Animating Halloween | Invader Zim: Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom Review

vlcsnap-2022-10-31-16h39m02s634

Plot: Zim learns about the horrors of Halloween while Dib struggles with randomly shifting between dimensions.

Breakdown: If there’s any show that is perfect for making a great Halloween special, it’s Invader Zim. It’s definitely not afraid to go all-in on the scares and the creepiness as much as possible (IE What Nickelodeon would allow.) It’s clear that the writers weren’t entirely invested in making a Halloween special so much as using the holiday as an excuse to get away with a particularly freaky and horrifying episode, and they used their opportunity quite well.

This is one of the most creative episodes of Invader Zim. While Zim is panicking over Halloween because he believes it’s a night where children turn into candy-crazed zombies, Dib causes an accident that makes it so he keeps getting transported to an alternate and frightening version of their world. If he doesn’t stop it, he’ll end up getting trapped in the other world forever.

The alternative world, it turns out, is actually based entirely from Dib’s imagination, making him a bit of god in that realm. However, he’s far from worshiped. The people in that realm want to use his portal-making head to get to the real world to take it over. Dib has to team up with Zim to escape from the alternates and stop the dimension jumping.

I really love whenever Zim and Dib need to work together. They’re one of the best volatile partner pairings in cartoons. They’re both quite smart, but also extremely eccentric, and despite their arch-enemy nature, they have a silent respect for the other’s skills. They’re always a lot of fun when they’re on screen together, whether they’re teamed up or not, but I slightly prefer seeing them teamed up.

Dib’s weird and creepy as hell imagination world is disturbing to say the least. While there is definitely something to be said about the kinda offensive “crazy kid” cards that instantly slap a collar onto whatever “crazy” kid is in the classroom only to forcibly be taken away by people with ‘crazy’ emojis on their helmets and thrown into a padded truck, I think we can safely say that Dib maybe does need some therapy at least. Literally nothing in this world isn’t horrendously mutated. His school looks like hell, his teacher is the leader of pretty much everyone while also being a horrifying insect creature, and while his father and sister look the closest to normal as they can get in this world, even they turn on him and don’t care about him at all.

What I find especially weird is that Zim doesn’t seem to exist in this world. Dib thinks about Zim constantly. How is there not some alternative Zim in this universe?

While the Halloween stuff isn’t really utilized much outside of just showing characters in their costumes at school and having a brief couple scenes with Zim and Gir fighting off trick-or-treaters, the designs of the creatures within the alternate dimension are so weird, cool and frightening that it definitely makes up for it.

I don’t mind much that this episode is only barely a Halloween special in regards to the holiday because we so rarely ever get cool horror imagery in kids Halloween specials. It was a refreshing change of pace, and definitely something I’m glad Invader Zim chose to do. The series is just such a fun and creepy ride every time, and it has such a unique vibe to it that I can’t seem to find anywhere else.

And, with that, we close out this year’s Animating Halloween! Hope everyone has a safe and fun night carving all the jack-o-lanterns, eating all the candy, dressing up in all the costumes, ignoring that thing in the corner of your room that’s slowly approaching you right now and watching fun Halloween movies and specials!

Happy Halloween!


If you enjoy my horrifying work and would like to show your ghoulish support, please consider offering a financial sacrifice at my Ko-Fi altar. Every offering goes to helping me combat evil money-sucking vampires known as ‘bills’ and keep this blog from becoming a ghost. Thank you! 🎃

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Animating Halloween | Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil – Kick or Treat/Dead Man’s Roller Coaster Review

vlcsnap-2022-10-25-14h45m12s407

Plot: A – Kick or Treat: On Halloween night, Kick and Gunther get challenged to trick-or-treat at the supposedly haunted Van Der Deth Mansion – a place no kid has ever trick-or-treated before.

B – Dead Man’s Roller Coaster: After getting left behind in the woods by his older brother, Brad, Kick and Gunther stumble upon an abandoned amusement park that seems to be haunted by the ghost of one of Kick’s idols, Dead Man Dave.

Breakdown: Despite hearing good things about this show in the past, I’ve never sat down and watched an episode of Kick Buttowski. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because, even after hearing good things, I don’t think I ever heard enough good things to actively seek it out. Maybe I just don’t click with the premise. I dunno. Well, the show finally landed in my lap thanks to the randomizer on the Halloween Specials Fandom page, so how did it fare?

vlcsnap-2022-10-25-14h37m35s543

A: Kick or Treat – This episode is extremely cliché. I think it’s one of the most overused Halloween special plots in existence to dare the main characters to go to a spooky haunted house that is somehow very close by but no one ever references it outside of Halloween episodes.

As you can expect, a bunch of weird and spooky stuff does happen in the house, but it winds up being fake. I will say that the ending was quite sweet. I fully expected them to boast to the other kids that they got a mountain of candy for their troubles and that would be that, but Kick actually shared the wealth, gave everyone a great Halloween party in lieu of Kendall’s weird report ‘party’ she forced on everyone else, and he made a lonely Halloween-lovin’ older lady very happy. That was very cool.

I will say that the costumes for this Halloween special were less than inspired. Kick basically just looked like he always looked, just with a five-o’clock shadow, a little trucker hat and a plastic stump on his hand. We had a mummy, a zombie, a fairy, a ghost – you know the typical costumes. I know it’s unrealistic to see this costumes, but usually TV shows will take advantage of this once-a-year prime real estate for a clever joke and make some funny or memorable costumes for the characters to wear, and they really didn’t make much of an effort here.

The one time I really smiled in the episode was with Gunther’s costume. He’s wearing what I can only describe as one of Richard Simmons’ outfits just without the curly hair. He claims he’s a viking called Thor Thorson who used to dress up like that because he was so intimidating that he didn’t want to scare his own men. Everyone keeps calling him a ballerina throughout the episode, but Mrs. Van Der Deth gets it right, which makes him happy. I smiled at that. That was sweet.

Kick’s other friend, who is obsessed with him, dressed up like Kick, which is creepy.

I did like one kid’s costume. He was dressed up in what seemed to be an actual glass light bulb that worked. He said he was the speed of light, which I thought was kinda clever.

Overall, not a bad Halloween special by any means, it just doesn’t do much of anything to stand out. It only earned a couple small smiles from me and no laughs, but it’s fine.

vlcsnap-2022-10-25-14h37m46s448

B: Dead Man’s Roller Coaster – Usually, I’ll opt not to watch the second story after a single-part Halloween special because they typically have nothing to do with Halloween, so I can’t really review it for AH, but this one still kept the Halloween vibe with ghost stories and whatnot, so I figured it’d be alright.

I’m glad I made that decision, because this episode not only gave me a better impression of Kick Buttowski than Kick or Treat did, but it’s also, in my opinion, a much better Halloween special than Kick or Treat, and it doesn’t even take place on Halloween.

First of all, this episode has an actual ghost story behind it instead of just saying “Ooh look at this creepy haunted house.” Granted, the story is short and is literally just “This extreme sports guy died out here.” but it’s still something. Also, fun fact, while the dialogue has Kick saying Dave died out there, the closed captions on Disney+ say he disappeared.

Second of all, the plot and story are much more creative than Kick or Treat. It’s still not the most creative plot in the world, but it is more creative, especially with the inclusion of an abandoned amusement park, which is one of my favorite spooky environments.

I will say that Kick and Gunther were being a bit too stupid in the amusement park, even for kids. It made for some funny moments, but they didn’t realize that none of the rides would work if there obviously wasn’t power to the place? They didn’t realize that there obviously wouldn’t be good cotton candy stuff there and that the machine wouldn’t even work? Gunther didn’t realize that there would be no one to put on the Wild West show so he just sat there waiting in an empty theater?

The twist was pretty obvious as it was basically the same-ish twist that Kick or Treat had, but I will call a tiny bit of BS since that ‘ghost’ was very obviously flying/hovering around.

I do think it was a bit cool to have Brad actually feel guilty about leaving Kick behind in the woods and rush back to find him instead of just having him let Kick and Gunther stay lost in the woods forever like most asshole older siblings tend to do in kids shows. It adds a bit more dimension to his character instead of just leaving it as him being an asshole, even he did go back to being a jerk once he found Kick.

As far as I’ve read, this plotline actually connects back to other episodes, meaning this show isn’t entirely episodic and has actually storylines to it, which I didn’t really expect of a show like this. Points for that.

Finally, there was much more extreme sports than in Kick or Treat. The only things they really did as extreme sports in Kick or Treat was when they ‘drove’ around in giant cardboard boxes and when Kick frantically climbed up a banister. Here, Kick had a skateboarding competition against the ‘ghost’ throughout all of the rides in the park, which was pretty cool to watch.

Overall, I had more fun and a better Halloweeny experience watching Dead Man’s Roller Coaster than I did Kick or Treat, even though Kick or Treat is still a fine episode. I’m not sure when or if I’ll return to Kick Buttowski in the future, but this was a pretty good first experience with the show, so, if I do, I think I’ll enjoy myself.

Final Notes: Disney continues on with their weird as hell trend of having big stars cameo for extremely small parts in their Disney Channel shows. This time, Debbie Reynolds played Mrs. Van Der Deth. She had like five lines.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see Danny Cooksey here as Brad, and, of all people, Matt Jones (Badger from Breaking Bad) plays Gunther. I was going to comment that Kick and Gunther sound way too old to be eight, and this explains a lot about why that is. Matt Jones works fine as the character, but he clearly sounds way too old. Charlie Schlatter as Kick is somehow even more noticeable as being too old for the role, but I kinda gave him a pass because I figured Kick was constantly trying to make his voice sound gravelly to seem more adult or tough. *shrug*


If you enjoy my horrifying work and would like to show your ghoulish support, please consider offering a financial sacrifice at my Ko-Fi altar. Every offering goes to helping me combat evil money-sucking vampires known as ‘bills’ and keep this blog from becoming a ghost. Thank you! 🎃

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

CSBS | Danny Phantom Episode 5: Splitting Images Review

vlcsnap-2022-10-10-00h30m22s614

Plot: Danny decides to use his powers to help get revenge on Dash for constantly bullying him. A spirit haunting locker 724, Sidney Poindexter, detests bullying and starts getting some revenge himself. But when he believes Danny’s payback is bullying, Danny will be forced to take Sidney’s place in the Ghost Zone while Sidney lives the good life in Danny’s body.

Breakdown: Oh god, there is a LOT to talk about with this episode. Get comfy.

So in 2006, Butch Hartman went on record saying that the “ghosts” in Danny Phantom were not actual ghosts as in the spirits of dead people. They were creatures from another dimension that took certain forms based on whatever. Some of them wanted to be human, so they took human forms based on the backstories of existing people (deceased or otherwise?)

How much truth there is to that statement is unclear. He did say that Nickelodeon and the demographic were a factor in that (And Butch Hartman himself seemed to be against it and depictions of ‘the occult’ presumably because of his religious beliefs), but it’s been a decade and a half since then and he hasn’t reneged on his statement.

While there are some “ghosts” that are clearly not human spirits and are rather concepts or the embodiment of certain items or energies, there are definitely some ghosts that are clearly actually ghosts. It’s hard to believe that these ghosts would be creatures who took on these backstories in order to gain human form. Sidney Poindexter, our ghost of the day, is one of those ghosts. What creature in their right mind would see a poor, friendless teenager be relentlessly bullied day in and day out and go “Yup. That’s the persona I want to take on forever.”? And then proceeds to not only take on their appearance but also create their own section of the Ghost Zone that endless tortures THEM with bullying of the same degree with the same people and who only haunts a locker with a mirror in it that doesn’t even allow them to haunt the locker unless someone with ghost powers activates the portal.

This is one ghost where it’s 100% confirmed that the ghost in question used to be a real person since Tucker knows about him and there are school records that prove it. I guess it IS possible that a creature took on this person’s form but, as I mentioned before, I can’t imagine why. Like many fans have speculated, I really think the Ghost Zone is a different dimension with supernatural creatures in it that aren’t ghosts, but I also believe that real ghosts somehow get tangled up in it and corrupted by the Ghost Zone or something because, for some ghosts, it just doesn’t make sense to sweep them under the rug as creatures who took on human forms and backstories. Unless some of these creatures are the stupidest and most masochistic beings in existence.

vlcsnap-2022-10-10-00h32m56s954

Sidney Poindexter used to be a student of Casper High School in the 50s (1954-58). He was a horrendously bullied kid. According to Tucker, bullying him was so frequent that, by the time he became a senior, bullying him had become a requirement to graduate. He had no friends, was considered extremely nerdy, and, basically, his life was hell. The most tragic part of his story is his supposed death. Now, this being a kid’s show, they obviously don’t say he died in high school, but he is a ghost in his teenage form, and his part of the Ghost Zone is a recreation of his school with all of his peers constantly bullying him as they did in life.

There are two theories as to his death. The first is built on something Tucker said. He claimed that locker 724 was haunted because Sidney had been thrown into it so many times. Rumor has it that this implies he was once thrown in there, forgotten about and either asphyxiated or eventually died of dehydration or something. The somehow even worse theory is that, because of all of the relentless bullying, Sidney took his own life.

Sidney’s spirit haunts locker 724, but he’s not an active presence in the locker until Danny accidentally activates the portal within the mirror in the locker with his ghost powers. After this, Sidney starts sensing instances of bullying and gets revenge on the bullies while also protecting the kids being bullied.

Here’s where things get really complicated both with the story itself and the overall message.

While all of this is going on, Danny is getting so fed up with Dash’s bullying that he starts possessing him, causing him to do embarrassing things in an effort to get back at him.

Sam thinks it’s wrong of him to abuse his powers for such a thing, but Tucker applauds it because he sees it as not only standing up to a bully and giving him a taste of his own medicine, but it’s also fighting the good fight for all bullied nerds, like himself and Sidney.

vlcsnap-2022-10-10-00h40m02s205

In one of these instances, Sidney detects it and views it as Danny bullying an innocent kid. He gets so angry that he emerges from the mirror entirely, attacks and later possesses Danny, which, and this is really weird and confusing, boots Danny from his own body, giving Sidney full control, including his ghost powers and form, while Danny is forced into the Ghost Zone version of Casper High and turned into a copy of Sidney, with no ghost powers, so he can be relentlessly bullied by Sidney’s bullies while Sidney lives it up in Danny’s body.

While Danny is being tormented with no way out (I don’t get why not. Sidney could get out.) Sidney basically wins everyone in Danny’s life over and becomes super popular because he starts treating everyone really well and impressing everyone with his ghost powers that, for some reason, no one is seeing him use even though he’s not even trying to hide that he’s using them.

What’s especially strange is that some of these people are kids he saw bullying others and got revenge on them. He knows they’re bullies, but is now trying to win them over for some reason while Danny, who was a bullied kid just getting revenge, is viewed as this ultra bully who deserves to have his life taken from him…quite literally.

Danny is bullied over and over and over again in this episode, but Sidney neither detects this nor gets revenge for Danny. And when Danny tries to explain the situation to Sidney, he doesn’t give him the opportunity. He just assumes he’s a bully and takes him over. What’s especially weird here is Dash says Danny’s his new locker neighbor…..which means Dash, the biggest bully in school, has the locker right next to Sidney’s and yet he doesn’t seem to know Dash is a bully, never detected any bullying from Dash, and, in actuality, thinks he’s an innocent person Danny is bullying.

Eventually, Danny gets the attention of Tucker and Sam who trick Sidney into the mirror. After a fight, which Danny pretty easily wins since Sidney doesn’t understand how to use Danny’s powers well enough….which….uhh….is….pretty damn weird for a person who has spent the better part of a century as a ghost. I mean, I guess he doesn’t have a lot of experience outside of the Ghost Zone so maybe he doesn’t have a good grasp on his powers as a ghost, but he’s been using them just fine up until this point. In his battle with Danny before he possessed him, he used his ghost powers well enough. I don’t understand.

Danny threatens to destroy the mirror if he doesn’t switch back, but, get ready for another brain bender – Sidney possesses Danny while in Danny’s body while Danny’s in Sidney’s ghost form. Did you get that? It’s a ghost possessing a half-human half-ghost, turning him into a full ghost that is also a copy of his body, and then using his body to possess the full ghost’s body that he doesn’t have……

Anyway, Danny has the mental fortitude this time to reclaim his own body, send Sidney back to his own form and escape through the mirror. Sidney wants to follow and get revenge, but his classmates surprisingly start chatting him up.

The fight with Danny (who has been coined the “Halfa” in the Ghost Zone) impressed Sidney’s classmates, whom…..I’ll assume aren’t also ghosts. That would imply all of these people died in their teens, which I can’t imagine would be true unless Casper High burned down and killed everyone inside or something. I guess they’re just constructs made from Sidney’s memory. He starts making friends, so he decides to not return to the real world. Not that he could anyway because one of the first things Danny does when he comes back is destroy the mirror.

The ending scene and the overall message of this episode is so backwards and weird.

A small sideplot of this episode was Sam trying desperately to save frogs from dissection – instead offering robot frogs with accurate innards to act as non-harmful substitutes, but no one wants to listen to her. Near the end of the episode, before she realizes Danny has been possessed, she uses Sidney!Danny’s newfound popularity to spread the word on the frog issue. When Danny smashes the mirror, Mr. Lancer, as well as pretty much everyone in school, suddenly gang up on him and treat him like he did something awful.

Mr. Lancer blames Danny for the frogs escaping (Danny fell on him when he came through the mirror. He was holding a box of frogs, so they escaped.) but because Dash and the others became anti-frog dissection because of Sam’s “fashionable” buttons that became popular when Sidney!Danny wore one, so they’re free anyway, he doesn’t get in trouble for that. However, I don’t understand why everyone hates Danny now. All he did was break a mirror and accidentally set frogs free, which, from the way they’re acting, they should not care about the first one and should be praising Danny for the second.

vlcsnap-2022-10-10-00h55m26s881

But whatever. Lancer has to assign Danny a new locker….for…..reasons….The locker itself is fine, Danny just broke the mirror. The new locker is located right by the band room, so now Danny is also getting bullied for associating with band geeks. Said band geeks, and I’m allowed to use that term because I was a band geek, arrive in the final shot to show what gross losers they are by introducing themselves and asking Danny if he wants to help clean a spit valve. Because let’s pretty much destroy any message about bullying we can muster by having the last joke of the episode be the pathetic weird losers Danny now has to interact with regularly.

Do you see the problem here?

Danny gets revenge on his bullies, and that’s considered bad, even though it’s pretty much a morally gray area. Bullies deserve comeuppance, but, yeah, it’s not a good look to lower yourself to their level. It does not, however, in make you a bully unless you go too far with with what you’re doing to them, as in you do worse than what they’ve done to you.

Nothing Danny did in this episode seemed disproportionate to what Dash was doing and has done to him throughout the episode (and previous episodes). He made Dash smack his face into the locker after Dash mocked him for wearing a dress (long story) and then literally threw him into his locker. He made Dash dump his lunch on Paulina, which is the closest he probably came to bullying because Dash didn’t do anything directly before this to warrant that, and Paulina did nothing to him the entire episode. However, Paulina was part of a prank on an AV kid directly before this where they were going to trip him and possibly ruin his equipment, but Sidney already got comeuppance on her for that (Dash wasn’t part of it – Kwan was) and the prank didn’t even work because Sidney stopped it. Plus, Danny had no knowledge of it. Finally, after Dash had ridiculed him and thrown a huge sandwich on his face one piece at a time, Danny gave him an atomic wedgie and put frogs down his pants.

Really, the only way Danny maybe went too far here was by possessing Dash, which is a personal violation of Dash’s body, but he only did it for bursts that lasted a few seconds each.

Meanwhile, Sidney slammed a guy’s head with the locker door for playing keepaway with a band kid’s hat. He trapped Kwan’s head in a trophy and sprayed Paulina with a fire extinguisher because they were going to trip the AV kid. But when Danny gives Dash the atomic wedgie + frog pants, it makes Sidney so enraged that he comes through the mirror and attacks Danny with full force. He blasts him through the walls, he sprays ink in his face, and he finally possesses him and forces him to take his place in the Ghost Zone.

vlcsnap-2022-10-10-00h58m49s017

Danny’s time in the Ghost Zone, being terribly bullied constantly, is framed like it’s his comeuppance for getting revenge on Dash, because he understands what it’s like to….be…bullied? But he knows that already. That’s why he was doing those things to begin with. He wasn’t bullied as badly as Sidney, but he was still bullied a lot.

What does Sidney get for his actions? He gets praised by his classmates and befriended by them. Which, ya know, good for him. The poor kid didn’t deserve to be bullied at all let alone to that magnitude in life, so, after 50 years of torment, it’s good to let him have some peace and happiness, no matter what he did. He’s still a hypocrite, but whatever.

What do Dash and the other bullies get? They get comeuppance throughout the episode, but they don’t learn a damn thing in the end. Technically, they didn’t even befriend Sidney!Danny immediately after he gave out sodas to everyone, like it seemed, because they invited him to a “touch” football game, but planned to have everyone tackle the hell out of him. They did, which would have seriously hurt Danny in any other situation, but because he could phase out of it and go score a touchdown, he instantly becomes insanely popular. Then they forget he was popular when Danny comes back with absolutely no reason as to why even though the reason they all became pro-frog activists is because Sidney!Danny wore the button? Even in the very end when Danny gets a new locker, Dash mocks him for it.

What does Danny get? Fuck all. He learns a valuable lesson about not abusing his powers to get revenge on bullies, which, fine, but they don’t offer any meaningful message on bullying at all. For an issue that was severe in the 50s, remained a severe problem in the 00s and is still a severe problem to this day, it would have been nice to have some coherent message about bullying or what to do about bullies, but I suppose that’s too much to ask for. Just let them bully you, I guess? The ending also made it clear that you can’t really count on teachers to do shit, so what solution are you positing, Danny Phantom? Is it a very depressing non-message?

vlcsnap-2022-10-10-01h03m47s306

Danny starts the episode being humiliated and bullied when he was just trying to either live his life or protect the school (from the Box Ghost, but still) and ends the episode trying to live his life and protect the school while continuing to be bullied, only now even worse.

Sam at least got what she wanted, but Lancer still insulted her about it, and everyone else who never gave a crap before got praised for being better activists than her when they only took it up to be trendy.

I’m fully on her side here, by the way. I never liked the concept of dissecting frogs, and the need for such a thing went out long before this episode was made. I’m pretty sure it’s not a thing in schools anymore, but I don’t know for sure.

Overall, I never really disliked this episode before now….but now is now, and now I don’t like it at all. It’s a huge mess of an episode that really doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on what it wants the message to be, and any message I’m inferring from it doesn’t seem to be a particularly good one. ‘Don’t lower yourself to a bully’s level just to get revenge’ is about the best one I can sift out, but, looking at the big picture, that seems like a mediocre message lost in a sea of “but then what do I do?” which just seems be countered with “suffer in silence until you’re out of school or hope you impress your classmates enough somehow that you become worthy of their praise and respect and hope you don’t wind up being killed or being pushed to suicide in the meantime.” and that’s not exactly a great message.

There wasn’t even any outstanding comedic moments to help make up for it. The Box Ghost was definitely the highlight, and that’s pretty much because he’s the Box Ghost. He always tends to be funny. I also thought the robot frog was a bit funny, but that’s about it.

Next Episode….

….Previous Episode


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) | Chaotic

Plot: The trading card game, Chaotic, is sweeping the world by storm. Tom and his best friend, Kaz, love the game and play with their other friends all the time. When Tom gets a mysterious code for Chaotic, Kaz tells him it’s a special password in order to enter the REAL world of Chaotic. Tom doesn’t believe him until he finally gives in and inputs the code into his scanner. Turns out, Kaz was right. Tom is instantly transported to a virtual world where Chaotic players gather to have ‘real’ Chaotic battles, with themselves as the creatures. In his first game, Tom chooses his favorite creature, Maxxor, and faces off against his opponent, who takes the form of a Takinom. Tom can certainly win his fair share of card games, but can he find a way to win when he’s playing for real?

Breakdown: I have been aware of Chaotic for a while, but never gave it a chance in the past. When I wrote about the whole huge mess with 4Kids and Chaotic in my retrospective blog post series, I became very curious about the series and game. Since the TCG hasn’t been re-released yet as far as I know, nor has the online version of the game, and I’m not particularly interested in buying the old cards, especially since they seem expensive, I decided to just watch the cartoon series.

The series is entirely available on Peacock (And Tubi) for free, so that was lucky.

As for the first episode…..it’s one of the messiest first episodes I’ve seen for a show in recent memory.

I came out of it not only not understanding how the hell to play Chaotic even a little bit (they never once play a full or even half game in the entire first episode, and we only see a few cards) but I’m also entirely confused as to what even happened to Tom when he entered Chaotic, what the ‘real’ world of Chaotic even is, and they had the gall to end the episode by circling around to the literal cliffhanger that was at the start of the episode in a flashback and barely continuing it at all before putting a ‘To Be Continued’ on the screen and ending it.

I get that this is a two-parter, but at least do something more substantial with your part one to help the audience understand what the hell is going on or make things interesting.

To summarize, the episode starts with a fire-wielding harpy-esque character named Takinom, chasing after and attacking a muscly green dude named Maxxor through a frozen tundra. He’s cornered on a cliffside, our main character, Tom, explains in narration that he is actually Maxxor, Takinom blows fire on him and then the theme song starts. After the theme song, we flash back to how he got in that situation.

Tom is a new-ish/not new (?) player to Chaotic, which is a TCG that has an online version of the game where you can enter codes to obtain digital copies of your real cards, just like the TCG and online game 4Kids and CUSA acquired and adapted for the US. Tom is playing Chaotic with some random guy after school in the cafeteria, which….why wouldn’t you do that literally anywhere else? Unless it’s a legitimate after-school activity, most schools don’t allow you to just hang out in the school for any reason, let alone to play trading card games. There are so many kids there just hanging out in cafeteria – it’s like no one went home.

vlcsnap-2022-09-12-16h40m24s894

It’s not just that they’re there when they shouldn’t be, it’s also weird because what kid wants to just hang out at school after hours, unless, again, you were part of an after-school activity? Usually any kid would want to be anywhere else BUT school – their house, a friend’s house, a local hangout, a rec center, a park, a basketball court, etc. That looks like a really nice school in a nice area. I can’t imagine aren’t options.

But whatever, they montage this game in about 20 seconds so you really have no clue what’s going on. They attack each other, Tom says something about sending his opposing monster to Nauthilax, his enemy’s energy is depleted, and that’s it. That is the first, and, no I’m not kidding, only time we see this game played in the entire episode. I never thought I’d say this, but, Bakugan, you have been surpassed in awful game explanations. I at least had some minor degree of understanding how Bakugan worked a little when I saw the first episode, and at least they showed a full game. Not Chaotic. Who cares about properly explaining that game this cartoon was literally created to help advertise?

After he wins, he gets a message over the game. It automatically opens, and a password pops up on his screen that makes his best friend, Kaz, super excited because he knows that’s a special invitation to the real world of Chaotic where he can play for real. Why he got this for just beating some rando at school, I have no idea. Kaz has been a part of the real Chaotic for a while and excitedly told Tom stories about it, but Tom never believed him. Considering Kaz is yelling all of this information in a crowded cafeteria and has told Tom about it a lot, I’d guess it’s not a secret. But also, like….no one seems to know about it? Even rumors? There are a lot of people in Chaotic when they get there – how is this not more common? I know that would be a really difficult thing to believe without proof, but there would be chatter about it.

Then again, maybe they wouldn’t, because apparently these kids are all 15 years old. I was about to criticize this further, but then I remembered all of the characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! are in the their mid to late teens….

Anyway, Tom blows him off until Kaz calls him in a panic in the middle of the night. He tells him he has to input the code into his scanner before midnight otherwise the offer to join the real Chaotic will end. Why exactly isn’t this information given in the message that contains the password? What if you need to wait to input the code? What if you don’t have access to your scanner for a few days? What if you don’t personally know someone who has already been to Chaotic? What if you don’t want to input the code at all because it’s some random code on a blank message from no one?

vlcsnap-2022-09-12-16h42m56s039

Also, if you’re wondering what the scanner is for, apparently, later in the show, they can scan real creatures to get information on them I think – like a Pokedex. It also kinda works as a smartphone in that it’s also a camera, can be used for video chat, has a music player and a flashlight. As for the purpose of the scanner in their real lives in regards to the game, I have no idea. Chaotic cards have codes on them that are manually input into the online game to create digital copies of your cards – they’re not scanned. I have to wonder if 4Kids originally planned to make the real life cards scannable, including creating a real scanner kids would have to use to scan the cards, but then realized that was too expensive or impractical or something so they opted to keep the code system instead but forgot that made the scanner concept nonsensical in the TV series.

The scanners really have no real world purposes for the game, so why do they even exist? Why do any of these players buy them? Kaz tells him to input the code into his scanner, but also the scanner doesn’t have a keyboard, not even a virtual one, it just has a d-pad like thing, so I can’t imagine it’s for the purpose of inputting codes. Since the game is played online, you can probably just input the codes on your laptop.

Tom gives in, and, when he inputs the code, it at first seems like it didn’t work. His screen flashes, goes black and the scanner won’t turn back on. He then throws the scanner out the window into the garbage can on the sidewalk like a douchebag. Yeah, I imagine that scanner was expensive, you little shit. And I bet anything your parents paid for it. Don’t try to troubleshoot it, don’t see if you can get it fixed, just chuck it out the window into the garbage. Don’t tell me Dan has competition for one of the most obnoxious gaming show protagonists too….

Anyway, that’s not what happened….but it also is? In narration, Tom says that’s what happened, but he didn’t realize that there was more. We then cut to the ‘more’ in question. When Tom hit the button, he actually did go to Chaotic…..only not really? The best I can guess is that a duplicate of himself was sent to Chaotic – one that his real-world self is not aware of? How? Why? Dunno. They don’t explain anything.

When he gets there, it’s not any better. They basically just tell him “Hi Tom! Let’s get you to your first match!” without explaining where he is, what happened to him, how he got there, what the hell’s going on, why he’s being forced into a Chaotic match minutes after he got there and everyone knows he’s new, nothing.

Luckily, Kaz does help him a bit with setup through his scanner, but other than explaining how the interface works and giving him a hint about his opponent, he doesn’t explain anything else. Which you’d think he would because there’s that whole thing about him becoming the Chaotic creature and getting into a ‘real’ battle with another Chaotic creature would be something you should discuss a bit.

vlcsnap-2022-09-12-16h46m43s030

When he is turned into Maxxor and his opponent into Takinom, he obviously has no clue what’s going on, what to do, how to utilize any of the game mechanics or anything – he just does what anyone would do in his situation and runs away. Kaz and a bunch of other players are watching the match from the lobby, and Kaz just acts horribly embarrassed for him and facepalms at the fact that he’s not playing properly, which, of course he’s not, no one’s telling him anything.

The end of the episode, like I said, is just barely a continuation of the first scene. Tom/Maxxor is cornered on a cliff by Takinom, who attacks him with fire. The continuation is that the fire causes Tom to fall off the cliff. We get a “To be continued” as Tom is falling and that’s it. They haven’t established any stakes here. This Tom isn’t real, right? His real self is still in his room, right? I can’t imagine him dying (or even getting hurt) in the game is akin to dying in real life because then narrator!Tom wouldn’t have been able to act as if the stuff about real Chaotic was something he learned about later. In addition, if this is a real Chaotic game, then I’d imagine him ‘dying’ at this point would just result in his creature dying and then moving on.

What even happens if he loses the game? I can’t imagine they bar him from Chaotic or anything. I don’t get it. What is on the line here? I doubt even kids would find tension in this.

It’s just so baffling. 4Kids – the kings of overexplaining every single thing – made a show where they just don’t explain anything out the gate.

I didn’t even touch upon the fact that the art and animation are awful. I know that they switch studios after season one from Bardel Entertainment to Dong Woo Animation and the art and animation get better for seasons two and three (Looking ahead though….not that much better. Definitely much better art, but the animation is still pretty rough.), but wow, this is just bad. It reminds me so much of the art and animation from those old eSurance commercials with that Erin lady. Old Flash animation leaves a lot to be desired as is, but this is not good.

vlcsnap-2022-09-12-16h49m00s522

Overall, I’m kinda torn. If I had just watched this without doing all that research on Chaotic beforehand, I’d most likely drop it, but the fanbase seems to genuinely enjoy the show as much as the game. Bryan Gannon, head of Chaotic USA, said he planned on continuing the show, not rebooting it, which means there must be something to the story worth keeping, I’d assume.

I’ll probably wind up finishing this series just casually, maybe throwing out a review here or there, maybe for full seasons, but this, as a first episode, just failed so badly that I feel like I can’t really suggest it. There are several more card game or gaming related shows out there that I’d recommend way above Chaotic. I guess I’ll just leave this as an undecided and make firmer opinions down the line.

Verdict:

Continue Uncertain


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Watching the Blue Sky – Robots (2005) Review

Plot: Young Rodney is a robot who always aspired to be a famous inventor like his idol, Mr. Bigweld, who is viewed as one of the best bots in the world. When he moves out to the big city to show Mr. Bigweld his inventions and try to work for him, he finds that Mr. Bigweld is gone. In his place is a tyrannical robot named Ratchet who is using his business to force all robots into upgrading instead of repairing or replacing. Thousands of bots who can’t afford to upgrade are being labeled as “outmodes” and being sent to the scrapyard. Rodney has to find Mr. Bigweld and stop Ratchet before it’s too late.

Breakdown: Being honest, I wasn’t expecting too much going into this – and I say that as someone who sincerely loves robots. I haven’t heard a whole lot about this movie before now, and the only time I remember people talking about it was when people on Twitter started circulating that one joke about how “Making the baby is the fun part.”

However, I was pleasantly surprised. I very much enjoyed this movie all the way through. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but it’s very fun, cool, funny and even a little emotional.

The animation is pretty good. I think it’s pretty cool how each robot has a fairly unique manner of moving depending on how they’re designed. The art is also stylized quite well and is fun to look at. The characters all mostly stand out from each other, are colorful and have little quirks that either add to their comedic factor or make them more useful. I also appreciate how well the sound design worked with the robots for the most part.

I also think the way the robots “age” is interesting. They get various replacement parts each year and, I guess, undergo some mild rebuilding every year to show their aging process.

The music was a mixed bag. The orchestral score works pretty well. It was nothing too unique or memorable, but it did keep me engaged and felt very fitting to each scene. My issue comes with the pop music. Taking a note from Dreamworks, I suppose, Blue Sky included some pop songs along with some more fitting but also kinda distracting older pop songs. There was one song in the middle where I really don’t think it is a pop song, because it sounds like a song written for the movie, but that would be the only time the movie would have a legit musical number, despite no characters singing. It’s very weird.

The absolute worst moment of this soundtrack being distracting was when Fender, a bot voiced by Robin Williams, so he’s basically just Robin Williams as a robot, fights off a bunch of robots by suddenly breaking out into “Hit Me Baby One More Time”….The joke is that he’s wearing a female lower half so he….sang a girl song? Also, the song was seven years old by this point, so it’s not even relevant. Definitely the worst moment in the movie.

And, of course, there was a dance party at the end because animated movie in the 00s.

The story was very cliché, but was strong enough to hold my attention. Also, they did throw me for one loop. When they introduced Mr. Bigweld, I thought for sure he’d be the villain. Rodney hero-worshiped him, he was a fat rich guy who seemed like he loved everyone and everyone loved him, he had statues made of him and everything. But nope. Mr. Bigweld was a good guy just overtaken by an evil guy who was a pawn for an evil woman.

Big corporation bad turned big corporation good as long as the people running it are good. Which, yeah, in an ideal world. That’s nice to think about.

Speaking of big corporation bad, dear god, the body count of this movie. I can only imagine how many “outmodes” got sent to the scrapyard IE murdered because they couldn’t afford the upgrades. It’s actually kinda disturbing how many parallels you can make to our world if you imagine all the characters as people….

There are no subplots in the movie, it’s right on one track and we keep going until the end. If I had any real complaints about the story it’s that I really wish Rodney had spent more time struggling and living with the other downtrodden robots, because, as far as I see, he arrived in this city, realized the problems involving an incredibly huge and influential corporation and fixed the issue entirely in like three days.

I didn’t much care for the romantic…..anything in this movie. Fender getting a love interest, I’m cool with. However, Rodney has two love interests in this movie, Piper, who is Fender’s little sister, and Cappy, who is an employee of Bigweld Industries. He has more screen time with Piper, but it’s like she’s not considered an actual romantic interest because she’s too young, but Rodney is only supposed to be like 18 or 19 while Piper is like 16 or 17 at least.

Cappy, whose age I’d imagine is in her late 20s or so, considering she’s a high-ranked employee at Bigweld Industries, is definitely framed as the main love interest, but they barely spend any time together, and the time they do spend together is usually with a lot of other people. They don’t get any moments together, alone or otherwise, they just get a few knowing glances between them. Cappy doesn’t even have a personality. She’s just a nice lady who works at Bigweld and constantly gets sexually harassed by Ratchet because that trope has to stay alive I guess.

And, yes, even in robot world, we can’t escape women being sexually harassed.

Speaking of women, I get that this movie was made in 2005, but some of the humor around women was a little uncomfortable. Like when Rodney gets a new torso for his senior year, he has to use a hand-me-down from his cousin….who is a girl. So he has a pink torso with a boob curve to it.

Rodney finds a new lower half in a panic after losing his in the scrap yard, and it’s a woman’s. So he goes “This is so wrong!”

When they meet Ratchet’s eviler mom, Fender calls her a “sir” and she points out that she’s a woman, so Fender says “Ouch!” and one of the other robots has his lightbulb eyes burst. Some of the humor hasn’t aged well, is all.

I don’t think this movie is sexist, for the most part, as the women do get a decent degree of things to do, including fighting, but there’s the whole ‘Cappy has no personality’ thing, and the fact that nearly all of the women in this movie just act as love interests.

I also didn’t think Ratchet needed an even more evil mother running the scrapyard to basically be his puppeteer. Ratchet is evil enough on his own. Although, this did make for a few good jokes, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

The comedy was pretty good. I was laughing fairly consistently. Not busting a gut or anything, but quite a surprising amount of chuckles. They’re probably cheating a little bit because I’m a sucker for puns and there are just so many robot puns and visual gags in this movie.

The action was also alright. I think the first action scene where Rodney and Fender are being flung all around town on that transport ball went on just a little too long, though.

The emotional moments hit a little more than I expected them to. I wasn’t choking up, but it did manage to connect with me several times. I think it was a really good idea to start this movie with Rodney’s dad super excited about being a dad and watching Rodney grow up for a bit before getting into the main story. It didn’t drag, and it made me feel a lot more for him and his parents than if we just started with him as an adult.

The characters all work well enough. I like Rodney and his parents quite a bit, Piper can be kinda cool, Mr. Bigweld was pretty funny and cool, and Fender has his moments. Sometimes he can really be too much, though. Even Genie knew when to tone it down, but Fender just never stops. I also never once felt like he and Piper were siblings.

I want to really lay out why this relationship doesn’t work. Fender is voiced by Robin Williams. Piper is voiced by Amanda Bynes. When this movie came out, Amanda Bynes was 19. Robin Williams was 54….They just don’t sound, in any way, like siblings. They’re written like siblings, they act like siblings, kinda, but they don’t sound like it. He just sounds like her dad or uncle.

Overall, Robots was an enjoyable experience that I had quite a bit of fun with. You’re not going to get much in the way of anything deep or new with it, but I do think you’ll be pretty entertained by it most of the time. I’d gladly watch it again in the future.

Recommended Audience: There are a few iffy jokes in there, but they never go too far. There’s the “making the baby” joke and they make a penis joke when Rodney is finished because they forgot to attach it………….I know you’re probably wondering a lot about how sex and sexes/genders in robots works in this world…..well, me too. And I wish I wasn’t. I guess you can also say there’s some scary imagery what with the robots being destroyed and picked apart. There was one moment where they officially announced that replacement parts were being discontinued. The robots were panicking because they thought they’d wind up dying if they couldn’t pay for upgrades. A robot fell apart in front of them and the vultures just started grabbing any parts of him they could. It’s hilarious, but also really messed up when you remember these are sentient beings. I guess 7+.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long Episode 5: Act 4: Scene 15 Review

ADJLCSBSEP5SCREEN

Plot: After wrestling it away from the Huntsman and Huntsgirl, Jake is tasked with protecting a scarab beetle that has the power to bring the dead back to life.

Meanwhile, he tries to get the attention of Rose, but finds that she’s preoccupied with an upcoming play about Antony and Cleopatra. In order to get closer to Rose, Jake decides to try out for the role of Antony.

Back with Huntsman and Huntsgirl, doubts begin to form in Huntsgirl’s mind about pursuing the beetle any further, believing the dragons probably already sent it back to Egypt. Huntsman refuses to give up the mission, stating it is their destiny to hunt down all dragons and kill them. Not only that, but the beetle is vital to their clan’s future.

He brings Huntsgirl down to the mysterious catacombs where he reveals the tombs of the past fallen Huntsclan members. He plans on using the beetle to bring them all back to life, creating a new army of Huntsclan warriors and wiping out dragons for good.

The next day, Jake lands himself the part of Antony, and he and Rose decide to practice their lines at his grandpa’s shop that night. She suggests practicing the kissing scene since it’s so vital to the play, but Jake, having never kissed a girl before, starts panicking and awkwardly babbling his way through the conversation. His state of panic leads him to accidentally releasing the beetle.

Jake tries to play it cool at school and gets another rehearsal date with Rose, this time at her house, even though she was reluctant to let Jake come over.

That night, Jake is amazed to discover that Rose lives in a massive castle-like mansion with her uncle. They’re about to rehearse the kiss when Rose suddenly freaks out. Her uncle has arrived home. She quickly hides Jake under the table before discretely throwing him out, citing that her uncle is very strict and doesn’t allow visitors. However, Jake lost the beetle again during the chaos after it had sneaked into his backpack.

Jake decides to bring Rose to Trixie’s house to rehearse. They prepare for the kiss scene again, but they both notice the scarab beetle fly out the window. Not wanting to alert the other of their secret identities, they make up a few excuses to quickly rush out and fight over the beetle. After the fight is over, the Huntsman arrives and takes the beetle for himself, revealing his plan to Jake.

Back at home, Fu Dog explains that the Huntsman is probably planning on using the beetle for a spell that brings dead people back to life. Under the light of the full moon, the Huntsman can indeed bring his ancestors back to life – and the moon just happens to be full tonight, the night of the play.

Later, with the help of Spud, Jake learns the location of the tomb of the Huntsclan. He, Grandpa and Fu head there to stop the resurrection, but they’re too late. Several Huntsclan members have been revived, but Fu Dog manages to grab the beetle to prevent any more from coming back.

Jake grabs the spell book and burns it, causing the revived Huntsclan members to die once more. The struggle continues between the Huntsman, Huntsgirl and the dragons, with Huntsgirl accidentally getting her leg injured in the process. Huntsman takes Huntsgirl and leaves, and Jake has just enough time to make it back to the play for Act 4 Scene 15, the big kiss, which is a good thing because without Jake and Rose, the play has been a disaster. Spud and Trixie have had to take the reigns, and it’s becoming an embarrassing display.

Jake makes it in time, but is shocked to see Spud taking over the role of Cleopatra. Rose couldn’t make it back in time, and Trixie was being so obnoxious that they yanked her. He’s forced to kiss Spud, much to his disgust.

The following day, Jake meets back up with Rose who apologizes for missing the play, citing that she got a sprained ankle at a family event. Jake is slightly suspicious as the injury seems very similar to the one Huntsgirl got, but brushes it off and finally asks Rose out on a real date.

She agrees, much to Jake’s delight.

Breakdown:

– Huntsman has a robot in his fireplace specifically designed to take off his glove to reveal his dragon birthmark? Talk about disposable income.

– What is with the trope of auditions having a string of complete idiots? I’ve been to plenty of auditions for school stuff before. They’re never entertaining. It’s just people reading the same lines over and over and being varying degrees of bad to okay.

– It’s kinda funny that Jake tries to be this smooth ladies man ‘mack-daddy’ but the instant Rose mentions practicing the kissing scene, he becomes a complete doof. Quite a realistic portrayal of a 14-year-old boy.

– I appreciate that Fu Dog is supportive about Jake being nervous about his first kiss.

– Jake: “Seriously, my church isn’t this big!” I never knew Jake was religious. That seems….a little…strange considering the various mythos that are real in this series. How does that work?

– Nice Darth Vader reference when Huntsman puts his helmet on.

– Of course the spell can only be done on the night of a full moon, of course the full moon’s that night and OF COURSE the full moon is on the night of the play.

– Why is Jake acting like, as long as he comes in before Act 4 Scene 15 (the kiss) that he’ll still be able to do it? Bringing in an entirely new actor in the middle, or moreso end, of the play for no reason is pretty stupid even for a junior high play. Not to mention, it’s a little insulting to the understudy to bail until you decide to show up then take the best scene in the play all for yourself.

– Why would they not have an understudy for Cleopatra? Why did the woman running this play not notice until Spud was out there doing both roles?

– I love how the cover of the Huntsman’s ancient spell book is literally just a picture of a skull and the word ‘Spells’

– Why would getting the beetle out of the moonlight not stop the Huntzombies but destroying the spell book does?

– They don’t actually have the balls to show the Jake/Spud kiss, but they do let you hear the audience gasping in response. I think they’ll probably skip the episode where the parents’ groups whine about the gayness.

– Macy Gray was in this episode!?! The hell?! She played the woman who was running the play and Trixie’s grandma. Two extremely small bit parts. Wow. Talk about a wasted cameo.

————————————–

This episode was fairly good but really, really cliché. Like, appallingly cliché. The school play kiss, the nearly missing the play, the nervousness because the school play kiss is a first kiss, the trying to keep a double life a secret while trying to do two really important things on both sides, the school play falling to pieces because the leads are missing etc. It’s all really old hat.

The aspect of bringing the Huntsclan back to life was interesting, but the payoff was really weak. The ones that did get brought back were no more powerful than any other brainless lackey, and they all had the same character design. They were also beaten in a predictable and easy manner. Not to mention that it was ridiculously easy to find the Huntsclan’s tomb. Spud found it through a few minutes of searching on the Internet…..SPUD found it.

I like that Jake and Rose’s relationship isn’t one of those annoying super-slow burns and that the development is realistic. It’s also nice that they’re allowing us to see Rose’s double life as Huntsgirl. It puts the audience in a unique position of connecting with her as well as Jake while knowing, and dreading, that their happy little romance will likely come crashing down once he finds out the truth.

Many similar shows would have the audience in the dark just as much as Jake is, and the big reveal would come later. This arrangement is much better.

………………….Seriously, Macy Gray was in this episode!

Next Episode…..

….Previous Episode


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

AVAHS – A Scooby-Doo! Christmas Review

Plot: Scooby and the gang wind up in Winter Hollow for Christmas only to find that the place has been terrorized for years by the Headless Snowman. Each Christmas, the townsfolk are driven out of their homes by the monster, causing most of them to despise Christmas. Can Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Velma and Daphne figure out who the Headless Snowman really is and melt him for good?

Breakdown: What’s New Scooby-Doo? was definitely one of the more popular branches of the Scooby-Doo franchise tree. I watched it quite a bit when it was on, especially enjoying its awesome theme song, but I never remembered it having a Christmas special.

A Scooby-Doo! Christmas is an enjoyable but overall fairly forgettable Christmas special. Story-wise, it doesn’t do anything to stand out from any other Scooby-Doo episode outside of mentions of Christmas, the very ending where they give gifts and stand around the Christmas tree, and a song or two.

A reviewer on IMDB said the mystery was way too easy, but I kinda disagree. I really thought it was the sheriff until they pointed out that the sheriff was acting suspicious, which is usually an indicator that they’re a red herring. I will agree with that reviewer in saying that the absolute ending was bunk, though.

Spoiler warning, even though this episode is literally turning 20 years old next year.

The culprit was a local professor, Higginson, whose great-grandfather was robbed by a man named Blackjack Brody who ended up dying in a snowman after being chased by an angry mob who were tired of being robbed by him. How did he end up in the snowman? I dunno, but it created a legend of a Headless Snowman. The professor’s great-grandfather being robbed of all his gold ruined Christmas forever….somehow. I guess that would make Christmasses difficult because they’d be rich otherwise, but he just ended up hating Christmas for some reason.

This isn’t even his dad he’s talking about. It’s his great-grandfather. Did they never recover enough financially for Christmasses to be fun anymore? Did their family just continue to be poor for all time? That can’t be true because the culprit is literally a professor. He has to have SOME money, I assume. Getting degrees ain’t cheap. He did get robbed on Christmas eve, but it’s not like anyone died. Is it really just a family perpetually mourning their lost ultra-wealth even when the man who robbed their ancestor is long since dead?

Using the Headless Snowman legend as a cover (by the way, the snowman’s not really headless. He can just take his head off and put it back on.), the professor created what is quite possibly one of the most implausible monster….I guess I’ll go with ‘robots’ to ever grace Scooby-Doo.

The Headless Snowman is legitimately made of snow from top to bottom. It has a cone-like…cockpit? in the center to allow the professor to manually control it. All of it. Every single part of it. It’s exactly like it’s living. The Headless Snowman can even detach his head and the head will still make noise and be perfectly animated. All of it is made of and connected by snow. I have no idea whatsoever how this thing works.

So the professor gets caught, his snowman melted, and he laments that he looked for his great-grandfather’s gold in the town every Christmas season by tormenting the townsfolk and….destroying shit. Because that’s definitely the most logical approach to that. Fred and Velma deduce that Brody hid the gold he stole in his home’s fireplace, masked as the bricks in his chimney.

Coincidentally enough, Brody’s old home was one of the homes the professor destroyed earlier that day, which left the chimney bricks in a pile of rubble. The professor accepts his jail-y fate, but, in a show of Christmas spirit, the town not only refuses to arrest him, but they also let him keep the damn gold.

Look, that’s real nice and everything, Merry Christmas and all, but this guy gets no sympathy from me. Did he even know his great-grandfather? This isn’t a matter of justice because the town actually tried to help his great-grandfather back then, and kinda succeeded considering Brody died as a result of trying to run from them. He just wants the gold for himself, making off like it’s in honor of his great-grandfather.

He tormented this whole town, destroying buildings and homes, traumatizing children and ruining the holidays of so many families for many years, AND he nearly got Shaggy and Scooby killed when they fell into a freezing cold pond because of him.

To his credit, he does share the gold with the town to help make amends, but I don’t think that’s enough. He still gets to keep however much he wants, and he still gets no jail time.

Bear in mind, most of what he did was completely pointless. There was no point in scaring the townsfolk, chasing people all over and destroying people’s homes. Why would he think the gold would be literally anywhere else but in Brody’s old house? Why would he not be able to find out which house was Brody’s house? They seemed to know exactly which house it was after they deduced that the gold bricks were used as regular bricks. Some professor you are.

Also, I refuse to believe that he can completely destroy a chimney with his bare…..snowman….sticks…and not reveal the gold when gently rubbing it reveals the gold.

End of spoilers

All in all, while the professor’s motives and ridiculous beyond reason plans were mind-boggling to say the least, this was a perfectly fine Christmas special. It’s also quite star-studded, featuring the voices of Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids) as the young Tommy, Kathy Kinney of The Drew Carey Show as the Sheriff, Peter Scolari as Professor Higginson, Jim Belushi as Asa, whom I didn’t even remember, and frickin’ Mark Hamill as Tommy’s dad. And we also can’t forget the amazing Casey Kasem as Shaggy, Mindy Cohn as Velma, Frank Welker as Fred and Grey DeLisle as Daphne.

If you’re in the mood for Scooby and Christmas, this is a decent enough special. I just wish it either had more of an overall focus on Christmas or a better resolution/motive.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Thanksgiving Special: Pepper Ann – Thanksgiving Dad Review

Plot: On Halloween, Pepper Ann gets a call from her dad telling her and her sister to prepare for a surprise from him on Thanksgiving. She believes he’s going to visit for the holiday, something that makes her super excited since she doesn’t get to see much of him since the divorce. But is she getting her hopes up for no reason?

Breakdown: No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. No, this isn’t a sign of the end times. I got a Thanksgiving special out, ON TIME, and it kinda sorta doubles are more Animating Halloween stuff….a little….it is for the first minute and a half. I’m counting it.

Like I’ve mentioned several times while doing these Thanksgiving special reviews, it’s very, very difficult for them to stray from the norm. Basically any Thanksgiving trope you can think of is here. Parent rushing to get the dinner to be absolutely perfect, basically a warzone at the grocery store, not being able to find one specific item that you need for the dinner, crazy relatives who won’t stop fighting, the yearning for the kid to eat at the adult table, and finally, the one thing practically no Thanksgiving special is without – the dinner getting completely ruined but it ends up okay in the end.

However, this special does add something that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in any other Thanksgiving special – how kids with divorced parents deal with Thanksgiving.

Pepper Ann’s parents broke up some time before the series began, and their divorce is shown to impact several aspects of her life in the show. Thanksgiving is one of the key moments where family is supposed to be all together. However, that just doesn’t happen in many households with divorced parents. Either they have two Thanksgivings at separate times at both houses or they just stick with one and maybe get a visit or a call or something. I can’t speak from experience because I didn’t grow up with divorced parents, but that’s what I’ve gleamed from others.

It’s pretty cool to see a cartoon address this with not just one but two characters. You might remember that Pepper Ann’s best friend, Milo, also has divorced parents, but his parents divorced quite a while before Pepper Ann’s did so he has more experience in that area. Milo bounces from house to house on Thanksgiving – and he doesn’t spend any of it with his parents. He just wanders between his friends’ houses.

Milo is a bit jaded when it comes to family and Thanksgiving. He tries to keep Pepper Ann level-headed when it comes to her belief that her dad will visit for Thanksgiving. He doesn’t know that he won’t, nor does Pepper Ann know that he will, all he said was he had a surprise for Thanksgiving. Milo just knows from his own experiences that the parent who doesn’t get custody tends to drift away, and holidays like Thanksgiving end up getting lost more and more in the jumble as they build up a new life after the divorce. They just tend to forget and wind up sending money or gifts sometimes to make up for it.

Milo’s experiences are very sad, and I kinda wish that we had put a little more focus on his holiday bouncing around houses and not actually spending any time at home than we did with Pepper Ann. Both of their experiences are valid, of course, but, also of course, she ends up with a happy ending, for the most part, while Milo’s life with his broken up parents is still fairly sad. Like, does his mother and step-dad not care where he is right now? Does he not do anything for Thanksgiving with his family?

Pepper Ann was, sadly, mistaken. Her dad never did intend on visiting for Thanksgiving. His surprise was that he was piloting a blimp for a big Macy’s-style Thanksgiving day parade and got to wish her and Moose a happy Thanksgiving and give them a heartfelt message on TV. He also said he’d see them next week for visitation, which just begs the question….when is his visitation? Surely he had at least one visitation during the month between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pepper Ann acts like she rarely ever sees her dad anymore. How infrequent are these visits?

This special was pretty entertaining for what it was worth. It never really got that deep into drama, not like As Told by Ginger or Hey Arnold would do, but they hit enough notes for a show like Pepper Ann. Also, there were numerous jokes that were pretty funny, and I was also fairly amused by Pepper Ann’s constant fantasies of her father trying desperately to get to the dinner.

Thanksgiving Dad is good, but not great. I don’t think it’s on anyone’s must-watch lists for the holiday, I barely even remember watching it when I was a kid, but it has some unique and grounded aspects that are worth exploring, and it has good humor and heart. Check it out while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook. Or while you’re recovering from Thanksgiving dinner. Or, if you’re not in the US…..just….watch it whenever ya want. I’m not your mom.

Happy Thanksgiving!


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Pelswick

Plot: Based on a series of newspaper cartoons by John Callahan, Pelswick follows the life of Pelswick Eggert – a paraplegic boy who wants nothing more than to live a normal life.

Breakdown: I usually don’t do Episode One-Derland entries for shows I am actually familiar with, but it has just been so, so, SO long since I watched Pelswick that I felt the need to do one here.

I watched Pelswick when it first aired on Nickelodeon, and I remember enjoying it quite a bit. It wasn’t my favorite show or anything, but I thought it was a pretty good series. It was really cool that it gave the spotlight to a paraplegic main character when you typically can’t even find many side characters in shows that are in a wheelchair or just generally have disabilities, especially back when this first aired.

The writing was also good with a style that reminded me a lot of Doug what with all the fantasies and cutaways, but actually….ya know….funny and interesting. (No hate on Doug, but it can be quite the bore sometimes.)

Now, Pelswick’s not making me bust a gut in laughter or anything, but it did have its charms and made me smile a few times as I revisited it. It also had some fairly clever writing and commentary.

This episode tackles the subject of Pelswick being barred from the eighth grade camping trip due to his special needs. Someone fought back in his stead, even getting a lawyer involved, and because of this push, instead of allowing Pelswick on the trip, they just canceled it altogether. The eighth grade camping trip is a big deal to a lot of people, so the situation gets heated quickly. It turns into a huge spectacle as many people start protesting against Pelswick to get the camping trip back while there were also many others supporting the rights of handicapped individuals and fighting to let him go on the camping trip.

Throughout the story, we get the reactions of various people that range from understandable to silly to silly but understandable on the grounds of parody. Many of Pelswick’s classmates are pissed off that the trip is canceled, which is understandable since it was such a big deal.

Some people are getting so pissed about it, however, that they’re purely protesting Pelswick as if he was the one who made this decision when it was technically against him. And when I say ‘protest’ I mean they have signs with his face on it but crossed out in red and offer anti-Pelswick hot dogs at the picket lines.

You also have the younger kids in town, including Pelswick’s younger sister, Kate. They’re angry that they won’t be able to destroy the bedrooms of their older siblings while they’re on the camping trip, which is silly, but yeah totally something they’d do.

There was also a group of kids who were perfectly depicting the hypocrites you tend to see in these situations. They were going off about Pelswick being selfish for doing this while they were being selfish during their whole conversation. Not only is the narrative of ‘What a selfish thing to do. Why isn’t he thinking of what we want?’ inherently selfish, but they’re furthering the point by having them literally take the seats out from under two other kids so they could sit.

Then, on the opposite side, you have the ones supporting Pelswick, many of whom are fellow disabled individuals who are fighting for their rights, which is, of course, entirely understandable. But they also go a bit into silly territory by having pro-Pelswick hamburgers and a giant Pelswick balloon.

Likewise, while this situation does suck, the school had a relatively reasonable explanation for doing this. Their insurance didn’t cover individuals with special needs outside of the city limits. With the push against the decision to keep the camping trip but bar Pelswick, they felt they had no other choice but to cancel the trip entirely.

And even if we do go down the route of them getting better insurance coverage, the steps needed to achieve that would’ve taken too long as the trip was that weekend. It’s not just a matter of improving their insurance – it’s a matter of whether they have the money to do that, and if they don’t, allocating funds from one place or another to meet that demand. I think everyone knows how much red tape and bullshit there is in budget discussions, especially when it comes to schools.

For nearly the entire time, Pelswick believes his father/his connections to the state senator is the one who did all of this. He’s an ultra-’PC’ person to the point of parody. He’s definitely a good person, but he doesn’t realize that there is a limit when it comes to not trying to step on anyone’s toes. He actually says the line “Nobody’s wrong. They’re just differently right.”

He also does and says some things that come off like he’s one of those people who pats himself on the back for being, for lack of a better term, “woke” but he may actually be a rare occurrence when he doesn’t realize he’s doing it.

Here is one of his first lines of dialogue. “I’m showing your siblings the folly of gender-based stereotypes by cleaning and cooking dinner while nurturing Bobby and reading Kate a story about tolerance and equality.” If he were just doing this, it wouldn’t be anything worth noting, but the fact that he pointed this out so specifically is what makes it come off like he’s trying to pat himself on the back.

I actually think his dad might be a play on the critics of John Callahan’s cartoons. He was always criticized for being “politically incorrect” (Though Callahan would prefer the term “Survivor humor” – himself being paralyzed from the shoulders down and a survivor of a harrowing childhood) and he didn’t much care for those people at all. In fact, he was quoted as saying he really only cared about the responses he got from individuals with disabilities, which were overwhelmingly positive. When it came to everyone else, he liked pushing their buttons and seeing how far he could go with his dark and biting humor. His cartoons even sometimes caused people to boycott and protest the publications he was working with, and even created some issues with sponsors.

In this circumstance, if what I believe of this character is true, then the point of Pelswick’s dad is obviously poking fun at people who are uptight about not offending anybody and walk on eggshells around those who are different while still acknowledging that these people mean well.

Anyway, back on point, his father goes to the senator to get her to do something about this, so Pelswick thinks the lawyer, who is the one who kicked up the fuss, was hired by either his dad or the senator. Turns out, it’s neither. He was hired by his crush, Julie.

Julie is a character who prides herself on her strong sense of justice. When she learned that Pelswick was being barred from the camping trip, she took it upon herself to start all of this for him because she felt bad at the idea of him being all alone while everyone else was off camping. However, it got out of hand and she couldn’t stop it.

Pelswick is ecstatic to hear that she cared about him so much that she’d do this for him, but it also kinda goes against Pelswick’s whole point. Pelswick was annoyed because, during this whole situation, no one would listen to him about what he wanted. They just kept pushing their own narratives and agendas while pushing him to the side, even though his face is plastered all of the town because of it.

Julie never bothered talking to Pelswick about this. In fact, once the trip is canceled, we don’t see Julie again until the reveal that she was behind it all. She just felt bad for him, so she took action without even mentioning it to him once.

But what’s even worse is that she had to have known Pelswick was becoming the town punching bag throughout this whole thing, but she didn’t talk to him or even try to clear the air about who was the one who started all of this until Pelswick came out and asked at the rally. Even Pelswick points this out.

Pelswick: “You cared enough about me to make me totally miserable?”

This is said in a dreamy voice, by the way. He’s flattered that she did this.

So, in summary, the girl who prides herself on her strong sense of justice just let the guy she was trying to defend be attacked for a few days all because she was seemingly too chicken to own up to what she did. ‘Kay.

By the way, in regards to their dynamic, Pelswick doesn’t make off being entirely angelic either. He actually has a ‘Nice guy’ moment, verbatim. When some bullies get done picking on Pelswick, Julie talks about what terrible people they are but then ends on saying she’s oddly attracted to them.

Pelswick: “It’s….the curse of the nice guys! The beautiful girls are always attracted to jerks and lunkheads.” Then he has a fantasy sequence where he imagines himself 20 years in the future. He’s rich and crying into thousand dollar bills as he imagines what could’ve been with Julie while he’s also driving by Julie who is now married to his bully and has a miserable life working at some dilapidated gas station in the middle of nowhere.

Don’t worry, Pelswick, I’m sure you’ll find that special subreddit someday.

The resolution to this episode is a little confusing. The vice principal says his hands are tied in this because of the insurance reasons I mentioned before. Inspired by the advice given to him earlier by his guardian angel, whom I’ll address in a minute, Pelswick asks if they can hold the camping trip in the VP’s new giant backyard at his new house.

Now, first of all, I think the writers are greatly misinformed on how much a public school vice principal would make. Certainly not enough to buy this big house with a massive backyard and a pool with a giant tower of a diving board.

Secondly, I don’t think it was ever brought up before this point that the vice principal has a new house with a huge backyard, so this solution kinda comes out of nowhere.

He does let the kids camp in his yard, everyone has a grand old time, and Pelswick even gets to touch Julie’s hand.

The end.

Skipping back to the guardian angel thing, Pelswick has a guardian angel named Mr. Jimmy. Whether or not he’s real is questionable, but he appears in every episode and offers Pelswick advice, usually in a rather confusing and random manner. When I rewatched this, I remembered that the Disney Channel Original Movie, Miracle in Lane 2, basically had this exact same thing. In that movie, the main character was also paralyzed from the waist down, and he had frequent conversations with ‘God’ who took the form of a fictional famous race car driver. I looked up what year Miracle in Lane 2 was made in, and it premiered the exact same year as Pelswick, 2000, though Pelswick premiered in October whereas Miracle in Lane 2 premiered in May.

COINCIDENCE?!

*Dramatic music*

Yeah, probably. I mean, Mr. Jimmy and ‘God’ don’t act anything alike, and most of the interactions with ‘God’ are in a more serious tone when Justin needs help. Plus the race car driver motif thing

By the way, watch Miracle in Lane 2. It’s an awesome movie, and one of the few times Disney Channel really got serious and kinda dark. The early 00s were the butterzone for that. So Weird, In a Heartbeat, a few other more serious DCOMs….I miss those days.

As a first episode, this one works pretty well. It introduces us to Pelswick and explores his personality and desires fairly well. We get introduced to his friends, his family, his crush and even his bullies all in one go. I can’t really say I loved any of the characters, but I liked Pelswick and Ace most of all, and even Goon had his moments. As far as I remember, they never explain how Pelswick became paralyzed, but according to the Wiki, the series creators imply it was due to a car accident, which mirrors John Callahan’s situation.

The only other thing I really want to talk about is the art. I nearly didn’t even really bring up the art because, despite having my criticisms of it, I felt awkward discussing it. I had read up on John Callahan while I was writing this review and realized it was based on his cartoon art, which he had created after he gained some mobility in his arms. He was able to hold a pencil between his hands and draw.

As a result, I didn’t want to criticize the art, but then I realized I’d be missing the point of quite literally everything I’m discussing here. I’d be keeping quiet about something because the person behind it was quadriplegic, and John Callahan seemed very dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities weren’t pitied or treated differently. Granted, this isn’t directly his art, but it is heavily based on his art.

So, here goes.

The art is very, very weird. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Klasky/Csupo shows, but more off-model. Many people are given huge bulky bodies with thin heads, short little t-rex arms and massive noses. Their eyes are always both seen from the side, like one must be dislodged from their head. I can’t even begin to make sense of Pelswick’s dad’s head, who also has eyes that seem like they’re just installed in his glasses.

It’s very stylized – you can quickly tell this is a style meant to be in newspaper cartoons – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s very weird. Weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad, I wasn’t cringing while watching it or anything, but I did find myself baffled as to the design choices many times. The animation is also simple, but it works.

Verdict:

Continue Yes

Pelswick is definitely a unique show that I’m sad was mostly lost to time, especially considering that it puts a spotlight on the lives and struggles of individuals with disabilities – that’s rare enough as it is, but for a cartoon aimed at children it’s nearly unheard of. It has a pretty good sense of humor, good writing and mostly likable characters. If you have the means, give it a look.

Final Notes: Because it was airing on networks for kids, Pelswick notably needed to have more of a positive/optimistic spin that was quite a bit different from the crass and darker humor Callahan used in his cartoons.

Right when Pelswick was airing, another cartoon based on Callahan’s work, called Quads!, was being aired in Canada – produced by the same team and company (Nelvana included, surprisingly). According to what I’ve read, it was a much more adult-oriented show that better reflected Callahan’s style of humor. It never got a US release. Interestingly, though, both shows ended in 2002 and both shows had two seasons/26 episodes.

Truth be told, I don’t really have a lot of interest in seeking out this show. I’ve mentioned before that crass humor really isn’t my cup of tea, even if it’s well-written, and just reading the character bios on the Wiki page for Quads! leads me to believe that it wouldn’t be any more fitting for me. I’m not criticizing his style of humor – especially considering Callahan only created and produced the shows, he didn’t write for them. Even from what I’ve seen of his newspaper cartoons (a few of which I found to be pretty funny) I can tell this that particular type of humor is not for me. It’s not something I seek out, nor do I tend to be entertained by it usually when I stumble upon it. I respect it fully, but it’s not my style.

Sadly John Callahan died at age 59 in 2010 from complications related to his quadriplegia as well as respiratory issues. He had such an impact on the world of cartoons and people with disabilities that a biographical movie, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (the title being a reference to one of his most popular cartoons) was made in 2018 starring Joaquin Phoenix. The movie was mapped out in the late ‘80s, but had a lot of difficulties finding a studio that would take on the project, and many delays and broken deals plagued it over the years.

Callahan was even quoted as saying “We’re all gonna be dead by the time this film is made.” And, sadly, Callahan did die eight years before the movie was finally released. To make matters worse, Robin Williams was initially pegged to star in it, but he had also passed away before the movie found a studio (and was too old to play the part by that time either way.) Callahan had also said he wanted Phillip Seymour Hoffman to play the part if Williams ever wasn’t an option anymore, but he, too, passed away before everything was set in stone.

Still, it looks like Joaquin Phoenix really immersed himself in the role and did a good job. I’d like to see the movie if I ever got the chance. Not only does Callahan seem like he was a funny and genuine guy, but he also has a very interesting backstory that I’d love to see explored on film.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Pixar’s Lamp | The Incredibles (2004) Review

Plot: In the golden age, superheroes were loved, admired and cherished by the masses. However, one lawsuit started a snowball effect that changed everything. Supers were suddenly vilified, and they had to go into hiding with government protection to avoid all of the backlash. Now living as normal, average citizens, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, also known as Bob and Helen Parr, try to raise their children, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack in a superpower-free world.

Bob is not content with his normal life and wants nothing more than to return to his good ol’ days of heroism. A mysterious message puts all the cogs in motion to grant his wish, but he forgot that with heroics comes danger – and danger means more when your family’s in the crossfire.

Breakdown: The year is 2004.

Marvel cinematic universe? Doesn’t exist.

DC actively trying? FEH!

This is an era where superhero movies are little more than a joke. People looked forward to them about as much as they looked forward to video game adaptations. They’d try and try again to make them work, and while they may be a box office success sometimes, they’d usually wane heavily in the critic department.

Pixar saw this as an opportunity. The Incredibles is not based on an existing comic book. It’s entire universe is built from the ground up on the silver screen. In addition, it’s animated – not live-action as a majority of superhero movies were at the time. In hindsight, this seems like a big gamble. Especially since the director, Brad Bird, was coming fresh off of his first venture into directing, which ended up being a box office disappointment.

But some people need to be reminded to keep the faith. After all, that box office disappointment….was The Iron Giant. The box office does not always reflect quality.

Let’s not keep beating around the bush. The Incredibles is……incredible. Yeah, I made that joke. Fight me.

From start to finish, the movie is filled with great humor, fantastic action, memorable characters and pokes at the superhero genre as a whole. This is a very realistic family in a, well, I can’t really say ‘unique scenario’ because the concept has been done before (In fact, when this first came out, this movie reminded me quite a bit of the short-lived, basically forgotten Nickelodeon series, The X’s.), but it is a very interesting and fun scenario.

Back in ‘the good ol’ days,’ superheroes were always hailed, respected and beloved, but you know that some jackass somewhere would ruin it by suing them. Granted, superheroes do make big messes and wrack up massive bills in damages, even the MCU addresses this, but I think whatever damage the enemy would do is almost always greater. And at least we’re lead to assume that the heroes aren’t piling up huge body counts during these battles….most of the time.

The heroes go into hiding, and there seems to be two sides to this coin. You have people like Bob (Mr. Incredible) and Dash who want to embrace their powers and be heroes. Because they’re not allowed to do so, Bob becomes very depressed and withdrawn, doing heroics in secret whenever he can with his buddy, Frozone, and Dash acts out.

Helen (Elastigirl) and Violet, on the other hand, want to be normal. They still use their powers sometimes in private, but they want to fit in – Helen wants to protect the family, and Violet wants to be a regular teenager.

In the end, they all find a middleground. Bob gets to be a hero more often, but he also comes to understand the importance of his family. Dash learns to tone it down, but he’s also now allowed to participate in school sports as long as he doesn’t play unfairly. Violet gets more self-confidence and embraces her powers. And Helen learns to not be ashamed of her life as a superhero while also encouraging that type of attitude in her kids.

It’s great that they chose to go down this route instead of having it black and white ‘this side is right, and you’re wrong.’

Helen and Bob have a great dynamic, and even Violet and Dash were really good together. I like how they eventually used their powers together. That hamster-ball idea was so cool.

Another thing to commend this movie on is, most of the time, they don’t pull any punches with the darker aspects. Helen even outright tells her children, basically telling the audience directly, that these bad guys aren’t like the ones you’d see on Saturday morning cartoon shows. They won’t show restraint on children. They will kill them without hesitation. That’s pretty heavy for an animated superhero movie in a world where kid deaths are typically taboo.

In addition to that, people attempt suicide, there’s hints of adultery and alcohol, some sexual-ish content and lots and lots of death.

Even though I said they don’t cause a lot of civilian deaths, there are a ton of bad-guy minion deaths – a good deal of which are caused by Bob and Dash. They don’t ‘directly’ cause these deaths. For instance, nearly all of the deaths caused by Dash are collisions caused by those pursuing him because he managed to out-maneuver them, but still…lots of bodies.

The ones they seem directly responsible for they kinda skirt around. For instance, Bob throws a huge tram car at two guys from a mile away, and they specifically show them moving and groaning to assure the audience that Bob didn’t straight-up murder those guys.

Outside of that, we also have numerous depictions of heroes dying in that ‘NO CAPES!’ montage, including one of two instances where someone dies by getting sucked into a jet turbine. Yugh. And we have the harrowing fact that Syndrome essentially committed hero genocide, which I don’t think is given quite enough weight, but holy crap. Bob even finds the skeletal remains of one of the killed heroes and hides under his body to trick Syndrome into believing he’s dead. Wow.

Speaking of Syndrome, he’s a very effective and memorable villain. He’s very intimidating and is a serious threat. Lest we forget the hero genocide. His backstory is a little hokey, but not too bad. It’s understandable for someone who grew up in a world of supers and was basically a super fanboy to become jaded when given a massive tongue lashing by his favorite superhero. And he obviously did have value and talent, but Bob never wanted to give him a chance. He pulls off being both funny and threatening at the same time, which is very impressive. In any other movie, he’d be a complete joke, but he can be downright scary. It’s also a bit refreshing for the master plan to not be ‘take over the world’ again. Though, considering his normal job, maybe he already does, in a way. Hm.

His plan is fairly brilliant. Design a robot that is essentially perfect by having it learn and make changes to its design based on battles it endures with hundreds of various heroes. Kill the heroes, let the robot loose on the city, stop the robot and take the credit, making him the only and, by default, best hero in the world.

I will admit that the method of defeating the robot is a bit obvious, though. With all the weaknesses that have been exposed on this thing, Syndrome never thought to program it to not destroy itself? Especially when that’s exactly how Bob defeated it the first time? It has some sense of self-preservation, hence why it targeted the remote, but it’s still too stupid to not hit itself.

Some final things that I felt were a little negative in this movie:

I find Dash to be annoying 70% of the time.

While I really liked him, Frozone was mostly a superfluous character who barely did anything. I really wanted him to be given more to do.

I worry that, should they continue the series beyond the second movie, Jack-Jack will be too powerful. His main power seems to be shapeshifting, but from what I’ve heard he has many more powers that are revealed in the sequel (sadly haven’t gotten around to watching it quite yet, but very soon!)

His power is apparently that he’s a ‘jack of all trades,’ hence the name, but it’s also been suggested that, since Jack-Jack’s a baby, his power isn’t solidified and he has ‘unlimited potential,’ which is culminating in this mass array of powers. However, if that were true, that seems like it would be a normal part of a super’s life cycle. Dash and Violet would’ve had to have gone through the same thing as babies, which I doubt they did.

I dunno.

That’s about it on the negative side, though, and that’s not a significant mark on an otherwise exceptional movie. The Incredibles stands as one of my favorite movies and a testament to Pixar’s amazing talents as filmmakers. Even today in our saturated superhero movie market, I was very excited to rewatch this movie, and I’m jazzed to finally see the sequel.

Recommended Audience: It’s surprisingly dark when you get down to it, but a good chunk of the darkness is in the details. Still, there are some blatant darker aspects like the hero genocide, the suicide attempt and the implied infidelity. 10+


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com