An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 20: It’s Time to Get Your Game Revved Up! (2011)

That’s right everyone. It’s time to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2011.

It’s…..

Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time.

What? What else Yu-Gi-Oh! related happened in 2011?

In the quarterly conference call for Q4 2009, taking place on March 24, 2010, Al Kahn told investors that they were in the process of dubbing the recently released Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D movie, Bonds Beyond Time. 4Kids made a really big deal out of the release, which was both fitting because it was a 10th anniversary event and because 4Kids was in dire straits and needed money. They showed a 20 minute preview at the San Diego ComicCon in July of 2010, and had Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG demonstrations, appearances by the voice actors, a cosplay contest, and a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A new booster pack featuring a selection of nine limited edition cards for the movie would also be available in stores on February 2011.

The full film would have a limited release in Cinedigm 3D theaters on February 26 and 27 2011, a repeat set of viewings would be available on March 5 and 6. Theatergoers would receive a promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card upon ticket purchase. The American version of the release includes over ten minutes of footage recapping events from the three series in order to ensure everyone in the audience is caught up to follow along.

The movie was basically as edited as anything 4Kids would usually release on TV, including editing the cards to once again not show the description, name etc. instead showing the picture, type and attack/defense points like normal – which was incredibly strange because the last Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, the one that was ordered by 4Kids, left the cards alone – and removing instances of text, which, from the Pokemon movie releases, they tended to not do on movies. These edits also included making an entirely new soundtrack, complete with new sound effects, which is another practice people thought 4Kids more or less stopped with the Pokemon movies, but I guess not.

The movie ended with a message saying “”Duelists, thank you for a decade of dueling…and the best is yet to come.””

Need I remind you that this movie was released in March of 2011….

This movie was also ridiculously short at 50 minutes, made to be 60-65 minutes on the American release. Meaning that the preview that was shown at ComicCon was really, not counting the recap, because I doubt they showed that there, nearly half the movie….

Reception for this movie was……uhm…bad. There were some good things to say about it, like how fun it was to see all three main protagonists of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise to date teaming up with each other, that it was intense and the pacing was good…..That was about it. To be fair, people did praise the English version for including the recap because it helped older fans and non-fans go into the movie without being confused. However, the recap seems to be missing from streaming releases, and in the DVD releases the recap was marked as an extra, not part of the actual movie.

Criticisms for the movie ranged from it being too short overall to the final duel being too short to the original Gen (Yugi) not being given enough focus while the most recent Gen, at the time (Yusei), being given too much focus to the animation being mid quality (not really up to snuff for a feature film) to the plot being way too simple and yet still loaded with plot holes that “even kids will see through.” to the villain being a rip-off of either Anubis or Dartz. Overall, it was written off by many as a movie designed purely to sell cards and less of a true celebration of the franchise’s ten year legacy. At best, it was just simple fun that old fans and newer ones could enjoy, but at worst it was a 50 minute long commercial that even fans would have difficulty wanting to watch more than once.

The movie made $2,017,928 in the Japanese box office (Which would be about ¥268,968,614.16) coming at sixth in the Japanese box office that weekend. When it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray, it was the second most popular title of its genre.

Because of the limited release, box office returns of the movie in the US and the UK never surfaced. Worldwide, it had a box office return of $2.6mil but over $2mil of that is attributed to Japan’s theatrical release, and the other $600,000 was attributed to South Korea, so the actual figures seem incomplete to a certain degree.

To make matters even worse, 4Kids never released the movie on DVD. I don’t know if they were really able to at the time. *thunderclap* However, in the UK, Manga Entertainment, which had the distribution rights there, released the movie in theaters on May 14 and 21 in stereoscopic theaters, and then they released a DVD and Blu-Ray of the movie on May 30, 2011. The Blu-Ray would include the special promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card that wasn’t included in the UK theater release as it was in America, and the Japanese track with English subtitles. It had actually reached number two on Manga Entertainment’s best selling DVDs of the year, but Manga Entertainment pretty much spit at the success of the title claiming on their Twitter “I think [it was] because it was available in Asda and Morrisons, came with a free rare card and was stupidly cheap on [the] shelf.”

It wouldn’t be until 2014 when New Video Group would release the Blu-Ray and DVD in America, including the option to play the Japanese track with subtitles.

Honestly, I really feel like this was another instance of Al being a tiny bit delusional with how successful he thinks a title will be, or maybe, much more sadly, he knew how much Yu-Gi-Oh!’s revenues supported 4Kids and how they would likely be more reliant on the property in the future considering Pokemon was gone (but they were still getting residuals from it) so was TMNT, and Chaotic had fallen on its face. He probably really wanted the movie to be a huge success so he could maybe get a boost in sales and a big boost in interest before ZEXAL was released. At the very least, he was doing his damnedest to convince investors that 4Kids would be doing better this year. Maybe he didn’t really analyze the Japanese returns for the movie well enough or overestimated how successful it would be in America, which I can’t imagine how that’s possible considering how badly the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie did.

But oh how devastatingly wrong he was either way. The call was a few months before the audit, and I feel like Al must’ve known that the hammer was being bought to put the final nail in the coffin…..And the nail would meet that hammer a mere three weeks after the movie had been released…..

Next – Part 21: It’s Time to S-S-S-S-S-S-SUE!

Previous – Part 19: 4Kids Pre-Death Dead Period


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Pokemon Extravaganza | Movie 11 (Dub) Giratina and the Sky Warrior Review

Plot: A Shaymin is minding its own business when a nearby Dialga gets attacked by a Giratina. They drag Shaymin into the scuffle, and Giratina pulls Dialga into a different dimension – a world opposite ours called the Reverse World. Giratina wants revenge on Dialga for causing spacial disruptions in the Reverse World due to the disturbances in time and space that it and Palkia caused in the previous movie.

As they fight, Shaymin uses Seed Flare and opens a portal out of the Reverse World. Dialga follows, but not before trapping Giratina in a time loop that robs it of its portal creating powers, leaving it trapped in Reverse World.

A mysterious man named Zero monitors the confrontation, intent on capturing Giratina for his own nefarious purposes.

Meanwhile, Ash and the others discover Shaymin and help it journey to the flower garden for the Flower Bearing – a festival that the Shaymin of the area partake in to move the garden. Zero pursues them, aiming to capture Shaymin in order to get Giratina. Ash, Dawn and Brock do everything in their power to protect Shaymin, but that’s easier said than done.

Breakdown: Like I’ve stated before, we’re so far into the later parts of Pokemon that I honestly never bothered to learn too much about this movie before now. I will say that I’ve definitely seen and heard more about Shaymin in this movie than I have Giratina, and that’s just kinda weird.

Giratina is one of my least favorite Legendaries mostly due to its design. I find it to be very weird and unappealing. It’s too creepy for my tastes.

Shaymin is a Legendary I’m just okay with. I like that it can change forms, but I don’t really get the point of it. I suppose you could argue that it doesn’t need a point, many aspects of animals and nature don’t have points or major purposes, but they still have them. I just feel like maybe they couldn’t decide on which form to keep so they kept both of them.

For the record, though, I like the sky form a lot better. Land form looks like a cute-ified chia pet.

I don’t have much else to say about the movie beyond that, so let’s get into the review!

As always, you can check out the comparison from Dogasu’s Backpack here.

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We start off with a real game-changer – the world of Pokemon! Not much to note here besides I just listened to the new voice of Exeggutor for the first time – Could the VA sound more bored?

Also, Ryperior is a dork. Rhydon is much more intimidating, better designed and just overall better. I’m perfectly fine with Magmortar, even if its face is doofy, but Ryperior, go home.

Wow, they made Ash’s introduction kinda epic with that sunrise behind him.

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Out of all the Pokemon you could’ve shown Pikachu battling in the beginning, why an Electivire – a Pokemon who barely feels electric shocks?

After that, we get the opening to the real story, including the introduction of Shaymin the hedgehog.

Shaymin! It can kinda move!

Shaymin! It’s got an attitude!

Shaymin! It’s the most annoying hedgehog alive!

The most annoying hedgehog alive!

Dialga soon shows up – HEY! Dialga! You already got your own movie! Go home! Shoo!

Giratina, hailing from a parallel dimension called the Reverse World, causes a dimensional shift which thrusts Dialga, Shaymin and Giratina into a vortex leading into the Reverse World.

Giratina and Dialga battle in the Reverse World because two Legendary Pokemon cannot share the same space without duking it out. Shaymin, getting caught in the battle, gets so panicked that it also causes a dimensional shift and escapes Reverse World. Dialga, after fending off Giratina, follows Shaymin through the same rift.

The rift closes, Giratina tries to make its own to follow Dialga, but finds that it can’t enter the rift it created. Due to Diagla, it is now caught in an infinite time loop in Reverse World.

The title animation this time around isn’t bad, per se, but it is confusing. We see a bunch of exploding snowflakes, water, the Sprint logo, lines that turn into shapes that turn into water Pidgey, then we get more water followed by the title card. Lots of water for two Pokemon who are, in no way, based on anything relating to water.

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No theme song in this movie, by the way. I’m really starting to miss it.

Back with Ash and co., Ash apparently needs to be reminded to wash his filthy-ass hands before eating because his mother thought it was more important for him to change his underwear incessantly than to teach him proper hand hygiene.

Cue all the Pokemon being let out for meal time, yay!

Shaymin arrives behind their backs and starts eating the pancakes Brock made for the humans in the group.

*watching Shaymin eat the pancakes*

Dawn: “What is it?”

Brock: “A Pokemon!” No shit, Brock. Everything that is not an inanimate object is a Pokemon…..and some inanimate objects are Pokemon!

It acts like a little shit, destroys Brock’s grill, sucks up the smoke from the grill and….explodes.

Can I say I’m glad Shaymin’s finally talking? Because it was incredibly annoying just saying ‘Min!’ over and over.

Also, Shaymin’s a dick even when it can talk. Lovely.

Dogasu noted this behavior as being refreshing given the overtly saccharine cute Legendaries we’ve gotten over the years, but I wholeheartedly disagree. You can have a good personality without being an overly sweet Pokemon. A jackass personality is still annoying to watch. You can make the argument that, as a character, Shaymin gets better, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still incredibly irritating either way.

Shaymin has a fever so they bring it to the Pokemon Center.

Nurse Joy: “It’s Shaymin – the Gratitude Pokemon.” Pft, don’t you mean Shaymin – the Irony Pokemon?

This Nurse Joy wears old lady glasses for some reason. Hope that fact enriched your life with knowledge.

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Ya know…..It’s been 11 years at this point….is anyone else bored to tears of Brock’s ‘Hit on a girl then get dragged away by someone’ shtick?

Shaymin is brought out and continues to be a little shit.

Shaymin: “Oh please! I never need healing! But I do get hungry!”

Ash: “That sure doesn’t sound like gratitude to me.” I like when we agree on things, Ash.

Nurse Joy reveals that Shaymin has the ability of Seed Flare – it intakes polluted air, such as the smoke from Brock’s grill, turns it into light and water and expels it from its body.

Dawn: “Shaymin! You’re really something, aren’t you?”

Shaymin: “I am, aren’t I?” Rrrgh.

Nurse Joy further reveals that the more the air is polluted, the bigger the explosion. A Shaymin once sucked up so much polluted air that the resulting explosion destroyed an entire forest. Wow…..that power kinda sucks a little, doesn’t it? Imagine if, when Suicune purified water, a nuke went off immediately after. Kinda negates the point, doesn’t it?

Oh and Shaymin expects to be thanked for not causing a bigger explosion, by the way…..It’s going to be a long movie, isn’t it?

I don’t really know why Dawn is so jazzed about this little grass stain.

Shaymin demands to be taken to the flower garden for the Flower Bearing – a gathering of Shaymin that happens once a year where the Shaymin migrate from one flower garden to a new location to create a new garden. No reason given as to why they do this – it’s just a thing they do.

Team Rocket grabs Shaymin, but, as they make their escape, they’re dragged through another dimensional rift to the Reverse World. Dawn and Ash get sucked in as well, leaving Brock as the only one left on the other side.

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Dawn and Ash are suddenly targeted by Giratina, who is seemingly after Shaymin. A strange man named Newton Graceland appears and helps them escape. Side note, part of this world is low gravity, and I found it adorable that Piplup was flapping its wings and acting like it could fly. Poor flightless bird.

Newton is a researcher investigating the Reverse World. He explains that the Reverse World is a dimension just like ours only opposite, which really makes zero sense because it’s pretty much exactly like our world only warped like a funhouse mirror with a weird sky and funny physics. Also, there are no people or Pokemon besides Giratina, who acts as the master of this realm.

That being said, the Reverse World is pretty nicely designed.

Newton states that disturbances in Reverse World started cropping up more often when Dialga and Palkia started fighting, believing their territory was being impeded upon for some reason. Ash then….recalls that happening….and Dawn brings up…Alamos Town….

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa……whoa….wait….This movie….is a direct sequel to Movie 10?

I know that seems like a stupid statement, but the movies seem to exist in their own little canon, even separate from each other. The fact that this movie is not only acknowledging a previous movie but also building its plot from it is….pretty much unheard of. This isn’t a complaint, it’s a very interesting turn of events, but it kinda threw me for a loop.

The disturbances are actually toxic clouds of gas, and Giratina was upset at this pollution of its world, so it traveled to the real world and captured Dialga to take its revenge. Shaymin’s little freak out allowed Dialga to escape, so now its in Giratina’s crosshairs too.

Giratina attacks again, this time grabbing Shaymin.

YAY!

But it turns out to be Substitute, and Shaymin’s fine.

Booooo!

Newton leads them to a portal that leads to the real world and they make their escape.

Shaymin: “Thanks to me, you’re all safe and sound. Aren’t you grateful I’m around?” What the shit did you do to help them get out of there? Ash is going to bring up that Shaymin’s the reason they were ever in danger in the first place in a minute, but really, what did Shaymin do to help them escape? Newton’s the one who lead them back to the portal.

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Also, Shaymin has this incredibly irritating running gag shtick of jumping on Ash’s head and yanking him in various directions as he tries and fails to tell him which way the flower garden is. It’s not funny. It got old real fast. They keep doing it.

Zero shows up and—I’m just now realizing, this character named Zero has a massive zero on his shirt………Okay.

Zero sends his Magnemite, Magneton and Magnezone army after the group in order to capture Shaymin. They manage to escape on a train, and then we interrupt the plot for Shaymin to be an annoying little compost heap again complaining that he’s hungry.

Ya know, Dawn’s irritating me almost as much as Shaymin in this movie because she’s constantly coddling it and ignoring it’s bratty behavior. I wouldn’t be as bothered if not for the fact that I know she wouldn’t be doing all of this if Shaymin weren’t a super ~kawaii~ Pokemon.

Anyway, let’s stop the plot some more by talking to some randos on the train about how wonderful Shaymin is. Whoopee.

One of the randos has a bouquet of gracidea flowers, which are nearly identical to the flowers on Shaymin. People give them to others when they want to show gratitude because it’s so similar to the supposed gratitude Pokemon. Upon sniffing the flowers, Shaymin transforms into its sky form.

The only real thing from the comparison that I feel compelled to note at this point in time is the fact that Shaymin has two voices in the dub whereas, in the original, it has the same voice throughout. The sky form clearly has a boy’s voice while the land form is girlish.

I don’t really have anything to add to their comments, so I’ll just copy/paste this segment.

Dogasu: “Ignoring the whole “cute little things are girls, brave adventurous types are boys” sexist BS for a moment, the reason the voice change doesn’t make any sense to me is because Shami doesn’t actually talk. It’s using telepathy throughout the entire movie. So why, why, would it suddenly start thinking in a young boy’s voice (or, as some have pointed out, Zoey’s voice) because it changed form(e)s? Wouldn’t it just do what the Japanese version does and just think in the same voice regardless of any transformation?”

I would like to hold on the sexist BS for a second though, because that is totally sexist BS.

On the upside, though, the voice change is actually fairly welcome because it doesn’t matter if Shaymin’s telepathically speaking on doing the Pokemon shtick of saying its name (which is only the ‘Min’ part usually, by the way, which somehow makes is even more irritating) Shaymin’s land form voice is like a cheese grater made of chainsaws on my ears. At least sky form is more pleasant to listen to, even if it’s still a brat.

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Hmmm…..I can’t really add this to the sexism because it’s not the dub’s doing, but why is Shaymin so much braver and battle-ready in sky form than it is in land form, where it’s basically a wimp?

The Magne-army finds them and they start battling.

If there was one set of Pokemon that was crappy to have constantly get beaten by Ash and co, it’s the Magne-line. They’re Iron and Electric, but here they are dropping like flies to an Electric type, a Grass type and a Water type…..

Just for the record, Magnezone is fugly.

Shaymin: “It’s ‘Thank Shaymin’ time!” I’ll thank you if you leave this movie.

Now they’ve moved onto a boat for the other leg of their journey. Brock talks about how the river they’re on was created by a glacier that eroded the—

Ash: “A glacier?”….Yes….A glacier.

Dawn: “Looks cold!” Yes…..glaciers are…..very…cold….So you guys never went to school, eh?

Enter about five minutes of dicking around.

At least some of the visuals are nice. They got the water CGI really nicely done this time around.

Brock mentions that Shaymin will be leaving them when it gets to the flower garden, and Ash suddenly looks sad…..for some reason. Apparently he’s going to miss the obnoxious little turd he’s done nothing but fight with this whole movie. What? Did the whimsical dicking around change his tune about it?

He does switch gears and says it might be a relief, but he’s clearly covering.

Back with Zero, we see old video footage that shows that Zero used to be Newton’s assistant. They wanted to harness Giratina’s power to move freely between the Reverse World and the real world.

A portal to the Reverse World suddenly appears in the water next to the gang’s boat, because the portals appear on reflective surfaces because…Reverse World I guess. They get sucked in, Zero follows suit, and Giratina confronts them in the Reverse World.

I guess Shaymin does get a personality change when its in its sky form because instead of cowering and pushing them to run away, it actually attacks Giratina first and challenges it to a battle.

Ash: “You go, Shaymin!” Yeah, you go with the challenging the massive scary Legendary Pokemon who wants to EAT YOU to a Pokemon battle you clearly can’t win! Whoo!

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With the help of Pikachu and Staravia, they try to take it down, to no effect, but the sun sets, causing Shaymin to revert back to land form since the sun needs to be up for it to maintain sky form. Also, because it’s land form now, it’s a weak wimp again.

Also, because they’re stupid, Giratina’s now more pissed than ever.

Shaymin: “Give. Me. FOOD!” Forty minutes until the movie is over. Dunno why I suddenly checked that.

They manage to escape with the help of Newton again. However, Shaymin is kidnapped by Zero and the others are restrained.

Zero: “This place is beautiful….but people destroy it.” He says while looking at one of the toxic clouds made because of damages to time and space made purely because of Dialga and Palkia going at it – the non-human Pokemon who aren’t homo sapiens. I swear to god if we get on another ‘man is evil’ stint in this friggin’ series, I’m walking out.

Zero directs one of the toxic clouds to the gang and brings Shaymin over to it. They act like Shaymin is sucking in the poison to save them, but Shaymin has shown time and again that it will automatically suck in polluted air without thinking about it, so they really could’ve just put Shaymin in the cloud without trying to kill Ash and the others and it still would’ve worked.

He’s trying to force Shaymin to use Seed Flare in order to release Giratina into the real world, and it works. Everyone gets sucked in through the portal back into the real world and Giratina is set free.

Brock: “That’s a glacier!” Yes. Brock. Thank. You. This movie has been sponsored by The International Glacier Foundation.

Newton reveals that Giratina never wanted to eat Shaymin at all – in fact, it was trying to save it from the Magne-line and was only pursuing it in the first place to get it to use Seed Flare to allow it to escape to the real world. Soooo….is that supposed to be Giratina’s redemption or something? Because it was still trying to kidnap it and force it to do something against its will.

Zero uses a massive machine thingamajigger on his airship to kidnap Giratina. His scanners reveal that Giratina has regained the ability to move freely between the real world and the Reverse World because coming to the real world somehow ended the time loop Dialga put him in.

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I should’ve asked this earlier, but how does a time loop stop you from moving between dimensions? If we’re dealing with moving between dimensions, interdimensional spaces, if you will, wouldn’t a better enemy to focus on be Palkia, the master of space? The Pokemon that has been shown to have power over interdimensional portals? Why choose Dialga for this? It makes no sense.

Also, how does ending a time loop restore those powers?

How was Giratina caught in a time loop when, outside of losing its portal powers, it didn’t have any other issues behaving normally?

Newton reveals that he designed that machine. He originally intended on using it to harness Giratina’s power and gain the ability to move freely between the real world and the Reverse World, but he deleted all of his work when he realized the only way to accomplish it would be to sacrifice Giratina. Newton was vehement against doing this, but even though he deleted his work Zero seemed to remember the specifications of the machine and built it himself.

Zero: “It won’t be long before the Reverse World is all mine. And I will rule there like a king! Muahahahahahahaha!” Yes, that almost entirely void of life world that’s filled with a bunch of weird physics and is built like a MC Escher painting will be all mine! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Your motives are dumb.

Newton, Ash and Dawn take Zero’s hover-glider thing that he left behind for some reason to confront Zero and save Giratina. Shaymin transforms into sky form since they arrived at the garden without realizing it and it follows them to the ship.

Ya know, if nothing else, the cinematography in this movie is really good.

Also, Pokemon being held in a force-field cage – here’s hoping Ash reprises his habit of tackling force fields here!

A battle in the air commences with the Magne-line until they reach the ship. Newton infiltrates the ship to stop Zero while Dawn and Ash combat the Magne-line on the deck.

I know that they can’t destroy the force-field, but can they not destroy the arms that are generating it?

Newton reaches the control panel, racing against the clock before Giratina’s power is…sucked up or whatever this machine is doing to it. It just says it’s scanning, so I don’t get how it’s killing it. He forces me to recall that painfully stupid scene from NCIS where Abby and McGee are both typing on the same keyboard by upping the ante by typing on a keyboard and also having four robot arms type with him.

Newton’s hack works, stopping the scan at a dramatic 99%. The force field starts to wane, but whatever he did to stop the force field also caused the ship itself to fail. The ship starts falling out of the sky.

Newton: “I’m sorry. To shut down the system, I had to shut off the engines too.”

Ash: “So what does that mean?” Okay, come on, even without schooling, you can’t be this dumb.

They escape from the ship on the glider thing, but Giratina falls off into the waters below. Zero makes his escape in a little….vehicle thing that dives into the water, and the ship crashes into the mountainside.

Giratina emerges from the water but topples over, seemingly on its last legs.

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Ash: “Giratina, come on!” He’s not saying this in a sad, pleading manner – he’s yelling this like he’s scolding Giratina for dying.

Shaymin tries to help Giratina by using Aromatherapy and yelling ‘SHAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY” about thirty times, which is even annoying in its sky form voice.

Anyway, Giratina’s fine. Yay. There wasn’t a lot of tension there because if they really wanted us to think Giratina was killed by the power scan…absorber thing, they wouldn’t have shown it being able to get out of the water under its own power.

Zero’s little plane thing emerges from the water, and, after a Power Rangers-esque kinda shitty quality CGI compared to what we’ve gotten for the rest of the movie cutscene where the plane kinda transforms, Zero attacks Giratina for some reason then escapes into the Reverse World.

He somehow managed to get enough information from the scan to utilize Giratina’s power, clone it and put it in this little emergency plane thing even though the scan only got to 99%, Newton hacked the whole system to make it impossible to do anything afterward anyway and he somehow managed to do all of this in the time it took for the ship to crash.

This whole thing reeks of them being unable to write themselves out of a hole once they stopped the machine and saved Giratina. ‘Uh oh, there’s still 20 minutes left in the run time – give Zero the portal powers anyway.’

He starts attacking these little real world bubbles that are all over the Reverse World. Damaging them damages the real world, even though it pretty much just seems like all that happens when you destroy one is a small explosion occurs.

Why is he doing this? I. Don’t. Know. It was never established that Zero wanted to destroy the real world, only that he wanted to rule Reverse World. He’s pretty much just pulling villain shit out of his ass and running with it.

He claims he’s destroying the real world because the real world is destroying the sanctity of the Reverse World and dammit, I told you not to go down the route of ‘man is evil’! Dialga and Palkia caused the disturbances in Reverse World, come on!

His shenanigans cause Regigigas to awaken. Oh boy, only 85% into the movie and we get a random other Legendary appearance. I remember reading it was in this movie, but I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit about Regigigas. It’s one of my absolute least favorite Legendaries.

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Zero’s purposely trying to break apart the glacier in the real world to….Uhm….destroy the nearby village….which will….accomplish….something……I guess.

Dawn: “If this keeps up, it will destroy the flower garden!” Why does that matter? They’re just flowers. They’re not important. And wasn’t the flower festival thing a ceremony where they move the flower garden anyway?

Giratina and Ash try to take down his plane while every Pokemon able to do Ice moves in the real world are trying to slow down the glacier’s descent, to little success.

Regigigas appears with a massive herd of hilariously CGI’d Mamoswine, and they all try to physically stop the glacier from advancing.

Meanwhile, Zero has taken down Giratina and is about to finish it off, but Ash intervenes.

Ash: “Hey! You stop destroying this place, Zero!” Or I’ll tell my mommy!

Zero: “If anything is destroying this place, it’s the real world!”

So, let’s just go over some things. The real world and the Reverse World are co-dependent, one cannot exist without the other. Zero knows this. To protect the Reverse World, he’s destroying the real world, which will supposedly cause the destruction of the Reverse World.

In short, Zero’s an imbecile.

At least Giratina attacking Dialga made a little more sense. Dialga actually was one of the parties responsible for the toxic clouds. I’m not exactly sure why they’re still appearing so rapidly if Dialga and Palkia basically ctrl+z’d the damage, but they were the ones who started this.

Come to think of it, when he realized Shaymin could purify the toxic clouds, why didn’t it occur to him to use the Seed Flare powers to help Reverse World?

Dawn: “You can do it, Regigigas!” Yeah, only you and not the thousands of Mamoswine trying to help it.

Shaymin sucks up a toxic cloud in an effort to save Ash again, and it uses Seed Flare to open another portal. With the help of Giratina, they knock Zero into the real world and he crashes his ship, damaging his system. Dawn’s Bunneary and Swinub as well as all of the Ice move knowing local Pokemon freeze Zero’s ship. Zero’s systems start failing entirely, and he’s unable to save the data on Giratina, meaning he can’t remake his portal machine. The moral of the movie is – always backup your data.

Seriously, how did he have the time to transfer that data to the plane thing within the ship but didn’t have any mode of backing it up?

Zero: “All of my glorious plans, ruined.” All of my glorious plans of ruling an empty hellscape and destroying one world which would inevitably result in the destruction of the world I was trying to rule, ruined.

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Shaymin enters the portal and transforms back into land form because–

Shaymin: “I’m really not good with the cold!” *shrug* Also, if you’re not good with cold, why did you put your flower garden so close to a glacier?

Giratina starts magically fixing the damage in the Reverse World…..It can do that, I guess, and fixing the damage stops the glacier from advancing. Giratina, Ash and Pikachu re-enter the real world through another portal.

Chalk this up to another movie where Ask flies on a Legendary Pokemon, but I am forever sad he didn’t try to tackle something that would throw him across the room.

Is there any purpose to Giratina’s two forms if both of them can fly? Is it just that the dragon/serpentine version is more aerodynamic?

I love how Ash casually ignores the Regigigas. He’s seen so many Legendaries he doesn’t even care anymore.

Giratina spends a minute with the group before flying off, supposedly to go find Dialga again….Uh…is that not still a problem? Guys? Hello?

Ah, who cares? More Shaymin are arriving, and it’s time for the flower festival thinger.

Shaymin: “Ash, I must say, I’m grateful to you too.” Is it ‘emotional redemption for the annoying pissant character’ O’clock already?

Shaymin makes its tearful goodbye, and the festival starts. They create the sky bouquet together, flying in a spiral and making a tornado of the flower petals from the garden. All of the Shaymin fly away, off to create another garden.

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Ash starts—I know you’re not starting to cry, Ash. Because then I’d have to shank you. All of the Pokemon you’ve said goodbye to, all of the friends who have left, you don’t cry for, but Shaymin, a Pokemon who’s been a snotty little brat to you for most of the movie, you start getting teary eyed over. Rrgh.

Not even Dawn’s crying, and she always liked Shaymin.

The movie ends with the gang all looking to the sky with smiles as they watch the Shaymin head off into the sunr—are we seriously not going to bring up Giratina’s bloodlust for Dialga again? That could cause some major problems. Is this ever followed up on in another movie? Hello? Guys? What about the toxic clouds in Reverse World? Are we ever going to bring those up again? I thought they were a threat to the stability of the realm, thus also threatening our world? Hello? Writers? Is anyone paying attention?

The credits roll and there’s not much of note in the background animation besides three things. 1) The gang all send gracidea flowers to their parents. I thought that was sweet. 2) A bunch of Aron and Lairon are eating Zero’s ship, I guess to ensure the audience that the machine won’t be found and used by someone else. 3) Zero got arrested, and Newton, for some reason, happily lends him a hand to get out of his plane, and Zero kinda smiles back….is he supposed to be redeemed now? That was not earned if he is.

The song for the credits is ‘This is a Beautiful World’ sung by Aaron Brotherton. It’s a pretty nice song. Definitely grows on you, even if it’s a little repetitive.

And, yes, the whole credit reel rolls without seeing Giratina at all. For all we know, the fabric of time and space will come crumbling apart when Giratina finds and murders Dialga and Palkia. The end.

—————————————–

This is one of those times where I have to vehemently disagree with Dogasu on their evaluation of this movie. Even though I’m only up to the 11th movie, I’d find it difficult to say it even makes my top ten favorite Pokemon movies list.

Our Legendaries this time are a little brat of a hedgehog with an annoying voice and a somewhat ugly Pokemon with fairly unimpressive powers who may or may not be an asshole. I grew to like Giratina as a Pokemon a bit more through this movie, but really only design-wise. Its main notable power is making portals to and from the Reverse World, which is a barren wasteland of a world that looks like someone put a blender filter on our world. Palkia’s more impressive than that – it can move freely between all dimensions.

I still can’t believe they ended Giratina’s role in this movie by saying it’s probably going to go find Dialga. That’s not a good thing! Why is no one concerned?! They should have ended with Giratina returning to the Reverse World and attempting to clean up the damage and maybe, somehow, get rid of the toxic clouds.

The plot this time around is also….boring. We absolutely have to get Shaymin to the flower garden to be in the festival. Oh wait, we really don’t because there are plenty of other Shaymin who can do it. The only thing that will happen if it’s not there is it will be disappointed that it missed the festival. I’m quite certain it can find the new garden location and partake next year.

The main plot with Giratina was also nothing special. I greatly respect that they tied in this movie to the last one. They’ve really never done that up until this point. Granted, Dialga all but vanishes after the first act, but, still, the fact that they even built a plot around the repercussions of the previous movie’s events is well-appreciated.

However, Zero’s motivations make—here comes an awesome joke, are you ready for it? I’m brilliant. Here it comes – ZERO sense!

He wants to capture Giratina and scan it to obtain its power to move freely between Reverse World and the real world. This will, for some reason, kill Giratina. He got the power even without a full scan or killing Giratina.

His REAL plan was to gain this power in order to become ruler of the Reverse World – a mostly empty warped version of our world.

Then his REAL-REAL plan is to go there and destroy the real world by destroying parts of the Reverse World in order to save Reverse World because he thinks the real world is what’s causing the toxic clouds even though he knows full well that it was Dialga and Palkia who did it and that destroying the real world destroys the Reverse World and he has to basically destroy the Reverse World in the first place to destroy the real world and–

It’s like they were making up his motivations as they went along, and they never reached a point where he was making sense.

I’m also shocked that they left the issue about the clouds alone. Are we meant to believe Giratina stopped them when it healed all of the damage from Zero? Because if it can do that, why attack Dialga? Why is this even a problem?

Then there are minor issues like Brock getting a grand total of absolutely nothing to do this whole movie besides make pancakes. I nearly went this entire review without mentioning him because he is constantly being left behind. They even point it out in the movie. He gets left behind the first time they go to Reverse World, then he gets left behind when Newton, Ash and Dawn leave on the glider, and he clearly shows that he’s disappointed he keeps getting left behind. What do the movies have against Brock?

Team Rocket also could’ve been completely omitted from this movie and nothing would’ve changed, but that’s par for the course for them.

Speaking of pointless, Regigigas. Yes, it held back the glacier, but it came out of nowhere with absolutely no explanation of why it was here and left just as suddenly without a word. It’s like they wanted brownie points for getting another Legendary in the movie, like Kyogre in Movie 09. But, hey, at least I like Kyogre.

The action was decent, and the fun whimsical moments were alright, but they weren’t really up to snuff when compared to the other movies. The action wasn’t as good as Movie 10, the dicking around scenes weren’t as visually interesting as the dicking around scenes in Movie 09, the ending of ‘Pokemon doing mystical stuff’ scene wasn’t as nice as Movie 02, 04 or 05 and even the tearful goodbye wasn’t nearly as emotionally impacting as Movie 03, 04, 06 or 08.

Even the new world they introduced is rather lame compared to things like the Sea Temple, the Unown’s illusion world or even the Tree of Beginnings.

I hate to make a mass comparison, but when you reach 11 movies, you kinda can’t avoid it.

Sadly, unlike some of the other movies that I’ve borderline disliked, like Movies 09 and 07, there weren’t really any standout moments that made me want to return to this movie. Movie 09 might be dumb, but I love the Sea Temple, and the goofy moments can be kinda fun. Movie 07 might be poorly written, but at least it has the Battle Tower and the hilaradorable Munchlax. This movie really has nothing to put on the table.

The most I can say is that it could’ve been worse. Shaymin could’ve been more annoying. I mean, it could’ve been a crying baby Pokemon like Manaphy in addition to being a brat. Zero could’ve been more confused in his motivations or made out to be more generic, like the Iron Masked Marauder or Lawrence. And at least Dawn got to do more than May or Misty usually got to do in these movies, even if most of it is just doing whatever Ash is doing or cuddling Shaymin. That might be offset by them shafting Brock so badly in this movie that they actually acknowledge it.

Art and Animation: The CGI went back and forth between really quite good to kinda bad. The regular art and animation were better than normal with only a few odd shots here and there.

Music: Rather forgettable, but fitting and nice. I actually liked the ending song this time around.

Voice Acting: On the up side. Sarah Natochenny didn’t have to emote much in this movie, but the instant she did it was hard to listen to. Zero’s VA was quite good, to be honest. He really went for it.

Shaymin’s land form VA is all kinds of annoying, though. Whether it’s legit speaking and shouting ‘Min!’ over and over or being a little snot when it’s telepathically speaking, it’s irritating to say the very least. The sky form version is better, especially since it’s, for some reason, less of a dick, but even that form’s voice can’t not sound annoying when it’s yelling ‘MIN!’ incessantly.

Bottom Line: This isn’t one of those movies where it’s so bad I get angry at it – I’m more numb to it. At its core, it’s just a bland and lazily written movie. Most people would have little issue sitting through this movie, nor would I, but I didn’t really have fun at any point. Either Shaymin was being annoying and ruining it or whatever was happening was so stupid that I couldn’t get invested.

I can handle lazy writing and stupidity as long as they’re being fun with it, but this movie just didn’t give me fun. I can’t see myself returning to this movie for any reason.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go….watch this movie again….In Japanese.

Recommended Audience: They’re going back to being too scared to say ‘Die’ again – instead referring to it as being ‘no more’ or ‘destroyed’ and the closest they get to a death scene is far lighter than most similar scenes in other Pokemon movies. I can’t really think of anything of note. E for everyone!


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Sony Pictures Analyzamation – Open Season (2006) Review

Plot: Boog has been a domesticated bear for his entire life – ever since he was rescued by the forest ranger, Beth, as a cub. After meeting the deer, Elliot, who caused a lot of chaos and problems in Boog’s life, Beth realized that she finally had to bring Boog out into the wild and let him be free. Completely lost in the woods right before the start of Open Season, Boog and Elliot try to find their way back to town and Beth before the hunters or other animals get to them first.

Breakdown: Many years ago, I reviewed Open Season for my old blog on that old forum I’ve mentioned before. My review was….bad, like many of my old reviews. Most notably, it was a bit overly negative, again, like many of my old reviews. So, for the review series tackling all of Sony Pictures Animation’s movies, Sony Pictures Analyzamation – yes, that is a mouthful – I decided to rewatch and rewrite the review from scratch.

And I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to finally review this movie with a more level head.

One my biggest issues with the film on the first watch was Shaw and how ridiculous he was as a villain. If there was one critique that stood up from my previous review, it’s definitely that one.

Shaw is, indeed, a ridiculously awful villain. Technically he’s a fine villain because he’s VERY easily hateable. But he’s such a ridiculously over the top caricature of hunters that it’s almost too easy to hate him.

I’ll admit something, my dad is a hunter and I’ve been brought up my whole life to learn about responsible hunting practices and gun safety. While I can’t bring myself to kill an animal, I do respect responsible hunters (not trophy hunting. That can die.). I also completely understand and respect people who are against hunting. It’s one of those issues where I’m probably a hypocrite, but the point is a hunter being a villain in a movie where a deer and a bear are the protagonists is completely understandable. It’s also understandable for them to be made unlikable, but Shaw is one of the biggest most over-the-top ridiculous parodies I’ve ever seen. I say this after pausing to write these notes at a moment where Shaw had just got done whipping his rifle out in a crowd of people to try and shoot a deer and bear in the head at once with one bullet, and then, once he’s heading off in his car to chase them once they’re returned to the woods, he says this.

“A bear and a deer working together. How far does this conspiracy go? How many other animals are involved? God bless America! I hope the bald eagle hasn’t turned!”

No, I’m not kidding. He even tucks his gun into bed at night…. Shaw is an evil person, but he’s also a complete dumbass, spending a good chunk of the movie thinking the animals are taking over the world and enslaving humans….

Shaw’s not the only ridiculously overdone hunter either. Later in the movie, a giant group of hunters all go out at the start of open season being loud and rowdy on the way up there with one of them yakking about how they’re going to blow the animals’ heads off. All of these people seem to be one big hunting group, which isn’t typically allowed for a multitude of reasons.

Not to mention the fact that the only cop in the area, the sheriff, is entirely useless. He sees Shaw have a clearly illegally killed deer on the hood of his truck, splayed out, which is also against the law, and is just like ‘eh’. He sees Shaw try to shoot his gun into a crowd of people, Shaw leaves when he’s not looking and he’s just like ‘eh’ and never tries to pursue him.

But enough of that malarky. How is everything else? Well, considering how I slammed it in my first review, upon rewatching, it’s pretty okay. It’s not gonna win any awards with me, but I had a fine time watching it. Smiled a few times, kinda chuckled a bit, got a bit moved by the emotional moments and had some fun. It’s a very okay movie and decent enough first outing for Sony.

I do agree with some of the critics who said that it’s hard to get a lock on who the target audience is, however. Like, the humor is overall pretty juvenile, including an amount of toilet/poop humor, but some of the humor is somewhat adult and some of the imagery is actually pretty messed up for a kids movie.

For example, there’s a joke where Shaw warns a couple to watch out or their weiner dog will shank them, and the lady said ‘Oh no, we don’t have to worry about that. We got him fixed.’ I want to believe with all my heart and soul that I didn’t just hear a dog humping/bestiality joke in this movie. I want to believe so badly.

There’s a scene where Boog and Elliot are behind a curtain at a show Boog is doing. They get into a fight, and their shadows are meant to convey an extremely bloody and gory murder of Elliot. Boog ‘skins’ him, ‘disembowels’ him and splatters his ‘blood’ all over the curtain. And what’s even weirder is that Beth is also watching this from in front of the curtain and she won’t go behind the curtain to stop Boog from slaughtering this innocent deer. She just keeps yelling for Boog to stop while in front of the curtain.

Shaw’s cabin legitimately freaked me out. Many times when (kids) cartoons will show taxidermy, even if it’s in a scary manner, they won’t choose to design the taxidermy in the same general style as the other animals. Because showing the cutesy big-eyed goofy cartoons as a dead-eyed lifeless decorations is kinda scary to many kids. If they do maintain the style, they typically don’t try to make the scene scary. It will just be dark humor. However, in the scene in Shaw’s cabin, his walls are covered in heads that are all the exact same goofy cartoony style as the other alive animals we were watching earlier. And this scene, while having brief few frames of humor, was definitely meant to be shocking and scary. It was meant to show how ruthless and bloodthirsty Shaw really is. He’s not just a dopey hunter. He’s a violent, dangerous killer.

Then there’s all the obvious gun play and talk of violent acts on animals, it’s all very iffy.

While they didn’t spend a whole lot of time together, I think they did a good job at making Beth and Boog’s relationship feel very genuine. I felt like they were truly attached to each other and watching her have to say goodbye to him was pretty emotional.

I will, however, call her (and the sheriff) out for sending Boog off into the woods like that, though. Boog had spent his entire life in captivity, and he has to be several years old. He had his own ‘apartment’, he had a teddy bear, tons of treats, his own TV – for god’s sake, this bear is literally toilet trained. And yet they think it’s okay to send him off to live in the woods with no preparation whatsoever.

While many of the animal characters were just annoying as sin (except the porcupine, who was adorable, and Giselle, who is just a VERY typical and bland love interest) including Elliot, I don’t think they did a bad job redeeming them in the end. They ended up being pretty entertaining in their own rights. I just think it was all fairly rushed. Too many of them were flatout jerks for me to be all that glad for their happy endings. And is it really all that happy? Did the animals end hunting in that area forever?…..I mean….they did literally bomb the hunters out, so maybe they did.

The animation was okay. Bouncy and cartoony, and stands up alright after 15 years. I think the art style is very ugly, however. Nearly every animal and human is just butt-ugly. They have incredibly odd proportions, and few of them look appealing. I thought the beavers and porcupine were cute, but that’s about all. I will give them a good amount of credit for Boog’s fur, though. While it definitely doesn’t look like what you’d see on a realistic grizzly bear, it does look fluffy and soft, kinda like what you’d get on a toy bear. I would say maybe that’s on purpose because he’s a domestic bear, but I don’t think they’d think that far ahead.

The music was alright. Some of the songs were very fitting for the scenes, but the soundtrack is overall fairly forgettable.

In the end, Open Season is okay. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it a third time, but if you’re up for a predictable but reasonably entertaining movie, then have at it.

I am not, however, looking forward to the THREE DIRECT-TO-VIDEO SEQUELS at all. Hopefully they’ll be alright, but I am reading up on them and I’m not gonna hold my breath.


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AVAHS – Abominable Christmas (A Monster Christmas 2012) Review

Plot: Two young yetis go to a nearby town for Christmas in hopes of getting to see what a real human Christmas looks like. While they have their fun, their dad rushes around trying to return them to the safety of their mountain before Margaret, a crazy scientist intent on proving the existence of the abominable snowman, catches them.

Breakdown: During last year’s AVAHS, while I was trying to find information on A Monster Christmas, a 1994 seldom-known animated Christmas special, I stumbled upon information for another Christmas movie of the same name, also known as Abominable Christmas. The premise and odd cast threw me off, but I didn’t really have time to watch and review that last year, so I continued on my quest to find information on the 1994 special and mosied along.

This year, I decided to see what this movie was about. It did not look promising at all. Cheap animation, by-the-numbers plot and really nothing seemed that interesting to sink my teeth into, but, surprisingly, this special was pretty okay. It even made me smile a few times and kinda consider laughing.

It’s a little cheesy, but there’s a charm to it. Everyone is mostly likable, and they all get along quite well (except Margaret, because she’s the bad guy). The special’s also well paced. It never really felt like it was dragging its feet or rushing, even if the end was fairly abrupt to me.

I think this movie’s biggest problem is that nothing really feels impacting or big. The funny moments are never that funny. The heartwarming moments are never very emotional. The stakes don’t feel very high, even when the lives of two ‘children’ and their dad are at stake. The action never feels that exciting. Things happen, but they never feel like they’re happening, if that makes any sense. Let me put it this way – many good movies are a series of twists and turns and ups and downs, like a back road with a lot of steep hills. This movie is like a straight road with a poorly maintained rumble strip. You’re aware when you’re driving on the strip, but it never increases or decreases your blood pressure.

The characters, while being fairly well-established, also don’t do much to stand out or be memorable. Everyone fits a certain role – Abby is the adventurous little sister who is bound to get into trouble, Adam is her neurotic older brother who tries to keep her in line, and their dad is protective and kinda strict without being overly protective or mean. In the human side, you have Lily, who is a Christmas-loving kinda sad little kid who wants to celebrate Christmas with her family but her dad is a workaholic, and her brother, Matt, constantly, and I do mean constantly, has his nose in his computer.

There’s also the dog catcher who actually breaks the movie stereotype of dog catchers being these horrible evil people who take pleasure in the pain of dogs. He’s kinda nuts in that he’s too into his job, but he’s also very dedicated to doing his job properly and not harming any animals. In fact, he became a master of martial arts to protect the dogs in his care.

Many times in these movies where the main characters are dogs/animals and they get sent to the pound but the movie ends without getting the other animals out of the pound, you feel bad because you know they’ll still be tormented by the dog catcher, but in this movie I’m kinda okay with it. I think they’ll be fine and maybe find good homes. One of them actually does find a good home at the end, which was sweet.

Finally, we have our main antagonist, Margaret, who is probably the most bland character here. Her character is simply the crazy person who is trying to prove the existence of (x) and will do anything to get it. Except she’s so blah about it that she’ll willingly follow dog catcher protocol and bureaucracy and not actually do anything underhanded to get what she wants. The worst that she does is trick the dog catcher into thinking that the two yeti kids are actually unlicensed dogs so he’ll go to their house and take them away, which isn’t what would happen in real life. As far as I know, you’d just be fined, and even the fine isn’t that bad. It’s like $250-300 dollars per year if you never license them. Her big plan was to get the yeti kids caught that way and then wait three to five business days for her paperwork to go through to she could take the abominable snow children away. That is, unless, Lily’s dad’s paperwork goes through before hers so he can license and reclaim them.

She doesn’t even have a plan for stealing them once they’re in the pound. She just waits for the paperwork to go through.

Paperwork’s the real villain here….or wait, I guess it actually saved them, so it’s the hero?

In the final confrontation, Margaret confronts them with flea spray and then stands there doing nothing while Abby takes forever to tackle her and bury her in cans of dog food, which would probably kill her. I don’t know why kids shows keep acting like full unopened cans of food don’t weigh anything. Those things could definitely kill you or at least cause significant brain damage if one fell on your head from a high shelf.

Even when she had a perfect opportunity to take pictures of the abominable snow people, when they were imprisoned in the pound, Margaret just doesn’t take pictures of them. She tried earlier in the movie, but got nothing usable because they were moving. Here they are standing still in front of her with nowhere to go and she doesn’t even think to take out her cameraphone. She even asked the dog catcher if she could take pictures of them at the pound, he said yes, and she still doesn’t do it.

Margaret and the father yeti have a past, which I thought would be much more interesting than it ended up being. She used to be a respected scientist until she spotted the young father yeti in his more reckless years. She tried to convince her colleagues about what she saw, but no one believed her, and she went crazy trying to prove the existence of abominable snowmen ever since. In turn, he became much more cautious around humans.

Yep, no big consequences for what he did. No one died or got hurt or anything. He just got spotted by someone and no one believed her and that changed him forever.

Considering he’s a single father, I thought we’d learn that his mate was killed by Margaret or something. But nope. We never learn what happens to the yeti mama.

Speaking of single parenthood, it seems like no family in this movie has two parents. In addition to the yeti family having a single dad, Lily and Matt have a single father as well. Their mom, I guess, died (they use the term “gone” for both her and Matt’s mother and Abby and Adam’s mother) fairly recently considering how Lily looks about the same age as she is in the pictures with her mother. It’s such a passing mention, though. She says she used to decorate the tree with her mother and is sad about it, but after that her mother is never mentioned again. She doesn’t even seem distressed when Adam and Abby nearly break the framed picture of her mother, she just laughs about it.

Later, when the dad yeti is dressed up as Santa for a disguise, he speaks with a young boy who has a single mother who has been terribly sad since her husband “went away”. I thought for sure they’d have that woman and her son appear again and imply that she’d start dating Lily and Matt’s dad, but nope. She never appears again.

However, I did think the manner in which they handled that particular case was really good. Instead of promising the kid he’d get his mom a new husband or something cheesy like that, the yeti dad reasonably tells the boy that making his mother happy again will be complicated and take time, but the best thing he can do for his mother in the meantime is be there for her and give her lots of hugs, which was very sweet and definitely better than some hollow promise.

I’m not saying that any single parent Christmas scenario needs to be addressed by having the movie end with them hooking up with someone. In fact, I find it rather welcome that they don’t even attempt this with any of the single parents. I’m just saying that it’s weird that is pops up three different times, but none of these single parent situations have a bearing to the plot, and it’s hardly ever actually discussed. The most we get is that Lily is bummed about having to do Christmas stuff by herself because her dad is constantly working and her brother is too glued to his computer to even glance at her. However, it doesn’t take long before Lily’s dad’s workaholic nature is almost completely forgotten and he’s spending time with Lily. This minor conflict is another victim claimed by the rumble strip of a plot.

And Abby and Adam’s mother gets even less focus put on her.

The conflict with Abby learning to be more careful and the dad learning to be less strict is also not really resolved or much of a conflict. She’s like ‘Oh I’m sorry, you were right about humans.’ But I’m just like, ‘What? You just befriended a bunch of humans who are currently helping you escape the one bad and one kinda-ish bad-in-a-way humans you’ve met.’

Matt’s ‘arc’ if you want to call it that is literally just him not responding to anyone or anything the entire special until the very end where he finally speaks. It takes until this hour long feature is nearly seven minutes from the end before he finally speaks his first line. I point this out mostly because Drake “ruiner of childhoods and overall icky person” Bell gets second to top billing in the credits and he plays Matt.

Matt just acts like a deus ex machina. Turns out, he was paying attention to everything the entire time and even became somewhat internet famous for his blog posts about the abominable snowmen stuff, which is the most confusing thing about this movie. They’re trying desperately to keep the yetis a secret, but Matt’s been blogging about them and becoming internet famous because of everything his family is going through because of them….but he’s somehow not compromising their secret? He did say he was speaking mostly to the conspiracy theorist crowd, but still, he’s being treated like a hero when he’s pretty much doing exactly what Margaret was trying to do.

He knows and has everything he needs to free their dad and the yetis immediately when they’re captured by the dog catcher as well. And thus was the power of the internet.

Speaking of the odd cast, this cast is odd. This is a very “Did everyone need a quick paycheck?” cast. Ariel Winter (I see what you did there, casting department) plays Abby, Ray Liotta plays the yeti dad, Emilio Estevez plays Lily’s dad, Matthew Lillard plays the dog catcher, and Jane Lynch plays Margaret. Everyone does pretty okay in their roles, especially Ariel Winter, Matthew Lillard and Jane Lynch, but it’s such a weirdly star-studded cast for a movie that I’ve never even heard of before last year.

Well, enough of me tearing apart the minor issues. For what it’s worth, this is a pretty laid back and chill Christmas special. I can totally see myself watching it again just for the heck of it during the holidays. There are some legitimately clever, cute and funny moments in here, but, like I said, there’s just not a lot of stuff actually happening.

I wanted to make a step-by-step review of this movie, but once I got about 15 minutes in I knew I wouldn’t have much to work with. It just felt pointless. There’s not much to poke fun at and there’s nothing much to discuss. Even the animation, while being cheap, isn’t THAT bad. It’s pretty okay for a TV movie made in 2012. I feel like it’s the budget that held it back above all else, because I really feel like the animators were at least trying and were definitely competent….however, the human faces are kinda dead, and Lily’s eyes are WAY too big.

You know your eyes are way too big when an anime fan is calling them out.

If you want to just put on something Christmassy and kinda fun without really needing to pay attention to it, check this out.


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AVAHS – Yogi’s First Christmas Review

Plot: Yogi bear and Boo-Boo always miss Christmas because they’re hibernating all winter, but this year they awaken just in time to catch some Christmas fun.

Breakdown: You don’t hear a lot of people talk about ol’ Yogi Bear anymore. Last I heard anyone mention him was when that live action Yogi movie came out several years ago and uh….we don’t talk about that either.

Being fair, they did just release that new Jellystone! cartoon. I’ve heard okay things about that, but I haven’t really felt compelled to watch it yet.

I used to really love Yogi Bear. I had a Boo-Boo beanie baby, and, as a child, I spent a few weeks in a Jellystone Park camp and had quite a nice time.

That being said, I can’t remember ever watching this movie as a kid. It’s a nice enough Christmas movie with a lot of heart and some genuinely funny moments. I think its one weak spot, however, is its length. It just can’t justify having a nearly hour and forty minute runtime. It only barely (BEARLY hahaha) has a story, and in order to fill the runtime, they repeat the same shtick over and over.

The plot is that the ranger, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Doggie Daddy and Augie are enjoying their Christmas up at the Jellystone lodge, but because of the mysterious and frightening events that plagued the previous Christmas parties, this might be their last Christmas at the lodge. Mrs. Throckmorton, the owner, intends on selling the lodge after this year’s Christmas party, so everyone tries their best to butter her up to change her mind.

Yogi and Boo-Boo are suddenly woken up out of hibernation by the festivities and join the fun, celebrating their first ever Christmas since they usually miss every Christmas while they’re sleeping.

Accompanying Mrs. Throckmorton is her miserable little shit of a nephew, Shively, who despises Christmas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid, especially a spoiled rich kid, just hate Christmas in a classic cartoon. I mean, it’s common for little kids to be obsessed with presents on Christmas, but this kid flatout hates everything about Christmas and wants nothing to do with it, which just makes me wonder why he’s even on this Christmas trip with his aunt.

Shively is a horrible little gremlin to everyone. He’s so terrible that he even attempts murder on more than one occasion. When Doggie Daddy is in the ice fishing shanty, Shively tries to push it into a open spot of water so he’ll drown all because Doggie Daddy caught a bigger fish than he did. Later, he tries to kill Cindy and Boo-Boo by pushing their snowmachine onto a powerful geyser while they’re sleeping. He also unhooks Yogi’s skis from his feet right as he’s about to do a ski jump. The little kid’s a demon.

There’s a second antagonist named Herman the Hermit. He lives on Jellystone Park grounds, somehow (that can’t be legal, can it?) and he also hates Christmas because the ruckus caused by the Christmas party at the lodge bothers him. He’s been playing pranks on the partygoers every year, pretending to be monsters and other supernatural creatures, in an effort to Scooby-Doo them away.

You’d think he’d be the main antagonist, but he mostly takes a backseat to Shively and his bratty shenanigans. Although, they do end up teaming up in the end, they don’t really do much. They go to ridiculous lengths all to steal a box of decorations. There’s a helicopter crash involved.

Although I did find it funny when Shively fell into the frozen lake when Yogi saved Doggie Daddy from being pushed into the open water. Shively ran to his aunt to blame Yogi for it and get him in trouble, Yogi shows up, admits he did it, says he’s not sorry because Shively’s a brat, doesn’t give a reason for doing it and Mrs. Throckmorton is like “Well, thank you, Yogi. Yes, the little brat did deserve it. Maybe this will teach him a lesson.” I agree he needs to be taken down a peg, but that’s pretty cold (pun intended) to act like a little kid deserves to be plunged into a freezing cold lake.

Mrs. Throckmorton is intent on selling the lodge, but, through wacky circumstances, she’s continuously impressed by Yogi as he randomly and accidentally keeps saving her life. To the ranger and lodge manager’s annoyance, Yogi keeps getting promoted with better jobs in the lodge in an effort to kiss up to Mrs. Throckmorton so she won’t sell the lodge. Spoiler alert, she doesn’t sell the lodge. She donates it to an orphanage for use as a vacation spot for them, which is extremely nice, but, like, I’m pretty sure a better option would have been to sell the lodge and just give the money to the orphanage. Orphans need a lot of things, and I’m pretty certain a vacation home isn’t one of them.

Meanwhile, Cindy Bear is overall just being very horny for Yogi. The only reason she decides to wake up from her own hibernation and help out at the lodge is because Yogi needs her, and she spends an inordinate amount of time trying to get him to kiss her under the mistletoe. She gets TWO songs where she’s singing about Yogi kissing her. They’re good songs, but calm down, Cindy.

Speaking of songs, there are several, and they’re overall quite good, but none are terribly memorable. Sad to say, but I’ll probably forget most of these songs by the end of the week, and it’s Friday.

If you love Yogi and want some Christmasness with him, as well as some other classic Hanna-Barbera characters, this is a good movie to check out. While I stand by my criticism of the runtime (it could easily be 45 minutes) it has many moments that made me smile, and there were even some heartwarming moments in there. I enjoyed it for what it was, and I’m sure many others will too.


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Animating Halloween/Pixar’s Lamp | Coco (2017) Review

Plot: Miguel’s family has detested music for generations ever since his great-great grandfather abandoned his family to become a musician. Forced to follow his love of music and the famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz in secret, Miguel attempts to follow his dream of becoming a musician on Dia de Muertos by entering a music competition.

His grandma, having found out about his secret, destroys the guitar he built, leaving him with no means of participating in the competition. In an effort to secure a guitar in time, Miguel winds up getting trapped in the land of the dead when he tries to steal de la Cruz’s guitar from his tomb. Only the blessing of Miguel’s deceased family members can send him back home, but they’ll only do it under the condition that he never play music again. Miguel scrambles to find another way home without sacrificing his love of music before sunrise or else he’ll be trapped in the land of the dead forever.

Breakdown: Warning – While I did my best to avoid spoilers in this review, I couldn’t avoid talking about some of them so, spoiler warning.

I have scoured far and wide for animated Halloween specials and movies, but it never really occurred to me to look for any animated media about Dia de Muertos or the Day of the Dead until I decided to finally watch Coco. Let me be very clear – I’m aware that the Day of the Dead is not Halloween nor does Halloween’s roots really come from the Day of the Dead. They seem similar due to imagery such as graveyards and skulls and a few traditions such as dressing in costumes lining up, but they are not one in the same and come from very different backgrounds. Day of the Dead is also not celebrated on October 31st – although it does come immediately afterward on November 1st.

That being said, I still feel like this counts because….pbbttt….I want it to. Animating Halloween entries technically don’t have to be about Halloween, and it fits the general criteria so I’m counting it.

Onto more important matters, I need to get this out of my system, holy frickin’ rendering, this movie is GORGEOUS. Every frame of this movie is like it’s begging you to pause and stare at each image….which I did a few times. Pixar keeps outdoing itself at every turn. It’s beyond impressive. The details on the clothing and the faces, the hair, every little item and building, the textures, the animation, the absolutely heart-stopping coloring, the amazing stylization – I want to watch it all over again just to soak in more of those visuals. They’re so good.

This movie really aimed to celebrate Mexican culture, and while I can’t attest to any inaccuracies or the like since I am not Mexican or of Latin descent, I believe it achieved this goal in spades. It definitely serves as being a fantastic Dia de Muertos movie. It lends proper focus to the main themes and traditions of the holiday without beating you over the head with the message too much. I want to read up on it as much as I can because it looks like such a cool holiday that I wish we had in the States.

In regards to the story, it had its ups and downs. I think the premise is incredibly interesting and the story as a whole is well-executed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without flaws. One of the biggest problems being that 90% of the movie is very predictable.

I’m going to say something silly right now, but believe me I have my reasons…..This is pretty much The Little Mermaid for the first 45 minutes. I’m not saying it’s about mermaids – there are approximately zero mermaids in the movie – I mean the general story notes hit the same. Something is banned and hated from the MC’s family/world, but the MC really adores the banned thing. MC enjoys the banned thing in secret until their fangirl/boyness gets found out. Parental figure destroys their hidden shrine to the banned thing, including one particularly important thing. MC runs off because of how awful and unfair they’re being. They accidentally enter another world by doing something unethical/wrong and they need to fix their mistakes without sacrificing their love of banned thing. In the end, both worlds combine and everyone’s happy. Bonus – the heavy music themes.

Even taking my comparison to The Little Mermaid out of the equation, it’s still a pretty predictable story for 90% of its runtime. However, it’s very much saved by two things; 1) The overall ride of the visuals, music and characters make this story memorable and unique. Remember, clichés and predictability are only as bad as you make them due to lack of style and innovation. 2) I said 90% of the storyline because there is a huge plot twist near the end that I never saw coming. I was really thrown for a loop when that was revealed. I knew that de la Cruz would turn out to be a bad guy because movies always tend to drive home a ‘don’t meet your heroes’ message for whatever reason, and the guy was simply hero worshipped by too many people to not turn out to be an awful person, but I never expected the other half of that reveal. I was completely blindsided.

Another issue was that I thought the family’s hatred of music was overkill to say the least. I can understand Imelda (Great-great grandmother) hating music that much, but not the entire family – most of which never even met the great-great grandfather. He could have abandoned his family for any profession. If he ran off to become a famous chef, would they all hate and banish food?

It’s revealed near the end that Coco never stopped loving her father and kept all of the letters and ‘poems’ he sent to her before his death, so why didn’t she stop this cycle of hatred? I’m not putting the full blame on her, since her mother seemed like a very outspoken person who likely passed on her hatred to Coco’s children without Coco getting a word in edgewise, but it still seems like something she had some modicum of control over, especially after Imelda died.

Give Triton credit. At least his hatred of humans and the surface world has quite a bit of justification behind it. Humans were a huge threat to sea creatures, and they were responsible for killing his wife. Abandoning your family is a crappy thing to do no matter the reason, but music wasn’t responsible for him making that crappy decision. It just happened to be the dream he was pursuing. There’s nothing inherently bad about music. To have such a deep hatred of it that you harass people on the street for playing music, yell at family members for so much as humming or act like your son is a terrible person for wanting to be a musician is just crazy.

This was probably intentional, but the hypocritical aspect of Miguel’s family holding the concept of family so dear while also damning one of their family for something as silly as playing music is definitely not lost on me.

Of course, Miguel also had to learn the importance of family while both sides had to learn to balance family and passion, which was a sweet sentiment.

Being completely honest, in the end, Hector’s story was more interesting that Miguel’s journey, but I can’t go into that very much without spoiling a lot.

Miguel is a very nice and realistic boy, and, despite some hiccups, I never stopped rooting for him to both get back to the land of the living and retain his ability to practice music. Over the course of the story, it shifts from being simply about him pursuing his own dreams to also about bringing music back to his family.

The story as a whole is a great way to tackle the subject of death with children in a manner that is extremely respectful and not scary – at least in my opinion. No matter your beliefs on an afterlife, Coco isn’t afraid to talk about death, depict it and explore it in a manner that a child would understand fairly easily without too much to worry about in regards to frightening them.

There is one aspect of this lore that is scary and depressing even to adults – the concept of being forgotten. I think a lot of people have had that existential crisis where we think about what happens after we’re long gone and forgotten. Thinking about that in the scope of the physical world is enough of a heavy topic to weigh on any adult’s shoulders. Coco, however, introduces the concept of what I’ll call a double death.

When you die, you go to the land of the dead, which is basically our world only awesome because everyone’s a cool-ass skeleton and there’s a massive city with lots of neon lights, there are insanely cool spirit animals and everything’s incredible, but not in a heavenly perfect way.

Every Dia de Muertos, those in the land of the dead are allowed to pass over to the living world to visit their relatives and enjoy the festivities. You’re allowed to enter the physical world if your family has put up your photo in their ofrenda, which is a shrine where the photos of lost loved ones are displayed and offerings are placed during Dia de Muertos. Typically, as long as your photo is kept up every year, you’re not forgotten.

However, the depressing part comes for anyone who is forgotten. If your family or another loved one hasn’t put up your photo in an ofrenda, and no one in the living world who knew you when you were alive still remembers you, you disappear…forever. You doubly die. How depressing is it to have an afterlife where you can die again, this time permanently, and the death is caused by your memory fading from the physical realm?

Hector even says disappearing in this manner happens to everyone eventually, which does make sense but geez, what a depressing concept.

Music being a central theme in this movie means the music has to be top-notch here, and I’m happy to report that it is. Both the orchestral score and the lyrical songs are phenomenal. It’s a soundtrack I’d gladly purchase.

The voice acting was also very well done. The movie has an almost entirely Latin cast, which is very appreciated, and everyone did quite well in their roles. I liked that they had Miguel be a decent singer but very obviously still sound like he’s rough and inexperienced. His passion for music and his skills with guitar playing shine through during these moments and make his performance both incredibly real and impacting without being distracting.

I loved Coco from start to finish, even if I was mostly latched onto the visuals for the first chunk of the movie before the story really took off. It’s one of Pixar’s best movies, if you ask me. I didn’t tear up at any point, but I had a blast watching it, and it did get me a tiny bit emotional near the end.

Recommended Audience: As I mentioned, this movie basically needs to talk about death and the afterlife a whole lot, which may be a touchy subject for children, but I believe it covers this topic so well that it wouldn’t be too risky for young children. Still, be warned that the themes are here and more sensitive children might not be receptive to it even with the happy and optimistic tone. It should also be noted that murder is brought up once. I don’t think there is anything else questionable or offensive etc. in this movie, so 6+.

Final Notes: Can we keep up discussing how awful Blu-ray cover art usually is? Look at the awesome poster I used for this review and then compare that with the Blu-ray.

This entire movie is chalked up to ‘Boy with guitar.’ Get your crap together, Blu-ray.


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Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: 1966 Movie

Plot: Nine individuals are kidnapped by the evil warmongering organization known as Black Ghost. While in their clutches, they’re forcibly turned into cyborgs, meant to act as weapons of war. The cyborgs manage to escape Black Ghost, but they soon return to destroy the organization and stop their evil deeds once and for all.

Breakdown: In my last manga volume review, I mentioned that 007 suddenly changing into a child, whom I dubbed Lil’ 007, was a forced change to help advertise the Cyborg 009 movie that was being released around the same time. Well, this is that movie, baby.

That’s right, we’ve finally reached the first animated venture into the franchise, the 1966 Cyborg 009 movie directed and written by Yugo Serikawa and co-written by Takashi Iijima.

The movie is a reimagining of the origin story of the 00 Cyborgs, condensed to fit a full storyline in a little over an hour. There are many changes to the origin story made throughout this movie. Some changes I really liked, others not so much. Some changes were made for understandable reasons, like animation limitations and time constraints, and others I can’t find a single goddamn reason for.

Let’s enjoy a gentle stroll down Cyborg 009’s first movie.

The movie starts out with Joe Shimamura in the middle of a race. I haven’t posted it yet, but in my review for volume eight I mention that Joe becomes a famous racecar driver after a four year time skip in a time of peace. I kinda wondered why he became a famous racecar driver because he had never expressed an interest in racing before, but I guess it kinda made sense because his trademark power was super speed.

Him choosing a profession where he easily became famous, especially considering he technically had an edge in his cybernetics giving him vast knowledge and skills in piloting vehicles of all types, was more confusing, though. You’d think he’d want to keep a low profile.

However, this is not a movie based on volume eight. Quite the contrary. That part of the manga was actually based on this part of the movie.

Joe was the most drastically altered character in the entire movie. They removed his delinquent backstory, seemingly made him full Japanese instead of mixed race (marked by him having black hair instead of his trademark brown hair…..barring that one time he went blond.) and just made him a….really good racecar driver?

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They boring’d the hell out of Joe, and I really have no clue why. Is it just because they didn’t want their main hero being a delinquent?

The fact that they seemingly made him full Japanese instead of mixed race is the most disappointing, though. A big part of his backstory was that he was constantly ostracized for his appearance. He never felt like he belonged because he was a mixed race boy living in 1960s Japan. That was also one of the factors in him becoming a delinquent. The fact that the 00 Cyborgs accepted him fully without caring about his heritage was very important to Joe.

Now he’s just a normal Japanese guy who became a successful racecar driver? Couple that with the fact that they retained the whole spiel about 009 being the best cyborg on the team because he was the latest model with all the best powers and that he becomes a combat specialist and leader of the team immediately just cuz (acting like he’s a seasoned war vet even though there’s no way he has any battle experience) put in a dash of saying he’s also the bravest of them for no real reason, and you just made yourself a Gary Stu, good sir.

Black Ghost operatives cause Joe’s car to crash. He’s unconscious, basically dead, and they kidnap him right under everyone’s noses, which confuses me.

In the manga, all of the people that Black Ghost kidnapped for this project were specifically targeted because they were down-on-their-luck individuals who wouldn’t be missed by many people, if any at all.

You have Ivan, who was just a baby, being willingly offered to Black Ghost by his father after his mother was killed, Jet, who was running from the law after accidentally killing a rival gang leader in a street fight, Francoise, who was just an average French girl who lived alone with her only family being her brother, Albert, who was trying to escape Germany during WWII with his wife, who perished in the escape, G. Junior, who was out of work and living on the streets due to discrimination against Native Americans, Chang, who was an impoverished pig farmer whose situation was so bad that he was about to commit suicide when Black Ghost found him, GB, who was a drunken washed up theater actor, Pyunma, who was a resistance fighter who had just escaped being sold into slavery, and Joe, who was a delinquent orphan.

It’s too risky to take people who are high-profile. Many people will miss that person, and there will likely be an endless investigation into what happened to that person reaching out into current day where there will 34,000 podcasts and Youtube videos with titles like “Hurricane Joe: Gone with the Wind” “Joe Shimamura: Vanished in the Blink of an Eye” “Crashed Out of Existence: The Joe Shimamura Story” and “joe shimamorra was turned INTO A CYBORG?! #TRUTH”

Not to mention you’d be parading around a famous person as your cyborg? Keep in mind, the cyborgs have so much of their bodies replaced with cybernetics that they don’t age. People would start asking questions after a decade or two.

They also kidnapped Francoise who, in the movie, was a successful/famous ballerina, which is what she becomes in the manga in volume eight as well. So now they have two famous people on their team. They also have a baby and a young child, whom, for all we know in this timeline, are being furiously sought after by their parents.

Joe is turned into a cyborg by Black Ghost, and he later wakes up in some dark warehouse with a spiffy new version of his uniform. Instead of the uniform colors he had at this point in the manga, which was green with a yellow scarf, or even his most well-known colors, red with a yellow scarf, he is sporting a white uniform with a red scarf.

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The rest of the 00 Cyborgs are wearing lavender uniforms with no scarves because they’re not the leader.

Oh, wait, back up, did I say the rest of them? I meant all except one.

Because, of course, they had to put the lone girl in the group in a goddamn pink uniform.

Can you not find enough femininity in friggin’ lavender?

When Joe awakens, he’s suddenly met with a voice telling him that the test will be starting soon. Unlike in every other iteration, this voice isn’t 001 communicating with him telepathically. Instead it’s….who I think is Gilmore? It’s hard to tell with the voice. I don’t know exactly how he transmitted the message though since Gilmore doesn’t have any powers. Maybe it was a PA system or something built into his head?

Joe, now known as Cyborg 009, is quickly attacked. He’s buried under tons of rocks, but survives and escapes easily. He’s chased and shot by a fighter plane, but he can run away really fast and survive getting shot in the back repeatedly.

Oh yeah, one other thing they changed with 009…..they took away his accelerator switch.

Yes, his main claim to fame, the thing that made him mostly unique among the crew, is absent in this movie. Supposedly, this was because of either animation limitations back in the 60s or budgetary constraints, but I can’t buy that. Joe’s acceleration powers should be really easy to animate. You just animate running and freeze everything else. Hell, sometimes you don’t even have to show everything frozen. There are plenty of moments where they show 009 using his accelerator and choose to put him over a black background. Heck, you don’t even have to do that. Just make off like he looks like he’s teleporting.

But 009 is still heralded as the best cyborg of the line because he supposedly has all of the powers of the previous cyborgs in the line, even though we know that’s not true. In fact, he actually might have fewer powers in common with the other cyborgs as he does in the manga because it’s possible 002 kept his, admittedly weaker, accelerator.

009 passes the test with flying colors after downing the plane by ripping it apart with his bare hands and causing it to crash. He’s met with the other 00 Cyborgs as well as a slew of other Black Ghost operatives, including Dr. Gilmore.

001 looks okay. I think he looks a bit too large, but overall, he’s designed pretty accurately, barring his hair color which is brown here. His hair color’s not technically inaccurate since it fluctuated throughout the series, but he’s usually known for his silver hair. Sadly, 001 also got a major power downgrade in the movie as his only power is telepathy. He kept his heightened intellect as well, but his telekinesis seems to be entirely gone.

His telepathy is largely useless here as well because they also gave him the ability to TALK. Why they did that when it gave them an excuse to not animate his speech is beyond me.

They took the ultimate deus ex machina from Cyborg 009 and basically turned him into a pretty useless cyborg baby. I wonder if this nerf at least allows him to avoid that pesky weakness of needing to sleep for 15 days straight.

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002 looks way too angry. They elongated his face upwards and slanted it forwards to give him this almost comically angry face. They also gave him brown hair instead of his usual red hair, and they, for some reason, added a hook to his nose.

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003 looks quite a bit different. Her hair is much longer, and she’s now brunette instead of a blonde. She also has INSANELY HUGE and VERY CREEPY blue eyes. Even for anime, and even for Ishinomori’s typical style, they’re way too big. I think they did this to highlight that her senses were her main powers, but no one else has any physical attributes changed to reflect their powers, so I’m left to believe that 003 is either an alien or a My Little Pony.

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004 has a horrid haircut. It’s not even like an actual haircut. It’s like someone took the clay pot they made in art class and plopped it on his head. His original hair color is meant to be gray/silver. 004 actually has powers added to him. They gave him missiles in his elbows in addition to the ones he usually has in his knees, and both hands house machine gun fingers instead of just one. I like this change because it makes him a little more badass.

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005 looks pretty decent. Some shots make him look stretched out, though. Also, his face markings were changed a little.

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006 was basically drawn to be even more stereotypical than he already was. They darkened his skin just slightly, kinda deflated his face and gave him a Fu Manchu mustache instead of the thin handlebar-esque one he typically sports.

007 is Lil’ 007, only his head is kinda caved in for some reason. His powers are left alone, which only muddies the limited animation/budgetary constraints excuse for 009’s lack of accelerator even more. How is it easier/cheaper to animate a character who constantly transforms into other things than it is to animate a character with super speed? Or did they allocate all of their budget towards animating his transformations that they didn’t have enough left over to properly animate 009’s acceleration powers?

I really think that Lil’ 007 was leaned into a bit hard with this movie. He gets basically as much screentime as 009 and he gets a big dramatic hero moment in the end, complete with speech. He’s also the only one, besides Joe and Francoise, who gets his fate explained in the epilogue. They really wanted to push this movie towards kids. The tone is noticeably lighter with more comedic moments and the fact that the new war that develops later in the movie is between two fictional countries – The Caesar Republic and the country of Divine – instead of two real ones.

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008…….*sigh* Poor 008 can’t catch a frickin’ break.

He already had a problematic design by default, but look at this.

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His lips take up half his face, and his nose was enlarged by about 700%. What the hell were they thinking when they did this to him?

They convince 009 to come with them, Dr. Gilmore acting as a hostage (he’s in on it and helped orchestrate their escape out of guilt.) and a massive battle ensues between the rebelling cyborgs and Black Ghost. They’re confronted with the usual suspects in this franchise; faceless thugs with laser guns, tanks and fighter planes.

They steal one of Black Ghost’s fighter jets and take off. 009 is able to pilot the plane flawlessly. 001 explains that he was already a masterful racecar driver, and his cybernetic brain enhanced his driving/piloting skills, allowing him to be an expert with any vehicle instantly. That actually does make a lot of sense, and I’ll take that as being his unique power over the others.

It’s weird how some of them have powers that correlate to their own personal stories, but some of them don’t. Like 006 has fire powers, which greatly help him in his later career as a chef. 007 can transform into anything, which is something very reflective of an actor. 004 and his wife were shot up and blown to hell, so he’s loaded up with guns, missiles and explosives. But no one else really has powers that correlate to their personalities or stories. That would’ve been pretty neat.

Anyhoo, it’s during this aerial battle that we get to see all of the 00 Cyborgs’ powers on display. It’s a really cool moment and battle. They’re forced to take an emergency landing on a nearby island.

It seems like they’re in the clear, but 003 quickly points out that there are spy dolphins nearby, transmitting their location to the enemy. 009 kills the spy dolphin, but a whole slue of enemy robot underwater dinosaurs with missiles in their throats attack. Ya know, typical Tuesday.

009, 002 and 004 take them out in a really exciting battle, but they’re still not done.

003, for some reason, sounds really happy to share the news that they’re being approached by a whole fleet of fighter jets and ships. She’s smiling and everything. The voice acting combined with the smiling leads me to believe some wires were definitely crossed with the intended tone of this scene.

The amount of firepower that Black Ghost is sending their way is, honestly, way overboard. Look at this insanity.

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And this isn’t even showing the numerous submarines chasing them.

All of this just to retrieve or destroy the cyborgs. The money that they spent just launching all of those planes and ships would probably cover the expenses on making nine new cyborgs and just letting these ones go. I get that they might not want this technology to get out to the general public, but still.

009 knows they can’t fight all of that firepower, so he concocts a plan to steal one of their subs.

Somehow 008 looks even worse in this shot.

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009, 007 and 008 head underwater to defeat the other spy dolphins and steal themselves a sub. Cue extended scene of Lil’ 007 shenanigans, including turning into a birthday cake that says “Happy Birthday Day”….???

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Happy Birthday Dan? I dunno.

Anyway, screw that little punchline. 008, you’re up!

To his credit, even though this is his lone time to shine in this movie, shine he does. He zooms around the sub so fast that it starts disrupting their equipment, and when he reaches the nose, he simply stops the sub dead in its tracks with his bare hands.

That was so badass, even the doors of the sub are going “Dang!”

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009 attaches a transmitter to their sub that tricks them into surfacing. 008 is such a baller that he’s just standing on top of the sub smoking a pipe when they come up.

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009 and 008 force the Black Ghost operatives out of the sub and take it for themselves. When the whole team is aboard, 009 has 003 send out a Morse code message to Black Ghost claiming that sub number 557 has been commandeered by the cyborgs when they’re really on sub 556.

557 gets the shit bombed out of them from above and below, killing everyone on board.

Good job, guys. We immediately went from peacefully acquiring a Black Ghost sub to turning a dozen people into chum in one scene. Simply amazing.

009: “That went well.” It sure did, you loony.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that they did that to distract Black Ghost and make them think that they were dead, but the 00 Cyborgs are supposed to be largely against killing. They typically only kill as a last resort. That’s why so many of their enemies are robots. And that’s why 001 made a point in the beginning that the planes that were following them were merely drones, even if they implied they were being piloted by people considering a bunch of Black Ghost soldiers were ordered to head to the planes to pursue the cyborgs. They wanted the green light to cause a bunch of destruction without the implications that they were slaughtering people. 006 was fully MELTING PLANES IN MIDAIR. No one wants to imagine the people in there melting like candles on the surface of Mercury.

For anyone thinking the sub may have also been a drone, they show the people inside as it’s being attacked.

Since Black Ghost is off their tails, they decide to head to Green Reef – a secret island hideout/laboratory belonging to Gilmore where not even Black Ghost can find them.

After a small time skip, we see Francoise and Joe relaxing on a cliffside as the sun sets. Joe says it’s only a matter of time before Black Ghost finds them. They should take the initiative and strike at them first, hopefully taking them down once and for all.

Francoise, however, vehemently refuses. She is tired of war, she’s tired of fighting, and she’s definitely tired of death. She shares her backstory with Joe, explaining that she was a successful ballerina until WWII arrived in France. After a very dramatic montage of the attacks, we learn that Francoise’s parents were both killed in the war, which is why she hates it so much.

I actually love this change. It adds so much more to her character, explains where her parents are and gives her a very good reason to already hate war and fighting long before the others do (Well, except 004.) The fact that she still also has the reason of her heightened senses forcing her to see and hear every atrocity of war that happens within 50 kilometers of her makes her situation all the more horrific and tragic.

After hearing Francoise’s story, Joe responds in the best way possible……by giving her a big ol’ smile.

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I really think there was a disconnect between the artists and writers somewhere.

Joe convinces her to rejoin the fight by telling her that, if they don’t stop Black Ghost, then more people will suffer like she did. It’s rather open and shut, but the entire thing makes for a big romantic moment for the two of them.

When we next see Black Ghost, they’re preparing for their next scheme. In order to draw the 00 Cyborgs out of hiding, they’re going to send two fictional nations into war – the Caesar Republic, which I think is meant to reference the Roman Republic, and Divine….which…I don’t know what that’s referencing, if anything at all. There’s no information on this stuff on the Fandom page or the Wiki or any other source.

The best I could find was Carthage, which was the real Roman Republic’s biggest enemy, but I can’t find the connection of the names. Carthage means “New town” which doesn’t sound very ‘divine’ to me, so…..*shrug* Maybe they just bullshitted some names, or maybe I’m a geographical dummy, I dunno.

The troops for Black Ghost are being lead by some new character who looks like a huge naked goblin.

His name is Beagle.

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And no, you can’t take him seriously because of both of those facts.

To make it even less plausible to be scared of this guy, he has a cat that he strokes menacingly. Bonus: This cat is meant to be an evil version of Tom from Tom and Jerry. And if you don’t get that the first couple times you see the cat, don’t worry, near the end of the movie 007 will turn into a carbon copy of Jerry so they can have a nice comedic chase.

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The Fandom page explains that Tom and Jerry was just reaching Japanese shores at this time, so it was probably just meant to be further grasping at that young child audience. I also believe the manga makes another Tom and Jerry reference during the Mythos arc.

The 00 Cyborgs learn the news of this burgeoning war, so they decide to head to the battlefield to put a stop to Black Ghost’s evil manipulative ways.

009 calls upon 003, 6 and 7 for the mission. Leaving 001, 2, 4, 5 and 8 on shore doing nothing for some reason.

Why does 009 only take three people with him, you may ask? Because it’s hard and expensive to animate nine people in battle conditions, silly. And they’ve already done it twice, so we gotta cut some expenses.

However, I really have to wonder why he chose this lineup specifically. 003 I get because she can get recon easily and from a distance. Lil’ 007 I guess I get because he’s also good in covert situations and spying. But why 006? And why not any of the others, especially 008 considering they’re heading off on a submarine? Actually, put that last question in your back pocket. We’re going to bring that back up in a few minutes.

When they reach the shore of the Caesar Republic, 003 overhears a Black Ghost operative making a deal for weapons with one of their military leaders. As they continue to spy on them, 003 is suddenly just grabbed by a pair of metallic black arms and kidnapped right from under the noses of the other three.

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Which is bullshit.

For god’s sake 003, your only use is to see and hear things that the others can’t. You’re unofficially known as the radar of the 00 Cyborg team. You’re telling me a cyborg or robot or what have you sneaked up behind you – in the goddamn woods – and was able to grab you without you making a sound? Come on.

The other three are able to tail her in the submarine by tracking a beacon in her headband, but Beagle shows up to stop them with his mind-controlled giant octopus.

How much would you believe me if I said this is actually mirroring a plot point from the manga? Actually, only partially because the one in the manga was just super aggressive because of radiation from the war polluting the ocean.

Worried their sub will be crushed by the creature, they head out to fight it.

006, while underwater, shoots flames at the octopus numerous times.

See why I’m confused about bringing 006 along but not 008?

Apparently, fire can exist underwater in the right circumstances. All you need to do is force oxygen, fuel and heat together, but 1) I don’t know if 006 has the means to do that. As far as I’ve ever known, 006’s fire breath works on the same principle that a flamethrower does. The fuel is thrown/expelled and then ignited. With people who ‘breathe fire’ it’s the same thing. They keep fuel in their mouths, hold up a flaming stick and spit the fuel out on the fire to create the stream. But 006 has no method of delivering the oxygen as far as I know, so I can’t see this working.

And 2) even if he could create fire underwater, I doubt he could make it into an accurately shot stream like that.

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Anyway, this poor octopus is blown apart, sliced up and even has one of his tentacles ground up with a grater, which is nightmarish to think about. The idea of grinding up the limbs of any creature is gross enough, but the grater in question was Lil’ 007. I can’t imagine the feeling of limbs being ground up in what is basically my torso……

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Once the octopus is defeated….

Lil’ 007: “Something else is coming!”

006: “Sharks!”

009: “Not just sharks….sharks with guided missiles!”

We’ve already seen these sharks in the manga before, but there’s something about these lines that really makes me want to re-embrace what a beautiful amalgamation of genius and goofy nonsense this franchise can be sometimes.

So they start blowing up the missile sharks, which is a cool sentence to say, but poor sharks. These animals aren’t doing anything wrong, they’re just being controlled or manipulated by Black Ghost and yet they all have to suffer such horrible fates.

Meanwhile, someone else is suffering a horrible fate – 003 is going under the knife again to alter her brain so she’ll be fully controlled by Black Ghost…..which just brings up a huge issue with this entire franchise that I’ve already discussed a little before – why don’t they just mind-control them entirely? They must have the technology. Weren’t they even working with Ivan’s father, Gamo, who worked exclusively with technology involving the brain? Instead they just hope that these people they kidnapped and mutilated and had their lives ruined forever will just hop up and say “Well, golly gee, Mr. Black Ghost, I sure will be your tool of perpetual war!”

In the manga, it takes them until 0013 before they finally realize that they should put some failsafes in these cyborgs, but even then it kinda backfires on them.

By the way, they actually do perform the surgery, and she’s not only fully mind-controlled later, but she basically turns into a weird monster for some reason? More on that later.

The trio reach the shores of Phantom Island. Some robot snakes show up and attack the three.

*the robot snake breathes fire towards 009*

009: “Are these things robots?”

No, no, 009. These are rare Firebending Snakes. You must have missed Phantom Island and accidentally landed on Shuhon Island.

Sadly, none of the 00 Cyborgs beyond 001-009 are shown in this movie, but we do get a brief encounter with a robot that looks and acts an awful lot like 0011. However, it’s not even clear if this robot spider is actually a cyborg. He has about two lines and then dies.

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Something else weird about 006 – The robot shoots fire at them, and even though 006 is meant to withstand insanely high temperatures, he still reacts to the fire like it’s too hot even for him, which I sincerely doubt.

Once the snakes are destroyed, Lil’ 007 splits off from the group to infiltrate the base by himself. 009 and 006 go another way and find 003 unconscious and tied to a chair. When they wake her up, they’re shocked to find her face all monster-fied and that this whole thing was a trap.

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I was really shocked to see that they actually did go through with the surgery on 003. The last shot of the surgery scene did suggest that they were seconds away from cutting into her, but a surgery to make her a mindless slave is something you’d think would get interrupted by the heroes.

Also, I guess they altered her height real quick too because she’s towering over these Black Ghost soldiers. Either that or Black Ghost set up a recruitment drive in a middle school.

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Beagle and his goons corner 009 and 006. One of the soldiers conveys to Beagle that they caught 007 as well. They’re about to have the same procedure performed on them when the soldier from before attacks Beagle. Surprise! It’s Lil’ 007 in disguise!

Cue the overly long heroic speech they let Lil’ 007 have for some reason.

After completely demolishing Black Ghost’s forces so easily it’s almost sad (and bear in mind that it’s only three of the nine 00 Cyborgs fighting them) 009, 6 and 7 corner Beagle. They think they’ve won, believing Beagle to be the big boss of the entire organization, but Beagle reveals that he’s not actually the final boss. He’s one of those annoying decoy final bosses who eats up all of your resources right before they throw you into the REAL final boss fight that comes out of nowhere.

At this point, I was getting really excited because I thought they’d reveal Skull here….but no. He’s not in this movie at all.

Instead, the real final boss is not given a name. He’s just Black Ghost Leader….Also, he’s not even given an original design. They took the design of the central hub of 0012 and made that the design of the Black Ghost Leader.

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To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement. You traded Skull, one of the most iconic villains in classic anime/manga, and traded him for a brain in an upside-down salad bowl.

….Okie dokie.

BGL immediately kills Beagle for failing him, and then he explains to the cyborgs that he’s been around much longer than they think he has. He was responsible for the first two World Wars. He very easily triggers these wars with just a little manipulation. He feeds off of greed and the pain and suffering of war. He even states that he’s not human, which is something reinforced by the fact that he uses the term ‘human’ as a derogatory term. He also says that he didn’t create himself, or I guess more to the point that he didn’t start out like a normal being and then eventually became corrupted into the being he is now. He came into existence as an embodiment of the greed of humankind, which I guess is why his organization is so set on war profiteering instead of being a ‘take over the world’ type deal.

But that just begs the question as to where the brain came from and why he rides a giant crockpot if he’s just the embodiment of greed. Seems a little inconvenient, is all.

You can argue back and forth about who Skull really was – in no iteration do we ever learn of his backstory – but he was a cyborg who was constantly getting upgrades that left him as the most advanced cyborg, which is why the final battle with him is such a big deal. His character design is very imposing, even with his manga version’s sadface look, and, as his name also suggests, his presence just screams ‘death.’

I just can’t understand why they used 0012’s central hub as the design of BGL here. 0012’s actual hook was that she was a sentient immobile murder house. If you take that away, her design is in no way intimidating.

BGL decides to use 003 to finish off the cyborgs using a special laser gun that can take them out with one shot. He traps them within a super strong metal box and sends 003 in. However, 009 strongarms her, accidentally causing her to shoot the glass surrounding the brain of BGL, which for some reason causes the rest of his robot body to start blowing up. Flawless design there.

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That’s another silly aspect of this design. His brain is obviously his weak spot, so why does he keep it in a glass case on top of the robot instead of secured in the middle of this hulking behemoth so it’s as safe as possible? Again, it made a little sense in the manga because 0012’s house was protecting her central hub and her brain.

003’s back to normal again somehow, which is very confusing. You guys operated on her brain, yet you made her mind-control completely reliant on the integrity of a brain in a jar? Also, why do the changes to her face instantly go away when she’s freed?

Anyway, BGL is not going to die quietly. He has an H-bomb hidden on the island that will explode in five minutes. That’s right. He’s going to kill himself, all of his surviving subordinates and destroy all of his equipment in an H-bomb explosion just to kill four of the nine 00 Cyborgs. That’s some crazy nonsensical dedication. Oh well, at least he’s giving them a five minute head start.

They’ll need that head start too because they need to break out of the metal box. Using 006’s flames and the lasers of their super guns, they slowly manage to weaken the metal enough to break it by throwing a giant…..electronic box thing, I dunno what that is.

When they get to shore, they find that their sub is being commandeered by Black Ghost operatives. They won’t allow them to board the sub, but the rest of the cyborgs arrive to blast them away and save the others.

002: “We came because we figured something like this might happen.”

Then…why didn’t you just go with them in the first place?

They escape, utilizing the sub’s ability to turn into a plane, and watch as the island is disintegrated. Black Ghost is seemingly gone now. And the narrator explains that peace came to the world once more….So…Divine and the Caesar Republic stopped warring because Black Ghost disappeared?

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The movie wraps up with an epilogue that explains that the cyborgs “returned to their original forms” which, huh? That’s impossible. I’m pretty sure they’re still cyborgs. And they returned to their homes and old lives. Joe returned to being a racecar driver, Francoise returned to her life as a ballerina, Lil’ 007 returned to his life as a ‘mischievous brat’ in London, and no one else matters enough to mention.

Just know that they all returned to their normal, happy lives, but they still knew that one day they might need to return to action again should Black Ghost resurface. They can only pray that will never happen.

The end.

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And that was Cyborg 009’s first movie, and I really enjoyed it a lot. It was exciting, it was fun, it was a little funny, and as far as retelling the events of the origin story while also wrapping up the entire Black Ghost conflict in one barely over one hour long movie goes, it did a pretty good job. It obviously felt kinda rushed, and I’m really, really disappointed that basically every cyborg barring 009, 003 and Lil’ 007 had to be completely amputated, in terms of character exploration anyway. They did get some really cool moments in battle, and at least they went through the unique powers of each, but I’m really disappointed that we don’t at least get some nice non-battle moments with them or even learn their real names. Hell, we don’t even learn Lil’ 007’s real name despite them shoving him into the spotlight quite a bit.

They also didn’t do that good of a job giving them distinct personalities. Everyone, again, barring the main three, act about the same. Joe takes the role as leader, Francoise is the emotional one and Lil’ 007 is the clown. Everyone else is just a nice, brave and responsible person. 006 is kinda goofy, but that’s about it.

They crammed a lot of cool enemies and battles into this movie, which I appreciate greatly, but I actually kinda wish they’d toned it down a tiny bit or made the movie longer because it was almost too much stuff going on too quickly.

The animation was decent for the time. It’s an anime from the 60s, you’re not going to get anything too impressive, but some shots looked pretty damn good……and some looked really laughable.

There’s a shot near the end where 009 and 003 are fighting each other, and Lil’ 007 and 006 are just bobbing their heads as a reaction, and it reminded me of a badly animated ‘What is Love?’ meme gif.

The music’s pretty good. Very fitting and impacting. Nothing horribly memorable, but still good.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this movie, and I’d gladly watch it again. I’d also suggest it as a fun watch for any fellow Cyborg 009 fan or anyone who doesn’t mind some classic anime cheese. It’ll be a little while before we cover the sequel to this movie, Cyborg 009: Monster Wars, but I look forward to covering that and seeing what else these movies have to offer.


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Aardman’s Clay: Shaun the Sheep Movie Review

Plot: Tired of the monotony of life on the farm, Shaun and his fellow sheep concoct a plan to have a nice day off with their farmer being none the wiser. When their little stunt ends up sending their farmer to the big city with a case of amnesia, Shaun, Bitzer the dog, and the other sheep head off to bring him back while doing everything they can to avoid the malicious animal control officer.

Breakdown: I’m extremely unfamiliar with Shaun the Sheep. I’ve never seen the TV series or the shorts and I’m only barely familiar with Wallace and Gromit, the show from which Shaun is based. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

First thing you’ll note about this movie is that it is entirely dialogue-free. The animals don’t talk and the human characters ‘speak’ in intelligible murmurs. From my understanding, this is the same way in the TV series, but that decision was made for practical purposes. They didn’t have to keep it silent in the movie because they had the budget for it, but they decided to keep it silent for the sake of not disappointing people who were used to the TV show’s format. I greatly applaud this decision, even though I don’t know of the show myself. I think this movie works perfectly well silently. Dialogue would have tainted its charm quite a bit, if you ask me.

The models and animation are all very well done. Some really high-quality stop-motion work by Aardman yet again. I really like that all of the sheep have actual wool (cotton, I guess) on them instead of molding the clay to look like wool. The hair and clothes also look real and move well within their environments. The expressions and movements are well animated without being too over the top, which is key in a movie that relies solely on visual gags and slapstick.

The soundtrack was also very nice. There were many really catchy and fitting tracks that I greatly enjoyed.

The story is probably the only semi-weak part of the movie. The general beats are very predictable, and I was predicting the smaller beats very easily too. However, that’s not really a problem with this type of movie. You don’t really need some overly complex, groundbreaking or hard-hitting narrative to make an enjoyable movie. The story is simple, but the characters, gags and even the emotional moments make up for it in spades.

I loved the relationships between all of the characters, especially between Bitzer/Shaun, Shaun/Timmy (the baby lamb) and the farmer and the animals. Even though Bitzer and Shaun are kinda at odds with each other, they do hold a mutual respect for one another and work well together. Shaun in his big brother role with Timmy was adorable. And the farmer being a father figure to all of the animals was really sweet. The first thing he did when he regained his memory was give Bitzer and Shaun kisses on the foreheads, and that just warmed my heart.

I will say the animal control officer, Trumper, is the one aspect that kinda fell flat with me. He started out as just a normal animal control officer who took pride in his job, and I was pretty cool with that. A lot of family movies with animal main characters tended to make the animal control officer this ridiculously evil guy who despised animals and had some huge vendetta against the main cast, so just seeing a normal guy doing his job was refreshing.

That didn’t last long.

He went from fairly normal to the typical crazed chase scene starter quite quickly. The first red flag was him kicking down a sign for the pound’s adopt-a-pet day, which is quite confusing. He hates these animals, but he doesn’t want them to get adopted? That would mean he hates them so much that he wants to see them all rot in this place and never find happy homes, which is quite disturbing.

Next, he just decides to walk down the corridor of the animal cages purely to mock them. He walks by Shaun and starts mockingly ‘baa’-ing at him. Then he visits the stray dog, Slip, who is just minding his business eating his food. Trumper starts mocking the way he eats and even starts sloppily munching on chips in front of him to mock him further. Like, dude, get a life.

After that, he continues to go off the rails until he’s a full-on lunatic bordering on supervillain. He’s gearing up in special animal-catching gadgets and doing everything he can to catch these sheep. You’d think he’d stop chasing them once they reach the farm, but no. He’s so intent on getting these sheep that, even back on the farm and holed up in a shed, the guy still won’t stop and even intends on KILLING THEM. He picks up the shed with a tractor and drives it to a quarry to dump it in and kill them all. He does get his comeuppance in the end, of course, but wow.

Overall, this was a very fun movie that had me smiling consistently and even laughing out loud on more than one occasion. There are plenty of funny visuals gags and physical comedy to give anyone a giggle. It also got to me a little with the emotional bits. When Shaun finds the farmer, but he shoos him away because he doesn’t remember him, I felt so bad for Shaun, Bitzer and the others. Especially considering that, for a while, they didn’t understand that he had amnesia. They just thought he straight-up hated them.

I’m really looking forward to checking out the sequel, Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon, later on, and maybe I’ll even see if I can check out the TV series.


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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+


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AVAHS – Spot’s Magical Christmas (1995) Review

AVAHS - Spot's Magical Christmas

Plot: A young puppy named Spot prepares for Christmas with his parents when he meets two reindeer who have lost Santa’s sleigh! Spot and his friends must find it and return it to the reindeer or else Santa might not be able to make his deliveries this Christmas.

Breakdown: And now, A Tale of Twix Re-Discovering Spot After Over Twenty Years of Not Thinking About it – Told in Gifs. Enjoy.

Seriously, I have not seen or thought about Spot since I was probably eight or nine. The shorts, The Adventures of Spot, aired on Playhouse Disney, and I loved them for that blip of time that they played. I never knew that Spot had a Christmas special. It’s not even listed on the Wiki page for the Spot franchise. As far as I can tell, this was a direct-to-VHS special made in 1995, and that’s about it.

But to rediscover Spot AND have that rediscovery come in the form of a previously unknown to me Christmas special starring the adorable pup? It truly is an early Christmas gift.

As for the special itself, it’s just a great bundle of Christmas fun. Spot is as adorable as I remembered him, the simple art and animation as well as the gentle and warm tones are extremely welcoming, and it’s loaded with Christmas spirit.

The songs, of which there are only two (One, technically, but I’ll get to that in a sec) are catchy and sweet. The first song is a tango-ish song sung by the reindeer about how they lost Santa’s sleigh, and the second is a song that was included on the Spot’s Winter Sports short which was included in this special near the end. It’s a very short song about Spot going out on his sled, and it’s pretty alright.

There are some legitimately funny moments in here as well – some based on thinking too hard about it – and some out of good humor, especially with the reindeer. There was one shot where Tom, the alligator (crocodile?) makes the doofiest face seemingly on purpose and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Overall, while this is certainly aimed at much younger audiences, it’s a sweet, adorable and innocent little special. If nothing else, it will give you a hearty dose of Christmas spirit. And, if you’re like me and used to like Spot but ended up disconnected to the poor pup because of 20 years of the franchise being more or less dead, this is a great way to reconnect with him.

Also, fun fact, while he doesn’t voice spot in the special, that honor goes to Calum Nielsen, Johnathan Taylor Thomas voices Spot in the Spot’s Winter Sports short since he voiced Spot in the US version of the second series of shorts (They originated in the UK.)


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