carologletree

IMDb member since January 2016
    Lifetime Total
    150+
    IMDb Member
    5 years

Reviews

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
(2019)

A Solid Summer Blockbuster with some Legitimately Terrifying Moments
I saw this movie in theaters the other day, and I thought it was pretty darn good. Concept-wise, this movie feels rather similar to the Jack Black "Goosebumps" movies, given that it is about a group of kids finding a collection of scary stories and making the monsters from those stories come to life by opening the books. However, I thought that this movie was a little bit better than those films, because in addition to being fairly well-written, it can be genuinely scary sometimes.

The atmosphere in this film is great. It has a nice eeriness to it, and you can feel the gradual increase in tension and dread as more and more of the monsters come to life. In addition, the backstory behind the stories that these monsters are from, which involves the writer having been turned into a rage-filled monster from being abused and victimized by her family, was appropriately disturbing.

As for the monsters themselves, they are really well-done. In terms of design, they are recreated from the artwork of the books surprisingly well, and some of the scenes they are in have some grotesque imagery. The scarecrow Harold and The Jangly Man stood out, but the most terrifying scenes for me were the scene with The Pale Lady at the halls of the hospital and the scene where hundreds of spiders came out of Ruth's spider bite.

The performances from the cast are pretty solid for the most part, especially Zoe Colletti as Stella. There are some scenes that feel rather like padding, but other than that, the pacing for this film was pretty good, especially in the later half.

I was entertained and even sometimes frightened by this film. I recommend this to fans of the books and just anyone who loves a good scare.

RATING: B+

Survivor Series
(2012)

An Average PPV With a Terrible Ending
Like Hell In A Cell from that year, I watched this one live. While there are a few solid matches, it still feels very average overall. Like the show preceding it, it also left me feeling cheated because of a big-time screwjob ending in the main event.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Brodus Clay, Justin Gabriel, Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and Tyson Kidd vs. The Prime Time Players, Primo and Epico, and Tensai - This match was a lot of fun. The high-flying and fast action throughout helped make this a solid opener that got the crowd riled up for the show. The talent on display here is very evident. The face team wins with Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara being the survivors. RATING: ***1/4

United States Championship Match: Antonio Cesaro (c) vs. R-Truth - An average filler match, just like Cesaro's bout with Justin Gabriel a month earlier. They don't have much chemistry, and it wasn't even very long. Cesaro wins with the Neutralizer. RATING: **1/4

World Heavyweight Championship Match: The Big Show (c) vs. Sheamus - The match isn't terrible, but it's definitely the weakest of their 2012 PPV trilogy. They were on their way toward making another solid match, but the booking at the end kind of ruined it. Big Show is declared the winner, but the decision is then reversed and Sheamus wins by disqualification. Well, that was pointless. RATING: **1/2

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Team Ziggler vs. Team Foley - The match of the night right here. As to be expected, the wrestlers brought their A-game and there were some really solid exchanges throughout. They built some good drama toward the end, and it genuinely surprised me that Ziggler actually won when I saw it live. He wins by last eliminating Randy Orton. RATING: ***1/2

Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena vs. Ryback - For the most part, this was a pretty solid Triple Threat match. Cena and Punk surprisingly manage to carry Ryback pretty well, and there were some good spots throughout. However, like Punk and Ryback from HIAC, there was yet another screwjob finish. CM Punk retains his title after The Shield make their debut and attack Ryback. RATING: ***

I won't doubt that there was some good stuff on here, but it wasn't really anything overly special. I really hated The Shield and don't miss that faction at all. This show and that year's Hell In A Cell PPV are a big part of the reason why I don't watch PPV's live anymore. I just don't like screwjob finishes and I haven't bothered taking any more chances after that. Not a terrible show overall, but not really worth going out of your way to see.

RATING: C+

Hell in a Cell
(2012)

Aside from a few Solid Matches, this PPV was Pretty Weak Overall
I remember watching this pay-per-view live when it aired in 2012. This is not a very good show. There is some solid stuff here, but it mainly feels like a throwaway for the most part, and it is made even worse by the terrible main event.

Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio - This was a pretty solid way to open up the show. These two may not be the ideal pairing, but they managed to deliver a good enough back-and-forth contest, and the finish was really well-done. Randy Orton wins by countering an Enziguiri with an RKO in mid-air. RATING: ***

WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Team Hell No (c) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars - This was a decent tag match with the teams working pretty well together, but the finish kind of killed it. Despite this being the culmination of a tag team tournament that lasted for about a month, it actually ends in disqualification. Not cool. RATING: **1/2

Intercontinental Championship Match: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. The Miz - As to be expected, these two put on a pretty solid match. It wasn't as good as their match on WWE Main Event a few weeks prior, but it still had some good sequences and told a good story. Kofi Kingston retains with the Trouble In Paradise. RATING: ***

United States Championship Match: Antonio Cesaro (c) vs. Justin Gabriel - These two are good in-ring workers, but this match was really nothing special. It was mostly a Raw-quality match with not much to say. Cesaro retains with the Neutralizer. RATING: **1/4

Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. The Prime Time Players - A worthless filler match. The match was 12 minutes long, and not much really happened. They could have easily cut it down or just not had the match altogether. All men involved deserve better. The luchadores win. RATING: *1/2

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sheamus (c) vs. The Big Show - This match was actually quite good and definitely the match of the night. It was pretty exciting, and they actually worked surprisingly well together. They built up some good drama and some surprising finisher kick-outs. The Big Show wins the championship with a Knock-out Punch. RATING: ***1/2

Hell In A Cell Match for the WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. Ryback - CM Punk tried, but he just couldn't carry Ryback to a decent match. They just didn't really click and not much interesting was really going on. The match was already pretty terrible even before the finish, but the finish made it even worse. CM Punk retains after referee Brad Maddox low-blows Ryback. Afterwards, Ryback attacks Maddox and CM Punk. RATING: *

For the most part, the card is nothing special, and the screwjob ending left me with a really bad taste in my mouth when I watched it live. Not really a show worth tracking down, in my opinion.

RATING: C

WWE Bragging Rights
(2010)

Has Two Stand-out Matches, but overall Nothing Special
This was an okay PPV, nothing more. While there isn't really anything horrible on here, there is nothing worth going out of your way to see aside from two matches.

Interpromotional Match: Daniel Bryan (Raw) vs. Dolph Ziggler - Daniel Bryan had several quality PPV matches in his first year in the WWE, and I think that this was the best of those. Him and Ziggler have great chemistry, and the match was given a really good amount of time to allow them to have a really competitive and exciting match with plenty of near-falls. Daniel Bryan wins by submission with the LeBell Lock. RATING: ****

WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre (c) vs. John Cena and David Otunga - Nothing much to say about this one. It wasn't very long, and it was mostly used to advance the "Cena vs. Nexus" storyline. The Nexus win the titles, and afterward, Cena hits Otunga with an Attitude Adjustment. RATING: **

Ted DiBiase vs. Goldust - A decent little match, if nothing special. I do admire Goldust for showing that he could still hold his own even at his age. Ted DiBiase wins thanks to distraction from Maryse and Aksana. RATING: **1/2

Buried Alive Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Kane (c) vs. The Undertaker - A very average world title match. The Kane/Taker feud from 2010 was pretty forgettable, as was this match. Kane retains thanks to distraction from Paul Bearer and interference from The Nexus. RATING: **1/4

14-Man Elimination Tag Team Match: Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown - I really enjoyed this match. I usually have fun with multi-man elimination tag matches, and this was right up my alley. The action was fast and the wrestlers from both teams were showcased quite well. Team Smackdown wins with Edge and Rey Mysterio being the sole survivors. RATING: ***1/2

WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Wade Barrett - Another world title match that is nothing noteworthy. Like the tag title match from earlier, this was mainly an advancement of the "Cena vs. Nexus" feud. It wasn't anything bad, but not good enough for a main event. The match ends in disqualification. RATING: **1/2

Aside from Bryan/Ziggler and the Raw vs. Smackdown tag match, this PPV was just kind of there and not really worth your time.

RATING: C+

WWE Summerslam
(2009)

A Very Solid Event; one of the Best PPV's of 2009
This was a really solid Summerslam. It has quite a lot of star power and several really good matches, including an all-time classic.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler - This match is everything an opener should be. It is fast-paced, back-and-forth, and is given a good amount of time. Dolph was showing a lot of promise around this time, and he worked extremely well with Rey. Definitely better than their match from Night of Champions that year. Rey Mysterio retains with a frankensteiner. RATING: ***1/2

MVP vs. Jack Swagger - The match wasn't very long and didn't have much time to make an impact, but for the time they got, they had a decent little contest. MVP wins with the Playmaker. RATING: **1/2

Unified WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Jeri-Show vs. Cryme Tyme - Wasn't really that good of a match. Just a filler match basically, not much else to say. Jeri-Show retains with Big Show's knock-out punch. RATING: **

Kane vs. The Great Khali - A typical boring big man match. Next. RATING: *1/2

D-Generation X vs. The Legacy - DX's entrance was pretty epic, and they had a very strong match against Legacy. This is probably one of the best "old veterans vs. newcomers" matches I've ever seen. Legacy put on quite a performance here and proved to be worthy rivals to DX. DX wins with Shawn Michaels' Sweet Chin Music. RATING: ***3/4

ECW Championship Match: Christian (c) vs. William Regal - Match was 8 seconds long and Christian is still the champ. Next. RATING: N/A

WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. John Cena - The match was alright, but the overbooking really hurt it. The constant restarts were pretty annoying and really made Orton look cowardly. Randy Orton ends up retaining thanks to distraction from Brett DiBiase. RATING: **3/4

Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. CM Punk - This was an amazing TLC match. The build-up to this was really strong, and they really delivered. The match had a lot of great drama, and there was plenty of fast-paced action and crazy spots that kept me on the edge of my seat. This match made Punk, and it was pretty awesome for Hardy's last WWE PPV match for almost a decade. CM Punk ends up winning the title back. RATING: ****1/2

While there were a few filler matches and a disappointing WWE Championship match, the show has an incredible main event and two really strong undercard matches. A very good show and worth checking out.

RATING: B

Pokemon za mubi XY& Z 'borukenion to kiko (karakuri) no magiana
(2016)

The Best of the X&Y "Pokemon" Films by a Mile
I came into this one ready to hate it, considering that the "Pokémon" films from the X&Y saga hadn't been exactly stellar. "Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction" was mediocre and "Hoopa and the Clash of Ages" was the worst "Pokémon" film yet. However, this film really surprised me. Not only is it the best X&Y film, I would even say that it is the best "Pokémon" film in around a decade.

Volcanion was one of the better legendary Pokémon in a while. While I was a bit annoyed at him at first with how he had the typical "disdain for humanity" personality, he got to be a much more likeable and engaging character as the movie progressed. His relationship with Magearna surprisingly was quite interesting and felt very real.

Similar to the "Victini" movies, this film doesn't really break any new ground but somehow manages to make things feel fresh. It has interesting new variations on themes used before in the series that managed to keep my attention.

The action scenes are an absolute blast and probably some of the most exciting the "Pokémon" films have had in a while. The film is also complimented nicely by impressive animation and CGI and a great musical score.

There are just a few negatives. There were some pretty stupid scenes in the film here and there, though thankfully they are mostly confined to the first half. Also, the main villain wasn't really all that memorable.

Aside from "The Rise of Darkrai", "Victini and Zekrom/Reshiram", and "Genesect and the Legend Awakened", all the post-Hoenn entries in the series have been a chore for me. This film, however, proved that there is still some steam left in this franchise. A highly satisfying "Pokémon" film that is definitely worth checking out.

RATING: B+

Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost
(2018)

A Decent "Scooby-Doo" Entry with Enough to keep you Entertained
I thought that this latest "Scooby-Doo" movie was pretty enjoyable. As far as "Scooby" films that feature celebrities go, I thought that this was probably the best one the franchise has done yet. Whereas the two WWE crossovers mostly felt like wrestling commercials, this one feels much more like a real movie, even if it has its flaws.

I may be a bit biased here, since I am a huge fan of The Food Network. Getting to see Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentiis be a part of the adventure and working with the gang was pretty fun, and we got some decent humor out of them. I liked the idea of Fred being Bobby's nephew.

The storyline was fairly interesting with some good fictional lore thrown in there. The film is really well-animated and the atmosphere is pretty nice. I also enjoyed seeing a lot of tasty looking food on screen.

As for negatives, I wouldn't say that all of the jokes hit. The "shhhh" gag that ran throughout the movie, in particular, was beaten into the ground. I found Shaggy and Scooby rather annoying in this one (as to be expected from "Scooby-Doo" movies these days), and the film kind of dragged in some places.

All in all, I mostly enjoyed this one. It's far from the best movie in the "Scooby-Doo" franchise, but it's also pretty far from the worst. Recommended to fans of the franchise and fans of The Food Network.

RATING: B

The Last: Naruto the Movie
(2014)

The Movie Doesn't Work because the Love Story Falls Flat
As the film that is supposed to be the culmination to Naruto's journey, it left a lot to be desired. The main thing that brings this one down is that the love story between Naruto and Hinata, the core of the movie, is fundamentally flawed in the way that it was executed.

The romance plot could have been a lot better if there had been some signs of a relationship naturally building between Naruto and Hinata in the TV show. Instead, it all just happened in this movie, and in very questionable ways. They expect us to believe that Naruto didn't understand the difference between romantic love and love for ramen noodles despite him being quite smitten with Sakura for most of the series? Naruto develops romantic feelings for Hinata only after just finding out about her crush on him? Sakura is actually giving relationship advice to Naruto? PUH-LEEZE!

I actually thought that the sub-plot involving Konaha trying to save the world from colliding with the moon was pretty interesting. Unfortunately, the film didn't really give it that much attention and instead made the love story the focus.

The handling of the characters wasn't really the best, either. Hinata was too much of a damsel-in-distress, her sister ended up feeling like a plot device, and Naruto's other allies didn't contribute much of anything. On top of that, the main villain was pretty flat and uninteresting.

To the film's credit, though, the animation is actually pretty stellar. Even by the standards of these movies, this is a great-looking film. There is a really eye-grabbing tint and polish to nearly every scene. The action scenes are intense and well-choreographed.

It's just disheartening how the whole project was handled. The romantic scenes between Naruto and Hinata actually could have been quite strong if the build-up had been better. If they had done that as well as make Hinata less of a damsel-in-distress, give more focus to the "saving the world" plot, and had a more engaging villain, this film could have been something really special. As it stands, it is a big disappointment and one of the weaker "Naruto" movies.

RATING: C

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie
(2012)

While the Reverse World Aspect is Disappointing, a Strong Emotional Core Makes this one Stand Out
This film is rather split among the "Naruto" community; some people like it and some people don't. I thought it was good. While it has its issues, the emotional and dramatic aspect of it really makes it come through.

One thing for sure, the "reverse world" aspect of this film was pretty lackluster. A lot of the characters from the reverse world were either extremely annoying or had random personalities. Also, a lot of them had no relevance to the movie and contributed almost nothing other than time-filler.

Another wart is that the main villain, while interesting, was not given much development as far as what his motivations are. They never explain why he is affiliated with The Akatsuki and why he is doing what he is doing.

However, a big strength with this film is the storyline about Naruto meeting his parents in the reverse world. His relationship with them played out in an interesting way, and the scenes where he experiences how wonderful it is to have parents were actually quite poignant.

Another thing I liked was Sakura getting a taste of her own medicine. At first, she believes that not having parents would be the best thing ever, but she eventually gets to realize and experience just how sad and lonely Naruto has been feeling his whole life without a family. Very strong character arc right there.

The final battle was very emotion-packed and thrilling, with the narrative and thematic elements coming together at the perfect moment. As usual, the movie is very well-animated.

I was almost ready to call this a bad film during the scenes with the reverse-world versions of the characters, but the good stuff that comes after all of that makes this another solid entry in the "Naruto" movie series. Definitely worth checking out.

RATING: B

Gekijouban Naruto: Buraddo purizun
(2011)

A Return to Form for the Franchise
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this movie. It should go without saying that it's a gigantic improvement over the lackluster "The Lost Tower". One thing that certainly helped this one is that it brought some new stuff to the table.

This is a very well-written film and it feels fresh because it puts Naruto in a new environment and in a vulnerable state. He is sent to a prison with air-tight security and his chakra has been blocked. The story may be rather slow-paced, but it manages to keep you engaged as Naruto is forced to use his smarts and team up with Ryuzetsu to be able to escape imprisonment and stop Mui's plans.

Mui is quite possibly the best villain we've ever seen in a "Naruto" film. He stands out because he is the first "Naruto" movie villain who isn't truly evil and is really more of an antagonist than a villain. He is a character you really feel for, because he truly regrets what he has done and wants nothing more than to bring his son Muku back.

Ryuzetsu is an interesting character, and her backstory with Muku is actually pretty touching. The animation was top notch as usual, and the final battle at the end was quite exciting for the most part.

The film isn't without it's flaws, however. There are some plot holes here and there, such as Naruto somehow being able to sneak some shuriken into the prison despite being thoroughly strip-searched. I also thought that the healing jutsu at the end that saved Naruto was a bit of an ex-machina.

Another thing, Muku severely impaled Naruto and Ryuzetsu and put giant holes in both of them that SHOULD HAVE killed them almost instantly due to the extreme blood loss, many punctured organs, and their spines being destroyed. However, they not only survive, but are able to keep fighting? Are you kidding me?

Despite this, I still really enjoyed this one and it is more than good enough to wash the taste of "The Lost Tower" out of my mouth. It's certainly one of the better "Naruto" movies so far, and it's well worth checking out.

RATING: B+

Gekijouban Naruto Shippuuden: Za rosuto tawâ
(2010)

The Dullest and Most Dissapointing "Naruto" Film Yet
I was quite interested heading into this movie because it has a rather negative reputation, and it turns out there's a reason for that. This installment in the "Naruto" movie series was mostly kind of a bore. Most of this film is either wasted potential or stuff that we have seen before in previous films. If you read my reviews, you might remember that I said the same thing about "Bonds", but even that film had more to offer than this one did.

The thing that got me most excited is the fact that Naruto goes to the past and meets his father, Minato. This potential was completely squandered, however, because they did almost nothing with the character of Minato. Him and his teammates had no relevance to the plot aside from helping out in the battle scenes. They did so little with this idea that the movie would have been no different if they didn't include Minato at all.

Sara is nothing special as a supporting character. Basically, she was yet another princess character who has been deceived by the person closest to her for many years and comes to her senses when Naruto gives her the obligatory "do the right thing and believe in yourself" pep talk. In fact, there are many ways that this movie is a rehash of the pervious films. These elements started getting old a few movies ago, and it was particularly stale here.

Mukade is yet another bland and boring "Naruto" movie villain. I'd say he gives Shabadaba from "Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom" and Shinno from "Bonds" a run for their money as the worst one yet.

There were a couple of action scenes during the film that were pretty good, I guess, but things really started to drag during the third act. The climax was very repetitive and boring, and I just didn't really care about what was going on. The animation was okay, but nothing overly special aside from doing a really good job of selling the scale and scope of the city of Roran.

After the fantastic "Inheritors of the Will of Fire", this film was a huge let down. I really thought that the interactions between Naruto and his father would give this movie some value, but the wasted potential just really disappointed me. The whole endeavor was rather boring for the most part, and I would caution "Naruto" fans to not expect too much from it.

RATING: D+

Gekijô-ban Naruto Shippûden: Hi no ishi wo tsugu mono
(2009)

A Thrilling Adventure that Might be the Best "Naruto" Movie Yet
After the mediocrity that was "Bonds," I was convinced that the "Naruto" movie franchise had begun to deteriorate. This film, however, proved me wrong. Not only is it a return to form for the franchise, it just might be the best entry yet.

There are some very strong themes in this movie. They include self-sacrifice and the series' theme of remembering to never abandon your comrades, no matter what. The choices that the characters have to go through and the tension between some of the characters on whether or not to save Kakashi added a lot of stakes and drama to the proceedings.

The Konoha 11 all get prominent involvement in this movie, which is extremely refreshing after the previous movie "Bonds" gave most of the supporting characters almost nothing to do. They all get their time to shine and prove to be quite useful on the battlefield.

The action scenes are intense and exciting and really kept me on the edge of my seat. Hiruko isn't too special off a villain, but he's pretty serviceable and certainly a big improvement on the villains from the last couple of movies.

The animation is once again solid, even though I personally would have liked for the color palette to be just a little bit brighter. By the way, the ending scene is absolutely HILARIOUS!

I was very pleased with this movie. It gets the franchise back on track, and I would even say that it replaces "Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow" as my favorite "Naruto" movie so far. Definitely check this one out.

RATING: A

Gekijô ban Naruto: Shippûden - Kizuna
(2008)

A Rather Uninspired Effort with Very Little New to Offer
I was pretty disappointed in this one, to be honest. The "Naruto" movies are getting pretty formulaic at this point, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as it's executed well and brings SOME new stuff to the table. This film didn't really do that. Most of it is stuff we have seen before, and a lot of the newer things about it weren't executed all that well.

There isn't much to complain about on a technical level. The animation is consistently good for most of the film, and there are some pretty well done battle scenes, particularly the explosive opening with the sky ninjas attacking The Leaf Village. They have even gotten better with their use of CGI. It was a bit eyesorish in a few places, but for the most part, the CGI is much better integrated than it was in the last film. The music was also pretty solid.

In terms of story and character, though, this one left a lot to be desired. I was actually kind of invested in this movie for about the first half of it and it seemed like it was going somewhere interesting, but a lot of it played out in a pedestrian fashion and generally felt like stuff we have already seen before in the previous films.

The big twist with Shinno being a bad guy and that he was deceiving Amaru the whole time wasn't terribly executed, but I just couldn't shake away the feeling that it was all too similar to what we had seen with Master Haido and Temujin in "Legend of the Stone of Gelel." Shinno wasn't even that great of a villain, either. His motivations were pretty muddled and the superpowers that he introduced were too strange to be all that interesting.

There are other things about this film that feel off. The attack on The Leaf Village at the beginning felt less and less important as the movie progressed and ended up feeling like a plot device, the sky ninjas' battleships were destroyed when Shino took care of them after appearing out of absolutely nowhere, and Sakura and Hinata end up being completely useless in the plot.

Even Sasuke's involvement, the movie's big selling point, didn't have much to offer. He had almost no involvement in the story at all apart from showing up in the final 20 minutes to help Naruto fight Shinno. I love Sasuke as much as the next guy, but they honestly could have left him out of this movie entirely and they wouldn't have had to change much. He felt shoehorned in here just for the purpose of fanservice.

This film is filled with so much wasted potential and mostly felt like it was just going through the motions. It isn't terrible by any means, but it isn't really one I'd want to watch again. This one is recommended mainly to die-hard "Naruto" fans who don't want to miss a single adventure.

RATING: C

Gekijô-ban Naruto shippûden
(2007)

The First Movie from the "Shippuden" Era is Uneven, but still Decent Enough
The first "Naruto Shippuden" movie and the fourth "Naruto" movie overall, this one could have been a lot better. It is mostly a decent movie, but many things held it back from being anything spectacular.

The storyline has some cool mythology in it and the priestess is an interesting character with an engaging backstory. A problem, though, is that some things weren't explored nearly enough. The main villain is woefully underdeveloped as they barely showed him at all apart from the beginning and the climax, and we didn't even get to see any flashbacks pertaining to the priestess' backstory until near the end.

The interactions between Naruto and the priestess kept me interested most of the time, even if it undeniably felt rehashed from the previous films. I really like Naruto's teammates in this film, which were Sakura, Neji, and Rock Lee. Neji was his usual awesome self, and I liked that Rock Lee got to have more involvement in here than in "Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom."

The majority of the animation in this film is pretty solid, but there is sadly some really bad CGI used for the stone army. Not only was it hard to get invested when they fought the stone army due to the subpar CGI, but the way the army was defeated felt anticlimactic. However, the fight scenes against the henchmen are some of the highlights of this film as they are exciting, intense, and do a good job of giving everyone the spotlight.

I suppose the themes of this movie are pretty good. It talks about how nothing is inevitable and that people make their own fates. I do think it's kind of strange, though, how the movie ended at the moment that it did. Be sure to watch the post-credits scene, or else the movie will feel incomplete.

I did have a mostly positive feeling after watching this movie, but it definitely isn't a great film by any means and it's not as good as the original "Naruto" trilogy. Despite it's many shortcomings, I still liked it well enough and I'd say it's worth checking out for "Naruto" fans.

RATING: B-

Total Drama Island
(2007)

TOTAL DRAMA ISLAND REVIEW: The Season that Started it all is Still Fantastic
NOTE: This is only a review for "Total Drama Island", the first season of "Total Drama." Since TDI doesn't have it's own IMDB page like some of the subsequent seasons do, the only way to review it is on the IMDB page for the "Total Drama" franchise in general.

I have such fond memories of "Total Drama Island." The summer of 2008 was one of the best times in my life, and this show is one of the reasons for it. It kept me hooked all the way through and really left an impression on me. Revisiting it, it still is a great show to watch.

Created as a parody of shows such as Survivor and Fear Factor, Total Drama Island focuses on 22 teenagers arriving to Camp Wawanakwa to compete on a reality television show. The contestants are divided into two teams and must compete in challenges every three days. While the winning team earns invincibility, the losing team has to vote off one of their own players. Whoever is voted off must walk the Dock of Shame to the Boat of Losers and leave the island. The teams eventually dissolve and the elimination process continues until the last contestant standing wins a grand prize of $100,000.

One thing that makes TDI so good is its extremely likable cast of characters. They all have their own individual personalities and they all feel relatable in some way, like people you would meet in high school. My favorites are Trent, Gwen, Duncan, Leshawna, Cody, Bridgette, Geoff, and Owen (not just because he shares my name).

The interactions between the characters are usually quite engaging and the many storylines built up between them are played out well. We would see most of them again in later seasons, but a lot of them started going downhill and ended up getting derailed in some way. They were all at their most likable in this season.

The first season, I feel, did the best job of utilizing its cast of characters. With only a few exceptions, I feel that everyone was eliminated at just the right time.

The challenges are a lot of fun as well. A lot of them are very creative and are filled with memorable moments. With an ongoing narrative filled with all kinds of interesting stuff happening every episode, it makes you not want to miss a single one.

The show can also be quite hilarious at times and the animation, while rather basic (as to be expected from Teletoon), fits the show quite well.

This season does have a few problems, such as some toilet humor here and there and a few unfair eliminations, but they are all rather minor in the grand scheme of things.

"Total Drama Island" has a special place in my heart, and it still holds up extremely well. Too bad the sequels aren't anywhere near as good (although the spin-off "The Ridonculous Race" was pretty awesome). You should check this show out if you haven't already.

RATING: A

Total Drama Island
(2007)

TOTAL DRAMA ISLAND REVIEW: The Season that Started it all is Still Fantastic
NOTE: This is only a review for "Total Drama Island", the first season of "Total Drama." Since TDI doesn't have it's own IMDB page like some of the subsequent seasons do, the only way to review it is on the IMDB page for the "Total Drama" franchise in general.

I have such fond memories of "Total Drama Island." The summer of 2008 was one of the best times in my life, and this show is one of the reasons for it. It kept me hooked all the way through and really left an impression on me. Revisiting it, it still is a great show to watch.

Created as a parody of shows such as Survivor and Fear Factor, Total Drama Island focuses on 22 teenagers arriving to Camp Wawanakwa to compete on a reality television show. The contestants are divided into two teams and must compete in challenges every three days. While the winning team earns invincibility, the losing team has to vote off one of their own players. Whoever is voted off must walk the Dock of Shame to the Boat of Losers and leave the island. The teams eventually dissolve and the elimination process continues until the last contestant standing wins a grand prize of $100,000.

One thing that makes TDI so good is its extremely likable cast of characters. They all have their own individual personalities and they all feel relatable in some way, like people you would meet in high school. My favorites are Trent, Gwen, Duncan, Leshawna, Cody, Bridgette, Geoff, and Owen (not just because he shares my name).

The interactions between the characters are usually quite engaging and the many storylines built up between them are played out well. We would see most of them again in later seasons, but a lot of them started going downhill and ended up getting derailed in some way. They were all at their most likable in this season.

The first season, I feel, did the best job of utilizing its cast of characters. With only a few exceptions, I feel that everyone was eliminated at just the right time.

The challenges are a lot of fun as well. A lot of them are very creative and are filled with memorable moments. With an ongoing narrative filled with all kinds of interesting stuff happening every episode, it makes you not want to miss a single one.

The show can also be quite hilarious at times and the animation, while rather basic (as to be expected from Teletoon), fits the show quite well.

This season does have a few problems, such as some toilet humor here and there and a few unfair eliminations, but they are all rather minor in the grand scheme of things.

"Total Drama Island" has a special place in my heart, and it still holds up extremely well. Too bad the sequels aren't anywhere near as good (although the spin-off "The Ridonculous Race" was pretty awesome). You should check this show out if you haven't already.

RATING: A

Gekijô-ban Naruto: Daikôfun! Mikazukijima no animaru panikku dattebayo!
(2006)

A Worthy, if Flawed, Conclusion to the Original Naruto Trilogy
Like "Stone of Gelel," this was a film I had only seen once back in the day. I was 13 when it premiered on Toonami, and I felt rather underwhelmed with it. However, upon re-watching it, I am happy to say that, while it has its issues, it's actually much better than I remembered it being.

The story is rather basic, but it's executed quite well thanks to the characters that Naruto and friends meet. Michiru and his son Hikaru are both endearing characters who go through compelling arcs of learning to become better and more caring people. Naruto's friendship with Hikaru felt very appealing and believable, even though there were a few too many scenes of them shoving their new friendship down our throats.

We get to see Kakashi Sensei and Sakura again, and joining them on the journey is Rock Lee. While it is cool to see Rock Lee, I'm rather disappointed that he didn't have much to say or do outside of the fight scenes.

We once again get top-notch animation with really interesting and beautiful settings. Most of the action scenes were pretty good. The action scene taking place at the beach wasn't anything too exciting, but the rousing climax definitely makes up for it.

The movie's biggest downfall is the villains. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything, they were pretty awful. Shabadaba (I can't believe that's actually his name) was one of the most one-dimensional bad guys I've seen in a while, and his henchmen were cardboard cut-outs with no personality. The baddies in the first two "Naruto" films weren't exactly groundbreaking, but they were still good enough to keep my interest. The ones in this film did not.

However, with great animation, an engaging character arc, and an exciting battle at the end, this is still a film that I enjoyed despite its flaws. While it's the weakest of the original "Naruto" trilogy, it's much better than I originally thought and it gets a recommendation.

RATING: B

Gekijô-ban Naruto: Daigekitotsu! Maboroshi no chitei iseki dattebayo!
(2005)

A Great Follow-up to "Land of Snow"
When I re-watched this movie recently, it was actually only the second time I had ever seen it. I had seen "Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow" like a dozen times back in the day, but I only saw this one once. This was another strong "Naruto" movie. It is quite different from its predecessor in a lot of interesting ways.

The film has an engaging enough story with a pretty strong message. A world without war is something that we all want, but trying to make it happen at the expense of many other people's lives is the wrong way to do it. A better way to make it happen is if we are all willing to work together.

Temujin was quite an interesting character, and his character arc was fun to go along with. Even though a lot of people might have seen it coming, the reveal at the climax that Master Haido was using Temujin the whole time really makes you feel for Temujin. Having him go through that redemption at the end was pulled off well.

Sakura and Shikamaru are Naruto's allies in the film, and they are utilized pretty well. Gaara and Kankuro also got their time to shine, even though they didn't have much involvement until about halfway through.

Despite some slightly questionable lighting during some of the fight scenes, the animation on the whole is really good. The fight scenes themselves are as energetic and well choreographed as anyone could have hoped. The final showdown against Master Haido was a bit long but never lost my attention.

It's a close race between this one and "Land of Snow." I might say I like "Land of Snow" just a bit more because it had better pacing. However, this one is still a great follow-up that I definitely recommend.

RATING: B+

Gekijô-ban Naruto: Daikatsugeki! Yukihime ninpôchô dattebayo!!
(2004)

A Really Strong First Movie for the "Naruto" TV Show
"Naruto" was favorite show of mine growing up. It has great action, memorable characters, and intriguing storylines. I was 11 years old when this movie premiered on Cartoon Network. I fell in love with it and watched it multiple times. Re-watching this movie as an adult, I find that there is still a lot to like.

I found the story to be fun and interesting, and it moved along at a good pace. Princess Yukie is a very sympathetic character, and the interactions between her and Naruto as he tries to make her come to her senses provide some nice drama.

The animation is still spectacular 14 years after its release, and the direction and cinematography is hugely impressive and really lets the audience take in the gorgeous snowy scenery. They did a good job of making sure that the series' first theatrical outing doesn't feel like an extended episode.

Doto doesn't necessarily raise the bar as far as villains go, but I still thought he was decent. He has an intimidating presence, and he is as evil as they come. I thought his three henchmen were cool, although I would have liked for them to be fleshed out a bit more. I really like the concept of using Chakra armor to make them more dangerous.

This movie takes place during the time in the show when Sakura and Sasuke were Naruto's teammates. It was a treat to see Sasuke (my favorite character) in the good old days.

The action scenes are great fun and really give every character a chance to do their stuff. Anime fans will be kept on the edge of their seats. The music is terrific and really adds to the movie's feel.

Of course, the line Yukie yelled out to Naruto during the climax made me absolutely CRINGE, and it did take away from the climax just a little.

I'm very glad that this movie holds up as well as it does. It starts the "Naruto" movie franchise on a pretty strong note, and I recommend it to all anime fans.

RATING: A-

Monk
(2002)

A Series of Highs and Lows, but the High Points are Definitely Worth it
I started watching this show in 2013, about four years after the show's run ended. I got into it because my mom owned some seasons of the show on DVD and I started watching them with her. I became a huge fan at one point and we ended up collecting all seasons on DVD. However, as I continued watching the series, I came to realize that I do have some issues with it, a lot of them having to do with some of the later seasons.

The show is about a former detective named Adrian Monk. He was once on the San Francisco Police Department, but was discharged after the utterly devastating event that was his wife Trudy's death from a car bomb. He now works with them as a consultant. He suffers from an extremely crippling case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and has over 300 phobias. However, he is an extremely gifted detective because of his amazing attention to detail, his flawless memory, and his ability to put all the pieces together. With help from his assistant Sharona/Natalie, Lieutenant Randy Disher, and Captain Leland Stottlemeyer, he is determined to bring justice to all the cases he works on and hopes to solve the mystery of his wife's murder.

There is a lot to love about this show. A lot of the plots and mysteries of the episodes are quite engaging and have you hooked all the way through. A lot of them are very intricately put together, and watching Detective Monk do his thing and eventually solve the case is always a pleasure to watch. When Monk solves the cases and explains what happened in each episode, they would always show the flashback in black and white, which is a good stylistic choice.

For the most part, Adrian Monk is quite an endearing character, played brilliantly by Tony Shalhoub. He is a character you really feel for, who you really want to see succeed. Some of the time, the OCD portrayed in the show felt quite relatable to me, having suffered from it myself. The supporting characters are quite great as well. They all play off of the title character really well and contribute a lot to the plot in most episodes.

The show can also be pretty funny and is even able to tug at your heart strings on occasions.

However, the show also has some things I didn't like. In the later half of the show's run, the show went into a somewhat sitcom-esque direction, which didn't quite sit well with me.

Also in the later seasons, they really started to lose their touch on the portrayal of Adrian Monk. As the series went on, a lot of his OCD quirks were becoming more and more exaggerated. It felt like OCD just for the sake of OCD. He sometimes felt like a man with OCD who just happens to work for the police department; he just wasn't as endearing as he used to be. There were honestly some episodes where I had a hard time taking the character seriously. There is a limit to how far you should take something like this.

There are also times in which Adrian Monk's self-centeredness went to far, such as in the series' worst episode, "Mr. Monk on Wheels." I also didn't care for what Randy Disher became as the show went on. He became too much of a buffoon and was often embarrassing to watch.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the later seasons were a complete waste, as there were still plenty of great episodes that came from them. It's just that the later seasons are where a lot of the show's worst material came from and aren't as consistent as the first few seasons.

Some of my favorite episodes are "Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum", "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect", "Mr. Monk Goes to Jail", "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month", "Mr. Monk Gets Stuck in Traffic", "Mr. Monk and the Kid", "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk", "Mr. Monk Meets His Dad", "Mr. Monk is On the Air", "Mr. Monk and the Naked Man", "Mr. Monk and the Wrong Man", "Mr. Monk's Other Brother", "Mr. Monk and the Magician", and "Mr. Monk is Someone Else".

Some of the worst episodes after "Mr. Monk on Wheels" are "Mr. Monk Stays in Bed", "Mr. Monk Goes to the Office", "Mr. Monk and the Actor", "Mr. Monk Goes to the Hospital", "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever", and "Mr. Monk and the Critic".

At the end of the day, I do still love this show, even if it's far from perfect. There may be quite a few episodes I never want to watch again, but there is definitely more good on this show than bad, and I recommend checking it out if you haven't already.

RATING: B

Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie
(2001)

A Terrific Start to this Legendary Series
Samurai Jack is undoubtedly one of Cartoon Network's greatest shows, and this pilot got the series off on the right foot. It does everything an introductory episode should do and gets people pumped for the series. It certainly did that for me when I saw this at the age of five.

This episode does a wonderful job establishing the hero and villain of the show to come. The training scenes where a young Jack learns to become a stealthy samurai are very engaging and are able to tell the story really well with pretty much no dialogue. When he becomes the samurai that we know and love, he is someone you don't want to mess with.

The opening scene of the episode that shows Aku escaping from his imprisonment is very effective and chilling. He is an amazing villain who is obviously very threatening and would go on to have many encounters with Jack later in the series.

The movie also does a good job with its world-building. The animation and scenery in ancient Japan was really beautiful and set the mood nicely. The world many years in the future that Aku throws Jack into is given a good introduction and is established as a place where Jack is in way over his head.

The action scenes are fantastic as well. The showdown between Jack and Aku before Jack gets sent into the future is pretty impressive, and the battle at the end where Jack takes down an entire robotic beetle army is all kinds of epic.

If I had any complaints, it would be that the scene at the bar where Jack talks with the dogs was a kind of slow and took me out of the movie for just a little bit.

Overall, this was an awesome movie that started off this amazing animated series right. If you haven't seen the show yet, it would be good to start here.

RATING: A

Goosebumps
(2015)

A Solid Family Film that does the "Goosebumps" Franchise Justice
I am a huge fan of the 1990's TV series and I have read some of the books too. I was skeptical heading into this, but I was surprised at how much I ended up liking it. While not groundbreaking by any means, it is still a nice tribute to the work of R.L. Stine.

I actually really enjoyed Jack Black as R.L. Stine. He is definitely not the first actor I would have thought of to play this role, but he gave a nice take on a fictionalized version of the world-famous author.

The story is filled with a lot of fairly standard "coming-of-age" teenage film tropes. The main teenage characters are hardly anything we haven't seen before, but they are pretty likeable, so it could have been worse. Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush actually had pretty decent chemistry.

I really like the concept of R.L. Stine's stories coming into the real world after being released from their books, and the monsters in this film were pretty darn cool. We get to see Slappy the Dummy, the lawn gnomes, a giant preying mantis, the abominable snowman, the warewolf of Fever Swamp, and many more. The fanservice in this movie is really well done. The only complaint as far as the monsters go is that the CGI used for the warewolf and the abominable snowman was pretty bad.

The film moved at a really fast pace, and I really liked the resolution and how everything was wrapped up. You also got to love the cameo by the real R.L. Stine.

This film is solid entertainment for the whole family. It's not a masterpiece by any stretch, but it's still a fun ride that I recommend to all "Goosebumps" fans.

RATING: B

Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
(2002)

A Strong Contender for my Favorite Veggietales Adventure
This was one of those movies that I watched literally countless times when I was a kid and just about remember every line from it. After finding it on DVD about a year ago and revisiting it for the first time in years, I have since rewatched it a number of times because I can safely say that it still holds up tremendously. This movie has everything you could want out of a "Veggietales" adventure and more.

The retelling of the Jonah story is really well done here. It's messages about compassion, mercy, and not running away from God when He has called you to do something really shine through. Like most "Veggietales" productions, it manages to sell its message in a fun way that doesn't feel overly preachy.

The characters are fun to go along with and play off each other really well. Archibald playing Jonah was a great choice, and seeing the pirates who don't do anything is always a treat. I also loved Khalil in his first appearance ever.

16 years after its release, the animation still holds up really well and is pretty to look at. The music numbers are expertly handled as well. Every single song is memorable and fits well with the theme and flow of the movie.

There are certain things you never grow out of, and for me, "Jonah: A Veggietales Movie" is one of those. It might possibly be my favorite adventure to come out of this series. Check it out if you haven't already, as kids and adults alike can find a lot to enjoy out of it.

RATING: A+

Avatar
(2009)

Astounding Visuals Elevate an Otherwise Average Movie
Ah, Avatar. The highest-grossing movie of all time as well as one of the most insanely hyped. It is often recognized as a milestone in filmmaking. I know that I'm far from the only one to espouse this opinion, but I feel that the amazing technology and special effects on display save this film from mediocrity.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Pandora is of course a wonder to behold. It's a totally immersive experience, and gives you a sense of wonder. The sheer visual splendor and world-building alone managed to keep my attention for a good while.

Unfortunately, that is really the only thing about this movie that is truly groundbreaking in any way. The story is pretty pedestrian and nothing new whatsoever. As many have pointed out, it borrows heavily from many other movies of its kind, most notably "Pocahontas" and "Dances With Wolves."

The performances and main characters are serviceable, but sadly nothing more. Jake Sully's relationship with the Navi was pretty interesting at times, but is sorely lacking depth. The dialogue isn't that great, either.

One of the film's biggest problems is its 161-minute running time. As I said earlier, the film kept my attention for a while, but during the last 30-40 minutes, I pretty much lost interest. It also didn't help that the themes and messages felt pretty heavy-handed at times.

It hurts me to be critical of this film, because James Cameron is one of my all-time favorite movie directors. I'm giving this film an above-average grade just for the amazing visual experience alone, but basically everything else was average in every sense of the word. Were it not for the enormously high budget that went into making this, it would probably be forgotten by now.

RATING: C+

Black Panther
(2018)

Quite Overrated, but still a Really Good Effort from Marvel
To be honest, I am rather baffled that there are critics who are hailing this film as a cinematic masterpiece and one of the if not the best superhero movies ever made. I sometimes wonder if I even watched the same movie they did. Even with that said, I still thought that this was a really good movie and I had a fun time watching it in the theater.

Chadwick Boseman is quite good as the Black Panther, bringing the right blend of confidence and emotion to the character. There are many supporting characters who are quite interesting as well. I was skeptical about Michael B. Jordan playing the villain of the movie, but he did a surprisingly decent job.

The best thing about this movie by far is its world-building. Wakanda is a wonderfully fleshed-out setting, and the gorgeous cinematography really sells the beauty and grandeur of it.

The story is interesting and filled with intriguing commentary, with it only occasionally feeling preachy. The action scenes are a lot of fun, with the car chase being my favorite. I also liked the final battle.

It does have some problems, though. The film dragged in some places and was overlong, and there were some instances where the CGI looked too obvious. The worst thing about this film by far is Martin Freeman's character. He had no real impact on the story and was kind of embarrassing to watch.

All in all, this was another strong addition to the MCU. Even if it is overhyped and overrated, I still really like it. Check it out.

RATING: B+

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