This is not a sacrifice. Just prey.

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THE GORGON

AvengerGorgonStage4
Real Name: Medusa
Illustrator: Simosi
Featured In:
Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Yū Asakawa (Japanese)

Avengers, as one would rightfully assume by the title of their Class, are Servants whom embody the concept of vengeance in some form or another. The most well-known case was the Servant whose true potential was only realized upon it being slain and thus unleashing “All of Man’s Evils” into the Holy Grail, thus corrupting it for future wars to come, allowing for the summoning of arguably “evil” Servants and even corrupting some Servants into darker aspects of themselves known as Alters.

While one might assume this is the case for Medusa that is actually quite far from the truth and even from the atypical standard of Servants capable of being in multiple Classes. Most Servants who can be summoned in more than one Class generally reflect that Class via a very specific point in their life, oftentimes a span of a few years or even several decades.

For Medusa however, as an Avenger, she appears in the exact moment of transformation between a goddess of beauty and a monster, and thus why she is more commonly referred to as “The Gorgon” when summoned in this Class.

The Gorgon’s passive skills and abilities include such gems as “Demon of Mutation” or as it’s more commonly dubbed “Demonic Mutation.” It is a skill that is only achieved by heroes, or even gods, have transformed into a demonic creature. Use of this skill by a Servant emphasizes this fact to an insane degree, strengthen the Gorgon in ways that are absolutely impossible for a human body to ever achieve.

While not shown through gameplay in Fate Grand Order, I believe that utilizing this skill also further “degrades” the Gorgon into her more monstrous form and runs the additional risk of further alienation in her overall personality. While not exactly monstrous, it is stated outright that the Gorgon’s affection and even her love is not meant for kinship with humans as she has an entirely different standpoint.

Like her more humanoid forms, the Gorgon also possesses “Cybele the Mystic Eyes of Petrification” though it remains sealed by way of her own will, oftentimes in the form of a protective band over her eyes known as “Breaker Gorgon” or by a noticeably seal painted upon her brow. Being the most powerful variation of these eyes, it can be surmised that even Servants with high Mana stats can become petrified near instantly.

Her last named skill, “Scream of Awe” is a roar that arouses an instinctive awe in all living beings, sentient or otherwise. It will inflict such high levels of fear that it can almost be called a curse as even the hardiest of opponent’s defenses drop virtually to nothing.

A rather unique trait that the Gorgon possesses can be found in her blood that has two possible effects. Should her blood be spilled on the earth, notably in the sands of a desert, venomous serpents will spring forth from it. However, should her blood be willingly given, it can be used to create one of two things. An incredibly deadly poison for the living, or a medicine capable of reviving the recently dead.

The Gorgon’s Noble Phantasm is known as “Pandemonium Cetus: Forced Seal, Pandemonic Temple.” It is, essentially, the recreation of the moment when she renounced the last vestige of being a goddess and became the true “Gorgon monster.”

It is this creature that is immediately materialized in her place and all life within the designated territory is liquefied. Any humans caught within it are instantly killed and most Servants whom manage to survive do not do so without receiving some extreme damage.

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Out of the Avengers revealed thus far, the Gorgon is the only one I would… perhaps not gladly but willingly call to my side to fight in a Holy Grail War, or any other major source of conflict. Aside from not being an “Alter” of another Servant, the Gorgon is one that does not leave the possibility of creating further damage should she perish and become a part of the Grail like another, more recognized Avenger.

True, should she die in a spectacularly bloody fashion —which admittedly is par for the course in most Fate conflicts— there’d be a whole lot of poisonous snakes to deal with but given that I’m facing someone, or something, capable of offing her in such a fashion, I’d likely have far bigger concerns to deal with.

That… and call me a sucker for tragic figures but Medusa’s story, in every version of her story that I read, she became a monster through the actions of the Greek gods either directly or indirectly, and in the Fate version in particular… hers is one of the darker tales.

If nothing else, I would have her at my side as a form of objection to those whom would make a monster out of her and show them, the world, and perhaps even the Gorgon herself that even monsters can still become heroes.

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Another Autumn Series

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Apologies for another long hiatus folks, a combination of actual illness and fading summertime days kept me occupied but now, not only am I back but thanks to the discovery of a recent smartphone game, I also have a theme for the next several reviews!

As a few who’ve read my series of one-shots, From Across the Throne of Heroes, I am a major fan of the Fate series of Type-Moon. I say series because, as of this post, there have been visual novels, actual novels, video games, anime series, and now a smartphone game. The overall plot of the series, no matter its medium, revolves around the summoning of legendary figures from across myth and history as Servants to fight in a war to attain the Holy Grail, a magical device created for the sole purpose of granting the winner of wish with absolutely no rules or drawbacks.

Provided of course that the Grail itself has not been corrupted…

Of course, there’s far, FAR more to any one of the stories than just that but that is the basic gist. As to what I’ll be reviewing, I will be talking about my own favorite Servant for each of the major classes featured in the Fate series.

As always, there will be a few ground rules for me to adhere to. First Rule, I will not be “cheating” by picking multiple variations of the same Servant, particularly those whom have been “Altered.” Whatever Servant I decree as being the best in that Class will not be picked again because of similar, or greater, capabilities in another Class.

Second Rule, no “theme” Servants, specifically those whom were created for winter and summer holidays, amusing or… ahem, alluring many them might be.

Third Rule, I will not be covering singular Servant Classes like Shielder or specially crafted Servant Classes like Alter Ego and Moon Cancer

With that all said, I suppose then the best way to wrap up this review is to summarize the Servant Classes that I will be picking my favorites from? Be warned, this listing is NOT going to be the order I go in, just the order that they are commonly listed in for most Fate games.

Saber: Heroic Spirit of the Sword and one of the three Knight Classes. A jack-of-all-trades warrior. Agile and powerful in close quarters; extremely adept at swordsmanship. Arguably one of the most powerful Class of Servants

Archer: Heroic Spirit of the Bow and one of the three Knight Classes. Excellent scouts that excel in possessing powerful Noble Phantasms. Masters of long ranged warfare and the most independent of Servants.

Lancer: Heroic Spirit of the Lance and one of the three Knight Classes. Gifted with extreme agility and proficient in hit-and-run tactics as well as ranged melee weapons such as spears and lances.

Rider: Heroic Spirit of the Mount. Experts of the mount able to tame any beast, be it mythical or mechanical whose steeds are oftentimes their Noble Phantasms. On their own, an already deadly force but astride their mounts, they are a destructive force.

Caster: Heroic Spirit of Spells and Sorcery. Adept in magecraft, being one of the few able to use sorceries of the highest calibe. They can and have exploited the rules of the Holy Grail Wars to their advantage using magic lost to the ages.

Assassin: The Silent Killer and Heroic Spirit of Assassinations. Extremely skilled at covert, stealthy, and silent operations. Atypically the weakest in physical prowess but are the most difficult to pin down.

Berserker: The Mad Warrior and Heroic Spirit of Berserker Rage. Crazed warriors that have lost almost all traces of their sanity in exchange for great power. It takes a combination of extreme luck and a LOT of control to keep these Servants leashed and focused lest their rage gets the best of them.

Ruler: Virtuous warriors summoned by the Holy Grail itself, tasked with governing the rituals of the Grail Wars. Exceptionally rare to summon, save for Grail Wars that have more than the average seven Servants above.

Avenger: Vigilante and Heroic Spirit of Vengeance. Vindictive warriors that bears great hatred in the past, the embodiment of hatred itself. They are said to either come from or indirectly create the dark side of the Holy Grail.

Maid + Dragon equals…?

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Dragons Welcome

Directed By: Yasuhiro Takemoto
Written By:
Yuka Yamada
No. of Seasons: 1 (Currently)
No. of Episodes:
13 (Currently)
Production Company: Kyoto Animation
Licensed By: Crunchyroll
Original Release:
January 11 2017

Based on the manga series of the same name, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is yet another addition to the steadily rising trend of anime featuring not-quite-human characters, mainly girls, in an otherwise normal, that is to say non-fantastical, setting. However, contrary to those anime, most of which fall under either the harem or slice of life sub-genre, Dragon Maid is primarily a romantic-comedy series with most of both genres provided by our titular dragon maid, Tohru, though not quite in the way that you might think.

You see, one morning Miss Kobayashi, or simply Kobayashi as her first name has yet to be revealed, was getting ready for her office job and is greeted at the door by Tohru in her full dragon form before transforming into a demi-human maid. As it turns out, Kobayashi, in the midst of a drunken excursion into the mountains, not only discovered the newly arrived Tohru but had saved her from a holy sword stuck in Tohru’s back. Finding out that Tohru has no place to stay, the drunk Kobayashi invites Tohru to live at her apartment as her maid.

Contrary to how most anyone else would react, though I for one would like do several back flips of joy at having, however inadvertently, saved/befriended a dragon, Kobayashi does not immediately welcome Tohru into her home. By a mix of guilt and Tohru’s draconic abilities though more the former than the latter, Kobayashi accepts Tohru into her home.

Thus, shenanigans ensue.

See, while Tohru is understandably grateful to Kobayashi, she is also head over tail in love with her as well and has absolutely no trouble proclaiming as such at every available opportunity. What makes this anime distinct from others of its kind, at least in genre, is the fact that Kobayashi is the “straight man” insomuch that she acts like a normal person would in the face of Tohru’s affections. She does not become immediately flustered or even stand-offish. Rather, she comes off as having accepted Tohru’s love for her and while she never says so outright, there is some affection growing steadily in her heart as the episodes go by.

Of course, that’s just on the romantic side of things. Comedy however, oh man, where do I begin? I suppose the one thing that stands out the most glaringly. Tohru is a dragon. Yes, yes, I know, rather obvious but what isn’t so obvious, and oftentimes can be buried by comedic antics, is the fact that there is a huge cultural difference between her and Kobayashi.

Case in point, one of the common running gags in the show is Tohru constantly attempting to get Kobayashi to eat her tail, which regenerates almost instantly and appears to be a significant token of affection between Tohru’s particular breed of dragon.

Speaking of, Tohru is not the only dragon to appear in the series though there appear to be several laws that dragons, or at least those of Tohru’s “Chaos Faction” bar their presence. The first to arrive in the human world is Kanna Kamui who initially comes off as having searched for Tohru to bring her back home when in truth…

She was kicked out of their home world for her behavior by her parents and cannot get back on her own due, initially, to the lack of magical power and know-how. As it turns out, Kanna can actually draw more magical power by way of electricity. Kanna is something of a breakout star in the anime, popular among fans for being both ridiculously cute and cutely ridiculous.

Like Tohru, she too has something of a cultural clash insomuch that while Kanna is young by dragon standards, so much so that her human form resembles that of a young child fit for third grade, she is still much older than she appears and can be surprisingly devious when she wants to be. That doesn’t quite stop her from asking Tohru to set up a series of neon lights right outside the apartment door, and later an actual working chimney, to ensure that Santa Claus knows this is the residence of the “good girl Kanna-chan.”

Not going to lie, I nearly fell out my chair when I saw that from laughing so hard.

Of course, also like Tohru, there’s something of a cultural clash with Kanna. For example, wanting to go outside and play with Tohru, the two dragged Kobayashi along to a landscape far from any humans and proceeded to do just that. Play as dragons do by way of launching thunderbolts and fireballs that tore up most of the landscape before Kobayashi put her foot down and demanded the two play like a human would. Thus began the common game of “human” wherein the two over-exaggerate many of Kobayashi’s common complaints from work, namely her sore lower back.

Following on Kanna’s coattails by way of invitation from Tohru, and wanting to check up on her, are a pair of dragons of a more recognized renown. Fafnir and Quetzalcoatl, or Lucoa as she prefers. Like Tohru and Kanna, the two legendary dragons inadvertently end up drawn to the human world for two entirely different reasons.

For Lucoa, she was intending to go back home when she happened to feel a strong summoning spell taking place nearby, one that would unintentionally draw a very powerful, and nigh uncontrollable, demon if left alone so she answered the call before said eldritch abomination could. Unfortunately, the summoner, a young boy ironically named Shouta, does not believe that Lucoa is anything but a succubus attempting to tempt him into damnation.

Given that the supposed divine dragon’s every attempt to remedy this leads to further misunderstandings (and plenty of fanservice), I can see the young lad’s point though that doesn’t quite stop him from forcing her to leave his house. Her common running gag is that she is commonly “arrested” for her choice of attire, and dragged away in order to change into something more appropriate.

… I never thought I’d see the day when an anime outright pokes fun at fanservice but there you have it.

What makes it really funny to behold though is the fact that Lucoa literally doesn’t realize what she’s doing and has, more often than not, been totally oblivious to the fact that her lack of personal space when dealing with Shouta, namely getting him up close and personal with her, ahem, assets, is what sets the poor boy running for the hills whilst proclaiming her a bad, bad demon.

As for Fafnir, oh now his is an interesting story. Much like the legends portray him, Fafnir is cold and often aloof and completely disinterested in the world around him and was as such until his gaze happened to be drawn that drew his interest. Video games. Yep, no joke, whilst attending a get-together at Kobayashi’s apartment, Fafnir was drawn in by a game that Kobayashi’s co-worker/friend/fellow maid/butler enthusiast Makoto Takiya was playing.

Since then, Fafnir has taken residence with Makoto and has become something of a gaming obsessed otaku, spending many long hours of the night playing MMORPGs and other games when not taking minor “breaks.” A common running gag with him is how quickly he switches between an outright dangerous dragon to an extremely nerdy otaku, oftentimes in the same breath.

Heck, one afternoon whilst playing a game at Kobayashi’s apartment, Kanna returned home with her friend and proclaimed that the two were now involved in a duel. Kobayashi’s reaction was confusion, Tohru’s a proud proclamation of assistance, whilst Fafnir stated he’d kill their opponents outright all by himself. Death threat aside, one must remember that Kanna is a child in dragon years so Fafnir’s reaction, while still over the top, is understandably justified considering any such duel that took place in their world would result in either extreme bodily harm or death.

Last, but not least, is my own favorite dragon Elma who… Y’know what? I’ll save her for a review all on her own. Believe me, I’ve got a lot to gush–SAY! I’ve got a lot to say about this one.

Similarly to most other slice of life anime, each episode has a “theme” going for it such as Kanna getting ready for her first day of school, a day spent at the beach, and even a school sports festival. What is particularly funny, and hilariously meta, is that like most anime, each episode of Dragon Maid has two titles with the secondary one oftentimes being a crack at what the episode is about. For example using the same episodes I mentioned…

Episode 04: Kanna Goes to School! (Not That She Needs To), Episode 07: Summer’s Staples! (The Fanservice Episode, Frankly), and Episode 09: Sports Festival! (There’s No Twist or Anything).

While there is something of a progressing story in the anime, there isn’t much in the way of an actual plot as most slice of life anime are wont to do. That’s not to say that there isn’t a steady progression but rather that there isn’t some great force of evil to overcome or some plot-twist waiting to be unveiled. This is an anime that features a dragon being a maid to a woman that saved her life and whom she has fallen head over tail for. That’s really all there is to it.

Kobayashi & Tohru

Paladin of the Green Lion…

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Real Name:
Katie Holt
Alias: Pidge Gunderson
Nationality: Italian
Featured In:
Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016-Present)
Voiced By: Bex Taylor-Klaus

With the surprising premiere of Voltron: Legendary Defender season 3 and the announcement of season 4 premiering later this same year, what better way is there to announce my elation than to talk of my favorite of the Paladins of Voltron. Now, I’ll give fair warning, as I have not yet watched season 3, there will be no spoilers for it, just seasons 1 and 2. That being said, let me speak a few lengthy paragraphs on the Paladin of the Green Lion…

Katie Holt is hands down a supreme master of espionage, infiltration, and technologies both Terran and extraterrestrial that to call her the team’s “Espionage Specialist” is an extreme understatement. Following the disappearance of her father and brother, Katie manage to not only break into Galaxy Garrison headquarters on more than one occasion but even managed to successfully break into Commander Iverson’s office and hack her way through his computer.

Of course, she was caught and eventually barred from the premises with extreme prejudice, so Katie sought to infiltrate the GG in a whole new way. By disguising herself as a boy and becoming a cadet in order to find her lost family. Her disguise consists of cutting her hair, donning a pair of spectacles, and wearing clothing a few sizes too big to hide her feminine physique.

Basically, she did a combo of Mulan and Clark Kent but that’s not the most impressive thing about her espionage skills. She essentially created a solid enough identity to enter what is essentially a space program run by the flipping military. Of course, one could argue the age-old joke of military intelligence but regardless, hers was not only a most excellent of plans but one that even Allura was caught off guard by when “Pidge’s” true gender was revealed.

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Though named Katie and revealing herself to her friends and allies, she still prefers to go by the name of Pidge and honestly, I can’t fault her for it. In essence, “Katie” is the the sister left behind unable to make any kind of headway in finding her father and brother whereas “Pidge” has not only come several, literal, light years closer, Pidge is the one whom is Paladin to the Green Lion of Voltron.

Speaking of the emerald cat, the Green Lion is considered to be the Guardian Spirit of the Forest and, thanks in no small part to Pidge, is one of the most technologically advanced of the Lions by way of an actual cloaking system that Pidge installed entirely by herself. Of the Lions, the Green is considered to be the most adventurous, a trait that is similarly shared in Pidge who never fails in finding awe and majesty in any of her surroundings.

Like its fellows, the Green Lion is armed with a distinctive weapon known by fans as the “Vine Cannon” insomuch that it is a cannon that causes massive vines and roots to grow and ensnare whatever is hit by the beam, regardless of the sheer impossibility of plants growing on such a surface.

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In her Paladin gear, Pidge is armed with a Bayard whose unique configuration is that of a angular katar, whose blade is not only sharp enough to pierce most alien metals but can also deliver a stunning shock. The most notable ability of Pidge’s Bayard is that it can be used as a grappling hook, allowing Pidge far greater maneuverability and can even be used to ensnare her opponents. However, while the cord is completely unbreakable, Pidge’s strength is not as great and she can, and has, been pulled off her feet on more than one occasion as a result.

Still, for being the technology expert of the group, Pidge is surprisingly good fighter as well. Quick on her feet and utilizing whatever she can to her advantage be it the environment, her opponent’s underestimating her due to her size/age/etc., and even utilizing whatever tech she can get her hands on. Pidge may be physically the smallest and weakest as far as sheer muscle strength is concerned.

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Yet, the one thing that I can well and truly say that I like-nay, outright adore most about Pidge is that she is a complete and total nerd the likes of which put the AVGN too shame at least as far as video games are concerned. In my favorite “breather” episode of the series thus far, “Space Mall,” Pidge happens to find a store catering to all things from Earth, including an old video game console with an equally old game, both still in their original packaging and in pristine condition.

After gushing to the point of tears over it, she enlists Lance in aiding her in finding the necessary funds to purchase the console and game, going so far as to go fountain diving with Lance proving that dignity is second only to acquiring an antique, but no less awesome, video game.

Wherever the show decides to go from season three and onward, I can only fervently hope that we get to see more of these adorkable elements of Pidge.
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Cowabunga…!

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TURTLES ACROSS THE AGES

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As I said in my two reviews for the more recent films adaptations done by Nickelodeon, and that one guy, I am a major fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Borderline lieutenant colonel even. I grew up on the original films, tapes of the 80’s cartoon, and a hodgepodge of toys that, in hindsight, were beyond weird even for the TMNT.

I mean, TMNT and Star Trek? Talk about fanfiction crossovers am I right?

Anyway, as one can likely surmise from the picture above, I will not be discussing any one series or one turtle in particular but rather how much they’ve changed over the years and when those changes were implemented or have become more directly applied to the Turtles as a whole.

Starting right where it all began, the TMNT was originally a colorless comic book one-shot that went on to become a major series published by Mirage Comics. In that original series, the TMNT were, essentially, quintuplets in that they not only looked identical to one another but wore the same colored masks and gear, differing only slightly based on their weapons of choice.

It wasn’t until the 1987 cartoon series, and resulting comic book series by Archie Comics, where the first true distinction amongst the brothers was made. The first, and most obvious, alteration that was made was the colors of their mask with Leonardo being blue, Raphael staying red, Donatello getting purple, and Michelangelo wearing orange. This was also the series that introduced the bare basics of the Turtles’ respected personalities and in song form no less!

“Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines, Raphael is cool but crude, and Michelangelo is a party dude!”

Thus were the first true TMNT tropes made and implemented in virtually every media following the original cartoon series to varying degrees. Leonardo is the leader and, for the most part, most emotionally mature of the group and is oftentimes the most levelheaded. Donatello is the genius of the group, though to what degree varies by the media insomuch that his fields of expertise vary. More often than not, he is the one chiefly responsible for the Turtles’ vehicles and specialized gear.

Raphael, particularly outside the ’87 cartoon, is the stereotypical hothead of the group to a point where he can, and has, inadvertently put himself and those closest to him in grave danger. He’s a reactive individual and more often than not, buts heads with Leonardo because of it.

Michelangelo is the comedic, laid-back, and an optimist of the highest order even in the darkest of times. He’s the kid of the group and is oftentimes the instigator of several shenanigans that otherwise could have been avoided but where he might fail in stealth, he rarely fails in bringing out a laugh even out of his enemies.

While this is the most generalized depiction of the personalities of the TMNT, this is not fully the case for their first animated incarnations. To be fair, the ’87 cartoon was made it was done with the strict purpose of selling toys and while the first season was somewhat serious, though nowhere near the level of the ending seasons of “red skies,” the TMNT were generally portrayed as fun loving teenagers.

Sure, there were moments where there was some distinction with their personalities, again especially so in the closing seasons, but there is a reason that a common running gag for the ’87 cartoon is mismatched voices among the brothers. Heck, it was a gag done in the very first episode with April mixing up which Turtle was which, but given that the Turtles were nigh indistinguishable back then.

This was dealt with somewhat in the live action televised series The Next Mutation, which I suppose was meant to be a play on a similarly named sci-fi show though the so-called “mutation” never came into play in the series itself. There were more than a few… hiccups shall we say in regards to this show, chief among them being the ever infamous “fifth turtle” whom I will speak of separately in a later review but the most prevalent one is that the brothers were given more physical distinction in the form of mask variation though they kept the belt buckles bearing the first letter of their name from their cartoon counterparts.

It’s not much, especially compared to a certain rendition later on, but it was the start in putting an end to the near clone-like quality of the Turtles’ appearance.

Eventually, we get to the 4Kids cartoon rendition and its “sequel” series, though arguably they qualify more as distinctive seasons… This rendition is affectionately known as 2K3 among fans, and it is the premiere of the TMNT being granted their first distinctive scale coloration outside the plethora of toys, which were colored as such to make them look even more distinct than just different colored masks and to better recognize the variations that didn’t sport the atypical Ninja Turtle look. I’m looking at you TMNT/Star Trek toys.

While these colors have changed somewhat in more recent years, the Turtles are commonly given these colors: Leonardo a bluish green, Donatello an olive or yellowish green, Raphael true/vibrant green, and Michelangelo a dark or bright jungle green. As I understand it, this was done primarily to better compliment their mask color of choice.

2K3 also introduced a LOT of attire variations to the TMNT, from futuristic gear to mystical tattoos, and even a brief stint where the Turtles turned into freaking dragons. While a great majority of 2K3 shared elements with the original comic book series, particularly in its earliest seasons, it also introduced a shell of a lot of new materials that ranged from the weirdly awesome to awesomely weird and that’s just talking about the Turtles themselves.

Trust me, it gets WAY out of control with the Shredder. I kid you not, the Shredder is a demon, an alien, and an advanced cyborg/artificial intelligence. Not all at once thankfully but it does get pretty close at times.

From scales we move on to another physical distinction in the form of their actual physical appearance beyond coloration. Upon the premiere of Nickelodeons’ TMNT, the brothers were made physically distinct from each other, no longer bearing a copy-n-paste-n-recolor appearance. One rather odd design choice for the latest incarnation of the TMNT is their feet, which aren’t human-shaped with toe toes but more akin to a tortoise’s own with three toes to match the number of fingers the Turtles’ have.

From there, and in reverse order this time, Michelangelo maintains his appearance of being the “baby” of the brothers, being both shorter than his brothers and having a bit of a baby with a speckling of freckles even to go alongside the vibrant blues of his eyes. Raphael is only slightly taller but is far more wider and muscular, evening sporting a small crack is shell, and his eyes are now a bright shade of green.

Donatello is tall and somewhat lanky, sporting a small gap between his teeth, looking every bit the stereotypical nerd of the four save a lack of spectacles over his brown eyes. Leonardo retains the same “generic” of their predecessors in that he has a more generalized body shape, neither too muscular or too thin, nor too short or too tall. His baby blues though are the only pair that have the atypical almond slant that most Asian cartoon characters are depicted having in Western animations.

Finally, we get to the most recent rendition of the TMNT, outside the plethora of mini-shorts that have premiered these last few years particular Turtles Take Time (And Space) as it is pretty much my entire point made into animated form. With Bay’s rendition of the Turtles, they are easily the most distinct from each other and any previous incarnation bar the token parallels of personality and color preference for their masks.

All four Turtles use recycled scraps of clothing and various objects for their gear with all but Raphael, who opts for combative wrappings, even going so far as to cobble together shoes for their two-toed feet. Leonardo goes a bit further with a set of chest and shoulder armor, giving him a sort of samurai vibe whereas Donatello dons not only a pair of spectacles but also a pair of highly geared up goggles and a backpack that I’d swear was stolen from the Ghostbusters.

Contrary wise, Raphael is the most simplistic, opting only for what’s necessary save for a pair of shades he keeps atop his head and, apparently, an endless supply of toothpicks somewhere on his person. Michelangelo is still the kid brother of the four, wearing a necklace of self-proclaimed “bling” and, hilariously enough, a pair of knee pads but given that he’s never without a skateboard, rocket propelled or otherwise…

Aside from their choice ensembles, the same physical differences shown in the Nickelodeon cartoon is reflected here save for a few minor differences. Donatello and Raphael are both among the tallest of the Turtles with Michelangelo still being the shorter one. Also, Raphael appears to have a scar over his lip and, like Donnie, has a more turtle-like face compared to Leo and Mikey who have more developed lips, especially in the case of the party dude.

As of now, no official imagery has been released for the upcoming series Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set to premiere in 2018 but if the trend remains the same, I’ve no doubt that they too will stand apart from their predecessors. If there’s anything that I hope to see changed in this series, or to be implemented more than in previous incarnations, I actually hope to see the Turtles in more clothes, or at least with an ensemble that better resembles who they are as individuals.

We must go forth…!

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LEGEND QUEST

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Created By:
José Alejandro García Muñoz
No. of Seasons:
1 (Currently)
No. of Episodes:
13 (Currently)
Production Company: Ánima Estudios
Original Release: February 24, 2017

Legend Quest, a relatively new cartoon series featured on Netflix, is one that I have found to be equal parts extremely good and foolishly bad. No, “bad” is perhaps too strong a word to use more like… serious lack of effort put into solidifying any kind of reasoning behind the more important plot relevant aspects of the show. It doesn’t help that Legend Quest itself is based on a series of animated films that are extremely hard to find and watch outside of Mexico, and so a lot

Case in point, our main hero of the show is a boy named Leo who can see and commune with ghosts.

The reason for this is that there is always one person in every village who can do this. That’s it. One person in every village can do this because reasons. Reasons that become virtually moot as it soon becomes rapidly apparent that most people can see ghosts whether or not they are “the one in every village.” It’s not that the reasons aren’t fairly obvious, from being actual legendary creatures to being in places of great spiritual power thus ensuring even the most mundane folks can perceive the dead, it’s that for all the emphasis that was put into why Leo can see the dead, virtually none of that is done elsewhere.

The abject lack of reasonable reasoning continues with our main villain Quetzalcoatl who is dead-set on destroying the world despite being a creator god and, generally speaking, an all-around good deity. The reasoning is, and I quote, “only when he’s in a good mood and he’s NOT in a good mood now.”

So… a god of agriculture, sun, wind, and education is going to destroy the world because he’s in a mood? How the heck this hasn’t happened a thousand times over with the Greek pantheon alone remains one of many unanswered mysteries in the show overall. Though it’s not been a common trope among deities, the concept of gods being empowered by the faith/worship of humanity has steadily grown over the years as greatly demonstrated in a certain book made television series. Though I do not doubt that Quetzalcoatl had his fair share of worshipers back in his prime, I severely doubt that’s the case anymore in the 19th century and especially compared to other, far more widely recognized gods and beings of similar ilk.

Really though because he’s in a “bad mood?” What happens if he’s in a good mood then huh?

As I’m sure many have already surmised, the main plot revolves around Leo finding a means of stopping Quetzalcoatl’s plan of destroying the earth by way of globular trek. Not intentionally mind you and oftentimes with little to no reasoning as to how or why he and his companions end up in the places they do but whatever.

Most episodes are arguably self-contained in a typical “monster of the week” fashion though most do contribute to the overall plot of stopping Quetzalcoatl and, surprisingly, his right-hand witch Baba Yaga. Credit to the show, it doesn’t try and keep the legendary creatures/beings limited to knowing only those in their specific regions/legends/pantheons and, for the most part, consists of creatures that aren’t as widely known as some others or haven’t been utilized that greatly in more recent years.

Onward to the actual main characters of the show we get our… arguable hero named Leo, the boy who talks to ghosts because reasons and whose job it is to stop Quetzalcoatl because prophecy. Ugh, just to break the mold I’d love there to be some big prophecy that states that this supposed hero is set to vanquish this ultimate evil only for someone else entirely whom actually get the job done.

But I digress. For all the hardships he has faced, for all the trials he has overcome, and the multitude of malicious monster met, Leo is still a kid. Not a young kid but one that clearly doesn’t know what kind of person he intends to be. There are some episodes/moments where he is well and truly brilliant and brave and others where the exact opposite is more than a slight understatement. Generally speaking, he’s a good person all around it’s just that his attitude and mannerisms appear to vary by the episode from dumbstruck with love and a whole heap of false heartbreak to angsting avenger set on achieving his goal no matter the cost.

Next we got a rather interesting breed of monster, a creature known as an alebrije named Alebrije simply for the fact that his actual name requires one to be missing the tip of their tongue to properly pronounce. He is a rainbow hued creature that, to us and Leo, as a mishmash of shapes. To others however, he appears as a creature that, quote, “says more appear them than it does him,” which I think means that who they are as a person is reflected in his own form.

Overall, he’s something of the mother-hen of the group, not only actively looking out for them as a whole no matter their age or (lack of) maturity but also he’s quite the cook apparently. His sense of smell is second to none as far as tracking anything deemed extremely important to the overall plot of the episode, be it mundane or magical.

From there, we go down to the dumb and useless side that is the long deceased and frankly far from departed Don Andrés, a supposed Conquistador with a very British accent whose escapades took him to Germany. He is, without a doubt in my mind, the most useless character in the entirety of the show. Admittedly, he has had one shining moment in preserving the after-lives of some ghosts bewitched by an equally spectral Medusa’s wicked gaze but any other were nothing short of lackluster.

He is a coward, openly screaming in fright and fleeing despite the fact that he is already dead and nothing short of certain magical spells can hurt him. Something that we do NOT see nearly enough for him to act in that way. He is also undeniably greedy, openly trying, and failing because you know dead as a doornail, to steal bits of gold and other treasures despite being in a dire situation with the monster-of-the-week.

The pirate-styled Marcella has the poor fate of being Leo’s love interest in this show, and I only say this because while their romance was played rather well at the beginning, it pretty much degraded to dust when she reappears later and becomes a part of the main cast. Not to say that Marcella is a bad character. Far from it in fact. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, is not afraid to step up whenever and however she may need to even if it involves hurting those involved, and is probably the most sensible person in the whole group bar one other and even that one is questionable at certain times. Instead, much like Leo, Marcella has similar elements of severe lack of reasoning.

The primary example of this being that she is a sorceress who inherited her power via touching her mother after her mother was struck down when she refused to allege herself to Baba Yaga and Nu Gui whom, by extension, serve Quetzalcoatl. Given that the two, Baba Yaga in particular, are one of the most powerful and globally recognized witches, there is little to no backstory given for Marcella or her mother and how it is that they could possibly rank up to them though I’ll give them points for the “power of three” aspect of witchcraft.

The auburn haired, and modernly dressed, Teodora is by far my favorite of the cast because she, more than even Marcella, has the proper attitude and mindset in regards to Leo’s quest and how to accomplish it. … For the most part. She is a teenage girl and a Millennial at that. No, that’s not a typo either. Rather than being a ghost like Don Useless, Teodora is actually the astral projection of a girl from our time period and not the 19th century whom was taught this skill in order to aid Leo in his quest.

I’d question the validity of this if it weren’t blatantly obvious from the get-go that Teodora is the only person capable of keeping Leo’s head on straight for him and has pulled more than her fair share of weight in most circumstances with whatever monster-of-the-week our heroes encounter. What I find particularly amusing about her though is that somehow, someway, she has somehow managed to not only bring her smartphone along for the astral projection ride but is still able to utilize most of its functions such as the camera and, surprisingly, going onto the Internet. I honestly don’t know if I should call this brilliantly stupid or stupidly brilliant.

Overall, Legend Quest is not a bad cartoon though it does not rank anywhere near my top ten overall though it does just manage to squeak in under the Netflix only banner. If you want to see a cartoon that features the more obscure myths and legends from across the world that have rarely been under the spotlight, or even if you are just intrigued by a show made and produced in Mexico, then I wholeheartedly recommend Legend Quest. It might not be what you expect but then, isn’t that precisely what any show, cartoon or not, should be?

A Friendly Neighborhood…

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SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

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Directed By:
Jon Watts
Produced By:  Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal
Story By: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Premiered On:
July 7, 2017
Distribution By:
Sony Pictures Releasing

For the purposes of not spoiling the film too much, I’ll strictly be focusing this review on the titular hero and non-titular villain. Why? Because aside from not wanting to spoil any of the numerous humorous moments with my attempt at explaining why they’re so funny, there are a few plot twists that even I didn’t expect to see and wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises in store for you should you go see the film yourself. That and I’d likely soapbox on everything that I loved in this film so I’m doing my best to constrain it to strictly two characters, their performance, and their outfits.

If it hasn’t been said enough already I’ll say it once more, I am a Spider-Fan. I grew up on the Fox Kid’s cartoon of the 90’s, an era where Saturday mornings were worth getting up early for, and have a decent collection of graphic novels of major story arcs alongside several boxes worth of actual comics from Amazing and Ultimate storylines. I do not pretend to be of the Uber class of nerd however, I cannot instantaneously list off any specific numbers or moments at a whim but I still like to think myself well knowledged in Marvel’s, quote, “Greatest Superhero.”

The original trilogy is one that while I initially enjoyed upon first viewing, save for the third one for reasons that even thinking about set me on a rage that is but a mere quarter to the burning fire that is my ire towards the travesty of “One More Day” and its BLASTED DUMB FU—

Ahem. Anyway, the original trilogy was good for its time but focused too much on the angst side of things to a point where, frankly, anytime I think of those films I recall the scene of Tobey crying like a kicked puppy. That is not an image I want to associate with a hero that is more famously known for his quipping and (generally) upbeat attitude no matter how much, or how frequently, the odds are stacked against him in and outside the suit.

The attempted reboot did a somewhat better job of it. Didn’t quite care for the weird variation of the costume in the first film and while Andrew made for a good Spider-Man whence compared to Tobey, he shared in the lackluster performance of being Peter Parker. While the first was an alright film and got Spidey’s general good humor down with an extra dose of tragedy, the second film was far, far too rushed with its villains and story potential, all but stating outright that third film was to feature the Sinister Six.

As many are no doubt aware, that plan has since been dropped and the reboot considered as a wash with no further plans to continue though rumors still circulate of a possible spin-off film to feature Venom as the protagonist. If they manage that right without the sheer stupid that was the third film of the original trilogy and the utter amazing that is Homecoming, I’m all for it.

As I stated in my review for Captain America: Civil War, Tom’s performance was a picture perfect match to both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, something that remains steadfast and strong in Homecoming. He, more than any previous rendition of Spider-Man outside the comics, actually got me to laugh several times with his quips and other hilarious moments when he was testing out the full capabilities of Stark’s Spider-Suit MK I.

However, what truly won me to this rendition of my favorite Marvel superhero was something… more. More than the laughs, more than the quips, more than being just a good Peter Parker and an equally good Spider-Man was in the one moment in the film where it clicked. That moment where Tom well and truly became Spider-Man. In a scene where Spider-Man stumbled across a not-so-secret advanced arms deal going down, the sellers presumed that the buyer was secretly a cop and Spider-Man, without a moment’s hesitation, jumped down from his hiding spot and declared that if they want to shoot at anyone, shoot at him.

That, that right there was the selling moment. The one that showed the whole world that he is the amazing Spider-Man. The past films all but hammered the saying of “with great power comes great responsibility” and they danced around it stupendously in Civil War, so they had to create the moment that defined Spider-Man for who he is without the needless origin story.

It has been a longstanding trope that heroes are often an embodiment of an ideal. Wonder Woman with Truth, Batman with Vengeance, Hulk with Strength, but for the likes of Spider-Man, the ideal that I have always felt he represented is that of Self-Sacrifice. He has always and forever been one to put the wellbeing of others far, far, far above his own and that moment in the film sold it.

As to the spider-suit supplied by Marvel’s technilogical genius Tony Stark, it has my full support behind it. Aside from the fact that it is, in essence, an homage to the current spider-suit being worn by Peter Parker, it is one that feels the most realistic out of the multitude we’ve seen in this media thus far.

For all that Peter Parker is a genius in his own right, as he did create and manufacture both the web fluid and web-shooters when he was fifteen (in MCU and outside it), I do not believe him to be capable of making the type of costumes we’ve seen in the previous films on a teenager’s budget. Particularly the original trilogy suit, which looks next to impossible to make by hand without a lot of specialized equipment. Besides that, and small spoiler here, there’s an element to the suit that frankly comes extremely close to stealing the show and I hope to see more of it in any future installments.

Moving on to the Vulture, I’ll admit, I was surprised when I heard that he, and the Shocker in a something of a bit-character role, was to be the main villain of the film. I knew that they’d have to pick someone new that we haven’t seen before, because they just cannot get the Green Goblin right no matter what variations they try, and one that had to have something of a similar technological advantage to Spider-Man’s own unique outfit given Iron Man’s cameo appearance but the Vulture? Really?

Don’t get me wrong, while he is oftentimes a card carrying member of the Sinister Six, he is rarely one of the first villains to come to mind when I think of a serious villain for Spidey to contend with. It was with this opinion in mind that I went in to the film and when I walked out, oh man did it change.

To put it simply, they not only made the Vulture freaking terrifying but actually gave him an honest-to-goodness reasonable explanation to his name though it’s never stated outright in the film itself. See, the main backstory behind the Vulture’s origins is that he, and his crew, are literal vultures towards any major fight that has occurred in the MCU, scavenging any and all hi-tech gear and equipment and salvaging/revamping it to either sell on the black market or use in attaining larger, and better quantities, of scrap. The real important thing to note here is that the Vulture and his crew have been doing this for years, literally since the first Avengers film and no one, not a one, has caught them until Spider-Man web-swings into the middle of things.

Much like how Tom portrays an equally excellent Spider-Man and Peter Parker, Keaton does the same for Vulture in and out the suit but goes a bit further when he’s not wearing it. Light spoilers, but there’s a moment where Spidey and the Vulture meet outside the respected suits and I kid you not ladies and gentlemen, it has been a long time since I’ve had an “edge of the seat” moment in a film that wasn’t of the horror genre. This moment, relatively short though it was in comparison to most other scenes in the film, legitimately had me biting my nails and scared, terrified even, of where it was going to go because of how Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture showed a clear degree of unexpected bouts of clear sadistic insanity and that was strictly outside the costume too!

Speaking of the Vulture’s own distinctive outfit, I actually really like it. Not only is it a sensible means of flight but given the right perspective, which is pretty much any viewing of him from above or below, can make for a terrifying sight as he comes swooping in. The “feathers” of his wings act as both a defensive shield and offensive blade, capable of slicing through most materials including Spider-Man’s webbing, and even when damaged to obscene degrees are still functional enough to allow Vulture to try and make a somewhat less than dignified exit provided the power core isn’t sharing in the hurt.

Overall, though Phase 3 of the MCU has only really just gotten the ball rolling, I’d dare say that of the singular superhero films thus far, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best thus far. A solid five out of five stars. Oh, and as I’m sure a great many of you are curious to note, yes, there is a post-credits scene and it is one that initially comes off as quite infuriating upon first watch but quite humorous in hindsight.

The Last Bay Thank Primus

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TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

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Directed By:
Michael Bay
Produced By: Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, & Ian Bryce
Story By: Akiva Goldsman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, & Ken Nolan
Premiered On:
June 21, 2017
Distribution By:
Paramount Pictures

What can I say about Transformers: The Last Knight that hasn’t already been said by those of greater, or lesser, experience than I with words or with film? Likely, not that much but I can, at the least, off a perspective from one who has grown up watching Beast Wars & Beast Machines and had a fairly recent marathon of Transformers: Prime. As I’ve said previously, I am not an avid fan of Transformers as a whole. Outside of the aforementioned cartoons, I can only name a few select individuals from the franchise and that’s just those who aren’t color swaps of other characters never mind the many, many, many incarnations of certain characters.

As before, I’ll touch on what was good in this film. First and foremost, no Autobots die in this film. … Okay, slight clarification here. No Transformer that designates themselves as an Autobot dies in this film and considering how kill-happy the last several films and comic book tie-ins have been, that’s nothing short of a miracle. True, the (surprisingly) named Transformer Canopy does perish for an ungodly stupid reason (more on that later in this review) but he never confirms whether he’s an Autobot or a Decepticon though it is likely the former given his care for the human girl Izabella.

Second good point, there are few “money shots.” Let’s face it, product placement in films is going to be a given no matter the film in question but the degree in which it is presented to us can vary from the subliminal to being so in your face you can practically taste it. In the case of the Transformers films this has primarily been for the cars to a point where one wonders just why the Transformer ever bother turning into their robotic form given how long, and frequently, they stay in car form even during moments that don’t call for it. Thankfully, in this film there is but one moment and it is sensibly done in a way that it’s only obvious because by this point the sheer lack of them made it stand out more.

There is also a distinct lack of sexual objectification in this film though given it is a Michael Bay production, that doesn’t mean it’s absent in its entirety but I’ll be touching on that stunningly stupid moment later. Much like the money shots of the cars, it is the severe lack of these questionable moments that make them stand out all the more though I can proudly say that they aren’t so plainly obvious as the “totally necessary” shot of Cade’s daughter from behind at, ahem, hip height. To “better emphasize” the shortness of her shorts you see.

Doesn’t quite trump being a card-carrying member of the “Romeo Juliet Law” but still, really?

On that same human vein, contrary to the last film which consisted of one-third needless humans and their stupid plotlines that we could care less about given their sheer inability to be sympathized with let alone liked… Sorry, bit of a soapbox for me there but seriously, for all the humans that are in this film, and there are a surprising amount from across the movies, there is almost always a Transformer right there in the scene or fiddling about in the background.

Last, but certainly not least, there are actual funny moments in this film. More than most of the other ones had and without featuring the antics of a certain yellow Transformer who floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. I shan’t describe them, as I feel that lessens the humor, though I will credit Cogman, a self-admitted sociopathic ex-assassin Autobot, for a majority of laughs.

Of course, this now leads me to the bad of the film and let me tell you now, ladies and gentlemen, this will NOT be a short list nor can I promise to stay off the soapbox when it presents itself to me. These bad aspects are in order of the severity of them as ordained by my own personal opinion. Some might agree, others may not. Either way, let’s roll them out.

As seen in the last film, the world is sick to death of the Transformers and has declared them as public enemy no. 1 with the stupid exception being Cuba for no other reason than “because.” As such, when a (likely) Autobot named Canopy breaks his cover he is summarily gunned down without prejudice for the fact that he, like most Transformers, is equipped with a weapon. I bring this up as a bad aspect of the film because we see later that America, freaking America, negotiates with Megatron after he kidnaps, and summarily releases two hostages, for the release of a few of his named Decepticon soldiers.

Point of order: It is to my understanding that we, as a country, do not negotiate with terrorists. Especially one whose actions cost goodness knows how many lives and immeasurable amounts of damage to several major cities and locations. Point the second, Megatron released the hostages before the negotiations. The only reason they even allow this farce is because they hope to follow him to “the ultimate weapon” and steal it out from under him before he can use it. I don’t know which is worse, that they think he won’t suspect or the fact that he never does and becomes so easy to defeat (again) that I’m starting to call him Not-a-Megatron in my head.

Point the third… They killed an Autobot. They’ve killed goodness knows how many Autobots prior to and during the fourth film… Yet they have been capturing and imprisoning Decepticons?! Decepticons whom, upon being released promise their jailers that they will be back for them and that they know where they live! These aren’t run-of-the-mill humans we’re talking about here! For pity’s sake, we saw in the freakin’ first film how easy it is for a Decepticon to get onto flippin’ Air Force One! Sneaking up on the homes of their guards and wiping out them and/or their families is not beyond the stretch of imagination here!

What really has me scratching my head though is that during whole entire farce of a scene, we are introduced to each Decepticon by way of a freeze frame with their name splattered across it very much like we are introduced to the Suicide Squad in their film. I’d almost forgive this blatant rip-off if this was done for each and every Transformer in the film but NOPE! It’s just for this moment and for a majority of Decepticons who end up dead and gone mere minutes later when the Autobots, plus Grimlock and Slug, hand them their keisters on a titanium platter.

This is especially aggravating when a majority of the Autobots in this film are introduced to us so casually that it’s next to impossible to remember their names and that’s only if they are introduced to us at all! The Autobots that premiered in the last film? Yeah, if you haven’t seen it you likely aren’t going to hear their names in this one. An old World War I (or is it II?) tank Transformer who is suffering from dementia? Good luck, Chuck because he’s in there for a laugh and that’s it! Any of the baby Dinobots? Nope! A submarine, yes a submarine Transformer, that leads them to getting the MacGuffin of the film? Not only is never named but doesn’t ever speak OR transform!

Do you have idea how cool that’d be to see something that big turn into an equally bigger robot?! WHY would you waste such an opportunity?!

Worst of all, WORST OF ALL (because this bears repeating all caps people), that triple-headed dragon we see in the adverts and poster? The “Knights of Iacon” (who that is, is never said outside the Wikipedia article) that betray the “big bad” of the film Quintessa? Never named and barely do anything! The dragon shows up for all of a minute, two tops, and in its first supposed epic moment comes crashing down upon a horde of human invaders (back during the Dark Ages) in such a way that I can’t help but feel like it was an actual crash and not an intended attack.

For Primus’ sake, it has three heads and breathes fire! Just roast them all and call it a day!

As to the big bad Quintessa? Where, oh where, do I start with her? She’s labelled as a sorceress on Wikipedia and calls herself the “Prime of Life” to Optimus who refers to her as his maker and she calls him her “greatest creation” though it is never shown or explained how she, a literal human sized and shaped Transformer supposedly created the entire race of them. She is as much a threat as a fly is to a dinosaur and I mean that with pure sincerity. Her conversion of Optimus Prime into “Nemesis Prime” is a slap to the face.

No. I’m not joking. She, pardon my French, literally bitch-slaps him into being evil. For all of like, what, ten minutes before hearing Bumblebee’s real voice breaks him out of the spell. Also, it’s like that Megatron is, inexplicably, under her sway given his face has the same weird red marking that Optimus had when he was Nemesis.

But we’ve only covered the purely Cybertronian aspects of bad. Let’s touch on the human side of things for a moment.

Cade is still stupid. Not as bad as Sam or as obnoxiously so as he was in the last film as he’s reversed that from obnoxiously stupid to stupidly obnoxious especially in concerns to Viviane who has taken that role for herself in this picture and to a whole new level too!

There’s a moment when Cade has his shirt off and is watching the Transformer medallion MacGuffin (to be explained) crawling around him like a creepy centipede when she walks in him. Cue him making a lot of innuendos without realizing it and her acting like her brain IQ dropped to single digits range. I palmed my face so hard I still have the handprint over my eyes. Though of course, that could be because of doing it excessively throughout the film…

Does anyone recall the early trailers for the film? Specifically the ones that were all “girl power” with Izabella? The one that all but shoved it in our faces that she was going to be the break-out star of this film, move over Cade and Sam?

Yeah, no. She’s barely a footnote if even that much. She serves as a sort-of introduction to Cade and his current antics and as a painful reminder that his daughter got off scott-free for their shared previous antics and is not being held accountable to the fact that her dad is technically a terrorist in the eyes of the US Government considering he’s aiding and abetting the “illegal” Autobots. She could be taken out of the film entirely and nothing absolutely nothing would be made better, or worse, for her absence. Heck, the most she is, is a discount Jade Chan from the cartoon series Jackie Chan Adventures in that she inexplicably, and undeniably stupidly, sneaks herself into situations that she has no business being involved in.

She sneaks onto a military aircraft for Primus’ sake and when asked why the heck she thought to do this, she states, quite clearly, that she had no idea what she was thinking or what she hoped to accomplish by doing so.

While I could talk about the lack of military intelligence in this film, I can’t honestly blame it entirely as it is a trope that has been around since the dawn of film. What I can blame however is the fact that the soldiers tell their higher-ups that the MacGuffin of the film is Merlin’s staff, and don’t elaborate any further on that thus leading them to conclude the soldiers’ plan consists of, quote, “hobgoblin witchery.”

“It’s a DNA locked device. We get Prof. Viviane to grab it, she can stop everything.”

BAM!

Was that really so hard?

Last, but certainly not least, is the “Illuminati” of the picture as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins whom, I heard, had confessed that the story of the film made no sense to him before, during, and after filming. He is a descendant of those charged with keeping the Transformers a secret from the general populace and, having failed that rather spectacularly, keeping Merlin’s Staff out of enemy hands whilst also aiding any and all Autobots whom happen to aid them. There’s quite a bit wrong with this whole set up but let’s point out the two most glaringly bad parts.

First and foremost, it is shown both in the Dark Ages and during World War II that the Autobots have aided humans in their wars. Specifically King Arthur against whatever forces were invading his lands and America in World War II. Heck, a freaking creation of the Allspark, a Transformer that is crazed upon creation and thus a danger to itself and anyone else near it, is created as being the one responsible for offing Hitler.

That in itself is really weird because never mind the argument as to why the Autobots would involve themselves in human affairs, Hopkins literally has a wall that showcases all of the evidence of Autobot involvement. Some are sensible such as paintings or pictures that show them off but then there’s the purely idiotic such as, and I do not exaggerate, World War I and II propaganda posters!

Transformers. The worst kept secret bar none.

Then there’s the real breadwinner of stupid. This Illuminati styled group? This organization that can trace its, and a few other important figures’, lineage back to the Dark Ages? It’s called the Witwiccans. Get it? Witwicky? Witwiccans?! It’s (not) clever. Credit though for getting the most ridiculous face Sam could possibly make for a photograph proving his lineage to this illustriously stupid order.

With all of that said, I’ll end this long review on the one note that is equal parts good and bad. It is revealed that the likely reason that Cybertronians are arriving on Earth is because Earth is actually Unicron, the World Eater and Ultimate Evil. This is not altogether a unique concept for the film though it can make for a great one if played right. The film ends with our world and Cybertron all but directly connected to each other (which I’m sure will spell super fun times for us but who cares, giant robots!) and there’s a lot of potential for something of a reversal between us and the Transformers.

In the cartoon series Beast Machines, it was revealed that Cybertron was originally a purely organic world and still kind of was at its heart thus the conversion of Cybertronians into a new “faction” as it were of a perfect blend of robotic and organic life. Considering how utterly crazy just the last two Transformers films have been, I can’t imagine that a similar plotline couldn’t develop in the, supposed, sequel.

A Dragon’s Heart

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Directed By:
Patrik Syversen
Written By: Matthew Feitshans

As I’m sure many of you recall from my last post concerning the previous Dragonheart film, I love the original. There are far too few films that paint dragons in a positive light and from now until the supposed remake comes out, Draco will always be among my top ten favorite dragons. I had thought that the third film, the supposed “prequel,” would be the worst of the sequels.

Thankfully, I was proven right but it was a close one folks. It was a close one.

Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire by its name alone is a film whose plot is rushed and clearly not thought through. The basic storyline goes that the king, our shared heart hero from the last film, has passed and, surprisingly, Drago still lives and feels that the bond is still there albeit connected to not one but two distinctive individuals, a twin brother and sister who swiftly begin to fight for the right of the throne before ultimately having to put their differences aside in order to regain Drago’s “heartfire.”

Now, as before let me tell you what this film has done right because believe me, it’s a short list.

Though Drago is supposedly the same dragon from the last film, his voice and appearance are drastically different though one can, and should, chalk that up to age. As shown in the film Logan, Patrick Stewart plays an aged, and rightfully ill-tempered, character extremely well.

As to the the grandchildren of Gareth, the man whom Drago shared his heart with, I initially liked the idea of the kids being “dragon cursed” in that because of their grandsire’s unique physiology, it would inevitably show up in further generations. That it skipped their father entirely was a bit odd considering that both of his parents shared hearts with a dragon but I can still believe the whole “skipping generations” debacle.

From here on though we get to a precarious balance of good and bad aspects of being “dragon cursed.” The brother, because blast it all if I care about either of these two twits enough to remember their names, has dragon scales on his back, which later prove to be impervious to most metal weaponry, and the strength of three men. He proves this by bodily tossing a man several blocks through the air to impact a church bell, some two stories off the ground, and fall to his death.

Our “hero” ladies and gentlemen.

The sister though has some scales on her face, though a relatively smaller patch compared to her brother, and somehow is able to manipulate fire but cannot create it herself.

… Question. How is she able to do that? The above normal level of strength I can get, the impervious to weakly made metal weapons to the scales makes sense, but the girl being able to manipulate flames? None, absolutely none of the dragons in any of the films demonstrate anything remotely like this save for the creation of said flame which leads me to one of the biggest bunches of stupid in this whole film.

The “heartfire” in the title? Yeah, it’s literal. It serves as not only the source of a dragon’s fiery breath, which they can demonstrate by way of making their chest and neck glow rather like how Smaug does it in the Hobbit films, but is also their heart. Not literally as the sister manages to steal it from Drago and keep it in a small bottle on her neck so she can “create” her own flames at will and he doesn’t keel over straight away but he does, inevitably, die because of it.

Point of order. One, when the sister does this, she does this whilst Drago is sleeping and he DOES. NOT. NOTICE. It also takes him an extremely long time to start feeling the effects of basically having his heart stolen from right out of his mouth. Second, how in the heck did the sister even know that the bottle she had could contain the flames? More to the point, that is an extremely tiny bottle, we’re talking no bigger than two thumbs here, so how did it contain a full grown dragon’s “heartfire?” Third, she doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary with it.

No. Seriously. Aside from it basically being a mobile source of flame, it doesn’t offer her anything and given that Drago himself proved how easy it is for her to get fire (by way of clacking two rocks together no less!) she has no reason to steal it other than to rob her brother the advantage of having Drago’s flames to aid him against hers, which she can then throw back at him because, hey, pyrokinetic!

This of course leads me to the so-called “conflict” of the two siblings for the throne. If you were expecting an engaging campaign similar, or at least in homage to, the likes of Game of Thrones you WILL be severely disappointed. The brother is readily accepted as king despite the fact that he struts about like a peacock and thinks more with his fists than his brain. The sister made an alliance with vikings (of the pillage and rape variety) to serve as her army but easily takes the throne in less than two “skirmishes” if either of them can be called that.

In fact, neither of them can be called that. The first one was needless posturing and revealing that vikings’ leader was the sister (who allowed them to butcher the first village they arrived at for no other reason than “because”) and the second was her showing off that she had stolen Drago’s fire and had “beaten” him with it. Beaten insomuch that she used it on him and she felt that pain as well. She did this repeatedly and only won because Drago saw the fruitlessness of her actions before she did.

During her reign, the sister shows that she wants to have an “equal rights among the genders,” which… I’ll touch on a bit more in a moment but needless to say, this does not sit well with her viking second in command who does not care for any such nonsense despite the fact that he literally has female warriors in his army! He was even following a woman as his leader! Sure, she was a “gift from Odin” in his perspective but he and his men had no problem following her, or having women warriors among them, but the moment you talk about gender equality, oh hell no, we got to put a stop to this!

Sigh… I’m all for equality, I really am, but why is it that films that take place in eras where such things were rare or completely nonexistent try and show someone all but shoving it down people’s throats and showing how people react/act so stupidly because of it? Considering that it wasn’t until 1920 when American women were allowed to vote, two years after it was made so in the United Kingdom, change is NOT going to happen in an era where people thought that taking more than one bath a week is bad for one’s health. No matter how much it is so desperately needed.

As to the “conflict” between them? Misunderstanding. Brother thinks sister accidentally killed father and sends her away both for her protection and because he doesn’t want anything to do with her anymore. Sister actually burned father’s body because brother really was the one to kill him by way of not recognizing his own strength and felt betrayed when he sent her off despite knowing that he would, and was right, to do so considering the local village was set to kill her for being a witch.

Moving on to the viking leader, oh boy, where do I start with him? Well, basically, he has the brilliant idea of firstly stealing the “heartfire” from the sister and having her killed whilst she’s not wearing it because he assumes that so long as she’s not wearing it, she can’t control the flames within.

Considering she doesn’t appear to demonstrate a certain range to her control, I would still worry about her setting me aflame whether or not she’s wearing it but that’s just me. Later on, when the brother appears to be beating him, the viking leader does what has got to be the absolute stupidest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do in any work of fiction bar none. He opens the bottle and pours the “heartfire” onto himself.

He absorbs it just enough to scream in agony before he promptly bursts into ashes on the spot.

I… I just… What? Why? How? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS AND NO ONE TO GIVE ME AN INTELLIGENT ANSWER!

Why did he think he could attain anything from what is, essentially, a dragon’s fiery breath? What did he actually think would happen if he somehow, inexplicably, was able to actually absorb said fire? How was he going to utilize it if he had absolutely no idea as to what it would do to him?

Yet, sadly, this is NOT the absolute stupidest thing in this film. This is the stupidest human thing, oh yes, of that there is no doubt but it is not the stupidest. See, the twins’ father? The prince to the king and son of the man who shared Drago’s heart? Hated dragons. Understandably so because, and I quote Drago on this, the man was busy running not only the kingdom but helping raise seven dragons.

What.

WHAT?!

What dragons? At the end of the last film there was ONE EGG LEFT out of the NINE that Drago brought with him! Eggs that proved explosive to a point where the “heroes” even use one to deter the pursuit of the villain’s minions at Drago’s own suggestion! Where did these six other eggs come from? The Dragon Heavens? Because if they seriously thought that Drago was still a good candidate of keeping an eye on these eggs and the dragons within them, no wonder the species goes extinct barely a century, or three, later!

That is still not the stupid part involving the dragons though. See, that one egg that still live at the end of the last film? It shared its heart with Gareth’s wife, the twins’ grandmother, who shared the dragon’s fate of a premature death thus furthering the prince’s hatred of dragons though the resulting “dragon curse” in his children was mere icing on the cake. Yet, what was it that killed that dragon as, apparently, dragons are considered as friends to man?

A bolt of lightning.

A bolt of lightning killed a dragon.

No.

Just… No.

Never mind that a majority of dragons in other fictions breathe lightning, the ones in this series are literal stars made flesh and blood! More to the point, we’re talking about a species that is gifted with wings! Birds, flipping birds, are more likely to fly into skyscrapers because of the glass and mirror-like sheen of the windows than be struck by lightning because they, more than dragons apparently, have the common sense to not go for a leisurely flight in the middle of a thunderstorm!

If… If there is truly to be a remake of Dragonheart… Please. PLEASE. Make sure that the writer of this and the last film is in no way, shape, or form responsible for ANYTHING in it.

I’m Back, BABY

First, my apologies to you my dear readers for the exceptionally long hiatus that I have now officially returned from. The chief reason in a long list of why’s and how come’s is primarily for the fact that a LOT has happened to me in my personal life, some good, some bad, and some just to bizarre to try and remember without sufficient amounts of alcohol for all involved (for storyteller and audience). Another, admittedly far smaller, reason is that I needed some time away from my blog, which had started to become more like a chore than a joy to me these last several months.

But as of now, I’m back and will strive to update at least once a week on either Mondays or Fridays about topics new and old. I’ll likely go back to finishing the Miraculous Villains once the second season finally airs but for now, they’re shelved but rest assured I will be finishing them off at a later time.

So let us begin with the film that helped light the fire in my heart…