Noragami Manga Review: I Need Season Three Even More Now!

4 and a half stars
I had a blast watching the two seasons of Noragami at my university anime club.
The story was funny, tragic, and had a great bunch of compelling characters.
So, knowing that there was no season three, I decided to go and read the manga to see how this story would continue.
If you didn’t read my review of the anime, the story, written by Adachitoka, follows Yato, a downtrodden god who inadvertently causes a teenaged girl, named Hiyori Iki, to be stuck between his world and the human world.
Along with his new Shinki, Yukine, Yato sets out to help Hiyori and others, for the small price of five yen, all while dealing with the threat of his sorcerer Father and the manipulative Nora.
For starters, I really enjoyed the subsequent arcs that followed from where the anime left off.
There were a lot of intense moments throughout, accompanied by great character development and fight sequences.
My favourite arc of the bunch has to be the High Treason Arc, which has terrific fights, fun new characters, and a nail-biting conclusion.

The High Treason Arc is by far my favourite arc of the bunch, delivering plenty of great moments.

A close second would probably be the currently ongoing arc, which goes into detail about Yukine’s dark past and how he died.
Seriously, the manga goes to some really disturbing places in this arc and I am intrigued to see how it will go.
Yukine is not the only character whose past is seen as Yato’s tragic backstory is also explored in detail.
Characters like Hiyori, Bishamon, Kazuma, Ebisu and Kofuku remain as enjoyable and likeable as ever.
It is even interesting to see how some things from the manga were changed in the anime, like the end of the Underworld Arc where some character roles were switched and one character who was introduced in one chapter didn’t even appear in the adaptation.
Probably the most drastic way the anime diverts from the manga is the inclusion of Rabo, who is, surprisingly, not even a character in the manga and was probably only added to make a fight for the final episodes of season one.
In all honesty though, I think him not being in the manga does improve Hiyori’s story a bit because it doesn’t mean she has to go through a memory loss storyline twice.

Rabo’s addition in the anime added some great action for the final few episodes of season one but also undercut Hiyori’s storyline by making her go through amnesia two times rather than once.

Back to the manga, there are some elements of it that could have used some work, like with the reveal of Yato’s past.
The reveal itself is great but the way that reveal happened felt a little contrived.
Also, there are a few instances where the impact of potential character deaths are removed by them being saved or brought back to life, like at the end of the High Treason Arc.
Another slight problem I have is that I found it a little hard to take the main villain, Father, seriously at times, based on how he appears, although this is subjective.

Father looks pretty intimidating in the flashbacks, see above, but much less so in his current form.

All in all though, the Noragami manga is a great read that makes me want a season three even more.
Unfortunately, it’s been five years since the second season ended so we are unlikely to get one soon, if at all.
Fingers crossed that this manga can eventually be adapted for a great season three, some time in the future.

Hinamatsuri Manga Review: I Have Never Laughed Harder.

4 and a half stars
Ah, it feels like just yesterday that I watched Hinamatsuri for the first time at the anime club of my university.
Based off the manga by Masao Ōtake, the story of a Yakuza gang member, named Nitta, who is blackmailed by a telekinetic girl, named Hina, into taking care of her, along with the tale of how a middle school student, named Hitomi, became a bartender, provided us all with a lot laughs.
In fact, when I did my review of the anime, I framed this premise like it was something out of a joke, “Tell me if you’ve heard this one; a Yakuza and a telekenetic girl walk into a bar and order a drink from an underage bartender”, is what I said.
Well, that joke sounding premise was very real and the laughs the show delivered were just as good or even better than any gag that joke could have produced.

This being said, though, the joke I made is a pretty fair description of the story.

So, after reminiscing on how funny the anime was, learning that there is no season two in sight, and also learning that the manga had recently finished, I decided to read that manga and, boy, was it worth it. 
I honestly don’t remember a time I have laughed harder after reading Hinamatsuri. 
The jokes almost always land in a hysterical fashion that reflects the absurdity of each situation. 
When the manga gets to the actual plot of the story it gets even more absurd. 
By that, I mean that Hinamatsuri takes a bit of a dive down a save the world storyline and yet this story is always on the back burner compared to the other characters’ personal struggles. 
This works because of how likable and funny these characters are.
Just like in the anime, my favourite character is definitely Hitomi, the inspirational success story who did not want to be an inspirational success story.

Bow before our lord and savoir Hitomi Mishima because I’m pretty sure she’s going to be a god at the end of her lifetime with how far she had progressed by the story’s conclusion.

What helps Hitomi is that the comedy in her storylines is always hilarious and some of the most hysterical moments in the entire manga.
I’m going to remember her wondering if everyone praising Anzu was part of some cult, her threatening Nitta, and, most of all, her accidentally being sent to a boot camp rather than an English class, resulting in her swearing like a sailor whenever she switches to the language. 
That last one was unfortunately not included in the anime, most likely for censorship reasons.  
But, that’s why Hinamatsuri is such a great read, even if you’ve read the bits that the anime already covered, because many hilarious moments from the manga were cut from the show. 
Back to the characters, the other ones are just as enjoyable, with Anzu continuing as best daughter and Nitta and Hina still being the lovable scumbags I remember. 
And then there’s Mao, who didn’t really make an impression on me in the anime because she felt more like a teaser character for a second season. 
Reading the manga, I got to see where her story went from that teaser.
Honestly, even though I was disappointed with how Mao’s reunion with Hina and Anzu was treated, I still found her to be among the best Hinamatsuri characters along with Hitomi, Anzu, Hina and Nitta. 

Like all the other characters, Mao has plenty of funny moments, mostly centered around her doll fixation.

Although, I will say, that even though a lot of these characters are hilarious, there are a few characters who I just never felt attached to and that their role in the story wasn’t really thought out that clearly. 
However, the great character development and humor more than make up for this. 
Overall, Hinamatsuri is a fantastic manga that provides some great characters and exceptional laughs, even if some of the characters storylines were not that great. 
I hope the anime gets a season two soon so I can laugh all over again.

Tokyo Ghoul: Re Manga Review. Not a Tragedy After All.

4 stars
Coming into Tokyo Ghoul: Re, Sui Ishida’s sequel manga to the brilliant Tokyo Ghoul, you have to understand that is quite different from the original manga.
Not in terms of tone, no, the story is still as horrifying and brutal as ever (except for the ending but we’ll get to that).
Tokyo Ghoul: Re picks up two years after the first manga, with an amnesiac Ken Kaneki, now under the name Sasaki Haise, who is working at the CCG as a ghoul investigator, while leading his own squad.
Named the Quinx Squad, the group consists of characters that have gained ghoul powers through experimentation, like Kaneki, however, unlike Kaneki they are still mostly human.
These are the characters that take up most of the screen time in Re, while most of the original main cast are relegated to smaller roles in the beginning and this can take some time getting used to.
Not to say that this new cast is bad or anything as, with one exception, I came to like all of them.

There are plenty of new and interesting characters introduced in Re like Saiko and Urie. 

Although, I will say I was not fond of the main antagonist.
Also, it is a shame that many of the original great dynamics of characters, like the one Kaneki had with Amon, are absent for most of the manga.
In comparison, the dynamics of the new cast are good but nowhere near as good as the original.
Credit where it is due though, some characters have been greatly improved and expanded upon from the first manga.
The best examples of this are Takizawa, who became a very tragic character, and, of course, my favourite character Eto, who was given plenty of flashbacks and amazing moments.
A certain scene with her at a press conference was my favourite moment in the entirety of Re.
I just wish that she had been given more screen time because she certainly deserved it.

Eto is definitely my favourite character, appearing to be both insane and completely logical at the same time.

Another aspect of the original Tokyo Ghoul that is expanded upon is the horror and gore. Seriously, the violence of this manga makes the violence of the last one look like an adorable puppy.
I can recall many moments where I audibly yelped or gagged at how disgusting some of the visuals were, which I’m sure was Ishida’s intent.
Not only this, but when the old cast does finally return, we get the interactions and dynamics that had been missing in the first half.
This also comes with the growth of the newly introduced characters, with my feelings about them progressing over time.
For example, I originally extremely disliked Urie but, by the end of the story, he was one my favourite characters.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there was Tooru, who went from one of my favourites of the new cast to one of my personally most despised characters in the entire manga.
I know Tooru has the most traumatic past out of any character, and what happened to him is something that no one deserves, but that does not justify his evil actions.
Speaking of evil actions, this is one of my many problems with the ending to the manga, because horrific crimes committed by characters are seemingly forgotten about and these characters then get happy endings.

evil tooru
It’s hard to feel good about a character getting a happy ending when you remember all of the terrible things they’ve done to innocent people, which has barely been addressed.

The ending of Tokyo Ghoul: Re was rushed.
Things happen too quickly and in the epilogue there are even important characters who were completely forgotten about.
This can probably be chalked up to Ishida being burnt out after writing the manga weekly for so long, which is understandable.
However, I still have more problems with the ending.
For one, it was a bit annoying how so many dead characters came back to life at the end, or Ishida made you think they were dead before bringing them back.
There were quite a few times where I just wished he had kept the characters he brought back dead.
And then there is my big problem with the ending, it does not suit the tone of the story up until this point.
At the beginning of Tokyo Ghoul, Ishida set out that the story would be tragic, through actually telling us this with narration and by showing us this with the extreme violence.
So, with many characters essentially getting a fairy tale story book ending, it feels at odds with everything the story had set up.
Just to be clear, I don’t hate this ending.
It is definitely not the worst ending the story could have got.
I just wish it had played out slower and felt in tone with the rest of the manga.

Although rushed and not in tone with the rest of the manga, the ending of the Tokyo Ghoul story is still decent, providing conclusions to most of the characters and their problems.

Overall, Tokyo Ghoul: Re is still a good follow up to Ishida’s original story.
Despite its many faults, the manga constantly delivers on good characterization, horrifying moments, and themes.
Now that I have reviewed the manga, it’s on to the anime and, boy, do I have things to say.

Psycho-Pass: The Movie – This Should Have Been Season Two.

3 and a half stars
I love the first season of Psycho-Pass.
It is an intense cyberpunk anime with great characters and thought provoking material.
Psycho-Pass 2, on the other hand, is a complete mess with terrible new characters and incredibly dumb storytelling that has numerous plot holes.
As a result of this disappointing sequel series, I was put off watching Psycho-Pass: The Movie but I finally got around to watching it the other day.
Coming into the film, I was both hopeful and concerned.
Hopeful because the directors of the original season, Katsuyuki Motohiro and Naoyoshi Shiotani, were returning.
Concerned because this would be a follow up of the second season.
So, how did Psycho-Pass: The Movie deal with the terrible story telling from its predecessor?
Why by completely ignoring it, thank god!
This time around, the story sees Akane Tsunemori travel from Japan to the Southeast Asia Union, meaning the events of Psycho-Pass 2 are barely acknowledged.
And while the terrible character of  Mika Shimotsuki is still there, she mercifully gets barely any screen time.
No, that screen time goes to Akane and Shinya Kogami, who it was great to see return.

Kogami and Akane
It was fun to see Akane and Kogami working together again, especially after Kogami’s absence in Psycho Pass 2.

Both remain great characters with a lot of depth and the crime they are investigating is just as interesting, along with its commentary.
I was very intrigued to see how the Sybil System was being implemented in other countries and the implications of this.
Although, I will say, it does feel a little rushed.
It would have been better if this was a series rather than a movie because there would have been a lot more time to flesh out the story and villains.
Honestly, I wish this had been the second season and Psycho-Pass 2 never existed.
However, despite the rushed quality, I was still intrigued by the commentary and the action is decent enough to keep viewers engaged.
This results in an entertaining film that, while nowhere near as brilliant as the first Psycho-Pass season, feels like a nice return to form.
I do have to advise you to watch the English Dub though.
I prefer the Subs when watching the series but the Dub is definitely better when watching the film.
This is because many of the characters speak English and, since they are voiced by Japanese voice actors, their pronunciation is pretty laughable.

The Sub is often hilariously terrible, due to the awful English.

If you want to take the movie seriously then you should watch the English Dub first, before watching the Sub to get a good laugh.
Psycho-Pass: The Movie is a definite step up from the second season, and gives me hope for more good things to come in the Psycho-Pass universe.
Especially with a third season coming soon, which I am very eager to see how it will turn out.


Attack on Titan, Chapter 117, Judgement Review: War Hammer Mode Initiated.

4 stars
As many people have already pointed out, Hajime Isayama has so immaculately timed the events of Attack on Titan that we now have different fights between Eren and Reiner in the manga and the anime happening at the same time.
It really goes to show how good Isayama is at structuring the series and has me excited about how he will continue to do so.
As for the Chapter 117 itself, it is a non-stop thrill ride of a chapter that feels over way too soon.
That is the sad thing about Attack on Titan though.
It’s action packed chapters can be read through so quickly, and then you have to wait another month while you are dying to read the next one.
This Chapter, “Judgement”, definitely has me feeling this way, with almost the entirety of it being action oriented as Eren faces off against the warriors and Marley’s military.
However, my favourite part of “Judgement” is not the bombastic action sequences, but rather the small character moment we get from Gabi and Magath.
Isayama really surprised me with how well he develops these two this chapter.
After escaping with Pieck, Gabi is brought to the Marleyan troops, led by Magath, and she is very surprised when he hugs her, showing relief that she is safe.
I love this moment because it not only shows that Magath does care about the Eldians under his command, but it also serves as a nice callback to chapter 91, where both characters were introduced.
In that chapter, Gabi came up with a dangerous plan that put herself at risk and, at first, Magath forbade her from following through on that plan.
This led to Gabi jokingly saying that this meant Magath really cared about her… only for this to now be proven true with Magath embracing her.
Then there is the cool story moment we got from Gabi in this scene, which saw her remember what Zeke said about him having royal blood, causing the others to realise that Zeke and Eren coming into contact could activate the Founding Titan.
It is a good explanation for how the Marleyans would figure out Eren and Zeke’s plan and also goes to show how smart Gabi is.
Speaking of the Marleyans and their warriors though, reading the chapter I was not entirely sure who I should be routing for.
One the one hand, I wanted Eren to succeed and defeat Reiner, but on the other hand I wanted Reiner to beat him.
This shows how complex Attack on Titan has become, with every character’s motivations being understandable to us now, to the point that we route for them all.
So, in the end, there is a bunch of characters I all like that are fighting to the death, making me unsure of who to cheer on.
I loved every second of this uncertainty.
It added much more weight to the battle, which has a lot of highlights, from Pieck’s cannon wielded by Magath, to Zeke showing up at the end to save Eren.
One of the big highlights of this fight, though, is obviously Eren using his War Hammer Titan abilities in battle for the first time.
It was very exciting to see all the different ways Eren can use the power.
He is clearly not as skilled as the previous War Hammer Titan but, if he is given time, he could become even more overpowered, which could be either a good and bad thing, depending on how Isayama handles it.
There are even some morbidly funny moments to go along with all of this action.
The best of this is scene when Porco cuts off Pieck’s hand so she can transform without hurting Gabi.
When this happens, Pieck screams in pain before jumping off the building to transform.
This is humorous in a pretty morbid way because we have never seen a Titan Shifter express pain at their injuries before, despite hurting themselves in ways that would leave most people in complete agony.
There are also, what I feel to be, hints at future events in the manga, the most obvious being Magath talking about the Marleyan hero Helos, who Willy Tyber mentioned.
This historical figure has constantly been used in reference to Magath and, if the theory that the story of Ymir was actually transported to the past by Titan memories is true, this could mean Magath is actually Helos.
This has dire implications because it has been stated that Helos killed the Devil of all earth, and many people believe Eren is an allusion to this devil.
So, if Magath, or any other character, turns out to be Helos, then it may be likely that Eren will be killed by them.
Along with this, Zeke looks set to transform all of the people who ingested his spinal fluid in the next few chapters.
This will undoubtedly turn the fight in their favor because Zeke will have complete control over all 300 of the Titans he will create.
However, Zeke showing up here does add further weight to this being the final battle, which I am currently unsure how I feel about because so many characters are absent from it.
Also, I did have a few minor problems with the chapter, the biggest of which being suspension of disbelief when it came to Titan injuries.
Is it just me, or does anyone else think Eren and Reiner’s Titans should have been unusable by the end of the chapter?
Eren got shot in the head twice and Reiner got his face ripped open and was hit by Zeke’s boulders, and yet, both are somehow still standing by the end.
It just felt like a contradiction of what we already know about what Titan’s can withstand.
Speaking of contradictions, there is a weird continuity error when, for some reason, Eren is shown without a shirt in one panel and then with one in another.
It kind of felt like Isayama placed fan-service over continuity there.
Overall though, “Judgement” is another solid chapter of Attack on Titan that has me excited for the series’ endgame… that is if Isayama does not spoil it himself first, but I will talk about that situation in another post

Attack on Titan 2 Video Game: Enjoyable but very repetitive.

3 stars
I have become a big fan of Attack on Titan so when I learnt there was a game I was very excited to play it.
I wanted to see what it would be like to be a member of the Survey Corps and fly over buildings and trees with the omni-directional mobility gear and, I have to say, it was really fun.
The first few hours of this game are very enjoyable because you actually do feel like you are in the anime as you fly around slaughtering Titans.
However, if you have played the first couple of hours, then you have basically played the entire thing gameplay wise.
There are almost no new additions to the gameplay after those fist two hours and it gets old rather quickly.
To combat this, I tried to raise the difficulty from easy to normal so I could at least have a fun challenge.
However, this also alerted me to another problem with the game, which is its difficulty settings.
There are absurd variations between the difficulty settings in Attack on Titan 2.
Easy mode offers almost no challenge, normal is frustratingly difficult and good luck beating the game on hard mode.
There needed to be less variation between the difficulty settings so there was one that provided fun yet challenging gameplay.

Gameplay AOT2
The gameplay’s repetitive nature and huge difference in difficulty settings were by far the worst attributes of Attack on Titan 2. 

Unfortunately, it is not just the combat elements of gameplay that get repetitive but the social elements as well.
Since you design your own character for this game, you can make friends with the characters of the anime and doing so will heighten your skill set.
Like the combat, this is fun for the first few hours but, after that, it gets stale quickly.
It is very easy to guess what you have to say for each character and it got to the point that I was just skipping the conversations, stopping only to click a dialogue option.
This is not helped by the fact that the character you construct has little to no personality whatsoever and made me wish I could play as characters from the anime instead.
The final big problem I had with this game was the frame rate, which acted up a few times.
However, the game was not all bad.
As I said, the first few hours of combat are incredibly fun and, even though what follows is very repetitive, it still offers an occasional moment of fun.
Another thing I really liked was the cinematics, which are often played from your character’s point of view.
Watching events like the colossal twist of Warrior and others like it in first person was very interesting and I wish this first person style had been implemented into the gameplay as well, but I understand there probably was not a budget for that.
Finally, there was the final mission of the game.
Attack on Titan 2 covers the first two seasons of the anime but once that is over the game is not finished yet.
There is a final non-canon level where you face off against the Beast Titan, Armoured Titan and Colossal Titan and this final level was very enjoyable and a great way to end the game.

Ending AOT2
The final mission of Attack on Titan 2 is definitely its best with great combat and ending.

Overall, Attack on Titan is an enjoyable game, especially for those who are fans of the anime and manga, however you do have to wade through a lot of repetitive gameplay to get find it.

Back to the 80’s for Stranger Things season two

stranger things season 2
4 and a half stars
Stranger Things is back and kicking in season two of the hit Netflix series.
I was pretty late getting on the Stranger Things band wagon as I only watched the first season six months ago but when I did I was instantly hooked.
So, naturally, I was excited to see what season two would have to offer and, I have got to say, I was impressed. (WARNING!!! Minor spoilers ahead.)
Season two not only continues the story from Season one but expands on it, introducing new characters and interesting plot points that keeps the story fresh and thrilling.
The story telling here is just excellent, with so many twists and turns that I could not stop watching.
I binged watched the entirety of season two in just two days and I am so thankful this is a Netflix series because, if it aired weekly, then I would not be able to handle it.
Season two starts a year after Will was rescued from the Upside Down and a lot has changed since then.
Mike is still mourning Eleven’s disappearance, There is a new girl in town named Max, Joyce now has a boyfriend Bob and Will is experiencing PTSD from his time in the Upside Down… well, as we all know, it is not PTSD but it suits the story for everyone to think it is.
The season starts off great, introducing us to a bunch of new characters like Bob, Max and her step-brother Billy.
These characters are all very interesting and I cannot wait to see what they do with them in the future, Max especially because she is a very likable character and a welcome addition to the show.
Speaking of characters, I liked how a lot of the old characters from the first season were expanded upon like Dustin, Lucas and Steve.
Steve was especially good this season.
In the previous season I thought he would turn out to be a stereotypical, one dimensional bully but he actually surprised me by growing as a character and redeemeing himself.
The surprises with Steve continue this season, as he continues to grow into a likable, yet flawed character.
One thing this season definitely did better than its predecessor was present a feeling of danger throughout.
Although I loved the first season of Stranger Things, it was pretty obvious which characters would live and which ones would die (with a few exceptions, like Steve for example).
Not this season however.
Every time a character is in danger you feel like this might be the last time you see them and it has you on the edge of your seat with panic every time, unlike the previous season.
shadow monste
But just like last season, 80’s throwbacks abound!
There are so many callbacks to the 80’s and movies of the time.
I saw references to Alien, E.T and even one incredibly hilarious Indiana Jones homage.
This season is filled with twist after twist, all of which are thrilling.
The opening sequence of the first episode had my jaw on the floor.
Most of the episodes end on a cliffhanger, which has you begging for more and makes this almost the perfect show to binge watch.
I say almost because I do have some issues with it.
My biggest one being Max.
Now, as I said, I really liked her character but my problem lies with how the other characters react to her, more specifically Mike.
Mike does not like Max and it is for the stupidest reason.
He is a complete jerk to her, which makes him really unlikable.
Since Mike is supposed to be one of the main characters of the show, the fact that I did not like him this season is a really bad thing.
It does not help that this minor plot point is never resolved.
We never get a scene of Mike apologizing to Max about how he treated her, it is acted like it never happened.
This season also displays, once again, how incompetent the government forces are.
In season one, I found it highly unrealistic how Hopper was able to break into a top secret laboratory, guarded by trained soldiers, with relative ease and this season once again portrays how incompetent these people are.
While interrogating Nancy about keeping quiet about Barb’s death the scientists are stupid enough not to check for a recording device.
As a result, I found these government forces to be unrealistically incompetent but this is only a minor problem.
The final problem I had with this season was episode seven.
This episode felt very different in tone and just felt out of place in comparison to the rest of the season.
What is worse is the episode prior to this ended on a massive cliffhanger and this episode does not address the it, that is saved for the next episode.
Thank god this is a Netflix series because if the episodes had been released weekly I would not have been able to wait to see how the cliffhanger played out.
Other than those three problems however, I loved this season and I cannot wait for season three.
The story telling was brilliant, the characters were lovable and fun to watch, (both the old and the new) and the various twists and turns kept you engaged.
If you have not watched Stranger Things season 2 or any episodes of Stranger Things I would highly suggest you you go and watch it,
You will love it just like I did.

Logan claws its way to the top as one of my favourite movies

5 stars
I know, I know, I’m about 8 months late for this review but I have been wanting to talk about Logan for a while now.
What motivated me to talk about it was the film’s director James Mangold announcing they are currently planning a spin off movie starring X-23, Laura, played by Dafne Keen.
I am very excited about this since I am not only a fan of X-23 and her story but love Logan, with one of my favourite things about it being Dafne Keen’s performance.
So, based on this recent announcement, I have decided to finally review what is, not only one of my favourite films of the year so far, but one of my favourite films ever.
I know this is big talk considering that the film only came out about 8 months ago but I honestly do not feel like I am exaggerating.
I loved Logan from start to finish and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart after all the years they have played Logan and Charles Xavier.

Logan and Charles

Where do I begin with this movie?
It is odd that the best super hero movies are not actually super hero movies?
The Dark Knight was not a super hero movie, it was a crime thriller.
Similarly Logan is not a super hero movie but a western.
Whenever a super hero is adapted to a different genre outside the norm it usually results in an instant classic, which The Dark Knight and Logan both have in common.
However, (and I know this is a controversial statement) I love Logan more than I loved The Dark Knight.
I can understand why people think The Dark Knight is the better movie but I just disagree with this because I connected with Logan far more than I ever did The Dark Knight.
Let’s start with the main characters.
Each and every one of them are incredible with Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen all giving Oscar worthy performances.
And yes, I said Dafne Keen deserves an Oscar based on her performance.
She may only be 12 years old but that does not change the fact that her performance is on par with Jackman and Stewart’s.
If they had not got the right actor to play Laura then the entire film would have fallen apart so the fact that they not only found the right actor but someone who gave one of the best performances in the film, is nothing shot of extraordinary.
This is why I’m so excited about the recent announcement of an X-23 spin off film being in the works.

Logan (2017) Directed by James Mangold Shown: Dafne Keen

Lets go back to Jackman and Stewart now.
As I said, these two both give Oscar worthy performances, bringing a much darker tone to their characters.
These are not the Logan and Xavier that we know from previous films, these are much darker portrayals.
When we first see them it is very clear so much has happened since we last saw them.
Both are broken down, mirror images of who they used to be and it is so tragic to see them this way.
However, it’s not just them that give noteworthy performances.
Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce and Stephen Merchant’s Caliban are both greatly performed by both actors, with Holbrook’s Pierce coming across as a very charismatic villain and Merchant’s Caliban bringing not only a few rounds of much needed comedy to the film but sympathy as well.
The only character who was not done right was Richard E. Grant’s Zander Rice, who was very uninteresting.
I have heard people complain that not only Rice but Pierce and the film’s other villain (who I won’t spoil) were not developed enough.
However, I feel like these people are missing the point.
Logan is not The Dark Knight.
This is an intimate story about family, change and death.
It is not a film about the duality between the hero and the villain.
To have the villains be like the Joker and steal the show would have overshadowed the storytelling and the message would have been lost so it is good that these villains are underdeveloped.
And just because they are underdeveloped does not mean they are bad.
Donald Pierce is an incredibly charismatic villain and is entertaining whenever he is on screen.

Logan Pierce

Also the surprise villain is the perfect foil for Logan and fits in with his story.
The one exception to this, as I said earlier, is Zander Rice but he is one flaw in an otherwise exceptional film.
As I mentioned the themes of the film are family, change and death and these themes are fantastically portrayed.
A common complaint I hear is that the story is too simple but in a lot of instances simple is more.
Look at Mad Max: Fury Road for example.
This movie has the simplest of premises and yet it is one of the greatest action movies ever made.
The same can be said for Logan.
The story may be simple but it needed to be in order to portray the themes I mentioned earlier correctly.
You do not even need to have seen an X-Men film to love Logan.
It not only works as a continuation of the X-Men universe but as its own standalone film.
The film’s R16 rating also works great with the type of story they were trying to tell.
Making Logan a PG film would not have worked well with the film’s darker themes.
What is great about the violence though is that it never feels gratuitous.
Every severed head and cut throat feels earned…. with one exception.

logan violence

There is a scene of partial nudity in this film that feels thrown in just because the film had an R16 rating.
It felt like the film’s director was saying “well this movie is R16, we might as well throw some boobies in there!”
However, other than this one short scene, every curse word and use of violence felt earned and not thrown in because of the film’s rating.
As I mentioned earlier, Logan is more of a western than a super hero movie so it only makes sense that Logan’s music is that of a western.
The score is very effective at drawing out emotion as well, whether that emotion being excitement, horror or sadness.
Speaking of sadness, if you do not tear up at least once during this movie then you have no soul.
This movie is incredibly heart breaking and I still tear up watching it, even after multiple viewings.
And that is the main reason I love this movie so much because it made me feel something.
There are a lot of movies that draw emotion out of me but there are so few that make me feel like Logan did.
I felt excitement, fear, horror and, of course, sadness all in one viewing experience that leaves me feeling emotionally drained every time and yet I can’t stop watching it.
Logan is a masterpiece of a movie.
It is an excellent film with thought provoking themes about family, change and death that is filled to the brim with emotion.
The only flaws the movie has is the Rice character and one individual scene where it felt like they were exploiting the film’s R16 rating.
Other than that, Logan is a masterpiece.
And on a side note I also believe it has the best movie trailer of all time as well.
If you have not scene Logan yet, where have you been?
Stop reading this review and go watch it.
You may feel emotionally drained afterwards but you won’t regret it.

Blade Runner 2049: An instant classic

5 stars
With all the superhero movies and remakes, it is very rare that we get a stylish film that becomes a classic but Blade Runner 2049 is that movie.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the classic sci-fi noir thriller Blade Runner and stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford and Ana de Armas.
It really did surprise me how much I loved this movie, considering I first watched Blade Runner a week ago and did not think it was as good as everyone says it is.
It is a good film and I can see the impact it has left on cinema, but at the same time I don’t think it is the flawless classic everyone makes it out to be.
In fact I think the sequel is better than the original.
For one thing, I connected far more with Ryan Gosling’s K in this movie than I ever did with Deckard in the original Blade Runner.
K blade runner
I did not only connect with K but the other characters in this movie as well.
Ana de Armas was great as Joi, K’s love interest, and I found their romance sadly tragic given what we learn by the end of the film.
Even Deckard was done better here because I sympathized with him more than I did in Blade Runner.
The story is also a lot better as much more is at stake than there was in Blade Runner and the mystery is far more interesting.
There are so many twists and turns in the story that I couldn’t wait to see where it would go.
There is one twist about half an hour before the movie ends that I initially was not too sure if I liked but after thinking about it more I think it worked better than the alternative.
It is also kind of funny how they reveal something which could have been a big twist for the movie at the beginning of the film, and in a very offhand way.
It worked brilliantly for the story.
This film is also visually stunning.
Blade Runner 2049 is, without a doubt, the most beautiful film of 2017.
Every shot is full of life and colour.
The cinematographer definitely deserves an award for his work here.
blade runner visuals
Along with the cinematography, the music and visuals are also spectacular.
The music is epic and a real improvement on the already great music from Blade Runner.
Then there are the visuals, which are about as incredible as everything else.
They do something using CGI like they did in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, however, unlike then, the CGI is uncanny and looks incredibly realistic.
If you are going into this movie expecting to see Harrison Ford in a main role, do not expect much.
Despite what the trailers show you, Ford is not in the movie all that much and does not get much screen time.
However, his presence is still definitely required for the story to work and Ford gives a great performance as Deckard, as expected.
Although I loved Blade Runner 2049, I must admit this movie will not be for everyone.
This movie is two hours and forty three minutes long and it has a very slow pace.
That slow pace is definitely earned and the movie is better with it but I can see how some people might find this movie to be a boring slog.
I, on the other hand, loved this movie.
It has great characters, fantastic visuals, music and cinematography and, to top it all off, the story is engrossing.
I have no doubt that, despite it falling below expectations at the box office, it will be viewed as a classic by many, just as the original is.
I urge you to go and check it out.

The Walking Dead crawls out of its grave for an exciting season premiere

4 stars
And here I was thinking The Walking Dead was un-dead and buried.
After one of the worst cliffhangers in television history, followed by the worst season of The Walking Dead, it seemed like the show was following the example of Heroes, starting out as a fantastic show before eventually fading into downright stupidity and ridiculousness and then finally ending to the relief of everyone.
Which is why I am overjoyed to say The Walking Dead has crawled out its grave prematurely to deliver an exciting season premiere and 100th episode with Mercy.
The show runners seem to have taken the complaints about season seven into account because when viewing this episode it no longer feels slow and struggling for ideas.
This is all out war and it certainly shows.
Mercy is kind of like the season six premiere as the story is told in different timelines, although this time there are more timelines and it is not very clear which is happening when, with a few exceptions.
In this episode we see Rick leading Alexandria, the Hilltop and The Kingdom’s forces to attack The Sanctuary and bring an end to Negan’s reign once and for all… but since this is only the beginning of the season we all knew it was not going to go down like that.
The opening moments of the episode are certainly thrilling, as we see Rick and the group take out Savior lookouts on the way to the Sanctuary.
This has probably my favorite moment of the episode, when a Savior that Rick takes down taunts him, telling him how he saw Rick cry and beg during the season seven premiere and saying Negan will kill Carl.
It is then that Rick, rightfully so, allows the man to be eaten by a Walker.
It is brutal and shows that, although Rick believes only Negan has to die at this stage, he is not above killing anyone else to achieve that goal.

Rick in grass
This episode has plenty of callbacks, it being the 100th episode and all, including a shot for shot recreation of the first episode’s opening scene, only it is Carl instead of Rick.
It is in this scene where Carl comes across a mysterious man who most people seem to theorize is Siddiq but since this person looks nothing like the Siddiq from the comics I think he is someone else.
We’ll have to see what part he has to play in the coming story.
The confrontation with Negan at his factory brought a smile to my face as Negan and Rick’s roles seemed to have reversed, with Rick having the upper hand and reminding Negan of how weak he made the group feel and now how strong they are compared to him.
“Are you going to make me count?” Rick asks, repeating a line Negan spoke to him in the season seven premiere.
The shootout that follows is intense and shows Rick’s dedication to killing Negan, completing ignoring an advancing Walker herd.
It is Gabriel who snaps Rick out of it and urges him to leave with the others.
God bless Gabriel, the TV version of him is so much better than the comic book version.
A rare occurrence when a TV character is better than their comic book counterpart, in terms of The Walking Dead.
However not all is good for Gabriel because he risks his life to safe the cowardly Gregory, despite his betrayal, only for Gregory to steal his car and leave him to die.
While it is great to see how much Gabriel has changed during his time on the show, (at the beginning he wouldn’t risk his life to save people he knew and now he is risking his life for someone he barely knows and betrayed them) this can only lead to bad things for him.
Sure enough it does, with Gabriel being trapped in a trailer with Negan.
“I hope you got your s$*!ing pants on,” he says.
We do Negan, we certainly do.

However, although this episode is a great step in the right direction for The Walking Dead, not everything is perfect.
The uncanny valley, in terms of special effects, in this episode is very apparent like in the previous seasons.
For example, Shiva the tiger looks very realistic with its CGI however a shot of a car exploding looks unbelievably fake and made me wonder why they couldn’t just blow it up practically, they did it later in the episode.
Also, while the multiple timeline idea is a very intriguing way to style the episode, I do have a problem with the Old Man Rick timeline.
Fans who have not read the comics will not know what this means but as someone who has read the comics I think this spoils the events of all out war and removes all tension surrounding who will live and die.
Because of this Old Man Rick timeline fans will now have no reason to think Rick, Michonne, Carl or Judith will die during all out war because we see them in this future timeline.
Instead of actually showing this timeline they should have just hinted at it with maybe a few shots of Rick’s cane, the flowers and Old Man Rick himself.

old man rick
However, other than these problems this was a great way to start season eight and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season will go.
Hopefully The Walking Dead will go all out for all out war.