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 his 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, 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, cliches 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 war-mongering 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 1960’s 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 animated 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 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 slew 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. 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, his 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 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.

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 just 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.

——————————————————–

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 Elistigirl, 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 so she can protect the family and Violet because she 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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AVAHS – An All Dogs Christmas Carol Review

Plot: Charlie, Sasha and Itchy try to make a good Christmas for all the dogs and puppies in town. However, their holiday fun is ruined when Carface crashes the party. Using a mind-controlling dog whistle given to him by Annabelle’s evil witch cousin, Belladonna, Carface hypnotizes the dogs into giving him all of their bones. As he leaves, he also takes all of the presents, food and the money being raised for little Timmy’s life-saving operation. Belladonna’s true plan is much more sinister than just ruining a Christmas party. She wants to control all of the dogs in San Francisco to steal their master’s presents and ruin Christmas.

Charlie, Itchy and Sasha use a miracle tag granted to them by Annabelle to make Carface the hero they need to stop Belladonna by putting him through a familiar Dickens story.

Breakdown: It wouldn’t be AVAHS without at least one two animated version(s) of A Christmas Carol.

I have a bit of a strange relationship with the All Dogs Go To Heaven franchise. I did watch all of the movie entries numerous times when I was a kid, and I definitely remember today’s topic of focus as well. I liked it quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say I was ever a massive fan or anything.

Nowadays, I don’t have much interest in ever returning it, mostly because, as you might now, I have a bit of an issue with any feature involving animals being abused or dying, especially pets – particularly dogs.

Gonna get a bit personal here, so skip down to the part where you see a Spongebob time card to just get to the movie review.

When I was a kid, I hadn’t really processed death much. I had lost one cat, Mowgli, whom I was too young to really remember that well, and when I was about eight I lost my dog, Ginger, whom I do remember and loved. However, I don’t really remember being able to properly understand what was actually happening at the time. I don’t remember crying. I don’t remember being scared. Unless I blocked all of that out, I just don’t think I actually grasped the gravity of concept of death at that age.

I’ve never lived a day of my life without having at least one dog in the house. As of this writing, I am 31 years old and have lost six dogs over my life – the most recent one being the most devastating to me (no disrespect or any less love to my other dogs, of course) because I had her for 15 years, half my life, and I spent the last few years giving her near round-the-clock care, so I bonded with her a lot.

I had watched All Dogs Go To Heaven 1 and 2 before I ever lost my first dog, and I probably watched An All Dogs Christmas Carol before I lost my second dog. But as the years went on, I just didn’t want to return to the All Dogs Go To Heaven movies anymore even if they would probably be positive reinforcements on helping me deal with my grief, at least a little. After all, it’s literally saying ‘all dogs go to heaven.’ However, I don’t process emotions in a very healthy manner – neither good nor bad – but I’ll spare you from that mess and just say that certain topics, like animals dying, cut deep with me.

I know some people don’t value animals very much nor have they had pets and, as a result, have never had to deal with losing a pet, but animals are special to me and my pets have always been my very best friends. Seldom do times feel worse than when you lose a pet.

While the overall hot-button topic of dogs dying is most definitely the main problem with me here, I can’t help but also believe that a part of my issue in going back to All Dogs Go To Heaven is the fact that I’ve grown up around some ignoramuses who think it’s a good idea to tell a kid that, no, their dog probably isn’t in Heaven because only humans go to Heaven. That’s almost as bad as telling a kid that their very recently deceased grandfather probably isn’t in Heaven either because he wasn’t a Christian. 😐

But I digress, kinda, I guess.

Surely this movie will be fine, right? I mean, it’s a Christmas movie and it’s just another retelling of A Christmas Carol. What could they possibly do that would be depressing?

*presses play*

*presses pause*

…….There are….angel puppies……We’re starting the movie WITH DEAD PUPPIES?!

What the hell, movie?! I mean, granted, I’m not sure most kids would connect the implications, but holy hell.

Annabelle starts telling the angel puppies a story about how Charlie and Itchy saved Christmas from her evil witch cousin, Belladonna. Flashing back, we get a pretty decent Christmas song as Charlie, Itchy and Sasha do some Christmas decorating with the local puppies.

One of the puppies is our Tiny Tim for the movie, Timmy. He has a bum leg and they’re trying to raise enough money for an operation to help save his life.

Carface and Killer come in to collect the debts of everyone there, but they don’t have the bones to pay up, especially since Carface has added in a lot of interest. Using some strange whistle to hypnotize everyone, Carface and Killer steal every single bone they have, all of the food, all of the presents for the puppies and even the handful of cents Sasha and Charlie were able to raise for Timmy’s surgery.

Before I go any further, yes, Carface is our Scrooge. The guy who extorts, kidnaps, steals, manipulates and viciously assaults others as regularly as he probably craps over the course of a day. One of the only dogs to ever wind up in Hell. And, oh yeah, the guy who MURDERED CHARLIE is going to be given a redemption arc a la A Christmas Carol. I do not agree with this choice.

Scrooge was a cold-hearted ass, but even he wasn’t nearly as bad as Carface. Scrooge was flippant and didn’t care. He was blunt and angry, but he didn’t really actively do much that was bad to other people besides be a really strict boss. Carface is actively a pile of garbage. He is evil. Whereas Scrooge refused to give money to a charity for the poor, Carface stole from a charity for a dying disabled puppy. Whereas Scrooge didn’t have sympathy for the children, Carface kidnapped and nearly killed a little orphan girl (And, later, did the same thing with a little boy). Whereas Scrooge didn’t celebrate Christmas in the slightest, Carface stole Christmas presents and holiday food from a group of dogs and puppies who were trying to celebrate the holiday.

Hell, as much as Scrooge hated Christmas, in most iterations of the story, he begrudgingly allows Bob Cratchit the day off(ish). Carface would probably beat or kill him for asking.

The original movie is also a redemption story of a slimy person/dog eventually realizing the error of his ways and bettering himself, but Charlie’s worst crimes were mostly stealing, gambling and cheating – and he had to sacrifice his life and nearly damn himself to Hell for the sake of another person to redeem himself.

Carface? Well, let’s find out.

Charlie and Itchy confront Carface about the money. He reveals that he’s actually working for Belladonna, who gave him the magical dog whistle. They’re planning on using a giant version of the whistle to hypnotize every dog on the night of Christmas Eve so they’ll all steal their masters’ gifts and bring them to Carface.

They frame it like Belladonna is the big mastermind behind this whole plot, but she’s really not. Even Charlie points this out. He asks Belladonna what she gets out of this arrangement if Carface gets all of the gifts. Her response? She gets to ruin Christmas.

Yes. Carface gets hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts, and Belladonna gets to brag about ruining Christmas to….?

Also, literally the only reason we’re learning of this plot is because Charlie and Itchy have to know about it in order to stop it. It’s not even villain monologuing. Belladonna tells Killer to explain their evil plans to the boys for really no reason. They even show Charlie and Itchy a giant blueprint of the giant whistle for no other reason than to just give them an idea of what they need to look for. She could have kept the fact that there even was a second whistle a secret and let them believe the little whistle was what they were using so they could reveal the big whistle later, but nope. In fact, she melts the little whistle for no reason, despite the fact that Carface and Killer could still use it in the meantime to cause trouble.

Hey, why not use the little whistle on Charlie and Itchy so they’ll be hypnotized the whole time and not ruin your plans? No? Just gonna chase them away with fire imps so they can come back and save the day like this is a movie? Okay. Really not impressing as the main villain so far, Belladonna, not even as just a villain in this franchise.

Annabelle shows up and gives the duo a magical dog tag that, and I quote “won’t locate the whistle. It will, however, help you find a way to foil Belladonna’s plans.”

Yyeeaaahhhh………that’s dumb. That is a diamond of dumbness. With the amount of dumbness in that statement, if you managed to make a generator that ran on dumb, you could power the entire world until the day the sun burns out.

What the hell is this dog tag when its powers amount to ‘whatever you need it to do to stop Belladonna EXCEPT find the massive mind-controlling whistle, which, of course, would end this movie in a minute and a half.’?

I find it hard to believe that it’s so well-hidden anyway. The whistle is a giant object built from evil magic. Shouldn’t that thing be a beacon to the head angel dog, Annabelle? She actually has the nerve to say “There’s only so much I can do.” WHY?! Why is it you can give the boys an item that will surely give them the ability to defeat Belladonna, barring finding the whistle, but you can’t get your halo’d ass down here and actually help?

Gah, it’s Gaia and Planeteers all over again.

Believe it or not, Charlie’s first idea is to make Carface a good guy, which doesn’t make sense because they don’t even know if Carface knows where the whistle is. He was acting suspicious about knowing the location, but he could’ve just been screwing with them. (Hindsight alarm: I wrote this as I was watching the movie when I believed they wanted to turn him good to make him tell them where the whistle was so they could destroy it. Turns out, that’s not the intention. The intention is actually way stupider. Carry on.)

Actually, now that I think about it, why did Belladonna even involve Carface and Killer? Their only actual role throughout all of this is to get presents and lead the heroes into foiling her plot. She could’ve just blown the whistle in secret and gotten away with everything. Belladonna is a complete dumbass.

Itchy jokes that Carface is too much of a Scrooge to become a good guy, which also doesn’t make any sense because Scrooge DID become a good guy….

The mention of Scrooge gives Charlie an idea – they’ll use the tag’s magic to make Carface go through the motions of A Christmas Carol so they can turn him into a good guy so they can use him to stop Belladonna.

Yup. That’s the plan. Built entirely on the idea that every bad person has some sad backstory and that, with a little self-reflection, they’ll change their ways and become good, even if they’re a murderous scab.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to try this plan on Killer? He’s actually shown some semblance of goodness in the past when he helped save Anne-Marie in the first movie.

As Carface lies in bed watching TV, Charlie pops in on the screen to announce “It’s a Wonderful Carface” which is the wrong reference. I don’t know why they changed it because not only does it not fit, but it also would be better to say “A Carface Carol” or even “A Christmas Carface.”

Itchy takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and he takes Carface back to when he was a puppy. Surprisingly, they don’t make off like he was a good dog turned bad. Instead, he was a bit of a nightmare as a pup. He bullied his siblings and made trouble. However, he explains that, no matter how bad he was, his mom always loved him. That was the last holiday they spent together before he eventually was adopted by a nice family.

In his new house, Carface would be even more of a nightmare. He’d destroy everything – chew it up, tear it up, break it to pieces – as Carface put it, he could get away with murder in that house. He even destroyed the Christmas dinner and knocked over the Christmas tree. However, his owner, a boy named Bobby, would always stand up for him no matter what he did. As Carface explains in song, Bobby would always say Carface didn’t mean to do it, and he was always his buddy. Bobby, by the way, is a shitty owner. He completely ignored Carface as he did all of these things and never once thought to properly train him.

Speaking of training, Carface couldn’t help but pee on the rug after he had just gotten done demolishing the house, and apparently that one thing, that most puppies do, was the last straw – not the fact that he destroyed the place moments before. Carface expected Bobby to stick up for him, but he blamed the incident on Carface and his mother kicked him out of the house and into the cold winter night.

After that Carface decided to stop being a ‘good dog’ and became a bad dog, which is a weird thing to say because this entire story has proven that he’s been a little demon since day one. The gist is that Carface was always awful, but he had people there to enable him. The instant the enabling wasn’t there, he became even worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting the entire blame on Carface. Like I said, Bobby was a terrible owner. He never cared about what Carface was doing and never bothered to try and train him. Instead, he just made excuses and kept letting the bad behavior happen. He didn’t even properly house train Carface.

This kind of situation is all too familiar. Family adopts pet but because they either pawn off responsibility on their lazy-ass kid or they simply don’t realize that dogs, particularly puppies, need to be trained in order to not develop or exacerbate behavioral issues, and that requires, *gasp*, work, they instead blame the dog for not just being good and well-trained by default and abandon the poor thing without even making the effort to rehome it.

In that regard, Carface does get some sympathy points, but the fact that all of that was preceded by Carface just being a nightmare from day one really dulls that angle.

Compare that with Scrooge, where he was a good, but lonely, kid whose father hated him for reasons beyond his control. He loved his sister, Fan, but she ended up dying young while giving birth to her son, Fred. He had a good time under the tutelage of his boss, Mr. Fezziwig, but eventually lost his way in greed. He became obsessed with money, embittered and cold, which drove the people he loved, particularly his fiance, Belle, away and only made matters worse. He didn’t let go of the greed or the anger, even when plenty of people offered him a kind hand and a smile, friendship and understanding.

We can sympathize with Scrooge easily during this flashback period because we see that he was a good person who suffered from some terrible circumstances which certainly affected him, but ultimately he made the choice to become and stay a miserable old coot. This also gives us hope that Scrooge can change since he was, at one point, good.

This can’t be said of Carface. We can only barely sympathize with him here, and we’re left with little hope that he can actually change because he never was a good person in the past. His love of his mom or Bobby isn’t the same as Scrooge’s love of Fan. His sister loved him because Scrooge was a good person who was unjustly hated and treated like crap by his father. Scrooge loved her because she loved him and she was the only one who brought joy to his life. Carface’s mother loved him in spite of the fact that he was a troublemaker who treated his siblings badly, and Bobby just loved him because he was a little boy and Carface was a puppy – of course he’d love him. Carface loved the both of them because they loved him in spite of being a mini Tazmanian Devil.

Carface became an even worse dog after he was kicked out and loved every minute of it, but admits that he still sometimes yearned to be back with Bobby again.

Itchy returns to Charlie once the segment ends.

Itchy: “Carface is madder than ever. I mean, I didn’t know he had such a rough puppyhood.”

Charlie: “Well, a lot of us did, Itchy, but we didn’t all go turning nasty.” Mmm…I’m going to give the movie some props here for this line. They are acknowledging that his bad past isn’t an excuse to be evil, but they’re also ignoring that Carface was always a jerk, far before his owner betrayed him. He wasn’t always evil, but he clearly knew right from wrong and kept being bad while expecting people to just excuse him.

Also, he KILLED CHARLIE.

As Charlie and Itchy discuss how little time there is until Belladonna executes her plan, they see this and just ignore it.

GOLLY I WONDER WHERE THE GIANT WHISTLE IS. WHAT A BIG FUCKIN’ MYSTERY.

Sasha takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Present and shows Carface that Killer cares about him and is even preparing to give him a blow torch for Christmas. He secretly loves Christmas even though Carface hates it…..which just makes you wonder 1) why he’s agreeing to partake in a plot to ruin Christmas and 2) why he wasn’t the one Charlie and Itchy targeted for a redemption arc.

Killer even says during a song break that he regrets the bad things he’s done.

Carface realizes what a good guy Killer is………Didn’t you try to kill him too?

The aforementioned song break is a duet with Belladonna where she explains that she also loves Christmas….ruining it, anyway.

We then move to Timmy’s house. He’s owned by a fairly poor family. His owner is a young girl named Martha, who is kinda like Bobby in that she keeps ignoring this puppy doing clearly dangerous things. Timmy doesn’t have a collar, is sick and has a bum leg yet is allowed to roam the streets for hours on end. She also put a plate of cookies on the floor for some reason and allowed him to try to grab a stocking with a bone in it by stacking presents, balancing on top of them and grabbing it while she’s just sitting on the couch in the same room reading a magazine.

Carface likes Timmy because he reminds him of himself at that age, but he’s saddened when Sasha reminds him that he robbed Timmy of money he needed for an operation to help save his life.

Timmy falls from the stocking and lands on the plate that wasn’t under him before, but it was stupid for it to be on the floor anyway, so I’ll allow it. The plate breaks, and Martha’s mother rushes in.

Carface starts cringing because he believes Martha will rat out Timmy and he’ll be kicked out, but Martha actually takes the blame for what happened, much to Carface’s surprise. Timmy…’confesses’ that he was the one who actually broke the plate by carrying a plate piece over to Martha’s mother with his head down.

Martha’s Mother: “You mean….you broke the plate?”

*Timmy nods his head*

You mean….you’re intelligent enough to understand human speech, convey information and even respond to questions?

*Timmy nods his head*

Timmy is forgiven and praised for telling the truth and owning up to what he did. See, this kinda highlights that Carface wasn’t just a rowdy puppy that didn’t know any better – he did bad stuff on purpose. If Timmy knows right from wrong and knows when he should apologize, Carface should have as well. I imagine his brothers and sisters were held up to that same standard considering his mother seemed so loving, so there’s really no excuse.

Carface: “Someone should take care of him!”

Sasha: “Why?”

Carface: “Because….nobody ever did that for me!! *starts crying*” Oh shut up, you Charlie murderer. Plenty of people cared for you, but you took advantage of their kindness and never took responsibility for your actions.

Anyway,

Charlie takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Everyone’s celebrating Carface’s untimely demise, and, while sporting a super not outdated reference to The Mask, Charlie sings about Carface needing to clean up his act.

Killer: “Make up for all those mutts you whacked!” ?!?!?! So they’re acknowledging that Carface is a murderer – not just of Charlie but of who knows how many dogs? And they’re saying he still has time to turn his life around and make up for that? Are you people mental?

Oh by the way, this isn’t clever wordplay – like they meant he literally ‘whacked’ some dogs. As he’s singing this part, Killer is giving Carface a shave. When he says ‘you whacked’ he slices Carface’s head off (non-graphically). There’s no other way to interpret that.

Throughout the song, they tell Carface that, if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll end up in Hell (without saying Hell because they’ve neutered this franchise…..no pun intended) which makes sense, but also doesn’t.

Carface killed Charlie and a bunch of other dogs (as well as did a lot of other evil things) and still ended up in Heaven in the first movie because…well….*pokes original movie’s title* Also, he sold his soul, which made him wind up in Hell in the second movie. How did he come back after that (Is it explained in the series? That was one part of this franchise that I never saw), and isn’t his soul still bound for Hell after he dies because of the contract? If the contract is null and void, doesn’t that mean he goes to Heaven by default anyway because….well….*pokes original movie’s title harder* You can’t keep changing the rules on where dogs end up after they die – especially when the rule is in the frickin’ title.

Moving on, Charlie shows him Timmy’s ‘future’ which isn’t him being dead because, like I said, they neutered this franchise (even though they still showed us angel puppies in the start, so *shrug*) Instead, Timmy’s under the influence of the whistle and steals his owner’s present to bring to Carfa—….Wait, a minute, I just realized that this whole story has no urgency because, if Carface is changed, it doesn’t matter whether or not Belladonna blows the whistle. Even if the dogs steal the presents, Carface can just return them.

Charlie: “Well, the miracle tags worn off. Guess our job is done.” You guys are the worst heroes. You can still TRY TO FIND THE DAMN WHISTLE BEFORE MIDNIGHT. My god….

After that, Charlie just up and decides that it’s an emergency to find the whistle now that it’s mere minutes away from midnight.

Belladonna: “And nobody suspects that’s right here – on Alcatraz Island!” THIS is Alcatraz Island?

O…..kay.

Belladonna has–Wait a minute. Wait a dog damn minute. They’re on Alcatraz Island…….Alcatraz Island……ALCATRAZ ISLAND.

They’re going to blow the whistle from Alcatraz Island…..

How are the dogs supposed to bring the presents from San Francisco to ALCATRAZ ISLAND – a place notoriously difficult to swim to and from – while enduring incredibly cold water temperatures, especially in winter, with presents in their mouths, no less; presents that will be destroyed in the water.

Although, I guess Belladonna would get what she wants anyway. Killing everyone’s dogs on the night before Christmas would pretty handily ruin Christmas.

Belladonna has a spell set up to have lightning strike the whistle’s steam generator at midnight, causing the whistle to blow.

Carface is having second thoughts, but Belladonna is set in her plans.

Meanwhile, after about two minutes of searching, Charlie and the others return home.

Sasha: “Oh you tried, Charlie. You did everything heavenly possible.” Yeah, he sure did. He wasted nearly all of their given time and all of the magic of a miracle tag just to bring his worst enemy and MURDERER through an A Christmas Carol adaptation in the hopes that he’d have such a massive redemption arc that he’d do all of their work for them instead of doing, mmm, literally anything else.

Also, he had absolutely no plan in case Belladonna decided to go through with her plot without Carface. Like I said, he’s completely superfluous. I don’t even know why she’s commanding them to pull the levers. Can’t her little fire imps do that?

Carface does end up pulling the lever, allowing the whistle to function and hypnotizing all of the dogs of San Francisco, but he has a change of heart and flips the switch back.

Under threat of Belladonna, however, he flips the switch back once more and she melts it so he can’t flip it again.

Carface is determined to stop this, however, so he jumps on the line feeding electricity to the machine and grabs the whistle, somehow blowing it up.

Now you’d think this’d be a death fake out – have Carface sacrifice himself for Timmy and whatnot…Nope. In fact, before we see what happened to Carface, we see Killer pointing and mocking him for getting shocked this time instead of him. Carface is perfectly fine. He doesn’t even have any burn marks.

Belladonna is pissed. Carface takes the rap for what happened, yay he finally grew as a person, but Belladonna doesn’t care who takes the rap, she’s going to kill both Carface and Killer now.

………….

Annabelle: “HALT! You will not harm these two!”

Annabelle….who didn’t know where either the whistle or Belladonna were….suddenly knows where both Belladonna and the whistle are….Now that everything’s over.

Oh but not only that;

Belladonna: “Annabelle! Get out of my line of fire!”

Annabelle: “Try it and I’ll clip your wings!” This implies she’s more powerful than Belladonna and could easily defeat her.

Belladonna: “This dog belongs to me.”

Annabelle: “No, cousin. People belong to themselves so they can choose between good and evil. And it’s my duty to protect that!”

Annabelle: “Your ways are big and fiery. So I’ll stop you with something cool.”

*Annabelle makes it snow*

The light snowfall is enough to defeat her fire imps, which is sad, but Belladonna laughs it off and transforms into some half-dragon version of herself…..that of which is easily defeated by Annabelle literally snapping her fingers and burying Belladonna in snow.

Annabelle: “Hah! Nobody messes with Heaven!”

We cut back to Charlie, Sasha and Itchy with the puppies…….sleeping…………They’re sleeping…..Christmas was about to ruined in front of their very eyes….and they all decided to go to bed…..

Charlie: “It means our plan worked! We convinced Carface to save Christmas!” Well, it’s nice that you straight out admit that your plan was to get someone else to do your dirty work. You’ve learned from Annabelle quite well, Charlie….

Itchy: “Actually, Charlie, the final decision belonged to Carface.”

Annabelle: “Yes, and he chose correctly.”

Charlie: “See? I told you all along we could trust him.” He fucking murdered you.

Anyway, it’s snowing, yay, Christmas is saved, yay, and Carface even arrives to return the presents and everything else he stole. He also added a bunch of new presents and filled up Timmy’s donation can with coins. Thank god complicated life-saving operations cost about $13.87.

Uegh, Sasha even gives him a kiss on the cheek. He murdered your boyfriend.

Oh and Carface says he’s not going to stay all sweet and kind since he still has to run his business. I’m assuming, since this is based off of the TV series, that they made him say that in case it continued so Carface could still be a villain, status quo and whatnot, but it didn’t continue since they mark this as being the series finale, so….sorta implied he’ll ruined his character development for no reason.

Once everyone is all happy, Carface leaves to go visit his mom…..Wait, his mom is still alive, and he knows where she is? Why hasn’t he ever visited her until now? Also, if he had a loving mother to return to, why didn’t he just do that when Bobby betrayed him? This story has more holes than a porcupine’s shirt.

After Timmy does the trademark “God bless us, everyone.” we cut back to Annabelle one more time as she finishes telling the angel puppies the story.

The End.

——————————————-

This movie is really stupid. Like, really, really stupid. The kind of stupid where I can feel my brain fighting off the stupid like it’s a virus. The set up is stupid, the villain is stupid, her motivations are even stupider, the concept is stupid, the resolution is stupid, the heroes are stupid – everything is stupid. Granted, the original movie isn’t really a masterpiece of storytelling, but how did we devolve from that to this?

It was definitely the worst adaptation of A Christmas Carol I’ve ever seen, and Annabelle can shove a harp right up her a–

I still can’t wrap my head around the decision to make Carface a good guy. Maybe he’s been drained of so much villainy in the series that this makes more sense, but….HE KILLED CHARLIE! The main character, the guy we’re most meant to connect with, the hero of the franchise – he murdered him and slues of other dogs. He also did so much other evil shit, to the point where he was sometimes designed to look like a devil in the original movie. He sold his soul and went to Hell in the second movie.

But oh yeah, he’s just got a chip on his shoulders from something that is mostly his fault and needed to connect with someone to become good.

And with the implication that he won’t stay good in the end….what did this movie even accomplish?

I can’t even enjoy our heroes being heroic, because they weren’t. Annabelle pawned off a mission that she could have easily taken care of herself on Charlie, Itchy and Sasha, who, in turn, created an insanely convoluted plan to pawn off the task on Carface and then they just went to bed hoping the dude who murdered Charlie would have a change of heart and save the day.

The art and animation are also clearly miles away from what they once were, although I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. For the most part, it’s passable, but there are numerous instances of very stiff animation and even some shots where it looks like in-betweens are missing.

That being said, this is tolerable. In fact, the ride itself is pretty okay. Some of the dialogue is funny, and I absolutely loved those dogs who kept trying to wait for their cue to pick the Christmas song back up. The message is also very good. People choose to be good or evil – you can’t force them. Their pasts may be sad, but they’re not excuses to be evil. They make those choices. The best you can do is try to help them get back on a better path, but the rest is up to them.

That is very much a theme in A Christmas Carol. Fan dying and Belle leaving him was sad, but they weren’t excuses for him to become so jaded and hateful, and he was showing signs of wantant greed and a lack of caring before then. The ghosts may have shown Scrooge everything he needed to see, but he, ultimately, had to make the decision whether to stay greedy and cold and accept his future or become good and use what time he had left to share warmth and happiness.

I still don’t think Carface did nearly enough to earn his redemption, but they gotta keep that G rating…..Wait, the original movie was rated G, too?! What the literal hell?! Guess ten years makes quite the difference……Don Bluth reportedly owns the only PG cut of the movie.

Carface has just done way too many terrible things to believably be redeemed because he got a cartoony electric shock to stop an evil plot that he was part of in the first place. Like I said, Charlie sacrificed his life for his redemption, and he did way less than Carface.

I guess the lesson there is that no one is really beyond redemption, but that is an insanely loaded debate even for adults, let alone kids.

The music was also a positive note. Almost all of the song breaks were memorable and snappy. I most remembered listening to ‘Clean Up Your Act’ and Carface’s sad song during the Past segment. They’re not amazing songs, but they’re pretty good. I’d listen to them over again no problem.

The voice acting was alright. I think they were definitely starting to phone it in at this point, though. Steven Weber does a pretty good job as Charlie, Ernest Borgnine was fairly decent as Carface, Sheena Easton did a great job with Sasha, and Dom Deluise does well enough as Itchy.

The movie is, ultimately, harmless and would probably be a fun casual Christmas watch……barring the implications of the angel puppies. As a nostalgic rewatch, it’d probably be fine if you turn your brain off, but I despise making that suggestion, especially when it comes to children’s media. Just being a good ride is fine, but I shouldn’t have to actively not think about anything as I’m watching something. As someone who overthinks to the point of stress, it’s also a difficult endeavor for me. Children’s media should never get a pass for being dumb just because it’s for kids. That’s so ass backwards.


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Pokemon Extravaganza | Movie 10 (Dub) The Rise of Darkrai Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: Ash, Dawn and Brock arrive in Alamos Town – the location of Dawn’s next contest. Along the way, they meet the balloonist/musician, Alice, and her childhood friend, Tonio, who studies energy abnormalities. As they get a tour of the local gardens, they meet Darkrai, a powerful Pokemon who induces nightmares. He seems to be terrorizing the area, but they don’t know what he wants.

Little do they know that a fierce battle between two deity Pokemon, the master of space, Palkia, and the master of time, Dialga, has started in a dimensional rift. When these two massive powers clash, it’s only a matter of time before reality as they know it starts to fall apart.

Breakdown: Now we’re at an interesting point, because I have no clue what this movie is about – and I’ve read the synopsis several times. I definitely never got into the Diamond/Pearl era of Pokemon. I watched an episode or two here and there, but I never followed along. Thing is, I also wasn’t into watching the tail end of Advanced Generation, but I feel like I knew much more about that movie going in than I knew about this one. Maybe it was the Super Saiyan Ash thing.

It’s so odd. I always remember people mentioning little things here and there, either very good or very bad, about each movie that I hadn’t seen yet, maybe even seen an AMV or two about it, but this one I’m drawing a blank on, which is weird because this is the tenth anniversary movie.

From what I read on Dogasu’s comparison, this movie comes out as a cluster of bits and pieces of each movie so far.

Dogasu: “With this particular movie, we get an epic battle between two Pokemon (Deoxys vs. Rayquaza) in an alternate universe ruled by the Unown (Entei) who can only be stopped by a song (Lugia), a fact relayed to us by a number of flashbacks dispersed throughout the movie (Lucario). Oh, and I can’t forget about the three trainers who only exist to show off the starters’ evolved forms (Myuutwo), a forced romance that really doesn’t play out until the end (Jirachi), Pokemon-to-human transformation (Latios and Latias), and an ending that requires Satoshi to solve some puzzle in order to save the day (Manaphy).

I’m sure some of that is meant to be a sort of “homage” to the franchise’s ten-year history, but at the same time it just feels really lazy.”

I’d have to agree that it sounds lazy, particularly the ‘quelling the fighting with a song’ thing. Even before I read the comparison, I was getting flashbacks to movie 02.

Maybe the reason I’ve never seen or heard much about this movie is based in its perceived laziness. Perhaps it’s just uninspired. It can’t be because Darkrai is unpopular, because, despite my thinking that it’s a blah designed forgettable legendary, apparently it’s a surprisingly popular legendary to others. As of 2016, in a Pokemon popularity poll held by The Pokemon Company in Japan, it held the 14th rank – a rank above Lu-freakin’cario! Are you kidding me? Am I not getting something?

Maybe I’ll get it after watching the movie.

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We start out the movie with a game changer – The World of Pokemon opener! This is a new one, showcasing every legendary and main focus movie Pokemon we’ve ever seen interacting with each other in succession, which is really cool.

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When we get to Ash and the others, they even show a mashup of the previous nine movies behind them as they walk, which is also a cool nod to the anniversary.

Then we’re suddenly thrust into a space/time rift where we see Palkia and Dialga facing off. I never much cared for Palkia, but I really like Dialga. Something about Palkia’s design always put me off. That being said, Palkia’s cry sounds kickass. It’s robotic yet whale-like. It’s hard to describe, but it’s awesome.

Narration tells us that these powers who were never meant to meet suddenly met in the space/time rift, and they have to fight because….I dunno. The plot said so? At least with the Rayquaza/Deoxys match we could justify it for a bit with Deoxys muscling through Rayquaza’s territory. Here it’s basically ‘We were never meant to meet, so come at me, bro!’

You’d think the powers of time and space would work together in harmony.

Actually, this is more like the battle between the legendary birds in movie 02. They had a reason to fight too, but it was more petty than Rayquaza protecting its territory – they all wanted to rule over the elemental islands for some reason. Out of harmony, destruction would be imminent and a third-party Pokemon would damn near die trying to stop them…..Geez, this movie really has a thing for movie 02.

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The narrator is a scientist named Tonio reading out of a diary owned by someone named ‘Godey’. It’s talking about how the battle between Palkia and Dialga is enveloping the world and will drag it into chaos.

They have a cool battle for a while, scattering around randomly placed Unown for some reason. Unown, sweeties, I know you’re meant to be part of this tenth movie homage thing they have going but….go home. No one likes you. You have an unappealing design, no one wants you on their team, no one wants to hunt your whole collection, your completionist shiny hunt is a nightmare and you make me crave Alphabits.

Palkia’s shoulder….gem…thing gets cracked and the awesome battle continues. Symbolic breaking of an hourglass, ahoy!

We get our pretty nice, but kinda underwhelming, title sequence, which means–!

*drumroll*

Ash and friends!

For once in a very long time, we actually get a timeline confirmation…I think. The narrator explains that they’re traveling to Alamos town for Dawn’s next Pokemon contest, which is a nice breath of fresh air from constantly hearing ‘Ash’s next Gym battle’

They seemingly arrive at Alamos town only to find that it’s on a plateau with no other access besides a bridge that is on an entirely different path much higher up.

I really can’t get used to Brock’s new voice. It’s so deep. I’m gonna just pretend he went through late-onset ultra puberty.

A young lady named Alice, whose hair makes me think of if Pikachu’s ears and Bunneary’s ears had a baby and it somehow was made entirely out of hair, offers them a ride in her hot air balloon.

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Also, apparently Brock now has a ‘little blue book of babes.’ He’s officially a complete sleezeball now. Before, his girl-lust quirk was annoying but kinda funny sometimes. Now, he’s just creepy. He’s disappointed that he doesn’t have Alice written down in it but…how could he? He just met her.

Ah, yes, I heard about Croagunk taking the role of Brock’s new ‘ear-puller’ by…poisoning him? Okay. RIP Brock.

Alice states that she’s a hot air balloon tour guide and a music teacher. She plays a leaf whistle for a bit, and it draws all sorts of bird Pokemon their way, including a random Pidgeotto. Be still my broken heart….

Also, this Pidgeotto sounds weird….But that doesn’t matter because it’s Pidgeotto.

This ability even has a role in her ballooning because she can use the flute to ask the bird Pokemon which way the wind is blowing. Neat……Isn’t that kinda obvious in a hot air balloon, though?

Team Rocket’s following them….in a Carnivine balloon? Is this just for this movie, or did they ditch the Meowth balloon? If so, aw. 😦

They don’t stick around long, though, because they’re quickly blasted off after pissing off some nearby Drifloom and Driflim. Don’t worry, Team Rocket, I’m sure you’ll be movie-relevant again someday.

As they fly over the city, they notice two intricately designed towers called the Space-Time towers. Using his trusty Field Guide of Everything I Guess, Brock explains that the Space-Time towers were designed by the architect, Godey, over 100 years ago. That’s also where the Pokemon Contests are held.

Ash: “A hundred years!? That’s like ten years times….”

Dawn: “Times ten.”

Ash: “Right.”

We interrupt our broadcast to clumsily shoehorn in a mention of the words ‘ten years’ so we can kinda poke at the fact that this is our tenth anniversary movie. Sources claim they don’t care whether this line seems stilted and out of place. Back to our program.

Also, watch it when drawing attention to how long this show’s been going. People will start to ask why Ash isn’t 20 years old by this point (Aw, hell, that means he should be thirty now. This is just depressing me.)

Brock continues to explain that the tower on the right represents time while the left represents space….even though they just barely look a little different.

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Ash: “Hey, I coulda told ya that!” ….How?

They suddenly feel a surge of distortion, which is caused by Palkia and Dialga’s fighting. As quickly as it started, it suddenly stops.

As Alice gives Ash and co. the tour of the town, we get our opening credits and theme song. The song is not the typical extended TV theme we usually get, but is instead a song called “We Will be Heroes – The Rise of Darkrai” which has to be one of the clunkiest song names I’ve heard in a while. You might as well call it “We’re Protagonists So We’ll Save the Day – Pokemon the Tenth Movie: Buy the DVD”

The song itself is just alright, but it is fully destroyed by the background vocals. For some reason, they found it to be a good idea to have this relatively low-key song be interrupted every five seconds by a group of people yelling “POKEMON” (Pronounced “Pokeymon” here) and “DARKRAI” The Pokemon part I’ve just accepted by now because they jam that word into everything, but the Darkrai part could not feel more forced if you tried.

To emulate the same level of awkwardness, try imagining any song in your head and, in five second intervals, yell out a random name like ‘KEVIN!’

They wander around for a bit when Ash suddenly bumps into three trainers who challenge him to a match. Another Pokemon movie trope successfully checkmark’d.

This isn’t the usual trope, however, because, get this, Brock and Dawn are also being challenged. The writers remembered they exist! Yay!

Of course, Ash uses Pikachu against a Torterra. I’m not sure this was meant to be part of the homage, but the battle seriously reminds me of the Pikachu vs. Quagsire match in the opening battle of movie 03. The way it’s choreographed is strikingly similar.

Dawn’s Piplup goes up against an Empoleon by…holding its breath?….Okie dokie.

Finally, Brock’s Croagunk battles an Infernape.

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Thus we have the three trainers who exist solely to show off the evo’d starters for the region.

Dawn’s battle is actually pretty good. I love that spinning water move Piplup used (the first one), and there’s quite a bit of action for an opener battle. Sadly, however, the song soon ends and the battles end off-screen. The most we got to see was 2/3 of Dawn’s match, which seemed stalemated.

After the song ends, we just cut to them continuing their tour. Alice brings them all to a garden, also designed by Godey, which, according to Brock’s Field Guide of Wow, Really? It Has Info on This Too?, was modeled to symbolize the harmony between humans and Pokemon. Alice grew up here and knows all of the Pokemon, and this prompts Ash, Dawn and Brock to let out all of their Pokemon for some fresh air. Whatever gives you screentime, guys.

Time for pointless dicking around! Is this the real homage to the Manaphy movie?

I sure am being mean to Pokemon today.

The Pokemon all start fighting after some accidental shenanigans.

A face-off between two groups of pissed off Pokemon, two of whom are smashing their faces into each other? Are we homaging the shorts now too? Because that’s very similar to Pikachu’s Summer Vacation.

Alice plays her leaf flute to calm the Pokemon, and I really wish they just had a regular flute because the leaf flute kinda sounds like crap. Sounds like someone’s playing a Casio through a garbage bag.

And everyone got along again, hooray!

Side-note: I love Ash’s backpack for DP. I wish I had that backpack.

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A Gallade directs Alice and the others to some pillars in the garden that have been toppled and warped. A man named Baron Alberto, whose name, voice, characteristics and character design are all ridiculous, claims it was the work of Darkrai. He must’ve been Beetlejuice-summoned thanks to the theme song.

Brock explains that Darkrai is a Pokemon who supposedly gives you nightmares.

They believe they hear Darkrai in some bushes, so Alberto sics his….Lickylicky on it….Dear God, even his tastes in Pokemon are ridiculous. No one can not sound like an idiot when commanding a Lickylicky. Even its voice is stupid.

He blindly Hyper Beams the bush only to reveal it was actually Tonio and his Driflim. Tonio was investigating a space/time fluctuation in the area that lead him to the warped pillars.

Warning – Warning: Insanely clearly defined pointless love triangle detected.

Targets – Tonio, Alberto and Alice.

Prediction: Tonio and Alice get together while Alberto is consistently an idiot throughout the movie.

Suggested Action – Ignore it. It probably doesn’t impact the plot.

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Meanwhile, back in Badass Battle Land, Palkia and Dialga cause another rift, which triggers darkness to fall in the garden and Darkrai to appear.

Tonio: “It’s Darkrai.”

Alberto: *smirk* “I’d say so.”

What?….Also, I hate your face.

*sigh* Am I seriously the only one who thinks Darkrai just looks like an uninspired shadowy ghost with an emo kid haircut?

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Alberto tries to attack Darkrai with Lickylicky, but he turns into a shadow and dodges. Darkrai uses a Dark Void orb, which hits Ash. Pikachu friggin’ screams when this happens, which surprised me because he didn’t even do that when Ash got petrified in the first movie.

Ash is transported to some dream version of the garden. We get some kinda neat visuals with Darkrai’s shadow until he shows us an icky CGI rendition of Palkia. Ash tries to battle Darkrai and throws out Turtwig’s Pokeball only to have it disintegrate when it’s thrown. Darkrai starts to vanish underground. Ash spots Pikachu in the foreground and calls o—Uh, dude? Your Turtwig was straight up vaporized. Have an emotional response to this, please.

Dreamachu gets sucked into a hole that Darkrai’s creating, and Ash rushes to save him only to get swept up in the hole as well. Oh yeah, Turtwig reduced to atoms, barely notice. Pikachu’s about to fall in a hole—OH GOD, I’LL SAVE YOU!

Pikachu wakes him up from the nightmare with a shock and he finds himself in the local…Pokemon center? Take him to a human doctor, dammit! Why are there more Pokemon centers in this world than doctor’s offices? How freaked out would you be if you passed out and woke up in a vet’s office?

Ew, Joy’s new voice. Ew….She sounds like Jynx.

Tonio does some investigating and we learn the story of Alice’s grandmother, Alicia, who looks nearly identical to Alice except her hair is in one puff while Alice’s is in two.

In a nice sepia-toned flashback, we learn that Darkrai was in the garden many years ago. It was sending the nearby Pokemon into nightmares as a form of self-defense because it was very weak. It was about to do the same to Alicia, but she placed her hand on Darkrai and started playing a song on her leaf flute. Darkrai opened its heart to Alicia and lived peacefully in the garden after that.

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Reading further into the diary of Godey, he learns that Godey learned all he needed to know about a future event from a nightmare. In order to save the world, he needed to leave oracion.

Meanwhile, Alberto’s meeting with Team Rocket, who are disguised as TV reporters. Nothing happens, but in the past ten years Team Rocket has somehow gotten even worse at coming up with cover names. Jessalina, Jameson and….Meowt? I can’t understand Meowth very well when he’s saying his, but that’s what it sounds like.

Ash and the others go into the tower to check out the contest hall and, geez, that place is way too nice to just be held for a contest hall. There’s also a huge, intricately detailed, carved Pokemon mural on the wall. The space tower holds a cool looking mobile while the time tower has pendulums like a clock.

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As they continue the tour, Alice explains that Godey is actually Tonio’s great-grandfather. Tonio’s lab, which I assume also used to be Godey’s, is in the level below the towers.

They go down to the lab, and Tonio explains what he’s found so far, including a picture of Godey and Alicia that has sheet music written on the back. Ash and the others spot some music discs, which the tower uses to play music. Dawn really wants to try some, so they walk to the top of the tower to play them.

When they reach the top, we learn more tidbits about the tower. Godey built the tower as a beacon of hope to humans and Pokemon alike, and the towers are technically the world’s largest musical instrument given their massive integrated music disc playing device. It reads divots in the discs and plays the bells in the tower according to the patterns.

This whole sequence in the tower is quite nice. The towers are beautifully designed, even if the CGI’s a little distracting, and the fact that they’re a giant musical instrument is really cool.

After they exit the towers, the three trainers from before suddenly reappear and challenge Ash and the others to a rematch. Just when you think someone’s slammed the brakes on the plot, another rift occurs. Dialga’s kicking Palkia’s ass, and Palkia is running to the Space-Time Tower to get away.

Darkrai appears again, and Alberto, believing himself to be filmed by Team Rocket, ‘heroically’ calls out his Lickylicky (See? You can’t not sound stupid saying anything with that name) and attacks. Darkrai sends out many Dark Void orbs, hitting several nearby Pokemon….and none of them being Licklicky. Booooo!!

Also, I get that Darkrai’s seen as this horrifying Pokemon, but all it does is put you to sleep and give you a nightmare. You’re not hurt or anything. You wake up just fine afterwards. I mean, I wouldn’t want to have a nightmare, but there are much worse things.

Ash faces off with Darkrai, but is interrupted by Baron Alberto. It’s a short-lived battle resulting in Lickylicky getting Dark Voided.

There’s a weird image of a Bibarel, one of the Pokemon who got Dark Voided before, floating around them after Darkrai leaves.

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Jessie: “An ultra rare Pokemon!?”

James: “That flies through walls?”

Alberto: “It can’t be real.”

Yeah…it’s not like there are…..Ghost Pokemon….or anything……..

Suddenly, Lickylicky starts to glow, then Alberto glows….and then….he morphs…..into a weird Lickylicky/Alberto hybrid…..

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Well, good job, Darkrai. That will certainly give me nightmares for the rest of my life.

Back at the Pokemon Center, which is now overflowing with Pokemon who are trapped in nightmares, Tonio concludes that the real world and the dream world are merging, causing images of the Pokemon to appear in the real world as they’re having their nightmares. Alberto asked what happened to him and Tonio states that Lickylicky probably dreamed of being him, so he turned into Lickylicky….

Uhhh….Few things.

1) Why are just the images of the Pokemon and not the nightmares themselves merging with the real world?

2) Why does Lickylicky have nightmares about being Alberto?

3) Why is Lickylicky the only Pokemon with a nightmare that isn’t being chased by something?

4) If Lickylicky’s nightmare is about being Alberto, why did Alberto turn into a Lickylicky instead of an image of Lickylicky as Alberto appear?

Also, Pikachu woke Ash up from his nightmare with a shock – why doesn’t he just Thundershock the whole building?

The three nameless trainers arrive again and break the news that they’re trapped in the town by some sort of weird fog. It can’t be lifted with Pokemon abilities such as Defog, and running into the fog just returns you back to town.

Alberto blames these oddities on Darkrai (and licks Jessie…..I couldn’t not point that out) and rallies the Pokemon Trainers together to destroy him.

After Alberto and the Trainers leave, Alice pipes up and says she doesn’t believe Darkrai is behind this. Tonio even offers an explanation as to why he believes Darkrai is innocent……..so….you just let those Pokemon Trainers go off on a witch hunt, intent on ‘destroying’ Darkrai, before you decide to try and clear its name? Nice.

A flashback shows us that, when Tonio and Alice were children, Alice fell off of a cliff while she was playing. (Let me rephrase that. She stupidly ran around a cliffside with her eyes closed, running backwards at a point, too, and stupidly fell off the cliff like a stupid person.) Tonio tried in vain to catch her, but Darkrai appeared and caught her. He set her gently on the ground and quickly vanished. Alice always believed Tonio was the one who saved her, but now Tonio believes it was Darkrai who did it. That evidence coupled with the story of Darkrai opening its heart to Alicia leads them to believe that Darkrai isn’t evil and isn’t the one behind all of these strange occurrences.

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Or you could go the obvious route and point out that Darkrai only has the ability to create nightmares and can’t alter reality, but whatever.

Alberto licks Jessie again. It’s not in a perverted manner or anything, he does it whenever she calls him Baron Lickylicky, but it’s still insanely weird.

Pbbbbt Darkrai looks a thousand times more ridiculous when you give him long dancer’s legs.

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Tonio looks back through video footage captured by his Driflims over the past few days and discovers that Palkia entered the real world through the rift that occurred while they were playing music at the top of the tower.

Meanwhile, Darkrai’s getting piled on by the Trainers of the town, but it soon Dark Voids them all. I love this shot of Ledian sleeping. It can’t close its eyes, so it just looks dead.

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Alberto even tries to take advantage of his Lickylickiness to battle, but Darkrai just sends him and Team Rocket blasting off. I love how much of a point these four have in this movie.

Tonio shows Ash and the others the footage, and they realize that the Pokemon in the video is Palkia and that Darkrai has been trying to warn them of what was about to happen this whole time, since he’s the only one who could see them.

Darkrai has been telling Palkia to not come to their dimension and to go away, but the others thought Darkrai was talking to them.

Ash points out that Darkrai was trying to warn him of Palkia inside of his dream by simply…showing him an image of Palkia. Darkrai, you can communicate verbally. If you wanted to warn Ash about an impending doom, don’t be vague. Just tell him. So many plots in movies would be solved in minutes if people learned to communicate.

Palkia has been hovering about the Space-Time Towers, invisibly, trying to heal from its wounds, but Darkrai finds it and starts attacking it. Palkia does some kickass effects to the sky and suddenly the Dark Void effects are all ending on the Pokemon and Alberto.

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Tonio reveals that the sky has changed due to Palkia transporting the entire town into another dimension, meaning the nightmare effects wore off. The battle between Darkrai and Palkia rages on, and, again, the battle’s pretty intense. Dialga suddenly interrupts and lays down the smackdown on Palkia to the point where parts of the town are literally disintegrating.

As Dialga and Palkia beat the crap out of each other, Tonio points out that Godey had a nightmare about this battle, which he wrote about in his diary.

Alice is a dumb idiot of stupid and runs out to yell to Dialga and Palkia to stop fighting, only to put her in the line of fire. Darkrai saves her, though.

After unsuccessfully trying to Dark Void Palkia and Dialga, Darkrai gets the full force of both of them and falls out of the sky.

Darkrai has a slight moment with Alice and the others in the garden before it vanishes into shadow form again.

Tonio does some scanning of the town and discovers that the fight between Dialga and Palkia is causing the town to literally break into pieces and be lost to alternate dimensions. If they don’t act soon, the town and everyone in it will disappear into another dimension.

He remembers an entry in Godey’s diary which explains that the nightmare prompted him to leave oracion for the future. Alice recognizes the word and explains that it’s the title of a song written on the back of the photo of Godey and Alicia. However, doing it on a little leaf whistle isn’t going to cut it. They need to use a sound disk of the song and play it through the Space-Time Tower.

Tonio knows for a fact that the song ‘Oracion’ is not in the collection of sound disks in the lab, so they go to a much larger collection stored on the walls in the lobby. However, there are so many that they don’t know where it could be.

She has a flashback to her grandmother teaching her the song. Alicia tells her that oracion means ‘prayer’ and to always remember it. From this, she’s able to deduce which disk it is, but, really, she just matched the symbol on the photo to the one on the sound disk. I don’t get how she correlated the prayer thing into it.

By the way, this is a horrible way of storing these disks. They’re not organized at all and you need two people to spin the massive wheels they’re on to get the right one.

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The Trainers of the town try to stop the attacks of Dialga and Palkia, and Croagunk straight up punches one of their attacks away like a boss.

As Ash and the others ascend the tower in the hot air balloon (She really needs Chimchar to heat the balloon? Even Team Rocket has an actual burner…) a bunch of slightly unnecessary stuff happens like Piplup nearly falls to its death (it’s saved by Staravia) and Dawn nearly falls to her death (she’s saved by convenient ledges and a misunderstanding of physics.) and Ash falls off (saved by the same logic as Dawn’s, but less so because he was able to slow his descent).

As Tonio and Alice struggle to get by the attacks in their damaged balloon, Tonio falls to his death, and Alice is saved from an attack by Darkrai sacrificing itself. Alice manages to land safely, being saved from falling off the bridge by Lickylicky of all things (ew, by the way), but it can’t hold her. Tonio, having dodged death on his Driflim…..that he should’ve been utilizing this whole time, saves her instead.

Ash, smartly, utilizes Aipom and Turtwig to divert attacks from Dialga and Palkia while he and Dawn climb the tower. As they climb, they reach a dead end because part of the towers is vanishing. Dawn releases Bunneary and Buisel to make a bridge with Water Gun and Ice Beam (Wouldn’t Ice Beam make the bridge by itself? Eh whatever.)

I have to say, it’s not a whole lot, but I love how everyone’s Pokemon are getting to do things in this movie. They are terrible at being consistent with utilizing the Pokemon they have on them, but when they actually remember them it’s really great.

Also, I forgot Buneary has a crush on Pikachu. N’awww.

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The town Trainers use their Pokemon to attack the withering edges of the town and it actually slows down the disintegration process…..I have no clue why they’d think that’d work nor the logic behind this, but good job!

It’s nice that the nameless side character Pokemon get stuff to do too.

It’s all for naught, however, because Tonio’s readings indicate that their dimension will be destroyed if Dialga and Palkia collide one more time. Darkrai won’t stand for this and, while I’ve been ignoring the pink v. blue titan battle a la Mewtwo v. Mew, it’s hard to not notice that Darkrai obviously does a sendup to the first movie by jumping in the middle of two energy blasts yelling ‘STOP!’, seemingly sacrificing himself. It doesn’t immediately die, in fact it uses its power to stop the forces from colliding, but it’s only a matter of time.

Back with Ash and Dawn, the tower is still vanishing, and Ash and Dawn nearly fall, only to be saved by Buizel’s Water Gun. It was just a tiny moment, but for some reason I was really happy when that happened.

Darkrai’s power starts to wane.

Dawn: “Ash, come back!”

No! Ash, keep running! Why would you tell him to turn around to watch Darkrai’s powers fail and then see him get blasted out of the sky? He’s doing this to buy you time. You have no time to spare to just watch something happen – RUN!

Darkrai gets disintegrated, and Dialga and Palkia return their attentions to each other.

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Ash and Dawn reach the top of the tower, but the sound disk won’t fit in the system. Dawn, connecting the symbols on the disk and the system, tells Ash to try the slot in the middle….Wow…..that was an ungodly pointless ‘puzzle’. Not to mention, we’ve already done the ‘match the symbols’ “puzzle” like ten minutes ago. It’s not that difficult. And, really, Ash sees that there are numerous slots in the machine for disks and instead of checking to see if it will fit in any other slot he just analyzes the front side of the disk like an idiot.

They insert the disk and pull the lever, but are shocked to discover that the power is out. Really? With the black sky outside they didn’t notice a power outage in a building? Where is the light coming from?

Being fair, it makes sense that the power is out considering the whole place is disintegrating.

Dawn calls out her Pachirisu and Ash uses Pikachu to power the machine. Wow, Pikachu sharing the electric limelight with another? It’s a Christmas miracle.

The song plays and it instantly culls the fighting. It even stops the disintegration. The song really is quite lovely when played on bells.

Pikachu and Pachirisu are unable to hold their attacks any longer, but the tower seems to have gained it’s own magical power and doesn’t stop the song. Far from it, in fact. It glows a golden color and the tower starts to transform into a beautiful design that encapsulates the symbolism of space and time respectively.

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The tower then grows massive golden wings of light….which I think is a bit excessive, but alright. Palkia’s jewel gets healed, and Dialga and Palkia share a small glance before Dialga leaves.

However, all is still not well. Ash and Dawn beg for Palkia to return the town back to normal.

Ash: “Palkia, can’t you see what you’ve done!? You’ve destroyed the whole town….All the….Pokemon….”

Uh….First of all, while Palkia’s not blameless here, Dialga’s the one who forced Palkia here and started this whole thing.

Second, the whole town is destroyed, to a degree, and your one thought is of the Pokemon? Not the people who probably vanished too?

Third, wait, we didn’t see a damn thing happen to any Pokemon outside of Darkrai. Why not just say Darkrai?

Also, Dogasu was right, Sarah Natochenny cannot emote through Ash worth a damn.

Palkia decides to clean up the mess, so he restores the town and returns it to it’s rightful space.

Hehe, get it? I said space.

Everything’s okay now…..but of course we have to have the overly dramatic death fakeout.

Oh no.

Darkrai disappeared from the effects of Palkia’s power. But Palkia reversed everything.

Oh no.

Oh dear.

Oh my.

Certainly the Dark of Rai is dead. Let us have a clipshow to sad, dramatic music (not kidding – they put this in the movie) to remember his valiant sacrifice…..

This whole scene is ridiculous and hard to sit through if you have a few brain cells. It’s not just the typical ‘ahhh, we know he’s still alive’ death fakeout. This death fakeout makes zero sense before they even start the damn clipshow. We have to sit through the clipshow, the music, the crying, the overly dramatic declarations from Ash, the solemn walk away – all of it – when every bit of logic is screaming ‘HE’S NOT DEAD. HE CAN’T BE DEAD. UNLESS PALKIA’S A MASSIVE DOUCHE AND LOCKED HIM IN ANOTHER DIMENSION, HE’S OKAY.’

Admittedly, revealing him as a giant shadow on a mountainside was pretty cool, though.

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His overly dramatic whooshy physical reveal ruined it a little, though.

Then we get a closeup of Darkrai and it just ends….No reunion, no wrap up, just Darkrai’s glowing eye.

Credits time!

It’s mostly random shots of places we went in the movie, then we get a series of stillframes showcasing Dawn’s contest….Anyone wanna put in their two cents if this is canon? Because Dawn loses.

Also, two of the three nameless trainers were participating in the contest – the guy with the Empoleon and the girl with the Infernape. The girl won.

Team Rocket appears and I completely forgot they were even here to begin with again.

Ash, Brock and Dawn say their farewells to Tonio and Alice….I just realized that Brock let off on Alice when Tonio came into the picture. Is that character development?

Some more random shots, then Dialga heading off to his…dimension? And Palkia doing the same. Ash and the others continue their journey….

The credits songs are ‘I Will Remember You’ sung by Kirsten Price, a song I actually like quite a bit. It’s definitely one of the better movie songs they’ve had in recent years…..and then we get “Living in the Shadows” by Chris “Breeze” Barczynski – an intrusive rap song. Guys, it’s 2007 by this point. Stop it.

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The end.

————————————-

I liked this movie a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. It gave me a better appreciation for Palkia and Darkrai, and while I can definitely feel the throwbacks to the previous movies, the references only seemed a little on the lazy side. Probably the laziest was the Unown. They are literally just thrown into the movie because….alternate dimensions is something Unown do…And we couldn’t think of another movie 03 reference, so…….here we are.

The song aspect wasn’t as rip-offy in the end as I feared. Alice didn’t save the day with her leaf and the music playing through the bells of the towers was cool. I’d definitely say the references ended up feeling more like an homage rather then just lazily cobbling together a plot from old plots.

The excuse to have Dialga and Palkia fight was practically non-existent, but I don’t care because their fight was awesome.

Alice was….a somewhat boring CotM. Tonio was much more interesting.

Dawn and Brock kinda got stuff to do, and everyone’s Pokemon got to do a little something. Not to mention that hug Brock gives Happiny near the end was adorable.

I enjoyed the aspect of the dimension breaking apart, and I also loved how they handled the visuals of the dimension crumbling. The video distortion whenever a rift was occurring was a great touch – it really made you feel like reality was coming apart.

Darkrai’s plot is very understandable. It must be difficult for a Pokemon whose main power is creating nightmares to not be outcast. I would’ve liked to have seen him and Alice have a moment after his reappearance, however. It felt like it resolved on a somewhat hollow note.

Ash was not the main forefront in this movie, which was more than welcome. It was very much a team effort, even if Ash was the one who orchestrated the resolution to the conflict. However, I can’t stress enough how much Baron Alberto didn’t need to be here. He was an annoying waste of space. He wasn’t a threat to Alice and Tonio’s budding relationship (Hey, wait, they didn’t even resolve that part of the plot), he wasn’t an antagonist and he wasn’t interesting. He seemed like he was there for terrible comic relief and to give Team Rocket an excuse for being there, which was, in itself, extremely flimsy.

The visuals were very well done this time around. The CGI was not that great, but it wasn’t nearly as bad or distracting as it was in movie 09.

The music was quite good barring the stupid rap song. If you want to keep giving homages to past movies, that was a great flashback to the tonal whiplash of the first movie’s ending songs.

There were some moments that bothered me, but maybe I was overreacting on some of those because I just didn’t have much to talk about for this movie.

Recommended Audience: I can’t really think of anything worth noting beyond the typical ‘cartoon violence’. 5+


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Animating Halloween | Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! Review

Plot: The Scooby gang enjoys Halloween while doing what they do best – solving mysteries. However, things get a little complicated when a local pumpkin patch turns into monstrous creatures bent on destroying the town of Crystal Cove and turning everyone into jack-o-lantern creatures.

Breakdown: Modern day Scooby-Doo is a weird area to venture into. I mean, granted, Scooby-Doo has always been kinda weird, but the way that the franchise has changed over the years, for better or worse, is both difficult to watch and kinda welcome at the same time.

Scooby-Doo tends to be very meta nowadays, and they’re constantly using self-referential humor. They also try to keep themselves modern as much as possible in their writing, which, again, sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

They also just tend to run with the idea that Scooby-Doo can crossover with pretty much anything. They’ve had crossover events with the WWE, Lego, Batman, Supernatural (I still can’t believe they pulled that off) and even, I’m not lying, an entire movie with Bobby Flay as a main character called Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghost….

Speaking of Batman, I really forget sometimes that actual Batman is a part of the Scooby-Doo universe, and what better way to remind me of that fact than by having the villain of the opening scene being Scarecrow….in his Scarecrow outfit….while wearing a different Scarecrow costume on top of that?

And this isn’t just a flippant fly-by cameo either. He’s a significant part of the entire movie….So are Bill Nye and Elvira, but that’s besides the point.

Now, I’m not saying them upping the weird ante is bad. Sometimes, the dialogue is a little cringey, but I actually tend to enjoy myself a lot whenever I watch a modern Scooby-Doo production, whether it be TV shows or movies….although I did hear Scoob! sucked……Anyway, they always tend to have snappy writing, good jokes, fun moments, good character interactions (And I like how they’ve changed the characters over time.), decent animation, good music, and even legitimate scares. All of those apply in Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!

Even if most of the movie is a big chase scene, it’s a fun and exciting chase scene that seems to have real stakes.

Although, I do have to say that the ending reveal didn’t make a lot of sense.

I’m not going to mention who the culprit was to avoid total spoilers, but Velma was actually right. Despite seeing many real monsters and supernatural events over the years, she refused to believe the living jack-o-lanterns attacking the city were real. And they weren’t. They were just drones. How they never managed to find that out for themselves, I have no idea. They smashed so many of those jack-o-lanterns, there’s no way they didn’t discover a drone or parts within some of them. They just squish like any other pumpkin.

Also, unless the culprit managed to sneak a drone in every pumpkin and jack-o-lantern in town, there’s no way they should have been shown turning into the jack-o-lantern creatures. The pumpkins literally carved themselves and the jack-o-lanterns just sprang to life.

Secondly, she says the way that the ‘alpha’ jack-o-lantern could drain the power from electronic devices when it got close to them was because it had an EMP inside of it, which also doesn’t make any sense because some electronic devices were completely unaffected, most notably the other lesser jack-o-lantern drones.

I might just be splitting hairs there, but in a series meant to be about using logic to solve mysteries I think it’s appropriate to nitpick sometimes, even if it is Scooby-Doo.

Overall, this was a blast to watch, and it really got me into a Scooby mood and a Halloweeny mood. My biggest complaint is that, yeah, some of the dialogue and jokes, especially where Daphne is concerned, are kinda cringey. I mean ‘torch-splaining’? Using ‘Mary Sue’ as if it’s a compliment? Saying “friendship is OP.”? Come on.

If you’re a Scooby-Doo fan, this is a great watch around Halloween, and I really recommend it.

Rating: 8.5/10


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Dissecting the Disquels Finale – The Ultimate Disquel Rankings List!

To cap off Dissecting the Disquels, I have decided to make a finalized rankings list of all of the movies in the set. Now, you might think that, since all of the movies have been reviewed with number ratings, that the list should be easy enough to sort out, but that really isn’t the case. Considering I’ve been sitting on these reviews for years, as many as seven years for a few of them, I found myself seeing some of the entries in a different light for a variety of reasons, and that made their places on the list either higher or lower as a result.

Here’s what I was focused on.

Overall Quality – this is basically the initial number rating I gave to the movie.

Memorability – How much I remember the movie now and how memorable I found it upon watching it.

Entertainment Value – How much fun I had watching it.

Original Respect/Disrespect – How much it disrespected the original movie OR if it displayed particular notes of respect for the original. I’ll be gauging this via positive or negative ratings.

Rewatch Desire – Not really rewatchability, as in if you’d get any benefit from watching it again, but moreso whether I WANT to rewatch it.

With those factors in mind, let’s finally rank all of the Disquels!

Going from best to worst;

1 – The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (Part One | Part Two)

I don’t think there’s anything more I can say about this movie that I haven’t already said. It is, by far, the best Disquel and a fitting followup to one of my favorite movies ever, The Lion King. It doesn’t surpass its predecessor, but it is still a very good movie on its own with great characters, an amazing soundtrack and an awesome villain. This is what all of the Disquels should have aspired to be, but, alas, that obviously didn’t happen.

Overall Quality – 8.5/10

Memorability – 9/10

Entertainment Value – 9/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +6 While it does do the original justice and doesn’t really disrespect anything directly, the massive chasm between the original movie and the sequel’s plot is way too noticeable. There’s just too much left unexplained……

…..THE OTHER LION WAS GOLD AND MALE, GUYS. GOLD AND MALE. Where did he go!?

Disney:

Rewatch Desire – 9.5/10

2 – The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (The Little Mermaid 3)

I decided Ariel’s Beginning would get second place because, while it is very much neck and neck with my third place choice, I just felt like Ariel’s Beginning had more substance and reason to exist. It allowed us to better understand why Triton was the way he was about humans, and it introduced us to Ariel’s mom for…a few minutes.

Plus, it’s a very entertaining movie that never really annoyed me at any point, and I still love Benjamin. It suffers from having a very weak villain and a deja vu plot, but it still stands up well enough on its own.

Overall Quality – 8/10

Memorability – 7/10

Entertainment Value – 8/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +7 Their biggest sin here was, despite having a movie celebrating music and how important it is to both undersea life/mermaids and, well, the movie series as a whole, the original soundtrack is very much lacking and that’s greatly disappointing. Plus, while Ariel’s mom was in the movie, it was very, very briefly.

Rewatch Desire – 7.5/10

3 – Cinderella III: A Twist in Time

The big surprise of the whole set of Disquels was definitely Cinderella III. The original movie didn’t call for a two let alone a three, and two was awful, so how good could a third be? Quite good, bafflingly enough. It has a very appealing style to it, it’s entertaining, charming and funny, it gave Cinderella some agency and it fleshed out the relationship between her and the prince more than the original or the second movie ever did.

This movie doesn’t have much of a reason to exist, is all, and it doesn’t change the status quo at the end, which is understandable because it’s a time travel movie. It shifted focus to Anastasia, which continues to be a confusing choice to me, but works well enough. She’s a good person now, having gone through a legit redemption arc this time, but doesn’t get her own love interest in the end, which is both welcome because that’s cliché and a bit confusing because where’s the damn baker from the second movie? He was a normal dude, looking normal and doing a normal job, and he really Disney-loved her. He would’ve been perfect for her to end up with. It would’ve been easy to work him in. Make him the royal baker or something. Come on.

Overall Quality – 8/10

Memorability – 7/10

Entertainment Value – 7.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 I’m keeping this one neutral because, technically, this movie is doing the ultimate disrespect to the first movie by basically erasing it from ever happening. However, like I said, I liked what they replaced it with, so…..People will probably argue this one, but I’m keeping this where it is.

Rewatch Desire – 7.5/10

4 – Bambi II

This is another movie that can sorta justify its existence, but didn’t really need to be made. Bambi II tells the story of Bambi’s life after his mother died but before he grew into a buck, being raised by the Great Prince of the Forest, which is an interesting enough premise. Being a midquel, it suffers from midquel predictability in that we know everyone will survive and nothing too impacting will happen, and it doesn’t, but it’s an enjoyable cute little movie that I liked so much that, in the review, I said it would’ve taken second place in my list of Disquel rankings. It’s not a must-see movie or anything, but I’d recommend any Bambi fan give it a watch.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 6.5/10

Entertainment Value – 7/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +4 It didn’t really do anything to mar the original, and it provided us with a look into a stronger bond between Bambi and the Great Prince. Kinda makes the original’s ending even more impacting.

Rewatch Desire – 7/10

5Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch

Lilo and Stitch was the last Disney classic to get the Disquel treatment, and it somehow managed to get the most Disquels with three movies – Lilo and Stitch 2, Stitch! The Movie and Leroy and Stitch. Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch, was the lowest rated out of all of them, but looking back I feel like I have maintained more of an appreciation for this movie slightly above the others. I just think the actual premise, Stitch going crazy due to a glitch, could’ve been done better. They don’t go far enough with him going ‘bad’ and the conflict was poorly handled since Jumba and Pleakley literally could have cleared everything up in a sentence but chose not to.

However, we do get more about Lilo’s mom, we get some really heartwarming moments, there’s some nice music, and out of all of Lilo and Stitch’s Disquels, this is the one I’d most want to watch again.

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 7/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +1 Mostly neutral here. They do some things to respect the original movie and nothing to really disrespect it outside of maybe Lilo being a bit too harsh with Stitch when she’s always been understanding of him and should have known something was wrong instead of just believing he had gone bad again.

Rewatch Desire6/10

6 – Leroy and Stitch

The finale of the Lilo and Stitch universe….barring the anime versions…Leroy and Stitch is about Dr. Hamsterviel using a new experiment made by Jumba, named Leroy, who is basically another more powerful Stitch, to destroy all 625 of Stitch’s cousins. This is a very fitting finale to the entire franchise. It has a great epic battle, it properly reforms 625 and has him team up with Lilo, and it ties up quite a few loose ends. However, when I really thought back on it, I realized I didn’t really remember much of the movie beyond the ending battle and the resolution with the concert. Also, I didn’t feel as much of a desire to rewatch it as I did with Lilo and Stitch 2. It was a close call here, and it’s a good movie, but Leroy and Stitch just squeaks out a little lower.

Overall Quality – 7.5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +6 They remembered every single experiment outlined in the show and gave names to those who never appeared. They also resolved several storylines and fixed some issues, but I don’t agree with some of the resolutions such as the endings with Mertle and Gantu. Those seemed rushed and undeserving. Also, while I understand why they couldn’t do this, and this is barely a decimal against them, they never did show all 626 experiments after building a TV show based on the premise of reforming every single experiment. Disney had their idiotic 65 episode rule at this point, so they basically went into the series knowing they’d never cover anywhere near that many experiments, but they still dangled that carrot in front of us.

Rewatch Desire5/10

7Return to Neverland (Peter Pan 2)

As I mentioned in my review, Peter Pan wasn’t a beloved Disney classic to me. I just didn’t get into it much, and I always kinda hated Tinkerbell. This entry is one of those movies where it’s just…’fine.’ It’s a fine movie. I didn’t gain much from it. I didn’t lose much from it. It’s fine. I definitely give this movie props for having the balls to have its setting be World War Freakin’ II and having the main plotline with the main character, Jane, daughter of Wendy, be her sacrificing her childhood because of World War Freakin’ II and trying to recapture it with Peter, but other than that it’s a lot of ‘fine.’

Also, I still can’t stop rolling my eyes at the fact that they replaced the alligator with an octopus who makes a popping noise all the time. That was just dumb.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +4 They do very much respect the original movie by showing how much of an impact Peter had on Wendy’s life and how much he still means to her, and I don’t think they do anything to really disrespect the original much. I just wish Peter and Wendy had more interaction besides that brief moment in the end. Also, we never get any information on where Wendy’s brothers are.

Rewatch Desire – 5/10

8 – Stitch! The Movie

I rated this movie higher than Lilo and Stitch 2, but when I was finding a place for it on this list I realized I only barely remember anything about this movie. I remember Stitch feeling like he doesn’t belong….again, and Sparky existing, but that’s about it. Stitch! The Movie is certainly a good intro to Lilo and Stitch the Series, but, looking back on it, I’m not sure I have as much respect for it as a Disquel because, if the series didn’t exist, this movie would just be leading into a giant hole. Likewise, Leroy and Stitch is entirely reliant on the TV series too. If you didn’t watch the series beforehand, you’d be a little lost as to what’s going on in the movie. I’m just imagining someone watching all of the Lilo and Stitch Disquels without realizing there’s a TV show and being horrendously confused.

That being said, the movie isn’t bad by any means, but it lost quite a few spots in the rankings as time went on.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 4/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +3 While they did sort of retcon the original a little by having Stitch lost on his place in the world when that was a pretty good chunk of the first movie, it’s made up for by keeping the original spirit alive in introducing us to Stitch’s cousins.

Rewatch Desire – 5/10

9 – Kronk’s New Groove (The Emperor’s New Groove 2)

There was a whole lot of potential with this Disquel. The Emperor’s New Groove is a fantastic, memorable and very funny movie. A spin-off with Kronk could have worked very well. However, this movie tries to go in so many directions that it ends up going nowhere. It tries so, so hard to be the first movie, but it also tries to be its own thing, and it also tries to follow Disquel formulas while maintaining the ENG style. It’s just too much. And lest we forget that this is one of those three-segmented ‘movies’ that is part of the ‘pretending this ‘movie’ is a ‘movie’ when it’s actually three episodes of a pitched TV show acting as a pilot’ collection. There was some fun to be had here. It’s self-aware, it has a good sense of humor and the story is slightly workable, but it’s cliché as all hell.

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 I feel like I should leave this neutral. It almost goes overboard with how much it references the original and tries to replicate it, but on the other hand it’s also trying to repackage the first movie and resell you something else (A Kronk TV series that was never made, although ENG did get a Disquel TV series that was centered on Kuzco again) and that’s pretty disrespectful.

Rewatch Desire – 5/10

10Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure

I found that, over time, I actually enjoyed this movie more than I first thought. I’ve seen this movie several times at this point, and…I’d watch it again in a heartbeat. Which is weird, because there’s not that much to this movie. It’s a very simple and predictable plot, but…for some reason that works with me? This movie’s problems mostly lie in its Disquelisms (Kid of original main character basically does the first movie in reverse) being very predictable, having an annoying lead character and having a forgettable antagonist who just doesn’t work.

So why do I find myself enjoying the movie whenever I put it on and having a desire to watch it again in the future?….It’s enjoyable and relaxing. The soundtrack’s good with some of the most memorable and well-made lyrical songs of the Disquels. I still sing ‘A World Without Fences’ to myself on occasion….I dunno, I just like it, which is especially weird considering, as I mentioned in the review, I have no attachment to the original movie.

Overall Quality – 5.5/10

Memorability – 6/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 Keeping this neutral because I honestly don’t remember enough about the original movie to say anything either way. They do introduce a new character who was supposedly very important to Tramp’s life and whom he ‘betrayed’ when Tramp left to live with Lady, but he never appeared in the original movie. It’s a very Zira-esque situation. But I’m not sure that counts as disrespect. Moreso laziness.

Rewatch Desire – 6/10

11 – The Lion King 1 ½

How did TLK2 rank so high but TLK 1 ½ doesn’t even get top ten? Well, because, again, looking back on it, this movie didn’t stick with me much. I remember most of it, but nothing stood out as being particularly impacting or funny. And it’s a damn shame that a TLK Disquel is so far down because, as I’ve mentioned, TLK is one of my favorite movies. A midquel with Timon and Pumbaa could have worked so much better than this. They skimped on the stuff with Simba, which is what most people wanted to see, Timon and Pumbaa’s first meeting was lame, and I will never forgive them for that stupid fart joke during the presentation ceremony. That still makes me angry. It’s relatively fine, and could’ve been a lot worse – I did give it a pretty decent overall score – but after mulling it over I can’t find it within myself to put it any higher than eleven.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 6/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -5 I can’t not dock it off for the presentation fart thing. I’m sorry. I thought I’d just get over that, and when I reached this point that wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar, but nope…it’s just too stupid and disrespectful to one of the most memorable and awesome moments in Disney movies. I also REALLY didn’t care for the montage of them trying to sabotage Nala and Simba’s budding romance during ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ However, credit where credit is due, they do otherwise respect the original quite well and even make some pretty decent jokes about key scenes in the movie.

Rewatch Desire – 4/10

12Aladdin and the King of Thieves (Aladdin 3)

Yeah, I was surprised I put this so far down the list too considering I gave it a 7.5. I was just re-reading my review of it and I suddenly had the realization that I never wanted to watch the movie again. I mentioned I had watched it once before the review rewatch, and….yeah, that’s enough. It has pretty decent quality as a Disquel, some good action, and it FINALLY closes out the series proper by marrying Aladdin and Jasmine and showing us what happened to Aladdin’s father, but there’s nothing to really draw me into wanting to watch it again.

I can’t remember any of the songs now, except a short part of ‘There’s a Party in Agrabah,’ the comedy just isn’t there, despite finally getting Robin Williams back as Genie, and that’s because they, for some reason, rely very, very heavily on Disney references, and any drama about Aladdin’s dad is pretty blah once you’ve seen the movie once. I do recommend any Aladdin fan see this movie at least once because it’s definitely worth that price of admission, but beyond that…eh.

Overall Quality – 7.5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +1 Pretty benign here. They do respect the original by finally holding Aladdin and Jasmine’s wedding (though, again, I’d SWEAR they were married at the end of the first movie. It plays off so much like they’re married.) and they don’t really do anything to disrespect the original movie outside of Genie not having a purpose or being funny. I almost feel like Robin Williams was given no room to improvise like he was in the first movie. There are so many Disney references that it just has to be Disney shoving the script down his throat.

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

13The Return of Jafar (Aladdin 2)

One of the very first Disquels and one that many people seem to hold dear to their heart, myself included a little, The Return of Jafar is alright but just not that strong story-wise. You’d think the return of Jafar, one of the most threatening Disney villains, would warrant a bit more excitement but…pbbt. Most of the movie is made up of redeeming Iago, which is fine but not really all that much of a hook, if you ask me. The fact that Jafar was also technically beaten by Iago is a little on the corny side. It was nice to give him a good scene like that, but it’s just kinda lame.

Couple with that a very corny but just alright-ish mostly soundtrack and animation that is only up to TV standards, plus a Robin William-less Genie and it’s just a bit of a mess. I might feel like watching this movie again in the future, but it’s much less memorable and entertaining than I remembered it being back when I was a kid.

Overall Quality – 5.5/10

Memorability – 4/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -2 Jafar’s a bit of an idiot in this movie, far removed from what he was originally. His main drive is to become a free genie, but he realizes that free genies have much less power than bound ones, soooo….The tone and style are also much schmaltzier than the original. It never commits any big sins against the original, but it also doesn’t really give any good sendups to it either.

Rewatch Desire – 3.5/10

14The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea

When I think of Disquelisms, I always think of TLM2. It is such an unabashed example of the Disquel tropes, it’s actually quite sad. Main character the original main character’s kid? Check. The original movie in reverse? Check. The villain basically being a discount version of the original’s villain? Check. Throw some nonsensical plot threads, some of the worst comic relief sidekicks I’ve ever seen (that are also complete rip-offs of Timon and Pumbaa) and a mediocre to near cringey soundtrack into the mix and this movie just………..

FLOUNDERED! 😀

The only real redeeming factors are that Melody’s an alright character, she had better motivations than Ariel did in the first movie, Ariel herself actually has character development in this movie, and the production values are pretty good for a Disquel. I have a tiny bit of nostalgic fondness for this movie, but I’m not sure I’d ever watch it again. There’s just nothing there to really warrant it.

Overall Quality – 5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 Keeping this one neutral because, outside of introducing Ursula’s never mentioned before sister, they don’t do anything one way or another. I can’t say copy-pasting the original movie and reversing it is really respect and not laziness.

Rewatch Desire – 3/10

15Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World

Ahhhh….Pocahontas 2….This one of those situations where I can’t say much more beyond ‘They shouldn’t have even tried.’ This was a lose-lose situation out the gate. People were complaining about how historically inaccurate the original movie was to the true story and how kinda creepy it was to pair up real adult man John Smith with real 12 year old child girl Pocahontas and how disrespectful it was to basically make Native Americans magic and bunch of other stuff, so they tried to make a sequel closer to the original story and more grounded….and it just culminated in people yelling ‘WHO CARES ABOUT HISTORICAL ACCURACY?! MY OTP WAS DESTROYED!! :’(’

The movie, on its own, is quite fine, and, as someone who doesn’t give a duck in a bucket about Pocahontas and John Smith’s relationship, I’m also fine with her going off into the sunset with John Rolfe (who did marry her in real life.) People act like John Rolfe was super boring, but, got news for ya, so is John Smith. As for the movie itself….it’s fine. There’s just not a lot to sink your teeth into and it’s not all that memorable. It does have some funny moments, though, and it tied up several loose ends. It’s very much a lot of ‘fine.’

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – ???? I just bailed on this one because I’m not touching it. One side would argue that it commits the most deplorable of wrongs to the original by splitting up Pocahontas and John Smith in lieu of her being with Rolfe, but another would say it actually does more respect to the original historical story by a mile, and continues on with the themes they were trying to get across in the end of the first movie by having Pocahontas attempt to strengthen relations between the Native Americans and the English settlers. Make your own judgment call here.

Rewatch Desire – 3/10

16 – 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch’s London Adventure

This movie was fun and a relaxing watch, but it really wasn’t memorable at all. Nothing all that interesting happened, Patch isn’t that memorable of a main character, and the plot is predictable. Plus, it’s a little depressing that it’s perfectly understandable for Patch to feel like just another face in a sea of puppies, but to have the climax basically being that his family never does realize he’s missing on their own and they have to find out by seeing his picture in the paper…it’s really just sad. I can’t imagine how hard it is to try and spread yourself so thin that you have to assure 99 puppies that they’re loved equally, but still. In the end, though, there’s nothing terribly wrong with the movie – it’s just that there’s nothing terribly right with it either.

Overall Quality – 5.5/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 4.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 Might as well stay on the neutral path here. Is there even anything from the original to really lend respect to? Not to say the original’s  a bad film, but it’s mostly lacking substance in story and characters. It’s still a cute movie about puppies, so there ya go.

Rewatch Desire – 3/10

17 – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

This one I didn’t rate that bad. However, as Christmas approaches I tend to think of movies/specials etc. that I’d like to watch over the holiday season, and as I was looking over my review of this movie I didn’t even think about considering this one. I also didn’t really remember much of it, either. I remembered Tim Curry as Forte, but as for the actual story, I was pretty much at a loss. Christmas was involved, I think. Looking back, I did enjoy myself a little watching this movie, and despite remembering none of the songs now, apparently they were decent, so I’ll give it points for that, but the movie no longer registers in my mind past, present or future.

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 4.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -1 Doesn’t do anything terribly wrong, that I remember, but it introduces two servant characters who never appeared in the original movie, despite being a midquel, and the criticism of Belle shifting from only liking the Beast when he makes steps to improve himself on his own to seeing him as a project is warranted. Granted, Beast was still trying to improve himself anyway.

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

18 – The Jungle Book 2

I criticized this movie quite a bit for being boring, and, yeah, I still feel that way. I remember more about this movie than I do Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, but not by much. And I think one of the reasons I remember it more is because, for a short while, I was fairly into the two original songs they made for the soundtrack. The art and animation are pretty darn good, and so is the voice acting, but the writing is cliché, the characters’ decisions are very questionable, even though I realize that they’re children, and not much happens over the entire movie. They brought back Shere Khan to dick around for an hour before making his move and then he just ends up getting thwarted rather easily. Not to mention the little bit I’ll get to in the respect section.

Overall Quality – 4/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -6 The ending of this movie completely reverses the message of the first movie. Mowgli was a human child who needed to live a human life. It was safer, it provided more avenues for life fulfillment and happiness, and it was what he ultimately chose. It was a bittersweet reality somewhat akin to The Fox and the Hound. But this movie was like ‘Aw, dat sad. Let me fix it.’ So now the jungle is perfectly safe for children to traverse just because they defeated one tiger, and Mowgli, Shanti, Baloo and Bagheera can live together in harmony. No need to swallow any harsh truths here, folks. I get that some people probably liked this ending, and Disney is all about making unrealistically happy endings, but still. They made one ending that was pretty perfect – stick to it. Show Baloo and Bagheera checking up on Mowgli every now and then or something, but don’t reverse everything…

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

19Tarzan and Jane

Unlike several Disquels that pretended they were legitimate sequels when they were just backdooring a pilot for a TV series, whether or not it got made, this movie changes that up by….repackaging the last few episodes of a TV series that did get made and created some bookends for the stories so it could pretend to be a new movie….Now, I didn’t give this ‘movie’ too much flak despite being…not good, because it did have a few genuinely funny or entertaining moments. However, I can’t help but think of the people who are Tarzan fans who watched the TV series and would be massively disappointed to grab this movie thinking it’s new material when 97% of it isn’t….It’s really sneaky advertising, it’s unfair to the fans, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Hence why, despite the slightly higher ratings, I actually put this one below The Jungle Book 2.

Overall Quality – I gave this movie two ratings; one based on if you’ve seen the series, which was 1/10 and one for if you haven’t, which was 4/10. I was going to split the difference, but I think I’ll just leave it as two ratings.

Memorability – 4/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 I can’t really think of anything they did in either direction. Maybe the fact that Jane and her father can seemingly speak to animals now, without a lick of explanation as to why and how this is possible (Tarzan can do it because he was raised by them) but that’s probably just something they glazed over in the show itself so they could include all of the animals in the show without it being difficult with Jane and her father.

Rewatch Desire2/10

20Brother Bear 2

Everyone gets a girlfriend. That is this entire movie. Everyone gets a girlfriend. Brother Bear never had a romantic plotline, so they made up for that in spades here. But it was a story centered on brotherhood. It doesn’t need a romantic plotline. It wasn’t ‘missing’ one so much as it didn’t need one, and it would’ve been detriment to the story to try and include one.

As a result, Brother Bear 2 ends up being less about brotherhood (Sitka never shows up, neither does Denahi, and Kenai’s relationship with Koda is now coated in a lot of jealousy and Kenai neglecting Koda.) As I said, it could’ve been worse, and it’s harmless on its own, but this was a purely unnecessary movie that doesn’t do much of anything either. There’s no big lesson learned or anything, it’s the same ‘*gasp* I realized I loved my childhood friend all along!’ plotline you’ve seen a hundred times. Nita’s also not that interesting in the slightest – she doesn’t even make much sense. I’m still not really angry with this movie, despite being a fan of the original, and it does have a few moments that are genuinely good, but its existence is a little insulting just on the basis of ‘GIV EVRY1 A GURLFREND!1’ and I can’t see myself ever watching it again.

Overall Quality – 4/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 3/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -3 They half-disrespected the themes of the original movie. Brotherhood is still a theme, but it takes a backseat to the romance aspect. And much of the brotherhood stuff, even with Rutt and Tuke, is slathered in jealousy and neglect. While I did say that I understood omitting Denahi from appearing because his voice actor passed away, it’s disrespectful to not, ya know, mention him or anything. And there’s no excuse for not including Sitka at all.

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

21Tarzan 2

Goddamn, this movie is boring. And it’s making the situation worse for itself by being a midquel, meaning we know none of this matters anyway. It’s not even exploring anything interesting during the middle of the original movie. It’s literally just what Tarzan was doing during the ‘Son of Man’ segment….and we saw that. So they had to make up some dumb plotline where the ultimate lesson was…be yourself….*sigh* The only redeeming thing in this movie is the song ‘Who Am I’ because it’s pretty catchy and well-made. Also, they did get Phil Collins back for this, which is cool. Otherwise, there is not a single reason to watch this movie.

Overall Quality – 3/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 1/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 It doesn’t do anything, so it can’t do much in this aspect. It does maintain Tarzan and Kala’s sweet relationship and brings back Phil Collins and some of his music, though that might be because he was a big pull in the original movie, but the storyline and placement of this movie makes no sense when you think about it and kinda messes up the story flow of the first movie.

Rewatch Desire – 0.5/10

22Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Hey, do you want to see a solid hour of Cinderella planning parties? No? Well, apparently, Disney thinks you do. Cinderella 2 is another movie in the ‘pretending this ‘movie’ is a ‘movie’ when it’s actually three episodes of a pitched TV show acting as a pilot’ collection, and it was the first Disquel I ever reviewed. It is very boring. It is very stupid. Much of it doesn’t even make sense.

I have no clue why they thought a Cinderella TV show would work in the first place. It’s clear they didn’t think much of it working either because, as I mentioned, Cinderella does nothing but plan parties the whole time. The final segment where a somewhat reformed Anastasia is trying to find love with the baker dude is the only somewhat memorable-ish and decent-ish thing about the movie, and that was retconned. We don’t even see Anastasia actually get reformed in this movie, which might be a decent tale, as we see in Cinderella III. We’re just suddenly supposed to sympathize with her because Cinderella got her happily ever after and she didn’t. Boo hoo.

Overall Quality – 2/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 2/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -2 The movie does mostly nothing of note in the first place, but it reforms an antagonist from the original movie with no reason given as to how or why (At least with Iago in Aladdin 2 they showed him connecting with the characters and slowly lightening up.) but that’s not too bad because reforming Anastasia can actually work. It’s not like they were irredeemable people, besides Bitch – they were just egotistical jerks. I also got the slightest bit insulted in the first segment where Cinderella was actually complaining about her cushy new life as a princess after being magically rescued from an abusive household….

Rewatch Desire – 1.5/10

23Atlantis: Milo’s Return

Entry #37462B-46 of the ‘pretending this ‘movie’ is a ‘movie’ when it’s actually three episodes of a pitched TV show acting as a pilot’ collection….I really liked the original Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I think it’s a slept-on classic. Not the best in the world, but still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It also didn’t warrant a sequel at all. It was a very contained story. But here we are with a sequel that was planning on spawning a sequel TV series that never happened.

This movie’s not completely terrible, but it’s also not good. I have no desire to ever watch it again, and I barely remember anything about it.

Overall Quality – 3/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 3/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -7 I will give it props for keeping basically everyone in character, but this movie did the original dirty when Kida decided it would be oh so intelligent to raise Atlantis to surface level and merge her culture with that of the surface world….all to have material for a TV series that never happened.

They sugarcoat it by pretending everything will be all well and good and everyone will live together in peace, but bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit. They knew that at the end of the first movie, which is why the crew lied about Atlantis when they returned home. Hell, they knew what a terrible idea this was in THIS movie because the only reason there was any conflict on land was because the power of the Atlantean artifacts was causing all sorts of problems on the surface world. Kida risked the safety and well-being of her entire culture, one her late father entrusted to her, one that barely avoided destruction via a surface-dweller mere months prior….because the writers needed a convenient method of making stories for a TV show….that never even happened. Bite me.

Rewatch Desire – 1/10

24Mulan 2

Second verse, same as the first! Now with an asshole dragon! Yup, another movie where they thought ‘Hmm, the original movie didn’t have much romance. Let’s fix that by making the sequel obnoxiously about romance.’ This is such an unnecessary pile of crap. They made Mulan boring and inert, they gave the boys three perfectly suited for each of them princess love interests, they basically made Mulan and Shang’s relationship look bad and like it would probably never last, and they made Mushu into a selfish dumbass who hurts Mulan and tries to break her and Shang up all because he wants to keep being pampered by the other ancestors (who are waiting on him hand and foot for no reason. Also, despite being an asshole the whole movie, he ends up still getting pampered by the other ancestors…) There’s no antagonist, there’s barely a conflict and the barely conflict is fixed via stupidity and tired as hell cliche. As someone who absolutely loved the original Mulan, this movie can rot in a garbage can.

Overall Quality – 2.5/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 2/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -9 About the only thing this movie respects about the original is the ‘be true to your heart’ thing. Otherwise, Mulan’s a boring sack of dull. Not to mention that Mulan’s pretty focused on love here and even has a couple ‘squeeing’ moments. She battles once very briefly against no-name bandits, but who cares? Also, she needs to be saved by Shang from a marriage she doesn’t want.

Any message against sexism is pretty much null and void because the boys still want girls who suit their every desire and wait on them, and that’s what they get. They do push a message of not forcing people to marry, but I’ve seen some people complain that that message is disrespectful to Chinese culture in regards to arranged marriages because it’s western culture trying to force their views on them, and I get that.

Shang’s being a prick, Mushu’s being a bigger prick and it rewards him for it. Feh. There is one good dramatic moment during Shang’s death fakeout, which actually felt reminiscent of the original movie, but that’s about it.

Rewatch Desire – 0/10

25 – Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World

If you thought trying to make Cinderella into a TV show was a stupid idea that would never work, wait until you hear that Disney was trying to make a TV series as a midquel for Beauty and the Beast. It’s been a long time since I watched this movie, and I still can’t believe that was a plan. Squeeze out seasons worth of material in one or two months, at absolutely most, of a gap in the middle of the original movie. Yikes. The stories and songs here are basically as uninteresting and unmemorable as Cinderella 2, now with less animation quality. As a midquel, we know how everything turns out anyway, especially in the plots that involve strife between Belle and Beast. This movie and pilot idea couldn’t be more pointless.

Overall Quality – 1/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 1/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – – 3 Beast is just a crazy person in this movie. His attitude is much worse and flip-floppy than in the original movie. Belle is similarly worsened as she becomes slightly childish in her fights with him. The biggest offense this movie commits is really just having the gall to claim all of this happened in a little tiny time frame in the original movie – and all because they don’t have any ideas for Belle and Bea—Adam after the transformation back to normal. They legitimately could have gone for the child-of-previous-main-characters shtick and it would’ve worked a lot better than either movie, to be honest (as long as they did it well, of course.)

Rewatch Desire – 0/10

26 – The Fox and the Hound 2

Thinking about this movie gives me a headache. If there’s one thing I can say for a decent chunk of the Disquels it’s that you can easily identify them as being sequels to the original movie. This movie is so bland and boring and listless and forgettable and so far divorced from what the original movie was that if I explained the full plot to you without mentioning either character’s name (or saying ‘fox’ and ‘hound’) that you’d never believe this plot was a sequ—excuse me, midquel to The Fox and the Hound.

And yes, as if the terrible story and several degrees of separation from the original’s tone, message and pretty much everything weren’t enough, this is a midquel so it’s super pointless to watch this, not to mention depressing. Like, yeah, kids, enjoy watching this cute little friendship withstand a hardship just to eventually realize that they’ll be forced apart by the norms of nature and society as adults! The only good thing I could ever say about this movie is that the music was okay, but as of this moment I can’t even remember any of the music either. It is more than deserving of the runner-up…or runner-down spot on this list.

Overall Quality – 1.5/10

Memorability – 1/10

Entertainment Value – 1.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -9 As if everything I already said wasn’t bad enough, they also tried to imply that Widow Tweed and Amos were going to be romantically linked, which, uh, no. No….And no.

Rewatch Desire – 0/10

27 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2

And the winner of the bottom spot of this ranking list is none other than The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 – or as I like to call it ‘Pain in Movie Form.’ There is nothing this movie did right. Nothing. Not as a movie, not as a Disquel, not as a use for thousands of VHS tapes….Nothing. The art and animation is terrible. The music makes my insides self-immolate. The story is stupid, doesn’t make sense, and the overall message is ridiculously simple and one that was already gone over in the first movie. And it’s one of those stupid ‘someone didn’t get a love interest in the last movie. Gotta give them one now’ plots.

The new girl, whose name I don’t even remember, is literally just a constructed love interest for Quasi because he didn’t get Esmeralda in the end. She’s so boring and one note that it’s actually impressive. I don’t even want to acknowledge that the joke of ‘villain’ even exists. It’s hard to follow Frollo as it is, but they didn’t even try. No no, it was more like they were told to try even less than they intended on trying. Why this movie dares to exist is a mystery I still have yet to solve, and it is more than deserving of the bottom spot on this list.

Overall Quality – 1/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – .5/10 Just for the little kids.

Original Respect/Disrespect

Rewatch Desire0/10

And that finally, completely finishes off Dissecting the Disquels. It’s been a long and bumpy road with some nice detours along the way, but all g–….things must come to an end.

But fear not. Despite the Disquel movies being done, we still have work to do. There’s still Disquels TV shows to explore and……We’ll have to tackle….the live-action reboots. I am scared.


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Animating Halloween: The Addams Family (2019) Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky – The Addams Family! *snap snap*

Breakdown: The Addams’ Family has always been a well-respected and awesome franchise. I used to love watching the old TV show, and I am fan of the movies that came out in the 90s. They’re a very cool and creepy family who were never ashamed of who they were. They embraced their creepiness and owned it, and we loved them for it. So when I first saw the trailer for an animated movie, I was actually looking forward to it. The trailer looked fairly promising, and what better time to check out an Addams’ Family reboot than for Animating Halloween?

They definitely went into this movie having a lot of respect for the franchise. While they obviously modernize things and add some stuff, especially considering the freedom that animation provides them, they make a lot of references to the original series, even including the always beloved theme song in the trailers and the movie itself a few times, and they keep pretty much everything in line with what it has always been.

Gomez and Morticia Addams are dreadfully in love, but their family has always been hated and feared by others because of their dark and grotesque manner of living. They adore all things dreary, dirty, horrifying and gruesome, and they have supernatural friends and abilities, to a degree. They’re always playfully doing risky and harmful things in their trap-ridden haunted mansion, but underneath all of the death and destruction, there lies a family that is just as close and loving, if not moreso, than your average family.

In this movie, Gomez and Morticia are driven away again, during their wedding no less, by an angry mob. Morticia wishes for a normal life for her future children. They run over their future butler, Lurch, who is a runaway from the nearby abandoned asylum, and adopt the creepy haunted asylum as home sweet home.

Thirteen years later, Gomez and Morticia have two young children – the oldest, Wednesday, and the youngest, Pugsley. They’ve all been confined to the foggy mansion ever since they arrived because their parents were worried about their safety, so their lives are shaken when the fog lifts and reveals a nearby brightly colored, pristine perfect-person town called Assimilation, where, as you would probably guess, everyone is the same pearl-clutching bland ‘normal’ person who puts on fake smiles and goes overboard being positive and ‘accepting’ when they’re really anything but.

They go just a tiny bit too far with the depiction of these people. I get that it’s supposed to be a parody of those squeaky clean white collar neighborhoods full of stuck up snobs, but it’s a little too blatant. For instance, there’s some pep squad team thing and they sing a song that sounds like a cult that’s not even trying. “What’s so great about being yourself when you can be like everyone else? It’s easy to be happy when you have no choice.”

Enter the giant-bouncy-haired plastic-faced Margaux, who literally created the town of Assimilation. She hosts a home remodeling show, and her biggest project was fixing up an entire town and filling it with happy homeowners. When the Addams’ creepy mansion on the hill is revealed through the lifting fog, she tries to turn their house into another one of the clean, bright and sparkly houses in Assimilation because no one will want to move or stay in the town with a scary house visible in the distance. The Addams’ gladly accept her offer, but are forced to ultimately decline because they have the entire family coming over in the next two weeks and don’t have the time for her remodeling.

Margaux is not as she seems on the surface, however. She secretly installed cameras in all of the remodeled houses of Assimilation, and she frequently pretends to be other people on her neighborhood community app, Neighborhood Peeps, to spread harmful rumors about others so they’ll fall in line or the others in town will force them to leave.

Wednesday, however, is intrigued by the town and the normal people since she has never been outside of the mansion’s grounds. She soon attends the local school and befriends Parker, the daughter of Margaux. She’s a social media obsessed girl who wants her mother’s attention, but also resents that she forces her into the happy peppy pastel coated world her mother has fabricated. She finds Wednesday weird and frightening at first, but comes to respect and like her when she stands up against her bully.

Wednesday slowly starts adopting more colorful clothing styles and branches out more into the ‘normal’ world, while Parker gains the confidence to wear goth/punk styled clothing to rebel against her mother. In Wednesday’s situation, it’s kinda confusing. She expresses that she’s actually disappointed her mother was accepting of her new colorful look, but when she becomes more unaccepting of it, Wednesday runs away to live with Parker. She does treasure her freedom, so maybe she just disliked her mother controlling her more than she liked her anger.

It’s also kinda weird on Morticia’s end. She was the one concerned about her children living a safe and (ab)normal life, but when Wednesday is starting to be accepted by the outside world, she resists against it firmly. I get that a good part of it is Wednesday starting to pull away from her as well, but much of it is reacting to the stuff she’s doing.

When Wednesday goes to Parker’s house, they accidentally find Margaux’s weird lair, much to Parker’s surprise and disgust. Margaux catches them and locks them in the attic so they won’t mess up her plans to drive the Addams out of town so she can destroy their house.

Meanwhile, in plot B, Gomez is trying to prepare Pugsley for his Mazurka, which, in this case, is a very long and complicated dance with a saber that every Addams boy must complete in order to gain the respect of the family and formerly enter manhood. Above all else, though, it’s symbolic of the boy’s ability and drive to protect the family from anyone who would harm them.

Pugsley isn’t doing well with his practice. He’s more of a demolitions kid than a swordfighter, but this Mazurka is a big event. The family is gathering for the first time in thirteen years to see it, and Gomez, an avid swordfighter, put on one of the best Mazurka performances in the family. Puglsey tries his best, but he simply can’t get it down, much to Gomez’s disappointment.

You really feel bad for Pugsley because, even though he doesn’t much care about the Mazurka, he’s still trying his best and working hard to make his dad proud, and it’s just not working out.

The two plots collide when the extended Addams family finally arrives in town for the Mazurka, right as Margaux’s TV show is filming its season finale. Margaux has already planted the seeds in Assimilation to rally the townsfolk against them all, and once the family arrives, they become an all-out angry mob lead by Margaux.

And, ya know, much in same vein as how Arnold’s Halloween tends to get under my skin a little because of how believable it is for a group of idiots to nearly hurt or murder a bunch of kids because they believe they’re aliens, even if these townspeople are overly done, it’s also not outside of the realm of possibility for a town of bubbled up posers to be stirred into an angry mob, even in modern times, and actually attack a family to drive them out based on rumors and being afraid of others for being different. Especially in New Jersey.

Granted, yeah, the Addams family do cause actual harm to others sometimes, though typically not on screen, but they didn’t do anything to the townsfolk besides be weird. In fact, many of them were quite kind and polite to them.

Parker and Wednesday see what she’s about to do from the window, so Wednesday breaks them out of the room to go save her family.

Pugsley, predictably, does poorly in his Mazurka. He apologizes to Gomez for letting him down, but Gomez apologizes for not supporting him and letting him be himself. Just as the Mazurka finishes, Margaux and the townsfolk start slinging boulders through the mansion with a catapult. Gomez asks Pugsley to remember the true meaning of the Mazurka – protecting the family. Gomez hands him one of his bombs and tells Pugsley to go out and do what he does best.

Pugsley does indeed get to strut his stuff with his precious bombs, fighting off the slue of boulders being flung through the walls and protecting the family, but eventually he runs out of bombs before they run out of boulders and it seems like it’s the end of the Addams’ family. In the nick of time, however, Wednesday shows up and uses Icabod, the living tree, to save everyone from the collapsing house. Morticia and Wednesday reunite and make up.

Thing happens to have one bomb up his slee–….Uhm….Anyway, Thing throws the bomb to Pugsley, he blows up the catapult and finishes his own brand of Mazurka.

In a rather sad scene, Gomez reiterates something Morticia said earlier – people can be cruel. As the townsfolk see the Addams’ are just people like them – people that they’ve frightened, attacked and nearly murdered – the citizens realize that THEY were the real monsters all along. Dun dun dunnnn.

Margaux, however, doesn’t see it that way, even after Parker sides with the Addamses. She is completely adamant in destroying their house and making Assimilation and her season finale perfect no matter what. She tries to get the townsfolk back to what they were doing, but Wednesday reveals to them all of Margaux’s hidden cameras in the houses of Assimilation. Even after being ousted, Margaux still doesn’t care about what the townsfolk think. They’re just extras in her show to her, and she won’t let even them come against her.

Parker reveals that none of this matters anyway because she’s been streaming her mother’s tirade since the start. Millions of people have been watching the real Margaux Needler, and it’s caused such a backlash online that her show was immediately canceled. However, she still has a bunch of houses she needs to sell. In comes Fester with his pitch to sell the rest of the houses to the Addams family so they can all live nearby each other.

The townsfolk all offer to help fix up the Addams’ house, melding their ‘normal’ style with the rough gothic chic of the Addams (Although, this gets reverted back to the full dark, dank motif after the spirit haunting the place returns after fleeing from the attack.) Fester not only teams up with Margaux to make a realty company, but he also starts dating her…..which…I found to really unrealistic. I mean, I guess he does love her for the monster she is, but why she would love him back I do not know. Margaux did not have a redemption arc at all. She was horrible from start to finish…and not in the fun way. I’m not sure I like that she was given a happy-ish ending after all that.

Back at the mansion, the family honors Pugsley’s Mazurka and officially commemorates him as a true Addams.

Cousin Itt takes their family picture, and the movie ends with a pretty cool remake of the original 1964 opening theme song sequence of the TV show. I actually checked and did a side by side comparison. They did the entire sequence shot by shot exactly, they even mimicked slight body language like Morticia’s little smile on her second snap and Gomez’s deep breath and side smirk. That was really cool of them.

However….it is kinda ruined when the credits come in and it’s a colorfully animated sequence with a hip hop song behind it….I have nothing against the song itself, it’s actually pretty good if you ask me, but it doesn’t belong in an Addams Family movie…

Overall, it’s a pretty good movie on its own and a much better sendup to an old franchise than a LOT of other reboots and remakes. I found myself laughing several times and smiling through a good chunk of the movie.

There were some bothersome intrusions like I still find it kinda hard to get used to all the modern updates in reboots like this. For instance, the townsfolk were holding up their phones with an app running that showed a torch instead of them actually using torches. I also got very thrown off when they had a segment where Lurch suddenly sings ‘Everybody Hurts’ by REM in a far higher tone than his normal voice as they had a montage of Morticia, Wednesday, Gomez and Pugsley all dealing with their problems in the midway point. What the hell even was that?

There was also another hip-hop song that played when Cousin Itt arrived. He pulled up in a limo and had fancy shoes and a pimp cane and it was playing him up so much. I get it. Cousin Itt is a beloved character and he hadn’t been in most of the movie, so why not make his entrance grandiose? Still, it felt a bit weird. You know what’s also weird? Snoop Dog ‘voices’ Cousin Itt…..Yeah…I…don’t know why either.

The absolute ending was a bit rushed, in my opinion. Like I already said, Margaux’s redemption was not earned in the slightest, not to mention that she suddenly started accepting these ‘freaks’ just because she was able to sell houses to them. The reunion and make up scene between Morticia and Wednesday just kinda fizzled. And they somehow managed to not properly wrap up an ending to a particularly important character.

Anyone notice that I explained the entire ending without mentioning Parker? What the hell happened to her? I had to rewatch the ending to see if she was even shown. She was. She was filming Pugsley’s final ceremony, but she wasn’t even centered in the shot – it was focused on Wednesday giving an approving nod to her brother. Did she make up with her mom? I doubt it. They never show them interacting after Parker literally destroyed her mother’s career. Where does Parker go from here? Is she going to go live with her dad (her parents are divorced), is she going to stay with the Addamses or what? What was the conclusion to her character arc anyway?

Is The Addams Family perfect? No. But given the absolute trash that we’ve had to wade through in regards to reboots and remakes over the past couple of decades, I know for a fact that they could’ve done so, so, so much worse.

They respected the franchise very well, they kept nearly every facet of the original series, though some information was more taken from the ‘90s movies, they added their own spin on it without being too bothersome with the updates and changes, and they managed to do all of that while still being pretty clever, funny, endearing and likable. They even made me give a crap about Pugsley, and I honestly never cared about him in any incarnation.

The art and animation are very stylized, and it works quite well with the Addams Family motif. And the music, while having some questionable tracks, is still really good. The voice acting was also done well. Allison Janney owned her role as Margaux. I think this would be a really good watch, especially around Halloween, for fans of the franchise and for newcomers.

Recommended Audience: This is obviously a bit dark, being The Addams Family, but there was no point where I’d ever consider shielding a child’s eyes from it. The point where I got the most weirded out was when Morticia used the ashes of her parents as eye shadow and blush. That’s about it. 7+

Final Notes: A sequel is being released on Halloween 2021. I’m looking forward to it, and will probably review it, whether for Animating Halloween or otherwise.

Screenshots Courtesy of cap-that.com.


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