Isle of Dogs

What a strange and captivating film. It has a great style that really brings the world to, well, I’m not sure life is the right word. It brings the world into fantastical realization. The story supposedly takes place in the regular world, but I like to think it takes place in a sort of alternate reality, at least for the city. There’s just something about it that’s really striking and interesting.

The story takes place in Megasaki city, where there is a corrupt government that wants to send all dogs away to Trash Island. They do so through misinformation. There is an oddly authoritorian feel to the city despite nothing really pointing to it. Most people speak Japanese, and for the most part, there are no subtitles. The film cleverly finds ways to let the audience know what’s being said. On Trash Island, where all of the dogs live, they speak English.

The story kick off with young Atari going to Trash Island to find his dog. There, he meets up with a local group of dogs, four of which want to help, and one who doesn’t. The one that doesn’t is a stray. The dogs all have an oddly casual way of discussing things that brings out the oddness of the movie. It works well to differentiate them from people. While the stray dog slowly becomes the more important one, the others are still good for a few odd jokes here and there. It’s great watching the dog develop while traveling through Trash Island looking for Atari’s dog.

Back in Megasaki city, there is growing unrest with the plan to put all dogs on Trash Island. Mostly, it’s by students, but they’re starting to question the way things are. That part feels more like a politcal thriller.

On both Trash Island and Megasaki city, the visuals are wonderful. There’s just a lot to draw in the viewer and hold them there. It’s not standard in any way. The way characters move, the way the scene transitions, the small things, they all fit the style of the world.

Also, while this is an animated movie, it’s rated PG-13 for a good reason. Injuries are portayed rather realistically here. And people say bitch entirely in the original meaning of the word.

Isle of Dogs puts a strange, captivating spin on the story of a boy finding his dog. The visuals are amazing, the characters are fun. Thrown into is a political thriller. Along the way, Atari might even change the mind of a city.

Snowpiercer

This is the television series based on the movie based on the graphic novel. I have not read the graphic novel, though I have seen the movie. A short summary of the setup. The world has frozen over, and the only remnants of humanity live on a train called Snowpiercer with an eternal engine. I do love a cool train setting, and the show Snowpiercer is still quite a cool train setting.

The show follows the same general idea. People in the tail are mistreated and kept in cramped spaces, so they try to fight the rest of the train and move up in what remains of life. The show does tone down some things from the movie because they need to make a longer show and the train needs to continue running. The characters are all mostly different. It’s an interesting take, and I think the show’s Snowpiercer society is quite interesting.

On the show, there are three classes of passengers. Third class, which most of the people are. Second class, which we really don’t see at all. And first class, the place where all the people who funded the train live along with their servants. Then there’s the tail, where our main character, Andre Layton, comes from. The tail is the end section of the train where people without tickets forced their way onto in order to survive. Thus, the new human society was formed.

The show is a large story about class differences and how the entire system is woven together. It starts off with a few introductory episodes as Layton, is pulled out of the tail since he happens to be the only detective on the train. He must figure out who killed an upper class passenger. From there, the different characters and factions gets slowly built up and the class revolution begins.

I think the show is pretty fun. The first season isn’t too long, so it does move ahead at a good pace. The initial murder investigation plot doesn’t go on too long and a lot of background stuff is bring set up during that time.

Perhaps the thing that bugs me the most is the size of the train. It is 1001 cars long, yet they treat going from the head of the train to the tail as a normal everyday trip. Yes, there are cars that travel in the tunnels underneath the train, but still, it feels far too casual.

The train on the show is not as mystical feeling, probably due to budge and because the show needs to be set on the train for much longer than the movie. Therefore, having the train be some big mysterious thing doesn’t work as well. We do get a decent sense of how everything works while going through the show. Aside from how things are position in relation to each other. It would be good to get a bit more placement of the different cars we see in relation to one another.

The two main characters are pretty fun to watch. Layton wants equality on the train and will fight for it. Yet he tries to be fair and doesn’t want to do a lot of the things he has to. Melanie is the head of hospitality on the train, someone working for Wilford. She is pretty much the face and voice of the train. She wants to keep the current order of things because it’s working as well as keeping the train functioning.

Speaking of Wilford, the show diverges quite a lot on him. I won’t go into it more than that.

Snowpiercer, the show, isn’t about fast-past action going up the train. It’s about the planning of a revolution, how to make it happen, what are the costs, and what are the effects on people. The entire thing is set on a cool train, and that’s going to get me to continue watching.

Trolls: World Tour

There is deep lore in Trolls. I am serious. The world has a lot of story in it. A lot more than what it seems in the first movie. There are six major Troll tribes, each one representing a different style of music. There’s Pop, Funk, Classical, Techno, Country and Rock. Now, the Rock nation has attacked in order to unite all Trolls under Rock.

It is quite an epic musical adventure. Though most of the songs are Pop since we follow Poppy, the Queen of the Pop trolls and her friends. The movie is bright, colorful, cheerful and full of good times. It is a great film for kids. There are some trippy stuff in there, as well, much like the first film, though not from the cloud. The cloud’s role has been reduced this time around.

We follow Poppy, Branch and Biggie as they go around trying to warn the other troll kingdoms of the Rock Nation. Seeing more of the troll world is fantastic. Each nation is different and has their own style. The Techno trolls like mertrolls. They swim around, even floating when they’re on land. Country trolls are centrolls, part troll part horse. They live a rough life out in the frontier. It’s all really fun to see and full of great music.

Poppy is still adorably optimistic as she tries to be a good queen. Branch is still the more cautious one, and he’s often times not wrong. The two of them are still great together, and Poppy has a good arc through the movie.

Queen Barb of the Rock trolls is the antagonist, and she’s a fun one. She cares for her people and is trying to do what she thinks is right for the trolls in her own way. The moments when she’s not putting on a tough act for the other trolls is really well done. The times when she’s just hanging out with her dad is adorable.

The rest of the troll rulers are all interesting to see as well. I’m disappointed that we didn’t see a lot of the Classical trolls. Also, I know it’s not that kind of film, but the movie does off-screen quite a lot of the attack from the Rock trolls. I sure wanted some epic troll fighting action.

Trolls: World Tour is a fun movie in the world of trolls. It keeps a trippy sense of humor with the strange pet that Biggie has and some other stuff I won’t mention. The characters are cute and fun to watch. The musical adventure style of it is great. This is a good movie for the kids.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

The sequel to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox. I don’t really know who played any of the turtles, but I know Megan Fox is in it. So is Will Arnett. I suppose it makes sense. Their names are more well known, and we never see the actors behind the turtles. Anyway, they’re back for a second film.

Out of the Shadows is a funner, more cartoony movie. It enjoyed it, though it’s also pretty mindless. There’s not a lot of deep character development going on. There is a warthog with a purple mohawk, though. This movie brings back a lot of the old characters, like Bebop and Rocksteady. And both of them are great in the film.

There’s also Casey Jones. He’s alright, nothing too special. Most of the human characters seem to just be there. None of them stand out that much, and that includes Shredder, unfortunately. Casey Jones emotes the most out of them, so I find him entertaining.

The turtles are much more prominent this time around, and are pretty interesting. It’s still Leonardo being the serious one, Donatello being the smart one, Raphael being the angry one and Michaelangelo being the goofy one. Though most of them go through a small arc. Nothing big, but it’s fine.

This movie is full of fun action scenes that take advantage of the turtles physiques. The story is sort of there. Really, go into this for mindless fun with the four brothers, and it is. The other parts of the movie are mainly giving a bit of context for the action scenes and are not that memorable. For those that liked the 80’s era Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this will be fun. For those that want something more, it’s not going to be found here.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

I liked the first movie. It had style and was full of awesomeness of giant robots fighting giant monsters. The sequel is more of that, but it also has more of other things that muddle things. This movie feels more subdued in certain ways but also more grand in others.

To start, the main character this time is the son of Stacker Pentecost, Jake. I don’t think he was mentioned at all in the first movie. Jake is someone that doesn’t want to be a Jaegar pilot, but he’s good at it. When we first see him, he’s just doing stuff to make money and being kind of a bad guy to Amara, a teenaged girl that really idolizes Jaegars. I don’t know why they made him such a huge jerk in the beginning since he doesn’t act that way later on. Yes, there’s character development, but nothing that seems to move him from threatening a teenager with a blunt weapon.

Still, once the story gets started proper with the Jaegar’s and all, it’s fun. The giants robots are back, and this time, they are fighting in bright action scenes. However, unlike the first movie, the giant robots here move much more fluidly. I think it takes away from the weight they have. The robots now move more like transformers. It also happens with the kaiju. They don’t feel as much like giant monsters with weight. It does lead to faster action scenes, but it’s more like everything else.

Jake and Amara are fine characters, but I think making them so different in rank was a problem. Jake is a full-fledged pilot while Amara is a brand new cadet. It leads to too many plotlines. There is already other things going on with a company making a new, better jaegar. I think a pure cadet movie would be cool. Or a movie that focuses on the pilots and their challenges. Having both is a bit too much, though.

Overall, I think things move much faster compared to the first movie. Not just the giant robots and monsters, bu the plot seemed to have less weight to them, too. We don’t meet any pilots other than the cadets, Jake and his partner despite several jaegars being around. The scenes of regular people are pretty much nothing but panic and chaos when they are being attacked. The weight of things is just much lighter.

Even the introduction scenes. In the first movie, each jaegar has a scene to themselves explaining things. Here, it’s just a passing line. Give them all a cool explanation scene!

I think a longer movie would have been better because a lot of interesting stuff was laid out. They just didn’t have the time to fully explore them leaving a lot of plotlines that are not as good as they could be.

Rampage

I played the old Rampage game a lot. It was just a simple fun time of smashing the city. So I have fond memories of the game. How does the movie compare? Hmm, it’s almost an entirely different plot just with similar names. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not the plot of Rampage.

This film stars Dwayne Johnson, and he plays a similar character to the other ones he plays. He’s a good-natured guy that happens to be really buff, strong and has some quick pre-asskicking lines. It works for him, and it works here. This time, he stops poachers and rescues animals, one of them being the gorilla George.

Things go wrong when a space experiment full of things that messes with DNA comes crashing down to Earth, and George get’s affected. He starts growing and gets agressive. Thus comes the Rampage. This film seems to be a real earnest monster film. It doesn’t do anything new, but it does all of the old things really well. There is a surprising amount of brutality, too. The shots of the monsters are great, too.

Yes, monsters. If you played the original game, you will remember the wolf and the lizard. They’re in this film, too. The three giant monsters going rampaging through the city is fantastic. This film isn’t afraid of showing the monsters in their full glory wrecking things. The action parts are great.

The characters are alright. They’re standard types. The government guy, the science girl and the main hero. They work well and are entertaining.

I can’t help but wonder about a movie with a plot more like the Rampage game, where it’s scientists that get mutated and seek revenge. I think that would have been really cool, too. This Rampage film is fun retreading of monster movies.

Forrest Gump

I have heard about this movie, I have heard references to stuff in this movie, but this is the first time I’ve seen the movie. Forrest Gump is sort of a comedy, sort of a drama. It is about a simple-minded but goodnatured guy named Forrest Gump. The movie goes through his youth to a bit younger than middle age for him. How he views the world and how people react to him.

Forrest Gump is a charming movie. It has dark moments, but it’s filtered through the way Forrest sees the world, and he’s just so upbeat all the time. The movie makes a lot of historical jokes and how Forrest has not only witnessed them, but also influenced them. It’s a fun view of the 70’s and 80’s.

The characters in the movie are interesting, though. All of the performances in the movie are great. Tom Hanks plays Forrest really well. He’s upbeat and looks on the bright side of things, but you can tell when he’s hurt or upset. Jenny is an interesting character. She has a lot of hurt in her life, some her fault, others not. The one constant she has is Forrest, though. Lieutenant Dan is a great characters. He’s both fun in his introduction, sad later on, and then gets fun again. His scenes are great, as is his relation with Forrest.

The movie has a lot of heart. Even as tragic things happen, the characters find a way to move on. In the end, most of them end up in a better position, though. A lot of it is thanks to Forrest Gump.

Forrest is pretty much a righteous character throughout the film. He does grow, but his more important effect is how he makes others around him grow through his earnestness. He doesn’t have any major flaws, but I’m okay with that. It is a feelgood movie. Sometimes, I had no idea where the plot was going since it is more of a series of events rather than one narrative, but the story does always go back to Forrest and Jenny eventually.

For those that want to relax and enjoy the evening, Forrest Gump will give you a pleasant experience.

Harley Quinn

This is the latest Harley Quinn cartoon series, once available on DC Universe but recently broadcasted onto TV! Season one. This is not a cartoon for kids. There is violence and swearing abound. Just in the opening, there is a lot blood and melting faces and all that kinds of stuff. The series is full of over-the-top humor, but it blends it well with some more serious subject matter, particularly abusive relationships.

This will inevitably get compared to the recently released Birds of Prey movie. Okay, maybe not inevitably, but I’m going to compare the Harley Quinn characters. I think the Harley Quinn of the cartoon series is better. Part of that is due to having more time to develop. Another part is due to the cartoon series being able to pull from the full range of DC characters from Batman to Gordon to, most importantly, the Joker. Having Harley interact with the Joker adds so much to her character, and that was missing from the Birds of Prey movie.

This series starts of wacky and shows off the supervillains as just being ordinary people, such as complaining about Costco memberships or hiring goons through agencies. It treats being a supervillain as a legitimate job and everyone has a sort of casual villain vibes to them. It’s just something they do. The show also deals a lot with being a woman in a male-dominated field.

Harley is navigating being newly single after breaking up with the Joker, and her BFF Poison Ivy is there to help. Ivy is great in this series. She has a dry sort of humor that works great against Harley’s more manic qualities. Poison Ivy is the second protagonist of the show and a great character that gets a fair share of development.

Other characters include Clayface, an over-the-top actor. He’s fun, but doesn’t use his powers to their full potential. He does get annoying at times. Dr. Pyscho, a telepath trying to reform his image of being a woman-hater. He’s the mean one of the group. King Shark, who is now their tech guy and the fun guy of the group. He’s always so upbeat. Sy Borgman, an old man that gets back into his old ways once he meets up with Harley. He’s pretty fun. Finally, there’s Frank, Ivy’s plant. He’s a cool guy mostly there for fast talking jokes.

Later on, the story starts to be more serialized. That is when the humor takes a back seat to more serious matters such as the relationship between Harley and the Joker, or the relationship between Harley and Ivy. The side characters mostly remain used to lighten the mood, but the show does know how to tell a story about abusive and dependent relationships.

Occasional appearances from other DC characters are fun, too. This is a fun show looking into Harley Quinn. It’s not too wacky, but there are a lot of hijinks in there.

The Gifted

Note: I wrote this a long time ago. Somehow, I never posted it for some reason. Well, it’s way out of date by now, but here it is.

The second season of the mutant show set in the universe of the X-Men. This time, things are even more dire than the first season. The main characters have split up between the underground and the Inner Circle. There are now more and more human purifiers that are hunting mutants. Things are about to get wild, and melodramatic.

The mutant underground is pretty sad in this season. They try to help, but they must stay hidden even more than before. Most of the time, they’re meandering around trying to survive without a real goal. On the other side, the Inner Circle is enacting some kind of plan to bring about a Mutant nation. They’re the ones going out and doing stuff, along with Andy and Lorna, and some other former members of the mutant underground.

I think a problem with the season is how lost the main characters feel and how little they manage to win. At least on the mutant underground’s side. They’re pretty much solving personal problems for most of the season while making small attempts at helping out. Their personal plots are interesting, though, especially the Strucker family. With Andy gone, they have a lot of friction, and that increases even more as they start digging into the family history.

John, Marco and Clarice are mainly dealing with relationship drama, though Clarice does get some different plot with the Morlocks.

The Inner Circle side is full of shadiness, so you supposed to be pushed for siding with the underground. I think the Inner Circle is more interesting, but they do less with the plot there. Most things there revolve around Andy or Lorna.

I think this season is too bleak. The good guys barely win anything. They get beat up most episodes and are on the run. They fight with each other almost as much as other groups. It’s fine in small doses, but an entire season of that feels too much. The show could use more happier times. Give the main characters a break every once in a while.

Batwoman

So… First up, I’ve heard the news about Ruby Rose. I don’t know much about it, but it does feel bad that she’s leaving the show.

Anyway, onto Batwoman, Season 1! Or what was able to be filmed! In the show, Batman has disappeared for some reason leaving a private military firm, known as the Crows, to take over security of Gotham. Kate Kane, the cousin of Bruce Wayne has also returned to Gotham, and there, she discovers his secret. She takes on the mantle of Batman originally for her own reasons, but as the city begins to regain hope from the Bat’s reappearance, she adopts the persona of Batwoman, so people knows they are different people, but also that Batwoman is there to stay and help.

Being new to the whole vigilante thing, though, Kate has a tough learning curve. Not helping things is that she already has a nemesis in Alice, a crazy woman that wants to take down the Crows. Also, the leader of the Crows is Kate’s father, and he happens to dislike vigilantes. There is personal and relationship drama aplenty in this show. Yeah, it has that CW feel.

I think Ruby Rose as Batwoman was alright. She wasn’t among the stronger actors on the show, but I believed the heavy emotions she was putting out, and her action scenes were pretty cool.

Alice stands out as a fun and zany character that doesn’t go so far as to not be taken seriously. She is always threatening when on screen. She’s also part of the main cast, though, so I hope they don’t just have her doing the same nemesis thing season after season.

Other supporting characters include Sophie, Kate’s former girlfriend. Out of all the characters, I think she has the least interesting stuff to work with. She’s second-in-command at the Crows, but isn’t shown to be that effective at it. Other than that, she has a lot of relationship drama with Kate.

Mary is Kate’s step-sister, and she’s my favorite character on the show. She’s funny, sassy and smart. She’s great both at her secret medical clinic and while she’s out on the town as a party girl.

Then there’s Luke Fox, son of Lucious Fox. He’s not as smart, but he’s still pretty good. He’s the tech guy of the team and is the one helping Kate to learn all of the Bat gear stuff while also changing things around for her. Later on in the season he starts getting things to do separate from Batwoman, and it’s pretty enjoyable.

Overall, I liked the Batwoman show as long as it’s tempered by the expectations of a CW style and budget. The character’s are great. The action scenes are probably the best they can do, but are serviceable. I think the show is a good addition to the CW’s superhero lineup.

The main question now is: Who will be the new Batwoman?