Vampire in the Garden Review: Unfortunately Short.

I still remember searching for upcoming anime a few months ago and being interested by the description for Vampire in the Garden.
Developed by Wit Studio, released on Netflix and directed by Ryōtarō Makihara, the story is set in a winter wasteland where vampires and humans have been at war for an unknown period of time.
Some of the remaining remnants of humanity have fled to a city, protected by a tower that generates UV Light to ward off the vampires.
Living inside this city is a young girl named Momo (Megumi Han), the daughter of one of the city’s generals. 
She is tired of the fighting and wants to learn music, something which was outlawed because of its connection to the vampires.

Then, during an attack on the city, Momo has a chance encounter with the Vampire Queen Fine (Yu Kobayashi), someone who is also tired of the fighting and treasures music.
Together, the two decide to try and find a supposed paradise where humans and vampires live in harmony and make music together.

Momo and Fine’s chance encounter begins their journey.

This premise intrigued me when I first read it and I decided to give the anime a shot, thinking that it would probably have a similar episode count to Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song, another anime that Wit Studio produced which I loved.
So, I was quite surprised when I saw that there were only five episodes released by Netflix.
At first, I thought it must be some kind of error and that Netflix would release the other episodes once they realized the mistake.
But, no, Vampire in the Garden really is only five episodes long and this is its biggest fault.
Now, I still really enjoyed my time with this anime but I feel like it had the potential for so much more, if only it had been given more episodes. 

I wish Wit Studio had given Vampire in the Garden the ten to thirteen episode treatment.

There are just too many characters and ideas here for the vision of this anime to be fully realized in such a short amount of time.
That said, I do think that Vampire in the Garden did the best it could have done with only five episodes, which is a testament to the writing quality.
For one thing, I liked all of the characters in this anime.
Momo and Fine’s growing bond is interesting throughout, I quite enjoyed the resolution to Momo’s relationship with her mother (Rika Fukami), and the vague way that the anime filled in the backstory of Kubo (Hiroki Toshi), giving us just enough information to put the pieces together, felt like the writers were respecting the audience.
Another feature of the anime I have to give props to is the world building.
Momo and Fine visit various different kinds of communities, all of which have different ways that humans and vampires interact with each other, which are interesting to compare.

The exploration of the different dynamics between humans and vampires in various dystopian cities was excellent world building.

The animation and music are also quite good, something to be expected of an anime made by Wit Studio.
I will also admit that, despite me being critical of there only being five episodes, this short run time does mean you can finish Vampire in the Garden rather quickly, as if it were a movie rather than a show, so that is an advantage it has.
As for other criticisms, there are a few moments in the anime that broke my suspension of disbelief temporarily by being too convenient or having a character survive something that should have been impossible to.

It’s strange moments like this one that temporarily broke my immersion.

Also, I did find the story to be a bit predictable at times, especially with one character’s ending, although it being predictable did not make it bad. 
These are just minor criticisms.
The only major one I have is, again, the episode count.
The anime had the potential to be fantastic but the short runtime limits it.
I’m actually hoping we get a manga adaptation at some point because that could extend the story, thus expanding upon the characters, world and themes, allowing Vampire in the Garden to reach its potential.
As it stands, though, I would still recommend the show.
It’s a short watch and delivers some pretty interesting character work and world building.    

Arcane Review: Watch. This. Show.

I remember when I first watched the trailer for Netflix’s Arcane and was instantly intrigued by the quality of the animation I was seeing.
However, then I noticed the show was based off League of Legends.
I have never played this game but I know of it because of its reputation as having one of the most toxic fandoms out there.
This was not what made me hesitant to watch it though because you can’t judge a product off the actions of its fans alone.
No, the reason for my hesitation was that, since I had never played League, I would have no idea what was happening in Arcane‘s story.

So, despite liking what I saw in the trailer, I decided to give it a skip.
But then, I kept hearing the nonstop praise about Arcane being a masterpiece and I finally caved, deciding to give it a chance.
After all, I watched Squid Game because of the acclaim it was receiving and I had no regrets about that.
Although, after finishing Arcane, I did have one regret… that I did not watch this absolute masterpiece of a show sooner.
All of the praise this series has received since it was released in three acts on Netflix is accurate. 

Arcane was released in three acts, each with three episodes, over three weeks. I watched one act per day and each one is incredible.

Created by Christian Linke and Alex Yee, Arcane tells the story of many different characters in the city of Piltover and its undercity of Zaun.
Zaun is a gang ridden, posion aired place, where sisters Vi (Hailee Steinfeld) and Powder (Ella Purnell) struggle to find their place in the world while under the guardianship of their father figure Vander (JB Blanc). 
Meanwhile, in the rich and ever technologically progressing city of Piltover, scientist Jayce (Kevin Alejandro) and his newfound friend Viktor (Harry Loyd) begin to experiment with creating magic through science. 
The story then follows these different groups of characters, their paths occasionally intersecting, as tragic events push Piltover and Zaun to the edge of outright war.
What makes the potential for this conflict so suspenseful is how amazingly well written each character in this show is.
The way the relationship between Vi and Powder plays out, and what they go on to become by the end of the season, is highly engaging.

Powder and Vi’s tragic journeys made for plenty of compelling development.

Another thing that really struck me was how even the minor characters felt like real people.
Take the corrupt enforcer Marcus (Remy Hill), for example.
It would have been incredibly easy for the writers to just make him a stereotypically evil corrupt cop but they didn’t.
They gave Marcus a lot of depth and characterization to the point that I actually sympathized with him, while knowing he was a terrible person.
Speaking of someone being a terrible person while also being a fantastic character, my favourite character in this entire show is definitely the main antagonist, Silco (Jason Spisak).
Much like Marcus, I thought he was going to turn out to be a stereotypical villain when we were first introduced to him but, as the show went on, he became incredibly complex.
I remember watching Episode Three, “The Base Violence Necessary for Change” and seeing him display some emotion and wondering if it was genuine.
The show then goes on to expand on this emotion for his character, making a part of himself so sympathetic that the way his storyline for the season concluded during the final episode “The Monster You Created” actually made me tear up.

I did not expect to cry for Silco when we met him, yet the final episode made me do just that.

Notice how I mentioned both Episodes Three and Nine there? 
These two are the best episodes of Arcane, both being masterpieces in their own right, with so much tragedy in them.
The tragedy of this story is backed up by the fantastic voice acting, score and animation.
It was this animation that made me initially interested in the show in the first place, as I said when talking about the trailer, and seeing this animation actually play out in the series did not disappoint. 
It reminded me a lot of the animation from Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, creating absolutely amazing action set pieces, the best of which comes in Episode Seven “The Boy Saviour.”   

The action sequence in this scene between Jinx and another character was excellent, having me glued to the screen.

As for the score, I have already put multiple songs from this show on my Spotify, including the opening by Imagine Dragons and JID, “Enemy,” so that alone should tell you how much I loved Arcane’s music.
As for the voice acting, there was not a weak member of the cast.
I was especially impressed with the voice acting of Mia Sinclair Jenessa who plays the young Powder, showing off some excellent range in Episode Three.
All of this combines with the amazing writing from Linke and Yee, creating fascinating lines like “in the pursuit of great, we failed to do good,” and “is there anything so undoing as a daughter.”

There are plenty of amazing instances of dialogue in Arcane.

How certain lines and events from the beginning are paralleled right up to the final episode also quite impressed me, with the story of Arcane essentially boiling down to one tragic cycle. 
This is a cycle that I look forward to seeing continue when we eventually get Season Two, which has been announced.
We do not know when this season will be released but it has been confirmed that we will not be getting it in 2022, to which I say, “good.” 
Arcane is clearly a labour of love from its creators and they deserve to continue this labour with all the care and attention they used to craft the masterpiece that is this first season: one of the greatest opening seasons I have ever seen.
Season one of Arcane is a masterpiece and, if Season Two is at the very least just as good, then it may end up being one of my favourite shows of all time.   
If you have not watched this show yet because of League of Legend’s reputation, or because you fear you won’t understand what’s happening like I feared, then take my advice and watch it.
You will understand what’s happening and it will most likely blow your mind.   

Hannibal Review: Hope You Have a Strong Stomach.

5 stars
I had been told plenty of times over the years that Hannibal was a fantastic show but I never got around to watching it.
Well, after stumbling across it on Netflix I decided to give it a shot and what can I say other than, wow.
I was hooked on this show from start to finish and NBC made a huge mistake cancelling it.
The series is equal parts gripping and horrifying with plenty of disturbing imagery that suits the titular Hannibal the Cannibal like a human skin glove.
Speaking of, Mads Mikkelsen is absolutely incredible as Hannibal Lecter, even rivaling the Anthony Hopkins version, which is no small feat.

mads mikkelsen
Developed by Bryan Fuller, the show follows his sinister yet no less intriguing relationship with criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), whose unique way of sympathizing with murderers allows him to have an edge in catching them.
However, Hannibal’s interest in him leads to many disturbing events in Will’s life that may very well push him over the deep end by the show’s conclusion.
Dancy does an amazing job as Will and the chemistry he has with Mikkleson makes the friendship/romance(?) between him and Hannibal all the more investing and dark.
It’s not just these two though because every actor does a magnificent job from Laurence Fishburn, to Caroline Dhavernas, to Raul Esparaz.
The fact that you like many of these characters makes it all the worse when Hannibal, or some other killer gets a hold of them, like the terrifying Francis Dollarhyde (Richard Armitage), who has a fantastic score, by the way.

richard armitage
What makes it crueler is how disturbing this show can get with its gore.
Seriously, you need a strong stomach to watch this show, although you may get desensitized to the extreme violence by the end of it all.
Even if you cannot handle all of the gore though, it is all more than worth it because of the phenomenal television Hannibal delivers.
Everything just comes together, from the acting, to the cinematography, to the score, to make Hannibal one of the greatest television shows ever with some incredible seasons.
Season one is a slow descent into madness that introduces you to the show’s characters perfectly and makes you care about them before it’s gut wrenching ending.
Season two is definitely my favourite, delivering an intense thrill ride that culminates in one of the most shocking episode of television that I have ever seen, “Mizumono.”
That episode left me in stunned silence by the end.

mizumo
While season three is a little slow to begin with, by episode five it gets back to the original quality of the first two seasons and ends on a high note.
Overall, Hannibal is an amazing show that easily lives up the legacy of The Silence of the Lambs film and Thomas Harris’ novels.
Mads Mikkelson, especially, is a highlight.
It was a mistake for NBC to cancel it but I hope we get some more terrifying content in the future.

Japan Sinks 2020: At This Point, I Wouldn’t Even be Surprised.

3 stars
2020 has been a disaster of a year so it’s only fitting that an anime comes out, set in that year, where massive earthquakes cause Japan to begin sinking.
It also makes sense then that the anime is a bit of a mess, again, just like 2020.
Directed by Pyeon-Gang Ho and Masaaki Yuasa, Japan Sinks follows the Muto family who are caught up in the disaster of their country sinking beneath their feet.
The family consists of aspiring runner Auyumu (Reina Ueda), her brother, the gamer Go (Tomu Muranaka), and their parents, dedicate father Koichiro (Masaki Terasoma), and Filipino working mother Mari (Yuko Sasaki).
Over the course of the anime, they struggle to survive, encountering many other survivors who join them on their journey, but not everyone makes it out alive.

muto family
Japan Sinks doesn’t pull any punches with what can happen to any character at any time.

The first three episodes of  Japan Sinks are very well done, for the most part, depicting the horror that such a disaster would have expertly, except for a few weird scenes like characters taking family photos in the midst of this.
These episodes also establish that no character is safe, which makes for a lot of tense moments, considering that I came to like a lot of these characters.
Surprisingly, my favourite characters came from outside the Muto family, primarily Haruo Koga (Hiroyuki Yoshino), Auyumu’s former friend turned introvert, and Kite (Kensho Ono), a famous YouTuber.
Both these characters have great arcs that made me really care for them as the show went on.

haruo
Haruo had a pretty great arc, going from introvert to hero.

I wish my care for certain characters had extended to a love for the show but, unfortunately, it couldn’t for a variety of reasons.
The primary reason though is that episodes four to six are a complete waste of time, introducing mostly terrible characters, and some awful animation.
It took me ten days to watch the entire show and, of that time, it took me five days to get through episodes four to six.
That should tell you how much of a drag those episodes were.
On the plus side though, episode six did provide the most unintentionally hilarious death scene I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.
Other problems persist throughout Japan Sinks, like the animation issues, amount of unexplained events and coincidences, and characters acting like no real person would, for example, seemingly moving on immediately after a loved one dies.
These problems are seen throughout the show and really drag its high moments down, although there are a fair amount of these high moments.
After episode six, the story picks up again and the episodes are actually enjoyable, delivering a reflective finale that brought a smile to my face.
Then there are the themes, which are very well handled.
For example, the show tackles racism in Japan with the mixed family of the Mutos experiencing a lot of it from purely Japanese people.
Also, I like a lot of the subtlety for certain characters, like Kite, who we learn something about in the final episode that I honestly didn’t catch until another review pointed it out to me.

kite
I didn’t expect to like Kite at first so I was surprised when he became one of my favourites.

There is a lot of good things about Japan Sinks. 
It’s just a shame that the majority of those good things are dragged down by some truly awful episodes, animation issues and inconsistencies.
Japan Sinks is a mixed bag that delivers plenty of good moments but also a lot of bad moments.
So, I guess you could say that the show is 2020 in a nutshell.

Kiki’s Delivery Service Review: How to Make a Delivery Service Interesting.

4 stars
Hayao Miyazaki keeps delivering gem after gem with each of his films that I watch.
I have watched Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and the masterpiece Princess Mononoke, since these films were released on Netflix.
Each of these films provide an epic fantasy or steampunk world for the viewer to get interested in.
The exception to this is Kiki’s Delivery Service, where the focus, as the title suggests, is on a delivery service.
That is not to say there is no fantasy in the film because there most certainly is, as the star of the film is Kiki (Minami Takayama), a witch who, as the coming of age tradition of witches dictates, travels to a new area to help the inhabitants.

kiki chaos
Kiki’s journey may be a traditional for witches but the situations she gets into are anything but.

Settling in the seaside city of Koriko, Kiki discovers the citizens are not quite used to witches so decides to start a delivery service to help the people and support herself.
Accompanied by her cat Jiji (Rei Sakuma), Kiki meets a wide assortment of interesting characters and goes on quite a few adventures in her new environment, taking the seemingly mundane job of a delivery service woman and transforming it into something magical.
Along with Kiki, the film has more interesting characters like the pregnant baker who takes her in (Keiko Toda), a kind grandmother whose grandchild simply does not deserve her (Haruko Kato), and a young boy who Kiki is in equal parts annoyed and intrigued by (Kappei Yamaguchi).

ursula's art
My favourite character that Kiki interacts with though, is definitely the eccentric, woodland artist Ursula (also voice by Takayama) who helps Kiki in her development as a witch. 

But it is Kiki who truly shines, as her relationships with these characters culminate in an entertaining finale, where her character development truly shines.
A slice of life anime film that delivers plenty of heart warming and funny moments, Kiki’s Delivery Service is another good film by Hayao Miyazaki.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Marriage Story Review: Incredible Performances.

5 stars
I honestly thought that after Joker there was no 2019 film that could provide a performance that would rival Joaquin Phoenix’s.
However, after finally watching Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story on Netflix, I can say he now has some stiff competition.
Every single actor does an incredible job in this film, which follows a couple going through a divorce and trying to make things easy for their son, only for their divorce proceedings to escalate.
Both Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are flawless as Nicole and Charlie Barber and are natural Oscar contenders, especially Driver who blew me away in so many scenes, like the one where he gives an impassioned song.

Driver sings
The scene where Charlie sings in front of a group of his friends is my favourite of the film.

Again, if Joker had been released any other year then Driver would have an Oscar in the bag with this performance.
Complimenting the actors’ performances is the character writing for both Charlie and Nicole, with the film showing both of them to be flawed people who the audience can sympathize with and decide who is more at fault for the failure of their marriage.
And it’s not just the actors that are great but the cinematography as well with both long, extended takes and quick cuts being utilized to for dramatic and thematic effect perfectly.

cinematography3
The closing of the gate shots coming together to create a fantastic scene. 

Baumbach did an amazing job directing this film.
The only minor criticism I can think of is that it did take me a little bit to relate to Charlie and Nicole because of their celebrity status, which initially felt slightly alienating.
But, this issue I was having did quickly dissipate because of how the story and character arcs played out, along with the great the performances and cinematography so I can hardly fault the film.
Marriage Story is an emotional, highly crafted film that is definitely one of the best of the year.

The Irishman Review: Amazing De-Aging Effects in a Long Film.

3 and a half stars
Martin Scorsese has had a long career of fantastic crime dramas from Goodfellas, to Casino, to The Departed, to many more.
As such, coming into The Irishman, I felt like I was going to see another riveting film on par with many of his prior movies.
Honestly, though, this expectation may have been a bit naive.
That is not to say that The Irishman is bad because it is certainly a good film, but there was nothing about it that made it feel like I was seeing something new.
The most impressive thing about the film is its fantastic de-aging effects, which allows the characters played by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to age across the decades that the film depicts.
The only problem I had with the effects was that sometimes the actors’ eyes looked a little off but, Aside from this, it was flawless.

aging effects
The de-aging effects of The Irishman are so good that I cannot tell you at what time De Niro has no effects done to his face.

The Irishman follows the crime fueled life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a man who “paints houses”, a euphemism for murder in the criminal underworld.
Under orders from his friend Russel Bufalino (Pesci), Frank eventually comes to know and befriend the leader of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).
The film then follows these three characters through Frank’s experiences in the criminal underworld and the fatal effects these experiences have.
For starters, the three actors all do a really good job with their characters, especially De Niro and Pacino because I could really feel the bond that their characters had.
The friendship between Sheeran and Hoffa, and what it ultimately culminates in, is the most interesting part of the movie for me; even if the outcome may not be true to life because no one really knows how these events really unfolded.

de niro and pacino
While probably not true, the way Sheeran and Hoffa’s friendship pans out in the film is tragic.

Another impressive thing about The Irishman is how it goes about portraying Sheeran’s supposed murders, with them often being quick and realistic, lacking an over dramatic feel, although this works in the film’s favor.
However, despite these good things, I still cannot say The Irishman is anything spectacular.
For one thing, the film is way too long, coming in at 209 minutes.
The over three hour runtime was not exactly warranted and I felt quite a few scenes could have been condescend or cut.
Also, as I said, The Irishman does not really add anything all that new to the crime drama genre.
I felt like I was watching just a typical crime film rather than one directed by Scorsese.
Still, the film is enjoyable and I would recommend it based off the great performances and amazing de-aging effects.
If you don’t mind the over three hour runtime then you should give it a watch.

 

The Dragon Prince Season Three Review: Best Season Yet.

4 and a half stars
I enjoyed the first two seasons of The Dragon Prince. 
While I did find the first season to be flawed in its animation and some of its story telling, I found season two to be a real improvement.
Well, season three continues to improve on its animation and story, becoming the best season so far.
Created by Aaron Ehaz and Justin Richmond, the story now follows Callum (Jack DeSena) and Rayla (Paula Burrows) on their journey to deliver the Dragon Prince Zym to his mother and end the war.
While this is going on, Callum’s younger brother Ezran (Sasha Rojen) struggles as the new king of Katolis, with Viren (Jason Simpson) and the mysterious Aarvos (Erik Todd Dellums) scheming to take power.

Aarvos 3.jpg
Aarvos is just as mysterious and threatening as when he was first introduced in season two.

The first thing I have to praise the third season of The Dragon Prince for is its scale.
The story now feels like an epic, and after the final enthralling last episode, “The Final Battle,” I have no idea where the series is going next.
Just as good as the story are the characters who are more investing than they ever have been.
A perfect example of this is my new favourite character Soren (Jesse Inocalla).
Honestly, I did not care much for Soren prior to this season but he really blew me away here with his character development.
This culminated in a scene is the final episode that left me both feeling shocked and having a lot of respect for him.

Soren.jpg
Soren really surprised me with how heroic he became this season.

Almost as good are Callum and Rayla, with their relationship being a primary focus.
When the possibility of a relationship between the two was first hinted at last season, I was actually unsure if it could work.
However, the depiction of their relationship definitely proved me wrong because the two are perfect for each other.
Along with these characters, others like Viren, Aarvos, and Claudia (Raquel Belmonte) all have standout moments.
I also really enjoyed Amaya’s storyline and I was very happy to see she got more screen time than last season.
And then there is Ezran whose storyline, unfortunately, has a problem.
As well as this, there is also a deus ex machina in “The Final Battle” that I found to be particularly egregious.
I think these two problems could have been easily fixed, but to explain why I will need to get into spoilers so I will leave that for the end of the post.
However, although these problems do stick out, they are not enough to ruin the season, which has plenty of things to make up for it like the story, other characters, and the animation.
Speaking of, the animation this season is amazing.

amazing animation.png
The animation, particularly in “The Final Battle” looks spectacular.

Unlike season one there was no moment where I was taken out of a scene because of poor animation.
As well as this, the season also manages to be incredibly funny with one reference to Avatar: The Last Airbender leaving me laughing harder than I have in a while.
So, all in all, the third season of The Dragon Prince is definite the best so far.
It has a great story, great characters, amazing animation, funny jokes, and I cannot wait to see where it goes.
There have been some concerns that Netflix may cancel it but, hopefully, these fears turn out to be for nothing.

Spoilers:
So, I want to discuss the two big problems I have with season three and state how I think they could have been fixed.
The first issue is Ezran being usurped as king by Viren and then going back to help Callum and Rayla in the span of a few episodes.
This made his subplot of learning to become king feel kind of unnecessary.
The second problem I have is the dues ex machina in “The Final Battle” where Queen Aanya (Zelda Ehaz) shows up out of nowhere with her army to save the day, apparently being convinced by Corvus (Omari Newton) and Opeli (also Paula Burrows) to come and help.
The thing is that Aanya seemed to be pretty against fighting in season two so it really does not make sense for her to come and help now.
In order to fix these two things I would suggest a change in the story.
Instead of Ezran immediately going back to Callum and Rayla when he is dethroned, he instead travels with Corvus and Opeli to meet Aanya and ask for her support.
We could see Ezran learn to negotiate with her and maybe Aanya decides to help him because she sees the good in him, unlike Viren who she could tell was untrustworthy.
This would both make Ezran’s king storyline more important and make Aanya showing up to help make more sense.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Review. MMMMMMM!!!

4 and a half stars
Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal pretty much traumatized me as a child.
I remember seeing a Skeksis crumble to dust in the opening minutes of the film and being absolutely terrified.
Now, years later, the Jim Henson Company and Netflix have released a prequel series to the original creepy, puppet, fantasy movie, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Directed by Louis Leterrier, I came into this series with a vague sense of the original movie, since I think I was 12 the last time I watched it.
Well, Age of Resistance made me want to go back and watch that film because the Netflix series is fantastic, delivering a riveting story with great characters, music and puppetry.

UNIT_326.tif
The puppetry in Age of Resistance is often top notch, with very few moments of an uncanny valley.

The Dark Crystal movie came out in 1982 so a lot of time has passed and this has given the creators the chance to improve on the puppetry and CGI.
The way the practical effects merge with computer generated effects is perfect, giving Age of Resistance a grand sense of scope.
The story follows three Gelflings; castle guard Rian (Taron Edgerton), the cave dwelling Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Princess Brea (Anya Taylor Joy), learning that their lords, the Skeksis, are not so benevolent as they thought.
Realizing the threat the Skeksis pose to the world of Thra, the three Gelflings set out on their own individual journeys to stop the Skeksis and the Darkening they have caused by abusing the Dark Crystal.

Rian and friends.jpg
Rian, Deet and Brea’s journey to stop the Skesis results in numerous moments of high tension, fear, and sometimes laughter.

I came to care about all three of these Gelfling, who are all magnificently voice acted, with my favourite probably being Deet.
I liked her arc from beginning to end and also really enjoyed her friendship with the Podling Hup (Victor Yerrid).
Another thing I surprisingly enjoyed was the Skeksis themselves, who are over the top evil in the best of ways.
The Emperor (Jason Isaacs) is a commanding overlord, and The Scientist (Mark Hamill) uses his genius in cruelly malevolent ways.
By far the most investing Skeksis is Simon Pegg’s backstabbing Chamberlain.
With his constant “MMMMMMMs!”, he is as delightfully two-faced as I remember him being in the original movie.

The Chamberlain.jpg
Describing The Chamberlain as a weasel is probably the most accurate way to describe his backstabbing nature.

As for the music, it further highlights the majesty of the world of Thra, and the danger whenever the characters’ lives are at risk.
Speaking of, there are a lot of deaths.
I have heard some describe this series as Game of Thrones with puppets and that is fairly accurate; although this should have been expected, given where the original movie starts off.
However, there are a few things that stop Age of Resistance from being perfect.
One is the fact that it is sometimes hard to take certain dramatic scenes seriously because, well, the characters are puppets.
Granted, these moments are few and bar between but they still happen.
By far the biggest problem, though, is that many of the characters seem to have changes in motivation at the drop of a hat.
Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a prime example of this; but easily the biggest instance of this is in episode four where at least four characters’ motivations seem to change almost instantaneously with no buildup.
Still, these issues do not ruin the experience as The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a well made show with a great story and characters, and brilliant effects, both practical and computer generated.
I highly recommend it, especially for fans of The Dark Crystal movie.