HollisWoods

IMDb member since May 2017
    Lifetime Total
    50+
    IMDb Member
    3 years, 11 months

Reviews

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
(2021)

Classic Marvel Experience
The way this show is structured makes it feel like a 6 hour film. The first couple episodes were like the start to any movie. It established where are characters were - emotionally - and also established the overall arc of the plot. As each episode approached the finale, we see more action, more plot, and more character development. Then the finale hits and it truly feels like an authentic climactic ending of a standard Marvel film. However, the pacing of a couple episodes was a bit slow, and they probably could've cut enough to make it 5 instead of 6 episodes, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The 5 year blip effected the entire world on such a deep level. We've already seen the aftermath in Spiderman: Far From Home and WandaVision. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier elaborates on the effects a bit more with how the world has recovered rather than just our favorite characters. This is why the main villain, Karli, was so good. Her intentions were understandable, and that made her interesting.

In all the time we've known Sam, we've only seen him as the loyal friend and sidekick of Steve Rogers. The first episode gave us so much more about his back story, which we knew almost nothing about prior. While we pretty much know most about Bucky's back story, it was also nice to see how his character developed and how he's recovering from being someone's "pet psychopath." Getting more time with these characters has been my favorite part of the show. Not just because we get to unwrap more of their character, but their dynamic with each other is comedic gold.

The Bucky-Sam comedic duo is no doubt the main attraction to any fan here. I can't even begin to explain in words how hilarious they were. The meme economy was booming. For the whole six weeks the show was on, I couldn't even last 2 minutes on social media without seeing some sort of meme about them, or the show in general. You'll find me on YouTube looing up 3 hour funny moment compilations of Sam and Bucky.

Going from WandaVision to this, the crave of sick action scenes was satisfied as every episode had at least one super cool fight scene. This was the fun action some fans may have missed, and it was well worth the wait to see.

The final episode was epic and is exactly what we've been missing since the last Spider Man movie. Not only did the real Captain America come on to the scene, but he did it with style. Sam is the new Cap, and he owned it. The reveal of his new design was amazing and it lead to fun, action packed, well choreographed fights. An hour of classic Marvel entertainment to be sure.

Episode three was a huge turning point because it brought us the wonderful Zemo back on our screens. Zemo is objectively top 3 MCU villains of all time. The idea of him becoming an antihero of sorts and creating this ultimate trio we never knew we wanted made that episode such a highlight. And the image of him vibing in the club lives in my mind rent free.

Zemo was probably the highlight of everyone's experience with this show. However, John Walker gave the opposite feeling. Wyatt Russell did a wonderful job with this character. Every viewer collectively hated him when he was introduced, and Russell did a great of continuing that through the episodes. He did not deserve any hate he received at all. I dislike that character as much as everyone else, and even after his little redemption, I don't care about him. But Russell presented some complexities with the character in key moments, and credit needs to be given where it's due.

Final thoughts - loved the cast, loved the acting, loved the action. A fun 6 hour experience for all Marvel fans. WandaVision was a phenomena on its own, but it was nice to follow it up with a classic adventure with some favorite heroes (and villain). Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are simply awesome. They gave us many emotional layers to their own characters and have such great chemistry together on and off screen that make us love the duo. If they make a Captain America 4 with these two guys, I'll pre order my tickets for opening night. I'll be so ready.

It Takes Two
(2021)

Unique & heartwarming.
When a girl is told her parents are divorcing, she accidentally casts a spell & turns her parents into toys. Thus begins a game that really took me by surprise. Best played as a multiplayer game, you play as the toy parents, explore a new world in their back yard, & work together to solve puzzles, fight bosses, & break the spell.

The character design, world design, & level design is just so cool. You get different abilities to play around with each level. Everything just seems so clever & innovative & different. I don't want to spoil too much, but please give this a try. Dialogue is genuinely funny, the game is fun, story is heartfelt, & it's one of the most fresh unique experiences in gaming right now. If you're not convinced, watch the first part of a let's play on YouTube. I highly encourage everyone to check it out.

The Color Purple
(1985)

A Tale of Sisterhood & Women Empowerment
Stephen Spielberg is objectively one of the greatest film makers of all time. With pop culture classics like Indiana Jones and ET, to beautiful and powerful drama pieces like Schindler's List. This is a man who knows how to make a movie, and the Color Purple is "one more chalk on his board," or whatever the saying is. It's a film with a heartwarming story, amazing acting, and excellent cinematography. I watched it once, and it immediately became one of my favorite films of all time.

The Color Purple was a story of sisterhood, and the actual color purple was a symbol of that. We meet our main character, Celie, playing in a field of purple flowers with her sister Nettie. When the sisters are torn apart, the sky is filled with ominous purple clouds. Then after many years not knowing whether her sister was dead or alive, she finally got her hands on one of Nettie's letters, and as she read the letter the room had soft touches of purple on Celie's dress, the drapes, and even the lighting. When the sisters finally reunite after many years, not only are they both wearing purple, but they reunite in the same field of purple flowers we meet them.

While it's a tale of two sisters at it's core, there's some much more to Celie's story to not only make you feel emotional, but also empowered. This film is fueled by it's strong female characters and it's theme of women empowerment. During these times, women were property and often abused the way Celie was. Yet the leading ladies here overcome that and really prove they are more. Nettie is well educated and fights for what she believes in. Shug Avery is living large and living freely. Sofia is not afraid to stand up for herself and will literally punch a person if it comes down to it.

These strong female influences are what Celie needed. Celie was abused mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually for so long, by both her father and husband. She had no idea how to fight back and felt too worthless to even try. But we see that men never made her feel special. She had Nettie, who was the only one that loved her. Then Shug Avery came and rocked Celie's world. Shug was the first person since Nettie who had a true emotional connection with her. She made her feel loved and helped her become more confident and stronger in who she is.

Thanks to these powerful influences, we find Celie at the end of the film as an independent woman, home owner, and business owner. Celie is not only the definition of a dynamic character, but she is also the definition of perseverance and woman empowerment. Her happy ending was well deserved and most satisfying.

Not that I was there, nor am I African American either, but it seems African American culture in these times were depicted pretty accurately, in the way that they lived, hung out together, and talked. And while racism wasn't the focal theme of this brilliantly written story, it's very much there as it was in real life. We see it most with Sofia. All she did was speak against a white lady and punched her white husband, and ended up in jail for like 8 years. Systematic Racism right there. Sofia was such a strong headed woman. This experience knocked her down, but then she regains her spirit toward the end of the film; a satisfying end to her arc.

That scene where Sofia is surrounded by angry white people was both powerful because of what it symbolized, but also because of the acting. While I'm at it - The Acting in the Color Purple is literally supreme. Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Akosua Busia, Desreta Jackson - I'm talking directly to all of you. I want to thank you and congratulate you on these brilliant performances. You made the film feel so real, so raw, so emotional, so powerful. It was Cinema at it's finest. Spielberg sure knows how to perfectly cast a movie.

I do this weird thing that if the acting is really good, I'll smile, even if the scene itself is dark and inhumane. I want to leave a list of scenes that just stood out to me the most, because no words can begin to describe the quality of the acting, directing, and writing that will make me come back to this movie again and again:

Sisters separated, Shug's song to Celie, Celie smiling, Sofia's downfall, Christmas reunion, reading the letter, The Final Supper, the Reunion.

While Albert is a horrible person, you can tell he is very very miserable with his life. And thanks to scenes with his dad, we can see that he became the man his father wanted him to be. But when Shug reconciles with her father, she say "sinners got soul too." And this is immediately followed by Albert helping Celie's family return home. After everything he's done, there's no chance of redemption for him, and he'll be trapped in the external and internal turmoil he put himself in.

But doing one good thing for someone he tormented for so long - that must've given him tremendous inner peace. If he did one thing right, it was this, and he knows it meant literally everything to Celie. As Celie reunites, we see all her friends watch with tears of joy, because they too want Celie to find the happiness she deserved after everything she's been through.

To end the review, I want to highlight the moment I found most inspirational: Albert tells Celie she's not going to make it in life because she's poor, black, ugly, and a woman. Her response was "I am here." If that's not the definition of powerful, I don't know what is.

Little Nightmares II
(2021)

Yet again, another brilliant game and so many questions.
Little Nightmares 2 sees a return of elements from the first game, like game play, physics, art style, graphics, and the silent way the story is told through only visuals. While the first game did so well with these elements, camera and motion were wonky at times and lead to frustrating deaths. These camera and motion issues were polished with the sequel, so it was a basically perfect game. There was also a couple new welcoming features such as the swinging weapon mechanic, teamwork with Six, and adorable hat collectables to find for Mono.

Something that deserves its own shout out is the audio design. Music is as chilling as it was in the first game, and the the first game also did a good job with audio design given the prominent visual aspect with these games. But Little Nightmares 2 did it so much better some how. You're not playing the game right if you're not wearing headphones. The way you can hear disturbing noises of hidden foes from three rooms away raises the intensity and suspense.

Again, the visual design of the world was the only clues as to what is happening with the story and the world. I liked how we saw an expansion of the world as the game started on land before transitioning to the floating island. There was no camera sway, so I'm assuming it's completely different form the boat we found Six in in the previous installment.

Speaking of Six, the twist that Mono was travelling with Six the whole time was a jaw dropper, even if you suspected it before. This doesn't just confirm the sequel as a true prequel, but we also see more hints of how demented Six really is. I mean, can we talk about her warming her hands by the flames of the burning corpse? And so many more questions are presented to us about her too, as if we didn't have any lingering after the first game. Why did that guy have her locked in the basement? Does her bloodlust develop from similar times in imprisonment? Where do Mono and Six come form? Are they from the same place?

And the biggest question: why did Six abandon Mono like that? I get it if her murderous tendencies are derived for vengeance against the "bigger people." But if that were the case, why leave him behind that way, especially after what they went through together? Whatever the case may be, Little Nightmares has once again left us one heck of a cliffhanger that we will be thinking about for a long time.

I hear that Little Nightmares has come to end, which is disappointing because this is a horror game franchise that could possibly rival that of Five Night's At Freddy's, in terms of convoluted story at least. Not only do we still have so many unanswered questions, but Little Nightmares 2 conjured a theory that I've been pondering to myself for a while.

My theory, which may never be confirmed or debunked, is that Mono and Six, and possibly others, semi represents the Seven Sins. Six represents Gluttony - she was hungry the whole game, encountered fat gluttonous monsters, and after eating Porcelain Face lady, Six consumed the souls (?) of all the beings she passed. Mono represent Sloth - his whole gimmick was a television, the freaky people we see are glued to their television or to the weird satellite tower, and Mono ends up sucked onto the TV land and sits on a chair for who knows how long before becoming the Tall Man.

Is my theory to far fetched, or do I have a point? All I know is that I wish there were more installments, not just because of the unique experience these games provide, but I'd love to see if my theory has any validity.

Supernatural: ScoobyNatural
(2018)
Episode 16, Season 13

Greatest Crossover Ever!
This is hands down one of the greatest crossovers of all time. Whether you're a Supernatural fan or Scooby Doo fan, or both, this is THE experience. This felt like a Scooby Doo experience, with a polished art style of the original show's animation, looking for clues and chase segments, and the Mystery gang's usual banter and tropes. It also felt like a Supernatural episode with the humor, dialogue, and the actually supernatural case itself. It was great to hear Jared, Jensen, and Misha voice their characters while the usual Scooby cast voiced their characters as well.

While this became a Supernatural classic and one of the best episodes of all time, this was also one of the funniest Scooby experiences ever. Because this is an adult show, so to speak, the Scooby gang was given bits of dialogue that you don't hear. Like Daphne saying Heaven? Hell? Am I going to Hell?!?" and "I'll carry 2 shot guns!" And then Fred saying "Did you send him back to the firey pits whence he came?" Not to mention their casual nonchalant reactions to the literal dead bleeding bodies ("Well that's not good."). Seriously. I was dying. 10/10 for sure!

Shin seiki evangerion
(1995)

Controversial Opinion Alert
I have some mixed feelings about this anime. For example, I watched Fullmetal Alchemist & Code Geass because of their reputations of being amongst the best anime of all time. I ended up falling in love with both right from the start and they are amongst my favorites. I came into Evangelion expecting a similar reaction, and whilst I see why Evangelion earned it's GOAT status..... it just doesn't hit me the same. So lets get right into it!

The premise of the story and the lore of the world was quite interesting .The idea of the 2nd Impact was fascinating and implemented well to the physical climate of this post apocalyptical world. I was extremely confused about the Angels and the Evas, because I just couldn't understand what they were. This kept me drawn to the every episode as I wanted to learn more.

The first third was slightly slow to start and we were just kind of thrown in to this complex world with a vague background and had to find out things as we went along. This isn't a bad thing, it just seemed a lot at once given the story and world building. And since I wasn't understanding the concept of the Angels, I didn't fully comprehend what was at stake I depended on the reaction of the characters to feel the anxiety and intensity of big moments.

By the half way point of the anime I was really starting to get attached to the characters and was really starting to enjoy my time. Different layers of the characters were being explored and they became more interesting than before, so I was anticipating how they'd evolve.

By the last third, the story and pacing was picking up and I was getting hooked. It was intense, the fights kept getting better, and things seemed to build up to this epic climax.... which we'll get back to later. I loved episodes 21-23 as they were the episodes I was yearning for. These episodes focused heavily on Asuka, Rei, and all the key figures of Nerv. Lore was pouring in and sucked in every bit of it. The overall conspiracy was also revealed and I got even more excited to see how the story would end.

Then... the last two episodes happened. To put it lightly, it was very anticlimactic, unsatisfying, and inconclusive. That doesn't mean it wasn't a piece of art, which it certainly was. I understand the purpose now, but watching for the first time, I was highly disappointed that the Finale episodes were some weird psychedelics psychotic breakdown. It just didn't sit well with me.

I do want to talk about Shinji for a moment as I thought he was a spectacular protagonist. He was a hero. He put himself through a lot of pain and misery to help save the world, as did Asuka and Rei. It really takes a toll on them by the end of course. His backstory and drive was well written. I just loved Shinji as a character. He was sweet, hopeful, and tried to be a friend to everyone. Also his experience with Kaworu implies that Shinji might be gay, or bisexual at least. It was only explored one episode so it's hard to tell, but it's definitely implied.

I loved Shinji, and I loved his different relationships with Asuka, Rei, and Misato. And speaking of the powerful ladies, Evangelion really succeeds in presenting powerful bad ass female characters. What was great about Asuka, Rei, and Misato was that they were so different from each other in personality and back story. The backstories themselves were complicated and interesting and added so many layers and dimensions to these characters. The diversity with all the characters overall was well done. I can honestly write an essay about how much I love the Evangelion characters because they were for sure the highlight of this experience for me.

Now something I wish I knew before was the importance of End of Evangelion. No matter how I feel, I believe that it's necessary to see. If you're watching this anime for the first time, make sure you add this to the marathon list.

Shin seiki Evangelion Gekijô-ban: Air/Magokoro wo, kimi ni
(1997)

Controversial Opinion Alert:
The beginning was very somber as the episode continues after what I believe is episode 24. At this point, all the trauma that the characters have experienced are draining them, and as a viewer you can feel the weight of their emotions. The energy shifts as Nerv is invaded - the beginning of the end. Of course I expected for our heroes to win, to end the invasion, and reject Seele's plans. (This didn't happen of course, we got a very bold conclusion instead.) The first half of the End was so intense and is well paced as it truly seemed like the end of our favorite characters.

Probably one of my favorite moments of my entire Evangelion experience was Asuka's final stand. She dedicated her whole life to prove herself to receive the attention and praise she deeply desired. She was in the shadow of Rei and Shinji so long, she felt like a failure and just gave up. But this redemption, so to speak, was a very empowering fight of a determined girl who wanted to live. It was epic and emotional.

Now the second half..... I'm so tired of this metaphysical philosophy crap. Granted the transition between episode 24 to episodes 25 and 26 made a bit more sense now. And I understand what this sequence meant for the story and world. I get all that now.

But when it comes to philosophical concepts, I prefer a balance. Rather than being shoved down my throat, I want deep meaning hidden between the lines. This balance should make it so that a casual viewer could enjoy it, while also giving hidden meanings for fans to spend time theorizing, analyzing, and discussing with fans on the internet. As a big fan, reading theories and explanations should be fun, where as casual fans rely on these explanations to actually understand to begin with. This imbalance ruined the experience for me and I was honestly glad to be done with it.

Just because it's not my cup of tea, I can spot a work of art when I see one. The animation was beautiful, and the whole concept, as much as I don't vibe with it, is so unique and interesting. I appreciate this series for what it is. Though I will never watch it again, it's an anime every weeb should watch at least once. It's an unforgettable experience, that's for sure.

Little Nightmares
(2017)

Beautiful & Eerie with an epic twist
What's so unique about Little Nightmares is it's use of story telling. It takes a page out games like Limbo and Inside in the fact that it has great story telling given through audio and visuals only, without any use of words or dialogue to literally spell anything out. Games like this take advantage of the absence of dialogue or notes to keep players interested so we explore more and play the game to the end in hopes for answers and insight. With Little Nightmares, there is plenty of visual symbolism throughout - the shoes, Six's size difference with the world, the eye, Porcelain Face Lady, the fat monsters. The setting is still unclear somewhat. Thanks to the camera, physics, and a moment outside, we know we're on some boat or floating structure of some kind. But why? It seems we're given so much information based on what we see, but so much thought and analysis is needed to piece the puzzle together. And I love that.

The gameplay revolved around platforming and puzzle solving, and while tricky at times, it's pretty straight forward. The physics of this game is as fun as physics can be in any game, and is implemented well with gameplay. There are also fun physics moments where objects will move to the sway of the boat you're in, which is really appreciated detail.

The graphics and art style of Little Nightmares is beautiful. The world design is beautiful to look at and the enemy designs were disgusting and ugly while Six and the little gnomes were adorable. I would say the art style follows a surrealist world design. Everything just seems so warped and crooked. Music was eerie and beautiful and mostly played during important moments. The iconic hum lullaby gets louder as the game goes on, hinting at Six's evolution by the end of the game.

The camera did a good a job of hinting important aspects of any puzzle and also had a bit of a sway to give that feeling of being on a boat. Sometimes it's hard to tell where you're walking and instead of going straight, you walk diagonally off a platform into the abyss. This was due to awkward camera angles and an unfortunate circumstance of 3D motion with a 2D perspective. Although the 3D-2D combo really help to add some depth of field and was a nice stylistic aspect to the game.

The ending of this game is truly iconic. You go through the whole game thinking your this innocent little gnome child trying to escape the evil giants from the oversized world around her. That's only partially true. Turns out Six was as evil as everyone else. The pure shock of seeing Six eat the little gnome friend who tried to give her food surprises even those who saw it coming as Six got progressively more carnivorous. But as someone who has seen the ending a few times now, seeing Six walk down that dining hall sucking the lives of all the fat monsters is still both as eerie and epic as seeing it for the first time.

Who was the porcelain face lady? Why was she humming the theme? What powers did she have and did Six absorb them and how? What was her connection to Six to begin with, if any? What species is Six and why was she the only one like her? What species was everything else? Is anybody even human? So many questions just left to interpretation and that's a huge attractive feature to the series because nothing is handed to us through lore, it's a whole mystery, and it's such a unique aspect to the Little Nightmares franchise.

Final Fantasy VII Remake
(2020)

Beautiful Remake of a legendary game!
Final Fantasy VII: Remake was undeniably gorgeous. The new character models were stunning. The CGI graphics and the animation, also stunning. The lighting, the texture, the details - just on pointe. You can see the pores of their skin, the threads of their clothes, and the nicks on their weapons. And I don't know how else to explain it, but the design teams really put a lot of effort into the world design. Midgar felt alive and real with the design alone, and same could be said with the characters.

The remake was very true to the original in a sense that it was basically the same, just a lot more in between. The opening train scene, 7th Heaven, Cloud falling on Aerith's flower bed, the Corneo experience, the sequence going up the tower when the plate was about to fall - main sequences like that were all there like in the original. Those moments really paved great nostalgia to the long time fans.

What's crazy is that FF7RM is only 1/5 of the original Final Fantasy 7 game. This game really expanded it's story and world building, and seriously made a 40 our experience of what was originally, like, 2 hours. This gave us more time to get to know not only the main characters, but also others like Jessie, Biggs, Wedge, and Marlene. We also got more insight on what was happening behind the scenes in Shinra, which wasn't in the original.

While the expansion was great, this also led to a real drawn out experience. The pacing in some chapters was great while other chapters were unbearably slow and full of too many side quests. Also, because Sephiroth didn't originally have a presence in this part of the original all that much, they threw him around and inserted him into the narrative of the Midgar sequence. Sure the final boss was fun, but Sephiroth honestly felt out of place this entire game.

Something that Square Enix seems to always do right is music and voice acting. Cody Christian as Cloud, Briana White as Aerith, Britt Baron as Tifa, John Eric Bentley a King Barrett - fabulous voice acting from all of them. All the other supporting cast was voiced good, as well as all the additional voices. And hearing original music by legend Nobuo Uematso, remastered and fully orchestrated was worthy of a chef's kiss. Stunning and beautiful renditions of the most iconic songs in video game history!

Something that really sets the world a part from many other games is the interactive world and NPCs. It's always the little details that go along way, and in this case, make the world feel so alive. It seems that every NPC had a literal voice, and sometimes even stories or a personality. While too many side quests can be a yawn, they still serve a purpose of interacting with the citizens of Midgar, thus expanding both knowledge and empathy compared to the original.

As a fan of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and someone who dislikes the pacing of turn based combat, this new gameplay style of FF7RM is a very welcome evolution. The switching between characters is smooth and purposeful. You still use a tactical mindset during battle similar to turn based with the luxury of free roam combat, which I love. There are more than enough battles and boss fights to go around, so there's always a sense of action. Not to mention particle effects and battle quotes add to the hype of the battles.

2020 was a bad year. But at least we had Final Fantasy VII: Remake, which was certainly game of the year. Not only did this game end at what is basically the beginning of the original, so much is left in question as to how the further remake installments are gonna go. The fan theories make it more confusing as it's subtly (and directly) implied that the remake takes place in some sort of alternate timeline or parallel dimension. So while it mostly seemed the same, it's unclear how much of the future story events will continue to be the same of the original 1997 release. I have no idea, and I honestly don't care. I'm just ready for the next chapter!

WandaVision
(2021)

Unique & Crazy Experience
Now that WandaVision is over and I've seen every episode, I want to give my first dry impressions of this crazy experience of a show. MCU kicked off their Disney+ career right, I'll say that right now.

I've been following these characters closely like everyone else since their first appearance in Age of Ultron in 2015. I knew a bit from their stories in the comics, and even though a lot happened off screen, I stood by the development of their romantic relationship throughout the films.

That being said, Vision's death was very heart crushing to watch. You just had to be there. After everything Wanda has gone through, I was rooting for her happy ending. She lost everybody, she deserved a win, just once. I was very emotionally invested in this show, it effected me deeply. I was on the edge of seat every episode, shedding tears because the irony of the happy environment of a sitcom didn't fool me. This show was messed up.

The finale had some great fights. Wanda's true Scarlet Witch costume is to die for! Many questions were answered, some were not, and the after credits honestly gave more questions. But this can't be the end of Wanda & Vision. There's still room for future stories and I'm interested to learn where the characters go after this crazy experience.

Saying it again, you just had to be there. I heard theories on Mephisto and Agitha. I saw fans go insane after every episode answered questions with more questions. I mean, Evan Peters, need I say more? This show disturbed me, it surprised me, and made me think deeply during all the credits. Love it or hate it, this show was a journey.

I don't know how many appreciated the aspect ratios of the different "eras" throughout the episodes. The Black & White episodes were one thing, and were shot quite beautifully. But that moment when the aspect ratio stretched from 1950s TV to 21st century Theatrical ratio was really cool. I also loved how practical the special effects were in the early episodes, reflecting many restrictions special effects had back then.

The citizens of Westview honestly creeped me out a lot, which was awesome. Loved seeing the return of Monica, Darcy, and King Jimmy Woo (notice the close up magic he did in the first scene ???) Honestly, this wasn't the trio I expected or even asked for, but dang, loved seeing these guys. Evan Peters, don't even know what to say, but Thanks Disney. Kathryn Hahn was one heck of a surprise as "Agnes," talk about "I did not see that coming." I mean, I read the theories and an upcoming twist was so obvious from the start, but Hahn's performance was what really surprised me. She was so good!

Elizabeth Olson really stood out to me in terms of acting. I don't know what else to say except that she was really, really good. She might've grown up in the shadow of her sisters, but Wanda has really given her that path to a very successful acting career. Paul Bettany was of course really good as well. He's come along way from just being a voice over to a complex character on screen. One of my favorite scenes was the "rerun" of Wanda & Vision watching TV together right after the events of Age of Ultron. These actors know their characters so well they were able to place them back in time, and it genuinely felt like a scene that took place between Ultron and Civil War. It made me realize how much these characters changed from movie to movie, and I thought they did an excellent job of taking us back so seamlessly.

Overall, this was an amazing, unique, television experience. Fan or not, there is nothing like this, and it deserves so much praise. Pacing is slow, but it honestly works in the show's favor because it makes you want more. The concept of the Sitcom tributes wasn't just a fun part of the show, but it also contributed to the story. And WandaVision has definitely broken the internet. Because they released episodes weekly, everyone talked about for literally two months. Marvel just stepped onto a new platform of story telling, and they own it now.

As much fun as this was, I am quite emotionally exhausted by the experience given how attached I was. I'm more than ready for Falcon & Winter Soldier. A nice action show centered around a bromance is all I need now to cleanse the soul.

Raya and the Last Dragon
(2021)

Beautiful & Stunning
First impressions -

The animation is absolutely gorgeous. The first time i shed a tear was because of a beautiful moment of animation. Lighting was amazing. The character designs & world designs were fantastic & really brought the Southeast Asian flare. I freaked out a lot from the world design, i wanted to explore every city & learn about every culture of every clan. Honestly, nothing I say will do the movie justice, you just have to see it for yourself. It's visually stunning.

Story wise, I don't think I'd put it above Mulan, which is probably what others could compare it to. Raya was a great character & i loved her story arc. The little boy was cute too. However the balance between character development with the adventure was.... I'd say this movie would have benefited from being a little longer. The lore was really cool, & the happy ending was satisfying. Besides pacing, it was really an enjoyable story.

This is honestly going in my top 20 Disney films. I would say the animation & world building was the highlight of the film, which is why I loved it so much. And Raya as this warrior princess is a great addition to the Disney princess roster. Definitely give this a watch, it's a classic Disney animated experience.

The Truman Show
(1998)

Great Cinematography! A Jim Carrey Classic!
I don't know about you, but as a kid, I went through a phase where I thought my life was a sitcom. I'd dance while brushing my teeth, pretending that my theme song played as I got ready and I'd pretend to be on talk shows to talk about the show. Now whether I watched Truman Show or not back then, this movie reminded of me of that time in my life. It really is an interesting concept if you think about it. There's plenty of theories about us existing in a simulation, so you never know.

So Truman's life is a television show and he doesn't know it. Not only is that a premise for a unique story, but it led to really interesting camera angles. There were "hidden cameras" everywhere, from cameras on the wall, the mirrors, and even buttons on clothes. What I like was that every shot with Truman was from the point of the view of the Truman Show, so we were watching right with the audience.

One of my favorite shots was that moment right after the storm. After Christoff released his "wrath of God" with the storm, there's a moment where Truman is lying on his back hanging over the side of the boat with rope wrapped around him. I've read someone compare this to Jesus being on the cross, with Truman & Christoff paralleling with Jesus & God. I want to add to this and point out that the "hidden camera" is looking down on him, rather than how we look up at Jesus on the cross. So while there's that parallel, there's also a contrast because Truman isn't a powerful holy figure, he's just a guy.

And that brings me to the character of Truman himself. The very very first scene, Christoff makes it clear that his goal of the show was to present true, candid emotion rather than acting. So for the past thirty years, Christoff and his God complex controlled every major event in Truman's life. But Truman's life was honestly pretty ordinary (besides the tv show part). He had a normal job, a normal house, a normal life - he was a normal guy. And the audience of the show was able to sympathize and empathize with him because of that.

As Truman began seeing the cracks in his universe, he goes insane. He acts spontaneously and tries to escape Sea Haven, of course being interrupted every turn. Then he faced his biggest fear, the ocean, and sets out into the unknown. This was a very brave and inspiring sequence, as Truman determinedly didn't let anything stand in his way.

Christoff announces himself to Truman as his "Creator." He gives Truman the option to stay in the safe world he created for him, or to step out in to the cruel world of reality. He chooses to leave, following his life long natural curiosity to a new chapter in life.

I loved the ending, but so much was left in question. Did him & Sylvia meet? (I'm sure they got a happy ending.) How well does Truman adjust to the real world? What happens to Sea Haven? It's all left to interpretation. This kind of goes back to the religious parallels if you think about - Is there a god, like Christoff, dictating every single important event in our lives, or are we really in control of our own free will, like Truman?

The supporting cast was great, but the literal star of the show here was Jim Carrey. We all know he's type casted as the funny or crazy guy, but that's because he's so good at it. There are several scenes in this film where he had the opportunity to use his comedic skills as Truman went absolutely bonkers, and those were fun scenes. But the reason why this film is considered such a Jim Carrey classic is because there were many dramatic, heartfelt moments where Carrey was able to show the emotional side of his character. This is a movie that shows how diverse Carrey is as an actor. I'll be sure to watch some of his other dramatic roles in the future.

Peter Pan
(2003)

Beautiful Writing, Beautiful Acting, Beautiful Visuals
Peter Pan's story was always about how growing up doesn't mean you have to "grow up," and that you should always be ready for an adventure. Life has this way of taking away innocence and fun, and Peter Pan is always a symbol to never let that part go as you transition to adulthood. Yes, there are life responsibilities to take care of, but those responsibilities shouldn't get in the way of having fun or being imaginative.

As this film stays true to the original story's morals, it also expands on other issues, such as social status and the role of women in Victorian times. We really get a deeper look into Mr. Darling's struggle to rise up the social ladder amongst his peers. And the character of Aunt Millicent is there to stress the need of Wendy to grow up to be a proper woman, and what the definition of "proper" was in this time period.

Throw realism out the window! This entire film looks like a painting! And it's not just in Neverland. Even in London, the coloring is so vibrant and mystical, especially in the sky. The sequence of them flying to Neverland is unrealistic in an extravagant way. The visuals of this movie all together don't even try to imitate real life, which enhances the fantasy aspect of this fantasy action movie. The coloring stood out, too, as there were many blues and cool colors until the climatic battle in which there were a lot of reds and warm colors.

Speaking of visuals, the fairy dance is the most beautiful scene in this entire film. Between the lights, the music, and Peter and Wendy floating with the fairies, it's a stunning scene.

And, Speaking of Music, this is one of my favorite soundtracks by James Newton Howard. I love his work in films like Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Disney's Treasure Planet and Atlantis, but the Peter Pan soundtrack stands out in a different way. Very beautiful!

The casting of this was perfect. Jeremy Sumpter as Peter Pan was an absolute heart throb. Sumpter and Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy both did such a good job of giving another layer of emotion to the characters and had such great chemistry together. And of course, Jason Isaacs as Mr. Darling & Captain Hook - I wouldn't have cast it any other way. The Lost Boys were adorable, Mrs. Darling was beautiful, and Smee looked like Smee.

This iteration of Peter Pan took time to expand on Mr. & Mrs. Darling and their points of views. The movie gave them more screen time to establish who they were, to get a look into how they dealt with their missing children, and gave them time in the end to develop. Mrs. Darling was a loving mother from start to finish. But even though Mr. Darling only had maybe six minutes of screen time total, he was one of the more developed characters in the whole movie. This made the final scene reunion very touching.

Many kid shows try to shove pre-teen romances in our faces to get the naïve kids invested in a cheap love story. These days, we have Stranger Things' Mike & Eleven raising the bar on how natural and believable pre-teen romances can be. But before we had Stranger Things, we had PJ Hogan's Peter Pan.

With this live action remake, extra time was put into a lot of story elements, like Peter & Wendy's relationship. Their relationship felt very natural and intimate, and most importantly believable. This is thanks to both the good writing and brilliant acting. As a kid, I gushed about them. And now as an adult, I still found myself hooked to the pair. When Wendy returns home and they say goodbye, Peter looks back and they stare at each other for a good seven seconds, at least, without saying a word. And so much was said in their facial expressions and eyes. Sometimes the best moments don't need spoken dialogue.

That final moment between them actually revealed a lot about Peter Pan as a character. Towards the beginning of the film, he says "To die would be an awfully big adventure." He later rephrases his statement after saying goodbye to Wendy and says "To live would be an awfully big adventure," as looks down at the Darlings' and Lost Boys being a family. Then he flies off to Neverland and that's the end.

What I love about that moment is that Peter still wants to be a boy, he still wants to have adventures, and he'll continue to be some sort of God figure in Neverland. But his experience with Wendy was the only real authentic connection he ever had with anyone. And as humans, we depend on connections like that. Falling in love was something he never thought he'd do, and as he lives as an immortal kid, Wendy will probably always be in the back of his mind.

Pleasantville
(1998)

Beautiful Visuals & Deep Philosophy
The premise of this film was very unique and interesting for its time as I don't think it was done too much before this. The idea of anyone being transported form reality to a fictional world can sometimes be more desired and a welcome outcome, especially if this fictional world is more "pleasant" than reality. The beginning of the movie establishes the world's flaws through David's classes in school, so it's easy for David to prefer the simplicity and happiness that draws him to the Pleasantville show.

Pleasantville takes it a step further by challenging the idea of whether this pleasant world is worth it. The world begins to change and evolve, for better and for worse. This lead to many philosophical questions in the second half of the film.

When the film was purely black and white, the film did a good job of creating a beautiful grayscale sequence, and that's thanks to the wonderful cinematography. Black and white is such a stylistic kind of film that is so refreshing to see in a modern world where we're so used to color. And as color began to mix with the grayscale, I was left wondering exactly how they were able to pull that off. Wonderful editing! One of my favorite moments was when David was driving to Lover's lane and you see the pink leaves contrast the rest of the grayscale world, It was stunning.

While the grayscale vs color was a beautiful visual aspect to the film, Pleasantville uses the coloring to present metaphorical messages to the audience. The most obvious metaphor was that of racism. From the violence toward the "colored" to the segregation to that one sign that explicitly stated "no colored allowed." Pleasantville reflected the exact behavior seen in society to groups of people who are discriminated against in reality, especially and literally people of color.

Color also represents evolution. To change color was to change completely from who you were before. For many citizens of Pleasantville, this was easy to accomplish. The sense of true or human emotion was enough to change people given how stale and regular simple life in Pleasantville was. For characters like Jennifer and David, who came from the outside world, it was a little more difficult. It wasn't strong emotion of any kind that changed their appearance, it was complete character development that brought literal color to the siblings.

What's interesting about Jennifer's color change specifically is that her character development was similar to that of Pleasantville, but on the opposite side of the spectrum. Jennifer created an image of herself to fit with reality's expectation so she can succeed socially. Then she becomes open to the art of literature and begins to imagine herself being more than she thought she could be. Pleasantville lacked knowledge and arts that is available in reality and without those aspects in life, they just seemed like robots.

This brings up the question to what it means to be alive. Pleasantville citizens literally ran on a programmed schedule in day to day life. They never had an independent thought or feeling, and the consequences were seen during David and Jennifer's first day in town. As the siblings bring changes, knowledge and arts are really effective to the evolution of the town. This influence really opened the citizens up to independence and freedom, and that was when they truly started to "live."

With all the philosophy that is crammed in the 2nd half, David's character development is a key aspect of the film. At the beginning of Pleasantville, he was obsessed with the Pleasantville show because the simple, easy, and happy life was the exact opposite of what his own reality was. He had a broken family and lived in world where happiness is a struggle to achieve. When he is first transported in the show, he is desperate to continue the pleasant way of life, but then he finds joy in exposing the Pleasantville citizens to a side of life that they wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise, like that scene where David gives Mr. Johnson the art book, which was a great turning point for both characters.

David doesn't change color until the climax. His entire experience was mostly a positive one, and his reasons for loving Pleasantville changed, but he still loved it there nonetheless. Then he saw bullies gang up on Betty, and for the first time he felt rage toward Pleasantville, a total contrast to his Pleasantville feelings at the beginning of the movie.

I really love David's final scene with his real mom. His experience in Pleasantville changed him and it really showed in that final conversation. He realized that perfection isn't the best solution. "There is no right house, there is no right car," there is no right way to live in order to achieve guaranteed happiness. And sometimes the life we envy isn't the life we want. David learned how to make the best of a bad situation and that life is the way we make it.

Muppet Babies
(2018)

I liked it on accident
As an adult without kids, I watched an episode ironically as a joke. But then I started genuinely laughing at some of the jokes, and now I actually kinda unironically like it????? The voice acting is amazing, the animation is great, and it has lots of lessons for the kids & humor that apparently adults can appreciate. Really great family show for sure.

Music
(2021)

Unfortunate.
If Sia wanted to write a "love letter," her songs & music videos would've been more effective to spread Autistic awareness, not this film. It's a shame her reputation was tarnished from this because Sia is such a talented musician & singer & I still love her as an artist, but this movie was a shame. I hope her career can recover from this so she can continue to stick to what she does best - music & the artistic videos that go with it. Film should not be in Sia's future.

Soul
(2020)

a philosophical analysis to anyone who needs this movie:
The Style of animation in the real world is the Pixar style that we're used to seeing with great details to facial expressions and textures. But the art style we see in the Great Before is totally different and unique. The Jerry(s) with their abstract design and movements matches with both the jazz music theme of the film as well as the abstract concept of the Great Before. The Souls designs are reminiscent of the emotions from Inside Out, with beautiful particle effects only seen in close detail. The world design of these mystical spiritual realms that Joe travels around to are beautiful and wonderous to look at.

The soundtrack for all the theoretical construct realms helped give the abstract mystical feel to the atmosphere. The Jazz music in the film was as fun as jazz music should be. I particularly enjoyed the big performance toward the end as that performance captured the essence of what Jazz should be. I highly recommend having a real life jazz music experience if you can. The Epiphany song that Joe plays before the climax was stunning and enforced the emotional message that the film tries so hard to teach, and it made me shed a tear both times I've seen it so far.

Every Pixar film has its own gimmick and theme that is seen as the face of their films' stories - What if toys had feelings? What if bugs had feelings? What if fish had feelings? What is cars had feelings? What if feelings had feelings? Soul's big gimmick actually entails perhaps the three biggest questions about existence - What happens before we are born? What is our purpose in life? And what happens after we die?

While the concept of death is not something I enjoy dwelling on, and the whole "life's purpose" topic is it's own conversation, I found the concept of the Great Before most fascinating, mostly because I never thought about it in the way I have with the other two big questions. The Great Before is a place for all souls to randomly be assigned personalities, and in order to get to Earth, or to the living real, they have to choose a "spark" that will motivate them through life.

Other than the fact that the Great Before was absolutely beautiful and ingeniously designed, I loved how a person's drive was something souls had to pick on their own. While personalities were dictated by the Jerry(s), every soul had its own decision (or at least it's not hand picked by the Jerry(s)) as to what would inspire them in life, and this is a concept I feel nobody is talking about. Could this be the film's way of saying everyone has a purpose or reason for living even if we can't see it right away? "Your spark isn't your purpose. That last box fills in when you're ready to come live."

What I remembered from the trailers was only Joe's "death" and some of his experiences in the Great Before. So when the Soul Swap sequence started, when 22 was in Joe and Joe was in the cat, I was surprised and didn't know what to expect. Of course, at first, it definitely came across as comedic relief for the kids, but this aspect of the story led to some heartfelt moments. 22 as Joe has interactions with a few people in Joe's life, like his student and his mom. Joe was able to view these interactions out of body as 22 got to experience life for the first time. This put a lot of things into perspective for both lead characters.

Soul hit me hard on a deep personal level (read philosophical analysis below). There was one moment in particular that can really hit home for someone with depression. When 22 becomes a lost soul she says - "I have no purpose, I'm not good enough, I will never find my spark." And all the negative and discouraging words every soul has ever said to her. When you have depression, you are your own worst enemy. All you think about is everything wrong with you and how poorly others think about you. You become trapped in your negative thought, and become lost, so to speak, in the depression that is knocking you down.

When you're at your lowest moment, you're open to your greatest change (Uncle Iroh quote, you're welcome). And sometimes, we all need our own Joe to help us through it, so we can find ourselves again and move on to a new and brighter future.

One of the big lessons Joe learns is that there is a fine line between passion and obsession. If you cross that line, your life can become unbalanced. You might loose relationships with people. If someone close to you is telling you to stop, you might keep going to prove them wrong, and think that proving them wrong will help but you just end up pushing them away. Obsession can also get in the way of the little life moments as you are constantly rushing to achieve your ultimate goal. The whole "the fish looking for the ocean" proverb was meant to teach Joe that even when you think you've "made it" in life, you may realize it's not as fulfilling as you thought it would be, and all that time obsessing over one thing can leave a hole inside. And maybe what you've been looking for the whole time, was right in front of you and you didn't see it.

Another huge lesson Joe learned is that things might not go as planned, but somethings are just meant to be and you just got to "jazz" with it. His ultimate endgame was performing with a highly respected jazz artist to obtain credibility and success. What he didn't plan on was being a middle school band teacher. He then realized that he can achieve his own personal success by influencing the lives of kids and to help encourage a musical passion that could last a lifetime. Success comes in different forms, as does one's purpose in life, as Joe learned with his experiences with 22.

What is our purpose in life? Another one of the three big existential questions we ask ourselves. Many people think a lot like Joe did - that the purpose of life is to find success in anything. Joe initially knocked down the validity of 22's spark of "enjoying regular life things" because of the circumstances and because he didn't think that was a purpose, but it wasn't his place to dictate that for 22. It was 22's own personal experience and reason to start living. Another aspect of purpose that Joe experiences is what happens when you achieve your endgame life goal? After Joe played with Dorthea, he was unsatisfied and was left with wondering "what now?" Life is about reaching your own goals, and creating new goals once it's achieved. You have to keep giving yourself a new purpose once one is fulfilled. For Joe, his first purpose was to become a piano player and jazz musician. Once he had the gig of a lifetime, it's left up in the air on what he did next, but I'd like to think he went back to his middle school job to help inspire kids to be passionate about music.

Soul is a film I wish I had as a teen/young adult when I was lost and confused with major life decisions, as we all are at that age. In modern society, we're taught the "correct" ingredients of success and are expected to accomplish certain goals in a certain way at a certain time. Some people do it and work their whole lives to a comfortable retirement. But not everyone can achieve their own success in the same and/or expected way. Once you realize that achieving your own goals, goals you make for yourself and no one else, that's what rewards a true sense of purpose. Once Joe allowed 22 to do that, 22 was ready to start life in the real world with her spark to "enjoy regular life things."

This whole concept of "regular life things" honestly changed my own perspective in life. I am not exaggerating when I say Soul impacted my life on a grand scale. I find myself enjoying the moment more than I've ever done before. If I'm outside during a sunset, I take a moment to enjoy the colors in the sky. When I'm around people that I enjoy being with, I appreciate whatever little conversation I'm having with them. Once I was eating dinner, and there was a moment where I stopped and thought "I am alive and I can taste and enjoy my meal." And I've definitely become more grateful for my past experiences, the good and the bad. The happy memories and the deep struggles made me who am. If I didn't have either, I wouldn't have been living this whole time.

22's purpose was to live. Ironic given her extreme disdain for the concept of living at first. It wasn't any sport, or art, or career that became her spark. It was (say it with me) Regular. Life. Things. Sometimes that's all we need to keep going. Our past, present, and future is made up of little moments. If we take time to appreciate those moments rather focus on the big picture, then we are really truly living in the moment.

Jaws
(1975)

Greatest shark movie of all time !
The first half of Jaws is a perfect example of building suspense the right way. There's wasn't much music, blood and gore was at a minimal, the shark was barely seen, and there was never a certainty of safety. With the tension built up, the 4th of July sequence was the perfect turning point of the film and segwayed to the trio's grand adventure at sea in the 2nd half.

When Brody, Quint, and Hooper set off to to hunt the shark, the real movie begins. This half of the film was so good. Much tension was built as the shark teased the guys, while also teasing the audience as to when the shark will meet its end. Right before the climax, there was a calm before the storm where the trio had a nice bonding moment together that was very heartfelt. Then the final battle came and went in a glorious fashion, leaving the audience satisfied as the credits rolled.

Thanks to the Star Wars Prequels, a great debate of CGI vs Practical has become a common argument amongst film buffs. The Shark from Jaws is a great point for the argument for Practical Effects, as the shark looked amazing. Some close ups made it look fake, but for the most part, the realism they were able to capture in appearance and movement was revolutionary. I don't know how realistic the shark's death was, but I honestly feel so satisfied seeing the shark defeated in an epic explosion of blood. A classic moment in film history, if you ask me.

The legacy of this film is undeniable. Not just with movie special effects. Jaws helped spark decades of Shark research and knowledge. Shark week is an annual event and scientists are still learning more year after year about these ocean predators. And of course John Williams presented us with yet another iconic theme. Cultured peoples pretending to be a shark while swimming in a pool most likely paddle creepily along humming the theme to indicate their temporary shark persona.

Hagane no renkinjutsushi
(2009)

An essay why this is my favorite anime ever:
Alchemy is already an interesting topic to read about in real life. Fullmetal Alchemist takes real alchemical concepts and theories and builds on it. Alchemy has many uses - as a weapon, science, or medical practice. Alchemy is sometimes a basis for some sort of religion or spiritual construct. Its also insinuated that other countries use Alchemy differently than Amstris, as seen with the Xing alchemists, and it would be interesting to read on how different it is other places in the world.

The great part about Amestris is that it's only a small corner of the world, and so much happens. The history of the country is well planned and written. The culture of Amestris is well defined and that just makes the world feel real. The extensive lore and world building in every episode is fascinating is a true reflection on the high quality of writing of the anime. To read a full book about the different countries, cultures, histories, and alchemy would be a dream of mine.

Like any musical soundtrack should, the music of Fullmetal Alchemist really goes with the theme and cultural of the anime's world. It's very enchanting and can feel mysterious and menacing when it needs to be. The music really is beautiful and I've caught myself listening to the soundtrack every once in a while since I watched Fullmetal many years ago.

This anime stood on a perfect balance of both humor and sincerity, and this was a huge aspect that made the story feel real. Given the problems at hand in the plot, seriousness and focus are required to combat the high stakes of the situations. Fullmetal Alchemist can get really dark really fast, and is not shy from death and violence. However, a funny moments compilation could probably round to an hour long. There are many hilarious moments, circumstances, and interactions between characters that lead to some humorous lines and jokes. There are characters like Edward, Mustang, and Ling, who are thrown into dire situations, but their personalities go beyond their battle mindset, as all characters like them have moments where they can be dorky or comedic, and that adds depth to those characters.

Fullmetal Alchemist's greatest strength is its diverse cast of characters - Edward, Alphonse, Mustang & his entire squad, Hawkeye, Scar, Ling (both as himself and as Greed), the Armstrongs, Hohenheim, Winry, and all the other soldiers, friends, and allies. The Homunculi were the greatest antagonists, along with the Father and Bradley who had interesting backstories.

With such a diverse cast, this anime does a real good job of mixing up pairings and exploring the dynamics of different relationships. We see Ed & Al almost inseparable at the beginning, and towards the end they separate and are seen working together with others. Mustang and Hawkeye are two peas in a pod, they are strong together, and when they're alone their strengths and skills are especially highlighted. The audience got to know Azumi & Olivier for the women made of steel that they are, and the brief time they partnered up left us wanting more epic battles with the two of them. Scar and Mae contrasted each other both in personality and in story background, but they were an ultimate pair. It was also great seeing the cast form bonds with Ling, and Ling as Greed. The double persona of the character had such interesting moments throughout the anime. And of course, when it came to the final battle, almost every friend and ally was present and it was such an "Avengers Assemble" moment that was very satisfying.

With so much going on, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is, at its core, a heartwarming tale of two brothers and the bond that they share. The past and the mistakes they shared, along with their traumatic experiences, deepens their connection. Ed & Al care about each other more than anything and continuously fight side by side in hopes to accomplish their mission - getting their bodies back.

Alphonse, to me, was probably the most interesting character. Many knew him as just a talking suit of armor, not the boy he once was. Yet the idea of him being human was never in question, and it challenged the idea of what it means to actually be human. It wasn't in his appearance or body, it was the heart, mind, and voice of him - the kindness and compassion for others and his own beliefs. He was treated as an equal by all his peers and even deemed a human sacrifice despite the absence of his body. People cared for him deeply, like Mae who even hugged him in a dire moment. It has not a hug for the warmth of the body, but a hug for the soul - his soul - the part of him that proved he was still human.

That being said - Roy Mustang is my favorite character, both on the show and out of all other anime characters I've ever seen so far. He's such a diverse and layered person and I absolutely love him. He's very serious and focused, at times self absorbed and a little too ambitious. But he's also very humorous, a bit dorky, and above all, very honest. His loyalty to his comrades is always put before himself, especially when the stakes are high. He'd love to rule the world, but never at the cost of being without those he cares about. They didn't go in deep with his back story, but in one episode it's hinted with the reveal of his adopted mother. After that, you can easily characterize him as a boy who literally started with nothing, and made a name of himself all on his own. And with all the glory he's tried to achieve, his success is not nearly as important as the friends he's made - his real family.

The power he holds with the snap of his fingers leads to some epic moments. He single handedly killed a homunculus and almost killed a 2nd, which I think is a record. Both instances came from the revenge of his friends. When his favorite people are in danger, he gets angry, and when he's angry, he's dangerous. His showdown with Envy is such an iconic moment. Not only was it great to see this powerful alchemist crack and just go beast mode, but it led to great character development as well deepening the connection of Mustang and Hawkeye... Speaking of which...

Mustang and Hawkeye are the best partners in crime and the best couple on the show. It was never explicitly stated if they were involved romantically, but what's great is that it never needed to be, because their actions screamed louder than words. This is one of the purest relationships I've ever seen in fiction. Romance aside, these two understand each other inside and out. They have various ways of communication with all their codes, and can talk to each by just reading each others eyes. They compliment each other well, with Roy giving Riza endless motivation, and Riza being the real man in the relationship and keeping Roy on track.

I honestly can go on and on about Mustang and his right hand man. Just going back and thinking deeply on their history, both in the war and the time Mustang spent learning from her father, so much subtext just shows up and enforces the deep connection they have. Mustang comes across as serious, but really he's just a big soft boi. It's Riza that gives him strength. I avoid fan fiction at all cost, but with these two, I wouldn't mind a fic or two about the rest of their lives.

The Final Battle. Is 14. Episodes. Long. Episodes 50-63 are all about the invasion of Central and the defeat of the Father and his homunculi. There were many twists and turns and epic battles on all fronts. All allies from the show came together in this well thought out coup. Many last minute saves gave some epic moments of victory as everyone battled for their lives.

Greed was a huge star in this battle, whether he was fighting the homunculi or Central soldiers. Buccaneer & Fu fought Bradley and were giving it their all before their heartbreaking sacrifices. Hohenheim's plan to basically defeat a god added to the plot of his character and lead to sweet victory. Alphonse sacrificing his soul for Ed to get his arm back for one final blow to the Father, and Ed sacrificing his alchemical abilities to return Alphonse, was an even sweeter victory. And of course, I can go on and on about Mustang and his role both in planning the coup as well as his battles on this day, but I won't.

When all was said and done, good triumphed over evil. And with pure evil and centuries of corruption swept away, the end of the story was here, and an ending it was indeed.

The ending was most satisfying and most conclusive, and that's the best you can hope for the end of any well written story - the hope that the consistent high quality holds up till the end. And it very much did with Fullemtal Alchemist:

Alphonse was returned to his body at the sacrifice of Ed's alchemy, and they both were able to walk home to Winry to start the next chapter of their lives. Hohenheim was able to be a father in the final fights, was proud of his sons, and was able to finally die peacefully at his beloved's grave. Ling Yao was able to accomplish his only mission after a complicated path and returned to his home country with a philosopher's stone, ready to change his country for the better. Mustang, still on the road to becoming Furher, decided to dedicate the next chapter of his life, with Hawkeye by his side, to rebuilding Ishval and atoning for the sins committed by him and his fellow state alchemists. Scar went to help him, not to destroy the country, but to help change it.

64 episodes of story and character development lead to an ending that made sense to all these characters. When the credits rolled on the final episode, you see the montage of pictures of where our favorite people ended up, and you can't help but smile.

The Matrix
(1999)

Evolutionary for its time!
I think a reason, of the many, that allows The Matrix to stand out is it's great balance of action and philosophy. In depth analyses and long essays can be written about the movie and what it means to us in real life. This film has helped influence the idea that our own universe is in it's own matrix, that life is a simulation, and we're all computer generated beings. I've taken college courses in philosophy and the concept of this film has been used to spark in-class discussions on what is existence, what it means to exist, is there a higher power, ect. But that sort of thinking isn't required to enjoy the movie. It is, at its core, and action thriller. There are great fighting sequences, there are loads of suspenseful moments, and it ends in a classic "good defeats evil" sort of way.

What really sets the film apart and what the movie is so famous for is the revolutionary graphics and effects. Sure, decades later, the graphics might've aged a bit, but you can't deny the impact it made to the industry. The iconic freezeframe-roundabout thing has been spoofed so many times. I mean, how cool was the "backbend to dodge bullets" moment! In fact, that entire ending sequence, from the moment they left to save Morpheus until the moment Neo defeats Agent Smith, was the most extraordinary sequence of a film you'll probably ever see in an action movie. It wasn't just the epic battles themselves, but the special effects and how the entire sequence was edited - it was cinematography at its best.

The entire way the Matrix was filmed and edited can attribute to the high quality and uniqueness of the film. You see it best whenever Morpheus is teaching Neo the ways of the world, so to speak. Through unique camera angles and clever transitions paired with the special effects, the concept of the matrix seems real and almost believable and alive. I don't know too much about behind the scenes tidbits, but I imagine for any aspiring film makers, the Matrix is worth a study.

The Matrix is the movie that made Keanu Reeves an A-list action star. His good looks and smooth voice made him an irreplaceable Neo, And hearing him say "I know Kung Fu" in a Keanu kind of way gets me every time. It's really hard not to like Keanu, especially given what went on behind the scenes. Around the release of the film, he experienced some heart breaking tragedies. But he never stopped for a second - when life knocked him down, he got back up again. On a more positive note, he donated at least a half of his salary from the Matrix, which was millions of dollars, to members from the special effects and editing teams - a well deserved donation to a probably underpaid crew that helped make the movie as great as it is.

Watching the first installment, it's quite clear that there is a presence of extensive lore of the universe that reaches beyond a singular film. While the Matrix is well written as a stand alone movie, there are plenty of opportunities to extend your knowledge on the universe - whether it be the sequels, the anime, video games, or comics. I will personally just watch the Matrix over and over rather than broaden my horizon, but knowing there's more just adds to the impressive world building that the film already achieved.

Freaky
(2020)

A fun slumber party flik
Freaky wastes no time in establishing itself as a horror comedy. The deaths in the opening scene as the Butcher makes his mark are just so stupid and ridiculous, and it paves the mood of the rest of the film. The humor in the movie as a whole is okay, but the crazy murders keep the consistent levity of the movie.

We all know the tale of Freaky Friday, whether you watched the original film or the Lindsay Lohan edition. This creative twist on story was quite clever, and thankfully utilized well in the film. The first half of the movie is really good and presented an intriguing adventure. However the second half of the film fell flat to me. The pacing started to drag on and it seemed like forever for the movie to end. The ending itself was okay, but when watching Freaky, the first half is more entertaining part.

Vince Vaughn & Kathryn Newton are undoubtedly the stars of the show. Vince did a good job of being the menacing Butcher; and I'm sure he had plenty of fun pretending to be a teenage girl. His performance probably would've been funnier, but Jack Black raised the bar for grown men pretending to be a teenage girl (if you can even say that's a thing) in the recent Jumanji movies, so the entire film I kept comparing the two, deciding Jack Black was the better performance.

Kathryn Newton did such a great job of establishing the sweet character of Millie, but when the swap happened, she gave it her all. She played crazy evil so well. No offence to Vince, but Kathryn was the better actor here. I loved it when she was on screen and I really enjoyed her performances of both characters overall.

I wouldn't watch it again, but it was cute. Freaky would work well as a one time slumber party flik, especially if the theme is cheesy horror films. If you're looking for a good High School horror movie, or a film where a teenage girl is stuck in a grown man's body, then Scream and Jumanji are the movies I'd recommend before this one.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
(2019)

It's actually kind of scary
The very first thing that caught my attention was the the the opening line:

"Stories heal. Stories hurt. If we repeat them often enough, they become real. They make us who we are. They have such power, This, I learned, on the very last autumn of our childhood."

Now, not saying I found this film profound, but this quote really stood out to me and I really appreciate it. What was profound was the lead actress, Zoe Colletti, as Stella. Not that this film needed superb performances, but hers was. I hope she has a successful career ahead of her because she put so much emotion toward her character, emotion I didn't want or needed. Colletti has so much potential and I would love to see her in another film that could really let her show her talents.

AThat being said, the big let down of the movie was all the unnecessary exposition with the characters. Thankfully those scenes didn't overstay their welcome, but I honestly didn't find myself caring or rooting for any of the characters. A little backstory is okay, but when it comes to horror films, I'm ready to get scared, not to get bored. There was enough balance in the film, and as far as bad horror movies go, this actually wasn't that bad. It's not a go-to Halloween flick, but I at least enjoyed. But that cliffhanger at the end- really? I don't care, just end it.

I own the books in which this film was based off of. I did recognize some references and stories, and I thought this film had a creative take on the original source material. And I actually got scared. The creatures were creepy and disturbing - total nightmare fuel. There were cheep jump scares, of course, but Scary Stories did the scary stories justice, at least for me.

Victor Victoria
(1982)

A Julie Andrews Classic
Julie Andrews is a lifelong hero of mine. I, like so many others, grew up knowing her for Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, & Princess Diaries. I've expanded my knowledge of her career in recent years, and that includes watching/listening to Camelot, My Fair Lady, and this film - Victor Victoria.

When I first saw the musical number - Le Jazz Hot - I literally cried. I spent my life watching her, but seeing her perform something that wasn't only new to me at the time, but also very different from what I knew her for, was an emotional experience for me. She was almost 50 when she did this movie, and was in her 60s by the time she performed the Broadway adaption of this movie in the 90s. It's just so impressive how timeless she was even back then, and how talented and dedicated she was to the performing arts.

This is a huge recommendation for any Julie fan out there. As we all know, a surgery gone wrong resulted in her losing her angelic voice forever. Something that I didn't know until recently is that the surgery took place right after her Broadway run in Victor Victoria. The songs from this movie were probably the last songs she ever performed. Just a little something to appreciate when watching.

This film is very slow pacing, and dragged out a little too long. Several scenes could've been cut to keep a nice flow with the story. That's probably my only criticism. Of course Julie Andrews was great, and Robert Preston was excellent as Toddy. The final number was very fun and amusing. In fact, all the musical numbers were fun and well done. Definitely a must for musical theater nerds.

Victor Victoria was made in 1982. In the last 40 years since its release, the LQBTQ+ community has achieved much, at least in the United States. But even now, discrimination is still an obstacle, and there are plenty of people who refuse to accept anyone that's gay or otherwise. If that's how it is now, imagine how it was 40 years ago. For a movie about cross dressing, gay lovers, and gender equality, it was a huge win and stepping stone for Hollywood at the time. There were a handful of other movies that brought these topics to mainstream, like Tootsie. The early 80s was a huge breakthrough for LQBT in the industry, and now seeing a gay couple in a movie or show is pretty much normalized in the 21st century.

I'm just gonna end this review with a quote from "Victor" that really meant a lot for me to hear: "Your problem, Mr. Marchand, is that you're preoccupied with stereotypes. I think it's as simple as you're one kind of man, I'm another. One that doesn't have to prove it. To myself, or anyone."

The Room
(2003)

The king of "so bad its good"
The acting is so terrible and stale. The dialogue is awkward and doesn't flow. I dare anybody to do a drinking game - one shot for every time they say "oh hi 'name'" and 5 shots for the infamous "oh hi Mark" line. There is just no chemistry or emotion between the characters or actors. They just seem like a bunch of fake friends pretending to like each other. The characters themselves were just dry and colorless and had no dimension at all. The story itself is stupid. Maybe different story arcs looked good on paper, but the execution was poor. And to top it all off, there are a few more sex scenes than necessary.

Now that the complaints are out of the way, let me give credit where credit is due: Everything that makes The Room bad is everything that makes The Room good.

Of course it's a bad film, but it has its charms. The story of the Room was flawed, but it really did have some good themes in there, and its obvious that Wiseau tried his best to get different messages across, particularly through the use of Danny's character. Hearing about the making of the film is interesting as well and adds to the experience (watch Disaster Artist before and/or after watching the Room). My rating is 3/10 - 2 stars for the attempt of making a decent move, and 3 stars for Sir Tommy Wiseau.

Tommy Wiseau gave it his all in this film. He wanted to make a movie, so he did. Though I'm sure the movie upon release was received poorly, he continues to work to this day and has many beloved fans that follow this cult classic. It's honestly inspiring that he achieved success, but in a way he probably wasn't expecting. As low quality as the Room is, it was at least entertaining. I plan to watch other Wiseau films someday, just to see how much has evolved, and to support an independent film maker who dedicates his life expressing himself through the art of film.

Destination Wedding
(2018)

Keanu & Winona are married: the movie
There's a big meme about how Keanu Reeves & Winona Ryder are married. Seeing them together in interviews, it's obvious why, as they are still crushing on each other after thirty years of friendship. This is why Winona asked Keanu to do this movie, and why he said yes. The chemistry they have off screen is a huge contribution to their chemistry on screen, and that's what makes this unique Rom-Com work.

Winona plays a character that has become pessimistic in her life's disappointments, and through her experiences with Frank, she becomes more optimistic and is filled with hope again that she could find love & happiness. Keanu plays a character that is aware how life sucks and how dumb humanity can be, and from his life experiences, has built a wall to isolate himself from the world's idiocy. With his experiences with Lindsay, he starts to crumble those walls within him.

There's a few moments in the last act of the film where Keanu gives this distant look of "I'm so comfortable with being alone but maybe I can take the risk but I'm too afraid but I still want to." In the end he succumbed to the human need of social contact and accepted companionship with a person who can hate the world side by side with him.

This film was a tribute to Keanu & Winona. They worked so well together in a film that's not their stereotypical genre. Winona is well known for the horror genre while Keanu is an AAA action star. Yet the both of them are so adept to comedy and are both hilarious on their own, and funnier together - another reason why Destination Wedding just works.

Between their comedic talents and the fact that both of these actors are favorites of mine, this is my favorite Romantic Comedy of all time. The snappy dialogue and sadistic humor is top tier to me. I could see this a successful two-person play. With this play, the casting has to be perfect as it was in this film. Keanu & Winona are legends of the film industry, and if you're a fan of either of them, Destination Wedding is a charming movie that I highly recommend.

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