Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review: A Bloody, Slice of Life, Love Letter.

5 stars
Coming into Quentin Tarintino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I had no idea what the runtime was.
After watching the film, and enjoying it immeasurably, I checked my watch to see how much time had past and was shocked to see that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had gone for two hours and forty minutes.
When you watch a long film but it feels like its over in minutes, that is when you know you have just seen a great movie.
It happened when I watched Avengers: Endgame earlier this year and it happened again with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as struggling actor Rick Dalton and his stuntman Cliff Booth respectively, as Dalton dwells on his failing career in the 60s with Booth for support.

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The friendship of Dalton and Booth is natural and often hilarious, with DiCaprio and Pitt doing amazing jobs.

Parallel to their story, we get Sharon Tate’s (Margot Robbie) as well in the build up to the infamous murders committed by the followers of Charles Manson (Damon Herriman).
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been described as a “love letter to ’60’s L.A” by the Hollywood Reporter, and this is certainly the case.
You can tell just from watching the film that Tarintino is someone who loves movies.
My favourite scenes of the film are the ones where aspects of cinema come into play.
The scenes where we are presented with Dalton acting as a villain on a show with a young costar Trudi (Julia Butters), and one where Tate goes to watch one of her own movies, The Wrecking Crew, are particular highlights.

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The interactions between Dalton and Trudi are probably my favourite part of the film with the TV show homages and insights into Dalton’s character. 

The film also has a lot of tension as well, due to the creepy nature of the Manson family, resulting in an almost nail biting scene about half way through.
It is the friendship between Dalton and Booth that is the true heart of the film, though.
Both DiCaprio and Pitt give incredible performances as these characters, allowing us to relate to them despite their less than admirable qualities.
And they are a part of a very large ensemble cast that includes Kurt Russel, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, and Al Pacino.
With such a large cast and runtime it will make some wonder where the film is going… until the ending.
Honestly, I did not expect this kind of ending but, given that this is Tarintino we are talking about, I definitely should have.
All I can say about it is that it was a blast to watch.
I was laughing so hard at what was happening and, after a few minutes, I really began to question my mental state in doing so.
One thing I especially loved about the ending is its final seconds.
The final moments of the film really highlight the message that Tarantino is trying to sell, not just about Hollywood and the fate of Dalton and Booth but also the, sadly, very real life Tate murders as well.
It feels like a reflective ending that made me feel incredibly sad.
Overall, I absolutely loved Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
It has fantastic acting and amazing direction with all its movie homages, and a story that builds towards a darkly humorous, yet reflective, ending.
If you love movies then you should definitely see this in theaters.

Attack on Titan Chapter 120 Predictions.

Chapter 119 of Attack on Titan was one of the manga’s most shocking with an incredible cliffhanger that left my jaw on the floor.
I never expected Eren to get his head blown off, and the impact this has on the series will be massive, even though I am pretty sure that Eren will survive.
There are a lot of directions Chapter 120 could go but, no matter what happens, I am sure it will be a big chapter because of Hajime Isayama’s apparent rule of five.
Ever since Chapter 100 something big has happened every five chapters.
In Chapter 100 there was Eren’s declaration of war, in Chapter 105 Sasha died, in Chapter 110 Darius Zachary died, and in Chapter 115 Zeke died but was resurrected by a mysterious girl in the Path dimension.
So, it is safe to assume that something huge will happen Chapter 120, especially when considering the massive events of Chapter 119.
Here are my predictions for what will happen.

How will Eren survive?

I am 99% sure that Eren will survive having his head blown off by Gabi.
We have seen Titans survive crazier things, like when Zeke was literally brought back from the dead.
Therefore it is highly likely that Eren will make it.
This opinion is clearly shared by a lot of the fandom because there are multiple theories about how Eren will live.
One of the most prevalent theories is that Eren has already touched Zeke and is using the Founding Titan to alter people’s memories, making them believe he got decapitated when, in reality, he did not.
This theory comes from the multiple inconsistencies in Chapter 119.
However, after looking these over, I have found that most of these are explainable, and even the ones that are not are probably there because Isayama drew 21 pages in a few days because he was so busy.
On top of this, the theory does not make sense when you realise that Mikasa, Magath and the Marleyan soldiers would not be affected by any memory alterations because they are not Eldians.
So, this pretty much debunks that theory.
Another theory I do not think holds much weight is the one that the Eren who got decapitated was actually a clone created using Eren’s War Hammer Titan ability.
The reason I do not think this theory is legitimate is because there has never been any indication that the War Hammer Titan can create clones of its user.
Not only this, but the idea that any such clone could be so real down to the clothes Eren wears is a little too ridiculous.
What I do not find ridiculous is the theory that Eren will survive by transferring his consciousness throughout his body, like Reiner did in the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
Eren saw Gabi before she shot him so he would have had time to do this.
The second theory that I think is highly likely is that the mysterious girl in the Path dimension, who is probably Ymir Fritz, will revive Eren.
I am more in favor of this theory because it would allow Eren to have a conversation with Ymir and we could not only learn his motives but also the origins of the Titans from Ymir and see what role she has to play in the current story.
Honestly, I think it will be a combination of these two theories.
I see Eren transferring his consciousness and, while regenerating, ends up in the Path dimension where he will meet Ymir.
If this happens then it will probably be the cliffhanger of Chapter 120.
But If I am wrong and Eren is actually dead I will most likely hate it.
I have faith in Isayama, though.

Now that Falco is the Jaw Titan what will he do?

One of the great subversive moments of Chapter 119 was when Falco ate Porco instead of Reiner.
Isayama brilliantly misled us to believe that Falco would inherit the Armoured Titan, only for him to inherit the Jaw Titan.
It was a brilliant way to subvert expectations and it will be interesting to see what happens with Falco in the future.
I think we can expect to see his new Titan form at least once but what he does with this power depends on how much time the story has left.
Because of Eren’s current state, I believe there could be a possibility for a bit of a break in the fighting.
This could allow Falco to flee the battlefield with Reiner and Gabi and locate Annie, and he would use his bite to free her from the crystal.
However, if there is no break in the fighting then I do not see him doing this.
There is also the possibility of Falco encountering Historia.
While I do like how Porco died, I think it was a missed opportunity to not have him meet Historia and share Ymir’s memories with her.
Porco could have grown from this as a character so it was disappointing to see this did not happen.
On the other hand, Falco could now fill this role, meeting Historia and giving her closure about Ymir, possibly leading to Historia naming her baby after her.
Again, this does depend on how much of the story is left.
I do hope that Isayama did not just give Falco the Jaw Titan as a way to save him with no plans for him to use the power.
I want to see Falco actually contribute with the Jaw Titan power.

Death predictions.

A lot of characters bit the dust in Chapter 119.
Porco and Colt died, and Pyxis, Nile, Rouge, and all the other people who ingested Zeke’s spinal fluid were turned into Titans.
Then there is Eren, who got decapitated.
If Eren is really dead then Chapter 120 will definitely serve as confirmation of that, although I would be heavily against this.
But, like I said, I think Eren will survive or be resurrected because of Titan magic or Ymir Fritz.
Personally, I am more concerned for Magath and Pieck.
Magath was on Pieck’s Anti-Titan Gun when Armin shot it with the thunder spear.
We saw him get blown back by this but got no conformation on if he was killed or not.
Personally, I would be disappointed if he died because I feel like Isayama has been setting him up for something big, with all of his references to Helos.
I am also scared for Pieck, since she is going up against Mikasa and Armin at the end of Chapter 119.
Pieck is the weakest of the Titan Shifters, while Mikasa is humanity’s second strongest soldier and Armin is the Colossal Titan.
On top of this, Pieck looks scared out of her mind when fighting them.
The odds are clearly not in her favor in this fight.
I hope she does not die because I really like her character.
As for the other characters, I am not sure if any others will be dying this chapter because of the mass of them that died last chapter.
I do have a few ideas about how characters could die in the future, like Yelena potentially being eaten by a Titan Pyxis.
However, I do not think we will be getting any more major deaths next chapter, apart from possibly Pieck or Magath.
Who knows though?
Isayama is definitely a writer who likes to shock us so anything could happen.

Will Levi, Hange, Historia or Annie return?

One of my big concerns about Attack on Titan‘s final arc is that many characters could be absent from its final battle.
Levi, Hange, Historia and Annie are all elsewhere while this big fight is taking place.
If Isayama leaves them out, I will be disappointed because I believe that every important character should play a role in the ending, with the exception of those who are already dead.
So, how could these characters possibly return?
Well, I believe that Levi, Hange and Historia could return all at once.
There has been a theory that the river Hange jumped into with Levi would take them to Historia’s location.
With so little time left in the manga, I am in favor of this happening because then we could both see Levi get patched up and learn if there is any twist to Historia’s pregnancy.
As for Annie, as I have stated, Falco could free her but I have heard another theory about how she could return that I find much more interesting.
This theory states that because Annie has been in crystal so long, her consciousness has been transported to the Path dimension where she has been hanging out with Ymir.
So, if Eren meets Ymir next chapter he should also meet Annie.
However, I need to make it clear that this theory has absolutely no evidence behind it.
I just think it would be a highly interesting way for Annie to return to the story, without everything that has happened needing to be explained to her because Ymir would have already done so.
Whatever happens, I hope Isayama can find a way to make all four of these characters important to the story’s ending.

Did Tom Xaver know Eren Kruger?

Another theory that has been floating around is that Tom Xaver was working with Eren Kruger.
After reading Zeke’s flashback in Chapter 114 though, I dismissed this theory because Xaver seemed to believe, like Zeke, that the Eldian race should be euthanized.
This is completely different from Kruger, who wanted to free Eldia.
However, after reading Chapter 88 again, I have begun to buy into this theory because of what Kruger tells Grisha.
He says he was able to avoid detection because of a Dr who was posing as a Marleyan and had “the knowhow to study Titan biology.”
This description matches Xaver to a T.
Because of this, I now believe Xaver at the very least knew Kruger and at the most was working with him to achieve some kind of goal.
Granted, in the scenes we see them in, their ideologies are completely different.
Given this, it does not make sense for Xaver to encourage Zeke’s euthanasia plan if he bought into Kruger’s mindset.
There is always the possibility that Isayama planned to reveal the two were working together but then decided against it though.
We will just have to wait and see if this theory has any substance.

When will Attack on Titan end?

Attack on Titan is in its final arc and what looks like the final battle.
So, the question is when will the manga end?
I have heard Isayama has estimated a year so that makes me think it will end somewhere around Chapter 130.
This number would match in terms of volume numbers as well, so this is further evidence.
Some people have been saying the story will end in a few chapters but I highly doubt that.
If it does then Attack on Titan will probably have one of the most rushed endings ever.
There is still so much left to unpack in this story.
How did the Titans come to be, who really was Ymir Fritz, what is the deal with the Ackerman family, what is Eren’s true plan, what is Kyomi going to do, and what will happen with the rumbling?
These are just a few of the many unanswered questions that cannot be answered in two chapters.
In my opinion, there needs to be at least ten or eleven more to wrap up everything clearly.
Although, this is Isayama and I am sure he could surprise us by ending the story quickly, while somehow making it satisfying as well.
As for how Attack on Titan will end, I am not so sure.
One thing I am certain about is that the ending will involve the Rumbling and the explanation of Titan memories in some way.
The Rumbling is basically the Chekov’s Gun of Attack on Titan. 
It needs to be fired before the series ends but how it will be used remains to be seen.
Will Eren use it to destroy the world or find another way?
Then there is the whole Kruger plot twist of him remembering Mikasa and Armin when they have not been born yet.
The reason for this probably relates to the title of the first chapter, “To you in 2000 Years.”
Whatever happens, I just hope Isayama can end this story in a satisfying way that will ensure Attack on Titan is considered a modern classic by many.

Top 20 Attack on Titan Episodes as of Season Three – 10-1.

10. To You in 2000 Years: The Fall of Shiganshina, Part One – Season One, Episode One.

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Attack on Titan has one of the greatest first episodes ever with “To You in 2000 Years.”
There is a lot of speculation about what this ambiguous title means, especially with recent events in the anime and manga, and I am sure that we will only get a full understanding of it once the series finally ends.
Aside from the interesting implications of the title, “To You in 2000 Years” also perfectly introduces the viewer to the series, giving them an idea of what to expect.
The episode has no big exposition dump and, yet, it brilliantly manages to inform the audience of its setting in its allocated runtime.
The chilling opening alone, tells us everything we need to know,, showing that humanity is hiding behind huge walls to escape from cannibalistic, naked giants, and use steampunk weaponry to fight them, only for a massive Titan to show up and destroy their temporary peace.
As the episode goes on, building up to this Colossal Titan’s arrival, anticipation and dread is grown in the viewer by the Titans only being referred to as “them.”
We are also introduced to our main trio of Eren, Mikasa and Armin, and get an idea of their personalities, and the first mention of the basement from Grisha.
Then everything goes to hell with the Colossal Titan’s arrival and destruction of the gate. In the final, horrifying moments, amplified by the music, we witness Eren’s desperate attempt and failure to save his mother as she eaten by the Smiling Titan right in front of him.
“To You in 2000 Years” perfectly sets the viewers up for what to expect when watching Attack on Titan; horrifying deaths, great action and music, and one amazing intro song in “Guren no Yumiya.”

9. Perfect Game – Season Three, Episode 16.

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I am honestly surprised I have not mentioned any episode from Season Three Part Two yet.
It is my favourite arc of the series so far but I have not put any of its episodes on the list until now.
That said though, you can now expect to see a lot of them starting with “Perfect Game”, which is easily one of the most horrifying episodes of season three.
Largely featuring the attack from the Beast Titan, we are shown just how much of a threat he is with him throwing crushed rocks to rip the remaining members of the Survey Corps to shreds.
This moment is a clear case of the anime rising above the manga in terms of quality.
The shot where the rocks crash into the mini-town, blood shooting up from wherever they hit, followed by the agonized screams of Erwin’s soldiers is horrifying.
Speaking of Erwin, I would like to applaud his final piece of character development delivered in this episode.
Erwin has the perfect character arc.
At the beginning of the series we thought he was a soldier dedicated to saving humanity no matter what, only to learn in the Uprising Arc that he had selfish reasons for fighting, and this idea of a  dedicated soldier he presented was a facade.
This brings us to “Perfect Game”, where Erwin throws away his selfish dream, giving up all hope of seeing the basement so he can die finally becoming what he always pretended to be: a soldier who puts humanity first.
I would not change Erwin’s character arc one bit.
As for the rest of the episode, it features Eren and the others’ attempted attack on Bertholdt’s Colossal Titan.
This is where my issue for the episode lies in its poor CGI for the Colossal Titan.
Otherwise, “Perfect Game” is an amazing episode, which shows off Erwin’s flawless character arc.

8. Scream – Season Two, Episode 12.

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The season two finale “Scream” was the first time I was able to fully relate to Eren.
Prior to this, I found it impossible to do so due to how angsty he was.
“Scream” changed this by delivering an emotionally devastating scene for Eren that had me tearing up.
This scene was the death of Hannes and Eren’s gut wrenching reaction as he breaks down into a fit of hysteria, laughing, crying and shouting at the cruelness of the world.
Yuki Kaiji does a fantastic job in this moment, and I even heard he hurt his voice while performing it.
Then there is Mikasa, whose supportive words to Eren are moving, and work as the perfect resolution for the setup about her old scarf in the season one premiere “Beast Titan.”
Granted, I think this scene was made romantic when it actually was not supposed to be but it still works.
As for Hannes, his tragic character arc is perfectly done.
After living with the guilt of letting Eren’s mother die by the Smiling Titan in the series’ first episode, he finds the resolve to fight and redeem himself by attempting to kill that same Titan.
Sadly, it is not to be because Hannes is eaten right in front of Eren’s eyes in a mirroring of Carla’s death, prompting Eren’s traumatized reaction.
However, this does lead to Eren accessing the Founding Titan’s powers for the first time, a moment that becomes even more impactful after the events of season three.
Many other characters get to shine as well with Historia getting an awesome moment to the song “Barricades”, and Ymir deciding to go with Reiner and Bertholdt in what is unfortunately her last scene.
The final minutes of “Scream” gives us conformation that Titans have been humans the entire time, and also our first look at the Beast Titan’s user, Zeke.
This, combined with Erwin’s inspirational words of “this wall hiding the truth will fall”, gets the viewers hyped for season three.
“Scream” is an excellent season finale but not the best of Attack on Titan.
No, that award goes to…

7. The Other Side of the Wall – Season Three, Episode 22.

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“The Other Side of the Wall” is the best season finale of Attack on Titan so far.
Rather than the action packed finales of “Wall”, and the previously mentioned “Scream”, “The Other Side of the Wall” is more of a representation of many of the characters’ personal journeys, and it works brilliantly.
The highlight is definitely the final scene where the Scouts finally reach the ocean after three seasons of build up.
While the reactions of characters like Mikasa, Levi, Hange, Jean and others make for some heart warming and funny moments, the standouts are the very different interpretations of the ocean between Armin and Eren.
Armin’s goal for a long time has been to see the ocean and, upon seeing it, he is overjoyed at reaching his dream and gains new hope.
Eren, however, shares no such optimism, fully realizing the danger he and his friends are in.
He points out that the enemy lies across the ocean and they will never be free until they kill them all, starting the first major point of contention between him and Armin, which will be expanded on in spectacular fashion in the final season.
Eren’s bleak outlook is hinted at throughout the episode, with him flashing back to the memory of his father’s decision to kill the Reiss family, and experiencing a memory of his father seeing his sister’s corpse.
This last one is particularly symbolic in a number of ways, with the censorship of water covering the body being used to foreshadow how the ocean does not represent freedom but death, like Eren comes to realise.
Along with this, we get the reactions of those inside the walls to the truth of their world and Floch’s speech, all of which works very well.
The highlight though is still the ocean scene with its beautiful animation and complex character development.
“The Other Side of the Wall” is the greatest finale of Attack on Titan yet because of this and its amazing use of symbolism and foreshadowing throughout.

6. Wish – Season Three, Episode Seven.

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After the exposition dump episode “Sin”, with its explosive reveals and build up to an epic battle, the following episode “Wish” pays off this build up in spades.
It provides a perfect blend of more information, intense battles and fantastic character development.
This development is provided through the brilliant character arcs of Historia, Eren and Kenny, helped by the great jobs done by their voice actors Shiori Mikami, Yuki Kaji, and Kazuhiro Yamaji.
Historia’s decision not to follow in her family’s cycle of self destruction and going against her father for the first time is very inspirational.
Eren crying and telling Historia he never should have happened is a heart breaking moment.
And Kenny deciding to free Eren and just let things happen after his dream is crushed shows us exactly what kind of man he is.
All three of these arcs are fantastic and helped by the brilliant use of music, specifically the OSTs “Zero Eclipse” and “K21”.
“Zero Eclipse” is played when Historia decides to live for herself and, if you listen to the lyrics, it sounds like a love song from Ymir to Historia, almost as if Ymir is cheering her on from beyond the grave.
Then there is “K21”, played when Kenny fights Levi, where the rap lyrics actually state Kenny’s entire motivation; to see if he can become a better man by becoming the Founding Titan.
These OSTs make the scenes they are in a lot more powerful.
Along with this, the exposition is well handled and the action is exhilarating.
A one on one fight between Levi and Kenny, that is not in the manga, is wisely added here, adding more excitement.
Overall, “Wish” is a fantastic episode with great action and OSTs, but the feature that makes it so great is the characters’ amazing development.

5. Hero – Season Three, Episode 17.

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Me putting “Hero” at number five probably comes as a surprise.
The reason I think this is because of how much the episode is applauded by fans.
It is both the highest rated Attack on Titan episode on IMDB and the highest rated episode on IMDB ever.
This fact may have caused some people to expect its placement at number one and not number five.
To be clear, I think that “Hero” is an almost flawless episode.
I just like the ones I ranked above it more because of what they did for the overall story.
“Hero” is an action driven episode but one that delivers what is, without a doubt in my mind, the best action in all of Attack on Titan. 
Levi’s fight against Zeke is absolutely stunning.
It is well built up and the payoff is amazing with its animation, music and voice acting.
I really have to give props to Zeke’s voice actor Takehito Koyasu, who pulls off the agonized screams of the Beast Titan’s user in such a satisfying way.
The moment Zeke is saved by the Cart Titan is one brimming with despair, again due to the amazing music and voice acting.
Then there is the final battle of the episode, with Armin and Eren facing off against Bertholdt, and Mikasa, Jean, Connie, Sasha and Hange facing Reiner.
What follows is a devastating battle of sacrifice as Armin gives up his life to buy time for Eren, showing his conviction in saving humanity despite how it may cost him his dream of seeing the ocean.
Marina Inoue does an amazing job here as usual.
Back to the fight with Reiner, Hange’s return (minus one eye) is a cheer worthy moment that allows Mikasa to turn the tables on Reiner.
Accompanying both these epic moments is another great OST, “SymphonicSuite Part 2-2nd”, which lets the audience feel the full magnitude of what happens.
The following scene, which sees Eren take out the Colossal Titan thanks to Armin’s plan is a truly amazing moment, highlighted by the lack of music.
With Bertholdt defeated, Eren lands next to the burned body of Armin and declares he was always a hero.
Never truer a word has been spoken in this anime.
My one gripe with the episode is (you guessed it) the CGI Colossal Titan, which looks particularly jarring when it cuts from it to a regular image of it, which actually looks good.
Other than this, “Hero” is a flawless episode and I can see why many people consider it their favourite.
While you might be surprised that “Hero” comes in as my fifth favourite episode, I guarantee you that you will be surprised at what tops it.

4. Children – Season Two, Episode 10.

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Surprise!
I know, a lot of you probably did not expect “Children” to end up coming in at number four above “Hero.”
Not many people actually talk about “Children” and I think this is a shame because it is one of the underrated episodes of the entire series.
It is also one of the most important.
The roots of so many twists are planted with the Coordinate, Marley, Eren eating his father, Ymir’s death, the curse of Ymir, the paths, and countless other twists all being foreshadowed in this episode.
On top of this, most of this foreshadowing comes with an incredibly emotional, yet powerful, flashback to Ymir’s past.
This backstory instantly made Ymir one of my favourite characters.
Watching her go from abandoned homeless girl, to worshiped goddess, to cursed as a devil, only for her to rise again and achieve a second chance at life was amazing to see.
The moment she wakes up after eating Marcel and realizes she is free is the most powerful scene in the entirety of Attack on Titan for me.
It was the first time I teared up when watching the series, and this was helped by the amazing OST “Call of Silence.”
As for the rest of “Children”, it is just as good, providing a further look into Ymir’s mind through how she is literally willing to throw Historia’s future away if it means she can see her again, leading to Ymir capturing her.
Then there is Hannes who, at the end of the episode, declares his resolve to die if it means getting Eren back, setting up his tragic death in the season finale.
This ending also shows how far Hannes has come because he never would have been so willing as to give his life at the beginning of the anime, as proven by him abandoning Carla in “To You in 2000 Years.”
Overall though, “Children” is Ymir’s episode and it makes me sad that we never got to see more of her every time I watch it.
If I did have one criticism it would be that the episode does make a few of the twists it foreshadows quite obvious.
Although, this does still not diminish how fantastic and underrated I think “Children” is.

3. Warrior – Season Two, Episode Six.

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“I’m the Armoured Titan and he’s the Colossal Titan.”
I remember the first time I heard these words come out of Reiner’s mouth and I had to rewatch the scene a few times just to make sure I had not read the subtitles wrong.
But no, I had heard right.
“Warrior” literally delivers one of Attack on Titan‘s biggest twists in the most offhand way possible and it is amazing.
Many writers and directors try to create subversive moments in their works to surprise the audience but it rarely achieves in creating anything emotionally meaningful.
To all those struggling to write a subversive twist I would advise them to watch the Armoured and Colossal Titan twist in “Warrior.”
Most of the episode builds towards this twist and, after Reiner finally says it, the rest of the episode deals with the shocking aftermath.
Right from the opening minutes of “Warrior”, it is clear that something bad is about to happen.
The wind slowly blowing the flags and the pitter patter of rain makes for an ominous tone that is not fully explained until Reiner makes his shocking admission.
What I especially love about this twist is not only does it answer the question of who are the Colossal and Armoured Titans in an amazingly casual way but it is also used as one of the first hints we get to Reiner’s damaged mental state
We can see just how delusional Reiner has become through how he just expects Eren to come with him.
Then there is the symbolism with Reiner’s reflection being visible in a puddle, representing his split personality.
Another piece of symbolism sees the wind snapping a flag, which represents Reiner finally cracking under the pressure, causing him to decide to transform, sparking the incredibly intense final moments of the episode.
As Reiner tries to attack Eren, Mikasa intervenes, only for her attacks to give Reiner and Bertholdt the means to transform, which they do in explosive fashion to the incredible OST “YouSeeBIGGIRL/T:T.”
In the chaos and confusion, Reiner grabs Eren who begins to cry, reminiscing on the friendship he thought he had with the two traitors, providing me with the first moment I ever sympathized with him.
However, he pushes this pain aside, resorting to rage and transforming into his Titan, throwing a punch at the Armoured Titan and bringing an end to this explosive episode with an explosive cliffhanger.
“Warrior” is an incredible episode and I will always remember it for its amazingly subversive way of delivering a twist.
It was my favourite Attack on Titan episode in my first list, until the top 2 episodes came to dethrone it in season three part 2.

2. Midnight Sun – Season Three, Episode 18.

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Choosing between my top two favourite episodes of Attack on Titan was incredibly difficult.
I had to nitpick to decide which episode would come in at number one and number two.
And, at the end of the day, I chose “Midnight Sun” as my second favourite episode.
Midnight Sun is, without a doubt, the most emotional episode of Attack on Titan so far.
I cried twice the first time I watched it, and this was even after I had already read the manga.
I knew what was coming but this episode still got to me.
It is that good.
Picking up after the loss of Armin and Erwin in previous episodes, “Midnight Sun” reveals that both of them are still barely alive.
However, more importantly, it also presents the other characters with the opportunity to only save one of them.
The decision of who should have eaten Bertholdt and inherited his Colossal Titan is one that divides fans to this day.
Both are incredible characters that are deserving of getting the injection and surviving.
This is pointed out by both sides of the argument, with Levi, Hange and Floch trying to save Erwin, and Eren and Mikasa trying to save Armin.
It eventually comes to blows, paying off the incredible teaser that was at the end of “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall”, and Levi eventually wins in the debate, going to inject Erwin.
What follows is an emotional scene of Levi flashing back to events with Erwin, Armin, and Kenny.
Deciding that Erwin has suffered enough and deserves peace, Levi instead injects Armin who eats a screaming Bertholdt.
Erwin later passes on peacefully.
The deaths of Erwin and Bertholdt are hard hitting to say the least.
I said earlier that I believe Erwin has the perfect character arc so I find it fitting that he dies here in such an emotional way.
But, Erwin and Bertholdt are not the only deaths in this episode because it is also confirmed that Moblit sacrificed himself to save Hange.
Moblit may have been a minor character compared to Erwin and Bertholdt but he was still quite likeable, and his death serves as another gut punch.
A big feature that helps get all of this emotion across in “Midnight Sun” is the almost complete lack of music, which shows off the brilliant and heartbreaking voice acting when the character are desperately trying to save their friends.
Along with the emotion, there are a few great scenes that set up important future reveals as well, like the first interaction between Eren and Zeke.
The thing that made me put ’“Midnight Sun” at number two and not number one is its animation issues.
For example, there is one shot where the animators forgot to put Erwin in the shot.
These issues may be incredibly minor but they are enough to make “Midnight Sun” barely miss out on the top spot, which goes to…

1. That Day – Season Three, Episode 20.

That Day dina

“That Day” is what I believe to be the best episode of the Attack on Titan anime so far.
It was a close call between this episode and “Midnight Sun” but, in the end, That Day won because of what it did for the story as a whole.
The 20th episode of Attack on Titan‘s third season literally changes the entire direction of that story, changing the central enemy of our main characters from the Titans to humans.
Picking up after the big post-credits cliffhanger scene of “The Basement”which revealed that human civilization is thriving outside the walls, “That Day” begins the tragic backstory of Grisha Yeager and reveals the supposed origins of the Titans.
I say “supposed” because these origins are littered with propaganda so the Marleyans can make one side look better than the other to justify generations of hatred.
The story of Ymir Fritz, and the thousands of years of ethnic cleansing under her descendants, raise a lot of questions that will be incredibly interesting to see how Isayama answers.
How ever he does it though, Marley certainly have no questions because they accept the story blindly, using it to justify oppressing all Eldians and forcing them into ghettos.
This is where we met a young Grisha when he tries to make his sister, Faye, happy by showing her an airship.
Unfortunately, Grisha’s kind act leads to her murder where she is tragically fed to dogs by the disgusting Major Gross in a shocking moment.
As a result of his loss, Grisha begins to hate Marley, causing him to join the Eldia Restorationists who are led by the mysterious Owl.
It is here that Grisha meets the last descendant of the royal family, Dina Fritz, who he marries.
Que one of the massive twists of the episode when it is revealed that the son they have is actually Zeke, making the Beast Titan Eren’s half brother.
The tragedy of this only continues as Zeke eventually turns his parents and the Restorationists into Marley for how they treated him.
Tortured for information and then take to Paradis, Grisha is confronted by Gross and his subordinate Kruger once again, and forced to watch as his friends and wife are all turned into Titans, many of whom we have seen before.
Most of these Titans are the ones who attacked Eren in First Battle and, most shocking of all, Dina is the Smiling Titan.
Her promise to find Grisha no matter what she becomes is truly chilling when you think about what it leads to.
Just as Grisha is about to be fed to a Titan by Gross Kruger steps in and feds Gross to said Titan, revealing himself to be both the Owl and the Titan that Grisha will soon inherit.
And so, the climactic episode of “That Day” comes to an end.
Its multiple twists left my jaw on the floor when I first read them in the manga and are perfectly adapted, with many anime only viewers having the same reaction I did.
Not only this, but the episode has a lot of great themes and messages as well, with plenty of comments on oppression, propaganda, and human nature.
Gross talking about how most people like watching brutality while staring right at the camera might as well be Isayama screaming at the viewer, “hey, you’re messed up!”
Then there are hints at future storylines with Eren beginning to reenact Grisha’s memories as Kruger, setting up the scene from Attack Titan where Kruger will see his future memories.
The main thing I love about “That Day” though, is the way it completely changes Attack on Titan‘s story.
The anime will be a completely different beast in season four and it is all because of the twists and turns in this episode.
And that is why I consider That Day to be the best episode of Attack on Titan as of season three.

 

So, there you have it. My top 20 favourite Attack on Titan episodes. I have been considering ranking all of the episodes but will probably do that after the final season ends, and in a much more condensed way. Along with this, I also plan to do a top 15 or 20 best characters list but, since the series is near its end, I will also be waiting for that to happen before I make it.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode Two, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Review: Final Happy Moments.

4 stars
In the recent seasons of Game of Thrones, the show has lost a lot of the stakes it had previously.
While in the first five seasons it felt like any character could die, after that point the good guys have won victory after victory to the point that, even though the series is still good, it makes the series a much less intense experience.
But I feel that this episode “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, directed by David Nutter, may be the final truly “happy” episode the show gives us.
There are so many moments in the episode where characters are given preparations for the conclusion of their arcs in heartwarming scenes.
Theon returns to fight for Winterfell and is reunited with Sansa, Jorah convinces Dany to give Tyrion another chance as Hand of the King, Sam gives Jorah his sword, and Grey Worm and Missandei decide to go to Naath once the fighting is done.
While these are all heartwarming scenes they all present major death flags for the characters, giving these joyous scenes a sense of finality.
By far the best of these scenes is the one when Jamie knights Brienne, with terrific performances from Nickolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie.

Brienne
Gwendoline Christie did not even need to speak during her scene. Her facial expressions alone spoke volumes.

The two actors really sold their connection but, again with the sense of finality the scene presents, I doubt Brienne is going to last that long.
I can honestly see her dying to protect Jamie next episode, along with Theon (Alfie Allen), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Jorah (Iain Glen).
Still, if these characters do die, at least they got some heart warming scenes before their deaths.
Not every scene in the episode is heartwarming though, as Jon (Kit Harringtom) tells Dany (Emilia Clarke) the truth about his parentage and she feels threatened because this means his claim to the Iron Throne is better than hers.
This seems to be laying the seeds for the tragedy of their relationship that is sure to follow.
Honestly though, I find it pretty funny how they both just learnt they have been committing incest and their main focus is still the Iron Throne.
However, not all the scenes in this episode are great because there is one that feels quite awkward.
This is the sex scene between Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie).
Even though the scene makes sense, it feels a bit weird watching a character who was a little girl at the beginning of the series do the dirty.
Although, as others have pointed out, Arya has murdered multiple people across the series and we were all okay with that so this says something about those of us who were uncomfortable about it.

Arya and gendry.jpg
The sex scene between Arya and Gendry feels a little weird but we have seen far, far, far, far, far, far worse things on this show.

But there is one criticism I do have that I think is legitimate and that is Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Huvju).
Since his introduction, Tormund has turned into more of a comic relief character, to mostly great effect
In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” however, his jokes got really repetitive for me and almost ruins the scene where Jamie knights Brienne.
Overall, this episode is about on point with the season premiere.
It is mostly fan service, with a sense of finality, that is preparing us for the inevitable heartbreak that will come with the 82 minute episode next week.
Might need the tissues for that one.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode One, Winterfell Review: The End Begins.

4 stars
After a long wait, the final season of Game of Thrones has finally begun with its premiere episode, “Winterfell.”
Anticipation has been building for months now to see how what is arguably one of the greatest TV series of all time will conclude, and the first episode of this conclusion does not disappoint.
If there is any single word to sum up this episode then it would be reunions, because there is a bulk load of them.
Jon and Arya, Jon and Sam, Tyrion and Sansa, Arya and the Hound, Arya and Gendry, Jamie and Bran, the list goes on.
As a result, “Winterfell” is a set-up episode to the coming battle with the Night King and his undead army, and we will probably have to wait another episode to get that battle.
Still, what we get in this episode is nothing short of great and really shows how fantastic Game of Thrones is with character drama.
All of the reunions and meetings that happen in this episode are well done, with many of them being reminiscent of the very first episode of the series.
I found the best of all the reunions to be the one between Sam and Jon, where both Kit Harrington and John Bradley gave magnificent performances.
Bradley is touchingly sympathetic as Sam in the scene where he learns his father and brother were murdered by Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), which leads him to tell Jon his true parentage.
Jon takes it as well as can, learning that not only had his father lied to him his entire life and that he is the true heir to the Iron Throne but also that he slept with his aunt.
Kit Harrington sells the conflict, anger and sadness Jon is feeling in this scene brilliantly.

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The scene between Jon and Sam is the best of “Winterfell,” with both Harrington and Bradley giving great performances.

Unfortunately, this scene and others in “Winterfell” seem to be highly hinting at Jon and Dany being at odds later.
This is nowhere more apparent than when Sam asks Jon, “you gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
Only time will tell if Jon and Dany will stay united in the same cause, but I sense a tragedy coming, what with the Night King approaching and Cersi (Lena Headey) scheming.
Speaking of her, Cersi’s scenes in this episode continue to show how conniving she is, with her having Euron (Pilou Asbaek) fetch the Golden Company to deal with Jon and Dany’s army after they are finished fighting the dead.
In a small twist she even has sex with Euron to ensure his loyalty, and even goes as far to send Bronn (Jerome Flynn) to murder Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau).
However, this last act does seem to go a bit against her character.
While her wanting Tyrion dead is nothing new, the idea that she would want to kill Jamie just feels weird to me because, although they are on opposite sides now, I never got the sense she wanted him dead before.

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Cersei is unlikable as ever in the season premiere, even if her wanting Jamie dead does not make sense.

Sadly, this is not the only flaw I had with the episode because Theon (Alfie Allen) returns to rescue Yara (Gemma Whelan) from Euron’s clutches.
This scene felt a little rushed and odd, given that Theon somehow knew where Yara was, and it felt like Theon’s mission of the final season was going to be to rescue her, but now that is done.
Other than this though, “Winterfell” is still a great episode that also delivers on a few tense scenes to remind the audience of what is at stake.
After escaping from the Wall, Tormund (Krisofer Hivu) and Beric (Richard Dormer) run into Edd (Ben Crompton) and, after a pretty good comedic moment between them, find the horrifying scene of a young lord brutally murdered by the Night King and placed up in a display as a warning.
The night is certainly coming to Game of Thrones.

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The scene where Tormund, Beric and Edd discover the killed boy, who comes back as a Wight and attacks them, reminds the viewer of the horror that is to come.

The episode ends with Jamie arriving at Winterfell and seeing Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), in what will probably be the most awkward reunion of the final season.
In all seriousness though, I doubt Bran hates Jamie now because he is the Three Eyed Raven and seems more emotionless.
In the trailer for next episode we see Jamie being put on trial, in a sense, but I believe Brienne will speak up for him by maybe convincing him to tell the truth about why he killed the Mad King.
Although, we did not actually see Brienne this episode from what I can recall so we will have to wait and see.
Either way, “Winterfell” was a great way to kick off the season and sets up a lot of the relationships and conflicts that will be sure to come to a head in the great war with the Night King in the next few episodes.

Psycho-Pass 2 Review: I Think my Hue Just got Clouded.

two-and-a-half-stars
Oh boy, where do I begin with Psycho-Pass 2?
Coming into the second season of this series I was quite concerned, given what I had heard about it previously.
I hoped that what people had told me about this season would not be the case and I would find it just as fantastic as the first Psycho-Pass.
Unfortunately, this did not happen for me because, in this case, the general consensus about Psycho-Pass 2 is absolutely right.
The second season features Akane Tsunemori (Kana Hanazawa) and the MWPSB as they attempt to track down a criminal mastermind, and his large amount of followers, who is, for some reason, able to bypass the Sybil System.
What’s that?
That synopsis sounds almost exactly like the plot of the first season?
Well, you are certainly right because Psycho-Pass 2 has almost the same beat for beat story structure as season one, only in a much more condensed format, and almost anything new added ultimately fails.

Kamui
The story of Psycho-Pass 2 is very similar to the first season. This time with a very watered down villain.

It is incredibly obvious that there was a different team working on this season than the first one, with Kiyotaka Suzuki stepping in as director.
Right from the get go everything feels different, from the way shots are composed, to the lighting, which just makes something seem off.
There are a few great shots here and there, but these are few and far between.
Getting down to the story of Psycho-Pass 2, along with replicating much of the story from the first season, it is also full of massive plot holes and inconsistencies.
The backstory of the villain, Kirito Kamui (Ryohei Kimura), is so ridiculous that it requires a massive suspension of disbelief that I just could not muster, no matter how hard I tried.
Speaking of Kamui, he is also a terrible villain with unclear motivations, and an incredibly bland design you would expect to see in a background character.
He is not the worst character of the season though.
No, that award goes to Mika Shimotsuki (Ayane Sakura), a detective working with Akane who is one of the most aggravating characters I have seen in an anime in a while.
She is arrogant, hypocritical, and her actions by the end of the season make her completely unlikable in every way.

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Mika is the worst character in the entirety of Psycho-Pass. She makes a terrible first impression and only gets worse as the season goes on.

Psycho-Pass 2 feels like it has no idea what it wants to do with its characters from the first season as well.
Akane’s arc is a replica of hers in season one, Nobuchika Ginoza (Kenji Nojima) has no arc to speak of, and, apart from some brief instances, Shinya Kogami (Tomakuza Seki) is not even mentioned.
Thankfully, not every character is badly handled because there are a few new ones I actually found myself enjoying, like Sho Hinawaka (Takahiro Sakurai), and I did appreciate the way the series brought back Joji Saiga (Kazuhiro Yamaji).
So, there are some good things about Psycho-Pass 2, with how it handles some of its characters and a few scenes and specific shots.
However, the negative far outweighs the positives for the season with its plot hole fueled story that just seems like a retread of the first season, mostly boring and sometimes terrible characters, and a less striking cinematic feel.
Psycho-Pass 2 is a very underwhelming experience compared to the first season and I would recommend skipping it.

 

The Mule – Not For Everyone.

3 stars.png
Clint Eastwood is both a fantastic actor and director but his latest film, The Mule, may not be for everyone.
The movie stars Eastwood as a 90-year-old man who turns to drug smuggling after he loses his source of income.
It is based off the true story of elderly drug smuggler Leo Sharp but Eastwood’s version of the story takes various liberties with the story.
Most notably, his version of Leo Sharp is named Earl Stone instead.
Eastwood does a great job as Stone, portraying a man who, despite being fragile physically due to his age, becomes a successful drug mule.
Along with this, a big focus of the film is how Stone has neglected his family and him coming to terms with this.
Both storylines work very well together, thanks, in no small part, to Eastwood’s performance.
My favourite scene of the film came when Stone has a conversation with DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper) and offers him advice about family, without Bates knowing Stone is the drug smuggler he is hunting.
The scene offers great acting from Eastwood and ties in with the themes of the film well.

Clint Eastwood.jpg
The actors all do a good job and help tie the film together. Especially Eastwood.

However, even if you are a fan of Eastwood, this film may still not be for you.
The Mule is a very slow paced film and does not even have an opening hook.
The film begins by showing Earl’s life, long before he becomes a drug smuggler, and while this carries into how Earl eventually becomes the mule known as “Tata”, it honestly made The Mule a little boring to begin with.
It does pick up though once the drug smuggling begins but, even then, the film holds a very slow pace and even has a few pointless scenes like when Eastwood runs into a group of lesbian bikers for some reason.
Some of the film’s messages also get a bit muddled.
For example, The Mule appears to be trying to tackle topics about racial profiling in some scenes but because of the way these scenes are handled it becomes very unclear about what the film is trying to say.
Ultimately though, I will say the film narrowly clears these faults, mostly due to Eastwood and the other actors’ performances, along with most of the themes.
The Mule is a decent film but you will not be missing much if you skip it.

 

Top 10 Movies of 2018.

2018 has came to a close and, while not offering as many fantastic films as 2017, there were still numerous films that connected with me and were a joy to watch.
Now I am going to count down the top 10 best of those films.
Before I do that though, there are still some films I want to mention but did not get in the top 10 so, quickly, here are numbers 15-11 of my favourite films of the year.

15. Deadpool 2.
14. Isle of Dogs.
13. The Incredibles 2.
12. Ready Player One.
11. Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

With that out of the way, let’s get into my top 10 favourite films of 2018.

10. BlacKKKlansmen.

Blakkklansmen.jpg

Based off a true story, BlacKKKlansmen follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first black police officer of the Colorado Springs police department, who oddly manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan on the phone.
What follows is a dark, yet at the same time, hilarious film about racism and the cruelty of the KKK.
Both lead actors, Washington, and Adam Driver as Stallworth’s partner, Phillip “Flip” Zimmerman, give great performances.
BlacKKKlansmen can get very dark at times through recounting crimes committed during this time and a KKK couple talking about killing black people during “pillow talk.”
Somehow though, the film also manages to be incredibly funny, especially with Stallworth’s phone conversations with leader of the KKK David Duke (Topher Grace).
Spike Lee manages to craft a great film that is both disturbing and hilarious with how it discusses racism through the scary and idiotic train of thought it follows.

9. Overlord.

overlord peek

Overlord is not going to win any awards, nor should it.
It is not cinematically brilliant, it does not offer any complex themes.
What the film does do though, and in spades, is provide an incredibly fun experience for moviegoers.
It is clear when watching Overlord that director Julius Avery set out to make a fun, action packed thrill ride that would have the audience engaged from start to finish.
So, while Overlord is not anything special cinematically speaking, it still provides a really good time.
I found it to be one of the most memorable films of the year just because of how fun it was because we got a great war film that just so happened to include zombies.
Even though a lot of the story and characters may seem cliche, they are done in the lovably cliche way as opposed to the eye rolling.
The actors all do a good job, the action sequences are great, and it all provides just enough emotion to care about what is going on.
It is the perfect kind of B Movie, only this time with a bigger budget.
The opening action scene alone is worth the price of admission.
I find it unfortunate that the movie bombed because I think a lot of people would enjoy this film if they had gone to see it.
Overlord is a film that I will find myself rewatching every time I am looking for pure enjoyment factor.

8. Creed 2.

creed 2

A great sequel to the first CreedCreed 2 improved on its predecessor in a number of ways.
For one, I thought the story was a lot better and made me sympathize not only with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) but with the antagonists of the film as well.
It is amazing how they made a follow up to the cheesy Rocky IV serious and with such emotional weight to it.
Sure, Creed 2 may not be directed as well as the first one but Steven Caple Jr. still does a great job.
There are quite a few amazing shots and the montages are top notch.
Most notable though is the tension in the characters, not just in their fights but through what the fights mean to them.
The stakes of the fights between Creed’s side and the Drago family could be felt on both sides.
Creed 2 clearly worked for the rest of the audience I was viewing it with as well because many of them were standing up and cheering during the ending fight.
The film ups the stakes and the story along with it.
Let’s just hope the movies do not get super cheesy after this and they continue with the serious tone they have been going for.

7. Mission Impossible: Fallout.

Mission Impossible Fallout.jpeg

Mission Impossible: Fallout is not a film I reviewed in 2018.
In fact, I only saw it recently but it still managed to get to number seven on the list.
Fallout is just an all around great action film.
It may be a bit predictable where Henry Cavill’s character is concerned but the action outshines this.
Tom Cruise once again risked life and limb to make this film, even breaking his leg in the process.
The realism applied to the death defying stunts makes the film all the more epic.
As for Cavill’s predictable villain, he also does a great job, making the mustache controversy of Justice League more than worth it.
The film also has plenty of great character moments and growth for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.
Fallout just escalates further and further with some great twists and turns complimented, again, by great action.
I honestly have not watched any of the other Mission Impossible movies but this one made me want to.
It is fast paced, action packed and full of solid performances.
The entire plot does get a bit confusing but the action more than makes up for this.
Director Christopher McQuarrie did a great job with this one.

6. Black Panther.

Black Panther.jpg

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is, without a doubt, the most unique Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.
Its setting of the fictional country of Wakanda is spectacular, providing a perfect blend of African cultures and futuristic cities.
The story set in this land is also just as great, with it featuring amazing political themes that makes it a very contemplative film.
This is supported by the amazing characters Black Panther provides.
There is T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) the titular Black Panther and king of Wakanda, his genius sister, Shuri (Letita Wright) and, leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye (Danai Gurira).
Best of all, though, is the film’s villain Erik Killmonger, played brilliantly by Michael B. Jordan, who not only manages to be threatening but incredibly relatable as well.
These actors came together to give us, what I believe to be, one of the best casts out of all the MCU films.
The only problem I have with the film, which holds it back from getting further on the list, is the big final battle.
It incorporates a lot of CGI and it is very subpar.
The final fight between T’Challa and Killmonger really drew me out of the film because of how bad it looks.
Other than this, Black Panther is a brilliant film with an amazing story, characters and setting.

5. A Star is Born.

A Star is born photo.jpg

Over the years, many actors have had a go at directing and, if Bradley Cooper’s first outing A Star is Born is any hint, his future as a director looks bright.
Starring Cooper as singer Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally, the aspiring singer he discovers in a bar, the film follows these characters’ tragic love story from the start right to the bitter end.
Having never seen this film, after watching the first half hour you might think this is supposed to be a happy story but, oh, no, this is anything but.
A Star is Born goes on to be pretty depressing by taking a very hard look at subjects like alcoholism and mental health.
This heartbreaking story is bolstered by the fantastic performances by Cooper and Gaga.
Not to mention all the songs are amazing, especially “Shallow”, which shows off both of their singing abilities.
There are even a few impressive shots that, while not anything spectacular, make a for good start for Cooper’s directing career if he decides to continue.
A Star is Born is a powerful film that starts off sad and ends tragically.
Just remember to bring the tissues.

4. Avengers: Infinity War.

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I debated about where exactly I would put Avengers: Infinity War on the list.
It was originally going to be behind Black Panther but, after watching it a second time, I found I enjoyed the experience a lot more.
Initially, I was let down by how it is pretty much certain a lot of the impactful events of this film are going to be undone in the next, but, on my second viewing, I was able to look past that and marvel at what an achievement this film is.
Avengers: Infinity War has the largest cast of any movie I have ever seen.
There is Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland and many, many others.
The fact that I was able to relate to this almost countless number of characters in the film outright states how spectacular of a film this is.
The greatest of these characters in my mind were Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, and Thanos, played by Josh Brolin.
Thor again goes on an amazing emotional journey in the film, but this is still nothing compared to Thanos who, despite being the villain, is also the main character.
Just like Killmonger from Black Panther, Thanos is strikingly relatable.
Even though he does horrific things, you completely understand why he is doing thrm and even come to sympathize with him on some level.
The action is intense, the comedy is hilarious, and the acting is great across the board.
Joe and Anthony Russo killed it with this film and I can only hope that the reversal of the conclusion in the next film does not damper my experience with this one.

3. Bad Times at the El Royale.

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I believe that Bad Times at the El Royale is the most underrated film of 2018.
I was only one of two people in the theater when I saw the film and I absolutely loved it.
Just like Overlord, only more so, this is a film that deserves a lot more attention than it got.
Directed by Drew Goddard, the film follows a group of strangers, each one with secrets, arriving at the El Royale hotel.
As the night goes on, things get crazier and crazier and their secrets unfold, leading to an action packed conclusion.
Goddard did an amazing job with this film, with its amazing cinematography and acting across the board.
Jeff Bridges and Cynthia Erivo are standouts and Chris Hemsworth takes on a surprising role as a charismatic, yet deadly, cult leader.
Bad Times at the El Royale is also very slow paced but, while this may be a problem for some, I feel it more than earns that slow pace and pays it off in great ways.
The only issue I have with Bad Times at the El Royale is that the flashbacks it uses sometimes interrupt the tension.
Otherwise, the film is great and definitely the most overlooked film of the year in my mind.

2. A Quiet Place.

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A Quiet Place was my favourite film of 2018, until I saw the movie that took the number one spot just over a week ago.
Directed by and starring John Krasinski, the film follows the Abbott family in the aftermath of an alien invasion.
The aliens attack based off sound so complete silence is necessary for survival, which the Abbotts are thankfully good at because of their deaf daughter Reagan (Millicent Simmons).
The performances are great across the board, with Krasinski’s wife Emily Blunt being a standout.
A Quiet Place also manages to be incredibly scary, not just with its alien monsters but with how it sets up and pays off certain events as well.
A scene following Blunt’s character and an exposed nail is filled to the brim with tension.
I was on the edge of my seat for most of the film and it also drew a lot of emotion out of me.
I have rewatched A Quiet Place twice, since it came out, and I always cry when a certain scene happens, no matter how hard I try not to.
There is just one thing that holds this movie back from being my favourite of the year and that is the jump scares.
These felt very unnecessary and the film would have been better if it used natural sound for these scares instead.
Still, A Quiet Place is an intense thrill ride and I cannot wait for the sequel.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

miles, peter and gwen.jpg

My favourite film of 2018 has to be Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman.
I only saw this film over a week ago and knew immediately it was my favourite.
It may have come out in 2019 in New Zealand but it came out in 2018 theatrically so I am counting it as a 2018 film.
Spider-Verse is the only film I saw from 2018 that I gave a five star rating to, showing how great I think it is compared to the others.
The film is like a comic book came to life with its unique style of animation, which looks stunning after you adjust to the new style.
The story follows Miles Morales (Shamiek Moore) on his journey to become Spider-Man with help from numerous other spider-people, across the spider-verse.
From Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), to Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), to even freaking Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), all of these spider-people are amazing characters, especially those who get the most screen time.
The action is well shot and fast paced, the soundtrack is incredible, there is just so much to love about this film.
A Quiet Place may have the saddest scene of the year but Spider-Verse has the most inspirational with Miles taking his big “leap of faith.”
The film is not just a superhero movie but a fresh take on the entire genre, just like my favourite film of last year Logan.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is my favourite film of 2018.

Attack on Titan Volume 25: Chapter 100 Arrives with a Bang.

Chapter 99: Guilty Shadow.

4 and a half stars
After the previous chapter’s massive cliffhanger, Chapter 99, “Guilty Shadow”, picks up with a perfect transition into the confrontation between Eren and Reiner.
We get a continuation of the scene from Reiner’s earlier flashbacks when the warriors were wondering why the man who killed himself told them his story before doing so.
Bertholdt speculates it was because he wanted them to judge him and it is at this point that the story brilliantly transitions to Reiner and Eren reuniting, the implication being that Reiner’s judgement is at hand.
From here, their intense confrontation begins with Eren subtly threatening Reiner by pointing out how many people are in the building above their heads while showing how he has cut his hand to cause a transformation if necessary.
I especially loved this moment because it shows just how pragmatic and ruthless Eren has become in the four year time jump.
The Eren we knew at the beginning of the story would never threaten innocent lives and now he is doing it because he believes the ends justify the means.
Reiner’s reaction to Eren’s uncompromising darkness and Falco slowly figuring out who Eren is are also great moments in the chapter that tell a lot about both characters.
However, the real meat of this chapter is not with the meeting between Reiner and Eren but with Willy Tyber’s speech, which adds more lore and depth to Attack on Titan‘s world.
Willy reveals that when King Karl Fritz fled to Eldia he was actually trying to atone for his people’s sins and worked together with the Tyber family to achieve this.
Fritz also did not want any of his descendants to try and change anything so made it that any of his family who inherited the Founding Titan would also inherit his ideology about staying inside the walls.
This is why Freida, Uri and the other members of the Fritz/Reiss family did not fight against Marley after inheriting the Founding Titan.
I love Attack on Titan because of moments like this.
Hajime Isayama is always throwing curveballs at the reader that both expands upon the world he has built and gives big explanations to things that originally seemed to just be plot holes.
It makes me curious as to just how much of this he had planned when he started writing the manga.
It is also through Willy that we get another possible hint at future events as well.
Before starting his speech, he talks with the Asian woman from the previous chapter, who is said to be from the Azumabito family.
This woman acts very suspiciously, leaving before the speech begins, which, given the future events of the volume, has me believing she knew what was coming and may be working with the Scouts.
Speaking of the Scouts, we see capture Pieck and Galliard in this chapter.
Along with this we officially got to meet Annie’s father who is adamant that she is alive.
Annie is certainly being brought up a lot more now in the manga, which is hopefully signalling her return because she has been in that crystal way too long.
Overall, Chapter 99 was another great chapter that started Eren and Reiner’s intense meeting and fantastically delivered exposition that explained so much.

Chapter 100: Declaration of War.

5 stars
Reaching 100 chapters is a big deal for any manga or comic series and Hajime Isayama delivers a powerhouse chapter with his 100th of Attack on Titan.
“Declaration of War” is my favourite chapter of the series since Chapter 86, “That Day.”
It is a fantastic chapter that delivers suspense, character growth and an amazing conclusion.
The tension of this chapter is built up brilliantly, with Isayama constantly cutting between Willy’s speech and Eren and Reiner’s conversation.
Both scenes build off one another and the tension goes up and up, until it explodes in the titular “Declaration of War” made by both sides of the conflict.
The chapter kicks off by showing the stakes of such a declaration by having a flashback to a conversation between Willy and Magath where both speculate that it is highly likely Willy will be killed if he gives his speech.
However, Willy still wants to go through with it because he believes he needs to make amends for his family’s crimes.
Then came the brilliant moment when Magath states, “I’m certain that Eldians are the descendants of devils. And I am certain that we too are devils.”
This line perfectly illustrates the morally grey area that every single character of Attack on Titan exists in.
No character in the series is completely good or evil.
They all have flaws and justifications for their actions, no matter how horrific, which makes them all, in a sense, “devils.”
This is proven by Eren’s actions at the end of the chapter and what led to this moment was some of the best writing Isayama has done.
He gave us a great view of Eren’s resolve to carry out his plan, Willy’s desire to redeem himself while still being afraid of death, and Reiner’s crippling guilt over his actions.
This can be in the final moments of the chapter where Eren seems to forgive Reiner for his actions, understanding he did it because of the brainwashing he received from Marley.
However, Reiner contradicts this by breaking down and exclaiming it was his fault Eren’s mother died, begging Eren to kill him.
This, and Willy’s declaration that he does not want to die because he “was born into his world” (the third time in the series this line has been said) seems to temporarily break Eren’s resolve.
However, it is reaffirmed when Willy shouts he wants everyone to fight with him against the “devils” of Paradis to thunderous applause.
With Eren’s resolve affirmed then comes the payoff to all the build-up in this brilliant section in the chapter.
Eren helps Reiner to his feet, states he has to keep moving forward until his enemies are destroyed and then transforms.
He crashes through the building just as Willy declares war, possibly killing hundreds of innocents before crushing Willy, bringing the chapter to an explosive end.
The build-up to this moment is spectacular and the payoff is just as good.
I am sad to see Willy go because he was a very interesting character, even though he was only in the story for a brief amount of time.
One thing I am worried about is the fate of Reiner because he and Falco were caught up in Eren’s transformation.
I do not think Falco is dead but this chapter kind of felt like the culmination of Reiner’s arc.
I hope Reiner does not die because the character development he has been getting in this arc has been nothing short of exceptional.
Still, “Declaration of War” is one of my favourite chapters of Attack on Titan with its brilliant build up and pay off.
It was a fantastic story for Attack on Titan’s 100th chapter.

Chapter 101: The War Hammer Titan.

4 stars
As the title suggests, this chapter focused on the first appearance of the final Titan Shifter, the War Hammer Titan.
This Titan had been built up for quite a few chapters and it does not disappoint.
In one chapter it is made abundantly clear that the War Hammer Titan is one of the most powerful Titan Shifters, with its ability to create any weapon using its hardening ability.
The war hammer it gets its name from, a crossbow, a sword,  it seems that this Titan can make anything.
It also has a great design, looking very creepy and different from any Shifter we have seen previously.
However, I will say the reveal of this Titan’s identity was very lackluster.
It is revealed to be Willy’s sister who has been a complete background character until now and her name has not even been revealed yet.
Maybe we will learn more about her later but for us to know virtually nothing about the user of one of the most powerful Titan Shifters is weird.
But, even though I found the reveal of who the War Hammer Titan is to be disappointing, this does not change the fact that the battle between Eren and this Titan is epic.
The War Hammer Titan wipes the floor with Eren, impaling him on a massive spike and then smashing his Titan’s hands and head off with its war hammer.
It is only through the intervention of Mikasa, who finally returns this chapter, that Eren is able to survive.
Like Eren, her appearance is different from before the time-skip, with her having shorter hair and a new Scout outfit.
Upon her appearance, Mikasa immediately destroys the War Hammer Titan’s nape making me think she had instantly killed it.
This angered me initially that a Titan this strong could be killed so quickly but, after reading the next chapter, I realised the War Hammer Titan still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
The War Hammer Titan battle and Mikasa’ return is not the only interesting things about this chapter though because it illustrates more than any other how dark Eren has become.
In earlier chapters Eren stated how he was “the same” as Reiner and it becomes absolutely clear how similar the two are at the beginning of the chapter.
After eating Willy and realizing he is not the War Hammer Titan, Eren attacks the crowd supposedly to draw the Titan out.
He kills probably hundreds more innocent civilians including Zofia, who is crushed by rubble, and indirectly Udo, who is stomped to death in a stampede of terrified people.
Eren is doing exactly what Reiner did when he, Annie and Bertholdt, first attacked Shiganshina.
He is now willing to kill civilians because in his eyes the ends justify the means.
This takes Eren way past the anti-hero point and closer to a villain, even if we can kind of understand his actions.
Along with this we also got a look at what some of the other characters were up to, like when Pieck and Galliard managed to escape the trap the Scouts had placed for them due to Pieck’s quick thinking.
She managed to subtly alert the panzer unit, showing how capable and smart she is as a character.
Pieck’s Titan may be the weakest of the bunch but her brains more than make up for it.
“The War Hammer Titan” was another good Attack on Titan chapter, which saw the return of Mikasa and the appearance of one of the strongest Titans in the series.

Chapter 102: Too Little, Too Late.

4 and a half stars
“Too Little, Too Late” saw the true battle between the Scouts and Marley’s Warriors finally begin.
After Mikasa’s return last chapter, this one brings back more of our old favourite characters including Jean, Sasha, Connie and Floch… OK, maybe not Floch.
All of these characters have new designs to suit the four year time skip.
Jean has a beard, Sasha has let her hair down and Connie has grown his hair longer.
Oddly enough, the only returning character this chapter who looks the same is Levi, who appearance is identical to how he looked four years ago.
It makes me wonder what kind of skin cream he is using.
Joking aside, it is also made clear how hardened characters like Jean and Sasha have become because, long after making their first kills in the Uprising Arc, they can become experienced killers when they need to be.
Still, there is a clear distinction between them and Eren and Floch, who both seem to fully embrace the ends justify the means when it comes to civilian casualties.
This led to my favourite moment of the chapter when Mikasa asks Eren if he knows what he has done by killing numerous innocents including children.
She says there is no coming back from this and the side by side panels of a tearful Mikasa looking at Eren in grief and horror and Eren looking back blankly makes for a striking image.
Floch even goes as far as to call Eren a “devil”, mirroring what he said about Erwin when he was in favor of turning him into the Colossal Titan instead of Armin.
Speaking of Armin, we have yet to see him and Hange so I wonder if they will be taking part in this battle soon?
They may be holding back for now as part of a plan but I do hope we get to see Armin’s Colossal Titan because we have yet to get a good look at it.
The main focus of this chapter though, is once again the battle between Eren and the War Hammer Titan, which is revealed to be even more unique compared to other Titans because its user is outside the nape, hidden in a protective crystal like Annie’s.
However, unlike Annie, she is fully aware inside this crystal and uses this to her advantage, almost killing Eren when she takes him by surprise when she partially reforms a new Titan body, after losing control of the first one.
This Titan is certainly overpowered and I have no idea how Eren will defeat it, if he even can.
What makes this a thousand times harder is that Zeke, Galliard and Pieck have all jumped in to help at the end of the chapter.
Although, I do wonder where Zeke was the entire time and if this ties into the theory of him secretly working with Eren for some reason?
Speaking of Galliard though, it is with him that one of my issues about the chapter lies.
Galliard goes to attack Eren but Levi steps in by cutting his jaw, which prevents him from eating Eren.
However, Levi had a clear shot at the nape making it seem like Galliard has plot armor.
Another small issue I had came at the beginning of the chapter where Magath is seen hiding in a building.
This is a bit jarring because at the end of the previous chapter he was on top of a building being attacked by the Scouts so picking up with him here seemed abrupt.
However, this does not change that “Too Little, Too Late” was a great way to end the volume and promises more action in the next volume with the continuing battle between the Scouts and the Warriors.

 

Attack on Titan: Season three, episode nine, Ruler of the Walls review – Prepare to vomit.

4 and a half stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Another day, another fantastic Attack on Titan episode.
Season three has been killing it so far with numerous great episodes and the latest one “Ruler of the Walls” is no exception.
It had intense action, great character moments and by far the most disgusting scene of the entire series so far.
Seriously, do not watch this episode after eating lunch or prepare to vomit.
As for the intense action it was truly great to see the characters go up against Rod Reiss’ massive Titan.
This intensity was helped exponentially with the fantastic blend of CGI and hand drawn animation.
Not only this but the fantastic character moments also helped to improve the action, with Eren and Historia once again being the standouts.
Eren sure has grown a lot in season one and I am loving it.
I actually hated his character in that first season but looking at how he has grown I can see how his portrayal there really worked to build up his arc for the past two seasons.
Historia also had another great scene where she proved her worth both as a soldier and queen.
She is officially in my top five favourite characters now.
Then there was the music, which as per usual was amazing.
One particular score that was of note was a revamped version of “Barricades”, which stood out in a great way.
As for the ending, “Ruler of the Walls” ends on a typical Attack on Titan cliffhanger but one that has me intrigued for what has to come, especially with the preview for the next episode.
“Ruler of the Walls” was an almost perfect episode, but there were a few things that held it back for me.
There was one scene that did feel a bit out of place as it should have been shown earlier.
Along with this, during the climactic action sequence it felt like some of the characters were lacking urgency and too calm about things, which given the situation is pretty ridiculous.
But this does not change the fact that “Ruler of the Walls” is another fantastic episode for the series.

Spoiler Review:

“Ruler of the Walls” kicks off with Erwin and Hange’s plan to stop Rod’s massive Titan form from destroying Orvud District.
From there the story exploded into absolute insanity as the climactic final battle between Rod and the army began.
The extremely disgusting imagery that might cause people to vomit I mentioned in the spoiler free review came with the way Rod’s Titan form looked.
Due to this Titan being so massive, it could only drag itself along the ground causing it to rip its face off and belly open, exposing its brain and intestines.
While, this was incredibly disgusting, it also led to a great call back to the first episode of the series, “To you in 2000 Years”.
This was where three kids watched in horror as Rod’s Titan appeared, just like Eren, Mikasa and Armin did when the Colossal Titan first showed up.
However, as Eren pointed out, this was completely different because this time they had soldiers to protect them.
Speaking of Eren, I loved his growth this episode.
I particularly liked how he brought up that he had no problem realizing he could become a Titan in the first season.
This was one of the big problems I had with Eren in that season because he had no problem being a Titan, despite hating them.
However, this episode resolved that with Eren explaining he did not question it because he felt he was special but has since grown from that and accepted his true role.
This showed the extent to Eren’s growth from that first episode and I loved it.
Then there was Historia, who delivered the final blow to Rod, killing her own father.
This moment was not only beautifully shot but really showed who Rod was because Historia seemed to temporarily view some of his memories.
I really liked this because it shows that Rod was not a bad person, he was just doing what he thought was right… even though what he was doing was the complete opposite.
The episode ends with Levi confronting the fatally injured Kenny, who has stolen some Titan serum.
I really hope Kenny does not die because he is already such an intriguing character and very entertaining.
As for the negative aspect of the episode, I felt like the flashback where Eren tried to control Rod with his Coordinate power should have come in the previous episode rather than this one.
Still, “Ruler of the Walls” was a fantastic episode and potentially in the top ten best.

Predictions:

  1. Next episode it looks like we will finally get into the backstory of Levi and Kenny’s connection, which I have wanted to see when Kenny was introduced.
  2. It looks like the main focus though, will be on the friendship between Kenny and Uri Reiss, Rod’s brother. Based on Kenny’s flashback in this episode this looks to be very interesting because it looks like Kenny was trying to kill Uri because he had a knife in his hand.