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Taiyô no ôji: Horusu no daibôken

fascinating early anime
This early anime tells an epic story, in the style of a fairy tale, and has some powerful sequences. I like the art and character designs, but the animation is basic, and it even has a couple of scenes told through still images, no doubt as a way to cut cost. Still, it caught my attention throughout and I found it fascinating, so I won't let the animation limitations influence the rating. You can see the Disney influences (talking animals, songs), but used in a different, darker way. Also, apparently it was rather influential in the development of the anime storytelling tradition. Rating: 8/10

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir

Fluffy but pleasant, it's more enjoyable than I would have expected
This is a sweet TV show about a high school girl who is secretly a superhero, and protects Paris with the help of a high school boy superhero. The fight are innocent and rely more on smarts than on violence. There's never any real harm done because all damage is magically repaired after a villain is defeated, and the villains are "de-evilized", so they can happily go back to their normal life.

We also follow the main character's life outside of superheroics, with a romantic quadrangle, since Marinette is in love with Adrien, a fellow student. She doesn't know that he is secretly Chat Noir and he doesn't know she is secretly Ladybug. In their superhero identities, it's Chat Noir who is in love with Ladybug. So they are both in love with each other, just in different identities.

The 3D animation is done surprisingly well, and it's perfectly suited to the cute nature of the show. It's all quite entertaining, and the main flaw is that all the episodes are basically more of the same. So, it's fluffy but enjoyable.

Carmen Sandiego

Competently done without being brilliant
The 2D animation is stylized and looks fine. The story and characters are done competently but without brilliance. It will entertain kids. It doesn't have much to offer for adults, but it's watchable without offending the spectator's intelligence. It chooses to show off its modern sensitivity in a heavy-handed way, by making the male characters actively stupid (or, in one case, competent but passive) and all the female characters hypercompetent and kick-ass.

The Jungle Book

A feel-good classic adventure, Walt Disney's last film
Another Disney classic, this is a feel-good adventure that had me smiling the whole time, even though there are some moments of danger. The plot is a bit disjointed and episodic, but the songs and the general charm more than make up for that. The animation is fine, not as wonderful as in the early Golden Age of Disney but the character design is excellent. It has some of the more memorable Disney characters, and the animals are very expressive, as usual. This was the last movie in which Walt Disney was directly involved, and he died before it was finished. Rating: 9/10

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Competent Christmas TV special that has become a classic
This 25-minutes animated TV special has become a Christmas classic. It's based on a Dr. Seuss book and tells the story of the Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk of Whoville. The animation looks better than a typical TV show from that time, but there's not much detail in the backgrounds, since this is not a high-budget feature film. The story and songs are fine and they will enchant the youngest viewers. And that's the target audience, because it does not have as much to offer for adult viewers as the best animated films for children, apart from its nostalgic value. The humor is the typical slapstick of cartoons. It has a nice message, although the Grinch's change of heart at the end was a bit arbitrary and unearned. It's competently-made and does what it's supposed to do in an effective manner. Rating: 7/10

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Pleasant enough Christmas entertainment
This film has charm, although the stop-motion animation and the storyline is basic. It will be quite enjoyable for young children without much to offer for adults, other than the nostalgia value. It tells the well-known story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, how he is discriminated against because of his nose and his eventual vindication. There's some secondary plots to round the story. Oh, and Santa is kind of a jerk. Pleasant enough Christmas entertainment. Rating: 6/10

Ma vie de Courgette

Poignant but ultimately hopeful story. A delight to watch
This was a beautiful stop-motion animation film. It's about a little boys whose drunk single-mother dies, and he is sent to an orphanage. There he meets other children with similarly sad stories, but despite having to deal with all the trauma they are still children and they can also laugh, and play and have fun. There is a lot of humanity in the story, poignant but ultimately hopeful, and in the characters. A delight to watch. Rating: 10/10

The Little Vampire 3D

Serviceable adaptation of the beloved children's novels
I loved as a kid the Little Vampire books by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. This is a free adaptation that doesn't really follow the novels, except some of the basic ideas, like the friendship between the mortal boy and the vampire boy and how traditional and old-fashioned the vampire family was. I felt the story here was weaker than in the novels. They tried to fit it too much to the standard action/adventure animated film model. I don't know, maybe a more faithful adaptation would have been too slow-paced for the intended audience, but it lost part of the character and individuality of the story., although some of it remains The adults were extremely passive/ineffectual for no good reason other than allowing the child characters to shine.

The funny parts were not so funny, including several scatological jokes involving cow poo.

The animation was basic. I liked the character designs, but the movement and backgrounds was not that good, compared with other recent animated movies. There was a lot of flying around by the vampire characters that maybe would look better in 3D (I saw this on TV).

All in all, an entertaining enough movie that should please child viewers, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that it might have been better. Rating: 6/10.

Mágica aventura

very entertaining for little children, not so much for their parents
This is an old Spanish animated film that I remembered very fondly from my childhood. Nowadays, animated films are expected to entertain children and their parents, but this one is targeted only towards young children. The animation is rough and the storyline is childish, but it does have a certain charm and heart. It's an episodic story a little boy and a little girl who are chasing the kite they lost and in their journey encounter different characters who tell them stories. The film is an homage to children's tales, and to the magic of playing. It also has a few catchy songs, making it very entertaining for little children, although not so much for their parents.

Si shi qing chun

Very good slice-of-life anime film
Composed of three, independent short stories, this anime film has beautiful animation. The stories are gentle, nostalgic slice-of-life, filled with childhood memories and regret, but also hope. Little action, just feelings and self-reflection. For some viewers it will seem boring, but for me it was very enjoyable. The shorter length of each story helped me not to lose interest. Rating: 9/10

Luis & the Aliens

Silly but fun
The animation was on the basic side, and the aliens were silly, but it does have a nice story and, above all, it was funny. I laughed several times. The theme of Luis reconnecting with his father was heartwarming if a bit cliched. Rating: 7/10

Inside Out

Great animated movie
High production values here. It looks quite good and the idea behind the story is excellent. Good, relatable character design. To nitpick, the story does meander a bit in the middle, but I appreciated how careful the writers were to allow the characters to learn and grow. Excellent stuff overall, even though I wish there were more balance in modern children's movies between the genres, so that the positive role models were not always female.

The Son of Bigfoot

Very likable movie
This European production does not have the huge budget of the leading American studios, and the story is coherent but not sophisticated. However, the animation looks good, the character design works well and the film has heart and is fun to watch. Also, I enjoyed the theme of father-son bonding, which is something we don't get a lot of lately.

The Goldbergs

Very disappointing
I had read good reviews. 8.2 average on IMDb as I write this...

I was very disappointed when I started watching and realized that it is a collection of the laziest family sitcom tropes, without much heart and no laughter. The idea of humor is actors shouting every time they speak.

It's supposedly inspired in the childhood of the creator, so that makes it difficult for me to understand why it is so generic and lacking personality.

A disappointment. I like family sitcoms, but this is very low quality. I mean, when you make a nostalgic family/childhood sitcom with the child character narrating as an adult, you are competing with The Wonder Years, and The Goldbergs can not hold a candle to that show. Don't lose time with this, just go watch The Wonder Years instead.

Battlestar Galactica

High production values, nonsensical plot
The production values, the acting, the character development is all very good. There are some great episodes, mainly during the first two seasons. However, the overall plot gets lost in pseudomysticism and religious visions and character motivation that do not make much sense, mainly during the last half of the series.

Star Trek

Powerful idea, aged show
This show was very influential in its time and created a successful franchise, but TV has changed a lot and, watching it now, the show seems aged. Even though it was advanced for its time, if you judge it with modern sensitivity you'll notice the implicit sexism. Still, that's not really on the show, but on society as a whole. Worse than that, too many chapters are just not very good. The budget was very small, but that did not prevent them from creating some memorable chapters. Most of the time, though, you have too similar stories: a more or less human-looking space jerk wearing a ludicrous costume causes some trouble, a scantily-clad woman throws herself in Captain's Kirk's arms, McCoy and Spock do some verbal sparring and everything is solved in time for the credits.

The actors, starting with William Shatner, do a lot of over-acting, although I don't really mind that, it feels like watching dramatic theater. What I mind is the mediocre scripts in many chapters.

The characters are likable, and Spock is simply great, although you have to wonder at how the small group of main officers do everything around the ship and happily leave the ship and put themselves in danger at any possible occasion.

Worth watching for some very good chapters and for historical reasons, to see the show that started the franchise and captured the imagination of countless teenagers, but compared with more modern shows in the franchise, like TNG and Deep Space 9, the age shows. It's just not as good. TV was just not as good then. Unless you are a big fan and want to watch the whole thing, I'd recommend watching only the best chapters.

Band of Brothers

Very high production values
World War 2, told from the perspective of a company of American paratroopers that were involved in a long campaign after the Normandy landings. High production values and a good story to tell make this a very enjoyable mini-series.

Fortunately I have never been in a real war, but this seemed realistic and down-to-earth, based as it is on a real story. At the beginning of each chapter, you get the comments of the real soldiers who fought in that company, now old men, and that adds a lot of moral authority to the story. That realism means that we do not get a continuous action fest, but for me it was very interesting to watch.

There is not an extremely spectacular sequence like the disembark in Saving Private Ryan. The budget here is not quite that high, but it's high enough to offer a quality production.

The Real O'Neals

Good concept but limited execution
The central idea is interesting, but once in season 2 the limitations of the show are evident.

There's not much that works beyond the gay jokes that seem repetitive by now. The secondary character are too conventional, too stereotypical sitcom material.

The Big Bang Theory

Excellent first two seasons, but it went downhill quickly
The original idea was excellent, with quirky characters who were very funny as smart but socially awkward nerds, along with their hot neighbor. However, after just two seasons it lost its freshness, unfunny girlfriends were added and it became a relationship comedy, Friends style, but with the dumb laugh track as the only laughter.

It gave us the exceptional character of Sheldon Cooper, so kudos for that.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Not as good as The Next Generation, but still enjoyable
Seven long seasons with their ups and downs. The great chapters were not quite as brilliant as TNG's best. Like in TNG, it had its share of so-so chapters.

The stuff about the Emissary and the Prophets was a mistake. It felt unearned and random for Xisco to be named the Emissary. Besides, for a show that was at its best when depicting the shadiness and moral grays of war and interstellar politics, this good vs evil stuff did not work. Some good characters, although nobody can equal the charisma of captain Picard.

One of the best things was the introduction of an ongoing narrative in the conflict with the Dominion, vs TNG's exclusively episodic approach.


Not good, but not as awful as some reviews make it out to be
As a song in the Ragtime musical said, "You can never go back to before". What made McGyver special in the 80s can no longer work in 2016. It's a product of its time, and the narrative energy and conviction of the original can no longer be there for a remake.

So they try to adapt it for a new time and they change the character, making him a James-Bond-style super-spy who looks like a new-age jerk compared with the original. That bothers fans of the old show and hence all the 1-star reviews.

Then we have the production values. No way around it, they are bad. The acting, the special effects, the cinematography... Not very good.

On the plus side, they do a relatively decent job when trying to show and update McGyver's technical brilliancy, they have an interesting plot twist in the pilot and they try to set potential for drama between the characters.

The whole thing seems a bit routine, though, making the motions in an attempt to offer a dignified entertainment product but without much conviction.

The Brady Bunch

Nostalgic, innocent, feel-good family series
This was a sitcom that became a household name in reruns, after it was already canceled. It was innocent fun from a different time, very tame by modern standards, and did not bother with heavy topics.

Nostalgic, innocent and feel-good, it became a model of family series. Other series would borrow from it or rebel against it. It has also become ingrained in popular culture. Those six kids and two parents, along with a live-in maid, who "must somehow form a family", will forever be part of the history of TV in the US.

Several generations of children grew with the Brady kids and envied them for having such a large family, where something fun was always going on.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

This worthy successor ended up surpassing Star Trek TOS
This was quite a trip for Star Trek fans. It has all the good things that made TOS work. The optimism in humanity's future, the sense of wonder and adventure, the charismatic characters... It successfully updated the concept.

In such a long run, it had its share of weak episodes, but in general the level was high, and there were some completely outstanding ones.

Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and Brent Spiner as Data deserve special praise for their career-defining performances.

TOS was cut a bit short, but TNG had time to develop and reach its full potential. The first season was not the best. The show was finding its feet then, and the characters were not yet as well-defined as they would become. That first season is still worth watching, though. It has good things to offer, and the show would get even better.

About a Boy

Very good first season, it ran out of steam in the second one
It follows the steps of the 2002 Hugh Grant movie. It's not a laugh out loud comedy, but it's endearing, funny and has a lot of heart. Or at least it did in the first season.

In the second season it seems that the writers ran out of things to say, and the situations became too forced and not that funny. It still had its moments, but there were too far between. Rates plummeted and the last season was swiftly canceled, with the last 6 episodes being released months later on video on demand.

The series finale was quite good, although all in all I prefer to keep the memory of the fresher first season.

Dawson's Creek

Soap opera with
I kind of like the concept of a teen series where the characters talk in an unrealistically sophisticated way. However, the story is too much like soap opera for me, and the characters kind of annoying, difficult to believe in. And speaking of that, the fact that the actors are supposed to play 15-year-olds when they look much older really takes away from the experience, particularly because the age is important for the plot. For example, we have one of them flirting with his teacher, which is quite creepy given the ages of the characters. However the actor looks like a college graduate, so it's difficult to feel like this is a 15 year old we are talking about.

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