up to something big.
There is one touching scene between Rick and Carl that I do like but, otherwise, this is another mediocre issue in a long line of them.
My low rating for “Lines are Drawn” comes, not from it being a bad issue, because it is not, but from the constant mediocrity of this story arc making it very difficult to keep my interest up.
But, who knows, maybe the Commonwealth story arc will get interesting as it goes on?
Hopefully?
In any case we are almost ten issues away from issue 200 so, with any luck, I will be fully engaged in The Walking Dead‘s story again by the time we reach it.
But, for now, I am struggling to stay interested.

Captain Marvel Review: Some Good, Some Bad.

3 stars
The reactions to the newest edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been… interesting to say the least.
Captain Marvel is a film that has been plagued by controversy, with people deciding to hate the movie no matter what and people deciding to love the movie no matter what, despite having not seen it yet.
But I want to judge this film based on its own merits, rather than the quite annoying controversy surrounding it on both sides.
Still, coming into Captain Marvel, I did have my concerns.
The trailers had never really wowed me, and I hoped that they were not representative of the final product.
Sadly, for the most part, they were.
This is not to say Captain Marvel is a bad film, on the contrary there are some great things about it, but there are also numerous features that bring the movie down, creating a mixed bag of a film.

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There are both good and bad things about Captain Marvel, resulting in an enjoyable but flawed movie.

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, the titular Captain Marvel, a Kree Warrior who winds up on earth to hunt down the shape shifting Skrulls, and learns she may have had a life there.
What follows is an engaging mystery to uncover her past and what the Skrull’s true plans are.
The mystery elements surrounding Captain Marvel’s character is the highlight of the film for me, providing numerous twists and turns.
The action is entertaining, especially with the CGI, which de-ages Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clarke Gregg) fantastically.
The film also makes great use of the Skrulls’ ability to shape shift.
Speaking of the Skrull’s, Ben Mendlesohn is by far the best actor in the film as the Skrull Talos, who is an engaging character with relatable motivations.

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Mendlesohn is great as the complex “villain” Talos who, for some odd reason, has an Australian accent.

However, this is sadly not the case for Captain Marvel herself because it honestly felt like Larson was pulling her punches, acting wise.
She still turns out a good performance with some great moments, like in the scenes where her buddy-cop relationship with Nick Fury is put on full display, but it still often feels like she is holding back.
Whether this is because of her acting or direction, we will not know until we see her in Avengers Endgame.
But Captain Marvel herself is not the only character in the film who is problematic.
There are quite a few characters who feel out of place like Ronan (Lee Pace), who is completely pointless apart from nostalgia value.
Then there are the numerous plot holes that are created for prior films in the MCU through Captain Marvel’s appearance and interaction with Fury.
As for Fury, the way he loses his eye in this film has to be the worst part of Captain Marvel because of how astonishingly stupid it is.
So, Captain Marvel is a mixed bag overall.
The story, action and performances of some of the actors, especially Mendleshon, push it over into the category of a good film for me, but there are still numerous problems like with Brie Larson’s performance.
That said though, a touching tribute to the recently departed Stan Lee in the opening Marvel logo makes Captain Marvel more than worth the price of admission.

 

Attack on Titan Chapter 115 Support Review: YMIR FRITZ!?

5 stars
Well, what a surprising chapter this was.
Coming into Chapter 115 of Attack on Titan, “Support”, I had a feeling that Hange and Floch would most likely come across Zeke and Levi, and save them both.
While I was right about this, I absolutely did not expect everything else that happened in the chapter.
It is a mind blowing read that potentially gives us our first true look at the one and only Ymir Fritz, the most important character in all of Attack on Titan‘s lore.
This is another sign that the manga will soon be drawing to a close but, if this chapter is any indication, that ending should be fantastic.
The reveal of Ymir Fritz is by far the highlight of the chapter, and what she does says a lot about her involvement in the story.
We first see her when Zeke remembers pieces of his past before he dies.
I initially did not notice her because I was too angry about Zeke dying, since I feel he has so much left to do.
But then, after his death, a random Titan appears and, in a gruesome moment, cuts open its own stomach and stuffs Zeke inside.
I was very confused about this so imagine my shock when Zeke emerges from the Titan alive.
This shock was magnified when it is revealed that Zeke was resurrected, most likely by Ymir Fritz, using paths.
I am pretty sure this is her, since she looks like the Ymir Fritz from the various artworks, and it will be interesting to see how she continues to play a role in the story.
She clearly wants Eren and Zeke’s plan to succeed though because she saved him.
Probably the biggest shock from this scene, for me though, came when Zeke is being resurrected and the panel is an almost exact replica of when our Ymir ate Marcel and turned back into a human.
That means the shot of her in the desert looking up at the stars was actually her seeing the paths.
The fact that Hajime Isayama had this in mind when writing that scene is nothing short of mind  blowing.
I have said it before and I will say it again: Isayama has proven himself to be a genius with how he has constructed this story.
The rest of “Support” is just as amazing, with the chapter giving us more of an insight into Zeke’s past, Levi’s fate, an update on Yelena and the Yeagerists, and a surprising ending that has me eager to see what will happen next.
Starting off with Zeke, the flashback before his death and resurrection continued to add towards my level of sympathy for him.
We saw how he considered Xaver his true father, and his feelings when he learned Eren is his brother.
This leads to a scene I have been waiting a very long time to see.
This being Eren and Zeke interacting as brothers.
Despite their family connection, the two brothers have had barely any screen time together so I am glad the manga is finally delivering on that.
On top of this, Eren tells Zeke that he actually agrees with his plan to euthanize all Eldians.
However, I think this is definitely a lie and Eren is just using Zeke.
To what end though, I cannot be sure.
As for Levi’s fate, I am fairly certain that he is still alive, just horribly injured.
Upon finding him, Hange tells Floch that he is dead but, given that she glares at him after he asks to check Levi’s pulse and that she fled down river with Levi’s body, it is highly suggested that he is still alive.
Even so, Levi is still badly injured.
He has a massive scar on his face, missing fingers, and god knows what else.
Then there is the scene with Yelena and Pyxis, where she has manages to convince him to do what she says because of the contaminated wine they drank.
There are two interesting things to take away from this scene.
The first is that Yelena is using armbands to identify those who have drunk the wine, just like Marley uses to identify Eldians.
Pyxis points this out himself but Yelena says they can learn from their enemies, showing she is no better than Marley.
The second important take away is the presence of Onyankopon.
I wonder why Yelena is so quick to trust him, considering he seems to be on Hange and the Scouts’ side?
I have a theory that he will be the one to break Mikasa, Armin and the others out of their cell.
Finally, there is the surprising cliffhanger of the chapter.
Eren comes to see Gabi to get her to draw out the Warriors by blackmailing her with Falco’s life.
Before he can work anything out though, Pieck walks in, stabs Eren’s guard, and then holds him at gunpoint.
This makes not only for a great cliffhanger but also one that offers some interesting questions.
Where are Reiner and Porco?
What exactly is Pieck’s plan?
Since her Titan is the weakest I cannot see her defeating Eren so she must have something up her sleeve.
Maybe this will lead to her finding out that Annie is alive, who knows?
Whatever the case, this was a fantastic way to end the chapter.
“Support” is a mind blowing chapter with numerous unique twists and turns.
The only problem I have with it is that it raises a minor plot hole about why the warriors did not raid Eren’s basement all the way back in the Shiganshina arc, but this is a nitpick.
The rest of the chapter far overshadowed this minor detail and has me even more interested about where the series will go.
I especially cannot wait to see how Ymir Fritz factors into the story going forward

Psycho-Pass Season One Review: Criminal Commentary at its Best.

4 and a half stars
Crime Dramas are some of the most loved and successful shows on television so it was natural for anime to take a stab at it.
But with Psycho-Pass, the genre is taken a step further with Science Fiction, Cyberpunk elements incorporated to make for a great piece of commentary on criminality and justice.
Directed by Nayoshi Shiotani and Katsuyuki Motohiro, The series is set in a future where Japan is ruled by the Sibyl System, which scans people’s mental states to see if they could potentially become a criminal.
If a person registers as a latent criminal through the System’s scanners, they will either be arrested or killed, depending on the situation.
Those who are not killed are either confined or given the chance to join the MWPSB as Enforcers to work under the detectives and hunt down their fellow latent criminals with high Psycho-Pass readings.
One detective, Akane Tsunemori (Kana Hanazawa), is new on the job and thrust into a world of extreme violence where the system pulls the trigger.

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Akane taking on a job as a detective forces her to change, from a naive newbie, to a hardened detective in some great character development.

For this review, I will be solely focusing on season one rather than the entire series.
This is because I have heard season two is disappointing in comparison with the first, and since I love season one so much, I do not want it to reflect too negatively on my review of it.
Season one of Psycho-Pass is nothing short of a powerhouse season, with an amazing story, characters and commentary.
The story is absolutely enthralling with its various violent and disturbing cases that push the main characters to their very limits.
However, this also makes Psycho-Pass not for the faint of heart because of the messed up things in this series.
For example, episodes six to eight focus on a teenage serial killer at a girl’s school and this provides some of the most disturbing things I have seen on screen in a long time.

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The serial killer episodes from six to eight are the scariest in Psycho-Pass for me, with one of the darkest female characters I have ever seen.

With these constant moments of human depravity, it is no wonder the characters struggle so much, especially Akane, who changes from a naive girl to one of the strongest characters in the series, over the 22 episode season.
We can also see how the cases have affected her fellow detectives and enforcers, with Shinya Kogami (Tomokazu Seki) being a particular focus on how these cases changes a person.
The series even shows how the criminals are affected by the laws, with destroying the system being the main villain of season one Shogo Mikishima’s (Takahiro Sakurai) goal.
Mikishima is a great villain, with a scene between him and Akane in episode 11, “Saint’s Supper,” making him one of the most interesting characters in the series.

Mikishima and Kogami.jpg
Not only is Mikishima a fantastic villain, but his conflict with Kogami is set up and executed perfectly.

Both those on the side of the law and those against it come together in Psycho-Pass to create some truly great commentary on criminality and the justice system.
We see the extreme flaws of the Sibyl System and what it pushes people to commit, and yet, it is the only thing keeping order in Japan.
This commentary makes Psycho-Pass a very thoughtful series.
The season is so good that I only have one problem with it, and that is episode 12, “Crossroad of the Devil.”
This episode focuses on the backstory of a side character Yayoi Kunizuka (Shizuka Ito), who I never found to be all that interesting.
On top of this, her backstory does not serve much of a point in the series.
I felt it would have been better giving a backstory episode to Mikishima, or, better yet, Shuesi Kagari (Akira Ishida), who could have used one, considering where the writers take his character.
Still, even though I did have problems with “Crossroad of the Devil”, it is just a single episode so it does not completely damage my opinion of the anime.
Psycho-Pass is a great anime with some excellent commentary on criminality and the justice system.
It just might be too extreme for some people.
Enjoy it… if you have the stomach to.

Waco: More Biased Than Balanced.

3 and a half stars
The events of the 1993 Waco Siege at Mount Carmel Center is one of the most controversial sieges in history.
After a shootout, which left ten people dead, a 51 day standoff ensued between the FBI and a cult known as the Branch Davidians, lead by David Koresh.
The standoff ended in tragedy when a fire burned the compound to the ground, killing 76 people, many of them children.
Much controversy followed over whether the FBI had the right to siege the compound, who fired first, and who started the fire that took so may lives.
The answers to these questions may never be fully known, but last year’s six part miniseries, Waco, developed by John and Drew Dowdle, attempts to provide answers, basing them off the books by FBI negotiator Gary Noesner and survivor David Thibodeau.
My first impression of Waco was that it is a great show that expertly tackles the tragic events.
However, after thinking about things a little, I realised the show is quite problematic when it comes to where it shows sympathy.
I will start with my positive thoughts on the miniseries first, and there are many.
Probably the best thing about Waco is its fantastic performances, which allows the audience to sympathize both with those on the side of the FBI and the Branch Davidians.
Michael Shannon is great as Noesner, who is just trying to get everyone out alive, as is Rory Culkin as Thibodeau, who stays with the Branch Davidians out of a desire to protect those he cares for.
Best of all though is Taylor Kitsch as David Koresh himself.
Kitsch steals the show, making Koresh an extremely flawed yet sympathetic figure (although this is where my problem lies but we will get to that later).

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Kitsch is fantastic as David Koresh, and shows both the man’s virtues and vices. His performance made me understand why people followed Koresh.

On top of this, the story is gripping, with the final episode being difficult to watch.
A quiet moment between Noesner and Thibodeau near the end of the series speaks volumes of the extent of the tragedy that just unfolded on screen.
One of my favourite things about Waco, when I first started watching it, was how it portrays the events, specifically when it came to the FBI.
Many documentaries and new reports I have seen about the Waco Siege paint many of the Branch Davidians as monsters, while the FBI is viewed as doing nothing wrong.
Looking into the event, however, it is clear to see this is not entirely the case.
While the ATF and FBI did have good reason to take down Koresh, because of him marrying and impregnating girls as young as 14, the way they went about it was completely incompetent.
Koresh could have been arrested when he was out on a run, avoiding the opening shootout, and the rash decision making of the FBI lead to rising tensions during the standoff.
I was initially glad to see this miniseries rightfully directing some of the blame at the ATF and FBI for their actions and hoped for a more balanced take on the tragedy.
However, this was not to be because, rather than laying the blame on both sides, Waco appears to lay the majority of that blame at the feet of the FBI, presenting bias towards the Branch Davidians.
As I said, I feel the FBI is partially to blame for what happened, but so are the Davidians.
Koresh’s actions towards minors was certainly enough reason for his arrest but, somewhat disturbingly, the miniseries seems to brush this off rather quickly.
His marriage to underage girls is addressed but only briefly, as if the writers do not want you to lose sympathy for their take on Koresh.
There is nothing wrong with portraying Koresh as a human being, but providing someone with illegal weapons and statutory rape accusations against him with too much sympathy makes for a slightly off putting experience.
The amount of sympathy directed towards the rest of the Branch Davidians is warranted though, because many were not the evil figures they were painted to be by the media, but Koresh’s sympathy sticks out like a sore thumb.
Then there are the questions of  who shot first, and who started the fire.
Again, Waco shifts the blame for this at the ATF and FBI.
I think it would have been better for the series to leave these questions a mystery to the viewer.
There is, after all, still much contention about who did what and it would have made for a far more interesting experience, with the audience deciding who they believe to be ultimately responsible.

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It would have been better to allow the audience their own opinion on who started the fire that killed so many because it could have formed various different ideas about the tragedy.

But, while I did have a problem with the way blame seemed to solely be placed on the government in Waco, it was still highly effective in delivering its message about the government’s power in American lives.
Waco is still a fascinating experience to watch, but one that is more biased than balanced.

 

 

The Dragon Prince Season Two Review: Improved Animation and Story Telling.

4 stars
Although I did enjoy the first season of Netflix’s The Dragon Prince, I did find it to be a frustrating experience.
Created by Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond, there was a lot to love about season one but its animation and story telling left much to be desired.
Thankfully, I think season two improves and even fixes many of the series’ prior failings.
The biggest issue of season one, for me and a lot of other people, was the animation, with the frame rate being so abysmal that it took me out of many scenes.
This season, however, the animation has been improved greatly.
There are still a few instances of odd animation but it very rarely took me out of the moment and looks great most of the time.

Animation
The animation for the second season of The Dragon Prince is greatly improved, feeling more fluid this time.

Another element of the show that it improved on is the story.
While there was a lot to love about the story telling in the first season, I found some elements were introduced too abruptly and some story points felt a little odd.
Not for this season though because it all flows naturally.
Admittedly, the first few episodes are a bit of a slow burn but once the season hits episode five the story becomes highly engaging, with fantastic scenes and character moments.
Episode five, “Breaking the Seal,” and episode six, “Heart of a Titan”, are probably the best of the season, allowing me to care for characters I had not previously like Harrow (Luc Roderique) and his wife Sarai (Kazumi Evans).
Speaking of the characters, almost all of them have fantastic arcs.
Callum (Jack DeSena) has one of the best, with him struggling to regain his magic, the one thing that made him feel like he had purpose, which made me sympathize a lot with him.
Then there is Claudia (Racquel Belmont), who goes down a very dark path in the final episode, which has me excited about what will happen with her next season.
We even get some new characters who are just as great as the old ones.
There is the young leader Queen Aanya (Zelda Ehasz), who reminds me a lot of Lyanna Mormont from Game of Thrones, and a funny blind pirate named Villads (Peter Kelamis).
My favourite new character of the season is, without a doubt, the intimidating new villain Aaravos.
He is voiced by Erik Dellums, the voice of Koh in Avatar: The Last Airbender, which makes him even more threatening.
Aaravos is already one of the most interesting characters in The Dragon Prince and I found his storyline with Veren (Jason Simpson) to be the best of the season.

Aaravos
Aaravos looks set to be very important to the series because he is also the one who narrated the beginning of season one. This is good because he is a very interesting character.

What is not the best storyline of the season, however, is definitely Soren’s (Jesse Inocalla).
It is clear the writers were trying to make us sympathize with his character this season but, given his actions, I found it extremely hard to.
Although, they did redeem him somewhat by the end of the season.
Another small negative I have is the way the season ends.
The final episode, “Breathe”, ends pretty suddenly, making it a jarring experience.
It is not a huge issue but I think they should have ended the season on a different scene.
Overall, the season season of The Dragon Prince is a big improvement on the first, animation and story wise.
I can now confidently say that I am invested in this story.

 

The Umbrella Academy Review: Family Drama First, Superhero Series Second.

4 stars
Superheroes are everywhere these days.
There have been so many TV shows and movies about them that every piece of media that has them now has to incorporate something new to be successful.
Well, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy does this in spades by being a family drama first and a superhero series second.
Based off the graphic novel series by Gerad Way, and adapted by Steve Blackman, The Umbrella Academy follows a dysfunctional family of superheroes who reunite after the death of their terrible adopted father (Colm Feore).
After the reappearance of their time traveling brother Five (Aidan Gallagher), they learn that the world will end in eight days and set out to stop it.

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Gallagher does a fantastic job as Five, a fifty-eight year old trapped in a young teen’s body.

However, despite the coming apocalypse, the series focuses more on the relationships between its characters and it is all the better for it.
The Umbrella Academy is at its best when it pairs different characters together to play off one another.
This is helped by how great these characters are and how good of a job the actors portraying them do.
I cared for every member of the academy, from the sympathetic Vanya (Ellen Page), to the tragic Luther (Tom Hopper), to the regretful Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), to the stubborn Diego (David Castaneda), to the drug addict Klaus (Robert Sheenan).
Even the villains are likeable, with me actually cheering for the time traveling assassin Hazel (Cameron Britton) by the end.
The way the story revolves around these characters is fantastic, especially with the ending to episode eight, “I Heard A Rumor”, which had me screaming in shock at what happened.
The CGI is also amazing, with monkey butler Pogo (Adam Godley) looking like he came directly from the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy.

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The CGI on Pogo is stunning, given the budget the series probably had.

Then there is the music, which is well chosen, even incorporating some from Gerad Way himself into the mix.
But, while I did love all of this, The Umbrella Academy is not without its faults.
While the setup for the story is very interesting, with 43 women giving birth simultaneously, despite not being pregnant, there are numerous questions surrounding this that are never addressed.
For example, what happened to the other children who were not adopted?
Did they get powers too?
Even though these questions are not essential to the overall story of the season, it felt like some potentially interesting lore was being thrown away by it was not being addressed.
Another problem I have is with the final episode of the season, “The White Violin”, which just feels too short.
There are so many moments in this episode that are supposed to be powerful ones but they happen so quickly that there is no time to take it in.
That said, the ending cliffhanger is great.
In the end though, The Umbrella Academy season one is a great start to this series.
The character drama elements to the show are fantastic and bolstered by strong performances from all of the cast.
I hope it gets a second season because I will certainly be watching.

Alita: Battle Angel Review: A Fast Pace isn’t Always a Good Thing.

3 and a half stars
Live action anime adaptations do not have the best reputation.
They often end in failure by making so many changes to the story and characters that the film is almost unrecognizable from its source material.
Case and point, Dragonball: Evolution and Death Note. 
However, this does not appear to be the case with the latest anime adaptation Alita: Battle Angel. 
I cannot say that this film mostly adheres to the source material, because I have not read the manga or watched the anime, and some things obviously had to be changed for the film, but it still felt like I was watching an anime series in movie form.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron, Alita: Battle Angel follows the titular Alita (Rosa Salazar), a cyborg who sets out to uncover her past, while sinister forces attempt to kill her.
The film is a visual spectacle with many stunning shots.
Alita herself is completely CG and, while there is the occasional uncanny valley effect, it often looks incredible.
Her struggles and relationships with the other characters also does enough to get you to invest in the story and where it goes.

Battle Angel
Salazar does a great job as Alita and I did not find the CGI too distracting.

This is helped by a great cast, among them Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connely and Ed Skrein, as supporting characters.
As a result of these characters and the way scenes are shot, the action is especially thrilling, with my favourite scene of the movie being a battle between Alita and another cyborg Grewishka (Jackie Earl Haley).
However, even though I am throwing a heap of praise at Alita: Battle Angel, there are sadly a lot of problems.
I said that the film felt like it was adapting a lot from the manga and anime and this causes it to have a very fast pace.
As a result, storylines begin and end very quickly, without much time to take in the impact of it all.
All the story that gets thrown in also makes the film feel a bit too long, with the third act having so many action sequences that I am not sure which one of them is supposed to be the climax.
Another feature that suffers from this fast pace is the character arcs.
Specifically those of Connely and Keean Johnson’s characters.
These two have very similar arcs but, although they have a beginning and end, there is no middle.
Because of this, their characters just seem to quickly change with no build up.
It felt like there should have been a few more additional scenes to make these arcs flow better.
Along with this there, is a storyline line concerning Johnson’s character Hugo, which I found to be rather pointless, considering how it ends.

Hugo
Hugo, Alita’s love interest, is difficult to route for because of how his arc is cut down and a storyline that feels pointless after the film ends.

There are also negative effects to the positive I mentioned earlier that Alita: Battle Angel felt like an anime series in move format.
Because, while some things may work in an anime, this does not mean they will work in a film.
This caused many of the scenes and lines to produce quite a bit of cringe.
I found the line, “I do not stand by in the presence of evil”, to be particularly eye rolling.
Despite these problems though, I would still recommend Alita: Battle Angel.
Like I said, it is a visual spectacle, Alita is an interesting character, and the action scenes are thrilling.
Just do not expect this film to get a sequel because, even though it sets one up, I highly doubt it is going to make back the immense amount of money this movie cost so the studio will not want to risk it.
Alita: Battle Angel has its issues, but it is still one of the better live action anime adaptations.

 

The Walking Dead Issue 188, Falling into Place Review: Building to Something… Hopefully?

3 stars
Aside from Dwight’s death and some interesting political commentary, there has been very little that I have found to be investing in the last ten issues of The Walking Dead.
However, Issue 188, “Falling into Place”, seems to set this up to change.
The issue is average, just like many other issues in this arc, but it thankfully looks to be the one that will set the wheels in motion for the Commonwealth’s civil war.
Initially, this does not appear to be the case because Mercer is quickly arrested at the beginning of “Falling into Place”, before he can set his revolution into motion.
But, by the end of the issue, this revolution looks to be gaining full steam as Laura sets out to recruit George and the rest of Mercer’s men to rise against the establishment.
This looks set to commence next issue because the cover features Laura and two others storming the cell that Mercer is being kept in.
Rick and Michonne seem to have caught on to Laura by the end of the issue though, so it will be interesting to see what they do.
Speaking of Rick and Michonne ,this issue continues to disappointingly move away from their conflict, which was set up at the end of Issue 186.
It still feels weird to see that they have made up after Rick explicitly said he would never forgive her for putting him in a situation where he had to kill Dwight.
Despite Robert Kirkman seemingly abandoning Rick’s role to play in the upcoming civil war, Mercer thankfully continues to be a key player.
He gets one of the most interesting scenes in the issue where Pamela confronts him about his actions, only for Mercer to rightly criticize her hypocritical actions.
Along with the brewing the civil war, there is another feature that looks to bring much intensity to the next issue.
This is the cliffhanger of “Falling into Place”, which sees a heard of Walkers heading straight for Eugene and Stephanie, who have been left to work on their train.
While I did like this cliffhanger, the way the issue built up to it is a little contrived.
It all starts when Carl, Jesus, Arron, Dante and Siddiq, who were sent by Maggie to check in with Rick at the Commonwealth, come across Princess.
The synopsis of this issue tries to be dramatic with the line “is Princess friend or foe?” but we all knew she was not going to be.
This turns out to be the case when she runs away, only for them all to run into a herd of Walkers to create some artificial tension, oh joy!
Even though I did not like how obviously set up this scene felt, I will admit it did lead to some good banter between Carl and Princess.
I chuckled when Carl told her that being a loner is “total bulls*!t” and she replies, “you don’t have to curse.”
It makes me wonder what a scene between Princess and Negan would be like.
She would be horrified.
After this, the group diverts the herd and it unfortunately reaches Eugene and Stephanie at the end of the issue.
As for their fates, I am unsure if Kirkman will kill them off or not.
Eugene has become a very important character in the comics and I do not know if Kirkman would kill him off right after Dwight.
As for Stephanie, I find it unlikely she will be killed of because we just met her and she has not received much proper development yet.
Still, I do have some hope that this herd and the coming civil war in the Commonwealth will finally bring the excitement needed for this arc.
Overall, “Falling into Place” was another average issue in The Walking Dead. 
Things look to get more exciting in the next few issues but, if they do not then I cannot see the Commonwealth story arc being anything better than just average.

Kingdom Hearts 3 Review: Prepare to be Confused.

3 and a half stars
I fondly remember the first time I came across Kingdom Hearts.
I was nine years old and had gone over to a friend’s house, where he was playing the first section of the game on the Destiny Islands.
The game looked like a lot of fun to me and I looked at the cover to see what it was called and was shocked to see Donald and Goofy on it.
My friend explained to me that the game was a mix between Disney Properties and Final Fantasy, which intrigued me further, so I bought the game at the first opportunity.

Kingdom Hearts cover
My first time seeing the Kingdom Hearts cover left me very confused about why Donald Goofy were on it.

Needless to say, I absolutely loved the first game and, after finishing it, quickly moved on to play the sequel Kingdom Hearts 2, unaware there had been an installment in between, Chain of Memories.
Despite my confusion about this, I loved Kingdom Hearts 2 even more than the first one and eagerly awaited Kingdom Hearts 3.
Over a decade later, the game has finally been released, and, boy, is it confusing.
This is because, in between Kingdom Hearts 2 and 3, there have been numerous spin off games that tie into the series.
I managed to play most of these games because of the remixes that were released and I looked up the rest of the story for the games I did not play.
Despite this, I was still incredibly confused by Kingdom Hearts 3‘s story to say the least.
What was once a simple story about light vs darkness has devolved over the years into a convoluted mess involving time travel, clones, people trapped in other’s hearts, multiple versions of the same people, and numerous story points that need to be seen to be believed.
This, unfortunately, makes the story of Kingdom Hearts 3 quite a slog to sit through, and the game itself is only saved by likeable characters, the worlds you visit, and strong gameplay.
The characters and their relationships were one of the few things that kept me invested in the story.
Had it not been for the likes of Sora, Donald, Goofy, Riku, Mickey, Axel, Aqua, and others, I would have completely zoned out.

Sora and the gang
The characters are what keep the overly convoluted story in Kingdom Hearts 3 from falling apart.

Although, that said, Kairi continues to be the useless Princess Peach of this franchise.
As for the villains, I actually liked how a lot of them were handled during the final stretch of the game.
I especially liked Master Xehanort’s motivations and how his story concluded.
Then there are the gameplay and worlds, which are by far the highlights of the game and expands on the previous Kingdom Hearts games in every single way.
Whereas previous worlds felt confined and somewhat lifeless, the worlds of Kingdom Hearts 3 have a massive scope and feel alive.
The beauty of these worlds is also highlighted by the excellent upgrade in animation.
Not to mention the nostalgia of visiting these various worlds.
Some of the worlds like Toy Story and Monsters Inc. are a treasure to visit.
Sadly, some of the worlds like Pirates of the Caribbean  and The Final World are a chore to play through, but the other great worlds more than make up for them.
Then there is the gameplay accompanying these worlds, which leads to extremely fun combat scenarios.
Utilizing different Keyblades and trying out various Disney ride themed attacks is very enjoyable.
The bosses are also incredibly fun to fight and very inventive, with many forcing you to use different tactics to beat them.
I would say though that the game is a bit too easy until the end.
I was looking for a real challenge when playing and I did not get this until arriving at the Keyblade Graveyard.

armor zehanort.jpg
While most of the game is very easy, the final series of bosses are much more difficult, especially the final forms of Master Xehanort.

Still, despite how easy most of the game is, it is still really fun to play.
Again, it is the story and how convoluted it has become that drags down this game.
The story is full of plot holes, unnatural dialogue and enough deus ex machinas to make a drinking game out of it. 
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a fun game but good luck trying to understand what is going on.